Category Archives: Food & Recipes

Food is an important part of our family. I don’t believe in “secret recipes.” If I make it, I’ll share it. And if you like it, I hope you’ll share it, too.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars

Papaya Cheesecake Bars - Cut Bars & Pan

The Polar Vortex killed our papaya tree. Poor little guy. We just planted him last summer, so we barely knew him. To make matters worse, we’re having trouble finding another papaya tree to replace him. Not that we’re interviewing or anything, but the nursery doesn’t have any. Which is a round-about way to say The Complete Package bought a fresh papaya last weekend that was bigger than my head so he could germinate the seeds in an attempt to grow papaya trees. That’s great, but it left us with a gallon of diced papaya. Thatza lotta papaya.

What does one do with a gallon of fresh papaya? Not much, apparently. I searched the internet for ideas, but recipe choices were mainly limited to smoothies. After two or three of those, I was done. Then I saw a recipe for papaya jam, and that really got me thinking. Surely I could so something with papaya jam, right? Enter Papaya Cheesecake Bars.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars - In the Pan

Sometimes I come up with an idea that actually works. Surprising, I know.

NanaBread’s Papaya Cheesecake Bars:
(makes two 8″ x 8″ square pans or one 13″ x 9″ rectangle)

For the papaya jam:
4 cups fresh papaya – peeled, seeded & diced
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar (optional, or add to taste)
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the fresh papaya, marmalade and orange juice. Simmer over medium-low heat until the papaya is soft and the mixture begins to thicken a little. Taste to determine if sugar needs to be added. If so, add up to 1/4 cup of sugar (to your taste) and cook until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue to stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Place a strainer over a mixing bowl, and pour the papaya mixture into the strainer. Using a flexible silicone spatula, press the papaya mixture through, straining out any fruit fiber or lumps. Allow the strained mixture to cool completely. While it’s cooling, you can start your shortbread crust.

For the shortbread crust:
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill coconut meal
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond meal
6 tablespoons brown sugar
a pinch of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold & cubed

Pre-heat your oven to 375F. In a food processor, combine all of the shortbread ingredients. Pulse until well combined and the texture of course sand. Line your baking pan(s) with parchment and add the shortbread mixture (it will be crumbly). Shake the pan to distribute the crumbs, then tap it flat on the counter a few times to help settle them in an even layer. Cover with a sheet of parchment and use a rolling-pin or heavy glass to roll the crumbs into a solid, compact layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. While the crust is baking, mix up your cheesecake filling.

For the cheesecake layer:
1 package (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

In a mixing bowl, combine the cheesecake ingredients. Whisk until the mixture is completely smooth. Pour over the baked shortbread crust, tapping the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Pop it back into the oven for 10-12 minutes, or just until you can shake the pan gently and the cheesecake doesn’t jiggle. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, top with papaya jam, spreading it into a smooth even layer. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars - Cut

Truth in Marketing Moment: I dusted mine with powdered sugar, but it really served no purpose other than adding texture to the photographs. The sugar dissolved almost immediately into the papaya jam and vanished. Feel free to skip that step unless you’re also photographing your papaya bars, in which case it’ll look pretty and everybody loves pretty desserts.

That papaya jam? It’s supremely tasty, so I’ll be canning more of that.

Remember when people used to ask “If you were a crayon, what color would you be?” I’m changing my answer. It used to be Cornflower Blue, but now it’s Papaya Orange. That color just screams SASSY.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars - Horizontal

7 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes

TCP Cooks: French Toast Waffles

Challah: A braided bread laden with eggs, symbolizing manna from heaven.

Challah: A braided bread laden with eggs, symbolizing manna from heaven.

If you love good bread, let me hear you challah!

Corny food puns are my secret love, as is warm eggy challah bread. But it’s what The Complete Package does with it that really makes my heart sing. Inspired by a sleep-over episode of Bobby Flay’s cooking show, he does the unthinkable and combines two breakfast favorites into one – French Toast & Waffles.

