retired chef Archives - The Chef In Pearls

Banana Bread Remixed

I love bananas…I mean I could eat bananas all everyday if…they didn’t cause me pain. Apparently at some point in my life I met my banana quota. My body’s way of letting me know this is by inflicting excruciating pain on my stomach. I don’t have to eat a whole banana for this phenomena to take place…a bite…hell a half a bite and BAM instant pain.  But that doesn’t stop me from creating wonderful banana inspired dishes (remember I love bananas).

Today I bring you the banana bread remixed.  This dish was inspired by a post a friend shared on Facebook, “20 Recipes that will make you never want to skip brunch Again,” by viral nova. On this list was a recipe for cream cheese filled  banana bread…..how could that not be good. I mean, I have done banana bread with a brown sugar cream cheese spread so I know cream cheese in the middle would definitely take it up a notch or 2. Here’s the thing though I wasn’t feeling the actual banana bread recipe that was posted so I went with my tried and true recipe from out of one of my old dusty notebooks. I now give you Banana Bread with cream cheese filling and candied walnuts….. So here ya go:

Banana Bread

3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup melted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Cream Cheese Filling

1 (8oz) block of cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Candied Walnuts

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of corn syrup

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter & flour a loaf pan. In a saucepan place walnuts, sugar and corn syrup.  Heat until sugar is melted and nuts are coated. Spread nuts out on a parchment lined baking sheets so as to cool and not form lumps.Mash bananas with a fork in a mixing bowl .With a wooden spoon mix melted butter into mashed bananas.  Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle salt & baking soda over mixture and then mix in. Add flour and mix until incorporated ( do not over mix as it will toughen the texture of the bread). Put to the side.  Place softened cream cheese into bowl with egg, sugar and vanilla, mix until smooth. Pour 1/2 the banana mixture into prepared loaf pan. Then pour cream cheese mixture on top of banana mixture in pan. Top that with a 1/4 cup of candied walnuts followed by the other 1/2 of banana mixture. Finish it by sprinkling the remaining walnuts on top.Place loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake 45 minutes to an hour. Insert knife or toothpick to test bread , if it comes out clean then done.  Cool pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pan, allow to cool completely on rack. Cut using a serrated edge knife. Then enjoy 🙂 .

 

 

Well I hope you’ll share how your banana bread turns out. CIPapproved

 

It can’t get any simpler than this. Diced apples, sugar, butter and cream with a layer of sweetened cream cheese and one of graham cracker crumbs. Dessert that you don’t have to turn on the oven for and ready in under 30 minutes. I think that’s a win-win situation.

 

No Bake Caramel Apple Cheesecake

 

Crust

2 large squares of graham crackers

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

 

Cheesecake                                                                   Apple Filling

4 ounces cream cheese, softened                                 1 small granny smith apple peeled and diced

¼ cup  sugar                                                                       2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla                                                          1 Tablespoon butter, unsalted

                                                                                              ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

                                                                                              ⅛ teaspoon fresh nutmeg

                                                                                              1-2 Tablespoons heavy cream or half & half
Place graham crackers in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Mix crumbs with cinnamon, sugar and butter. Spoon into bottom of serving dish.  Mix softened cream cheese with sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spoon on top of graham cracker mixture. heat butter in a pan add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook for about 5 minutes or until apples are softened. Add cream and cook additional 3 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool. Once cool put on top of cream cheese mixture and refrigerate. Serve with fresh whipped cream

Quickie… Get Ready. Get Set. Holidays

Quickie… Get Ready. Get Set. Holidays

Holiday-dinner-table

It’s that time of the year again. You know where family gather and people eat like there’s no tomorrow. It’s also the time of year when everyone wants to show off their culinary skills (or the lack there of) with tables full of traditional and not so traditional meals. Well with the weeks leading up to the big turkey day and Christmas fast approaching after that The Chef In pearls will be sharing video tips to get you through the holidays with ease. You’ll be able to participate in the videos by catching them live on Periscope. You can download the app for free in your app store, Apple and Android users alike. Once downloaded look for me as, you guessed it, The Chef In Pearls. Then listen out for that sexy whistle because I will be coming to you live . You can always let me know some of the things that are your biggest challenges and I will try to address them in the scopes. Looking forward to helping you make new memories this holiday season

(image from realstylenetwork.com)

A Quickie…..Shashuka

A Quickie…..Shashuka

I love when I can find something new to do with eggs. Not just something new but something that taste great too. I mentioned in my previous post that I have come into being addicted to Pinterest. Well, while on one of my many visits to Pinterest I came across an Israeli dish named Shashuka. Now I know the name doesn’t do much on giving you a hint of what it’s made from ( well at least not in English) but I promise you it is full of flavor. Even better than the taste is the ease of making this dish. In less than 30 minutes you’ll have something that tastes wonderful and looks just as appealing. It’s something you can do and invite a couple of friends over for brunch. It won’t damage your pocket and everyone will be happy. Canned tomatoes, eggs, some herbs & spices ( I added onions, mushrooms and spinach to my base), feta cheese and some crusty bread. Who wouldn’t be happy with an invite to a meal like that? My version of Shashuka was adapted from Food 52.

