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Welcome to my blog where I test, evaluate, and share recipes. I love trying new recipes, creating recipes, and improving on the classics. I also post about where I have gone to find quality products and the freshest ingredients in the Food Travels tab. If you have pets, you might enjoy making a homemade treat from the Dog and Parrot recipe tabs. Please feel free to comment or make suggestions on this blog. If you have any recipes that you would like me to test or improve (make it healthier, substitutions, put a twist on it, etc.), please email me at breagha70@gmail.com or click on the "Recipe Suggestions" tab above.

Friday, December 14, 2012

COUNTRY FRENCH OMELET

The best cooking and baking time of the year is now upon us and I can't wait to whip up some great creations and test more recipes.

The cold air, the blustery wind, and the frosty mornings are a sure sign that a good hot breakfast is what's needed to start the day.  I found this recipe while watching the "Barefoot Contessa" on the Food Network.  Ina Garten is one of my favorite chefs and this is her recipe.

This is a really fantastic way to make an omelet.  I was especially surprised that this omelet is baked in the oven. It comes out so fluffy and leftovers can be frozen; just reheat in the microwave for an instant breakfast.   Maybe an idea for Christmas morning.

COUNTRY FRENCH OMELET
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics (2008)

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces                     
1 cup diced, unpeeled potatoes
Salt and pepper
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives

Instructions


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch ovenproof pan over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook for 3 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned.  Take the bacon out of the pan and set aside on a plate.






Place potatoes in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes until very tender and browned, tossing occasionally to brown evenly.  Remove to the same plate as the bacon.  Drain the fat out of the pan and discard.





 
Next, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper together.


Add the butter to the pan, lower the heat to low and pour the eggs into the hot pan.  Sprinkle the bacon, potatoes, and chives evenly over the top and place the pan in the oven for about 8 minutes, just until the eggs are set.  Slide onto a plate, divide and serve hot.







Thursday, August 2, 2012

PULLED PORK SANDWICHES CROCKPOT STYLE

The Crockpot, in my opinion, is one of the greatest inventions in cooking.  Not only is it a time saver, but it's almost impossible to ruin any meal in it.  The basic method of crockpot cooking, or slow cooking, is to put every ingredient into the pot, push a few buttons, and walk away.  It's not fast food, but it sure is good food, every time.

I enjoy my Crockpots.  From homemade beans, soups, stews, and chili, to roasts and even breakfast being cooked overnight while you sleep.  It's definitely a must have on my list of kitchen gadgets.  I've used it to have dinner ready for when I get home from work, for parties, and yes, like I mentioned above, for breakfast.  Nothing like having a nice hot breakfast to wake up to.  So, from time to time, I will be posting Crockpot recipes to show that the Crockpot just isn't for dinner.

I went to my favorite butcher and bought a pork butt roast.  The recipe I came up with was just a collaboration of different recipes I had read on the internet.  The pulled pork was so tender and the flavor was incredible!  You can freeze the leftovers in vacuum sealed bags and just boil the bags in a pot of hot water to reheat.

CROCKPOT PULLED PORK SANDWICHES

Preparation Time:  10 minutes            
Total Time:  9 hours, 20 minutes
Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

1 4lb pork butt roast
1/4 cup beef stock
1/8 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's Barbeque Sauce (original)
5 tablespoons Webers Steak'N'Chop Seasoning
1/2 sliced white onion
Cooking Spray
Kaiser Rolls
Sliced cheese (optional)

Instructions:

Use the Webers Steak'N'Chop Seasoning like a dry rub and rub the pork butt.  Spray the Crockpot with the cooking spray on the bottom and sides.  Place the pork butt and onions inside the Crockpot.  Pour the beef stock, Worcestershire Sauce, and barbeque sauce over top of the pork and onions.  Gently stir to combine.  Set the Crockpot for 8 hours (low setting).

 
When the Crockpot is done, remove the pork butt and place on a platter.  Pull the pork (shred) using a fork and knife.  Discard any fat and return the pork back to the Crockpot for another hour. 




Using a slotted spoon, spoon out the pork onto Kaiser rolls and serve.

Variations:  Melt sliced cheese on both sides of the Kaiser rolls, then add the pulled pork.





Tuesday, July 31, 2012

THE EASIEST THREE BEAN SALAD

Side dishes have always been part of the meal and they usually consist of potatoes, rice, or pasta.  If you're like me, sometimes a change in sides is necessary and this three bean salad definitely compliments any meal.  I have used it with pork chops, steak kabobs, chicken, and even fish.  It's fast, easy, and tasty.  Not to mention, healthy!

Beans or legumes provide essential nutrients such as Vitamin B, folic acid, iron, and calcium.  They are a good source of protein and fiber which takes the body longer to break down and, thus, makes you feel fuller longer.  Adding legumes to your diet can help reduce heart disease and some cancers.  What a powerful little bean.  Maybe Jack was onto something growing that beanstalk. 

So try this simple recipe for Three Bean Salad.  It's a favorite of mine and hope you'll like it too.  Here's to your good health!

