Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Shout out to Classic Banana Bread

I know this is not a new recipe on the blog but don't you agree that everyone needs a great basic banana bread recipe? This is my favorite basic and classic banana bread and it comes from Cooking Light. In fact, I think all but one of my banana bread recipes comes from Cooking Light, they have a great collection, many of which I've made.

I've had an over abundance of bananas lining my counter tops lately and I didn't want to get sick of just eating them plain. So, I decided a few other things were in order. First we made my favorite banana pancakes, now this banana bread and I'm planning on making some delicious banana breakfast cookies that are super healthy! Maybe I'll make some muffins too, I seem to be craving them lately. What is your favorite way to use bananas?

Classic Banana Bread
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 butter, softened (can also use coconut oil)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, cream together butter and sugar until well-blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add banana, yogurt and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 X 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 35o for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

More banana recipes:
Banana Bars
Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
Jamaican Banana Bread
Bananas Foster Bread
Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

SOURCE: Cooking Light

Friday, March 25, 2011

Orange Dark Chocolate Pancakes

Ok, it's been a few weeks since I posted my last pancake recipe so I figured I was due for another one. I can't believe I waited so long to make these pancakes. I mean, who can resist orange and dark chocolate together? They are an amazing duo and taste absolutely wonderful in these pancakes. I don't usually put chocolate chips in my pancakes so these were a special treat. And I didn't even eat them with syrup because they were sweet enough and a little gooey from the chocolate, I didn't think they needed it. However, if you just can't eat pancakes without something on top, a light syrup or even a dusting of powdered sugar should do you just fine. Try these soon though, they are delicious!

Orange Dark Chocolate Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt together and set aside. In another small bowl, mix orange zest and juice, egg and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and GENTLY mix until just incorporated. (Usually I don't have a problem with this when I make pancakes but the first time I made these I think I stirred too much because the pancakes were not light and fluffy. So, just make sure you don't stir too much.) Fold in the chocolate chips.

Let batter sit while griddle preheats. Ladle batter by the 1/4 cup onto griddle. Cook until bubbles start to pop, flip and cook about another 1-2 minutes.

SOURCE: Adapted from Baking Serendipity

Linked to...
Sweet Tooth Friday @ Ali-n-Son
Sweets For A Saturday @ Sweet As Sugar Cookies
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Favorite Sugar Cookies and Cherry Buttercream Frosting

I know there are a lot of sugar cookie recipes out there and everyone has their favorite but today I wanted to share with you MY favorite sugar cookie recipe. It's pretty basic but it uses almond extract in addition to vanilla extract and I LOVE it! I got this recipe from a dear friend and co-worker in college. She used to bring these sugar cookies into the office every holiday and there were never any leftover!

As for the frosting, it was kind of an experiment and it worked out fabulously. I have a small collection of flavored oils for candy making and I happened upon a cherry-flavored oil that I thought would be great in a buttercream frosting. Pairing that cherry flavor with the almond in the cookies and, my friends, we have a winning combination! I told my husband that these cookies were so amazing and my favorite sugar cookies ever. He didn't believe me at the time, after all, a sugar cookie is a sugar cookie right? Well, he changed his mind after eating one; he agreed with me. You will too!

Favorite Sugar Cookies
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extract and milk; mix. Add flour and baking soda and mix until combined.

Chill dough for about 10-15 minutes. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and cut with cookie cutters.

Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.

Cherry Buttercream Frosting
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. cherry flavored candy and baking oil
2-4 Tbsp. milk
Food coloring (if desired)

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add powdered sugar; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. Scrape bowl, add cherry oil and milk, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

SOURCE:Cookies recipe from my friend Anita; Buttercream adapted from Annie's Eats.

Linked to...
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Sweet Tooth Friday @ Ali-N-Son
Mangia Mondays @ Delightfully Dowling

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Green Risotto

Need something green for St. Patty's Day? Although this risotto isn't completely green, it's studded with green veggies and is the perfect one pot dish that will put you in the mood for spring. I absolutely love risottos and this one sure didn't disappoint. I loved the combination of the veggies and the lemon. The lemon seemed to bring out their flavor as well as lighten it up a little. I also liked the creamy smooth texture created by adding the cream cheese at the end. We ate this as a main dish, but you could also serve it as a beautiful side with ham or grilled chicken.

