Sunday, September 25, 2011

Old Faithful

We are revisiting favorites this week at our house. I made a batch of barbeque sauce yesterday that I'll be using for pulled pork tomorrow night. I'm excited already! And Darren and I just finished eating some lo mein. Later this week, we'll be eating semi-homemade pizzas on flatbreads from Trader Joe's. And Wednesday, we're having Darren's buffalo chicken tenders. He keeps vowing to post them, so maybe this time, they'll appear on here.

I hope you and yours have had a wonderful weekend, and I hope the week to come is great! Keep sharing food with friends and family. That's what it's all about!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

And we're back - Lasagna Primavera

After moving and starting a new job, I am finally back. I hope I'll be able to keep up with the blog on a more regular basis, but Darren has been cooking some and hasn't been posting his kitchen adventures either. Today we made sangria, bean dip, and a giant cookie. Hopefully, we'll get around to posting those eventually, but today I'm posting a delicious lasagna primavera that I briefly mentioned in the first post on our blog.

I changed the recipe very little, using two 12 oz. packages of spinach, adding some fresh squash and zucchini from Darren's grandmother's garden, and omitting the peas. It is great, but it makes a lot. I think next time, I will make it in two 8x8 pans and freeze half for later. It is a little labor intensive, so it would be nice to enjoy it a second time without all of the work!

I started by slicing all of the vegetables, grating the mozzarella, and mixing up the ricotta mixture.

Then I started working on the sauce by cooking a little garlic in some olive oil. I cheat and use that stuff in the jar that's already chopped.

Then I add the flour, whisk in the milk, and cook the sauce until thick.
Once the sauce is thick and bubbly, I remove it from the heat and stir in the veggies.
Then I prepare my pan with some non-stick spray and start with a thin layer of sauce.

Then I build up the layers with noodles, sauce, noodles, cheeses, noodles, sauce, noodles, cheeses. Mmmmm... it looks good already!

Then I baked it according to the directions and had a feast! It is actually better on the second or third day, so I will definitely see what freezing adds to the mix next time I make it. Eat up!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Moving and Recipe Variation

Moving really takes it out of me, or moving in the desert heat does. We are so excited about getting settled in our new apartment, but all of the moving and unpacking have not left much time for cooking and blogging. Hopefully, that will change really soon.

My goal is to put up one new food post or recipe each week after we get fully settled into our new apartment. I might also start adding some other things, too. We'll see how it all goes.

Anyway, I just wanted to let any faithful readers out there know that we will be coming back soon. I'm looking forward to taking pictures that include our new dishes and glasses, and using some of our new kitchen gadgets.

One quick variation of a previously posted recipe. Tonight, we made buffalo chicken pockets. Instead of bell peppers and onions, as in the chicken philly pockets, we left out the bell peppers, onions, and spices, and made buffalo pockets with spinach and Frank's Red Hot. I thawed and drained a 12 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach and added it after the chicken was cooked through. Once the spinach was warmed, I added the block of cream cheese and some Frank's to taste, probably 1/4 - 1/3 c. for our taste. Then we filled the pockets and baked them. Delicious!

I hope everyone is enjoying summer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Pudding

The other day, I got seven boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the mail (Thanks, Katie!!). Then Darren's friend Chris came over and brought two more boxes. I don't know how familiar most people are with GS cookies, but there are two authorized bakers that I know about: Little Brownie Bakers and ABC. Depending on where you live, your cookies might be slightly different. Everyone knows classics like Thin Mints, but what about Golden Yangles. Those were actually little cheese crackers (like Cheez-Its or Goldfish) that used to be sold with the cookies. I don't think they exist any more. And Chalet Cremes? I love those, and they have an image of the Swiss Chalet on every cookie. The Chalet is one of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) four world centers. One day, I'd like to see them all. And did you know that Girl Scouts originally baked and sold their own cookies. There is old literature with recipes and information about how much to charge based on the cost of flour and such.

I have a HUGE soft spot for Girl Scouts. I loved being a Girl Scout, and especially loved the summers I spent at Camp Wahi, which used to be the Middle Mississippi Girl Scout camp, but Middle Miss is now Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi. Thanks to FB, a bunch of my old camp friends and I have been reminiscing lately. I could probably spend days talking about it. I also got to go to a national scouting event, Together We Stand II, in Nashville, Tennessee back in 1993, and on a WiderOp (now called a Destination, I believe), Canoe Country Rendezvous hosted by Northern Lakes Canoe Base, to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 1994. We even got to go into the Quetico Provincial Park on the Canadian side of the lakes. Those were the days. But back to the cookies...

We had been talking about making banana pudding, and I thought it would be a great way to use up some of the cookies, so we bought some bananas and got a little creative. Banana pudding is a good Southern dessert. In my opinion, it's right up there with caramel cake, peach cobbler, and pecan pie. My grandmother, my dad's mother that we called Bubber, used to make banana pudding when I was a kid. The thing I remember most was that she would let me eat the meringue off the top. I loved it more than the pudding. I was young when she died (3rd grade), but I always think of her when I make banana pudding. I wish I knew her recipes. She was an amazing cook. Still, I think she'd be proud of my kitchen talents.

For this banana pudding, we added a peanut butter twist by using Do-Si-Dos (Peanut Butter Sanwiches or Savannahs in some markets). First I buttered a big pyrex bowl (it turned out to be too big, but that's okay).
Line the bottom of the bowl with Do-Si-Dos that have been split into halves. Place them PB side up. Don't worry if all of the PB sticks to one side; just spread those out. We actually used one sleeve of Do-Si-Dos and one of Peanut Butter Sandwiches, because the boxes were from different places, and we had eaten some of each doing taste tests.

Then slice up a couple of bananas and layer those alternating until you run out of cookies, bananas, or room in your bowl. About 12 oz. of cookies and 2-3 bananas will make enough for one batch of pudding.

Now it's time to make the pudding. You'll need eggs, milk, brown and white sugar, vanilla, and corn starch or flour. Start by separating four eggs.

Then put the yolks in a heavy sauce pan and whisk them up before adding the sugars. And then whisk around the sugars.

Measure the cornstarch, add some milk and mix it up really well, and then fill it up to two cups. Add the milk a little at a time while heating over medium-low heat. Stir the pudding frequently to prevent scorching the milk or having lumpy pudding.

Once the pudding starts to boil, it only needs a couple of minutes to thicken. Then remove it from the heat, whisk in some vanilla, and pour the hot pudding over the cookie-banana layers.

Feel free to lick the spatula when you're done.
Then use the egg whites to make some meringue. Beat them until peaks begin to form, add a little cream of tartar, and some sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Then spread the meringue over the top of the pudding, making sure to seal the edges to the bowl. Then bake for about 10 minutes to brown the meringue.

Only lick the spatula if no one is watching, and you aren't afraid of salmonella.

Let the pudding cool for a while and then dig in!

Since we still had lots of bananas and Girl Scout cookies, I also make some small puddings for Darren to take to work using Trefoils and Shout-Outs. He says the pudding with Shout-Outs is delicious!