Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Chicken with Pumpkin Seeds and Popcorn #HestanNanobond

Chicken made with Pumpkin Seeds and Popcorn begins with a divine nut and chile based paste that is turned into a delectable gravy.  After sauteing my chicken in my Hestan skillet, I simmered this simple sauce, added back the chicken and simmered it in the sauce until done. Can't get much easier than this comforting one skillet dish made in a skillet that pulled triple duty as a saute pan, a simmering skillet and last but not least, I managed to reheat this perfectly in my oven. My company was pleased!

Grilling weather is quickly coming to a close in Colorado. That means moving my cooking back inside where the range is the big attraction. That's OK. I've got my favorite skillet to cook in and that sure makes things easy. Hestan put us Hestan ambassadors to the test by challenging us to come up with a skillet dinner. Frankly when I cook inside most everything is cooked in my sturdy, gorgeous skillet. This month's contest involves winning a wok and since you all know how much China is on my brain, well, a wok would look might fine in my kitchen.

I've had this recipe on the brain for awhile and never quite found the time to work it out. Don't know why because it is simple to prepare and involves lots of my favorite flavors. With pumpkin seeds it sure does remind me that Fall is in the air and with the added but subtle heat of cumin and chilies, it is perfect for cooling temps. In fact it made so much gravy that I should have also added some potatoes to simmer, but I chose rice instead. Potatoes would have made this a one pan meal and we all love those, don't we?

Check out this recipe. It certainly pleased Manservant and our neighbor friend. Manservant said it reminded him of a roux based sauce but this is thickened with nuts and not flour. It is soothing and comforting and some might even think it's creamy, but no cream in this. Just some wholesome ingredients that manage to make ordinary chicken extraordinary.

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Yield: 4 servings

Chicken with Pumpkin Seeds and Popcorn

This simple nut based chile sauce manages to take chicken from ordinary to extraordinary. The gravy has some spice, some nuttiness and all around goodness!
prep time: 25 MINScook time: 30 MINStotal time: 55 mins


  • 1/2 c slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 t ground cumin
  • 1 c popped popcorn
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 fresh jalapenos or serranos
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t ancho chile powder
  • 1 t cocoa
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 sliced medium sized onion
  • 3 c chicken broth
  • 4 bone in chicken breasts with skin or 8 bone in thighs with skin
  • 3 T sunflower oil


  1. Toast almonds in a dry skillet over low heat, shaking until golden. Add pumpkin seeds and toast for a few minutes but don't burn. Place nuts and seeds in a food processor with popcorn, garlic, chilies, salt, chile powder, cocoa, coriander and pepper. Grind to a fine textured paste.
  2. In skillet, heat 3 T sunflower oil over medium high heat. (In the Hestan, I only use medium heat.) Add chicken that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown chicken and remove from skillet.
  3. Add sliced onion to pan and chicken broth. Heat to boiling and slowly whisk in nut paste to make a gravy. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened and reduced. Whisk from time to time so that the nut paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add chicken pieces back to pan and simmer over low heat for 20-40 minutes until cooked. I left this in the skillet, covered it with foil and refrigerated it. I then brought this back to room temperature, and reheated it covered in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until gravy was bubbly. If you do want to reheat it, err on the side of chicken being touch undercooked when you remove it from the stovetop.
  5. Notes: To make popcorn, I merely took 1/4 c popcorn kernels, placed them in a brown paper lunch bag that I rolled down the top of twice. I then placed this in the microwave for 2minutes, 30 seconds on high. My popcorn popped just fine and I had leftovers to eat as I cooked!
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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Banana Split Pie (No Bake) #SundaySupper

"This no bake banana split pie has a cookie crumb crust, a layer of vanilla cream and a chocolate layer laden with maraschino cherries and bananas. There's no ice cream in this, but it is frozen and tastes divine! Top it off with your favorite sundae toppings for a perfect Sunday supper! Or even better make it the last hurrah of summer!"

It just can't be that Labor Day is next week. My folly that I introduced to you last Mother's Day, is still not complete! OK-it is 90% finished and Manservant worked hard all summer, but I think he is too detail oriented. Yes, it has lots of bells and whistles but I thought I was just getting something basic! I plan on doing some painting this week and then I'll show you the almost final product. Even so, I'm still enjoying summer nights in it and can't wait to get a bit more settled before cooler weather sets in.