Spring Green Risotto
5 cups chicken broth or stock
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 lb. asparagus (thin spears), cut into 1-inch pieces and tough ends discarded
10 oz. frozen peas, thawed (or 1½ cups shelled fresh peas)
1/2 Tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 oz. cream cheese (original recipe actually called for 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 tbsp. minced fresh chives

In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth or stock over medium heat until simmering. Reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping the stock warm.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat well with the oil and butter, cooking for about 1 minute. Add the white wine and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more.

Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus in boiling water for about 1 minute (longer for thicker spears). Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop cooking. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes as well.)

When the risotto has been cooking for 20 minutes, add the asparagus and peas to the risotto. Stir in the lemon zest, salt and pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm. The entire process should take about 25-30 minutes.

When the risotto is done, remove the pan from the heat. Mix in the lemon juice, cream cheese/mascarpone, Parmesan and chives. Stir until the cheeses are melted in and the risotto is creamy. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan, if desired.

SOURCE:Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics via Annie's Eats

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
It's A Keeper Thursday @ It's A Keeper
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kale Almond Pesto

If you're a Sweet Luvin' Facebook fan, you'll remember a couple of weeks ago I posted some pictures of some pestos I was working on. Three to be exact. I don't know what got into me but all of a sudden I was just in this mood for pesto. And although I absolutely ADORE traditional basil pesto, I wanted to go out on a limb and try something new.

For those of you who aren't sure what pesto is, the name pesto comes from the same Latin root of "pestle," (like a mortar and pestle) which is fitting as the sauce, in its simplest form, is made by crushing a few key ingredients together (thank you wisegeek for the definition). I like to call it a condiment rather than a sauce. You can use it in so many ways. I've thrown it in some some ground chicken to make burgers, used it on sandwiches, on cooked pasta, dipped crackers, dipped my finger...and so on.

To say that I just enjoyed this pesto is an understatement. I finished off a the leftovers one day for lunch with some tortilla chips and I couldn't stop thinking about it the rest of the day. I wanted more! I like kale. It's a different green, very hardy and a little peppery but it just feels good eating it. That's probably because it's so good for you. It's high in fiber and has lots of good vitamins and minerals.

Kale Almond Pesto
1/2 bunch kale,
1/3 cup almonds
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about half a lemon)
2-4 Tbsp. olive oil
2-4 Tbsp. warm water (this will soften the kale just a little)
pinch red pepper flakes

Place kale in food processor with water and lemon juice and pulse until chopped. Add almonds, garlic, and olive oil and pulse again to incorporate. Add salt and red pepper flakes to taste and pulse again to incorporate. Continue pulsing until you reach desired consistency, adding water and/or olive oil as desired.

Serve with crackers, chips or cooked pasta. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

SOURCE: Adapted from Elana's Pantry

Linked to...
Mangia Mondays @ Delightfully Dowling
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
It's A Keeper Thursday @ It's A Keeper
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lemonade Cake

Ok, maybe right now you may be thinking, what's so special about this cake, it doesn't look like much. I mean how good could a cake from a mix actually be right? Well, be prepared to get your socks knocked off. Especially if you like lemon. We have been eating this cake in my family for as long as I can remember! I've eaten it so many times and I can't even count. This is one of our absolute favorites and one my dad got just about ever year on his birthday.

The lemon flavor in the batter gets kicked up a notch by adding some lemon Jell-o, then once again, after it's baked, by using lemonade in the glaze. This cake is best eaten completely cooled and is actually better and moister a day or even two after it's made.

Now, I get asked to make a lot of desserts, which I don't mind, and I tend to go for desserts that are a little more involved. I like to challenge my culinary skills once in a while. However, I can have this cake whipped up before the oven can even preheat. This recipe, no matter how easy, will never leave my recipe box!

