May – Overnight Croissant French Toast Bake with Coffee Rum Sauce

May – Overnight Croissant French Toast Bake with Coffee Rum Sauce

Get ready for the perfect Mother’s Day brunch dish. Why do I say perfect?

Easy – check,

No fussy ingredients – check,

Make the night before – check,

Absolutely delicious and decadent – double check!!

Overnight Croissant French Toast

Overnight Croissant French Toast

Have a relaxing morning as this dish bakes to a delectable double layer, crisp on top and creamy below. You will be a hero to whom ever you serve it to. This is also the perfect dish to contribute to a brunch pot luck, or serve overnight guests. You only need some fresh fruit, coffee or tea round out the meal.

It’s good the next day, reheated (or cold right out to the baking dish).

My taste testers thought it would make a perfect dessert with some dried fruit added to the base.

Overnight Croissant French Toast

Overnight Croissant French Toast

This recipe will generously serve 6 and 8 to 10 if it is part of a larger menu.

I will include the recipe for the coffee rum sauce (easy, easy, easy). A simple custard sauce would be a wonderful accompaniment as well, especially at breakfast time.

Overnight Croissant French Toast Bake with Coffee Rum Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 8 croissants (stale is perfectly ok)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (354 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (117 ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla paste or extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Coffee Rum Sauce

  • 1 cup (235 ml) coffee ice cream, melted
  • 2 oz (59 ml) dark rum

Method:

  1. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. Tear the croissants into 2 inch pieces and set into the baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the croissants and gently toss to make sure they are coated with the custard mixture.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Remove the dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking and allow to come to room temperature.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes until golden and the custard has set but is still soft.
  7. Combine the melted ice cream with the dark rum and serve over the warm French Toast Bake.

I think melted vanilla ice cream would also be good, with our without the rum.

Note: This can also be prepared several hours in advance, it need not be overnight.

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #431, hosted by Angie. It’s just in time for Mother’s Day.

Overnight Croissant French Toast

Overnight Croissant French Toast

The recipe comes from the ‘effortless entertaining cookbook’ by Meredith Steele.

In My Garden – April 2022

In My Garden – April 2022

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds at the feeder

In my garden I have birds, lots of birds including hummingbirds which are my favorites. I’ve seen (and heard) Rufous, Annas, and Allens. Earlier in the season they fought each other at the feeder, now they seem more generous and ready to share. These could be the young ones who are not breeding yet. Sometimes there are a cloud of them chirping around the two feeders outside our dining area windows. I am filling them almost every day. The Annas are here all year, the others disappear in early winter. There is a big bottlebrush nearby and they love the red flowers when it is in bloom. I think many of the nests are in that huge shrub although I haven’t been able to find any.

Bottlebrush

Bottlebrush

One of the birdhouses we erected at the end of last month has been rented, at least I have seen sparrows darting in and out. Fingers crossed they will raise a family there.

We have had some much needed rain, 4 inches so far this month with another 4 anticipated in the next few days. It’s been a strange season with almost all of our rain happening at the beginning and the end of our usual rainy season. It’s still not enough to end the drought of the past few years.

The lettuce in the first bed I planted is ready for harvest. We have company coming for the weekend so a salad fresh from the garden will be a treat.

There is a patch of arugula at the end of this bed and radishes planted between the rows. The second raised bed has just been planted, the arugula is just starting to pop up in that one.

You may wonder, why the mesh over the lettuce? Well, remember pig pen Shanna the puppy? She loves to dig (as do the chipmunks) and freshly dug soil is the best ever. My inattention has resulted in several disasters over the past few weeks. Now I plan for the onslaught.

I’ve let the mustard and parsley go to seed in another bed to attract pollinators.

Nasturtiums are a wonderful addition to a salad and they are blooming with the spring rain.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

These have come up in one of my half barrels of dwarf Meyer lemon trees. The nasturtiums, in truth, are looking healthier than the tree. It’s only borderline weather for lemon trees but I love having the lemons available when I want a tablespoon of juice to add to a dish.

Ditto the fresh chives.