In the meantime he is off to Chile-for work-will be back for Labor Day and then I think off to Sweden. He has an old friend visiting next weekend, so summer will officially end with a bang! The end of summer always has me trying to squeeze in the summer foods I still haven't gotten to and hence the need for a banana split. After all one must have a banana split at least once during the summer-right? Forget Dairy Queen, (or Fairy Queen which is what Alex called it ever since he learned to talk...we thought it was so cute, we never corrected him) whose hot fudge sundaes I grew up on; I adore this pie. 

Give me a cookie crumb crust any day filled with a vanilla cream layer and then topped with a chocolate filled maraschino banana layer and then one must of course add whipped cream and hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce and don't forget more bananas and peanuts! Yes, I'll let you add strawberry sauce, but strawberries always gave me hives as a kid, so I stick with fudge! And if you are having a picnic watch out for unwanted guests!

In case you need ideas for Labor Day, the Sunday Supper group has come up with LOTS of ideas. And make sure to get in  zucchini, corn, peaches and tomatoes because they may not be around to much longer. On the other hand, banana split pie is good year round! Thanks so much to Em Beitel of Life Tastes Good for hosting this end of summer event!

Note: This recipe does contain raw eggs. If you are worried, make sure to buy pasteurized eggs.

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Yield: 1 9" Pie

Banana Split Pie (No Bake)

This no bake banana split pie has a cookie crumb crust, a layer of vanilla cream and a chocolate layer laden with maraschino cherries and bananas. There's no ice cream in this, but it is frozen and tastes divine!
prep time: 25 MINScook time: 5 hourtotal time: 5 hours and 25 mins


  • 1 c graham cracker or chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 c chopped peanuts, pecans, or walnuts
  • 3 T melted butter
  • 3 T sugar
Pie Filling
  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 c chopped peanuts, pecans or walnuts
  • 1/4 c chopped maraschino cherries
  • 1 c heavy cream, whipped
  • 2 T cocoa
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 2 small ripe bananas
  • Hot Fudge Sauce, Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream, Bananas, Strawberries, Chopped Nuts (Optional)


  1. Combine crust ingredients and pat into pie pan. Chill while making filling.
  2. With a mixer or in a food processor, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Spread the mixture in the pie shell and place in freezer while making chocolate filling.
  3. Whip the cream and add cocoa and sugar halfway through and whip until stiff peaks form. Stir in the nuts and cherries. Puree bananas and fold those into the chocolate mixture. Fold together gently.Top vanilla mixture with the chocolate mixture and place in freezer for about 5 hours and up to 24.
  4. Serve with sundae toppings of your choice! Use a hot knife to slice or let sit for a few minutes before cutting.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Labor Day Menu Ideas

Scrumptious Labor Day Sides and Starters

Delicious Labor Day Entrees

Luscious Labor Day Desserts

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Coffee Cake, Birthdays and Hangzhou!

"This brown sugar coffee cake has a pie crust like bottom, a tender cakey interior filled with fruit or chocolate, and a crumbly, nutty streusel topping."

August 24th is a big day for me. It is the time for two birthday cakes and the time to remember that this day-this normal day, wasn't so normal 27 years ago. With the birth of twins my life was forever changed and though everyone says that upon the birth of children, my life became doubly blessed with double smiles, double jokes, and laughter that will forever make fond memories. Of course life is not always full of perfect moments, but even in spite of the not so perfect moments, I know without a doubt that my children are perfect. They have both been blessed with empathy and goodness, a sense of humor... usually, tenacity, courage, strong convictions, good values and a sense of joy. They truly enjoy learning, not necessarily in the booksmart way; they aren't afraid to challenge themselves, and they aren't afraid to fail. Each day they make me proud for they have weathered a lot, my children, in ways many never knew, and still they held their heads high. As well they should. Though life may not be perfect or fair, I repeat to myself over and over that they, of course, are.

Just last week Alex requested a recipe for coffee cake. Actually I was quite surprised with this request because I don't remember either Alex or Zoe ever really liking coffee cake. To me it is pure comfort food and since there are such a slew of recipes out there, I just sent him my one bowl favorite. I took a photo of it and We Chatted it over. He sent me a photo back and the result looks like the coffee cake I always made.  Most Chinese kitchens do not contain ovens, so baking is something he has never done. Finally he broke down and bought a countertop convection oven and I must say he did me proud! 

