Saturday, July 28, 2012

Baked French Toast

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. If I could only choose one meal to eat all day every day, it would have to be breakfast. It can be sweet. It can be savory. It can be so many things - eggs (scrambled, fried, omelet), waffles, quiche, pancakes, sammiches and the list could go on forever. There is just so much variety when it comes to breakfast. Don't you agree?

I am a girl that usually goes for eggs for breakfast (give me that protein!), but sometimes I just crave something sweet. Something sweet, ooey gooey and dripping with syrup. This baked french toast does just the trick. It's a cinch to throw together and even better, you can make it the night ahead (or just soak for a few hours, but I like overnight), pop in the fridge and then take out and bake. This baked french toast is awesome for a quick and easy breakfast for the family or a great make ahead for a big breakfast or brunch party. My only warning for you is that this recipe makes a lot and you may not be able to have just one piece. The french bread is drenched in a sweet egg custard and is then topped with a cinnamon sugar topping that has this delicious crunch when you bite into it. It's almost like cinnamon sugar bread. Did you ever make that? Maybe I am the only one - slap on some butter to bread, sprinkle cinnamon sugar and bake. So good, but this french toast is better. WAY BETTER. The perfect weekend breakfast or a just because breakfast. Perhaps you should surprise someone you love with this. I think they will love you even more after.

if you can, use a day or two (even better!) old bread. It absorbs the custard better!

guess I forgot to take other pictures. Damn you instagram! This is post bake. Look at that crunch cinnamon sugar topping.

Sunday morning breakfast with my captain. xoxo.
Baked French Toast (The Pioneer Woman)

French Toast
1 loaf Crusty Sourdough Or French Bread
8 whole Eggs
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Whipping (heavy) Cream
3/4 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter or non-stick spray (I forgot to do this. OOPS).

Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan. Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge. 

When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture. Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup.

See, I told you this was easy. Maybe a little too easy. Just promise me you won't eat the whole pan in one sitting.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Baked Garlic Fries

If you have ever been to AT&T Park, you know that garlic fries are a must have. It's just one of those things that once you have them, you will be totally addicted. Fries + loads of chopped garlic + parsley. It seems so simple, but it's SO good. Especially when they are fresh out of the frier. Oh wow, my mouth is totally filling up with saliva. I may have just drooled on my keyboard. Oops.

Although the garlic fries are essential while cheering on the Giants, they are probably not the healthiest food choice at the park. I know what you are thinking. Who goes to the ball park to eat healthy? I know, I know, especially as I am the girl carrying around a big hotdog. Who am I to say anything.


See, told you I walk around with big hot dog. That sounds weird. Okay, back to garlic fries. I do admit that once in awhile, I get the garlic fries and wonder, could I make these at home? I am not about to start heating up a huge pot of oil to fry my own. Me + oil do not go together. I am sure I could make some mean fries, but a pot of oil just screams dangerous to me. Plus, one of my favorite things to do is take some of my favorite foods and try to make them  better and healthier. Why not try with these, right?

Let me just say, these taste JUST LIKE THE GARLIC FRIES AT AT&T PARK! Sorry for the all caps, but it's a must to express how good these are. I was shocked at how crunchy, garlicky and delicious they were. All you have to do is cut the fries, toss in a little olive oil and bake at 450 for 45 minutes (maybe a little more depending on your oven) and then toss with a dash more olive oil, chopped garlic and the parsley. That's it. Can I tell you again how good these are? I don't think I told you enough. These fries are amazing. Even better, they are only 245 calories per serving (fries at the park are over 500!). Say bye bye to the deep frier.

just a few ingredients

if you cut your potatoes early, soak in water so they don't turn brown. Just make sure to dry them really well before you coat with olive oil.

coat with olive oil and don't forget the salt and pepper

post bake

toss with garlic and parsley.

Baked Garlic Fries (

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, cut lengthwise into 3 x 1/3 x 1/3-inch batons
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Toss potatoes with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. 

Roast the potatoes, turning occasionally, until browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Increase heat to 500°F. Continue roasting until fries are deep brown in spots, about 5 more minutes. Whisk remaining 1/2 tablespoons oil, garlic, and parsley in a large bowl. Add hot fries, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

GO GIANTS! Let's eat some garlic fries!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Green Chili Chicken Burgers

Are you looking for a fresh and new twist on burgers? Well, you came to the right place. Burgers are all the rage these days with different flavors and toppings, but everyone is looking for a lower fat and lower calorie option. Right? At least I am. Turkey burgers are a great option, but I bet you didn't know that most places don't use ground turkey breast. In fact, you might as well just eat a regular burger since the dark turkey meat is just as high in fat and calories. Shocking, right? I thought so when I found that out. Scary. Why didn't you tell me?

