Category Archives: Cooking

Alloco

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IMG_4658Most people do not get super excited when they see fruit like this in the store. But I do!! These are not just old, bruised bananas, these are plantains, and they are just perfect for frying. Plantains look like bananas on steroids, but you can’t eat them raw. They are delicious cooked. I like them best when the skins are getting black and the fruit inside is turning golden. When they look like that, I have to fry them up! Where I grew up in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, fried plantains are called alloco, and you can buy them on the side of the road for a tasty snack.

So to make fried plantain, you peel the fruit by cutting off one end and pulling the skin off. Then cut the fruit across to make chunks that are about 4 inches long. The slice the chunks up lengthwise so it looks like this. Don’t slice too thinly, or you’ll get crunchy plantain, which is ok, just not as delicious. The fruit may be very slippery, so be careful. IMG_4659As you’re getting towards the end of slicing, start heating some vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. You want the oil to be about an eighth inch deep. When the oil is nice and hot, put your slices in the skillet. If the oil sizzles when you put the plantain in, then it’s hot enough. IMG_4663Let it cook on that side until the edges turn golden and flip over. Cook on that side until the fruit is turning a dark gold color. Take out and place on paper towel covered plate. Let cool! Plantains retain a lot of heat, so really make sure they’re cool enough to eat before taking a bite. Molten plantain in your mouth is not so pleasant!

IMG_4668We enjoy lots of international food around here, and I love the opportunity to expose my kids to the flavors of many of different cultures. I think it’s a great way to begin encouraging a global world view, as well as giving my kids some connectors as we pray for people all over God’s world. If you’re wanting to do the same, this is an easy recipe to use for much of West Africa and even the Caribbean.

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2 {Allergen-Friendly} Recipe Reviews

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Levi’s multiple food allergies have pushed me to completely change the way I cook, and also to explore new recipes. I always wish I could know if a recipe will work before I try it out, especially because the special ingredients can be pricey. So, I’m probably going to attempt to review new recipes every so often, in the hope that it will help someone in a similar situation.

Zucchini Brownies

This first recipe, I’ve made a few times now. It’s surprisingly delicious. They don’t taste exactly like traditional brownies, but I really like the flavor and texture. I’ve even taken it to a church meal and only came back with crumbs, which means they must be good brownies.  I amend it to be more chocolatey (of course), and add 1/2 cup cocoa to the batter. I really like the spice flavor that this recipe gives to the brownies. These were Levi’s first brownies. And I think I’ll be making them often for quite a while. I also like that they’re a bit more healthy than regular brownies.

Pumpkin Bread

This is a new recipe that I actually just tried tonight. It was pretty good. The flavor was not quite what my family likes, but the texture was really good. I think next time I’ll add more of each spice and maybe include some ginger, as well as a little extra salt and probably some more sugar. I just glanced at a few other pumpkin bread recipes, and they all included more spices and more sugar. I think this recipe is a good starting place, and am thankful to have found one that makes a good bread.

 

 

In both of these recipes I use a “flax egg” instead of the egg. A flax egg is ground flax seed and water mixed together. This makes something with an egg-like consistency, and has worked pretty well for me so far. Flax seed is also supposed to be really good for you, so that’s an added benefit.

 

Recipe of the Week~ Grandma’s Brownies

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I often just make brownies from a mix, but this week, I just wanted to make something yummy and familiar. This recipe has been passed down through my family. My grandma used to make them for school events when my mom was young, and when I was in boarding school and college, she would make a batch and send them to me. So I just love these brownies! And I’d like to share the recipe with you!

You need a 13×13 pan for this recipe, which is not a common size. I haven’t had success when I’ve tried it in a different size pan, but you might be able to adjust the temperature/cooking time, and make it work.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. cocoa
  • 1 c. butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 c. flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. chopped pecans (I use 1 cup, and walnuts are okay too)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter, and stir in cocoa and sugar. Beat eggs in mixing bowl, slightly, add chocolate mixture and beat well. Sift together baking powder, flour, and salt. Add to chocolate mixture and mix well, slowly at first. Add vanilla and nuts and stir in. Bake about 20-30 minutes or until flattened out and firm. Don’t overbake.

Icing

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 rounded Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • a little milk

Mix dry ingredients well in a small pot. Add milk a little at a time. Make it creamy, but not runny. It does not take much. Melt over heat, stirring constantly. Add vanilla. Spread evenly over brownies while they’re still warm. Let cool as long as you can stand it before eating them!

 

T – 26 days, or Nesting to the Max

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I can’t believe little Levi is due in 26 days! Lots has been going on, and the nesting is out of control in our household, so here’s an update in the form of a bulleted list.

  • I have made double batches of several meals to freeze, and over the weekend and yesterday made 8 pans of sweet rolls, 6 of which are in the freezer. Half of them are cinnamon rolls, and half of them are chocolate chip rolls, mmmm!
  • Bret worked very hard, and got the drawers installed on Luke’s bed! Yay for so much more storage! He still is going to make drawer faces, with pulls and everything, but I’m just excited that the drawers are useable!
  • All of Luke’s clothes are now in these drawers, and so I spent quite a while organizing Luke’s clothes and then putting all of the tiny baby stuff for Levi in the dresser. So cute! I love it. There’s going to be a tiny person here soon to wear those clothes!

Recipe of the Week ~ Surprisingly Scrumptious Spinach

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I have to apologize, as this isn’t really a recipe. I just throw in the ingredients without measuring them, but this way of cooking spinach is really yummy and I wanted to share it with you. It’s so yummy that my husband, who claimed he didn’t like cooked spinach, gets excited whenever we eat it.

So what you do is pour some olive oil in a skillet, really just enough to cover the bottom, and turn the burner on medium high. Then mince 2-3 cloves of garlic into the oil. Next, throw in some handfuls of fresh spinach. I usually put some in and once that cooks down, put in some more. I’m always amazed at how much the spinach cooks down, so cook more than you think you need. Sprinkle in salt and pepper while it’s cooking. Once it’s done, squeeze some lime juice over the spinach. I use less than half a lime. And it’s ready! I think the lime juice is the secret; you don’t really want it to taste lime-y, but the hint of lime flavor makes the spinach taste really fresh. Yummy!

Good Recipes from this Week

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I’ve been in the mood to try some new recipes, and so far, this week has been a cooking success! I love it when that happens. Trying new recipes is such a hit-or-miss endeavor, and I get frustrated when I put the time and work into preparing something that just isn’t good. So I wanted to share with y’all these two tasty dinners.

The first new recipe I tried was Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas. Delicious! And they got a 9.5 out of 10 on the certified husband rating scale. I made them exactly like the recipe, except that I added some garlic to the sauce, just because we like garlic, and I left out the jalapeño, because my pregnant stomach and Luke’s little one do better without a lot of heat. I think in the future, though,  I won’t do the extra work of frying the tortillas, we didn’t really notice much of a difference

The second experimental recipe was Pad Thai, which we had tonight. Also, Yum! Bret was skeptical at first, because of the smell, but we both really enjoyed eating it (8.5 out of 10 on the HRS). I added some ginger to the sauce, left out the sprouts because there wasn’t any at the store today, and added thinly sliced carrots. I’d been craving pad thai since I had some while visiting family in another city and this was a great way to fulfill that desire. I was also surprised at how easy and quick this was to cook.