Tag-Archive for ◊ toddler friendly ◊

11 Feb 2013 Gunpowder Polly’s Wild West Cowboy Steak

cowboy steak bite on fork 2

Last weekend I had a Wild West themed party at my house.  I suggested to my friends that they come dressed as cowgirls, and they did!  They moseyed on over to the Bar –the Trail Mix Bar– to fill their saddlebags with snacks and quenched their thirst at the watering hole.  I wanted the dinner to be Wild West themed, too, and steak immediately jumped to mind as the perfect main dish (I was later to find out that cowboys rarely ate steak, oops!).  Nevertheless, before steak enlightenment,  I set out to find out how to cook steak for twelve, quickly, accurately and indoors in February!  It was easier than I ever imagined, and more successful, too. After steak enlightenment, I was so excited about this easy, easy way to cook delicious steak that I decided to put it on my Wild West menu anyway.  I also served BBQ drumsticks, onion rings, cornbread with a delicious maple-orange butter, and roasted veggies.  OK, so the menu wasn’t exactly authentic, but it did have a Wild West feel to it 🙂 Also, in preparation for this Wild West dinner, I made place mats out of old blue jeans and bought red bandannas to use as napkins!

Now, for the steak.  Buy some really thick steaks.  I used rib-eyes, but any kind is fine as long as the steaks are thick…, over one-inch thick!  When you get the steaks home, dry age them.  This is a crucial step so buy the steaks early in the week.  Take the plastic wrap off the steaks, place them on a rack, and set them in the refrigerator, uncovered, for up to five days.  That’s right, put the steaks on a (baking) rack (with a tray underneath) in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a few days.  THIS, my friend, is the first half of the equation of a delicious steak.  The second half of the equation is the cooking method in the recipe below. This recipe includes the Cowboy Steak rub I used on my steaks, but you can use any favorite rub, it’s the dry-aging process and cooking process that are important.

For most cowboys,  even for the heartiest meat lovers, one-half of a thick rib steak is probably a good serving size.  I served my cowgirls one-third of a steak each. So with that in mind, your 4 thick steaks, with side dishes, will serve 4 football players, 8 men/boys, or 12 lightweights/small women/teenage girls.

Gunpowder Polly’s Wild West Cowboy Steaks  

(cooked in a modern indoor kitchen)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika (regular or smoked paprika can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (can substitute onion powder, if you don’t have garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon favorite dried herb, many people like thyme, I prefer basil, some like oregano…put in what you like
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked ancho chili powder (or any other chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee beans
  • 4 thick bone-in rib eye steaks ( 1 ¼” to 1 ½ thick; each steak weighing 12 to 16 ounces)
  1. Buy your steaks and dry age them in the refrigerator for up to five days.  Remove the steaks from the package.  Place them on a rack.  Place a tray under the rack to catch any possible drips.  Place the steaks, rack and tray in the refrigerator, uncovered, for up to 5 days.
  2. One or two hours before you want to start cooking, remove steaks from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  3. Mix  all rub ingredients –salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, dried green herb, cumin, chili powder, and ground coffee– in small bowl. Sprinkle approx ½ teaspoon of rub mixture over each side of the steaks, press and rub mixture into meat. Let steaks stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  5. Get out an oven safe frying pan large enough to fit all steaks (or use two frying pans), put 1T-3T olive oil in the bottom of the frying pan/s and heat (on the stove) until the oil is smoking (but don’t let the oil burn) and the pan is very, very hot.
  6. Keep heat under the pan on high, or medium high if there appears to be imminent danger of fire, and add the steaks to the hot pan.  Do not touch the steaks for the next five minutes.  Let steak cook on high for exactly five minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off.  Quickly turn the steaks over.  Place the still hot pan–with the steaks still in it–into a hot oven. Close the oven door and set the timer for five minutes.
  8. Remove the steaks and pan from the hot oven. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board, cover lightly with foil, and let sit for ten minutes before cutting or serving.
  9. Serve!  You’ll be amazed at how easy it was to cook the perfect medium rare steak.  Your guests will love, love, love the texture and  taste of the steak.  Look at THIS!

My daughter made these delightful cookies for dessert, so fun and tasty! Check her out at Party Girl Cookies or on Facebook 🙂

Here are a few more pictures from my Wild West party, yeeeeHAW!

