Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Little Too Excited for Fall!

I am over summer already, which is a very sad thing to say! But I am ready for fall and everything about it, including cool, perfect weather, the beginning of hockey season, hoodies and most importantly PUMPKIN!! I managed to injure myself somehow over the weekend and am unable to sit down for extended periods of time…not such a problem for a busy-body like myself! I can easily find projects in the kitchen to keep me entertained and standing! I knew I wanted to make some sort of pastry for breakfast for the week and did not have bananas or apples or any other fruit for that matter, but I did have a can of pumpkin! So pumpkin bread it was! I decided to get really daring and try out an entirely  new recipe too, one that included a cream cheese swirl in the middle. Here is what I came up with:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bread:

  • 1 can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin butter (or you can use oil, butter or applesauce depending on what you have)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup oat flour (ground up oats or any other flour you have, even 1 2/3 white flour works just fine)!
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • Cream filling:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 t flour
  • 1 egg white
  • Cinnamon sugar mix for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a loaf pan. Sift together flours, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In separate bowl, beat together pumpkin puree and pumpkin butter until combined. Add in brown sugar, mixing until smooth. Then add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Beat in sugar until incorporated and smooth. Beat in egg white and vanilla, then flour, mixing until incorporated and smooth. Layer half the batter in the loaf pan, top with the cream filling, then rest of batter. Top with cinnamon sugar, and bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy plain or toasted with butter, apple butter or even peanut butter!

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Bars, Bars, and more Bars!

So I’ve been on a bar kick lately! I was on a brownie kick there for a while and now have baked at least 10 different bar type recipes in the past two weeks! This is definitely not a bad thing, just an odd turn of events for someone who as of a few weeks ago hadn’t even really ever dabbled in baking bar recipes before! Some have turned out great, while others have seriously flopped…last night was a definite success though! The bars are a combination of marshmallow, butterscotch and of course chocolate…and they turned out sooo incredibly soft and gooey, so gooey they were almost hard to get out of the pan…and to me, that’s a good thing! I got the recipe idea from pinterest, my new favorite time passer and go-to for new ideas!

Look at all of that soft, gooey chewiness!

Chocolate Butterscotch Blondies:

adapted from Baked Perfection’s Blog

1 cup butterscotch chips
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 t baking powder
dash of salt
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 bag of marshmallows
1 bag milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X9 baking dish. Melt butterscotch and butter in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. Once melted, pour into bowl. While cooling, sift or whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and vanilla. Once the butterscotch mixture is cooled, add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated each time. Add in vanilla. Then add in dry ingredients slowly, 1/3 or so at a time until just incorporated. Fold in marshmallows and chocolate chips. Batter will be pretty thick, I had to smooth mine into the baking pan, as it did not pour! Bake for 20-25 minutes. Center will be somewhat liquidy/soft but will setup after cooling for an hour or so. I was a little nervous at just how liquidy my center was when taking them out but the top was already so browned, I did not want to risk over-cooking them, especially with my crappy oven that constantly over-cooks everything!! So I took them out and figured I’d let them sit and cool completely and see what happened and they ended up solidifying just enough to leave a perfect soft, creamy, buttery center! I think most of the extreme softness when removing from the oven was because of the melted marshmallows which hardened up a bit after cooling down. Absolutely delicious!

Beer, Broccoli and Cheese!

Long overdue, a few of us girls finally got together last night to catch up and eat some grub! One of my friends, Nicole, is doing the triathlon this coming Sunday in Chicago (amazing I know) and since I was in charge of cooking dinner, I wanted to come up with a balanced, healthier meal that would help keep her fueled…one chock full of healthy fats, protein, carbs and loaded with vitamins and nutrients. I saw a recipe on Pinterest for a broccoli cheese casserole sans any ‘cream of anything soup’ which intrigued me, so I decided to go that route, but adding in some chicken for more protein! I also made a beer bread to go along with it for fun! Add in some baked polenta appetizers and an amazing salted caramel pie baked by my friend Em and we had one complete dinner!

