French Toast

I have high hopes and expectations for the breakfasts and brunches that I create, but they often fall short when I’m low on time or ingredients. This French Toast recipe is one of my go-to’s in those times, and it came in clutch this morning when I looked in the fridge and saw less than I had hoped to find.

Forunately, I always seem to have eggs and bread-and perhaps you find yourself in a similar predicament, too. Give it a try and this French Toast will have you thankful for the simple things in life.

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Recipe serves 2-3 (makes 6 pieces total)

French Toast

Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces Italian bread with sesame seeds (use any white or wheat bread that you like)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp milk or water (optional)
  • Butter for greasing pantmp_25843-img_20170108_102700_4631067401932

Directions:

  1. Beat eggs in as medium sized bowl.
  2. Add in cinnamon, ginger, and milk (optional), making sure to thoroughly incorporate.
  3. Place a medium or large-sized non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  4. Once the pan is warm, place a small pad of butter on the pan to grease.tmp_25843-IMG_20170108_103421_4812087872579.jpg
  5. Dredge bread through the egg mixture, one piece at at a time, making sure that each side is covered, but leaving any excess behind (do not leave it dripping with mixture).
  6. Place on pan. Heat for about 2-6 minutes, or until golden brown, before flipping to cook the other side for 2-6 more minutes.
  7. Once done, remove from heat.
  8. Repeat process with remaining pieces of bread.
  9. Enjoy plain or serve French Toast warm drizzled with pure maple syrup, warm honey, jam, or preserves. Sprinkle with cane sugar, powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, or ginger for extra texture and flavor.
  10. Enjoy!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Happy New Year!

The start of this New Year has me reflecting and thinking about my goals for 2017.  And no, these goals are not any kind of resolutions or empty “new year, new me” promises that are bound to fail from the start.  However, they are goals that I have purposefully and mindfully set in order to realize my true potential and become my best self.  They are milestones that I have set for myself to achieve, grow with, and learn from, and I can’t wait to start going down the list and checking them off!   They include, but are not limited to: competing in my first coffee competition, traveling to Guatemala on my first coffee origin trip, taking the dogs for more walks, and visiting at least three state parks with Mike that we’ve never been to before.

All in all, I anticipate that this year will be a year of exploration—and I’m ready for the adventure!  Along with this adventure, this year, my goal is to share at least one recipe (or food/beverage-related blog post) each week.  Although I’ve been notoriously bad about keeping up with my blogging in the past, I’d like 2017 to be the year that that changes.

To kick it off, I’m sharing one of my favorite go-to recipes.  It’s good on its own or topped with goodies, and it’s sure to stick to your ribs—perfect for a Wisconsin winter or a hot summer—it’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes!   These versatile mashed potatoes are quick and simple, and you’ll be wondering why they weren’t in your repertoire sooner.  So grab a few spuds and put some hot water on for mashed potatoes to remember.

And cheers to your best year yet!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

4 washed large potatoes, preferably russet or yellow

¼ C milk

1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter (can use more or less depending on what you’re looking for)

¼ C cream cheese

1 tsp sea salt (or salt to taste)

¼ tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)

1 tsp parsley flakes

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Directions

To start, thoroughly wash the potatoes, ensuring that all of the dirt is removed from their skin.  Set two potatoes aside.  Peel the remaining two potatoes and discard of their excess skin.  Rinse the peeled potatoes once more.  Cut all four potatoes into cubes no larger than 2 inches.

Bring 2-3qts of water (or enough water to cover the potatoes) to boil in a 4qt pan.  Add a dash of salt.  Place cubed potatoes in boiling water.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Cook about 15 minutes, or until potato falls off of fork when you poke it.  Turn off the heat on the burner.  Drain the water from the potatoes and return pan with potatoes to the warm burner.   Add the butter, cream cheese, and milk.  Smash with mashed potato smasher or spoon until mixed.   For chunkier potatoes, make sure to not over-smash.   Add salt, pepper, and parsley.  Mix with spoon until blended.    Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to one week.  Enjoy!

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Serves 2-4.

Lemon Drop Cookies

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all of my friends who are celebrating tonight!  I’ve decided to share one of my favorite cookie recipes that I tried this season in order to celebrate!

