The Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Cinnamon Bread

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Photo Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

Looking for something to do this weekend or do you just want to try the most amazing cinnamon bread in the world? If yes, do yourself a favor and make The Pioneer Woman’s homemade cinnamon bread.

I’m not sure how many of you have heard of the The Pioneer Woman. She is basically my hero as she combines my two loves, food and photography, into a witty blog that is truly inspiring. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out her blog at http://thepioneerwoman.com/ and also check out this post http://thepioneerwoman.com/blog/2009/06/a_hobby_of_mine/ for an afternoon smile.

After salivating over The Pioneer Woman’s recent post on homemade cinnamon bread (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/08/homemade-cinnamon-bread/) I decided to try making it myself. It was a good six hour process, as you have to let the dough rise for a total of 4 hours, so don’t start making this recipe late at night. However, it is totally worth the time and effort as the bread is truly life changing. Toast a slice of this bread and then spread some butter on top and I am pretty sure you will enter food euphoria. Just try it.

I’m not going to re-write The Pioneer Woman’s recipe as it is all on her website and she already does a  fabulous job explaining all the steps. Instead, I’m just going to post some photos of my cinnamon bread making experience.

Melting butter with milk. The Pioneer Woman says she feels like a rebel cooking with whole milk. I feel like a rebel cooking with 2%.

Watching my Kitchen Aid work its magic.

That looks better

Now it is rising time. I hope the yeast likes my kitchen.

Yup, the yeast clearly likes my kitchen. Yay for hot humid Virginia and being too cheap to keep the AC turned up high :).


Mmmm butter

Mmmmm cinnamon & sugar

Rolled up and risen

Time to coat in an egg milk mixture

ok, so I'm a little messy when I bake.

yum yum yum

Taking a slice to my hubby on the ship because I'm a pretty awesome wife :).

The World’s Best Banana Bread Recipe

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There is nothing that reminds me more of home than my mom’s banana bread. It is moist, sweet, and just utter perfection. My mom would make her banana bread often for us growing up and I have continued to make it whenever I find myself with overly ripe bananas or when I’m just craving its deliciousness.  This recipe has been a family secret for years but my mom was gracious enough to let us share it this one time with our Savory Sisters readers. Enjoy!

Ingredients (for one loaf):

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 very ripe mashed bananas

2 eggs well beaten

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

Now let’s make the world’s best banana bread!

Cream together sugar and butter. Add banana, eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda.

Blend flour mix into banana mix but don’t over mix.

Turn batter into a greased 9x5x3inch pan. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 55 minutes or toothpick test.

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to the world’s best banana bread! So my mom’s recipe says to turn out the loaf and let it cool completely. But I don’t have the patience for that. I’ve already spent the past 55 minutes just staring at the oven. There is no way I am waiting any longer for banana bread. So I cut myself a slice.

And yes, it is falling apart because I didn’t let it cool but I am going for taste and not presentation. The bread is so moist and the chunks of banana are warm gooey goodness. A slice of this bread and a cup of coffee…I’m in heaven. Thank you mom for the recipe!

Easy Black Bean & Corn Salad

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Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Light, healthy and full of protein, this salad takes just minutes to put together and makes a great side dish for a bbq or cookout. I’ve also put it on tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, crab cakes and even bruschetta (toast some french bread with olive oil then put goat cheese and the salad on top = deliciousness).  The salad can be made the day before and transports well.

Ingredients:

1 can, 14 ounces, black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can corn, rinsed and drained  (can use frozen or roasted corn)

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss, chill in fridge then serve.

How easy is that?

Bringing Sushi to Your Kitchen

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Who ever said you need to go to an expensive Japanese restaurant for sushi?  As long as you can find some fresh fish it’s super easy to bring those same flavors to your kitchen.  Here is my recipe for a deconstructed tuna-avocado roll…

Tada!

