Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jerk Chicken

I was in Grand Cayman the first time I ate Jerk Chicken.

It was the Christmas of my junior year of college, and my family spent the week after Christmas in Grand Cayman.

It was awesome.  We went to Stingray City and I'm pretty sure a stingray climbed all the way up my body and sat on my head.  While I screamed.

And we went to some great local restaurant one night, where I ordered the jerk chicken.  I had never eaten jerk chicken, and I loved it!

So I've been making this recipe from The Bunny cookbook for years...and we love it.  My husband.  My kids. Me.

It's just delicious - sweet, spicy (but not hot), and wonderfully warm from the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.

You've got to try it.  I served it with green rice and pineapple salsa.

It's as close as I can get to Grand Cayman from Kentucky.

Jerk Chicken
Adapted from Creating a Stir

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I cut them into strips)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 T fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped (or about 2 tsp dried)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp cinnamon

Puree ingredients except for chicken in a food processor.  Place the chicken in a gallon-size food storage bag and pour the marinade over the top. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (overnight is good too!), turning occasionally so that the marinade reaches all of the chicken.

Grill the chicken, discarding the marinade, for 4-6 minutes per side, until cooked through.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Shortbread Banana Pudding

I'm a bit behind on blogging.  I wrote this post weeks ago, and am just now finishing it.  Sorry I'm a little out of date!

On the 4th of July, I ran the Bluegrass 10,000 with my brother.

It was so fun.  For six miles, John entertained me with funny stories.  He wasn't even breathing hard.  Me?Well, I was out of breath and killing myself just to keep up with him.  (Boys run faster than girls.  It's just a fact.)

Baby Bear.  Waiting for us to cross the finish line.
I wanted to throw up at the end.  Not John.  He went sailing across the finish line, dragging me behind him.

So the reason I'm telling you this story?  You see, we both ate bananas for breakfast, before our run.  Because when you google "what to eat before 10k run," the answer is something along the lines of: "It's only six miles.  Eat whatever you want.  It's only six miles."


So, if you have lots of bananas, you should make banana pudding.  It's always a good choice.  The perfect summer dessert.

I normally make banana pudding with homemade vanilla pudding.  But this one is whipped together quick and easy and is really delicious.  And it uses shortbread cookies instead of vanilla wafers.

Let me just say that a shortbread cookie never hurt nothin'.

And if you ever have the chance to run a race with your brother, do it.  Even though he's faster than you.

Shortbread Banana Pudding
Adapted from Paula Deen

5 oz. box instant vanilla pudding mix
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups milk
8 oz. cool whip, thawed
2 packages Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies
6 bananas, sliced

Use an electric mixer and beat together the pudding mix and the cream cheese until smooth.  Stream in the sweetened condensed milk and mix until combined.  Add the milk and mix until smooth.  Fold in the cool whip.

Layer one package of cookies in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Lay the sliced bananas in an even layer on top.  Pour over the pudding mix.  Layer the second package of cookies on top.

Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Banana Pudding Bread

I am new on the scene to adding pudding to recipes.

I'm a quick study, though, because I added pudding to M&M cookies and now banana bread.

My husband tasted this banana bread batter and said it tasted like banana pudding.

Banana Pudding Bread it is, then.

I can't even really describe this bread, except to say that's amazingly moist and so flavorful and tender and perfect.

There you go.  That should be a description that will make you dump some dry pudding powder into your banana bread batter and bake it up.

And this is what you'll get.

Banana Pudding Bread
Adapted slightly from Averie Cooks

3 medium bananas, smashed
1/3 vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream or full-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 T vanilla extract (use the real stuff)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3.4 oz. box dry instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together the bananas through the brown sugar in a medium bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined (batter will be slightly lumpy).

Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan (I also line my pan with parchment paper for easy removal) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean or with just a few crumbs sticking to it.

Cool completely before removing from the pan.  For best slicing results, wrap the cooled bread in foil and let it sit overnight (good luck waiting that long).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chipotle Chicken Wraps

I've been loving wraps lately.  I try not to make them for dinner every night, but I totally could.

I saw a recipe for chipotle chicken salad on Pinterest and thought it was such a great idea!

So I made chipotle chicken salad my way and turned it into a wrap.  I was thrilled with the result, and my husband loved it too.

The chipotle pepper sauce is spicy but not hot (my husband doesn't do hot and it was good for him) and the lime juice and cilantro in chicken salad is fabulous.

And wrapped up with cheese, toasted until crisp?  Forget it.

Too good.  If Pithy's Kitchen ever becomes Pithy's Cafe, I'll put these on the menu.

Chipotle Chicken Wraps
Inspired by Simply Scratch

3 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used about 3/4 of a rotisserie chicken)
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
2 T chipotle puree (also called chipotle salsa or adobo sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Juice of one lime
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
5-6 large flour tortillas (burrito-size)
2 cups (about 8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (cheddar would also be good)

Place the chicken, celery, green onions and red pepper in a bowl.

Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, chipotle puree, salt, pepper, lime juice and chopped cilantro in another bowl.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies and toss to combine.  You can eat this immediately or refrigerate it for a few hours first (I thought it was delicious both ways).

For the wraps, spread the cheese evenly over the center 2/3 of the tortillas.  Place a mound of the chicken salad in the middle and wrap it up like a burrito.

In a dry nonstick skillet over medium heat, place the burritos seam-side down and toast for about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Slice in half and serve with salsa, guacamole or plain.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows

I made marshmallows.

From scratch.

It's easy.  Amazingly, shockingly, easy.

Like, scary-easy.

And I used Barefoot's recipe, because it got the best reviews.  Of course it did.

So you need some gelatin and water in your mixer.

Then cook together water, sugar and corn syrup until it reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees on a candy thermometer).

Turn on your mixer, stream in the syrup, and let it whip for about 12-14 minutes.

In that 12-14 minutes, magic happens.  My girls loved checking on the marshmallows and watching them become white and fluffy!

And Baby Bear?  Well, he was very helpful, too.

He cleaned out the junk drawer for me...

And then he cleaned off the refrigerator doors for me!

He is so helpful.

The keys to these marshmallows are: use real vanilla extract (I used the extract that I made with vodka and vanilla beans) AND let them sit OVERNIGHT to firm up and become the amazing marshmallows that they are.

My husband said: "These don't taste like marshmallows."  Exactly.  They're a million times better than Jet-Puffed.  (And I do like Jet-Puffed.)  It's like a whole 'nother thing.

And you can flavor them a million different ways.  I used vanilla, coconut and almond flavoring.  (They're very good but the coconut flavor is a bit strong; next time I'm going to try just vanilla.)  I can't wait to make some peppermint-flavored ones to float in hot chocolate this winter.

Oh, and I've already planned to make these for our school's bake sale.  It's in November.  I like to plan ahead.

Homemade Marshmallows
Slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa

3 packages unflavored gelatin (there are 4 packages in a 1-ounce box of unflavored gelatin, so you need .75 oz.)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1 T pure extract (you could use vanilla; peppermint; almond; coconut, etc. or a mixture of any of these - just don't use "imitation" flavorings)
Powdered sugar, for dusting the marshmallows when cut

Pour the gelatin and 1/2 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Let it sit while you make the syrup.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan.  Bring it to a boil over high heat and continue to cook over high heat until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer (this is "soft ball stage".)

Turn the mixer on medium speed and stream in the syrup slowly.  Turn the mixer on as high as it will go and let it whip for about 12-14 minutes.  The mixture will become thick, white, fluffy and puffy.  Add the extract and allow it to incorporate.

Pour the mixture into a well-greased (use butter or baking spray; you can also line it with parchment paper to make it easier to remove) 7x11 baking dish.  The mixture will be super sticky, so wet your hands to smooth it on the top (the water keeps your hands from becoming so sticky).  Dust the top with powdered sugar.

Allow the marshmallows to sit, uncovered, for about 18-24 hours.  When ready to cut, turn the marshmallow out onto a cutting board and slice into squares.  (Use the water trick on your knife to make them easier to cut.)  Dust all sides with powdered sugar to keep them from sticking together.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Almond Poppyseed Bread

So it's been awhile, y'all.

In the last few weeks, my dog has tripled in size and my kitchen makeover has wrapped up.

I thought I would share my favorite three things in my kitchen.

These drawer pulls.  Love.  I feel like the Barefoot.

Ironically, they were free.  Buy cabinets, get the hardware free.  Or something like that.

My undermount sink.  Also free.  Buy counters, get a sink free.  Deal.

I love how I just sweep crumbly messes directly into the sink.  Whoever came up with the idea to mount the sink under the counter is a genius.

And my third favorite thing: this sprayer.  My sprayer in my old kitchen had not worked in nearly two years, and we didn't bother to replace it since we knew we were going to gut the kitchen.

So I have a sprayer again!  It's awesome.

Small things, people.  It's the small things in life.

And, because I love almond extract and I got this huge tub of poppyseeds at the farmer's market, I made almond poppyseed bread.

You should too.  It's totally awesome.  One of my friends brought it to MOPS this year and I have been in love with it ever since.  So good!

It's easy, so just follow the directions.  And try not to eat all of the batter before you pour it into the loaf pan.

And then, when the bread is still warm from the oven, soak it in sweet sticky glaze.

I love this life.

What's that?  You want to see one more picture of Teddy?  Well.  If you insist.

Almond Poppyseed Bread
Adapted from Spice Islands

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 T poppy seeds
1/2 cup plus 2 T canola oil
3/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter extract

1/3 cup sugar
2 T orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 T butter

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and poppy seeds.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk just until smooth.

Pour batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

While the bread bakes, combine the glaze ingredients in a medium pan.  Bring to a boil; remove from heat and pour over the hot bread in the loaf pan.  Allow it to cool completely in the pan.  Remove from pan by running a knife along the edges to loosen.

Slice and serve (it will slice into neater pieces if you wait overnight to slice, but good luck waiting that long).