Bfast Fiasco

This breakfast dish was something I had been dying to make and it unfortunately was a letdown. It had such potential! I saw this Maple Bacon & Apple Stuffed French Toast and was super excited. I mean I grocery shopped specifically for this and I hate to grocery shop.
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Maple Bacon? Apple? French Toast? What’s not to love, right? I don’t know if I missed the mark on this with a bunch of seemingly small mistakes or if I just didn’t have the touch. Here it is, done right, by Kitchen Runway.If you’re intrigued, and want to prove me right/wrong go ahead with Kitchen Runway’s ingredients & directions since clearly theirs was successful.

Maple Bacon & Apple Baked French Toast

Ingredients:

21 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (I used potato rolls)
10 slices of maple bacon
1 large Fuji apple, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
1 Tbs maple syrup
8 large eggs
2 C whole milk (this could be one of my problems)
½ C heavy cream
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Topping:
8 slices of maple bacon (~9 oz), cooked and crumbled
½ C powdered sugar
2 Tbs + 1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp milk

Directions:

Quarter the rolls and place in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry out while you prepare the rest of the recipe steps.

Preheat oven to 325º F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place bacon in a single layer and bake for 35 mins.  Remove from oven when done and place bacon on a paper towel to drain fat.  Crumble bacon or use a knife to chop the bacon.  Set aside.

Place sliced apples in a bowl and add maple syrup and stir to combine, set aside. (I used a mandolin and cut 2 fingers…bandaging myself delayed everything a bit. Chunks would have been better anyway.)
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In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined.
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Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with butter and place half of the bread in a single layer in the bottom of the dish.  Cover bread with ½ of the egg mixture.  Place remaining bread into the egg mixture and stir to coat.
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Place sliced apples on top of the bread in a single layer and sprinkle the bacon on top.

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Gently place the remaining bread on top of the apple and bacon layer.  Pour remaining egg mixture to the baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. (hmmm. I think I gave it an hour in the fridge)

The next day:  preheat oven to 350º F.  Place dish on middle rack and bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.  If the French toast is browning too quickly, tent the baking dish with foil.
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In the meantime, you can cook the bacon for the topping on the stove top or bake until crispy. (I used reserved bacon from the filling prep)

In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, maple syrup and milk.

Sprinkle bacon on top of baked French toast and drizzle with maple glaze.  Serve with additional maple glaze or syrup if you like. (my glaze needed more powdered sugar)
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Can’t win ‘em all. I re-tried it the next day, because things are better after chill-axing. No such luck. One of the very few items I bake is a chocolate bread pudding…not much different than this but that is fool-proof and this stuffed french toast proved problematic. Ohh well, onto the next.

Double Rainbow

The most recent theme for our office potluck was RAINBOW! We each picked a color and brought something in with that color. It was such a fun one. I have to admit I wasn’t daring enough to choose certain colors…ahem:blue:cough:purple.I chose RED and made Strawberry Bruschetta. Toasted French bread + cream cheese + strawberries + balsamic reduction topped off with a little basil. Yum. I highly recommend bringing this one to your next bbq or summer party. I hadn’t ever made a balsamic reduction but it was so easy and worked really well. I loved this. The idea came from Mrs. C. She did a balsamic and honey drizzle and used goat cheese.

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Orange was out sick that day.

YELLOW was Lemon Squares! They were gooey with a fantastic shortbread crust.
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GREEN was guacamole! Ms. C learned how to pit an avocado while making it too!
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BLUE was blue corn tortilla chips and even a special blue dip! The veggie dip had a touch of blue food coloring. What would you bring for blue? Seriously a tough one but we’ve had at least one dip at every potluck. ever.
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PURPLE was Thai Lettuce Wraps in Radicchio! Some were vegetarian with tofu and some had ground turkey. I love bean sprouts so these were really fun finished off with a sprinkle of peanuts. Purple also had a blackberry fizzy drink too.

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BROWN was chocolate from a friend dropping by. We stressed she didn’t need to bring anything but this was a creative little something.

Hope the rainbow has you inspired for something new or different. Another blog I love recently posted about a Grilled Appetizer Party which is a fantastic theme! The photos will have your mouth watering but don’t let that stop you if you’re trying to come up with a fun theme! What’s the next office potluck theme? Ohh just you wait…

Wing It

I’ve been so excited to post these fan-tas-tic wings. Despite chicken being a very regular menu item for me, I haven’t cooked wings…probably ever. Also, I haven’t even thought about cooking wings since I do not have access to the grill. Waaa waaa. Someday it will come out of storage.
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These were so good! I was so happy with them! They were sweet, had a nice soy zing, and the fresh green onions provided a crispness that I appreciated. I truly felt like these were restaurant quality.

