Recipe: Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast

French bread soaked in egg mixture, ready to be frozen

Frozen French Toast, before...

After... Delicious French Toast!

I was going to put a post about the cold noodle salad with strawberry vinaigrette, but I need to push it back a bit.  Because…

Mother’s Day is coming.  I have a great recipe to share that allow Moms in the world to be treated well — and easy for the family.

Even moms that love to cook sometimes need a break. They get their wish come true on Mother’s day – Daddy and/or Children take her out for brunch, or even better, make a home-cooked meal!  Nice!

Here’s an easy freezable French toast trick I found in a Japanese cooking magazine. You can make a large batch this weekend, eat some and freeze the rest to have your family bring to your bedside from on Mother’s day (and beyond).

Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast

  1. Slice French bread in 1” thick pieces.  Place all of them cut side down in a flat container.
  2. For 8 oz French bread, mix 2 eggs,  2-4 TBS sugar, 1 C milk, a little bit of vanilla essence or cinnamon, and pour it all over the bread.  Let the bread soak up the egg mixture completely (5-10 min), turning it once.
  3. For portions that will be frozen: Wrap individual portion with plastic wrap, with cut side down (if wrapping two or more together, make sure it’s wrapped side by side like on the photo, not on top of each other).  Put them on the cookie sheet with sides to avoid leakage, and freeze.
  4. For Mother’s Day, or whenever you want to have your family make this it for you: : )  Remove the plastic wrap, melt 1-2 ts butter in a skillet at low heat. Place frozen French Toasts and cook for 4-5 minutes with lid on. When it’s golden brown on the bottom, flip them, place lid again, and cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with maple syrup.
  5. If they are not frozen, just cook with butter, without lid until golden brown.

We didn’t have any French bread, nor maple syrup, so made it with ciabatta, ate it as it is without syrup.  It was chewy, yet moist and delicious!

So go ahead and make some this weekend, and have the frozen version ready to go for your family to treat you to breakfast in bed later on Mother’s day.

As in this recipe, save some basic things you cooked previously, things like various sautéed vegetables, vegetable and meat mixtures etc. and give your family some written instructions.  Your sous-chef of the house (husband and children) will be able to assemble meals when you are away, busy or you need a break!  Look under “batch and fridge” or “batch and freeze” categories on my blog for ideas for food to keep on hand, and what you can do with them.  As a matter of fact, when I got pneumonia last fall, these batched items in our fridge and freezer literary saved our lives, and upgraded my husband’s status as a Kitchen Wizard. Because of that incident, when I was still in Japan about a month ago, but he was back in the US, I didn’t have to stock up food before I left as usual.  What a treat!

In case you are wondering, my husband never really cook much in the past, so if he can do it, your husband and/or children can do it too!

Talking about batching,  if you have that strawberries and radish from the last post sitting around, it may be a bit limp and jammy…  Actually they are quite good with these French Toast as a topping.  If you cannot stand the idea of radish with the French toast, just pick them out.  You won’t even notice.

So what do you do with leftover egg mix in the container?  How about making an easy dessert?

Stay tuned for the easy bread pudding recipe…  Click “ Email Subscription” on the right column, so that you won’t miss it!

The Japanese noodle salad with strawberry soy dipping sauce will be posted after that…

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Need a break from cooking from time to time – even after your Mother’s Day break?

Even moms that love to cook sometimes need a break. They get their wish come true on Mother’s day – Daddy and/or Children take her out for brunch, or even better, make a home-cooked meal!  Nice!

How many of you actually would like to have a break like that more often?

Even if your husband or child is not an avid cook – you can do it.  And it actually tastes good!

By saving some basic things you cooked previously, things like various sautéed vegetables, vegetable and meat mixtures etc. and give them some written instructions, your sous-chef of the house will be able to assemble dinner when you are away, busy or you need a break!  Look under “batch and fridge” or “batch and freeze” categories for ideas for food to keep on hand, and what you can do with them.

Here’s an easy freezable French toast trick I found in a Japanese cooking magazine. You can make extra, eat some and freeze the rest to have your family bring to your bedside from time to time.

Freezable French Toast

  1. Slice French bread in 1” thick pieces.  In a flat container with sides, place all of them cut side down.
  2. For 8 oz French bread, mix 2 eggs,  2-4 TBS sugar, 1 C milk, a little bit of vanilla essence or cinnamon, and pour it all over the bread.  Let the bread soak up the egg mixture completely (5-10 min), turning it once. 
  3. For portions that will be frozen: Wrap individual portion with plastic wrap, with cut side down (if 2 or more, make sure it’s wrapped side by side).  Put them on the cookie sheet (with side, in case of the leakage), and freeze.
  4. For when you have your family do it for you: : )  When you are ready to eat, remove the plastic wrap, melt 1-2 ts butter in a skillet at low heat. Place frozen French Toast and cook for 4-5 minutes with lid on. When it’s golden brown on the bottom, flip them, place lid again, and cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Serve hot with maple syrup.

We didn’t have any French bread, nor maple syrup, so made it with ciabatta, ate it as it is without syrup, and it was chewy, yet moist and delicious!

So go ahead and make some this weekend, and have the frozen version ready to go for your family to treat you to breakfast in bed later.

So what do you do with leftover egg mix in the container?  How about making an easy dessert? 

Stay tuned for the bread pudding recipe…  Click “Subscribe to ‘Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard’ by Email” above the calendar, so that you won’t miss it!

 

 

 

Ask Kitchen Wizard: To freeze, or not to freeze, that is the question…

One of the questions I hear often is,

 What does not work well when frozen for later use? What about fresh herbs? Have you had success freezing them for later use, and if so how?”

That’s a good question. You may find the following helpful. They list the shelf lives of many produce and pantry items as well as how to keep them.

