Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A First Encounter and Pear Ginger Muffins

My first meeting of my love was in a Starbucks.  It was a blind date of sorts.  A first encounter.  My good friend was setting me up with an acquaintance of hers that she said was PERFECT for me.  Miss Matchmaker.

So we talked a little online via email.  (This was before texting!) and then progressed to several really, really long 4 hour phone calls.  Then we decided to meet.

"Make sure you meet in a public place" one friend said! "Don't go anywhere alone until you know him", another one said.  So I decided to meet at Starbucks.  I don't even drink coffee...

We met, we laughed, and we talked for another 4 hours. Then I got in his Italian sports car for a little ride (I know, I know...didn't listen to my friend's advice).  It's been heaven ever since!

One thing I remember quite well is him asking me if I wanted any "sweets" with my tea.  We ended up sharing a muffin. This simple ritual of going to a coffee house and getting a "sweet" to share has stayed with us for over 13 years.  As a matter of fact we just did that 2 days ago.

I wanted to share a muffin I created for us that resembles that "sweet" we first shared. MGG loves them and so do I. Sweet winter pears, and warm ginger grace this muffin.  A perfect 'sweet' to share with your loved ones.


Pear Ginger Muffins

Serves 6

1 egg
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar or splenda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 pear, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger
brown sugar (optional)


Place egg, milk, and oil in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until light.  Add flour, sugar (or splenda), baking powder, and salt.  Stir until moist.  Don’t overmix…batter should be lumpy and a little thick.

Fold in chopped pear and candied ginger.

Spray a non-stick muffin pan with cooking spray.  Divide batter among the muffin cups filling most of the way full. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar on the top if desired.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 min.  Remove from oven and cool.  Serve.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Theater Steak

Classics are just that for a reason, and Marion Cunningham's retro "Theater Steak" is proof that a one-dish dinner can be downright amazing.

The Web is full of exciting new recipes, but some of the best recipe ideas come from the classics; the tried and true that have stood the test of time.  Sometimes simplicity wins out over fancy new flavor combinations and unique ingredients. I think that Marion Cunningham believes this as well as her recipes are just that, pared down with good simplistic ingredients.  

Theater Steak is by Marion Cunningham and its concept was simple: a one-dish steak dinner that (according to her) ensured that a theater-goer would make his curtain call on time. I love a good steak and mushrooms, but the buttery goodness of toasted bread was calling to me.  

I followed the recipe as is except the substitution of the Filet Mignon with a sirloin I had on hand.  Along the line of an open faced sandwich this is perfect for dinner or lunch.  This recipe is proof that less is more.  The flavors are exquisite!

If you get a chance to try more of Marion Cunningham's recipes, do so.  You'll be in for a real treat.  

Theater Steak

Adapted from Marion Cunningham's recipe from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook

Serves 4

2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola or safflower
2 (6-8-ounce) restaurant cut sirloin steaks, at room temperature
1/4 cup chicken stock or white wine

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound mixed mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large onion, sliced into half moons
4 thick slices good-quality bread (I used a French loaf)
1 cup spicy greens, such as arugula or watercress
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat. Pat the steaks very dry and season the side facing up generously with salt and pepper. When the oil is shimmering, place the steaks, seasoned side down, in the skillet. Season the top with additional salt and pepper.
Cook the steaks without disturbing until a deep golden brown crust has formed, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the steaks and allow to cook for another 3-5 minutes until cooked to desired doneness.  Remove and keep warm tenting with foil.
Turn up the heat to high under the skillet.  Add the stock or wine and scape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons butter. Add the mushrooms and onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Melt the remaining two tablespoons butter in the skillet. Add the bread and cook until toasted and golden brown on each side.  Place about 1/4 cup greens over each piece of bread, followed by 1/4 of the mushroom mixture.  Thinly slice the steaks lengthwise and arrange over the bread; pour any juices from the cutting board over the top.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beef & Noodle Slaw Stir Fry

I'm on an Asian kick lately.

this dish was born out of odds and ends that needed to be used up from the refrigerator.  I had some carrot juice, a small sirloin steak and a bag of broccoli slaw.  Hence the slaw in the title.  