French Toast Waffles - Inside NanaBread's Head

To make this mouth-watering delicacy, you’ll need a fresh loaf of challah, the standard cast of French toast ingredients, and a piping hot waffle maker. A bowl of homemade whipped cream and some fresh fruit doesn’t hurt either.

TCP’s French Toast Waffles: (makes 8 slices)
1 loaf of fresh challah bread
4 large eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar, to dust with
fresh whipped cream & macerated fruit, to garnish

Pre-heat your waffle iron (set to medium heat, if yours is adjustable).

Slice the challah bread into 1″ thick slices; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until lemon-colored and frothy. Whisk in the brown sugar, beating until the sugar is mostly dissolved; add the cream, vanilla and salt and whisk until combined.

Dunk each slice of challah into the egg mixture, turning to coat well, and place it in the waffle maker. Gently press the lid closed and bake until golden brown. Our small waffle maker can bake one slice at a time and each takes about 4 minutes, but it’s 32 years old, so watch yours carefully for a perfect golden hue.

When done, remove to a warm plate, dust with powdered sugar then top with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Serve immediately.

French Toast Waffles - Close-Up

Leftovers, if there are any, can be frozen. Simply place the cooked & completely cooled waffles into a zip-style freezer bag, press out any excess air, seal tightly, then drop in the freezer. To warm, place them on a baking sheet and re-heat in the oven at 275F, or pop them in the microwave for 25-30 seconds, or drop them into your toaster (just be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn).

These are great with fresh peaches, strawberries, bananas or any favorite fruit. They’re also delicious with a smear of coconut curd and blackberry jam, or lemon curd and raspberry jam. There’s also the old-fashioned favorite – a pat of real butter and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. So many fabulous options, but that’s for you to discover. A word of caution: these are addictive.

Thinking of making your own Challah? Check out Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

8 Comments

Filed under Family Stuff, Food & Recipes

Pizza Week: Pepperoni Rolls Two Ways

Pizza Week Calzones - Cut - Vertical

It’s hard to compete with pizza places – they’re fast, cheap and sometimes a little too convenient, if you know what I mean. How does any parent compete with a $5 pizza from Little Caesar’s? We can’t, really. But we CAN make easy pizzas at home. Are these going to pass for gourmet? No way! But that’s not what I’m going for here. For Pizza Week, I’m shooting for quick and easy.

TIP: I use frozen bread dough. You can make your own, but I’m a confirmed yeast slayer so prepared frozen dough works for me. To thaw it more quickly on a cold day, spray the inside of a gallon zip bag then insert 2 loaves of frozen dough and seal the bag shut. Place the bag on an electric heating pad turned to high heat and cover the dough & heating pad with a thick towel. Every once in a while, check to see how it’s progressing and flip the bag over.

Once the dough is soft and warm, flour your cutting board or work surface. I always get excited when a board gets floured. A myriad of warm and wonderful goodies begins right here.

A Floured Board - Inside NanaBread's Head

Place your bread dough onto a floured board, and using your fingertips, gently press the dough into a rectangle (roughly 8″ x 12″). Cover it with a lightweight kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. When it is well rested, grab a rolling-pin and roll the dough into a larger rectangle (about 12″ x 18″).

Pizza Week - Bread Dough

I like a simple sauce on my pizza, so a small can of tomato sauce with Italian herbs & spices blended in is perfect for me. I usually throw in a little garlic salt and hot chili flakes, as well as an extra pinch of dried oregano, but that’s optional. When you’re ready to assemble, lay out your toppings and get busy. Here’s how I put together an easy Pepperoni & Mushroom Calzone.

Pizza Week Calzones - Collage

Top to Bottom: a little sauce, provolone, pepperoni, button & baby bella mushrooms sauteed in butter, Italian 5-cheese blend & parmesan; stretch out the sides of the dough & cut with pizza cutter; pinch together ends, brush with olive oil (or see below) & bake until golden.

