Friday, September 22, 2017

Strawberry Cheesecake Banana Bread

 
Oh, you read that right... Strawberry.  Cheesecake.  Banana.  Bread. 

Born from the need to use up very ripe fruit before it went to waste!  Truthfully, I was hoping the cheesecake would swirl into the bread more, but I think the cheesecake layer is just too runny for swirling into such a thick batter!  No matter!  It was just a delicious layer of strawberry cheesecake atop my banana bread!  I'm wondering if muffins would be a better form of this recipe?  To be tried next time!  In the meantime, I made it this way, I know it works, and I know it was bomb!

This band keeps popping into my punk stations on Pandora and when they come on, I'm always like, "Oh yeah, I like this song, who was this again?"  So I think it's time I buy an album or two!  The Loved Ones - Pretty Good Year.  -jen




STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE BANANA BREAD
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 75-85 minutes

Resting Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Makes: 2 loaves


Strawberry Cheesecake Batter 
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (use 3tbsp if you like it on the sweeter side)
  • 16-ounces cream cheese, room temp (2 bricks)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
Banana Bread Batter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of ripe, mashed bananas (about 5 medium-sized)
  • 2 eggs, slightly whisked
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease two loaf pans (9" or 10") with nonstick cooking spray or butter and set aside.

Place sliced strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar, set aside.  In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; make a well in the center.  In a medium bowl combine mashed bananas, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and coconut oil, mix well.   Pour the wet ingredients into the well you made in the dry ingredients and mix by hand, just until all of the flour is incorporated.

Using a stand mixer or electric mixer, whip softened cream cheese.  While the mixer is running add the 3 eggs and vanilla and mix until completely blended.  Then add the strawberries and all of their syrup and mix until just combined and most of the strawberries have broken up.  (It will look like Strawberry Quik!)

The left pan is swirled, right is about to be swirled.
Set aside 1 cup of the banana bread batter and pour the remaining mix into the loaf pans, half into each.  Smooth it out until even.  (If you have extra strawberries, I think I'd add a bunch to the top of the banana batter before this next step!)  Then pour the strawberry cheesecake mix on top of that.  Take the set aside cup of batter and spoon 1/2 down the center of each loaf.  Take a butter knife and just zig zag across the whole loaf pan once, from top to bottom.  (It doesn't swirl well, but I think it gives the cheesecake batter something to "hold on to".)  Bake for 75 minutes and use a butter knife to check for doneness - stick the butter knife straight down the center of one of the loaves (the largest one if yours are uneven), then pull it out.  If it comes out clean, your loaves are done.  If you're using 9" loaf pans, you may need 10 more minutes or so - just keep checking with a clean butter knife.

Allow to cool at least 30 minutes in the loaf pans - the cheesecake portion will need to "set".  Then remove from pans, slice and serve!  (Since this has a top layer of cheesecake, I store leftovers in the refrigerator.)



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Thai Style Green Curry Pork

We love Thai food.  Seriously.  We have a giant Thai cookbook on our kitchen counter.  And we have galagal, kafir lime leaf, and ginger in our freezer along with fish sauce in our fridge and powdered lemongrass and fermented shrimp paste in our pantry.  Spring rolls are a staple in our diet.  Peanut sauce has morphed into a Thai peanut salad dressing in our house.And while we go out for Thai on occasion it's usually take-out and it's usually because we're lazy. 

So, since we also usually have a can of coconut milk in the pantry as well, little green curry paste was all that we needed to do up some Thai style Green Curry Pork with Quinoa.  Most of these things can be found at a large grocery store with a good Asian/Ethnic isle.  Fresh galangal may not be available to you but fresh ginger root can be substituted.  It won't taste quite the same as galangal has that floral aspect that ginger just doesn't posses.  Same goes for kafir lime leaf.  Lime zest can be subbed but it isn't quite as sweet or perfumed as kafir lime leaf.  We're fortunate enough to live in an area with a decent southeast Asian community and a Co-op that carries a lot of Central and Southeast Asian ingredients so I stock up on the good stuff when it's available.

So this curry sauce is classic Thai flavor and you can serve this with any steamed grain you like.  We went with quinoa because it's what we had in the cupboard.  Same goes for veggies.  Onions, carrots, pumpkin, and bell peppers are all traditional Southeast Asian curry ingredients but use what you have or what you like.  We tossed in some cauliflower and zucchini because we had it in the veggie drawer. Also, we didn't do much heat in this.  This is very mild as curries go so zip it up if you like.  Slice up a jalapeƱo or serrano and toss it in.

