Banana’s Foster Buckle

Firstly Happy Valentine’s Day -I hope everyone had or is having a nice day!

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So my vacation was amazing even though I had a sore throat for most of it and ended up coming home with strep throat; never had that before and it sucked! I would do it all again, minus the throat issue.

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Notice I kept my husbands favorite rum in the picture!

 

My job on the boat was galley cook; I think that is what it is called. I had 2 gas burners and an oven, a small sink and limited counter space. I was definitely glad I planned ahead of time. We rented a condo a few days in front of our sailing adventure and I had brought with me quite a bit of provisions. So I cooked up some breakfast sausage, Sweet Italian sausage; crumbled and in links, and a pound or so of bacon. I thought by doing this on land I would not have to stink up the boat. Well it ended up being just a plain ole good idea. We had limited water, limited propane and damn that kitchen was small. I never turned on the oven just so you know. We did have zucchini bread and pear bread but I brought them from my freezer from home.

We didn’t eat on board all the time but when we did have meals, I felt they were pretty darn good. We had spaghetti and sausage one night, I made a frittata for one of our breakfasts. We had a white wine and garlic penne pasta one night. Oh I forgot to mention we also had a BBQ charcoal grill off the back of the boat. While it sounds really cool, I knew it would be kind of a pain but we are here; it is there and we all wanted to grill the beef tenderloins I was making for dinner.

Let’s just say I was right, it was a pain lighting the BBQ; we did get it lit though and it was ready to go but I ended up cooking them in a fry pan on the stove; and if anyone is say diving near Marina Cay off of Scrubb Island; there is a grill rack on the ocean floor somewhere in the middle of all the mooring balls.

I must have missed cooking and baking or this ridiculously cold weather has sparked a fire under me. I have been doing nothing but cooking. Last weekend I made 2 different kinds of chili, I had meatballs and sauce on the stove top and make buffalo wings and 7 layer Mexican dip. mostly for the Superbowl; which wasn’t very super in my opinion.

This weekend I have 4 new recipes I want to make. Hopefully they taste as good as they sound. As I am typing this this morning I have a Banana’s Foster Buckle in the oven. It looked amazing and smells awesome, It should be done in a bit YUM!

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Cake

4 TBS unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350’F grease a 9×9 baking dish; line with parchment grease the paper – I only had waxed paper and was a pain but did the job. If you leave an over hang it help with removal of the bread.

In a large bowl or your mixer, add the butter and sugar combine. Add the egg, vanilla and milk and stir till combined. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until fully combined, it will be a thick batter.

Banana’s Foster

4 TBS unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3-4 banana’s cut up
2 TBS dark rum

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In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add butter and sugar, melt and stir together. add the bananas and cook until caramelized.

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pour the rum and while being careful; catch a flame using one of those long handled lighter. Let the bananas and caramel flambe. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit.

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let there be fire

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, placed slightly cooled bananas foster on top and push them down a bit into the batter.

Bake for about 50 minutes; until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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It is delicious and tastes best with some vanilla Ice Cream – Who doesn’t love an excuse to eat ice cream in the morning. I read somewhere that Sylvester Stallone eats a pint of ice cream every morning, his logic is so he can burn it off all day. I’ll buy that!

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Recipe adapted by Cooking at Clark Towers from Carla Hall the Chew

 

 

 

Beef Jerky

I am currently sitting next to the Caribbean sea. The wind is blowing the sun is shining and we are getting ready to head out on one of the biggest adventures I think I have ever been on. Sailing on a 39’ catamaran with another couple and we are the captain and crew. Only one of us has actually sailed a boat so wish us luck!

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This will be us tomorrow!!!

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A few years ago I was golfing with some girlfriends I was a last minute fourth so one of them packed me a lunch; how cute is that. Well I can’t remember what kind of sandwich it was but I do remember the homemade beef jerky. It was AWESOME and while I am not a connoisseur of jerky this was something I really wanted to make for myself; and to share with my family. While my daughter is not a huge jerky fan the guys are another story.