So I decided to make another stir fry.  Since my last one using chicken and noodles turned out so well I decided to make this version with beef, and noodles, and broccoli slaw for the veggies.

The sauce is made from a mixture of a store bought peanut sauce (another item from the frig) and my leftover carrot juice.  Add in some Asian spices and my every present cashews and the rest is history!

Simple and easy....tasty too!

Enjoy this simple creation and come back and tell me how it turned out.

Beef & Noodle Slaw Stir Fry

serves 4

1/3 cup peanut sauce
1/3 cup carrot juice
1 tablespoon ginger, minced

6 oz multi-grain spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 oz sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1 16 ounce package broccoli slaw
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/3 c whole unsalted cashews

 In a bowl whisk together peanut sauce and carrot juice; set aside.  Break spaghetti in half and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile in a wok or large skillet stir-fry beef until browned about 5 minutes.  Remove from the skillet. Add ginger and broccoli slaw and carrots. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add cashews and stir until slightly roasted.  Return beef to the skillet.  

Add peanut sauce mixture. stirring to coat. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Add noodles. Using tongs, toss to coat. Serve warm.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Asian Style Fried Rice and Beans

I was visiting with some friends recently that are from Louisiana.  A place I've dreamed of going, but haven't had the chance to get there yet.  Bucket list!

Inevitably when the conversation turns to food there is a lot of talk about Red Bean and Rice.  I mean a LOT.  A symbol of Creole cuisine and thought of as major comfort food.  It uses simple ingredients that may even be leftover from a previous meal.

So why not make a variation of this comfort food displaying the comforts of a different global cuisine.  Let's take this to Asia.  Fried Rice is a popular and common dish.  So why not jazz it up, add some beans, and create another comfort dish sensation.  PLUS...let's use leftover rice.

Do you ever make leftovers?  Rice is a great dish to make a little extra.  It keeps well, you can freeze it, and you use it in so many other dishes from soup to salads, to stir fried rice!

This dish came out so well that everyone loved it.  Second helpings were all around.  There might even have been thirds if you are truely counting.

The pineapple lends some sweetness, the bean protein, and the different sauce ingredients used help make the dish.  There are no eggs in this dish as in the typical one.  The beans are the protein substitute.

It's very easy to whip up and good for you.  Hearty enough for a main course dish.  I hope you enjoy the flavors and a new spin on rice and beans.

Asian Style Fried Rice and Beans

Serves 4

8 ounce can pineapple slices
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 medium of carrots, thinly sliced on the bias
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
2 cups of cooked brown rice or white rice
1 14 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 cup of frozen peas, thawed
3 tablespoons of reduced-sodium soy sauce 
1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1/3 cup of snipped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 lime, halved

Quarter pineapple slices. In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium heat. Add pineapple; cook about 2 -3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove from skillet. 

Pour the remaining 1 teaspoon oil into the hot skillet. Add carrots and cook for about 5 minutes until tender.  Add garlic and ginger; cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in brown rice, garbanzo beans, and peas. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. Cook and stir about 4 minutes or until heated through. Stir in the 1/3 cup cilantro. Return pineapple to skillet; heat through.

To serve, squeeze lime over rice. If desired, top with additional cilantro leaves.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Banana Oat Breakfast Cookie

They say breakfast is the most important meal of they day.

After the body has been at rest it's a good idea to feed it in the morning so you energy to last you to the next meal.  It's simple really.  A good energy laden breakfast will satisfy you and give you the pep you need to feed your brain and muscles until lunch time.

During the week I'm not that great of a breakfast eater.  Toast on the run kind of girl.  So when I came across these wonderful breakfast cookies (yes, I said cookies!) that promised me a healthy start to my day I jumped at the chance to make them.  I mean, who doesn't want to eat a cookie for breakfast?

These are low in fat, contain whole grains, and lots of energy producing ingredients that are perfect for breakfast.  Much better than that muffin you pick up at Starbuck's with your morning coffee...

