Sweetness: Cheddar Covered Grilled Banana

Dessert, Others

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Banana: a simple, reliable, and nourishing fruit. Good to eat raw or cooked. What I love about cooked banana is its natural sweetness. Pair it up with a sharp cheddar and you get a great dessert in no time.

This dish is Jeff’s favorite. I had written about it a while back, but this time I grilled it on a stove top instead of inside the oven.

Here’s all you need:

  • 4-6 bananas (find ones that still have greenish color near the stem)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Steps:

  • Peel the bananas and slice and cut in half (1 banana into 4 cuts)
  • Heat up a non-stick pan, low to medium heat
  • Add butter and let it sizzle
  • Add bananas and let them cook until the bottom part turn into golden color, flip them over (about 1 — 2 minutes each side)
  • Turn off the stove, move the bananas to a plate, sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top

Enjoy!

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Sweetness: Mung Beans in Coconut Milk

Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert, Others

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It has been, what seems to me, like a million years since I last posted on my beloved blog. Let’s just say that life has been a bit eventful.We had a baby! (who is now almost a toddler), and we bought a house, then we sold the house, and then we moved across the ocean :D. A change can do you good, they say. So we, the three of us, huddle, stick together, and embrace this adventure with open arms.

Our future house is still in the works. So I am sharing a kitchen at my mom’s house. After months of eating out, I started missing cooking. Now, I have been returning to it little by little. It feels good to cook, to create, to produce again. I hope to resume and sustain this good habit here in our new world.

Last night, I cooked up a storm. But of course, I forgot to take pictures of the main dishes. I did remember to take pictures of the desserts. Oh well, let this post and the next be about sweet stuff.

Mung Beans is pretty popular in the South East Asian countries. I love having it cooked in coconut milk mixed with palm sugar. You can have it hot or cold. Either way is delightful. So here is my simple recipe for 4 people:

We need:

  • 2 cups of mung beans
  • 1 cup of palm sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (if using the light coconut milk, you can use the whole can)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 or 2 inches of ginger
  • 6 cups of water

Steps:

  • In a medium size pot, bring water to a rolling boil
  • Add mung beans and ginger. Let it cook for 5 minutes
  • Turn off the stove and cover the pot.
  • Let the mung beans sit for an hour in that covered pot
  • After an hour, see if it needs a bit of water. If so, add enough to immerse the beans
  • Turn on the stove again and add sugar. Stir well
  • While stirring, add the coconut milk. Keep stirring until it starts to come to simmer again
  • Turn off the stove, let it cool down, and enjoy
  • Refrigerate the rest and try it cold for the next dayIMG_20160615_204919

 

 

 

Rhubarb Crisp

Dessert

I had never tried rhubarbs before. One of the neighbors found out about this and she gave me some from her garden. She convinced me of their delights when made into a crisp. I found Mark Bittman’s recipe and the rest is history. Convinced and sold! I might go to my neighbor’s house and ask for some more rhubarbs. Oh, and I think I will be making crisps of different fruits all summer long. What a fantastic rustic treat!

Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb crisp

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies (a la Jeff)

Baking, Dessert, Snack

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies

The snow-covered streets looked beautiful this morning. Snow clump plopped down quietly from the tall evergreen right in front of my apartment window. Peaceful, calm, bright, and sunny. (“Just like on the cover of Christmas cards I saw when I was little,” my mother would always say whenever she’d visit.) Such a different scene from the past two gloomy, windy, and snowy days. When I wrote this post, the AM temperature still read three degrees Fahrenheit tough… It sure has been a cold December in Michigan.

blue sky

Distractions to take the mind off the bitter cold and to stay cheerful are necessary. Mine include: Netflix, good books, movies. Jeff and I also take up my friend Lindsay’s suggestion: baking! Jeff likes the idea very much that this blog post is actually about these delicious and savory cookies he made last night.

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies

Gouda Cheese Cookies

Gouda Butter Cookies

Here’s Jeff’s creation, inspired by the Dutch-influenced Indonesian holidays cookie: Kaastengels and Nutella butter cookies that we made last week:

Yield: about 100 mini cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 egg yolks (2 for the cookie batter and 1 for the wash to brush on top of the cookies)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of Gouda cheese (shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Steps:

  • Beat butter and two egg yolks with a mixer. Add vanilla extract.
  • Slowly, add flour, beat
  • Add cheese and salt, fold. Use both hands to mix.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pick up a handful of dough and, on a clean cutting board, roll and shape into a super long and a rather skinny finger (as long as the cutting board). Then cut the long finger dough into one-inch pieces. Repeat and use up all of the dough.
  • Transfer the mini pieces to two large baking sheets (layered with parchment paper)
  • Brush the top of each mini finger with egg yolk wash
  • Bake for 20—25 minutes
Have a great day, folks!

