Total prep time: about 20 minutes
Total cook time: 20 minutes
Over the past 2 years I have recently gotten addicted to cooking and eating curry dishes. We’ve tried so many and we have loved them all. This one came out of my “chicken cookbook” from a food and wine magazine cookbook. And I have to say it is definitely on par with the curry dishes I’ve tried at restaurants. This one has more of an “island” taste to it due in large part to the banana being the front and center ingredient. Don’t let that fool you though, it’s not a sweet dish – the banana gives it a nice gentle flavor that matches perfectly with the chicken. I always pair this dish with jasmine or basmati rice. It is a fairly simple yet filling dish that yields about 4-5 large servings.
Here is what you will need:
2 large bananas (nice, yellow ones), cut into pieces
2 tablespoons of red curry powder
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of dry mustard
3 tablespoons butter
Grated zest of 1 lime
4 teaspoons of lime juice (from the lime you used to grate the zest)
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
¾ cup water
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (optional)
Preheat your oven to 450. If you own a rice cooker, now is the time to put your rice on so that it has time to cook and steam. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can wait and put your rice on after you put the chicken in the oven. That way your chicken and your rice finish about the same time.
First you want to make your sauce. Using your food processor or a blender, add the bananas, curry powder, coriander, dry mustard, butter, lime zest, lime juice, salt pepper and ¼ cup of the water. Puree it thoroughly and when you’re finished, you should have a nice brownish-orange sauce.
Using a sharp knife, make about 2 deep cuts in each chicken breast. This will allow the curry sauce to seep into the chicken better. Place the chicken into a roasting pan or dish. I often use a large corning ware casserole dish. Pour the curry sauce over the chicken and make sure each piece is evenly coated. Cook it uncovered in the bottom third of your oven for about 20 minutes or until your chicken is done – don’t overcook it. I usually slice into one to make sure it is done but 20 minutes is usually adequate time to roast a chicken breast, especially when a sauce is involved.
Take it out of the oven and take the chicken out of the pan. You should have quite a bit of sauce left in the bottom. If it is extra thick, you can pour it into a saucepan and add your last ½ cup of water and whisk it until it is the consistency you want. Add more water if you like a thinner sauce, cut back on the ½ cup of water if you like a thicker sauce. I’ve found that my sauce is actually still quite thin when I pull the pan out of the oven so I usually omit this step.
Last, if you want to make it really pretty you can spoon up some fresh rice in a bowl, place a chicken breast on top, and ladle some sauce on and then sprinkle with chopped parsley.
For our resident vegetarian, I used a “soy chicken breast” and baked it with the sauce in the oven in a separate dish. I served it the same way over rice with a sprinkle of parsley. It got very good reviews.
A note about the ingredients:
Jasmine or Basmati Rice can be found in the Asian food section (not with the rice) at Wal-Mart and most grocery stores. The curry powder, ground coriander and dry mustard can all be found in the spice section at your local grocery store. Many people like to use a “curry paste” but I’ve found making my own curry sauce is just as easy and the paste will go bad in the fridge if you don’t use it within a certain amount of time after you open it. The spices keep in the pantry and you can use them for other recipes. Besides, your typical Thai red curry paste wouldn’t really work in this recipe because we’re going for a milder flavor. Take the few extra minutes to make your own curry sauce – you will be glad you did.
Total Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 40 minutes
This is a very delicious recipe that came from a dear friend of mine, CJ. She made them for me earlier this year when I had company at my home. Every single person raved about the dessert so I had to ask her for the recipe. Talk about sweet butter goodness that will melt in your mouth. Each bite is moist and soft and it is so easy to make! They are quite rich so I usually cut my squares fairly small which means it makes a nice big plate of goodies. This is one of those “almost from scratch” recipes that can fool anyone into thinking you made them completely from scratch.
Here is what you will need:
For the base:
1 box of yellow cake mix
1 stick of butter, melted
For the Topping:
8 oz cream cheese softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
16 oz powdered sugar
For the Base: First, preheat your oven to 350 and lightly spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Then in a medium bowl, combine the yellow cake mix, egg, melted butter and mix well. Pat it into your pan. I like to put a little nonstick spray on my fingers and do it by hand.
For the topping: In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until it is smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter and beat until it is all well blended. Last, add the powdered sugar slowly until you have a beautiful creamy consistency. Spread this over your cake mixtures and bake for about 40-50 minutes. Make sure you don’t over bake – they are “ooey gooey bars” and you want them to still be super moist. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my oven cooks fast so I set the timer for 30 minutes and keep an eye out and judge by sight when to pull them out. You want them to be a nice, deep golden brown all over. It will look like they are not done – but trust your eyes – they are done. Let them sit for at least an hour before you cut them.
In a large saucepan or a very large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning until browned about 10-12 minutes. Take them out and put them on a plate to cool.
In the same pan (leave the oil and little juice brown bits from the sausage), add the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic to the pan and cook covered over medium-low heat until the veggies start to soften and turn translucent (about 6-7 minutes).
Then, add the rice, chicken broth, sausage, cayenne, bay leaves and salt and bring it to a boil. Cover it quickly then reduce the heat and simmer it on medium low for 15 minutes. Although you will be tempted to stir it, check on it, etc – do not take the lid off. Walk away…. Let it cook for 15 minutes.
