What to do?

Banana Nut Bread

What to do with bananas that have seen better days?  Well, make banana bread, of course!  I honestly don’t know what else to do with them.  I suppose they could be used in a smoothie, but I had so many that needed to be used immediately or get tossed immediately, so I chose the banana bread route.  It was a great choice!

If you don’t have any ripened bananas, its worth your while to let some get really ripened so you’ll have an excuse to make this delicious Banana Nut Bread!  It freezes quite well and baked into smaller loaves, would make great housewarming or hostess gifts!

Bon appétit!

What to do?
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breads
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups bananas mashed
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350º. Grease bottom only of 1 loaf pan, 9 × 5 × 3 inches. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda just until flour is moistened. Stir in pecans. Pour into pan.
  2. Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing. Store tightly wrapped in refrigerator up to 1 week.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 177 Fat: 8g Saturated fat: 3g Trans fat: 2g Carbohydrates: 25g Sugar: 13g Sodium: 141mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 3g Cholesterol: 31mg

It’s Fiesta Time!

Well, not really but it is time to make more taco seasoning.  Yes, my quest to keep things fresh using ingredients I can pronounce also includes seasonings.  So, I make my own Taco Seasoning which I use for tacos as well as Quesadillas.  It never goes bad and to boot, it tastes delicious.  You can tell it’s fresh and not out of a packet.  Truly, you can.

And to top all that off, I found these adorable spice jars at Target the other day.spicejars  They have chalkboard labels on top and on the front so you can use and reuse to suit your needs.  Isn’t that a fabulous idea?  The harder part was finding a chalk pen which I did find at Jo-Ann’s.

Now, to fill that spice jar with the Taco Seasonings.  Here is the recipe.  You can’t go wrong with this one – I always have it on hand as you never know when you’re going to crave Mexican!

Taco Seasoning
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Seasonings and Condiments
Serves: ½ cup
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. Yields about 2¾ tablespoons.
  2. To use: Use about 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning for every 1 pound of meat. Use more or less depending on your preference. Brown meat and drain the fat. Add your taco seasoning along with about ½ cup of water. Simmer and stir until water is absorbed. If you want more of a sauce throw in about 2 tablespoons of flour with the water.

 

Lazy Weekend Breakfast

Blueberry Pancakes

It’s Sunday morning and who doesn’t love blueberry pancakes for that special lazy Sunday breakfast with the family?  I can definitely deal with both!  That’s what weekends are for!

As a child growing up, I don’t recall having pancakes that often but I do remember we did have them and, as you can imagine, they were quite a treat.  We’d load ours with pecans not blueberries!  And then we’d pile on the butter and of course, syrup.  Not any ole syrup, mind you, but pure cane syrup.  It was called Daddy Buck’s.  I just Googled it and much to my surprise, it was made daddybuckslocally in the Florida panhandle in a town called Graceville by a company called Barker Syrup Company. Who knew?  I had no idea.  I assumed Mom picked it up at the grocery store, which she may have, but I didn’t know it was as local as Graceville.  Unfortunately, I can’t find any confirmation that the Barker Syrup Company is still in business or that you can still purchase Daddy Buck’s.  If anyone out there knows, please post a comment.

Anyway, as I said, I was raised on cane syrup and never even tasted maple syrup until my adult years. I do love pure maple syrup though – it is definitely the choice I make these days.  It’s expensive, but it is oh so good and well worth it.  I always have some in the fridge.  Pure maple syrup.  No Mrs. Butterworth’s or Aunt Jemima for this girl!  Only the good stuff!

You may have heard that maple syrup has many redeeming health qualities (read about them here) and is said to be better for you than local honey.  It’s true!  So, with that being said, why not have pancakes more often?  And not just any pancakes, but some loaded with blueberries, butter, and that wonderful, pure maple syrup.  You can’t go wrong with that combination!

Bon appétit!