Have a great day, folks!

Nutella Butter Cookies Covered in Powdered Sugar

Baking, Dessert

Nutella Cookies by Tiny Chili Pepper

A conversation with a friend about Christmas season and baking:

Me: “So Lindsay, we always have good conversations about history, tradition, and culture. Question for you. Do you think there’s a traditional connection between Christmas season and baking, cookies especially? Seems like many people get into this intensified baking mode this time of year.”

Lindsay: “I have no idea if the two are traditionally linked, but they were in my family. My mother would often make sugar cookies and almond sugar cookies. Plus, I’ve always lived in a cold climate, so baking gives an excuse to turn on the oven! It’s also a cheerful, indoor activity that can lift your spirits when it gets dark so early. So those are my reasons.”

Fresh from the oven drop cookies

Hmm, makes sense to me. Linked or not linked, holiday or any day, baked treats sound good. But like Lindsay said, these short, cold, winter days do create a perfect and inviting atmosphere for fresh-from-the-oven cookies, or pastries, along with steaming hot coffee or hot chocolate, don’t they? That and for bundling up!

Nutella Cookies

All these talks about baking cookies with Lindsay made me want to do it too! Jeff nodded enthusiastically when I asked if he’d helped last night. I leafed through a cookbook and found a truly very easy cookie recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies. The recipe called for: butter, flour, powdered sugar, pure vanilla extract, and Nutella. That’s it! All we had to do: beat butter and some sugar with a mixer, added the flour and vanilla extract, formed the dough into tiny balls, dropped them on baking sheets, baked for 12 minutes, and rolled the cookies (after cooling down for a few minutes) in the rest of the powdered sugar. Not too sweet or chocolaty and perfect with coffee! 

Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies

Click here to see the full recipe

Happy baking and have a nice weekend to all!

Warm thoughts to all of us in winter wonderland.

Beets and Avocado Chocolate Cake

Dessert

Beet Avocado Chocolate Cake

I know that a recipe is a good one when I get the approval of my friend’s 10 year-old little girl with selective food preferences. (I am a former picky eater myself, by the way.) This dessert, dear readers, got hers (and her mom’s and other tasters’ too). She didn’t notice the presence of beets and avocado in the cake until I told her. All she tasted was this chocolaty and soft cake with just the right level of sweetness, which I did too. Once I revealed the ingredients, this little girl told me that she wanted to make it and asked me for the recipe. Ha! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you, fellow blogger Poppy’s Patisserie Bunny Kitchen!

Here’s my slightly adapted recipe (I didn’t do the chocolate glaze or almond toppings. Maybe next time. I thought that the cake was great by itself.)

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of ground pecan (I think almonds, walnuts, or cashews would work nicely too.)
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 4 tsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of mashed cooked beetroot (I used three small beets that I boiled for about 30—40 minutes, peeled, and ran in a food processor)
  • 1 cup of honey (The original recipe asked for half agave and half date syrups. I went with honey instead.)
  • 1 cup of mashed avocado
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup of dark chocolate chips, melted

Steps (I pretty much follow the original recipe):

  • Preheat the oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Mix the dry ingredients (flour, pecan, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in a bowl
  • Mix the wet ingredients (mashed beetroot, honey, mashed avocado, canola oil, vanilla extract, melted dark chocolate) in a separate bowl
  • Combine the dry and the wet ingredients. Whisk, beat, mix it really well.
  • Pour the batter into a 9-inch round baking pan and bake it for an hour to an hour and a half. Make sure a cake tester (I use a skewer) comes out clean once inserted into the cake.

Hope you like it!

Have a good day

For Nana Banana

Original recipe: Possibly the Worlds Healthiest Chocolate Cake: Beetroot and Avocado Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze and Toasted Almond Gold Dust by Poppy’s Patisserie Bunny Kitchen

Giada’s Blueberry Banana Bread

Baking, Dessert, Snack


 

Banana Blueberry Bread by Tiny Chili Pepper

Ah, the good old banana bread: rustic, classic, and reliable. A fantastic company for coffee over breakfast or snack time. I simply love it. Not to mention the aroma it creates in the apartment when I bake it.

When I started learning how to bake, I picked beginner-friendly recipes. One of them was this wonderful Dark Chocolate Banana Bread  recipe by Baker Bettie. It became a favorite. This summer, I found another hit: Banana Blueberry Bread by Giada De Laurentiis. It has made a few appearances since then. I love how the spicy nutmeg and cinnamon reveal their wonderful presence in every bite.