Shashuka

  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions caramelized
  • 1 container of baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups rough chopped fresh spinach
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 9-10 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Pilpelchuma, store bought or recipe below
  • tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (I used flat leaf parsley because I don’t like cilantro)
  • 4-6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 4-6 warm pitas or grilled crusty bread

 

Pilpelchuma

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • pinch cumin
  • pinch salt
  1. Pilpelchuma: Mix ingredients together to form a paste. This will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or pan with lid over low heat.
  3. Add the caramelized onions, mushroom slices, chopped spinach, chopped garlic, paprika, cumin, & pilpelchuma to the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Mix in the canned tomatoes & salt. Cover the pan with lid and simmer for 15 minutes. At this point, you can cool the sauce and store to use another day. Just heat it back up in the same pan and continue from here.
  5. Add and mix in the cilantro leaving a bit out of the pan to garnish with later.
  6. Make pockets in the sauce with a wooden spoon or spatula and very carefully crack the eggs into them. Make sure to space the eggs out. There should be sauce in between each egg for them to cook properly (and prettily).
  7. Immediately cover the pan, turn the heat up a bit to medium and cook without lifting the lid for 4-7 minutes depending on how you like your egg yolks. 4 for runny yolk and 7 for hard cooked yolk..
  8. Eat right away while its piping hot. Sopping up all the sauce with the pita. Enjoy!

So get out your contact list, invite a few friends over and go forward & make new memories.

 

Cookie Swap….YAY!

Cookie Swap….YAY!

The Chef In Pearls will be apart of this year’s Cookie Swap …yup me and the mini me will be baking cookies in the name of raising funds and awareness for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. We want you to keep up with us and the blog as we prepare for the great swap. We’ll be making cookies to share with other bloggers as well as receiving cookies. We’ll share our cookie recipe and those of the ones we receive . We are so excited to become apart of this community and even more excited to be helping with a good cause. So don’t forget to like and share our cookie swap posts. We plan to make wonderful new memories with this new endeavor.

A Quickie…..An Open Letter

A Quickie…..An Open Letter

 

Dear Pinterest,

How do I tell you that you have become the devil in my life? I spend so much time pinning things to my boards and creating new boards to pin things to. Hours upon hours. Time that I should be writing new blog posts or creating new recipe ideas. Yet somehow that time spent there helps me to do such things. It’s weird in a twisted kind of way.  Hours pinning and re-pinning somehow helps me find new ideas and different takes on things I want to share with my readers and students.

I recently came across a pin for a Maple Bar Donut. It immediately took me back to my visit to Miami earlier this year.  I got to visit Mojo Donuts where I sampled a Maple Bacon Bar. I fell in love with that donut. It tasted just like breakfast but in a really good way, sweet and salty. Just Perfect. So I decided to try out this recipe I found on Pinterest. The hardest part of making this donut was making the glaze. So without further ado I present you to the Maple Bacon Bar.

Easy Maple Bacon Bars

  • 1 8-count can refrigerated biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury Grand Homestyle Buttermilk biscuits)
  • 2 cups canola oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP corn syrup
  • 2 tsp maple extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon

Pour 2 cups of canola oil into a medium sized saucepan and begin heating on medium-low heat.

Cook bacon strips until crispy. Chop into bite size pieces. Set aside in a bowl (try not eat all the bacon before topping donut)

Open the biscuit dough and separate. Gently stretch the biscuits into an oblong shape, as opposed to the round shape they come in.

In a small saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Whisk in milk and heat for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and add in corn syrup and maple extract. Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until smooth between additions. Add 1-2 tsp more milk if necessary. Glaze will begin to harden if you leave it sitting- which is what you want! Once all powdered sugar is added, keep maple glaze warm on the stove, whisking occasionally.

Check the temperature of the oil using a meat thermometer- it needs to read 350 degrees F. Increase heat gradually if necessary.

Once oil is ready, drop bars in 2 at a time. Let cook for about 1-2 minutes, then turn and cook an additional  1-2 minutes on the other side. This process of cooking the doughnuts goes very fast, so have a paper towel covered plate ready to set the bars on when cooked. Bars should be a nice golden brown.

Let bars cool for a few minutes, then whisk the glaze to make sure it’s smooth enough to dip each bar. Dip the bar, then immediately turn glaze side up on a cooling rack and top with bacon bits.

Repeat this process until all bars are fried and glazed.

(recipe adapted from Butter with a side of Bread)

Please do not hold me accountable for the addiction the will come from the combination of maple flavor and bacon. Just know that you have been fore warned. Go gather your ingredients and go forward and make memories.

P.S. The entire time I was writing this blog post it kept letting me know I was spelling donut wrong okay fine…doughnut…you happy now spell check?

P.S.S. I accidently sent out this post in an incomplete state. Please forgive me and I hope you enjoy the completed one better.

 

Dessert for Dinner

Dessert for Dinner

Okay, what do you do when you want dessert for dinner and you don’t want to bake a whole cake? You pull out your grill pan of course. (You guys must be tired of my grill pan but know that I love my grill pan) I had a nicely ripened peach, some vanilla yogurt, granola and honey. It was the making of a really good dinner. I hope you try this one.

