Monday, July 19, 2021

Glitter Grapes

July 19, 2021
 
I have always believed in using up what you have, and not letting things go to waste.  For example, when I meal plan, I often look to see if there will be leftovers from a specific meal, that I can use for the next night, or a few nights over.

Roast a whole chicken, count on having leftovers that can be made into enchiladas, or chicken salad.  

I also don't like throwing things away, so I'm always trying to use up what we have in the fridge.  If it is some sort of vegetable that I can freeze, then I do so.  If it's fruit I try to make a fruit salad or jam.

I had some grapes that needed eating up soon, before they went bad, and since we've been having such hot weather here, these were the best excuse to make some glitter grapes.

July 19, 2021 

Now if you've never had glitter grapes, you're probably thinking I've lost my mind. But I assure you, I haven't, and if you've never tried these, you really don't know what you're missing. They are so easy to make, and the good thing is that you can make as much or as little as you want, making it the perfect treat for a get together. 

July 19, 2021 

Glitter Grapes 
 
 
Ingredients: 
Grapes 
Jello powder (flavor of your choosing)
Sugar 
 
 
Directions: 
For every 2 cups of grapes, you need 1 tablespoon of jello powder and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Mix well, then pour into a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet, and freeze.

If you want to keep them frozen or make a big batch that you won't eat right away, you can place them in ziploc bags or a freezer safe container.


July 19, 2021

Totchos

July 19, 2021
 
My husband is obsessed with nachos.  Of any kind, from anywhere, and he is even known to go into the kitchen late at night, grab some tortilla chips, throw on some shredded cheese, nuke it and enjoy that, like it's the best thing in the world.

I'm not in any way dissing on nachos, but I have to say that for me, potatoes trump everything else.  Give me potatoes in any way, shape or form, and I'll be a happy girl.

July 19, 2021
 
So these totchos, are my absolute favorite as a quick lunch, even a summertime dinner when you're not too hungry but are looking for something simple and delicious to fill your tummy.

They couldn't be easier to make, and you can add whatever toppings you want.

I kept these pretty simple, but I think next time I may kick them up a notch and see what happens.

July 19, 2021
 
Totchos

 
Ingredients:
1 (32 oz) bag of tater tots
1 cup sour cream
1 cup ranch dressing
Shredded cheese
Crumbled bacon
Green onions


Directions:
Bake your tater tots according to package directions.  In the meantime, combine the sour cream and ranch dressing.
 
When done, pull out of the oven, and spread on the sour cream mixture.  Add the shredded cheese, bacon and green onions and return to oven for a few more minutes, just until cheese starts to melt.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Bang Bang Chicken Kabobs

Bang Bang Chicken Kabobs 

It's been years since I've made kabobs. It's not something I make a lot, and thankfully I had some skewers left over for this meal. Just shows you how long it's been since I've bought wooden skewers. 

But while looking through some food blogs a few weeks back, I came upon this recipe and knew I had to make it.  It's summer time, I love using my grill and this is the perfect meal to throw on, and get on the table in no time.
 
 Bang Bang Chicken Kabobs 
 
So where does Bang Bang Chicken originate? 
 
It is a typical street food sold in the Szechuan Region in China.  Basically the sauce is made of mayonnaise, sweet chili and sriracha.  It is delicious and really easy to make.

This meal came together pretty quick, aside from the hour that I left the chicken marinating in the fridge, everything else was quick and in no time we had a delicious summer meal on the table.

By the way, if you don't have a grill, or can't grill for some reason, you can pop these in the oven, I would say maybe at 375 F, until done, then just turn on the broil to give it a nice charred look.

Bang Bang Chicken Kabobs 
 
Bang Bang Chicken Kabobs 
 
 
 
Ingredients 
Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp mayonnaise
4 tbsp sour cream 
1 tsp mustard 
1/3 cup sweet chili sauce 
1/2 tsp sriracha 
1 tsp honey 
Wooden skewers
 
 
 
Instructions 
Soak the wooden skewers for at least 10 minutes, to prevent burning.
 