Chicken, Broccoli, Cheese Casserole:

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thing
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • few squirts of lemon, to taste
  • dash of mustard powder
  • 1 t spicy mustard (I used a Habanero mustard, but Dijon or any similar would work as well)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, plus another cup for topping
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 3 cups cooked broccoli
  • 3 cups cooked rice (I used black rice, more antioxidants than blueberries and more fiber than brown rice, a little healthier alternative)!
  • 3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

Cook rice, broccoli and chicken and set aside. I steamed the broccoli, threw the rice in a rice maker and grilled chicken breasts with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and heat oil and butter in saucepan until butter is melted.  Saute onions until soft, 5-7 minutes, add garlic, cook another minute or two. Whisk in flour, cooking only for a minute, not browning it. Slowly add in milk, broth, lemon juice and mustard whisking constantly until smooth. Once smooth, let cook and thicken for 5 or so minutes, whisking only occasionally. Once thickened, add in the cheeses and remove from heat. Once cheese is melted, add in cooked broccoli, rice and chicken. Stir to coat everything, pour into a casserole dish or 9X13 pan. Top with cheddar and more parmesan, bake for 45 minutes.

Beer Bread with Cheddar and Garlic:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 10 ounces or 1 1/4 cups beer (guess you’ll just have to drink those last two ounces)!
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t onion powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t mustard powder, plus more for top
  • 1 T butter, melted

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard powder. Slowly mix in beer with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add in cheese, until just combined. Pour (I use this word lightly as the batter is very thick and will not ‘pour’) into a 9X5 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes. The dough will puff lightly and grow a little in the pan. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle seasonings over top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Polenta Appetizers:

  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 large leek, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh mozzarella
  • parmesan cheese
  • seasonings of choice (I used rosemary and thyme)
  • more olive oil for drizzling (this has to be really good olive oil, I used a garlic olive oil I infused myself with excellent quality oil from Italy)
  • log of polenta (I got mine from Trader Joe’s but I have seen them at Jewel, etc)

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil. Add in mushrooms and leeks, saute until softened 5-7 minutes. Add in garlic and cook a few minutes more. In the meantime, slice the polenta into slices. Cover with mozzarella cheese then mushroom leek mixture, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese, seasonings and drizzle with a smidge of olive oil. Transfer to greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and polenta is browned a little on the bottom.

Em’s Salted Caramel Pie:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 T butter, melted
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • salt

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter, press into a 9-inch pie plate. Top with sweetened condensed milk, sprinkle with salt. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, covered with foil! This is very important, as I burned the crap out of mine when I baked it uncovered!

Best. Cake. Ever.

Ok, well it is the best cake I’ve made at least, maybe not the best I’ve ever had! In honor of Julia Child’s would-be 100th birthday, I finally buckled down and made her Reine de Saba chocolate cake I have been dying to make forever now! Reine de Saba simply means chocolate almond cake….and what better combination than nuts and chocolate!? (Hence my peanut butter obsession)! I saw this recipe ages ago and have been wanting to make it ever since, the pictures look so delicious…a creamy, chocolatey piece of heaven! I followed her recipe exactly, only difference is that I used dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet and used coffee instead of rum since I do not have any dark rum (I’m a Bacardi silver light rum girl)! Also, since the chocolate is the main flavor of the cake, I recommend using a good quality chocolate, not just any old brand!

Reine de Saba Cake:

Original Julia Child recipe

  • 4 oz. or squares semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 Tbsp. rum or coffee (I used dark chocolate…good quality Godiva to be exact)!
  • 1 stick softened butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup pulverized almonds
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • ½ cup cake flour

Glacage au Chocolat (Chocolate Butter Glaze):

  • 2 oz  semi-sweet baking chocolate (I also used the same Godiva dark chocolate here as well)!
  • 2 Tbsp. rum or coffee
  • 5 to 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8X8 cake pan.

Set the chocolate and rum or coffee in a small pan, cover, and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture. Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir in one-fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one-third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the centre should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on the rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

For the glaze:

Combine chocolate and rum in small metal bowl. Set bowl over small saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Using wooden spoon, beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until icing is smooth. Place bowl over medium bowl filled with ice water. Continue to beat until icing is cool and thickened to spreading consistency.