For the cake:
1 small pkg. lemon jell-o
1 pkg. lemon cake mix
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water
3 large eggs

Mix all ingredients together at medium speed for 3 minutes. Spray a 9x13 pan and pour batter in. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes. Slightly cool and poke full of holes with a fork or toothpick. Spoon glaze slowly over the top, it will seep down into the holes. Cool completely.

6 oz. (half a can) lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Linked to...
Sweet Tooth Friday @ Ali-N-Son
Sweets For A Saturday @ Sweet As Sugar Cookies
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sesame Noodles

We love dishes like this in our house! The flavors are amazing and the colors brilliant. It's also very quick and easy to throw together, and healthy to boot. I have made this about 4 times over the past few months and there has never been enough leftovers to get a decent picture. So, I made sure this time to take photos BEFORE we ate it all.

We have dairy issues in our house so the fact that this dish has no cheese or milk is wonderful. This is a great one dish meal because you've got your grains and veggies all together. When we have unsalted peanuts, we throw them on top to make it a little more "meaty."

Sesame Noodles
1/2 lb noodles (spaghetti, whole wheat, rice, etc.)
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1/4 head cabbage (purple or green), sliced thin
2 whole Carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Cook noodles according to directions. Drain, rinse under cold water. Prepare vegetables and put them in a large salad bowl. Add sesame seeds and noodles.

To make dressing, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, vinegar and crushed red pepper. Pour over noodles and veggies and toss well to coat.

SOURCE: Adapted from Aggie's Kitchen

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
It's A Keeper Thursday @ It's A Keeper
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance
Mangia Mondays @ Delightfully Dowling

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tortilla Soup with Southwest Cabbage Slaw

I don't know what happened to all the soup I used to make. I was so good last winter to make a pot of soup about once a week and we'd eat the leftovers over the next couple of days. This year I just haven't made it as much. Soups really are wonderful and generally easy and quick to throw together. You can usually sneak in lots of veggies too.

The last soup I made like this was your typical taco soup with hamburger and prepackaged seasonings, etc. This soup is definitely a step up from that has more of a WOW taste factor where tortilla soups are concerned. This soup is really easy to customize to your own tastes. For example, I chose not to use meat, but some grilled chicken might sit nicely on top. Or you could use different beans, different veggies, whatever strikes your fancy. While not all of this is as easy as opening up a can and dumping it in the pot, it is pretty easy and so tasty!

Oh and if you don't think you like cabbage, you might change your mind. The Southwest Cabbage Slaw is a great little topper that will add flavor and awesome texture to your soup.

Tortilla Soup
1-2 dried mulato or ancho chile peppers

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon coriander seeds (or roughly 2 tsp ground coriander)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups vegetable broth

2 cups frozen corn (or 14-oz can)
2 cups (14-oz can) black beans
2 bay leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt

crumbled queso fresco

diced avocado

Fresh cilantro

Southwest Cabbage Slaw (recipe below)

Crush the dried chilies in a mortar and pestle until pulverized. Set aside. Alternately, you can place dried chiles in a small saucepan, cover with water and boil about 5 minutes. Drain, pull out stems and seeds then puree in blender, adding a small amount of water water as needed for a smooth texture.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook about a minute longer. Add the tomatoes with their juice, 2-3 Tbsp. of the dried/pureed chilies, the coriander seeds and cumin and cook about 5 minutes. Add the broth, corn, beans, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 15-20 minutes.

Serve soup warm with you choice of garnish(es).

Southwest Cabbage Slaw
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
2 c coleslaw mix or thinly sliced cabbage
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all into a medium bowl and mix well. Keeps in the fridge, covered, for about a week.

SOURCE:Adapted from Perry's Plate

Linked to...
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
It's A Keeper Thursday @ It's A Keeper

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March Menu

Yeah, it's March! It's already getting warmer and I'm so excited. I'm so done with being sick and ready to get outside for some sunlight and fresh air. This month I'm trying to use up what I can in my freezer and my pantry, as well as plan for the produce I get in my weekly CSA basket. I don't have a plan for anything too indulgent because I want to get outside for lots of walks with my girls and shed that "winter coat," if you know what I mean. I do, however, have my 7 year wedding anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks so I'll probably make an exception that day, but I don't know what yet.

