In the Kitchen with the Wannabe Gourmet

There are times when my mind wanders as to what would make a good breakfast; most of the time, I’m having a cup of steaming coffee and a Clif bar (Apricot or Blueberry Crisp are my two favourite at the moment). But there are days, like today, when I have to have something more – so I made waffle sticks and had frozen blueberries on the side.

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Weekend French Toast

Weekend French Toast

12 pieces sliced white bread
8 oz egg substitute
1/2 cup non-fat skim milk
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For best results, if possible, place bread out on a baking sheet several hours prior to making French Toast to let it dry out. Alternately, place in toaster on lightest setting (bread should not brown).

In a large, shallow container, incorporate all ingredients (except bread) with a whisk until brown sugar is completely dissolved.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and spritz with cooking spray. Take one piece of bread at a time and dip in egg mixture, turning over quickly so bread does not go soggy, and place in skillet. Do not dip more bread than you can fry at one time. Process in batches, cooking about 3 minutes on the first side (or until browned), and 1-2 minutes on the second. Respray pan between batches.

Discard left over egg mixture.

Serve with bacon (or turkey bacon, or soy substitute), fresh fruit (strawberries are exceptionally sweet right now, but blueberries, or even nectarines would be nice), and if desired, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

Serves: 4


Cracked Black Pepper Shrimp

Cracked Black Pepper Shrimp with Scallions and Garlic

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced (according to taste)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch scallions, cut into matchstick size
1 pound (31/40) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper (or more to taste)

Heat olive oil in wok or large heavy skillet. When the oil begins to wisp smoke, add the garlic and allow it to infuse the oil with flavour, but do not brown. This should take about 60-90 seconds. Garlic will soften slightly. Add scallions and sauté for another 1-2 minutes, until they begin to get tender. Add shrimp and toss until they are cooked (they will turn pink to let you know they’re done). Remove from heat, sprinkle salt and cracked black pepper over all. 4 servings, this will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.


“Just Right” Chocolate Brownies

“Just Right” Chocolate Brownie

8 one oz squares of unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks of unsalted butter
5 large eggs
2 cps granulated white sugar
1 cp light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
(Optional: add 1 tbsp orange extract)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
(Optional: 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9 x 13 METAL pan. (Glass cooks too quickly and you’ll end up with burnt edges.)

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat stirring frequently. Once completely melted, remove from heat and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla (and orange extract if using) at high speed for 10 minutes. Stop mixer, change to flat paddle attachment, and mix in chocolate mixture, flour and salt until just combined. Stir in the nuts, if using. Turn out into prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. (Be careful not to overbake!) There should be just a few crumbs sticking to your tester when inserted in the middle of the brownies. Cool, and cut into squares.

Makes at least 36 brownies, depending on size. Serve with fresh fruit or freshly whipped cream.


Perfect Homemade Pizzas

Perfect Homemade Pizzas

3/4 cup warm water (105F to 115F)
1 envelope active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
2 cups bread flour (or all purpose)
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp regular table salt
3 tbsp olive oil

Pour water into a small bowl and add yeast, stirring to combine. Let stand 5 minutes.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. In a food processor fitted with plastic dough blade (the metal blade will work in a pinch), combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse 3 times to combine ingredients, then add the yeast mixture and the oil (you may used infused oil, such as rosemary/garlic oil for added flavour). Process until dough forms a ball (it will be somewhat sticky; however, when processing it may require up to 3 tbsp additional water to form into a ball). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, adding up to 3 tbsp flour (in 1 tsp increments) if it is very sticky. Knead for 1 minute and place in prepared bowl, rolling around to coat the surface with the nonstick spray. Cover bowl with a dish cloth and place in a warm area, free of drafts until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough, divide in half, and continue with pizza making.

Heat oven to 425F.

Roll pizza dough half out into a circle shape (for a thicker crust, use the entire doughball for one pizza). Top with marinara sauce (or tomato sauce that has been jazzed up with spices and herbs), any veggies you enjoy (I used red, yellow, orange, and green peppers, as well as sautéed mushrooms on the photographed pizzaette), and a combination of Mozzarella, Cheddar and Romano cheeses. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crust (and cheeses) have browned nicely.

Makes 12 slices, enough for 6 servings.