Monthly Archives: November 2011

In the Kitchen: Creamy Curried Chickpeas

Curried chickpeas. Nom nom nom.

Do you ever eat something for the first time and wonder why on earth you’d never eaten it prior to that moment? That was the experience I had when I first tried Indian food.

I’ve been a little obsessed ever since that first time about 6 months ago, and frequently scour the internet in search of recipes that mimic the dishes on the menus of our local Indian eateries. A few weeks ago I tried a chicken tikka masala recipe that came pretty close to the delicious takeout we’d eaten the month before. But all the mixing and marinating and stuff put it in the “high maintenance” recipe category for me. I then came across a curried chickpea recipe on Budget Bytes that looked easy enough, but of course I just had to doctor it up to suit our needs. I kinda melded the two recipes together and came up with a dinner that just about knocked our socks off. Even the kids and husband had seconds, so you know it must be good. And to boot, it was quick, easy and cheapy-cheap cheap. It’s definitely going into regular rotation.

On a side note, I kind of can’t wait for Friday to come – our upstairs neighbor (who just so happens to cook some amazing smelling Indian food) has invited us to lunch and I can’t wait to see what she makes!!! Perhaps I’ll make her this recipe and get her opinion on whether or not it could pass as a legitimate Indian dish!

Now that I’ve officially reached my limit for exclamation points in a two sentence paragraph, onto the recipe:

Creamy Curried Chickpeas

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-29 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-15 ounce cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups uncooked basmati rice, prepared according to package

1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion and saute until onion is brown around the edges.

2. Add the tomato sauce, curry powder, garam masala and cayenne pepper to the onions and stir to combine. Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the drained chickpeas and continue simmer for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sauce from burning to the bottom of the pot.

3. Add the heavy cream and stir. Heat through, but do not boil.

4. Add the prepared rice to the pot and mix thoroughly, or spoon chickpea mixture over rice in a bowl. Serves about 6-8.

Tips and Tricks:

* You may notice that I didn’t add salt. The canned tomato soup that I used was chock full of sodium so I didn’t need to. But  if you’re watching your intake you can use low/no-sodium crushed tomatoes instead & add your own salt to taste.

* If heavy cream isn’t your thang, substitute it with some plain yogurt, half and half, milk or sour cream thinned with milk. You’ll get a different consistency but you won’t have to sacrifice the creaminess of it.

* This is a vegetarian friendly recipe, but if you want to make it vegan feel free to omit the butter in favor of all olive oil, and use coconut milk instead of heavy cream. Just do me a favor, skip the lite and indulge in the full fat coconut milk. You can do it, just this once! But if you’re waist watching and do use the lite coconut milk, you might want to simmer it down so it’s less runny. It’s a soupy mixture to begin with, which is why I suggest adding the rice to it before serving, and the fat of the cream/milk/whatever gives it a little more body and a wonderful velvety texture.

* Garam masala is an indian spice mix that I recently discovered and I’m obsessed with it. It can be tricky to find, I had to trek to Whole Foods to find it after striking out at three local grocers. If you can’t find it at your usual haunts, check your local ethnic market, order it on Amazon.com or make your own (try THIS recipe).

* If you or someone at your dinner table isn’t a fan of onions in onion form, pulverize them with an immersion blender before adding the chickpeas. Luckily my own didn’t bat an eyelash at them this time around, but I know some kids (and spouses) can be haters when it comes to “chunky” veggies. No worries, pureeing them into the tomato sauce won’t affect the outcome (the onions that is, NOT your children (or spouses). As a matter of fact, I take no responsibility for potential misunderstandings of that nature).

