Blueberries and Cream French Toast

First – no photo yet of the french toast dish!! We dove into this too quickly – but I promise a photo the next time I make this, and it was such a hit that I am sure it will happen again.

I wasn't fast enough to get a photo of the french toast, but I think you can tell how delicious the blueberry orange sauce is - Stella's spoon wasn't fast enough for her so she had to tip it up!!

I wasn’t fast enough to get a photo of the french toast, but I think you can tell how delicious the blueberry orange sauce is – Stella’s spoon wasn’t fast enough for her so she had to tip it up!!

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter, softened
zest of 1 orange
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 loaf french bread – cut into 1″ slices
1-2 cups blueberries

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, butter and orange rind. Add eggs, one at a time until well blended – slowly stir in milk.

Place bread slices in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish, overlapping the bread slightly. Let stand 15-20 minutes, or cover and put in the fridge overnight.

Before baking, uncover and sprinkle with blueberries. Bake at 325 for 45-60 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar, and serve with warm blueberry orange sauce.

BLUEBERRY ORANGE SAUCE

1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water

In medium sauce pan, stir the sugar, cornstarch and water – heat until gently boiling and add:
1 cup blueberries
1 orange – minced fine, and the zest
Cook until the juices are clear and the sauce has thickened.

Spinach and Artichoke Bread Pudding (Stuffing Muffins)

This is a great change from the usual stuffing – goes really well with any roast – beef, turkey, chicken or lamb. We’ve had it with all! Now a family favourite. Even better is that leftovers make a fantastic snack or breakfast.

Spinach Artichoke Bread Pudding

Trust me - this will be your new favourite savory stuffing or bread pudding! Trust me – this will be your new favourite savory stuffing or bread pudding!

Preheat oven to 350

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 tbsp roughly chopped garlic

Saute until onions, celery and garlic are soft and translucent. Set aside to cool.

In large bowl combine:
12-14 cups cubed stale bread (I like calabrese or french)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp Italian seasonings
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 tin artichoke hearts, roughly chopped (tough outer leaves removed)
1/4 cup minced parsley

Toss gently to combine

Mix together:
4 large eggs
3 cups cream
2 cups milk

Add the onion mixture and the egg/milk/cream mixture to the large bowl with bread and vegetables.

If the bread does not absorb all the liquid right away – set aside until it does.

Put all the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle the top with more freshly grated parmesan and a dusting of salt and pepper. Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour.

Our family really likes the crunchy bits of stuffing or bread pudding, so I baked this earlier in the day in muffin tins so there were lots of edges, then turned it into a clay baker and warmed it all up for dinner.

If you really want to take this over the top …. crumble a bit of brie cheese into the dry mixture before adding the onion and milk mixtures.

Orange Cranberry Muffins

These muffins are delicious, light, fresh and so so simple!

Orange Cranberry Muffins

Combine:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Set aside – and in either a blender (or bullet) mix together;
1 orange, cut into segments (remove the zest first and set aside)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Blend well, and then stir gently into dry ingredients with:

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
zest of 1 orange

Stir only until combined – then put into muffin tins.

Makes about 14-16 depending on size.

Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Check them at 12 …

You could easily substitute the cranberries for dried blueberries or raisins – go ahead and experiment.

Sesame Miso Vinaigrette

I decided to do a play on Roger Mooking’s cooking show – with an obedient ingredient ….. Miso! Our halibut is marinating in a miso based dressing, and this seemed the perfect accompaniment.

Miso Sesame Vinaigrette

1/2 tsp chile flakes (to your taste of course – depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients in a jar, and shake well. Delicious served over steamed vegetables or a bowl of crispy greens.

Nuts and Bolts/Bits and Bites

nuts and bolts 4

Whatever you use here is up to your families interests!  This year we made it peanut free for Liv, who is allergic, but pecans, cashews and coconut flakes added lots of interest.

This is our families favourite savoury Christmas treat … we only make it at this time of year for some reason, and we all love it. The butter makes it a treat you shouldn’t have often, but enjoy when you do!

Remember – use your own families favourite ingredients, whether it is the cereal aspect or the nuts – make it your own to enjoy.

1 cup butter
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion salt
1 tbsp celery salt

Melt and stir until seasoning is well mixed. Dip a Bugle, or or shreddie or something in it at this point and make sure you can taste the seasoning – if it needs more flavour, add a bit of each. Remember – critical – taste!! Everybody has different seasoning, and each brand is different in it’s level of flavour. (and freshness)

Nuts and bolts 1

If you taste it enough you might end up with less to cook………

4 cups Cheerios
4 cups Life cereal (or Shreddies)
1 package pretzels
1 package Bugles (4-6 cups depending on your preference)
1 bag  cheese crackers (goldfish) (3 cups)
2 cups peanuts
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts

Stir the melted butter/spice mix over the dry ingredients – mix well and bake in the largest roaster you have – it makes a lot.

nuts and bolts 2

Bake at 250 for 1 & 1/2 hours, stirring frequently.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container. (at least, try to store it – doesn’t last long….)