Dutch Baby…The Perfect Valentines Day Breakfast

Valentine Wreath

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…I’m making this special breakfast JUST FOR YOU!

Valentines Day is right around the corner, and while there are many different ways to let your sweetheart know just how much you love them, this breakfast will knock their socks off!!  It’s beautiful, delicious and just has “special” written all over it!

It’s called a Dutch Baby, and it’s also known as a German pancake or a Dutch Puff.  It’s super easy to whip up, does it’s magic in the oven in just about 15 minutes and will make you look like a SUPERSTAR!  You can top it with any mixture of fresh berries, but I like to top mine with sliced strawberries that have been macerated (soaked) in Grand Marnier (orange flavored liqueur)!  What better way to start the “Day of Love” than by making this special breakfast for your sweetie?  Serve up a couple of Mimosas, and can we say OVER THE TOP??

Happy Valentines day, everyone!

Dutch Baby

Dutch Baby with Grand Marnier Strawberries

Dutch Baby with Grand Marnier Strawberries

Dutch Baby with Grand Marnier Strawberries

Ingredients:

Dutch Baby

  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Strawberries:

  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • powdered sugar, (optional)
  • maple syrup (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine strawberries, sugar and Grand Marnier in a small bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat eggs & milk until combined.  Slowly add flour, salt, vanilla and orange zest and mix until smooth.

Heat butter in a large skillet (I like to use my cast iron for this) over medium heat just until melted.  Pour in batter, place into hot oven and bake about 15 minutes until puffed and light brown.  Remove and top with berries.  You can serve it with maple syrup if you’d like, but I find the berries sweet enough without it.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • Cointreau and Triple Sec are also orange flavored liqueurs, and can be substituted for the Grand Marnier.
  • The Dutch Baby will puff up while baking in the oven, but don’t be alarmed when the sides shrink down once you take it out.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. :)

Say I Love You with Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries-Easier than you think!

Chocolate and strawberries…a match made in heaven!  With Valentines Day fast approaching, all the grocery stores are going to have these little gourmet treats made up and ready for you to take home to your sweetie!  The problem is, unless you’re shopping at your local chocolatier, they usually look better than they taste, and their price tag is pretty hefty!

These fancy little treats are surprisingly very easy to make at home, giving you the ability to choose your own chocolate. I love making mine with a good dark chocolate (think Valrhona), but any chocolate you like will work just fine.  You can decorate them with drizzled white chocolate, crushed nuts, coconut, mini chocolate chips, toffee bits or whatever strikes your fancy!  I’ve even been known to inject them with some Grand Marnier or other liqueur on occasion to really elevate them to fancy! The choices are only limited by your imagination!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb strawberries, washed and dried thoroughly
  • 6 oz chocolate (your choice), chopped
  • 3 oz white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil or vegetable shortening, divided
  • Mini chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, toffee bits, etc, optional (for decorating)

Preparation:

Check out this GREAT VIDEO showing you step-by-step instructions for creating these beautiful gourmet treats for the one you love! Happy Valentines!

Double Heart

 

If you like this post, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. :)

Baked Eggs…a Healthier Breakfast!

While I do love to cook, I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of cooking breakfast.  I mean, really, how creative can you get with breakfast food?  Honestly, my idea of the perfect breakfast is a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with some cinnamon and a few walnuts…perfect..what more does one need?

But, every now and then, if I get really inspired, I’ll fix something different. Since we’re not big on “fried food”, I prefer to bake my eggs.  They’re much healthier for you, and they really do taste great!  I just crack a couple into individual “gratin” dishes, sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper and then top them with some kind of really good hot sauce.  Put them onto a sheet pan, pop them into a preheated 425° oven, and bake until they are just like you like them…On this particular morning, I served them with biscuits and honey-butter.  To make your own honey-butter, just take a stick of “room temperature” unsalted butter, whip it up with a mixer or in a blender until fluffy, then start adding honey a tablespoon at a time until it tastes good…it’s as easy as that and SOOOO good on hot biscuits.  :)

Eggs in Gratin Dishes with Hot Sauce

Baked Eggs-A Healthier Alternative

Baked Eggs

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Spray gratin dishes with Pam, and crack eggs into dishes.  Add a bit of hot sauce if preferred, some salt & pepper and a few chopped chives.  Bake until almost set in the middle (about 5 minutes).  Then turn oven to “broil” and cook until just set (1-2 minutes more).

