Saturday, June 27, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Up until a couple of days ago, I've been listening to my Elvis CD's on repeat in the car. I blame Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas. Anyway, The King has inspired me to bake some peanut butter, banana nut muffins. I was going to top it with bits of crumbled bacon bits, but my family cringed at the thought of bacon and insisted on chocolate chips instead.


Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter muffin pans. In a large bowl, add banana. Mash banana. Add all remaining ingredients except flour. Beat until smooth. Add flour and stir until blended. Add nuts and chocolate chips (optional). Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling tins 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

I used individual aluminum baking cups instead of a muffin tin for easy clean up.

Hey Ozge! Take a bite!



Ann! Thanks for sharing this award with me. Very Cool!








Edit: I'm a noob blogger. I can't believe I left one of the main ingredients, peanut butter out of the original post. Thanks Happycao for the heads up! :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

So Many Cucumbers, What to Do?

So what do you do when you have a ton of home grown cucumbers to use up? Well, besides giving them away to your co-workers, rubbing them on your eyelids and looking like an idiot, you get creative with cooking.

Ever cook with cucumbers other then in a cold salad? Cooked cucumber actually has a nice texture similar to cooked zucchini. This is my cucumber and calamari stir fry. I sliced up a cucumber, green onions, halved plum tomatoes, button mushrooms, black fungus, and scored pieces of calamari. Everything got tossed with some olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, and black pepper.

Stuffed cucumber soup anyone? Traditionally this Vietnamese soup is made with bitter melons but I didn't have any. I did however have a truck load of cucumbers. The cucumbers are halved and hallowed out and stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, black fungus mushrooms (I like black fungus, can you tell?), diced onions, and cellophane noodles. The soup is garnished with lots of chopped green onions and cilantro.

Aside from the little fat, stubby, pickling cucumbers that have been growing in my garden, I welcome a new edition.....Japanese Cucumbers. These guys are long and skinny like English cucumbers but they have seeds and tiny little spines. Pretty slices, eh?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One Cow on a Bun, Please

My favorite burger joints are Five Guys and Fatburger (best one being the Las Vegas location). When I heard a Five Guys was opening near where I work, I got really excited. Until now the nearest Five Guys was a 40 mile drive. The drive and cost of gas was enough to keep me from doing any burger runs.

This Five Guys is about 2 months old. All Five Guys are set up pretty much the same with an open kitchen and huge sacks of Idaho potatoes lining the dining area. Luckily I got here just before the lunch crowd because not 10 minutes after I snapped this picture, the line started forming out the door.

Their menu is pretty small and basic. They have your choice of a regular double patty burger, a double patty cheese burger, or a double patty bacon cheeseburger. If that's too much meat for your liking, every burger also comes "Little" with only one hamburger patty. They also serve hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches, although I've never seen anyone order it. Last but not least, they have the best fries. The fries come two ways, regular and Cajun. The fries are freshly cut, seasoned, fried in peanut oil, and come served in a brown, grease stained, paper sack. YUMMY and GREASY!!!!!!!

The meat is never frozen. I assume they're also hand molded and seasoned at each location because two patties never look alike. I got the regular hamburger with just ketchup, raw onions, and tomatoes. I'm a simple girl. I don't need a decked out burger all the time.

I was a little disappointed when I first unwrapped the foil. The patties weren't as thick and meaty as I've had them before at other Five Guys locations and the overall look of the burger was a bit boring. But, looks can be deceiving!! My burger turned out to be really juicy and flavorful. I was stuffed and could only finish a quarter of my fries. I guess sometimes simplicity is best.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Guava Pastries

Some weeks ago I was on My Colombian Recipes and Erica, the lovely blog owner introduced me to guava paste. For any food noobs like me out there, guava paste is a thick puree of the guava fruit. The paste comes in a tin and reminds me a little of canned cranberry sauce. It's really sticky, sweet, and dense but soft enough to cut with a butter knife. Guava paste tastes very similar to jam but it's super thick and not spreadable.

I haven't had a chance to try out her Ripe Plantain Ball recipe yet, but I did find another use for the paste. With puff pastry being something I always have in my freezer, I made guava turnovers. I didn't have an exact recipe. I borrowed a bit here and a bit there from 3 different recipes.

I defrosted one sheet of puff pastry and cut it into 4 squares. I sliced up the guava paste into 1/2" wide strips about 2 1/2" long. With a block of cream cheese, I cut out four strips slightly bigger than the guava paste. Place the cream cheese and guava a little off-center on the the pastry square. Use an egg wash and brush all around the edges. Take a corner of the puff pastry and fold over diagonally forming a triangle. Cut small slits into the top of the dough. Brush the top of the pastries with more egg wash. Bake in a 400° F oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. The icing I used to drizzle on top is the same recipe from my strawberry cheese danishes except I used vanilla extract instead of almond this time.

The turnovers came out nice and flaky.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Watermelon, Feta, and Basil Salad

To continue on with the whole salad theme from yesterday, today I present to you....The watermelon, feta, and basil salad. Tada!!!

I personally know a few people who will immediately turn their noses up at the very thought of this unusual combination (my own mom and hubby being a couple of them). To them I say with lots of love, "Too bad. Your lost. So go back to your boring, old, typical garden salads." This is entering on Foodie territory anyway. Haha! Now with all that out of the way, this salad couldn't be simpler to make.

Watermelon, Feta, and Basil Salad

Ingredients

4 cups watermelon chopped
1 package feta crumbles
10 fresh basil leaves, julienned
Fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt

Directions

Toss water melon with lime juice and salt. Add feta and basil just before serving and toss again.

