Friday, August 31, 2012

Shrimp Tacos

As you can probably tell, we like tacos . . . all kinds of tacos (Shredded Chicken Tacos, Shredded Beef Tacos, Chili Rubbed Salmon Tacos and  Taco Salad.  We also eat ground beef tacos but use the super simple taco seasoning from Old El Paso (EF, DF, GF).  We generally have some kind of taco about twice a month.  They are just so easy and kid-friendly!  

My husband came up with this delicious recipe after we ate the shrimp tacos at Wahoo's Fish Taco.  According to their menu, Wahoo’s sautés the shrimp in a Polynesian marinade.  While I don’t know how close our recipe is to the original, it tastes very similar.  My husband is the mastermind behind these tacos.  I made the ones pictured below.  I think I did a pretty good job.  The next time he makes them, I will have him double check my measurements for each ingredient.  As with all recipes, try variations to find the combination you like best! 

Shrimp Tacos

2 pounds medium shrimp
1 T olive oil
1-2 t garlic powder
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce*
1 T honey

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and sprinkle with dry ingredients.  Sautee about 3 minutes or until pink and slightly curled.  Drain any liquid that cooks out of the shrimp.  Then add soy sauce and honey.  Sautee until shrimp are coated and sauce thickens slightly.

Serve on warmed soft corn tortillas and top with your favorite taco toppings.  We like to top ours with cabbage, avocado, salsa and cheese.  Makes about 12 tacos.

* For those on a gluten-free diet, be sure to use a gluten-free soy sauce.

Monday, August 27, 2012

S'mores Cereal Bars

We had some friends over for dinner last night.  I wanted to serve a fun end of summer after dinner treat.  I found a couple of recipes for S'mores Cereal Bars on Pinterest.  I used the recipe found on Country Cleaver for S'mores Graham Krispie Treats.  But I liked the idea to prefreeze your chocolate chips and use a 13x9 pan from the recipe for Golden Graham S'more Bars on Macaroni and Cheesecake.   I also used 1 cup of mini-chocolate chips in place of the regular chocolate chips.  I mixed in 3/4 of a cup and sprinkled about 1/4 cup on top.  I am not going to reprint this recipe since I really can't claim it.  Please click the links above for the recipes.   

The our family and friends loved these.  I think my husband's comment says it best, "I can't stop eating these!"


Friday, August 24, 2012

Balsamic Vinaigrette

I have been making this dressing for years.  It is good, easy and very allergy friendly!  I adapted it from a recipe I found on the Food Network by Emeril Lagasse.  I reduced the oil and salt and used garlic powder in place of fresh garlic.  Using garlic powder makes me think I can keep it in my refrigerator longer and get more use out of it.  We were invited over to our friends' house for pizza night this week.  To go with our pizza, I tossed up a yummy Italian salad made with romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, seedless cucumber, mini sweet bell pepper, pepperoni and a mozzarella/provolone cheese blend. (I forgot the black olives but they would have been a nice addition).  I hope you enjoy this dressing on your favorite salad!

Balsamic Vinaigrette
Adapted from Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette by Emeril Lagasse on Food Network 2003

¼ c balsamic vinegar
½ c olive oil
2 t brown sugar
1 t garlic powder
¼ t seasoned salt
½ t freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in an airtight container and shake to mix.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours prior to serving.  Shake before each use.
Makes 6 2 Tablespoon servings

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cream Cheese Banana Bread {Egg-free}

I usually buy three pounds of bananas a week.  While we love bananas and eat most of them, I still often have a few at the end of the week that are little overripe for my taste.  So, I am always looking for delicious recipes that call for ripened bananas.  I hesitate to post yet another banana recipe but the ones I have posted have by far been the most popular on my blog.  My recipe for banana muffins is hands down the most popular recipe on my blog.  I think part of the reason it is so popular is that it doesn't contain eggs or dairy.  Plus, I must say they are just really good muffins!  One slight flaw with the muffin recipe is that it doesn't easily convert into a recipe for banana bread.  If you try to make bread with that recipe, it will have a gooey crater in the middle.

So, I found a recipe for cream cheese banana bread.  I originally saw the recipe at my sister's house.  She had gotten it from one of her in-laws.  I still didn't know where it originated.  After little research, I found a cream cheese banana bread recipe on the Tasty Kitchen website.  The bread is identical to the recipe my sister gave me but includes a cinnamon topping.  After further research, I found a Southern Living recipe almost identical to the egg-free recipe on tasty kitchen.  The southern living website also had a recipe without the cinnamon topping.  My conclusion, I am giving the credit for this recipe to Southern Living.  I think due to the cream cheese and banana, you can simply omit the egg and it still works!  I made it tonight without the cinnamon topping.  While I like bananas and I like cinnamon, I am not sure how I feel about them together.  Due to all the confusion with three different recipes, I am going to reprint it below.  Plus, I have a feeling I may make some changes to the recipe in the future and this will allow for an easy update.  I made one loaf and twelve muffins.

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread
This recipe was adapted from Southern Living Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread.

¾ c unsalted butter, softened
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened 
2 c sugar
3 c all-purpose flour
½ t baking powder
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
½ t vanilla extract
1 ½ c mashed bananas (about 4 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.  Mix in bananas and vanilla.  Stir in pecans, if using.  Spoon batter into 2 greased 8- x 4-inch loaf pans. 