Turkey is not the only white meat you can use in a burger though. Ground chicken is also becoming quite popular and let me say, when I made these totally awesome burgers, it was the first time I ever had it. Seriously. Most grocery stores will carry ground chicken (it will either be next to the ground turkey or it may even be at the meat counter), but if you can't find it, feel free to use lean ground turkey to make these bad boys. These burgers are totally flavorful and like fiesta in your mouth. Ole! Even better, they are a cinch to make and you can have them ready in to time. All the big time flavor in these burgers comes from green chilies, garlic, cumin and the all important, cheese. Yes, there is cheese in the burger! Have I hooked you into trying these yet? I sure hope so. These are a must make.

Once the burgers are cooked, you can eat them wrapped in lettuce (like I did) or put it on a bun. Don't forget to top it with lots of sliced avocados, fresh tomatoes, lettuce and a fresh green chili sauce (this is detailed in the recipe below. Thank you Bobby Flay!). These burgers are juicy, full of flavor and totally satisfying. You may just never go back to real burgers again!

how could these not be good?

I did not have onion powder, so I added in about 1/4 cup grated onion.

everything mixed in. I swapped mont jack for pepper jack cheese, but use whatever cheese you like.

divide into four patties

cook for a few minutes on each side or until fully cooked

served with homemade baked garlic fries. mmm!

Green Chili Chicken Burgers (slightly adapted from

1 pound ground chicken breast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 cup grated onion
2 (4 ounce) cans of diced green chilis
2.5 ounces of pepper jack cheese, cut into tiny cubes + more for topping
1/2 tablespoon honey
juice of half a lime

Preheat your grill or heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. In a bowl, combine chicken, oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, cumin, garlic, cheese cubes and 1/2 a can of green chilis. Mix until just combined, then divide into four sections and form into four patties. Place on grill or skillet and cook on each side until golden and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Once you flip the burgers, add additional cheese on top to melt (optional).

While the burgers are cooking, toast buns if desired and combine remaining green chilis in a bowl with honey, lime juice, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper (green chili sauce here adapted from bobby flay). When ready to serve, spoon green chilis on top of cheeseburgers and eat!

These were so SO good that I can't wait to make them again. In fact, I want to try to make one Italian style. I'm thinking chopped tomatoes (maybe sundried), motzz cheese, fresh basil, onion, garlic. YUM. I am already drooling.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy One Year!

Happy one year blogaversary to me!

nothing like a homemade funfetti cupcake to celebrate a blogaversary!

I can't believe it's already been a year, can you? I could not have made it this far without all of my loyal readers. Yes, that means you! In one year I've become a FoodBuzz Featured Publisher, had over 7,500 views to my site from people all over the world - from Russia, to New Zealand to Singapore - and published 147 blog posts. Now that's a lot of people and recipes! I can't wait to see where the next year takes me and I hope you'll stay along for the wild ride. It's sure to be a fun and delicious one. That I can promise you.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

I don't know about you, but I don't like spending all day in the kitchen after a long day. I especially don't like heating up the whole house when it's hot hot hot outside - welcome the crock pot. This is one kitchen appliance that I think everyone should have. I know I sound like a broken record since I've said this before, but it's so true. Throw your ingredients in, plug in and cook all day. Not only do you come home to a yummy and cooked meal ready to go, you also didn't have to heat up the oven or turn on the stove for hours. It's so versatile - you can bake in it (bet you didn't know you could do that), make drinks in it, make sauce, make stew, make chili, make roasts and the list goes on and on. If you don't have one, go get one!

This crock pot pulled pork is a real winner. It's super easy and even better, it comes with homemade BBQ sauce! Didn't think you knew how to make BBQ sauce, well, I will change your mind. It's so fresh, easy and goes perfect with this pulled pork. This pulled pork also feeds a crowd and the left overs freeze great! Let me tell you how to get this going so you can make this recipe this week. I know it's hot here in California and I know it has to be hot where you are too. Avoid heating up that kitchen on a hot day, get that crock pot out and start cooking! This is a favorite everyone will love. Except for vegetarians.

The first time I made this, I used pork butt. The second time I made this I used center cut pork loin. I preferred the loin since it was less fatty, but still moist (and skinny!)

place meat in crock pot then top with salt, pepper and garlic powder

let's make the BBQ sauce!

spices for the sauce

tomato sauce + honey + molasses. STICKY.

stir in those spices

simmer, simmer simmer

when pork is done (it will be tender and just fall apart), shred it.

put back in crock + add some of the cooking liquid (not all of it or it will be too soggy!)

add in some of the bbq sauce, toss and then serve on buns and top with coleslaw! YUM!

