Fancy Pecan French Toast for Two

French Toast

We’re big fans of the $1 specialty bakery-quality bread loaves you can buy at Walmart. The bread has a short shelf life, but that just encourages you to get creative in how you use the bread to ensure you make the most out of that $1.

On a recent Sunday morning, Matthew used slices of a French bread loaf and just a few ingredients to whip up a quick and fancy breakfast. Here’s how he made his own variation of French toast for two, using the ingredients from a simple Food Network recipe.

Ingredients

four slices of $1 loaf of bread (we used the specialty Walmart bread, but many French toast recipes call for your plain, stale white bread loaf)

two eggs

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar

1/3 cup of milk

butter

syrup

powdered sugar

brown sugar

pecans halves

Step one: Preheat your stovetop burner on medium heat.

Step two: Thoroughly mix your eggs, vanilla, cinnamon sugar and milk in a bowl.

Step three: Coat your bread slices in the sweet egg mixture.

Step four: Lightly butter (or oil) your pan and place your first two slices of coated bread into the pan.

Step five: Turn your French toast slices once, then repeat the process for the remainder of your bread.

Step six: Cut each French toast slice of bread in half and arrange as you like on a plate. With the ingredients in this recipe, you will have four half-slices each for two plates.

Step seven: Crush a few pecan halves with your hands and sprinkle on the French toast slices.

Step eight: Sprinkle your desired amount of brown and powdered sugars onto your French toast.

Step nine: Serve with the desired amount of syrup.

Matthew’s Take: When I’m cooking for people, I like to deliver a beautiful presentation when possible. There’s so much you can do to make French toast look beautiful. Powdered sugar and pecans (or any kind of nuts or fruit) can make your dish look like something you would get in a restaurant. This recipe is my take on a Food Network basic French toast formula. I added the pecans and sugar topping, but the original recipe suggests the perfect ratio of eggs, milk, cinnamon sugar and vanilla extract. You can take that basic provision and then top the toast with your favorite ingredients. I give this French toast an A+ for presentation, an A for taste and a B for cost-effectiveness. You can make French toast very cheap, with only bread, milk, eggs and a cinnamon and/or sugar ingredient. The pecans, multiple sugars and vanilla are extras that add taste, while also adding a few more ingredients and dollars to that grocery bill. The only reason I didn’t give this recipe an A+ on taste is that I used a French bread loaf that had “everything” seasoning topping on it and, although I brushed the topping off, a slight hint of flavor remained on a few slices of the bread. I would suggest using plain French bread, but I used the loaf we had in our pantry.

Molly’s Take: How do I love this French toast – let me count the ways! Not only is it fluffy, soft and deliciously moist, this French toast is covered in tasty toppings that enhance its hearty, pancake-y exterior. Now, you have to know me to know how absolutely crazy it is that I like this dish. I have a bad history with French toast (a church camp experience in which I was forced to play dizzy dodgeball in the summer heat after eating a ton of it along with chocolate milk=bad idea), and I generally dislike pancakes. Yes, I dislike – and have even used the term hate – pancakes. But since Matthew and I have been together, I’ve developed a more open mind toward them. On a recent trip, I even ate them twice! This breakfast dish reminded me of pancakes, but was so much more hearty and nowhere near as mushy as pancakes can be. It was like perfectly fluffy pancakes with a soft, yet firm, sugar-dusted exterior. Altogether, if I gave this dish a grade, it would definitely be A+.

Advertisements

Five-Minute Summer Cherry Limeade That Rivals Sonic’s

-1

Both sides of our family have a history of traditions in the kitchen. In 2013, Matthew’s mom, Chris, created a cookbook of recipes from her branch of the family. The book includes a heaping of sweet and savory dishes, and amongst all the food is an almost-hidden entry for Cherry Limeade. The drink took about five minutes to make, resembles punch and it rivals the limeades that Sonic Drive-ins sell. Here’s how you make it in about five minutes.

Ingredients

2-liter bottle of lemon-lime soda

1 10 oz. jar of maraschino cherries, with juice

1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 cup sugar

Step one: Mix soda, cherries, lime juice and sugar in a large bowl or pitcher and stir. (The recipe suggests to chill all the ingredients before mixing.)