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I have never owned a dehydrated and really never looked into them to purchase. My son asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year so hesitantly gave him a list of kitchen appliances I am interested in getting. My hesitance is he is the one that pitches a fit when I buy something new for the kitchen; his first comment is always “OK so what are you going to get rid of?” I have a lot of storage space but it is all pretty full. And I do purge every so often; I can justify pretty much everything in it so it’s hard to let go sometimes.

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Back to my list, I sold him on my purchases as stating they didn’t need a “home” in the kitchen I could store them on the shelf in the garage. Voila I now have a dehydrator in my arsenal of cooking tools. The reason he picked it was purely selfish reasons; he knew he would be eating yummy homemade beef jerky.

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Beef Jerky

 

3 lb angus round tip

½ cup soy sauce

½ cup worcestershire sauce

2 tbs ketchup

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion salt

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Trim off all the fat you can, it will not dehydrate and is not something you want to eat.

Slice or buy sliced beef into ¼ inch pieces. If you are slicing it it is best if you freeze the beef overnight, it cuts SO much easier. If you are lucky enough to find it already sliced at your butcher.

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You can put ingredients 2-6 in a ziploc bag and add the sliced meat, take out as much air as you can and marinate overnight moving the pieces around so they all get yummy.

Dry the beef and place on the racks of your dehydrator leaving plenty of space between each piece so the air can flow all around.

155’ for 4 hours – check and if needed add some more time. Do not over hydrate

Individual Chocolate Chip Cookie

My daughter has been home for a month now, while she was in Japan she and a few of her expat friends started a weekly meal from another country. One of the first things she did when she got home was declared she wanted to continue this tradition here at home. I personally thought it was a great idea. I will admit that my initial thought was one night off from cooking dinner sounded pretty cool to me but I knew the adventure would be so much fun! I knew the guys would be cool with it, I just didn’t expect how cool they thought the idea was.

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After the first week my son decided that he wanted to invite his girlfriend over for this AND he was going to make the native cocktail from the country/region. My husband on the third week invited one of his buddies over for Hawaiian night and his buddy made a traditional Hawaiian cake for dessert. That night; after a cocktail or two; my husband dubbed the weekly event Worldwide Wednesday BRILLIANT!!! Oh and he wanted to make the appetizer; which really meant that either Abbi or I was to also make an app.

So far we have been to Cambodia, Hawaii, Chile and Iraq which she made Sabih which was a pita pocket with fried eggplant, pickled mango and a couple of sauces. It was tasty and we all liked it except for my son he really was not a fan. Ab was a little crushed since this was the first dish she made that someone didn’t like. Welcome home Abbi did you miss your “little” brother? She ended up giving the rest of it to my in-laws and they LOVED it.

This last Wednesday I tried to make the dessert can you say epic fail! We again invited friends over and we were going to Chile so I asked them to bring some Chilean wine and I would make the dessert. My Tres Leches cake let’s just say I should have brought the wine. I figured out what I did wrong, and I will try making it again, just to show that I can. But I really need to score myself a kitchen scale, don’t tell my son Alex this, he thinks I have WAY too many kitchen gadgets already.

I am probably not going to share her recipes here as I really would like her to maybe start her own blog someday, for now I will just be enjoying the journey first hand instead of hearing about it over the phone.

Love in a cup 007

So when you have an epic dessert failure I pulled out what I have dubbed love in a cup. A warm chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream; it takes so little time to make and EVERYONE loved it. Use your go to chocolate chip cookie recipe and instead of making individual cookies, put some dough in a ramekin and bake just till barely cooked through, top with some cold vanilla ice cream, zero to hero in what maybe 30 minutes max!

Love in a cup 009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

 2 ¼C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

¾C sugar

¾C brown sugar

½C softened butter – if too dry add another ½ stick softened butter

2-3 handfuls of chocolate chips (I don’t like a lot of chips in mine, I’ve even left them out on purpose)

Cream the butter in a stand mixer or by hand add the sugars and mix well. Add the eggs mix until combined add the vanilla and dry ingredients to incorporate. Stir in the chips and done.

Pre-heat oven at 350’ spray your ramekin with nonstick cooking spray, fill the ramekin about ½ to ¾ of the way full and bake for about 20 minutes just till barely cooked through. Place on a small plate as the ramekin is super-hot and top with your favorite vanilla ice cream.

