Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Challah French Toast with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Apples

Anyone who follows my Instagram feed knows that I have got it BAD for breakfast on the weekends. I pop out of bed and run down to make my (half caf) coffee then get started. While we eat pretty well during the week for breakfasts (green smoothies, pancetta and egg breakfast sandwiches, oats in a jar with all the fixins), weekends I get to spend more than 10 minutes on breakfast. I think this recipe took approximately 12 minutes though, so it might just sneak itself into the week day routine! 

Since we enjoyed a freakishly cool mid September day, I busted out the cinnamon container for a day of fall recipes, and this was up first. I can't wait to recreate it!

Challah French Toast with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Apples

1/2 loaf challah bread (brioche works too, you could do regular sandwich bread, but this will be WAY less exciting)
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (I used whole)
2 tablespoons cinnamon, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 apple, sliced (peel on or off, your choice!)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Justin's Maple Almond Butter (I'm HOOKED on this and buy it 6 jars at a time whenever it goes on sale, but freshly ground almond butter would be nice here too!)
Maple Syrup

Preheat a nonstick skillet and a cast iron skillet on medium heat. 

Slice the challah bread into thick slices (mine were about 1 inch thick). Whisk the eggs and milk together, then add in 1 tablespoon cinnamon (reserve the other tablespoon!). Spray the nonstick skillet with cooking spray (or melt a little butter if you dare). Dunk each challah slice in the milk mixture to get it nice and soaked, then place on the nonstick skillet. Cook about 1 1/2 minutes then flip and cook another 1 - 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and keep warm.

In the meantime, melt the butter in the cast iron. Toss the apple slices with the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon and brown sugar, then add, in one layer, to the cast iron. Turn apples after 2 minutes and cook on the other side another 2 minutes.

Spread the French toast with your almond butter (I do about 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons per slice) and top with apple slices, then drizzle with maple syrup. Enjoy!
Enjoy with bacon, coffee and fall decor! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Naughty Mac and Cheese

When asked my favorite foods, I spout off my top three at lightening speed - cheeseburgers, queso and mac & cheese. Healthy and sophisticated, right? :) 

Needless to say, it's a good thing Luke isn't crazy about mac and cheese, otherwise I'd probably make it every week. I often try to go middle of the road in terms of naughty and nice components, but this one is like 95% naughty - sorry about that. I use whole milk here for extra creaminess, but by all means use 1 or 2% milk if you'd rather - but you may need to bump up with an extra tablespoon each of butter and flour to help thicken things up a bit. My one nice concession (other than the cauliflower, which doesn't REALLY count since I douse it in olive oil before roasting...) is whole wheat pasta - I find in a creamy sauce like this, I don't mind WW at all, so I go for it.

Naughty Mac and Cheese

1 head cauliflower
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 thick slices bacon
1/2 onion, chopped
1 pound whole wheat pasta (I used elbows, shells work nicely too!)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature
6-8 cups shredded cheese (I mix gruyere and extra sharp cheddar for maximum flavor and meltability), room tempterature
1 cup panko or breadcrumbs
3/4 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut cauliflower into bite-sized florets and spread on a baking sheet. Give it a few turns of olive oil (probably 3 ish tablespoons) and salt and pepper, then toss to combine. Roast 30 minutes, turning once, until browned. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile heat a skillet on medium heat and crisp up bacon. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess grease, then chop into small pieces once slightly cooled. Reduce the skillet heat to medium low. Add onion to the bacon drippings in the pan and saute 10-15 minutes until beginning to caramelize. Remove from heat.

Set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once water boils, cook pasta according to package directions and then drain. 

In the meantime, warm a large sauce pan (I used my dutch oven) on medium heat. Melt butter, then whisk in flour. Let this cook 45 seconds - a minute, stirring almost constantly. Slowly whisk in milk. Let cook on medium heat until thickened, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Once this has thickened, season with salt and pepper and add cheese, one handful at a time, stirring after each addition, until incorporated and smooth.

Add cooked pasta, cauliflower, bacon and onions to cheese sauce and stir to combine. In a small bowl, stir together panko with parm and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle evenly over mac and cheese.

Bake 20 minutes in the 400 degree oven, then finish until the broiler for a minute to get a nice golden brown topping. Enjoy!

The finished product hot out of the oven! Definitely give it time to cool off :)