Chives

Chives

The roses are showing some buds and I have noticed the appearance of aphids. Where are the lady bugs? I don’t use any pesticides with the exception of Sluggo (you would too if you saw the size of our slugs and the damage they can do in a single night). So I washed them off with a strong spray from the hose.

Aphids!

Aphids!

It appears that the Just Joey rose is going to be the first to bloom. It’s one of my favorites.

Just Joey

Just Joey

A friend on the board at the Mendocino County Botanical Gardens (MCBG) gifted me this beautiful Aeonium, I just popped it in to an existing pot of succulents where it looks beautiful. I didn’t appreciate succulents until fairly recently. They come in an amazing variety, are low maintenance and drought tolerant. Facts that are increasingly valuable these days.

The first azaleas and rhododendrons are blooming. They seem to be late this year, it’s been cold.

Azalea

Azalea

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

The rhododendron is one of the new ones and is still small, that didn’t stop it from putting out those amazing lavender/pink blooms.

The MCBG just started a ‘nature journaling club’ that meets once a month. Although not an artist I enjoy the meditative quality of looking closely at nature. Here’s my first effort:

If you live in the area, please consider joining us. You will find information on the MCBG website.

That’s my summary this month. Happy gardening everyone. How is your garden doing? Please consider commenting and giving me an update. I’d love to hear from you.

April – Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Salad (with chickpeas and couscous)

April – Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Salad (with chickpeas and couscous)

This whole meal vegetarian salad was perfect as part of a Moroccan inspired dinner party. The couscous in this salad soaks up the spicy, lemony dressing and marries it to the roasted vegetables and chickpeas. Serve the salad warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Moroccan Salad

Moroccan Salad

The salad is vegan as well as vegetarian. I served it with sides of warm pita, sliced feta, more olives and an eggplant dip.

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Salad (with chickpeas and couscous)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed to 1-inch florets
  • 1 small bunch of carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of whole-what couscous
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of chopped pitted brine-cured green olives
  • 1/4 cup currents
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • Additional Italian parsley sprigs as garnish
  • Lemon Slices for serving

Moroccan-Spiced Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Method for the dressing:

  • Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small heavy dry skillet until they are toasted and fragrant.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the turmeric and cinnamon. Let them cool and grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and coarsely grind.
  • In a small bowl or jar, combine the spices with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Whisk or shake to blend.

Method for the salad:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Brush a heavy large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. In a medium bowl, toss the cauliflower and carrots with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Roast the vegetables until browned in places and tender, stirring once. It will be about 15-25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup water and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the couscous, stirring. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  5. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl; mix in the cauliflower, carrots, garbanzo beans, green onions, chopped parsley, cilantro, olives and currents.
  6. Add the dressing to the salad and mix. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Garnish just before serving with the almonds and parsley sprigs.

The salad can be prepared one day ahead and refrigerated.

Moroccan Salad

Moroccan Salad

The recipe came for a cookbook written by Jeanne Kelley called ‘Salad for Dinner‘.

April – Ode To Trader Joe’s Salad

April – Ode To Trader Joe’s Salad

TJ Salad

TJ Salad

Why do I call this TJ’s Salad? Because all the time saving ingredients came from there…

Precooked and vacuum packed lentils – check

Pre cubed butternut squash – check

Brussels sprouts – check

Organic pre-washed arugula – check

Candied and toasted walnuts – check

Fresh goat cheese – check

Boneless chicken thighs – check

You could save even more time if you used their precooked chicken breasts. I would simply cut them into 1/2 inch slivers, toss with olive oil and season with ground cumin and coriander. Let them sit in the fridge for an hour or so (if you have time) to let the seasonings sink in.

I cooked the chicken, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts earlier in the day so they would have a chance to cool before being tossed in the salad.

This is a whole meal salad, everything you need in one bowl.

