Saturday, August 6, 2016

Travel Log and Orange Custard French Toast

I was dreading going to a special education law conference during my last free week of summer. The conference had sounded like such a great idea in May when I registered but now here it was and I really wanted to stay home, bake, quilt, read, weed...anything other than drive 5 hours to learn about special education law in Utah. In an effort to get excited about traveling I started reading cafe reviews and hunting down some fun foodie places.

I WAS looking forward to a quick dinner with my brother Chas as he lives in route. We went to a Vietnamese place that was really yummy. Cool thing is we got to sing Happy Birthday to my sister Jane, together! How cool is that?

I was arriving late at the hotel and was hoping that I wouldn't wake my roommate, who I have met but would say was still a stranger. I was so nervous about staying with a stranger! and arriving late! that by the time I got there, 10:30 pm, I had eaten 3 bags of peanut M&Ms in a small fit of anxiety.

The next morning we ate at the hotel's cafe and I had wonderful oatmeal. Great start to the day. Let me back up for one second..upon looking into the conference breakout sessions I noticed that no food would be served, snacks would be for sale but none would be provided. One of the great things about conferences are the snacks! In small print it said due to federal guidelines there would be no food served. I don't want to get political but hey federal government, "Stay away from my snacks."

The conference was a good one but let me say the highlight was finding a foodie friend in my conference roommate! Stranger turned friend overnight by our love of food and family. We debated lunch, sushi or American. Not being a fan of sushi my preference took over and we went to Pig and a Jelly Jar. We went with the waitress suggestion to have ham hash and chicken and waffles. Great choices.

For dinner that night we joined our district colleagues and went for Italian food. The great thing at this restaurant was not so much the food but the secret plans to split a meal so that we could go get better food later! Best guacamole was only blocks away calling our names. Sonora Grill in Ogden Utah makes the guacamole fresh at your table. It is remarkable. So we found ourselves stopping at a local ice cream shop for dessert then getting guacamole for a late night snack at the hotel. Chips and salsa in bed, well that is almost heaven right there.

So imagine my foodie surprise to start our day at the Bickering Sisters and have yesterday's food pale in comparison. We arrived a little before they opened. The sisters, who were not bickering, drove up in the cutest car, popped out, and invited us in to their quaint cafe. We sat in the patio area and I felt as if I was back in Italy. A place of peace, quiet, and so charming. Perfect weather, not our 110 degree sweltering desert.

I took the suggestion of a sister and had the orange custard french toast on multi-grain bread. I really thought it was amazing. Fresh fruit of bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and boysenberries. There was maple syrup but I didn't even need it. The french toast was so yummy with a slight hint of orange. I knew then and there I had to recreate this for my family. My husband had to try this. I took two recipes, tweaked them a bit and created nothing like their masterpiece. This was completely different but divine!! None of the multigrain health but a super packed orange adventure. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Orange Custard French Toast with Orange Glaze

Ingredient for French Toast:
  • 3/4 to 1 inch thick slices of brioche (this made it like a cloud-not as healthy as the multigrain)
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 2 large eggs 
Ingredients for Orange Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice ( I fresh squeezed 1 orange)
  • 1 tea cornstarch
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 2 tea unsalted butter
  • 1 tea zested orange peel

Directions for Orange Glaze:
1. Stir OJ and cornstarch in a small saucepan until smooth. Add sugar and stir constantly over med heat until thick, about 5 minutes. Whisk in butter and orange zest. Set aside until needed.

Directions for French Toast:
1. Whisk the milk, cream, sugar, eggs, splash of vanilla, and orange zest in a medium bowl.
2. The original directions say to place the bread slices in a pan and soak for 10 minutes. I just dunked the bread and soaked it. I was careful as the bread is very tender.
3. Cook on a med griddle until both sides are golden and lightly crisped. They will puff up a little in the middle. 
4. Serve with Orange Glaze.

My cute CT made me a tag to wear on my apron! Love my girls. Enjoy the french toast.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Best Hamburger the Crazy Date Quest

Joel and I love hamburgers. When we go on dates we often find ourselves scoping out hamburger places around town. We like Smashburger and The Habit in St. George for fast food type of burger. In Kingman we loved Mr. D's.