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Dough freezes well so you can make yourself one any night you want!

Italian Night – Tagliatelle Pasta and Ragu Bolognese

I had wanted to make a few Italian recipes that we had made in our Tuscan cooking class since coming back home a couple of weeks ago. Everything just came together this for past Friday night’s dinner.  We were trying to get together with some of our local friends, our VT friends contacted me to come and stay the night and the final piece de resistance was the red wine I sent home from Italy arrived Friday morning oh and I had the day off.  Italian night was just meant to be!

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I love my new pasta dryer!

I made my shopping list out in the morning, I had planned on making it a little easier on me since I was cooking for 9+ people and I don’t have staff to help me with prep or clean up per say; my son and friends helped with clean up. I was going with Bruschetta, homemade; handmade pasta with a Bolognese sauce and tiramisu for dessert.  I know that was not going to be a truly “authentic” Tuscan meal but I live in NH and I am not Italian nor can I get the same ingredients locally, trust me I tried, I thought I would make it as close as possible. I had to find a substitute for Italian 00 flour; 1 part pastry flour to 3 parts AP flour was the answer.

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Homemade Tagliatelle Pasta – Flat cut pasta

1 cup pastry flour

3 cups all-purpose flour

4-5 large eggs

extra virgin olive oil

Combine flours in a bowl, on a clean work surface make a pile of the flour; make a well in the middle large enough for the eggs but make sure the edges are big enough to hold in the eggs. With a fork; start to scramble the eggs being careful not to break the sides of the flour ring. Once scrambled you can start to incorporate a little flour at a time; again being careful not to let the eggs escape. This process can take just a couple of minutes. Once you are able to use your hands; get in there and make your dough ball, scrape up the bits on your work area and re-flour lightly so you have a place to knead the dough. Before you start put a small amount of evoo on both sides of your dough ball; if the dough starts getting too yellow add a little more flour. Knead until the dough is soft and pliable but not sticky. Cut into 2 or 4 equal parts and work with 1 at a time.

Roll the dough on a clean lightly floured surface, this will probably take you the longest part of the process, you need to get the dough very thin and into a rectangle of sorts. Once thin enough fold into thirds or even fourths; depending on how long your dough is. Cut off the uneven ends and then decide what kind (size) pasta you want for dinner. I tried to make mine the same width as my pinkie. slice folded pasta and unfold once cut and either hang or lay out on a lightly floured surface till ready to cook.

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Ragu Bolognese

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs butter

1-2 carrots finely diced

1 onion finely diced

1 stalk celery finely diced

1-2 garlic pressed

1 lb ground veal or pork

1 lb ground beef

¼ lb pancetta or slab bacon

28 oz. can San Marzano tomato – crushed

1 cup milk

1 cup of red or white wine – I use what I have left over – if there is such a thing!

Kosher salt, freshly crack black pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano grated

In a 6-8 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter till melted. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned. Add all the meat and combine with the vegetables on high heat stir continuously till the meat is browned. Add the tomatoes, milk and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1-2 hours. Season with salt and pepper; to taste; and remove from the heat.

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Cook pasta in cold salted water until al dente and the pasta has risen to the top. Add cooked pasta to warmed Bolognese sauce toss till all pasta is coated and serve. Sorry I don’t have a picture of the final dish, we ate it immediately as it should be

Mangia Mangia!

Italian Bruschetta – Florence Cooking Class

Let me start off with Italy was awesome and everything I thought it was going to be! Let me next apologize for the delay in sending out my weekly blog. Last week I mentioned I wanted to travel light so I left my laptop at home. Well that would have all worked out fine and dandy had the airline Alitalia not understood the concept of how to cue lines and decided to sell my ticket plus several others to the people in the standby line versus us who were waiting 2½ hours in line to check in. So while being stranded another night in Italy sounds like a pretty cool place to be, I was less than thrilled or prepared for that matter. I got home last night around 10:30 versus Saturday night which had I been prepared I could have written my blog plus maybe a short novel with how much time I spent sitting in the airport. But enough about that, let’s get to why we are all here – YUMMY FOOD!

