In The Kitchen

Baked French Toast

Baked French Toast is so good and very simple to prepare also.  I found this recipe by mistake in one of my cookbooks and I had never imagined french toast being baked in the oven.  Just quickly prep it the night before and it’s ready to pop into the oven in the morning. Then all you have to worry about is eating its deliciousness!

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Baked French Toast

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 loaf Texas white bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Grease a 9×13 pan. Combine melted butter and 1 cup brown sugar in a small bowl and then spread into the bottom of your prepared 9×13 pan.
  2. Beat together eggs, milk, and vanilla. Set aside. Mix together 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon in another bowl and set aside.
  3. Put one layer of bread on top of butter and brown sugar mixture. Make sure the whole bottom of the pan is covered. Then pour half of your egg mixture on top of bread layer and sprinkle with half of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Add another layer of bread. Pour the rest of the egg mixture on top and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator overnight.
  4. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake french toast covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 10-15 more minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving if desired.

This is such a great breakfast and we love the cinnamon and brown sugar added to it.  And if you must have some syrup with this, try out my  Simple Maple Syrup recipe.

The Cuestión Ol’ Fashioned

We have been on an extended vacation so I haven’t been able to post any recipes.  But I’m back now and it’s College Game Day so it’s time for a tailgating drink, right?  Well, I have a delicious drink that I must share and the Founder and CEO of Cuestión Spirits Company and partner in the making of Cuestión Tequila with Jose de Jesus Figueroa Dominguez is a local resident of my hometown, Jason Fandrich

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The Cuestión Ol' Fashioned

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 ounces Cuestión Anejo
  • 1/2 ounce Agave Nectar (more or less to your taste)
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters (Fee Brothers)
  • 1 dash Old Fashion Bitters (Angostura)

Stir with ice to combine and dilute.  Strain over fresh ice, garnish with expressed orange and lemon peel.  Buen Provecho!

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Slow Cooker Crack Chicken

This Slow Cooker Crack Chicken is Creamy Cheesy Ranch and Bacon Shredded Chicken. It’s perfect on it’s own, on a sandwich, in a tortilla or as a dip!

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I know the name is a bit awkward but I promise, I didn’t come up with it.  My Mom found this recipe in one of her 100 cookbooks and if you’re a chicken lover, you’ll love this and it’s super easy.

I have looked up this recipe on the internet and the internet has deemed the combo of Cheese, Ranch seasoning and bacon as “crack”… Crack Bread,Crack Dip… It’s a thing.

Anyhow, the ingredients will transform into a creamy, tasty, shredded chicken that you can use in TONS of ways: Sandwiches, Nachos, Enchiladas (Hello..Crack Enchiladas…how FUN!)… so scoop it onto a bowl of crunchy lettuce and you have yourself Crack Salad. Whhhaattt?

Also, you can add 2 flavored blocks of cream cheese in place of 2 blocks of regular cream cheese.  I have found bacon flavored cream cheese that I will try next.  I haven’t done this just yet but I believe it will be a fun way to experiment with this recipe.  I will start out using one flavored cream cheese and one plain cream cheese so I can be safe and not over do the taste.

When I make sandwiches, I top it with a bit more cheddar and place it under the broiler for a beat. Because more cheese is more cheese and we like it like that.

Slow Cooker Crack Chicken

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese
  • 2 (1 oz) packets dry Ranch seasoning
  • 8 oz bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled

Directions:

  1. In a slow cooker combine  chicken, cream cheese, and Ranch seasoning.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours, until chicken shreds easily.
  3. Once chicken shreds stir with a large fork or spoon, so the chicken shreds and all the ingredients combine.
  4. Add in crumbled bacon and stir to incorporate. Add the bacon last so it stays crispy.
    Serve warm.

Justin Timberlake’s Lemonade Cocktail

Dec 7, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies minority owner and entertainer Justin Timberlake holds the camera during a timeout in the first half of the game against the Miami Heat at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies minority owner and entertainer Justin Timberlake holds the camera during a timeout in the first half of the game against the Miami Heat at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We have got to show a bit of West Tennessee and Memphis love here. It falls right into Butch Jones’s Manifest Destiny theme of owning the entire state of Tennessee in recruiting, and it showed this past year with the flip of five-star offensive tackle Drew Richmond right out of Memphis.