Want to blow your family’s mind? Melt half a stick of butter, throw in a little garlic salt & oregano and then brush it all over the top of your calzone just before you pop it in the oven. Bake until golden brown, then remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Soft, gooey pizza has to be one of the greatest things to ever come out of an oven. Can I get an amen?

Pizza Week Calzones - Vertical

Pizza Week Calzones - Cut - Horizontal

Okay… so everyone loves pizza, but sometimes we don’t have time to make bread dough or wait for it to rise. Here’s my second version of quick pizza rolls – wonton-style. These could not be simpler. You’ll need a package of wonton wrappers (produce section), a package of string cheese, a package of pepperoni, a small bowl of water and a frying pan with about 3/4″ of canola or vegetable oil.

Pizza Rolls - Wonton Style - Collage

The key to these is that small bowl of water. Use the water to ‘paint’ the edges of the wonton wrappers. It acts as glue and causes the cornstarch coating on the wrappers to seal these puppies shut, which is really important when you drop them into hot oil. If yours start to peel open again, just dip your finger in water and stick it back together again. Fry in hot oil (325F) until golden brown, then remove to paper towels to cool. Presto! Pizza Rolls!

Pizza Rolls - Wonton-Style & Ready to Serve
I like to serve these with warm marinara. Again, I usually toss in some oregano and chili flakes. I like my marinara zippy. If you like your cheese ooey and gooey, just microwave these for 30-45 seconds just before serving.

Pizza Rolls - A Perfect Bite

Ready for MORE pizza? Check out our merry band of Theme Weavers and their gooey contributions to Pizza Week:

Monday:
Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Pizza Dough & a King Arthur Flour giveaway

Tuesday:
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – Zorbaz Taco Pizza
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – 30-Minute Cornmeal Pizza Crust

Wednesday:
Megan @ Country Cleaver – Proscuitto & Pear Pie
Madelyn @ La Petite Pancake – Tangy BBQ Chicken Pizza

Thursday:
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Clam & Bacon Pizza
Monica @ The Grommom – Pesto & Roasted Veggie Pizza on Gluten-Free Crust

Friday:
Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head – that’s me!
Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain – Caramelized Onion, Sausage, and Barbecue Pizza with Ranch Dressing
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Greek Pizza

PizzaWeekBadge

Honorable Mentions: The following are blog posts I’ve drooled over on other blogger’s websites. While not a part of our Pizza Week shenanigans, they are definitely worth a mention.

Megan @ Country Cleaver – Carnitas Pizza with Mango Margaritas

Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain – Pot Roast Naan Pizza with Caramelized Onions & Fontina

Anne @ From My Sweet Heart – Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Pizza

Michelle @ Brown-Eyed Baker – Pizza Dip

Christina @ Dessert For Two – Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Pizza

Bev @ Bev Cooks – Simple Tandoori Chicken Naan Pizza

13 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes

31 Days of Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter? Let’s make that 32.

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookies & Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches

Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter. It’s the stuff dreams are truly made of, especially if you love chocolate and peanut butter like I do. Peanut Butter & Co makes one that blows my skirt up every single time I crack the lid. I’ll eat it on anything – crackers, toast, bagels, cake, waffles, a spoon, or even my finger. (Hi. My name is Jeanne, and I’ve been a peanut butter addict since forever.)

Keep reading all the way to the bottom, people. This is going to get good!

Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter Close-Up

Oh, baby. This is the good stuff. It’s my super-duper favorite. For real.

Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter - One Glorious Spoonful

This week Peanut Butter & Co released a new cookbook titled 31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams‘. As a newly minted member of Peanut Butter & Co’s Yum Squad, I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy as well as a 28-ounce jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams to play with. Man, I love these guys. Great company, great products, and always such fun to work with. (Hi, Adam!)