These are also a great snack.  One you should feel proud to feed your kids, and they're gonna love them too!  And since this makes a big batch you can freeze them.  Just pull them out of the freezer to thaw whenever you crave one.

They turned out wonderful.  Moist and chewy with some sweetness.  Do you like trail mix, or energy bars?  Well this is just like that, in a cookie.  And I tell you, they will fill you up.  What a perfect way to avoid those mid-morning cravings and avoid all the extra calories.  Perfect in every way.  


Banana Oat Breakfast Cookie

Adapted from BHG

Yields: 12 breakfast cookies

1 large banana, mashed (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat two cookie sheets with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together banana, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla.   Add oats, flour, milk powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir until combined. Stir in dried cranberries.

Using a 1/4-cup measure scoop, drop mounds of dough 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. With a thin metal or small plastic spatula dipped in water, flatten and spread each mound of dough to a 2 3/4-inch round, about 1/2-inch thick. Once baked, each cookie will be about 3-1/2 to 4 inches in diameter.

Bake, one sheet at a time, for 13 -14 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months; thaw before serving.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day Breakfast and a Product Review

 February is all about Valentine's Day, and love, chocolate, and hearts!

Why not take some time out this Valentine's Day and make a breakfast that shows you love them.  Making an easy meal such as pancakes goes a long way to show you care.  What is even better is making heart shaped pancakes.  Just a little spin on the traditional by free forming a heart shape when pouring the batter on the griddle.  

If free forming isn't your forte, you could use a mold...or one of those handy squirt bottles for batter.  They all work well and the sentiment will be appreciated.

You can even go modern and make XOXO pancakes.  Too cute!

So let's talk about the batter.  You can use your favorite pancake batter but, I wanted to introduce you to a new product I came across.  I'm sure you've all used an baking mixes before.  There are quite a few different brands out there.  I recently came across one from one of my favorite brands, King Arthur Flour.  I just love their flour (and many other items as well...) because it seems to make my baked items so much more tender than any other.  So I new I had to try it.

King Arthur Flour Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix comes in a 36oz box for $6.95.  here's what they say about it.

Make tender, golden pancakes or waffles with our easy mix. Flavored with a hint of malt for "diner-style" flavor. Just add milk, egg, and butter or oil. See instructions on the box.
Classic Diner-Style Pancakes and Waffle Mix. 16 oz. package makes 20 large 4" pancakes.
  • Kosher.
Want to make waffles? Prepare the batter as directed for pancakes, doubling the amount of butter or oil. Bake according to your waffle iron's instruction manual

The pancakes came out light and fluffy with a slightly tangy flavor which is from the buttermilk powder. Tasted just like homemade. I must say this is a superior mix to the old stand by. 

Hope they come out with a whole grain version too!

So remember that you can take a shortcut and make wonderful Valentine's Day pancakes that are quick and easy, tasty, and full of love.


Valentine's Day Pancakes

2 cups King Arthur All Purpose Baking Mix (or other brand)
2 eggs
1 cup milk

In a large bowl add the baking mix. Then add the milk and egg and stir until combined.

Preheat a griddle and use either cooking spray or butter to grease the griddle. Pour batter in heart shape and allow to cook over medium heat until small bubbles form on top. Flip over when golden brown and cook another 1-2 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with butter and heated maple syrup.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Valentine's Day Dishes

Love is in the air!

This year Valentine's Day is on a Friday.  Will you celebrate that day, or will you wait for the weekend?  For years we took a trip to Vegas around Valentine's to have a little getaway which was really nice.

This year haven't made definite plans to go away, but we are talking about it.  For Valentine's we'll most likely go out for a nice dinner and come back for a yummy Valentine Dessert.

For those of you who like to serve up some love I wanted to bring you some Valentine's Day ideas for breakfast, dinner, or dessert.  These are all special in my book and would please any recipient, whether a loved friend, child, significant other...or to share with you beloved dog!

And don't forget to share the love with yourself!  You deserve some too...

I'm making more Valentine's Day goodies so stay tuned...


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