French Toast PB Sandwich with Warm Jelly Syrup

(Becky, the Mama.)

I was faced with a true dilemma. We were packing up to vacate our vacation the next morning, our condo cupboards were almost bare and I still had to create something for this food blog.  Normally, I love these conditions.  They make me feel like a contestant on the show, “Chopped,” where chefs are forced to create a 5 star meal out of five unlikely ingredients in a basket.  Say, pickled pig’s feet, Lucky Charm’s cereal, passion fruit, Worcestershire Sauce, and edible fern fronds.

My “basket” was not as challenging as that list, but I was at the end of our book deadline for We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook. (Lord willing, it will be turned in by the time you read this!)  The manuscript was absorbing every available brain cell leaving me with precious  leftover neuron’s kitchen creativity. My available list of ingredients were: mustard (2 kinds), Ranch Dressing, Peanut Butter, Jelly, Bread and four iffy apples.

I put the list on my Facebook status, asking for help.  Within seconds my brilliant daughter came back with, “Do you have any eggs?”

“Yes, I have one egg,” I replied

“Butter or oil?”

“I have about a tablespoon of butter and plenty of olive oil.”

“Then how about a French Toast Peanut Butter Sandwich with Warmed Jelly Syrup?”

What can I say?  My daughter is brilliant. And thankfully, since I am not a contestant on “Chopped,” I am not required to incorporate Ranch dressing, mustard and iffy apples into this recipe.

I had just enough stuff to make two French Toast PBJ Sandwiches for our final morning of vacation,  and they turned out, well….. quite fabulous, actually. Greg loved it and said, “I’d definitely enjoy eating that again!”  It’s a fun way to fancy up a PBJ for kids, or when you are hankering for something a little sweet as a midnight snack with a glass of ice cold milk.  We often do “breakfast for supper” on Sunday nights, and this would be a perfect recipe for those occasions, perhaps served with some sliced oranges and bananas.

One half a sandwich was plenty filling for me, so if you make this for light eaters or children, one portion could easily feed two.

French Toast PB Sandwich with Warm Jelly Syrup

Serves 2 hungry people, 4 kids or light eaters

Ingredients:

4 slices bread

2-4 T. peanut butter

¼ c. Jelly, Jam or Preserves (I used blackberry)

1 egg

1 T. milk (dairy, almond or soy)

1 T. Butter

1 T. olive oil

Optional: 1 T. powdered sugar

Directions:

Put butter and oil in skillet and heat until bubbly and melted, stirring to mix them.  (The oil will help the butter keep from browning and burning.) Beat one egg with the milk in a shallow wide bowl.  Make two peanut butter sandwiches, using as much peanut butter as you like.  Dip the whole sandwich, both sides, into egg mixture and place in skillet.  Do the same with the second sandwich.  Turn over when one side is golden brown.

While the French Toast Sandwich is cooking, place jelly or jam in an oven-proof bowl or measuring cup.  Heat for 10 seconds at a time until it is hot, melted and the consistency of a thick syrup.

When sandwiches are cooked on both sides, move to a plate and carefully cut at a diagonal, propping one corner up on the other for a nice presentation.

Sift a little powdered sugar over all, if you like. (Alas, I had no powdered sugar in my “basket.”)  Slowly pour the hot melted jelly in a zig zag pattern over the French Toast Sandwiches and serve warm.

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Quick Buttery Coffee Cake (made with Pancake Mix)

(Becky, the Mama.)

This is our second week of condo living in regions of the U.S. where the sun is shining, the grass is green, the birds are singing and this week, in Oceanside, California, the ocean is waving.   


The sentence (and scene) above is brought to you by our much younger selves, when we each bought Time Share, never dreaming that someday we’d end up married to each another, with four vacation weeks to use up, per year, between us.  (And it is a use it or lose it proposition. So what can we do but go play?)

Neither of us would say that Time Shares are great financial investments; but man oh man, they have been AWESOME investments in terms of fun, extended get-aways  for our marriage. We’re both blessed with jobs we can do anywhere, as long as we have laptops and cell phones.

Some ways that we save money and also get business done while we’re away:

1) We drive instead of flying whenever possible, getting crazy good deals on hotels using Hotwire.com or Priceline.com.  I stock up on books on tape from the library (Greg listens with earphones while driving),  and we have wifi – via his cell phone– and a plug for my lap top (goes in the cigarette lighter)  in the car, creating a roving office-on-wheels. I get some of my best writing done on the road, my feet up on the dash, computer on lap, pillow behind my head. Greg also sees clients everywhere we go.

2) We always look for places to stay that have a full kitchen, bringing along a couple of boxes of kitchen essentials so that I can cook “on location” rather than eating out.

For whatever reason, cooking is an enormous treat for me, and especially when on vacation. I like the challenge of creating good meals from whatever supplies I bring, plus fresh local meats and produce.

It has been a long time since I’ve baked something sweet, at home or “abroad,” but today  after a nice long walk through an artsy Farmer’s Market with Greg, I began thinking that a warm coffee cake with a crunchy, buttery, cinnamon topping sure sounded good. 

Coffee cakes are one of my favorite treats to make because they typically aren’t overly sweet, they whip up and cook quickly, and it makes its own topping while baking.  If you have a good basic recipe, you can swing it a dozen ways!   Add blueberries or chopped apples, a variety of nuts, a little citrus zest, or even chocolate chips and you can dress up a basic cake anyway you want to go.  The added bonus: you get to eat cake for breakfast.  What’s not to love?

