The Cookbook Challenge! A Toast To Toast!

The Cookbook Challenge!  A Toast To Toast!

My husband has always considered toast a nice side kick to his breakfast plate…so imagine his surprise when he became aware that “fancy” toast, as he calls it, has become a new craze that’s sweeping the nation.  Thickly sliced artisan toast, slathered with unusual spreads and layered with any assortment of unique toppings, is definitely having its moment, so to speak, and it’s a scrumptious trend I’m all too happy to embrace.

“Part of the secret to success in life is to eat what you like!” Mark Twain

The Art Of Toasting Up Bread!

While fun egg toast has long been one of our family breakfast traditions, open up any magazine or cookbook dedicated to amping up the taste and enjoyment of everyday foods…and you’ll find that nowadays there is indeed an art to toasting and topping bread!

My kid’s favorite part of egg toast was the little circle cut-out of bread they used to dip in the egg cooked in the middle of the toast.

Avocado Toast  Cooking Light

I’ve had a subscription to Cooking Light magazine for years, and as far as a basic avocado toast recipe goes…I like theirs the best! 

1/2 small avocado

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

1 slice whole grain artisan bread

1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

In small bowl, combine avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Gently mash with the back of a fork.  Top toasted bread with mixture.  Add any other desired toppings and drizzle with a little olive oil.  So good! 

I like my avocado toast with sliced tomatoes and a little balsamic vinaigrette. 

(via Cooking Light magazine)

Your creativity will help you explore an assortment of toppings that will make this toast a genius breakfast or healthy snack!!

If a sweet toast recipe is more to your liking when getting your day off to a good start, this fun twist on traditional French toast by Ree Drummond, of Pioneer Woman fame, is breakfast perfection!

Crunchy French Toast Sticks  The Pioneer Woman Cooks

My husband and I are big fans of the Pioneer Woman cooking show and her no fluff approach to deliscious, down home cooking!

12 slices Texas toast

(Thick slices of French bread are good too.)

6 eggs whisked lightly

1/2 cup half and half

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups panko crumbs

1 1/2 cups crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal

(I like to use Honey Bunches of Oats cereal.)

2 tbsp. melted butter or margarine

Warm maple syrup for serving

Cut the slices of Texas toast into three strips.  Add half and half, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to whisked eggs.  In a shallow dish (I use a glass pie plate) stir together panko crumbs, crushed cereal and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. 

Use a fork to stir in the melted butter so that the crumbs are slightly moist.  One by one quickly dunk bread strips in the egg mixture, then lay them in the cereal crumbs, sprinkling and pressing as needed to get good coverage.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (until golden brown) in a 425 degree oven.  You can freeze these for later use too.  Serve with warm syrup.  

At the end of the recipe, Ms. Drummond states that because these Crunchy French Toast Sticks bring out the kid at heart in all of us… will feel happy about life when you are eating these.  I have to agree with her!

Whether spread with simple ingredients or amped up to gourmet level–no doubt about it, warm bread is the ultimate comfort food!

“I grew up kissing books and bread!”  Salman Rushdie

Have you tried Avocado toast?  What are some of your favorite toast condiments?

–Happy eating, friends!  ♥ Mary

The Cookbook Challenge! Copycat Cooking!

The Cookbook Challenge!  Copycat Cooking!

If you’re at all like me and my husband, you have those beloved dishes at your favorite restaurants that you’d like to try and figure out the ingredients used so you can go home and replicate them.

The Cookbook Challenge!
Today’s entry in the cookbook challenge series features an easy Queso recipe from the latest cookbook by the popular Six Sister’s franchise, called, Copycat Cooking, that is dedicated to some of our favorite restaurant meals.The Cookbook Challenge! Copycat Cooking!

The Utah based Adamson sisters started their blog “Six Sister’s Stuff”, as a way for them to keep in touch as they got older and moved away from each other.  Their family favorite recipes, crafts and DIY projects are featured in many beautiful books and are best known for being easy, affordable and fun!  

I discovered the Six Sister’s Copycat Cooking cookbook when their easy recipes for hors d’ oeuvres, including this Chili’s Skillet Queso Dip, was featured during the food segment on a local morning, lifestyle television show.  Since we’re heading into the busy holiday entertaining season, I thought this cookbook might be a good one to have on hand…and believe me, the few recipes I’ve tried do not disappoint!

The Cookbook Challenge! Copycat Cooking!

Put in a can of diced tomatoes with mild chiles for a nice added flavor to this dip.

The Cookbook Challege! Copycat Cooking!

I use half the Velveeta and a cup each of grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese.

The Cookbook Challenge! Copycat Cooking!

Serve with chips for a great party appetizer or weekend movie/game night snack.

Chili’s Copycat Queso Dip!

Wallah–there you have it…so good!

You can find a couple of other restaurant recipe adaptations my creative hubby concocted here and here.

Life is Delicious quote.