After that, stir in the chicken and cover it again for about 7-8 minutes until the chicken is done and everything else is tender. Leave it covered but take it off the heat and let it stand for about 2 minutes before you remove the lid to serve. Make sure you find the bay leaves and remove them before you serve it. They are used more as a tool to flavor the food and I wouldn’t recommend eating them.
A quick note about the ingredients:
You can make this dish as spicy as you want with your selection of sausage. You can also make it more Cajun by using the Andouille sausages – pork sausage that has been heavily smoked and has a lot of spice. We like to use the mild Italian sausages for a slight kick. You can find any of those sausages in the meat section at the grocery store. When it comes to rice, I love to use jasmine rice. You won’t generally find it in the rice section (at least not at our Wal-Mart) but if you check the Asian food section they almost always have it.
As for the garlic – use the fresh if you can. I know so many folks that are timid about using fresh garlic but you can really taste the difference! Look in the onion section at your grocery store and you will find heads of garlic sold loosely like onions. A nice head of garlic will be firm to the touch and not have any brown or mushy spots. I’ve used white and light purple garlic but the taste is really the same. Under the skin you will see little sections – those are cloves. A quick way to prepare garlic: separate however many cloves you need (leave the little skins around the cloves). Using a sharp knife, carefully slice off the stem end. Put the garlic on your cutting board and lay the flat end of your knife on top. Using the heel of your hand, give it a good smack. This will loosen the skins away from your clove of garlic and you can separate it out much easier than painstakingly peeling each clove by hand. As an added bonus, it is already a little smashed and ready for mincing.
Vegetarian version: Substitute soy sausage crumbles for the sausage and soy chicken for the chicken, and vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Follow the same instructions.
Total Prep Time: about 15 minutes
Total Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
So here is another sweet recipe from scratch. I found this one on the Nestle website about 2 years ago and adapted it just a little for our family. It is another favorite for all ages – and it is so very easy to prepare. It is one of those “get me fork and leave me with the pan” recipes. Even though they make a lot of brownies, they never last long in my house.
Here is what you will need:
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter softened
1 ¾ cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1, 11oz package of butterscotch flavored chips
First, preheat your oven to 350 and lightly spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Then in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate, larger bowl beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until combined. Beat in the eggs until you have a nice creamy mixture. While you’re still mixing, slowly add in the flour mixture until it is all combined. Your batter will be kind of thick but this is normal. Stir in 1 cup of butterscotch chips and then spread it into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Take the remaining butterscotch chips and sprinkle them on top. Bake it for 30-40 minutes or until it passes the “toothpick test” (a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the brownies).
Make sure you don’t overcook them – my oven cooks very quickly and I set the timer for 25 minutes so I can watch them because they never cook longer than 30 minutes. They will be golden brown when you pull them out. Let them sit and cool for about 45 minutes before you cut them – this will allow them to firm up a bit. They will still be warm though and the chewy goodness will be hard to resist!
Crock Pot Chocolate Peanut Candies
Total Prep Time: 5 minutes in the beginning and about 15 minutes at the end
Total Cook Time: 2 hours
Set Time for the candies: 1 ½ hours
I got this recipe from a dear friend of mine 2 Christmases ago. The recipe can make over 100 candies. It is extremely easy – all you need is a few ingredients, a crock pot, wax paper and a little counter space. I love that I can put these onto cook in 5 minutes, come back in 2 hours do about 20 minutes of work then walk away again for at least 1 ½ hours. As an added bonus they will keep in a sealed container for about 2 weeks. This one is definitely a favorite around our house – my Dad requests them at almost every holiday. And yes, his birthday counts as a holiday.
Here is what you will need:
2, 16 ounce jars of salted, roasted peanuts
1, 12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 German chocolate bar (baking section)
32 ounces of white almond bark (16 tiles)
A crock pot
Empty both jars of peanuts into the bottom of your crock pot. Sprinkle the entire bag of chocolate chips on top of the peanuts. Break the German chocolate bar into roughly 4 pieces and add them next. Last, break/cut the almond bark into tiles and put it on top.
Cook in crock pot on LOW for 2 hours with the lid on. Make sure you put it on low – we accidentally tried to make them last year and cooked them on high by accident. It was a very sad outcome for the chocolate peanut candies. Although my Dad loves them so much that he ate some of them burnt peanuts and all.
After 2 hours, stir mixture with a wooden spoon until completely mixed together. You will know it’s all mixed because it will be the color of milk chocolate. Spread wax paper out on your kitchen counters. Then drop by teaspoonful onto wax paper. Let them harden (about 1 ½ hours on your kitchen counter). Store them in an air tight container or enjoy them right away.
A quick note about the ingredients:
You can find the salted peanuts on the “salty snack” aisle at the grocery store – where they have the flavored almonds, caramel popcorn, etc. Make sure you get the salted peanuts. My Dad made the recipe once and used unsalted and he said it just wasn’t the same. You will find the rest of the ingredients on the baking aisle. Make sure you check the ounces on the containers. 32 ounces of almond bark usually requires 1 package and 1/3 of another package.