In a big bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, sweet chili sauce, sriracha and honey.  
Add the chicken cubes, and stir well to combine.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about an hour.  
 
Add the chicken pieces to the wooden skewers.  Preheat your grill, make sure to brush on some oil on the grates so the chicken won't stick.  
 
Cook about 5 or 6 minutes on each side, until cooked through.  
 
Drizzle on any remaining sauce over the chicken, and serve immediately. 
 
 
Recipe adapted from:  4 Sons 'R' Us
 
Bang Bang Chicken Kabobs

Knock your socks off Burgers

Knock your socks off burgers 

I love a good burger. To me, there is nothing like it. 
 
The messier, the juicier, the bigger the mess on your hands, the better the burger, in my opinion. 
 
But as much as I love burgers, I often tend to not finish mine.  My greatgrandmother used to say "Tens mais olhos que a barriga."
 
Which meant "you have more eyes than stomach.".  
 
I couldn't argue with her because she was 100% correct.  But then, in my defense, who of us hasn't bitten off more than they can chew, literally?
 
With the invention of the slider burgers, it took it all to a new level, because now I could enjoy my favorite burgers a little at a time, and I didn't feel like I was wasting.
 

Knock your socks off burgers 

Also, I don't like burgers from one day to the next.  I don't mean burgers we throw on the grill and keep in a tupperware until the next day.  I am talking about ready made burgers, like sometimes my kids will eat half a burger and leave the other half for later.

I can't.  It just doesn't taste the same.  And maybe it's just me but every time I try to heat up a burger, I end up with a rock hard bun.  It's just gross to me.

Anyway, all this just to say that I love burgers, but I really REALLY love sliders. 

These are the perfect size burger, and you can make a huge batch if you have many mouths to feed, or a get together.

Knock your socks off burgers 

The sauce is definitely what makes these and I think that sauce would be divine over a steak.
 
Now if you don't like mushrooms, I suppose you could leave them out.  I actually picked out the mushrooms from my son's sliders because he dislikes them immensely.

Me on the other hand, I love mushrooms and a good mushroom sauce, and this one, is that and much more.

Knock your socks off burgers
 
Knock your socks off Burgers
 
 
 
Ingredients 
1 lbs. ground beef 
12 dinner rolls 
6 slices pepper jack cheese, cut in half 
mayonnaise 
 
Mushroom sauce 
8 oz. sliced mushrooms 
3 Tablespoons butter 
2 Tablespoons minced garlic or 
4 garlic cloves minced 
 ½ cup chopped onion 
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
½ cup heavy cream 
 ½ cup beef broth 
 ½ teaspoon salt 
 ½ teaspoon pepper 
1 Tablespoon cornstarch 
2 Tablespoons cold water 
 
 
Instructions 
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Divide the ground beef into 12 small patties. 
 
Fry them in a cast iron skillet until cooked through and brown, remove from heat.
Remove them from skillet.
 
In another skillet, add the butter, mushrooms and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes.  Add in the  Worcestershire sauce, cream, beef broth, onion and salt and pepper.  
 
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water.  Slowly add to the mushroom and onion mixture, stirring constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat.  
 
Place the dinner rolls in a greased casserole dish.  Slice open, and spread mayonnaise on both sides.  Plate a burger in each bun, top with half of a pepper jack cheese slice.  Spoon on some sauce, and add the top bun.
 
Cover with foil and bake for a few minutes until cheese melts.  
 
Serve immediately!


Recipe adapted from: Chef in Training

Monday, June 21, 2021

Chili Dog Casserole

Chili Dog Casserole 

One of my husband's favorite things, are chili dogs. 
 
He loves them, and I'm quite sure if he could have them every day, he would.  I have a great recipe for oven chili dogs, already posted here on the blog.  It's one of those that you can throw together quick, pop in the oven and enjoy.  

I also love that it can be a great meal for a get together, or if you have a big family.  It's one of those recipes that you can make as many as you need or even just two or three.  

