Praline Pecan Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I admit that I find baking intimidating. All that exactness and science is not exactly how I operate in the kitchen. I’m definitely a cook who throws in a dash of this and a bunch of that when I create meals.  Even so, always one to challenge myself, I saw a bunch of ripening bananas at the grocery and decided to take on the task. Just to make it rich, I went with a cream cheese frosting center and rather than plain walnuts or pecans, I added praline pecans which are sweet and rich for Fall cooking.  This recipe would equally work with pumpkin vs bananas. My foray into baking was very sweet! Happy Fall!

Praline Pecan Banana Bread With Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 5 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Praline Pecans – see ingredients & instructions below
  • Cream Cheese Frosting – see ingredients & instructions below

 Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter or use cooking spray on a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment: cream soft butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs to mixer; beat to incorporate.
  5. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Slowly add dry mixture to the mixer w/ butter & sugar
  7. Mix until just combined
  8. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla
  9. Mix to combine.
  10. Crush 2/3 cup of the prepared praline pecans (receipe below)
  11. Mix into the batter
  12. Pour into prepared pan
  13. Sprinkle full praline pecans on top of bread
  14. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour
  15. To check doneness, insert a cake tester or toothpick into the center of the bread and pull it out – if the tester is clean, the bread is baked through
  16. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes
  17. Turn out onto a rack to cool
  18. Once bread is baked and cooled, cut it in .
  19. Spread cream cheese frosting evenly over bottom half. (Recipe below)
  20. Top with remaining half of bread

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Praline Pecans

  • 2 cups whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine pecans, brown sugar, and heavy cream.
  3. Spread into a square baking pan, sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until coating is dry, and slightly crystallized, stirring once.
  5. Remove from oven to cool and stir once more.
  6. If not serving immediately, store in an airtight container.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 ounces of cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Use electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
  2. Beat together 6 ounces cream cheese, 3 tablespoons confectioners’sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract until smooth

(adapted from Martha Stewart’s banana bread recipe & Paula Dean’s Praline Pecan recipe)


Slow Cooker Spicy Southwestern Turkey Stew

We’re heading into Fall, so I thought of two Fall favorites – Stew and Turkey.  Stew isn’t just for beef and turkey is not only for Thanksgiving! Best thing to warm you up during those cooler Fall days? Southwest spices, of course! This stew can be as spicy or mild as you like, but it is packed full of flavor. The hit of fresh cilantro and lime at serving really brighten the flavors. 

 The turkey tenderloin I found was in plastic with gravy.  I washed all the gravy away and patted the turkey dry with paper towels prior to chopping into cubes. This makes it safer for cutting (less slippery) and also removes the gravy from the being in the soup. I don’t think you need the gravy as there is a thickening step below on how to thicken to a more stew-like consistency. 

 You’ll note my photo doesn’t have corn.  It would seem I dropped my can of corn in the grocery store parking lot which I didn’t catch until I started cooking. (I thought I heard something fall out of my cart but couldn’t find it, but that is another story.)….so the kernels are in the slow cooker in spirit. They taste better when ACTUALLY there, not just in spirit, FYI. (Free cooking tip for you.) 

 Next time, I might experiment with sweet potatoes vs fingerling potatoes….cooking is all about the creativity!!

 **Remember to wash your hands whenever handling poultry to not cross contaminate potential bacterial from the fowl to other ingredients, counter tops, knives or cutting boards.**

 

SW Turkey Stew

 Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pound turkey tenderloin cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • Fingerling potatoes, cut into half or thirds in close to equal size
  • 16 ounce can of stewed Mexican tomatoes, undrained
  • 16 ounce can of spicy chili beans, undrained
  • Small can of sweet, large kernel corn, DRAINED
  • ¼ cup chopped celery into large rustic pieces
  • ½ red onion chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers cut into rings
    • For less spicy: remove the seeds from the jalapeno and chop it or use a Green Pepper which has no heat
  • 1 orange or red pepper chopped into ¾ inch chunks
  • Fresh sage – chopped fine
  • 2 TBSP Chili powder
  • Two cloves minced garlic
  • 1 TBSP Cumin powder
  • ½ TBSP dry Cilantro
  • Dash Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Coarse black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup of your favorite Salsa –
    • Use mild for less spice. I used a spicy Chipotle salsa
  • 2/3 cups Chicken broth
  • Corn starch
  • Fresh cilantro chopped for on top
  • Sour cream finish
  • Lime – squeeze before serving

