I Like’m Sloppy

Sloppy joes that is…

Sloppy joes topped with coleslaw

SuMMer, BarBecues, bEaCh, SanD, LaZy days, FAMILY.

All images that come to my mind when craving sloppy joes. Growing up I never knew this messy goodness could be so good. Born and raised in the US by newly immigrated Filipinos, I only knew the makings of sloppy joes via a can of Manwhich™ and a pound of ground beef! And truthfully, I still like that rendition… I would actually eat it with steamed white rice, because as everyone knows… everything is good with rice… 😉   But ohhhh!! the joy of a homemade, simmering hot batch of meaty heartiness that generations have made and perfected over the years… Now that’s tasty!

After summer vacations of careful observation and repeated requests for the recipe, I finally have it committed to memory. To some it probably isn’t as good as when grandma makes it, but it IS pretty darn good… Enough so, that my husband and kids gobble it all down!

Really? Has it been this long?

Desert Flower

I know, I know… I promised myself that I’d write each week.  Little did I know when I was starting up this blog that we’d be moving 1800 miles across the country from Ohio to Arizona.  It happened like this:  My husband received an offer that was too good to pass up, we sold our house inside of 30 days, and moved our family of 6 across the country twice – once driving out the first car with our pet parrot, Peanut, to meet the moving truck; and the second time was to pick up the second car and meet our extended family for a beach vacation on the serene shores of North Carolina.  And yes, after a week on the beach we drove back from the shores of the Atlantic all the way across Texas.  And did I mention, we were tugging a boat too?  Stressful?  Yes, at times… Interesting?  For sure… and absolutely filled with family memories to last a lifetime!  For sure our children will remember time we moved from a home with green grass, rain and snow to the desert landscape filled with a multitude of cacti, 100 degree dry heat and little to no rain.  Life is an adventure!  In the next few weeks I’ll be getting my act together to share my new food adventures and experiences out here in the wild West.  If it’s anything like the strange bugs and lizards I’ve discovered out here, I’ll have much to write about!  🙂  Oh and by the way, thank you dear friends who have asked about my blog.  I didn’t give it up, just took a break for a little while!

Sedona, AZ

In My Kitchen: Banana Saturday

Spring is supposed to be here.  60-70 degree weather, outdoors, windows open.  Nothing puts a damper in my springtime mood than snow! Indoors and looking around my kitchen, what to do?  Clean? Uh…  well I suppose cleaning out the fridge and pantry might count, right?

Ripe bananas  = banana bread.

This is probably the simplest recipe I could find for banana bread off of the epicurious website.  It’s a great basic recipe that you can doctor up with added ingredients like chocolate or peanut butter chips. I tried using wheat flour and thought it came out a little too “germy” for my taste.  The rest of the family seemed to like it.  It’s a good, moist recipe, but to satisfy my tastes, I think next time, I’ll try doing a 50/50 blend of wheat and regular flour rather than 100% wheat.  Plus, I like my banana bread really sweet, so I’m thinking I’ll try adding more bananas than called for to see how it goes.

Dubbed as Aunt Holly’s Banana Bread.  I don’t have an Aunt Holly, but I’ll gladly adopt the one who came up with this recipe! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tsp baking soda

 

 

Optional:
chocolate chips
peanut butter chips
nuts of your choice

 

 

 

Preheat oven to 350F. Mash the bananas in a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Bake in a buttered loaf pan until a toothpick stuck into the bread comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Slice and Serve.

 

Such an easy recipe!  Made the house smell fantastic and made an otherwise “boring, inside” weekend, productive!

 

 

Had to break for lunch while the bread baked... PBJ, only the best!

 

a cola classic

I’ll have a Coke, please.

