Vegetarian

Frozen Dark Chocolate Banana Bites with Toasted Pecans

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How many times have you bought bananas to only have them turn into a pitiful brown by the end of the week? For awhile there, I'd just toss them in the trash and never gave them a second thought but the beauty of internet has paved the way to a brand new world of recipes featuring the overly ripened fruit. 

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You could use them to make muffins and breads or even as an egg replacement, freeze them for smoothies, or ice cream and my favorite way of enjoying them is frozen and dipped in dark chocolate. 

Fun fact for the day: Did you know you're suppose to peel your banana from the stemless end? If you ever want to be the life of the party, here's 9 ways to peel a banana

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I usually like to peel the ripened bananas, slice them and lay them out in a baking sheet lined with wax paper. This way makes cutting painless and when you dip them in the dark chocolate, the chocolate will immediately harden. However, bananas do melt quickly, so you have to work quickly and in smaller batches. If the bananas start to soften, simply return them to the freezer and dip once they are hardened again. 

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This recipe is simple and uses only 3 ingredients: bananas, dark chocolate and toasted pecans. Also if you don't want as much chocolate on your bananas or you're short on time, take the melted chocolate (make sure it's not piping hot) and place it in a ziplock bag. Squeeze the chocolate to one of the bottom corners and cut the tip and drizzle the chocolate all over the frozen bananas pieces and top with pecans. Omit pecans if you're not a nutty kinda guy. 

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Ingredients:

serves 1-2; yields about 30-40 pieces (printable recipe)

  • 3 ripened bananas, peeled sliced into 1" thick pieces and frozen
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (3.5 oz each ) I used a 70% cacao bar but milk chocolate can be used as well
  • 1 1/2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Peel bananas and slice into 1" pieces. Place onto large pan lined with wax paper. Place into freezer for at least 1 hour.

Chop dark chocolate bar into small pieces and place into a small glass bowl. Microwave for 30 sec and then in 10 sec intervals (stirring in between) until chocolate is fully melted. Add melted coconut oil and mix thoroughly.

Find some wooden skewers or fondue skewers to make the dipping process easier, if you have neither you can also use  2 small forks. Remove bananas from freezer and pierce banana pieces using the skewers and slowly allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Place onto reserved wax paper and top with pecan pieces. Set aside.

If you are using two forks, drop the banana pieces one at a time into the chocolate and use the forks to lift them, allowing any excess chocolate to drip off the sides. Place onto parchment and top with pecan pieces. Continue with the rest of the batch. 

Eat immediately or place back into the freezer until ready to eat. If the bites are too hard, simply leave on the counter for a couple minutes and they will soften a little. 

If the chocolate hardens while you are dipping, simply place back into the microwave for 5-10 sec to soften again.

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Open Faced Fried Egg Sandwich

3 years ago I started Joylicious with no particular goal in mind. I took pictures of the food I cooked at home and surprisingly, people liked it. Never did I think a simple blog would've led me straight to my true passions and love in life, but here I stand, renewed, happy and found. 

During these years, I explored deeper in to food and listened to what people were really looking for when it came to recipes. How could I convince and teach my readers the importance of wholesome eating and cooking? What are the biggest hurdles that stop many people from trying to cook from home? 

I realized fear was the biggest  challenge: fear of failing, fear of chopping off your fingers and setting your kitchen on fire, fear of not knowing how to really run an efficient home kitchen. The lack of knowledge and practice really kept people out of their kitchens and I knew I had to change that. 

Without further ado, I present to you an improved and simplified interface for Joylicious -- where you'll find a brand new category of cooking tips that teaches you anything from how to shop at the grocery store, pick out produce, how to chop, mince, and slice; you'll even find tips on how to utilize and store leftovers, ways to save money and how to keep your kitchen clean. You'll see more informative posts on the importance of wholesome eating and even the occasional gardening tip. But most importantly, just simple, straight forward recipes that not only nourish our bodies but tastes amazing.

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Let us celebrate this new beginning together and explore the wonders of cooking. With breakfast being one of the most important meals of the day, it's important we take the time to start each day with a meal that leaves us sharp and fulfilled -- ready to take on the World. Put that donut down, throw out those nasty hot pockets, and embrace this easy recipe for a sandwich that might quite possibly change your life. 

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This open faced fried egg sandwich tests true time and time again whenever I've made it at home -- the crispy sourdough bread, paired with rich creamy avocado, sharp peppery arugula topped with the perfect fried egg, it makes you fist pump the air and plus it takes like 5 minutes to make.

