Happy New Year 2015

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It’s 2015 and I haven’t made a resolution – – not sure that I am going to make one this year. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals, it just means that I’m not sure resolutions are successful.

Even though I haven’t made an “official” resolution, my goal to make yummy and healthy (mostly) food still continues.  Cooking for two people is a challenge. Most recipes are written to serve four or more.  Plus, I get tired of leftovers and like to cook new dishes.

For a New Years Day brunch, my original plan was to make a New Orleans inspired dish, since my husband is from that area of Louisiana.  My first choice was Bananas Foster French Toast from a recipe in Taste of Home magazine, but the bananas weren’t cooperating (still too green). So, after searching through other recipes, I decided on Pecan Praline French Toast. It may not be 100% healthy, but it certainly qualifies as delicious!  Here’s my version – –

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

Serves 4 – 6

1/2 loaf of French bread (I used a day-old baguette)

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I like the taste of dark brown sugar; if you don’t, use a total of 1/2 cup light brown sugar)

1/4 cup firmly pack light brown sugar

3 T butter

1 T Maple syrup

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I had it on hand – you can also use 1/2 cup of milk in total)

1 T granulated sugar

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Lightly grease an oven proof dish. I used a round flat-bottomed ceramic baking dish from Pampered Chef. You could also use a cast-iron skillet or any other dish of your choice.

2. Melt butter (microwave on 1 minute works great!). Add the both of the brown sugars and the maple syrup. Stir until combined and pour into your prepared dish.

3. Sprinkle sugar mixture with the pecans and arrange the apple slices on top of the nuts.

4. Slice bread into 1 inch pieces and arrange over the pecan and apples. Cut, as necessary, slices to make one layer of bread in your pan.

5. Using a whisk or fork, mix together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour mixture over the bread. Cover dish and chill bread overnight (or at least 8 hours).

6. Remove bread refrigerator and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until the top is a golden brown.

7. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the bread and invert onto a serving plate.

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

This recipe makes its own syrup – – see photo – – and if you want, serve with additional maple syrup. For a delicious brunch, add your choice of sides. I decided on bacon (who doesn’t love bacon) and a fruit salad (the healthy part).

Peach, Asian Pear and Cranberry Salad

Peach, Asian Pear and Cranberry Salad

The original version for 8 to 10 people was published in Southern Living [February 2011] and you can find their version here.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think. My husband went back for seconds – – so I know he thought it was yummy and then told me that I started a new tradition today – – “full breakfast every morning.” Good thing I knew he was just joking.

May 2015 be filled with blessing and joy for you and yours!

The Pampered Chef Mini-Baker

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Season’s Greetings

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Hope everyone had a joyful and blessed holiday. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend the day with family. Our day was filled with the laughter of young and old, good conversation, and delicious food. Of course, I ate too much. Started out with good intentions and small servings, but went back for more of my favorites.

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Shadow “hanging” out in our Christmas tree. One of her favorite places.

Our Christmas dinner was a pot luck with the hosts providing a glorious prime rib, mashed potatoes, gravy and au jus. Contributed sides included a twist on the classic green bean casserole – prepared in a crocked pot, maple glazed carrots with dill, and baked beans with bacon.

A holiday feast is not complete without dessert – – we had two of my favorites – – apple crumb pie and sweet potato pie. How could I possibly choose just one!  Had to have some of each.

After dinner, we unwrapped gifts while sitting around the fire. Because our family has grown so large, adults pick names at Thanksgiving for a Secret Santa exchange.  I brought “goodie bags” for everyone filled with Salty Chocolate Chip cookies (with coconut and caramel bits added to make them EXTRA yummy), Fig Walnut balls, and Coconut Chocolate Haystacks.

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Making Coconut Chocolate Haystacks at Christmas time is becoming a holiday tradition. Best of all they are super easy to make!

Ingredients and Supplies:

12 ounce bag of dark chocolate chips (I like to use Ghiradelli)

14 ounce bag of sweetened coconut

Glass batter bowl – 2 quart size

Small Scoop – Tablespoon Size (I use Pampered Chef Small Scoop)

Waxed Paper

Directions:

Pour chips into a glass bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir chips. Return and microwave for 30 seconds. Take out and stir well. Once more for 30 seconds, stir well until all chips are melted . If necessary return to microwave for 15 more seconds.

Slowly add coconut, breaking up clumps and stirring well after each addition. Keeping adding coconut and stirring until you have used all of the coconut. You will have a stiff mixture.

Use scoop and press against side of bowl to compress. Dispense onto wax paper and let the haystacks set until firm. Stored in an airtight container. Makes lots! About 4 to 5 dozen.

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Share, eat and enjoy!

Need a glass bowl or a small scoop? Check out the following links – –

The Pampered Chef Small Scoop #2530

Anchor Hocking 2 Quart Ovenproof Glass Batter Bowl