Ingredients

1 pound chicken wings, drumette & wing separated, if desired
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tbs honey
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sesame oil
2 tbs chopped garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped green onions

Directions

Whisk liquid ingredients together before adding trimmed wings and sauce to marinate for at least 3 hours.
After chicken has marinated, sprinkle with salt and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake chicken in a single layer, skin side down for 20 minutes and flip and bake for 25 minutes until browned & crispy
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Serve with chopped green onion.

The leftovers were just as good served cold. It made me feel like I was on a picnic…though I haven’t picnic-ed in years and probably didn’t have Asian-inspired wings then anyway.

The recipe is pretty basic but super convenient since I had everything on hand, and an easy one to set up to marinate while other fun things are happening. I chopped off the wing tip but left the wing and drumette attached. I used the tips to make a little bit of chicken stock.
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I served these bad boys with some of my favorite (also, mayo-less) slaw. It has apple for sweetness and a vinegary/mustardy dressing. I love it and can’t get enough of it. I made it here too. I haven’t attempted potato salad yet and it’s already August so I should really get on that!

These would be a great game time snack, appetizer, or meal. BBQ wings cooked low and slow and finished on the grill are my favorite. Until I live somewhere that allows grills, ours will hide in the garage just waiting for a chance to make the neighbors, and the pup, jealous with a smokey scent in the air.

On a Stick

I was psyched to get a copy of “On a Stick” by Matt Armendariz and after quickly glancing through it I just couldn’t decide what to make! Everything just looked so good!
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Part of me wanted an excuse to make something fun or an upcoming special occasion and the other part of me figured, what’s wrong with just making something fun on a Monday? It was a dreary day here in Boston and I was pretty soaked after getting home and walking the dog.I chose: (drum roll please) fried ravioli on a stick! It was a fun dinner and more filling than I thought. A few extra large raviolis sprinkled with Parmesan with tomato sauce for dipping. How great is that?! The leftovers toasted up nicely under the broiler too.
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Ingredients:

marinara sauce
1 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, seeded and roughly chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper

1 qt vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
12 store-bought ravioli

Directions:

1) make the marinara sauce: warm oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Deglaze pot by adding wine, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of pot; then stir in oregano and sugar and seacon with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a food processor and process to desired consistency. Return mixture to pot and simmer 30 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

2) Prehead vegetable oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.

3) Place flour in one shallow dish and eggs in another. In a third, mix bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
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4) In two batches, toss ravioli in flour, gently shaking off excess. Dip in egg and then in bread crumb mixture. Thread 3 breaded ravioli onto each skewer.
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5) once oil reaches 350F carefully place skewers in pot, 2 at a time, and fry about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. serve warm, with marinara sauce on the side.
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They came out awesome! They were definitely something I wouldn’t have really thought about making otherwise, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have put them on a stick. The stick helped make them more manageable rather than bobbing for raviolis.

The book is beautiful. The photos are lovely and very appropriately styled. Though I’m not familiar with Matt Armendariz’s work, the blogger voice comes through rather than the often-distant cookbook author voice. For the ravioli he says “if you haven’t tried them, you should”. True story.

Each stick item includes a recipe for the sauce too. This definitely puts some of these items to the next level. I plan to make the s’mores sometime before fall decends and the bacon wrapped shrimp looks like something my Mum and I would love.
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I liked the background provided on certain recipes and that he differentiated all the types of sticks. While I don’t know that every item in the book needs to be on a stick, they definitely spice up the presentation and sometimes make the item more manageable.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: My copy of On A Stick was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

Perfect Sauce at Sauce

 

As often as I travel for work, I rarely blog about my eatings during those trips. Seriously. I worked four cities this year so far and this is the first one you’re hearing about. San Fran deserves it though. I simply adore the city and I always know there will be unexpectedly amazing meals coordinated by the local staff. Did you see this other treat in San Fran?
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For the past two years we’ve eaten at Sauce, an unassuming little restaurant & bar in the Hayes Valley area. The menu features comfort food in a classy and sophisticated atmosphere. The food is not pretentious…it’s just all done really well.Feeding our large group, in a timely fashion, on a serious budget is no small feat. That’s why I greatly appreciate how generous and accommodating Sauce is.