1. First marinate fresh sushi-grade tuna for an hour in…

1 tsp of grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup of orange juice

3 tbsp of soy sauce

1/3 cup sweet chili sauce

2.  Remove tuna from marinade and coat both sides with sesame seeds

3.  Heat canola or vegetable oil in a saute pan and cook the tuna for about 2 minutes on one side and a minute on the other

4.  Slice tuna at about 1 cm wide slices and serve with avocado, white rice (I use Jasmine since it’s easier to find than sushi rice) and sliced ginger.  Drizzle with any soy-based sauce such as teriyaki or gyoza dipping sauce.

Deconstructed Sushi

Guilt-Free Creamy Cheesy Mushroom Rigatoni Bake

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I have a love-hate relationship with creamy cheesy pasta sauces. They are absolutely delicious but I hate the guilt that comes with eating thousands of calories and tons of fat is a single pasta dish. Therefore, I was ecstatic when I came across the low calorie/low fat creamy cheesy Mushroom Rigatoni Bake recipe from Cooking Lite. The dish is packed with flavor with a thick asiago sherry thyme sauce that is rich yet guilt-free. I often make this dish for guests as it can be made ahead of time and I can clean up the kitchen while it is baking in the oven. Therefore, when my guests arrive I can simply sit back, relax with a glass of wine and enjoy their company.

I’ve adjusted the Cooking Lite recipe slightly, using a little more cheese and sherry than called for (because you can never have too much cheese and wine) but I also use skim milk instead of 2%. The Cooking Lite recipe also calls for a variety of mushrooms but I just use baby bella. So the next time you are craving creamy cheesy deliciousness without the guilt try out my revised Cooking Lite Mushroom Rigatoni Bake recipe below:

Mushroom Rigatoni Bake (Serves 4)

Mushroom Rigatoni Bake

Ingredients:

8 ounces rigatoni

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup sliced shallots

1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms (or any mushroom of your preference)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups skim milk (or whatever you have on hand)

1 to 2 cups (depends how dangerous you feel that day) grated Asiago cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta al dente, drain well, set aside.

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, saute 3 min or until slightly carmelized. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic. Saute 8 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry, cook 1 minute, stirring frequently, remove from heat.

Place flour in a dutch oven or small sauce pot (whatever you have on hand) over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil, cook 1 min or until slightly thick. Remove from heat, add half of the cheese, stirring until melted.

Mix pasta, mushroom mixture and cheese sauce together. Spoon pasta mixture into a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with remainder of cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 min or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Garnish with thyme sprigs if desired.




Virginia Beach Foodie Spot: Eurasia Cafe & Wine Bar

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Virginia Beach is a vacation spot and, as a result, it has a lot of touristy restaurants. Most of the time the view at these restaurants is much more pleasing to the senses than the food. Don’t get me wrong, I have fun going to these places, especially for the hush puppies and cheap beer. However, sometimes my sophisticated taste buds need to be awakened with more inspiring dishes. And when this happens, my husband and I head to Eurasia Cafe.

Lobster Mac & Cheese at Cafe Eurasia

Eurasia Cafe (Virginia Beach, VA): Located off the beaten tourist path in a small strip mall behind a wine shop, Eurasia Cafe is THE local foodie restaurant in Virginia  Beach. There are no views of water here, in fact, there isn’t a single window in the whole place. Eurasia Cafe simply knows how to produce fresh delicious dishes and, as a result, the restaurant is packed every night. A rare feat for Virginia Beach in this economy.

Eurasia’s menu consists of New American cuisine with heavy influences from Asia, Europe and southern cooking. Here you can get hot & sour soup to start then move to a summer melon prosciutto and crispy goat cheese salad for a second course and finish with shrimp and grits for your entree. Eurasia prides itself in using fresh seasonal ingredients and every night they have a long list of specials. If it is soft shell crab season one of their specials will be sure to consist of the freshest soft shell crabs in the area paired with some sort of delicious sauce. I took my father here once and he ordered the soft shell crab appetizer. After his entree he ordered another soft shell crab appetizer for dessert. It was just that good.

