Banana Bread *UPDATE*

I found this recipe in a Peter Reinhart book called Crust and Crumb…I think. Anyway, it’s pretty fantastic banana bread – I only wish that my baking soda hadn’t expired! Both loaves sunk in the middle and I was so bummed. I warned M that the loaves didn’t look pretty but they tasted good. The next time I have at least 3 good sized bananas languishing away on my counter top, I will be sure to make this bread again. I stupidly made this the afternoon after I sprained my ribs – you’d be surprised how often  you move your rib cage around just doing subtle movements. Isn’t that the way it always is with an injury? It’s so easy to take your healthy, pain free body for granted until it’s not so healthy anymore. Thankfully the pain has subsided and I’m feeling a little more like myself everyday. The only thing I’m waiting on is this annoying cough! Anyway, this recipe says it makes two 8×4 loaves – it lied. I made two 9×5 loaves out of it. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

*UPDATE: I made this again March 17th with the following (successful) modifications. Two sticks of butter is an awful lot, so I tried using 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter instead. My other mod was to use 10 ounces of brown sugar and only 5 ounces of white sugar. I know these aren’t major changes, but when modifying any baked item you want to try small changes first. Baking is a science! These loaves looked better than the original recipe usually turns out. The top didn’t sink as much either, which was a nice surprise. It tastes sweet enough to me, and even M didn’t notice an objectionable difference – it’s still his favorite banana bread:) Thanks for reading!

Banana Bread Ingredients – adapted from Crust and Crumb

  • 16 ounces all-purpose flour (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 TBSP baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 20 ounces brown sugar, packed (2 1/2 cups)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 20 ounces mashed, ripe bananas (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions –

1. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes.

3. Mix in eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg before adding the next. Mix in vanilla and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

4. Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/3 of the buttermilk, then 1/3 of the mashed bananas. Continue in this manner until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth. Stir in walnuts.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9×5 loaf pans. Fill the pans 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 45 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until baked through. The safest way of knowing if they are finished is to test them with a probe thermometer. The internal temperature should be 180 – 185 degrees.

6. Let the loaves cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out on a rack to cool for at least one hour before slicing.

Advertisements

Alfredo, Shells, Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese!

This is a recipe my sister gave me years ago – I don’t know what its official name is, so that explains why this title is so long!;o) It also leaves no questions as to what is in it. My family has always enjoyed this and it couldn’t be easier to throw together. Thanks for reading!

Ingredients –

  • 1 pound box of shell pasta
  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds bone-in skin on chicken breast
  • 1 – 14 ounce bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 – 16 ounce jar alfredo sauce
  • 1  – 8 ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt, pepper and olive oil for roasting chicken
  • lemon pepper

Directions –

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts then season them well with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Let the chicken cool until you can safely handle it, then shred it  and set it aside.

2. Put a large pot of salted water (at least a gallon) to boil. Once it’s come to a rolling boil pour the pasta into the pot, stir occasionally to prevent sticking and to ensure even cooking. Once it’s finished, drain pasta and set aside.

3. Steam the broccoli in the microwave by dumping the bag in a microwave safe container. Add a little water then cover tightly with plastic wrap – don’t forget to poke a few holes to let steam out. I cooked mine for 4 minutes – they don’t have to be completely cooked through.

4. Get a large bowl out add pasta, shredded chicken, cheese, broccoli and alfredo sauce, then season well with lemon pepper. Spray a 13×9 baking dish with Pam and pour the pasta mixture then sprinkle the top with more cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes, or if you like your cheese to brown and bubbly, you can place it under the broiler for a few minutes instead. Enjoy!

Overnight Apple Pie Steel Oats

I bought a container of steel cut oats last week at Publix after seeing a Good Eats episode that featured oats. I have never eaten steel cut oats, so I hope these turn out to be worth the $4.99 I paid for them! I forget how I found this recipe at goodLife eats, maybe via blogger’s Facebook page. I love the warm flavor of cinnamon, brown sugar and apples and I needed to find a recipe that sounded tasty to use these new steel cut oats, so this recipe certainly sound perfect to me! Thankfully I had all the ingredients on hand, except for the cardamom – but I don’t even know what that tastes like, so I don’t think I’ll miss it. Also, I omitted the pecans, because I don’t have any of those either – I’m not much of an “add- nuts-to-my-breakfast” kinda gal! Also, these require an overnight soak or up to 24 hours, so plan accordingly.

This turned out really good – it’s definitely a keeper. I love the crunch of the fresh apple and the spices are just right. I did add a little more brown sugar to mine and then a touch more of cinnamon before I scarfed it down. If you have never tried steel cut oats, this is an excellent recipe to try! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Overnight Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats – adapted from goodLife Eats

 

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used two TBSP)
  • 6 ounces all-natural applesauce (my little cup only had 4 ounces)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom (I didn’t have any)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large apple, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped (I didn’t have any)

Directions –

In a nonmetal bowl combine oats, brown sugar, applesauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt. Stir in milk; cover and chill for 8 to 24 hours.

