In The Kitchen With…Lissa

I cook all the time. I love cooking and baking and trying new things in the kitchen. New products, new foods, new appliances. I love trying to substitute ingredients in recipes that might be more flavorful or healthier than what was originally called for.

And I only hate going grocery shopping if I don’t have the money to splurge on anything different or new. Because it’s such a big passion of mine, being in the kitchen, I always try to shift funds around to make sure I can get a few things I am curious about trying.

I’m the one who views food and recipes and cookbooks and appliances and food stores the way some women view shoes, clothes, and jewelry…

Do you try new things? New ingredients? Switch out favorites?

A few of my newest finds that I’d read about or wanted to try on my own lately, or that I have tried and found I wanted more of, have been:

Larry’s Beans… whole bean coffee in awesome varietal names such as Cowboy, Bad Kitty, Mightier Mocha Java

So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Coffee Creamer... now, because of my coffee love, I try different creamers all the time. I have made my own, I have used half and half plus sugar/flavored syrups (until I stopped using the syrups unless I can make my own), Organic Valley French Vanilla Half and Half (my fave, honestly, but high in carbs and sugars and calories), Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss, Bailey’s non-alcoholic, Silk, etc… I decided to try this product when I saw it in Earth Fare the other day. I’m not a fan of coconut unless it’s straight out of the shell, but there are a few products with coconut or made with coconut that I do love (coconut oil, homemade granola). The coconut creamer is good. Very good. I’ll be using it more often. It’s light on coconut flavor, but creamy and full of vanilla flavor.

Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Peppers and Onions… frozen peppers and onions, but I use these in all recipes calling for fresh onions and peppers. They give an excellent flavor to everything.

Trader Joe’s Sprouted 7-Grain Bread… I don’t like sprouted grains very much. I’m not big on nutty texture in food and I’ve tried sprouted grain breads before like Ezekiel brand, but couldn’t get beyond the price and texture. But the Trader Joe’s brand…delicious and the texture is just right for me.

Sucanat… I use this in place of white and brown sugars. It’s a deeper flavor and I love it.

Coconut Palm Sugar… It smells like graham crackers, but has a different taste. It can be used in place of other sugars as well and it’s low on the Glycemic Index.

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour… I use this in muffin recipes, have used it in chocolate chip cookie recipes, waffles, pancakes, etc… It’s wonderful in place of all-purpose white flour. Harder to find (I buy mine from Earth Fare in the bulk bins), costs more, but it’s worth it to me.

Quinoa… I’m still getting used to this super grain that is high in essential amino acids. It’s got an odd taste, I can’t quite describe it. An odd texture, not unlike couscous. I don’t like couscous, but I’m able to eat the quinoa, especially mixed with other foods like chicken, vegetables…

I am always up for trying new things, eating different foods, researching foods that may be more flavorful, healthful, etc… Do you try new foods and ingredients? If so, what have you found lately that you have grown to love?

~lissa

Some news coming soon…

See, for so long y’all didn’t think you’d ever get any new news out of me. Well, and you’re not. Yet. But soon… Maybe even by Friday I’ll have something more I can say. But if not, soon.

Until I can though, just be assured that I am writing and working my little, okay well, not so little, behind off for you, my darlin’ readers.

Oh, and Oh. My. God. I have found a store I think I am going to love as much as I love Trader Joe’s. I know, you’re shocked, right? I won’t be shopping there often because holy moly it’s expensive, but the organic foods, the natural foods (both of these would be why it’s so much more expensive), the fun stuff like you can make your own peanut butter right there in the store stuff… Lissa will be going there at least a couple times a month. You know, when I need something special like grains in bulk (whole wheat pastry flour) or specialty dairy (organic flavored half and half or REAL butter) or the natural sweetener (dried cane sugar) I’ve been searching all over town for that I can bake with that won’t send my husband’s blood sugar through the roof kind of special stuff…

The store is called Earth Fare. It’s like a smaller Whole Foods.

I do feel a contest coming on soon, too, y’all… I’m thinking about it and when I’ve got down what kind we’re going to do, I’ll let you in on it.

And there was something else, some other thing… Really important too… Ummm… Oh yeah, I remember now! It’s that time of year…

Florida State Seminoles Football. Game Day 9/3/2011, 3:30pm. Oh yeah! I’m gonna be fixing some game day munchies Saturday morning… probably to include some boiled peanuts!

What game day snacks do you like, need, crave, will kill to have?

~lissa

A Random Thursday Post

Today’s post is exactly that. Random. As a matter of fact, it’s so random, I completely forgot what I was going to blog about. Isn’t that lovely?

