The Kitchen Queen

Feb 27

When life hands you overripe bananas…Make banana bread!

There’s only one thing I think of when my bananas start getting a little spotty - banana bread! 

I’ve tried a handful of banana bread recipes, from the basic to adding in chocolate chips - or one of my favorite, mini Reese’s cups!

I saw a recipe for “healthy banana bread” pop up on Pinterest a few days ago and decided to repin it on my Getting Healthy board. A couple days later my bananas were in prime banana bread form so I gave it a try.

The verdict: this bread is friggin’ delicious! It is way more moist than I was expecting, which I’m guess has to do with using honey instead of sugar. Definitely slicing this up to have for breakfast this week. Maybe with a smear of peanut butter?

I got the recipe from 8 Weeks to a Better You Recipes and didn’t change a thing, except I used two mini loaf pans instead of one large one.

Healthy Banana Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar free applesauce
3/4 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
3 mashed overripe bananas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan, or two mini loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together apple sauce and honey. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.
3. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan(s).
4. Bake for 50-55min for two small loaf pans, or 60-65min for a 9x5 loaf pan. You should be able to stick a toothpick or piece of spaghetti into the bread and have it come out clean.
5. Let cool then enjoy! 

  


Feb 20

"Clear Out the Fridge" Pasta

After a nearly year-long hiatus, I’ve decided to give this blog thing another try. Since my last post, I’ve graduated from Michigan State, got an amazing job with Procter & Gamble and moved to Cincinnati. It’s been a crazy ride so far! But, now that I don’t have homework, PRSSA or finding a job on the mind, I have more time to dedicate to cooking - and documenting it.

I drew the inspiration for this meal from a pasta station called Lafayette Square that MSU used to have in the Brody Complex cafeteria. It was basically a pasta version of Qdoba…and I’m pretty sure it was the root cause of most Freshman 15 at MSU.

This is a great meal to throw together when you have some veggies in the fridge that you need to use. One thing I’ve learned since I started living on my own - it’s hard to make it through fresh produce without any of it going bad!

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 vidalia onion, sliced
3 large button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 red pepper, sliced (I used roasted) 
andouille chicken sausage, sliced 
2 cups whole wheat pasta (I used penne)
1 cup alfredo sauce
1 tsp italian seasoning

Instructions: 
1. Boil a pot of water and add pasta to cook.

2. While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in pan. Once heated, add onion, mushrooms and pepper. Cook down for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage.

3. Once the pasta is cooked, strain and add to the pan of veggies and sausage. Stir the pasta into the mix, then add the sauce and italian seasoning. Cook until sauce is heated through.

4. Plate, add some parmesan and enjoy!

Do you have any go-to “clear out the fridge” recipes?

Mar 23

A Week of Relaxation…and Food!

Most of my spring breaks throughout college have involved me heading back to my parents’ house for a week and doing a combination of vegging on the couch, catching up on PRSSA stuff and working on finding summer internships. Not the most exciting.

This year my amazing boyfriend treated me to a Caribbean cruise to Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel! We went down to Orlando a week early and went to Disney World (my first time) and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (also my first time). It was such a nice break from school, work and SNOW to be in the warm weather and have a little fun.


2011 Grads! I seriously considered buying this and wearing it to graduation instead of an MSU cap.


 Naturally, whenever someone asked what I was most excited about for the cruise, I said “the food.” We ate in the dining room every night and I was able to try so many different kinds of food and preparations that I have only heard about on Iron Chef. Here’s a little glimpse of some of the tasty offerings.


Ok, so I’ve had shrimp cocktail before, but how pretty is this presentation? The shrimp were HUGE and we definitely took advantage of second helpings.



Herb-roasted lamb with potato croquettes. I’m a big fan of lamb now.



Tropical fruit medley on puff pastry. I ended up opting for a lot of the lighter, fruity desserts because I was so stuffed from the appetizers and main course.



I made it my mission to drink out of a coconut at least once on one of the islands. When we got to Jamaica there were a number of fruit stands where they would grab a coconut out of a tub of ice water, hack it open with a machete and pop a straw into it. I was ECSTATIC. The coconut water had a nice, mellow flavor. We also got a bag of sugarcane to chew on, which was a cool experience, and of course a Red Stripe. How much more Jamaican does it get?



Lobster tail! This was my very first time having lobster and I have to say, it was pretty tasty. I wasn’t quite blown away with it like I was expecting to be, but I’ve been told I need to head to Maine to really have that experience.



Dessert platter with rum cake, chocolate mouse and cheesecake. The drizzled sauces really helped to amp up the flavors in these treats.


