Saturday, May 30, 2009

Banana Bread

I apologize for not posting this sooner. I saved it as a draft because I needed to look up the recipe for the banana bread and then I forgot about it completely. I made this for dessert for Mother's Day. It was delicious, although I prefer it with chocolate chips and walnuts.

Banana Bread
Joy of Cooking

1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
5 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (2)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-cup loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until lightened in color and texture, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the flour mixture until blended and the consistency of brown sugar. Gradually beat in the two eggs. Fold in the banana and walnuts and chocolate chips (if using) until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold and allow to cool completely on the rack.
Pin It!

Mother's Day Lunch

Another post I forgot I had saved as a draft...forgive me. I fear that pregnancy brain has officially set in.

This was our Mother's Day lunch a few weeks ago. We went to my mom's house for a cookout. My mother-in-law and stepgrandmother also came. My mother-in-law brought one of my favorite things, an antipasto salad she gets from a local pizzeria:

My mom put out small balls of mozzarella with sundried tomatoes and mini toast for us to snack on while the burgers and hot dogs cooked:

My mom made deviled eggs:

... and her delicious potato salad:

She also made a mixed greens salad:

My stepfather was in charge of the grill and he cooked up some juicy burgers:

... along with hot dogs:

My plate, with a little of everything:

It was a delicious meal and the weather was positively gorgeous, sunny but with a cool breeze.
Pin It!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pizza Friday

One recent Friday I made pizza using some frozen mozzarella cheese. This was pepperoni pizza, although I mistakenly put the pepperoni under the cheese. I'm not sure what happened to the cheese but it didn't melt very well:

Not my best work, I have to say.
Pin It!

Grilled Cheese and Fries

I was really in the mood for grilled cheese one night when SP was working late. On his way home he stopped to get me some fries from Chik-fil-A and dinner was served:

I love the crispy, cheesy goodness of grilled cheese and the fries really hit the spot.
Pin It!

Pasta with Chicken in Tomato Sauce

One night I made pasta and decided to cook a tomato sauce with chicken and onions:

The chicken poached in the sauce, which had a nice sweetness from the onions.
Pin It!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Foodie Blogroll Award - Lemon Tree

Back at the end of March I got an email from Jenn at the Foodie Blogroll saying I'd won their bi-weekly contest. I was shocked. I never win anything. My prize was a $50 gift certificate to be used at From the Farm, an online farmers market. I had a really tough time picking a prize since everything sounded fantastic, but finally I decided on a dwarf lemon tree:

I planted the tree in a large container and kept it inside for a few weeks until the weather got a bit warmer. It's now out back in the direct sun and I really hope it thrives. I don't live in a good citrus tree climate, but since I can bring the tree inside in the winter I'm hopeful it'll survive. For now I'm anxiously waiting for the first fruit to appear.
Pin It!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shells & Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

Since I was dealing with evening sickness, making dinner became a chore during the first trimester. If you've read my blog for any length of time you know that I'm not a fan of most convenience foods. I prefer to make my own from scratch since I can control the ingredients. But when I could barely stand the smell of food, not to mention my energy level had plummeted, I turned to convenience food more times then I care to admit just so we'd have something to eat that wasn't takeout. One day at the store we saw Pasta Roni on sale so we bought two boxes of the shells and cheese. To stretch it into a meal I added cooked chicken and broccoli:

Shockingly, we really enjoyed this meal. I was pleasantly surprised to taste actual cheese flavor. And the sauce thickened nicely, tasting more homemade then the other boxed stuff I've tried. I made both boxes (they're only 12 ounces each) so we'd have enough for leftovers. Simple and pretty darn tasty.
Pin It!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chicago - Day 4: Breakfast at Fox & Obel

If you're wondering why I skipped from Day 2 to Day 4, it's because Sunday (Day 3) we met my cousin, his wife and their two kids at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Surprisingly the lunch we had (cheeseburgers and fries) was really good, but I didn't think to take a photo. For dinner that night we went to my aunt and uncle's for a cookout and I was too busy socializing to take pictures.