Do you like/have you ever tried Indian food? If so, what is your favorite Indian dish? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Monday Menu Plan: 11/28-12/4

This week we’re on a tight budget. I spend $300 every four weeks on groceries for my family of four, which averages out to about $75 a week. But it’s the last week of the month and I only have about $35 left in our grocery budget, as we were grocery-heavy in the first half of the month . I’ve planned most of the week’s meals around what we already have on hand, so after shopping our pantry I should only have to buy milk, fresh veggies and fruit. In this case $35 is plenty, as I’m lucky to have a well stocked pantry and fridge =)

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt and granola, scrambled eggs, waffles

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fresh fruit and veggies, leftovers

Snacks: fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn, veggie straws, brownies

Dinner:

Monday
  • bacon and cheddar crustless quiche
  • broccoli
Tuesday
  • curried chickpeas (this is a carryover from last week)
  • basmati rice
  • sauteed green beans
Wednesday
  • pasta with butter and parmesan
  • wilted kale
Thursday
  • roasted chicken thighs
  • three bean salad
Friday
  • ham and cheese wraps (we’re going to a tree lighting so we need something quick, easy and potentially portable!)
  • carrot sticks and apple slices
Saturday
  • chili
  • cornbread
Sunday
  • dinner at my dad’s!
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments below!  And if you want  information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.

Last Minute Holiday Baking: Common Ingredient Substitutions

If you’re anything like me you’ll be cooking and baking straight into the 11th hour this Thanksgiving eve, well past the closing time of your local grocery store. If you find yourself in the middle of your grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe with no brown sugar in sight, fear not! Check out this awesome table from Allrecipes.com for a list of common ingredient substitutions:

Ingredient

Amount

Substitution

Allspice 1 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves
Arrowroot starch 1 teaspoon 1 tablespoon flour, OR 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Baking mix 1 cup 1 cup pancake mix OR 1 cup Easy Biscuit Mixture
Baking powder 1 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 cup buttermilk (decrease liquid in recipe by 1/2 cup)
Beer 1 cup 1 cup nonalcoholic beer OR 1 cup chicken broth
Brandy 1/4 cup 1 teaspoon imitation brandy extract plus enough water to make 1/4 cup
Bread crumbs 1 cup 1 cup cracker crumbs OR 1 cup matzo meal OR 1 cup ground oats
Broth: beef or chicken 1 cup 1 bouillon cube plus 1 cup boiling water OR 1 tablespoon soy sauce plus enough water to make 1 cup OR 1 cup vegetable broth
Brown sugar 1 cup, packed 1 cup white sugar plus 1/4 cup molasses and decrease the liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup OR 1 cup white sugar OR 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Butter (salted) 1 cup 1 cup margarine OR 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 7/8 cup lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
Butter (unsalted) 1 cup 1 cup shortening OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil OR 7/8 cup lard
Buttermilk 1 cup 1 cup yogurt OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup
Cheddar cheese 1 cup shredded 1 cup shredded Colby cheddarOR 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Chervil 1 tablespoon chopped fresh 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Chicken base 1 tablespoon 1 cup canned or homemade chicken broth or stock. Reduce liquid in recipe by 1 cup
Chocolate(semisweet) 1 ounce 1 (1-ounce) square of unsweetened chocolate plus 4 teaspoons sugar OR 1 ounce semisweet chocolate chips plus 1 teaspoon shortening
Chocolate (unsweetened) 1 ounce 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon shortening or vegetable oil
Cocoa 1/4 cup 1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
Condensed cream of mushroom soup 1 (10.75-ounce) can 1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed cream of celery, cream of chicken, OR golden mushroom soup
Corn syrup 1 cup 1 1/4 cup white sugar plus 1/3 cup water OR 1 cup honey OR 1 cup light treacle syrup
Cottage cheese 1 cup 1 cup farmer’s cheese OR 1 cup ricotta cheese
Cracker crumbs 1 cup

