Sunday, December 20, 2009

French Toast Casserole

This is a favorite of mine to make and eat! We do a brunch Christmas morning. This dish works well because you put it together the night before and bake it just before you need it.

PS: This recipe isn't for the weak-hearted. It is a Paula Deen recipe which means bring on the the calories!

Baked French Toast Casserole

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tbsp grandualted sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Dash salt

1. Slice French bread into 20 slices (1" each). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9x13 baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.

Side note: I use a regular loaf of Italian bread and layer the bread like you would assemble a lasagne. When I pulled the picture from the website (see photo on left), I noticed she sets the bread in the pan standing up. I am going to try it that way this next time. May mean I have to use French bread. The way I do it, the edges of the bread stick together and don't allow steam to come out so it 'puffs' up quite a bit while cooking. I usually do two layers. Tried doing three layers once and it spilled out all over my oven!
*UPDATE: DO NOT set them up in the pan like Paula does!! I didn't like it at all -- the "egg mixture" doesn't cook very well because it puddles in between the bread slices and there are sections of cooked egg; it's hard to know how to cut it once cooked; it's hard to spread the topping across the top of the slices. I DO NOT recommend doing the way the recipe says. I do prefer to layer it flat it the pan -- 2 rows.
2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices.

3. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve warm with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:
1 stick butter
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c chopped pecans
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. (Note: This is half the original topping recipe, but it is plenty for the above recipe.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Slow-Cooked Enchilada Dinner

With the holidays quickly approaching, I thought a "quick-fix" dinner would be a good idea. We tried this last week and my picky 5-year old inhaled it!

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (1 Tbsp minced)
1 - 15 oz can ranch-style beans, undrained*
1 - 10 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, undrained**
1/4 c chopped green pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin**
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 c shredded Cheddar cheese
6 flour tortillas (6 inch)

1. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
2. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, green peppers, chili powder, salt, cumin and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the cheeses; set aside.
3. In a 5-qt slow cooker coated with cooking spray, place two tortillas side by side overlapping if necessary. Layer with a third of the beef mixture and cheese. Repeat layers twice. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until heated through.

Yield: 6 servings.

* I found Kuner's of Colorado Southwestern Ranchero Beans (pinto in a tex-mex sauce) at Giant Eagle, and they worked well.

**Our family doesn't like chunks of tomatoes or green chiles, so I bought plain diced tomatoes and cut them up a little before adding them. I also opted out of the cumin and there was plenty of flavor without it.

This would be really good topped with any of the listed toppings -- fresh diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, onions, black olives or crushed tortilla chips. I just used what we had on hand. I also bought the 8" flour tortillas because my crockpot is round and they fit perfectly. I still did a double layer.

Stay warm and enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Five-hour Stew

We have been fortunate to have a mild winter so far in the northest. However, that doesn't mean it isn't cold! The last few nights in the 20s have chilled me to the bone. Here's a stew recipe that will warm you from the inside out.

Five-hour Stew

1 lb stew meat, cubed
small onion
6+ medium potatoes
1/2 lb carrots
1/2 c celery
2 cans tomato soup
1 can of water
1 c peas
1 c corn
Salt & Pepper, to taste

1, Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
2. Chop all fresh vegatables into large peices.
3. Layer first 5 ingredients in a large pot (starting with meat at the bottom).
4. Mix soups and water; pour over meat and veggies.
5. Put in oven and bake for 4 1/2 hours.
6. Remove pot from oven. Add peas and corn; stir to coat and mix all ingredients.
7. Place pot back in oven uncovered. Cook remaining 30 minutes. Cooking the stew uncovered should thicken broth, but if not you can thicken as you would thicken gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Serve warm.

Notes: Most of the time, I will use beef roast and cube it because it goes on sale BOGO (Buy One, Get One) quite often. I also use baby carrots and frozen corn and peas because they are easy. The recipe calls for two cans of tomato soup, but if you don't like a real tomato-y taste you can use one can tomato soup and one can cream of mushroom soup.

Recipe from Red Lott