Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hidden Avocados

I am not an avocado fan, but I cannot handle seeing one go bad on our counter. (They are sometimes $2 a piece!!) Whenever there is an avocado on the verge of spoiling, I try to figure out something to do with them.

Enter my (strange yet tasty) pancake combination. It sounds weird, but they taste good. As an added bonus, those avocados give your breakfast a creamy protein boost.


Be warned, this recipe makes a lot. They are good enough to freeze for later so you can have avocado pancakes every morning!


Bananacado Pancakes (2)
 
 
Bananacado Pancakes
Makes about 25
1 cup oat flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ Hass avocados
3 ripe bananas
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tbsp melted butter
Mix together the first seven dry ingredients. In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients. Blend until creamy. Whisk together the wet and dry ingredients. Preheat a nonstick pancake pan over medium heat. Drop about 3 tablespoons of batter onto the pan at a time. Spread the lumps out a bit with the back of a rubber spatula. Cook each side of the pancakes for a couple of minutes until lightly browned. Serve warm.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Disney Review: Chefs de France

Sydney's restaurant choice in Disney World was Chefs de France located in France's Epcot pavilion. It was an obvious choice for her as she really wants to visit France and loves good food. In my opinion, this restaurant is one of the nicest that you can get on the regular dining plan for one table service credit. We all really enjoyed it. From the very French atmosphere inside, to the gourmet menu and the multi lingual (beautiful) French waiters, this restaurant really measures up.

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Here is our French bread. Not quite as good as it was in France, but still tasty.


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I will start off with the kid's menu. Harper was served a three course meal including an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. She chose Friand au fromage - Cheese puff pastry- for starters.


 
 
Harper's entrée of choice was chicken nuggets (of course) and pasta. I really don't remember seeing either of these in France. I guess we were still in Disney.


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Her dessert was chocolate ice cream to round out the meal.
 
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I thought that Syd would go for the three cheese mac and cheese, but she wanted to try something new. She ordered the Canard aux cerises (Duck Breast with Cherries) - Duck breast and leg confit with cherries, sweet potato puree and patty pan squash. It was her first time having duck outside of the nasty duck skin we were served in China. She LOVED it except for the rum soaked cherries.
 
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Since it was her "birthday" night, the waiters came out to sing to her in French and gave her this delicious dessert of chocolate mousse and pound cake.
 
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She also got the crème brulee for dessert. It was her birthday, after all. :)
 
 
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My mom got the three course meal option. For starters, she got lobster bisque. Carson loved it, and scarfed it all down.
 
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Her entrée (which Carson also loved) was Filet de saumon, aux lentilles (Broiled Salmon) - with braised lentils and bacon.                  
 
 
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Dessert was the Profiteroles au chocolat - Puff choux with vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce.
 
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My entrée was the Demi poulet fermier rôti (All-Natural Half-roasted Chicken)  with broccoli. Who would have guessed that I would choose chicken and broccoli? It was very good.
 
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My dad and I both started off with the house salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. Mine was tomato free.
 
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My dad ordered the Plat de côtes de boeuf au Cabernet (Beef Short Ribs) - braised in Cabernet with polenta. He must have scarfed down the carrots because I don't even remember seeing them. He loved the ribs, but was not a fan of the polenta. His dessert was the Fraisier sur coulis de framboise, sorbet fraise - Fresh strawberry and cream cake, raspberry sauce and strawberry sorbet.
 
 
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I definitely recommend Chefs de France while in Disney world. It's a lovely restaurant with lovely food. It is hard to find a restaurant that everyone in my family likes, and Chefs de France fit the bill.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Banana Bread Ice Cream

You have probably heard of banana bread muffins. I’m sure you’ve had a slice of actual bread. You might have even sampled a banana bread granola bar. I am pretty certain that you have never tried banana bread ice cream.



 
banana bread ice cream (6)

 


How does this delicious treat even work? Similar to cake batter ice cream, banana bread ice cream uses crumbled banana muffins in its mix. This is the perfect fix for anyone desiring some delicious banana bread in the heat of the summer where a warm slice of carbs is often passed by for a cooler treat. Now you can have your banana bread and stay cool too.



 

 

Banana Bread Ice Cream
makes 1 quart
2 ½ cups milk
6 banana muffins
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tbsp. vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt

Make the muffins, and allow them to cool. In a blender, blend together four of the muffins, the vanilla, maple syrup, butter, salt, sugar, milk, and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Crumble the remaining two muffins into chocolate chip sized pieces. Spread out onto a plate and freeze for 1-2 hours.

Take out the frozen muffin bits to thaw slightly. Using an ice cream machine (mine is Cuisinart), pour the milk mixture into the frozen attachment bowl for the machine. Run the machine for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the muffin pieces into the ice cream, and run the machine for another minute or so. Put in a sealed container and freeze for 3 hours. Thaw for 15 minutes before serving.
 
 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

An Arrow Card

Everybody seems to be using random arrows on their cards, so I decided to try one out for myself. The arrows point to a alphabet stamp with "hi" highlighted. I think the randomness of the patterns and colors of the arrows makes it fun.