A favorite: banana-blueberry bread

I follow the recipe with a couple of minor adjustments:

  • Place a sheet of parchment paper to line my oven loaf pan
  • Bake the bread for 55 minutes instead of 60 minutes (my apartment’s oven tends to get really hot I think)

To see the highly recommended recipe, please click here: Banana-Blueberry Bread

Thanks for reading and I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Peace

Strawberry Raspberry Jam

Appetizer, Condiment, Dessert, Snack

Strawberry and Raspberry Jam 2 by Tiny Chili Pepper

Two weekends ago, I went on a a backpacking trip on the northwest side of Michigan with my husband and a couple of friends. On our drive home, we stopped by a local eatery/store called 13th St. Market. The quaint country cafe served good traditional American breakfast that immediately fulfilled our hunger. What I really liked though were the homemade strawberry and raspberry jam. Folks, they were amazing: fresh, fruity, a little sweet and a little tart. I was intrigued. I love jam, especially the ones with chunky fruits.

At home, I searched for fruit jam recipes and found a good one: Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. I had frozen some strawberries and raspberries that I bought from the market a few weeks ago. So I used them instead of blueberries.

Strawberry Raspberry Jam by Tiny Chili Pepper

Here’s my adapted version:

  • One cup of halved strawberries
  • One cup of raspberries
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • A dash of salt
  • Lemon juice from 1/4 lemon

I cooked the berries and sugar in a small pot until they started to simmer and then added the salt and lemon as the original recipe suggested. I let it boiled for 40 minutes on medium heat and stirred occasionally until it thickened. Once I was done, I let the jam cooled down to room temperature and stored it (covered) in the refrigerator. From the recipes I’ve read, refrigerating fresh jam will allow it to last for two weeks. But oh, that jam was so good that we polished it off so quickly :D.

More recipes and article on fresh jam:

Make Room in the Fridge for Jam—Making Jam, Without the Can, NYTimes

Easy Strawberry Jam Recipe, Ina Garten

My next batch: Strawberry and Blueberry Jam

My next batch: Strawberry and Blueberry Jam

Plum Cake ala Food52

Dessert

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When it comes to dessert, I tend to go rustic. I see this pattern on my blog too. Most dessert recipes I do involve a high degree of simplicity and…lots of fruits! Fruit cake/pastry/cookie appeal to me. They taste amazing and look genuine, sincere, and friendly. I find their uncomplicated nature to be charming.

Speaking of rustic dessert, I saw an attractive recipe from Food52 the other day: Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Plums. Being crazy about plums, I had to try it. Though I couldn’t make mine to look as pretty as Food52’s (yet), the cake came out great, sweet, tart, and lemony–delicious, as predicted. (Notes: Mine was sweet enough, so I didn’t dust the cake with powdered sugar as the original recipe suggested. I also sliced my plums into thinner cuts.)

Hope you like it and thank you for stopping by.

Peace

Click here for full recipe: Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Plums 

Grilled Plum on Warm Bread with Cheese

Baking, Breakfast, Dessert, Snack

Grilled plum on bread with ricotta cheese by Tiny Chili PepperWhen people find out that I cook, some would ask, “Wow, you don’t mind the effort that cooking involves?” or say, “Good for you. I am way too lazy to cook.” or “Oh, you’re such a good wife.” (I usually roll my eyes, in my mind, for the latter comment :D.) Feels like there’s this impression that a person who cooks is industrious, taking on such an onerous task, or domestic. Well, contrary to that assumption, I cook because I get bored with food a lot. I seek wonderful colors, a burst of great flavors, and pleasing tastes in food. They bring me joy, while bland food just makes me feel sad.

Plum on Bread Tiny Chili Pepper

My curiosity of tastes and appreciation for creativity takes me on an ongoing search for things to try. Just like this recipe I adapted and simplified from a genius food blogger at Dash and Bella: Grilled Plum and Lemon Ricotta Toast. Grilled sweet plum over warm bread with mild cheese spread. Delicious. I’d like to try using apples, nectarine, or peach next time. What a great way to enjoy more fruits! Thanks, Dash and Bella.

In my version, I used:

  • 4 black plums (each sliced into four cuts)
  • Bread
  • Ricotta cheese

Steps:

  • I grilled the slices of plums and bread for about 1-2 minutes each side over medium heat (I didn’t mix the plums with olive oil, balsamic, and herbs as the original recipe suggested and still they tasted wonderful).
  • Spread ricotta cheese on the warm bread and place the juicy plum on top (I used the ricotta plain without the lemon juice)
  • Enjoy! Great for breakfast and snack

by Tiny Chili Pepper

Have a great day!