Banana Bread

July 3, 2015 – 7:53 pm

My favorite recipe for banana bread is based off of the one by Elise of Simply Recipes

Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf

3-4 small to medium very ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and spray a 4×8-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until mostly smooth. Stir in the melted butter.

Add the baking soda and salt and stir to combine. Next, stir in the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.

Lastly, add the flour and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool. Slice and serve.

Some more hits from dinner

April 18, 2015 – 6:36 pm

We’re back on the menu planning wagon and got some excellent dinners this week.

Rosemary garlic roasted lamb with pears and brussels sprouts

A couple more hits from The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook.

Pork chops with port wine and cherry sauce

Maple and bourbon glazed pork tenderloin

I liked the first a bit better, and Shaun liked the second, but both are keepers!

Back to previous blog hits, some turkey and bean chili

Chicken and bean burritos (similar to my beef and bean burritos, but with skinless boneless chicken thighs)

And just because it sounded good, a giant cobb-like salad: romaine lettuce, hard boiled egg, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, bacon, and Beecher’s cheese curds.

Pork Tacos with Clementine Salsa

April 12, 2015 – 4:54 pm

This recipe was inspired by the pork tacos with mango salsa in the excellent The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook.

I say inspired by, because we immediate proceeded to change just about everything. I’m sure it’s an awesome recipe, but it also provided us with a great way to use up some items in our fridge. The clementine salsa is a fresh, slightly sweet counterpoint to the spicy pork.

Pork Tacos with Clementine Salsa
Serves 2 generously

For the pork filling:
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp pureed chipotle in adobo sauce (I puree a can and freeze most of it in an ice cube tray. Then I can defrost just a bit when I need it.)
1 large clove garlic, pressed
16 oz lean ground pork
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the clementine salsa:
4 clementines, peeled and split into segments
2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

For serving:
4-6 soft taco size flour tortillas (I like Tortilla Land – cook them yourself for fresh tortillas with minimal effort)

Preheat the oven to the lowest setting (mine is 170 degrees F). Heat the tortillas in a non-stick skillet, then place in the oven to keep warm.

Toss together the salsa ingredients and set aside for the flavors to meld.

Heat the oil in your skillet, then add the chipotle and the garlic and cook until the garlic is just starting to turn golden and fragrant. Add the pork and brown well, making sure that the chipotle and garlic are evenly distributed. Turn the heat off, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss with the lemon juice.

Serve the pork warm in tortillas with the clementine salsa.

Spinach and Ham Breakfast Bake

April 1, 2015 – 7:15 am

This is a healthy, easy bake for breakfast. I made this last night and enjoyed a piece for breakfast this morning. I let it go a bit long in the oven, so it’s a bit more brown in the picture than I was aiming for, but it’s still quite tasty. The time is a pure guess, as I didn’t set any timer.

Spinach and Ham Breakfast Bake
Serves 4

1 quart egg whites
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted, extra water rung out
8 oz diced ham

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray an 8″ x 8″ deep baking dish with non-stick spray. Add the ingredients and gently stir to combine. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until set all the way through and just starting to brown. Serve warm.

Lightened Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

March 31, 2015 – 7:22 pm

This is a lighter version of my scalloped potatoes with ham. There’s less sauce, and it’s made with whole milk instead of half and half. Not quite as decadent, but still quite good and satisfying for a dinner.

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Serves 6

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup whole milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided: 1/2 cup for the sauce and 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top
4-5 medium potatoes (about 2 pounds,; I like Yukon Gold, or White Rose potatoes for this)
2 cups diced cooked ham (about 8 oz)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice up the potatoes into rounds. A mandolin works well here to get nice even slices. Boil the potato slices on the stove top for about 25 minutes, until just tender, and drain them well.

In a saucepan over medium low heat melt the butter, being careful not to brown it. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. Gradually add the milk, whisking until the sauce is smooth and begins to thicken. Add 1/2 cup cheese and stir until melted. Taste for seasoning and re-season as necessary. Remove the sauce from the heat. If it gets too thick while you’re slicing potatoes, you can put it back over the heat and whisk in a little water or broth to thin it.

Spray a 9″x13″ casserole dish with non-stick spray or butter it and fill it with the potatoes, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the diced ham on top, and then pour the sauce over evenly. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until dish is bubbly and hot and the cheese is just starting to brown. Serve warm.

Baked Pork Dumplings

January 3, 2015 – 2:30 pm

These are a delicious dumpling in the same line as baked pork flower dumplings, baked Asian turkey buns, and hom bao.

