cooking

French Toast: Solution for day-old sourdough

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By Tiffany Young
I’m trying to be more mindful of wasting food. As someone generally cooking for one, this is difficult to do. I typically go to the grocery store once or twice a week and try not to buy too much, but inevitably, I’ll think I’m going to eat dinner at home most nights per week and then end up being home about once during the week. This means I definitely can’t get carried away buying all the fruits and veggies I want. It also bothers me when I end up with a can or a 1/2 cup of something random that sits on the shelf for months upon months. For this reason, I’m trying to evaluate what food I have in the house on Sundays and determine what needs to be used and what items I should buy at the store to go with what I already have.

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That being said, this week I had almost a loaf of sourdough left on Sunday and it was the “baked fresh” bread from the bakery–i.e. no preservatives, i.e. gonna go bad if I don’t use it pronto. I thought about ways to use it up quickly and came up with either 1) croutons or 2) French toast (my helper here is one of the tested toasters at Jane’s Kitchen). And with my sweet tooth, you know which one I was leaning toward.

And that’s how I came to make a lot of French toast this morning. So much, in fact, I’m freezing some and planning on taking some into work a few days this week to heat up for breakfast.

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For the recipe, which promises (and delivers) crispy, not soggy, French Toast, visit Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. I subbed coconut milk for the milk and completely didn’t see it called for brown sugar until just now, but it worked out all the same. I’ve never done this before, but they have you bake the bread for 8 minutes on each side to keep the bread from getting too soggy when you dip it in the egg mixture. Also, I thought it was brilliant that they have you keep all the toast in the oven after you’ve put it on the griddle so that you can serve it all warm. I’m going to have to tell my parents about this! We always just eat pancakes and French toast one at a time when it’s ready so that it doesn’t get cold, but this way makes way more sense! It sucks to be the one cooking and watching everyone else eat while you’re still flipping food.

I will say French toast takes a lot longer to make than I had thought–You have to cook each slice of bread 3-4 minutes per side, with about 10 slices of bread puts you at 30-40 minutes, not to mention the pre-toasting time. Luckily it tasted so yummy I didn’t mind, and hopefully the grab-n-go breakfasts may save me some time in the mornings.

Farmers Market sandwich

For the past week I’ve been helping Engel Farms from Fredericksburg, Texas, sell their produce at farmers markets around Austin. In addition to getting some cash in my pockets, I also get to bring home some lovely produce, including golden zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, blackberries and whatever else is fresh from the farm.

Today I decided the squash and zucchini had a few days left in it, so I cooked it the way my mom always does. With a little olive oil in a pan, you add the sliced squash, zucchini and onion and saute it until you get it to your favorite texture. I like mine a little softer, but golden on each side. Sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking.

I also have some French bread I’m trying to eat by the weekend, so I sliced it up, added a dab of butter to each piece (OK, a huge slather, really) and then toasted it in the toaster oven. When it came out, I added the sauteed veggies, and, presto—what I’ve deemed Farmers Market sandwich was born. It was so delicious I almost forewent peaches and ice cream. (I said almost!)

Lentils are healthy, inexpensive in soups, salads

One of my new favorite foods to cook with is lentils. For one thing, I only eat fish (animal-wise), so lentils are a great way to pack in protein. It also has a lot of fiber. I also enjoy how inexpensive the meals are with lentils.

But other than just being healthy, I think lentils bring a variety to dishes cooked at home; They can be found in a variety of colors and can be in soups, salads and side dishes. I’ve made several lentil salads recently, cold and hot, and they’ve all been pretty good.

My latest recipe Red Curry Lentils and Spinach, while good, was not my favorite. It tastes good—and looks beautiful—but the seasoning doesn’t seem to be very consistent—probably the chef’s fault, but none-the-less that means some bites are amazing and others a bit lacking depending on the bite. I’d give it a 3.5 spoons out of 5. Better than average, but not lick-the-spoon-clean good.