THREE BEAN SALAD

Total Time:  15 minutes
Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

1 15 oz can Dark Red Kidney Beans, washed and drained
1 15 oz can Cannellini Beans, washed and drained
1 15 oz can Garbanzo or Chick Peas, washed and drained
1/4 sweet onion or red onion
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine all the above ingredients, except the Italian salad dressing.  Gently mix the ingredients until well combined.  Gently stir in the Italian salad dressing.  Refrigerate for at least one hour and serve.

Note:  This makes quite a bit and it stores well in the refrigerator for at least one to one and a half weeks.


Monday, July 30, 2012

WING IT

I love hot, spicy, full flavor foods.  The hotter and spicier it is, I want to try it.  I have been making hot wings for many years and I've made them in different ways.  The recipe below is the way that I like them the best.

The hot wing originated 1964 in Buffalo, NY at the Anchor Bar by proprietors, Teresa and Frank Bellissimo.  It all started when Mr. and Mrs. Bellissimo's college aged son and his friends came home for a visit. Teresa wanted to make them a snack and so she came up with the idea of deep frying chicken wings and coating them with a cayenne pepper sauce.  Apparently, it was a hit and so was the sauce, Frank's Red Hot Wings Sauce, which is said to be the original hot wing sauce.  It has been available to all of us on supermarket shelves for years and, in my opinion, is the best.

Hot wings, to me, make a great meal.  I realize that they are an "appetizer" but for a lighter dinner, I like to make these with a salad on the side.  I dredge my wings in seasoned flour just to coat them (southern style fried chicken method), then lightly fry them, dip and bake them in the sauce, then dip them in sauce again before serving.  I think they taste better this way because the sauce gets baked in and intensifies the flavor. 

FRIED & BAKED HOT WINGS

Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Total Time:  65 minutes

Ingredients:

20-24 chicken wings
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups cooking oil
1 cup Frank's Red Hot Wings Sauce

Instructions:

Heat the cooking oil on medium high heat in a large pot.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and red pepper flakes.






Dredge each piece of chicken through the flour mixture and set aside on a paper plate.








Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Carefully place the chicken wings in the cooking oil (you may have to do this in two batches).  Turn the wings after 3-4 minutes so that the wings are just browned and crispy on each side.  Remove the chicken wings and place them on paper towels to remove the excess oil. 






In a medium bowl, pour 3/4 of the hot sauce and start dipping the wings to coat them with the sauce.  Place the chicken wings on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes and remove. 



Using the remaining 3/4 cup of Frank's Hot Wings Sauce, dip the baked wings in the sauce to give them a final coating.










Serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

CHECK OUT THE DOG RECIPES TAB

I just added another dog treat recipe that my Megan loves...homemade milk bones.  Easy to make and easy clean up.  If you have a dog, you should really try these homemade treats.

BANANA CRANBERRY NUT BREAD

Banana Cranberry Nut Bread is one of my favorite things to have for breakfast.  It's a great way to use up those overly ripe bananas too.  You can make muffins from this recipe as well, but I made the quick bread version because I plan on making something else with it.

I discovered a new way to eat banana bread a few years ago when I was in my kitchen and realized that I didn't have any bread to make french toast.  Being someone who improvises, I decided to try French toasting banana bread.  It is my absolute favorite French Toast now.  All one has to do is prepare the French Toast batter as usual, even throw in some ground cinnamon.  Cut a piece of the banana bread, about a half an inch thick.  Dip the banana bread in the French Toast batter, and griddle until toasted and browned.  Serve it up with butter and syrup!  French Toast has never been better.

The recipe below couldn't be easier.  If you don't like cranberries, try something else.  Maybe you like raisins, blueberries, apricots, or even chocolate chips!  The options are endless so be creative!

BANANA CRANBERRY NUT BREAD

Adapted and Modified from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
 (Banana Bread)

Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Total Time:  65 minutes
Makes 16 Slices

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2-3)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions:

Grease and 8X4X2 inch loaf pan.  Preheat oven 350 degrees F.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and salt.  Make a well in the middle of the mixture and set aside.
 In another mixing bowl, beat the egg, add the mashed bananas, sugar, oil, lemon extract, and almond extract; pour the mixture into the well created in the dry mixture.  Stir together until dry ingredients are moist (batter will be lumpy).
















Fold in chopped walnuts, pecans, and dried cranberries.  Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted towards the center comes out clean.  Allow loaf to cool on wire cooling rack.















Wednesday, July 25, 2012

PRESENTING...QUICHE LORRAINE

I love making quiche.  It's the type of all-in-one dish that makes you smile while you're making it because of all the levels of aromas.  When its done, you just can't wait to eat it.  It was very difficult not to take a bite when I made it this past week, but it was a gift for my mother's birthday.  So I had to restrain myself!  She called the next day to tell me how much she enjoyed having it for her breakfast.  That made me smile.

It might surprise people, though, that quiche was not invented by the French.  The French have made it their own today by adding cheese and pastry, however, quiche was invented by the Germans.  It came from the medieval Kingdom of Lothringen and came to the French, and to the English, after WWII.   A dish with a long history is always something to admire!

