Thursday, March 28, 2013

Banana Bread Bites

     Alright Spring, where the bleep are you?!? This 45 degrees and below stuff has got to stop, like right now. Seriously, I need some warm and sunshine.

     Well if I can’t bring the warmth from the outside in, I can for sure try to make some warmth to share! Warmth in the form of itsy bitsy bundles of joy, um, I mean banana bread.

     These little gems were what I had cranking out of my kitchen while the snow continued to pelt down on us here in Jersey this week. It was just a mess, you know the gross wet/ice/sleet/snow that makes you want to crawl under the covers? Yes, that kind of nastiness.

     And so I did what makes me feel oh so happy…..wrap that apron around meself and get bakin’! Two hours, 5 baking sheets, and 1 huge floury mess later, I had my cure for this dreary day. With a cup of apple cinnamon tea, a dunk with some of these and a warm throw blanket, I sorta forgot it was almost April…….EnjoyJ

Banana Nut Bites
Makes: about 50
Slightly adapted from: best-ever-cookie-collection

2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Cmashed banana (3 medium)
1 C salted mixed chopped nuts

1.     Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silicone liners, parchment paper, or lightly spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray
2.     In a medium size bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt until well blended and set aside
3.     In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended
4.     Beat in the egg and mashed bananas, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary to make sure everything is well blended
5.     Stir in the flour mixture with the mixer on low speed or with a wooden spoon just until combined.
6.     Stir in the nuts
7.     Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart
8.     Bake until no indentation remains when touched, about 8 to 10 minutes
9.     Remove from the oven and immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack with a spatula and allow to cool completely before storing


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Balsamic drizzled Roast Chicken, Prosciutto & Provolone Sandwiches

         Sandwiches, a food that I believe should be its own food group. I’m not sure what I love about them but whatever it is, I am addicted. Really, I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Actually, I do eat one every morning- peanut butter and just up until this year I ate a turkey sandwich every day. No, I didn’t eat them for dinner too each night, but I probably would consider it if I didn’t love pasta so much! Anyway…..What’s funny is that I think there are two types of people out there: those who love them, like me, and those who could do without, please not you.

            Pity those who fall into the ladder.

            And with anything you love, you usually fall into preparing it the same way over and over. As with me and my chicken sandwiches. I usually go with choice A- pesto on it or B- balsamic on it or C- bacon and mayo. All delicious in their own unique way but honestly, all getting a bit mundane.

            Enter Prosciutto and honey balsamic dressing. Oh and add to that some sharp provolone and roast chicken. Bam, bam hello Mam, now we’re talking! What a winner. The prosciutto sort of fries up in the oven, while the cheese browns and blisters just enough to give a smoky flair to each bite. The roast chicken kicked my grilled chicken’s booty, no doubt. I admittedly bought a store-bought one because I’ve had little to no time lately. For $5 though, it’s a busy cook’s miracle.

            So that’s that, a 1-2-3 satisfying sandwich that had me at first peek in the ovenJ Enjoy…

Balsamic drizzled Roast Chicken, Prosciutto & Provolone Sandwiches
Makes: 2

OBJ: TCW be able to step up her chicken sandwich game

1 whole roasted chicken, store bought or homemade
4-5 thinly sliced Prosciutto (Italian Ham)
2-3 slices sharp provolone
6 TBS honey balsamic salad dressing (I recommend Ken’s Reserve)
2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan
S & P: salt and pepper
1 loaf Italian bread, cut in ½ then sliced open and inner dough taken out (gutted)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil
2. Place bottom ½ of Italian bread pieces on baking sheet, spoon 2 TBS dressing over each
3. Cut thin slices of white meat chicken and place generously on top of drizzled bread. Layer 2 slices of prosciutto over chicken
4. Sprinkle chicken with Parmesan cheese and S & P. Then place 1 ½ slices of provolone on top of chicken and Parmesan
5. Place in oven to heat up and melt, about 5-8 minutes
6. Meanwhile, spoon remaining 2 TBS of dressing over the top pieces of bread, 1 TBS each. Place these on baking sheets during last 1-2 minutes of cooking time to heat and crisp up
7. Remove baking sheet from oven. Remove open-faced sandwiches from sheet and place on plate. Top with bread topJ Enjoy




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fish Tacos

            I suppose if California had a taste, it could be of these. To me, fish tacos scream California. I picture little food stands grilling fresh fish, throwing the fillets in a warmed tortilla and finishing them off with a squeeze of lime. Oh how blissful does that sound?!?

