The Fried Egg Sandwich

When you hear the term “Comfort Food” what do you think of?  Sure there are certain types of foods that come to mind.  Foods that are universally satisfying.  But I mean what are some of the things that really speak to you; the things that are near to your heart for a specific reason.  When I think “Comfort Food” I think of fried egg sandwiches. Now if you have never tried one, you might consider a fried egg sandwich to be the weirdest thing you have ever heard of.  For me, they are heaven.  You see, I don’t merely think of the sandwich itself; I think of my mother.  I am thinking of all the times I heard my mom ask with her special smile, “Do you want a fried egg sandwich?”  They became a tradition between the two of us.  So many times we worked together in the kitchen in unspoken agreement to create our favorite breakfast.  I think of all those mornings when she loaded me up with an egg sandwich and a mug of hot cappuccino for my hour drive back to the university every Monday morning.  The combination of the salty, cheesy sandwich with the strong, sweet coffee was divine.  Then later when I would go to her house for a visit, she would ask on Saturday morning, “Do you want a fried egg sandwich?”  Always with her smile.  We would sit with our sandwiches and drink our coffee together, talking for as long as we could get away with before the household became alive.  Such a simple thing really, but the memories make all the difference.  And I cherish every one.  So many important moments happen over food.  Now you will find me with my children on some random Saturday morning, talking and laughing over fried egg sandwiches.  And I look forward to the time when I will see my mother again.  Do you think there will be coffee and egg sandwiches in heaven?  I do.

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Don’t Throw Those Peels Away!

This post is short and sweet, but a wonderful tip for making your house smell warm and inviting.  Citrus peels are especially great for getting rid of kitchen odors.  Don’t throw out your orange, lemon, and grapefruit peels. Store them in a zip lock bag in the freezer. When you want to make the house smell awesome, take some of your peels out and put them in a sauce pan.  Add cloves, nutmeg, and/or cinnamon. Add some water and simmer on a very low heat. Shortly the whole house will smell fragrant and welcoming!

Special thanks to Sheila for sharing this tip with me!

 

Fun For All Salad Bar

Family Salad Bar

 

If you are like me you are always trying to find ways to get the kids to eat their vegetables.  Sometimes I hide them in sauces and mixtures; at other times I try to make them fun so they want to eat food that is good for them.  This was a fun family salad bar we made to encourage them to pick out and add to their own salads however they wanted.  As you can see we had some nice greens accompanied by some color and tasty additions; like olives and mushrooms.  I could have gone all out and added croutons, boiled egg, cauliflower, colorful sweet peppers, etc.  You get the idea.  The trick is to put the things you absolutely want them to have in your base – in the greens.  Then give them a nice big bowl for them to fill on their own.  Everyone really enjoyed our salad bar; so much, in fact, that there was only enough left for me to have as a side salad for lunch the next day.

Crunchy Mixed Greens and Brussel Sprouts Salad

My base greens require a lot of chopping, which works fine for me because I enjoy slicing and dicing.  If chopping is not your thing, consider making one big salad and storing in an airtight container to eat on for the week.  Add fresh tomatoes and cheese to daily portions.

Combine mixed leafy lettuces (bag salad is fine), chopped fresh spinach, chopped fresh Brussel sprouts, chopped fresh basil and parsley, chopped green onion, chopped broccoli, shredded or chopped carrot.  Anything else that appeals to you.

Homemade Dijon Dressing

3 tbsp Plain Non Fat Yogurt

1 tbsp Miracle Whip or Mayo (Optional – use more Yogurt if you prefer to skip the Mayo)

2 tbsp sugar or Agave Nectar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp vinegar

Whisk all ingredients together.  This dressing has somewhat of a coleslaw dressing taste with a little kick to it.  It is meant to be lightly used; toss in salad to lightly coat.

Chocolate-Caramel Bars Recipe Review

If you are ever looking for a treat that wows, I highly recommend making these Chocolate-Caramel bars by Better Homes and Gardens.  They are the perfect blend between sweet and salty, and they make a great bite-sized desert for parties and the like.  I did a couple of things differently from the recipe that turned out well.  There were a couple of tools that I used that were a big help in the making of this desert, and there was one tool that I wish I had to help me through what was, for me, the toughest part of the process.