This casserole however, is like having your chili dog and fries, all in one spot, and let me tell you, it got rave reviews from the boys in the family.

And the girls too. I loved how easy it was to make and how filling and delicious it turned out. 

This is another great recipe from the blog 4 Sons 'R' Us. Go on over and check out her other recipes, you're sure to find quite a few delicious ones to add to your menu. 

Chili Dog Casserole  

Chili Dog Casserole 

 

Ingredients 
6 hot dogs your favorite brand , sliced into ¼” rounds 
15 oz can chili 
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained 
1 cup shredded or very thinly sliced, carrots 
12 oz crinkle cut French fries 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
 
 
Instructions 
Spray a 9 x 13” baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium sized skillet, saute the sliced hot dogs until nice and fragrant and browned. 
 
In a medium bowl, add the hot dogs, chili, tomatoes, and carrots. Stir until evenly combined. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking dish. Evenly arrange French fries in a single layer on top of the hot dog mixture. Bake in the oven at 450 for 30 minutes. 
 
Evenly, or as evenly as possible, sprinkle the cheese on top of the fries, and bake an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. 
 
Chili Dog Casserole

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Cheesy Beefy Nachos

IMG_0876 

Of all the foods my husband loves, I would have to say that nachos are top on the list.  This man could eat nachos every single day.

I have a few recipes here on the blog, like


IMG_0877

These are so easy to make.  I actually think nachos is one of those things you can't go wrong with, you have your basic meat and beans, then the rest is totally up to you.  Chicken, pork, ground beef, whatever your family prefers.
 
Garlic, onion, tomato, peppers?   Up to you.
 
That's the versatility of nachos, your taste, your preference.
 
These are really easy to make, and even better that it's all in one skillet and no need to dirty other dishes.  
 
It's a quick meal, comes together really easily and it's one of those that I like making when I'm rushing to get dinner on the table. 

IMG_0879

Cheesy Beefy Nachos
 
 
 
Ingredients 
2 lbs ground beef 
1 can beans (kidney, black or whichever you prefer.  I used pinto beans), drained
2 packets taco seasoning
1 cup of water
8 oz block cheese thinly sliced (I used colby jack but use whichever you prefer)

 
 
Instructions 
In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until browned. Drain the grease.  Add the beans, taco seasoning, and water.  Stir until well combined, then simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.
 
Remove from stove, top with the sliced cheese and any other toppings you want.  I added a few jalapeno slices for those of us that like the heat, but left the other side without because my daughter does not like spicy food.  Put the lid on and let sit for a few minutes until the cheese melts.

Spoon over tortilla chips!

Copycat Ono's Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

IMG_0882 

When we were stationed at Luke AFB, Arizona, we were lucky to live in an area that provide many restaurant options.  We never ran out of a good place to go try out, and we never got sick of eating the same thing.

By far, one of our favorite spots to go was Ono Hawaiian Barbecue. 

Y'all, if you've never been to one, and have one nearby, go.  Go, go, go!

I can't even tell you how good it is.  Best chicken, which by the way, I already have a recipe here on the blog that is pretty close to the original.  Check it out, Ono's Hawaiian Grilled Chicken.

Their meat was amazing, but their macaroni salad was one of our favorites too.  Soooooo good.

Thankfully, it is pretty easy to recreate and it's often one of my kids most requested side dishes when we are grilling.

IMG_0880
 
Ono's Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
 
 
Ingredients:
1 pound macaroni 
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
2 carrots shredded 
1/4 cup onion shredded
2 1/2 cups Mayonnaise Best Foods or Hellman's mayonnaise 
1/4 cup milk 
2 teaspoon sugar 
kosher salt and pepper to taste 
 
 
Instructions:
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain, pour into a large bowl . 
 
While macaroni is still hot, sprinkle on vinegar and add carrot and onion. Toss together until well combined.   Add in the mayo, milk and sugar until evenly coated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
 
Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, best overnight.  