 STEPS:

  1. In a bowl, combine:
  • Fresh sage – chopped fine
  • Chili powder
  • minced garlic
  • Cumin powder
  • dry Cilantro
  • Dash Cayenne pepper
  • Coarse black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Toss Turkey chunks in the spice mix
  2. Line turkey chunks in bottom of slow cooker
  3. Add potatoes to slow cooker
  4. Add celery, onion, red/orange pepper chunks
  5. Add stewed Mexican tomatoes, undrained, to slow cooker
  6. Add spicy chili beans, undrained, to cooker
  7. Add sweet corn, DRAINED, to cooker
  8. Add jalapeno peppers cut into rings
  9. Add Salsa
  10. Add Chicken Broth, all ingredients should be just covered by liquid. Add lid.
  11. Add black pepper to taste
  12. Add TBSP Chili powder
  13. Cook in the crock pot on HIGH for 5 -6 hours or LOW for 8 hours (turkey should not be pink. Turkey temp should be 165 degrees)

 To Thicken to Soup to A Stew consistency- take this step just before serving.

  1. Stew should be almost finished and simmering in slow cooker
  2. In a separate small bowl, add 2 TBSP of Corn Starch to 2 TBSP of Cold Water.
  3. Mix well until smooth with no lumps
  4. Be sure your stew is simmering and stir in the corn starch mixture to thicken.
  5. Permit to simmer 10 -20 more minutes to thicken

 Serving

Upon serving, top with fresh chopped cilantro, a dollop of sour cream, and squeeze of fresh lime juice.  Add a crusty thick slice of bread or sour dough dinner role on the side.

 

 


Chorizo and Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Slaw & Grilled Corn and Jalapeno Salsa

I had a pound of chorizo in the freezer and some leftover gulf shrimp that I needed to use, so decided to go Mexican. Super easy and was very flavorful with the smoky chipotle, lime and cilantro.  The crunch and creaminess of the slaw was perfect with the meaty mixture. Perfect in summer when ears of corn are sweet with large kernels for the salsa. I used my indoor iron grill but the corn and jalapeno could be grilled on the outdoor grill as well.

Final Chorizo shrimp Taco

Chorizo and Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Slaw & Grilled Corn and Jalapeno Salsa

  • 1 pound ground chorizo
  • ½ pound of Gulf Shrimp
  • ¼ cup Red Onion – chopped finely
  • Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro – chopped finely

 Directions:

  1. Add chorizo to a skillet and cook on medium heat
  2. Add red onions
  3. In the pan chopped up the chorizo with spatula as it cooks so it is a crumble
  4. Add five splashes of the Tabasco chipotle sauce (or to taste)
  5. When chorizo is just browned, make a hole in the center of the skillet
  6. Put raw shrimp into the center hole to cook in the chorizo sauce while the chorizo finishes on the outside of the shrimp
  7. Cook shrimp until pink and tender – about 5 minute
  8. Squeeze fresh lime juice over mixture
  9. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro
  10. Place mixture on warmed flour tortilla
  11. Add chipotle slaw (see below) and some grilled corn and jalapeno salsa (below)
  12. Add a dollop of sour cream, if desired

 

Add Shrimp to the center of the Chorizo

Add Shrimp to the center of the Chorizo

Chipotle Slaw

  • 2 cups raw cabbage and carrots cut in slivers, cole slaw style
    • Most groceries sell slaw mixes all ready to go
  • 1 Jalapeno – chopped very finely (seed them if you want less heat)
  • 1 small can of chipotle peppers
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • 2 TBSP of Apple Cider
  • 1/3 cup Mayo
  • 2 Limes for juice
  • Coarse Black Pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Put chipotle peppers into a food processor and puree
  2. Combine cabbage, carrots, jalapeno, onions and cilantro into a bowl
  3. Stir in the chipotle puree
  4. Stir in apple cider and mayo
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste
  6. Squeeze two limes over mixture and stir
  7. Put in refrigerator until needed
Chipotle slaw

Finished Chipotle Slaw

Grilled Corn Salsa with Fire Roasted Jalapenos

  • 3 ears of corn – no husk or silk
  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium red tomatoes or 3 Romas – finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion – finely chopped
  • Fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 3 jalapenos – split in half, deseeded
  • 1 ripe avocado – chopped into squares
  • 2 limes
  • Salt
  • Coarse Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
Grill roasting corn and jalapeno

