Jumbo Banana Cookies

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When I was really young, there was this song that came out by the R & B singer Monica, called “Don’t Take It Personal (One of Them Days)”. The chorus goes like this:

“It’s just one of them days
That a girl goes through
When i’m angry inside
Don’t wanna take it out on you
Just one of them things
Don’t take it personal
I just wanna be all alone
And you think i treat you wrong”

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 As someone who writes in her spare time, I can usually come up with something pretty witty/interesting to begin a post with, no matter if it’s random, awkward or even self depreciating. It’s usually my goal to do so anyway- I know we’re all mostly here for the food, but it doesn’t hurt to say a little bit more about anything.

However, that’s just not going to be the case for this post. As my girl Monica says, it’s just “one of them days.” Long story short, on a scale of 1 to 100, today (and the past few days to be honest) were…definitely not 100. Or 80. Or 50.

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When these kinds of days happen, my propensity towards creativity is virtually nonexistent. It’s difficult for me to even say much of anything to anybody in real life when I get like this, so my online communication skills are also kinda taking a hit. I did try to come up with a witty, interesting post. I tried. But I just got nothing for you guys today. It just wasn’t working. I finally threw up my hands and decided to just post and let the recipe and pics speak for themselves.

Please don’t take it personal. It’s just one of them days. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better next time I post.

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This recipe was actually a follow up to the Banana Bread Scones that I made earlier. I had a couple of leftover bananas, so I just decided to make another dessert with them. Waste not, want not.

I”m very picky when it comes to my cookies. I know what I like and what I don’t like and there’s usually not a lot of wiggle room allowed. It’s pretty simple really: I like them thick and I like them soft. And iced- I actually love them when they’re iced. Because as I keep telling my sister Ashley, life is just better with icing.

I must say, these banana cookies did not disappoint. Thick, soft and and yet sturdy, I would have to say that they’re like a much denser & slightly chewy banana bread that still manages to just melt in your mouth. I think you’ll like them should you decide to try them out.

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Jumbo Banana Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  1/2 cup shortening
  •  1/2 cup butter, softened
  •  1 cup white sugar
  •  2 eggs
  •  1 cup mashed bananas
  •  1/2 cup evaporated milk
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  •  3 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1 cup chopped walnuts
  •  2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  •  2 tablespoons butter, softened
  •  1/4 cup evaporated milk
  •  1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Directions

1. Cream together shortening, 1/2 cup butter, white sugar.

2. Add eggs, bananas, vanilla, 1/2 cup evaporated milk and vinegar and mix until light and creamy.

3. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to other mixture. Add nuts.

4.Chill dough one hour in refrigerator.

5. Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 minutes. Let cool then, frost them.

6. To Make Frosting: Mix 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar with 2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine, 1/4 cup evaporated milk, and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Beat until soft. Spread on tops of cooled cookies.

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Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole

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Happy Easter everyone! I’m a Christian, so today I’m celebrating Resurrection Sunday (Jesus Christ’s resurrection), but if you’re not a Christian and just celebrate ‘Easter Bunny Easter’, or if you’re a Jewish and celebrating Passover, then I wish you a happy holiday with your friends and family. True to Cooking is My Sport fashion, I’m sharing some trivia with you guys:

  1.  The name, “Easter” comes from a goddess: Her name is Eostre and She was the Mother Goddess of the Saxons of Northern Europe. She was, according to Grimm (yes, one of those Grimms), “goddess of the growing light of spring.” 
  2. Hot cross buns come from the wheat cakes that were baked in honor of Eostre. As part of the adoption of traditions, Christians added the cross on the top and had the cakes blessed by the Church. In England, it was believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the house would protect it from fire and bring good luck for the coming year.
  3.  Easter eggs once acted as birth certificates. During the 19th century, when many families were unable to get to the closest town hall to file a birth certificate, an egg would be accepted as a method of identification. The egg would be dyed and inscribed with the person’s name and birth date. It was completely legal and accepted by courts and other authorities

Source

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Besides the Easter holiday, today also  marks the final day of the Challah bread series we’ve been doing this week. You guys finally get to find out what I did with the three loaves of braided Traditional Challah and the Vanilla Bean Challah that I made (y’know, besides just eat it warm and slathered with butter). This time, instead of finding another way of doing Challah, I wanted to use it as a main ingredient in another dish. I went with a recipe that my twin sister has been asking me to make for a while now that she saw on the Food Network.

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I love this recipe for so many reasons- not least of which is how awesome it tastes, which I’ll get to in a minute. What I really liked about it was that it let find a use for the ‘end’ pieces of the challah loaves. Don’t look at me like that. I know I’m not the only one that usually ends up throwing them out. Let’s face it: no one really wants them-until now that is. At first I was concerned that only 9 slices of bread wouldn’t be enough to make a substantial casserole. I was also worried that they would be overly soaked and ultimately soggy from the egg custard.  Fortunately, I was surprised. The bread puffed up really well when baked. Challah’s a pretty sturdy bread, so it was more than able to stand up to the egg mixture. I will say this though: if you’re using plain old Texas Toast bread, then I would think about bumping it up maybe two or three slices, as it’s much softer than Challah. It also doesn’t taste near as good, but you guys knew that already, right?

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Okay, now to the good part: what does it taste like? Well first of all, what really (and I mean REALLY) sets this dish apart from any normal overnight French Toast Bake is the Coconut Almond Crust that’s baked on top of it. It’s like a crunchy, sugary almost candied carmelized effect that is doubly awesome when contrasted with the soft texture of the baked challah. If you’re not entirely convinced, then let me say up front that I’m not even a fan of coconut at all. I don’t care for the texture or overall flavor…and I STILL couldn’t imagine eating this dish without the coconut almond crust. It’s that good.

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As you can see, I sprinkled powdered sugar on top of mine and added some berries and syrup, but my mom and sister said that they thought it was good enough to eat all on its own. If you’re looking for an easy dish to make for breakfast or brunch guests that will still knock their socks off, this is the one to try. Or maybe you’re like me and baked a crap load of Challah or other sturdy bread that you have to do something with to avoid letting it spoil. Make this. You won’t regret it.

And I guess that does it for the Challah Series. Until I find another one to try. Then it’ll probably get a reboot. Don’t put it past me.

Challah- 3 Ways

Traditional Challah

Sweet Vanilla Bean Challah

Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole {Challah}

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Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole

Recipe Courtesy of FoodNetwork.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, for greasing dish
  • 9 slices Texas Toast or other thick-sliced bread
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

         Coconut-Almond Crust:

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.

2. For the French toast: Lay the bread slices in one layer (it’s OK if they overlap a little) on a baking sheet. Bake the slices (to dry them out a little) for 6 minutes, then flip and bake for 6 minutes more. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Dunk each bread slice in the egg mixture to coat thoroughly and shingle the slices in the buttered casserole dish. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

4. For the coconut-almond crust: Put 1/2 cup of the coconut, 1/3 cup of the almonds, granulated sugar, flour and salt in a food processor and process until very fine. Add the butter, egg and egg yolk and process well to form a smooth paste.

5. To assemble the casserole: Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the coconut-almond mixture evenly over the soaked bread slices. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 3 tablespoons coconut and bake until puffed and lightly golden and the custard is set (the center of the casserole will no longer jiggle when shaken), 45 to 50 minutes.

6. Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving, or serve at room temperature. Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and berries if using.

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Vanilla Bean Challah

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There are some things that simply cannot be improved upon- so far as I’m concerned anyway.

Buttermilk pancakes drowning in syrup for breakfast (and lunch….and dinner if desired). There’s no improving on that.

Ella Fitzgerald playing  in my kitchen on an early, sunny morning like this one. Top that if you can (you won’t, trust me).

The Jenifer Ehle & Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice movie. Perfection itself.

Days off work, Coldstone ice cream, the entire Christmas season, classic musicals, the book Forever Amber, my baby niece’s smile- these are all things that I’m convinced cannot be improved because they’ve simply reached that level of perfection that can’t be topped or duplicated.

And now I think I’m starting to sound like Maria von Trapp listing off my favorite things, so yeah… moving on.

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Challah’s one of those things that I didn’t think it was possible to improve upon. After the success I had with my first, traditional Challah recipe, I was at first content to add it to my recipe box as a staple recipe and just move on. But then, I started thinking: could it actually be bumped up to another level? What if it were just a tad bit sweeter than the original? And what if I found a way to add one of my all time favorite flavors to it? (Vanilla)

All of these questions ultimately led to me making another Challah recipe, this time more sweeter and with the addition of Vanilla. Why I decided to make another six braid loaf of Challah when I already had two others sitting in my kitchen is a mystery even to me. Don’t worry though: none of it went to waste. Tomorrow’s recipe will prove it.

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Traditional Challah on the left, Vanilla Bean Challah on the right; which one do you guys think is prettier?

So I know that I had mentioned before in one of my previous posts that I’m kinda sorta maybe a cheap skate when it comes to buying what Ina Garten calls “good ingredients”. No shame in my game, guys. I’m the kind of cook that is willing to make due with the generic non-name brand products in the grocery store. I hunt for deals 95% of the time and pass on the full prices…mostly. Depending on my mood and my desire to try a particular recipe, there are occasions where I’m willing to bite the bullet and buy the pricier ingredients. This was one of those cases. I just couldn’t see a way around it; I had to use the real thing. So I went ahead and bought a vial containing 2 vanilla beans. I even included it in the pictures in case you guys didn’t believe me. So let’s give a cheer for Jess…and for her wallet.

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Turns out, challah IS one of those things that can be improved upon. Because this stuff is friggin fantastic. I’m really proud of how it turned out, considering that I did the one baking method that I’m throwing super shade at right now: baking bread on a sheet pan. I just really wanted to make a long, braided loaf of challah like the ones I see in cookbooks and magazines and using the sheet pan was the only way it would work. This required me to let the dough rise for a much MUCH longer time than the recipe called for…like an extra hour longer. On both the first and second rise. Yeah, I was determined that this stuff was going to work out. The sheet pan would NOT beat me this time. And I really don’t think that it did- the look, taste and texture of this bread is proof of that.

Another plus to this was that I was left with an empty vanilla bean that I remembered  Ina Garten giving me a useful tip with which to use it for. I filled a medium sized jar with sugar and placed the vanilla bean inside of it. Two days later, I opened the jar and smelled with a smile: I know have about 2 cups of Vanilla Sugar to plan a recipe around. Win.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s last recipe in our Challah Series.

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Vanilla Bean Challah

Recipe Courtesy of Alwaysorderdessert.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

 (Makes one large braided loaf)

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar or agave syrup + 1 teaspoon sugar for the yeast proofing
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the rising bowl
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg for the egg wash
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 4 to 4.5 cups all purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, proof your yeast by whisking with 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1 cup of lukewarm water. Set aside and let sit until the yeast starts to foam. Once it has foamed, pour into the base of an electric mixer and used the whisk attachment to mix in the olive oil, the two eggs (one at a time), sugar, and salt.

2. Split the vanilla bean and scrape all the seed into the mixer. Switch to the dough hook and slowly add the flour, one cup at a time until it comes together and pulls away from the sides. Allow to knead in the mixer until smooth. (About 5 minutes.) If the dough seems too wet, add a little more flour, ¼ cup at a time.

3. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a ball. Grease a large bowl well with olive oil and place the dough ball in. Turn once to cover the top and cover with plastic wrap.

4. Place in a warm place to rise for an hour or until doubled in size. (I use my turned-off oven as the heat from the pilot light is perfect temperature.) Use your fingers to gently poke the air out of the dough, roll back into a ball, grease, cover and let rise again for another 30-45 minutes.

5. Once the dough has finished the second rise, roll out onto a floured surface and gently knead into a smooth ball. Cut into six equal size balls and roll each one into a tapered snake shape, about 10 inches long each. Arrange the six rolls next to each other in a row and pinch the ends together. To braid, start from the right and go over two, under one, and over two. Tuck in closer and repeat again with the right-most piece of dough repeating until the entire loaf is braided. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Beat the last egg and use a pasty brush to lightly brush over the loaf. Let rise for another hour.

7. When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees (if you are rising the dough in the oven please be sure to remove it first).

8. Once the oven is ready, brush the loaf again with egg wash and place in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is glossy and golden brown.

9. Cool on a rack and serve.

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Challah

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I’ve noticed that just about every blog I’m following has been making hot cross buns for the Easter bread. that’s cool, I’m loving everything that I’m seeing since I’ve always wanted to make hot cross buns. However, since I’m always the last one to the ‘party’ and it takes me forever to catch onto trends, I decided a while ago that this week on Cooking is My Sport would be centered around another particular recipe/ingredient. It happens to be challah. Which probably means I’ll be making Hot Cross Buns around…oh, probably the Fourth of July. Because that’s just how I am.

I’m sure most foodies already know about it, but for the ‘general’ and likely Non-Jewish reader, I can give an explanation of what it is. Challah is a traditional, braided Jewish egg bread. It’s hollow on the outer top, and light and fluffy on the inside. It’s not as soft and moist as say, brioche. But it’s also not as dense as French bread either. Challah’s religious significance can be found in the way the dough is  split into two rounds, then each round is rolled into 6 identical strands that are then braided together. The six strands in each loaf represent the 12 tribes of Israel referenced in the Torah/first five chapters of the Bible.  During the meals of the Sabbath- 2 loaves of bread are supposed to be served at the beginning of every meal- thus the 2 loaves of challah. I could go on a little bit deeper, but that’s the basic Judaic symbolism behind challah.

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Around the Foodie community, Challah is a recipe that I typically see pop up around this time of year, close to Easter. I actually find this to be pretty ironic/funny, considering that this type of year is also near the Jewish holiday of the Passover. During Passover, unleavened bread is typically eaten (like matzo). Challah, of course, has plenty of leavening agents. But whatever; I’m a non-denominational Christian, so Passover’s not something I celebrate anyway. I made this bread last year at Easter with surprisingly great results for my first time. I knew I wanted to do it again this year, but just bump things up a notch.

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So what you guys will be seeing for this, and the next two posts for this week is basically Challah done 3 ways: Regular Challah, a Sweet Challah, and a third recipe with Challah as a main ingredient…because I had to find some way to use all of the above challah up. Today I’m showing you the traditional Challah recipe that I first made about this time last year.

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Typically, challah is made as a long, braided loaf and baked on a sheet pan. If you guys read my Cornmeal Dinner Rolls post, then you know how I’m currently feeling about baking yeast breads on sheet pans. Long story short: I’m having ‘technical difficulties’ with that method. And although I did suck it up and do it for my sweet challah variation that I’ll be posting later this week, for my traditional Challah, I decided against it, and did something else. I still used the braiding method for both loaves, but one I braided and tucked into a round circle and placed into one of my 9 inch cake pans, while the other I braided and placed into one of my loaf pans that I usually use for quick breads. I was very pleased with the results. The loaves rose beautifully (take THAT sheet pans), and the bread turned out so fluffy and tender on the inside. My favorite part about challah? That hollow sound it makes when you thump on the shiny, egg glazed top of the loaves that tells you it’s done. It makes me feel like a huge Baking Boss.

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Challah

(Makes 2 braided loaves)

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water.

2. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens.

3. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

4. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.

6. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.

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Banana Bread Scones

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Hi. My name is Jess(ica).

I’m here because I used to be a coffee addict. Actually, no, that’s not true- I guess I still am technically a coffee addict, I’ve just gotten better at controlling my need for it. There came a time when I HAD to have some form of coffee every day just to function; sometimes I could take it straight, sometimes I wanted it in the fancy gourmet styles from coffee shops.  I didn’t care. I just wanted coffee. I needed it.

It took a while for me to hit rock bottom, to finally realize that my addiction to coffee was getting out of control. I wish I could say that I had this grand epiphany or moment of clarity/acceptance, but the truth of the matter is that I just finally got tired of spending $28 a week on the stuff at coffee shops and knew that I had to make a change. It wasn’t easy in the beginning. The caffeine withdrawals were rough; chronic headaches and irritability are a lethal combination, or so I found out. However, I pulled through- at first going cold turkey, then tapering back on to the point where I can have some form of coffee a couple of times a week without feeling as though I’ll go crazy without it.

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So yeah, for anyone out there still being affected by coffee addition at present: recovery is possible. And it doesn’t even have to mean that you give it up forever. You just gotta find a balance. Most times, when you think you need it, you don’t and you can pass. And sometimes…maybe the situation’s a little different.

For instance: there are some instances where a cup of hot coffee is a must. There’s no way around it. I certainly found that to be the case for this recipe. Aside from the profit that their over-priced drinks bring in, I’m pretty sure that a huge chunk of Starbucks’ money comes from the pastries that they display smack dab right in front of the customers in those glass cases. How many people can go in to buy a cup of coffee there in the morning without even stealing a longing gaze at the delectable cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bread, muffins, scones and other goods that Starbucks sells? I’m not one of them, that’s for sure.

I just had to clarify 1 thing: this picture is to scale. This bad boy is actually that big.

This recipe is actually one I’ve had pinned on Pinterest for a long time now. Scones was something I’ve never made before, but have always wanted to. They’re the quintessential accompaniment to coffee- hot, buttery and crumbly pastries of deliciousness. The only thing that could possibly improve them would be to add a unique flavor and ingredient…enter the bananas.

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You guys, even before I tasted them, I just knew that these babies were going to be sosososoSOOO good. I mean come ON: look at how fat and thick the scones turned out. See those flaky layers? It’s the cold chunks of butter that does that. Chilling the dough in the freezer was the secret weapon for the scones, I’m convinced. I think it’s something that I’ll definitely be doing for any future scones to come out of my kitchen, as well as for whenever I make biscuits. The glaze just sends them over the top. This recipe is one of the best, most satisfying that I’ve tried, and I highly recommend it.

Oh yeah…and the scones are even better when enjoyed with a cup of coffee. Just sayin.

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Banana Bread Scones

Recipe Courtesy of TheKitchn.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 very ripe bananas (about 8 oz or 1 cup once mashed)
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk, whole or 2%
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plain yogurt, whole or 2%
  • 2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1 tablespoons (1 oz) salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) milk, whole or 2%
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup (2-4 oz) confectioner’s sugar

 Directions

1. Mash the bananas and then add enough milk to make one total cup (if necessary). Stir in the yogurt and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut the butter into several pieces. Work it into the dry ingredients using a fork, pastry cutter, or your finger tips until there are no pieces of butter larger than a pea.

3. Pour the banana-yogurt mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir just enough to incorporate all of the flour. Fold in the walnuts, if using. This will make a fairly wet dough.

4. Line a dinner plate with a piece of wax paper and turn the dough out on top. Pat it into a disk about 1-inch thick and cover with another piece of wax paper. Freeze the scone dough for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

6. Peel off the top layer of wax paper and invert the scones onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Peel off the second layer of wax paper. Slice the scones into eight wedges and pull them apart a little to give them some room to expand. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the scones are firm to the touch and turning golden-brown on the edges. Cool completely and cut apart any scones that baked together with a sharp knife.

7. To make the glaze, melt the butter and the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and vanilla, and stir until the sugar has melted (heat for an additional 30 seconds in the microwave if necessary). Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, starting with 1/4 cup. Add more confectioner’s sugar if desired to make a thicker glaze.

8. Just before serving, drizzle the glaze over the scones.

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Chicken Stir-Fry

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Any Game of Thrones Fans out there?

I  certainly hope so. It’s an AWESOME show. If you haven’t seen it, then you’re just really missing out. Whenever I’m asked by non GoT fans what it’s about, I’d say that it’s basically a medieval series with dragons and a whole lot of drama. A bunch of people are trying to sit on a throne of a kingdom and the schemes and plans by which they all attempt to do so really resembles a dark kind of game. That’s a really watered down version of a summary of course, but I would’t want to give anything away to any of you out there that still may be on the fence of checking it out or not.

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Just in case you needed that extra push to getting around to it, then here it is, direct from me to you: watch the show. The hype is not just a hype. It’s real. It’s justified. Jess from Cooking is My Sport said so.

So what does GoT have to do with this post? Well, not much to be honest. The truth is that last night when I was watching the long-awaited season 4 premiere, it suddenly occurred to me that I had wanted to do a GoT themed recipe series for the blog, ideally the week before the return of the show. Obviously, that’s not gonna happen anymore. I lost track of time. I forgot about that goal. Whatever. However, that’s not necessarily going to completely kill the idea. I think I still want to try to do a GoT-week on CIMS. Maybe I’ll make it so that I post a recipe dedicated to the show every Sunday until the season finale. Ambitious, maybe, but I think still pretty cool The next step will just be to get together a recipe collection. You guys can feel free to give me suggestions as to what foods you’d like to see that remind you of the show, I’m feeling pretty open to anything.

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Anyway, back to today’s post. I was at the store grocery shopping with my mom and she said she wanted stir-fry for dinner.  It’s not too difficult a request, so I gave it a go. Stir-fry’s really one of those easy dishes that don’t take a huge amount of effort, but yield results that are out of this world, provided you can get your seasonings right. (Of course,) I went with chicken as the protein and threw in some other stuff as well.  paired it with these DELICIOUS Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes, and it made an awesome meal.

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I’ve noticed that I keep posting a lot of Asian-themed cuisine on the blog. That’s kinda interesting to me, as Asian isn’t even my favorite ethnic cuisine- (it’s Lebanese/Middle-Eastern just in case you were curious). However, I’ll run with it. I think the results are coming out okay, don’t you?

Don’t forget to leave me your GoT menu suggestions: the more I think about it, the more determined I am to do this. I think it’ll be really fun ;-)

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Chicken Stir-Fry

Recipe Adapted from Pat and Gina Neely

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION 

Ingredients

  •  2 tablespoons soy sauce
  •  1 tablespoon orange juice
  •  1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  •  1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  •  1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  •  1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  •  1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if desired
  •  1 tablespoon peanut oil, plus more as needed
  •  1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  •  2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  •  4 green onions, sliced
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, pre-cooked

Directions

  1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, orange juice, light brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Reserve.
  2.  Set a wok over medium-high heat and coat with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. When the oil shimmers, add about half of the chicken thigh pieces. Stir-fry until the chicken is fully cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining chicken thighs.
  3.  Add enough peanut oil to the hot wok to coat the bottom. Add the ginger, garlic and green onions and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4.  Add the chicken back to the wok along with the broccoli florets and stir to warm through.
  5. Pour in the reserved sauce and stir until the sauce is thickened and bubbly, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with rice.

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Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Asian Sweet Potatoes1Tagged

I’ve mentioned to you guys before that when I find a new habit or trend, or something  in general that I like, I will wear it out TO DEATH until I’m either sick of it, or until I find a new something to wear out to death.

Me and my twin sister Jas are really alike in that (among other things: our DNA  also happens to be exactly the same.) Take movies for instance; when we were growing up, we went through a phase where when we found a movie we liked, we watched it every chance we got. I find a new favorite song and it gets put on constant repeat on my iPod . I find a new interesting tv show and will faithfully watch it ever week, or if its old, I will have entire marathons of it on Netflix until I get through it all.

Asian Sweet Potatoes4 Tagged

So far as good goes, I’m on a root vegetable kick right now.  For a long time, I’ve just always wanted to eat a side of root vegetables with my dinner. Mostly it’s been a mix between rutabagas and sweet potatoes. I can decide which I like more honestly. Although it may not seem like it, rutabagas too have a unmistakable sweetness to them that’s so clearly highlighted when they’re roasted. If you guys don’t believe me, then you should try this recipe for Herb Roasted Rutabaga that I posted a few weeks ago- if you’re not typically a fan of them, I promise you: I’m going to make you a ‘believer’ with 2 rutabagas, and a handful of dried herbs. Because I’m a miracle worker….okay not really, but I am a pretty good cook ;-)

Asian Sweet Potatoes3 Tagged

 I’m experimenting with different recipes to mix things up so that I don’t get too bored. After all, variety’s the spice of life. Right now, this is my new sweet potato recipe that I’m really fond of.  Trust me, it tastes every bit as good as it looks.

I never would have thought initially to apply Asian style flavors to sweet potatoes. But let me tell you guys, it REALLY works. The saltiness of the soy sauce is perfect with the sweetness of the honey as well as the natural sweetness of the potatoes. The sesame seeds give it a subtle earthy and almost nutty aftertaste. I served them with a chicken stir-fry that I made my family for dinner ( the recipe and pics are very soon to follow).

Asian Sweet Potatoes2 Tagged

Random/Embarrassing Fact: About a year ago, I was on another carrot/sweet potato kick and I ate so many of them that I LITERALLY started turning orange. Seriously. I’m not joking. I went into my doctor for a general check up and she literally gasped and asked what happened to me. I didn’t notice until I stood under a fluorescent light in her office and held out my hands: my palms were the color of a carrot. My skin is naturally kind of yellow, so…suffice to say it just wasn’t a good look. I had no idea that consuming too much Vitamin A (which is dominant  in carrots and sweet potatoes) can do that. Now I do. So as delicious as these sweet potatoes are, I do try to be a little more careful to not make them take up the most space on my plate.

I try. I may not always succeed. Try this recipe and you’ll definitely understand why.

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Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Recipe Courtesy of Cookstr.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  5 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (yams), peeled
  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  •  Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 tbsp sesame seeds
  •  1 tbsp honey
  •  1 tbsp soy sauce

 Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

2. Cut the potatoes into large chunks and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until almost tender.

4. Mix together the sesame seeds, honey, and soy sauce. Pour  over the sweet potatoes, and toss.

5. Roast 20 minutes more, or until well glazed and tender.

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