Step two: Cut wedges from a lime and cut a slit in each one to fix on the rim of your glasses.

Step three: Chill limeade for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Step four: Pour your limeade and cherries into each glass (with ice, as desired), and serve.

Molly’s Take: I’ve always loved lemonades and punch – and what’s better in the warm summers of the South than a delicious, cold, fruity, refreshing beverage? This is perfect for a party or just a simple get-together. The maraschino cherries give it a delightful punch of flavor. We happened to have lime soda in the fridge, cherries from a dessert we’d made and limes from a dinner we’d made. So it was super easy to put together. But it’s just as easy to pick up those few ingredients. Definitely worth a try!

Matthew’s Take: I’m a sucker for a good limeade when I visit Sonic. I’d rather get a limeade than any other drink on the menu. This limeade is as good as Sonic’s, and it reminds me of a punch you’d find at a wedding, birthday or other celebration reception. If you have the ingredients on hand, it really takes about five minutes to prepare, and it’s the kind of fancy-looking drink that would make someone ask what it is as they pass you on your deck or patio. I give this creation an A+ for taste, an A+ for presentation and an A for ease. While the preparation time is amazing, it’s not likely you always have cherries and fresh lime in the kitchen like we did when we decided to make this limeade.

Credit: This recipe is credited to Matthew’s cousin, Sherri Blanton.

Restaurant-Quality Vermont Burgers With Maple-Mustard Glaze

Burger

We’re big fans of dipping sauces, and this burger recipe uses a glaze that would also make a delicious dipping sauce for fries, chicken nuggets and tenders and anything else you like to submerge in a tasty topping. The sauce, along with the stellar burger seasoning mixture, also makes for a restaurant-quality sandwich all of your friends will want. And we know because after we tested the recipe and posted it to social media we received inquiries about its contents, solely based on pictures of the finished product. So, without further foodie blabber, here’s how you make it. We cooked indoors this time, but these would make fantastic grilled burgers for summer.

Ingredients

Burger

1 pound ground meat (we made 1/2-pound burgers for two of us, and you can modify for your serving size)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon mustard (recipe calls for ground dry mustard, we used regular store-brand condiment mustard out of the bottle and it tasted great)

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt (tread lightly to not over-season depending on how much meat you have)

1 teaspoon pepper (tread lightly to not over-season)  cheeseGlaze

2 tablespoons of mustard (recipe calls for ground dry again, and again we used mustard straight out of the condiment bottle)

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons of maple syrup (recipe calls for pure maple syrup, but to save money we used maple-flavored store-brand syrup and it tasted great)  bunsToppings

King’s Hawaiian sandwich buns (recipe calls for pretzel buns, but those are hard to find in our small town and rural county)

bacon

cheddar cheese

lettuce (if you want to get fancy, the recipe calls for baby arugula)

chopped onion

Step one: Mix your burger patty ingredients, incorporating the onion, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper into your meat.

Step two: Dash a light coating of oil in your pan, and place your burger patties in the pan.

Step three: Cook your bacon. We actually chose to bake the bacon in the oven for this recipe, and it turned out great. More grease also appeared to cook off of the bacon.

Step four: Mix your glaze ingredients and taste to ensure you like it before you baste your burgers.

Step five: Once you turn your burgers (the only time you’ll need to turn them if your meat is fresh and not frozen), baste the sweet-tangy glaze on top. Keep basting lightly as they cook until you remove from the pan.

Step six: Toast your burger buns to prepare for making your sandwiches. Sometimes we prefer to not toast a bun if the bread is particularly fresh and room-temperature because it actually has a better consistency and more flavor for the sandwich.

Step seven: When the patties are almost fully cooked, top with a slice of cheddar cheese and let it melt just enough before removing the burgers from the pan (or grill, if you’re cooking outdoors). Bacon

Step eight: Top your burgers with the onion, lettuce and bacon. Serve.

Molly’s Take: I loved these burgers, mostly for their amazing flavor created both by what you put IN the burger and what you put ON the burger. The maple-mustard glaze is so good, we’ve used it since to dip chicken fingers in. I love how it reminds me of honey mustard, too. I’ve not had better burgers in most restaurants, and it definitely was of equal quality with some of the burgers we’ve had in fancier burger-centric restaurants, like our local Newt’s Pub Burgers. All in all, this recipe makes a delicous, absolutely delectable burger with so many flavors to excite your tastebuds from the first bite to the last.

