Monte Cristo Sandwich

Back when I was a cute young thing, I would go to lunch with with my mom, aunts and cousins. We would always have the best time. There was much laughing and talking. We had many favorite restaurants, but one of my favorites was Claire’s in Edmonds. I can’t even tell you if it’s still open. I can tell you that when it was, they made the very best Monte Cristo Sandwiches on the planet.

I don’t know if anyone still makes Monte Cristos, but you’re missing a great opportunity if they are available and you don’t have one.

3 slices white bread

Mayonnaise, as needed

2 slices Gouda or any cheese you prefer

2 slices ham

3 large eggs, beaten

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Serving suggestion: Raspberry jam. All the recipes I saw on line said blackberry; they were wrong.

Directions

  1. On a work surface, lay out 2 slices of bread and spread with mayonnaise or butter. Top each slice with the 1 slice of Gouda or Gruyere and 1 slice of ham, depending how thick it is. Put the third slice of bread on top of one stack, and flip the remaining stack on top, cheese-side down, to make a triple-decker sandwich.
  2. Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Dip it in the egg batter, to coat evenly. Gently place it in the skillet, and fry, turning once, until golden brown and hot, about 5 minutes total.
  • Cut the Monte Cristo in 1/4’s, transfer it to a plate.

*  From the Recipe Box:

As much as I love bread, a triple decker sandwich is jus too much for me. I would never order a club sandwich either.

and remember: Keep on being you. Keep on doing those beautiful impactful honest things you do out here in this crazy world. We need more people like you. Big Kiss, Lynn

Faux Sqirl Toast

I’m not ripping Sqirl off; I’m giving them total credit for this amazing thing to eat.  I remember the first time I took my folks to Starbucks.  I truly thought my dad was going to split a gut.  I can still hear him, ” $3.00 for a cup of coffee.  You’ve got to be kidding me.”  Sqirl is the same principle for a lot of people.  One slice of toast for approximately $9.00.  As if!

The owner of Sqirl, Jessica Koslow, rocks my world.  Not only did she come up with this amazing idea, but she was able to market it to people willing to pay the price.  I’ve seen her a few times in interviews and I can’t believe how clever some people are.

So, let’s talk recipe.

The one I saw profiled tonight was called Unicorn Toast.

Cut a slice of brioche at least one inch thick.  I’m using our very own homemade oatmeal bread.  Toast it on both sides.

Slather it thickly with creamy ricotta cheese.  I’m using creamed cream cheese thinned with a little cream instead because I prefer cream cheese to ricotta.

Finally, spread it with stripes of jam.  They used 4 different jams, thus the Unicorn.  I don’t keep that many jars of jam in the refrigerator, so I settled for 3.  I do wish I’d done a better of striping.  I used raspberry, golden plum and lemon curd, all Bonne Maman.  I must say, both G and I thought the lemon curd was magical on the cream cheese.

It looked ever so amazing.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Jessica, I’m going to look up some of your other concoctions.  You are my type of creative genius.  Look her up on-line.  The brioche is much more La-di-da than my oatmeal bread, but you know how I feel about using what you’ve got.

and remember:  Better an “oops” than a ‘what if”.  Big kiss, Lynn

Cornbread Muffins with Corn

I hate to admit it, but I’ve grown disenchanted with my cornbread recipe.  I’ve been making the same recipe for years and years.  I got it off the side of an Albers Cornmeal box and I’ve never strayed.  However, and this is a big however, you cannot pick it up with your fingers.  I don’t always want to eat cornbread with a fork, so it’s time to branch out.

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups cornmeal
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • 2¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups corn kernels from about 2 cobs), divided
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • Flaky sea salt

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 400°. Generously coat a standard muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  • Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in 1½ cups corn.
  • Lightly whisk eggs and egg yolk in a medium bowl, then whisk in sour cream, milk, and butter.
  • Create a well in the center of dry ingredients. Pour egg mixture into well and stir with a wooden spoon until batter is just combined.
  • Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Top with remaining ½ cup corn, then sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Bake muffins, rotating pan halfway through, until tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 18–20 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan. Transfer muffins to a wire rack and eat while warm or let cool complete

* From the Recipe Box:

This was hard to do.  I’ve been resisting change for a very long time.  I loved the crunch of the corn.

