Monday, February 25, 2013

Paula's Banana Pudding

“Do you come to this park often?”  This could be misconstrued as a bad pick up line if it had not come from a cute little girl who only wanted to play with the “big girls”, Elizabeth and Sophie, at the park. 

This Paula Deen recipe has received almost 2,000 reviews on Food Network.  It does not look like your typical banana pudding but it is pure Paula, no skimping on the content or the calories.

Paula's Banana Pudding
1.      2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
2.      6 to 8 bananas, sliced
3.      2 cups milk
4.      1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding (I couldn’t find French vanilla so used vanilla)
5.      1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
6.      1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
7.      1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream (1 cup heavy whipping cream plus 2 T sugar)

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer or whisk. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

UPDATE 2/26/13
For more recipes, check out Southern Living's post for Banana Pudding 10 Ways - kind of ironic to have banana pudding on the brain these days.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

The traditional gift for a 16 year anniversary is silver or peridot.  One helpful web contributor writes “For the male spouse, jewelry is the obvious option.”  David and “Obvious” have never met.  Nor has David met “Hint”, who is a first cousin to “Obvious” because if he had, then I would receive flowers on a more regular basis.  We are not the gifting type anyways.  That’s ok, every day with David is a gift in itself (where is that emoticon with the rolling eyes…)

To continue with our fish recipes, I tried this Bobby Flay recipe.  The boys gave it two thumbs up; it’s not that Elizabeth didn’t like it, she would have had to try it first. 


Happy 15 years and 364 days today, David!


Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze
1.      3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2.      1 tablespoon honey
3.      2 tablespoons butter
4.      1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5.      2 tablespoons soy sauce
6.      2 tablespoons olive oil
7.      1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
8.      Vegetable oil
9.      Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10.  8 salmon fillets, 6 ounces each

In a small saute pan, melt the brown sugar, honey and butter over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil and ginger. Let cool.  I marinated the fish for about an hour prior to baking it; other reviewers recommended marinating it from 15 minutes to many hours.  Place the fish in a dish, pour marinade over it, and return to the refrigerator until ready to bake.  Bobby grills his fish.

To grill:
Preheat grill to medium heat. Brush salmon with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the salmon skin side down on the grill. Coat the flesh of the salmon fillets with the brown sugar mixture. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes to medium doneness, turning once after 5 to 6 minutes

To bake:
Preheat oven to 400.  Transfer fish to a baking dish.  Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes or until done.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Seared Tuna Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing

Trivia question: what is a fish market’s favorite holiday/season?  Valentine’s Day?  Christmas Eve?  New Year’s Eve?  No – Lent!  Think of all the people who eat fish on Fridays during this season.  I have also enjoyed reading Facebook posts as to what friends have chosen to give up for Lent: Facebook, donuts, overeating, Dr Pepper, alcohol, chocolate, online shopping, animal products (she's gone vegan - enough said - winner!).  What about you?

You might remember our love affair with Nobu and its miso cod.  Another favorite is the Bluefin Toro Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing.  The genius of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is in his sauces; they are what set him apart from the rest.

Seared Tuna Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing
1.      10 ounces sushi-grade bluefin toro tuna
2.      Sea Salt
3.      Freshly ground black pepper
4.      6 cups mixed baby greens
5.      Matsuhisa Dressing, recipe follows

Matsuhisa Dressing:
1.      3/4 cup finely chopped Maui onion (I used a sweet yellow onion instead)
2.      2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
3.      2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
4.      2 teaspoons water
5.      1/2 teaspoon sugar
6.      Pinch sea salt
7.      1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
8.      Pinch freshly ground black pepper
9.      4 teaspoons grapeseed oil
10.  4 teaspoons sesame oil

For the dressing:
Combine all of the ingredients except the oils. I placed ingredients #1-8 in a mini food processor so the onion would be chopped up extra fine.  When the salt is fully dissolved, add the oils. Set aside.

For the tuna:
Sprinkle a little sea salt and pepper on the tuna. Briefly sear the tuna on all sides until its surface turns white (I used a sauté pan with a little olive oil; the recipe also mentions a grill or broiler). Plunge the fish into a bowl of ice water to stop it cooking any further. Shake off the excess water. (I didn’t do the ice water bath).   