In my experience, refrigerator cookies always turn out the best.  Thanks to refrigeration strengthening the molecular bonds of the dough before it is introduced to heat in the oven (which alters them yet again by breaking these same bonds, but at a slower rate thanks to refrigeration), they turn out pillowy, yet rich and golden brown.*  For this exact reason, when I came across the recipe that inspired this one, I knew I’d love them.

If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me mention in the past few months that my Grandma bought me the Taste of Home 2016 Christmas Cookbook.  Anything that my Grandma gets for me is precious to me, but this gift was especially precious since Grandma is one of my cooking role models.  In light of this, I promised myself that I’d try some of them (I’ve been notoriously guilty of not trying recipes in the cookbooks that I’m given or buy).  And I’m thankful I did, because that’s exactly where I found the recipe that inspired this one, originally titled “Lemon Slice Sugar Cookies”.

The first time I made it, they were all out of lemon pudding at the store, but I had recently scored some lemon extract on sale, so I thought I’d give vanilla pudding a shot instead.  After trying it both ways, it turns out that I think the vanilla is even better than the lemon—providing it with an extra depth of flavor and sweetness.  Keeping Grandma—who has been diabetic for quite a few years now but still likes to indulge in sweet treats from time to time—in mind, I’ve also slightly reduced the sugar (and you can even swap out the pudding for sugar-free vanilla pudding if you need to, as well).  And, since I’m the queen of substitutions, I’ve included other substitution suggestions as well.

I liked this recipe so much that I included it in my holiday cookie gifts this year.  I hope that you enjoy this citrusy treat as much as me!

*For more on this, http://www.theelevatedkitchen.com/guides/science-proteins is a great, quick read.

 Lemon Drop Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies

1 pkg vanilla pudding (could also use lemon; if using lemon, omit lemon extract)

1/3 C granulated sugar (you can increase to ½ C sugar if you’d like a sweeter cookie)

1 ½-2 ½ tsp lemon extract (use less if you want them to be sweeter, more if you want them to be more lemony)

½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 egg

2 Tbsp milk

1 ½ C unbleached flour (bleached is fine if that’s all you have)

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Icing

½ C confection sugar

2-4 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice (could also use lemon extract if you don’t have any, but use 1tsp extract:2 tsp water in order to dilute; you can also substitute lemon juice for grapefruit juice if you’d like to introduce a more unique citric dimension to the cookie)

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Directions:

Combine vanilla pudding, sugar, lemon extract, and butter in a large bowl by mixing until fluffy.  Add egg and slowly mix in milk until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually incorporate dry mixture into wet mixture.  Mix until combined.

Divide dough in half.  Lay out dough on plastic wrap and shape into a log (no shorter than 5”, no longer than 7”). Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375* F.  Take dough out of refrigerator and cut into 1/2” slices.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or grease pan (if not non-stick).  Place cookies on pan 2” apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light golden brown on the bottom of the cookie.

Remove the cookies from oven and place on cooling rack.

Combine confection sugar and lemon juice in bowl.  Drizzle cookies with icing once cool, leaving them on the rack to dry once more after icing.  Enjoy!

Yields about 2 dozen.

Honey Ginger Snaps

Honey Ginger Snaps

Growing up, baking cookies with my Mom and Grandma was something that I always looked forward to doing each holiday season.   Thinking back, I can still smell all of the sugar and spice, and even feel the sticky dough caught between my fingers and underneath my nail beds (probably one of the reasons my parents called me Messy Jessie growing up).  I always went into a day of baking with excitement, but would quickly grow bored and want to move on to the next task.  Even in the face of my petulant impatience, my mother would lovingly, patiently finish each batch by herself, never complaining that I didn’t help her finish.  Each cookie was and still is baked with love, and this, she has always said, is the secret ingredient—a truth much more profound than I could have ever known as a kid.  It is these kind of memories that I relish in.