So, Guttermouth goes with Thai food, right?  And this was blasting in the car around the time I made this dish.  Love me some old, raw, hardcore Guttermouth.  Never got to see em live, though.






Thai Style Green Curry Pork
Time:  
Difficulty: Medium
Serves: 4-6


Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp galangal root, grated (ginger root can be subbed if you can't find galagal)
  • 2 tbsp green curry paste (in the Asian food isle of the grocery store)
  • 1 Kafir lime leaf (1 tbsp of lime zest can be subbed if you can't find Kafir lime leaf)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 cup acorn squash, chopped into 1/2 pieces
  • 1 lb pork shoulder chopped into 1" cubes
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • basil and/or cilantro chiffonade for garnish

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Toss cauliflower, carrot, and squash in 2 tbsp of the canola oil (set the remaining 2 tbsp aside for later), salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil and the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often.   

When onion is translucent and fragrant, stir in the galangal, the kaffir lime leaf, and the green curry paste.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often until the aromas are strong and a paste is formed.

Stir in the red bell pepper, zucchini, and meat and stir to coat with the onions and spice paste.

Add the water, coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the meat is cooked through. 

Stir in the roasted veggies, lime juice, and taste for any final salt and pepper that may be needed.

Serve with rice, quinoa, or your preferred steamed grain and garnish with basil and/or cilantro.





Saturday, July 29, 2017

S'mores Lacey Cookies


These cookies were crazy good!  Thin with crispy toffee-like edges, some caramelized marshmallow and a soft, chewy, chocolatey center, and crunchy bites of Kit Kat and walnuts throughout.  They'd be so perfect for ice cream sandwiches, if that's your kind of thing! Or if you're just looking to make some cookies that stand out amongst others, these are a great way to go!

I was singing along loudly with the Bouncing Souls' "Lean on Sheena" whilst making these this afternoon.  -jen



S'MORES LACEY COOKIES
Time:  10 min. per batch, about 50 minutes total
Difficulty:  Easy

Makes:  48 cookies
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups old fashioned (rolled) oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3 oz king size Kit Kat (or 2 regular sized ones), chopped into 1/2" pieces
  • 1.5 cups mini marshmallows (not big ones!)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together.  Then add eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.  Beat together.

In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add to the wet mix while mixing at a medium speed.  When the flour is combined, add the oats, coconut, and walnuts until combined.  Then mix in by hand with a wooden spoon the Kit Kat  pieces and the marshmallows.  Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Scoop 1.5 tablespoon balls of dough and place 6 to parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 3" apart.  Cookies will spread out thin so you want to give them plenty of space.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, until golden and edges are just starting to brown.  Remove and allow to cool on a baking rack.  Remember to put the dough back in the refrigerator in between baking.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Homemade Gyro with Tzatziki

Gyro Salad
I've lived mostly without gyros for the last 12 years in California.  In Chicago, there's a gyro joint on every corner.  In Humboldt County, there's one place and it's in the next town over.  It's the reason I wanted to figure out how to make falafel, which is one of my most favourite recipes... but these gyros are definitely going to rival the falafel. 

Now gyros are traditionally made with beef and lamb, but we don't eat a ton of beef and I'm not a huge fan of lamb, so my initial gyro recipe I thought I'd try going outside that box and used pork and turkey.  They were freaking amazing!!!  Thinking that beef and lamb must be better, I took my exact recipe and followed it again with the beef and lamb.  It was okay... but I gotta tell ya, I hands-down preferred the pork and turkey mix. 

Don't want the carbs you get with pita bread?  Gyro salads are also soooo delicious!

Listening to some No Motiv - "So What"... song is super catchy and keeps repeating in my head.  -jen


HOMEMADE GYRO WITH TZATZIKI
Time: 10 minutes to prep, 1 hour to rest, 1 hour to bake, couple hours to cool 
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes:  A lot
Equipment:  Food Processor

Gyro Loaf Ingredients:
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped large
  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 pound ground pork, lean
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 4oz pancetta (cubed if you can find it)*
  • olive oil 
  • tomatoes, onion, cabbage or lettuce, cucumber, pita bread to make sandwich 
Tzatziki (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce) Ingredients:
  • 1/2 a cucumber 
  • 1/4 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch of cumin (optional)
*I used bacon the second time I tried the recipe, and it made everything taste smoked, not like gyro, so I would not substitute bacon.  You can use sliced pancetta if that's all you can find, it's just going to get ground up anyway.