Grill roasting corn and jalapeno

Directions:

  1. Rub Olive Oil on the ears of corn
  2. Place ears of corn on hot grill
  3. Rotate Corn on all sides to get char – about 6 to 8 minutes total
  4. Along with corn put jalapenos on the grill – char the skin side
  5. Allow corn to cool to handle and using a knife cut corn from cob
  6. Chop grilled jalapenos into small pieces
  7. Add corn and jalapenos to a bowl
  8. Toss in tomatoes, onion, cilantro and avocado
  9. Cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste – toss lightly
  10. Refrigerate until needed
  11. Serve with chips (see below)

 

Grilled Corn and Jalapeno Salsa

Grilled Corn and Jalapeno Salsa

Homemade Tortilla Chips

  • Corn Tortillas – cut into triangles (quartered)
  • Salt
  • Vegetable or Canola Oil

Directions

  1. Heat oil in skillet to medium high heat
  2. Drop in the tortilla triangles
  3. Flip so both sides fry evenly
  4. Remove when hard and golden but not brown
  5. Put chips on a paper towel to drain
  6. Salt immediately

Mediterranean Shrimp Bruschetta on Toasted Garlic Italian Bread

Sometimes you just want the appetizer but that doesn’t always seem like enough.  I took this Italian appetizer and added a herbaceous shrimp topper to make it a very nice, easily made summer meal.  The garlic, fresh basil and lemon really make this one pop. If you do not have fresh oregano and parsley, you can use dried or dehydrated that you rehydrate. The basil needs to be fresh though. Dried basil won’t cut it for this one.

Don’t forget the breath mints!

 

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Mediterranean Shrimp Bruschetta on Toasted Garlic Italian Bread

  •  Italian bread – sliced ¼ inch thick
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic (jarred minced)
  • Fresh Basil: coarsely chopped – larger pieces
  • Red Onion: finely chopped
  • Red Tomatoes: cut into squared chunks
  • Fresh Oregano: finely chopped
  • Fresh Parsley: finely chopped
  • Coarse black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Shallots: finely sliced and chopped
  • Large Gulf Shrimp – peel & deveined
  • Mozzarella cheese – discs or balls cut in half
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice
  1. Combine ¼ cup olive oil w/ a tablespoon of the garlic and a teaspoon of the garlic liquid in the jar.
  2. Brush garlic olive oil mixture on both sides of bread slices
  3. Toast bread in 350 degree oven until toasted, turn over to toast both sides.
  4. Put 1/3 of the basil, oregano, parsley in reserve to use w/ Shrimp
  5. Combine in a small bowl: garlic, shallots, onion, lemon zest, tomatoes, the remaining basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper
  6. Toss olive oil into the mixture. Use just enough to coat the mixture.
  7. Squeeze lemon juice over the mixture. Set mixture aside.
  8. Pile herb/tomato mixture on each slice of bread
  9. Place medallions of cheese on each slice atop the mixture
  10. Place bread in oven under low broiler to melt cheese.
  11. Heat Olive Oil to medium heat in a skillet
  12. Add cleaned shrimp to medium hot skillet
  13. Add reserved basil, oregano, parsley and add tablespoon minced garlic, salt and pepper – if necessary turn down heat to not scorch garlic
  14. Stir and cook shrimp until pink and tender – remove from heat.
  15. Add cooked shrimp atop the bread and toppings
  16. If you have leftover herb mixture in the skillet, drizzle atop the shrimp
  17. Squeeze lemon juice over bruschetta and serve immediately

Pan Seared Red Snapper with Jalapeno, Cilantro, and Lime and Oven Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

Okay, I don’t know about you, but cooking fish is something that I found intimidating, because, let’s face it, bad fish is not pleasant! Just walking by the seafood counter in the grocery was a little scary (and smelly, to be honest.)  Even so, I bellied up the counter and decided to dive right into the deep end.  I chose a Red Snapper.  It’s a very meaty fish and not “too fishy”….which translate to: you have to add a lot of flavor to the fish.  I like my food spicy so this is what I reeled in for dinner!   I will fear the fish no more!

I added a side of Oven Roasted Parmesan Cheese Asparagus. The two together were delicious!

