Monday, July 21, 2014

Sour Cream Banana Pancakes

Summertime makes me feel loved. We have wonderful friends who live all over the world and they come visit us! When we can we can, we visit them too. A few weeks ago, we went to the Oregon coast to visit some friends who came in from the east coast. A whole bunch of us, some assorted kiddos, and our dog had a wonderful time sharing a beach house, playing games, and eating and eating. In the morning, we made sour cream banana pancakes that everyone gobbled down. They are currently my guests-in-the-house go to breakfast. Delicious, sweet, vanillay and oh so good!

Sour Cream Banana Pancakes - from Ina Garten
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 250 to store cooked batches of pancakes

1 1/2 cups of flour
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon milk (I used whole milk)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ripe bananas chopped or mashed

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set aside. In a larger bowl, mix together sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and chopped or mashed bananas. 

Find an adorable helper, and let them stir. Mix everything together in the larger bowl and fold until just combined.

In a large cast iron skillet with a bit of butter, cook pancakes in batches. I like to store cooked pancakes on a cookie sheet in a low set oven. 

We like these with a variety of toppings... some faves include butter and sugar, or peanut butter (obviously - this crowd lives on peanut butter) or the never-fail maple syrup. I'm not really a fan of maple syrup, but a dear friend of mine made vanilla infused sugar and with some butter, that's my fave!

I feel like it's been the summer of pancakes, but boy am I glad!!



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Asparagus and Marinated Tomato Pasta

Summer is the time of year where people want light foods that they can take to a picnic.  They want feel-good foods that don’t make them feel heavy, bloated, or weighed-down.  Well, I have a dish that just about sums up summer in a nutshell.  It’s my Asparagus and Marinated Tomato Pasta.  Pasta can be heavy, but this one doesn’t have any heavy sauces or creams.  It’s light and it highlights every one of the ingredients in a simple and flavorful way.

This recipe was very much inspired by a dish that Barefoot Contessa makes.  I made a few changes (like adding asparagus to kick up the health component a bit).  Tomatoes are extremely versatile, and although I don’t necessarily like tomatoes plain, I don’t necessarily need them cooked either.  This recipe marinates tomatoes for hours in an oil, garlic, and basil mixture.  The salt pulls out all of the juices, softens the tomatoes, and acts as the base for the very light sauce that is featured in this dish.  Ahhh…summer :)

Asparagus and Marinated Tomato Pasta
Insipred by Barefoot Contessa

16oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 c olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 c basil leaves, julienned
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ lb dried cavatelli pasta
½ c (or more) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 bunch of asparagus tips

Add tomatoes, ¼ c olive oil, garlic, basil, crushed red pepper, ¾ tsp salt, and ¾ tsp pepper to a large bowl.  Stir and set aside for 3-4 hours.

Heat a grill pan to medium heat.  In a large bowl, mix asparagus tips with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cook on grill pan until bright green and grill marks start to form.  Remove from pan and cut into 1” pieces.

Just before serving, cook pasta according to package directions in salted water.  Add tomato mixture, grilled asparagus, and cheese to large bowl and mix well.  Serve at any temperature.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats... with Chocolate

Oh boy. Not healthy. Too easy. Really fast. At least they are perfect to share! There's not too much to say about these. If you like Rice Krispie Treats (and really, who doesn't?) and peanut butter, and chocolate, you'll dig these. Like a crispy peanut butter cup, but cut to your own specific size needs. That's about all you need to know. Make them. Love them. Enjoy treat karma and share them.

The base of this recipe is just straight up Rice Krispie Treats, but I decreased the butter, added peanut butter and on top, added quick melted chocolate that cools to a nice mess-free hardness. It's the same thing I like to do with these zucchini brownies.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Treats with Chocolate
Preheat oven to 200 degrees
Butter a 9x13 glass baking dish

6 cups Rice Krispies
40 large marshmallows (about 10oz or 4 cups)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Measure out Rice Krispies and set aside in a large bowl. In a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients, including the Rice Krispies, melt the butter and peanut butter. Add in the marshmallows and melt everything together stirring constantly.

When the marshmallows are nearly melted, add in all of the Rice Krispies and stir gently to combine.

When everything is evenly combined, pour everything into the prepared pan. I like to lightly spray my hands with cooking spray, or rub a little butter into my palms and then press down the cereal mixture to even it out a bit.

Sprinkle about a cup of chocolate chips on top of the cereal in the glass pan. Pop the pan into the warm oven for about 5 minutes. When the chips are soft and starting to melt, take the pan out and spread the chocolate over the top of the Rice Krispies treats. 

Let the treats cool completely and enjoy!!

Things made this time last year...

Charred Artichokes

Dijon Vinaigrette Potato Salad

Things made this time two years ago...

