Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ain't No Plain "Vanilla Bourbon Brioche" French Toast

"Vanilla Bourbon Brioche" French Toast
(Serves 10)

Simply put, there is just no better way to satisfy and impress your family or breakfast guests than upscale French Toast.  I've heard this referred to as "deliciousness" and "beyond decadent".  My "Vanilla Bourbon Brioche" French Toast is sure to please, without question, every single time you serve it.  It truly is a Real Meal for the Working Woman -- the whole meal can be prepped and cooked, start to finish in about 15 minutes.  A couple of caveats:  (1) there is a hint of alcohol in this delectable dish, and (2) it's not short on calories.  However, there are ways to make it in a healthier way -- i.e., Splenda instead of sugar,  Egg Beaters, and whole grain bread -- none of which I recommend.  Made from only the best ingredients, this French Toast puts pancakes to shame, melts in your mouth, and sends chills of gastronomical satisfaction throughout your body.  I've worked hard on developing this recipe over time, primarily guided by the smiles on my friends' and families' faces.  I hope you WOW yours with this culinary delight the next time the breakfast bell rings in your home.

2 loaves of unsliced Brioche bread (available at any good bakery)
18 eggs
3/4 cups milk
2 vanilla beans (sliced open lengthwise to expose moist insides)
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp bourbon (any brand)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp water
Margarine (butter not recommended because of propensity to burn)

- Swiftly beat 18 room temperature eggs in a large bowl with a whisk.
- Add milk and continue whisking.
- Add 2 vanilla beans, sliced open.
- Add 1/2 cup sugar.
- Add 1/4 cup cinnamon.
- Allow the egg mixture to rest for 5 minutes, occasionally whisking the vanilla beans throughout.
- Slice 2 loaves of Brioche bread 3/4 inch thick.
- After 5 minutes, remove the vanilla beans and add the vanilla extract, bourbon and water. 
- Continue whisking and then pour mixture into a glass casserole dish or glass pie pan.
- On a large griddle, melt 2 tbsp of margarine over medium heat.  Once melted, lightly wipe off the extra margarine with a spatula or paper towel.
 Place sliced bread (a few at a time) on one side into the casserole dish for 10 seconds.  Flip the bread with tongs or a spatula, squish the bread into the egg mixture once with a spatula for a second or two on the other side, and then immediately place on the warmed griddle. 
- Cook one side of the bread until light golden brown, which takes about 2 minutes (I add a sprinkle of sugar on the uncooked side at this point.
- Flip the bread with a spatula to cook the other side, which will cook much faster. 
- Once both sides are golden brown, place each Vanilla Bourbon Brioche French Toast slice on a serving plate, and keep them in a warming drawer (or warm oven) until all slices are done. 
- You will likely have to reapply margarine (and then wipe it off) between batches on your griddle.

Serving Suggestions
This dish is so sweet and delicious and can be eaten on its own.  I always offer my diners maple syrup and sometimes sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  For an added touch, serve with butter, fruit jam, fresh fruit, real whipped cream, or a smudge of cream cheese on the side.  And, don't forget some extra crispy bacon!

This dish can also be made with Challah bread, which has a similar consistency and texture, but it's just not AS good.

Any leftovers can be saved in a Ziploc bag and reheated the next morning, and they are just as good the second time around.  My husband even warms a slice up for dessert at night and tops it with his ice cream of choice.  Enjoy!

Real Meals For The Working Woman

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Fresh Grilled Tilapia "Pouches"


Tilapia is one of the easiest and fool-proof types of seafood to cook, and cook perfectly, every time ... period.  This is because of its mildly higher healthy fat content.  It's subtle flavor and moist texture develop consistently under all different kinds of heat sources.  My favorite way to serve tilapia is ON THE GRILL in individual serving flavor pouches.  Wrapping fish and vegetables in foil with a light splash of lemon juice, water and seasonings makes for a quick, healthy and no-mess meal for your whole family in minutes, which is ideal for working women and busy moms out there.  The fish and vegetables steam cook inside of the aluminum "envelope"!  And, the flavor possibilities are endless.  Below is my recipe for Summer Fresh Grilled Tilapia Pouches, which is always on my "power rotation" in our household in the warmer months.  I have found that the best way to complement this dish is with either Orzo Salad (see my blog) or nice, fluffy saffron rice.  You just can't go wrong with this one folks.  I'd be honored if you try some for dinner tonight.

6 Tilapia fillets
Red, Orange or Yellow bell peppers, sliced.
Red seedless grapes, cut in half.
1 Hidden Valley Ranch dry ranch dressing packet
Fresh lemon juice
Table salt
Cooking spray

- Preheat your grill to the Medium setting.  If your grill does not have a temperature control, heat the grill over hot coals until the flame dies down.
- Lay out sheets of good aluminum foil -- large enough to form an "envelope" around each piece of fish -- and spray each with nonstick cooking spray.  Place each tilapia fillet on each piece of foil.
- Squirt fresh lemon juice over the fish or brush on some extra virgin olive oil. 
- Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt and one Hidden Valley Ranch dry ranch dressing packet lightly over each piece of fish.  (Other options are lemon pepper, Mrs. Dash or fish seasoning.)
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of water to each envelope.
- Add peppers and grapes to each piece of foil.  They will steam with the fish while it cooks on your grill.  (Other options are cherry tomatoes, green beans, sea beans, broccoli, onions or squash.)
- Seal the foil loosely into an "envelope" and pinch the ends.  The opening of the envelope should be on top.  - Set on the grill for 10 minutes.  The fish is finished cooking when flaky and white. 
- Viola!  You've made the perfect, quick and heart healthy dinner!

Serving Suggestion
This meal is best presented and served by placing an envelope of fish and vegetables on each person's plate.  The aroma and steam that escapes when they open them up is worth its weight in gold.  Don't forget some Orzo Salad or saffron rice on the side.  And for those of you who are not so calorie minded, add a small pat of butter to each envelope before sealin' and grillin'. 

Real Meals For The Working Woman

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beer Lacquered Barbecued Ribs

Beer Lacquered Barbecued Ribs

When one thinks of making their own barbecued ribs, they think of two important things.  First, the time investment.  And second, the sauce!  While my blog prides itself on giving the working woman an edge on cutting meal preparation time while focusing on healthy food options, be forewarned.  My beer lacquered barbecued ribs don't exactly fit those tenets.  But, what you spend on time and additional calories will pay for itself in family time spent near your grill at barbecue time!  There's just nothing quite like these juicy, melt-in-your-mouth, fall-off-the-bone ribs.  Be sure to serve them with fresh grilled corn, cole slaw, baked beans, crunchy fried onions or even moist cornbread to soak up the extra sauce.  I can assure that you'll be the hit of your next barbecue.  Enjoy!

4 lbs. pork back ribs
1 cup dry sherry
1 1/2 cups beer (take your pick!)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (take your pick!)
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves minced garlic

- Put ribs, sherry and enough water to cover the ribs in a large pot or Dutch oven. 
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Let simmer uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours or until ribs are tender.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan for the marinade.  Heat on medium and stir until boiling and the brown sugar dissolves.  Cool in fridge.
- "Lacquer" the ribs with enough marinade to cover them, and refrigerate covered in foil for at least 3 hours.  Reserve the remaining marinade.
- Wrap the ribs in foil after pouring the remaining marinade all over them.  Place them on the grill (over medium heat) for 5 minutes per side.  Check inside the foil to make sure the sauce is bubbling.  The foil keeps all of the juice and sauce with the ribs and not in your grill, which makes for tender ribs and an easy clean-up!