Thanksgiving and Overnight Pumpkin Spice French Toast

A family Thanksgiving tradition: we host our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren for breakfast, gift-giving, watching the Macy’s Parade and the dog show.

In Thanksgiving days past I have made Sushi, Mushroom Spinach Quiche, and Croque Monsieur Breakfast Casserole.

This year we enjoyed Overnight Pumpkin Spice French Toast. YUM!

Reading from The New York Times:

“You only need a few everyday ingredients like milk, bread and eggs — plus a heavy dose of your favorite pumpkin spice blend — to make this warming breakfast for a crowd. The whole thing is assembled the night before, so all you need to do when you wake up is a few finishing touches before you pop it in the oven. If you don’t have a favorite pumpkin spice blend, there is one at the bottom of this recipe for you to try. Don’t forget the maple syrup — and potentially some toasted nuts or fruit — to serve.”

Ingredients

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

~3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing the pan
~2 cups/480 milliliters whole milk
~4 large eggs
~¼ (packed) cup/50 grams light brown sugar
~4 teaspoons store-bought or homemade pumpkin spice blend (see Tip)
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~½ teaspoon fine salt
~1-pound enriched bread loaf, like challah or brioche, cut into ¾-inch-thick slices (We used Multigrain Bread from Costco.)
~Maple syrup
~Chopped toasted walnuts or pecans or fresh berries (optional)

Preparation

  1. Butter a 9-by-13-inch metal, glass or ceramic baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, pumpkin spice blend, vanilla and salt.
  3. Dip each piece of bread in the milk mixture, then lay it in the prepared pan in slightly overlapping layers. Pour the remaining milk mixture over the top. Gently press the bread into the custard, then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  4. When you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees, uncover the dish, and gently flip each piece of bread, one at a time, so the side that is more saturated with custard is on the top. Rearrange the slices decoratively, as needed, so the rounded edges of the slices are exposed. Dot the top with the 3 tablespoons butter and cover with foil.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until lightly browned, slightly puffy in the center, and cooked through, 15 to 20 more minutes. Tent with foil if the top is browning too quickly.
  6. Let cool slightly before serving with maple syrup, and nuts or fruit, if desired. I put some homemade Granola on mine!

Tip

  • Make your own pumpkin spice blend by combining 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon ground allspice and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves. Makes about ¼ cup.

Photos from our celebration:

Thanksgiving Cheers; Prosecco and Chambord. Danielle and Bella. Emily practicing for The Nutcracker. Emily trying on her new dress. Freddy keeping his eye on me–making sure I am not drinking from the Prosecco bottle! Susan and Freddy. Matthew. Our Thanksgiving Dinner; Shetland Salmon with White wine, Lemon, Fennel and Endive, Mashed Potatoes with Fennel and Horseradish, Green Beans and Mushrooms. Me.

Spicy Pork Stir Fry with Bok Choy

On a recent Sunday, I made a Pork Roast Smothered with Sauerkraut.

A few days later, I made Spicy Pork Fry with the leftover pork. So delicious.

Ingredients

-1 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), thinly sliced across the grain into 2-inch-long strips (I used the leftovers from a 3 pound pork roast; photo below.)
-1½ teaspoons cornstarch
-½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-Kosher salt
-3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
-2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
-2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry (I used Mirin.)
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
-6 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
-1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced crosswise
-8 small or 4 large heads baby bok choy, halved lengthwise, quartered if large, or 1 head larger bok choy, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
-1 cup sliced mushrooms (My addition.)
-Steamed white rice, chopped toasted cashews or peanuts, sesame seeds, and/or thinly sliced fresh chiles (for serving; optional)

Directions

Step 1

Toss pork, cornstarch, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a medium bowl. Stir vinegar, wine, and remaining 2 Tbsp. soy sauce in a small bowl. Have all your other ingredients prepped and ready to go (once you start cooking, there isn’t a stopping point and you’ll need them handy).

Step 2

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet (not nonstick) over high. When oil is shimmering and slides quickly across surface of pan, add scallions and ginger and cook, tossing, until scallions are browned and softened, about 2 minutes. Add bok choy and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing often, until leaves are bright green and wilted and white parts are crisp-tender, 4–6 minutes. Transfer bok choy mixture to another medium bowl.