A couple things to remember when making this recipe: pick out a nice ripe avocado and use good quality bread and eggs. You can read more about how to shop for eggs here and how to fry an egg here. 
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I also recommend a coarser salt to sprinkle over your avocado as it gives it a surprising crunch that leaves your taste buds happy and excited. Did you know humans have an innate propensity towards crispy food? Hear more about it through NPR

I used pink himalayan sea salt, but any type of sea salt would work. No sea salt? No problem, just use kosher as substitute and call it a day. Also feel free to substitute the arugula for a milder tasting lettuce if you are not a fan of its earthy, peppery, flavor. 

To pick out an avocado look for ones that are completely black (green means unripe) with a dull skin -- also it should give slightly when squeezed. Avoid any ones that are extremely soft and mushy and if there are only unripe avocados at the store, place them in a brown paper bag with a banana and it should ripen within a day or two. You can learn how to cut an avocado here.

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Recipe for Open Faced Fried Egg Sandwich

  • 1 slice sourdough (3/4"-1" thick)
  • small handful of arugula or mixed greens, cleaned
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • sea salt or kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 good quality egg
  • cholua or any type of hotsauce

Toast sourdough in toaster oven. Meanwhile, make fried egg. Remove sourdough from toaster, place lettuce, chopped avocado on top and sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Top with fried egg and serve with Cholua hotsauce if preferred. (It'll wake the tastebuds right on up)


Peanut Butter Nutella Crepes

Summer came and went with a whisper, as time slipped through my fingers -- another year has almost past, though sometimes I wish it wouldn't. Amidst a flurry of work and struggles, it all becomes overwhelming and you realize you forget. You forget to take time to tend to relationships, you forget to take time to really see what's around you, but most importantly you forget to take the time to honor yourself. And what a tragedy that must be.

Though fortunately enough you have those that truly love you-- that dig deep and force you to wake up. You're suddenly able to hear your voice again -- Be present. Be steadfast. Be strong. As time waits for no one, so what better reason than to make the most out of every minute, every hour, every day.

I spent some time this Summer visiting Collin's Grandparents out in Linville, North Carolina where we went on hikes, explored the mountains, played cards, cooked -- it healed me to say the least, but most importantly reminded me the frailty of life itself. From the billowing clouds that hung above the rolling hills, down to the intricate butterflies that fluttered about, to the babbling creek I'd wake up to every morning -- quickly my inner calamity faded and was replaced by a sense of peace, happiness and pure love. Nature can work in mysterious ways but I choose to not question it but instead, experience it to the fullest extent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I thought back to this trip this Summer, I made a promise to myself: make more time for Me. And making more time for Me really entails making myself feel important by making fancy breakfasts. These Peanut Butter Nutella Crepes are anything but hard to make and even better, you can freeze un-filled crepes to use for later. So plan accordingly and you can have these for breakfast EVERY SINGLE DAY. I know, you're welcome. Feel free to add bananas or maybe even top it with a little whipped cream. I chose to top mine with a little drizzle of Dude Sweet Chocolate's Love Potion (oooooh-la la!). Thanks to Alton Brown for the wonderful crepe  base recipe.

Peanut Butter Nutella Crepes
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Alton Brown
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 2-4
Makes about 17-20 crepes
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Butter, for coating the pan
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup nutella
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
  2. Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.
  3. To make Peanut Butter Nutella Crepes simply spread 1 tablespoon of each filling (I may have used 2...) on each side and fold into quarters as pictured. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to finish and serve with fresh fruit and a cup of joe.

A few more shots I captured during our trip with the iPhone 4-S. I find myself using this camera more on trips than my professional gear. It's easy, great resolution and allows me to capture moments I otherwise might have missed. Yes, technology can be a beautiful thing :)

Tomato Recipes

One of my favorite things to do for friends is pampering them with food. It's always been my way of saying "Hey dude, I really love you, thanks for always being so great." Plus it's a great opportunity for me to play around with new recipes and challenge myself to create something memorable. I cooked this particular (tomato themed) dinner for my dear friend Eric, who travels a lot and what does a traveler want the most upon returning home? A home-cooked meal.

No problemo homie.

We started off with a nice Summery (virgin) cocktail but please feel free to add a splash of Hendrick's Gin as my husband chose to do so -- it tastes reminiscent to a dreamsicle except without the creaminess and ends with a nice hint of fennel.

 Yellow Tomato Gazpacho was next on the list -- it took me awhile to get use to the concept of "cold soups" but this one is fabulous. I used mostly yellow teardrops for my soup and the sweetness was phenomenal! It's a great recipe to make ahead and it can also be served as an amuse bouche at parties.