To prepare for this recipe, you will need to bake a 9-inch pastry pie crust.  My post yesterday shows you how to make a simple pie crust.  So, without further ado, below is a standard recipe for Quiche Lorraine.  I added fresh parsley to give it some color and a little extra burst of flavor.  Hope you enjoy!

QUICHE LORRAINE WITH FRESH PARSLEY

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

Preparation Time:  20 minutes
Total Time:  1 hour

Ingredients:

1 single pastry pie crust (see yesterday's post)
6 slices cooked bacon
1 medium onion, sliced
3 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (can use reduced fat, 2% or 1%)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground nutmeg
1/4 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Bake unpricked pie crust, lined with foil, for 8 minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove pie crust and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.











Cook the bacon, place bacon on paper towel, and reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings.  Cook the onions until translucent in the reserved bacon drippings, set aside.










Crumble the bacon and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, nutmeg, and parsley.  Add the onions and bacon.

In another bowl, coat the cheese with the flour. 













Add the cheese mixture to the egg mixture.  Pour into baked pie crust.   Bake the quiche for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  If freezing, let completely cool.







Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SIMPLE BUT PERFECT PIE CRUSTS

Tomorrow I will be posting a favorite dish of mine that requires a single pastry pie crust, so I thought I might make this post today about making homemade pie crusts. 

Pie crusts aren't complicated.  In fact, they are the most simplistic thing to make.  Four ingredients and a little rolling pin action...so why buy it from the store?  We've all done it from time to time; buying the already made pie shells or the pie dough from the refrigerated section.  I think its because when we're so busy with everyday life, a little help from the store makes us relax a bit.  But I can't think of a better way to take out the stress in my life than playing with dough and rolling it out. 

Making your own pie crust dough is also cost effective.  The store bought ones are approximately $4.50 for two.  Not bad for convenience, but you can make these at home for about $.75 a pie crust.  You can also freeze pie crust to always have it on hand. 

I love baking and cooking from scratch.  But that doesn't mean I can't use my kitchen gadgets and appliances.  Scratch doesn't mean make it like they did in the dark ages.  Technology is wonderful and I happen to believe that even bakers and cooks from 100 years ago would have used today's inventions if they were able to get their hands on it.  So, to make my pie crusts, I broke out the food processor.  It just gets easier and easier!

These pie crusts will be flaky and perfect for just about any kind of pie or dish requiring a crust.  It's a simple recipe with perfect results.

SINGLE PIE CRUST

Food Processor Version


Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
5-6 tablespoons water



Instructions: 

Using the steel blade in the food processor bowl, add the flour, salt and shortening to the food processor bowl. 

 






 
Cover the food processor and pulsate until the mixture resembles cornmeal. 








Add the water, one tablespoon at a time until you have a ball of dough and the mixture has soaked up the water. 








Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 12 inches in diameter.   Transfer crust to a pie plate.









Trim the edges with a knife or a pizza cutter.








Crimp the edges with your fingers by pinching the dough.  For extra design, use a fork to press down the edges.









Monday, July 23, 2012

HOMEMADE BAGELS MADE EASY!

Bagels aren't that hard to make at home.  Now, I have a bread machine that's roughly 12 years old and does all the hard work for me; mixing, kneading, and rising.  I've performed the dough process by hand in the past, and its not that bad, but the bread machine is such a great invention and convenient gadget to have on hand.  So, if you have a bread machine, use it.  And if not, well, at least you'll get your workout for the day.  But for this recipe, I'm going to use the bread machine, which is a kitchen gadget fixture that should be just as common as the toaster itself.  I'll be using the bagel dough feature on my Breadman TR800.  Couldn't be easier!

Store bought bagels are okay, but I'm sure that once you try a homemade bagel, the fresh, "right out of the oven" taste will inspire you to make more.

BREADMAN HOMEMADE BAGELS

Adapted by Breadman recipe booklet

Preparation time: 2 hours
Total Time:  2 hours, 30 minutes
Makes 8 



Ingredients:

1 cup water, 80 degrees F/27 degrees C
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Glaze:  1 beaten egg
Toppings:  sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dehydrated onions, etc.

Instructions:

Place all ingredients listed above in the bread pan of the bread machine, in the order shown or according to your bread machine's instructions.  Select the bagel dough cycle and press start.










(My machine took 1 hour and 15 minutes to make the dough)



When the dough is complete, take it out of the bread pan and place on a lightly floured surface.











Divide the dough into 8 pieces, roll each piece into a smooth ball, and place your thumbs in the center of the ball to create a 1-inch hole.








Place on a greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise for 10-20 min.











Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large pot, Bring 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons sugar to a boil.   Placing a couple of bagels in the boiling water at a time, simmer each bagel 3 minutes, turning each bagel once.  Remove bagels with a slotted spoon, drain off excess water, and place back on the baking sheet.





Brush each bagel with the egg, sprinkle with topping, then repeat on the other side of the bagel.











Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cool on wire rack.