Tag Archives: food

TCP Cooks: French Toast Waffles

Challah: A braided bread laden with eggs, symbolizing manna from heaven.

Challah: A braided bread laden with eggs, symbolizing manna from heaven.

If you love good bread, let me hear you challah!

Corny food puns are my secret love, as is warm eggy challah bread. But it’s what The Complete Package does with it that really makes my heart sing. Inspired by a sleep-over episode of Bobby Flay’s cooking show, he does the unthinkable and combines two breakfast favorites into one – French Toast & Waffles.

French Toast Waffles - Inside NanaBread's Head

To make this mouth-watering delicacy, you’ll need a fresh loaf of challah, the standard cast of French toast ingredients, and a piping hot waffle maker. A bowl of homemade whipped cream and some fresh fruit doesn’t hurt either.

TCP’s French Toast Waffles: (makes 8 slices)
1 loaf of fresh challah bread
4 large eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar, to dust with
fresh whipped cream & macerated fruit, to garnish

Pre-heat your waffle iron (set to medium heat, if yours is adjustable).

Slice the challah bread into 1″ thick slices; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until lemon-colored and frothy. Whisk in the brown sugar, beating until the sugar is mostly dissolved; add the cream, vanilla and salt and whisk until combined.

Dunk each slice of challah into the egg mixture, turning to coat well, and place it in the waffle maker. Gently press the lid closed and bake until golden brown. Our small waffle maker can bake one slice at a time and each takes about 4 minutes, but it’s 32 years old, so watch yours carefully for a perfect golden hue.

When done, remove to a warm plate, dust with powdered sugar then top with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Serve immediately.

French Toast Waffles - Close-Up

Leftovers, if there are any, can be frozen. Simply place the cooked & completely cooled waffles into a zip-style freezer bag, press out any excess air, seal tightly, then drop in the freezer. To warm, place them on a baking sheet and re-heat in the oven at 275F, or pop them in the microwave for 25-30 seconds, or drop them into your toaster (just be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn).

These are great with fresh peaches, strawberries, bananas or any favorite fruit. They’re also delicious with a smear of coconut curd and blackberry jam, or lemon curd and raspberry jam. There’s also the old-fashioned favorite – a pat of real butter and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. So many fabulous options, but that’s for you to discover. A word of caution: these are addictive.

Thinking of making your own Challah? Check out Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

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It’s 80F so we made ice cream

Chocolate Amaretto Pecan Ice Cream - TitlePic

For the record, 80F in January is a crime against nature. My roses are blooming again. Our yard guy showed up this week to mow. We turned on the AC again. It’s JANUARY, people! This is why we can’t own sweaters. {sigh}

So what do you do when Mother Nature turns the tables on you? Make ice cream (of course). This time we decided to use the chocolate-covered amaretto pecans given to us by our friends Kaki & Donny. She said they were addictive like crack. She was right. These babies are good right outta the bag, but they’re even better swimming in a big vat of dark chocolate ice cream.

I’m going to daydream about that for a minute…

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate-Dipped Amaretto Pecans
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (we use 2%)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate syrup
3/4 cup chocolate-dipped amaretto pecans, chopped

Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes); slowly add sugar and whisk for one minute more. Add the cream, milk, salt, vanilla and chocolate syrup and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour into an electric ice cream freezer and process until done. We use the Cuisinart machine, which takes about 30 minutes. Stir in the chopped pecans, spoon into a a freezer-safe container with a tight fitting lid & place in the deep freeze overnight. (Makes 1 quart)

Chocolate Amaretto Pecan Ice Cream - CloseUp

So while the rest of the nation basks in the glory of fluffy snow or cute sweater weather, we’ll be down here pulling weeds in our flip-flops. And eating ice cream.

PS – If that makes you jealous, call me. House-swap offers will be considered.

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Prague – The Food

I’m still going through vacation photos; sorting them out and reliving our trip. As I am, I realized it only seems fair to post a few photos of some of the food we tried in Prague. I mean, Istanbul got a food post. And The Netherlands got a good bit of attention with Claudia’s herring and my beloved oliebollen. So, in the interest of all things fair and right and foodie, here are a few of the food snaps I managed to take before stuffing my face. Note to self: I really need to work on that whole ‘pause, show some restraint, photograph, then eat’ system.

The first thing you need to know about food in Prague is that it tastes better when you eat it in a quaint neighborhood beer garden like this one.

