Sunday
Apr172011

Quick Easter Brunch

So in the wee hours of the morning I made breakfast for 10 post prom goers and lived to tell about it. While I assembled what I was going to make, I thought to myself this would be a great Easter brunch recipe. The meal was easy to put together and the Creme Brulee French Toast can be made the night before. I like to make it look like things were much harder than they really were...impress your friends and family without having to spend time in the kitchen. If a bunch of starving teenagers would like it and if I could make this at 4:30am I think anyone can do it. I have included the links to the blogs and websites where I found the recipes.

Menu:
Non-alcoholic Mimosas: 1 can frozen concentrate orange juice and 1 bottle of sparkling cider
Candied Bacon
Crème Brule French Toast
Scrambled Egg Brunch Bake
Fruit Salad: Use whatever fruit you like

Candied Bacon



  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • 1 pound thinly sliced bacon
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil, and position broiler rack on top of pan. Lightly coat the rack with the vegetable oil.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, cayenne and black pepper in a shallow dish, stirring to mix well. Press 1 side of each slice of bacon firmly into the spiced sugar to coat well. Arrange the slices of bacon on top of the broiler rack in a single layer, sugared-side up. If there is any sugar remaining in the dish, sprinkle it on top of the bacon slices evenly. Bake until the bacon is crisp and the sugar is bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then to a plate or serving dish to cool. (Can be made several hours ahead) Serve warm or at room temperature.
Crème Brule French Toast

Ingredients



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 French bread slices
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier®)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

2. Remove crusts from bread, and arrange in the baking dish in a single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla extract, orange brandy, and salt. Pour over the bread. Cover, and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove the dish from the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature.

4. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and lightly browned.

Scrambled Egg Brunch Bake

Ingredients:

  • 2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced deli ham, julienned
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Directions:

1.Unroll each tube of crescent dough (do not separate rectangles). Place side by side on a greased baking sheet with long sides touching; seal seams and perforations. Arrange ham lengthwise down center third of rectangle.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and milk. Separate one egg; set egg white aside. Add the egg yolk, remaining eggs, salt and pepper to cream cheese mixture; mix well. Add red pepper and onions.
3. In a large skillet, melt butter; add egg mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat just until set. Remove from the heat. Spoon scrambled eggs over ham. Sprinkle with cheese.

4. On each long side of dough, cut 1-in.-wide strips to the center to within 1/2 in. of filling. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across the filling. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Beat reserved egg white; brush over dough. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-28 minutes or until golden brown.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com. For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you. It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

Wednesday
Apr132011

Grilled Steak With Blender Chimichurri

 

 

Chimichurri sounds like an exotic sauce that would take time and have some level of complexity with it. However, it was easy and in 30 seconds you had your sauce done. Chimichurri is a sauce that is of South American in origin and gives you a sample of some exotic flavors that we find in the Southern Hemisphere. But the thing to keep in find is it is simple to make. Do I need to say that again, it is simple to make. My 6th grader could make this and he just got over his fear of the blender. So fire up the grill and plug-in the blender as this could be a busy night meal where you are shopping at the store at 5:30 and have to have supper on the table by 6:00.

 


Finally a meal planning for busy families cookbook with a lot of pictures! I think it is because it is from the editors of "Cookie" magazine. Every recipe comes with a picture. Love it! It is a 2010 publication so that is always nice to have a fresh new cookbook with fresh and new ideas. Unique recipes like Juice-Box Salmon have my interest or tips on freezing ginger-garlic-onion cubes to add flavor to your sauces. I think I am going to keep this cookbook for the full 3 weeks that I have it checked out in order to do some meals out of it. This will be a cookbook that I recommend for my meal planning for busy families class that I teach!

