November 28, 2015

Great Grains Crunchy Stuffed French Toast

Happy National French Toast Day!

Did you know that my favorite French toast of all time involves cereal? True story. There's a local catering company with a tiny cafe that only serves lunch and brunch, and they make this Crisp French Toast which is coated in corn flakes. It's the greatest thing ever, all crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

This recipe reminded me of that French toast, which made me super excited to try it. Except this French toast is stuffed with bananas and chocolate, so it was almost like it was invented just for me.
This stuffed French toast is a healthier twist on the usual brunch favorite. It's baked and not fried (which is also convenient when serving a crowd), and it's coated in Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch cereal. The cereal not only adds a great crunch, but it's also packed with protein, fiber, and whole grains.

Unfortunately, this French toast didn't quite measure up to my favorite. It was tasty, but my testers all agreed that it was missing something. I think adding some cinnamon and a little extra vanilla could really take it to the next level. Still, nobody was turning down a slice.

(Also, because I am a crazy person, I used fresh baked bread. I had literally baked it that morning. That probably contributed to the problem, since stale bread soaks up liquid better. So, you know, use old bread.)
Great Grains Crunchy Stuffed French Toast
Yield: 4 servings

3 eggs
1 cup fat free milk
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. sale
2 cups Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch
8 slices challah bread, 1/2 inch thick
2 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate, finely chopped
1 large banana, sliced
2 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large shallow dish with wire whisk until well blended; set aside. Place cereal in resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Crush cereal with rolling pin. Dip both sides of the bread slices in egg mixture; place on clean work surface. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate; top with bananas. Dip both sides of remaining 4 bread slices in remaining egg mixture; place over bananas to make four sandwiches. Press together gently. Coat both sides of sandwiches with cereal crumbs; press crumbs firmly into sandwiches to secure.

Place on greased baking sheet.

Bake 20 to 25 min. or until lightly browned. Cut diagonally in half. Serve with the strawberries.

Tips and Suggestions
Substitute: Prepare as directed, using semi-sweet baking chocolate
*Disclaimer: I was provided with free samples of Great Grains cereal in order to feature this recipe. I received no further compensation. All opinions are, as always, my own.*

October 28, 2015

Puff Pastry Sand-Witches

When my friend invited me to a Halloween party in her new apartment, I told her I'd bring some real food. Like, actual non-dessert type food. I figured she'd need that more than the cupcakes that I will likely still bring with me, since Halloween is the holiday of pure sugar. The only problem is, I wanted to do something themed, and there's not nearly as many savory Halloween recipes as there are sweet. So for once in my life, I decided to go simple. I took some Halloween cookie cutters and made some easy puff pastry sandwiches.

Except, since it's for Halloween, I decided to call them "Sand-Witches," and I can't type the word sand-witch without thinking of this scene in Dreamfall Chapters:
It's one of my favorite scenes too. I'm now mad I didn't think to cosplay as the Sand-witcher for NYCC.

I also had to laugh because when I realized that I had a Halloween cat cookie cutter, all I could think of was this:
Kitten carpaccio.
I thought it was funny.

I realize that none of you will get this reference because none of you are playing Dreamfall Chapters, but it was impossible for me not to make the reference. Like, it would have caused me physical pain to not tell you about the Sand-witcher. Moral of the story: everyone should be playing Dreamfall Chapters. So go do that. (It's written by a guy who is basically the Norwegian Joss Whedon. If that's not reason enough to play, I don't know what is)

Kian's adventures in food aside, my sand-witches are super simple, and don't even include any cured Elgwan, mostly because that's impossible to find here in Stark. (Stark is our world, the world of technology. Arcadia is the world of magic. Which you would know if you played the game)
All you need are five ingredients, one of which is totally optional: puff pastry, cold cuts (I used ham), sliced cheese (I used American), honey mustard (you can use any sandwich spread you like, or skip and serve with condiments on the side), and an egg wash to make everything all golden brown and pretty.
Use some Halloween cookie cutters to cut the puff pastry into season appropriate shapes. Add some cheese. Spread the honey mustard on top of the cheese (to prevent soggy pastry). Add some ham. Place another piece of puff pastry on top, pinch the edges closed. Brush with egg wash and bake.
I also scored the pastry or cut some holes for it to vent. Where I could, like this haunted house cutter, I tried to make the holes decorative.
Pumpkins obviously became jack-o-lanterns.
These are quick and easy appetizers you can make last minute for a Halloween party, but it's also a great make-ahead recipe. They can be served warm or at room temperature, can be adapted for any preference, and are something even the kiddos can help make. I think it's a win-win.
Puff Pastry Sand-Witches
Yield: Approx. 6-8 sandwiches, depending on the size of your cutters

1 pkg. puff pastry
6-8 slices of cheese (I used American)
Honey mustard (optional)
6-8 slices of ham (or your favorite cold cuts)
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Use Halloween cookie cutters to cut the puff pastry, cheese, and ham into shapes-- you need two pieces of pastry, one slice of cheese, and one slice of ham per sandwich.

Assemble the sandwiches: start with the first piece of pastry, place a slice of cheese on top. Spread a thin layer of honey mustard on top of the cheese, if using (this will help prevent sogginess if making ahead). Add a slice of ham, and top with the second piece of pastry. Pinch the edges of the pastry together to seal in the filling. Use a sharp knife to score the top, and brush with the beaten egg. Bake on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve warm or room temperature.

Tip: Flatten the pastry slightly before assembling the sandwiches, so it will be easier to pinch the edges closed. If making ahead, keep refrigerated in an airtight container, and put the sandwiches back in the oven for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe by Kim

And once last word from the Sand-witcher: