TSDiner: Home Cooking – French Toast, Lettuce Wraps and Apple Pie

At the risk of making this a ‘one and done,’ TSDiner is going to take a stab at a new feature offering our weekend culinary adventures. We can’t promise delivering every week, but hopefully we’ll have enough material to work with to keep up a semi-regular stream of our Saturday-Sunday experiences in the kitchen.

IMG_1436Let’s start off with a classic weekend breakfast tradition, French toast.


Our household recipe is pretty basic and frankly, it doesn’t involve a lot of measurements (read: there are no measurements, we wing it based on the # of mouths to be fed).

Classic French Toast for 3

  • One loaf challah bread (actual French bread works well too)
  • Six eggs
  • Half a cup of milk, give or take. Can also add some cream
  • One cap or two of vanilla extract
  • Dab of soft/melted butter
  • Teaspoon of cinnamon-sugar mix
  • Dash or two of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ripe banana/fresh berries

We like to use a non-stick pan; put a little butter on a paper towel and apply a light film to the surface. Mix up all ingredients, except the bread, in a bowl; dip bread slices into the mixture and fry those babies up.

Meanwhile, grab a couple of very ripe bananas (jeez, doesn’t take long does it?) and sauté with butter and a little cinnamon. Cover the cooked toast with the bananas and some fresh berries – strawberries and blueberries are a great tart contrast to all the sweet going on. Maple syrup and powdered sugar optional.

Next up: dinner.

Before we head too deep into fall, it feels like we should still be eating lighter fare. Like tacos, lettuce wraps are an incredibly flexible platform for fresh seasonal ingredients and pretty much any protein. They are also a sneaky way to get kids to eat some vegetables!

Thanks to a Doc’s Meat Market gift card, this weekend we had some ground chicken and pork to work with. Typically, we would prefer to use grilled meat, but the ground product works well with the lettuce wrap and hey, in the words of John Belushi, in this case, “it don’t cost nothing.”

IMG_1438 IMG_1440Pork and Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • One pound ground chicken and/or pork
  • Head of iceburg lettuce
  • One red bell pepper
  • Diced carrots
  • A few green onions
  • Soy, hoisin and teriyaki sauces
  • Peanuts (optional)
  • Coconut rice
  • Chicken stock
  • Cream of coconut or coconut milk (optional)

Cook the meat with seasoning (S&P is a good start), you can add half of an onion if you like… then add a mix of Asian sauces/spices. We really typically just kind of wing it – whatever we have around can work. Just need that mix of salt and heat. Chop up the peppers, carrots and green onions. Throw a cup of white rice in with some chicken stock and a tablespoon of cream of coconut (but be careful – too much can make the rice really oily and undercooked) or use some coconut milk. Layer rice, meat and veggies onto leaves of lettuce. Garnish with peanuts if that floats your boat.

Eat!

Dessert: Apple Pie

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OK, you are probably thinking … dessert?! After that breakfast? Well, when we went to the local market we couldn’t pass up these giant local apples – it isn’t exactly fall, but temperatures are cooling off just enough to justify pie. We usually prefer a tarter, Granny Smith-style for our pies, so we picked up a couple more and started stewing them with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, the juice from some Clementine oranges we had on hand and a dash of nutmeg. Pretty much all the same stuff that went into the French toast.

No way are we making a fresh crust – just too beat at this point. Pillsbury uncooked pie crusts do just fine. The first on the bottom of the pie dish went in the 350 degree oven for about 7-8 minutes, then we folded in the apple concoction, topped it with uncooked layer of dough and twenty-five minutes later and voila!

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