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Copycat McDonald's Big Mac

 
Raise your hand if you love a good Big Mac from McDonald's?  
 
So funny story, before I share the recipe, my kids are not huge hamburger lovers, both prefer chicken sandwiches.  No matter which fast food place we go to, they usually order a chicken sandwich, crispy of course.  My son is a bit more adventurous, and like his mama, loves spicy food, so he will get the spicy chicken sandwich sometimes.
 
But, normally?  Yeah just chicken, no burgers.  They're nothing like me in that sense, because I love a good ol' burger.  Though I'm not a huge Mcdonald's fan, aside from the fries, because I will swim across an ocean for those, I do really enjoy a Big Mac.
 
If you've been on this food blog long enough, then you surely know that I love copycat recipes.  If I can find a recipe for a restaurant favorite, then I'm definitely going to try it.  
 
 

I wasn't quite sure if the Big Mac would be good, but let me tell you something, it was phenomenal and actually kicked up to a whole new level, simply because I grilled the burger patties.  
 
Oh my goodness!!!
 
But enough talking, let me just give you the recipe and set you loose, to make yourself these babies.  Your family is going to love you, and when you realize just how easy they are, you will have some Big Macs more often than you can get to McDonald's.  
 
 
Copycat McDonald's Big Mac
 Source: 4 Sons 'R' Us

 
Ingredients
For Big Mac sauce: 
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
2 tbsp French dressing 
1/2 tbsp sweet relish 
2 tsp dill pickle relish 
 1 tsp sugar 
1 tsp dried minced onion 
1 tsp white vinegar 
1 tsp ketchup 
1/8 tsp salt 
 
For the burgers: 
2 thin hamburger patties 
1 & 1/2 sesame seed buns 
1 slice yellow American cheese 
1 tbsp special sauce 
1 tsp finely minced white onion 
1/4 cup shredded lettuce 
2 dill pickle slices 
 salt and pepper, to taste 
 
 
 
To Make The Special Sauce 
Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour, at least, before serving. 
 
To Make The Big Macs 
Lightly toast two bottom buns. Season the hamburger patties with salt and pepper, to taste. 
 
Grill the burger patties, until done.  On the first of the two bottom buns, add ½ tablespoon of the Special Sauce, ½ teaspoon of the onion, ⅛ cup of shredded lettuce, cheese, and one hamburger patty. 
 
Place the other bottom bun on top, and top it with the same items mentioned above, but no cheese. Top with the remaining bun top.
 

 

Friday, June 04, 2021

Chicken and Dumplings with Gnocchi

Chicken and Dumplings with Gnocchi 

My daughter Jasmine, loves chicken and dumplings. She is the one that will go to Cracker Barrel and almost, always, orders the Chicken and Dumplings. 
 
I've even asked her before if she's not sick of the same thing, but nope, she loves it, orders it and enjoys it every.single.time.
 
I enjoy it as well, but it's not something I make very often.  I would say probably more during the cold weather, but then I don't fix specific meals only during specific seasons.  If I'm in the mood for soup and it's 100 degrees outside, you better believe I'll be making a pot.

I've made a few different variations of chicken and dumplings, and you can find those recipes right here on the blog.


I guess I've added more recipe variations, than I even was aware.  But anyway, there you have it, a few to pick from.
 
When I came across this new recipe, using gnocchi as the dumplings, I knew I had to try it, and I'm glad I did because it was absolutely divine.
 
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
 
Chicken and Dumplings with Gnocchi
 
Chicken and Dumplings with Gnocchi 
 Source:  4 Sons 'R' Us

 
Ingredients
1 16 oz pkg gnocchi 
1 16 oz pkg frozen peas & carrots 
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup flour 
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1 1/2 tbsp butter salt & pepper to taste 
1 1/2 cups celery thinly sliced 
1 white onion peeled & sliced 
1 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves 
1/4 tsp dried oregano 
2 cup gnocchi water (from cooking) + 1 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon base 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
seasoned salt to taste 
 
 
Instructions 
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Add the gnocchi to the pot and cook them for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi to a waiting strainer and run them under cold water, stirring as needed, to stop the cooking process and prevent sticking. Set aside. 
 