Anyone who knows me knows what a big cola drinker I am. Maybe my addiction started because all my mother could drink while she was pregnant with me was cherry coke. It was the ONLY thing she could keep down. I remember her telling me stories of when my dad would buy cherry syrup and add it to regular flavored coke. Back then they didn’t have ready-made cherry colas.
What is it about cola that makes it so good? Is it its refreshing, thirst-quenching flavor with all those invigorating tiny bubbles that tickle your nose when freshly poured? Does it have to be Coca-cola? In my humble opinion yes. Although I’ll drink Pepsi in a pinch. Maybe I’m biased. I was drinking home-made cherry cokes really early on it would seem! Or maybe it is because Coke was one of my accounts in my professional days – a perfect match in my opinion given my personal history.  It really was one of my favorite accounts to work on. Of course, as a vendor, we didn’t do the complete cola flavor. No, that’s a trade secret kept under lock and key. But there is a lot out there where you can learn about the history of Coke or Pepsi without having to know its trade secrets. Surprisingly, I learned that colas are citrus based. I suppose it’s the caramel color that throws me off. It was originally used for medicinal purposes. Perhaps that’s part of the reason for the caffeine. Although, despite some advocates who want to remove or reduce the caffeine for health and nutritional purposes, doing such things would change the beloved flavor profile. I know. Playing around in the lab, one could come close to duplicating the nuances of either of the “Big 2” cola flavors. But to come up with an exact match to either Coke or Pepsi, well that’s more challenging if not impossible. Coke or Pepsi drinkers, such as myself are pretty picky about their drink. If not the case, then making minor revisions to the flavors for either cost savings or to try something new wouldn’t be such a stomach-wrenching ordeal. Remember the New Coke? I was one of those loyal addicted drinkers who took a sip and thought, what happened? How did this new flavor pass triangle? As we all know, New Coke didn’t last too long. They went back to the tried and true and all was right with the world again! Even so, Coke Zero or any of the diet colas are not an exact to the original fully-leaded versions. However these drinkers are willing to make the slight concession in flavor change for the benefit of no calories. I get it.
So in my travels what are some of the unusual things I have come across with colas? In the South, boiled peanuts accompany the effervescent drink… either side by side or actually in the drink. I like boiled peanuts, but I don’t drink and chew them at the same time. That’s just me. My cousins once told me that some people use it as a sun tanning lotion. Really? That would be pretty sticky… not to mention attract every bee in town! I’ve cooked with it plenty. Ever make “beer chicken”? Instead of beer, I’ve used Coke, Sprite and even A&W root beer. Each in their own right offers slight distinctions in flavor to the chicken. Try it sometime! I can only wonder what other creative uses there are for one of my all-time favorite beverages!

Dining on the Road: Scottsdale

On a recent trip to Scottsdale, Arizona I found myself without my camera. Oh no! Not to worry, I figure I’ll try out the camera on my iPhone. Now I still have the iPhone 3GS version. Still a pretty good camera though – impressive.  I’ve heard the iPhone 4 camera is amazing.  Anyway, we found this cute little cafe in Old Towne Scottsdale across from Nordstroms. What a treat! First off, love that there are soooo many non-chain restauranteurs in Scottsdale. Not that McDonalds, Chipotle or Five Guy Burgers aren’t any good.  Those are some of my staples when I’m on the run.  I just enjoy dining at unique little eateries to see what local chefs and bakers are coming up with these days. For lunch, I ordered a curry chicken salad with golden plump sun raisins. Very fresh, very good – nice blend of sweetness and curry spice. Great texture! Tender chicken coupled with the crisp crunch of greens and toasted almond slivers.  And of course, I had to wash it down with a Mexican Coca-cola. My hubby ordered a chicken panini. I would have taken a pic, but by the time I remembered, he’d already scarfed down most of it. He did save me a bite. Tender grilled chicken, melted cheese, roasted red peppers and onions with some kind of aoili sauce all on a toasted, grill marks and all, sourdough bread. Now I know why it was gone so fast. To finish our meal, we split a coconut caramel cookie bar with the biggest dark chocolate chips I’d ever seen, nestled throughout. Quite the treat!

Chicken Curry Salad, Golden Sun Raisins and Toasted Almonds