Now go forward and make new memories

P.S . This is a good one for those watching their figure…I still don’t know what the calorie count is on this. *Shrugs shoulders*

I have spent the last few days super excited about where The Chef In Pearls is heading. I have actually been walking around here or dare I say floating on cloud 9. I am always happiest when I can see that my passions are accepted and needed by others. The birth of Exclusive Party Of One was not easy ( financially, physically and even emotionally) but it’s here and being well received. In moving forward with this series I bring you a dish made for one, Penne Pasta in a Herb Goat Cheese sauce. I was able to do a live broadcast of me cooking this dish on Periscope. If you weren’t able to catch it I am sharing it here today with the recipe. Please keep in mind that recipes are really suggestions, not just mine but all. If there is something you don’t care for (I HATE cilantro) leave it out or substitute something else in its place (I usually use flat leaf parsley in cilantro’s place) . Get creative with it. This was a meatless dish but you could add chicken or even shrimp or whatever you like. It’s up to you. Okay enough of the yabbering. Here’s the ingredients to go along with the video above.

 

1 cup dry penne pasta (cooked according to package)

1 TBSP of olive oil

I cup packed spinach leaves

2-3 baby portabella mushrooms sliced

2-3 slices of red onions cut in half

1-2 oz of herb goat cheese ( depends on how rich you want the sauce)

1/3 cup half & half

zest of half of a lemon

1/2 TBSP chopped parsley

fresh parmesean cheese

kosher salt

black pepper

P.S. If you can make this dish for one you can sure make it for two . So go invite the cute guy from down the hall over for dinner. Just a thought : )

Now go forward and make new memories.

P.S.S. If you re-create the dish please share a pic on our Facebook page @TheChefInPearls I’d love to see what you did ; )

 

 

#ExclusivePartyOfOne

#ExclusivePartyOfOne

 

 

 

15-EPO-Logo-01For as long as I can remember I have been cooking for a large amount of people. My immediate family consisted of 5 people. Add in the family and friends my mother often took in to help them out in their times of need. I can still recall the first time I ever cooked anything on my own. We had family visiting from England. My Dad had decided to make pancakes for breakfast (Aunt Jemima, just add water mix) and he completely destroyed them, even though I kept telling him he was doing it wrong. Thinking he was being funny he told me, then 5, that if I thought I could do better I should. I still remember that kitchen table and how I had to pull a chair up in order to be able to mix the batter. Once the batter was done I moved my chair to the stove and proceeded to make pancakes that everyone happily ate. Everyone except my Dad who, out of pride, ate the ones he made which were burnt on the outside and doughy in the middle.

Fast forward 38 years later, I have learned how to feed larger masses. I went from cooking for hundreds to a family of three that expanded to a family of five so my cooking was always evolving. Now I am in a new place in my life. My oldest is married and moved away from home. The middle child is away at college enjoying his freshman year. The baby girl lives at home on the weekends as she uses Grandma’s as a home base for school. And I am in the middle of ending a 20 year marriage. I am appreciating how to cook for one. It is not an easy task even just trying to figure out proportions but also accepting it on an emotional level. I am not the first woman to go through this nor will I be the last.

None of these things happening around me and to my life will define me in a negative light. As with most things in my life, I am choosing to learn from it. I am using these experiences to make me a better person. I can still eat well, live life to the fullest, and enjoy this time in my life being single. It’s not a bad thing but a chance for me to re-connect with myself on so many levels. My cooking is improving and I am becoming more creative because of these changes. Cooking is actually easier for me because I don’t have to take into consideration who doesn’t like what. I just cook how and what I feel, when I feel. I get to be selfish in the kitchen and I am enjoying it.

There are so many others that are finding themselves cooking for one. It may be a recent divorcee or an empty nester, a widow or someone who chooses this life style. I want to be able to make that transition a little easier for them. The Chef In Pearls will be doing a special series just for them or rather for us. ExclusivePartyofOne, a celebration of cooking for one with me, The Chef In Pearls. I’ll showcase recipes, classes and so much more on all my social media including Periscope. So make sure to follow me on all platforms as @TheChefInPearls. Please keep an eye out for the hashtag #ExclusivePartyOfOne.  You will be able to follow all of the goings by search for that hashtag. I am excited about all the things I want to share. So shake off all the negative vibes out there about cooking for yourself and where you may be in life because you’re not alone. We can and will make it through this stage of our lives better than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made this dish over a month ago . When I put the pic on social media ( i.e. Instagram, my Facebook page, food groups I participate in) I got so many hits for it. Everyone wanted to know how to prepare it. Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke I prepared it again and posted a new pic. Same response. So in an effort to be a woman/chef of my word I created a video showing everyone how to re-create the simple yet yummy dish.

Things you’ll need to re-create dish:

Salmon Steaks

Old Bay Seasoning

Cast Iron Grill Pan

Sweet Thai Chili Sauce

Pastry Brush

Please if you re-create this salmon dish  share a picture on social media with me and leave me a comment on the post. Now go forward and make new memories.

The Chef In Pearls

 

The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Sinclair is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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