Sunday, August 25, 2013

Strawberry Baked French Toast

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After my immense shame in not celebrating National Waffle Day on Saturday morning, I picked up a half loaf of day old clearance French bread (59 cents...bam!) with the intention of making french toast on Sunday as a consolation prize.     And then I thought, "Jenni, making real French toast might require more work than you want on a summer Sunday."   So off I went in search of inspiration for a baked French toast - ideally one that I could put together on Saturday and enjoy on Sunday.

One of Google's first stops was The Pioneer Woman.    This was my first time visiting the blog and using one of her recipes.   It was simple and brilliant.    I modified it for an 8x8 pan since I had a half loaf, opted for skim milk instead of cream, and used strawberries as my fruit of choice.   It's sweet, delicious and with strawberries, tastes like summer.   Want to make a full 9x13 pan?  Check out the original recipe here on her blog.

What You Need

For the bread
1/2 loaf of day old French bread
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

For the topping
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 cup butter/margarine

If you want to add fruit, there are lots of options, I used 12 strawberries, quartered.

What You Do

Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.    Rip up the half loaf of bread and layer it in the pan.  Why dirty a knife when you have perfectly capable hands?     In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, granulated sugar and vanilla.   Whisk with a fork.    Pour over the bread and then press the bread down so that most of it is covered by the egg/milk mixture.    Cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you're ready to go (ie the next morning).

You can also make the topping the night before and just store it in a small zip bag in the fridge.    Cut the flour, brown sugar, spices and butter together, either using a pastry cutter, or two knives (my method) until it resembles crumbs.

When you are ready to go, preheat the oven to 375.   Unwrap your pan that has the bread/egg mixture.   If you're going to add fruit, put it on first before adding the brown sugar topping.    Bake for 40 minutes and serve while hot.      

Never again will you have a sad loaf or half loaf of bread.   You'll have delicious French toast instead.

Have a favorite French toast?   Share it in the comments or on Facebook.

Balsamic BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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Pulled pork sandwiches are a staple of summer.   You find them at every fair and festival.    At summer birthdays and bbqs.    Pulled pork is so easy to make in a crock pot.   You do hardly any work and end up with lots of food.

But first, a tale of hunting.    
Hunting for a pork shoulder, that is.    

My sister was the one at the grocery store.   This was not her first time at the store.   It was her first time shopping for a pork shoulder.    I got a text every few minutes.    Where will I find this?   How will it be labeled?    I can't find any small ones.   She's laughing and texting, "you'd think this was my first time grocery shopping."       The smallest pork shoulder available was almost 7 pounds.   And according to the butcher shop in the store, that was a small one.    The recipe that I was working from recommended a shoulder that was 2.5-3 pounds.  

I wasn't letting the smallest pork shoulder in Denver get me down or stop my plan.    The whole damn thing was going into the crock pot.    And then before I sauced it up, I took a little under half of it, pulled it, bagged it and froze it for my future pork shoulder needs or an early fall bbq emergency.   

The second tale ?   
A tale of how I couldn't sleep because the smell of pork in the crock pot over night was intoxicating and was wafting its way up the stairs.

What You Need

To cook the pork in the crock pot:
3 lbs pork shoulder (or 6-7 pounds - I just cooked the whole thing over night, froze part of it after pulling it apart and then sauced the rest)
1 white/yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth

To make the balsamic BBQ sauce:
1 cup balsamic vinegar 
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt/pepper to taste

cabbage slaw (bagged from the store) and dill pickles for garnish
serve on the buns of your choice

What You Do

You could trim the pork before you put it in the crockpot.   I did not.  Cook the pork 9-10 hours (overnight) on low heat in the crock pot.     The next day, drain all the liquid/fat from the pork.    Using forks (or your hands) pull the pork apart.   After cooking that long it is super tender and this should be easy.   Discard any questionable or fatty parts.     Put the pulled pork (and any onions that made it through) back in the crock pot.   Add all the bbq sauce ingredients to the pot and stir to mix.    Cook over low until the sauce and pork is warmed through.

Serve on a bun with cabbage slaw and pickles.

Do you have a favorite recipe for bbq?   Share links in the comments!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Grilled Pizza

I just got (and by got, I mean assembled myself with a zillion tiny screws) a small portable gas grill.      
It was primarily for this purpose.