1 cup bread crumbs OR 1 cup matzo meal OR 1 cup ground oats

Cream (half and half) 1 cup 7/8 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon butter
Cream (heavy) 1 cup 1 cup evaporated milk OR 3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup butter
Cream (light) 1 cup 1 cup evaporated milk OR 3/4 cup milk plus 3 tablespoons butter
Cream (whipped) 1 cup 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
Cream cheese 1 cup 1 cup pureed cottage cheese OR1 cup plain yogurt, strained overnight in a cheesecloth
Cream of tartar 1 teaspoon 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
Crème fraiche 1 cup Combine 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt. Let stand for 6 hours at room temperature
Egg 1 whole (3 tablespoons or 1.7 oz) 2 1/2 tablespoons of powdered egg substitute plus 2 1/2 tablespoons water OR 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute OR 1/4 cup silken tofu pureed OR 3 tablespoons mayonnaise OR half a banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder OR 1 tablespoon powdered flax seed soaked in 3 tablespoons water
Evaporated milk 1 cup 1 cup light cream
Farmer’s cheese 8 ounces 8 ounces dry cottage cheese OR8 ounces creamed cottage cheese, drained
Fats for baking 1 cup 1 cup applesauce OR 1 cup fruit puree
Flour–Bread 1 cup 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon wheat gluten (available at health food stores & some supermarkets)
Flour–Cake 1 cup 1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons
Flour–Self-Rising 1 cup 7/8 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Garlic 1 clove 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder OR1/2 teaspoon granulated garlicOR 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt–reduce salt in recipe
Gelatin 1 tablespoon, granulated 2 teaspoons agar agar
Ginger–dry 1 teaspoon 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
Ginger–fresh 1 teaspoon, minced 1/2 teaspoon ground dried ginger
Green onion 1/2 cup , chopped 1/2 cup chopped onion, OR 1/2 cup chopped leek OR 1/2 cup chopped shallots
Hazelnuts 1 cup whole 1 cup macadamia nuts OR 1 cup almonds
Herbs–fresh 1 tablespoon chopped fresh 1 teaspoon (chopped or whole leaf) dried herbs
Herring 8 ounces 8 ounces of sardines
Honey 1 cup 1 1/4 cup white sugar plus 1/3 cup water OR 1 cup corn syrupOR 1 cup light treacle syrup
Hot pepper sauce 1 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper plus 1 teaspoon vinegar
Ketchup 1 cup 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1 teaspoon vinegar plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Lard 1 cup 1 cup shortening OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil OR 1 cup butter
Lemon grass 2 fresh stalks 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Lemon juice 1 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon vinegar OR 1 teaspoon white wine OR 1 teaspoon lime juice
Lemon zest 1 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract OR 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lime juice 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon vinegar OR 1 teaspoon white wine OR 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Lime zest 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Macadamia nuts 1 cup 1 cup almonds OR 1 cup hazelnuts
Mace 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon nutmeg
Margarine 1 cup 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 1 cup butterOR 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 7/8 cup lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mayonnaise 1 cup 1 cup sour cream OR 1 cup plain yogurt
Milk–whole 1 cup 1 cup soy milk OR 1 cup rice milkOR 1 cup water or juice OR 1/4 cup dry milk powder plus 1 cup water OR 2/3 cup evaporated milk plus 1/3 cup water
Mint–fresh 1/4 cup chopped 1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
Molasses 1 cup Mix 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Mustard–prepared 1 tablespoon Mix together 1 tablespoon dried mustard, 1 teaspoon water, 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar
Onion 1 cup, chopped 1 cup chopped green onions OR1 cup chopped shallots OR 1 cup chopped leeks OR 1/4 cup dried minced onion OR 1/4 cup onion powder
Orange juice 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon other citrus juice
Orange zest 1 tablespoon 1/2 teaspoon orange extract OR1 teaspoon lemon juice
Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup, grated 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheeseOR 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Parsley 1 tablespoon chopped fresh 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil OR 1 teaspoon dried parsley
Pepperoni 1 ounce 1 ounce salami
Raisin 1 cup 1 cup dried currants OR 1 cup dried cranberries OR 1 cup chopped pitted prunes
Rice–white 1 cup, cooked 1 cup cooked barley OR 1 cup cooked bulgur OR 1 cup cooked brown or wild rice
Ricotta 1 cup 1 cup dry cottage cheese OR 1 cup silken tofu
Rum 1 tablespoon 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, plus enough water to make 1 tablespoon
Saffron 1/4 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salami 1 ounce 1 ounce pepperoni
Semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup 1 cup chocolate candies OR 1 cup peanut butter or other flavored chips OR 1 cup chopped nuts OR 1 cup chopped dried fruit
Shallots, chopped 1/2 cup 1/2 cup chopped onion, OR 1/2 cup chopped leek OR 1/2 cup chopped green onion
Shortening 1 cup 1 cup butter OR 1 cup margarine minus 1/2 teaspoon salt from recipe
Sour cream 1 cup 1 cup plain yogurt OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough cream to make 1 cup OR 3/4 cup buttermilk mixed with 1/3 cup butter
Sour milk 1 cup 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice mixed with enough milk to make 1 cup: Let stand 5 minutes to thicken
Soy sauce 1/2 cup 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Stock–beef or chicken 1 cup 1 cube beef or chicken bouillon dissolved in 1 cup water
Sweetened condensed milk 1 (14-ounce) can 3/4 cup white sugar mixed with 1/2 cup water and 1 1/8 cups dry powdered milk: Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 20 minutes
Vegetable oil–for baking 1 cup 1 cup applesauce OR 1 cup fruit puree
Vegetable oil–for frying 1 cup 1 cup lard OR 1 cup vegetable shortening
Vinegar 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juiceOR 2 teaspoons white wine
White sugar 1 cup 1 cup brown sugar OR 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar OR 3/4 cup honey OR 3/4 cup corn syrup
Wine 1 cup 1 cup chicken or beef broth OR 1 cup fruit juice mixed with 2 teaspoons vinegar OR 1 cup water
Yeast-active dry 1 (.25-ounce) package 1 cake compressed yeast OR 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeastOR 2 1/2 teaspoonsrapid rise yeast
Yogurt 1 cup 1 cup sour cream OR 1 cup buttermilk OR 1 cup sour milk