Monday, our departure day, we finally had a nice, big breakfast at what used to be our favorite spot, Fox & Obel. They're a gourmet supermarket that has a cafe in the back and they used to serve a fantastic breakfast. Alas, this breakfast didn't live up to year's past and we won't be going back next time. I ordered the Cobb omelet:

... which comes with chicken breast, tomato, scallion, Applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese and avocado and toast. The omelet was overcooked and there was too much filling, not to mention the potatoes were mealy and underseasoned. SP always gets the breakfast panini:

... with Gunthrop's Farm ham, gruyere cheese, and scrambled eggs on toast. His biggest complaint was that it was barely cooked on the panini press and the cheese wasn't melted. His potatoes suffered the same fate as mine. The upside is that we get to experiment with a new breakfast place next time we visit Chi-town.
Pin It!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chicago - Day 2, Part 2: Dinner at Luna Caprese

On Saturday night we met up with the entire family at Luna Caprese. It was great to see everyone, especially because we got to share our good news with everyone in person. After the big announcement we got down to some serious eating. SP started with a Caesar salad:

... while I had the caprese with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil:

I ordered the manicotti stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan served in a marinara sauce:

Since my grandparents know the chef SP was able to make a special request for fettuccine alfredo with sliced sausage:

I snagged a bite and it was insanely rich and delicious, just the way alfredo should be. I asked my uncle if he'd mind me snapping a quick photo of his meal since it looked so appetizing. He ordered the Salmon Marechiaro, which was salmon with clams, mussels, and shrimp in a cherry tomato sauce:

I can't pass up tiramisu if it's on a menu so that's what I got for dessert:

My uncle had a nice, thick slice of apple pie ala mode:

An excellent meal all around.
Pin It!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicago - Day 2, Part 1: Lunch at Frontera Grill

On Saturday we met up with my friend J and her husband P for lunch. SP has always wanted to try a Rick Bayless restaurant so we chose Frontera Grill. Even though we went early the wait for the dining room was still an hour and a half, but we snagged a table in the bar. We decided to share two appetizers, the Sopes Rancheros:

... crispy corn masa boats with savory shredded beef, roasted tomatoes, avocado and homemade fresh cheese, and the homemade guacamole:

... served with tortilla chips. We were also served two kinds of salsa:

I particularly liked the green one, although I have no idea what was in either. For my lunch I ordered Tacos al Carbon with Organic Gunthorp chicken breast marinated with fruit vinegar, spices and garlic:

... served with roasted pepper rajas, two salsas, frijoles charros, guacamole and homemade tortillas. SP got the same thing only with red chile-marinated Maple Creek pork (pastor style):

Mine came with soupier beans while SP's came with black beans. I preferred my beans and wish I'd had more room to finish them. We really enjoyed Frontera Grill and it was great to see J & P.
Pin It!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chicago - Day 1, Part 2: Dinner at Emperor's Choice

On Friday night we went out to dinner with my grandparents to their favorite Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, Emperor's Choice. We started the meal with spring rolls (not pictured) and everyone but me had wonton soup:

I had a small taste of SP's dumpling and finished the broth in my grandmother's bowl. Delicious. We shared a bunch of dishes, including crispy duck:

... chicken chow mein with soft noodles:

... fried rice:

... and Kung Pao chicken:

All the food was amazing and really spoiled us for Chinese food back home. You just can't get food of that quality where we live. SP swore he'd only eat Chinatown Chinese from now on.
Pin It!

Chicago - Day 1, Part 1: Lunch at Lindy's Chili

We went to Chicago to visit my grandparents the first weekend in May. We arrived on Friday, May 1, and after dropping our bags off at our room and saying hello to my grandmother, SP, my grandfather and I drove out to our favorite lunch spot - Lindy's Chili. I've been eating here since I was a little girl and SP is a huge fan as well. It's a must for any trip to Chicago.

SP ordered the Polish sausage special, which came with a bowl of their famous chili mac:

... topped with sour cream, cheese and raw onion. The Polish sausage:

... comes with relish, tomato, onion, and pickle on a poppy seed bun. To drink he had a root beer float:

... which came with tons of vanilla ice cream floating on top of the root beer. I ordered a cheeseburger:

... and one of my favorites, chili cheese fries:

I love their chili, but I especially love it topping their crispy, skin-on fries. I ate way too much and was stuffed silly by the time we left, but it was all delicious.
Pin It!

Pasta with Ricotta, Sausage, and Broccoli

I saw this recipe for Pasta with Ricotta, Sausage, and Broccoli over at Food alla Puttanesca and knew I had to make it. I had chicken sausage in the freezer and broccoli and ricotta in the fridge. I ended up making it for lunches since I was still feeling sick in the evenings.

I loved the creaminess of the ricotta sauce and the lemon really brightened all the flavors. Delicious and simple.
Pin It!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stay Tuned

New food posts coming this weekend. I promise. I'm sorry for the has been crazy because of my work conference in June and I haven't had much free time.

Stay tuned.
Pin It!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and moms-to-be out there. I hope everyone had a great day celebrating with loved ones. We went to my parent's house for a cookout and had a great meal. I'm a little behind with posts so it might be a little while before the posts show up here, but I promise they will eventually.

Speaking of posting...I know I have some explaining to do. If you're a regular reader of this blog you might have noticed that the posts have been a little lackluster the last few months. I'm really sorry about that, but I'm happy to report that there's a very good reason.