Blueberry Pancakes
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon Baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • ¼ cup Sour cream
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Fresh Blueberries
  • 3 tablespoon Unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon Vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, eggs and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; gently stir until just combined (batter should remain lumpy with a few streaks of flour). Do not overmix. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes before cooking.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Using a paper towel, carefully wipe out oil, leaving a thin film of oil on the bottom of the pan. Using ¼ cup measure, portion batter into pan in 4 places. Cook until edges are set, first side is golden brown, and bubbles on surface are just beginning to break, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a thin, wide spatula, flip pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Serve pancakes immediately. Repeat with remaining batter, using remaining oil as needed.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 3 pancakes Calories: 241 Fat: 9g Saturated fat: 5g Unsaturated fat: 1g Trans fat: 3g Carbohydrates: 25g Sugar: 86g Sodium: 360mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 7g Cholesterol: 79mg

 

A Classic

At some point in my life, I acquired a taste for martini’s.  Not just any martini but a most delicious and delightful martini.  There are differences if you’ve never had one.  Always ask for a “delicious and delightful martini” when ordering at the bar!  And at the end of a long work week, a martini is just what I would prescribe.

Back some years ago I found this coffee table book in a store in Virginia Highlands.  I had to get it and I’m so glad I did. What a great read full of historical facts about the martini The Martini Bookfrom it’s inception until today.  It’s quite interesting and I highly recommend it!  I still pick it up and thumb through it sometimes.  In my eyes,you can never learn enough about the drink that is often called, “the first and only real cocktail”.

The recipe below is for what I call a Classic Martini.  For those folks who are martini connoisseurs, including myself, it is a known fact that a true martini is made with Gin.  I just happen to prefer Vodka so if you do like Gin, then rest assured your martinis will be true Classic Martinis.

Or you can try James Bond’s martini, called the “Vesper” and combine both Vodka and Gin.  That recipe is 3 ounces Gin, 1 ounce Vodka,1/2 ounces blond Lillet and a large thinly sliced lemon peel.  Pour the liquid ingredients into an ice filled shaker, shake, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Add the lemon peel and keep your eyes peeled for enemy agents!

Remember, shaken not stirred!!

Live it up and drink it down!

A Classic
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Libations
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1½ ounces Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • ½ ounces Martini and Rossi Vermouth
  • Olives or Lemon Twist
Instructions
  1. Combine Tito's Homemade Vodka and vermouth in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into chilled martini glass.
  2. Garnish with olives or lemon twist.

 

From the Sea

I fancy myself a crab cake connoisseur. I try them at various restaurants around Atlanta, around the country, etc. You get the idea. I’ve had bad ones, better ones, and fantastic ones. And guess where I’ve had the most fantastic ones? Right here in my own kitchen.

I’ve tried several different recipes throughout the years and was in love with one by Tyler Florence. It’s his Hong Kong Crab Cake recipe from his Real Kitchen cookbook. It’s your basic crab cake recipe with a touch of red chili paste. Yum yum!

Of course, I’m always on the hunt to find that next most favorite recipe!  Crab Cakes usually have the same basic ingredients with few twists. The sauce you serve also varies, depending on the area of the country, I believe, and your own personal taste. I customarily use a Lemon Aioli sauce or my personal favorite, Joe’s Mustard Sauce. (look for these recipes in upcoming posts)

I saw this recipe in a Southern Living issue (April, 2015) so I decided to give it a try. Yes, it was this long ago when I made it. I have been extremely busy so haven’t had a moment to post it but decided now would be as good as time as any – right?

This will definitely be my “go to” recipe going forward. I cannot find anything wrong with it.  The crab cake is crunchy on the outside, thanks to the panko crumbs, and is tender on the inside. And so very tasty! Try it, you’ll see!

Bon appétit!

Crab Cakes
 
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Recipe type: Mains
Cuisine: Seafood
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 ounce Lump Crabmeat
  • 1 tablespoon Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon Ground red pepper
  • 1 large Egg beaten
  • ⅔ cup Panko crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1 Lemon quartered
Instructions
  1. Pick crab meat, removing any bits of shell. Stir together green onions and next 9 ingredients along with ½ cup Panko crumbs. Add crab meat, and stir gently to combine.
  2. Using wet hands, shape mixture into 4 balls. Dredge balls in remaining ⅓ cup Panko crumbs. Gently flatten each ball to form a 4-inch patty.
  3. Cook patties in hot oil in a large skillet over medium high heat 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Serve with lemon wedges.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 181 Fat: 7.8g Saturated fat: 1g Unsaturated fat: 3g Trans fat: 7g Carbohydrates: 8.8g Sugar: 0 Sodium: 482mg Protein: 16.3g

 

Perfection!