To assemble:
Cut the tuna into 1/8-inch thick slices.  Toss the greens with some of the Matsuhisa dressing and place on a plate.  Top with the sliced tuna.  Drizzle with a little more dressing.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels

My friend Jennifer posted a link to this article, “The Coolest/Smartest/Best Gift You  Can Give to Your Kids on Valentine’s Day” and the guilt set in.  Most of us moms today are working in overdrive, working overtime, overworked, over scheduled, over exhausted and overwhelmed…” – yep, check!  Look at how well I have kept up with the blog?  I missed 2 of my favorite posting days - Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday!

My brain starts racing – what can I do today (after school, piano lessons and homework) to spend some quality time with the kids (all before dinner, bath and bed) – then the multi-tasking side of me (guilty again, but they are at school so…) says “what am I serving for dessert tonight?”  Where’s that recipe that I pulled from Southern Living, November 2012?  It’s in a pile somewhere… This sounds like fun – chocolate dipped pretzels with a variety of toppings to sample! 

It was a wee bit messy (but fun); we learned to scrape off some of the chocolate before rolling.  David and I liked the toffee and peanut butter chips.  The kids liked the mini-marshmallows and sprinkles.

Happy Valentine’s Day – enjoy those who bring love and laughter into your life!

Chocolate-dipped Pretzels (and our other sweeties)
1.      Package of pretzel rods
2.      8 oz semi-sweet or white chocolate baking bars (or both)
3.      Wax paper

1.      1 ½ c coarsely chopped pecans
2.      ¼ c firmly packed light brown sugar
3.      2 T heavy cream

1.      Marshmallow bits (by Kraft)
2.      Heath English Toffee bits
3.      Reese’s peanut butter chips
4.      Sprinkles
5.      Coconut
6.      Crushed peppermint
7.      Whatever else sounds good to you!

To prepare the praline topping:
Preheat oven to 350.  Stir together pecans, brown sugar and heavy cream.  Spread into a single layer in a lightly buttered 9-inch round cake pan.  Bake 20 minutes or until sugar is slightly crystallized, stirring once.  Cool in pan 10 minutes; finely chop.  Spread mixture in a single layer on wax paper.

To dip the pretzels:
Spread out whatever toppings you choose on wax paper for easy dipping.

Place 8 oz of chocolate baking bars, chopped, in a microwave-safe measuring cup.  Microwave on high for 1 minute or until melted, stirring every 15 seconds.  Immediately dip 2/3 of each pretzel rod into chocolate, twirling to coat all sides.  Roll coated ends of pretzels in topping(s) of your choice.  Gently place on wax paper, let stand until chocolate is set.  Store in air tight containers for 4 days. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chocolate Chip Scones

A quick stop at Starbuck’s today to refill David’s home stash of coffee and the kids are drooling over all the baked goods in the case.  “What is a scone?” they ask.  It’s easier to make it than describe it.  How do you articulate “not quite a muffin or a bread?” 

Travis got a new teacher mid-year (that’s a whole other post) and somehow an after-school conversation turned into a cooking discussion and the new teacher has a cookbook in her classroom (bonus points in my book!) which she graciously loans to me.  It is from one of her favorite places in California which also produced The Cheese Board Collective Works cookbook. Mrs. K highly recommended the chocolate chip scones.  Being the dutiful student that I am/was, I made the scones – all in the name of education. 

PS - I halved the recipe and it still made 18 scones.

Happy Birthday Julia!

Chocolate Chip Scones
1.      3 ½ c unbleached all purpose flour
2.      ½ t baking soda
3.      1 T baking powder
4.      ½ t kosher salt
5.      ¾ c plus ¼ c sugar
6.      1 c (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
7.      1 c chocolate chips
8.      ¾ c heavy cream
9.      ¾ c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder together into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. 

If using a stand mixer, add the salt and the ¾ c of sugar to the bowl and mix with the paddle attachment on low speed until combined.  Add the butter and cut it on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until it is the size of small peas.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Make a well in the center and add the cream and buttermilk.  Mix briefly, just until the ingredients come together, some loose flour should remain at the bottom of the bowl. 

Gently shape the dough into balls about 2 ¼ inches in diameter (they should have a rough, rocky exterior) and place them on the prepared pan about 2 inches apart.

Sprinkle the ¼ c sugar on top of the scones.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.