Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Banana Pudding Parfaits

I collect dishes, serving ware, and just kitchen stuff in general. My house is full of plates, glasses, chafing dishes, platters and serving trays. You name it I have it. Some women collect shoes, I collect dishes.  I’m not quite sure if I should be ashamed or proud to admit that I have enough dishes to host a formal sit down dinner for 30 people without having to rent anything. Did I happen to mention that, I am single and therefore usually cooking for one…LOL

There is restaurant supply store near my house and the first time I shopped there I spent 2.5 hours in the store and I would’ve stayed longer if the store hadn't closed for the day.  I got some great deals (a 4 piece place setting for 12, a 2 piece place setting for 8, appetizers plates, casserole dishes etc.).

My last dish purchase was 4.5" footed dessert bowls from Crate and Barrel.  I love that store! The dessert bowls are so cute and at $2.50 a piece, how could I pass them up, so I bought 12.

I recently used the dessert bowls for the first time to make banana pudding parfaits.

The recipe I adapted from Nabisco, makes 3-4 parfaits depending on the size of your parfait dish. If you don’t have dessert bowls or parfait cups you can use small glasses instead. I like this recipe because each parfait is only 250 calories or 7 Weight Watchers Points+ values. It’s a lot healthier than the recipe I normally use which uses condensed milk and cream cheese.

Banana Pudding Parfaits

  • 1 large banana, cut into 24 slices
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup cool whip, plus ¼ cup for garnish
  • 1 small box banana cream or vanilla flavored instant pudding
  • 20 Vanilla Wafer cookies 
1. Whisk 2 cups of milk and pudding mix in medium bowl. Stir in ¾ cup of cool whip.
2. To make the parfaits, it does not really matter how you do the layering. The number of banana slices and vanilla wafer you use will depend on the dish you use and the look you want to achieve. My preference is to crumble 2 vanilla wafers into the bottom of the dish, layer with 3 banana slices, then ¼ cup of pudding. For the next layer, break 3 cookies in fourths or halves and place them on top of the pudding, layer with 3 banana slices and then add 1/3 cup of pudding and finish with a dollop of cool whip. Repeat. Chill and serve.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Over the last two years I have been trying to perfect my chicken salad recipe.  I have tried many variations, using canned chicken, baked chicken, with eggs without eggs; trying to get the recipe just right.  I have finally nailed down a recipe that makes great chicken salad every time. 

Lately I have been serving chicken salad as an appetizer, spooning chicken salad into phyllo cups and garnishing it with parsley and smoked paprika. These Chicken Salad Bites are an easy appetizer that taste great and can be made ahead of time.

Chicken Salad Recipe
Updated 5/15/2013
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken, shredded without the skin
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons chicken drippings from rotisserie chicken
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup of mayo
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste
  1. In a large bowl combine shredded chicken, chicken drippings, diced veggies and relish. Mix well.
  2. Add in 2/3 cup of mayo and mustard, mix well.  Add additional 1/3 cup of mayo one tablespoon at a time until it has reached a desired consistency.
  3. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. 
  4. Let chill and serve.
Note: For best results, prepare chicken salad using a chicken that is warm or room temperature. 
To make Chicken Salad Bites, use a spoon or melon baller and scoop chicken salad into store bought phyllo cups.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and smoked paprika.  This recipe will make about 45 bites.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Blogher Food '12: I have more than 10 readers, right???

I must admit I was nervous about attending the Blogher Food '12 conference in Seattle last weekend. I’ve only been blogging 3 months and at the time I was friends with only one blogger, Tonia, The Chatty Momma.

Tonia and me

Tonia is my blog mentor, high school friend and one of the people who encouraged/pushed me to start my blog.  I agreed to go to the conference before my blog was even up and two minutes after Tonia asked me to go!  And for those of you who know me personally, you know I rarely do things on a whim. I have to think everything through, do a cost benefit analysis, then come up with a plan A, then a plan B and then do a risk analysis before I make a decision lol…I am tiring myself out just thinking about my decision making process lol. I know I am a bit OCD when it comes to planning and making a decision but admitting you have a problem is half the battle right?  
Back to the conference… I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect; being a newbie to the blogging world, would anyone be interested in my blog and what I had to say???  According to James (someone who thinks he's a comedian..lol), I only have 10 readers, which I know is not true (at least I hope it's not..LOL).  And what would I say if I actually met Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman or Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker?

Well, I am so glad I decided to go.  I had a great time!! After the first hour or so, the nervousness wore off, I was able to relax, network and most all enjoy myself. It was a great experience, the food was FABULOUS and I met some wonderful people.

