Monday, February 28, 2011

A is for Asparagus, B is for Banana

I don't know about your family, but in ours it seems the youngest came out of the womb scrambling to keep up with the bigger kids.

Hannah was a restless baby. She didn't want to nap. She wanted to be in the thick of the action. She walked early, talked early, and hasn't stopped pushing the boundaries since. Just today say asked when she could dye her hair. She's 10. She wants to dye it ... burgandy. I told her she'd have to wait at least until she's out of elementary school!

When Olivia decided to start a weekly cooking project highlighting foods from different countries, Hannah - of course - needed her own special series. After a lot of debate, she settled on The A to Z of Fruits and Veggies.

For her debut meal, she chose Roasted Asparagus and Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding (mostly because we didn't have any clue what some of the other fruit & veggie options were. Arracacha, anyone?!?)).

Of course, being a meat-a-tarian she had to add JaFaxby's. It's our family knock-off of Zaxby's (Jason's Fake Zaxby's = JaFaxby's. Yeah, we're muy creative!)

Ingredients (measuring advice from Jason -- "make it up as you go"):

  • flour
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • chicken, cut into strips
  • egg
  • milk
  • canola oil

Directions -- Cover the bottom of a heavy pan with 2-3" of canola oil and heat over medium-high. Beat the egg with a little milk in a bowl. Put some flour, S&P and parmesan in a sealable plastic bag (or, if you're like us and don't often have plastic bags on hand, just put it in a large bowl). One by one, dip the chicken strips in the egg/milk mixture, then into the flour mixture, and then into the hot pan to cook.

Roasted Asparagus

Directions -- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange asparagus in a shallow metal pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and Pepper. Cook for 25 minutes.

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

This recipe comes courtesy Paula Deen and


  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies (OR, if you're like us and have lots of Girl Scout cookies in your living room... just use some Trefoils)
  • 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.

Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. (OOOPS! We clearly forgot this step!)

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Lick the bowls.

The finished product:

(Okay, the beer is just for Dad. We may allow hair dye at 12, but certainly not Levitation Ale!)


Chef Hannah -- I thought the chicken was fabulous. It was really, really crispy.  The asparagus was a downer. I've never really tried it, but when I did it tasted all mushy.   I think I might like it better if it was just raw.  I like most of my vegetables raw.   The banana pudding -- I liked the trefoils 'cause they had a really,  really good crunch and I liked the bananas because the softness was a complete opposite to the cookies. The downer, though, was that the pudding was really sweet. If you don't like sweet then you won't like this pudding because it was very, very sweet.

This dinner was very easy to make.  If you tried to make this whole meal in about 10 minutes you couldn't do it.  It would take more like 20 or 30 minutes. But compared to other dishes that's really, really low. You could make this dish and even add some of your own ideas.

Olivia -- Chicken, good.  Asparagus needs to be black.  I like it burned to a crisp.  I agree with Hannah - the pudding was too sweet.  I could only eat one bite. But the Simply Lemonade was exquisite.  Make sure you write "exquisite".

Miranda -- It was good. The chicken is better than Zaxby's. I didn't try the asparagus (she says with a sheepish smile). The banana pudding was amazing. No way was it too sweet!

Jason -- As always, the chicken is very good.  We tried baking it once, to make it healthier. But it didn't turn out nearly as well.... so back to using oil to fry it.  I think I'd rather saute the asparagus to keep it a little crisper.  I don't usually like sweets, but banana pudding is my weakness. I thought it was great! (he even ate two bowls)

The chicken and asparagus paired really well with the beer -- Levitation Ale by Stone Brewery.  I usually drink heavier beers, like Russian Imperial Stouts. But for a 4% beer, the Levitation Ale is unbelievably good.

Tanya -- Is it bad that I think of JaFaxBy's as mostly a barbecue sauce delivery system? I could take or leave the the chicken, but boy do I love me some Sweet Vidalia BBQ Sauce! The asparagus is my favorite, although I agree with Olivia it could've been a bit more crispy. Perhaps upping the temp to 400.
I, too, like the banana pudding (a lot!), though I think I still prefer the more traditional Nilla Wafer in place of the Trefoil, which was too hard, IMO.


  1. Even though I have the flu and have not eaten much of anything today, this meal is making my mouth water! Way to go, Chef Olivia. I see a bright future for you. My girls will be making the Banana Pudding because anything that is TOO SWEET has their name written on it. Not to mention any recipe that says, "Lick the bowl." You have three BIG FANS or shall I say, one BIG fan and two LITTLE fans who are excited about your next recipe!

  2. So sorry to hear you're sick! Did you get it from your little ones? If I could bring some chicken soup and banana pudding over to you, I would. You'll definitely have to try it when you get everyone healthy. I think your girls would have a blast making (and eating!) it :)

  3. you know, i do my asparagus at 425 for about three minutes on each side. never more than ten minutes - the starches break down in such a way that they need to be heated very hot, very quickly, or they'll only get mushy. pop the bottoms, lay them flat out on a large pan, drizzle in olive oil, lemon juice (helps it retain its flavor when cooking), s+p. pull it out halfway and flip them over to the other side. for a better look, i'll skip the sprinkling of lemon juice and just throw very thinly sliced lemon on top... it makes for a lot of oohs and ahhs when you pull them out.

  4. That's how we've done it in the past, not sure why J put it on 350 this time. We sometimes have little oven/stove wars in the kitchen ;-)

    Thanks for the lemon juice suggestion (or better yet, fresh lemon). I'll have to try that!

    I just hope we can replace our grill soon. Nothing better than grilled veggies! Our old one blew up last season -- like flames-shooting-out-in-every-direction, burning-down-to-the-ground-kinda "blew up". Very dramatic!

  5. I am wondering if you had used milk instead of the sweetened condensed milk it might have made it just right. I am going to try the chicken recipes.
    Thanks. And since it is the last week of our cookie sales- I have extra trefoils- we might make the recipe at our meeting.

  6. Hey Terry. I don't know. Might be worth trying. I will tell you that after eating more of the pudding, it really was very good and the cookies softened up overnight. I'd definitely make it again.

    Now- I need YOUR help! I've got 3 cases of leftover dulce de leche cookies. Not sure I'm going to be able to sell them at our last booth. Any idea how I can use them in a recipe?!?