Probably 90% of the group visited the bar before dinner. There were fantastic cocktails. I had my eye on a lemon-looking one garnished with a sugared lemon slice!

They started us off with the lincoln logs of portabello mushroom fries and fat boy ranch dipping sauce. AMAZING. These are so lightly battered and make you want to play Jenga when you see the tower. Ms. K who doesn’t even like mushrooms was impressed. We also got the meal going with some bruschetta. I loved it and could have enjoyed the appetizers as my whole meal.
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Dinner was family style with salad, buttery carrot coins, brussels sprouts, veggie lasagna, and a side of meatballs.

I’m not a huge fan of carrots but these were so delicious. They were thin and warm with the littlest bit of pepper made them this memorable.

The lasagna was so good. It was cheesy and the sauce made it bright and really flavorful without being too acidic. The crispy edges made me swoon.
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They served a really delicious chilled red wine. I knew it was coming so I hadn’t hit up the bar. The owner explained it and assured us it was meant to be chilled. Needless to say our table of 6 finished every last drop.

We even got dessert. I also knew this was coming from years past so I kept room. It was delightful cinnamon sugared donut bites with a vanilla burbon dipping sauce. Ooo that sauce! These were the perfect bites to finish the meal.
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I love this place and thought we were so well taken care of. The extras like appetizers, wine, and dessert were greatly appreciated. I loved every sauce we ate. The owner introduced himself and told us how happy he was to have us given his connection to the cause as well.

 

 

Fish-Fish Tacos

I’m usually on my own for dinner a few nights per week when Mr. J plays hockey. Sometimes I go for leftovers, sometimes it’s an opportunity be lazy (read as: ramen), and sometimes it’s my chance to whip up something I wouldn’t normally make for dinner.  A week ago I made some fish tacos that were amazing. I grilled some mahi-mahi and called in some leftovers to complete it.

Do you remember the movie House Bunny? “Instead of the mahi-mahi can I just get mahi cause I’m not that hungry?” hahaha

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Ingredients:

2 pieces of marinated mahi mahi
veggie mix (corn, red peppers, or taco veggies of your choice)
1 tsp lime juice or lime salad dressing
salsa
1 10” flour tortilla

Directions:

Marinate and grill mahi mahi
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When cooked, fork the fish apart
Mix veggies and drizle with lime juice or lime salad dressing
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Warm tortilla and assemble taco
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These were really good and especially easy. I get the frozen mahi mahi from Trader Joe’s and swear by it. It’s the best anywhere. Remember I made pepperjack chicken and succotash recently? I saved the leftover succotash and that’s what ended up as my veggies for the tacos. Love it when a little bit of leftover something can make another meal complete!

I think a lime aioli or something creamy with a zing would have made these even better, but for an unplanned dinner, these were awesome. It was the perfect light but interesting dinner. I ate some leftover fish on a spinach salad the next day and loved it just as much.

A Sweet Bite

Just writing about gelato makes me want some…especially in this heat. While I was working in San Francisco recently, my colleagues in the local office shared a super fun treat with all of us: Gelato on a stick!
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I just learned that the only difference between gelato and ice cream is the butterfat content. It was a perfect treat while we were working (and enjoying) the sun. I really love San Fran and know that we’ll always be treated fantastic meals.
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It is definitely the best Italian dessert. Mr. J and I also just booked our honeymoon to Italy & Spain so I’ll be sure to report back about the gelato in my future. Also you have some other food-on-a-stick to look forward to coming up!

Not Quite Summer Food

During a stint of weather not feeling quite so summery a few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to make deep dish pizza. I haven’t made much pizza with so many calzones lately but I was feelin’ it.
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Ingredients

1 ball pizza dough
¾ cup tomato sauce
thick cut bacon
1 Valida onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ cup pesto
2 cups shredded cheese

Directions

Cook bacon until crisp then chop. (Have you had thick cut bacon? It is like deli bacon and once you try it you won’t go back. Thanks for the intro Mrs. S!)
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Saute onions and peppers until softened but still somewhat crisp
Spread pizza dough into round cake pan and spread pesto over it
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layer onion & pepper mixture with cheese and then layer the bacon on top
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add more cheese and cover with tomato sauce then sprinkle with oregano or basil if you like
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bake at 400-degrees for 30-40 minutes
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I liked this one as a slight deviation from the norm. Once I weaseled some feedback out of Mr. J I agreed with him that the onion and bacon can’t stay as crisp as when they top a pizza. True story. I still really liked it. The bacon was substantial and smokey. The peppers made it a touch sweeter and maintained their slight crunch instead of being too soggy.