Add the frozen vegetables to the pot of hot water, and let them cook just until soft. Remove two cups of the water from the pot and set aside. 
 
Add the chicken to a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle the flour over.  Toss until evenly coated.  
 
Add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium high heat. Once hot shake the chicken so that any excess flour falls back into the bowl, and then add the chicken to the skillet. Season the chicken with salt & pepper, stirring occasionally, and cook until all the pieces are nicely browned. 
 
Using a slotted spoon, transfer all of the chicken to a waiting plate; set aside. 
 
Melt the butter in the skillet, and then add in the vegetables along with the thyme and oregano. Give everything a good stir to combine, and then cook (stirring occasionally) about 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender yet still crisp. 
 
Sprinkle the reserved flour evenly out over the veggie mixture, and stir to combine. 
 
Pour in the broth, using a sturdy spoon scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze while the stew mixture comes together & thickens. Add the chicken back to the skillet, stirring to combine. 
 
Let the mixture simmer for 2-3 minutes. Stir the gnocchi and the peas & carrots into the stew mixture. Add the garlic powder and the seasoned salt, stirring to combine. 
 
Let the mixture simmer for 2-3 more minutes before ladling into bowls and serving.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Fluffy Lemon Lime Pie

Fluffy Lemon Lime Pie
 
It's that time of the year.
 
The temperatures are rising, summer days are right around the corner, and barbecues, pool time and family get togethers are on the horizon.

I'm always looking for easy recipes that take but a few ingredients, but taste like I spent hours working on them.  
 
I've always been more of a pie girl, than a cake girl.  I'll eat cake, but it's not something I am in love with or need to have in my life.
 
Now pie is a whole different story.  Give me pie every day, and I won't say no.

Fluffy Lemon Lime Pie

Some of my favorites, aside from the good ol' Pecan Pie, are the citrus flavored pies.  Lemon Meringue, Key Lime Pie.  YUM!!!
 
I've been making this pie for a long time.  I was, and kind of still am, a Taste of Home cookbook and magazine collector.  I have so many.  I could never part with them.  
 
There was even a time where my husband's grandmother passed away, and my mother in law gave me all her Taste of Home magazines.  A big ol' stack that I have to this day.  I still get so many good ideas from them. 

This pie is originally made with Lime jello, but I use whatever I have on hand, and I love the combination of lemon and lime, so you can't really go wrong there.  

It is one of those recipes that once you learn it, you won't forget it.  It's that easy and you probably already have all the ingredients on hand.  If not, just keep a few in your pantry for when the craving hits, or when last minute visitor arrives for the weekend. 

Fluffy Lemon Lime Pie

Fluffy Lemon Lime Pie
 
 
Ingredients
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust (9 inches)
1/4 cup of boiling water
1 package (0.3 oz) lemon jello (you can use lime too)
2 cartons (6 oz) key lime yogurt (I used one key lime and one plain)
1 carton (8 oz) cool whip 


Instructions
In a bowl, add boiling water to the jello, and stir for about 2 minutes until completely dissolved.  Add the yogurt and mix well, then fold in the whipped topping, until everything is combined.

Pour into the graham cracker crust and refrigerate, covered for 2 hours, or overnight. 
 

 

{ Farmer's Pork Chops and Potatoes }

Farmer's Pork Chops and Potatoes

 

As much as I love pork chops, I find that they are a kind of meat that is very limited in the way we fix it. So, with that in mind, I tend to make it the same way, over and over. 
 
Nothing wrong with that, but sommetimes you want to shake things up a bit, do something different. 
 
Farmer's Pork Chops and Potatoes
 
When I first saw this recipe, I thought "ok, that's it, this is the one." 
 
Imagine if you will, a bed of creamy potatoes and onions, topped with fried pork chops. It has everything you could love it in, and it is also one of the easiest meals to throw together. 
 
