Sunday, July 25, 2010

welcome home, J!

Jason is back home after two weeks in Korea - finally! :) I made a big welcome home dinner for him, and tried two new recipes, both of which I'm excited to share!

We started with one of my favorite appetizers, bread with dipping oil. I'm still (slowly) re-stocking the fridge after the 4th of July weekend disaster, and didn't realize until it was too late that I didn't have any balsamic. I ended up with an herb-infused oil instead, that we both loved. I mixed about a 1/4 c. EVOO with oregano, garlic powder, pepper, and a pinch of salt. Just add the spices a little bit at a time until you're happy with the taste - easy!

Dinner was simple and summery. I marinated two tilapia filets in lemon juice, lime juice, and fresh ground pepper for about 4 hours. Just bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the filet - just keep an eye on it). I topped the tilapia with fresh mango salsa from Whole Foods, with jasmine rice and fruit salad on the side.

The real show-stopper was dessert. I found this awesome no-bake, dairy-free strawberry pie here. A word to the wise: make sure you bake the pie crust first! (oops!) Once I recovered from that little speed bump, it was all smooth sailing. The recipe is simple (and delicious) and a perfect summer dessrt.

I also put together a make-ahead casserole for breaskfast. It was definitely a special treat since is loaded with dairy, but well worth it! We first had this french toast casserole while visiting our friends Steve and Tugce over the 4th of July weekend, and J loved it so much I had to find a way to re-create it! I found a good recipe by Paula Dean on the Food Network Website. The only trick here is that this is a recipe for a crowd, and I just wanted to make enough for the two of us. Here's how I modified the recipe:

6 slices (about 3/4 of an inch) french baguette
2 eggs
1/2 c. half and half
1/4 c. milk
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Arrange the slices in two rows in a loaf pan. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, dairy, sugar, vanilla and spices until well blended. Pour the mixture evenly over the slices, cover the pan with tin foil, and refridgerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and mix up this quick topping:

1/4 brown sugar
1 Tbsp Canola oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 Tbsp honey

Lightly mix unil ingredients are combined (don't over mix). Sprinkle the topping over the casserole, and bake for 35 minutes, until the bread is golden and puffy. YUM!


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