In honor of Alex and Zoe's birthday I decided to make another coffeecake. This one and the one I sent him, which I guess I should post also, appeared at their baby naming and bris. That means I've been baking these for at least 27 years so I guess that makes this cake an heirloom recipe! I love this recipe because it is so easy and requires no mixer. Cut the butter into the flour and brown sugar. Pat half of it into a pan. This makes a crispy crust which is topped with the other half of the flour mixture after it has been combined with sour cream and an egg.That batter forms a tender crumbed cake studded with a moist layer of fruit and then more tender cake. Top that off with a nutty cinnamon sugar streusel. Yeah, kind of a five layer coffee cake made in one bowl. Can't beat that!

Check out the recipe and then skip down if you want to hear more about our trip to China.

Yield: 1 9" pan

Brown Sugar Coffee Cake (One Bowl)

This brown sugar coffee cake has a pie crust like bottom, a tender cakey interior filled with fruit or chocolate, and a crumbly, nutty streusel topping.
prep time: 20 MINScook time: 60 MINStotal time: 80 mins


  • 2 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 - 1 1/2 c berries or chocolate chips
  • Melted Blueberry Jam for drizzling (optional)
Streusel Topping
  • 1 c flour
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 c chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 4 T melted butter
  • 3/4 t ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9" pan.
  2. Mix brown sugar, flour and softened butter together in a medium bowl. I used a fork to cut the butter into the flour and sugar. Pat 2 cups of this mixture into the pan.
  3. To the remaining two cups of flour mixture in the bowl, add 1 egg and mix well.
  4. Stir 1 t baking soda into the 1 c of sour cream. Mix that into the bowl with the flour-egg mixture. Stir well to incorporate. Spread half of this over the "crust".
  5. Now add your choice of berries or chocolate. Top that with the rest of the batter.
  6. Make streusel by combining all ingredients in a bowl. Spoon over batter and press it in a bit. Bake 50-60 minutes or until it doesn't jiggle and a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Drizzle with melted jam or sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Created using The Recipes Generator

I last left you in Moganshan and from there we drove to Hangzhou. Manservant had fond memories of Hangzhou so we decided to do a drive by! Alex did the driving and was quite good using his new China driver's license. He maneuvered down tiny, people filled streets that I know would have spooked me. We were in Hangzhou for about 24 hours. It is a popular spot for Chinese to visit and was one of the 7 ancient capitals of China. It was also one of the first cities to open to tourism, beginning in 1949. It is home to West Lake, a very large manmade lake that is filled with numerous islands and pagodas and has influenced poets and artists since 900 AD..  Hangzhou is  also home to Alibaba and was the site of the 2016 G20 summit.

We stayed a short way from the city center in an area known as Lingyin. Home to a Buddhist Temple considered one of the wealthiest in the country, we stayed right down the street in a small Asian inspired bed and breakfast.

Surrounded by the Longjing tea fields, we drank tea near the bamboo forests, ate goose and sweated. As we drank and bought fresh green tea we watched monks in orange robes parade past and almost always with followers. It is said they don't like their picture being taken and since none of mine turned out, I must say that maybe they know something I don't!

Later that night after stopping at the 7 story Liuhe pagoda to see the view of the surrounding mountains, we ventured into the city of Hangzhou and went to a night market where every kind of novelty you'd ever want is sold. From there we went to eat what Alex called stick food. Yes, it was a fast food restaurant where one chose from over a hundred different offerings of meat, fish, chicken tofu, fruits and vegetables; all of it on sticks. It was then grilled and brought to your table as it was ready. Some people left with just a few empty sticks on their plate. Others left more than I could count. The fresh mushrooms were heavenly!

The next morning after a beautiful, but not so tasty breakfast

we wandered down to the Temple and saw ancient grottoes and carvings and lots and LOTS of people.

It was exhausting dodging selfie sticks and finally I just started taking photos of folks taking selfies. It was quite comical and I'm not sure how they managed to avoid falling off cliffs or into lakes or beaning someone in the head. These things are dangerous! After a relaxing lunch of stir fried goose and awesome veggies

we headed over to West Lake, the main reason Chinese visit Hangzhou. It was beautiful, but so crowded. We bravely wiped the sweat off our foreheads and plowed ahead, avoiding selfie sticks to make sure we got our pictures of the lotus blossoms too.

From there it was on to the airport, driving in the wrong way to return the rental car and then catching our flight to Guilin in Southern China. Stay tuned...

More About China:

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