Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Banana Bread Pudding - Recipe

     Bread pudding is a wonderful thing.  Warm custardy goodness envelops cubes of bread with a slightly crisp topping, golden brown from the oven.  I like to notice the custard in my pudding and also have the bread cubes somewhat retaining a cube shape yet not dry.  I definitely prefer to have some type of whole grain in the bread too, one with some whole wheat or oat flour.  There can be other ingredients added to the custard mixture or the baking vessel as well.  So below I introduce the banana bread pudding that is extremely easy to make and so satisfying to eat.

Banana Bread Pudding
(8 (4-oz.) Ramekins)

2 Bananas
4 Eggs beaten
2 c. Milk
1 T. Vanilla
1/4 c. White Sugar
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Ginger
3 c. Bread Cubes in (1/2-inch) squares (I like to use a partial whole wheat bread)
8 T. Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and place 8 (4-oz.) ramekins on a cookie sheet.  Place 5-6 slices of banana in each ramekin.  Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, nutmeg, and ginger in a large bowl.  Add the bread cubes and gently stir to coat.  Soak for 10 minutes.  Spoon cubes into ramekins then pour in remaining egg mixture to about 3/4 high in each ramekin.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon brown sugar on top of each.  Bake for 45 minutes.  The tops will brown slightly, and the internal temperature of the pudding should be at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kitchen Curtain Hanging Hack

Kitchen Curtain Hanging Hack

     I just had to share this awesome hack for hanging slippery sheers.  I have a bay window in my kitchen with 10 sheers loaded on the hanging hardware!  We had to take them down to paint which isn't all that hard, but getting them back up is another story.  In the past, half of them would slide right off while we tried getting the other side attached to the snappy thing (don't know what else to call it right now).  It was always a struggle to get them up.  My husband came up with the brilliant idea of putting a rubber band on each end to keep the curtains in place.  It worked like a charm!  No slippery sliding here!  When they were up we pushed the curtain end out of the way and cut off the rubber band.  We adjusted the curtains and tahdah!  A job easily done!

Rubber band the ends.

All ten sheers are on the bay window rod.

Sheers hung in my kitchen bay window.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Strawberry and Cider Vinegar No Oil Salad Dressing - Recipe

     What makes this dressing exceptional is the fact that it does not contain oil.  That is right, it is not needed here.  The strawberries act as the base and add intense berry flavor.  I also use a special kind of sugar.  Coconut palm sugar is a type of brown sugar with a deep caramel flavor, made from tapping the nectar from the tropical coconut palm tree flower.  The tartness comes from the apple cider vinegar and the bay leave, allspice, and cardamom pods give warm notes as well.

Strawberry and Cider Vinegar No Oil Salad Dressing

(Makes about 1- 1 1/2 c. depending on reduction)

2 c. Strawberries crushed
1/2 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 c. Water
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp. Allspice Berries
4 Cardamom Pods cracked open
1/2 c. Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
Pinch Celtic Sea Salt

Simmer all ingredients in a sauce pan 15 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and press through a sieve, place juice back into the pan, and discard the solids.  Taste.  If it tastes like too much vinegar add a shake of salt to it.  Believe it or not this will take the edge off.  If you want it thicker, continue to simmer and reduce.  Cool in the refrigerator before serving with a salad spring mix.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Beef Short Ribs with Strawberry Cider Vinegar Glaze - Recipe

     Here is a take on beef short ribs with a strawberry apple cider vinegar glaze.  The glaze has an apple tartness with delicious, sweet strawberry flavor and color.  Similar to the Beef Short Ribs with Raspberry Maple Barbecue Sauce recipe in that you salt and refrigerate the ribs overnight.  This is a very important step for the texture and flavor of the ribs.  I am a big fan of tender ribs with beefy flavor.

Beef Short Ribs with Strawberry Cider Vinegar Glaze

(6 4-Rib Servings)


Palm Oil for frying
3 lbs. Beef Short Ribs (6 4-rib slabs)
1 1/2 T. Coarse Celtic Sea Salt
1/4 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 c. Water
1 T. Molasses
1 inch Fresh Ginger shaved with a vegetable peeler
1 T. Whole Allspice
1/2 tsp. Whole Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick

Strawberry Cider Vinegar Glaze

(Makes about 1/2 c.)

2 c. Strawberries crushed
1/2 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 c. Water
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp. Allspice Berries
4 Cardamon Pods cracked open
1/2 c. Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
Pinch Celtic Sea Salt

For the Ribs:
Pat the ribs dry and place in a single layer in a baking dish.  Rub all sides with salt, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pat the ribs dry and heat oil in an oven safe sauté pan on medium heat.  I use an enameled Dutch oven with low sides.  Brown the ribs in batches and set aside.  Add apple cider vinegar, water, and molasses to a measuring cup and stir to combine.  Pour into the sauté pan and deglaze the pan.  Add the ribs, ginger, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon stick.  Cover pan with a lid or foil and braise for 2 hours 30 minutes until very tender and practically falling off the bone.

For the Glaze:
Simmer all glaze ingredients in a sauce pan 15 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and press through a sieve, place juice back into the pan, and discard the solids.  Taste.  If it tastes like too much vinegar add a shake of salt to it.  Believe it or not this will take the edge off.  Continue to simmer and reduce a few more minutes until syrupy and about 1/2 cup remains.

Place the ribs onto a broiler pan and brush with the glaze.  Broil on high 6 inches below flame for about 1 minute until the glaze starts to sizzle.  Place ribs on a serving platter and serve warm.

