I’ve made like a hundred different banana breads. (This, this, this, and this). I mean, I love it and it’s easy and makes good meals and snack on the go and is the best possible air freshener for the kitchen. Duh. But now my basic recipe has been revised. Again.
Why? Well, last time you’ll recall I had a change of heart about the excessive use of nut flours in baking, especially in something that had become a breakfast staple of mine. This time, it’s the flax. I have decided to quit using flax meal in my recipes since, well, it doesn’t agree with me. By process of elimination I realized it irritates my system, makes me gassy, and all that jazz.
I did a little reading, and it turns out that flax oil is really unstable (like many nut and seed oils). When you grind up the seeds, it goes rancid when exposed to heat or if not properly stored. If you want to use raw flax, you’re good as long as you buy the whole seeds and grind them yourself. If you’re like me and buy the packs or flax meal and store and use them like any other flour, then you’re doing way more harm than good. Oops.
Thankfully, the recipe was easy to fix and the result is just a nice, tender, rich flavored banana bread that is lovely on its own or slathered with raw almond butter and honey. Bonus that it’s oil and sugar free, so it’s cool for daily consumption
Right now it’s saving breakfast for me since I can just toss a few slices into a baggie and take them to class. Next step is to start making some serious Banana Bread French Toast…
I’ll be completely honest…I totally forgot how hard being a student really is. I haven’t been in college full time for…a lot of years and jumping right back into it has been a rather rude awakening. The summer term is especially brutal–it’s only a couple classes but it’s the fast and furious version…I’m in class from 8 to 4:30 with only one break for lunch. There hasn’t been a day this week when I didn’t feel like my brain had been liquified.
On top of all that, we’re on a really tight budget. This gives me a new appreciation for “budget eating,” since this is the first time in my life I haven’t had disposable income. I mean, my undergrad was free and I was making money from the Army all through that (not to mention they fed me three times a day anyway) and when I was working, I was making decent money…at least I realize now that it was decent
Now, even though the GI Bill is picking up a good part of this med school deal, I’m at a private school this year and it’s only paying about half. Oh, and then there’s the bureaucratic part of it…meaning I’m relying on federal and private loans until the GI Bill actually kicks in. Long story. Oh, red tape.
ANYWAY…we’re eating on a budget. And on severe time constraints. So this is the first of many meals I came up with that was ready in about a half hour, start to finish, with minimal ingredients. As an added bonus, it tastes really good. I’m obsessed with chipotle pepper lately and put it in everything. And they don’t have to be bison…they can be whatever ground meat you have on hand. I’m starting to realize just how pricey beef in general can be, so for this coming week I actually bought a bunch of ground pork and sausage, for example!
There’s something to be said for a rich, hearty, tomato-saucey, meaty, Italian meal on a cold night in late spring. Obviously a nice Chianti makes it even better.
The secret to success with these babies is the triple meat combo. You get the juiciness and richness of the beef, fattiness of the pork, and a nice kick of flavor from the veal. The texture is unmatched by your run-of-the mill beef meatballs and this combination of seasonings is pretty much my go-to for Italian-inspired dishes. It’s also a very easy meal that can be prepped ahead of time if need be. I made this batch in the morning and cooked them shortly after I got home after work.
Ah, work…I don’t miss it. I’m functionally unemployed now that I’m officially out of the Army for good. It’s…liberating. Class starts in a week and a half but until then I’m catching up with family and friends. I love living so close to loved ones for the first time since I left home. Don’t get me wrong, I got to visit and live in some great places the last 8 years and I have so many experiences that have made me who I am, but I guess its’s time to reconnect with my inner homebody.
I will say, however, that I most definitely did NOT miss this East Coast humidity. I walked outside yesterday morning and felt like I got body-slammed with a wall of moist heat. Ugh. I already miss the crisp Colorado mountain mornings…but then again I don’t miss the snot rocks. Those are pretty painful in case you didn’t know.
Good. I know real Texas Toast is only available in a plastic bag and is probably made of sawdust, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the perfect ingredient for grilled cheese, french toast, or…well…anything that needs bread. I did a quick Wikipedia search, though, and found that traditionally, a” “Texas Toast” really is is thick slices of white bread slathered in garlic butter and grilled. Um, ok. I can do that.
I can’t believe how hard it is to find pork belly–the only place I can find it in the Springs is at the commissary. This is problematic because in a couple weeks, we’re moving back east where there won’t be a commissary…thus stripping me of my sole source of offal and other fun cuts. That’s…really depressing. Somebody hold me.