I didn’t bring baking powder or soda with me, however (a HA!) I brought some pancake mix.  Sure enough, I sleuthed up a recipe online for coffee cake made with pancake mix that got some lovely reviews.  I used it as a starting point, played with it a bit, and within 30 minutes… from stir to cut and serve…I was eating a fluffy, moist, perfectly balanced coffee cake.  So good, this will be my Go-To Coffee Cake Recipe from now on.  This recipe makes a small cake (perfect for a couple),  so I plan to double the recipe when I get home and make this for our big family next week, arriving for what we call “Thanksgiving Camp.”

Quick Buttery Coffee Cake (with Pancake Mix)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 c. pancake mix, any kind (I want to try Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancake mix! Vegans use an egg & dairy-free mix)

1/3 c. sugar

1 egg  (vegans can use fave egg substitute)

1/3 c. almond milk (or any kind of milk you like)

¼ c. butter, melted  (I used ½ olive oil, ½ butter, Or use your favorite vegan butter.)

Topping:

2 T. softened butter (or vegan butter)

¼ c. brown sugar

2 T. pancake mix (or flour)

2 T. oatmeal (or mixture of oatmeal, hemp seeds, chia seeds)

1/3 c. chopped pecans (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts)
Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl whisk pancake mix and sugar together.  Add egg, milk, butter and stir until smooth.

Butter a small pan, such as a round cake pan.  (I found a small broiler pan in the condo that worked well. It’s smaller than it looks in the pictures, only about 8 by 10 inches. )

Mix topping in another small bowl and crumble on top of batter.  

Bake for 20 minutes.  It will look a bit like the surface of a crater, but with each “dent” there’s the yumminess of melted butter and cinnamon going through the cake. Sooo delicious.  Serve warm and crumbly!!  (Or if I serve it later, I’ll zap a piece for just a few seconds in microwave.)

 This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The title: Quick Buttery Coffee Cake
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Pistachio and Caramelized Onion Pizza

I have been working out fairly consistently since last August, thanks to the encouragement of my good friend Ingrid.  I get up by 7:00 am (a great feat for this non-morning person) and meet Ingrid at a local gym at 8:00 where we exercise while solving the world’s problems and…often talk about great food. (Perhaps this is why the pounds aren’t just dropping off of us?)

Here’s our conversation from last week, both of us huffing and puffing on ellipticals, side by side.

“Becky!” says Ingrid. “I was visiting my friend in California who is a vegan, like your daughter.  And I came up with the best recipe for a pizza.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“Well, you start with a pizza crust and then sprinkle it with almond cheese.”

“Does almond cheese tastes good? Because I think soy cheese tastes like shredded rubber bands, and I’ve been looking for a good vegan cheese to use when I cook for Rachel.”

“It  does! And it melts. Then you cook some garlic and onions in a pan with a little olive oil until they just start to brown and caramelize.  Put these on top of the almond cheese,  top with a few unsalted pistachios and — hey, Becky, why did you stop walking on your machine?”

I looked down and sure enough, I was so caught up in Ingrid’s description, that I’d completely frozen, thinking of nothing but how those flavors might taste together, my head in a pistachio-caramelized onion pizza cloud.

“Sorry,” I said, resuming my exercise.  “What can I say?  I brake for  food. Even descriptions of it.”

After our gym session, I  didn’t even change out of my gym clothes before heading to Whole Foods and gathering the ingredients. I chose garlic Naan bread instead of pizza dough because I was in a hurry to try this feast.

Let me just say,  this new pizza recipe may  cost me a few extra miles of exercise.

And it will be totally worth it.  You have to try this!

Ingrid’s Pistachio and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Ingredients:

Serves Two


2 pieces Naan Bread (I love Whole Food’s Garlic Naan Bread. But it is not vegan, so if you want to be pure vegan here, you may want to use Whole Food’s pizza dough.)
1-2  T. olive oil, divided
1. c grated almond cheese (or Mozzerella cheese, but if you are a vegan and haven’t tried almond cheese, it is the best tasting vegan cheese I’ve tried thus far)


1 red onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. roasted, unsalted pistachio nuts

Directions:

Using a grill pan and a little olive oil, grill the Naan bread on both sides until it is crispy and has light golden grill marks. Set aside on a heavy duty cookie sheet or clay pizza pan.

In a skillet, saute the onions and garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil until onions have started to caramelize but still have a little bite/crunch to them.

Put 1/3 cup grated cheese on each piece of Naan. Top each with half of the onion-garlic mixture.  Sprinkle each pizza with 2 T. roasted, unsalted pistachios.

Bake at 375 until cheese melts.  (The almond cheese takes a longer to melt than does “real cheese,”  and I actually ended up nuking the pizza in the microwave a few seconds to get it to “melty” consistency.  It is much better than soy cheese, very good –but not as yummy as the Real Mozerella McCoy.)  Cut in wedges and serve alongside fresh fruits for a light supper or beautiful appetizer to go with your next wine party!

*Besides being handy behind a stove top, Ingrid is also a social media whiz, and serves as a social media consultant for my husband’s literary agency. (Click on her name to read her most recent article on blogging tips.)