Step 3

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over high. When oil is shimmering again, add pork mixture and arrange pieces in a single layer in skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until pork is browned and caramelized on first side, about 1 minute. Toss and continue to cook until pork is no longer pink and is cooked through, about a minute or two longer. Pour in wine mixture and bok choy mixture and cook, tossing briskly, until sauce is thickened and all ingredients are coated, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and taste, then season with more salt, if desired. (Note: Because I used the leftover pork I quickly stir-fried it wok till crisp and then added bok choy and the other ingredients to wok.)

Step 4

Divide stir-fry among plates. Serve with rice alongside, if using. Sprinkle with desired toppings.

~ Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit.

Chicken and Shrimp Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Strawberries, and Wonton Strips

I made this salad years ago but without the shrimp. We are experiencing a heat wave here and a special salad, and this salad is very special, seemed like a great dinner choice on a hot day–and the serve to our special guests; Julia and Daryl before they return to Colorado.

FYI: Daryl is my son and Julia is his girlfriend and they just hot engaged–in Capri, Italy where they were vacationing.

This salad is a favorite for lunch at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa.

Ingredients:

4 (5-ounce) chicken breasts
About 1/2 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined. (I used shrimp from Biloxi Shrimp Co.)
1 tablespoon olive oil (if not using grill method)
2/3 cup wonton strips
4 cups mesclun
1/2 cup julienned carrots (I didn’t use carrots)

1/2 cup julienned carrots (I didn’t add carrots.)
1/2 cup cashews (I was so busy getting everything ready, I forgot to add these!)
2 cups mandarin oranges (I used canned.)
Honey sage vinaigrette (see below)
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat grill or oven to 350.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. If grilling (I didn’t because was nearly 100 degrees!), place on hot grill and cook on both sides for 5-6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If baking, heat a small saute pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Carefully add the chicken and sear on both side for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Place in oven and bake until internal temperature is 165. Remove from heat and chill. Stir fry shrimp in hot and oiled Wok and cooked till done–about 6 to 8 minutes.

Place wonton strips on a baking sheet and place in oven for 8 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and reserve at room temperature.

Place all other ingredients, except vinaigrette and wontons, in a small bowl. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons of dressing and coat thoroughly.

Place on a plate or in a bowl. Slice chicken breasts and fan over the salad. Garnish with baked wontons.

Honey Sage Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/6 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Keep refrigerated until needed.

Serves 4.

From ”Pathways To Plate, Destinations And Dishes From Delaware North.” This cookbook is filled with so many great recipes—and photographs!

More about Delaware North
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We began our celebration with White Wine Spritzers with Mint from our garden.

We enjoyed bowls of Oven-roasted Gazpacho.

And Susan made a Strawberry Coconut Ice-Box Cake for dessert. YUM!

Abuelas Albondigas

Last weekend, Susan and I watched a few episodes of The Great American Recipe on PBS.

One of the contestants, Silvia Martinez, made Abuelas Albondigas, also known as Mexican Meatballs. It looked so delicious. I turned to Susan and said, “I have to make this for our Sunday dinner.” And I did. And it was delicious!

Reading from Silvia’s statement on PBS:

“Spanish for meatballs and served in a broth, dry, or (as in this case) with a sauce, albondigas hold a special place in the hearts of many Mexicans. My grandma used to ask each of her grandchildren what their favorite dish was so she could make it for their birthdays. This is one I asked for often. Chipotle chiles are dried jalapeños. The most common way to buy them at the supermarket is canned in an adobo sauce, which gives them that classic smoky flavor. I added golden raisins at my husband’s suggestion, and their sweetness balances beautifully with the acid, spice, and salt in the sauce.”

This recipe is featured in the Love Language episode during Season 1 of The Great American Recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean) (I used Bison because it is what I had to fridge.)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 medium eggs
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • ¾ white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup golden raisins (I did use raisins.)
  • 5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, leaves picked and chopped, divided
  • 1 pound Roma tomatoes
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8(5-to 8-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
  •  
  • Rice
  • 1½ cups white rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (My addition.)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, 1 teaspoon of the salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, eggs, bread crumbs, half of the chopped onion, garlic, golden raisins, and half of the chopped parsley. With your hands, form 12 meatballs. Set aside.
  2. In a blender, blend the tomatoes, remaining chopped onion, chipotles, broth, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt until smooth. (I used frozen tomato sauce that I made last summer which had carrots, celery, garlic and japaleno in it.)
  3. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, pour in the sauce, and cook for 1 minute. Carefully submerge the meatballs in the sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan, lower the temperature, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then strain. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat, then add the onion and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the rice and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the water and chicken bouillon and stir until dissolved. Add the frozen peas, carrot, and salt if needed. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Turn the temperature down and simmer until the liquid evaporates and the rice is tender, 17–20 minutes.
  5. Serve the albondigas with the rice and warm tortillas on the side. Garnish with the remaining chopped parsley.