OMG!  I loved this recipe.  The kicker is the black pepper.  It adds just the right amount of spice.  This is my new cornbread recipe.

and remember:    In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, the decisions we took too long to make.  Big kiss, Lynn

Mini Monkey Bread Muffins

We love having Butterscotch Rolls for Christmas and the 4th of July, but occasionally I’ve been known to forget to start the rise the night before.  My bad.  So, I was ever so glad to see these mini muffins.  My excellent sous chef has been staying here for a few days, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to experiment.

These individual monkey bread servings are perfect hot out of the oven, or 24 hours later. Caramelized bite size pieces of breakfast heaven. Enjoy!  We’re heading to the coast for a few days, Covid virus permitting, and I think this would be a fun treat to take along.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 8 count cans of buttermilk biscuits
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 box butterscotch pudding, not instant

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. pre-heat your oven to 350 F
  2. cut each biscuit into six pieces
  3. Put 2 Cups sugar and 2 Tablespoons cinnamon in a bag and mix, add the biscuit quarters and shake them until all the quarters are fully coated
  4. Place 6 or so biscuit pieces in each muffin cup
  5. Sprinkle with some butterscotch pudding
  6. Melt 2 sticks butter,  and 1/2 Cup brown sugar over low-medium heat, until fully melted and the sugar has dissolved resulting in a gorgeous golden brown, dark caramel color (stir frequently)
  7. Pour the butter mixture over the muffin cups until each is about 3/4 filled
  8. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 25 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and immediately turn over onto a platter so that all the ooey gooey caramelized butter sugary goodness tips out and covers the monkey bread bites in their caramelized goodness.
  10. If you have some cute little ramekins or serving dishes, place a monkey bread cup into each one and use a spoon to drizzle more caramelized sauce over each cup.
  11. I found several recipes like this on line so I’m not really able to give credit to anyone in particular.

 * From the Recipe Box:

I didn’t tip these out of the muffin pan immediately; I wanted the caramel sauce to firm up a bit so it would stick to the muffins a little better.

We always vote after eating something new and this was voted a winner.

Is there anything better than a tradition?

and remember:    Do something today that your future self will thank you for.  Big kiss, Lynn

Cornbread Loaf

I almost feel like I’m cheating on an exam or something.  This is a new recipe for me.  Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and forget to try other options even when you aren’t totally happy with the recipe you’re using.  We eat a lot of things that go well with cornbread, so I make it fairly frequently, but lately I’ve not been happy with my old tried and true recipe.  I especially liked the idea of baking it in a loaf pan.  I really like how easy it was to serve.

We had chili last night.  I’m proud of my chili.  I know it would be laughed at in Texas, but it’s perfect for the Pacific NW especially when it’s all dreary and gray like yesterday.  A slab of cornbread next to a warm bowl of chili and we’re a happy family.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease and lightly flour a 5 by 9-inch baking loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and honey together until completely smooth and thick. Then, whisk in the egg until combined. Finally, whisk in the buttermilk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Avoid over-mixing.
  3. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 35 minutes or until golden brown on top and the center is cooked through. Use a toothpick to test.  Edges should be crispy at this point.  Allow to slightly cool before slicing and serving. Serve cornbread with butter, honey, jam, or whatever you like.
  4. Wrap leftovers up tightly and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.

 * From the Recipe Box:

We actually like our cornbread a little crispier than most, so keep an eye on the cooking time.

You know for a fact, I did not run to the store for buttermilk.  I have milk and I have vinegar, why would I need a store run.

and remember:  Pick your battles.  You don’t have to show up to every argument you’re invited to.  Big kiss, Lynn

Banana Pecan Muffins

I had a request for banana pecan muffins the other day, not the yucky gluten free ones I made gluten-free girl, but real muffins like you could buy at Costco.  They are no longer selling the banana ones here in Washington, so my peeps who love them are having to scramble.  These are dense with mashed bananas and lots of chopped pecans.  It’s rather odd to me that you can like pecans and not walnuts, but I guess I am odd.  Don’t say anything.

