French Toast Berry Bake

French Toast Berry Bake

French Toast Berry Bake

Happy 2015!

So, today marks four years that this blog has chugged along. I began with a list of my favorite recipes to share but have gotten sidetracked by trying tons of new dishes I’ve discovered along the way.

This French Toast Berry Bake, though, is on ol’ favorite that comes from a high school friend who serves it at her Christmas Brunch each year. Of all the goodies in her luscious spread, this is the one I look forward to most. She graciously shared the recipe with me many eons ago.

However, I rarely make it because the butter and sugar and bread creates a total calorie bomb. So darn fluffy and sweet and tart and crunchy, though, as you combine all that with berries and pecans.

I always feel guilty about making this. You see, in my mind I associate this with special holiday events, and considering that I’ve feasted for weeks on sugary treats during the holiday season, my mind tells me to avoid making one more sweet and calorie-laden dish.

However, this year, my mom sent me home on Christmas day with a leftover baguette. Perfect excuse to make this fruity french toast dish, right?  This time I attempted to modify the recipe and reduce the fat content. I used less sugar, for starters, and I used dark brown sugar to deepen the flavor. Then I swapped the butter for coconut oil. Still tasted sweet enough.

Then I started wondering how many fewer calories were used with coconut oil vs. butter. To my surprise, they are nearly equal!! Loads of articles out there about how coconut oil isn’t necessarily better than butter nor vice versa. So much for my great idea to seriously make a dent in calorie reduction. I’m happy that I managed to cut back on the sugar, at least, and not reduce the love I have for this ol’ fav.

By the way, much of this can be prepared a day in advance, making it an easy breakfast meal to pop in the oven upon waking. Always a good thing, right?

French Toast Berry Bake

French Toast Berry Bake

French Toast Berry Bake

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

French Toast & Batter

  • 1 24-inch baguette
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (original recipe calls for 3/4 cup light brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Topping

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 cups blueberries or any combination of mixed berries
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (original recipe calls for 1/2 stick butter)
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar (original recipe calls for 1/4 cup light brown sugar)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Butter a 13×9-inch baking dish.
  2. Cut baguette into 1-inch slices; arrange in baking dish.
  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and salt; pour over bread. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dish overnight until ready to bake the following morning.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. Toast pecans by stirring them in a pan over medium heat until they smell toasty. Coarsely chop and sprinkle over mixture in pan.
  6. Sprinkle berries over mixture.
  7. In small saucepan, melt 1/4 cup coconut oil with brown sugar until sugar dissolves. Drizzle over mixture in pan.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

SOURCE: my high school friend Gina

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Hello and pardon my long hiatus. Reasons? Busy at work, rebalancing dinner responsibilities now that hubby is back to work, adding gym workouts to my life, gardening, etc. Nothing serious. Getting out of the habit of blogging just happened so easily, and I’ve had a hard time finding the motivation to start again.

My love of cooking and baking, though, haven’t waned. So let’s see if I can get back into the habit of sharing the kitchen delights, starting with these Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. Bursting with refreshing citrus flavor and the crunch of poppyseeds, these sweet treats disappear in a flash (and reappear on the thighs!), so beware. I fool myself by making them in mini form, thinking I’m not eating as many. Yah, right. I end up popping mini muffins all day until the entire batch disappears, which has occurred numerous times.

I’ve made these bunches of times in the past few months, but I cannot stop myself from eating them, so they’ve vanished before I could ever take a photo. It took a lot of willpower to save these last few for photos, but I finally did it. And now I can finally share a stellar muffin recipe with you. Enjoy!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

 

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Printer-Friendly Version

Yield: 12

INGREDIENTS

Muffins

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 cups (8.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp. poppyseeds

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to center position, and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest, rubbing with fingers to distribute lemon zest.
  3. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, blend yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients, stirring gently to blend but not overmixing.
  5. Stir in poppyseeds.
  6. Divide batter evenly amongst muffin tins.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes (about 15 if using mini muffin pan), until thin knife or toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.Transfer muffin pan to cooling rack, and after 5 minutes, remove muffins from pan and continue to cool.
  8. When muffins cool completely, drizzle icing over tops (using spouted container or just drizzling with spoon or fork). To make icing, combine powdered sugar with lemon juice. Begin with 1 1/2 tbsp. and add more until desired consistency is reached.

SOURCE: adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod via Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

 

Chocolate Babka

Back in December 2009, I clipped a recipe from Cooking Light magazine for a chocolate-laced bread called babka. Since then, I have attempted that particular recipe on several occasions, only to face undercooked bread, issues with the dough not rising, and bread with HUGE air pockets.

Babka

Chocolate Babka: bread laced with chocolate filling

I have persevered, though, because the swirls of chocolate filling enticed me. I finally tried another sweet bread recipe from Lindsey at Pinch of Yum and combined it with the filling method from Cook’s Illustrated cinnamon swirl bread. Finally, success!

