Monday, June 27, 2011

Banana Cake

                                          adapted from Our Best Bites and Martha Stewart
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
3/4 c buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup chopped pecans (optional.... again, we opt out of nuts at our house! :)  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans and set aside.  In a medium bowl , whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk and vanilla.  

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and brown sugar;  mix on medium-high until pale and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Mix in eggs.  Reduce speed to medium;  mix in flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with banana mixture.  Stir in pecans if desired.  

Pour batter into the cake pans and bake for 26-28 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on wire rack for 30 minutes and then carefully invert cake pans to remove cake and let cool completely.  

Frost the top of first cake generously with cream cheese frosting and then place second layer on top.  Carefully frost top and sides of cake.  Store in refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
(From the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook 12th Edition)

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened (I use Neufchatel cheese) 
1/2 c butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla
5 3/4 to 6 1/4 c sifted powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well.  Gradually beat in additional powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency.  This frosts the tops and sides of two 9 inch layers.  Halve the recipe to frost a 9x13 cake.  Cover and store frosted cake in refrigerator.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

Prepare frosting as above, except beat 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder into the cream cheese mixture and reduce powdered sugar to 5 1/4 to 5 3/4 cups.  Makes about 3 2/3 cups of frosting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chili Verde

                                            Recipe from my sister-in-law Holly
4 lbs. pork or chicken cut into small chunks
1/4 c flour
1 large can chopped green chilies
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
1/2 c chopped cilantro
1 c salsa
1 can chicken broth (approx 2 cups)
2 Tbsp canola oil

Brown pork or chicken in hot oil quickly in a skillet so that the meat only browns, but does not cook through.  Sprinkle flour on meat and cook for 1 minute.  

Add remaining ingredients to crock pot.  Add browned pork to crock pot.  Cook up to 7 hours on low for pork and about 4 hours on low for chicken.  (The longer it cooks, the thicker and more flavorful it will be.)

If you desire a thicker consistency, you can mix water and cornstarch and add as if you were thickening gravy.

Serve in tortillas, over rice, or on tortilla chips.  Garnish with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, cilantro, creamy lime cilantro dressing, cheese etc.  We have had this with flour tortillas (the uncooked kind you buy at Costco are our favorite), or I really like it served in warm white corn tortillas.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ultimate Oatmeal with Spiced Apple Topping

                                           Recipe from my sister-in-law Brenda
(Spiced Apple Topping not pictured)

3 c water
1 c milk
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c raisins (optional)
1 c steel cut oats*

Bring the water and milk to a simmer in medium saucepan.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, add oats and toast, stirring constantly until the oats are golden and fragrant with a butterscotch-like aroma (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes)

Stir the toasted oats into the simmering liquid, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the mixture thickens and resembles gravy (about 20 minutes).  Stir in the salt and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed and oatmeal is creamy (about 10 minutes).  Take saucepan off heat and stir in raisins if desired.  Let oatmeal stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Sauteed Spiced Apple Topping:
3 large Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and chopped medium
1 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add apples, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and salt.  Cook until apples have softened and browned (about 5 minutes).  Spoon over individual bowls of hot oatmeal and serve.

* "While this may seem like a long-winded recipe for a simple bowl of oatmeal, it is well worth the effort.  Steel cut oats have a chewier texture and fuller flavor than regular rolled oats.  Toasting the oats, a step common in baking, enhances the subtle nutty flavor of the grain." 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

                                            adapted from Taste of Home Magazine
2 c frozen corn, thawed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, garlic, undrained  

(I just used a can of regular diced tomatoes because that is what I had on hand and then mixed in 1 clove garlic minced, and a sprinkle of basil.)

1 can chopped green chilies
3 green onions, sliced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
6 corn tortillas (6 inch)
1 1/2 c shredded Mexican cheese blend
6 Tbsp plain yogurt (or sour cream)

In a large bowl, combine the corn, beans, tomatoes, chilies, green onions, oregano, and cumin.  Place 3 tortillas flat in a 11x7x2 baking dish coated with cooking spray.  (I placed two tortillas in the bottom of the dish and then cut one in half and used the halves to cover gaps on the sides.) Spread half of the corn mixture;  Sprinkle 1/2 of cheese.  Repeat layers.

Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees until heated through.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Garnish each serving with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and sprig of cilantro if desired.  

(You can add shredded chicken to the corn mixture if desired.)

*For a freezer meal, complete layering in an aluminum baking pan.  Cover tightly with 2 sheets of aluminum foil.  When ready to eat, place in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until warmed throughout and cheese is bubbly. Watch closely to avoid overcooking and drying it out.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

                                          Adapted from Cooking Light  by Our Best Bites
3/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c low-fat buttermilk*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Cooking spray or butter for pan

*As a substitute for 1 c buttermilk, place 1 Tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar, but I prefer lemon juice) in a 1 c measuring cup and then fill the remainder with milk.  This recipe calls for 1 1/2 c buttermilk, so do the same thing with 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice and remaining 1/2 c milk.

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in mixing bowl and whisk together. In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla and whisk well.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until moistened and combined. ** I had to add a little bit more liquid to get a thinner consistency, so I added milk and a little more buttermilk.

Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet to medium heat.  Coat pan with non-stick spray or a little butter and then pour on pancake batter.  Use about 1/4 c batter for large pancakes (5-6") and 2 Tbsp for kid-sized ones (2/2-3").  Wait until bubbles form and edges are set up and then flip.

Makes 12 large or 24 small pancakes.

Freezer Instructions: These pancakes freeze wonderfully.  Just lay out pancakes in a single layer on a baking sheet or other pan.  Freeze until solid and then place in a zip-lock bag.  To serve, just warm up in the microwave or toaster.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten by Our Best Bites

2 C flour, plus more as needed
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 C real butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 C buttermilk
1 large or extra large egg
1 C grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
Egg Wash:  1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water or milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Measure out 2 cups of flour and then remove a spoonful of it and mix it with your grated cheese.  Set floured cheese aside.

Place the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.  Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.  With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. Ad the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.  

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly 3-4 times.  Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 10 x 5 inches.  With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles.  If preferred, cut to make 12 smaller biscuits.  Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Brush the tops with egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the biscuits are cooked through.  Serve hot or warm.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Little Monkey Cupcakes

We had these cupcakes for my son's 1st birthday party.  They were a hit with the kids.  I wanted to make them with banana cake, but I didn't have any ripe bananas, so... next time I guess. (I'm planning the banana cake for a future post)

Frost the cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  Then cut just the top fourth off of a vanilla wafer for the mouth. I found a sawing motion with a serrated knife worked better than trying to chop the wafer. Insert mini vanilla wafers for the ears.  Cut mini marshmallows in half for the eyes and use black decorating gel for the mouth and dots of the eyes.  

I got the general idea for these cupcakes off of this website, but the fun part is getting creative and making your own adaptations!  Have fun! 

Brenda's Whole Wheat Bread

                             Recipe from my sister-in-law Brenda 
*makes 3 loaves

3 1/2 c hot water (115 degrees)
1 egg
2 tsp salt
1/4 c canola oil
1/2 c honey*
1 Tbsp instant yeast

Place all ingredients in mixer with 4 c whole wheat flour (hard white wheat is best).  Set timer for 5 minutes and add up to about 6 c more flour or until the sides of the mixer wipe clean.  The amount of flour will depend on humidity, type of flour you use etc, so go more off the appearance of your dough than the actual amount of flour called for in recipe.  May I again recommend this website for excellent tutorials on working with yeast and making yeast breads.

Let dough rise to double and punch down.  Divide dough into thirds and shape into loaves.  Place into greased bread pans and cover loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  Let dough rise again.  Bake for 32 minutes at 350 degrees.  Internal temperature of loaves should be 180 degrees.  

*Brenda said you could substitute 1/2 c of agave, pure maple syrup, brown sugar, or molasses for the honey if you wish.