I would use them just as a guide line though. You’ll find some of the information on somewhat contradictory, and other experts have different opinion. (Ex. Shelf life of bean sprouts on www.stilltasty.com. I find it much shorter than 1 week.) The bottom line is, it depends on your expectations and how you freeze….

As a rule of thumb, I normally freeze either sautéed or blanched vegetables, not not too many fresh produce. And avoid freezing things that contains potatoes or cream.

Herb freezes well, yet loses texture and smell/flavor, I personally don’t freeze fresh herbs, except parsley. I remove all the leaves, put in a small Ziploc bag, and when I need it, I take some out and chop them (or you can chop them first and freeze.) I find it perfectly fine especially when I need it in cooked dishes.  I freeze the stems for making stock.

For things like basil, I recommend making it into a pesto. Then you can keep it a lot longer, and you can even freeze it. (you can mix other herb with basil.) Make sure to use small container – I love baby food jars — so that you can finish one relatively quickly.

To keep herbs longer in the fridge, (and this works well for shiso leaves and zucchini flowers too), try wrapping them with a moist paper towel and keeping them in a plastic bag. I found this keeps tender herbs fresh a lot longer.

At a class on herbs and spices at Whole Foods last night, the teacher swore by Debbie Meyer’s bag. One participant agreed her strawberries stayed fresh for 2 weeks. The reviews on the web…. People either loves it or hate it. http://www.viewpoints.com/Debbie-Meyer-Green-Bags-review-5b0d7
More reviews on Amazon too.

Her advice I liked is that herbs are inter-changeable, so experiment throwing herbs in different dishes.

I will experiment with some fresh herbs in the other Mrs.. Meyer’s bag and , and let you know this Mrs.. Meyer’s verdict. (although I didn’t change my last name, my husband’s last name is Meyer, so technically, I’m Mrs.. Meyer, too.)

Batch and Freeze: Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Do you like home-made baked goods, yet feel never have time to bake during the week?

My friend Margaret, who is also a Kitchen Wizard in my opinion, kindly shared her cookie shortcuts.

So here it is…  Thank you, Margaret!

One of the tougher things to do during a busy week is to bake, so I  always have a reserve of this spiced oatmeal cookie dough in my freezer to satisfy a craving relatively healthfully and inexpensively. These are a little lighter than the recipes calling for two sticks of butter and even from frozen dough, they bake up in only 15 minutes.

If nutmeg is not a spice you use regularly, rather than investing in a whole jar of the pods, purchase a few pods from  well-stocked markets’ bulk spice section.  Its subtle woodsy flavor really enhances this spice combination nicely.

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies Adapted from Cooking Light

Yields: 24 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Optional: you can replace ½ c with wheat flour.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper to line cookie sheets

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar and next 6 ingredients (brown sugar through egg) in a large bowl, and beat mixture at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended.
  3. Stir in oats and raisins, and let stand 5 minutes.. Stir in flour mixture.
  4. Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on wire racks.

Note: Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Freezing Instructions (The dough keeps for 4-6 weeks.)

  • Freeze the rest of the raw dough after forming it into balls. Use a small ice cream scoop to make them uniform.
  • To bake, simply put frozen dough balls on a cookie sheet, flatten dough slightly before putting in to a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 12-15 mins.

Whether you’re baking frozen or fresh dough, make sure not to overbake so you’ll end up with chewy cookies.

This dough is very versatile.Try walnuts, peanuts, flax seeds, chocolate chips, coconut, cranberries, dried cherries or any combination as a substitute for the raisins.

Enjoy!

Batch and Fridge: Sauteed Mushrooms

Just like sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms are pretty handy to keep in the fridge.

I used to make duxelle (sauteed chopped mushrooms with wine) because  Jacques Pepin told us to keep it handy when we find cheap and imperfect mushrooms.  Despite of his advice, I often couldn’t  find the use for it…

Instead, I found keeping a container full of sautéed sliced mushrooms more versatile. Unlike Duxelle, which is made with chopped mushrooms, these sliced mushrooms can be used for a base for any mushroom sauce. If the recipe calls for chopped mushrooms, I can still chop them small, not the other way around.

Since most mushroom dishes call for chopped onions or shallots, I often sautee them first, then add sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper, and wine. Just like sautéed onions or mirepoix, I cook them in Extra Virgin Olive Oil rather than butter. Of course, you can cook it with butter for a richer flavor.

I found 2 lbs of  perfectly fine assortment of mushrooms for only 99c at a market near our house the other day!  Many stores offer similar specials on mushrooms.  Take advantage of them.  Slice (you can use egg slicers if you want), and sautee them for various dishes throughout the week. They keep well in freezer if you cannot finish them all after several days.

When you want to freeze something, it’s crucial to spread it relatively thin, about ¼-1/3 inch, so that it’s easier to break it off only the amount you need. I use a Ziploc Quart bag, and if the layer of mushrooms is thicker than that, I use a second one.

It’s helpful to create creases with a thin, but dull object, like a chopstick so that it’s even easier to break off what you need. I like to have a both vertical and horizontal creases for smaller amounts, especially if it’s on the thicker side.

Usage: Steaks, burgers, chicken/veal marsala, beef stroganoff, mushroom pilaf, kasha with mushrooms, warm mushroom salad, pasta, risotto, polenta, tart, quiche, crepe, white sauce with mushrooms, mushroom soup, etc. OR chop them and add in stuffings, ravioli, etc.

Tips: Sautéing mushrooms often requires a lot of oil or butter. If you want to cut fat, add salt to mushrooms immediately after you start sautéing. It will draw out the moisture and requires a lot less oil.

Since we’ve talked about both sauteed onions and mushrooms, it’s time to talk about my favorite, Magic Mushroom Soup tomorrow…