Babka

Aren’t those swirls of chocolate and cinnamon filling gorgeous!

Wondering about the origins of the name babka, I googled it to learn that babka is a Ukrainian sweet bread made for Easter. In my Croatian heritage, my mom and aunt always make Easter bread, which is a tad sweet and dry. Theirs bakes up lighter than this one, but the breads share the same level of mild sweetness. I prefer this one due to the chocolate spirals inside, though. I took it to work (to prevent myself from devouring it all), and my coworkers loved it.

So, I present to you a version of babka that took me five years to perfect.

Babka

Utterly delicious sweet bread

Chocolate Babka

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 1 package (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 8-9 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • optional: zest of one orange

Filling

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or 4 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate (or dark chocolate, if you prefer)
  • 3 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tsp. milk (or you can use orange juice to enhance the orange flavor if you used orange zest in the dough)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make dough: In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, allow the yeast to dissolve in the warm water until it reaches a frothy state.
  2. Add the milk, sugar, salt, eggs, orange zest (if using) and 2 cups of flour; using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, mix on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Switch to dough hook and add 3 more cups of flour; mix at a slightly higher speed. The dough should appear smooth and glossy.
  4. Add the melted butter; mix until dough appears glossy again.
  5. Stir in remaining 3-4 cups of flour a little at a time until a stiff dough forms. You will probably use closer to 3 cups of flour rather than 4.
  6. Transfer dough to a generously flour-coated surface, gently rolling dough around to coat it with flour. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Using mixer, knead dough at low speed until smooth and satiny, about 4 minutes. Place dough into a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size (my dough took almost 2 hours to rise).
  8. To make filling: Whisk together powdered sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt until well combined.
  9. Grease two loaf pans (I used shortening).
  10. Rolling dough and adding filling: After dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half (at this point, you can wrap one half in plastic wrap, place in resealable bag, and freeze for another time; to use, allow to thaw overnight in refrigerator and to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or so). Working with one half at a time, roll dough into a large rectangle, roughly 14×16 inches and about 1/4-inch thick.
  11. Using a spray bottle, lightly spray the dough with water. Sprinkle half of the filling mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border on sides. Spray filling lightly with water (FYI: the powdered sugar absorbs water, forming a sticky paste that helps to hold the layers together, eliminating pesky air pockets).
  12. Starting from the longer side of the dough, roll dough away from you into a firm cylinder. Pinch ends closed. Holding dough by ends, gently twist the cylinder 4 times, as if wringing out a towel (this creates a spiral effect with the filling). Place the dough into the prepared pan, squeezing it into an S-shape to fit. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  13. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  14. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg so bread will bake with a golden crust. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.
  15. Remove from oven, place bread pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow bread to cool completely on wire rack before icing and slicing.
  16. To make icing: Combine icing ingredients and mix well. Drizzle over cooled bread.

SOURCES: inspired by Cooking Light; adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cinnamon Swirl Bread and Pinch of Yum

2013’s Most Popular Posts

Hubby and I prefer to stay home for a quiet and calm New Year’s Eve. We celebrate by cooking something special, usually lobster. However, two years ago I saved a recipe for Beef Wellington, and this year I’m finally going to try it. Hence, I’ve spent the entire day in the kitchen prepping. If all goes well tonight, I’ll share the recipe later this week.

Anyway, I decided to rest my weary feet a bit and catch up on some emails. Lo and behold, I received my annual report of the most popular posts for 2013 (all sweet treats, by the way), so I thought I’d quickly share them. A couple of the most-searched posts go back to 2011 and 2012!

Wishing each and every one of you a very healthy, happy, and peaceful 2014.

Most popular posts of 2013:

Kahlua Cheesecake

Kahlua Cheesecake

Kahlua Cheesecake: graham cracker crust, ganache layer, velvety Kahlua-flavored cheescake, sour-cream layer, and drizzled ganache topping. Can you say decadent?

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Oreo Cheesecake Bites (2012): Still popular a year later, and rightfully so. These little babies pack a ton of chocolate-y flavor amidst tangy cheesecake. And oh-so-easy to make, too.

Ho Ho Cake

Ho Ho Cake

Ho Ho Cake: This light and airy layered cake garners a lot of oohs and aahs from its recipients. Very yummilicious cake.

Magic Custard Cake

Magic Custard Cake

Magic Custard Cake: Magic indeed as three layers appear from one batter!

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (2011): Still going strong two years later, this pull-apart bread is simply fun with layers of dough stacked so they pull apart easily after baking. Drizzle with lots of glaze for a glorious treat.

Pile on the Produce: Potato & Veggie Breakfast Skillet Medley (and a giveaway prize package!)