Pappardelle with White Truffle Butter

Pizza and Bread Sticks

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Coconut Almond Granola

Yikes!! Sorry it's been so long... the kick off to summer this year has been REALLY busy for both of us. Our apologies!! 

I read something once that granola cereal is pretty much crumbled up cookies. I knew there was a good reason I've always liked granola.

Not wanting to give my kid crumbled up cookies for breakfast, I set out to make my own. My husband had given me the Bob's Red Mill cookbook for Mother's Day and they had a few different granola recipes. They were great starting points, but I wanted something pretty simple, and I didn't want to have to search out ingredients I wouldn't normally use. 

I settled on Coconut Almond as the base and added orange zest and dried cranberries. This is an amazing combo and one I've used in actual cookies before. This is great on Greek yogurt, with berries or just in a bowl of milk. I suppose it's a little healthier than crumbled cookies, but it doesn't taste like it!

This is a really easy recipe that makes about 5 cups of granola. A little more than that, but 5 solid cups.

Coconut Almond Granola with Orange Zest and Dried Cranberries - inspired by Bob's Red Mill cookbook
Preheat oven to 275
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut 
zest of 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries

Combine oats, almonds, orange zest, and shredded coconut in a very large bowl. In a microwave proof bowl, heat almond butter, honey, and coconut oil until it's easily stirred. 

Mix the dry ingredients with the almond butter mixture. Stir until everything is really equally distributed.

Spread evenly over two lined baking sheets and bake at 275 for a grand total of 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

This is so easy, adaptable to what is in the pantry, and substitutions are really easy. Peanut butter can be used for the almond butter, raisins for the dried cranberries, pecans or walnuts for the almonds. Butter could be used for the coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon. The orange zest is totally optional, but really delicious!

Things made this time last year...

Homemade Tortillas

Huevos Rancheros

Baked Ziti

Braised Short Ribs over Penne

Chocolate Mug Cake

Lemon and Parmesan Crusted Salmon

Homemade Rainforest Crackers

Things made TWO years ago... Check out these oldies but goodies!! I can't believe it's been TWO years already!!!

Carnitas with Cilantro Lime Cole Slaw and Grapefruit Poundcake
Shredded Chicken Sandwiches with Mom's Cole Slaw and Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes
Whole Wheat and Yogurt Pancakes
Turkey Spaghetti
Lettuce Wrap Salad
Chicken with Balsamic Peppers
Roasted Strawberry Shortcakes
Banana Nut Muffins
Chocolate Cheesecake Marbled Brownies

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chipotle Hummus

Last Saturday I was watching “The Kitchen” on Food Network for the first time.  It seems like an interesting show because it’s more of a talk show than a cooking show.  During the episode I watched, they made pizzas on the grill and they also had a contest where they tested common kitchen gadgets.  One person would use their hands to do the task and the other person would use the kitchen tool.  Almost every time the person using their hands won…go figure!  Note to self: your hands are your best tool.  I digress…

Anyway, at the end of the show they answered questions from viewers and Marcela mentioned using leftover chipotles in adobo sauce to make chipotle hummus.  Well, she spoke to me…and I did it.  This is my basic hummus recipe with added chipotles in adobo sauce.  If you want, you can sub out the chipotles for sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers to make other typical hummus flavors you may see in the store.  Honestly, hummus is too easy not to make yourself.  Try it and see!

Chipotle Hummus

1-15oz can Garbanzo beans, liquid reserved
Juice from 1 lemon
¼ c tahini
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped

In the bowl of a food processor, combine Garbanzo beans, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and cumin.  While the food processor is blending, slowly add 2-3 tbsp reserved liquid from Garbanzo beans to the bean mixture until desired consistency is obtained. 

Note: If you do not want to use the leftover liquid from the beans, feel free to substitute water.

Add chipotle peppers and process until well-mixed.  Scoop hummus into a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lightened Up Green Goddess Dip

The last few weeks in our house have been wonderfully hectic... Mother's Day, my sweet mama visiting, my birthday, dear friends in town, Memorial Day... and insane work. But my dear boys love me and treated me SO well for all the celebration days, and we got a wonderful bit of time at the Oregon coast with our friends who came in from out of town. It's been a glorious few weeks!

Anyway, my sweet husband got me a Cooking Light anthology for my birthday - Antoinette and I both love CL and a lot of our recipes, and inspirations start there. One of the very first recipes in the new book is for a Green Goddess Dip - I read it through and HAD to have it. Like had to eat it right away. I took most of this batch down to the beach and our group gobbled it up!

Green Goddess Dip - from Cooking Light
Makes plenty for 6 people; even better day 2.

2 cups watercress
6 oz Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
5 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

This is barely a recipe. All you do is put all of this good stuff in a food processor and blend until smooth-ish. It's not really cooking, but it is creating, especially if you tweak the flavors to suit your preferences (or what's left in your fridge, or what's growing in your herb garden.)