 

The Ruling: We all loved it! I used ribeye instead of skirt steak for two reasons. My store did not have skirt steak and ribeye was on sale. You can literally pick all of these items up at the store and have the meal on the table in no time. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and a salad and you will be seen as a winner in your family....or until you make something gross! I do have steak eaters in my family. The middle one does have braces and he sometimes gets food steak stuck in them and then he will stop eating. But, it is worth it and that means there is more steak for the rest of the crew to eat! I should say that my husband made this meal for us, and I heard no complaints from him.....so double winner of a recipe! We had extra sauce so we placed it in the freezer. If you have an ice-cube try, this would be a great way to freeze them in cubes and then pop in a container once frozen. Take one or two out as needed when you steak goes on sale again!

 

Grilled Steak with Blender Chimichurri, page 101

 
Ingredients:

 

  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 pieces of skirt steak (about 1 pound)
  • leaves from 1 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, optional

Directions:

 

 

  1. Heat the grill (or a heavy skillet) to medium high.
  2. In a blender, combine the garlic, olive oil, salt and oregano until smooth. Remove a couple of tablespoons of the mixture and slather it all over the steak. Add the parsley, vinegar, and pepper flakes (is using) and blend until almost smooth.
  3. Cook the meat, turning once, until browned, 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve with chimichurri sauce.


To Joyful, Simplified Living,

 

 

MS. Simplicity

 

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com . Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com. For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page here.

 

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you. It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

Saturday
Mar052011

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes

 


If I can make something in my slow cooker and not have to worry about it and it tastes great, it is a home run. This my friends is a home run! I love sweet potatoes and their health benefits. What I don't like is the stick of butter, cups of brown sugar and cups of marshmallow.....well I do like it from a taste perspective but not from a health perspective. When I saw the ingredient list, I thought to myself that it could work. I didn't hold out much hope however. But the addition of the applesauce gives it some sweetness, and the limited amounts of the brown sugar and butter give you the taste of decadence without all the calories of a traditional sweet potato casserole.

 

This cookbook is in the area of a putting together menu ideas and other party planning ideas. Most of the recipes are easy to follow and easy to make. Ingredient lists are not full of odd things and most can be found at a small town grocery store. The cookbook has many full colored pictures, which you know I love.

The Ruling: This is a keeper. It will go in my Thanksgiving recipe file. Nice flavor, easy to mix and easy to forget in the slow cooker. I love that you use fresh sweet potatoes (or yams) and not the vacuum sealed ones in syrup. I just feel a little better knowing that the sweet potato is not loaded with preservatives. Everyone ate it....and everyone enjoyed it!

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

 

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes or yams (2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, toasted

Directions:

 

 

  1. Place sweet potatoes in 2 to 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients except nuts; spoon over potatoes.
  2. Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours or until potatoes are very tender.
  3. Meanwhile, cook nuts in ungreased heavy skillet over medium-low heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently until browning begins, then stirring constantly until golden brown and fragrant; set aside. Sprinkle nuts over sweet potatoes.


To Joyful, Simplified Living,

 

MS. Simplicity

 

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com . Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com. For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you. It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

Friday
Mar042011

Penne a La Vodka Casserole

 


Putting vodka in a pasta is not something I think of when I am making my home-made spaghetti sauce, but it is common. You can even buy jarred spaghetti sauce with vodka in it. I had my husband make this dish for the family this week and when he looked for the vodka, which I assumed me had plain vodka, we did not. Not sure how this would have tasted with raspberry vodka or chocolate vodka, but we didn't want to risk it. A call to our neighbor was the last-minute rescue. Don't you love having those neighbors who can help a gal out with a cup of vodka? She calls me for a can of cream of chicken soup and I call her for vodka. Doesn't get more neighborly than that!

 

This cookbook is filled with all sorts of yummy satisfying food. I have a couple more that I would have liked to have made, like the Cowboy Chicken Casserole that has 12 cups of tortilla chips in it. There is another one for Mexican Breakfast Casserole as well......it calls for 6 poblano peppers....and you all know how much I love those poblano peppers!