This night, Saturday night, I made a pizza! I made the meatballs on Sunday

The pizza, too, was delicious! Whole Wheat Crust, BBQ Sauce, Grated Pepper Olive Cheese, Andouille Sausage from D’Artagnan, Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes (from our garden), Spinach, Corn Salsa. YUM!

Sesame-Ginger Potato Salad

This is so delicious!

From Lizzy Briskin, Food Editor at Real Simple magazine.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds red baby new potatoes
  • ¼ cup lower-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 3 or 4 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (from a 2-in. piece)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce, such as sambal oelek (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cooking potatoes
  • 4 cups shredded red cabbage (from 1 head)
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons toasted white and/or black sesame seeds

Directions

  • Step 1 Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to low; simmer until fork-tender, 10 to 12 minutes (avoid overcooking). Drain and rinse under cold water. Let cool in colander for 10 minutes. Slice potatoes in half, or quarter if large.
  • Step 2 Meanwhile, whisk soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, honey, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce (if using), and salt in a large bowl.
  • Step 3 Toss potatoes, cabbage, cilantro, and scallions with dressing in bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and top with more cilantro and scallions.

I served this with a grilled Strip Steak. I can’t wait to make it again!

Skillet Chicken with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

This is one of the most delicious chicken dinners I have ever made. The recipe is by Yasmin Fahr , food writer and contributor to The New York Times Cooking. Did I say DELICIOUS!!!

Yasmin writes: “This comforting one-pot dinner is reminiscent of a rich French onion soup, but made in less time and with lighter ingredients. Cooking the onions in a hot, dry pan forces them to release their moisture, so that they shrink and become silky and sweet in 30 minutes. Serve everything directly from the pan, with some crusty bread to soak up all the juices, or shred the chicken and pile it on top of buttered noodles. For something green, stir in some spinach to wilt at the end or serve alongside a simple green salad or roasted broccoli.”

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3-inch pieces (I used breasts.)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • ¾ pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill leaves and fine stems, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or pecorino (optional)
  • Bread or cooked pasta, for serving

Preparation

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar, the honey, mustard, red-pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt; whisk until smooth. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper, then add to the mixture, coating it well. Set aside at room temperature, stirring it once while you make the onions.
  2. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium-high until very hot, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then add the onions in an even layer. Season with salt, then cook, mostly undisturbed, for 4 minutes more, stirring every minute or so. Add the mushrooms, season with salt, and stir to combine. (It will look crowded, and that’s OK.) Allow to cook mostly undisturbed until the mushrooms shrink and start to brown, about 4 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
  3. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and allow the onions to cook until they start to color, stirring and lowering the heat as necessary to avoid burning, about 2 minutes. Push the onions and mushrooms to the edges of the skillet, then add the chicken pieces to the center. Pour any remaining marinade (there will be very little) over the onions and mushrooms. Cook undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes, then combine the chicken and vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes more. (Reduce the heat to medium if the onions look like they are burning at any point.)
  4. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, stirring and scraping up anything on the bottom of the skillet. Season to taste with salt.
  5. Remove from the heat and top with the parsley and cheese, if using. Serve with bread or pasta.

NOTE: I served with cooked Carolina Rice and Asparagus, which I add to wok during last few minutes of cooking.

Shrimp Scampi

Simple and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine or broth
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ¾ pounds large or extra-large shrimp, shelled
  • ⅓ cup chopped parsley
  • Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon
  • Cooked pasta or crusty bread

Preparation

  1. In a large skillet, melt butter with olive oil. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine or broth, salt, red pepper flakes and plenty of black pepper and bring to a simmer. Let wine reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add shrimp and sauté until they just turn pink, 2 to 4 minutes depending upon their size. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice and serve over pasta or accompanied by crusty bread.

I served the shrimp with mini farfalle.

Based on a recipe from The New York Times and All Recipes.

Shrimp Burger

I threw this together a few nights ago. Approximately 20 small shrimp, peeled, deveined, and diced. One egg, beaten. Two scallions chopped. 1/3 cup Panko. Some lemon juice and Old Bay seasoning. Fried in butter for about 7 minutes per side. Served with a mayo, grain mustard, Frank’s Hot Sauce, lemon juice and Old Bay spread. Steak fries. Bok Choy with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes.

Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry with Veggies

For years I have wondered why do I only find shrimp from Thailand here in New England–both at the supermarket and a favorite fish store. Why? Why aren’t Gulf Shrimp distributed and sold here in New England? I recently discovered a company called Biloxi Shrimp. And I ordered 10 pounds from them. I couldn’t be happier.

Reading from their website:

“Biloxi Shrimp Co. was founded in June 2020 by Mark Mavar and Jonathan McLendon, owners of merged commercial shrimp processing companies Biloxi Freezing & Processing, Inc. and M&M Shrimp Company LLC. 

“These two successful businessmen, whose commercial business tag line is “The Coolest Guys in Town,” were both born and raised in Biloxi, Mississippi “seafood capital of the world,” where they grew up in their respective families’ shrimp and seafood businesses with a natural love for their city, their Gulf Coast and their family heritage. 

“More of the history is detailed below, but in short, they built one of the largest and most modern shrimp processing facilities in the entire Gulf, serving both the restaurant/foodservice industry and retail stores. When the pandemic arrived in spring of 2020, they found their freezers full of product that would have otherwise been shipped to the shuttered restaurant industry. Naturally, with shrimp season set to begin soon, they needed a different sales channel to make room in their freezers for the new crop of shrimp soon to arrive at their docks.” (More on their website.)

Ingredients
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into small pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 tbsp. cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
A handful of cashews, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook until pink, 5 minutes, then remove from skillet.
  2. Return skillet to heat and heat sesame oil. Add asparagus, peas, mushrooms cook until about 5 minutes, but still crisp. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, cornstarch, lemon juice, brown sugar, and the red pepper flakes. Add to skillet and toss to coat. Add cashews and shrimp and cook until heated through, 2 minutes.

The shrimp is delicious. Perfect. Here is the first dish I made earlier in the week; a simple stir fry with quinoa.

Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread

I never made Irish Soda Bread until this recent St. Patrick’s Day. Susan has been asking me to make it for years. “My mother always made it,” she said. “Would you make it for me?”

I did. It was delicious.

Me in the kitchen getting ready to make the bread. Freddy watching me.

I used a recipe from Julee Rosso’s cookbook, Great Good Food. Rosso is the co-author of the Silver Palate cookbooks and The New Basics Cookbook, which I believe total over 5 million copies in print.

She writes: “Grandma Clark taught me how she made this in the Old Country for special occasions. I know she’d like the taste of this one, even without the amount of butter she used.”

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup sugar (Next time I might cut back on the sugar; 1/2 cup perhaps.)
  • Juice of two oranges (I also added the zest of the oranges.)
  • 1-½ cups golden raisins
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (Rosso called for 1/4 cup applesauce; I didn’t have it.)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-¾ cups buttermilk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg, well beaten

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray or wipe a 12 to 14 inch cast-iron skillet with vegetable oil (I used a bit of butter.) Line the buttered skillet with a circle of waxed paper. Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter and set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, place the raisins and orange juice and chopped apple. Macerate until the raisins are plump. About 5 minutes. Drain.

Sift dry ingredients together. Add raisins, apples, zest to dry ingredients and toss well to coat.

Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, oil. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.

Spoon batter into the prepared skillet and smooth top. Drizzle the melted butter over the dough.

Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 1 hour. (Mine was done after 55 minutes.) Either serve warm directly from skillet, or let cool completely on a rack, and then wrap carefully and refrigerate overnight.

I served this with, what else, corned beef and cabbage!

Fat Tuesday Jambalaya

Somebody has said that if ever a good Louisianian died, went to heaven and found no gumbo there, he’d come straight back!

I’m not from Louisiana. I am still standing. And I made gumbo a few months ago. Fat Tuesday called for Jambalaya. Homemade Hot Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya.

I based my recipe on this:

Susan made a Maraschino Walnut Cake. So delicious!

A recipe from the following book. If you can find it, buy it. It’s a classic.

McBride writes: “I would rather show my appreciation of American food by eating it than by writing about it. But because I have a weakness for trying everything once, I finally did begin the well-nigh impossible task of writing the history of America in its food.”