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. :)

Lemon Cake

Lemon cake…sweet, moist, tart lemony goodness.

Still on my quest for all things lemon, I came across this cake by Ina Garten.  I’d had great success with her recipe for homemade lemon curd, so when I saw this cake,  I had no doubt it would be just as delicious.  This recipe makes two loaves, and my kitchen smelled absolutely wonderful all morning!  There’s just something about a cup of coffee in the morning with a warm slice of lemon cake…all warm and fuzzy, just like your favorite PJs!

Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake

Ina Garten

makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar, divided (use part for the cake and part for the syrup)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided (use part for the cake and part for the syrup)
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 full sized loaf pans with Bakers Joy (or grease and flour by hand).  Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and then spray the top of the parchment paper, too. This keeps the cake from sticking to the pan. Not necessary, but helpful.

Cream butter and 2 cups of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the lemon juice, the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide evenly between the 2 pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Lemon Syrup:

Combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from the pans and set on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan.  Poke holes in the tops of the cake and spoon the lemon syrup over. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  1. The recipe calls for a lemon glaze to be drizzled over the top of the cake (2 cups powdered sugar, sifted, mixed with 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice).  I omitted this as it was plenty sweet to my taste without it.
  2. Instead of zesting the lemons (which is SOOO time consuming), I use a shortcut by peeling my lemons with a vegetable peeler (do this lightly so as not to get any of the white pith).  Add the peel along with the sugar to a food processor and blitz until the peel is finely chopped. Then add this lemon sugar to the butter and cream until light and fluffy.  SOOO much faster!  You can also use this lemon sugar to make a scrub…Just add heated coconut oil and voila!  You have a lemon scrub that smells GREAT! :)

 

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. :)

Lemon Posset

My journey down “Lemon Lane” continues with this delicious Lemon Posset.

For you San Antonio locals, you may have had this dessert at the restaurant “Picnikins Patio Cafe”.  It’s one of their signature desserts, and I was lucky enough to see the recipe posted in the newspaper years ago.  They serve theirs with “the crispest ginger thins you can lay your hands on”.

So what IS posset?  Well, today’s definition refers to a dessert make of thickened cream and flavored with fresh lemon juice (think lemon pudding).  Historically, though, posset was “a hot drink of sweetened and spiced milk curdled with ale or wine.” Shakespeare actually wrote of posset in Macbeth… (a bit of dinner table trivia!) :)

(Lady Macbeth – Act 2, Scene2)
“The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugged their possets,
That death and nature do contend about them,
Whether they live or die.”
This lemon posset is insanely easy (3 ingredients) and insanely delicious, delivering that “WOW” factor with very minimal effort!  A showstopper of a dessert that’s definitely on my short list of favorite, go-to recipes.
Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset

recipe from Picnikins Patio Cafe, via San Antonio Express News Newspaper

makes 6 (4oz) servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup strained “fresh” lemon juice (NO substitute!)

Preparation:

Put cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Once at a simmer, continue whisking for 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep at a simmer. Remove from heat, stir in the strained fresh lemon juice, and pour into serving bowls (I like to use miniature martini glasses) and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • Set a timer when the mixture reaches the “simmer” stage, so you let the mixture do its “magic” for 3 minutes exactly.
  • While the recipe calls for 3 hours in the fridge, my experience has been AT LEAST 4-5 hours.  Any less time, and it doesn’t “set” properly.  This is a great “make ahead” dessert to prepare either the day before or the morning of a dinner party.  Serve cool, straight from the refrigerator.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. :)