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Baked Pork Dumplings
Makes 36 dumplings

1 package gyoza wrappers
1/4 cup canola oil, divided
1 lb small button mushrooms, quartered
1 large head savoy cabbage (about 1 lb)
1 lb ground pork
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing rice wine or mirin
1 tsp sesame oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin tins with the gyoza wrappers, gently pressing the wrapper into the bottom of each cavity.

Heat 2 tbsp of canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and stir fry until cooked through. Remove them to a bowl. Heat another 1 tbsp of canola oil. Add the cabbage and stir fry, adding water if needed, until cooked through. Remove to the bowl with the mushrooms. Heat the final tbsp of canola oil and add the pork. Brown it well, breaking it up into small pieces. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion powder and pepper and toss to combine. Add the cabbage and mushrooms back to the pan. Pour the soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil over the top and stir to combine well. Stir fry together for a minute or two to meld the flavors.

Add about 2 tbsp of the filling to each wrapper. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the wrappers are toasty brown around the edges and bottoms.

Remove to a platter and serve warm.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2014 – 7:53 pm

It’s been a great year! We’ve had a blast with Steven, helping him to grow and learn. He’s 16 months old now, a full-on toddler, and loving life!

Saturday, we had a get-together with his friend, Amary, and her mom and dad. The kids had a great time playing together, Ben and Shaun kept Star Wars cartoons going in the background, and Manda and I made a bunch of spritz cookies and fudge. Lots o’ fun!

We had pot roast for dinner, which everyone large and small enjoyed. Triumph!

Christmas eve dinner was our usual steamed crab and bacon wrapped shrimp, with bacon wrapped asparagus, because, well, does bacon really need a reason? 😀

Christmas morning, we had maple sausages and cinnamon rolls. I cheated and used Immaculate Baking’s pre-made rolls, which were quite good!

Christmas dinner was a beautiful and always delicious standing rib roast with boiled potatoes and steamed baby peas.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Country Potatoes

October 12, 2014 – 12:02 pm

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We tried these Trader Joe’s Country Potatoes With Haricots Verts & Wild Mushrooms for a side dish earlier this week. They cooked up quickly in a skillet, and were a very tasty and easy side. The combination of sliced potatoes, green beans, and a mix of mushrooms, including criminis and chanterelles, tossed with herbs would pair well with many proteins. Find these in the frozen aisle!

As always, my reviews are my own, and I am not compensated in any way.

Chicken and Rice

October 7, 2014 – 6:46 pm

This is a great way to use up leftovers and bits and pieces of veggies. I used leftover steamed rice, leftover chicken from one of our cider roasted chickens, some carrots, and some peas. Mushrooms would also go very well in this. I didn’t end up seasoning any extra, since the chicken and pan drippings (including the cider) were plenty tasty, but if you use a rotisserie chicken or don’t have the pan drippings, add some salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme as you like.

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Chicken and Rice
Serves two, generously

1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sliced carrot (about 10 baby carrots)
2 cups leftover steamed rice
2 cups leftover roasted chicken with pan drippings
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until just starting to caramelize and turn tender. Add the rice and toss to combine, separating the grains and coating them with butter. Add the chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and the peas and stir well. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and most of the broth is absorbed by the rice. Serve warm.

Cider Roasted Chicken

September 15, 2014 – 6:45 pm

This is a take on our beer roasted chicken. We used Angry Orchard Green Apple Hard Cider this time with outstanding results. Their regular flavor turned out okay, but the green apple was somehow just perfect. We served this with some sauteed zucchini, but steamed or roasted broccoli, or a green salad also work very well.

I use a cheap little roasting rack like the one at the bottom of the post here (amazon affiliate link) placed in a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. It works great, and clean-up is easy too.

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Cider Roasted Chicken
Serves 4-6

For the rub:
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1`tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp canola oil

For the rest:
1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
1 bottle hard cider (we especially liked Angry Orchard Green Apple)

Set the racks in the oven to the lowest level, removing the upper ones if necessary to fit the chicken in vertically.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set up your roasting stand.

Mix all of the spices and herbs with the canola oil to make a rub.

Remove and discard the neck and any giblets from the chicken and pat the skin dry.

Rub the chicken all over with the spice mixture, getting some under the breast skin as well. Pour most of the cider into the chicken roaster stand. Place the chicken, legs pointing down, over the roaster so that it is standing vertically, supported by the center of the roaster.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature taken in the center of the breast is 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven, use tongs to take the chicken off the roaster and onto a platter, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

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