Thursday, June 27, 2013

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

So pictures this....close your eyes and just imagine for a moment, a girl with pigtails in a cute flowing summer dress, skipping with a plate in her hands the contents of which can only be described as pure joy by the look in her eyes.

The smell of the bananas, the crumbling graham cracker crust and the tease of crumbled chocolate on top just waiting to reveal what is underneath.  Birds are chirping, the setting sun is throwing shadows all over the back yard, and then suddently, without any warning, SMACK....KURPLUNK.....{insert obsene language}.  

The plate hits the deck floor, pie side down sending all of the deliciousness through the wooden planks of the deck before she can even get on her knees to lick it up before the dogs get to it!

Now imagine this is not such a little girl, in fact it is a 30 year old in shorts and a t-shirt, trying to juggle a camera, a slidding glass door, and five dogs at he feet just so she can get the perfectly lighting on a picture of something so perfect....this pie!

In the end the look of devastation was the same.  I stood starring as moans of defeat escaped my mouth.  It was awful!

Now, moving on....about the dessert....Holy smokes!  My family may not be big dessert eaters, or at least that is what they all claim, but they sure gobbled this one right up!  From the moment I came across this recipe I knew I was in love!

Banana Pudding has always been on of my favorite desserts but this one went a step further and included a homemade graham cracker crust, chocolate and peanuts!  Sweet Jesus!

You just have to try this!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Banana Cream Pie
as adapted from The Recipe Ranger

35 NILLA Wafers, fínely crushed (about 1 cup)
¼ cup butter, melted
2 oz. Baker's Semí-Sweet Chocolate, dívíded
½ cup Creamy Peanut Butter
2 bananas, cut lengthwíse ín half, then crosswíse ínto quarters
2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each) JELL-O Vanílla Flavor Instant Puddíng
2 cups cold mílk
2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whípped Toppíng, dívíded.
2 Tbsp. Salted Peanuts, coarsely chopped

Heat oven to 350ºF.  Mix wafer crumbs and butter until well blended; press onto bottom and up síde of 9-ínch píe plate. Bake 5 to 8 mínutes or untíl golden brown. 

Cool completely. Refrígerate.  Microwave remaíníng 1-1/2 oz. chocolate and peanut butter ín mícrowaveable bowl on high 1 mín.; stír untíl chocolate ís completely melted and míxture ís well blended. 
Place bananas ín crust; drízzle wíth melted chocolate.  
Beat puddíng míxes and mílk ín large bowl wíth whísk 2 mínutes.  
Stír ín 1 cup cool whip. Spread over bananas; top wíth remaíníng cool whip.  
Refrigerate 3 hours. Top wíth nuts and coarsely chopped chocolate just before servíng.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Easy Oven Roasted New Potatoes

A staple in my family is the roasted potato  My uncle first started making them for the family years ago.  They were always a treat!  Something we only hoped would be on the dinner table when we sat down.

The seasonings were always just right and the potatoes cooked to perfection!  My uncle has a way with things like this.  He takes the basic dish that somehow I just can't seem to get right and he masters it making it a culinary work of art!

Don't even get me started on his smoked ribs or his chili....those are simply legendary.

One Christmas he gave each of us a small portion of the seasoning mixture he had created for these roasted potatoes.  I would ration it and only use a small bit each time so I could make it stretch....after all, recipes like this are surely not shared, right?

Well when I went to college I realized I no longer had any of his seasoning.  I was just going to have to figure it out myself if I wanted to be able to serve my friends potatoes as delicious as the ones my uncle would make.

That is exactly what I did!  With my arsenal of spices including in my spice rack I had for my very first apartment I started experimenting.  After a few mishaps and several batches of either incredibly burnt or totally mushy potatoes I figured it out!

These days we make them all the time and they are delicious, but after all these years, my uncles are still my favorite!

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes
1 bag red potatoes
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons garlic powder
2-3 tablespoons Lawry's Seasoned Salt
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes.  Place the cubed potatoes on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil.  Dust with the seasoned salt and garlic powder and then add salt and pepper to taste.  Sometimes I have to wing it with the other spices in my pantry if I don't have one of these.  I have used cajun seasoned, greek seasoning mixtures, added some rosemary or thyme if it is looking especially delicious in my garden or whatever I was feeling at the time.
Cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until fork tender, tossing halfway through the cooking time.  Sometimes I throw in a sweet potato as well and in that case I cur the red potatoes a bit smaller than the sweet potatoes as they cook slower.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Island Pork Tenderloin

I am not sure how many families base their meal off of what is on sale at the store but my dad is a master at getting the best deal on some of my favorite things.  Mainly he lets me know when Triscuits are on sale....I think this is in hopes I won't come to their house and eat all of their Triscuits but we all know that is a lost cause.

Another of his great finds are when crab legs, beef tenderloin and pork tenderloins go on sale.  Because of this he tends to have a freezer full of these wonderful meats.  This was what helped us determine what we wanted to have for Sunday dinner recently.

We decided to go with the pork tenderloin as I seemed to have pinned a million of those recipes to Pinterest.  This was one of those recipes that I thought would be tasty and since my cousins were coming over for dinner I wanted to knock their socks off!

Definitely on the spicy side but definitely delicious (even for this wimp who can barely handle spice)! 

