Citrus French Toast

Listen up. Believe me when I tell you this is the best french toast I have ever eaten. The bread is dipped in a citrus flavored batter and the result is deee-licious! In all my years of making french toast, I would have never thought to prepare it this way. Usually I dip the bread in egg, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg. That’s good, but you need to try this. This was my second time making it and it won’t be my last!

The recipe comes from the Southern Living Kids Cookbook and I didn’t need to change a thing! Each week last summer, the kids got to pick a recipe from my cookbooks and cook it with my help. (I thought I should start them young with some mad kitchen skills!) My son chose a breakfast meal twice and this was one of them. It’s very easy and filled with flavor that even the kids enjoy.

Citrus French Toast
1 cup Complete Pancake Mix (I use Aunt Jemima)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons grated orange rind (one large orange will do)
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (one lemon will do)
2 tablespoons powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
8 slices white sandwich bread

Whisk the pancake mix, water, grated orange rind, grated lemon rind and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl.

Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a big skillet or griddle to coat it. Dip 2 slices of bread in batter, coating well. Cook a couple minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from pan and keep warm. Melt another 2 tablespoons butters and dip another 2 slices in batter and cook. Repeat with the rest of the bread.To keep the finished french toast warm while you cook, you can put them in preheated 300 degree oven. (I like to use a cooling rack on a baking sheet so the air circulates.)

Serve with warm syrup or powdered sugar.
Makes 4 servings.

I posted this early enough so you can get what you need and whip it up for a delicious weekend breakfast!

{Note: To grate the orange and lemon rind, I love using my Microplane┬« Zester/Grater. It’s perfect for zesting citrus, but I also use it for fresh ground nutmeg and minced garlic. Make sure to only grate the colored part of the fruit and not the white part underneath. Keep turning the fruit as you grate and get all the color off.}

By the way, did you notice that there wasn’t even any bacon on that plate? Two reasons. Number One, I used all the bacon I had left for my sugar beans yesterday…and Number Two, this french toast is so yummy you won’t even miss the bacon! Well, just a little…


Bird’s Nest Ring Tutorial

With the arrival of spring, now is the perfect time to learn how to make this bird’s nest ring! It’s really quite easy, even if you’ve never made any jewelry before. Last year I made a bird’s nest necklace as a birthday gift for my Mom and I got the tutorial here. She really likes her birds and I thought it would make a nice gift. This is how it came out:

My daughter loved it as well and asked me to make her one. The one I made for my Mom had larger beads (8 mm I think), so I bought some smaller beads to use for her necklace. When I was making hers, I thought it would make a cute ring and whipped up yet another nest to use for my ring.

I used turquoise colored beads because they resemble robins’ eggs, but you can use any color you wish. I think the silver wire looks nice with the blue, but again, use any color wire you like.

These are the supplies you will need to make one ring:

Ring base, three 6 mm beads, 24 gauge jewelry wire, round nose pliers and needle nose pliers. It really helps to have the round nose pliers, but you can get by without them if you don’t want to buy them. You will need the needle nose pliers at least. If you plan on making your own jewelry in the future, I recommend getting a tool kit that would contain the 3 essential tools: Needle nose pliers, round nose pliers and side cutters (wire cutters).

Here are two additional tools that are good to have, but not necessary:

Long needle nose pliers and side cutters/wire cutters.

Let’s get started…
Using the cutting part of your pliers (or wire cutters) cut a length of wire about 18″-20″ long.
(That part of the pliers below the ridges is the cutter.)

Thread your 3 beads onto one end of the wire and using your round nose pliers make a loop to hold your beads in place. This can be done with the needle nose pliers, but won’t look as rounded.

Slide beads to the loop you just made and form them into a “circle”.

Now you are going to hold the beads in between your thumb and index finger and wrap the wire around the “sides” of the beads. Keep the wire as round and as tight as you can, and also try to keep the nest flat and not too bumpy so that it sits well on your ring base. (I know, I’m asking a lot here, aren’t I??)

When you have enough wire around your nest and you are happy with how it looks, cut off the rest of the wire, leaving a little bit to hook on to the nest you’ve made. Wrap this around the side of your nest a few times and secure it with your pliers.

Now you are ready to wrap the edges. I think it looks best with 3, but you can do less if you prefer. Cut a 4″-6″ section of wire for each wrap. Using your round nose pliers (or needle nose pliers), make a hook to slip onto the nest. Start winding it around the edge of the nest and through it, almost like you’re sewing. Keep this tight with each go around. You do not want to get in the middle with the beads…just wrap the wire edge of the nest. Decide which side will be the bottom because you’ll want to end all your wraps on the bottom. You want to have a nice, pretty side!

When you are satisfied with your “wraps”, cut off the excess wire and hook it in the bottom somewhere with your pliers.

It should look something like this:

By the way, I used a 20 gauge (thicker) wire for the nest and 24 gauge (thinner) for the 3 wraps. The 24 gauge is much easier to work with so I’d recommend that size wire unless you are used to working with it.

Grab a hot glue gun and glue the nest to your ring base. I had to file down my ring base first because the edges of the base stuck out a little (it was oval shaped and not round). Hopefully you will find a nice small round ring base. And that’s it!

If you prefer, you can attach a jump ring to the nest and use it as a necklace instead. Once you get the hang of it, they are really easy to make and you’ll want to make a few of them for your friends and family! I’m so happy Sarah Ortega showed me how to do this. If anything is not clear, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Happy Wiring!

Sweet Sugar Beans with Bacon

This baked bean dish brings back fond memories of my Aunt Pauline who lived too far away from us to see very often. I don’t have too many memories of her, but I do remember her big old Victorian house (with the scary basement), her quiet, kind demeanor and her baked beans. Sweetened up Great Northern beans and bacon baked in an oven and served up in her sunny kitchen.

I’m not sure if this is her exact recipe since I never got it before she passed away, but I think it’s pretty close. If you like your beans sweet, you’ll enjoy this! All you need are 4 ingredients.

Sweet Sugar Beans with Bacon
1 large can (40.5 oz.) of Great Northern beans
1/2 pound uncooked bacon, cut up
2/3 cup white, granulated sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Stir together the beans (and liquid), bacon pieces, sugar and garlic salt in a bowl until well combined. Pour into a casserole dish, cover with foil or lid, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour.

— If you can’t find a large can of beans, you can use 2 1/2 regular sized cans (15 oz.?? each).
— I use center cut bacon because it’s leaner, and I usually cut off the parts that are just fat.
— You can do these in the slow cooker as well, but I have not tried that yet to say how long they need to cook. Maybe I’ll try that next time and report back. ­čÖé