The most you'll have to do is dredge the chops in flour and then give them a quick fry on both sides.
 
The oven does the rest of the work. Oh, and you have to make the bechamel (white) sauce too, but that's pretty quick and easy. 
 

Farmer's Pork Chops and Potatoes

As we sat around the table, everyone started dishing up and commenting on how good it smelled and looked.  Then the ooh and aahs started.  
 
Dinner is usually a very animated noisy meal, everyone is talking about their day, or a game or a movie they saw, or something interesting that happened that they read about or watched on TV.
 
But those days where the meals are divine? The noise is very much diminished as everyone is more interested in devouring what is on their plates.
 
Give these pork chops a try and then let me know what you thought.  You won't be disappointed!
 
 Farmer's Pork Chops and Potatoes
 
Farmer's Pork Chops and Potatoes 
 
 
Ingredients
Boneless Pork Chops
Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
Parsley to taste
Flour
 
Bechamel sauce
1 stick butter
1/2 cup of flour
About 3 cups of milk
Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
 
 
Instructions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 13x9 inch casserole dish and set aside.
 
Peel the potatoes and slice thinly.  Place a layer on the bottom of the casserole dish, top with a layer of thinly sliced onion.  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Add another layer of potatoes and another layer of onions and seasonings.
 
In a small pot, make the bechamel sauce.  I used a stick of butter and half a cup of flour, then poured in about 3 cups of milk.  Seasoned it with salt, pepper and some nutmeg.
 
Stir until thickened, then set aside for a minute or so just so it thickens a bit more.
 
Pour the sauce over the potatoes, sprinkle on some fresh parsley, and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  

In the meantime, season the pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Dredge them in flour, then quickly fry them in a little oil, on both sides until brown.  Don't cook them completely.

When the potatoes come out of the oven, layer the chops on top of the potatoes, then pop back in the oven for an hour, until potatoes and chops are completely cooked through.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Copycat KFC Bowls

Copycat KFC Bowls

 
I believe there are two types of people in this world.
 
Those who love their food separated on their plates, and will one at a time, and then those who love to throw it all together, mix it up and enjoy a forkful of a bunch of different flavors and textures together.
 
I don't know which one of those you are, but I will tell you that I fall into the second group.
 
Give me a bowl of this or that, a plate with everything mixed together, and I'm a happy girl.
 
Matter of fact, when we go to Chili's for lunch or dinner, I usually get the Tex Mex bowl which is rice, grilled chicken, black beans and corn, avocado and pico de gallo etc.  It's like Heaven on a plate for me.
 

Copycat KFC Bowls 

I'm sure it won't surprise you then, when I say that our trips to KFC, usually end up with me picking one of the bowl meals. 
 
KFC Bowls consist of just a few ingredients, but are some of my favorites to order.  I knew I wanted to recreate it at home, and really, there's nothing to this, especially when most of the ingredients, aside from the homemade mashed potatoes, are store bought and readily available in your pantry and freezer.

These may look like they won't be filling, but trust me, they are.  I couldn't finish mine.

Copycat KFC Bowls

Copycat KFC Bowls
 
 
Ingredients
Homemade mashed potatoes
Popcorn chicken
Sweet Corn
Brown Gravy
Shredded cheese
 
 
Instructions
For this recipe, I made my mashed potatoes as I always do, but included a little bit of cream and some cream cheese as well, to make them creamier.
 
Cook your popcorn chicken according to packed.  Warm up the corn.  Make the brown gravy according to package directions.
 
In a bowl, spoon on your mashed potatoes, top with corn, popcorn chicken and gravy. Sprinkle on some shredded cheese.

That is it.  Quick and easy to throw together, a pretty inexpensive meal and filling too.


