28 July 2009

Curried Pineapple Banana Bread

(recipe courtesy of closetcooking.blogspot.com)

I loves me some bread. I also like to bake it. However, although pie crust is my nemesis, bread can be fickle for me. Therefore, I generally tend to stay with batters and mixes versus yeast, rising, et cetera and so forth. I saw this bread and though it looked good. I love pineapple and bananas and the thought of curry intrigued me, so I saved the recipe and recently tried it out.

Each set of ingredients makes one loaf.


1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons curry powder
3 ripe bananas (mashed)

1/2 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup pineapple (I used Dole pineapple tidbits)
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt and curry powder in a bowl.

3. Mix the bananas, butter, sugars, egg and lime juice in another bowl.

4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
5. Mix in the pineapple and coconut.
6. Pour the batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.

7. Bake until a tooth pick pushed into the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes.

Unfortunately, I have an ancient digital camera and the picture of the finished product is not as sharp as I would like it to be. Let me point out, however, that the bread itself is YUMMY. It's very moist, almost cake-like. For anyone who thinks the curry sounds weird, it hits your tongue in a way that's very similar to cinnamon. The curry powder combined with the sugar and the banana registers as much more of a "sweet" heat than a "hot" or "spicy" heat like it does in more savory dishes. In fact, if I didn't know I'd put curry in the batter, I would have thought there was cinnamon in the bread instead.

This would also be good toasted on a rack in the oven for a few minutes to dry it a little bit and give it a little crispiness on the outside, then buttered. Or, as a dessert (again toasted) with some vanilla ice cream on it.

This will definitely go in the keeper file.

18 July 2009

Gimpy the Eighth Dwarf checking in

Once again, my klutzy side has decided to share itself with the world. Bleah.

When I was training and fighting, getting injured was just part of the deal. Bruises, bloody noses, black eyes...all part of the plan. The credo in the gym was the bigger the bruise (or other injury), the sexier it was. (You should see my Self-Portrait of Hematoma. Rooooowwwwrrrr!!).

One of the things I did while cutting weight was to ruck. In other words, I took an Army pack, shoved two 20-lb bags of kitty litter into it, strapped that puppy on and hiked 10-12 miles while wearing layers of workout clothes and sweats. This occasioned comments ranging from "hardcore" to "My god, I always knew you were insane."

On one of these walks, I had barely gotten started when I tried to step to the side of the road, misbalanced and fell. Hard. Trust me when I say that 40 pounds of kitty litter increases your downward velocity like a mofo. However, I couldn't just go straight down. No. That would be too easy. Instead, I rolled my left ankle over so far that the ankle bone met the pavement before the rest of me.

Sitting on the ground, multiple thoughts ran through my head, but they all centered around a few key points: (1) Owwwwwwww!!!!! (2) I'm tough. I'm a fighter. I can take this. Pain is weakness leaving the body. (3) Owwwww!!!!!!...with a few swear words thrown in. (4) Pain is weakness - dude, this hurts! (5) Swear some more. Finally dragging my thoughts out of their cyclical nature, I used my cell phone to call the Spousal Unit and ask for a ride home.

Which brings us to now; almost a year later. I've had my fight and retired due to a long-term back injury, but I like to try and keep somewhat active and fit. Thus, I run/walk quite a few miles each week. On Thursday, I wasn't looking forward to the treadmill and thought I'd go for a walk/run for about five miles; walk some of it and then do sprints/cooldowns on the way back. Easy. Done it a hundred times before. It'll be a nice change of pace.

Yeah. Sometimes I should just stick with the plan.

I made it 2.5 miles out and turned around for the home stretch. I've got my track pants on, black sleeveless top, my old Navy cap...feelin' good, feelin' sexy, feelin' oh-so-very good. Which, looking back, really should have been my first clue something was about to go wrong. The universe likes to give me the middle finger at times like these.

I'd gone about three miles when suddenly...cue the ankle totally collapsing again and I go down (coincidentally, about a mile from the first incident). Suddenly, I'm sprawled over a busy intersection at a time approaching rush hour for this town. And did I mention I'm bleeding? That sleeveless top that I was feeling oh-so-sexy-and-good in? Didn't exactly save me from the marriage of asphalt and skin.

I managed to roll myself out of the road much like I imagine a salmon flops around when it's trying to hurl itself upstream and get upright. Running is out of the question. Walking normally may happen at some point but not before the general population of my town that travels this road daily around this time will get to see me limping like Igor trailing after Dr. Frankenstein. There was even an "M" word coming out of my mouth. It just wasn't "Master".