Potato Veggie Skillet

Potatoes & veggies baked in a skillet

 

Congratulations to last week’s Pile on the Produce winner, Angela, commenter #1!

You all have 3 more tries this month to enter the Klondike Prize Package giveaway with the three remaining weeks this month.

Today I bring you the second installation of September’s Pile on the Produce month, sponsored by Klondike Brands. That means you get another great potato recipe plus another prize package giveaway sponsored by the good folks at Klondike.

So what is this Pile on the Produce promotion all about? It’s about encouraging you to create deliciously healthy meals by incorporating produce items along with your potato dishes.

Let’s talk for a minute about the nutritional benefits of taters, Klondike rose potatoes specifically (since that is what I’ve been using for these Pile on the Produce recipes). The Klondike Brands site states that from rose potatoes we gain vitamin B6 and dietary fiber. Vitamin B6 aids with metabolism while fiber fills up the tummy longer, hence possibly assisting with weight loss. Sounds good to me! All the more reason to chow down my beloved taters.

Now give me another minute to tell you about these Klondike Rose Potatoes. The site describes them as “red skinned potato[es] with a heart of gold.” I love that description! First, they literally have a golden yellow color on the inside, unlike the whitish color I’ve seen in other potatoes. Second, the texture appears more dense and smooth to my eye, and when cooked, I could taste a distinct creaminess I haven’t found in other brands of rose potatoes. Hence, the “heart of gold” connotes the inner richness of these spuds.

So, look for the Klondike brand at your local grocery stores and give the potatoes a try. The website contains a locater link to give you a helping hand. I actually received a coupon back at Camp Blogaway for some free Klondike potatoes, but I haven’t found a store near me that carries them. I shared that with the rep from Klondike who contacted me. Part of my participation in Pile on the Produce promotion involved Klondike Brands sending me a bag of their potatoes, and I’m so happy to have had a chance to finally taste their superior quality. As I said, though, my only bummer is that they aren’t in any stores near me…yet. I’m hopeful that someday they will be.

Okay, so let’s finally get to the recipe. I opted to make a breakfast dish this time. At first, I envisioned scalloped potatoes layered in a frittata, but as I perused the Klondike recipe book, I combined parts of the Breakfast Skillet recipe with the Potato Chicken Casserole recipe. I ended up with an ultra creamy sort of skillet frittata/sort of casserole loaded with shredded instead of scalloped potatoes as well as chopped onions, sliced red peppers, and cut asparagus. Hubby and I dubbed this breakfast dish a winner! I hesitated initially to add Dijon mustard, but ultimately it provided a subtle flavor boost. That along with parsley definitely enhanced the palatability of this Breakfast Skillet Medley.

Potato Veggie Skillet

Breakfast baked in a skillet and loaded with yummy veggies and taters

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Let me end, finally, with the Pile on the Produce giveaway details. The folks at Klondike Brands have generously offered to give away a prize pack to one lucky reader of this blog each week during the month of September, “which will include goodies like a cookbook and potato preparation and cooking items.” I received a copy of the cookbook to test out some recipes, and it is chock full of yummilicious ideas. I’m certain you’ll enjoy the recipes in there, too.

One lucky winner will be randomly chosen for this week’s giveaway, which begins today, Monday, Sept. 9th and will end Sunday, Sept. 15th at midnight PST.

HOW TO ENTER

To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post and answer the question:

“Do you favor rose potatoes or russets or golden potatoes?” (I actually didn’t think about their differences until my cooking skills began to develop a few years ago.)

I personally prefer rose potatoes for their smoothness. However, russets are great for fluffy baked potatoes while the golden spuds make superior thin cut fries.

You can receive up to THREE additional entries to win by doing the following:

  1. Subscribe to Scrumptious and Sumptuous using the sign up button in the top right sidebar (or use an RSS feed). Come back and let me know you’ve subscribed in an additional comment on this post.
  2. Become a fan of Scrumptious and Sumptuous on Facebook (if anyone is techie-challenged like me, that means click the “Like” button when you view  my page, which I recently created, by the way!). Come back and let me know you became a fan in an additional comment on this post. Since my readership growth is still in the baby stages, I would like to offer those of you who joined Facebook last week to post an additional comment on this post letting me know you already joined Facebook, thereby giving you another giveaway opportunity.
  3. Share this giveaway opportunity on your Facebook page (or other social media), then come back and let me know you shared in an additional comment on this post.

Klondike Potatoes

Also, click on over to the Klondike Brands Facebook Page for some more recipe ideas, or follow them on Twitter, where you can also enter to win a prize package. And you can find a coupon at the Klondike Brands website.

