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Banana & Orange French Toast

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I love food blogging because I love food and love sharing good recipes with good people.  But there are some things about this chosen hobby that sometimes drive me crazy!

It’s mostly the photographs.  Such as the two featured on this post.  To take them, I first had to find a spot that was had a lot of natural indirect sunlight, had to pick out a background and strangely went with this neon green poster board.  I figured I could maybe turn it a different color with editing but since I’m using a really cheap editing program, that didn’t work out.

Anyway, I picked the front porch (my neighbors probably think I’m crazy but I photograph food on my porch without batting an eyelash!), plopped down the poster board and the plate on top of it, drizzled on the syrup and immediately turned on my camera, hoping to catch the slide of the syrup onto the plate for optimal salivating effect.  As soon as I selected the macro setting on my uber-cheapo camera (cheap is how I roll if you haven’t  already gathered that by now), my camera informed me it was out of memory.  Doh!  Forgot to put in the memory card.  I go stalking into the house and snap it up and run back out to hopefully catch the last of the syrup dripping from the toast onto the plate.  I turn on the camera, and it informs me the battery is low before it dies.  Doh!  I go tearing through the house, lamenting that my toast will now be stone cold by the time I eat it and the syrup will be in a lazy puddle surrounding it on the plate instead of dripping gorgeously down onto it, to find an extension cord so I can plug in my camera and drag it out the front door with me.

I scream at Dennis to help me find an extension cord while I try to locate my charger.  Where is it? Arg!!!  Cold French toast!  I finally find it, and get my own extension cord because Dennis is still elbow deep in dish water (bless him, my studly dishwasher!), plug the sucker in and drag it to the front porch.  I finally get the pics, now hating the crazy neon green color of the background but not wanting to take any more time to switch to a white or black one, and then start eating the French toast in desperation while still crouched in front of it on the front porch.  Just a normal pre-meal ritual for this scatter-brained food blogger!

So about this French toast.  Usually I keep it simple when it comes to making French toast.  Beat the eggs, add in some milk, soak the bread, sprinkle on cinnamon while it cooks, and drown it in syrup on my plate.  I wanted to try something different and I have to say this turned out fantastic!  (It was still warm when I ate it, thankfully, but I think I still would have loved it cold!)  The orange and banana are really highlighted by the rum and freshly grated nutmeg.  I had mine with sugar-free syrup (I know, the horror!), and I actually liked it better than the taste I had of my husbands with pure maple syrup because it overwhelmed the flavor of the French Toast itself, which I found a travesty.  This might be the one case where I recommend using pancake syrup, instead of the real stuff.  Forgive me!

Banana & Orange French Toast

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 fresh mandarin orange (also called clementines or Cuties)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup fat free milk
2 teaspoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg, divided
4 slices bread
2 small bananas
Syrup for serving

Heat a skillet over medium while you prepare the egg batter.  Grate the zest from the orange into a bowl.  Slice the orange in half and squeeze juice into bowl.  Add the eggs and whisk until smooth, then beat in the milk, rum, and 1 teaspoon of the nutmeg.  Spray skillet with cooking oil, then soak bread thoroughly in egg mixture before placing on hot skillet.  Cook two minutes per side or until cooked through.  Unless you use a griddle, you will most likely have to cook the French toast in batches of two.  Place two pieces of French toast on two plates, slice one banana on top of each plate, sprinkle remaining nutmeg over each and top with syrup.  Serve hot.

Serves 2

Per serving (calculated without syrup, and using Nature’s Own WhiteWheat bread at 50 calories a slice): 317 calories; 10 g fat; 47 carbohydrates; 7 g fiber; 17 g protein; 9 Points Plus.

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Butter Pecan-Rum Cake

Living with our parents for eighteen years or more, we’re bound to take on some of their characteristics and qualities during that impressionable time, whether good or bad, and whether we’d like to admit it or not.  For the past decade, I have been working on undoing many of those that I deem unacceptable, such as being overly critical and dramatic, and have been moderately successful.  One of the many bad habits that I haven’t been able to completely shake is the tendency to buy things that I really don’t need, simply because they are on sale.

Yes, I was raised by a woman who can’t resist a sale.  I believe this may be a common thing among women(?), but perhaps not to the degree that my mother takes it. 

My parents (now empty-nesters) have three refrigerators and two freezers, and Mom has stocked enough canned & frozen foods (purchased on sale, of course) to last them at least six months without making a trip to the grocery store.  Ironically, she does the same thing with produce, of which at least half goes bad before they can eat it so she ends up wasting money rather than saving it, at least in that area.  I often see an entire crisper drawer full of avocados, tomatoes, onions, etc, and many are still there two months later in a much sadder state.

Though I have never shopped sales to this degree, I have purchased my fair share of unneccessary items simply because they were a good price.  A butter pecan cake mix, for example.  Not an item I needed or was very interested in, but it was on sale so I had to have it.