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Pan Seared Red Snapper with Jalapeno, Cilantro, and Lime 

  • One red snapper fillet (1/2 inch thick) with skin on
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarse black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 Jalapeno Chili – finely sliced (or to taste. More peppers = more spice!)
  • 1/8  cup Lime juice
  • finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lime zest
  • Accompaniment: lime wedges

Directions:

1. Pat fish dry on both sides

2. Brush both sides of fish with olive oil

3. Sprinkle both sides with red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper.

3. Toss together cilantro, garlic, thinly sliced jalapenos and lime zest in a small bowl.

4. Heat olive oil to medium heat in a large sauté pan

5. Place Snapper skin side down and sauté for about 4 minutes

6. Turn Snapper and sauté the other side for 3 or 4 minutes

7. During the final 2 minutes, add cilantro, pepper, garlic, lime mixture into the pan with the snapper

8. Add Lime Juice to the pan – it should cook down quickly

9. Transfer to plate – add pepper mixture to the top of the fish

10. Give a squeeze of fresh limes and sprinkle a bit of uncooked cilantro on top of the fish.

10. Serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Parmesan Cheese Asparagus

  • Thin asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of sea (or Kosher) salt
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper (I prefer coarse)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Directions:

1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

 2. Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil.

3. Toss to coat the spears

4. sprinkle spears with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss.

5. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.

6. Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness.

7. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.

 

 


Shrimp Avocado Jalapeno Tostadas

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Shrimp Avocado Jalapeno Tostadas

Ingredients:
2 dried ancho chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes), plus wedges for serving
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
Coarsely chopped black pepper
Thinly sliced jalapeno pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 corn tortillas
3 avocados
3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts separated)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Sour cream and diced tomato, for topping

Directions
1. Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat, turning often, until they soften slightly, about 1 minute.

2. Transfer chiles to a bowl and cover with hot water; let sit 15 minutes.

3. While you wait, halve and pit the avocados;

4. Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl and mash.

5. Mix in:
• the scallion whites
• 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• Cilantro
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• ½ Teaspoon black pepper

6. Set into refrigerator

6. Transfer the chiles and 3 tablespoons of the soaking water to a blender.

7. Add:
• 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• the garlic, oregano
• cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon each cayenne and salt

8. puree until almost smooth

9. Toss the shrimp in the puree in a large bowl

10. refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes.

11. Meanwhile, heat about 1/4 inch vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

12. One at a time, fry the tortillas, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute.

13. Remove to paper towels to drain. Lightly salt the tostadas.

14. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

15. Add the shrimp and Jalapenos and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is just opaque, about 4 minutes.

16. Season with salt and drizzle shrimp with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon lime juice.

17. Spread the mashed avocado mixture on the tostadas.

18. Top with the shrimp

19. garnish with sour cream, fresh cilantro and diced tomato, and the scallion greens.

20. squeeze fresh lime juice over the tostadas

Serve with additional lime wedges.

Inspired by Food Network.


Fennel, Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto with Bacon Seared Scallops

IMG_0771Fennel-Mushroom-Asparagus Risotto

Ingredients

  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, morel, or porcini
  • 1 cup sliced fennel bulb
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2/3 cup Arborio or medium-grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1.5 cups cooked asparagus spears,* cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fennel leaves
  • 1 Tblsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • chopped Fennel leaves

Directions

Makes 4 servings.

1.  Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces, boil in salted water until cooked – should still have a bit of a snap to them.  Drain, set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan melt butter  cook mushrooms, sliced fennel bulb, white onion until onions are translucent.

3. Stir in uncooked Arborio rice. Cook and stir until rice is translucent – do not let rice and vegetables get browned

4. Carefully stir chicken stock and wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (do not lift cover).

5. Remove from heat. Stir in asparagus, parmesan cheese and green onion until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. The rice should be tender but slightly firm, and the mixture should be creamy. If necessary, stir in a little half and half or cream to reach the desired consistency.

Bacon Seared Scallops

Directions

Step 1:   Fry bacon, transfer to paper towel to drain and hold aside

Step 2:  Drain excess bacon fat, leaving a thin coat on bottom of pan.

Step 3:  Increase heat to medium, add scallops to pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until golden brown and opaque, about 2 minutes per side. (Do not over cook) Transfer scallops to the serving dish

Step 4:  Add shallots to pan with cooked grease. (If not enough grease, add a TBSP butter.) When shallots are translucent, add white wine; scrape browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 5:  Stir butter into mixture, and pour over scallops; top with bacon pieces.

*adapted from http://www.MarthaStewart.com