Skinny toast with toppings

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Pepperidge Farm has manufactured a loaf of bread for many years which is called “very thin”.  This bread can be used for so many recipes, including tea sandwiches and breakfast offerings.  In recent weeks, I have been seeing ideas for breakfast toast and thought to try the Pepperidge Farm slices for a weekend breakfast idea.  Many toppings could be arranged for your guests and allow them to toast and top as desired.  By using the skinny bread, the ideas don’t seem so filling.

Or, the skinny toast could be prepared ahead and topped just before serving as a buffet idea.  I tried three ideas this past weekend and they were delicious as expected.  Toast and toppings make a nice presentation as well.

I used light cream cheese spread on the toast, with sliced strawberries and a sprinkle of sliced almonds–  A spread of peanut butter with sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey, topped with chopped mixed nuts–and a slice of toast spread with margarine with a pan cooked egg and one strip of crumbled bacon.

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All three were very tasty and provided a nice meal presentation as well.  More ideas would be to use coconut, preserves, different toast flavors, cinnamon or almond butter, or a variety of nuts.  The internet is filled with ideas and Pinterest has even more.  Be inspired and follow the trend.

Baking Spring vegetables

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Roasting vegetables can move beyond winter side dish favorites.  By choosing spring vegetables, this dish can transform a meal presentation with color and style.  The secret is finding a spring mix of colorful carrots.  At Trader Joe’s, I was able to find a bag of “organic carrots of many colors”. Along with the other vegetables, the carrots alone transformed the color of the dish.

 

Choose a variety of vegetables which are cut about the same size for even roasting.  I roasted for 30-35 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  If you have a hotter oven, these vegetables will also roast well but decrease the time based on how many of each vegetable is chosen.

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Here is how I baked my mix of vegetables:  Cut in half 6 small red potatoes, use 4 colorful carrots sliced on an angle, one cleaned and sliced leek, one sliced shallot, and 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh peas.  Mix all of the vegetables except the peas in a large roasting pan.  In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, one cup of vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and ground pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Pour over the vegetables in the pan and sprinkle with dried basil.  Bake and stir half way during the cooking process.  Add the peas to the mixture at that time.  Serve with meat, chicken or fish.

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Spring Cara Cara and tangerine salad

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A spring citrus salad can be so refreshing.  The pastel color of the fruit helps to make the salad presentation bright, light and fresh.  I chose to use Cara Cara navel oranges for my Easter salad this year.  I found them at Whole Foods this past weekend, and their sweet taste is delightful. This variety has a very low acidic taste.  I also noted that this fruit was grown in California, which encouraged me to make the purchase. Their rose-pink color was so attractive on the plate in contrast with the tangerines.  Another option would be to use blood oranges, which I could not find in my market.

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I used a salad dressing recipe from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2015 edition which was super easy and perfect for this salad.

Combine these ingredients to make the dressing:  1/4 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt.  Shake or stir very well in a salad dressing jar.

Then, plate the salad.  I used baby arugula, with slices of Cara Cara and tangerine, topped with chopped pistachios.  Add a drizzle of the dressing.  Delicious, Bright, and so very Spring!

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Baked lemon and herb shrimp

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Cooking in parchment paper allows for a spectacular presentation and a delicious flavor outcome.  Inspired by Martha’s shrimp packets, I worked to make this dinner entrée super delicious with the addition of white wine, red onion, and Penzey spices bonne herbs blend.

When cooking with parchment, it is important to make certain the packets are closed, so that the tasty juices are not leaking onto the baking pan. This is a weeknight recipe as it comes together very quickly and bakes in 25 minutes.

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To make the shrimp:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Whisk 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the zest and the juice of one lemon, 2 tablespoons dried basil and 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes in a small bowl. Add in salt to taste.  Next add 1 pound of cleaned and de-veined shrimp, 1/2 pint of sliced grape tomatoes, and one small sliced red onion.  Toss to mix well.  Add 1/4 cup white wine to the mixture. Add ground black pepper to taste.

Prepare two pieces of parchment paper double thick for each packet.  Divide the mixture onto the parchment which has been placed on a baking pan with sides.  Top each mixture with 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine.  Close the packet and seal with several folds.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven when shrimp is cooked pink and the mixture is steaming hot.  Serve with rice or a toasted baguette.

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Gina Neely chicken

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Recently I found this recipe for a delicious and easy chicken dish which can be made in a slow cooker.  I have the Cuisinart all in one pot, where I am able to brown the chicken first and then switch to the slow cooking option.  This allows me to prepare this dish in one pot.  The chicken could also be prepared on the stove top. The chicken is delicious and comforting.  It is a great dinner option to be shared with family or friends.  Make this chicken when you need a home-cooked meal and want to feel cozy and warm.

I made this dish with four chicken thighs.  More could be used in this dish to accommodate your number of guests. To make the chicken:   Brown the chicken in the pot on both sides with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  When browned, remove the chicken to a side plate while the rest of the dish is being prepared.

Next, add one chopped medium white onion to the pot to soften and brown slightly. Then, add one cup of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of white wine. Bring up to a boil, and add one 14.5 ounce can of chopped tomatoes to the pot. Season with 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon lemon pepper, and salt to taste.  Mix and return the chicken to the pot.

Cook for 40-45 minutes with the cover on the pot.  Serve with rice or potatoes.  Sprinkle parsley on the top for the presentation. I served with broccoli and smashed potatoes.

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Herb rolls with herbal butter

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Sometimes there is not enough time to make homemade dinner rolls.  Here is a quick way to make them in just an afternoon.  There are many variations to making the rolls with frozen bread dough.  But, here is one that works every time.

I thaw the frozen bread dough in a glass bowl coated with Pam olive oil, covered, inside the oven with the light on. The bread dough thaws and rises in about 4 hours.  When ready, I roll the dough flat and spread with 1/4 cup of melted margarine.  Then, I sprinkle the dough with parsley flakes, chives, dill, oregano and basil.

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Roll the dough lengthwise and cut into 9 rolls.  Place into a Pam coated muffin tin and top with sesame seeds.

 

 

Bake 12-14 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.  Serve with herbal butter.

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To make the herbal butter:  Use the same herbs and mix into a softened 1/2 cup of margarine.  Place into a serving cup.

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Baked eggs for breakfast

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Easter breakfast is typically a great meal to enjoy with family.  If you have many people to serve, and want to try something a bit different from the typical breakfast casserole–why not try baked eggs?

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This is such an easy recipe and can even be adapted to personal preferences.  Each person could have their own taste profile.  The eggs bake in cocottes, which is a French term for single individual baking dish, most often with two handles.  Each of these cast iron dishes have lids.  Many different companies make them.  It would also be easy to substitute ramekins with foil over the tops.  I place my dishes on a smaller sheet pan to easily transfer them in and out of the oven.  If you have many people to serve, all the eggs are done at one time and no one has to wait.  The cocottes can even be assembled in advance and just put into the oven when it is time to prepare the breakfast.

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To make the baked eggs: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Decide if chopped bacon, ham or sausage would like to be used.  Crumble those cooked items into the bottom of the dish.  Add 1 tablespoon cream. Next break two eggs into each dish.  Season with salt, pepper, parsley flakes to taste.  Add if desired, 1-2 tablespoons of a cheese.  I chose cheddar, but Swiss or white cheddar could also be used.  Cover.

Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the cover and bake at least 5 more minutes until eggs are perfectly done.  Sprinkle with parsley flakes, green onion, or chives for garnish.

Serve with shredded hash browns, fruit, toast, or muffins.

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