Slushed garlic and onion
Gyro Loaf:
In a small bowl combine salt, oregano, thyme, rosemary, cumin and black pepper.  Set aside.  In the food processor add the chopped onion and garlic.  Process until slushy.  My food processor wouldn't process the two pounds of meat at once, so I added one of the meats to the onion and garlic, half of the salt and herb mix and processed until a paste.  Remove and set in large mixing bowl.  Then add the second pound of meat, the pancetta and remaining salt and herb mix to the food processor, process until a paste.  Combine both batches in the mixing bowl and with your hands, mix until both meats are thoroughly blended.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.  (Great time to start making the tzatziki and getting your cucumbers draining!)

Preheat oven to 325 Farenheit.  Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with a light coating of olive oil.  Form meat into a loaf shape that's about 2" thick in center of foil - try to keep it uniformly thick so it cooks evenly.  Make sure you've packed it firmly to eliminate holes when slicing.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.  (A meat thermometer is a fantastic cooking tool!)

Remove loaf and let rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.  Cut into thin, almost shaved slices.  (If you can bare the wait, we recommend cooling the loaf completely, then refrigerating for a few hours.  It helps in cutting the slices super thin.)  Brown slices on both sides in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Only takes a minute or two.  Serve on a warmed pita with lettuce or cabbage, cucumber, tomato, onion and tzatziki! 



Tzatziki (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce):
If using an English/seedless cucumber, leave skin on.  If it's a regular, waxed cucumber, peel to remove waxy skin.  Cut in half and reserve one half to slice or dice onto gyro.  Cut the other half lengthwise and using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard - you still need to do this if you're using a "seedless" cucumber, that's where a lot of the liquid is.  Grate both deseeded cucumber quarters and set in a strainer over a bowl that will catch the liquid.  Toss grated cucumber with 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the liquid drain out.

In a small mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, fresh dill, garlic, olive oil, black pepper, cumin (optional), the drained cucumber (squeeze out remaining juice and discard) and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt.

Not only great on gyros but great in salads or as a dip for fresh or roasted vegetables, great with grilled meats.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

Asian Meatballs with Citrus Sauce and Quinoa Cabbage Salad

I was craving Asian-anything the other night - I didn't care if it was Chinese or Thai or Vietnamese or what.  I think I kind of drew from a lot of different Asian cooking influences when I made these meatballs and they came out so bomb!  They remind me a little of the filling you get in pot stickers, and are, in fact, very similar to our pot sticker recipe, found here.  Lots of veggies in these suckers!  In fact as I was chopping all the veggies up and throwing them in the bowl for pics, Justin asked where the meat was?  He didn't see that it was in the bottom of the mixing bowl... just covered with a ton of vegetables.
 
The citrus sauce was Justin's idea.  I was just going to do a wine sauce, but we had some oranges and lemons on hand and I really liked the idea of the bright citrus flavour to go with the meatballs.  Way tasty!  And all served with a cold quinoa and Napa cabbage salad... because you're going to have enough cabbage for both the meatballs and the salad!  Might as well use it all up!  ( actually only used 1/2 the Napa cabbage and sauted up the other 1/2 with the rest of the red onion the next night!)  But the quinoa and cabbage salad was a great contrast - I liked the crunch and lightness of the raw cabbage, cucumber and onion in the salad to go with the meatballs and sauce.  It all came together really well and satisfied that Asian food craving!

We'll be headed to a DS-13 show next weekend, so let's listen to a little Swedish hardcore with, "I Don't Wanna Be A Skinhead".  Neither do I, dude.  Neither do I.  -jen


ASIAN MEATBALLS
Napa Cabbage
Prep Time:  about 25 minutes
Cook Time:  30-40 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes: 60 meatballs