On the broiler pan.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Warm Cabbage and Greens Dip with Sour Cream Tomato Sauce - Recipe

     I love dip, and this is one that I can hardly stop eating.  It is beautiful, creamy, and delicious.  Cabbage and greens are good for you too!  Chicken broth is the base used to cook the cabbage and greens with tomato paste and sour cream added to make a creamy red sauce.  Oregano adds earthiness while the uncooked garlic and cayenne pepper at the end gives the dip a little kick.  Adjust to your liking.  Great for weekend football games, this one will go fast!

Warm Cabbage and Greens Dip with Sour Cream Tomato Sauce

(Makes 2 cups)

2 tsp. Palm Oil or Vegetable Oil
6 c. Savoy or Green Cabbage chopped in small pieces
4 Cloves Garlic chopped plus 1 Clove for garlic press
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 c. Chicken Broth
2 tsp. Fresh Oregano chopped or 1 tsp. dried Oregano
1 T. Tomato Paste
3 c. Fresh Beet Greens or Swiss Chard
1/2 c. Sour Cream
1 T. Butter
1 T. Flour
1 pinch Cayenne Pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot on medium heat.  Add cabbage, four cloves chopped garlic, and salt, setting aside one garlic clove for later.  Sauté the cabbage until it softens and starts to brown a bit.  Add the chicken broth, oregano, and tomato paste.  Bring to a simmer and add the greens.  Simmer just a couple minutes to soften the greens.  Be careful not to wilt them, you want them to keep their shape and bright green color.  Add the sour cream and stir until well combined.  In a cup mix the butter and flour together with a fork to make a paste.  Be patient, it will come together.  Move the cabbage and greens to one side of the pan and whisk the butter and flour mixture into the sauce until it melts and begins to thicken and bubble a minute or two.  Now with a spoon, stir the sauce with the cabbage and greens.  Remove from the heat and stir in a pinch of cayenne pepper and add the remaining garlic clove through a garlic press.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste and serve warm with corn chips.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cleaning up Christmas

     A little later than last year.  -The Christmas cleanup that is.  I waited until my son went back to grad school.  I wanted to squeeze out every last drop of winter break that I could.  Putting away Christmas decorations is not my family's favorite thing to do.  For me, however, handling the ornaments is like handling memories.  I still remember playing with a lot of them as a child.  Yes, my sister and I would play with the angels and animal ornaments on and off the tree.  We also made yarn dolls, which my grandfather taught us how to do and made up stories with them as well.  This year I reminded my sister of the angel hierarchy we used in the stories.  There was the queen angel who was the largest of them all and also a music box, wearing white flowing chiffon.  Then there was the second in command, a slightly smaller music box angel.  Then came the tree ornament angels.  The angels in red and the angels in gold both with wispy yellow hair.  They were elegant and beautiful.  We used to make these fly around the house.  No, I am not making this up.  Then came our favorite angels.  Mine had a pink dress and pink hair.  My sister's was in blue with blue hair.  They were not as elegant as the others but they were by far the most important for some reason and the most played with.  I wonder if kids play with their ornaments nowadays.  I hope so, because it was a blast every year.  Then there is the Santa Claus music box.  He was round and his tummy was soft like a perfect ball.  But it was his rabbit fur beard that held our fascination.  Yes it was fur, and did we love to pet that beard.  We would hug him and rub noses with him too.  (I have a very good memory.)  I have him now.  The music box part no longer works, but I don't care.  So in the box you go for another year!  See you in December!

Below is a picture of me in red and sister in blue looking at a Santa that lit up and could be seen from the street.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Healthier Mac and Cheese - Recipe

     How does one improve on what many consider the most loved of comfort foods?  Make it a little healthier without sacrificing the indulgent qualities people love about it.  This is a creamy and decadent mac and cheese recipe that is healthier, because it happens to have some different ingredient choices.  First and foremost go organic as much as possible.  Then choose ingredients carefully.  The first is the brown rice pasta.  Eating brown rice pasta personally just makes me feel better physically than inhaling mounds of processed wheat pasta.  So, I have been using a brand named Tinkyáda for years and years.  I can't tell a difference in taste and the texture is perfect.  The other exceptional component is coconut milk.  I use a full fat, organic coconut milk for its many nutritional benefits.  Now for the cheese.  In this mac and cheese I used a pasture-raised, organic, raw sharp cheddar cheese.  I fear not the cheese when it is made the right way.  Pasture-raised produces a healthier product than your typical grain-fed animal.  Finally, I chose to use a butter that was also pasture-raised.  If you are looking for an exceptional, awesome, healthier mac and cheese to put into your body, then this is the recipe for you!

Healthier Mac and Cheese

(Serves 8)

1 lb. Pasture-Raised, Organic, Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese (such as Organic Valley)
1 lb. Elbow Brown Rice Pasta (such as Tinkyáda)
6 T. Pasture-Raised Butter
6 T. Organic All Purpose Flour
2 (13.5-oz.) cans Full Fat, Organic, Coconut Milk
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Ginger

Grate the cheese with the large wholes of a grater and set aside while cooking the pasta according to directions.  Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven (about a 5.5 quart oven) on medium heat and add the flour.  Cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Add the coconut milk a little at a time whisking constantly.  Continue whisking and add the nutmeg and ginger, bringing it to a simmer.  Then turn to low heat, whisking about 2 minutes until thickened.  Add all the cheese at once and stir with a spoon until melted.  Quickly stir in the cooked and drained pasta.  Place in the oven under a broiler on high for a couple minutes until the top begins to brown in a few places.  Keep close watch so it does not burn.  Serve warm.