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Friday, July 18, 2014

A Summer Salad

A fresh, crispy salad is a perfect lunch or side dish on a hot summer day. Bright yellow corn atop leafy greens and fresh cilantro coated with a homemade black bean dressing make a great summer time meal. A good portion of cheese helps to cut the heat from the spicy dressing. Serve this salad on its own or with some grilled chicken or steak, and I promise that you won't be sorry.

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Corn and Black Bean Salad
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 head iceberg lettuce
1- 15 ounce can black beans, drained
¼ cup reserved bean liquid
¼ cup plus 3 tbsp cilantro
1 small onion, finely sliced
½ bell pepper, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp oil
3 tbsp canned jalapeno peppers
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 ½ cups cooked corn off the cob
 
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. In a high speed blender or food processor, combine the beans, bean liquid, ¼ cup cilantro, onion and pepper mixture, jalapenos, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Blend until creamy. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Before serving, wash and dry the two heads of lettuce. Cut them up into bite size pieces. Toss the lettuce with the corn, cheese, and remaining 3 tablespoons of cilantro. Pour the dressing over top and stir to coat.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Peruvian Dinner

Two and a half years ago I took a mission trip down to Lima, Peru. We worked in two different neighborhoods to run a Vacation Bible School, and we spent one day cleaning up and working on an orphanage.



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Peru is a geographically diverse country. There are miles and miles of beautiful coasts (filled with chicken coops for some reason), mountains, dessert, and rain forest. I was able to experience the ocean and dessert on my trip. It was beautiful.
 
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The Peruvian people are friendly and welcoming. I was so excited to try out my Spanish because this was my first time in a Spanish speaking country. Looking back, Peruvian Spanish was so much easier to understand than Dominican Spanish.

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My trip to Peru was an amazing experience that I will never forget. My only regret was eating the chicken that led to me having an awful bacterial infection. I was sick for weeks, and the effects lasted for months. Let's just say I will never eat any chicken from Peru again. My fear of getting another piece of infected chicken did not prevent me from trying a Peruvian chicken recipe, though. In my own kitchen I was able to make sure it was cooked thoroughly.


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Because Peru is so geographically diverse, the food is very diverse too. The popular fish dish called ceviche can be found near the coast, cuy (guinea pig) is a specialty in the Andes, and the rainforest yields a variety of produce. Potatoes and rice are staples, and aji peppers are used frequently to spice things up.
 
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This chicken stew is called seco de pollo (dry chicken) because you brown the meat first without any liquid and then later add in the broth. It was not bad, and was all of our favorite part of the meal.
 
Seco de Pollo
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large golden potatoes, cut into chunks
2 large carrots, cut into 1” cubes
3 aji amarillo peppers, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups chicken broth
½ green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper, to taste
 
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan, cut each breast in half, and add the onions. Cook until golden, about 7 minutes. Stir the bell pepper, garlic, and aji peppers to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes before pouring in the chicken broth. Bring the broth to a simmer with the cilantro, carrots, and potatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through and the carrots and potatoes are tender. Stir in the peas and cook for 5 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro and seasoned to taste.
 
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Peruvian rice is made by sautéing garlic in a little oil before adding in the water and rice. Harper loved it, but Syd was not a fan of the garlicky flavor.
 
Arroz
2 cups rice
4 cups water
¼ cup oil
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden. Pour in the water, cover, and bring it to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes with the lid on or until all the water is absorbed. Season to taste and fluff with a fork.


 
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These boiled potatoes served with a cold cheese sauce are very popular in Peru. I remember seeing them in restaurants, and Sydney even ate the sauce once. They were not awful, but the fact that the dish is served cold threw us all off a bit.
 
Papa a la Huancaína
1 cup evaporated milk
16 ounces queso fresco
½ tsp turmeric
6 saltine crackers
3 aji amarillo peppers, seeded and diced
3 tbsp oil
6-8 small golden potatoes
1 leaf lettuce
black olives
1 boiled egg, peeled and halved
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine the milk and peppers into a high speed blender. Blend until creamy. Add the queso fresco, turmeric, oil, and saltine crackers. Blend until creamy. Cover the potatoes in a pot of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Allow the potatoes to cool and then peel them. Cut the potatoes in half and place them on top of the leaf of lettuce. Pour the sauce over top, and garnish with the olives and egg. Season to taste.
 
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None of us left our Peruvian table hungry, but I will not be cooking any of these recipes again. At least I can assure you that it was pretty authentic since we ate similar things in Peru.
 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Celebrate!

Two of the little girls I babysit have birthdays today and tomorrow. They are turning 8 and 9, and I cannot believe it. Kids grow up so fast! When I met the soon to be 8 year old, she could barely talk, had just turned 2, and was super tiny. She's still pretty tiny, but is full of spunk and energy. The 9 year old is extremely smart and has a lot of the same interests as I did at her age. I'm blessed to have both of them in my lives, and such special birthdays call for celebration!

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It's party time!