For two months, I glanced guiltily over at that mix each time I opened my cupboard where I keep most of my baking supplies.  I finally, finally took the cake mix down and found a recipe on the back for butter pecan-rum cake…and that’s all she wrote.  I made it immediately and after Dennis and I ate 1/3 of the cake ourselves, I brought the remainder to work where it was promptly devoured. 

The butter & sour cream really make the cake super-moist–even the next day after storing it with a big hunk missing.  And the addition of rum is just perfection with the butter pecan flavor. 

The moral of the story?  Next time your husband complains that “you’re just like your mother,” make him this cake to show him that’s not always such a bad thing.

Butter Pecan Rum Cake

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist butter pecan cake mix
1 box (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup dark rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract
4 eggs
1/2 cup Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting
2 teaspoons dark rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube (bundt cake) pan. In large bowl, beat dry cake mix, dry pudding mix, water, sour cream, butter, 1/4 cup rum and the eggs on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes (it will turn into liquid velvet!!!). Spread in pan.

2. Bake 46-52 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely, about 2 hours. (My cake rose up very high above the pan but by the time it was time to remove it from the pan, it had settled back down even with the top of the pan.)

3. In small microwavable bowl, microwave frosting uncovered on Medium (50%) 15 seconds. Stir in 2 teaspoons rum. Pour over top of cake, allowing some to drizzle down sides. Sprinkle pecans over frosting. Store loosely covered.

Makes 16 servings.
High altitude (3500-6500 ft): Bake 52-58 min.

Recipe source: Betty Crocker

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Vanilla-Rum Custard Sauce

I’ve previously mentioned my failed attempt at a brown butter pound cake.  Wonderful flavor, but overbaked to the point that it was almost too dry to choke down.  Well, after keeping it in the freezer for a month, I finally decided upon my method of recovery for the dried loaf (with some help from my friend, Laura).  And Redbook magazine helped me with the recipe.

Using pound cake rather than bread worked well here, giving an almost creamy texture to the pudding, but I think it would be just as good with the brioche or challah.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Vanilla-Rum Custard Sauce

from Redbook magazine, November 2009

1 T unsalted butter
1 lb brioche or challah loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used about 1 1/2 loaves brown butter pound cake)
4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree
1 c packed light-brown sugar
1 T pumpkin-pie spice
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 c dark rum
1/4 t salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Vanilla-rum custard sauce (recipe below)

Heat oven to 350.  Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with butter.

Bake bread cubes in a roasting pan, tossing several times, 15-20 minutes or until bread feels dry and slightly firm (I toasted mine 30 minutes–they were almost like croutons after cooling) .  Transfer cubes to a large bowl.  Turn off oven.

In another bowl, whisk eggs, cream, milk, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, vanilla, rum, and salt.  Add bread cubes, tossing to coat.  Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.  Cover; chill overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place baking dish in a roasting pan and pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of dish.  (I didn’t do the water bath and it turned out fine.) Bake 50-55 minutes or until a knife tests clean (Mine was not done until 65 minutes).  Let cool in pan on a wire rack until warm.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar; serve with vanilla-rum custard sauce.

Makes 12 servings.  Each serving: 401 calories, 22 g fat, 9 g protein, 43 g carb

Vanilla-Rum Custard Sauce
6 large egg yolks
6 T sugar
1 c heavy cream
1 c milk
1 T each vanilla extract and dark rum

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar, about 3 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat cream and milk over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge.  Slowly whisk cream mixture into yolk mixture; pour back into saucepan.  Heat over medium-low, stirring constantly, until sauce coats back of a spoon, 3-4 minutes or to 170 degrees F.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and rum.  Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl.  Serve warm or cold.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.  Each (1 T) serving: 42 cal, 3 g fat, 1 g protein, 2 g carb

Butter Rum Caramel Cake

This cake originally started out as the base for my dulce de leche bars (I use a cake mix in the crust) but I added too many eggs and instead of throwing out the mixture, I turned it into a rum cake, froze it to use later, and finally removed it and frosted it today.  What began as an “oops” has now officially turned into a “yum!”

Butter Rum Caramel Cake

1 pkg Golden Butter Recipe cake mix
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 cup rum (I used Meyers)

1 cup dulce de leche

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Black Walnuts

Mix cake ingredients & bake according to package directions.  Cool completely.

Cream and butter and brown sugar, add the remaining ingredients and beat until creamy & fluffy.

Spread 3/4 of the dulce de leche on one cake layer, top with the second, then frost the top and sides.  Sprinkle black walnuts over the top and embellish with the remaining dulce de leche and frosting.  I put mine in a pastry bag, cut the tip off and squeezed it all over the edges.  You could also use a ziploc bag and cut the corner out.
The cake was still frozen when I cut this slice, but that didn’t keep me from gobbling it in under a minute!

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