Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chocolate-covered Peanut Butter Bananas

Chocolate morsels were on sale today for $1.99 at my local grocery store, so naturally I got a bag of semi-sweets (the dark chocolate ones were sold out, otherwise that would have been my first choice). I planned on just eating them right out of the bag, but I came up with an idea for dessert: Chocolate covered bananas.

I am not the biggest banana fan, but I know they're good for you, and I know they can fill you up. So, I tend to grab one at work, but inevitably I just let it sit on my desk all day, and end up bringing it home. So, I've had this lonely banana sitting on my dining room table all weekend, and I decided it couldn't go to waste. So, why not jazz it up with a little chocolate?

Then, I had the grand idea to take it even further -- why not add a dollop of peanut butter in there? I just tasted five to make sure they're good -- they are!

1 banana, sliced
6 0z. (half bag) semisweet chocolate morsels, melted
Peanut butter

I melted the chocolate morsels using a double-boiler method -- I guess you could use a microwave, too - just careful, the bowl will probably be hot.

So, while the chocolate was melting, I just sliced the bananas and had the peanut butter ready. I wanted the entire banana covered, so first I dipped the bottom of the banana slice into the chocolate, and then set it on a baking sheet covered in wax paper. After I had all the bottoms done, I took a spoon and put a little dollop of peanut butter on top of each slice. When that was done, I used a spatula to cover all the bananas. As you can see, some got better coverage than others, but these are just for me so I wasn't too concerned. I will say that I used up all of the chocolate, so if you want better coverage, I'd melt some more morsels. Maybe 3/4 of the bag, instead of 1/2? What I love about this is, you can play around with it. Maybe Nutella instead of peanut butter. Or how about Fluff! Mmmm.... Enjoy!

Roasted Corn and Red Bean Salad

The summer is practically here, and one of my favorite things about summer are fresh cold salads. Tomato salad, cucumber salad, arugula salad, cole slaw -- I love it all.

I was recently introduced to a really great salad with roasted corn. I don't think I've ever had roasted corn before. This salad was great - it had crunch, zest, and was easy to recreate in my kitchen. And it's perfect for the Poor Man's budget.

3 ears fresh corn, or 1 package frozen corn
1 can red beans
1 tomato
1/2 an onion
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

First, I roasted the corn in the oven - 400° for about 40 minutes on a baking tray, turning the corn halfway through. Interestingly, I've made this a couple times now, and during roasting the kernels towards the outside start roasting a lot faster than the kernels in the center of the tray. So you'll definitely need to mix the corn around halfway through. Also, I'm sure roasted on the grill is even better, and I definitely suggest you try. But, I don't have a grill, or grilling pan, or a George Foreman, so the oven had to do.

While the corn was roasting, I drained the beans, chopped the tomato, and diced the onion. The onion I threw into a fry pan for just like two or three minutes. I love onions, but I wanted to take the bit out of them a little -- the true star here is the roasted corn, and I didn't want anything overpowering that. You could probably use red onions too, and skip the fry pan.

So, once the corn is done, just combine everything: the corn, beans, onions, tomatoes. I chopped a handful of cilantro, which I LOVE in this because it adds a touch of pepperiness. (Speaking of, I lightly salt-and-peppered this salad, not too much.) Also, the juice of half a lemon really helps to break down and combine all the flavors together.

Now, if you like an extra kick (which I do), I suggest 1/4 teaspoon of red chili powder. I think it really compliments the sweetness of the corn, the freshness of the cilantro, and the zest of the lemon. And there you have it -- a great, healthy summer salad that's also easy on the wallet. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Meatloaf

New creation that I just took out of the oven. Smells awesome, tastes even better!

I'm a big fan of using chopped-meat chicken for meatloaf. Usually, I toss in half a packet of powdered ranch dressing and call it a day. But, I had some store-brand part-skim mozzarella cheese I got on sale for $1.99 that I wanted to use up, so I made this an Italian-style meatloaf.

With the ground chicken, I tossed in one egg, and about a cup of homemade bread crumbs. I had some leftover stale Italian bread laying around, and used a hand grater to make my bread crumbs. I mixed in about a tablespoon of oregano, and maybe 1/2 tablespoon each of salt and pepper -- really just eyeballed it. After tossing the crumbs and seasonings, I dropped it into the chicken and egg mixture and did a quick mix with my hands. At the last minute, I decided to grate in a quarter of an onion I had sitting in my fridge. Mixed it all together, and was ready to assemble the meatloaf.

So, I guess I could have shredded the mozzarella and combine it with the chicken, bread crumb and onion mixture. Instead, I decided to build the meatloaf in layers. I cut the block of mozzarella into the thinnest slices I could make. On a greased baking tray, I put down a layer of the meat mixture, then a layer of cheese. I kept making layers until I used up all of the meat mixture on top. I smoothed out the sides of the meatloaf with my hands, making sure all the cheese was covered. Then I popped it into a 400° oven for 40 minutes, until it was cooked all the way through and was golden brown all the way around.

I guess I should stop here a moment, and tell you that I always cook a meatloaf on a baking tray. I guess you could use a loaf pan, but I like a nice golden brown crust all the way around. Also, in a loaf pan, I feel like the fat drippings just collect at the bottom of the pan and make the meatloaf soggy. On a baking tray, the fat spreads out away from the loaf and leave it with that gold brown crust that I like. To each their own, I suppose.

So, after taking the meatloaf out, I let it sit for a while. I didn't want to cut into it and have all the cheese run out, so just something to keep in mind.

This meatloaf turned out really, really good! You can see the layers of mozzarella, which gives this another layer of texture along with the grated onions and the meatloaf itself. Garnished with a couple sprigs of thyme I forgot I had. Time to eat!!