Plan Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Part 2): DIY Decorating on a Budget

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m seeing more and more cars driving down the street with Christmas trees on their roofs. You know what that means… time to decorate for the holidays. It’ll only be a matter of time before your crazy neighbor is using up enough wattage in Christmas lights to power a third world country, so why not jump on the bandwagon and crank out some awesome budget friendly decorations of your own! Here are some of my favorite DIY Christmas decorating ideas/projects, complete with links to the tutorials to get you started:

Gum Drop Pomander Ornament via myblessedlife.net

1. Gum Drop Pomander Ornament: These are awesome. I detest the taste of gum drops, but they are so pretty and festive that I love to see a functional use for them other than bedazzling the sides of gingerbread houses (or eating, blech). As I was cruising the web I came across a great tutorial for a gum drop wreath also. Check it out. I never realized that gum drops could inspire such awesome, dirt cheap projects!

Paper Stars via themagiconions.blogspot.com

2. Hanging Paper Stars: All you need is some thick square paper (the packs of scrapbooking paper you get at craft stores are perfect!), scissors, glue and ribbon to make these. I have them hanging in my home year-round, they’re a great way to add color to our home and an inexpensive way to decorate.

ROY G BIV Wreath via kojodesigns.blogspot.com

3. ROY G BIV Wreath: Cut, poke, hang. Love it. I imagine it can probably be made with felt instead, since we don’t all have piles of colorful woolen felted sweaters just laying around waiting to be repurposed.

Baby Sock Advent Calendar via marthastewart.com

4. Baby Sock Advent Calendar: Holy cuteness, batman. I already have the advent calendar from my childhood that my mom gifted to us a few years back, but if I didn’t, don’t think for a hot second that I wouldn’t be using this as an excuse to hang 25 adorable itty bitty baby socks in my home.