In addition to these photos, a few other new things I got to try included watermelon gazpacho, escargot, pasta with truffle oil and a ton of different delicious soups. The best part of the whole experience was being able to try these different meals knowing I wasn’t going to have to pay a $60 bill at the end of the meal - and if I didn’t like something our servers were happy to bring something else out!

What has been your favorite new kind of food or preparation that you’ve tried recently? 

Feb 21

Flavorful Turkey Sliders

I’ve recently been turned on to using ground turkey in place of ground beef in everything from tacos to burgers. It’s my attempt to eat healthier in 2011. In the past I wasn’t so sure about using ground turkey, thinking that it would be bland and dry. The ingredient does need a little more love than ground beef when you’re cooking it, but throw in a few simple ingredients and you’re on your way to some damn good sliders.

Turkey Sliders

Recipe adapted from family.go.com and The Flat Belly Diet Book.

This recipe makes eight sliders.
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove/teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white, whisked
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
8 dinner roles/slider buns

Optional: whatever you’d like to dress your sliders with. I used mustard, mayo, havarti cheese and lettuce.

Yes, I cheat and use pre-minced garlic for convenience.

1. Combine ground turkey, Parmesan cheese, garlic, onion, Italian seasoning, salt, egg white and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands in there to mix it all up!


 Not the most attractive picture…

2. Take a small handful of the mixture and gently roll it into a ball, then flatten into a patty. I’ve noticed that ground turkey falls apart more than ground beef does, so be aware of that as you mold your patties. Place on a plate or cookie sheet.

3. Set your stove at medium heat and put a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan. Place patties in pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.

4. Flip patties and cook on the other side. To avoid having your sliders dry out, place a pan cover over your pan while the other side cooks to keep the moisture in.

5. If you’re putting cheese on your sliders, place cheese on the patties while they are still cooking on the other side and place pan cover over patties.

6. Dress your sliders however you’d like an enjoy! These sliders will stay good in the fridge for a few days and are great to reheat for a quick dinner.


Feb 04

Ebelskivers: Delicious Danish Filled Pancakes

Ebelskiver Pan

The first few times I saw this pan at Williams-Sonoma I had to stop and check it out. At first glance I thought you might use it to cook eggs - now that I think about it, I might have to try that out. But it is actually an ebelskiver pan. Ebelskivers are filled pancakes that are native to Denmark. Fillings can range from fruit, to chocolate to jam or cheese.

My boyfriend, Chad, and I were tempted to buy it on several occasions, but the sticker price of $40 and uncertainty of how to use it kept us from buying. That is, until it went on a one-day sale for $20, which was cheap enough for us to take the dive without feeling too much buyers’ remorse.

We’ve only gone so far as to make these for breakfast, and they are absolutely delicious. I’ve loved coming up with different ideas of what to fill them with. So far my favorites are strawberry jelly, Nutella (duh) and apple pie filling.

Ebelskiver Filled Pancakes

Recipe adapted from 2 Stews

This recipe makes about four pans, or 28 Ebelskivers 
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature
butter for greasing the pan

Fillings: jelly/jam, Nutella, berries, bananas, peanut butter, chocolate chips, pie filling

1. Melt your butter, set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, milk and melted butter. It is important for the melted butter to be room temperature otherwise it will lump together when it hits the cold milk and egg mixture. (I realized this the hard way.)

3. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture.

whisk

4. In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Pour egg whites into the other mixture and gently fold in to combine.

hand mixer

5. Heat ebelskiver pan on medium heat. Brush melted butter or drop a small piece in each well.

6. Fill each well halfway with batter. Then put roughly a half tablespoon of your desired filling into each well and fill the rest of the well with batter. I’ve found it easier to have two sets of hands to do this. If you’re cooking alone, you could fill the wells all the way with batter and then drop in your filling to save time and mess.

Ebelskivers cooking

7. When you can see the batter start to cook and pull away from the sides of the well, it’s time to flip the ebelskiver. They sell a tool to do this for about $20, but I bought a pack of bamboo skewers for a couple bucks that work fine.

8. To flip, loosen the sides of the ebelskiver then position a skewer on each side. Nudge the ebelskiver on one side toward the bottom of the pan, and once you feel you can flip it, use the skewers to help you in one motion. Some instructions call for a two-turn method, but we found the best results doing just one flip. This is a pretty good video showing how to flip.

9. Cook the other side of the ebelskivers until golden brown, about another two minutes. Once cooked, transfer to a plate and continue with another pan!

cooking ebelskivers

10. Garnish with your choice of whipped cream, powdered sugar, maple syrup or just naked, and enjoy!

finished ebelskivers

Scrumptious!