Place cake on platter. Scrape icing onto top center. Using small offset spatula, spread icing evenly and thinly over top and sides of cake. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.

                               

 

As mentioned, this is one of the best cakes I have ever made…even though it has a little bit of flour in it, it has the consistency of a fudgy, dense flourless chocolate cake! It is almost a combination of a gooey brownie and moist, dense cake! It is delightful! And the glaze is ever so delicious, adding that much more flavor! Such a rich cake and the almond taste really comes through…absolutely divine! I cannot believe I waited this long to make it!

Orzotto with Fresh Mozzarella and Tomatoes!

A while back I posted about a risotto I made with orzo pasta instead of Arborio rice. This is something I do frequently,  so I figured I needed a name for it, hence orzotto! You  make orzotto the same way you  make risotto; it takes about the same amount of time and is just as versatile as risotto, meaning you can add pretty much anything you want in there! This time, I made it with orzo, zucchini, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. It was very light and fresh, and oh so cheesy! To me though, it tasted as if it was lacking something…and it took me until this morning to pin point what…this was the first time I have ever had any form of risotto without spinach or arugula or some type of green! This one was still delicious and I love the cheesiness of it, but I think I would add in some spinach next time!

Orzotto with Fresh Mozz and tomatoes:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • package of pancetta from Trader Joe’s (obviously this is optional or you can use whatever kind you want/have/like)!
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced thinly
  • 1 package orzo pasta (can use Arborio rice in place as well)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth (simmering on low heat on the stove)
  • 1/2 cup pecorino-romano or parm
  • fresh mozzarella, cubed into small pieces
  • tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes and halved them but use whatever kind and as many as you like)!
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat up the chicken broth in a small saucepan and let simmer. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter over medium high heat until butter melts. Add pancetta, onions and zucchini, saute until veggies are soft and pancetta is crisp, about 5-7 minutes, salting and peppering to taste. Add in garlic and orzo pasta, toasting orzo until lightly browned. Deglaze pan with white wine, cooking until reduced by at least half. Add in broth a cup at a time, letting the pasta absorb it after each addition and stirring frequently to avoid burning the bottom or having it stick too much to the pan. After orzo is cooked to your liking ( it took me exactly the 6 cups of broth but you may or may not use it all), shut off heat but leave pan on hot burner, and add in cheeses, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Let cook until cheese melts and tomatoes are heated through. Serve with more romano or parm and some warm bread!

Since I already have a post going, I would like to mention a restaurant that we ate at Friday night as well. Josh took me there a few years ago for my birthday and we ended up going back to see if it was as good as we remember…to our delight, it certainly was! The place is called Chilipan, it is a very small, BYOB restaurant located in Logan Square on Armitage. It is incredibly good and the prices are very reasonable! I ordered a chicken that was stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and cheese and smothered in a mole poblano cream sauce and served with cilantro potatoes and garlic spinach and Josh ordered a skirt steak that was rolled with spinach and cheese served on top of sauteed mushrooms and garlic pureed potatoes with a tomato salsa type sauce! The couple we were with also enjoyed the restaurant and ordered the same dish as Josh and enchiladas which they reported to be tasty as well! We were going to a movie afterwards so did not order dessert so we can enjoy some candy during the show, but the chocolate tamale is not to be missed if you go!

Savory Bread Pudding, aka Stuffing!!

I had three chicken breasts, a container of  mushrooms, a log of goat cheese and a fresh block of pecorino-romano in the fridge and figured they would all go great together but did not want to do yet another pasta. I also had four Trader Joe’s brioche buns that were a few days old that I didn’t want to waste since they are sooooo good…so I made my first attempt at a savory bread pudding. Overall, I am not a huge bread pudding fan, not rich enough for my dessert tastes and always seem to make a better cold breakfast to me! I do however have one go-to sweet bread pudding recipe that seems to get rave reviews so I will share that recipe as well! The savory bread pudding turned out to be very good; moist and creamy, yet reminded both Josh and I of stuffing at Thanksgiving! This is obviously not a bad thing at all, but savory bread pudding is essentially a version of homemade stuffing! I would definitely  make it again and again, adding different ingredients and seasonings each time, great recipe to play around with!