You can't beat the food or fun offered at a neighborhood beer garden

And it’s even better if your neighborhood beer garden is rowdy and festive and brightly painted, and has great beer and live music.

Who could possibly resist this place? Or polka music?

Not much of a beer drinker? How about a cup of piping hot honey wine, then?

Honey Wine vendor at Old Town Square

I’ll warn you – it tastes a little like a hot, oaky chardonnay but with a healthy dose of paint stripper and Nyquil. And not the good cherry Nyquil, either. Gird your loins, kids. This stuff packs a punch. It was warming and sweet at the first sip. It was punching me in the gut and trying to steal my wallet by the last. Frankly, they could have sold a lot more of it if they’d just served it up in one of these beauties. That little bit of marketing genius is free, honey wine man.

I'm guessing everything tastes better in hand cut Czech glass. Pinkies up!

You know what else is really attractive (to me, anyway)? Big honkin’ hams smoking on an open fire pit. I can’t look at this stuff without wondering where the big pan of biscuits is hiding. Yes, I’m southern. Why do you ask, darlin’?

This is Old Prague Ham and That is the Old Prague Ham Master

I could go into the history of Old Prague Ham, but frankly I don’t care how it got here. I just want it really bad and I can’t stay focused on anything other than its smoky goodness long enough to put any more effort into it. Here’s what you need to know – it’s gorgeous and it smells like smoky meat heaven. Period.

Don't you wish you had smell-o-vision right now?

But wait! There’s more! The OPH man also sells sausages with rye bread and spicy mustard. AND kraut with little Czech dumplings and chunks of smoked ham in it. And Nestea, evidently.

Oh yeah, baby. We're about to get our Eastern European on!

The sausage was tasty and the bread was lovely and that kraut was a work of art, but let’s talk about the ham for a minute. Stay with me.

I would eat this on a boat. I would eat this on a float. I would eat this in a car...

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Dang! That’s a lot of smoky ham!” And you’d be right. Which brings me to my one and only tourist rip-off cautionary tale from our trip. The sign above the Old Prague Ham quotes a price. A very reasonable price. What you won’t notice (because I swear it didn’t say it anywhere) is that the quoted price is for a certain size portion of ham and that OPH is sold by weight. So unless you step up and say, “I’ll take the 80 Czech crown portion” (which translates to roughly $4.00 US), they will give you a giant plate of ham and tell you it’s 200 crowns (here, I’ll do the math – that’s $10.00 US). Now, ten dollars isn’t going to break anyone’s piggy bank, but what it will do is feed everyone standing within 10 feet of you. And that’s 10 feet of space in Old Town Square where all the tourists mingle in close proximity. I ate ham. The Complete Package tried the ham. The four Asian tourists sharing our tiny cocktail table were invited to try ham, but giggled at the absurdity of the size of my ham plate and politely declined. So instead, it fed two young homeless men who were scrounging through a garbage bin rescuing bread that others had tossed aside, and it also fed their little dog. Little dog got that crusty piece of ham skin, and he totally rocked it. Which leads me to my last two bits of advice about Old Prague Ham.

1. Too much Old Prague Ham may lead to massive stomach cramping and over-consumption of anti-diahrreal medications. It may also cause you to curse the day you ever laid eyes on 200 crowns worth of OPH, and say things to yourself like, “I’m sorry, Istanbul. I packed that Immodium assuming that I’d be sharing it with you. But I was wrong. So wrong. Please forgive me.”

2. If the wish I threw into that wishing well comes true and I do, indeed, return to Prague some day, I’m having what TCP had.

Because that's the way *uh huh uh huh* we like it

And now for something sweet. While at Prague Castle, a smell danced past my nostrils that was so intoxicating, I found myself drifting toward it much like those old cartoons where the besotted floats above the ground being pulled in a trance-like state towards something irresistible.

One whiff, and you'll want to hand over your wallet & credit cards

In this case, it was trdlo. I know. It’s an odd name. But what it lacks in vowels, it more than makes up for in aroma and flavor. Imagine the smell of warm cinnamon sugared toast. Picture the texture of soft warm white bread hot out of the oven. Now imagine the combination of those two things – a warm, soft cylinder of piping hot bread, enrobed in a crunchy cinnamon sugar hug.