This is Tyler Florence’s recipe.  His food is usually pretty solid so I started with his.  Since I’m not a banana person, I brought in others to help with the taste test.  My initial thought was a bit more salt.  No one else agreed with me.  Hosers.  The recipe says 12 muffins, I got a solid 18.  I baked them for 20 minutes, but 23 might be better.

These weren’t bad.  G ate 2.  I’m going to try another recipe or 2.  Combining the brown sugar and bananas for your moisture was a new step for me and I may incorporate it in other recipes.  Clever.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 overripe bananas

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
  3. Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out.   Serve warm or at room temperature.

 * From the Recipe Box:

Bananas are not my favorite fruit, but these were pretty good.

Yes, we do love our butter.

I do wish recipes were more specific.  4 bananas:  big bananas, little bananas, I need details.

and remember:   A better world is possible, don’t settle.   Big kiss, Lynn

Strawberry Muffins

Why yes, it is strawberry season in the great Pacific NW.  We are lucky enough to grow the most beautiful strawberries.  When I was a kid you could be hired to pick them.  Your mom or dad would drop you off up at Safeway and the buses would pick you up and take you out near Monroe to pick berries.  The pay was horrible, but the camaraderie was excellent.

The biggest difference in the strawberries now versus then is the size.  I really don’t like the huge berries.  I know they look cool and they ship ever so well, but they’ve gotten woody.

This is a new recipe for me.  I find strawberries bland even though they can be quite acidic.  If I had to give you a quick fix for these muffins, up the salt to 1 teaspoon and don’t forget the lemon juice.  Yes, I was disappointed.

2/3 cup chopped strawberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Make the muffins: Toss the strawberries in a small bowl with 2 tablespoon granulated sugar; set aside. Whisk the flour, remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Add the eggs to the well and gently whisk. Stir in the milk, melted butter and lemon juice until just combined with small bits of flour remaining. Stir in the strawberry mixture.
  3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them most of the way.  I keep about a teaspoon or 2 of diced strawberries to put on top.  Bake until the muffins are lightly browned  and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let the muffins cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired.

* From the Recipe Box:

Next time I’m making cheddar and jalapeno muffins.  I need more oomph in my muffins.

and remember:  Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  Big kiss, Lynn

Crunchy French Toast

I tried a new recipe today.  I wish I was the kind of cook that could come up with my own recipes from scratch, but no, I’m not that girl.  What I can do is see something and then finagle it a bit until it’s my own.  I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but I’ve been watching a fair amount of television.  We don’t usually watch a lot of TV, but these are interesting times.  What I watch will probably surprise you:  Diners, Drive-ins and Dives; Alton Brown; The Great British Baking Show; all the David Chang shows on Netflix.  David and Alton are my new heroes since I lost Anthony Bourdain.

I seem to have lost my rule about not getting distracted.  Sorry about that.  To get back to the French toast.  Diners, etc., went to 3 different restaurants over the last few weeks where they made variations of French toast stuffed with peanut butter and jam.  That was a sign I was to try making it.  They crushed 3 different cereals:  frosted flakes, Captain Crunch and something I missed.

Since I’m still on lock down, I couldn’t run out and get just anything.  I think if I had any option, I would have gone with the frosted flakes, but corn flakes it was.  They also used a nice firm bread, but I was lacking that as well.  I used a fairly firm wheat bread.  I also would prefer crunchy peanut butter, but I’m the only fan in this house.

4 slices of bread

creamy peanut butter

your favorite jam

3 to 4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar

1 to 2 cups corn flakes or frosted flakes

Mix the eggs, sugar and milk.

Make a p,b, and j and sandwich it together.  Dip it in the milk mixture.  Cook it on a low medium.