Savory Bread Pudding:

  • 8 ounce container mushrooms of choice (I happened to have Portobello)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced finely or sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 T butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 6 or so cups of torn bread (I used 4 Brioche buns from Trader Joe’s and it was a little too much actually, but I didn’t want to waste any 😉
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk (or you can do 2 cups heavy cream for more richness)
  • 5 ounce log goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup pecorino-romano, plus more for topping
  • Thyme and rosemary to taste (this is what really gave it the Thanksgiving stuffing feel)!
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, diced

Heat oil and butter in large saucepan over medium-high until butter has melted. Add in mushrooms, zucchini and onions, saute until softened, 5-7 minutes, salt and pepper to taste (you can also add a little thyme and rosemary to the veggies as well). Add in garlic and saute a few minutes more. Pour in white wine to deglaze the pan and let simmer until most of the liquid has reduced. In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, seasonings to taste and cheeses. Add in bread pieces and chicken, toss to combine. Add vegetables to bread mixture, mixing so everything is coated with the liquid. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, tossing every so often. When ready to cook, top with more pecorino-romano and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through and center is heated through. We ate it right out of the oven for dinner last night and cold for breakfast this morning and I can’t say which I liked more but I am leaning towards cold breakfast, just like the sweet bread puddings I’ve had!

As is custom, no meal in our household is complete without dessert and I stumbled across an amazing looking picture online and wanted to repeat the recipe and of course after much research, could not find a recipe online! The bars are for sale online by Whimsy and Spice and look divine! Just look at this picture:

My own version of Chocolate Butterscotch Bars:

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Brownie layer:

  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional but enhances that deep chocolate flavor)
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butterscotch Layer:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch morsels

For the graham cracker crust: pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together crumbs and melted butter until moistened. Press into greased 9X9 baking pan. Bake 11-12 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, for the brownie layer, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a double boiler and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan and let cool. Add 1 egg to the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining egg and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be too cakey. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. Pour the batter over the top of the graham cracker crust. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. While cooling, for butterscotch layer, heat sweetened condensed milk and butter in saucepan over medium heat until thickens and begins to turn a nice amber color, about 10-12 minutes. Add in butterscotch morsels and remove from heat, stirring until smooth and morsels have melted completely. Pour over brownie layer in pan and let bars cool completely before cutting.

These turned out to be just ok. A little too much butterscotch in my opinion and by the end of the night when they had really fully cooled, the butterscotch layer became quite hard and unappetizing in my opinion! The only thing I can think of would be to use less condensed milk and a few tablespoons more butter next time! Here’s how mine looked…not quite as pretty as Whimsy’s!

photo.JPG

Lastly, as promised, here is the only bread pudding recipe I have yet to really like!

Cinnamon Caramel Bread Pudding:

  • 20 slices cinnamon-raisin bread
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups chilled whipping cream, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • Purchased caramel sauce, warmed

Cut or rip bread into 3/4-inch cubes. Place in very large bowl. Whisk eggs, milk, 1 cup cream, and next 4 ingredients in large bowl until sugar dissolves. Pour egg mixture over bread; toss to coat. Cover with plastic and chill at least 4 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. Let stand at room temp 30 mins. Preheat oven to 375. Butter 13X9 baking dish and pour in bread pudding. Bake pudding until puffed, edges are golden, and tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Serve with caramel sauce over top!

With that much cream and fattiness, there’s no wonder this is the only one I’ve ever really cared for…sadly though, it is still a breakfast to me, fattiness and all!

 

Elvis Cupcakes!

Well they are not exactly Elvis cupcakes but they do contain peanut butter and banana! But, knowing me, I had to throw in a little bit of chocolate! I saw a pin on pinterest the other day for chocolate chip banana cupcakes and thought what a great way to use leftover bananas instead of making yet another banana bread! I also figured that bananas pair so darn well with peanut butter that why not top the cupcakes with that ever so delicious peanut butter frosting I have raved about more than a few times now! And as usual, I was licking that bowl clean as clean can be….most addicting frosting ever! Since we are on the topic of Elvis, I think I mentioned in the very first blog I wrote about my all time favorite sandwich…the Elvis…aka, fried peanut butter and banana! So for old times sake, I will re-post that recipe so I can reminisce since it’s been a while since I’ve made one…until this weekend when I change that!