Trdlo stands draw crowds of visitors, all following their noses

Here’s how it works. Bread dough is rolled into a thin rope and wrapped around a metal cylinder. A board is sprinkled with sugar crystals and cinnamon, and the cylinder is rolled through it, as though rolling out a pie crust or pizza dough. Rolling helps to flatten the dough onto the cylinder and helps the sugar/cinnamon mixture stick to the dough. The cylinders are then placed one at a time onto a special rack over a hot fire.

This stuff is heavenly, which makes those holy rollers

As each trdlo is taken off on one end, another new one is added at the other end. By the time each cylinder makes it across the fire, it is perfectly golden and ready to eat. Each roll is broken in half, forming two beautiful golden cuffs of deliciousness. If they weren’t so darned irresistible, I’d wear them like bangles on both wrists. So not kidding.

Another sweet treat was our stroll through the small but interesting History of Chocolate Museum. It’s tiny and kind of kitschy, but also fun. Your reward for paying the entrance fee is the live chocolate making demonstration, where a candy shop employee shows you the steps to making hazelnut creme filled chocolate stars.

The live chocolate making demonstration in progress

Oh, the magnificent aroma of that chocolate room. It’s so strong and so heavenly, it seems to permeate every cell of your body for at least 20 minutes. If I could bottle it as perfume, I could buy a summer castle in Prague. It was glorious. If you’re into tasting over smelling, the pay-off comes at the end of the demonstration when you get to sample the goods.

Twinkle twinkle little star, cuter than a Hershey Bar

And while I’ve always made it a practice not to publish photos of myself or TCP, he did manage to snap a shot of me coming out of the tasting room. It’s not flattering by any means, but what are you gonna do? Sometimes the truth hurts.

Oh, snap! I was sure NanaBread was a brunette!

Prague is primarily known for it’s pork dishes and dumplings, but there were a few culinary surprises. Take this appetizer, for example.

Fried Sardines & a cold Pilsner - TCP was one happy cat!

I don’t heart stinky fish, but The Complete Package does and he was tickled to pieces with this plate of sardines, fried up crispy and dipped in mayonnaise. And for the record, that’s not lumpy American mayo from a jar. That’s the good stuff. The homemade version. And if you ever eat it (especially on fries while in Europe), you will never look back. I think TCP could have sat in this little Italian cafe and eaten sardines all day long. The beer didn’t hurt, either.

And then there was this steaming platter of Spaghetti Carbonara. It was lovely, but it tasted even better than it looked.

Proof that everything is better with bacon

This was TCP’s lunch. I was hoping he’d filled up on stinky fish, but no such luck. Evidently he was just getting started. But I did get one bite, and it was tasty. Don’t feel bad for me, folks. Mama didn’t raise no fool. I did my research and knew October was at the peak of the wild mushroom harvest season. So guess what I ordered?

Read it and weep - Wild Mushroom Risotto

Oh, yeah. It was creamy. It was earthy. And it was fabulous. Which reinforces what I’ve said all along. When you travel, give yourself a gift you’ll always cherish. Try local foods. Immerse yourself in local customs. Try to live, as much as possible, as a local instead of a tourist and you will create memories that will last a lifetime. And, truth be told, that works just as well when traveling to other states as it does abroad.

If you missed the Prague post, you can click here for a shortcut.

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Recipe Review: Pasta al Pomodoro


She’s young, she’s spunky, she’s a Chicagoan and she makes a mean Pomodoro sauce. Who am I speaking of? Well, that would be the lovely Jenna of Jennaseverthingblog.wordpress.com. On May 11th, she posted a recipe that caught my eye and made my tummy grumble. And I had just eaten. I knew when I saw it that I would have to try it. It’s her version of Pasta al Pomodoro, and if you’re a rabid pasta fan like me, you’re going to want to make it, too.

Here’s what I loved about Jenna’s Pomodoro:
1. It’s incredibly easy to make.
2. It’s made with a handful of all-natural ingredients.
3. It packs a wallop of flavor you don’t get from jarred sauces.
4. It can be paired with every type of pasta – from bow-ties to lasagna.
5. I can make big batches of this and freeze it for quick meals.
6. It contains fresh basil. Everything is better with fresh basil.
7. It contains lots of fresh garlic. Everything is better with garlic.
8. It tastes better than any other pasta sauce I’ve ever eaten. Seriously.

Here’s what I didn’t love about Jenna’s Pomodoro:
Nothing! This is my new go-to sauce. No more Prego for me, baby.

So do me a favor. Jump over to Jenna’s blog and take a look at her step-by-step instructions, complete with full-color photos. If you’re not sold on this sauce, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. Which will be tricky, since I am neither a monkey nor an uncle. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find an Altoid.