Buttermilk Biscuit

Is there really a biscuit that can be classified as “perfect”?  Sure, there is and you’re looking at it.  Why do you think it’s sitting on a pedestal?  Because it IS perfect.  It’s perfectly layered, soft, and flavorful.  The key, I have found through years and years of making biscuits, is all in the technique.

Most biscuit recipes call for the same ingredients – flour, salt, baking powder, butter, and buttermilk (or milk).  There are few variations. With this recipe, however, I substitute lard for the unsalted butter (you can use the butter if you prefer).  The nutritional analysis is exactly the same except there are 6 more calories in each biscuit with the lard version.  When it comes to the final result, it’s well worth using the lard and dealing with those 6 calories, believe me. The texture is softer, more billowy, and they rise higher.  At least that’s been my experience.

The technique – well that can make or break your beautiful biscuit.  I no longer use a pastry blender to blend the lard/butter into the dry ingredients.  This revelation came to me while watching an episode of Bobby Flay’s Grill It some time ago.  He used his fingers, rubbing the butter/lard with the flour mixture until it resembled green peas.  It takes about the same amount of time but, again, results in a better texture and higher biscuit. I also knead it, folding the dough back over itself, about ten times.  The dough should no longer be sticky.  I also no longer roll out the dough but pat it out to the desired thickness, again, resulting in a better texture and higher biscuit.

When cutting your biscuits, don’t twist the cutter. If the dough is the right consistency, your cookie cutter should release the dough back onto the surface for you to pick up and place the biscuit onto the cookie sheet for baking.

Again, technique can mean the difference in a soft, delicious, mile high biscuit or a flat, overworked, hockey puck biscuit.  I’ve made both and I’ve had both – I much prefer the mile high, soft, delicious biscuit.  I think you will too!

Bon appétit!

Perfection!
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breads
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 4 cups All-Purpose flour (White Lily)
  • 2 tablespoons Baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 8 tablespoons Lard (or unsalted butter)
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 500°. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. With your hands, cut lard into the flour mixture by rubbing the lard and flour between your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in buttermilk, and gently mix until just combined. Put dough on floured surface, kneading it until no longer sticky.
  2. With your hands, gently pat the mixture into ½” high square. Cut biscuits out with large round cookie cutter. Place in the center of a cookie sheet butting the biscuits up to each other.
  3. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool to the touch, and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 164 Fat: 6g Saturated fat: 2g Unsaturated fat: 1g Trans fat: 3g Carbohydrates: 23g Sugar: 1g Sodium: 410mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 4g Cholesterol: 6mg

 

Fantastic Summer Salad

If you ever have a need to take something to a covered dish, this is the “go to” recipe that will get you raves and raves. It can be categorized as a side or a salad – however you want to look at it. It’s perfect! You get your green vegetables, your roughage, and even some sweet and salty stuff going on – all at the same time!

And best part of all?  It’s not really cooking! Just throwing a bunch of things together in a big bowl. I would suggest refrigerating the night before so the cole slaw dressing can soak into the broccoli. Other than that, it’s a snap to throw together. If you’re in a big rush, you can use jar cole slaw dressing, although look for my version in a future post. It is quite easy and quite delicious!

Again, fresh is always better!

Bon appétit!