Chocolate Chip Banana Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 2 bananas
  • Bag of chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate because it’s all I had but dark would be amazing as well)…dust with a tablespoon of flour

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl or stand mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add in milk and vanilla, then mashed banana. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and fill muffin pan 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-17 minutes.

These turned out to taste absolutely amazing however, I can’t believe I am about to even say this, but I added in too much chocolate! Even dusted with flour, all the chocolate clumped together and sank to the bottom of the cupcake (as evidenced in the photo)! The delicious chocolatiness was great with the banana and peanut butter but it made for a very dense, heavy cupcake with a glob of chocolate at the bottom!

And as promised, my famous, delicious, most-amazing sandwich recipe ever: (sidenote, measurements are difficult to predict here since I just make this willy-nilly whenever I have a craving so change them up as you feel fit, these are just approximations anyways)!

The Elvis:

  • 1 Banana, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 T butter
  • Peanut butter
  • 2 slices sturdy bread
  • 2 T butter

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in bananas and sugar, cooking until bananas are caramelized from the sugar. Meanwhile, while those are cooking up, spread peanut butter on two slices of bread and butter on the other…I realized this is difficult but I usually do the butter first then set that side down on the plate and add the peanut butter to the other sides. It doesn’t matter if some of the butter smears off onto the plate since you will be adding more to the pan anyways! Remove from pan, leaving any liquid in pan and lower heat to medium low. Add a few more tablespoons of butter into the pan and let melt. Add one of the slices, butter side down into the pan and top with the caramelized bananas. Finish the sandwich with the other slice of bread, peanut butter side down and cook until both sides are browned, flipping once! Another option is to sprinkle some sugar onto the buttered sides of the bread to add a nice brown caramelization to it as well. Absolute heaven in your mouth, trust me!!

 

Who doesn’t love goat cheese?!

I know I do, goat cheese is one of my favorites! Last night, I decided to whip up a pasta dish that would use up most of what was left in our fridge since we will once again be leaving town for the weekend! Here’s what I ended up with: penne with roasted leeks, zucchini, mushrooms and a garlic oil creamy goat cheese sauce with pan-fried breaded chicken! You would never know I forgot to add in the arugula! Not the fastest recipe since it had a few different components, but they were all fairly easy to do! Here’s the breakdown:

Roasted Vegetables:

  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • zucchini, diced up however you like
  • leeks, halved then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 T good olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400, mix together vegetables, oil and seasonings. Spread onto one or two sheet or roasting pans depending on how many veggies you have. You want them to be in one layer, no overlapping or they will steam instead of roast and you won’t get that caramelization you want when roasting! Roast for 15-20 minutes, flip over and roast another 15 or so minutes until golden and caramelized! Set aside when done.

Chicken:

  • One package chicken tenders, diced into chunks
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil to coat bottom of pan

Put beaten eggs in one bowl and bread crumbs and parm in another. Salt and pepper chicken, then coat chicken with egg then bread crumbs, egg then bread crumbs again. (You do not have to do a second coat if you don’t care for a lot of breading or just want a light breading). Heat oil in a cast iron skillet or fry pan over medium heat until hot. Add chicken, working in batches if necessary until cooked through, turning once.

Garlic Oil Sauce:

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in small fry pan until hot. Remove from heat and add in garlic. Let cook for a few seconds to brown the garlic then add to drained pasta (that you cooked while doing all of the other various tasks for this dish, and save at least a cup of the heavily salted pasta water in case you need it later), immediately followed by adding the goat cheese while the oil and pasta are still hot so that the goat cheese can melt. Toss until goat cheese melts, adding in roasted vegetables, chicken, Parmesan cheese and pasta water if needed to thin out sauce! (This is also where you would add the arugula or spinach if using and you did not forget)! Top with more parm and eat up!