“Enjoy your life and the great pleasures that come with it!”  Karolina Kurkova 

Do you have any favorite restaurant menu items that you’d like to replicate at home?

–Bon Appetit!  Mary

Cookbook Challenge! Down Home Cooking!

Cookbook Challenge!  Down Home Cooking!

Along with barbecuing on his grill, dutch oven cooking is how my hubby loves to do a little down home cooking when we entertain family and friends during the summer months…I’m just happy to have him doing the cooking!

The Cookbook Challenge!

“Meals and memories go hand in hand at our house!”  Tribute Journal  

Today’s cookbook challenge is from the cookbook, Bear Bottom Bliss, by the Shoults family, owners of Bear Creek Smokehouse, located in the heart of East Texas Piney Woods farmland; they are commonly referred to by locals as the first family of smoked meats.  This cookbook is a collection of over 70 years of family recipes handed down from generation to generation.  I gave this cookbook to my husband for Father’s Day–I especially love the stories of family and faith that go along with the delicious recipes that are shared!  While most of the dishes call for traditional cookware when you bake them, it’s been fun to see my hubby adapt some of them for Dutch Oven cooking.

Bear Bottom Bliss Cookbook.

“This cookbook features down-home, soothe your soul, easy to prepare recipes.”  Bear Bottom Bliss 

Nellie Shoults, the outspoken matriarch of this distinguished family business, offers a fair warning to those purchasing this charming cookbook, “Bear Bottom Bliss is NOT a cookbook with smoked meat recipes…we can’t give away all our secrets, now can we!”     

Bear Creek Smokehouse.

(via Bear Bottom Bliss Cookbook)

“Bear Creek Smokehouse is always about family and quality…it always will be!”  Nellie Shoults 

While every recipe pictured in this beautifully formatted cookbook from “East Texas Casserole” to “Stir-Fried Cabbage” is culinary eye-candy, we decided to make the “Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham Bake” recipe since we were having a patio party with typical barbecue fare.

Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham Bake  (Makes 6-8 servings)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup diced ham

(It recommends Bear Creek Smokehouse ham–we used our local store brand)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

4-5 large sliced Russet potatoes

Sliced potatoes.

(We like to slice the potatoes pretty thin to make sure they will be fully cooked.)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together milk and flour, then stir in cream, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Place 1/3 of the potato slices in a baking dish or Dutch Oven.  Add 1/2 diced ham.  Pour 1/3 cream mixture over potatoes.  Repeat layers ending in cream mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes.  Add shredded cheese and bake until it is completely melted.

Sliced potatoes.

Cooking this recipe in a Dutch Oven makes it extra savory, since the ham flavor diffuses into the sauce.  You’ll add about 10-12 hot briquettes to the top and bottom of the Dutch Oven and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. 

(You can also get my hubby’s Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs recipe here.) 

And for dessert…

Bear Bottom Bliss Zucchini Bread  (Makes two loafs, 16-18 slices)

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups sugar

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

3 eggs

2 cups grated zucchini

Grated zucchini.

(I personally like to peel my zucchini before I grate it, but it isn’t necessary.)

1-8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained 

1 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

In large bowl sift the first eight ingredients.  Set aside.  In another large bowl, beat eggs until foamy.  Stir in zucchini, pineapple, oil and vanilla.  Add flour mixture one cup at a time to egg mixture.  Stir with a spatula until blended.  Fold in chopped nuts.  Evenly divide batter into two loaf pans.  Bake in 325 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until bread is golden brown.  Remove from oven on wire racks and let cool for 10 minutes before removing bread from pans.  Continue cooling loaves until they are room temperature before slicing.

Bear Bottom Bliss Zucchini Bread.

The surprise ingredient of crushed pineapple makes the Zucchini Bread so moist! 

Bear Creek Smokehouse was named “Family Business of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2013.  They were then invited to serve some of their smokehouse selections to many state directors and congressmen in Washington D.C.   After that experience, their business and the recipes they shared became more nationally renowned.  As you can read in their cookbook, the Shoults family face many of the challenges associated with running a small business, but they’re quick to say that first and foremost, it’s about being devoted to one another as family members and loved ones!

Shoults family of Bear Creek Smokehouse.

(via Bear Bottom Bliss Cookbook)

“We feel this labor of love reflects all the joy that is so much a part of the five generations of the Shoults family and our cooking traditions here in Bear Bottom, Texas.” Introduction to the Bear Bottom Bliss Cookbook

While many of us may not run a business with our families, we can certainly find ways to pay tribute to the traditions and work ethic of those who came before us.  Since he came from a large, rambuncious family of nine children, my husband fondly recalls sitting down to hearty, homemade dinners prepared by his parents; he feels he honors them best when he gathers his own family around the table to enjoy a good meal, fun conversation and lively laughter!

Best Food quote.

If your family published a cookbook, what kind of recipes would be featured?

–Bon Appetit, Mary