Starting at left - Frieda, Tonia, me, Jenny

I did meet Ree Drummond; I chatted with her for a few moments about her TV show, her blog and her pig cake recipe (which I highly recommend). She is so nice and personable.

During the conference, I attended sessions on food literacy, story telling, making the most of kitchen mishaps and managing your blog. I learned that first and foremost I have to be true to myself, blog for me and write about what I am passionate about. My posts don’t have to be perfect; I can write about my kitchen mishaps and my pictures don’t always have to be perfect especially if they tell a story.  I also learned a new way to serve spinach salad and potato salad.
Spinach Salad (bottom left) and Deconstructed Potato Salad (bottom right)

Most of all  I feel rejuvenated and excited about my blogging future and I can't wait for the next conference, Blogher '12  in New York in August!  Here are some pictures from my weekend in Seattle. Enjoy!

Conference Breakfast

Making chocolate (courtesy of American Heritage Chocolate)

Top- Strawberry Sorbet dipped in melted chocolate
Bottom - Animal cracker cupcakes

Pike Place Market
Lunch at Pike Place Chowder
Dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery

This place has 23 different flavors of popcorn!
Downtown Seattle

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Blogging Reflections and Day 1 in Seattle for Blogher Food

It has been three months since I started this blog! The process has been fun, rewarding and more work than I ever thought it would be. However, I have enjoyed this experience tremendously!  I am beginning to find my voice as a blogger and getting the hang of tweeting and using Facebook and Instagram to keep everyone up-to-date on my latest food adventure and latest blog post. Over the last three months I have posted healthy recipes, and not so healthy (pound cake), eaten off a food truck for the first time and this week I am in Seattle attending my first food blogger conference.

Day 1 in Seattle for Blogher Food 2012

When I initially began this blog, the goal was to focus solely on healthy alternatives to the foods I crave, which in hindsight was a little restrictive because my food adventures (as I like to refer to them) don't always involve food one would call healthy.  I have also had many request for some of my classic southern recipes, which aren't always the healthiest either (I am working on fried chicken and sweet potato pie posts) and I want the freedom to post those recipes also.  So, I have decided to just write about what I eat and crave, the good, the bad and the not so bad; and provide tips and ideas along the way.   

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grilled Garlic Thyme Shrimp Kabobs

Grilling season has officially begun; I love this time of year! Grilled ribs, chicken, corn, asparagus, kabobs...the possibilities are endless!  And plus grilling is healthier. There is something wonderful about standing in front of an open flame on a beautiful sunny day, with a glass of iced tea in one hand and tongs in the other. I must admit I do prefer charcoal, for the smoky flavor, but gas is so much easier - no ashes, no lighter fluid - you only have to make sure that your propane tank is not empty.   
This past week I fired up the grill and made garlic thyme shrimp kabobs. I used my favorite go-to marinade recipe; a garlic thyme marinade recipe adapted from a recipe I found several years ago in the Washington Post.  It’s quick, easy and can be used on chicken, beef and shrimp.

A marinating tip…..Marinades do not tenderize meat because marinades do not penetrate the meat very deeply, and, therefore, are better for adding flavor. Marinating shrimp is not the same as marinating beef or chicken.  Shrimp should be marinated no longer than 1 hour and much less especially if the marinade contains high levels of an acidic ingredient. The acid in the marinade will begin to cook the shrimp; changing its texture. According to Cooks Illustrated, if marinated too long, a marinade containing acidic ingredients like vinegar, yogurt, citrus juice and buttermilk will turn the outer layer of meat (beef, pork, chicken, seafood) mushy and not tender, or even cause the meat to dry out. To avoid this, minimize the use of acidic ingredients and/or marinate for shorter periods of time.  This recipe only contains a small amount of balsamic vinegar and therefore marinating the shrimp for an hour will not affect the texture.

Grilled Garlic Thyme Shrimp Kabobs
  • 1 pound of raw deveined and shelled shrimp
  • Garlic Thyme Marinade (see recipe below)
  • Bamboo or metal skewers
  1. In a ziploc bag, marinate shrimp 1 hour in marinade, flipping the bag several times so the marinade distributes evenly. 
  2. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water 30 minutes in advance. If using metal skewers, brush with oil or spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Thread shrimp onto skewers.
  4. Grill kabobs on a preheated grill for 3 minutes on each side or until pink.
Garlic Thyme Marinade
Update 5/15/2013

Makes 1/2 cup
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed or 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves (may substitute 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped). You can also use rosemary, oregano or marjoram.
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together the garlic, thyme, sugar, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and oil in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 1 week).

Note: This recipe makes enough marinade for 1 pound of meat.