Cedar Wreath "Chandelier" via marthastewart.com

5. Cedar Wreath “Chandelier”: Oh Martha, you went and did it again, you made me swoon. The queen of craft made hanging a bunch of dying branches over your table look elegant. This is why, no matter how much she gets under my skin, Martha Stewart and her posse of glue gun-wielding goons will always have a place in my heart.

Pine Cone Garland via twigandthistle.com

6. Pine Cone Garland: Although I’m a total technicolor addict, I adore the look of simple, natural decorations. This garland couldn’t be easier, and if you live near a wooded area you can make use of mother nature’s free supplies!

Pompom Pine Cone Forest via letsgoflyakiteuptothehighestheight.blogspot.com

7. Pompom Pine Cone Forest: Speaking of pine cones, THIS. And I’m pretty sure I need some rad little retro fawn figurines in my life…

Pine Cone Trees via momtastic.com

8. Pine Cone Trees: Just how many things can we do with pine cones? Like, a gazillion, fo’ realsies. Pine cones were born to be craft-assaulted. This one reminds me of the project we did in preschool involving paint and glitter. Spray paint makes this a grown up version of that childhood project, but I personally think it could use a little glitterizing also. Just sayin’.

Orange Pomanders via thatartistwoman.org

9. Orange Pomanders: My mom always did these with us for Christmas. I’m pretty sure she still does them to this day. Orange pomanders scream “it’s the holiday season!” and they smell amazing to boot. We always had ours in a bowl on tabletop, but I love how Gail from thatartistwoman.org hangs hers.

Salt Dough Ornaments via diyalert.com

10. Salt Dough Ornaments: No DIY Christmas decorating list is complete without mentioning salt dough ornaments. I’ve done these the past two years in a row with my kids, and it’s becoming a favorite holiday decorating to-do. They also make great keepsakes for young kids to make and gift to the grandparents.

Do you have any great budget-friendly DIY Christmas decorating ideas? Share them with us in the comments section! And if you’ve got any cool Christmas craft tutorials on your blog leave your link below so we can check them out!

You can find part 1 of the “Plan Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” series HERE. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on frugal holiday entertaining and gift giving ideas. Don’t forget to sign up to follow the blog and receive new post notifications via email.

Monday Menu Plan: 11/21-11/27

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! I’m thankful that my wonderful husband gets the day off from work to spend the day with our family, and that despite recently losing her best friend, my grandmother will never have to worry about being alone (as will be lovingly evident in our upcoming Thursday gathering!). Speaking of Thursday, my aunt will be hosting Thanksgiving this year, and I’ll be contributing a few dishes. For the rest of the week though I’m taking it easy with quick, simple meals.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments section below!

Emma back in 2008, succumbing to the post-Thanksgiving lethargy... after her third bite.

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt and granola, eggs

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fresh fruit and veggies, leftovers

Snacks: fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn, muffins, pumpkin cookies

Dinner:

Monday
  • baked chicken
  • sauteed asparagus
  • roasted cauliflower
Tuesday
  • grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches
  • broccoli spears
Wednesday
  • egg and veggie scramble
  • toast
Thursday (Thanksgiving! I’m bringing the following to our family dinner)
Friday
  • leftovers (or a takeout pizza?)
Saturday
  • curried chickpeas
  • basmati rice
  • sauteed green beans
Sunday
  • white bean, kale and bacon soup
  • crusty bread
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments below!  And if you want  information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.

In the Kitchen: Overnight Baked Pumpkin French Toast

Baked pumpkin french toast with homemade pumpkin latte.

Raindrops on roses, 
And whiskers on kittens, 
Bright copper kettles 
And warm woolen mittens. 
Baked french toast smothered
With creamy pumpkin
These are a few of my favorite things. 

When the dog bites, 
When the bee stings, 
When I’m feeling sad. 
I simply eat french toast with creamy pumpkin, 
And then I don’t feel so bad!

