Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Spicy Roasted Okra

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Probably like most of you, I am on this never ending quest/game/journey of trying to discover new ways of expanding the palates of my family.  On one hand it can be a little frustrating, fighting that uphill "mom" battle.  "Here, try this.  Here, try that."  You don't want to get stuck in the same old rut of cooking only the same familiar things over and over.  On the other hand, if you think about it in a little different light, it can be fun.  "What can we do with this?  How can we cook this that would be cool and exciting, that everybody (okay, most everyone) would like it?" 

My mom taught me that farmer's markets are a great place to visit when you want to find awesome, local produce that is locally sourced, supportive of your local farmers, and the freshest and tastiest way to go.  Recently my husband and got up early one Saturday and found the cutest little purple and green okra at our local farmer's market.  I've NEVER seen purple okra!  But they were SO CUTE!!! The only problem is that I sort of only like fried okra.  LOL.   Okayyyyy.... that's a dilemma.  

menumusings.comMy husband suggested that I bring them home and "figure it out."  Ha!   This is when you start looking in the mirror.  We all love roasted vegetables, and I read of someone else roasting okra (which removes the sliminess), so I decided to give it a shot.  To give them a fighting chance with the kiddos, I knew they'd better have lots of flavor, so I mixed up a seasoning blend.  And you know what?  EVERYone ate them!  YAY!  Success!!!  


Ingredients:
  • 1 pound or so young okra 
  • between the length of your thumb and index finger
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp restaurant style black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander 
  • 1/2 tsp Spanish paprika 
  • Optional 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne (if you want them spicy)
Step-by-Step:
Begin my mixing up your seasoning mix:
2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp spanish paprika (or whatever paprika you have)
Mix the seasonings together.
** Add in additional 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne if you'd like your okra to be spicy
Here are my super cute little okra.
Cut each in half lengthwise.
Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.  Toss to coat.
EVOO
Spread them out onto a sheet pan.
Sprinkle the oiled okra with the seasoning blend.  The olive oil will give the seasoning something to stick to and help them crisp up (read as... not be slimy).
I roasted these babies at 400 x 20 min, then turned up to 450 x 5 min just to get a little extra crunchy edge.  That's up to you.  
I did shake them around every 10 min or so.  Just watch them.  Every oven is a bit different.  
The cooking time will also depend on the size of your okra.  I wanted them to be sort of like crispy seasoned okra "fries."
Here they are as a nice accompaniment to our goat cheese stuffed pork tenderloin, Romano rice pilaf, and stuffed artichoke leaves.
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Here are some other recipes I hope you'll enjoy:
Curried Chicken Salad
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Skinny Buffalo Chicken Salad
menumusings.com

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta
menumusings.com

Mongolian Beef
menumusings.com

Crab Rangoons

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If you'd like to order or check out the interactive MenuMusings Cookbook, Click the link!  These make amazing gifts!  Especially for your kiddos who have just moved out to a new dorm or apartment on their own, or the new happy couple!  Each recipe has "how to" photos and its own QRS code linking it back to the blog for complete step-by-step photos!

Written Method:
Begin my mixing up your seasoning mix.
Cut each in half lengthwise.
Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.  Toss to coat.
Spread them out onto a sheet pan.
Sprinkle the oiled okra with the seasoning blend.  The olive oil will give the seasoning something to stick to and help them crisp up (read as... not be slimy).
I roasted these babies at 400 x 20 min, then turned up to 450 x 5 min just to get a little extra crunchy edge.  That's up to you.  
I did shake them around every 10 min or so.  Just watch them.  Every oven is a bit different.  
The cooking time will also depend on the size of your okra.  I wanted them to be sort of like crispy seasoned okra "fries."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Make Ahead Toaster French Toast

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Okay, so this is a horrible name for a post; but how else could I convey what in the heck I was trying to explain?!  First of all, school for most folks has started back; and if it hasn't, you are probably in a mad dash to get things done before it does.  Secondly, we are all so dang busy, that it's sometimes really hard to get a good a good breakfast for yourself and your people!  Thirdly, some of you live alone and don't really want to mess up the whole kitchen every time you want something to eat.  Well this recipe is perfect for all of those things.  I figured out that it doesn't take any longer to make the batter for 8-9 pieces of french toast than it does for 2-3, so I may as well spend a little extra time on a day when I do have a little more time and make a large batch.  

My kids have lovingly agreed on several occasions to be the guinea pigs for this experiment, and have gleefully agreed that the toasted, frozen french toasts taste nice and fresh.  We tried this a few times over the summer in preparation for the busy school year ahead.  We thought this would be a great "grab-n-go" toaster breakfast if everyone got in a time pinch.  You should probably know that they have tried the commercially prepared frozen french toast and turned their noses up at them.  Sure, they were convenient, but since I've made theirs fresh their whole lives... I guess those just didn't measure up.  (giggle)  

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Ingredients: (8-9 pieces of french toast)
  • 8-9 pieces sliced whole wheat bread
    • or bread of your choosing
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cup or so of milk
  • A splash of good quality vanilla
    • I use clear Mexican vanilla 
  • Lots of good quality ground cinnamon
Extra stuff:
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • cooling rack
  • waxed paper
  • zip top bag and sharpie permanent markers
*my recipe is pretty touchy feely.  Feel free to add more or less of whatever you'd like.  If you have a favorite recipe for this, by all means use it.  I am really passing along the concept of what I'm doing with the french toast.  