Thanks for stopping by my Wild West kitchen today!  I hope this recipe becomes a staple in your kitchen, it definitely has in mine 🙂

01 Sep 2012 Banana Pancakes with Caramel Syrup

Hmpfff…, just got through looking at the two hundred and seventeen pictures of a recent bride’s Hawaiian honeymoon.  As one of her friends commented, “The envy hurts”!  I went to Hawaii once.  I did.  It was with my kids’ swim team.  I forget exactly how many 8 – 14 year old’s were on that trip, but it was over a hundred. And a handful of chaperones and coaches. I sure know how to vacation in Hawaii.  NOT.

This morning I was inspired, by the aforementioned 217 pictures, to bring a bit of Hawaii to the breakfast table.  One of the few things I remember about my trip to Hawaii, aside from the twelve year old climbing from one balcony to another–yes, balconies on the outside of the building, outside of  the eighth floor no less–were the breakfasts.  Most mornings we had sushi from the ABC store, and I know most of you won’t relish that,  but one morning, I think it was the last one, we had some wonderful coconutty-banana pancakes.  I think by this time we had locked the kids in their rooms, turned on the TV, handed them a box Twinkies, and thrown away the keys. Yes, I am pretty sure it was an adult only breakfast that morning…

Yep…, transported to the tropics with banana pancakes!  If I had sprinkled the top of the pancakes with a bit of toasted coconut or some diced macadamia nuts I could have been transported even closer to the tropics. These pancakes raise high and are wonderfully light.  The syrup is as sweet as maple syrup, but with a lovely caramel flavor that really makes the pancakes shine.  I found this recipe on epicurious.com (love that site).  I shared these pancakes with one of the kids who went on the trip with me.  She’s almost all grown up now, but I will always remember how she loved Hawaii 🙂 Ohhhh, OK, I do have many wonderful memories of a vacation in Hawaii…

A few notes on this recipe.  If you don’t have self-raising flour, add 1 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to each cup of flour and to make your own homemade self-raising flour.  Don’t have buttermilk?  Stir 1 T lemon juice or 1 T. white vinegar into each cup of milk and let sit for 5 minutes; but next time you are at the store, buy two buttermilk cartons, one to use now and one to store in the freezer for next time (never run out of buttermilk).  Buttermilk powder is also a nice ingredient to have on hand (available on the baking aisle of most larger supermarkets), use as directed. The last option is to substitute yogurt (vanilla, plain, greek, banana) mixed with a little milk until the mixture has a thick pouring consistency for the buttermilk.

Don’t want to go to Hawaii?  Want to go down South?  Substitute peaches for the bananas, and add bourbon to the sauce, and throw some diced pecans over the tops of the pancakes!

Banana Pancakes with Caramel-Banana Syrup 

3 large bananas, peeled, divided use

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, divided use
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar, divided use
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or rum)
2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
toasted coconut, diced macadamia nuts or pecans, optional

Whisk flour 1/4 cup brown sugar in large bowl. In another bowl mash one banana, then stir in buttermilk , eggs, and 1/4 cup melted butter.  Pour the banana mixture over the dry ingredients (some lumps will remain). Heat griddle over medium heat; brush with melted butter or spray with a cooking spray.  Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle. Cook pancakes until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet; and place in 200 degree oven to keep warm, if desired.

Combine 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, and simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Slice 2 bananas into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and add to syrup along with vanilla extract. Remove syrup from heat and let sit while you finish cooking pancakes.

Serve pancakes with caramel-banana syrup, and toasted coconut and/or chopped nuts for sprinkling on top of hot pancakes.

Aloha! Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

22 Jul 2011 Traditional Arabic Hummus

Traditional Arabic hummus.  How do I know its traditional?  Because I learned how to make it from my Saudi and Kuwaiti students in 1981 and 1982.  I watched how they made it, wrote everything down, and have followed the recipe ever since.  Well, once I tinkered with it and added a bit of cumin and coriander.   My kids reacted most negatively.  I remember their scorn quite clearly,  “What did you do to the hummus? It tastes FOUL!”  Lesson learned.  No tinkering with the authentic 🙂

This was the first recipe my son learned how to follow and  for a long time was the only thing he knew how to make.  Truth be told, his hummus is better than mine!  Why?  He follows the recipe!  He shells the garbanzo beans, just like my students used to do.  (Before 1981 I didn’t even know the garbanzos had shells, but they do.  Pop one out of its clear little membrane, and you’ll see!)  Over the years I have gotten lazy, and I now no longer shell the garbanzos.  As a result, my hummus isn’t as smooth as my son’s or as my students’ used to be.

Do as you wish, shell the garbanzos or not, just don’t even think of tinkering with the other simple ingredients.

Traditional Arabic Hummus

  • 1 can Garbanzo beans
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup sesame paste (available at most larger supermarkets now, in the middle eastern foods section)
  • approx. 1/2 cup reserved garbanzo liquid
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • paprika (optional)
  1. Drain the garbanzo beans, reserving the liquid.
  2. Shell the garbanzo beans if desired (shelling the garbanzos results in a much smoother dip).
  3. Place drained garbanzos, approx. 1/2 cup reserved liquid, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender and process until smooth.
  4. That’s IT!   Isn’t that easy?
  5. Add more garbanzo liquid if needed to make a softer dip.  Remove dip to a serving bowl.  My students used to spread the hummus onto a dinner plate and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.  Americans usually serve it out of a bowl.  My students served hummus only with triangles of warm pita bread.  American often serve with pita bread plus carrot and celery sticks, cucumber rounds, red pepper strips, and cherry tomatoes.

From following my students around I also have recipes for Sambusas and Kapsa, and so many warm and fond memories of teaching English as a Second Language to some wonderful pre-literate Arabic and Saudi women.

Thanks for stopping by my middle eastern kitchen today. Enjoy the hummus.  It’s better than that stuff you can buy in tubs, and much cheaper!

04 Jun 2011 Frozen Bananas

Such an easy recipe, and one you’ll probably use all summer long, assuming the weather gets better.  June 4th here in San Jose, and it rained all day!  Unbelievable, but we ate frozen bananas for dessert anyway!  They were a hit.  I only wish we had waited 5 minutes for the bananas to soften a bit before we tore into them.  You can see the frost on the bananas in these pictures!  On hot days you won’t have to wait so long…

I’ve been making frozen bananas for a decade or so, and have decided that Hershey’s Special Dark is the best chocolate to compliment the taste of the banana (odd, since I am usually a milk chocolate devotee). There are a variety of toppings the chocolate covered banana can be rolled in.  The most popular, in my experience, are toasted coconut, chopped peanuts, and rainbow jimmies.  Other options include leaving them plain (for the boring people in your crowd!) chopped peanut butter chips, mini M&M’s, cookie crumbs, granola, and any kids cereal.  IMHO, bananas+cereal+bit of chocolate= a special summer breakfast.  I think your kids might nominate you for mom/pop-of-the-year, if you agreed with me!  Just think; frozen bananas as a special treat for a summer birthday (or for a summer half birthday for winter birthday kids–as all my kids were), or for the first day of summer vacation, or to celebrate the summer solstice…

Frozen Bananas

Quantities are approximate, as size of bananas varies widely.  If you end up with extra bananas, and not enough chocolate, just keep the extra bananas in the freezer until you are ready to make smoothies or banana bread.

  • 3-4 perfect bananas (not over-ripe and not green, no bruises or black spots)
  • 6 or 8 Popsicle sticks (if you don’t have Popsicle sticks craft sticks, lollipop sticks, chopsticks, or even the tops of plastic Popsicle molds can be used)
  • 2  4.25 oz. bars Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate (don’t substitute chocolate chips…if you do, you’ll have to add a few tablespoons of Crisco to help them melt…, and I think that’s yucky)
  • assorted toppings (rainbow jimmies, chopped peanuts or other nuts, mini M&M’s, chopped peanut butter chips, toasted coconut, granola, cereal…)
  1. Peel the bananas and remove any banana strings.  Inspect the bananas carefully and cut off any bruises or soft parts.  Cut the good bananas in half, and insert a stick into the flat, cut end, of each banana.  Place skewered bananas on a pan/plate/tray that will fit into your freezer and open freeze for an hour or so (or even overnight).
  2. Set out chosen toppings in shallow bowls or on pieces of wax paper or foil.
  3. Break chocolate into squares, place into good quality microwave safe bowl, and melt chocolate in microwave on 50% power for about 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. While chocolate is melting remove frozen bananas from freezer.
  5. Dip frozen banana into warm melted chocolate and, with a knife,  QUICKLY spread chocolate all over the banana.  Before chocolate hardens–work quickly–dip and roll banana in chosen topping.  Repeat with remaining bananas.
  6. Refreeze chocolate covered bananas for about 30 minutes or so.
  7. Remove bananas from freezer, place in a covered container or Ziploc bag, and return to freezer until ready to eat.  Frozen bananas keep well, or at least for a few weeks (I haven’t had any in the freezer for longer than 2 weeks…)

Thank for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you tomorrow!!

11 Jan 2011 Cracked Sugar Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

Pumpkin isn’t only for October and November you know.  I hope you have an extra can or two of pumpkin puree on hand for the other ten months of the year.  This isn’t a pumpkin muffin, and it isn’t an apple muffin, it’s a bit of both, so it should please everyone.  I like the pumpkin, I like the diced apple, but I especially like the cracked sugar on top!

These muffins stay moist and tasty for at least three days.  I’ve never had one around longer than three days, so I don’t know what happens on day four or five. (If I had expected to have extras around that long, I’d freeze them.  It only takes a few minutes to defrost a muffin, especially if you slice or quarter it.)

In muffin recipes I often substitute half the oil in the recipe for applesauce.  Oddly, it doesn’t work well in this muffin. The texture suffers quite a bit.  If you are out of Pumpkin pie spice, as I am, use ¾ teaspoon ginger plus ½ teaspoon nutmeg, plus scant ½ teaspoon ground cloves OR allspice,  instead of the 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice.

This recipe makes 18-20 muffins.  I know that’s a lot. But you’ll make a lot of people happy!

Cracked Sugar Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

For the muffins

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
½ cup vegetable oil (or ¼ cup oil plus ¼ cup applesauce)
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apple (about 2 apples)

For the cracked sugar topping

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons butter

Preheat oven to 350º. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil.

Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten. Fold in apples.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons flour, ¼ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffin batter (about 1 teaspoon of topping per muffin)

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! I hope I’ll see you again tomorrow!

10 Jan 2011 Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

I know a thing or two about chicken nuggets as I have been making them for two decades with a recipe very similar to the one Sara Moulton contributed to The 150 Best American Recipes.  Sara calls her version  “Garlicky Baked Chicken”, but I think she uses thighs or chicken-on-the-bone.  I don’t.  I use the same coating as she does, but I make chicken nuggets from boneless chicken tenders. To die for.

Make a bag-full of chicken nuggets to keep in the freezer. Double the recipe! You will be so glad you did. If you have kids at home, this recipe will probably become a staple.  Check out my recipe for Oven Baked Fries, too.  Put the two recipes together and you’ll be able to bake up some better-than-McDonalds Home Baked Happy Meals on a regular basis!

Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

6 T. butter
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use the minced-in-a-jar kind)
2 cups Panko* (Japanese breadcrumb, found in the Asian section of the grocery store-regular or Italian Herb)
1 t. kosher salt
½ t. black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not that stuff in the green shaker tube)
3 lbs. chicken tenders (for chicken nuggets cut each chicken tender into two pieces)

Melt the butter and the garlic in a shallow bowl. Mix the Panko*, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl. Set out a cooling rack. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the garlic/butter, and then into the Panko/parmesan mix. Once the chicken is well coated with crumbs place on rack to dry for a bit. (Use one hand for dipping in the butter and placing in the breadcrumbs, use the other hand for dipping in the breadcrumbs and putting on the rack. If you don’t use this alternate hand method, you’ll get big clumps of gunk on the fingers of both hands). When chicken has dried a bit, transfer to a plate or tray and place in freezer until firm. Once chicken is firm remove from plate and place in Ziploc bag and return to freezer.

To bake:

You need a hot oven to get a nice brown color to the nuggets. I cook at anywhere between 375º and 425º (preferring 425º). Take desired quantity of frozen nuggets from freezer and place on cookie sheetwhich has been sprayed lightly with a cooking spray or lined with parchment paper (to prevent nuggets from sticking to pan). Place in hot oven for 6-8 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes. DONE! Serve as is, or with any desired dipping sauce. My son likes ketchup.  My daughter likes honey mustard.  On of my daughter’s friends swears by ranch dressing.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you tomorrow!

*Panko is my current favorite to use for chicken nuggets but in the past I have also used a wide variety of homemade and boxed breadcrumbs (both the plain and the Italian kinds)—and one time I even used crushed Wheaties! Everything seems to work with this recipe. One of the notes in The 150 Best American Recipes suggests adding some chopped pecans to the breadcrumbs. Now I’ve never done this, but nut-lovers might want to consider it!