Meatball Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 cups finely chopped Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots (3 medium)
  • 3/4 cup finely diced celery (2 medium)
  • 1 cup finely diced green onions (1 bunch)
  • 1 cup finely diced Anaheim or bell peppers (2 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used 3/4c cilantro, 1/4c basil, 1/4c mint)
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (1 tbsp for less spicy - 2 tbsp just has a small kick)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese mustard
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • canola oil for frying
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients EXCEPT the canola oil and mix until combined.  If you have a food processor, I recommend throwing all the veggies into that to get them super-fine diced.  While it's not necessary, the meatball will hold together better the finer the veggies are chopped. 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Form 1.5 tablespoons of mixture into balls.  In a large skillet, add enough oil to cover the bottom and heat to medium-high.  Brown in batches.  Space balls evenly in pan so that they're not touching.  I only browned tops and bottoms.  Remove browned meatballs and set on a paper towel to remove excess grease.  Once all meatballs are browned, arrange on baking sheet.  (Don't rinse out that skillet!)  Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached.


 
Citrus Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth (you'll want 3 cups total of juice, wine and broth)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (and 2 tbsp water)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (used the same ones as in meatballs: cilantro, basil, mint)
In the skillet that you browned the meatballs, you'll want about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat.  My pork was lean, so I had to add oil to the pan - if you got higher-fat pork, you may have enough oil in the pan remaining or you may even have to remove some.  Saute onions until translucent and tender.  Add garlic and saute for another minute.  Add your 3 cups combined of citrus juice, wine and broth to the skillet as well as the soy sauce and the citrus zest, making sure you scrape those browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.  Bring to a boil and let reduce for about 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water to make a slurry.  Whisk this in to the sauce until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and taste.  Add salt and pepper as needed and stir in fresh herbs.  Serve over Asian Meatballs with Quinoa Salad (see recipe below).

QUINOA CABBAGE SALAD
Cook Time:  20 minutes
Rest Time:  20 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes: about 5 cups
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 and 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced 
In a large sauce pan, over medium-high heat, add quinoa and cook about 2 minutes to toast - you'll see the quinoa start to turn a darker, golden brown and you'll smell that nutty, toasty deliciousness.  Stir in chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, than cover, lower heat, and simmer for a total of 18 minutes, stirring half-way through.  After 18 minutes, turn off heat and let rest with lid on for another 10 minutes.  Uncover and fluff with a fork.  Transfer to a large serving bowl and let cool another 10 minutes.  Stir in Napa cabbage, diced cucumber and diced onion.  Serve at room temp or chilled.



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Banana Liqueur Cheesecake Bars

We had some bananas that were perfectly ripe and I had 2 bricks of cream cheese in the fridge for no particular reason, so I decided to do a cross between my Banana Cream Pie Bars, my Cranberry Cheese Squares and my Peppermint Mocha Kahlua Chocolate Chip Cheesecake (man, that was a long, dumb title, but a delicious cheesecake!)  These came out bomb... as I knew they would, because all three of those recipes are bomb!

It also helps that we live a block from a corner store... so it's quite easy to run down there and get some of those mini bottles of liqueur! 

This song was on in the car the other day.  I always feel like I need to smoke a pack of cloves before I attempt to sing it... heheh.  Alkaline Trio - Sleepyhead.  -jen
 

BANANA LIQUEUR CHEESECAKE BARS
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  45 minutes to cook, 1 hour to cool

Difficulty:  Medium
Makes: 18-24 squares

Crust:
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, softened
Filling:
  • 2 large bananas, sliced into 1/4"-thick rounds
  • 1 pound (two 8oz bricks) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup banana liqueur (or 2 of the small 50ml "airplane" bottles) 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Coat a 9"x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a food processor, combine all of the crust ingredients and pulse several times until all flour is incorporated and mix is lumpy.  Spread evenly into prepared baking dish and then press it firmly into the pan and about 1" to 1.5" up the sides with your hand.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Remove and set aside.  (This is called "blind baking".)  Leave oven on!

While crust is baking, place softened cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat until creamy using a stand mixer or hand mixer.  Add sugar and beat until combined.  Add eggs 1 at a time until combined.  Then add vanilla and banana liqueur, mix until smooth and creamy.

Layer sliced bananas over crust that's been blind baked, then pour batter evenly over the top.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes until top is lightly browned and center is springy to the touch.  Let cool for 1 hour, then store in the refrigerator.

Option:  If you knew they were all going to be eaten right away, you could always make some homemade whipped cream (or Cool Whip, but I say go with the former!) and spread it over the entire top of the cooled dish.  I knew we'd have a bunch leftover to store in the fridge and I didn't want the whipped cream to melt over them all, so I just did it per serving.