Skinny Crock Pot Pulled Pork & Homemade BBQ Sauce (

2.5 lb boneless pork loin roast (center cut, trimmed of all fat)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Hickory liquid smoke
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce (see below for recpie)

Place pork in the slow cooker and season with salt, vinegar, garlic powder and liquid smoke. Cover and set to high 6 hours or low for 10 to 12 hours.. Remove pork and transfer onto a large dish, reserve all the liquid into a cup and set aside.  Shred the pork with two forks and put it back into the slow cooker along with about 3/4 cup of the reserved liquid and the BBQ sauce (start with 1/2 cup and add more as you like).  Cook on high one more hour.

Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce (

1 1/3 cups tomato sauce
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup molasses (unsulfured)
2 tsp all natural hickory liquid smoke
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp chili powder

In a large saucepan combine all the ingredients and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes stirring occasionally. Let it cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Sauce can also be used on grilled meat, brush onto chicken, pork or beef the last 10 minutes of cooking.

One serving of this pulled pork is about 206 calories (bun not included). Add it to a whole wheat bun (I always use half) and top with some homemade coleslaw and you got yourself a delicious and filling meal for under 400 calories! Also note that this meat freezes great and can be used in my round two recipe (I will show you soon) - pulled pork taquitos! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Skinny Chocolate Drizzled Coconut Macaroons

Coconut + chocolate = love. Well, at least I think so. I'm a total sucker for mounds bars, but really can't tell you the last time I ate one. My guess is at least 10 years. Seriously. That's not to say I haven't had other coconuty (is this even a word?) chocolate things though. The next best thing may be a chocolate coconut Luna Bar. Have you ever had one? If not, go get one and eat it now. Seriously delicious. Just don't buy more then one at a time because you may not be able to stop. Just saying.

The captain was going up to see his dad (hiiii Dean!) for Father's Day and to get away for the week - I knew I could not send him up there without a little special Father's Day treat for Dean. Dean loves coconut and chocolate and I wanted to give him something that would fill his craving, but also something that would not be through the calorie roof. Did you know that most chocolate dipped coconut macaroons are pushing almost 300 calories for just one? It's totally worth it because they are sooooo delicious, but I knew there had to be a slightly better recipe out there. And one that wasn't loaded with all kinds of strange preservative-y stuff.

After doing hours of research, I finally found the perfect one on one of my favorite blogs, SkinnyTaste. I don't know why I didn't think to look there earlier, but I am glad I remembered to do so. All of the recipes I've made from this blog have been fabulous so I knew I couldn't go wrong with trying these macaroons. These little sweet treats are moist, chewy and so easy to make. Even better, they are gluten free and just about 130 calories a macaroon. Totally satisfying and totally the perfect little treat. 

missing here - dark chocolate. I must have been eating it out of the bag.

mix everything and stir over the heat for 15 minutes (give or take)

scoop out on parchment paper or silpat (if you have it) - makes about 20

bake until golden brown

take a pool break while they are cooling

then drizzle with chocolate - or eat them plain. Chocolate makes everything better though.

Skinny Chocolate Drizzled Coconut Macaroons (

3/4 cup (5 large) egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
10 oz sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a heavy saucepan combine egg whites, sugar and coconut flakes and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until all the ingredients combine together, about 12-15 minutes. The mixture should be sticky and moist, not dry. Remove from heat and stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Set aside on a dish and let it cool in the refrigerator about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300°. Using a tablespoon, scoop tightly packed two tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake 27-30 minutes or until golden.

Let cool and then drizzle melted dark chocolate over the tops, or leave plain. ENJOY! 

These macaroons would be great on their own or even with some sliced almonds baked right in for some extra crunch!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats

Yes, you heard me right. Cake batter rice crispy treats! Can you believe it? I sure couldn't when I first came across this match made in heaven. Rice crispy treats are great, so chewy, crunchy and sweet. Although, I honestly couldn't remember the last time I had a homemade one. I would be willing to bet it's been since I was a little girl. Now that is a long time to go without a rice crispy treat. At least I think so. Everyone needs a little rice crispy in their life, especially if it's shaped like an airplane. Ya, the captain got one of those. I just couldn't resist. Am I good girlfriend or what.