I've got road rash, various scrapes and small divots all down my left arm (but the tat is fine!). Also, my ankle once again looks like it's swallowed a tennis ball and I'm trying to find shoes that I can wear to work that allow me to wear an ankle brace underneath. I tried treadmilling yesterday and got about a mile before I said to myself, "Self, a strong work ethic is fine; admirable, even. Gritting your teeth while you injure yourself further is something the natives refer to as 'stupid'. Perhaps we should stop this for now."

"You think?"

"Does the universe need to flip you off again?"

"Um, no."

*look around furtively* Stupid universe.

Excuse me. My ice pack is calling.

09 July 2009

Chicken Chimichangas, Part II: The Filling

So, to briefly recap...first we made the tortillas (which turned out wonderfully) and now we're on to the filling for the chimichangas. This recipe also had the option of adding refried beans to the chimichanga by spreading them on the tortilla before adding the chicken mixture but I chose to forgo that step.

1 small onion, chopped
2 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken

1 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups salsa
1/2 tsp cumin
1 pinch salt

1. Saute onion and garlic in oil. Stirl in salsa, spices, chicken and salt. Cook until heated through.

2. If using, spread about 2 tbsp of refried beans on each tortilla then add about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture. Fold like a burrito and secure with a toothpick or metal skewer.

3. Spray all sides with cooking spray and bake at 400F for 20 minutes (until golden brown) OR fry in a small amount of olive oil until brown on both sides.

4. EAT!

OK, first? Yum. Realllly good eats :).

As far as the folding went, I found it worked best if I laid the chicken filling down a line in the middle like the picture above, leaving some room around the edges. I took the top part of the tortilla and folded it over the chicken like I was starting to roll a cigar. Then, I folded the sides in towards the middle to create the beginnings of a tube shape. Then I folded the "tube" over.

(And how many times can I say "folded" in one paragrah?)

I didn't really need the toothpicks or any kind of skewer. As long as the tortillas aren't overstuffed, the mixture won't come out the sides or anything like that and the edges all meet, so there is a solid seam all the way around the chimichanga. I also chose to bake them in the oven rather than deep frying them; personal preference :).

The cinnamon may sound kind of odd but go with it. It will smell almost sweet - like baking sweet - when you're heating the chimichanga filling or they are cooking in the oven. When you're eating them, the spice translates into heat more than sweet. It adds another layer to whatever salsa you may have used and feels warm on the back of your tongue.

These were very tasty and kept well over the two-three days we ate them as leftovers.

03 July 2009

Chicken Chimichangas, Part I: Homemade Tortillas

I love Mexican food - the more authentic the better. It's sommetimes hard to find the good stuff but we've managed to scope out some of the more "local" joints versus the ones that serve more Americanized versions of Mexican food. In between, I work on increasing my own repetoire. Something I hadn't really tried to this point was tortillas. For some reason, the making of them reminds me of my one true nemesis of the cooking world - pie crust. I cannot make a decent pie crust to save my life. I think tortillas seem similar because there is resting and rolling and such involved - similar to pie crust. But then I saw this recipe and the idea of tortilla-making suddenly seemed, well, simple. The only real difference I found was the use of shortening versus lard.

Flour Tortillas (makes eight 10" tortillas)

2 cups flour
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water

1. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.

2. Cut in the shortening until mixture resembles course meal.

3. Add warm water a little at a time, until mixture forms a soft dough without being sticky.

**Here is where you want to be careful. Don't just pour water in thinking all that flour will absorb it. Keep adding slowly and then knead the forming dough until all the water is absorbed before adding more. It's kind of like making risotto. As the liquid is absorbed, you add more. Same idea here. If you do add a little too much, keep working the dough gently. It may seem a little sticky at first but it will largely disappear with some patient kneading.

4. Knead until smooth and elastic. Roll into 8 equal size balls and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 minutes.

5. Roll each ball out on a lightly floured surface until very thin and about 10" in diameter. Layer them between sheets of plastic wrap and let rest for 10-15 more minutes (or until you are ready to cook them).

6. Place in a dry (no oil please) non-stick frying pan over med-high heat for about 1 minute on each side. You know its read to flip when it starts to puff up a bit.

7. Wrap with a tea towel while you are cooking the rest, so they don't dry out. Serve warm.

These were wonderful. They were pliable enough to roll into chimichangas with a nice, chewy texture. They also were good as soft tacos or just warm out of the pan with some butter or some butter/cinnamon sugar.

But since we're talking about chimichangas here, we'll get to that part next :).