New-School Banana Pudding

One of the best things about getting married (aside from all the great wedding gifts), is the constant surprises that come with it. My husband and I are most often surprised when it comes to food, and the way the same meal is made. Often times we each think the other’s recipe is so unfamiliar that dish is not even recognizable, and to blend them together would create something that is inedible.  However, there are other times that we blend two great recipes, to create a recipe that uniquely our own. Normally my husband knows how things are supposed to taste, but no idea how to make them (which is simultaneously both hilarious, and incredibly frustrating), but fortunately I recently had the pleasure of making my mother-in-law’s banana pudding with her, and therefore saw her recipe first hand. My family is very traditional, and makes the recipe directly from the Nilla Wafers box, whereas my mother-in-law ignores the box, and adds all kinds of awesomeness in its place. Below is a beautiful blend of our two family’s banana pudding recipes that is simultaneously both traditional and awesome at the same time. And since, banana pudding never takes too much time, it’s quick from the time you start to when you have an empty bowl.

***Our glass dish, was nine-inches in diameter, and approximately four-inches tall, just fyi. If your dish is bigger, just double everything, so you’ll have more***

**OH! Because of all the layers I found it easier to make individual pastry bags for each layer, this way each layer was added evenly. Making pastry bags from ziploc bags is super easy, just put all the layer in a bag, and cut off the tip of a corner, and squeeze. See this link for more how-to information and pictues!***

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  • 4 bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 box Nilla Wafers (buying this brand is really non-negotionable)
  • 1 block cream cheese, 8 oz, room temperature
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1/4 c evaporated milk
  • 1/3 c all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 c milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 container of Cool Whip
  1. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in a  small pot. Blend in 3 egg yolks and milk. Cook, uncovered, stirring constantly for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla. (This is directly from the Nilla Wafers box, why mess with classic?). Set aside.
  2. Mix the cream cheese, sugar and evaporated milk in a small bowl. Stir until well blended, and add 1/2 tsp vanilla. (My mother-in-law uses condensed milk instead of the evaporated milk and sugar combo, and then adds milk to thin out the mixture, making  it is nice and spreadable. Both options taste amazing.)
  3. Add a small amount of custard on the bottom of the dish, until evenly coated. Then add a layer of vanilla wafers. Next add an even layer of the cream cheese mixture. Next add a layer of bananas, followed by a layer of Cool Whip, followed by a layer of wafers. Repeat the layers. The best part is that you can mix the layers any way you like!
  4. Place in the fridge for a few hours, or until chilled.

Enjoy!!

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Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Empanada

One beautiful Sunday afternoon, me and one of my best friends ate the most amazing empanada from a food truck, and as is the story of my culinary life, I couldn’t wait to replicate it at home. I created all the filling first, and then my husband and I as a team built our empanadas.

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This recipe makes only six empanadas, so again please double it if you want more. Also, after make it the first time, there are a few things I would change the next time I make it (and there will be a next time!). For one, I would make the empanadas bigger, and maybe added a little more spice to the chicken mixture, and possibly some grilled red onions. This is why food never taste the same twice in our house…

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  • 2 boneless-skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 c buffalo sauce (we used Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Wing Sauce)
  • 1/4 c blue cheese crumbles (add more or less, depending on how you feel)
  • 2 oz cream cheese, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg white
  • salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
  • already rolled, pre-made pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Season the chicken thighs with the salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder mixture. Melt the butter in a heated skillet, with 1 tbsp olive oil, and place the seasoned chicken thighs in the pan. Cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side, aiming to flip the chicken only once.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan, and place on a cutting board, making sure to reserve the juices from the pan. Chop the chicken into small pieces, and place in a bowl. To the same bowl add the buffalo sauce, and the remaining butter chicken juice.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the blue cheese and cream cheese, and using the back of a spoon smash the blue cheese to better mix it with the cream cheese. (Add some more blue cheese or cream cheese if you want, just remember you don’t want to make too much)
  5. On a flour-ed surface, unroll the dough and using a bowl (approximately 4 inches in diameter), use the bowl like a cookie cutter and cut stencils in the dough.
  6. Take each section of the dough and brush the edges with egg white. Place approximately two spoonfulls of the chicken mixture, and one  spoonful of the cheese mixture on half of the dough. Then fold the dough in half, and close the edges using a fork to close the empanada. For additional assistance, please follow this link.
  7. Place a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet, and spray with cooking spray (you really don’t want them to stick, because there is nothing worse then an empanada thats split in two). Lay each empanada on the cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes. Because it depends on the size of the empanadas, and the thickness of the dough, the time may vary a little. Just make sure to remove them when they are brown and flaky.

 

Pan-Fried Pork, Fried Potato (Hashbrown), and Mushroom Cream Sauce

When I was little, my mom used to take inspiration from all over the world when it came to dinner. Dinner could be Thai, Chinese, Creole, Mexican or even German. While we didn’t eat a lot of German food, my mom made one dish that I absolutely loved. So, as I do with most of my favorite dishes, I had a craving and replicated it at home. Now my husband feels like I did as a child, he never knows what’s for dinner, or where its inspired from.

Traditionally the potatoes in this dish were not hashbrowns, but thats the way my mommie always made it, so thats the way I make it too. Now in full disclosure, this is not the healthiest dish, but life is too short to not mix it up every now and then. Besides, I’m from the south, and we use butter like its water.

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**This dish was made for four small servings, so please double or triple it if you’re hungry, and/or if you have more people who want to eat.**

  • 4 frozen hashbrowns slices (you know, those kind you eat for breakfast)
  • 4 thin cut pork chops (its important that they are thin cut, because you want to make sure the pork doesn’t overshadow the hash browns and mushroom cream amazingness)
  • 2 c sliced white button mushrooms
  • 1 c sliced white onion (slice them per your own liking)
  • 1 tube trader joes chicken bouillon, see here (if you don’t have a Trader Joes near you, after you cry, know you can substitute a regular cube)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • onion and garlic powder (I should give this duo a name, because I ALWAYS use them both)
  1. Season the pork chops with salt, pepper and both the powders (i.e.- the onion and garlic powder), be careful about the salt because they are so thin.
  2. Place all the flour in a bowl, and flour both sides of each pork chop.
  3. Place 2 tbsp olive oil in a heated saucepan (medium/high), and place each pork chop in the heated oil. Cook for approximately 1-2 minute son each side, or until browned on each side. Place each pork chop on a metal rack to drain. (this will ensure the flour crust doesn’t fall off, and stick to something.)
  4. In the same saucepan, fry each hash brown on both sides. If necessary add more oil to the pan to ensure each hashbrown is fried with a nice coating. Remove the hasbrowns and if there is room, place them on the same metal rack as the pork chops.
  5. In the same pan, add a little more olive oil, as well as the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms to the pan; cook for approximately 5-10 minutes on medium until the onions are soft, and the mushrooms are browned. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the butter to the pan, and stir until melted. Add the cream to the pan, and stir until the mushrooms mixture is completely distributed throughout the cream.
  7. Add the concentrated chicken broth, and stir until completely mixed together.
  8. Bring to a boil, then reduce and allow to simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Your sauce should begin to thicken.
  9. Taste the sauce, if it needs more salt, pepper, onion powder, or garlic powder, now is the time to add it.
  10. To plate, place the hashbrown on the bottom, add the pork chop on top, and pour the sauce over top.
  11. Enjoy!