Every month I make some kind of treat for my coworkers who have a birthday that month. I gather their ideas on flavors (what they like and don't like) and try to come up with cupcakes or a cake that would match their preferences - with a twist of course. June was a busy month with moving and we decided to throw in the birthday celebration with our team building event. With limited time to make a big cake or cupcakes, I had to come up with a cute and tasty idea on the fly. Then, I remembered these treats! The perfect flavor and the perfect change up to birthday desserts. Plus, everyone loves a rice crispy treat. Especially one that tastes just like cake batter. Maybe that's just me, but I am willing to bet that once you make these, you may eat half the pan. Don't say I didn't warn you. They are that addicting.

no need to buy actual rice crispies - I bought this huge bag for $3! Check out the bulk cereal section in your store for extra savings!

adding in the cake batter. now this is when it starts to smell yum.

get out those muscles to stir in the crispies.

add in those sprinkles!

cooling and almost ready to eat.

Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats (slightly adapted from How Sweet Eats)

3 Tbsp. butter
1 (10 oz.) bag of mini-marshmallows
1/2 cup yellow cake mix (the dry cake mix, not prepared into a batter!)
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1 (1.75 oz.) container of sprinkles

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add marshmallows. Stir until they begin to melt, adding in (dry) cake mix one spoonful at a time so its combined. Stir in cereal so it is completely coated with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle in half of the sprinkles and mix. Press into a baking dish (any size will do, I used a foil 9x13 for easy clean up) and top with remaining sprinkles. Let sit for about 30 minutes before cutting. I find spraying a knife with nonstick spray helps to cut them.

I shouldn't tell you this, or maybe I should, these only take about 10 minutes to make. That's it. Easy peasy. Just wait til I show you my next easy rice crispy treat recipe - brown butter rice crispy treats with a white chocolate drizzle!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Roasted Cherry Brownies

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack. Finally. Things have been so hectic lately (from moving, to traveling on the weekend, to work) that I just haven't been able to find the time or energy to blog. Sad, I know. Good thing it was only temporary though, because I have a ton of great new recipes to share with you. Are you ready? Let's do this!

Cherry + brownies = love. Need I say more? I have a mild serious obsession with cherries. I am not sure where or when it started, but over the past few years, I have fallen deeply and madly in love with cherries. I just wish they were more lady like to eat. Spitting out the seeds is not sexy, but you do what you gotta do to eat such a delicious little fruit. The inspiration for these brownies came when I found out that the captain's friend Andrew had a cherry farm. Well not him, but his family does. You know what I mean. Andrew was sweet enough to bring us a couple of bags of cherries and let me just say, THOSE WERE THE BEST CHERRIES EVER. I had to do everything I could to stop my whole family from eating them. Let's be real, I had to stop myself from eating them all. I tried to tell you I had a cherry obsession. Did you not believe me? Okay, back to brownies. After eating what seems like almost the whole bag, I had a few handfuls left and wanted to make the captain something extra special, but portable, for his drive up to Oregon. Remember when I told you I always bring snacks and/or treats on trips? This is no exception - even if I wasn't joining him. Must fuel the captain! 

These brownies are super easy to make and are a great twist on your normal chocolatey ooey gooey brownie. If you do not have a cherry pitter, not to fret, you can cut into them and pick the pit out, but just be careful. Don't try to slice off your thumb. If you are into cherries as much as I am, then it might be worth it to pick up a cherry pittter. I ordered this one off Amazon. Once all the cherries are pitted, toss with sugar and roast in the oven. I know roasting cherries sounds strange, but just go with me here. While they are roasting (keep a close eye on them!), mix up the batter. When the cherries are done, pour them into the batter (juice and all), gently mix and pour into a lined pan. In under 35 minutes, you have a delicious cherry brownie waiting for you to dig into to.  This brownie is the perfect bite of warm cherry and dark chocolate - all with not being overly sweet. Now that's my kind of brownie. What are you waiting for - grab a bag of cherries and get baking!

no need for a mixer here. just a big bowl!

pitting cherries.

tossed with sugar and about to bake. sorry I forgot to take a post roast photo. I was clearly too cherry happy.

mix in the eggy egg

fold in the roasted cherries - don't forget the juices!

I love instagram
 Roasted Cherry Brownies (slightly adapted from

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1¼ cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar, divided
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 450˚ F.  Combine the cherries and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a small roasting pan and toss well to combine.  Roast the cherries for 10 minutes, or until they begin to release their juices.  Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350˚ F.

Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.
In a heatproof bowl melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.  Let cool for several minutes and then combine the eggs, remaining sugar, vanilla and salt into the melted chocolate. Whisk until combined, about 15 seconds.  Then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined and gently fold in the roasted cherries.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer.  Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, about 35 minutes.  Let  brownies cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

These brownies are great right after they are made and will be good for a few days in an airtight container. That is if they even last that long. Also, if you make a big batch or you are just making these for one or two people, you can individually wrap the brownies and freeze for up to a month or two. Just pop out of the freezer and heat up for  few seconds -just like it's fresh out of the oven. Yum!