Dark Chocolate Dreams Box - Instagram

The cookbook is amazing. As I flipped through it, I kept squealing “Oooo! I’ll make that! I’ll make THAT, too!” So many drool-worthy recipes to choose from. I’m seriously thinking of trying the dark chocolate peanut butter flourless cake first. Then maybe the marble pound cake. Or maybe ALL OF THEM.

First, though, I jumped in to make a batch of my new favorite peanut butter cookies. They’re made with coconut oil instead of butter (I know… I know… I love butter, too) but the coconut oil adds great flavor and I love the texture of these. Even better, you can stuff them with Häagen-Dazs Salted Caramel Gelato and BAM! – ice cream sandwiches to die for. Let’s start with the cookies first.

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB & Coconut Oil Cookies - Ingredients

Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter & Coconut Oil Cookies
(Original recipe credit to AverieCooks.com)

3/4 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter
1/2 cup organic coconut oil, softened to room temp
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 jumbo or large egg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Make sure your coconut oil is softened to the consistency of softened butter (I had to microwave mine for 12 seconds). It sounds insignificant, but making sure your coconut oil is not too firm or too melted is key to the texture of these cookies. When you’re there, combine the peanut butter and coconut oil and beat for 3-4 minutes with an electric mixer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla extract, and beat for 30 seconds more.

Stop the mixer and again scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch & baking soda and whisk to combine. Add the flour in one batch to the peanut butter mixture, then on LOW speed, mix until flour is starting to incorporate and then turn the speed up to medium and beat just until the flour mixture is well combined and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. It should look like this:

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookie Dough - Perfect Consistency

If the mixture is too dry and crumbles easily, add a little more coconut oil and beat it again. If it seems too sticky and doesn’t easily form into a ball, add more flour – 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time – until your dough is the consistency of a new can of Play Dough. When it’s ready, grab a medium ice cream or cookie scoop and your baking sheets. I recommend using silicone baking mats for most baking projects. They guarantee your hard work won’t stick to the pan, causing violent bouts of cursing or childish hissy fits (or so I’ve heard).

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookie Dough - Perfect Scoop

That, my friends, is a perfect scoop. To get it, I simply drag the scoop through the dough then scrape it up the side of the bowl as I remove it. See how the dough presses perfectly into the scoop? That’s when you know it’s the right consistency. Scoop onto lined baking sheets, 2″ apart so you can press them.

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookies - Perfect Scoops

Note: if you don’t want to press these cookies flat for ice cream sandwiches, you can leave them like they appear in the above photo. They will take 2-3 minutes longer to bake, but result in a thicker, brownie-like cookie. For ice cream sandwiches, I pressed them with the bottom of an old glass candy dish.

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookies - Pressed

I love the pattern this makes in the cookies. If you don’t have a fancy cookie press, I highly recommend flipping over old decorative bowls or glasses. If there’s a great pattern in the bottom, it can be used as a cookie press. Be adventurous and try it!

Bake at 350F for 9-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely before removing them from the pans. Because I was making ice cream sandwiches with mine, I let the cookies cool completely on the pan, then popped the entire pan in the freezer to make sure they were super cold.

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookies & Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches - Close-Up

For ice cream sandwiches:
Grab a pint of your favorite ice cream or gelato and let it sit out on the counter until it starts to get nice and soft (about 5 mins). I happened to have a pint of Häagen-Dazs Salted Caramel Gelato in my freezer (lucky girl!), but Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia or Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz, or any flavor you love will work.

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookies - When the Magic Happens

Using the same scoop I used for the cookie dough, I placed a row of cookies ‘bottoms up’ on my tray, then placed a scoop of softened gelato in the center of each. With a flat metal spatula, aka pancake flipper, I flattened each scoop of gelato into a smooth, even layer.

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookies - Topped with Gelato

Top with a second cookie and immediately wrap in plastic wrap. Pop them back into the freezer for at least 2-3 hours, or until they are frozen solid. To eat, just unwrap and dig in. If you plan to nibble them one at a time, place the wrapped ice cream sandwiches into an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. They should keep for at least 4 weeks in your freezer. This recipe makes 16 individual cookies approximately 3″ in diameter, or 8 ice cream sandwiches.