 * From the Recipe Box:

I will make these again, but I will use frosted flakes or maybe Corn Pops.  I lusted for those when I was a kid.   I don’t know if I will fill them with peanut butter and jam.  I might use cream cheese and jam.  My mom used to love sharp Tillamook cheese with jam on toast.  That’s sounding really interesting.  Or how about an Elvis:  bananas and peanut butter.  The possibilities are endless.

They were heavy and very substantial.  Interesting concept though.

and remember what my Sci-Fi hero Neil Gaiman said:  Fairy takes are more than true:  not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us the dragons can be beaten.  Big kiss, Lynn

Raspberry Muffins

I do love a good muffin.  C the MP was up yesterday with a “Care” package that included raspberries, blueberries and rhubarb.  He knows how much I love my fruit.  After eating almost all of the raspberries plain, I thought it would be nice if I shared a few with G via a muffin.  I’m so good about sharing.

I remember this recipe from when I was a kid.  My mom’s mom and my dad’s mom lived together in this big old house in Portland.  I had many a grand adventure going to stay with them.  They would make wonderful delicacies for “us girls”.  I had cantaloupe filled with ice cream, ribbon candy, baked cheese and more.  Things that have forever stayed in my memory.

The bread basket was my favorite.  There would be Flat Bread, different muffins, Rye bread (still my favorite), lefse, krumkake.  The woman knew how to bake.  She had a tiny little kitchen and still managed to bake everyday and everybody stopped by to share in the bounty.

1 1/2 cups flour (2 cups)

1/2 sup sugar (1/4 cup)

2 teaspoons baking powder (3 teaspoons)

1/4 cup shortening

1 egg

1/2 cup milk (1 cup)

Mix together the dry ingredients with a blending fork or a pastry blender.  Then stir in the wet ingredients  just until the ingredients are blended.  At the last, blend in 1 cup raspberries.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.   Bake until golden brown.

This is Grandma’s sweet version.  In the parentheses are the changes she would make for “plain”.  A plain muffin would have Wheaties or whole wheat in it.  I always loved the pop of color the raspberries provided.  She rarely added a streusel topping.  Occasionally there would be a sprinkle of sugar, but she was a firm believer in the beauty of the raspberry.  I may have gotten my love of raspberries from her.

* From the Recipe Box:
Grandma also had this wooden handled pastry cutter that I was lucky enough to grab.  I don’t care how bent and disfigured it gets.  Closing it in the drawer simply adds to the cutting ability.
and remember:  If you boil a funny bone, does it become a laughing stock?  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Gluten-free Banana Muffins

       

What is the world coming to?  I, the queen of gluten, am now making gluten-free muffins for Gluten-free Girl.  We (meaning G and I) are not big banana eaters, so I was left with a major supply of very ripe bananas for some stupid reason.  Why did I buy so many?  Can’t honestly say.  But, I started looking for ways to use up said bananas when I came across Baked Banana Oatmeal Muffins.  And, since I’ve been on a bit of a muffin kick just to show up those stupid scones, I decided this was the recipe to try.

I’m a firm believer in trolling the internet.  I find the best stuff.  This one jumped out at me, but when I went back to get the proper credit, I could not find the recipe again.  I’m such a maroon.  So, to whomever put this recipe online, I thank you and acknowledge that you are the g-f muffin queen or king.

3 cups rolled oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup mashed bananas (2 – 3 very ripe bananas depending on their size)

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  In a separate bow, mix together mashed bananas, eggs and milk until well combined.  Pour milk mixture over oat mixture and stir will to combine.

Evenly divide the oat mixture between all 12 muffing cups and then top each one with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set and cooked through.  They will store nicely in the refrigerator for up to a week.

*  From the Recipe Box:

The original recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, but you all know by now how I feel about nutmeg.  I do use mace now and again.  It’s really growing on me.

As these were baking, the aroma was absolutely intoxicating.  I could hardly wait to take them from the oven.  They aren’t sweet by any stretch of the imagination, but both G and I enjoyed them.

and remember:  A tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of the sheep.  Big kiss, Lynn