You can find the exact recipe at http://newhope360.com/recipes/red-curry-lentils-and-spinach even though mine came from a print magazine. I substituted  brown lentil for red, since that’s all I could find at H-E-B and white rice for brown rice, because it’s what I had on hand.

Health.com states “Lentils are to India as meatloaf is to America: the quintessential comfort food.” If that’s the case, I’ve got a feeling I would enjoy the food in India! If you want to combine the two and try lentil meatloaf, no problem!

My mom made something similar to this once she found out me and my brother had become pescetarians.

How about you? Are there any healthy foods you keep returning to now that it’s beginning to turn warmer?

Ringing in the New Year

For New Year’s Eve, Antonio was sick with allergies and we ended up deciding to stay in, so I decided to make a big dinner.

I had already copied several recipes I wanted to try out, using the “Cook This” notepad made by Knock Knock. I decided to make Cream of Mushroom Soup, which I found over at YumSugar, Mushroom and Potato Gratin from a recipe from Williams-Sonoma, Not Real Macaroni and Cheese (unfortunately I don’t have the original source on this as I just copied it into Evernote sometime ago) and a salad of mixed greens, avocado and a homemade vinaigrette.

Basically if you weren’t a fan of mushrooms or cheese, you would hate this meal. As it turns out, that was not the case, for Antonio, myself, or his roommate Rolando.

The whole project took me several hours and dirtying almost all of the dishes at the Baylor House. Everything smelled so good and it was pretty much the first time I had cooked for Antonio, so I knew it was a waste when he said his nose was so stuffed up he couldn’t smell anything.

We finally sat down and toasted to the good life and the new year and being thankful to friends and all the things we have. We all realize we have little to complain about compared to many, many others.

I was pretty happy with how the meal came out, even if we had to start on the soup and salad while the gratin continued to bake.

The salad and dressing was good. My secret recipe consists of half balsamic vinegar, half olive oil, a splash of honey—and this time I added some fresh thyme since it was on hand.

The mushroom soup was wonderfully aromatic and the splash of truffle oil divine! I can’t wait to pour truffle oil into many future dishes.

The gratin proved to be a lot of trouble for how it came out—I don’t think I got enough salt and pepper in the layers to make it worth its while. I also would have loved for the potatoes to get crispier, but we were all hungry by the time the buzzer went off. However, I got to use the mandoline Antonio bought me for Christmas, so it was worth it.

The mac and cheese was Antonio’s favorite. I liked how creamy it came out.

The next night ate in again and made grilled cheese and tomato soup. It took all of 15 minutes to make. Antonio said, “This is the best meal we’ve had in a long time!”

It’s the simple things in life, spoons!

Here’s to a yummy year!

 

Minimalist Cooking


A simple meal that's easy to put together, but still tastes great.

So, I have this thing with minimalism. I read all the blogs from Unclutterer to The Minimalists to This Tiny House. That might seem odd to anyone who’s been in my room, since it is quite full, but none-the-less, I love the concept and aim to continue uncluttering my life (as I have been for years). Today I read a post on Unclutterer about the two hats the poster uses in cooking: one as creative chef, the other as utilitarian cook and I can totally relate.

There are days when I come home and all I can do is take a slice of bread, toast it and maybe, maybe add some jelly or honey to the top for diner. Then there are days, such as today, when I feel creative in the kitchen and I really want to make something, be it trying a new recipe or just whipping up something I could make in my sleep.

Today I went to the store after having avoided it for so long, and, although I planned to just pick up a few items for a smoothie, ended up buying stuff, instead, for enchiladas. I didn’t use a recipe, but then again, I don’t really need to. The key to good enchiladas are simple: cheese, onions, fried corn tortillas, green or red sauce and black refried beans to accompany it. I added avocados and tomatoes to make it a little extra special, because come on—cheesy goodness was not on my diet for today.

What about you? Do your days go back and forth from chef to cook? What are some of your “go-tos” when your energy is gone and you just need some fuel?