The Ruling: It was well liked by everyone in our family.....by everyone I mean everyone but the youngest. I am going to stop commenting on his likes and dislikes as I think he is throwing this cook book adventure of mine a curve ball. He wouldn't even taste one noodle.....soemthing about how he hates red sauce as his excuse. Weird! When I copied down the recipe I obviously didn't look at things very closely like.....4 cups of onions......2 pounds of sausage (I had bought 1 pound)......and the 1/2 cup of vodka.....and it takes 2 hours. Nothing like eating dinner at 8:30! Oops! It was worth the wait it was a good one to put in the monthly rotation, probably under the Sunday Supper category though. The theory is that you have more time on Sunday's to let things simmer and bake. Props to my husband for sticking with this....now I know why he asked for 1 cup of vodka for the recipe from the neighbor and he only needed 1/2 cup.....some was for him.

Penne a la Vodka Casserole

Ingredients:

 

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausages, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • two 16-ounce cans whole tomatoes, crushed with their juice
  • 1 teaspoon Emeril's Original Essence
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound penned pasta
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Directions:

 

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over high heat. Add the sausages and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the basil and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the vodka and tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Add the Essence and heavy cream, stir to mix, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. To cook the pasta, combine 4 quarts water, the olive oil, and the remaining teaspoon salt in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well. Combine half of the ricotta cheese and half of the Parmigainao-Reggiano with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Add the sausage mixture and mix well. Add the remaining ricotta cheese and the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix well.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve warm with crusty bread.

 

 

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

 

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com . Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com. For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page here.

 

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you. It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

Sunday
Feb272011

Lavosh anyone?

Lavosh (or as wikipedia spells is "lavash") is one of those last minute appetizers to whip together or like I like to call it, leftover pizza.  If you have never had lavosh before, lets turn to my friend Wikipedia who describes it  "While flexible like a tortilla when fresh, lavash dries out quickly and becomes brittle and hard. The soft form is easier to use when making wrap sandwiches; however, the dry form can be used for long-term storage and is used instead of leavened bread in Eucharist traditions by the Armenian Apostolic Church. Dry, left-over lavash is used in Iran to make quick meals after being rehydrated with water, butter and cheese."

I typically use the dried out form, which is how my grocery store sells it.  I was making it last night and then a friend posted on facebook that he was dining out and eating lavosh, then another friend pipped in and said she was making lavosh as well and then finally another friend said that she had eaten it at a restaurant last night as well.  This same friend had tried to buy some in a store last week but she was told "there was a run on lavosh making" and they were sold out.  Good thing I have a stockpile!  Here is another quote from my friend Wikipedia that made me laugh and may be the reason for the run on lavosh making, "Lavash wraps have recently been popularized within Jillian Michaels' thirty day fitness guide book for losing the 'last 10-20' stubborn pounds. The Wraps are a key component of the diet plan. The book is entitled 'Making the Cut'"  Well I think Jillian would kick me off the "Biggest Loser Ranch" for what I put on my lavosh!  So instead of calling this post "Lavosh Anyone?", I should have called it "Lavosh Everyone"!

Want to make lavosh at home it is really simple.  You really need two things, lavosh cracker bread and Havarti cheese.  Add on anything else that you have a hankering for.  For us it was ham, green olives, yellow pepper, red pepper flakes and some extra grated cheese I had lying around.  I have had lavsoh with chicken and jalapenos.  Recently I have had lavosh of caramelized onions and mushrooms that was delicious.  There really are no rules when making this, simply put on top what you are hungry for or have as leftover meat and veggies that need to be used up.  I usually bake mine in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

The Havarti we used was a dill flavored one that I found at my local club warehouse store.  Cheese is considerably lower in price at the club warehouse stores and that is a good thing because Havarti is an expensive cheese.  The cracker bread I find either in the bakery section or the gourmet cheese section of my grocery store.  I buy the big ones, but they also come in small circles and I have also seen them in small heart size.  Just think of the appetizer possibilities!

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com. For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you. It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.