Also, I’d like to bitch for a second on how hard it is to find chipotles. I mean, they’re so popular, but the only form they’re in 99.99% of the time is canned with adobo sauce and like a bazillion other wacked out ingredients like sugar and sulfites. Ew. But lucky for you today, I found a bag of plain old dried chipotles and was able to kick out this dish. It’s so damned good–pork belly is way too underrated…and all the fat haters out there just ruin it for everyone. It’s a giant, fatty, hunk of bacon. What’s not to love?
Another note, though. There are a bunch of different ways to prep a pork belly, all equally delicious but it comes down to personal preference and frankly, time (for me at least). Melissa summed up a few methods here. but I almost always use the sear-and-crockpot method.
Brisket has always been just a wee bit intimidating for me, mostly because I love it so freaking much but the only way I’ve ever had it prepared was in a giant smoker. Often at a state fair or a competition of some sort. Like the Salt Lick in Austin…ever been there? Holy Brisket Balls, Batman…that stuff is crack.
We actually got “brisket” from time to time at the dining facility on the FOB in Iraq, too…but I suspect those grey-brown chunks were at least 60% sawdust. I, for one, opted to live off tuna packs and pickle slices for a year instead. Moving on.
So when my brisket didn’t suck, I was understandably pleased. This was like, reallllllly good. Even Ross agreed and we all know the ultimate verdict on anything with beef should be left up to a big, hairy dude. You can even do this with another sauce or marinade…I’m sure it would be lovely just seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper and some plain old beef or chicken stock as the braising liquid.
What better snack could you ask for to go along with your (gluten free) brewskies this St Paddy’s Day? This recipe is a big improvement on an attempt I made last year. Lately I’m going back and re-working a lot of my old recipes lately…to include a THIRD version of this pie. What’s cooking if you can’t keep making it better, right? Besides, sometimes I feel kind of guilty for letting old recipes die. There’s so many wonderful things I’ve made like, ONCE and never re-visited because I get so caught up with my almost obsessive desire to come up with “The Next Big Thing.” Remember this? Or these? Or…OMG…THESE???? I’m a horrible person.
Apparently I missed the Valentine’s boat this year and am only now becoming obsessed with anything and everything red velvet…to be fair, I’m ALWAYS obsessed with red velvet stuff. Chocolate, the color red, and cream cheese frosting. Um. DUH.
You may remember waaaaaay back when I did my original Red Velvet Cupcakes that I used beet juice to color the cakes. It worked fine, the cupcakes tasted great…but I won’t pretend like I was 100% satisfied with the more brown-red-brick color. Good red velvet cakes need to be RED. So I did a little digging and found some buzz over raw beet puree. And it MUST BE RAW to get good color…so don’t go trying to use nasty-ass canned stuff. Just take a whole beet, dice it up, and toss it into the food processor. Scrape down the sides periodically and add a few tablespoons of water as needed until you have what resembles red applesauce.
Yes, I was skeptical at first and half expected my bread to come out tasting like a Pancake Borscht or something. Yep. Totally undetectable. And, I mean, beets are like…SUPER good for you. Which means all my red velvet things from now on will make me live forever, right?
Sometimes, you find yourself with a VERYhungry kid/husband and you need dinner…like, NOW. I’m not sure why the hell I had hot dogs in the house (or how long they’d been there…eww), but I did. Of course I contemplated something fancier (like this!!) but there comes a time of night when even the most dedicated chef just says, “F*ck it” and goes for bacon-wrapped…whatever. You really can’t go wrong, can you?
I actually did these in like, 25 minutes. No big deal. I was hungry, whatever.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve had any “fast food.” I don’t like gutting myself with commercially fried crap. God, I’m such a snob. But seriously. I grew up on McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets and Coke and French Fries done up in rancid peanut oil…I think my body is still purging 22 years of crap from its delicate little system. Did you know there’s more than 20 ingredients in a Chicken Nugget? That’s bananas. Mom, I love you…but really?! It’s OK. These ones here have like, FIVE ingredients. Well, more than that if you count “salt and pepper to taste”–whatever…maybe you don’t even use salt and pepper!!–oh, and dipping sauces and stuff. I went all European with grainy mustard and mayo–but you could go all retro and do honey or BBQ sauce, too.