Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blueberry French Toast

Holy cow! Until I came over here to find the recipe for my Blueberry French Toast, I had no idea that I'd failed to put it here! Well, it's too late now for the blow-by-blow photos, but I do have the most important part--the end result, so I'll just cut to the chase with the recipe.

[update: A year later, I added the pics :)]

This is the perfect recipe for morning company, 
as you can easily prepare it the night before
 and just throw the rest of it together 30 minutes before breakfast.

8 oz. French bread* (preferably a little stale)
6 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch
2 12-oz frozen (or fresh) blueberries
2 tbls melted butter

Slice the bread 3/4" thick. I use this amazing saw-type knife that I picked up at my local farmer's market from a guy selling them for $20.  I wish I had bought several, as this thing is a beauty.  

Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, and baking powder and dip the bread slices into the mixture. 

Place on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and set in fridge overnight.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch and set aside. 

I usually do this the night before, 
so it's ready when I need it in the morning.  
This is especially nice for us, because we always eat this on Christmas morning, 
and I and throw it together quickly.)

In the morning, grease a 9 x 13 pan. Rinse berries 

and toss with sugar. 

Spread blueberries in the bottom of pan. 

Place bread pieces (wettest-side-up) on top of the blueberries, cutting pieces to fit if necessary. 

Brush with melted butter. 

Yes, I know; what was I thinking, just pouring the butter over the top?!
 Don't worry--I spread it around with the back of a spoon.

This was also the point when I remembered reading a review of Mrs4444 Cooks,
in which the reviewer said that everything I have hear is loaded with fat/sugar and horrible for you.
(Yes, I'm paraphrasing.)
Anyway, I remembered her statement when I was pouring the butter,
and I thought to myself, 
"Take that!"haha

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Serve with powdered sugar (but be careful--It's easy to accidentally inhale powdered sugar! 
Keep a drink close by!haha).

Serves 4

*If you wait til Christmas eve to buy the bread, you might be in trouble; French bread is in high demand for the holidays; don't be afraid to shop early. Stale French bread works the best, anyway.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wow. I've eaten some cookie dough in my day, but the cookie dough I ate tonight may well go down in history as the best I've ever eaten.

I'd never heard of Nutella cookies before reading a post from Jene (at The Original Bean), and I'm very glad I did, because these cookies are delicious! (raw or cooked!)


1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature (I used salted.)
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 cup of Nutella
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts (I added a whole cup because 1/2 cup didn't look like enough)

As you may have noticed, the recipe called for chocolate chips, of which I had none, so Mr.4444 kindly took out his trusty kitchen knife and wacked up some Bakers chocolate that I had.  Like Jene says, I finally found a use for the other end of my Pampered Chef measuring thingy...

First, cream the butter until its...well....creamy.

Then, add the vanilla, sugars, and Nutella. Mix well.


Add the vanilla and the eggs (one at a time, mixing 30 seconds between each egg).


Put the flour, baking soda, and cocoa....wait a minute! 
What flour?! Dang it--Sorry, I forgot to put the flour in the ingredient photo. Here you go!

The recipe said to sift the dry ingredients, so I did what any resourceful cook would do:


What?! Yes, it's time-consuming and a little annoying, but you can't argue with the results
(or the directions, which remind you that cocoa stays in chunks if you don't sift it):

Mix well.

Fold in the chocolate chips and the nuts.
The recipe calls for hazelnuts, but I made an executive decision on that one, too; 
since hazelnut coffee makes me gag, I went with walnuts.

Now here's where I muffed up the recipe and you should not. (Like my mom always said, "Do as I say, not as I do!"  Chill the dough for ten minutes or so. I didn't, and the result was kind of disasterous; so bad that I can't show you a pic (Just kidding--I did take a pic, but I lost it, so you'll have to use your imagination. Picture big, flat cookies all run into each other on the pan.)

If you haven't eaten all the dough yet, put it by rounded spoonsful (I used the big Pampered Chef cookie scoop) onto  parchment paper and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, allowing to cool a bit on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

While my cookies came out flat as pancakes and badly misshapen, I'm happy to report that they tasted fantastic and got rave reviews from Kendall and Mr.4444. They were all gone within two days.

I can't tell you how many this makes, since eating have the dough skewed my end result. (Jene said that they're too rich to eat too many, but you can see what a liar she is.) If you make them, let me know what you come up with, if you can resist...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Aunt Mary's Bailey's Irish Cream

3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 can Eagle Brand Milk
3 tbls Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 pint cream or half-and-half

1 cup whiskey (Irish, or whatever you have)

Blend all but the whiskey in a blender. Add the whiskey and mix again.  Pour into bottles and refrigerate.  Keeps a long time and is great in coffee with whipped cream on top! (Makes a nice Christmas gift!)

Homemade Hot Chocolate

"Oh, Mom--This is amazing," declared my college daughter just now as she sipped from a cup of this seasonal favorite. (And she doesn't even have marshmallows in it!)

This recipe is so simple! It makes a huge batch, and creatively wrapped, makes a perfect little Christmas gift.  Every year, I package it up for my Difference Makers kids. Since they absolutely LOVE when I serve it after "Ding-Dong-Decorate-and-Ditch," they are always tickled to receive some more to take home.

Four Simple Ingredients:

1 8-qt box of powdered milk (no, Matty, you cannot substitute the liquid variety, haha)
1 22-oz Cremora (some people say they use the flavored kind, but I just keep to the plain stuff)
1 box of confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 2-lb box Nestle's Quick

Just dump it all in a BIG container and mix it up!  I'll warn you that it's not cheap to make, but it really does make a LOT. I couldn't even fit all of mine in my largest mixing bowl--I dumped it all into a huge stockpot to mix it. The powdered milk was $13.00, but it was twice what I actually needed, so I'll be making another batch, which Kendall plans to give to her friends as Christmas gifts.

Use 1/3 cup mix per cup of hot water or just mix it to-taste.

This is really a treat. For the adults on your list, you could also make my Aunt Mary's Homemade Bailey's Irish Cream.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sweet Stuff! ($50 CSN Stores Giveaway!)

I recently received a copy of the book Nonna Tell Me a Story for review, and I'm happy to report that's it's lovely. Written by "one of the most-loved chefs on television, a best-selling cookbook author, and restaurateur," Lidia Bastianich, the book encourages families to share holiday memories of old and create new ones through baking and decorating together for the holidays.  Laura Logan did a wonderful job with the heart-warming illustration that accompany the sweet story of multi-generational holiday sharing in the first half of the book.  In the second half, Chef Bastianich shares her recipes for a number of favorite holiday cookies, from Almond Butter Cookies to these babies:

 Photo found at

You can find this hardcover book many places on line, priced anywhere from $9.32 to $15.

If you buy this book, you might need cookware to bake all of the deliciousness. Want a little help? Enter to win a $50 CSN Stores gift code. Not a baker? You will be amazed at the incredible number of products offered  by CSN Stores' 200+ sites. Win this, and you could put a nice dent in your holiday shopping.

To Enter, visit this link and give me the link of something you'd love to own (money is no object)! [This is a required entry.]

For extra entries:
*Enter my $100 CSNStores giveaway on Half-Past Kissin' Time
*Tweet this giveaway and include the url for your tweet. (Worth 2 extra entries)
*Include a link to this giveaway in your December 10th Friday Fragments (or any post, I suppose) and let me know in a comment here. (Worth 2 extra entries)
*Share a link to any Mrs.4444 Cooks post on your Facebook page and let me know here (or email me a screenshot if we're not FB friends). (Worth 3 extra entries)

GIVEAWAY ENDS Sunday, December 12TH at 10pm and will be announced in my Friday Fragments post on December 17th.

[UPDATE: The winner of this giveaway was Dee! Thanks for entering, Everyone! :) ]