Island Pork Tenderloin
For spice rub:
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 ¼ - 2 ½ lbs total) trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil

For Glaze:
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp Tabasco

Stir the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl and rub all over the pork. 
Heat oil in ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat. 
 Brown pork, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes total. 
 Remove from heat, but leave pork in skillet.
Stir together brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco in a small bowl. 
 Pat the mixture on top of the pork. Place skillet in the oven at 350. 
 Roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of each tenderloin registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes. Let pork stand in skillet, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes.  
Slice thinly and serve immediately.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Greek Village Salad

It wasn't all that long ago that my aunt would make bruschetta for family gatherings and would have to leave a few without feta because "I didn't like stinky cheese".  She would jokingly roll her eyes and accommodate my poorly educated palette.

I think she knew all along that one day this would be a thing of the past and I would grow to love anything which fell under the category of cheese!

She was right and now it doesn't really matter what kind you throw on there (unless it has a distinct smoky flavor but that is a whole different story) I am probably going to like it.

With all of that to be said, this new revelation has opened my eyes to a whole new culinary world.  Greek food has quickly become one of my favorite types of cuisine and anything that even hints at olives, tomatoes or feta immediately have my attention.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite food bloggers.  There is not much that she posts that I don't immediately pin to one of my bajillion boards on Pinterest.

Perfect to be used as a side for a pot luck supper or in an attempt to use up all those beautiful home grown tomatoes.  This is definitely a salad I will be making all summer long!

Greek Village Salad
as adapted from

For the Greek Vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Salad:
4 cups roughly chopped ripe tomatoes, I used cherry tomatoes
2 cups roughly chopped cucumbers, I used persian cucumbers
2 red or yellow peppers, cut into chunks
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 jar kalamata olives, pitted and drained
8 ounces feta, drain and crumbed
freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper and set it aside. In a large bowl. combine all of the vegetables and gently toss together. Pour the Greek vinaigrette over the vegetables, and again, gently toss to coat them. 
Crumble the feta over the salad and then very gently toss the cheese into the vegetables.
Taste and adjust for more freshly ground black pepper if desired. 
Serve immediately at room temperature, or chill before serving
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nigel Slater's Pork Meatballs in Broth

It's a constant debate each afternoon as to what I should make for dinner.  By that point in the day I am either stuffed from lunch or completely unsatisfied with whatever it was had forced down during the day.  

Depending on which of the aforementioned moods has hit me, dinner is either going to be a feast or cheese and crackers.

There are those few days where I don't seem hungry, my appetite is just fine, but I am a little indifferent about what I eat and what I cook.  This is when I always try recipes people have suggested I cook.  A totally impartial jury, a blank slate, no preconceived notions about what I should have, no cravings to sway my opinions....for the most part.

This is the situation in which I found myself the other day so I thought I would try a recipe my cousin, Amanda, sent me as it seemed fairly easy to make and light on the wallet which I always enjoy!

I was a bit skeptical seeing as I am not always a huge fan of brothy soups but I was going to follow the recipe exactly to give it a fair shot....Amanda had raved about it after all!

It FAR exceeded my expectations and now with the zucchinis growing in the garden I keep all of the other ingredients on hand so that I can have this whenever I want it!

Nigel Slater's Pork Meatballs in Broth
Serves 3 or 4

1 pound ground pork
2 small hot chiles
4 scallions
2 cloves garlic
6 sprigs mint
6 springs cilantro or parsley (I used both because I had them both in the garden and didn't want to discriminate)
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 fresh, firm zucchini, sliced paper-thin

Put the pork in a mixing bowl. Finely chop the chiles and add them with their seeds to the pork. Slice the scallions, discarding the roots and the very darkest tips of the leaves. Peel and mince the garlic, and add with the scallions to the pork. Pull the parsley or cilantro and mint leaves from their stems and chop coarsely, then add them to the pork with the salt. Mix everything thoroughly with your hands and form into about sixteen balls, about 1 1/4 inches in diameter.
Bring the stock to a boil in and season with salt and pepper. 
Lower in the pork balls and then decrease the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until they are cooked through. 

Add the zucchini slices to the soup and serve one or two minutes later.
Serve immediately!
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Honey-Basil Chicken

 Man I love a delicious meal that can be thrown together in minutes....there are just some nights where I want to eat on the early side so that I can truly relax for a few hours before I go to bed.  Since I tend to fall asleep on the couch around nine, this requires me to get in the kitchen soon after I get home from work.

With this knowledge a dear friend of mine gave me this recipe and said it would blow my mind how good (and easy) it was.

As I typically am when people rave about the deliciousness of a recipe I was skeptical but I took the recipe and told her I would give it a try.  With my bank account on the anorexic side I took another look at the recipe and realized I would only need to buy one ingredient, the chicken, as I had the rest at home!

SOLD! I would give it a try.

I decided I would cook som rice and broccoli to go along with my meal, just in case it wasn't all it was cracked up to be but as the rice was cooking, and the chicken was simmering, I started nibbling....just a strip of chicken here and another one there....soon I realized I had eaten a good portion of the chicken without having even moved it to the was that delicious!

Honey-Basil Chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package thinly sliced chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh basil

Heat oil in the skillet; salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.  Put the chicken in the skillet for about 5-6 minutes on either side or until done.  
Remove from skillet once done and cut into strips.  Return to pan.
Pour honey, vinegar and basil over the chicken.  
Let cook for another 1 minute.  Serve immediately.
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