Potato and Veggie Breakfast Skillet Medley

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 small red potatoes, skins on and shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1-2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish: 1-2 green onions, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Scrub potatoes clean and dry them. Either grate potatoes on a grater, or use the grater blade in your food processor to shred the potatoes. Place shredded potatoes in a sieve and rinse under cold water for a couple minutes to remove starch. Allow water to drain from potatoes after rinsing while preparing remaining ingredients.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for one minute, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add shredded potatoes, sliced peppers, and asparagus pieces; cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes cook through and peppers and asparagus soften. The pan will be quite full, but the food will eventually cook down a bit.
  5. While potatoes and veggies cook, in a small bowl whisk eggs. Add heavy cream, cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, and parsley; mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Pour egg mixture into skillet and gently mix it in; place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through. Note: I imagine that if you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can simply use a casserole dish. Baking time may vary, though.
  7. Remove from oven and garnish with sliced green onions.

SOURCE: mostly a Maria creation with inspiration from The Culinary Guide to Klondike Potatoes as well as ingredients in my fridge

Zucchini Recipe Roundup

Zucchini Recipe Roundup

My garden has three stunted squash plants. Since May. They grew about 8 inches high and refused to grow anymore. Nor have they succumbed to perishing. I don’t get it. Last year’s zucchini plant grew for months and months and months. I even tried a second round of plants this year and same situation: stunted growth.

Hence, we’ve had no zucchini dishes this season. However, since I had quite the abundance the past couple of years and tried numerous recipes and since squash season is in full bloom and since I’ve had quite a few people subscribe to the blog (welcome all!), I thought I’d share my collection. Just click the link below the photos to view the posts/recipes.

How do you like to cook zucchini?

Zucchini Recipe Roundup

Pesto Zucchini Lasagna

Pesto Zucchini Lasagna

Pesto and Roasted Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Frittata

Zucchini Frittata

Zucchini Frittata

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (unbelievably moist and delicious)

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini & Carrot Slaw with Asian Dressing

Zucchini & Carrot Slaw with Asian Dressing

Zucchini and Carrot Slaw with Asian Dressing

Zucchini Cheese Bread

Zucchini Cheese Bread

Zucchini Cheese Bread

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Zucchini Melt

Zucchini Melt

Zucchini Melt

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries

Sugarless Lemon Curd

Once upon a time, some friends and I would partake in high tea a few times a year–a very girly thing. We chose a different spot every time just to experience lots of locales. My favorite was a place in which the owner had collected loads of fancy hats displayed on tall hat racks. Every guest got to pick a hat to wear during tea and sandwiches–such a cute idea that added a touch of whimsy to the experience. And silly photo opportunities.

Have you ever had high tea? Chubby pots of tea, teensy sandwiches, and miniature desserts. And scones. Can’t forget the scones. I think those high tea years introduced me to scones. And along with scones comes lemon curd. And another lemon recipe.

Ahhhhh…another lemon recipe?!

Yep. Sorry. I told you I had more to share last week when I posted the Lemon Love round-up (almost done with lemon recipes, I promise).

So, back to lemon curd. High tea introduced me to lemon curd. And the name–curd–just doesn’t conjure a pretty image, does it? Nor is the lemon curd itself the most attractive thing in the world: a blob of yellow gelatinous-like material. Okay, let’s look past all that.

Sugarless Lemon Curd

A dollop of lemon curd adds a light fruity touch to yogurt

The curd is a spread, like jelly, but it tastes tart and sweet. And it oh-so-complements scones, especially fruit scones, like cranberry scones.

And it’s the stuff lemon meringue pie is made of.

And it’s a quietly fruity touch when added to yogurt. With granola (or this granola recipe)

And it makes mousse very light and summery. Or springy.

But best of all, this particular lemon curd recipe is SUGARLESS! Woo hoo!!

And it tastes just as tart and sweet as the other lemon curd recipe I posted ages ago (please, please, please forgive the horrible picture; that was from my early days of blogging when I had no idea how to shoot a photo for the blog whereas now I have a just a bit more knowledge on how to make a presentable image). The recipe calls for honey as the sweetener, and I couldn’t even tell that the curd was sans sugar. Definite score!

Sugarless Lemon Curd

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon (or substitute 1 tsp. lemon extract)
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg and 2 egg yolks

DIRECTIONS

  1. Set up a double boiler. I do this by placing a glass bowl over a pot filled with about 1 inch of water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Heat water to a gentle simmer, but make sure it doesn’t boil.
  2. Cut butter into pieces and add to bowl. Also add lemon juice, zest, salt, and honey. Whisk until butter melts, then remove bowl from pot.
  3. In another bowl, whip egg and yolks until well blended. Slowly stir eggs into lemon juice mixture, then return bowl to top of pot with simmering water. Stir continuously until a custard forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat once custard thickens.
  4. Cool curd, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will thicken some more. The curd will last for a couple of weeks.

SOURCE: Traditional Foods via Gourmande in the Kitchen

(who has a lovely strawberry parfait recipe which uses this curd)