Introducing Baby B, also known in the family as BB:

Here s/he is waving hi to all the readers. I'm currently 15 weeks and due October 30.

The reason for the lackluster posting was that the first trimester was a little rough. Fortunately I had evening sickness, which made going to work and functioning very easy. Unfortunately I had evening sickness, which made cooking and staying up past 8:30pm very difficult. I hate to say it, but there were even nights where we had frozen pizza or boxed mac & cheese. The day we bought some of these convenience foods I almost cried when I looked at our shopping cart. But I did what I had to do to keep us fed, which was where the bar was at that point.

I'm happy to report, however, that the second trimester has been much better. I'm still not feeling 100%, but I can actually cook dinner and stay up until a normal time. I promise the posts should get better in the coming weeks as I catch up with old meals and start making new ones. And with the warm summer weather comes grilling and lots of natural light for taking pictures.

Once again, I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day!
Pin It!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Scallop Scampi

We had some scallops in the freezer so SP suggested scallop scampi over spaghetti. I used the same recipe I used the last time I made scampi:

... but unfortunately it wasn't as good served over pasta. There wasn't nearly enough sauce and the flavors were lost in the pasta.

The scallops were delicious though, nice and meaty with a clean flavor of the sea.
Pin It!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Breakfast at Mom's

Last Sunday we went to my mom's for breakfast since my aunt and grandmother were visiting. My mom made scrambled eggs and bought bagels:

I had half a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese with my eggs. My stepdad had some ripe avocados so I also had a slice of that. SP and I stopped off at our favorite bakery to pick up some pastries:

From left is an almond croissant (flaky pastry with a fantastically thick layer of almond paste in the center), an apple turnover with frosting (I didn't try this), and a bear claw. All the pastries were a huge hit.
Pin It!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Breakfast at Java Moon Cafe

My father and stepmom were in town last weekend so we got together with them, my stepbrother and his wife for the day. There used to be a Java Moon Cafe location closer to where I live, but it closed. I always enjoyed their food and since we were planning to spend the day in the area anyway we ventured out to the remaining location in Jackson, NJ.

I ordered scrambled eggs with ham, moonpotatoes, and toast:

Just look at all that food! Everything was delicious. The scrambled eggs were light and fluffy with the perfect creaminess I rarely find in restaurants. I was expecting a ham steak, but instead I got thin slices of deli ham that had been grilled so there were crispy bits. And the potatoes, oh the potatoes. I usually have bad luck with breakfast potatoes in restaurants, mainly because no one seems to understand that potatoes need seasoning in order to taste good. These were cooked with peppers and onions and were delicious. The toast was sliced ciabatta with a nice smear of butter.

I had an orange juice to drink and was eyeing up the American toast (just French toast) on SP's plate. I snagged one bite but I wish I'd had more. Everyone raved about their meals. It's a shame they're so far away but we've already planned a return trip.
Pin It!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Pizza Friday

We finally restocked our supply of frozen pizza dough (thanks entirely to SP!) so I was able to make pizza last Friday. We had some thinly sliced pepperoni and a container of frozen sauce in the freezer so this was even easier to put together then normal.

I love photographing my homemade pizzas. They always look so delicious before I cut into them.

We baked this a little longer then usual (got slightly distracted...oops!) but even the burnt edges were good (SP is such a trooper for eating them). Definitely one of my better pizzas.
Pin It!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Pudding Pie

In addition to making dinner on Thursday SP whipped up a pudding pie for dessert:

He used mint chocolate pudding (the green specks are the mint chips) and an oreo cookie crust. I can't eat a lot of sweets at one time so I managed about half a piece but it was mighty tasty.
Pin It!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Achiote Shrimp, Avocado and Refried Beans

SP was home last Thursday and he wanted to cook dinner. He loves Rick Bayless, so he found a recipe for Achiote Shrimp that sounded good and even bought the achiote paste from a local Mexican grocer. We had the shrimp over white rice with sliced avocado and refried beans.

Honestly, we weren't fans of the dish. I could tell I wasn't going to like it when I was grilling the shrimp. The smell just didn't make me hungry with anticipation. While I was still photographing my plate SP took a bite and said the shrimp tasted like they were coated in Mexican mustard, which turned out to be a good description.

Of course, this was probably entirely our fault. The original recipe calls for sauteeing the shrimp in oil, but we thought grilling would be fun and impart a nice flavor. Little did we know the achiote needs oil to blossom and develop, so it's likely sauteeing would have been yieleded much better results.

The avocado, on the other hand, was delectable. I absolutely love avocado sliced and simply seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

We might try experimenting with achiote again in the future but I don't think this is something we'll rush to make again.
Pin It!