Of course, you can also use a small cookie scoop and make these more bite-size for portion control. Or you can double the recipe and keep the baked cookies in the freezer in an air-tight container so you can enjoy them plain or build ice cream sandwiches on demand. Or just eat the cookies and wash them down with a glass of milk. That works, too. But I recommend the ice cream sandwiches. Because more is more, or something like that.

Dark Chocolate Dreams PB Cookies & Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches - Stacks & Jar

Now for the best part of this post – Peanut Butter & Co has generously offered to ship a copy of ’31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams’ and a 28-ounce jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter to one lucky reader. To participate, simply leave a comment. It could be “I love peanut butter!” or “Peanut Butter & Co is awesome!” or even “I’m a cookbook hoarder.” One reader will be chosen at random, and Peanut Butter & Co will ship this tasty prize pack directly to their door. The deadline for this drawing is Friday, February 7th at 12:00 midnight, Central Standard Time, so jump on it now. Right now! What are you waiting for?!

Dark Chocolate Dreams Cookbook

If you don’t win or can’t wait to get your hands on the cookbook, you can purchase it online by clicking HERE, along with other Peanut Butter & Co goodies and peanut butter products. The Cinnamon Raisin Swirl blows my mind and Mighty Maple is both creamy and dreamy.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. Peanut Butter & Co sent me an advanced copy of the cookbook and a jar of peanut butter to play with, as stated above. I am a member of their Yum Squad, which is also unpaid. Put simply, I love their products, and they have occasionally sent me peanut butter to experiment with. For example, check out my ‘The Heat is On’ Spicy Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies made with their spicy chili-laced peanut butter. As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way by the company. I just love the quality of their stuff, and enjoy sharing that joy with you.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Linda (comment #4), winner of the Peanut Butter & Co prize pack giveaway. Thanks to all who participated, and high five to Linda. You’re going to love the cookbook AND the peanut butter! -jeanne

52 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes, Things I Love

Foodie Challenge: Balsamic Reduction

Ever read the fabulous food blog Country Cleaver? You should. It’s author, Megan Keno, is amazing. Each week, she posts an instructional kitchen how-to lesson. This week, it was how to make a perfect balsamic vinegar reduction. One ingredient, one method, one beautiful result. As a new twist, she is turning her How-To Tuesday posts into a monthly contest. The winner receives a $25 gift card to Target. I like Target, but I love a food challenge. Let’s do this!

Photo courtesy of Megan at CountryCleaver.com; used with written permission

Photo courtesy of Megan at CountryCleaver.com; used with written permission

To participate, you must follow Megan’s how-to lesson and then show your work. I like this SO much better than math class word problems. Since I had a bottle of balsamic vinegar in the pantry, I jumped right on it and used my reduction for lunch. First, let’s talk about the process. All you need is a bottle of balsamic vinegar and a heavy-bottomed saucepan with rounded edges.

Bahn Mi - Balsamic Reduction Collage

Step 1: Measure 1 cup of balsamic vinegar.
Step 2: Pour it into a saucepan with curved sides (important for whisking).
Step 3: Cook over medium-low heat until reduced by 1/2 and syrupy.
Step 4: Pour into a heat-proof glass container & cool to room temp.

It’s really that simple. I will say, I was afraid I would burn this and have to pour it out or start over. To prevent that, I stayed close to it, whisked often, and when it started to bubble and thicken, I reduced the flame to low – just to be sure. When it was thick enough to coat a spoon and I could scrape a path through the pan with a silicone spatula, I knew I was golden.

Bahn Mi - Balsamic Reduction Test

So what do you do with balsamic reduction? I decided to use mine on sandwiches for lunch – specifically spicy chicken bahn mi sandwiches. Because why eat a boring bologna sandwich when you can have something schmancy? Actually, I hopped on this one because I had all the ingredients at hand.