Matthew’s Take: I’m a barbecue sauce kind of guy most of the time if I’m going to top a burger with anything other than mayo. But this maple-mustard glaze is a major winner for me. It’s like a different kind of honey mustard and, when combined with the bacon, the soft King’s Hawaiian bun and the burger seasoned in this recipe, every flavor works to perfection, both individually and in concert together. It’s not an incredibly cheap recipe, because you need a decent number of ingredients to pull it off, but we were able to offset some of the more expensive items (the pure maple syrup and the dry mustard) without sacrificing the quality of the sandwich. It looks like something you would see in a restaurant, and it tastes like something you would eat in a restaurant. I give the Vermont Burger with Maple-Mustard Glaze an A+ for taste, an A+ for presentation and an A for price flexibility. If you use regular buns instead of King’s Hawaiian or the prescribed pretzel buns, you can save even more money at the grocery store.

The Slug Burger: A Mississippi Tradition

pickled meat

Two cheeseburger cookbooks sit on the counter in our kitchen, each with a slew of burger recipes. Recently, we found a section on burgers from different states. We zeroed in on Mississippi, fascinated by the name “slugburger.” One reason we were so interested is that slugburgers have ties to the Depression-era practice of stretching out meat by adding in other ingredients. That reminded Molly of her grandmother, Loma “Banny” Watts, who used to make what she called “breadie burgers,” a combination of burger, egg and bread. Born in 1910, Banny grew up in that time period in Alabama.

So we decided to try out the slugburger from nearby Mississippi. Here’s our recipe! Hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

1 pound ground meat (we used ground turkey)

1/2 cup cornmeal (you can also use soy meal, grits or another filler)

Flour to coat burgers

Salt

Vegetable oil

Desired burger toppings

Sandwich buns

Step one:

Thoroughly mix meat with cornmeal or other filler substance and a pinch of salt.

MEAT

Step two:

Patty out burgers and coat with flour for frying.

dusty meat

Step three:

Place burgers in the pan and fry until meat is brown and crispy on the outside. Because of the consistency, the meat will still be softer on the inside when done.

oily meat

Step four:

Drain grease from burgers, place on buns and top with onions, pickles and mustard.

The original slugburgers included those toppings, but you can modify the recipe to fit your taste.

ONIONS

Recipe yields about 8 slugburgers.

Matthew’s Take: The slugburger’s connection to our family and the Depression era made it an attractive recipe from the start for me. My grandpa Lee worked in a local diner owned by Windy Powell as a young man, and I imagine they employed some of the same tactics to get the most food out of the cheapest amount of ingredients. When we found this recipe, I searched the Internet for specific takes on it and found what appeared to be the most authentic version in Corinth, Miss. After making the slugburger, I was amazed at how similar it is to a livermush sandwich, a delicacy in the county where we live. Livermush is a meat-cornmeal mixture that crisps as it fries. The resemblance of the two concoctions is striking. I give the slugburger an A for taste and an A for price. But I give it a C for presentation because, let’s face it, fried meat isn’t pretty, even when topped with onions and colorful green pickles.

Molly’s Take: The slugburger reminded me of a livermush sandwich, too, most notably because of its consistency. It’s a very different kind of burger, because it’s flatter and crispier than a typical burger. But I loved that combination on a soft bun with mustard, pickle and onion. Those ingredients seemed to just fit. I’d definitely love for us to make it again, although Banny’s original recipe for breadie burgers (which we hope to post soon!) is still my favorite alternative burger. Making something like this in the same way people did almost a hundred years ago was awesome, because we weren’t just making a burger; we were making a connection to history and those people who had to work so hard to live. We’re blessed today that getting a burger is as easy as going to McDonald’s. I can’t imagine it being so difficult to find meat that you had to stretch it out with other things you had at home. So I loved trying out this burger, because traditions like this, and the history behind them, ought to be remembered. And in the South, food is definitely one of our biggest traditions.

Check out this video for more on the slugburger and its history.

Trail of the Slugburger from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.