So what better way to do this than with the drink of a Shelby County native and one of Tennessee’s biggest celebrities? Justin Timberlake has been advertising that 901 Tequila that he came out with, or I guess what you would now call Sauza 901.

Well, his own lemonade cocktail based on that drink has gotten critical acclaim. Apparently, it’s perfect on a golf course. You can read about all of that here.

Justin Timberlake’s Lemonade Cocktail

1 Part Tequila

2 Parts Iced Tea

2 Parts Lemonade

1/4 Part Agave Syrup

Mint Leaves and Lemon Wedges at the top

If it’s good for golfing, and it’s good for a Tennessee guy, then it must be good outside for a Tennessee Vols football game. So give this one a shot.

Pizza Dip

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This past Saturday was the first time that I tried making this game day snack and it was so good that it ended up being our supper.  I bought a loaf of Texas Toast, buttered it and added garlic seasoning.  I put the Texas Toast in the oven until it was brown and that is what we used for dipping.  This is a great anytime snack and in our case, a great supper.  I was going to name this ‘Pepperoni Pizza Dip’, but there are so many different ways to make this.  Next time we may try ground beef or even sausage with black olives, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.

Pizza Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • pizza sauce
Directions:    

Add milk and cream cheese to sauce pan over medium heat and stir until cream cheese is melted.  Then, add mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.

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Spread the cheese mixture on the bottom of a shallow round glass dish.  Spread the pizza sauce evenly on top of the cream cheese, then sprinkle the cheese on top.

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Distribute the pepperoni slices on top of the mozzarella cheese.

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Preheat oven to 450°.

Cook the dip for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges are bubbling.  Serve with tortilla chips, garlic bread or Texas Toast.

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Old Smoky Blackberry Tea

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We are heading back to the moonshine. This time, we get to combine what is unique about the state of Tennessee by heading back to the prohibition era once again and what is unique about the south in general.

Moonshine and tea. Combining the rough and tough part of the south with the sophistication of the south. Doesn’t get much better than that, right?

So, onto the Ole Smoky Blackberry Tea. Obviously, this is an Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine based drink, coming right out of the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg.

Information on it can be found here, and this is the recipe:

Old Smoky Blackberry Tea

1 part Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine

1 part sweetened or unsweetened tea

Lemon wheel and/or fresh mint for decoration on top of the cup

Now, you can do sweetened or unsweetened, but obviously, the southern part has to make it sweet tea. This is as Tennessee as it gets.

It has the Smoky Mountains reference in here, which is also a reference to our mascot, Smoky.    You could sell it in jars with a picture of Smoky on it if you wanted to.

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With the same amount of moonshine as tea, this will obviously be a strong drink, so be incredibly careful. One solo cup of this will have you gone. But a small glass could be the perfect amount for a Tennessee game.

So soak up the sun in East Tennessee, enjoy those Smoky Mountains, maybe go camping the night before a game, and listen to “Rocky Top” in the morning. That will get you in the mood for an Ole Smoky Blackberry Tea.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Don’t these look delicious?  Our little boy comes home from school and the first thing he ask for is food.  Today I had a chocolate craving so this is what I made, plus I bought myself a new cookie jar and I had to have cookies for it.

Just a little tidbit about myself…Several years ago, I worked for our local (no-kill) Animal Shelter and we have 4 dogs, which 3 are rescued.  One of those dogs was bought and he is a Basset Hound (Copper).  So,  when I saw this cookie jar and it was a Basset Hound, I had to purchase it.  It is so adorable and I bought it at Wal-Mart.  And who watches The Pioneer Woman on Food Network?  Yes, she has a whole line of cookware, bowls, plates and even Charlie Cookie Jars.

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CopperBack to recipe…

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 18
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, plus 1 yolk
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter and sugars until combined. Mix in the vanilla, egg and extra yolk. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Then stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by the heaping tablespoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are a pretty golden toasty brown.
  6. Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup

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Middle Tennessee is finally getting some rain today and our bean field in front of our home truly needs the rain.  But it also puts me in the mood for soup and I am sharing a delicious, comforting recipe so try it out and let me know how you like it.

Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup

Ingredients:
    • 1 lb lean ground beef
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 1/4 cups chopped yellow onion (1 small)1 cup chopped carrots (2 medium)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
    • 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
    • 1 1/2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
    • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh marjoram (or 1 tsp dried)
    • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried)
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 1/4 cups (5.6 oz) dry small elbow pasta
    • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn (optional)
    • Fresh chopped parsley and finely grated Parmesan cheese, per serving
Directions:
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and saute 3 minutes then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Pour mixture onto a plate.
  2.  Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in pot over medium-high heat, add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned. Drain fat from beef.
  3.  Return sauteed veggies to pot along with beef broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, Worcestershire, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add in pasta, cover and reduce heat to medium,. Boil stirring occasionally, until pasta has cooked through, about 15 – 20 minutes. If adding corn, stir in corn during last 3 minutes of cooking.
  4.  Remove bay leaves, serve warm garnished with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese if desired.

How to Get Over a Hangover

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I know what it feels like to force my eyes open in the morning, nurse a pounding headache and wonder, “Why, why, why did I say yes to that last glass?”  And being from Tennessee, we know all too well who Jack is.  So, I wanted to figure out if there are any real cures for hangovers…

Do any of the common remedies that go beyond the basic prescription of “drink lots of water and sit tight ’til it passes” actually work?  Here are a few of my favorite time-tested remedies. And some crazy ones.

Hair of the dog

Probably the most popular hangover cure, this involves drinking more alcohol the morning after — a Bloody Mary, a beer or any number of other classics of the form. The idea is that your hangover is most painful when the body moves from breaking down alcohol to working on a drink’s secondary components. So if you add a little more alcohol for your body to get back to work on, it can mitigate the greatest pain. Experts say: It’s effective in postponing the hangover, but it’s not a cure (unless you drink continuously for the rest of your life).

Popping a pain reliever

Before you go to sleep, the advice goes, drink lots of water, take a couple of Advil, Tylenol or aspirin, and hope for the best in the morning. Experts say: It might help dull your headache, but medicine mixed with alcohol, depending on how much you drank, can be even worse for your liver.

Work it out

Some people, including me, take their next-day aches and pains to the gym. Since exercise boosts endorphins, a good workout can make your mood a little better. Unfortunately, Men’s Health points out you can’t actually sweat alcohol out, so all your symptoms won’t be gone when Soul Cycle ends. Experts say: If you go this route, make sure you drink LOTS of water to keep from getting dehydrated all over again.

Greasy food

Go-to meals for people with hangovers fall in two camps, but those craving a hamburger, drippy eggs or a giant Chipotle burrito seem to outnumber those who need a plate of fresh greens to feed a hangover. (Here are some recipes, if you’re going for it.) Experts say: Doctors agree that the effects of feeding a hangover work best when you do it preventively. It’s important to eat enough food — be it a steak or a salad — before or while you’re drinking to help absorb the alcohol up front. The next day, it’s too late. (Although, a Korean study said asparagus is good for helping to break down alcohol’s components. Who knew?)

Get wet

F. Scott Fitzgerald once observed that the only people swimming at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the French Riviera were those, “going for a short hangover dip at noon.” But if you’re landlocked, how about a relaxing shower? Experts say: Swimming, soaking in the tub or taking a shower can’t hurt, especially if being in the water generally helps you overcome pain. If the water is warm, though, it may make you sweat. Remember to HYDRATE.

Pass the salt

Ask for international hangover cures, and from nearly every person in every country, random ideas will spring forth. The editors at Elle tried out a few, including Pedialyte (yes, the salty drink for sick kids) to pickled plums, favored in Japan. Both were deemed too untasty in the midst of a hangover to complete the test of effectiveness. And pickle juice is recommended for Vodka-infused hangovers in Russia. Experts say: Again, working to prevent dehydration before, during and after you drink is helpful. This can simply be water, though. Briny liquids and foods may help with dehydration, too, but feel free to substitute Gatorade for the same effect.

One thing all doctors and wise people everywhere recommend as a hangover panacea: Not drinking. But, sometimes that’s not much fun, especially when campfires and good friends are involved.

What is your go-to hangover remedy? I’d love to know.

 

Crock Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken

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This is a simple recipe since it only takes 4 ingredients but you can also add bell peppers, onions, etc.

Crock Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds chicken breast, boneless, skinless – cut into 1 inch bite size pieces
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/2  cup crushed pineapple (liquid drained)
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
Directions:
  1. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place chicken in a single layer in bottom of crock pot. Mix the remaining ingredients (apricot preserves, chili sauce and pineapple), pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Each crock-pot cooks differently, so cooking times may vary.
  4. Serve over rice and with your favorite vegetable, like steamed broccoli. Enjoy!

Note:  For more kick, you can add a little crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce.