Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bananas Foster Pancakes

This Saturday morning I was in the mood for pancakes. I also didn't want just plain syrup. I looked around the kitchen and spotted some bananas that were just ripe. Then the idea to make Bananas Foster Pancakes popped into my head.

I put one banana into the pancake batter and cooked up the pancakes like normal. While I was making the pancakes I melted some butter and brown sugar in a small sauce pan. I added a little water to make a good syrup consistency. I cut up a banana (on an angle because it looks better that way) and put the banana slices into the syrup. I let them cook until they got nice and tender (which only took a couple minutes).

I plated up the pancakes with the bananas and syrup on top and sprinkled everything with a little powdered sugar for decoration.

They were really good. I'm sure that I could make a much better sauce but I wanted to eat quickly and was only able to use what was available in the house. Had I had some cream I think I would have added that to the sugar/butter mix instead of water and made a sweet creamy sauce (like melted ice cream maybe).

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Surf and Turf (sort of): Pepperoni Beef Balachi and Penne Pesto Scallops

So here is another Giant Eagle buy. I was over on the East side visiting with my cousin and her husband on the way back I stopped at the new Giant Eagle overlooking Valley View. The store is in a new shopping strip that looks like it will have some nice places there once everything gets opened. So anyway, back to the food. I was walking through the butcher area and some other people were buying some of the Balachi. This drew my attention to the meat and since it looked really good I got one myself. Also, just behind me, they had the bay scallops on sale. Originally I didn't plan on having both of these the same night, but I forgot that I had a work dinner last night and I had cook the balachi tonight. So anyway, I made both.

The balachi only needed to be baked. It went into a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes and it was done. For the scallops I first cooked them in some olive oil with salt and pepper until they started to turn translucent. Then I added about a half cup of store bought pesto and a whole lot of frozen and fresh basil to the pan. I let everything cook together until the penne was done. The penne then went into the pan with the scallops and everything was tossed together.

From start to finish the meal took about 30 minutes. If I had been trying hard, I could have definitely had it done in under 30. Rachel Ray might just be in for a little competition.


Bacon Wrapped Turkey Medallion and Pan Cooked Potatoes

The main piece of this dish is the bacon wrapped turkey medallion. I picked these up at Sam's Club a while back because they looked pretty good and were reasonably priced. This is actually my second attempt to cook one of the medallions. The first attempt went quite badly since I did not thaw the medallion before cooking. Now, don't start yelling at me for not thawing the thing, I was certain that I should have; however, the package stated on how quick cooking they were and it never mentioned the need for thawing. Before I cooked the first one, I looked all over the bag and never saw the word thaw, so I took a chance and followed the directions instead of going with my gut feeling. Needless to say, the first one was burnt on the outside and frozen within.

So for the second try, I let the medallion thaw in the fridge while I was at work. They come individually wrapped so it is easy to make one at a time. They give a couple different cooking options and I opted for pan cooking. All I had to do was put a little oil in the pan and put it over medium high heat, add the medallion and cook for about 8 minutes on each side, the drop down the heat until the temperature probe pops out. Yup, you read it right, these little medallions come with little pop up timers like a full sized turkey.

When the turkey was almost done (well browned on both sides but the timer hadn't popped out), I added some red skin potatoes to the pan. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and dill (I believe, its one of the fresh herbs on my windowsill).

This time, the meal was quite good. The turkey was really moist and the potatoes were good too. I don't remember the price off hand, but I think the medallions ended up being less than a dollar each and for that price, its a real bargain.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Banana-Corn Bread??? Hmmmmm......

I'm probably going to get yelled at by my mother for posting this, but I couldn't resist. This is what happens when a store puts the wrong mix in a box.

A few weeks ago when my parents were visiting we ran up to Trader Joes. My mom picked up a Banana Bread mix, among other things. Then the next weekend when I was visiting she decided that she would whip up the banana bread since she had some extra bananas that were about to go bad.

If I remember correctly, the rest of us were out of the house when she was putting the bread together so she didn't have anyone to give her a second opinion, but when she opened the bag from the banana bread box, she said that it sort of looked like corn bread. She saw little bits that looked almost like corn, but since it was a banana bread mix she thought that maybe they were dried banana chunks. So she proceeded with making the "banana bread" and added a couple bananas to the mix. Then when putting it into the pan to bake, she again thought that it looked a lot like corn bread, but the box was clearly banana bread.

While it was baking she filled us in on the story. I came in to verify that the box was truly banana bread, which it was.

When it came out of the oven, it was obvious that banana bread was not in the box, due to the fact that you can see bits of corn on the top.

Strangely, it wasn't half bad. It wasn't all that great, but having bananas in corn bread didn't make it terrible either.

So advice for the future: always check your mixes before adding other things to them.
And my words for Trader Joes, please put the right mix in the right box.

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Bordeaux Wine Steak and Grilled Corn on the Cob

So one might think that the most important part of this post would be the steak, WRONG!! (to quote Lex Luthor). Its all about the grilled corn on the cob.

The steak was purchased from Giant Eagle. Giant Eagle has slightly redeemed itself from the seafood incident last month with this marinated steak. It wasn't too expensive and had a great taste. It was pretty tender too.

But like I said, the important thing is the corn. The grilled corn is a technique that I learned from my Dad (I don't know where he got it from, but prior to his cooking corn this way, we always boiled it). The flavor of the grilled corn is far better than that of boiled.

To grill corn, you first need to soak the ears (husk and all). Just take the whole thing of corn and submerge it in water for at least 30 minutes. The husk will soak up the water and then as the corn boils, it will steam it from the inside. Once fully soaked, put the corn (still in the husk) on a preheated medium flame grill (if you are using charcoal, I guess just try to get a steady heat, not searing though). Let the corn cook for about 15-20 minutes then turn it over and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Once the time is up, remove the corn from the grill and let it cool for a few minutes.

Now, here is where the beauty of grilling corn in the husk comes out. Once the corn is cool enough to touch, peal off most of the husk until only one or two leaves remain. Then break off the stem end (it should crack off pretty easily) and then just pull on the fibers at the other end. If you did everything right, when you pull the fibers the rest of the husk and all the fibers should come right out.

And there you have it, fully cooked, grilled corn on the cob. And although a little hot on your hands, shucking the corn couldn't be easier.