Monday, February 23, 2009


This weekend we visited our relatives in Louisiana. Usually we all go out to breakfast together, but because of all the Mardi Gras mayhem we decided to do breakfast at home. I made this frittata and it was a huge hit! I didn't follow a recipe, I just thought of all the flavors I wanted in my eggs that day and then went from there. A fritatta is a type of Italian omelet. Traditionally fritattas are cooked partially on the stove top like an omelet, and then finished off in the oven by broiling it. I decided to skip the stove top step and see what would happen. It worked great and was uber yummy!

Asparagus Fritatta

1 bunch of Asparagus (tough ends cut off, and then cut into 2 inch pieces)
1 large onion (or 5 shallots)...please note that shallots are not green onions : )
1 package of bacon
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup goat cheese
16 eggs
1/2 cup milk (the more whole the better...or heavy cream)
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Bring a medium saucepan of h2o to a boil. Once boiling add asparagus pieces and cook briefly for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
3. Cut one package of bacon into 3 inch pieces. Fry in hot frying pan until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Keep bacon grease in pan.
4. Cut onion or shallots into 1/2 moon slices. Caramelize in bacon grease over medium heat until golden brown...not burnt.
5. Butter a 9x13 baking pan. Sprinkle 1/2 Gruyere cheese on bottom of pan, followed by crumbled goat cheese, asparagus, bacon, and then onions.
6. Crack eggs into bowl and whisk until all yolks are broken up. Add milk. Pour on top on everything else. Sprinkle the rest of the Gruyere cheese on top. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until golden and set.

This can also be made the night before and kept in the fridge until morning...just wait to sprinkle the final cheese on top until right before baking.
Leftovers make a great weekday breakfast on the go. Just pop in the microwave for a delicious breakfast!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

King cake...a cake fit for Kings.

Oh yes, it's that time of year again. King Cake time. As many of you know I treasure the days when we all feast on the yumminess known as "King cake".
A little bit of King cake history for your knowledge bank:
The name "King cake" comes from the Bibical three kings, or the three wise men. Their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days...the twelve days of Christmas, and they arrived to honor the Christ child on Epiphany...January 6th. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night or Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) day.
Some of you may ask...why on earth is there a naked little baby in my cake? Christian cultures say that the baby is in fact the Baby Jesus. Originally a bean was hidden in the cake. The person who got the bean or baby was declared the King or Queen of the day. Sometimes there are separate cakes for the males and females; the one for women is sometimes called a Loomis Cake. The king or queen is usually obligated to supply the next king cake or host the next party.
When my family lived in Lafayette, Louisiana we always got excited when Mardi Gras came around. We would get together with the other neighborhood families and have several Mardi Gras parties during the season. We would dress up like kings and queens and have mini parades with our decorated bikes and wagons. Then we would throw beads or candy to the bystanders. Ah, were we living the life. We would also go to many of the local parades that had huge colorful floats with different themes. You had to yell "Throw me something Mister" if you wanted beads or candy to come your way. After one float would pass we would all regroup and wait with anticipation for the next float. And the bands, dang were they good! Everyone would be dancing in the streets when those bands came around. Good times!
I made a king cake this weekend using a recipe I got from I was pleasantly surprised at how good it turned out. I followed the recipe pretty religiously, except I added my own cream cheese filling along with their streusal one, and omitted the nuts and raisins. I mixed one box of softened cream cheese with three cups of powdered sugar and spread it right alongside the streusal. My family loved it and it was gone within hours. (see above picture) One important tip is that the water temp is crucial...if your water is too hot or too cold the yeast won't work properly. I encourage the use of a thermometer whenever you are making any kind of bread. Happy Mardi Gras to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken

While living in California I grew to appreciate Asian food beyond the basic General Tso's chicken and fried rice. Once I moved away from California and away from all the fantastic Asian restaurants I found myself craving Asian food. Here is one of my favorites - I serve it on a bed of short grain brown rice - it is always a crowd pleaser, and is an easy week night meal. Enjoy!

Chicken and broccoli Teriyaki

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 -inches ginger root, peeled and minced
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 head of broccoli

4 scallions, thinly sliced
Chopped almonds (optional)
short grain brown rice

Bring a medium saucepan of water and 1/2tsp of salt to a boil. Chop broccoli head into small pieces. Place in boiling water and blanche for 2-3 minutes. Strain and set aside. Cut chicken into cubes. Salt and pepper your chicken up. Partially cook in hot oiled frying pan. While chicken is cooking, bring chicken broth and ginger to a boil. Stir in honey. When honey has dissolved into broth, add teriyaki sauce and sesame oil and reduce heat to simmer. Add chicken to sauce and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Add broccoli. Serve over a bed of short grain brown rice and Garnish with sliced scallions and chopped almonds.