So I could grill dessert.

Why haven't I done this sooner?     Grilled cookie dough pizza is everything I love about cookie dough - warm and puffy with melted chocolate, without the formal cookie structure or expectations.    There are lots of modifications for grilled dessert pizza and if you search online, you'll find more awesome ideas.   So many that you may want to grill out every night through the rest of the year.

King Soopers, my local grocery store, has pre-made pizza dough in their deli section, a bag with one pound of dough.     This is perfect for both regular entree-type grilled pizza (you know, the appetizer pizza before you crack into your dessert pizza).     They also have store brand break and bake peanut butter cup cookie dough, which is what I used in this pizza.    Regular peanut butter or chocolate chip cookie dough would also be delicious.  

This is a non-scientific recipe.   Use the amount of pizza dough, peanut butter, cookie dough and chocolate chips to make you, and your family/friends, happy.

What You Need

Pizza dough - store bought or homemade
Cookie dough - store bought or homemade (I used peanut butter cup cookie dough)
Peanut Butter (optional) - a light coat on the pizza dough before you add the cookie dough
Chocolate chips - for more melty chocolate goodness (I used Ghiradelli dark chips)

What You Do

Fair warning - how long it bakes on your grill depends on how hot it is and what you are cooking it on.   I've had good luck with both a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and with foil  - with foil you need to watch the heat so you don't burn the crust.

Roll out the pizza dough on a cutting board dusted with flour.  From the one pound package of dough, I used about a quarter of the dough to make a generous square of dessert 'za.    Thin is good.     Put the pizza crust onto your pizza stone, cookie sheet or foil.    For a cookie sheet or foil, spray the sheet/foil with cooking spray.   I personally don't have a pizza stone, but I have friends who give them rave reviews on the grill.

Spread a thin coat of peanut butter on the crust.   This is your 'sauce'.   Then crumble your cookie dough over the peanut butter.   I used about four cookie dough squares crumbled up.   You don't have to cover every inch of crust, the cookie dough puffs as it bakes.   Sprinkle some chocolate chips over the dough for more melting action.

Put the pizza on the grill.   It will cook pretty fast.   When the cookie dough starts to puff and spread and the chips are melting that's about the time you want to pull it off the grill and slice it.    Best when hot off the grill, but if you have a leftover slice, you will enjoy it with your morning coffee.

Have you had dessert pizza?   What are your favorite toppings?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pizza Bar 66 - Lyons, CO

Every time I drive through Lyons on my way to Estes Park, I want to stop.   Primarily because I see lots of signs for river tubes.   If river tubes are for sale, then you know that there must be a great river for relaxing in the sun...possibly with a cold beverage.

On our way back from a great hike and day trip to Estes Park, rain and hail were falling from the sky.   We thought that Sharknado had come all the way to Colorado.  It was definitely time to get inside and fortify ourselves for the crazy drive ahead.

My road trip buddy, Paula, recommended Pizza Bar 66 so we stopped for dinner.    We were able to park right in front of the door and it was time for a judgement call:  do I try to open my umbrella and save myself from sharks falling from the sky, or just run for it and hope for the best. 

The answer?  Run for it!

And then eat.   Of course.

Gonzo Rolls - cream cheese, jalapenos and pepperoni - YUM!

Carnivore Calzone
And the Honey Mule :)

What new places have you tried recently?


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lucile's Creole Cafe - Littleton, CO

As I'm walking through the parking lot to Lucile's, I hear two ladies talking as they walk back to their cars, in a conversation that goes something like this "blah blah blah sugar overload..."  

"Sugar Overload?  I must be in the right place."  

"You are, just make sure you get the pecan syrup with your beignet."

And that was my introduction to breakfast at Lucile's Creole Cafe.    After an unsuccessful attempt a few months ago to go to their Denver location (a very long line), it was a pleasure to pop into their Littleton location, right along the Platte River Trail and head straight for a table, chicory coffee and giant beignets.  

The beignet in question - with pecan syrup

And this is the "Carlin County" aka biscuits and gravy

Their biscuits are huge!
The spoon and the syrup caddy are just for reference.