Ode to Trader Joe’s Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs of boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 package of precooked lentils (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • I package of pre-cubed butternut squash (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cups of Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large
  • 1/2 cup of candied walnuts
  • 1/3 log of fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 package of organic arugula – about 3 handfuls
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a bowl toss the butternut squash with a tablespoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add them to a sheet pan.
  3. Toss the halved or quartered Brussels sprouts in the same bowl with another tablespoon of oil and salt. Add them to another sheet pan. (I usually line the pans with parchment paper for easier clean up.)

    Quartered Brussels Sprouts

    Quartered Brussels Sprouts

  4. Roast both pans for about 30 minutes until the edges of the vegetables are brown and toasty looking. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  5. Meanwhile cut the chicken thighs into strips about 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long. Toss them in a bowl (you can use the same one) with a teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander and kosher salt (if not using kosher, use less).
  6. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the chicken. Saute until cooked through, then put aside until time to assemble the salad.
  7. Place the lentils in a large salad bowl. Season with the 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, pinch of salt, the minced garlic, and the remaining olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your own liking. Let them sit until you are ready to assemble the salad.
  8. When you are ready to eat, add the roasted vegetables to the lentils and toss. Add the chicken, toss again. Add the arugula and walnuts and toss. Taste and adjust any seasonings.
  9. Garnish with dollops of the fresh goat cheese.

 

This could easily be a vegetarian entree without the chicken. Roasted tofu would be wonderful as well. I would season the tofu with the cumin and coriander before roasting until it has crispy edges. A trick I learned is to coast the butternut squash (or tofu or sweet potatoes) with a generous teaspoon of cornstarch after the oil and before roasting. The edges get super crispy while the center is still creamy.

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

I  am going to take this salad to the folks on Fiesta Friday. It’s Fiesta Friday #428 and it’s been ages since I have contributed. It’s all our new puppies fault plus the demands of spring gardening. Who knew retirement would be so busy! Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie and this week’s cohost is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Shanna

Shanna AKA ‘Pig Pen’

April – Roasted Broccolini with Cream & Parmesan Cheese

April – Roasted Broccolini with Cream & Parmesan Cheese

It’s spring, but summer produce hasn’t quite hit the markets yet. Cabbage family vegetables abound, I search for new ways to use them. In browsing my collection of cookbooks I found this one from Diana Henry’s book ‘From the Oven to the Table‘. It’s a book I’ve had for some time but hadn’t carefully browsed. On the title page it describes the recipes in the book as “simple dishes that look after themselves”. That would certainly describe this simple but delicious dish. It’s a similar dish to my toasty creamed cabbage recipe.

Roast Cabbage Steaks with Cream and Parmesan

Toasty Roast Cabbage Steaks with Cream and Parmesan

This one has the addition of some crisp breadcrumbs, which would also be a nice touch with the cabbage.

Roasted Broccolini with Cream and Cheese

Roasted Broccolini with Cream and Cheese

Both dishes are easy and delicious, like a gratin but without all the fuss of making a white sauce. Make sure you have some crusty bread on hand to dip into the cream which is reduced slightly into a yummy sauce. This could serve as a vegetarian main course or a wonderful side with a roast.

Roasted Broccolini with Cream & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs of broccolini
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
  • Generous 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese or a combination of Parmesan and sharp cheddar (or Gruyere)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Trim the bottoms of the broccolini. If any of them are thick, halve them along their length
  3. Put the broccolini in a roasting pan or sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile melt the butter in a frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and turn over in the butter until they are coated, but not toasted.
  5. Remove the broccolini from the oven after the 12 minutes, pour over the cream, sprinkle with the cheese and the buttered crumbs. Return to the oven and roast for a final 10-11 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
  6. Serve immediately.

Note: I had some leftover croutons in the cupboard and use those for the crumbs, simply smashing them with a rolling pin until they were the appropriate size.

Roasted Broccolini with Cream and Cheese

Roasted Broccolini with Cream and Cheese

I imagine other vegetables would be equally delicious treated this way…quartered Brussels sprouts? I plan to use this method with fresh asparagus as well. Since asparagus cooks quickly, I would add the cream I would skip the initial roasting.

The pan cleaned up easily after an overnight soak, much to my surprise.