Broccoli Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salads and Sides
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 6 cups Broccoli florets cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup Cole slaw dressing
  • ¼ cup Sunflower kernels
  • ⅓ cup Dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together, cover and chill overnight. Serve!
  2. For a little variety, you can add bacon bits or use almond slices instead of the sunflower kernels.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 120 Fat: 3.3g Saturated fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 13g Sugar: 9g Sodium: 310mg Fiber: 3g Protein: 5g Cholesterol: 5g

 

No Bake Cookies

No Bake Cookies

This beautiful glob of awesomeness is a treat I fondly remember being on our lunch plates in elementary school. I searched for years looking for the recipe and eventually found it and have been recreating these wonderful bites of cocoa, oats, peanut butter, vanilla, sugar, and butter ever since!

You can whip up a batch in minutes and like many of my recipes, you’ll find you’ll usually have the ingredients on hand. My only advice is to be careful that you don’t overcook the sugar, milk, cocoa and butter mixture. Doing so will result in a dry cookie. If done properly, these are moist and flavorful. Your family will think they are eating candy that took hours to make!

Bon appétit!

No Bake Cookies
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Sweet Endings
Serves: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • ½ cup Milk
  • 3 tablespoons Cocoa
  • ¼ cup Butter
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter
  • 3 cups Quick Cooking Oats
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped Peanuts
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar, milk, cocoa, and butter in saucepan. Heat to boiling point, stirring constantly. Boil one minute. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in peanut butter, oats, vanilla, and nuts.
  3. Quickly drop onto parchment paper.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 193 Fat: 8g Saturated fat: 2g Unsaturated fat: 2g Trans fat: 4g Carbohydrates: 27g Sugar: 18g Sodium: 53mg Fiber: 2g Protein: 5g Cholesterol: 6mg

 

Time to Barbecue!!

It’s almost Memorial Day and that means its barbecue time!  Actually here in Georgia, anytime is barbecue time.  I’ve been known to crank up my Weber gas grill even in the snow!  And I’ve been seen on my patio with an umbrella, grilling a burger or piece of chicken!  Yes, I’m a die hard grill master! There’s nothing like it.

I have many fond memories of my family grilling on holiday weekends, usually on our boat at the island or at the lake house.  We’d always have hamburgers, hotdogs, and usually some venison sausage. The best sausage in the land!

For me, I’ll put anything on the grill – hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks, sausages, vegetables, seafood, and pizza is the best.  For Memorial Day, I’ll be grilling some chicken and I’ll be using this wonderful barbecue sauce.  This recipe has just enough kick in it to make it fun and it’s quite flavorful as well.  Make some today so you’ll have it for the holiday or any day for that matter.

Fresh is always better!  Bon appétit!

Texas Barbecue Sauce
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Seasonings and Condiments
Serves: 1⅓ cups
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
  • 1 whole Garlic clove minced
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • ⅓ cup Brown sugar packed
  • ⅓ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup Lemon juice fresh
  • 1 whole Chipotle pepper, canned in adobe sauce minced with seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, stir 30 seconds. Stir in ketchup and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer until reduced to 1⅓ cups. Season with salt and pepper. Cool slightly. You can at this time use an immersion blender to completely blend Chipotle pepper with other ingredients.
  2. Can be made 1 week ahead.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ cup Calories: 70 Saturated fat: 1g Unsaturated fat: 1g Trans fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 16g Sodium: 360mg Fiber: 0mg Protein: 0g Cholesterol: 3mg

 

Life Lessons

The title of this initial post on my “new” blog is difficult, at best. You see, I failed to submit my monthly payment for GoDaddy’s WordPress hosting so they deleted my site. In it’s entirety. Yes, imagine the rush of numbness that overwhelmed me upon hearing those words. Two years of posts, two years of recipes. Gone, gone girl!

Of course, GoDaddy can restore it for a $150 fee. Which I cannot pay as I’m unemployed at the moment, so I will start fresh with my site at an even much more reduced rate than what I was paying before. I had called them trying to get the rate reduced when the site was up and functional and I was paying on time but they said they could not do anything.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?  This new plan is much more affordable, even for the unemployed.

I hope this never, ever happens again!  But you can rest assured, I will give it my all and will post more frequently. You’ll be sick of me before long. With all that being said, it is my hope that I will encourage at least one of you to pull out the cookware and get creative in the kitchen.

That will make all my efforts worth it!

Patti

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