Copycat KFC Bowls

Monday, May 31, 2021

Banana Crumb Coffee cake

Banana Crumb Coffee Cake

 
I have a very similar recipe, already here on the blog. But can we ever have too many banana cake recipes?   I don't think so
 
Well bananas are my favorite fruit, right up there with strawberries.  When it comes to dessert though, I am not a huge fan of strawberry anything, I much prefer banana flavored.  I guess that's a good thing because bananas are one of those foods in my kitchen that go bad really quickly, so I'm always on the lookout for a good way to use them up.
 
If you're looking for a few recipes to make using your ripe bananas, just do a quick search here on the blog, I have a quite a few waiting for you to try.
 
 

Banana Crumb Coffee Cake 

The trick to this amazing coffee cake, is to layer the batter and the topping. 
 
Ask me if I did that this time? 
 
No, no I didn't.  I was quickly getting this recipe together, in the middle of cooking dinner, and proceeded to dump the whole batter in.  When I realized what I had done, I grabbed a spoon and just stirred it all up, then added the topping.
 
Not what it is supposed to be, at all, but you know the taste is still there and that is what matters.
 
Besides, who has never made a mistake in the kitchen?  Cause this girl right here, still makes quite a few to this day.  You would think that with as much as I cook and bake, and how much time I spend in the kitchen, I would be an expert, but nope, mistakes are still made.
 
Anyway, this is the perfect coffee cake for a breakfast, a brunch, an afternoon dessert or a family get together.
 
So good!
 
Banana Crumb Coffee Cake
 
 
Banana Crumb Coffee Cake
 
 
Ingredients
Crumb Layers 
1/2 cup cold butter (8 tablespoons), cut into small cubes  
1 cup all purpose flour 
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
 
Cake 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
3 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp salt 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed 
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup milk 
 
Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar 
1-2 tbsp 
 
 
Instructions 
Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter or cooking spray; set aside. 
 
In a large bowl, use your hands or two forks to crumble together the cold butter cubes, flour, sugars, and cinnamon until the mixture resembles a crumbly topping. Set aside the crumb mixture. 
 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer, mix softened butter on medium until creamy, about 2 minutes. 
 
Add the sugar and mix for another minute, until well incorporated. Then add the eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and mix just until ingredients are incorporated (do not overmix!) 
 
Turn the mixer down to low, and alternate mixing in milk and flour until all ingredients are combined. 
 
Pour half of the cake mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with ⅓ - ¼ of the crumb mixture. Then pour the remaining cake mixture on top of that layer and finally, top evenly with the remaining crumb topping. 
 
Bake at 350º for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 
 
 
To make the glaze: 
In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Add more milk as needed until you get the glaze consistency you prefer. Set aside. 
 
Cool at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before drizzling the glaze over the top, slicing, and serving.

Homemade Gyros with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

Homemade Gyros
 
My first experience with Greek food, was through my sister in law who has Greek descendants in her family.   She would always tell me about the yummy food, like Moussaka, Spanakopita, Baklava and Gyros.  I couldn't wait to try it, and was definitely not disappointed when I did.

Later, when I was a radio DJ at our radio station (yes my family owned a radio station in South Africa), one of our time slots was bought by a Greek community, and they would come in and do their shows, talk about their news, their food and so on.  It was another way that I was surrounded, so to speak, by the Greek culture.

Homemade Gyros 
 
I quickly became a fan, and Gyros have always been one of my favorites. But, the only time I ate any would be if we went to a Greek restaurant, and that wasn't something we did often. 
 
Like many of my favorite restaurant dishes, I realized that if I could make them at home, then anytime the craving kicked in, I could have it without having to go out....that and the fact that usually it is much cheaper to make it at home too. 
 
I found this recipe at Christina's Cucina, along with the recipe for homemade tzatziki sauce too, and I could not wait to try it.  I honestly thought that it was going to be this very long complicated process, but it was so easy to make, and my husband loved them, stating that they are very close to the ones from our local Greek eatery.

Just one thing, I couldn't get lamb around here, so I used ground beef and ground pork, which is not the traditional meat used in Gyros, but nonetheless they were superb.  I am going to try and find lamb so that next time I make them, they are more authentic, but nonetheless, keeping this recipe and adding it to our family favorites.