We went out for an anniversary date and went to a place called George's. The menu had rib eye, fish, sandwiches..we found ourselves craving a burger. The burger actually tasted like meat! It was a revolution that the places we like actually were a little bland. It rocked our hamburger world.
Being on a budget we really can't afford a 10 dollar burger often so we thought why don't we try hamburgers at home. Why do we always go out for them? 15 year old habit, I guess.

I went to the library, my home away from home, after work. I found books on hamburgers. I wanted to try a recipe I found in a book by Ina Garten. I went to the local butcher because I had a coupon and got the type of meat I needed to make the most wonderful burger. Fresh ground meat, it does make a difference and is still cheaper than going out.

We loved this recipe. Made enough to eat and then freeze burgers for another day. One of the things Joel loves is a fried egg on his burger. I love fresh veggies and super sauteed onions. Onions that have cooked 15-20 minutes kind of onions. Yummy!

Hamburgers (recipe by Ina Garten)
Ingredients for 12 quarter pounders

2 pounds ground chuck
1 pound ground sirloin
3 tablespoons steak sauce (recommended: Crosse & Blackwell, I used A1 with black pepper)
6 extra-large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1. Mix the meats, steak sauce, egg yolks, salt, and pepper with the tines of a fork, but do not mash it. 2. Press into a patty shapes. 
3. Make an indentation and put a thin slice of butter inside each hamburger, making sure the butter is entirely encased in the meat.
4. Cook the hamburgers for 3 to 5 minutes on each side until almost done. 
5. Remove to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the hamburgers to rest for 5 minutes.
6. Serve with favorite toppings and buns

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sometimes I cry in the Kitchen

My go to when I have bananas going brown is my good friend Anne's "Good for Ya" muffins.  Which I realize I need to post! This time I thought I would try something else with those wonderful browning bananas. Cake!

Banana cake with chocolate frosting is a great idea.

I love chocolate frosting. My favorite recipe has sour cream in it..but I also love a decadent recipe with tons of guilt ridden butter, sour cream and cream cheese. This particular cookbook has a really simple yummy chocolate frosting recipe in the emergency blender cupcake recipe.

Well..cake has always been my thorn in the side! Those crazy sides..I debated cutting..possibly freezing then cutting..but I was hungry so I just went with it. Ugly but yummy and I used all my bananas going to the dark side. Did the cake bring a tear to my eye..well yes..but it wasn't for show. I wiped that tear away and bravely ate another slice.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

from the Weekend Baker Cookbook


For the cake:

  • 2 2/3 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups (14 ounces/397 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 medium, very, very ripe bananas (about 14 ounces/397 grams total weight, including peels), peeled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl ounces/117 ml) buttermilk
  • ¾ cup (3 ounces/85 grams) chopped, toasted walnuts, optional (see Notes)

For the Fudgy Frosting:

  • 6 ounces (170 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 ½ ounces/298 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (8 fl ounces/233 ml) evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt

Or if not a chocolate fan Tangy Vanilla Frosting:

  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) confectioner's sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) sour cream


  • Toasted shredded unsweetened dried coconut or chopped, toasted walnuts for garnish (optional)


1. To make the cake:  350 degrees  Grease and flour the bottom and sides of two 9-by-2-inch  cake pans.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Whisk until well blended. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Add the bananas and vanilla and beat until well blended and only small bits of banana remain. Add the eggs two at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will look curdled and a bit lumpy. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended. Add the buttermilk and mix just until blended. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix just until blended. Stir in the walnuts, if using. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly.

3. Bake until the tops are light brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of 1 layer comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks and let cool for about 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides of each pan to loosen the cake. Invert the layers onto the racks, lift off the pans, and let cool completely.

4. To make the Fudgy Frosting: Melt the unsweetened chocolate. Combine the sugar, evaporated milk, butter, vanilla, and salt in a blender. If you’re not confident of the size and ability of your blender, divide the recipe in half and make two batches. Scrape the hot melted chocolate into the blender. Cover with the lid and blend on high speed until the mixture darkens and is very thick, about 2 minutes. I just used my mixer..didn't want to overwork my blender.

5.  Spread frosting over cake and layer. Garnish the top with the coconut or the walnuts, if using. The cake is best served at room temperature.