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I can say with some certainty that tomatoes, mozzarella and basil were the basis of pretty much every meal we ate, breakfast included. If it wasn’t a margarita pizza, it could have been caprese salad or bruschetta, or even in a sandwich form; the options were endless. We had the most amazing burrata ever. I want to learn how to make this; the Italian way of course.

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Caprese

A few interesting things we learned in the cooking class that I wanted to share. They like a specific bread for bruschetta, it is rustic and doesn’t have a lot of flavor so you taste nothing but the basil, tomatoes and garlic ahhhhhhh love or better yet Amare! When they use onions they do not add any garlic and vice versus. I definitely do not follow that rule; I add garlic to just about everything I make. This other is a huge no no with them but I can go either way with it. They take great offense to pineapple on pizzas. Not my first choice but I can deal.

Class Pizza - artichoke hearts OK

Class Pizza Abbi and I made – artichoke hearts OK

I would like to recommend to anyone traveling to Italy to take a cooking class. The one we took in Florence was jammed packed with history and information and yummy food. We met some very nice people and I am very happy we signed up.  We went with Taste Italy Food and Wine Tours. Oh yeah I haven’t even brought up all the wine we drank, I mean tried. First night walking around Rome we picked a restaurant randomly and ordered their bruschetta and a glass of wine. We ended up enjoying both so we ordered a margarita pizza and another glass of wine. Our waiter was SO disappointed in us, he told us next time we have to order the bottle of wine; it is less expensive that way. SO that is how the rest of the trip went.

Just sharing how adorable my daughter is

Just sharing how adorable my daughter is

Italian way to make bruschetta

3-4 ripe from the vine tomatoes chopped

Rustic bread sliced and toasted

1 Clove of garlic chopped (I personally would use 2-3)

Bunch of fresh basil ripped and chopped with the garlic

Extra Virgin Olive oil – the extra virgin means first press of the olives – we learned that in class

Black pepper

Salt

Toast bread dry, set aside. Chop several tomatoes and place in a bowl. Chop basil and garlic together add to the tomatoes, add about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Only add salt when serving. Side note, they did say we could rub garlic on the toast if we wanted to.

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Burrata – Best I have ever had!

I don’t know how to make burrata just yet but I will learn and share, if you haven’t tried it or know what it is, it starts as mozzarella and ends with a creamy curd center mozzarella ball . I have had it before and liked it, now I LOVE it! I hope it’s not only awesome in Italy.

Easy Pasta Salad – Montreal Farmers Market

A couple of weekends ago my husband and I met up with friends of ours in Montreal for a nice long weekend. It had been many years since we have been to Canada and now that we went; I’m not sure why it has been so long, what a great city. Always something going on; so I was told; they have the most festivals. Well I couldn’t remember what my buddy SF said exactly but I just google Montreal Festivals and it said “Montreal is a city of festivals” and since the internet can’t lie it must be true.

Cosmopolitan at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel

Cosmopolitan at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel with dirty ice – YUM!!!

Since our friends have been there many times; they live closer than we do. They booked where we stayed; SF wanted to stay somewhere that we could cook in one night if we wanted to. At first I thought why we would cook in, we are in city with numerous places to eat and explore and on a mini vacation. Well it all became VERY clear to me after visiting Atwater Farmers Market.

Sangria

Sangria

I have been fortunate enough to have been to some pretty amazing places over the years, I mean I absolutely love the Caribbean and Paris was incredibly amazing but I can count on one hand how many times I have had a true “Moment” just to be in awe of something around you. The Venus de Milo in the Louvre in Paris took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. And I honestly never in a million years would have thought a Farmers Market could make me want to move and totally change the way I live my life. I totally understand how and why Europeans pick up dinner on the way home versus having a fridge and freezer fully stocked just to make dinner for the week.

Gorgeous berries

Gorgeous berries

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Vegetables displayed perfectly

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Amazing smelling artisan breads – the man behind me in line asked if I was from out of town LOL I guess not a lot of people take pictures of their bread

I also NOW understood why SF wanted a place where we could make dinner in if we wanted to. I totally wanted to cook in but sadly we didn’t, we just couldn’t pull it together in time to get back to the market before it closed; it would have been very forced and not as enjoyable for us to make it happen. I did google what I could bring back over the border though which as long as it is for personal consumption you can bring almost anything. We picked up some homemade pork sausages and kielbasa as well as some fresh pasta’s and a loaf of bread. For dinner I made up the gnocchi we bought along with some Cilantro Lime Sausages.