Do you like southern or Creole breakfasts?   What's your favorite dish?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Peanut Butter Oreo Brownies

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I'm not big on buying packaged cookies.   Why should I when I usually make my own?  Or try something crazy at the farmer's market or a coffee shop.   There is something about Oreos.  It probably goes deep into this Traveler's mind to when I was 5 and only got to have Oreo's at my friend's house.   Or something.

This summer I've seen more flavors that usual.    And often they are on sale.    Currently there is a package of Neapolitan Oreos in the pantry.    I'm thinking about what I can do with them.   But first things first, I needed to do something with the rest of the Peanut Butter Oreos.   Other than dipping them in milk.   First they went  into these brownies.   Then they went to a shark week viewing party.  

Are you a shark week fan?    It's addicting.    We took over one of the TV's in our employee cafeteria and turned it to Discovery channel.    Who needs two channels of news when you could watch sharks all day?

These brownies are super easy:  5 ingredients are ready to roll.

What You Need
1 box devils food cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup chopped Peanut Butter Oreos

What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.    Line a 9x9 baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray (or use a silicone baking pan and skip the foil).

In a large bowl, combine the boxed cake mix, oil and egg.    Slowly add the milk - the batter will be really thick and dense (you can add a little more milk if needed).   Stir in 1 cup of the chopped cookies, you'll be keeping the remainder for the top.

Press the batter into the bottom of the pan.    Sprinkle the remaining cookies over the top.   Bake for 25-30 minutes.    Let sit for at least 30 minutes and then cut into bars.

Do you have a favorite cookie or candy from your childhood?   Heck, why not from your adulthood?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Raspberry Chocolate Brownie Magic Bars

After making the amazing Chocolate Raspberry Bars a few weeks ago, I knew it was time to bake with chocolate and raspberry again.   If one dessert is good, two is better, right?    These bars were gooey and chocolately and definitely needed a napkin (unless you want to proudly declare to your co-workers that you had an awesome brownie and they didn't).   

What You Need
1 (10.25oz) package of brownie mix
1/3 cup melted butter/margarine
1 egg
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.    Lightly coat a 9x9 silicone baking pan with cooking spray.  

Combine the brownie mix, melted butter/margarine and egg together.     Spread in the bottom of the pan and bake for 13-14 minutes.  

Remove the brownie base from the oven.   Drop small spoonfuls of the raspberry jam over the top of the brownies.    Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over the top of the raspberry jam.    Sprinkle coconut over the top of it all then drizzle with the sweetened condensed milk.     Bake for 23 minutes until bars are pretty much set.     Cool, then slice and enjoy.   

Just for fun, I wanted to share a photo from the hike my friend and I took yesterday to Gem Lake just outside Estes Park, Colorado.   It was a gorgeous morning for a hike, as you can tell.    Only in the late afternoon as we were driving back to Denver did we get the torrential rain and hail making you think that a storm of Sharknado proportions was headed our way.   It gave us the excuse we needed to stop for dinner at Pizza Bar 66 in Lyons to "get off the road."    Have you gone on any good hikes recently?  

If you're a friend of food at heart, like Traveler in the Kitchen on Facebook.   If you're a traveler, consider liking Traveler for Good as well.    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Reese's Pieces Sweet and Salty Bars

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Pretzels are multiplying in the pantry.  Similar to what dry cleaning hangers do in your closet (the fancy hangers with clips never multiply...).      I've found not one, but three partial bags of pretzels and I'm not sure why.    They are not my choice of snack.   And when they are in another snack (say, my sister's addictive Chex mix) they are the last ones eaten...kind of like black licorice jelly beans.    I'm sure it's hard on their spindly, salty, self-esteem.    If you want to show some pretzels love, bake them.   Preferably with peanut butter and Reese's Pieces.      

What You Need
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter (as always, I prefer the Kroger store brand crunchy honey and roasted peanut)
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pretzel sticks, broken
1 cup Reese's Pieces

What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.   Line a 13x9 pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat both sugars, butter, peanut butter and the egg on medium.   Gently beat in the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.   Stir in the pretzel sticks and Reese's Pieces.

Bake 17-22 minutes until golden brown.     Cool completely.    Use the foil to remove the bars from the pan and cut into squares (or rectangles, or triangles, your choice).

What's been multiplying in your pantry recently?   Can you  make something delicious with it and share?

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