Chocolate-Caramel Chewy Bars

This recipe was pretty easy to make, and it is broken up into four easy steps.  First you make and bake the crust.  Then you add the “filling” and bake some more.  Next you whip up your caramel topping.  Finally, you add chocolate chips and the caramel.  The filling calls for pecans and flaked coconut.  I strayed from the recipe and added walnuts along with the pecans.  The walnuts added a wonderful dimension to the flavor.  I also added only half the amount of coconut.  There was still plenty to cover the surface of the crust evenly, but it was not overpowering for those who are not crazy about coconut.

Two tools that I found particularly useful in the making of the bars were my Pampered Chef pastry roller and my Pampered Chef cooling rack.  The first step of the process is making the crust and pressing it into a 9 x 13 in pan.  My thought was, “How in the world am I supposed to make this stretch?”  The pastry roller was the perfect tool because it helped me form a crust that was spread evenly throughout, and it made the task quick and easy.  Also, the design of the roller is not like a typical rolling-pin; it was much easier to manuever within the pan.  I was able to roll the crust right up against the sides of the pan for the most part.  The second useful tool was the Pampered Chef cooling rack.  I love their cooling racks because they are not only stackable but the legs fold up for easy storage.

PC Pastry Roller

The only difficult task in the whole process was cutting these suckers once the caramel hardens.  Once I was able to get the first row sliced, I found it much easier to lift the whole thing out onto wax paper on the countertop and cut it.  Slicing was not impossible using a knife, but the one thing I wish I had at the time is the Pampered Chef pizza cutter.  I have a couple of different pizza cutters.  The reason I would have liked to have had the Pampered Chef cutter is it has a considerably larger diameter than normal pizza cutters, which means fewer rotations of the blade and less work for the wielder.  It also has a more heavy-duty blade in comparison with standard blades.  I think it is time for me to check out the PC website again!

PC Pizza Cutter

These Chocolate-Caramel bars were the perfect Valentine’s party treat.  They stood out from the normal store-bought cupcakes and cookies, and they were one of the main treats all the party volunteers stood around talking about.  It also says something when your husband hides the container full of bars from the rest of the household!  If any of you readers decided to try the recipe for yourself, please let us know how it went.  I welcome your feedback.  For recipe details, see my previous blog titled “Cook With Me Valentine Event: Chocolate-Caramel Bars.” 

Cook With Me Valentine Event

Chocolate-Caramel Bars

This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens, and it is what I will be making for my son’s Valentine party at school.  They are beautiful and look so delicious!  I would like to invite you to bake these “with me” and let us know how yours turned out.  I will be using my Pampered Chef stoneware to bake these in.  Let us know any special tricks or equipment you used to make your bars!

Chocolate-Caramel Bars

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 tsps vanilla

20 vanilla caramels, unwrapped

2 tbsp milk

1 cup milk chocolate or semisweet  chocolate pieces

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. For crust, in a medium bowl stir together flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (If you do not have a pastry cutter, you can use a fork instead.) Press onto the ungreased bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan. Bake for 15 min. Sprinkle pecans and coconut over hot crust.

2.  Meanwhile, for filling combine condensed milk and vanilla. Carefully spread over pecans and coconut, spreading evenly.

3.  Bake for 25 to 30 min more or until filling is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 min.

4.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine caramels and milk. Cook and stir over medium-low heat just until caramels are melted. Drizzle caramel mixture over filling. Sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Makes 24 bars.

TO STORE: Layer bars between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Be sure to check back in here at The Ripe Banana to see my recipe review, and I sincerely hope you will have some input of your own to provide. I can’t wait to hear how your bars turned out! 🙂

The Healing Power of Food

I am usually a skeptic when it comes to eating regimens and diets.  The very idea of someone else telling me how I should eat, while they look down their noses at my greasy bacon cheeseburger, makes me balk.  This presentation, however, caught my attention.  After listening to this speaker, I have changed my whole way of thinking in regards to food.  One thing she said in particular struck home with me.  You see, I have a dear little grandma with Alzheimer’s disease.  This speaker was diagnosed with MS (Muscular Dystrophy).  Both of these diseases have something in common, and that is they both destroy the brain.  She went in search of a diet that would help heal her brain, thus healing her body.  This speech is amazing, and I encourage you to take the time to listen to it; it is somewhere around 15 to 20 minutes and worth every second of it, believe me.  I had my notepad and pen out in no time!

http://wimp.com/mindingmitochondria/

Special thanks to my friend Rita for sharing this with me!