Fast forward years later, and I still look forward to it, which is why this year, I decided to come into the season prepared.   After all, there are endless possibilities with cookies, and I wanted to make sure those that I chose to bake were worth it. While I was trialing recipes, I came across this twist on a classic that I won’t exclude from my repertoire again.   Two of my favorite things about this recipe are how easy it is to make and how versatile it is—and for these reasons, I know they’ll become one of your favorites as well. Whether it’s for a holiday cookie gift or not, this cookie is sure to please year-round.  They’re best enjoyed with hot tea (I’d recommend black) or black coffee (I’d recommend a mild, Central or South American coffee.  I’ve been enjoying my batch with some washed Colombian coffee).

Ingredients:

2 C unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves

½ C vegetable shortening (I used 1/4 C with the batch pictured, which is why they turned out more round and less flat, but if you’d like a flatter, more rich cookie, use 1/2 C)

¼ C butter, divided

¾ C sugar

¼ cup honey (I used neem honey for a more robust flavor, but any honey will do!)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper (I prefer parchment).  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat shortening and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Gradually stir in the sugar until it is blended, increasing the speed to high until light and fluffy.  Beat in honey, egg, and vanilla.  Once fluffy, gradually stir in the flour until it is combined.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand for 5 minutes, and then carefully place cookies on wire rack to cool.  Store in airtight container up to one week.

Yields 3-4 dozen

Cornstick Cheddar Garlic Cornbread

When I make homemade cornbread, it often turns out much less exciting and tasty than I would like.  However, once I got a Lodge cast iron cornstick pan [thanks, St. Nick ;)], everything changed.  The shape of the pan allows the cornbread to get incredibly crispy on the outside, while maintaining its springy, moist texture on the inside.  Lightly browning the butter with garlic before incorporating into the mixture adds depth of flavor, while sharp cheddar adds a subtle dimension of lactic acidity, pairing perfectly with the garlic.   Using coarse ground cornmeal makes these cornsticks even more crunchy, but I’d recommend using regular cornmeal if you’re sensitive to rough textures.  You’re sure to enjoy this cornbread by itself or as a side dish to chili, salads, roasts, or soups!

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Ingredients:

5 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped (or 1 tsp minced)

½ tsp salt, or to taste

½ C yellow cornmeal (use coarse-ground if you’re looking for a heartier, crunchier texture)

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup buttermilk (make your own by putting 1 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice in a 1 C measuring cup, then fill to top with milk, let stand 5 minutes)

1 large egg

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425*F.  Place 7-stick cast-iron cornstick mold in the oven to pre-heat for at least 15 minutes.  (If you have two pans, pre-heat both).  Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat until it foams.  Add the garlic.  Stir frequently.  Cook for about 2 or 3 more minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk the buttermilk and egg lightly in a small bowl until combined. Punch a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in all of the wet mixture.  Stir just until combined, making sure not to over mix.  Add the butter and garlic.  Add the cheese.  Stir.

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Remove the hot pans from the oven and brush with remaining 1 Tbsp melted butter. Divide the batter among the molds.  Return molds to oven.  Cook 10-13 minutes, or just until golden brown and springy.    Remove from mold and place on rack to cool.  Enjoy!

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Yields 14

Slow-cooker Coca-Cola BBQ Brisket

It’s been far too long since my last post, but with some of this delicious brisket, you’ll soon forget that I’d been gone!

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Now that I’m done with school, I’ve found myself with more free time on my hands–which means much more time to experiment in the kitchen.  With this time, I have been able to produce and develop more refined recipes and work on more complex projects, which has me and my geeky self all sorts of excited.  In the past, I wasn’t able to always try my recipes as many times in the kitchen as I would have liked before sharing.  And, as a result, as I look back at previous posts, I am not pleased with the quality of some of the recipes that I’ve shared.  After all, and if I am fully disclosing already, whole wheat can only taste so good.  But now that I’ve aired out the whole wheat in my closet, I’d like to start back up on a new foot.

