Why We Don’t Have Cable – Banana Bread French Toast A La Mode

For the longest time, I have hidden behind the facade of doing the right thing for my children.  We do not have cable – haven’t for about the last 4 years.  Sure, I chalk it up to some lofty ideal about screen time and critical thinking and imaginative play.  Right!  The truth of the matter is that we do not have cable because if we did, I think child services would be knocking on my door.  The charge?  Neglect. Specifically, neglect from a mother completely consumed by The Food Network.  I. Am. Not. Joking.

Since we don’t have cable at home and only use our TV for watching DVDs, one of the high points of family getaways is watching TV in the hotel room.  I actually have my offspring bamboozled into thinking The Food Network is better than the Disney channel.  Quite a feat if you ask me.  The Little Little One even refers to a hotel as “The Food Network Place”.

Last weekend we took a little roadtrip up the coast.  I could go on telling you about the elephant seals we saw in Piedras Blancas, the mission in Santa Barbara, the walk along the shore in Cambria, or the sand dollars we collected in Pismo Beach.  But none of that would compare to the episode of the Food Network we saw where one of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives that Guy Fieri was visiting cooked up Banana Bread French toast on their dessert menu.  I couldn’t wait to get home and try it.

I started off by just baking my usual banana bread.  Then whisked some eggs just as you would for making regular French toast.

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I dipped each slice of banana bread into the egg and then added to the butter I had melted in a large skillet.  Once one side was nice and golden brown, I gave it a flip.

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While all that was going on in one skillet, I put together the sauce in another skillet.  Starting with “a little” butter and brown sugar, I heated it until the sugar dissolved.

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I then added some sliced bananas and cooked until they were starting to soften.

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I put the completed French toast on the plates, topped with some sauce, and then added a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream.

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Three words: To – Die – For!

Click here for the full recipe for Banana Bread.

Breaking Up with Costco – Veggie Dipping Chip & Basil Crusted Halibut

My tendency, since trying to eat “real food”, has been to simply avoid anything that’s not produce, whole grain, or dairy.  As Pollan says in one of his many rules, if you are eating “real”  you can pretty much shop the perimeter of the supermarket and avoid the entire middle.  In other words, the middle of the market is where the junk lurks.

Sticking to the perimeter hasn’t been a tough transition for me, because I’m not a traditional market shopper anyway.  My regular haunt is a little Persian produce place;  I occasionally hit Sprouts, and Trader Joe’s sometimes sneaks into my repertoire (usually when I’m there to buy wine and Ritter Sport).  But, I just can’t seem to fully break it off with Costco.  It’s kind of like trying to break up with a bad boyfriend who just keeps sucking you back in with the promise that things will change.  I mean after all, I do have SIX hungry mouths to feed around here and Costco’s copious sizes are just so attractive to me.  I have definitely noticed a change in the standard Costco fare recently – a lot more food stuff trying to LOOK like it is good for you, or only contains good stuff, or is organic or … or … or.  But overall, I think I’m just better off buying my TP there and then getting out of Dodge.  Kind of like Costco and I can “just be friends” but not really date anymore.

So all of this intro to get to my real confession which is that I dislike reading labels.  I just don’t have the patience to sit there and figure out if what I’m looking at is truly good for me or just more stuff that’s bad for me wearing a thinly veiled disguise.  Another Pollan-ism that I love, mainly because it affirms my dislike of label reading, is that if something contains more than 5 ingredients OR ingredients that a 3rd grader can’t pronounce, then it’s probably a skipper.

However, in my ongoing quest to break up with Costco, I did find a keeper recently.  These little veggie dipping chips.

halibut chips

There are three flavors mixed in the bag: Spinach & Garlic, Beet & Onion, and Carrot & Tomato.  They are REALLY tasty and the whole brood here has been enjoying them with edamame hummus.  Being the non-label reader that I am, I bought them on a whim and then read the label after the fact.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that my 3rd grader (good thing I’ve got one on hand for just this purpose) could pronounce every single ingredient.

As I set out to make dinner the other night, I decided on a little halibut number.  I was working from a recipe for Roasted Halibut with Walnut Crust.  Unfortunately, I had no walnuts, no panko, no italian parsley, and no chives.  Good thing I had the halibut!  In fact, I had no bread products whatsoever in the house, but really wanted to do the fish with a little crust of some sort.  While rummaging through the cupboard in total disbelief that I had no panko, I happened upon the Veggie Dipping Chips and decided to give it a whirl.  Medium Little One’s garden has been producing more basil than I can keep up with so I decided that it would be a Veggie Dipping Chip & Basil Crusted Halibut.  This is basically how it all went down.

Chopped up that lovely basil first.

halibut basil

Crushed up the dipping chips with some slivered almonds in my mini-food processor and then mixed them with the chopped basil.

halibut rub

Placed my halibut on a baking sheet covered with cooking spray.  I brushed each fillet with a little melted butter and then sprinkled with a little salt and pepper.

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I then pressed the veggie chip, basil and almond mixture onto the top of each fillet and drizzled with a tiny bit more butter.

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I baked the whole shabang at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes until the fish was opaque in the center.

I served things up with a little rice and some brussels sprouts with caramelized shallots.

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Even though this was a complete improv move, I would totally make it this way again.  Oh, and me and Costco have decided to give things one more chance. . .

Want the whole recipe?  Click here.