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The Herbs were incredible

The Herbs looked incredible

French Macaroons - they were not the famous Laduree's but damn tasty

French Macaroons – they were not the famous Laduree’s but damn tasty

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gnocchi w/butter garlic and thyme

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Dinner made at home with Atwater Farmers Market products

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Simple Delicious Pasta Salad

1 box of pasta such as campanelle, cavatappi or similar; cooked as directed – I use Tri-Colored Rotini

1 Can of small Black Olives drained

Container of cherry tomatoes – cleaned and sliced in half

Container of Feta Cheese

1 Carrot – grated

2 Red roasted peppers sliced olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper – Roast for 20-25 minutes at 350’ – or use your favorite jarred variety

I like adding sliced salami or pepperoni – but this can be omitted

Ken’s Zesty Italian dressing

Toss pasta with some Ken’s extra zesty, while this marinates the pasta, gather all the other ingredients, add all together and toss, if needed add a bit more dressing.

Sometimes the best food comes from unexpected places

Spent a long weekend in Millinocket ME, had a wonderful time and some great food.  I was unable to blog yesterday as there was no WiFi.  Thought it was pretty comical I had no problem blogging from Cancun Mexico but Northern Maine not going to happen.  I was told the next time I go up there will be. I am sure if I tried a lot harder I could have figured out a way to get it done, but we were so busy with playing and eating. We logged over 120 miles on snowmobiles; which is saying a lot since I have not been on a sled in 10+ years.  It is just like riding a bike – well at least I picked it up again pretty quickly.  Did you know that new sleds have heated hand, feet and butt warmers – Brilliant!!!!

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Mt. Katahdin this morning – view from my friends camp

The sled I borrowed for the weekend

 

 

Sunday we had plans to meet my girlfriends’ nephew and friends for lunch out of the trails then later back at her place for Sunday dinner; there were 9 of us in total.  We brought the turkey from home as they could not get one locally. There was a very lengthy discussion as to when to put the bird in the oven, at what temp, and when we HAD to be back to take it out.  There was a lot of doubt that we would be eating a moist bird.  Our back of plan was lots of gravy and plenty of wine. Well our precise planning worked; dinner was excellent, the bird was juciy and everyone was thrilled. Dessert were very yummy soft peanut butter cookies. Try them if you can.

1 Cup peanut butter

¾ Cup butter

¾ Cup Sugar

¾ Cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

2 Eggs

2 Cups Flour

1 Tsp Soda

Add a handful or two of Chocolate Chips if you want – we did

Cream butters & sugars, stir in vanilla and eggs; add flour and soda till combined.  Either use a cookie scoop or just place about a golf ball size of the dough about 3 inches apart on an ungreased pan or sheet. Cook at 375’ for 10 minutes till slightly brown, do not overcook.  Leave on the ungreased pan for a minute or two till set.  Makes approx. 36 cookies

There are times when no planning garners some pretty amazing results.  On the way home we wanted to stop for a bite to eat.  We ended up down in the Old Port area of Portland.  We saw a place parked and started walking got to the one we saw originally and it just didn’t look right.  My husband said he saw a café a few storefronts back that looked pretty good, at least there were people sitting, eating and smiling; that was his deciding criteria.

olive cafe pizza

What a delightful gem Olive Café turned out to be.  It’s a cozy little Mediterranean Restaurant, great atmosphere and wonderful food.  We each had a salad which were both wonderful and split a pizza.  I was slightly afraid of the ingredients on the pizza but just had to try it.

Chicken Shawarma Pizza – Marinated Grilled Chicken, Garlic Sauce, Chopped Tomatoes, Chopped Parsley, Chopped Pickles, Mozzarella & Feta Cheeses and Sumac garnished with Tahini sauce on a thin crispy crust that was cracker like.  First time ever having pickles on a pizza have no idea was sumac is and don’t recall ever having tahini sauce – it was excellent we ate the whole thing!