Step-by-step:
With the exception of the bread, obviously, add all of the custard ingredients in a shallow bowl.  I typically use a pie plate, but whatever works best for you is fine.  
4 large eggs

1 - 1 1/2 cups milk (I'm sorry, I never really measure)
*I'm using 2% milk.  You can make this more or less rich depending on the fat you use in milk.

1/2 cup sugar
These aren't super sweet, but they are sweet enough that if you had to take them "on the run," you wouldn't need anything extra on them.  Feel free to play around with the level of sweetness.

A nice splash of good quality vanilla.  I like the clear Mexican vanilla.

LOTS of cinnamon
Whisk thoroughly to really break up the egg.  If a fork works better for you than a whisk, try that.  If there are still clear pieces of egg white, they will show up on your toast.  Kids don't like that.
Whisk thoroughly!

Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray.  I'm using a non-stick skillet today.  I find that to be easiest (especially when my little girl is helping me cook). 
Non-stick cooking spray
Immerse both sides of bread into the batter until wet but not too soggy.  Add to skillet.  Depending on the size of the skillet, you can do multiples.  Cook on medium heat until medium - medium golden brown. They will cook a little more in the toaster at the end.

Allow them to cool on a cooling rack so that air can circulate both over and under them.  Don't be surprised that you only end up with a few at the end, but that's part of it.  *These also make great snacks.  Try them with a bit of peanut butter.
Somehow I never end up with 8-9.  I may have a thief lurking somewhere!
After they are cool (read as:  you've cleaned up the kitchen, fed the dog, made the beds, etc.), you can package up the leftover ones in the freezer for a day when you perhaps don't have time to make a hot breakfast.  Grab a piece of parchment or waxed paper.  I'll show you how I used one piece to wrap up to five pieces at once.  We want to do this so they won't stick together.

Two pieces side-by-side

Fold it over

Add a piece in the middle.  That makes three.

Now you can add one piece on each side.  So you can separate up to FIVE pieces of french toast with one piece of paper!
Now just label your zip top bag and pop them in the freezer.  
PLEASE date and label everything that goes into your freezer! 

In they go! 
 Now on a busy day, let's give this a try! You can see that they are fully frozen.
Remove frozen french toasts.
Pop them into the toaster.  Be aware, they may take two cycles.  (But I'm like that with everything.  I want my stuff hot, y'all!)  This gives you time to grab some fruit and make some bacon.  Or at least tie somebody's tennis shoes and find a backpack, right? 
Pop them into the toaster.
 This is what they look like naked out of the toaster.  Good as new.
Now if you really want to act like you just made them (I mean, you don't have to tell anybody that you just took them out of the toaster)... make them all pretty!  Voila!
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I hope you enjoyed this recipe!  Here are some others I think you'll like:
Spicy Sweet Potato Hash  -  A great, healthy breakfast to fuel up for your day! #paleo #glutenfree
menumusings.com

Short Cut Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Better than the one at Olive Garden, and you know what's in there!  So easy and comforting!  #familyfavorite #easyrecipe
menumusings.com

BLT Buffalo Chicken Wraps - What to do with those leftover chicken tenders your kids bring home!
#recipehack #brownbaglunch #easyrecipe
menumusings.com

Thai Chicken Salad Wraps/Cones - when you want something different but healthy for lunch!
#easyrecipe #healthylunch #brownbaglunch
menumusings.com

Creamy Chicken Piccata - so easy to make at home, why wait until you go out for this?
#familyfavorite #easyitalian #dinnerpartyworthy

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To order the Menu Musings Cookbook, or just to get more information about it, click the link. 
**If you know a kiddo going off to college and moving to an apartment of their own, this makes a great gift!  The same thing goes for newlyweds! 


Written Method:
With the exception of the bread, obviously, add all of the custard ingredients in a shallow bowl.  I typically use a pie plate, but whatever works best for you is fine.  Whisk thoroughly to really break up the egg.  If a fork works better for you than a whisk, try that.  If there are still clear pieces of egg white, they will show up on your toast.  Kids don't like that.  

Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray.  I'm using a non-stick skillet today.  I find that to be easiest (especially when my little girl is helping me cook). 

Immerse both sides of bread into the batter until wet but not too soggy.  Add to skillet.  Depending on the size of the skillet, you can do multiples.  Cook until medium - medium golden.  They will cook a little more in the toaster at the end.  

Allow them to cool on a cooling rack so that air can circulate both over and under them.  Don't be surprised that you only end up with a few at the end, but that's part of it.  *These also make great snacks.  Try them with a bit of peanut butter.

After they are cool (read as:  you've cleaned up the kitchen, fed the dog, made the beds, etc.), you can package up the leftover ones in the freezer for a day when you perhaps don't have time to make a hot breakfast.  Grab a piece of parchment or waxed paper.  I'll show you how I used one piece to wrap 4-5 pieces at once. 

Now just label your zip top bag and pop them in the freezer.  

Okay, let's see how well these frozen ones turned out.  

Pop them into the toaster.  Be aware, they may take two cycles.  (But I'm like that with everything.  I want my stuff hot, y'all!)  This gives you time to grab some fruit and make some bacon.  Or at least tie somebody's tennis shoes and find a backpack, right? 

This is what they look like naked out of the toaster.  Good as new.

Now if you really want to act like you just made them (I mean, you don't have to tell anybody that you just took them out of the toaster)... make them all pretty!  Voila!  

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