Monday, July 18, 2016

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

When I saw this recipe, I just knew I had to try it.  My kids are little monkeys and just love bananas, so I knew it would be a hit.  So, on a night when my brother was coming over for dinner, I pulled it together for our dessert.  Although it requires some time to chill, the actual time spent making the pie is minimal and you can devote the rest of your day to prepping the main course!  Serve this at your next casual dinner party or pack it up for a church potluck.  I promise your friends and neighbors will be begging for the recipe!

1 9-inch pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
2 bananas, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
chocolate shavings, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425.  Place the pie crust on a pie plate and pinch edges to create the rim.  Prick holes in the dough with a fork.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake 15-20 minutes more, until crust is golden brown.  Let cool completely.

While the crust is cooling, combine the sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a slow boil and thickens, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to very low.  Stir a few tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks to temper.  Stir the yolks back into the hot mixture and stir constantly until thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Line the crust with half the banana slices.  Pour the pudding over the bananas.  Top with remaining banana slices.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream, powdered sugar, and remaining vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream on the pie.  Top with chocolate shavings.  Keep refrigerated until time to serve.

Serves 6-8.

Recipe adapted from The Comfort Table, by Katie Lee.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Roasted Home Fries

I made these potatoes a while ago as a great side to juicy cheeseburgers.  I have no idea where the recipe is hiding, so I'm winging it from memory!  These skillet potatoes are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and just perfect in every way.  They're great alongside burgers or steaks, but they'd also be a fabulous side dish at your next Sunday brunch.  Change the flavor to compliment your menu by adding herbs and spices as they cook.  Watch them disappear in no time.  Trust me.

1/2 a stick of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound new potatoes, halved (or quartered, if they're large)
salt and pepper

In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, combine butter and oil until butter is melted.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350.  Add garlic and onion and cook until tender.  Add potatoes, toss to coat in the butter and oil, and allow to cook until potatoes are golden brown.  Place the skillet in the oven and roast until potatoes are fork-tender, fragrant, and golden all over, 30-45 minutes.

Serves 4.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Green Chile Cheeseburgers

It's summer, and that means grilling season.  And grilling season means BURGER SEASON.  There's nothing better after a hot day at the pool or an afternoon of yard work than a cold beer and grilling up some fabulous burgers.  Of course, burgers can get a little blah sometimes and I love to change things up every once in a while.  I do love a good cheeseburger, and anything with a southwestern flair is ok with me!  Enjoy these burgers during your next cookout and your guests will be begging for more!

Green Chile Relish:
1 medium poblano chile, roasted and thinly sliced
2 Hatch chiles, roasted and thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, roasted and thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

Burgers:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
salt and pepper
4 sesame seed hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted
12 blue corn tortilla chips, coarsely crushed

Queso Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
12 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Pickled Red Onion:
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 medium red onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

To make the green chile relish, combine the chiles, vinegar, honey, olive oil, and cilantro in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

To cook the burgers, heat griddle to high.  Brush grates with oil.  Shape the ground beef into 4 round patties about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Season burgers with salt and pepper on both sides.  Cook the burgers until golden brown on both sides and cooked to medium, about 8 minutes.  

To make the queso sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute.  Add milk, raise the heat to high, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cheeses until melted.  Season with salt and pepper.

To make the pickled onions, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.  Put the onions in a medium heatproof bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over them.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 48 hours.

Place burgers on the buns and top each with a few tablespoons of the queso, relish, pickled onions, and crushed chips.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Throwdown! by Bobbly Flay.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Grilled Corn with Cilantro-Mint Butter

It's just not summer without corn on the cob!  My mom hails from the midwest and has been dubbed the "corn snob" of our family.  She's passed that trait on to my boys who love when they see corn on their dinner plates.  My five year-old recently ate two ears of corn and then complained when I wouldn't give him a third!  Grilling the corn gives it a gorgeous color and a lovely flavor that is really complimented by this fresh summery herbed butter!  I just know you're going to love it!

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
zest of 1/2 a lime
4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked

For the butter, combine butter, herbs, salt and pepper, and zest in a mini food processor and give them a whirl until combined.

Preheat a grill to medium-high and brush grates with oil.  Grill corn, turning often, until slightly charred, about 10 minutes.

Spread 1/4 of the butter on each of the ears of corn and serve hot!

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home, August 2015.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Grilled Lobster Tails with Cilantro-Mint Butter

Lobster always seems like such a decadent meal that it's easy to be intimidated.  But when I came across this recipe in one of my favorite magazines, I knew I needed to get over my fears and go for it.  After all, I had an anniversary coming up and work schedules were getting in the way of a nice dinner out.  To celebrate our eighth anniversary with a dinner date at home, I surprised my husband with lovely grilled lobster tails and corn on the cob.  It was a light meal full of warm-weather flavors (perfect for April, which is when we ate this meal) and special enough for a celebration!  The next time you need to impress your special someone, try this.  It's not as hard as you'd think and you'll definitely get the same wow factor you'd see at a quality seafood restaurant!  Enjoy!