For those of you who are new, I'll link the recipes I've made before and posted. The other recipes I'll post as I make them. Last month I wasn't able to post several dishes I made and I was totally bummed about it. I hope I can get through them all this month.

Chicken Burgers on Homemade Burger Buns, green beans and Herbed Potato Salad
Cold Sesame Noodles
Spring Risotto and Mango Chicken Salad
Cauliflower Soup
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Roasted Garlic Pumpkinseed Pesto, Salad

Baked Penne w/ Broccoli and Smoked Mozzarella
Parsley-Feta Pesto, Roasted Garlic Hummus & Pita chips w/ raw veggies
Spinach Orzo Ensalata w/ Grilled Chicken
Pretzel Pizza Bites
Zuppa Toscana and Breadsticks
Chipotle Bean Tostadas, corn
Fiesta Chicken Salad w/ Cilantro-lime Rice

Pistachio Chicken w/ brown rice and veggie
Black Bean and Jicama Salad w/ Roasted Red Pepper Fritatta
BLT Pasta w/ Salad
Greek Tostadas w/ Chopped Greek Salad (this is an old recipe, I plan on re-writing it this month after I make it)
Thai Shrimp Soup

Orzo Stuffed Peppers
Spaghetti w/ Breadsticks
Shrimp Fried Rice w/ veggies
Chicken Barley Soup w/ Walnut Pesto

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Breakfast Cookies
Movie Theater Cookies
White Chocolate Coconut Brownies
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes
Fig, Date and Almond Granola Bars

Linked to...
Menu Plan Monthly @ Mommy's Kitchen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

National Pancake Day and Chicken Pot Pie Pancakes w/ Herb-Dijon Gravy

Ok, here is my last installment of new pancakes for National Pancake Day (today, if you didn't know). Don't you worry though, I have pleanty more to post in the future. Have you ever had a savory pancake? I doubt most people have. I hadn't until this summer when I stumbled across this amazing recipe for Corn and Basil Cakes. We made these many times. My girls even liked and ate them. They'll make just about anybody a believer in a pancake that is not sweet or doused in syrup.

I've only tried a few different savory pancake recipes and I have to say that these are the most creative. Chicken pot pie is the ultimate comfort food and it's pretty much the epitome of cold weather baking. I love it. I couldn't resist trying it in pancake form.

Believe it or not, these pancakes were a success! My husband commented that he'd never had mustard on pancakes before but that he actually liked them. I'm glad I wasn't the only one eating them. These are actually a really great quick dinner option when you don't have much time or much in the fridge. Just throw in your leftover veggies, chopped up fine, make a little gravy and, voila!, you have dinner.

You still have time to celebrate National Pancake Day, even if you missed it for breakfast. Check out the end of this post for some more ideas or see my posts the past two days, I've linked up my favorites.

Chicken Pot Pie pancakes w/ Herb-Dijon Gravy
For the pancakes:
Double recipe Buttermilk Pancakes
1-1/2-2 cups chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (about 1 large breast)
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
3 green onions, thinly sliced

For the gravy:
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. fresh dill or tarragon, finely chopped
2-3 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and ground black pepper

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Stir in flour and cook about 1 minute. Whisk in stock, dill or tarragon and Dijon, and cook until well thickened and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare buttermilk pancakes according to directions. Stir in the chicken, peas, celery, and green onions until incorporated. Let batter sit while griddle heats.

Pour batter onto griddle by 1/4 cups. Cook until golden brown on each side, and continue with the rest of the batter. Place cooked pancakes on a plate and keep warm in a 250˚F oven with foil on top.

Serve pancakes warm with herb-Dijon gravy.

SOURCE:Adapted from Rachael Ray

More pancake love....
Corn and Basil Cakes

Buttermilk Pancakes
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