Let’s see if I can at least come up with thirteen things to talk mention…

1. Tonight is the NFL Draft. I think there will definitely be an NFL season. I think players get paid too much. I think rookies that get bonus’ higher than the salaries of veteran players is outrageous. I think there’s too much talk about ‘Show Me The Money’ and not enough talk of ‘What kind of player are you going to be for me, for the team, for the fans?’ I don’t think Cam Newton should go first. I do think I’ll be handing my husband a tissue to cry into when the Jacksonville Jaguars make some hideous draft choices.

2. My family and friends in the Alabama area are fine and safe and their homes are still intact. My thoughts go out to those who have been injured, have lost everything, have lost someone near and dear.

3. I am reading Rednecks and Roses by Judy Mays. It’s freakin’ hilarious. What’s been done to her is appalling and atrocious.

4. I’m going to Atlanta this weekend with my family. DH and DS are going to a Braves game of which I could care less. DD and I are going to spend the day at the Georgia Aquarium. We’re staying in a downtown high rise hotel and are going to have a blast. I hope to visit reader Janeen’s family’s Italian Restaurant Saturday evening before we head back home.

5. People that abandon animals should be shot.

6. Trader Joe’s has some of the most addicting foods and snack items. Ever. My current obsession is their Chile Spiced Mango slices. I love their selection of cheeses too.

7. I am loving both my Kindle and my Nook Color. Both are very different but wonderful.

8. I am going to the Lori Foster event in June. Are you?

9. Twisted Up will be turned in tomorrow evening before I leave for Atlanta.

10. I watched the new trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 today. I will be devastated when all is said and done. As with Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter has been an awesome adventure. My daughter has grown up watching HP and to her, it signifies the end of her childhood as she’s always known it. It is bittersweet but I cannot wait to see it July 15th.

11. NASCAR will be in North Carolina next month and y’all know I’ll be going so’s I can scream and yell my fool head off. It will help inspire me to work on Drive Shaft. At the present time, Alli is nursing her second beer.

12. Did y’all know my books are available on Barnes and Noble for the Nook? I’m guessing by the rankings that most of you don’t. Most of your friends don’t either. I’m hoping to change that soon with a Nook giveaway.

13. It’s 6:30pm and I need to get working on more revisions before the Draft starts in a couple of hours.

13 1/2. Yes, I am getting up at 3something in the morning to watch the wedding. I watched Princess Diana get married. I watched her funeral. It’s only fitting that I watch her son. I wish them the very best of life and I hope their marriage fairs better than his mother’s did. You can see her in his smile. I have always been fascinated by British history, by the monarchy. The first book I read, that I remember aside from Cinderella was called Good Queen Bess about Queen Elizabeth I. She has always been my heroine and I think that’s where my fascination began with history in general and with British history in particular.

Have a great night.

~lissa

Happy Easter! and Tiramisu French Toast Recipe…

I hope you all have had a wonderful day.

We aren’t big traditionalists in our house. I grew up going to Sunrise Services and having big dinners after. Easter baskets and candy galore. Hiding dyed eggs. I do baskets for the kids, a little candy, not a lot. We hide eggs, but usually plastic ones. Every few years we’ll boil and dye eggs, though. I do cook though. I always cook no matter the holiday. I like to make a nice dinner and a homemade dessert. There’s usually a very special breakfast, too.

This time it was Tiramisu French toast. I found this recipe online on a food blog where the woman is beautiful, thin, and has a Trader Joe’s obsession. One outta 3 ain’t bad in my book when it comes to this. I can forgive her the beauty and the skinny so long as her recipes are delicious and so far, they have been.

People have asked me for this recipe today so I thought I’d post it.

Tiramisu French Toast

serves 4

1 loaf challah bread

8 whole eggs

1/4 cup cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon honey

4 tablespoons butter

maple syrup for serving

sliced strawberries for serving

Slice one loaf of challah bread into 1-inch thick slices. In a large baking dish, combine eggs, cream, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee powder and whisk together. Lay bread in dish and let soak in the egg mixture for about 30 seconds each side.

Heat a skillet on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add French toast and fry until golden brown. Flip (adding more butter if needed, use your judgment) and fry on other side. Repeat with remaining slices of bread and tablespoons of butter.

Mix mascarpone cheese with honey and remaining coffee powder and spread on French toast slices while warm. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and serve with syrup and strawberries.

This is the blog the recipe came from.

It’s not as sweet as normal french toast. I think the coffee and the cocoa powder have a lot to do with that, as well as it only uses a 1/2 Tablespoon of sugar. Mascarpone cheese is not a very sweet cheese on it’s own. I used Agave Nectar in place of honey. And Trader Joe’s has a Maple Agave blend syrup that is just awesome. It doesn’t take much of it at all to add just the right amount of sweetness in place of just plain maple syrup. I also used a French Vanilla blend extract.

The whole dish was amazingly good. My son ate every bit of his, so did DH and DH doesn’t like anything with any kind of coffee flavor, so… It was definite keeper recipe for special occasions. I foresee a character making this or some variation there of in a future book…

~lissa