For the butter:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
zest of 1/2 a lime

For the lobster:
2 lobster tails, split
1 lime, halved

Preheat grill to medium-high.  Brush grates with oil.

For the butter, combine butter, herbs, salt and pepper, and zest in a bowl.  Giving them a whirl in a mini food processor works just as well and only takes a few seconds!

For the lobster, split the tails in half lengthwise, discarding the vein if present.  Gently loosen the flesh from the shell without removing it completely.  Pat the tails dry and season the meat with salt and pepper.

Grill tails, covered, flesh side down, until slightly charred, about 3 minutes.  Flip tails and grill, covered, until cooked through and shells turn red, about 4 minutes more.  Grill lime halves, cut side down, until charred, about 4 minutes.

Spread 1/4 of the butter on each of the warm lobster tails and serve with grilled limes.

Serves 2.

Serve with grilled corn-on-the-cob, using remaining herbed butter on the corn.

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home, August 2015.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

Growing up, I thought the fish taco craze was a bit strange.  I couldn't wrap my arms around it, and told myself that anyone who wanted anything other than a sizzling chicken fajita was insane.  But then I tried the fish tacos at a neat little restaurant that used to be down the street from my church.  I was hooked!  After that, we moved to California, where fish tacos reign supreme, and I remember eating them on the pier in Santa Cruz, even though it was February!  my husband still stood firmly on the non-fish side of the taco debate.  Until I made these and didn't tell him!  After he devoured two tacos, he asked me what he was eating and he couldn't have been more surprised!  That evening, he agreed with me that fish tacos aren't that bad, but he still prefers steak on his tortillas over fish (or even chicken).

Slaw:
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Avocado Cream:
2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 medium avocado, chopped
1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Fish:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 4.25-ounce can diced green chiles
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 pound mahi mahi filet
1/2 lime
10 white corn tortillas

For the slaw, combine the cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, and salt together in a large bowl.  Toss well and set aside.

In a blender, combine all ingredients for the avocado cream plus 2 tablespoons water.  Blend until smooth.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Add the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine the flavors.  If the mixture seems dry, add about 3 tablespoons water to the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and place fish in the skillet.  Cover and cook until the fish is opaque in the center and flakes easily, 6-7 minutes.  Use a wooden spoons to break up the fish and mix it into the tomatoes.  Squeeze lime over the fish.

To serve, heat the tortillas in a hot skillet over high heat, about 30 second per side.  Fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup fish, top with 3 tablespoons slaw, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon avocado cream.

Serves 5.

Recipe adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook, by Gina Homolka.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Funky Fusion Fajitas

I realize I missed Cinco de Mayo here on the blog, but I didn't at home!  Mexican food is my favorite, so you better believe we had a South of the Border feast at our house.  I remember watching the episode of Throwdown! where these fajitas were prepared and I knew I needed to make them at home.  I'm so glad I did, too!  My husband loves steak fajitas, so these were a huge hit, even though I typically prefer chicken.  I went right from stove to table, serving these right out of the cast iron skillet, with plenty of salsa and sour cream on the side, allowing each person to fix up their fajitas according to preference.  This would be a fabulous party meal, creating a buffet-style Fajita Bar.  I sense a theme party brewing!!  Ole!

1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground ginger
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/4 pounds flank steak
1/2 red onion, sliced into half-moons
1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch wide strips
1 yellow or red bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch wide strips
4 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
12 8-inch flour tortillas
guacamole
Screamin' Sour Cream (recipe linked)

Combine the wine, soy sauce, vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, ketchup, brown sugar, 2 garlic cloves, ginger, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder in a large bowl.  Whisk together to mix well.  Set aside about 1/2 cup of the mixture for serving.

Tenderize the steak (pierce it all over with a fork on both sides) and place in a container with the marinade.  Refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally.  Remove meat from fridge about half an hour before grilling.

Heat the grill to medium high.  Remove steak from marinade and discard the marinade.  Season with salt and pepper (optional) and grill about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Allow the meat the rest for 10 minutes while you cook the veggies.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.  All the red onion, bell peppers, green onions, remaining garlic, and a couple tablespoons of the marinade you reserved earlier.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender.

Slice the steak into thin strips across the grain.  Spread each tortilla with some guacamole, then top with a few strips of meat, veggies, sour cream, and a drizzle of the reserved marinade.

Serves 6.

Recipe adapted from Throwdown! by Bobby Flay.