This week, grass-fed, local brisket (Wisconsin Meadows) was on sale.  Since we have no air conditioning and it’s been hot out, I figured it was a good time to seize the moment, pull out the slow-cooker, and buy three briskets.  So, for the past three days, I have cooked these briskets three separate ways (pictured below).  The first day, I cooked a chili honey BBQ brisket low and slow (no marinating, cooked with a dry rub and sauce).  The second day, I cooked an onion brisket on high for the first 3/4 of the roast and low the rest of the time (marinated overnight, without dry rub, cooked in broth and onion).  And finally, on the third day, I cooked a cocoa-cola BBQ brisket, which I used a combination of the techniques that I liked from the days previous for (overnight marination, first 4 hours cooked on high, the rest on low, cooked with a dry rub and sauce).

First Brisket:

Chili Honey BBQ brisket

Second Brisket:

Onion brisket

Third Brisket:

Coca-Cola BBQ Brisket_5

Although I’m happy with how the first two briskets that I cooked turned out, and may even share the recipes eventually, I was especially impressed with how this cocoa-cola BBQ brisket turned out, and am glad that my experimenting paid off.  My inspiration when developing this recipe was finding a balance of flavors that made it possible to forego using onion soup mix (which most cocoa-cola BBQ recipes that I came across call for, and I basically never have on hand).

I hope that you enjoy this mouth-watering, sweet brisket as much as Mike and I did.  Let me know what you think!

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Ingredients:

1.5 lb. brisket (if you use larger, try to proportionately increase the volume of proceeding ingredients)

1/2 cup white onion, cut into rings

1 C ketchup

1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar (with “the Mother” if you have it)

2 C (about 1 1/2 cans) Coca-Cola

1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp Shoyu/soy sauce

1 Tbsp raw honey

2 Tbsp raw brown sugar

1 tsp salt (I used pink Himalayan) + extra

1/8 tsp garlic powder

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Directions:

Marinate brisket overnight in 1 Tbsp Shoyu, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 3/4 C Coke, and a few sprinkles of salt.  In the morning, take the brisket out of the marinade and rub with 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, and 1 tsp salt.  Place the brisket in a slow-cooker that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray or lightly greased with grapeseed oil (I find it to impart less flavor, but other oils will do as well) to prevent the sauce from sticking to the sides of the pan and caking up.  Turn the slow-cooker on high.  In a separate small bowl, mix the ketchup, ACV, honey, garlic powder, remaining coke (3/4 C), and Worcestershire sauce.  After thoroughly mixing the BBQ sauce, pour over the brisket, coating it entirely.  Place the onion, cut into rings, on top of and around the brisket.  Finally, cover the slow-cooker and cook on high for 4 hours.  After 4 hours, turn down to low and cook for at least 2 more hours. If possible, stir the sauce and coat the brisket with it every hour (don’t open it too much, otherwise the steam will escape and mess with the cooking time) after turning down to low.  I cooked my brisket for a total of 10 hours, but it will be ready before then.  Remove brisket from slow-cooker and let rest before serving. The brisket should be so tender that it will fall apart when you pull at it with a fork. Thoroughly enjoy!

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For more ideas, follow me on: Instagram @radiantlyliving or Snapchat @radiantlyjessi

 

Roasted Baby Tomato Red Sauce

Our baby tomato plants (yellow and red) have been extremely fruitful, so I decided that it was about time to make some homemade red sauce with them.

Ingredients:

30-40 baby tomatoes (yellow & red, or whatever you have)

1Tbsp. Olive oil for roasting

1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil for the sauce

1/2 tsp. salt, or salt to taste

2 Tbsp. water

1-2 tsp. Chili Garlic sauce

Two dashes of turmeric

2 Tbsp. Finely chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic, finely shredded or diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Wash tomatoes thoroughly and dry on a towel or in a strainer. Place tomatoes on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with half of the salt. Place in preheated oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to burst and look slightly brown on the tops. Take out of oven and pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl. Heat a small pot or saucepan over medium heat, adding the remaining olive oil. Once the oil has warmed, add the onions, garlic, and remaining salt. Heat for about 4-6 minutes, or just enough so that the onions and garlic begin to cook through, stirring ocassionally so that the onions and garlic do not stick to the pan. Add the water and chili garlic paste, stirring thoroughly.  Next, add the reserved cooked tomatoes and juices and two dashes of turmeric, stirring well once again. Heat until sauce is to desired temperature. Serve warm over pasta or vegetables. Enjoy!