I am in love.  I am obsessed. I am going to add a few extra pairs of elastic-waist leggings to my wardrobe. My kitchen is alive with the sound of music.

Seriously though, a few of my favorite things are french toast, pumpkin and make ahead meals. I first made overnight french toast about a year ago for Christmas morning. It was so well received that I never felt compelled to tweak the recipe, but after staring at all that fresh pumpkin puree sitting in my fridge lately I knew just what I was needed to do.

I’m so glad that I decided to play around with an already perfect recipe to make it, uhh, perfecter (hush, you grammatically correct goons). Fiddling with ingredients can sometimes be a total crap shoot, but this morning I lucked out with an amazing breakfast that echoed the decadence of my favorite autumnal pie. This one might just have to make a guest appearance on our next holiday breakfast menu.

Baked pumpkin french toast with homemade pumpkin latte. You may now lick your computer screen.

Overnight Baked Pumpkin French Toast

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1.5 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 loaf day-old french baguette, cut into approx 1.5 inch thick slices

1. Beat eggs, milk, butter, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, salt and spices in a bowl with an immersion blender until thoroughly combined (see the “tips and tricks” section below for my disclaimer).

2. Dip both sides of each slice of bread in the wet mixture and place in a flat, single layer in a greased baking dish. Pour remaining wet mixture over slices. Cover the baking dish and place in the refrigerator overnight.

3. In the morning, set the oven to 425 degrees and remove the baking dish from the fridge while the oven preheats. Place the uncovered baking dish on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

4. Place on a wire rack to cool slightly before serving. You can dust the french toast lightly with confectioner’s sugar, top with whipped cream or serve with syrup. Makes about 8 servings.

Tips and Tricks:

* I used a french baguette for my french toast, but you can use any pudgy loaf with the same results as long as they’re sliced thick-ish.  Try whole wheat, the kids probably won’t even notice a difference! My bread was not day-old when I used it, so I cut it up into slices and left them in a bowl out on the table. That got them good & “stale”, and kept my recipe from becoming a soggy blob of bread.

* You might not use all the bread in the loaf, depending on how big your baking dish is, and that’s alright. I use an 11″ x 15″ dish and still have a few pieces left over when I use one of those long store-bought baguettes.

* You can use 1/2 cream and 1/2 milk for an even more luxurious dish. I wouldn’t do all cream though, unless you want a thick, goopy mixture sitting on top of your bread.

* I used my immersion blender to combine the wet ingredients because I’m neurotic about “thoroughly combining” things and didn’t want to get stuck with blobs of pumpkin or brown sugar or something. I dunno. But you can use a regular old wire whisk and it’ll be A-OK.

*This dish can be prepared and frozen for baking at a later date. Just prepare the recipe through step 2, cover with saran and foil and place it in the freezer (instead of the fridge). Defrost it the night before serving, and resume with step 3 the following morning.

What’s your favorite pumpkin-y dish? Let us know in the comments section below!

Monday Menu Plan: 11/14-11/20

This week the kids are learning all about healthy eating, so we’re fruit & veggie-heavy in the menu plan. I’m also trying out a few new recipes, and if they’re not a bust I might do a couple of food posts this week (sweet and savory onion cookies, anyone?) so cross your fingers that all goes well in my kitchen!

Dear kale, I love you.

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, scrambled eggs & toast, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt, french toast

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fresh fruit and veggies, leftovers

Snacks: pumpkin bread, kale chips, dehydrated apple slices, fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn

Dinner:

Monday
  • baked ziti
  • salad
Tuesday
  • spaghetti squash with butter and parmesan
  • roasted veggies
  • french bread
Wednesday
  • dinner at my dad’s
Thursday
  • chicken and kale casserole
  • raw butternut squash salad
Friday
  • grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches
  • alphabet soup
Saturday
  • homemade veggie pizza
  • salad
Sunday
  • french onion soup
  • homemade bread bowls
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments below!  And if you want  information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.