Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Banana Stuffed French Toast

Sometimes a person just needs some good ol' comfort food. Messy, sticky and yummy comfort food.

When we were young, my mother would make french toast about once a month as a special weekend breakfast. I would dump a ton of maple syrup (the fake stuff please) over the top and dig in with gusto. It was one of my most favorite treats.

When I started living with Nathan I decided to continue the tradition that my mother started - only with a couple of additional ingredients.


1 loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, cut into 1 inch slices
2 bananas, peeled and mashed slightly

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp water

3 tbsp milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange liqueur (you can omit the liqueur and use fresh orange juice)
1 tsp grated orange zest

approximately 2 tbsp butter

cinnamon for dusting, if desired

Create a pocket about 2/3 of the way into each slice of bread by cutting along an edge. Fill pockets with about a tablespoon of mashed banana, each. In a medium bo
wl, beat together eggs, water, milk, vanilla, liqueur and zest. Dip the bread slices into the mixture, allowing the slices to become saturated.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place a few slices at a time in the skillet, and cook turning once, until both sides are golden brown. Dust with cinnamon, pour a little of your favorite syrup over the top and serve!

The bread is nice an crisp on the outside, and creamy and sweet just under the surface...and the bananas hidden in the inside - it's a little piece of heaven.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Not your ordinary fruit salad

Fruit salad is one of my favorite summertime treats - but sometimes the old stuff just gets...old. So, I mixed it up a bit and made a tropical fruit salad that tasted so different and just yummy!

All you need is a whole cantaloupe, a whole pineapple, 3 kiwi fruits, 1 large mango and 1 Caribbean papaya. Cut everything up and toss in a large bowl. Sprinkle with some toasted coconut and serve. Goes great with the Baby Back Ribs we had last night!

Viola! Tropical Fruit Salad.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Corny Salmon

The other day, Nathan and I went out for a little drive in the country. In just weeks, the corn stalks have shot up to over 5 feet high, and now blanket the countryside with their sweet goodness! Every farm stand around the city has loads of fresh corn cobs in their wooden bins, waiting to be shucked and eaten. I like my corn raw, because it best highlights the crisp texture and juicy sweetness much better than boiled or grilled corn does. (Of course, any way you eat it, it's delicious.) Summer fresh corn happens to be one of my favorite vegetables.


4 ears of fresh corn, shucked, washed and cut from the cob
1/2 orange pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1-2 tomatoes (depending on size), diced
1/2 cup English cucumber, finely diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
3 tbsp champagne vinegarjuice of one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh basil and parsley, again...to taste

Place all vegetables in a large bowl, and juice lemon over them so that the avocado doesn't have any time to oxidize!

In a small bowl, mix together vinegar and olive oil with a wire whisk until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over salad and mix until combine. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary. Chill for approximately 3 hours.

Directly before service, add the fresh basil and parsley, and enjoy! I served the salad with a grilled sweet potato round, and a fillet of grilled salmon with a slathering of honey BBQ sauce - but the corn was the definite star of the show! (Then I ate the rest for breakfast the next morning!)

Citymama just highlighted a very similar dish, only adding tortellini, to make the salad more of a main course, which is a fabulous idea and one that I am going to steal in the near future! Another thing that is a bonus to this salad, is that it can be eaten at room temperature, because there is no mayo to spoil, so it is perfect for outdoor BBQ's or picnics.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Watermelon Gazpacho

Is there anything better in the whole wide world than watermelon?

No. There's not!

I've been in love with watermelon since I was a wee little child, when it was perfectly acceptable to have juice running down your chin, and red fruit stains on the front of your shirt. Not only is watermelon delicious when in season, but it is also known for it's anti-cancer properties...so eat up!

It seems like everyone in the food blog world has been talking about gazpacho, a wonderful tomato based cold soup with loads of chunky vegetables.

It's certainly the season for it...I just harvested 4 huge bright red tomatoes from my pitiful little garden.

I wanted to change up the recipe a little, and substitute watermelon for the tomatoes, to give it more of a refreshing flavor...yet still be a lite starter for a meal. A quick google search showed me that I was not reinventing the wheel...but instead of using someone else's recipe, I created one of my own, to better suit our tastes.


5 cups of seedless watermelon, divided
1/2 cup english cucumber, finely diced (also known as "burpless" or "seedless" cucumber)
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup yellow pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup each of yellow squash and/or zucchini, finely diced
1 tbsp finely diced jalepano pepper, seeds removed and discarded
1/4 cup of red wine (optional)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil

Prepare vegetables and place in a large bowl, along with wine, vinegar and citrus juice. (The wine can be omitted - but it does give the dish a nice robust deep flavor.)

In a food processor, blend 2 cups of watermelon until smooth. Empty into bowl. Chop remaining watermelon into bite sized pieces and add to vegetable mixture. Gently stir and season with salt and pepper. Chill for at least 3 hours. Directly before service, garnish with fresh basil.