To serve, transfer oatmeal mixture to a medium saucepan. Stir in 1 cup of apples, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup for garnish. Heat just to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until oatmeal is done, adding additional milk if desired and stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Spoon into 4 bowls; sprinkle with apples and pecans. Serve with additional milk, if desired.

No Knead Sandwich Bread

I decided to try a new bread recipe this week, so I searched this book for a sandwich bread recipe. I’ve never made a no knead bread dough in a loaf pan before, I’ve only made free form round crusty loaves. My usual sandwich bread recipe calls for butter and sugar – both of which are not in this recipe. I’m hoping the flavor isn’t laking and that it is worth trying out. This recipe makes 4 pounds of dough which is enough for two 8×4 loaves. All ingredients and mixing, storing and baking directions can be found at this website. It’s too much to even copy and paste. However, those instructions are for a free form loaf, not one baked in a loaf pan. Instead of shaping the dough and placing it on the pizza peel, shape it into an elongated oval and place it in a lightly oiled loaf pan. Follow the rising and “Baking Day” directions as written, but leave the loaf in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. There seems to be way too many steps for this to be a simpler method of bread making, but once you get the hang of the technique it couldn’t be easier. Here’s hoping this a tasty bread recipe! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Stromboli

This is my first time making a Stromboli, which is basically a giant pizza roll. It’s not from one recipe, more like bits and pieces of ones I have found online. M grilled a pound of the Italian sausage that was left of the giant package from Sam’s Club, and there is about a pound of Italian cheeses leftover from mac and cheese night. I guess you could use any leftover meats, vegetables and cheese that you need to re-purpose for a dish like this. Here’s the recipe I found that I’m using as a guideline.

These turned out so well – this recipe is definitely a new favorite for us. I served this with a green salad with tomatoes and bell peppers, and a side of marinara sauce for dipping. I’m always happy when a new recipe turns out well! Thanks for reading, enjoy!


Pepperoni and Sausage Stromboli Ingredients –

  • 2 – 1 pound balls of pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 – 3/4 pound of Italian sausage, grilled and diced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 pound of deli sliced pepperoni, quartered
  • 1/2 – 3/4 pound of mixed Italian cheeses
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP of water
  • dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese

Directions –
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Roll out your pizza dough into a rectangle, about 14 inches by 8 inches – roughly. Layer your meats and cheeses, being careful to leave a one inch border on all sides. Make your egg wash and lightly bush it around the border, then start to roll your Stromboli. Make sure to pinch all seams and tuck the ends under, then place seam side down on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Brush remaining egg wash on the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the pizza seasoning and Parmesan cheese over the tops if desired. Bake for 30 to 35 minute until golden brown (and delicious!)

French Toast

If there is ever a good amount of bread left over by the weekend, I plan on using it for French Toast. The first time I made it, even M noticed a huge difference in flavor and texture. In three months, this is the second time I’ve had a chance to make this…which is a good thing. I use three to four eggs and half and half! If you’re going to make comfort food, you might as well take it to that level of decadence!  This recipe is something I have developed over the years and we’re always happy with the results. Also, I recommend that you prepare the custard and that you leave the bread out to dry the night before. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

French Toast Ingredients –

  • 8 to 10 thick cut slices of bread, Challah or brioche would be tasty
  • 3 to 4 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Directions –

1. For the custard: Combine all the ingredients minus the bread in a bowl or measuring cup. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. This helps the flour absorb the liquid and eliminates any lumps and allows the ingredients to meld together.

2. In the morning, preheat your skillet to medium low. Be sure to add some unsalted butter to the pan to keep the toast from sticking…also, butter makes everything better! Pour the custard in a shallow baking dish and soak the first slice of bread. If you didn’t leave your bread out over night, be careful not to over soak your bread – it will just fall apart. Place the soaked bread in your preheated skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes a side – depending on thickness and how much custard the bread absorbed. Once the French toast is finished, pour some warm maple syrup over the top and enjoy!

Italian Mac and Cheese


It’s been longer than I’d like since my last post, but as you may have read on FB, little Miss S has had a fever for the past three days. I’m doing my best nurse impression. Thankfully she hasn’t had any other symptoms than the high fever…but three days?

I have made this once before – it’s so good. I found this recipe after we purchased four pounds of mild Italian sausage from Sam’s Club for the first time. I didn’t have many ways of using that much sausage, and I rarely cooked with it. Since then, I have found a few really good recipes that feature this type, like sausage bread! It’s my family’s favorite and I will be sure to post about it soon. As for the cheese, I recommend not buying the pre-shredded “Italian Cheese Blend” at the store. There is usually corn starch or some other anti-clumping additive in pre-shredded cheeses that leave an unpleasant grainy-ness to the finished cheese sauce. That’s the mistake I made the first time and since then, I don’t buy the bagged cheeses. Thanks for reading!