FYI- "Teriyaki" is actually a cooking technique used in Japan, where foods are cooked in a sweet marinade.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fi Fie Foe Banana

Bananas are super. Not only because monkeys like them, but because they are packed full of potassium and other good things. I personally never eat a banana unless it is cooked into something, or mixed into a smoothie. If you do have "really ripe" bananas sitting on your not throw them away! Instead put them in a Ziploc bag and toss them in the freezer. Next time you want a smoothie they are good to go. Or, let them defrost and bake them into something. Add them to you basic pancake batter with a handful of nuts, or...go crazy and add some to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I did a little research and found out 15 Fun Facts about Bananas:

1. Bananas originate from Asia.

2. Some people are allergic to bananas.

3. You can make paper out of the fibers on the banana plant...I wonder if there are post its that are made from bananas and smell like bananas...hum...maybe I should pitch that one to Mr. Post it.

4. When a person slips on a banana peel it is common courtesy to laugh, and then buy a hot dog.

5. Which came first? Banana Republic or bananas? FYI Banana Republic first became famous for their bright yellow raincoats that didn't button or zip, they were peeled off...not a true story.

6. They are part of the family Musaceae. I hear that is one crazy tribe to be part of.

7. Bananas are 75% water

8. If you feel like doing a full body flush eat the peels of bananas - they have proven to help cleanse the body of nasty little toxins...they also help you lose friends, because if someone sees you eating a banana peel they will think you are crazy.

9. Shake things up a bit...peel the banana from the bottom...studies have shown that it tastes the same!

10. You can get high from banana peels. After a lengthy process bananas can produce can smoke it...FYI they also help cure hangovers.

11. The banana plant is not a tree. It is actually the world's largest herb!

12. Banana power helps fight the following: Depression, Constipation, blood pressure, heartburn, morning sickness, stress, strokes, and ulcers.

13. Bananas can help remove warts. Tape a banana peel to you skin...the wart should miraculously fall to the also helps to click your heels twice and wear ruby shoes.

14. "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana" - Groucho Marx

15. Plain Bananas give me headaches.

Monkey so love Banana Nut Bread:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature (or grape seed oil)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt...plain or vanilla)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat l'oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan or a 12 count muffin tin.
Cream butter.
Add sugar, and cream until smooth.
Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Stir dry into the wet.
Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Stir.
Add nuts.

Pour into pan. Bake for 1 hour in loaf pan, or 20-25 minutes in muffin tin until golden brown and top springs back when touched.

p.s. I also like to add a handful of chocolate chips if the Spirit so moves me.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Granola bars, the snack of champions.

My family does not observe the holiday of "Superbowl Sunday". In fact, we don't watch or follow football at all...and yes, there are 4 men in my family. Instead of "watching sports" we "play sports". I decided I should do something American and at least cook a bunch of food on Superbowl Sunday...I went on to spend the better part of my day in the test kitchen. 2 loaves of banana nut bread, 2 trays of granola bars, one batch of Parmesan zucchini wedges, and 4 sweet potatoes later I decided to call it the quits and blog instead.

As many of you know I love all things granola. I have spent hours and hours perfecting my granola recipe. I have found much success in my various granola flavors, but have not been able to make a good granola bar. 2 years ago I became addicted to Kashi honey almond flax granola bars, and usually eat a box a week. I decided it was about time I came up with my own bar, I mean how hard can it be right? : ) A local baker here in Houston makes a wicked mean granola bar, my mom buys a few a week, but they cost about $3.00 a bar. The secret to his bar is that he grinds up the granola in a food processor. What a brilliant idea! Kudos to him, and bars for me : ). I now make a tray every weekend and it lasts about a week in our home. This is the recipe that I came up with...I love them and predict that they will be a constant snack staple in my life : )

Da' Bars:

1 cup natural (no sugar or added ingredients) chunky peanut butter

2/3 cup grape seed oil (or canola oil)

3/4 cup brown rice syrup (or honey)

1 tsp. vanilla

5 tbs. succant (natural sugar or brown sugar)

1 cup unsweetened coconut

1 1/2 cup sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1/8 cup whole flax seed (or sesame seeds)

1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

6 cups of old fashioned oats (ground in a food processor for 8-10 pulses)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 cake pan with non stick spray, cover with parchment paper. In medium saucepan on stove top melt the peanut butter, oil, syrup or honey, vanilla, and sugar - mix until smooth and blended together. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir until combined together. Should be a rather thick consistency. Spread evenly into prepared pan and press firmly down into pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow bars to cool completely before removing from pan and cutting into bars. Individually wrap in plastic wrap and then keep them in a sealed Ziploc bag for easy access. Enjoy!