French toast is one of those “Happy Foods” that bring a smile to everyone’s face. It’s that perfect weekend breakfast food that just makes you feel like you’re celebrating.
You probably have the basic ingredients — eggs, milk, sugar, butter, and bread – sitting in your kitchen right now. Add maple syrup and vanilla extract to your next shopping list and you’ll be ready to make French toast. (All sorts of different flavored extracts can be found near the spices/baking ingredients at the grocery store.)
Plain white bread is traditional, but you can also try using a braided bread (challah), croissants, whole-wheat and rye bread for French toast.
(For a quick review on measuring, check out my video on How to Measure Food)
The following ingredients are needed to make French toast:
2/3 cup of whole milk
4 large eggs
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
¼ teaspoon of salt
Using a shallow bowl whisk them together (or blend together with a fork).
The egg mixture should look like this before you start dunking the bread.
Dunk each slice of bread into the egg mixture just before you add the bread to the fry pan.
Make sure both sides are fully covered.
This step could take a little practice. Leave it too long and the bread disintegrates; not long enough, the bread doesn’t get coated.
Melt 1 1/2 Tablespoons of butter in a fry pan over medium heat. Add however many slices of bread fit in the pan without squishing everything together.
Cook the bread until it is golden brown and then flip it, preferably with a spatula. Let the other side cook until golden brown as well.
Serve it immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar or maple syrup.
P.S. I often get asked questions about the “Shelf Life” of foods. The USDA, a trusted source, offers some guidelines:
This general link to Safe Food Handling Fact Sheet from the USDA will lead you to several charts on food preservation including:
Food Shelf Life
Food Product Dating
which includes things like
A “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
A “Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
A “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
Lastly, when in doubt, throw it out!
Pancakes are eaten all over the world. Here at startcooking.com I have three different recipes which you can choose from to make pancakes:
- Chocolate Chip Pancakes from Scratch (video)
- Crepes With Nutella (video) (Crepes are a very thin, flat pancake)
- From a box mix (today’s photo-tutorial)
If you make crepes or pancakes from “scratch” you will need: flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar, salt, milk, butter, eggs, and vegetable oil. If you are just learning how to cook, all of these ingredients are in fact, an important part of a well stocked cupboard.
BUT, given that this is startcooking.com I’m going to show you how to make pancakes with a box mix.
Before buying the box mix, check the ingredients necessary to make that particular box mix. Some require only water. Some want you to add eggs, milk and sometimes vegetable oil to the box mix. Don’t leave the grocery store until you have read the back of the box of your pancake mix!
This particular mix requires only water. (The directions on the back of the box are usually done very well; often including a picture drawing of what to do!)
Using a medium size bowl, measure out the pancake mix into the bowl; be sure to level off the top of the measuring cup.
Now add the water. Use a glass measuring cup with a spout. It will make measuring and pouring the water easier.
Blend it all together with a whisk or a fork until everything is just combined. (No vigorous beating here!)
Preheat a large fry pan on medium heat for about one minute.
You will know when the pan is hot enough when you drop a few drop of water on the fry pan and they dance and sizzle! (There is a good visual of this in my Stir Fry Video)
Once the pan is hot, add 1 ½ tablespoons of vegetable oil.
You could use butter, but butter burns more quickly than vegetable oil so it can get a bit tricky if your pan gets too hot.
Using a ¼ cup measure, scoop up some batter, hold the cup about 2-3 inches from the surface of the pan, and pour the batter into the pan.
Try and make them nice and rounded. You could mush it around a bit with the back of a spoon to try and get them rounder. It may take a little practice! I like to make about 3 or 4 pancakes at a time.
Tempting as it is to make one giant pancake – I wouldn’t recommend it: it’s really tricky to flip!
There are lots of different topping you could add at this point.
Chocolate chips, coconut, chopped nuts, raspberries, blueberries, bananas, and raisins are some sweet options. For savory pancakes try shredded cheese or cooked bacon.
All you do is sprinkle your extras onto the uncooked side of the pancake. This way, everything gets evenly distributed. (Some recipes will have you add the extras to the batter but I prefer to sprinkle them on the top.)
Let the pancakes cook until you see all little bubbles on the surface of the pancake.
Using a spatula take a peek on the underside to see if they are ready to flip. They should be beautifully browned.
Now cook the flip side until it is nice and brown. The flip side never gets quite as browned or looks quite as good as the top side. The flip side takes only about half the cooking time of the first side.
Don’t keep flipping the pancakes. Flip once and that’s it!
You can keep your pancakes warm in a 200 degree oven until you have finished cooking them all.
There are of course many different types of syrup you can pour over your pancakes, but my favorite is good old fashioned maple syrup!
- One box of pancake mix
- Vegetable oil
- Chocolate chips
- Chopped Nuts
- Shredded Cheese
- Cooked bacon
I was surprised to hear one of the trainers at my gym say that he prefers instant mashed potatoes from a box rather than the real thing! I thought to myself – he needs a few tips on how to make perfect (real) mashed potatoes!
At the grocery store, you will notice that there is an incredible variety of potatoes to choose from. There are usually signs above the potatoes that will tell you which ones are great for baking versus which ones are better for mashing. If there are no signs, just ask someone who works in the Produce section for some guidance.
To make 4-6 servings of mashed potatoes you will need approximately:
- 2 pounds of potatoes
- ½ to ¾ cup of milk
- Salt and pepper (to your taste)
- 2-6 tablespoons of butter
You can make mashed potatoes in just a few easy steps.
Step 1: Wash the potatoes
Step 2: Peel the potatoes
Step 3: Cut the potatoes into 1 ½ inch chunks
Step 4: Put the potatoes in sauce pan and cover with water
(adding 1 teaspoon of salt to the water is optional)
Step 5: Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer. Simmer 20 minutes
Step 6: Drain the potatoes
Step 7: Add milk, butter, salt and pepper
Step 8: Start mashing!
Keep mashing until the potatoes are creamy and lump free. You can garnish your mashed potatoes with some chopped parsley if you like.
The Equipment you’ll need:
- Sauce pan with a cover
- Vegetable peeler
- Potato masher
- Colander (optional)
Tempted as you might be to try using a blender or a food processor to mash potatoes…DON’T! Believe me, years ago I tried that. You end up with a gluey, uneatable, awful mess. If you are mashing for a crowd, an electric hand mixer will work beautifully!
Here are just a few more ways to cook potatoes from startcooking.com:
Potatoes – Baked Potato with Salsa
Potatoes – Microwave Baked
Potatoes – Microwave Baked (video)
Potatoes – Oven Baked
Potatoes – Roasted
Potatoes – Sweet Potato Casserole
Potatoes, How to Choose and Use