 

Italian Mac and Cheese Ingredients – adapted from Let’s Dish

  • 1 pound penne, ziti or rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream ( I used half & half)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese blend ( I used Fontina, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and Parmesan)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp hot sauce ( I used cayenne pepper), optional
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions –

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to a chewy al dente, about 8 minutes.  In a nonstick skillet, brown and crumble the sausage. Drain cooked crumbles on a paper towel lined plate. Return pan to heat and add extra-virgin olive oil, butter, and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Saute about 3 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.  Preheat broiler to high heat.  Add flour to skillet and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in cream. Bring cream to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of Italian cheese blend. When cheese has melted into sauce, add tomatoes. When sauce comes to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce if desired.  Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta and transfer to a large baking dish.  Sprinkle with additional half cup Italian cheese blend and grated Parmesan.  Cook under hot broiler until cheese is browned and bubbly.


Arroz con Leche

I love arroz con leche. It reminds me of my  Grandma Tavita, my childhood and simpler times. This recipe isn’t exactly like my Gram’s but it’s pretty similar. It’s good, comforting and creamy – and not exactly health food. That’s why this is only my third time making it this year…and I eat it all by myself! M and the kids wont touch it – maybe when the kids are older they might want to. But, I think for some people, if you didn’t grow up eating something you may never like it. I love Mexican food, because of course I grew up eating it and it always reminds me of my Gram 🙂 I miss her! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Arroz con Leche Recipe – adapted from Ingrid Hoffman

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice ( I use Jasmin rice)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 whole cloves (I omit these)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional

Directions –
Soak the rice, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and whole cloves in the water in a heavy saucepan for 1 hour.

After soaking, bring the rice mixture to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When it starts to boil (about 5 minutes), lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 more minutes or until water is almost evaporated.

While rice is cooking, beat the egg in a bowl. Add the milk and stir well to mix. Add the egg mixture, vanilla extract and condensed milk to the rice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring carefully, until it thickens slightly or until desired consistency, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Let cool uncovered.

Note: be aware that as the rice cools it thickens. The finished product will be thinner than traditional rice pudding.

Pumpkin Bread


Tomorrow morning there is a Moms4Moms meeting and it’s my table’s turn to bring cold food. I make this a lot, but the last time I made it, one of the loaves didn’t cook through as quickly as the other. For some reason, both loaves took way longer to bake than the recommended time. Hopefully this time around, I wont run into problems. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my food, so I threw away the loaf that didn’t quite get there…I was so bummed about it. I will be sure to keep an eye on my oven thermometer and give both loaf pans plenty of space in the oven. Also, the last time I made it I didn’t have any ground cloves! I have been shopping around for that spice for weeks now. At Publix, they cost anywhere from 4.99 to 7.99! I couldn’t find ground cloves at Target, and the specialty store I went to sold theirs for over 8 dollars – why are they so expensive? Well, today I had to suck it up and purchase the tiny container you can see in the ingredients picture. Next time I am in the need for several different spices, I’m going to shop online. I looked around at different sites, and every thing was much cheaper.

I love the way the house smelled when these were baking. Weirdness happened again with this recipe. One loaf took a good 10 minutes longer to finish baking than the other one. I made sure that it cooked through as I poked it with a toothpick in several places. I’ll know for sure once I cut into these later on tonight. The kids love this bread and I do too, but the last time I made it they didn’t get any. I may just take one and a half of the loaves to the meeting tomorrow. I am also bringing red grapes so I’m not being stingy with the goods! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread Ingredients – adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil – you can substitute all or half the oil with unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar – I always use half white/half light brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg – fresh is best
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Directions –

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Meat and Potatoes

I talked M into buying some steak while we were at Sam’s Club yesterday,  so tonight, it’s what’s for dinner! Our sides will be baked potatoes and salad. We don’t eat red meat very often – I serve it maybe once a week. Also, I have been a bit of a “bad” mom and haven’t offered salad for months! Everything tasted so good. I loved that the organic russet potatoes are so much smaller than non-organic. They were just the right size and they cooked in less time. Little boy M asked for more salad and S seemed to enjoy her steak. I always love when dinner is a success and the kids and hubbs thank me – it’s always worth the time and effort. Thanks for reading!

Steak Rub Ingredients – adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 tablespoon McCormick® Grill Mates® Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Onion Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Oregano Leaves
  • Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound strip steak or sirloin

Directions –

Combine all seasonings and rub generously all over the steak. Grill to desired doneness.

Baked Potato Ingredients – adapted from Alton Brown

  • 1 large russet potato
  • Canola oil to coat
  • Kosher salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.

Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam.

NOTE: If you’re cooking more than 4 potatoes, you’ll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.