 
 
Homemade Gyros

Homemade Gyros with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
Yield: 8 servings 
 
 
 
Ingredients 
1 medium size onion, roughly chopped 
1 lb ground beef 
1 lb ground lamb 
2 large cloves of garlic 
1 Tbsp dried marjoram 
1 Tbsp dried ground rosemary 
2 tsp Kosher salt 
1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
 
 
To Serve 
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below) 
lettuce 
sliced tomatoes 
sliced sweet onion 
 
 
Instructions 
Run the onion in a food processor for about 15 seconds. Place the onion in the center of a kitchen towel and squeeze out the juice and return to the food processor. Add the meat, garlic, spices, salt and pepper to the onion, and process. 
 
Do so until it looks like a fine paste, about a minute. Place the mixture in a loaf pan and press evenly. 
 
Bake in a water bath (place loaf pan inside another pan filled with water) at 325°F (165°C) for about an hour or more until temperature reaches 165-170°F (75°C.) 
 
Remove from the oven, drain fat, and place on a cooling rack. Cover meat with aluminum foil and a heavy weight for about 15 minutes until internal temperature is 175°F (79°C).
 
Place meat on a cutting board and slice as thinly as possible. In another pan, heat the pita bread. 
 
Finally, place the meat on one half of the pita, topped with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion. 
 
 
 
Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
 
 
 
Ingredients
16 oz Greek yogurt 
1 medium cucumber or about 3 Persian cucumbers, grated 
Kosher or sea salt 
2 tsp finely minced garlic 
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
 
Place the grated cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Place a plate and weight on top to press out the liquid, for 20-30 minutes. 
 
Drain, then squeeze the cucumber in a kitchen towel (or a strong paper towel) to remove the rest of the liquid. 
 
Next, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. 
 
Mix well, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Blueberry and Lemon Loaf

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I grew up in South Africa, so when we refer to a loaf it is usually a bread loaf.  
 
When I got married and moved to the USA, I was so confused when people would refer to sweet cakes as loaves or bread, like Banana Bread and so forth.  It took me a while to realize that just because it is called loaf, it doesn't necessarily mean a bread.
 
Over the years, as I got more used to the term, I started making all kinds.  Chocolate chip and Pumpkin, Zucchini and Lemon and so on.
 
This one is by far one of our favorites, especially my husband, who loves anything Lemon.
 
The recipe comes from The Mennonite Girls Can Cook, a blog I have followed since 2008.  Unfortunately they stopped sharing new recipes in 2018, but the blog has an amazing archive of over 3000 recipes.  Be sure to go check them out.  

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It is a delicious, soft, fluffy loaf that goes perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea. 
 
I did adapt the recipe slightly, but only by adding some lemon juice which it did not call for.  The reason is simple, the recipe only calls for lemon zest, but we love lemon and I felt that just the zest wouldn't be enough.  
 
It turned out just perfect.  And how beautiful is it?  
 
Like they say, we eat with our eyes too, and at least for me, if it doesn't look appealing, I am not that eager to try it.  This one however, you won't be able to resist.
 

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Blueberry and Lemon Loaf
 
 
Ingredients
2 cups flour 
3/4 cup sugar 
3 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt 
rind (grated) from one large lemon 
2 eggs 1 cup sour cream 
1/4 cups oil 
1 tsp vanilla 
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen) 
Optional:  lemon juice (I just squeezed in about 2 tablespoons of juice)
 
 
Instructions 
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or line with parchment paper, one 5x9 inch loaf pan. 
 
Mix dry ingredients along with rind. In separate small bowl, mix wet ingredients and add to dry along with blueberries. Stir until just combined and spread into loaf pan. 
 
Bake for 60 - 70 minutes, until cake tests done with pick. Leave in pan for 10 minutes before removing. 
 
If desired, drizzle with a mix of 3/4 cup icing (confectioners) sugar and juice of about 1/2 lemon.