Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recipe Reviews - Breakfast, Dinner and Dessert!

I have three recipes to review this week.  Only two of them qualifies as "make ahead", but the third is so simple that it comes together in the amount of time it takes to boil a pot of spaghetti.

On Monday, a friend of mine came over for brunch.  She's fairly gluten free, and my breakfast/brunch fair usually leans heavily toward the bread end of the spectrum, so I was on the lookout for something that would suit my carb addiction and her need to avoid wheat.  I stumbled across this amazing collection of recipes from Bed and Breakfasts across North America. 

After scrolling through the list of breakfast and brunch recipes, I decided baked oatmeal was just the thing we needed.  I have another baked oatmeal recipe, but it always comes out heavy and gummy, so I thought I'd try something new.  I chose this recipe because I had everything on hand and I liked the addition of fruit. 

I am, at heart, a recipe changer.  There are very few recipes I don't tweak - sometime I'll tweak right out of the gate, other times I wait till my second time and then start changing things.  I tweaked from the get-go on this one, but only a minor one.  I used pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon.  Other than that, I kept this as it is.  And it was wonderful!  It wasn't dense at all - quite fluffy, actually.  I had to serve it with a spoon, so it was more like oatmeal than oatmeal cake, as some of them are.  Just the right amount of sweetness, and I loved the crunch of the apple.  I'll definitely make it again!

Make Ahead Tip:  mix this together the night before and then just pop it in the oven half an hour before you want to eat.


Cooking During Stolen Moments is one of my favorite blogs ever.  She is very creative with her recipes, and, like me, she likes to do things ahead of time.  I've made several things from her site, and she's never steered me wrong, so when I ran across a link to her Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti recipe, I knew I had to try it.  I LOVE buffalo chicken!  And, of course, any recipe that calls for a cup of ranch dressing can't be all bad, right? 

I could tell from the recipe that this would be a quick fix, so I didn't make it until I got home from work.  I used pre-cooked chicken, so it went even faster (whenever I roast a chicken I shred the leftover meat and put it in the freezer in two-cup servings, so they're ready for quick casseroles and other dishes). I put the pasta water on to boil, got the other ingredients out, and went to work.  By the time the pasta was cooked the sauce was ready, so the whole thing took about 20 minutes from start to table. 

This was, in a word, delicious.  Definitely not something you'd want to eat every day - it's very rich, in flavor and in calories.  But for a once in a while, I-just-need-something-creamy-with-some-kick kind of day, it fits the bill perfectly.  It had just the right level of heat (I used Frank's Red Hot Sauce).  My two-year-old couldn't get enough of it - I think if I'd let her she would have eaten the whole pan of sauce before the pasta was even done! 

Since I'm never happy to leave something well-enough alone, next time I'm going to try this as a baked casserole, with something crunchy on top (French fried onions, maybe, or panko) for a little extra texture.  But it's definitely repeat-worthy!


This week I made Caramel Custard for the second time.  I got a brulee torch for Christmas and hadn't tried it out yet, and this fit the bill perfectly.

I'm not normally a fan of custard.  Something about the texture really bothers me.  But I love creme brulee, and I love this.  I made it with organic evaporated cane juice instead of the white sugar, which gives it a little extra depth of flavor.  It is rich, creamy, and just a little bit is quite satisfying.  The crunch and deep flavor of the melted brown sugar is really fantastic, too.  I can see myself making this one over, and over, and over...

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