French Toast

I am a firm believer that if a person does not love breakfast they do not love life. Maybe those people who do agree are morning people. The morning is a magical time of the day. There is stillness, a peacefulness that captivates the dwelling. As I walk across the house, room to room, hoping not to wake anyone else, I make my way directly to the kitchen. I automatically make coffee because my very happiness and sanity depends on it. And then, robe and slippers and coffee and all, I look outside and thank God for the day. After a few moments, I slide back into the kitchen and with as little noise as possible make a beautiful breakfast. One of my favorites is French toast. I remember watching my Paw-Paw make French toast. He made his with a copious amount of sugar, which satisfies any Southerners sweet tooth. The smell of cinnamon and butter cooking together brings me back to the mornings with Grannie and Paw-Paw. They made breakfast a special time. It was in that one moment that we spent time together before the chaos of the day began. So as I stand there, spatula in one hand and coffee in the other, I am reminded of home and thankful for the privilege of passing down this tradition of family.

 

 

Recipe: Serves 6

 12 slices of bread

6 eggs

1 cup of milk

½ cup of white sugar

¼ cup of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

2 tablespoons of butter

Whisk eggs, milk, sugars, vanilla, and cinnamon together. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat and add just a little of the butter. Soak the pieces of bread in the egg mixture, just two at a time. Cook the bread in the skillet just until the bread is crispy on the outsides. Serve immediately.

* I usually make a tester piece of bread, just in case I feel a little more sweet, vanilla-y or cinnamon-y that particular day! It has to meet my standards.

 

 

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The Best Macaroni and Cheese of My Life

There is something exceptionally comforting about a warm bowl of creamy, cheesy pasta. Macaroni and cheese has always been one of my favorite dishes. My palette was distinguished enough as a child to make sure that my mom skipped the powder cheese pack for the velvety shells and cheese. Throughout the years, my aunts made macaroni and cheese every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Half of my plate would be filled with turkey, brisket, dressing and a roll. The other half was purely a superfluous amount of creamy macaroni and cheese. I would trot my plate proudly to the table as my family watched me devour the pasta in awe. My aunts decorated the top with American cheese slices, but I have graduated this dish with the addition of cheddar cheese and a Parmesan crispy topping. I sometimes make this plate with shell pasta instead of penne as a nod to my childhood memories.

Recipe: Serves 4

Note: Make sure that the pasta water is seasoned like the ocean! If not, you will lose out on a lot of flavor!

 ½ pound of penne pasta

4 Tbs. of butter

4 Tbs. of flour

2 cups of milk

2 cups of freshly grated cheddar

Cook pasta with lots of salt until al dente. Reserve and keep warm with 1 cup of pasta water reserved as well. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, melt butter and add flour to pan. Cook for 1 minute to cook out the “flour” taste. Add milk and whisk out any lumps. The mixture will begin to thicken after a few minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. The sauce should be taken off the heat whenever the sauce can coat the back of a spoon. Take off heat and whisk in the cheese. Add the pasta with a little bit of pasta water. Mix to combine. The pasta can be enjoyed as is or you can add a crunchy topping for added texture and flavor.

For crispy topping:

Mix ¼ cup of panko, 1 Tbs. chopped parsley, 2 Tbs. of shredded Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbs. of butter and seasoning together in a bowl. Top 4 individual ramekins filled with pasta with topping and broil for a few minutes until brown.

Caramel Apple Crumble

Growing up in the south, I had many great, rich desserts. Pralines were plentiful. Lemon pie was invited to every meal. Pecan cookies and homemade vanilla ice cream always had a spot at the table. But there was one desert that I never remember encountering in my desperate attempt to satisfy my sweet tooth…. apple pie. Apple anything to be exact. I was apple deprived. So as I got older, I became obsessed with making an apple pie that everyone would like. That I would like. So I decided to pair the fruit with a salted caramel. I thought it would be like a bananas foster but with apples! So flavor combo- check. The next task was the texture. Crunchy apples were not allowed in my pie. So I decided to cook down the apples before baking… oh sweet goodness. Heavenly texture -check. This recipe made me into an apple pie lover. If you’ re an apple pie hater, I double dog dare you to try this. I make turnovers, crumble and straight up pie from this recipe. Crumble won the toss today!

Recipe: Makes 6 Crumbles

Apple filling:

3 golden delicious apples

3 honey crisp apples

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbs. flour

1 tsp. apple pie spice

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup raw sugar

1/4 stick of butter

Peel, core and slice apples. Put apples in a large bowl with lemon juice to prevent browning. Add flour, apple pie spice and cinnamon to bowl. Mix to combine. In a large pan, melt butter and sugar in pan. Add apples to the pan. Cook down on medium heat for about 25 minutes. Let cool before handling.

Salted Caramel:

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. sea salt

Combine sugar and water over low heat until dissolved. Add butter and bring heat up to medium. Bring to boil. Keep an eye on the pot! Whenever the liquid turns amber, take it off the heat and add the cream and vanilla. It will splatter a lot so stand back. Keep stirring until smooth. Bring back to low heat and add salt. Let cool for a few minutes.

Crumble: Inspired by Bon Appetit April 2010

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. cinnamon

1 stick of melted butter

1 ¼ cups of flour

Mix sugars, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Add melted butter. Whisk in flour.

Assemble:

Preheat the oven to 375o

 Butter 6 ramekins and place on a cookie sheet. Place the filling in the ramekins along with the caramel and place the crumble topping onto the filling. Load up on the crumble! Bake for 25 minutes or just until the crumble is crunchy and golden brown. Eat and enjoy!

Pancakes

 

If you were to walk into my grandmother’s kitchen, open the white cabinet door closest to the oven, you would find a pancake recipe scotched taped to the inside of the door. This very loved piece of paper symbolizes my Saturday mornings. My sister, Hope, and I spent every Friday night at our grandparent’s house. We would wake up bright and early on Saturday morning. There were two rules: we could never change out of our pajamas until after breakfast, there could never be too much syrup or butter applied to our pancakes.  Grandma used a green bowl to mix the batter in and a ¼ measuring cup to pour the thick batter into the hot pan. Grandma was a magician with pancakes. Before I knew it, there was a stack as tall as my face waiting at the bar for us. It probably seemed like magic because my sister and me were too busy making the syrup bottle talk. It was always a hyper fellow because it had too much sugar in its belly.

My grandmother is one of the happiest people that I know. She seemed especially happy at breakfast making these pancakes. I remember her waving around the spatula in the air while saying, “Praise the Lord!”. So here’s to grandma, here’s to Saturday mornings, and here’s to bisquick: just like grandma. Praise the Lord!

 

Recipe: Serves 6

2 cups of bisquick (don’t judge me)

½ cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

1 cup of milk

2 Tbs. butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Combine the bisquick, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla to the mix. Put a non-stick pan over medium low heat. Use a gravy ladle to pour the batter into the hot pan. No butter needed because it is in the batter. Once bubbles have formed all over the pancake, gently flip. Repeat with the rest of the batter.