Monday, April 18, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and Muffins


When I worked as a medical secretary, one of my coworkers, T, always brought in yummy sweets and baked goods for everybody to enjoy. She is a grandmother and used to own a chocolate shop before "retiring" to work as a secretary so you can be sure that everything she made was amazing! We would munch on cookies, muffins, candies and chocolate all day. I gained weight but I was oh-so-happy. My favorite thing from her was without doubt her chocolate chip banana bread. It was out-of-this-world good! Just thinking about it puts my salivary glands into overdrive. And the funny thing is that I hate bananas! Yup, it is THAT good!

Of course, I asked her for the recipe but like great culinary minds, she doesn't have one. She says that she uses the bananas she has on hands and then - I quote - "throws everything together" haha. I can't "throw things together". When I do, it ends up in a complete mess. When I stopped working there, I started having banana bread withdrawal symptoms: hallucinations (I saw banana breads everywhere!), uncontrollable salivation, lack of concentration and irritability - it was getting bad and I needed some banana bread! I desperately looked on Allrecipes and found this banana bread recipe which had a very good rating. The bread came out very moist and I enjoyed it. Although it is not as orgasmic as T's banana bread, it satisfied my craving...for now. :)

I also made muffins. These were great for breakfast!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Makes one 5x9 inch loaf and 12 muffins or two 5x9 inch loaves
Adapted from Allrecipes

1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional - I didn't use any...allergies!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x5 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Stir in the mayonnaise, bananas and vanilla extract.
3. Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Blend the flour mixture into the banana mixture; stir just enough to evenly combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 to 75 minutes for the loaf and about 20 minutes for the muffins. Cool loaf in the pan for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Banana bread topped with french vanilla ice cream and fudge for a super sweet and high caloric dessert, but incredibly satisfying! Nom nom!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chip Challenge #2 - Chicken Cordon Bleu


Me: What are cooking this week?
Y: Chicken Cordon Bleu.
Me:...That's not a vietnamese dish...
Y: Vietnamese dishes are so complicated to make!
Me: But that's the whole purpose of Chip Challenges...for you to prepare vietnamese dishes because I don't know how to make them...That's why it's called a Challenge!
Y:.......I'm making Chicken Cordon Bleu.
Me: -_-

So there you go. No more vietnamese dishes for the Chip Challenges. That's fine with me because Y's Chicken Cordon Bleu was a-ma-zing! I saw this recipe on Allrecipes and wanted to make it for quite some time, but I always seemed to be missing one or two ingredients for the dish. To be honest, I don't know if I could've made it as tasty as Y did. He did such a great job! :) I'm drooling just looking at pictures! haha

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Adapted from Allrecipes
Serves 3

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3 slices Swiss cheese (Y used mozzarella cheese because we didn't have any Swiss)
3 slices ham
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons dried basil

1. Pound chicken breasts until they are 1/2 inch thick. Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.
2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the wine and bouillon. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

3. Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a warm platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, add basil and pour over the chicken.

The chicken was served with jasmine steamed rice and asparagus sauteed in butter. Yum!

Simply delicious! The chicken was moist and juicy and the wine sauce was to die for! Next time, we'll definitely use Swiss cheese and coat the chicken with bread crumbs instead of flour for some extra crispy-ness! The basil was a nice twist and added extra flavor to the sauce. I really enjoyed this. I love Chip Challenges! :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chip Challenge #1: Bo Luc Lac (Shaken Beef)


I am proud to present to you the first of the Chip Challenges! As you know, I generally take on the role of Head Chef at home and my boyfriend, the sous-chef. Well, ladies and gentlemen, as of now, once a week, the roles are reversed! My boyfriend aka Chip (short for Chipmunk, my nickname for him hehe) will be cooking a delicious vietnamese dish every week.

This week, Chef Chip is making Bo Luc Lac (Translation: Shaken Beef). Isn't this the cutest name? It actually describes the "shaking" of the beef back and forth in the wok when making this dish.

Bo luc lac (Shaken Beef)
Serves 4


Beef Marinade
3/4 lbs beef sirloin (or any cut you like) cut into 1″ cubes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch of watercress, long stems trimmed
1 tomato, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cooking oil for frying

1. Combine the garlic, oyster sauce, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil with the beef. Let marinate for at least half an hour, but preferably 1-2 hours.


2. Prepare vinaigrette by mixing rice vinegar with salt and sugar.
3. Pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette on the thinly sliced red onions and set aside covered in fridge for about 10 minutes. Prepare bed of watercress and tomatoes in a serving platter and set aside.
4. Heat the cooking oil in a large wok or pan over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add an even layer of beef and allow to sear for about 30 seconds, before “shaking” to sear the opposite sides for another 30 seconds to brown all the sides. Do this in batches to cook all the beef if necessary.
5. Transfer the beef to the bed of watercress and tomatoes. Drizzle another 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the beef and greens and top with pickled red onions.


Y was seriously craving bo luc lac this week. He ate it recently at a restaurant and was continuously thinking about it so he decided to make his own. I thought it came out pretty good, although he says it didn't taste quite like the one at the restaurant. He's still on the lookout for the perfect bo luc lac recipe!

I'm ashamed to say that I've been neglecting my Sunday Brunch series (same old lame excuse - too lazy/busy to cook in the morning!) so the Chip Challenges will replace it until I find more time in my schedule (or when I feel less lazy hehe). I find it so overwhelming to cook 7 days a week and I welcome the Chip Challenges with open arms. I hope you enjoyed this recipe!