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Recipe Review: The Pioneer Woman’s Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

I’ve never eaten a lemon pancake. I know, it’s not a dark confession, but it is a confession none the less. I love all things lemon, but somehow lemon pancakes have eluded me. Until this week, when I saw the most gorgeous photos of lemon blueberry pancakes on The Pioneer Woman’s website. Have mercy.

Luckily, I had 2 lemons in my fruit bowl who were screaming, “C’mon! Go get the blueberries already! We’re dying to jump in some pancakes here!” Taunted by fruit – that’s my life. Since I can’t stand to disappoint anyone, much less a couple of mouthy lemons, I went to buy blueberries. Big, fat, juicy Texas blueberries. Thank God I did, because these pancakes did not disappoint.

Here’s what I loved about this recipe:
1. the batter was fragrant, light and bubbly
2. it took only minutes to whip up
3. except for blueberries, I had everything I needed in my pantry
4. the texture of the warm pancakes was soft & fluffy perfection

Here’s what I would do differently:
a. I would use two lemons instead of one, to boost the lemon flavor
b. I would use sweeter blueberries; mine were a little tart
c. if I had company, I would definitely double the recipe
d. if I didn’t have company, I would definitely eat every single one myself

If you love lemon more than you love blueberries, consider using 2 lemons (juice & zest) to kick up the lemon flavor. If you love blueberries more than you love lemon, make the recipe exactly as it’s written. Personally, I’m all for more lemon in just about every single situation. Except around a paper cut.

As is my custom, I’m not going to re-publish a Pioneer Woman recipe on my blog. It’s much more practical to provide you with the link so you can see Ree’s Lemon-Blueberry Pancakes for yourself, along with the gorgeous photos she provides in her step-by-step instructions. If you don’t fall in love, then you are definitely not a pancake person. Maybe a muffin man, but not a pancake person. PS – Do you know the Muffin Man? The Muffin Man. The Muffin Man?

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A Recipe Review: A Sweet Pea Chef’s Easy Crème Brulée

Food bloggers amaze me. Their dedication to cooking, staging and documenting recipes knocks me out. How do they do it day after day after day? My fellow blogger Lacey at A Sweet Pea Chef is one of those amazing people. Browsing her recipes and photos is like browsing through food porn. It is a glorious, guilty pleasure. But my favorite thing about Lacey’s blog is that her recipes are not just pretty. They are easy to understand, easy to prepare, and unbelievably tasty. She’s the real deal. She loves to cook and she happily shares that love with her readers. It’s just one of the many reasons I love her beautiful blog.

Every once in a while, Lacey will post a food poll, letting her readers choose recipes or topics that will be covered at a future date. One such poll featured possible dessert recipes. Choices included crème brulée, carrot cake cheesecake, lemon bars, oatmeal raisin cookies and cranberry sorbet. I was intrigued by the carrot cake cheesecake, but I voted for crème brulée. Several times {wink}. Why? Because I love simple foods with tremendous flavor, and crème brulée is one of those foods. Four ingredients. Full of flavor. Out of this world texture. I’m in.

The recipe says “easy” and by golly, she wasn’t kidding. You combine 4 ingredients, pour them into ramekins and bake them in a water bath. The cast of characters include 5 egg yolks, 2 cups of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. For this recipe, I broke out the good stuff – the pure vanilla bean paste. If you’ve never tried this stuff, you have to. This recipe is perfect for it. If I were making a chocolate cake, I would most definitely use the regular vanilla extract. But for this dish, the good stuff really shines.

Once your little pots of creme are baked and cooled, it’s decision time. You can stop here and just enjoy this as an incredible custard, or you can pour some sugar on it and brulée those puppies. I’m going whole hog. Conveniently, TCP just happens to have one of those baby blow torches. “Break out the blow torch, honey! I’m gonna’ burn some sugar, Sugar!” Fingers crossed that I don’t burn the house down. Oven mitt? Check. Fire extinguisher? Check. Let’s roll!

The verdict: this stuff is almost too good to be true. It’s so easy and inexpensive to make, it makes me a little angry at all those hoity-toity restaurants that charge $12.50 a serving for it. Shame on them. Deep, money-grubbing shame. Thanks to Lacey, I can now make fabulous crème brulée at home. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. Good because this recipe is really fantastic. Bad because I really shouldn’t have the power to make this all the time. I’m having a vision of “Good Nana” and “Bad Nana” sitting on each shoulder screaming at each other. (Secretly, I’m rooting for Bad Nana. Go, Bad Nana! You go with your bad self!)