            A little secret: I’ve never been to California! Haha, I guess it is either too much Food Network, Travel Channel or hearing about my brother’s and sister-in-law’s trip out west that has me stereotyping both California and fish tacos!

            So I don’t know where this fascination with fish tacos and California came from, but I do know this: they taste divine! Fresh from the sea (um.. fish marketJ), flakey enough to melt in your mouth and light enough to eat 3 or 4 in one sitting! Now with some salsa, sour cream and more fresh lime, you got yourself a mini paradise…..Enjoy…
Fish Tacos
Slightly adapted from: Food Network, Bobby Flay
Serves: 2

OBJ: TCW be able bring a taste of California into her home

1 ½ lbs  white flaky fish- I used Cod
¼  cup canola oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped
8 flour tortillas, wrapped in foil

Cole slaw mix
 Sour cream
Thinly sliced red onion
Chopped cilantro leaves
Extra lime, sliced for squeezing

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
 2. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, chili powder, jalapeno, pour over the fish in a large ziplock bag
3. Let marinate in fridge for 15 to 20 minutes
4. Remove the fish from the marinade place onto a baking sheet
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until completely cooked. Let rest for 5 minutes then flake the fish with a fork to break apart
6. Place foil wrapped tortillas in oven for last 5 minutes of fish baking
 7. Divide the fish among the tortillas and garnish with any or all of the garnishes


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slow Cooker Asian Pork with Noodles & Broccoli

       I must say, I’ve always been a firm believer that every kitchen needs 5 basic things to deliver the goods. 1-pizza stone 2- rubber spatulas 3- stand mixer 4- cheese grater 5-saute and sauce pan. Yes, I know that’s 6 but you get the picture, I made the list so I can bend the rules!
            And now I am making Gina history here by adding a 6th item: The Slow Cooker. Dang, this machine has had me smiling for months now! As a gal who rarely had a slow-cooked meal growing up, I find myself scouring the internet for new SC meals.
            I am picky though with the recipes I try. I find that the ones where you have to brown stuff first are pointless. If I wanted to brown something and dirty a pan, I would have done that at dinner time. I want a meal I can throw into the magic machine, come home 8 hours later, and almost fall over from the aroma.
            Sounds like a tough job to do I know but in the past year or two, I’ve found some ridiculous recipes that have me almost hugging my Slow Cooker. Click herehere , here, and here for them. Oh yeah and this one! Imagine taking the lo mein from your favorite Chinese takeout place and elevating it 10 times! Seriously, it was fork-twirling bliss!  Which leads me back to why I wanted to hug my Slow Cooker…..weird?-yes, appropriate?- kinda, contagious?- I can only hope so! Enjoy…


 Slow Cooker Asian Pork with Noodles & Broccoli
Serves: 6

Slightly adapted from: Real Simple

OBJ: TCW be able to make an at-home version of pork lo mien

1/3 C hoisin sauce
2 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
¼ tsp allspice
2 ½ lb boneless pork shoulder or butt
1 lb thin spaghetti
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
2 TBS rice vinegar
1. In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the hoisin, soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, canola oil, sesame seeds, allspice, and ¾ C water with a whisk
2. Add the pork and turn to coat (I turned it a few times to make sure it was well-coated)
3. Cover and cook until the pork is very tender, on low for 10 to 12 hours (FYI: directions say to cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or high for 5 to 6. I was going to be out for much longer so I cooked it for just under 12 hrs, it was still great)
4. Twenty minutes before serving, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, adding the broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain well
5. Using 2 forks, shred the meat. Add the vinegar and mix well to combine. Add the drained noodles and broccoli right into the slow cooker and toss very well.
6. Spoon into bowl, sprinkle with additional sesame seeds and enjoy!