Easy peasy and refreshing on a steaming hot day like today.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Simple Salads for the Summer

This week the weather has been extremely hot. The past couple of days topped out at 95°F and it's only June. I've been eating a lot of salads and using my little toaster oven to avoid standing by a hot stove.

One of my favorite salads that funny enough I always forget about is a nice strawberry spinach salad with toasted walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese.

I used a store bought raspberry vinaigrette, one cup of baby spinach, fresh sliced strawberries, toasted walnuts, and a sprinkle of Gorgonzola crumbles.

This is my garden salad tossed in a ponzu dressing and topped with a tortilla crusted tilapia fillet. To make the dressing, I used the standard 1 part ponzu sauce, 2 parts oil ratio. I used a bottled Ponzu sauce because I'm lazy, but it's simple enough to make yourself. I baked the fish in a toaster oven to avoid heating the whole house. It worked pretty well too.

Ponzu Sauce

Ingredients

3 tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp bonito flakes
2 tbsp lime juice (or more to taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice (or more to taste)

Directions

Combine the mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, and bonito flakes in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Remove from the heat and let cool.
Pour the sauce through a strainer into a bowl; discard the bonito flakes.
Add the lime and lemon juice to taste and serve.

Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

Ingredients

4 4oz tilapia fillets
2 Handfuls of red, blue and yellow tortilla chips
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 egg beaten

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F and coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
Place tortilla pieces, pepper, lime juice, cilantro and spices in blender. Pulse until mixture is uniform small crumbs. Spread on a plate.
Beat egg in a shallow dish.
Dip each fillet into egg mixture, then in crumbs. Pat to adhere. Place on baking sheet.
Bake until fish flakes (approx. 15 minutes depending upon thickness of fillets.)

And finally my Yakitori with a Twist Salad.

This salad isn't as pretty as the other two. I think it's the brown coloring from the teriyaki sauce that makes it look drab. Also the missing bright red tomatoes don't help with the colors either. I made this salad for my boy, and he hates tomatoes. Can you believe that?!? Good thing I'm his wife and not his mother, or I'd be force feeding him tomatoes until he learned to like them. Muhahaha!!!! See!...yet another reason why I shouldn't have kids. :)

I made these pseudo yakitori skewers by alternating pieces of teriyaki marinated chicken breast, shrimp, whole button mushrooms, and pieces of green onions. I brushed on a thick teriyaki glaze. Once again I broke out the trusty toaster oven. Yeah I know you're suppose to grill yakitori, but I baked mine because I'm afraid of my grill. Don't ask....it's a sad little story that would make you look at me funny.

Next time I'm going to try my hand at watermelon, feta, and basil salad....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Faidleys Award Winning Crab Cakes

This past week my husband, Doug was in Baltimore, Maryland on a business trip. He knew he had to eat some crab cakes while there. On his quest to find the best crab cakes in Baltimore, everything pointed him to Faidleys Seafood in Lexington Market.

At $12.95 a cake, he brought home 4 for the family to try. These were nothing like I've seen or eaten before. They were round and the size of tennis balls. I'm more used to the small, flat discs shaped cakes.

It's not too pretty looking on the inside but as you can see, it's completely filled with huge lumps of crab meat. There were hardly any fillers in this crab cake. I reheated it in my little toaster oven at 350° F for about 15 minutes. They had survived a two hour flight crammed in a plastic container in Doug's suitcase. The cakes still kept their shape. The crab meat was so sweet, moist, and flaky. I can see why Faidleys won 1st place in "Best of Baltimore" '89-'99.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Video Games....It's like Virtual Crack

I notice that I've been slacking on updating my blog this week. I'm usually a weekend blogger anyway but this week has been particularly hard. I blame my lack of posts on this.....Yes folks, The Sims 3 came out in the U.S. on June 2nd and has sucked up every waking moment of my day. Before I started blogging I was a video game junkie. I was a diehard World of Warcraft geek. I played it for almost 3 years. My boy, Doug and I used to never leave the house on weekends, or we would schedule things around WoW. There were actually tons of married couples just like us that were also addicted and doing the exact same thing. Sad isn't it? Maybe I shouldn't be admitting this. Haha!

But anyway, I'm sucked back in for the moment. I've been playing the Sims series since the early 2000's when the graphics were 2D and horrible looking.

This is the character I made last night. She's an aspiring 5 Star Chef as well as a fun loving kleptomaniac. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!


Update:

Oh and here she is eating some pancakes , pool side. lol


And....my sim watching a cooking show. Ok I'm done.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"It's a Major Award"

Yesterday one of my newest foodie friends, Ann was sweet enough to pass her award onto me along with some other well deserving blogs. Let's just say when I saw the comment Ann left on my blog, I was on cloud 9.

So with this rare and great opportunity, I'd like to quote one of my favorite childhood movies, A Christmas Story (hey! no snickering. haha!).

In the words of Ralphie's dad....."It's a Major Award!!!"


For those who have not seen A Christmas Story yet, please bear with me while I bask in the glory for another few moments. Who knows when I'll get another award. :)

All kidding aside seeing this instantly brightened my day. Thank you Ann!

To pass the torch along, I've picked 10 awesome blogs that I love visiting. Some are well seasoned blogs, and I'm sure they've seen this award before. But, I hope they'll still be thrilled to receive it as much I was.



Spirited Miu Flavor
Sunshine Mom
Burp and Slurp
Our Adventures in Japan
Adventures in Bentomaking
Kitchen Cow
Soy and Pepper
Cooking Stuff
Lunch in a Box
My Colombian Recipes