While Eurasia’s specials are always great, there are a few staples on their regular menu that are truly outstanding and a must try:

Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio at Cafe Eurasia

– Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio: A generous portion of perfectly sliced beef tenderloin carpaccio served with fresh arugula, a truffle egg salad that is to die for, thin potato crisps,  parmesan cheese and a balsamic mustard vinaigrette. The texture is there, the color is there, and most importantly, the flavor is there. This dish is simply heaven for the senses ($10).

– Lobster Mac & Cheese: Cafe Eurasia takes my two loves (lobster and mac & cheese) and composes them into a dish that is rich yet fresh and extremely flavorful. There are a number of ingredients in this dish that go together beautifully including a creamy raspberry ale aged cheddar sauce, thick cherrywood smoked bacon, fresh peas, local pea tendrils and a balsamic reduction. Tossed with claw and knuckle meat and topped with a tempura lobster tail, this lobster mac and cheese is definitely a food euphoric experience ($24).

Shrimp & Grits at Cafe Eurasia

– Sautéed Shrimp & Smoke Gouda Stoned Grit Cake: While I only lived in Charleston, South Carolina for a year, that one year was all it took for southern cooking to hold a special place in my heart. Cafe Eurasia takes the typical southern dish shrimp and grits to a whole new level with a rich elegant gouda grit cake and fresh buttery jumbo shrimp. Tossed with surry county sausage, roasted red peppers, basil and old bay butter, this dish truly does shrimp and grits justice ($21).

While the dishes listed above are priced on the high end for Virginia Beach, Eurasia Cafe also offers a variety of delicious sandwiches all ranging between $8 to $10. You can order these sandwiches for lunch or dinner and probably spend the same as you would at an average chain like Panera Bread. Also, because Eurasia Cafe is located behind a wine shop you can pick out a bottle of wine at the shop and bring it with you to dinner for a $10 corkage fee. And since most restaurants double the price of bottles, this is an excellent deal. So if you are ever in Virginia Beach and want to take a break from the typical touristy seafood restaurants make sure to check out Eurasia Cafe. Oh, and invite me to come along with you :). (Reservations highly recommended and must be made at least a day in advance for weekend nights. Open Monday thru Saturday. 960 Laskins Road, Virginia Beach, VA).

#1 Top Cheap Eats: El Pescador Fish Market

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Fish Sandwich at El Pescador (Courtesy of El Pescador)

#1 El Pescador Fish Market (La Jolla, CA): Situated  just north of San Diego, this hole-in-the-wall fish market takes our #1 cheap eats spot for its extremely fresh fish and most delicious seafood sandwiches on the planet. In business for over 30 years and located off the beaten tourist path, El Pescador is a locals joint that to the eye doesn’t look like anything special. It is a small, you order at the counter, and there are only a couple of tables but man do they know how to do a seafood sandwich justice.

I used to live in San Diego and would come to El Pescador for lunch whenever I got the chance. While everything on their menu is amazing and cooked to perfection, I would always get the dungeness crab sandwich with avocado. The sandwich consists of huge chunks of fresh moist dungeness crab with ripe avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion and some sort of amazing sauce that I can’t remember exactly what it was but just that it was heavenly delicious. Served on a buttery char-grilled sourdough roll that itself alone is out of this world, this sandwich will honestly take you to food euphoria. And at $9.95, the dungeness crab sandwich is truly a steal for the quality.

If you go to El Pescador (which you must do if you are ever in San Diego) get your sandwiches to go then make the one minute drive to the gorgeous La Jolla coast line. There you can park yourself at a picnic table and take in the beautiful view of waves crashing into the cliffs while enjoying one of the best, if not the best, sandwiches of your life. (627 Pearl Street, La Jolla, CA. Open daily 10AM- 8PM).