To see this recipe with all of the glorious step-by-step photos, visit Lacey’s blog at: http://www.asweetpeachef.com/sweets/easy-creme-brulee/

PS – A very special thank you to Katie at Lucky Girl Sweets ‘n Stuff. She selected my name for her first giveaway last week, which happened to be those super cute red ramekins. They look just like miniature Le Crueset Dutch ovens. They are too stinkin’ cute, and perfect for crème brulée. Thanks, Katie! I love them. You should click on the link above and drop in on her. She’s a feisty Texan like me. And tell her I said “howdy!”

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My Favorite Mexican Food Side Dish: Creamy Poblano Rice

I feel like I should apologize for loading my blog with so many recipes lately. I usually try to spread them out, but we’ve eaten so many good things this past week, I feel like I need to share them before I forget them. Don’t laugh at me. It happens. I blame the menopause. Today, I want to share my new favorite side dish. I’m calling it Poblano Rice because I’m creative like that.

Poblano Rice - Before Baking - Inside NanaBread's Head

 

 

The Complete Package loves rice. I’ve mentioned this before. He’s addicted. I whipped this up one night to go with Mexican food, and now it’s our favorite side. It starts with poblano peppers, either canned or fresh. I’m in Texas, so I usually go for fresh.

Roasted Poblanos - Poblano Rice - Inside NanaBread's Head Blog

 

Oh, baby. Poblanos are my favorite. I could eat them every day. I roast them over an open flame on my gas stove, steam them, peel and de-seed them, then chop. Then snitch a few. Then slap my own hand, usually. For this dish, I throw them into cooked or leftover plain basmati rice and add sour cream, monterrey jack cheese, garlic salt, salt & pepper. So simple, and yet so very satisfying.

Ingredients - Poblano Rice - Inside NanaBread's Head Blog

 

NanaBread’s Creamy Poblano Rice
1 cup Texmati basmati rice, uncooked
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (or 1 tsp. regular table salt)
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 fresh poblano peppers – roasted, skinned, seeded & chopped OR 1 can of sliced poblano peppers (7.5 oz.), drained
1 cup sour cream (low-fat is fine; I even use fat-free Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cups of grated pepper jack cheese
cayenne pepper, to sprinkle on top (optional)

In a medium size heavy-bottom pan, add the vegetable oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil just until it starts to shimmer. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice turns chalky white and some of the grains start to brown very lightly. Carefully add the water, throw in the salt, and stir to keep the grains from sticking. When your rice begins to bubble vigorously, give it one last stir. Place a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low (I set mine between 1 and 2 on my stove dial), and set your kitchen timer for 25 minutes. Once done, remove the lid and allow the rice to cool. TIP: this is a great way to use leftover steamed rice. Just start at the ‘stir in everything else’ portion of the recipe.

 

In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, sour cream, poblano peppers, garlic salt and one cup of grated pepper jack cheese. Mix it up and give it a taste.

 

If it needs more garlic salt, regular salt or you want to throw in some cracked black pepper, now is the time to add it. Once it’s perfect, spoon it into a baking dish that has been lightly sprayed or oiled. Spread it out evenly and top with the last 1/2 cup of grated pepper jack cheese. Man, I love cheese. All the cheese. Not Limburger, but all the others.

Grated Jack Cheese - Poblano Rice - Inside NanaBread's Head Blog

If you like spice, sprinkle on a little cayenne pepper. It really kicks it up a notch. I highly recommend it. Highly.

 

Pop your baking pan, uncovered, into a hot oven (375F) for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve it with your favorite main course. This week, it was my recipe for carnitas.

Poblano Rice - Ready to Serve - Inside NanaBread's Head

 

Two weeks ago, it was fajitas. Next week, it could be fish tacos. The possibilities are endless and the world is my oyster. Hmm… poblano rice with grilled oysters, shrimp and veggies? Or poblano rice with carne asada. Or poblano rice with the Pioneer Woman’s tequila-lime chicken. Dang. Now I’m hungry. Again.

Update: On June 2, 2016, I updated the photos for this blog post. The originals were poorly lit and frankly not very appetizing. If you followed a Pinterest link to get here and the photos don’t match, don’t worry. It’s the same recipe, just with hopefully more appetizing representations of one of my favorite family recipes.  -jeanne

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