The original recipe calls for a lot more basil and no tarragon. I love the lemony spice of tarragon, and definitely wanted some of that zip in this. 

The original also called for anchovy paste. I didn't have any, don't really like it, and wasn't going to buy it for one recipe. I think it overpowers with fishy flavor. It's just not for me. So out it goes.

This also called for some red pepper flakes, but we had two toddlers in our group and I wanted to make sure this would be nice for them, so I left it out and didn't miss it.

The last change I made was to swap the quantities of yogurt and mayo. Why not have more of the healthier yogurt? Done.

So that's it. Just blend it up and enjoy! It definitely improves with a little resting time. And the next day it was even better than the first. We ate this with veggies and crackers and it was a great, light snack. 

A few things about this recipe...
I think this would be just as good without the mayo, and I'd feel a lot safer having this out at a BBQ having just used yogurt. 

Also, watercress is a peppery, sturdy little green. If you want something else, baby spinach would also work, but the dip would be milder.

Things made this time last year...
Strawberry Mint Lemonade

Mango Guacamole and Homemade Salsa

Monday, May 26, 2014

Creamy Pasta Primavera

Sooooo, this is an exercise in finding/creating balance... fresh from the farmers market veggies, herbs, lemon juice, light chicken breast... and pasta, cream and Parmesan. I imagine Lady Justice looking skeptically at my theory of balance. Regardless, it was a gorgeous dinner, and totally comfort food. We needed it after a lovely weekend with my mom for company, a thunder storm and lots of getting business done sorts of thing. 

I based a lot of this recipe on how I make the cream sauce for this Chicken Tequila Fettuccine. It's creamy enough to make for all that satisfying comfort, but not so thick that the meal is overwhelming or too heavy. I wanted a different flavor though, so I added sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh peas, and loads of asparagus. In place of the cilantro used in the original, I used Italian parsley. No booze in this one at all, but a splash of lemon juice at the end was a nice burst and a good tang. The chicken browns up and then poaches all the way through so it stays super tender. YUM!

Creamy Parsley Primavera
Serves 6 in a hearty way

1 pound dry pasta - I used Fettuccini
1/2 an onion, sliced - about 1/2 a cup
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup sliced fresh peas
1 pound asparagus, tips and tender tops, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped parsley, more for garnish
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound chopped chicken breasts cut into pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh lemon

In a large pot, start water to boil for noodles. As water boils, heat oil in a large pan (the pan needs to be large enough to fit all the sauce and all the pasta - I used a 10" high sided skillet) and add onions, parsley and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes or until onions start to loosen up and edges become translucent. Take care not to burn the garlic.

Add chicken pieces, season with salt and pepper, and brown a bit. Add all of the chicken broth, and cook uncovered until chicken cooks through. Add in all of the asparagus and let it cook for about 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp. 

Add in all of the cream, tomatoes and peas and heat through. Add in drained pasta. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and dish up into bowls, spooning more sauce over pasta. Top with more Parmesan, more chopped parsley, and fresh ground pepper. Squeeze lemon over pasta and enjoy!!

This pasta is totally enjoyed by the whole fam-bam, toddler included. It's not part of the regular rotation, but saved for a night we need something special and comforting. It's awesome as leftovers and reheats really well in a skillet over medium heat.

Things made this time last year...

Strawberry Mint Lemonade

Mango Guacamole and Homemade Salsa

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spiced Apple Pancakes

Growing up, my mom always made sautéed apples for breakfast.  They reminded me of the apples from Cracker Barrel, but WAY better.  I absolutely loved them and since they were cooked in butter and sugar, I didn’t get them as often as I would have liked (thanks mom).  Although not everything about growing up is awesome, the ability to cook my own breakfast apples is definitely a treat…that I intend to devour.

Yes, I’ve been talking about breakfast apples, but this recipe is really for my Spiced Apple Pancakes.  So here’s a little two-in-one.  I roughly chop my breakfast apples and add them to the batter.  Then I top the pancakes with more apples.  These pancakes are almost sinful.  Seriously!  Try just the apples or try the pancakes but either way, you won’t be disappointed.  Actually, hubby recommended the apples for apple pie…hmmm………

Spiced Apple Pancakes

2 apples, thinly sliced (I prefer Gala)
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1/8 c brown sugar
pinch of salt
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

1 egg
1c all-purpose flour
¾ c milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
cooking spray

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add apples and cook until they begin to caramelize.  Mix in brown sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  Cook until apples are completely softened.  Remove from heat.  Set aside.

Beat egg with a whisk until fluffy.  Beat in remaining batter ingredients until smooth.  Add a little milk if necessary.

Take half of cooked apples, chop them, and then stir into the pancake batter.  Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium heat.  Spray generously with cooking spray.  Add dollops of batter to pan.  Cook on one side until bubbles start to form on top.  Flip and finish cooking on the other side.  Top pancakes with leftover apples.