Bake at 350° about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cover with foil the last 15 minutes to reduce over browning, if needed.  Cool bread in pans on wire racks.  
Makes 2 loaves

To bake muffins, spoon batter evenly into 24 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 350° for about 20-25 minutes.  Cool in pans 10 minutes.  Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.   
Makes 24 muffin

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chicken and Green Bean Stir Fry

A Chinese restaurant around the corner from the building I used to work in, had a dish called chicken and green beans.  I ordered it almost every time I ate there over a three year period.  Since that time, I have been trying to recreate my own version of that dish.  This recipe had a surprising number of trials before I found the right combination of ingredients.  I was finally happy with the way this one turned out last night.  I think we found a keeper!

Green beans are a pretty tough vegetable.  I found that steaming the green beans prior to adding them to the stir fry results in a much more desirable texture. 

Chicken and Green Bean Stir Fry  

1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed and halved
1 lb chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 T olive oil         
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ t ground ginger
½ t freshly ground black pepper
1 t cornstarch
¼ c water
¼ c reduced-sodium soy sauce*
2 T honey

Preheat skillet and add oil.  Steam green beans in a steamer pan for about 10 min or until tender when pricked with a fork.  While the green beans are steaming, add chicken and garlic to hot skillet and sprinkle with ginger and pepper.  Sauté chicken and garlic until browned on the outside and juices are clear.  Add green beans to skillet.  Mix water, cornstarch and soy sauce.  Pour over chicken and green beans.  Add honey and stir until incorporated and sauce begins to thicken.  Serve over your favorite rice.  
Serves 4

* For those on a gluten-free diet, be sure to use a gluten-free soy sauce.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake {Egg-free}

There are countless recipes for "no-bake" cheesecakes that do not contain egg.  But it is really hard to find a recipe for an egg-free baked cheesecake.  Don't get me wrong, the "no-bake" varieties can be really good but they are generally softer and lack that baked texture we so love to treat ourselves to, especially when dining out.  After some trial and error, I came up with a baked cheesecake recipe.  This chocolate chip cheesecake recipe is actually a variation of a plain Cheesecake (EF, GF) recipe I created.  The plain version can easily be made gluten-free, as well as egg-free.

Update (01/09/15):  I increased the cooking temperature up to 325(previously 300o).  It doesn't make a huge difference but the cheesecake turns slightly more golden and has a slightly improved texture at the higher temperature.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

2 c chocolate cookie crumbs*
6 T butter or margarine (softened)
1/4 c sugar
3 pkg 8 oz cream cheese
1 c sugar
1 pkg gelatin
3 T cold water
1 c (8oz) evaporated milk
2 t vanilla
1 t all-purpose flour
1 c mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Be sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature prior to starting.

Preheat oven to 325o.  Mix cookie crumbs, butter and 1/4 c sugar and press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a spring form pan.  Set aside while preparing the filling.

Sprinkle gelatin over water to soften.  Set aside.  Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually add sugar and vanilla.  Bring evaporated milk to a soft boil.  Remove from heat and add softened gelatin, stirring until dissolved.   Let cool slightly.  Very gradually while mixing constantly, add the milk and gelatin mixture to the cream cheese mixture.  Once fully incorpoated, scrap the sides of bowl to make sure all of the cream cheese is mixed in.  Toss 1/3 c of the chocolate chips with 1 t flour to coat (keeps them from sinking).  Mix coated chocolate chips into the cheesecake batter.  Pour into pan over prepared crust.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake at 325o for 1 hour or until top is lightly browned.  Turn oven off.  Leave cake in oven and set the door ajar for 1 hour.  Chill overnight or 4 hours before serving.  Serves 8

I melted some of the remaining chocolate chips in a freezer storage bag, snipped the corner and drizzled over fresh strawberries for a decorative topping.

* I licked scrapped the icing out of the greater portion of a package of Oreo cookies.  Then I put the chocolate wafers in a large plastic bag and crushed with a rolling pin.  Once crushed I measured the two cups.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cuban Flank Steak

About a month ago, I posted a recipe for beef fajitas.  I bought the meat for the fajitas at a retail warehouse shopping club.  The meat came in a double pack.  We cooked one up immediately for the fajitas and froze the other for a later use.  I wanted to do something different for the later use and found a great recipe for grilled Cuban Flank Steak on Pinterest.   

Cuban Flank Steak - The marinade we used was exactly as described in this recipe.  Click to link to the recipe.

Smoker and Convection Grill Instructions
The original recipe tells you to grill on each side for a few minutes and warns to not overcook or your steak will be tough.  We slow cooked ours in a kamado style smoker and convection grill and the meat turned out so tender.  If you happen to have a similar grill or smoker, Set the dome temperature to 300 oF for a grill temperature of 280oF and cook for about 1½ hours.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sauteed Squash

Here is a simple, delicious recipe for cooking fresh squash!  My husband thought he didn't like squash until I sauteed it for him.  I use the same recipe for cooking zucchini and I have even mixed the two.  This recipe is a great way to enjoy some of your local summer produce!

Sautéed Squash 

3 medium fresh squash or zucchini
1 medium yellow or brown onion, chopped
1 t minced garlic, about 2 cloves
2 T butter or margarine*
1 t seasoned salt
½ t freshly ground black pepper

Wash squash and peel off any blemishes.  Cut off ends and cut in half the long way.  Cut each half in half to make four long sections and slice.  In a large skillet (with lid) melt butter or margarine.  Add squash, onion and garlic to skillet.  Cook covered on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until squash softens.  Remove lid and sauté an additional 3-5 minutes or until excess liquid is cooked off.   
Serves 8

*For those allergic to dairy, make sure your margarine dairy-free.