We often get bacon on pizza because who doesn’t love bacon, and also because I can’t eat red meat so pork or chicken it is!

Once I thought of pizza and bacon I probably should have gone with a regular pizza on my stone. Maybe next time. I really want to do a bacon & egg pizza so that’ll have to be next. Check out some of these awesome looking ones, like this, or this, or this.

Boston “Hahbah” Cruise

One sprinkling Saturday, Mr. J and I went on a brunch cruise in Boston for his bday. It was fun even though we’re from here. The commentary was interesting (with new info!) and it was something different than our usual weekend plans. It was through Boston Harbor Cruises
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The brunch specifically was not overly amazing, but we really enjoyed ourselves. I know there were items listed on the menu we each were looking forward to but that weren’t served, and I noticed the menu doesn’t list that it is “subject to change without notice” or “subject to availability”.

Mr. J was interested in cream cheese stuffed french toast and I wish we had crab cake eggs benedict. The brunch served was pretty basic, but OK in terms of a buffet offering.
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I was thankful that it wasn’t crowded and that coffee was available right when we stepped onto the boat. Each group had their own table! I think the weather had something to do with that, but it was fine with us.

We started with a little fruit and cheese thinking we shouldn’t go heavy on pastries since the brunch sounded pretty good. One of my cheeses was red pepper and tasted like cheddar…it was amazing! I really loved it and hadn’t had anything like it before. I liked the flavor and the spice.
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When the buffet opened we had eggs, french toast sticks (which made me feel like my soon-to-be-nephews were with us), potatoes, sausage, and a veggie medly. I tried it all and didn’t think anything was very special, very good quality, or memorable.
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I also grabbed some apple crisp thing which was stellar. I loved it. My mum makes pretty fantastic apple crisp and this was up there.
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Dessert was interesting. It was great that everything was bite sized so we shared bites of everything. We are pretty sure that the pumpkin cheesecake had salt instead of sugar. It was fun to see others also experience the same reaction we had.
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Had they asked my opinion or on a survey I would have shared my disappointment in the food. I might have felt differently if they set my expectations by not listing what was served. It also wasn’t really brunch. I think brunch is breakfast items and some lunch items.

Being realistic, the brunch is fine. Nobody is there for the food and I really had a great time overall. I’d recommend a fun brunch downtown or enjoying food truck fare on the Rose Kennedy Greenway with the Historic Boston Sightseeing cruise instead.

Fun to Say and Fun to Eat

Succotash is such a fun word and made me really excited to make it since I’d never had it before. Announcing this made Mr. J’s jaw drop which made me even more excited to make this chicken & succotash meal!
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Sometimes I dream about when I won’t live in an apartment and I can have a normal kitchen, or when my puppy can have a yard, and especially when I can have a grill! That sometimes might actually be quite frequently. I promise the dog he’ll have his own yard all. the. time.

This dinner is pretty good inside but would be amazing on a grill outside too. The chicken is stuffed with pepperjack cheese and spinach with a zippy spice on the outside. It’s served with succotash too.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
6 oz pepperjack cheese, sliced
2 cups baby spinach
2 tbs grilling rub of your preference
1 cup edamame
1 cup red pepper
1 cup corn
1 tomato, chopped
¼ cup lime salad dressing or lime juice and olive oil

Directions

Butterfly the chicken breasts and stuff with cheese and spinach, or cut a pocket into the middle and stuff with cheese and spinach.
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Season the outside with a rub or spice mix
Grill chicken on a grill pan or panini press for about 10-minutes until all juices are running clear
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Meanwhile, saute edamame, red pepper, corn, for about 3 minutes and then add tomato.
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Add lime dressing and serve
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I got this recipe from The Food Network Magazine awhile back. I use spinach instead of argula like they recommend. I also did edamame instead of lima beans and threw in the red pepper instead of summer squash and thought it made it wayyy better.

Funny story. I always stop by the reduced produce, don’t judge, and I thought I was grabbing a bag of cukes & zuccs. I figured the store employees don’t know the difference. I got home and had lots of cukes but no zucchinis. This is kind of like the time when they didn’t know how to label prosciutto and charged me the bologna price. Score! Anywho,  I also got a steal on red & orange peppers (4 for $1.77!!). The cashier just entered the pepper code and it would have been $5-something if I wasn’t watching. I felt like I was on extreme couponing!!

This is an easy & casual one that would definitely impress friends with only a few pans OR deviate from the norm of your grilling menus this weekend!