Next came a simple salad topped with toasted pecans, goat cheese, and heirloom tomatoes drizzled with some Italian olive oil a dear friend brought back for me and a sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Feel free to squeeze a little lemon for an extra acid kick. Simple, healthy, delicious -- I know, I'm a baus.

You can also serve the salad in a bowl if plates aren't your thing. Or maybe because you ran out of plates. You get the idea.

This was probably my favorite, well after the main course that is. I took some sourdough, toasted it and melted it with some smoked gruyere and topped it with spicy tomato jam (I added a habanero in mine to give it a super kick), avocado slices and arugula.

 

The smokiness of the gruyere really paired nicely with the sweet and spicy jam -- the jam is also a great dipping sauce for meatballs or even better on top of some cheese and crackers.

Aaaah main course: Maryland Crabcake with Israeli Couscous in a Spicy Tomato Broth. It's amazing how generous you can be with the size of your crabcakes when you make them at home, I even had an extra dish of crab meat left over which I used for an omelet the next morning.

I made the broth from tomato juice, dashi and some thai chiles, which is the same liquid I cooked my couscous in. The Maryland crab cake recipe I used can be found here. As a Chef once told me "It's all about that Old Bay Seasoning." Amen to that Chef! I loved the light breading for this style of crab cake, it really gave the perfect texture I was looking for.

 

Unfortunately, there was no tomato themed dessert. Instead I just made some chocolate chip cookies and scooped some vanilla bean ice cream on top. All tummies were satisfied :).

As you can see, I kept all these recipes pretty simple. It's nice to not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time and be able to sit down and enjoy the meal with friends so make things easy on yourself: prep ahead of time, pick recipes with simple execution and have fun with it!

 

Share the love today and make your loved ones something home cooked -- not only does it replenish the belly but it renews the soul. Now get off that katoosh and get in that kitchen!

 

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

With another year under the belt, life continues to serve unexpected surprises. The Age of Question seems to only deepen with time as I find myself slowly inching towards 30. Does anyone know when it becomes the Age of Answers? Summer has been kind to us here in Texas. With mild temperatures and ample rain, we've had an abundant harvest this year. Especially our tomatoes: Teardrops, Green Zebras, Brandywine and assorted Heirlooms -- Nature has been very kind and giving this season.

There's something intrinsically magical and pure about growing your own food -- though it takes countless hours of work, sweat and patience -- the pay off seems to nourish in more ways than one. You can literally find the beauty of life in a tomato.

To think what once laid as a dormant seed, given water, soil and light, it awakens and sprouts. And with time, care and a little homemade compost -- it grows into a healthy plant that flowers and ultimately produces the lusciously juicy fruit.

We often forget to appreciate these tiny miracles but they are constantly around us: growing, thriving, living as the World intended.

As with all great ingredients, I allow them the spotlight -- to showcase their wonder without all the flare and masking.

 

We'll start with a yellow tomato gazpacho which I adapted from Bon Appetit. Topped with creamy avocado chunks, thinly sliced purple onions, dotted with meaty cubes of heirloom and drizzled with a bright and bold cilantro oil -- this Summer soup celebrates the beauty of the season.

The best part is, this soup can be made ahead and would serve as the perfect starter for any Summer party. Feel free to serve in shot glasses or tiny bowls and always make sure you serve this soup ICE COLD. Your guests will thank you :)

If yellow tomatoes are not available to you, feel free to use red tear drops -- though the color will be different the flavors will still be wonderful. For those who aren't a fan of heat, leave out the chile but being the thrill-seeker that I am, I put a yellow thai chili from our garden and rest assured, it did the job.

As chiles vary in heat, always be sure to taste the spiciness level and adjust accordingly.

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 6
A chilled Summer soup that will leave you wanting more...
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 pounds yellow tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño chili with seeds, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Garnish with cubes of avocado, thinly shaved onion and meaty cubes of heirloom tomato.
  • Cilantro Oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño chili with seeds, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
Instructions
  1. Squeeze tomato juices and seeds into strainer set over bowl. Press on seeds to extract all juice. Chop tomatoes. Set aside 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup cucumber, and 1/4 cup bell pepper.
  2. Combine remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper in processor. Add tomato juices, onion, orange juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, and jalapeño; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer soup to bowl; add reserved vegetables. Cover and chill overnight.
  3. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Garnish and drizzle with cilantro oil.
  4. Cilantro Oil
  5. Combine all ingredients except water in processor. Puree until almost smooth. Transfer puree to fine strainer set over bowl. Using rubber spatula, press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer. Whisk 1/4 cup water into mixture in bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewhisk before using.