Bahn Mi - Finished Sandwich Glamor Shot

Oh yeah, baby…. come to momma! This sandwich was so flipping good, y’all. It was absolutely packed with flavor. Would I eat it again? You bet your sweet bippy I would. Here’s what you’ll need to make it at home.

NanaBread’s Spicy Chicken Bahn Mi:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. Penzey’s Bangkok Blend spice mix
2 bakery buns (soft on the inside/crusty on the outside)
1-2 tbsp. Thai chili garlic paste
6 baby carrots, julienned
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange mild pepper, thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp. roasted peanuts, chopped
a few rings of purple onion, thinly sliced
one leaf of romaine lettuce, julienned
one handful of cilantro, stems removed
1-2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar reduction
lime wedges, for garnish & squeezing

This recipe starts with the balsamic vinegar reduction.

Bahn Mi - Balsamic Reduction

While your vinegar is reducing, prep your chicken breast by trimming off any excess fat and slicing it into 1/2″ cutlets. Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat, add 1 the olive oil, then carefully add the chicken cutlets to the pan. Sprinkle generously with garlic salt and Bangkok blend and cook just until done, flipping once (approx. 2 minutes on each side). Remove to a plate, tent with foil, and allow them to cool. And try not to snitch, which isn’t easy, because that Penzey’s spice blend smells amazing.

Bahn Mi - Finished Chicken

While your chicken rests, warm your bakery buns. I like to wrap mine in aluminum foil and throw them in the oven on low for about 15 minutes. While they’re warming, julienne your vegetables and chop your peanuts.

Bahn Mi - Ingredient Round-Up

Bahn Mi - Roasted Peanuts

When you’re ready to assemble, slice your bun almost in half horizontally (don’t go all the way through). Smear a generous tablespoon of chili garlic sauce on the bottom half of the bun (or less, as you prefer). Top with a row of chicken cutlets, then layer on the lettuce, peppers, purple onion, carrots and cilantro. To finish, drizzle with balsamic reduction and a squeeze of lime. Hello, gorgeous!

Bahn Mi - Finished - Grey Background

Oh, how I wish we had smell-a-vision. There’s so much going on here. The chicken smells warm & spicy, the chili garlic sauce opens your sinuses, and the balsamic vinegar is tangy and sweet all at the same time. This entire sandwich is an explosion of flavors, and the beauty is that they all seem to balance each other out perfectly – spicy but sweet, crispy yet soft, crunch and creamy.

I served these with one of those microwaveable Asian pad-thai-style noodle bowls topped with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts, a few pepper slices and some fresh cilantro. {Claps hands, drops mic, walks away. Boom!}

Bahn Mi - Finished Sandwich Glamor Shot2

I think Megan’s How-To Tuesday challenges and I are going to get along just fine. And if I don’t win the Target card, I’m still a winner. Because I got to eat that sandwich.

If you want to follow along or jump in and participate, follow Megan at www.countrycleaver.com, or on Twitter @CountryCleaver, or on Instagram and follow the #HowToYOUsDay hashtag.

9 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes

Luscious Leftovers: Lettuce Wraps

We meal plan in this house. Each Sunday evening, I sit with a notepad and plan out our week. Lately, my game plan involves picking a few main dish meats that can be re-used as leftovers in a variety of ways. With just two of us, it makes it easier to buy, easier to stretch, and easier to save money as well.

For example, The Complete Package recently smoked a rack of pork ribs. That night, we had a traditional barbecue feast of ribs with beans and macaroni salad. The next night we one of my favorite simple go-to meals – Asian lettuce wraps. When I say this one is easy, I’m not even kidding. Not one little bit.