Lemon Curd

One of my favorite things about fall is the arrival of Meyer Lemons. These lemons are a citrus native to China and are thought to be a cross between a lemon and an orange. They’re sweeter and less acidic than the regular lemons we see in the grocery store, and they have a thinner skin that’s slightly orange when ripe. Recently, I was lucky enough to be gifted a whole passel of them! There were several dishes I wanted to create with my new bounty, but after tasting this lemon curd at a recent dinner party (it was spread over the top of a cheesecake), it was high on my list to make! This is Ina Garten’s recipe from her cookbook, “The Barefoot Contessa”.  I love her easy and approachable style to cooking, and this lemon curd BURSTS with lemon flavor! It’s absolutely delicious served over toast or english muffins in the morning, on shortbread with a cup tea in the afternoon or just eaten right out of the spoon any time you need a quick trip to lemon heaven!!

 

Lemon Curd

recipe by Ina Garten,  yields 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Wash lemons and dry well.  Remove zest by using a potato peeler, avoiding the white pith.  Place the zest into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add sugar and pulse until finely minced. 

Cream the butter in a mixing bowl then beat in the sugar/lemon mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon juice and salt and mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat, let cool and referigerate.  

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. :)

Quick and Healthy Salad Tips

Happy New Year everyone! I hope it’s off to a great start for you! :)

As each year rolls around, I find there’s one thing most of us have in common…we vow to exercise more and eat healthier. As we age, it’s imperative that we do BOTH!

I recently watched a movie that really resonated with me, and I would recommend everyone watch it!  “In Defense of Food” does a great job of showing us how we can reverse the ill effects of what our American/Western diet is doing to us…It’s making us SICK!  It seems we’re always being given contradicting advice…eat this, don’t eat that. Fat is good for you, fat is bad for you.  No wonder everyone’s confused! What we DO know is that sugar and processed foods are literally making us a sick society…the more you eat of them, the higher your risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.  We know this…we’re being told over and over, but are we really listening? My take away from this movie is to cut down on meat and eat more plants! I love salads and veggies, so this wont’ be hard for me to do.

Many of you have asked for some tips on how to eat healthy while keeping it simple at the same time. Here are my tips for creating a quick and healthy salad at home.  Try changing things up a bit if you find salads boring.  If you plan ahead and have a few items handy in both your fridge and pantry, you can always have a healthy salad on the table in no time!   Fill it with enough protein, and it can be the main course!

  1. I keep a variety of fresh organic greens in my fridge.  I like mixing several together like kale, baby arugula and spinach. Remember, the darker the green, the more nutrients it will have. I also ALWAYS wash my greens even if they say they’ve been prewashed. See “Marler Blog” for more information on food safety tips, especially buying precut and prewashed veggies.  Bill Marler is a personal injury attorney who litigates foodborne illnesses.  He’s handled all the big cases including the current Costco and Chipotle Restaurant cases.  I subscribe to his blog so that I’m always up to date on the latest recalls.
  2. I also buy canned beans for a protein alternative.  I like garbanzo beans, black beans and kidney beans.  I’ll open a few cans, rinse them well & drain, then pop them into the fridge in a ziploc bag for quick access.  Edamame beans are great in salads, too! I keep a bag in my freezer.
  3. Tomatoes, cucumbers, all colors of bell peppers, red onion, celery, carrots are just a few veggies you can add. They’re all good for you…try them all!
  4. Keep nuts and seeds in your fridge to add crunch to your salads.   Think pumpkin seeds, sunflowers seeds, pistachios, walnuts and pecans.
  5. And lastly, stay clear of bottled dressings.  Why fix a healthy salad only to defeat the purpose with a fat and calorie-laden dressing??  I keep fresh lemons or balsamic vinegar and mix with a bit of olive oil.

Quick, clean and healthy doesn’t have to be complicated! Take baby steps if you’re just starting out. Your body will thank you!

IMG_9855

A quick protein packed salad ready in less than 5 minutes!

Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Baby arugula
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Red kidney beans
  • Pepita (pumpkin) seeds
  • Cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Bell pepper (diced)
  • lemon and olive oil

 

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