So refreshing!

Monday, July 16, 2007

The call of duty

My mother suffers from a couple of digestive ailments, including (but not limited to) acid reflux. About 3 years ago, she went to a nutricianist for some advice on how to treat these ailments - and returned home with a brand new wacky diet, which basically included only sweet potatoes and chicken. I'm not kidding. Thanksgiving was a blast that year.

Since then, her choices have been expanded - but not by much. Today, she is having surgery on her right shoulder and will be out of commission for quite a while as she heals. She asked me if I could help her make some dinners, since she will not be able to do much cooking, nor are my brother or stepfather much help in the kitchen. I was given a list of the foods she could eat (since the list of the foods she can't eat was much, much, much longer).

Foods she can eat, besides chicken and sweet potatoes...lean beef, turkey, radishes, lettuce, most fish, seaweed, carrots, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, eggs, spinach, onions and garlic.

Foods she can not eat...beans, peas, corn and corn products, pork, shell fish of any kind - shrimp, mussels, lobster, etc - avocados, cucumbers, eggplant, soy, dairy (including milk, yogurt, sour cream and cheese), flour, rice, potatoes, oatmeal, lentils, most every grain - including wheat, bread, asparagus, salad dressings, etc...the list goes on and on and on. Everytime I came up with an idea - it would be knocked down because one of the main ingredients was on the damn list!

Saturday became cooking day. We made:
Butternut Squash Soup
Chicken Soup (sans noodles)
Egg, spinach, feta and leek Fritatta
2 Veggie packed Meatloaf (one for now, one to freeze for later)
A big garden salad to last the week
And, Smitten Kitchen's Ratatouille, revised (to omit the eggplant, which is a no-no according to mom's restricted diet):

With all that cooking, in a very small amount of time, I needed helpers! I recruited my neice and nephew - as they had plenty of experience in my kitchen.

Kelsey was in charge of the stirring on the stove, which was quite a job, as we had many pots and pans going at one time. Shakeer helped me at the table, cutting vegetables and transferring those veggies to the pans for a little saute action. He also got his hands dirty mixing the meat for the meatloaf, and they both took turn cracking the eggs.

Kelsey, admiring her handy work.

All in all, we were quite successful - and got everything we wanted accomplished in the time we had, included grocery shopping for all of the ingredients! And, we had a blast. The kids tasted everything we made (for seasoning, because that's what "chef's" do!)...and found out that they both loved the Butternut Squash Soup they refused to eat the last time I made it. Who'da thunk?!

Get well soon mom...we'll talk about next week's meals a little later. I'm thinking chicken picatta and baked tilapia!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Huevos Rancheros

I love eggs for dinner - often times, it's the only time I eat eggs, since I am constantly running around in the morning. (Nathan, on the other hand, eats some kind of egg breakfast almost every day - - so this morning I reminded him to eat something else...unless he wanted to eat eggs twice in one day.) This meal is super easy and fast to make - from start to finish, I clocked this dish at only 7 minutes!

HUEVOS RANCHEROS (This recipe indicated measurements per person.)

2 eggs
1 corn or flour tortilla

1 tbsp sour cream

1 green onion, white and green parts, thinly sliced

2 tbsp chunky salsa

1/2 ripe avocado, cubed

2 tbsp montery jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup refried beans

salt and pepper to taste

dash of hot sauce (optional)
fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat refried beans until warmed through. Fry eggs according to the way you like them. Nathan likes them over-medium, and I like them over-soft.

To assemble: Place a
tortilla on a plate. Smear refried beans over the tortilla. Top with prepared eggs, and season with salt and pepper (and hot sauce). Garnish with shredded cheese, green onion, salsa, avocado and cilantro. Place a dollop of sour cream in the center, and serve!

This meal is a total belly-buster - - so loosen up those pants now!

And, grab a napkin...

Lentil Soup

Well, what do we have here? It looks like a steaming pile of ______________________!

It's quite OK to yuck this yum. I had no idea that the soup would come out looking so vomit'ous, or I probably would've skipped the recipe - after all, you do eat with your eyes first. However...for all of the negative reaction, the soup was actually *very* tasty. It is definitely going into my "keeper" pile. (Although next, I will probably serve it in a smaller vessel and top it with a chopped fresh herb so that it takes away from that terrible muddy sight!)


2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 celery stalk, diced
1 leek (white and green parts), washed and diced
7 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup dry vermouth
2 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
1 3/4 cups of green lentils
1/2 whole lemon, seeded
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp dried oregano
2-4 cups of water (if needed)

Heat oil in a large stock pot. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Add carrots, leek and celery and cook for a couple of minutes longer. Add tomato paste, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the paste turns a deep redish-brown. Add your lentils and oregano, then follow up with the dry vermouth, vinegar and chicken stock. Finally, throw the lemon into the soup and submerse.

Cook everything, stirring often, for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils are al dente. (You may have to add water, depending on the rate of evaporation...I used about 3 cups of additional liquid.) At this time, you can either season with salt and pepper and serve, or you choose to go with a little more body, and blend half of your soup. This is what I did!

The soup had an earthy, yet sweet flavor, and was completely satisfying with a side of good old fashioned Italian bread and butter for dipping. The balance of blended lentils and whole lentils was really interesting...it gave the soup a nice texture - not unlike a split pea soup.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ham and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Roulade

Let me first start by saying - I am a retard at roulade. I realize this statement is not politically correct by any means...but it is totally true. Monday night, while reading the recipe, I thought "why don't they tell me to use toothpicks to secure these little chicken bundles?" And, against my better judgement, I didn't...which meant that my first chicken roulade exploded, with all of the stuffing falling out. Dumb. I need to learn to trust my instincts!

Like most recipes I follow, I changed the ingredients and methods up a little to suit our tastes.

Ham and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Roulade

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
1 small can of sliced mushrooms (you can also use fresh - but they didn't look good at the store this week)
3 thin slices of proscuitto, torn into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp italian style bread crumbs
4 chicken breasts, butterflied and flatened
1 egg, mixed with 2 tbsp of water (egg wash)
1 cup of flour
1 cup of breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/4 cups of chicken stock
3/4 cup of heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add mushrooms and proscuitto and saute until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and mix in Italian style bread crumbs. Set aside.

Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large skillet until the temperature reaches about 350 degrees.

Place chicken breast on flat surface, and place 1-2 tbsp stuffing into the center of each breast. Roll chicken up around stuffing, so that stuffing is incapsulated. Secure with toothpick!!!! Roll chicken in flour, then dip in egg wash and finally roll in breadcrumbs. Place in heated oil and cook until all sides are nicely browned. Transfer to baking sheet, and finish with a quick stay in the oven - for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches a safe 170 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, start your sauce...melt 2 tbsp butter. Once melted, whisk in 2 tbsp of flour and cook for 1 minute to remove that "raw flour" taste. Slowly pour in chicken stock, whisking the entire time, as well as heavy cream. Stir occassionally, until sauce is thick and creamy. Serve over chicken roulade!

Tip: To make this dish a little less complicated, and more healthy - skip the breading and frying, and just bake the chicken in the 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. You can also substitute proscuitto for low sodium ham.

Once I finally used my brain and broke out the toothpicks, things went a heck of a lot more smoothly - although next time I may skip the frying and just bake the dish instead...because I had to turn the chicken so much to get it to brown on all sides, some of my breading was sacraficed.

I can not believe how flavorful this chicken is!!! It was really, really good - definitely a keeper! The chicken was nice and moist, and the stuffing with the proscuitto just added that little bit of sweet and salty that so many people crave.

Monday, July 09, 2007

CIA Week!

My poor negected food blog.

I've been cooking (honest), but none of the recipes and pictures have been blog worthy....which is why I felt the need to pick up a new cookbook! A $40 dollar cookbook at that - but it was totally worth it. New on my shelf is Cooking At Home with The Culinary Institute of America. Last night I was finally able to pour over all of the recipes, tips, techniques and pictures, and oh baby! I am totally inspired! If you are a new home cook, or an old pro, you will find this book helpful. Don't know how to crack a lobster? No problem...it's in here! Afraid of homemade pasta? Don't be! This book makes it easy that even I am willing to try my hand at it again. (This time without the help of my trusty wonton wrappers!)

This week will mark "CIA Recipe-Inspired Week" here at Kat's Kitchen Talk (dot) com!

Monday - Ham and Mushroom stuffed Chicken Roulades with Baked Potato and Sauted Spinach
Tuesday - Broiled Mahi-Mahi with Pineapple Chutney and a Strawberry and Goat Cheese Spinach Salad
Wednesday - French Lentil Soup with Crusty Bread and a Garden Side Salad with Homemade Chocolate Mousse for dessert!
Thursday - Huevos Rancheros
Friday - Pizza (delivered)
Saturday - Tilapia Vin Blanc with Roasted Carrots

I also have a ton of blueberries that I have to find a use for...I feel Blueberry Cheesecake calling my name!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Weekly Menu

It's been a while since I last posted a menu, partly because things have been so hectic here that it was hard sticking to anything written down on paper. Now that things are starting to settle down some, I'm back to planning, planning, planning!

Monday - Stuffed portabello mushrooms with wild rice and salad
Tuesday - BBQ beef brisket (made in the crockpot), smashed potatoes
Wednesday - Pork and Peach Kebabs with a marmalade-mustard glaze served with roasted veggies and au gratin potatoes and special 4th of July dessert!
Thursday - Onion tartlets with creamy tomato soup
Friday - PIZZA!!!!
Saturday - Baked rigatoni with a creamy bechamel sauce