Lettuce Wraps - Inside NanaBread's Head

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • leftover smoked pork (ribs, pulled pork, chops, etc.), warmed up
  • a small pan of steamed white rice (we love basmati)
  • scallions, cut into 2″ strips lengthwise
  • butterhead or Boston lettuce, rinsed & patted dry
  • your favorite Asian hoisin or sweet chili sauce

Lettuce Wrap - Inside NanaBread's Head

To serve, simply lay out a leaf or two of lettuce. Add a spoonful of steamed rice, some smoked pork, a few scallions and a drizzle of your favorite hoisin or chili sauce (or both). Roll it up and stuff it in your pie hole. BAM! So good, and ready in mere minutes. This meal confirms my favorite motto: Keep it Simple.

Lettuce Wraps Collage - Inside NanaBread's Head

What is your go-to dinner in a hurry meal? I’d love for you to share it! -jeanne

9 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes

Pie Week: Black & White Coconut Tart

The Theme Weavers are ringing in the holidays with PIE WEEK. Wahoooooo! I love pie. Love, love, love it. It’s my favorite of all of the Food Groups – Pie, Bacon, Cheese, Chocolate & Booze. If only we could all be in one room so we could face plant into all the glorious pies to be featured this week, it would be a dream come true. Also dreamy, this gorgeous Black & White Coconut Tart.

Black & White Coconut Tart - Banners

It starts with Kirsten’s ‘No Excuses’ pie dough recipe, pre-baked into the perfect vessel. Then it gets a schmear of hot fudge sauce (it’s okay… just breathe) and a luscious layer of coconut cream. Finally, it’s crowned with glorious mounds of whipped cream and toasted coconut. Have I mentioned that I love pie?

Let’s start at the beginning – a very good place to start. Pie dough. When I say this one is easy, I’m not joking. Made in the food processor, it’s ready in a flash and flawless every single time. It’s the only recipe I use.

Black & White Coconut Tart - Kirsten's Pie Dough

For this tart, I chose to use a vintage 8″ square baking tin I found while antiquing with Kirsten last May. Using the pan reminds me of her and proves two points – 1. food = love and 2. blogging friends are real (and are lots of fun).

Black & White Coconut Tart - Fitting Dough to Pan

One of my favorite pie tools – a pizza cutter. I love a good sharp edge when working with pie dough. There’s no better example of that than this next shot, where I decide to make a fancy braided edge for my tart. Curse you, Pinterest!

Black & White Coconut Tart - Braid Collage

Did I just hear you say “Whatever!”? Oooo… I’m gonna… Ha! Not really. Truth is, this trick is not as complicated as it looks. I found the key is pinching the ends together and pressing them into the countertop to anchor the strands. From there, it’s just a regular braid. When you’re done, pinch the other ends together to seal the deal, then apply it to the tart with a little egg white as glue.

Black & White Coconut Tart - Egg Wash Glue

Once applied, press gently to make sure it’s stuck, then pop then entire thing into the freezer for half an hour. Why? Because a frozen pie shell bakes much better than a room-temperature pie shell. More flaky layers; less shrinkage. After 30 minutes, remove it from the freezer, line it with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or pie weights to keep the crust from falling into the pan while it bakes. My tip: cut two paper strips to create a sling instead of trying to fold parchment into the corners. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Before (L) and after (R) - the beans keep the dough in place.

Before baking (L) and after (R) – the beans keep the dough in place.

Bake in a hot oven until it’s a light golden brown, then allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes with the beans still in place. After 15 minutes, you can lift out the beans and allow the tart shell to cool completely. If you plan to put your dried beans back in the pantry for soup later, be sure to let them cool completely before you seal them into a container. If you don’t, they’ll create steam in the container which will cause them to mold later.

While my tart shell was chilling, I made a batch of coconut custard from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. I chose this filling because it used coconut milk for extra flavor, which was a good call – it’s dreamy. Cooked on the stove, it comes together quickly. The hardest part is resisting the urge to eat it while it cools. Once it’s done and slightly cooled, the trick is to cover it with plastic wrap so it doesn’t get that tough pudding skin layer on top. Two words that should never be used together – pudding & skin.

Black & White Coconut Tart - Coconut Custard

So now you have a baked & cooled tart shell and a cooled custard. What’s next? Assembly! First up is a layer of your favorite fudge sauce, then a thick layer of coconut custard, and finally a piped dome of whipped cream sprinkled with lightly toasted coconut. Licking the spatula is highly recommended.

Black & White Custard Tart - Filling Collage

Days like this make me happy to be one of those people who plays with their food. This one was fun to put together. Have you ever made anything that turned out so perfectly you thought, “Man, I hate to cut this!” Yeah, me neither.

Black & White Coconut Tarts - A Slice

NANABREAD’S BLACK & WHITE COCONUT TART:

One recipe of No Excuses Pie Dough (use half, freeze half for later)
One batch of America’s Test Kitchen Coconut Cream Pie custard:

  • 1 14-oz. can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup sugar (divided in half)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold & diced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

One batch of stabilized whipped cream topping:

  • one pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon instant vanilla pudding powder

One cup of your favorite hot fudge sauce (at room temperature)
One cup lightly toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish

To make the pie shell:
Roll the pie dough out and place in a lightly sprayed pie or tart pan. Flute or attach a decorative edge, then freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer, line the pie shell with parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dried beans, and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, or until the edge is a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool 15-20 minutes, then lift out the paper & beans and allow it to cool completely.

To make the custard:
In a heavy saucepan, bring the coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of sugar and salt to a gentle bubble, stirring often. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot custard into the egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. Once combined, whisk the egg yolk mixture into the pan of custard and whisk to combine. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the custard begins to thicken. Whisk in the vanilla extract and turn off the heat. Move to a cold burner and allow it to cool for 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and allow it to cool, covered, until it comes to room temperature.

To make the whipped cream topping:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the heavy cream and sugar. Whisk on high until the cream just begins to thicken. Sprinkle in the instant vanilla pudding powder and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. Scrape into a piping bag with a large star tip and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

To assemble the tart:
Spread a 1/4″ to 1/2″ layer of your favorite hot fudge sauce into the tart shell, spreading it an even layer. Gently spoon the coconut custard onto the fudge sauce layer and spread it into an even layer. Top with whipped cream and shaved coconut and chill until ready to serve. Makes four large servings or six smaller ones, if baked in an 8″ x 8″ square pan as seen above. Keep refrigerated.

Black & White Coconut Tarts - My Slice

Before you face plant into that last shot, be sure and check out these Theme Weavers and their crusted contributions to Pie Week:

Monday, Nov. 18:
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Mile High Apple Pie
Anne @ From My Sweet Heart – Cranberry Cherry Ricotta Pie
Haley @ The Girly Girl Cooks – Coconut Cream Pie
Katie @ The Hill Country Cook – New Mexico Apple Pie

Tropical Tuesday, Nov. 19:
Mads @ La Petite Pancake – Pineapple Pie
Monica @ The Grommom – Papaya Pie
Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head – Black & White Coconut Tart (that’s me!)

Wednesday, Nov. 20:
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – Grandma’s Chocolate Pie
Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Chocolate Cream Pie
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Maple Sweet Potato with Swiss Meringue

Thursday, Nov. 21:
Shanna @ Pineapple and Coconut – Boozy Pumpkin Eggnog Pie
Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Sweet Potato Tartlets
Christina @ Buffy and George – Deep Dish Apple Pie

Friday, Nov. 22:
Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten – Sweet Potato Pie
Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World – Refrigerator Pumpkin Porter Chocolate Pie with Toasted Pumpkin Porter Marshmallow “Meringue”
Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain – Mini Butternut Squash Glazed Pie Stacks with Marshmallow Frosting

Saturday, Nov. 23:
Megan @ Country Cleaver – Biscoff Pie with Whiskey Mallow Fluff
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Berry Cherry Pie
Shanna @ Pineapple & Coconut – Persimmon & Pear Brandy Pie with Vanilla Bean Crumble

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

32 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes