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Spiced Butterscotch & Black Walnut Banana Bread


This month I was assigned to Manu’s Menu for the Secret Recipe Club. Manuela is an Italian married to an Indian, living in Australia with her family, so her blog is a smorgasbord of delicious international recipes, with the majority being delicious, authentic Italian food. She has recipes for many things on my 40 by 40 list, like Lamingtons, croissants, biscotti/Cantucci, & risotto. And what did I do? I’m so predictable. I went for the banana bread because as you know, I have an obsession and I seem to always have overripe bananas on hand. I may have not checked anything off my bucket list of recipes to make, but we’re enjoying some really delicious banana bread in the mean time, so that makes up for it. :)

I took Manu’s recipe for the bread and kicked it up a notch, just on a whim that started because of the butterscotch chips sitting on my desk when I was reading her recipe. We really loved the combination of oozing butterscotch, black walnuts, and subtle spices in a loaf rich in banana flavor.  I went ahead and used the butter called for but next time will try oil as I just really prefer the soft & silky texture that oil gives to quick breads. If only oil had all the delicious flavor as butter!

This was a wonderful loaf and I thank you, Manuela for helping me create it. Buon appetito!

Spiced Butterscotch & Black Walnut Banana Bread

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups (8 ½ oz / 245 g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (5 ½ oz / 150 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 eggs
½ cup (4 oz / 113 g) butter, melted
3 large (or 4 small) overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (2 ½ oz / 60 g) toasted black walnuts, chopped
½ cup (3 ½ oz / 94 g) butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, bananas, and vanilla. Stir together until just moistened, then add the walnuts and butterscotch chips. Stir together until just combined and spread into prepared loaf pan. Bake for about an hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. Store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.

Recipe source: adapted from Manu’s Menu

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Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

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This month for the Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to Kate is Cooking and while the girl doesn’t like sweets, but does  enjoy alcohol (opposite of me on both accounts), I had so much fun perusing her delicious recipes. A lot of them spelled comfort, and I’m all about comfort food, especially this time of year as the weather turns cooler.

I like that Kate creates a lot of her recipes by taking what she likes from several different ones and combining them, as I’ve done that quite a bit myself. And I hope she is honored I did the same with the recipe I chose from her blog: spaghetti carbonara.Classic Spaghetti Carbonara | veronicascornucopia.com

Have you heard of it? It’s basically the Italian way of having breakfast for dinner – mixing eggs and bacon (guanciale if you want to be really traditional) into your pasta. It’s so creamy & yummy! However, the authentic way to make it is with a raw egg yolk sitting on top that you mix in as you eat to create a silky sauce.  Now, I love a runny yolk in an over-easy or poached egg, but I really had to push myself outside my comfort zone to follow through and try it with the raw yolk on top. I’m not scared of salmonella, as I’ve eaten my weight in raw cookie dough, French Silk Pie, and tiramisu without a problem, but just the idea of eating a straight raw yolk. Heebie jeebies!

Turns out, I prefer it with the whole egg mixed into the pasta, and as you can see by the golden hue of my pasta, I did go ahead and do it the way I was comfortable with, then just added a yolk on top to go ahead and try it. It does add a rich silkiness to the dish, and I say go for it if you’ve never tried it and aren’t afraid to.  But I like it just as well with it all mixed in – you choose which way you’d like.  Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Kate, and expanding my foodie adventure horizons!

Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

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3 tablespoons Kosher salt or 1 tablespoon table salt
1 lb dried spaghetti
1/2 lb bacon or guanciale
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
4 large eggs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Bring 5 quarts of water and salt to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta about a minute less than the package directions, to al dente. You’ll want to reserve a cup of the cooking water before draining, but I will remind you of that later when the time comes. :)

While the pasta is cooking, cut the bacon crosswise into pieces about 1/2 inch wide, or dice the guanciale into small pieces. Cook in a large skillet over medium high heat, along with the garlic cloves, just until the bacon begins to crisp. Don’t make it too crispy or it won’t meld with the pasta. When it’s done, remove the garlic (makes a great pre-dinner snack – just delicious!), and drain off all but 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

While the bacon is cooking, break the eggs into a large bowl or pasta serving dish. If you prefer to serve with egg yolks on top, separate the eggs and set the unbroken yolks aside with the whites alone in the bowl. Beat the eggs or egg whites with a fork until frothy. Add some freshly ground pepper and the cheese.

Now, to put this together. Drain the finished pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Stir a small amount of water into the eggs to temper them and prevent them from scrambling when you add the hot pasta. Add more water until you’ve reached about 1/4 cup, then quickly stir in the pasta with a pasta spoon. Add the bacon and grease to the pasta and stir well. The egg, bacon grease, Parmesan, and pasta water become your sauce! If it is too thick, add additional pasta water until it is your desired consistency.

Mound the pasta in pasta bowls or onto plates. Top each serving with a sprinkle of parsley and an egg yolk if you reserved them to serve this way. Enjoy!

Recipe source: adapted from Kate’s Kitchen & Ruth Reichl’s recipe in Garlic & Saphires.

Cinnamon Freud Banana Bread

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I was assigned to Karen’s blog, Cinnamon Freud, for the Secret Recipe Club this month. She’s a counseling psychology doctoral student who also loves to cook and bake. How genius is her blog name?! I know she must get that a lot, but it’s true. Genius.

So anyway, last month I chose banana bread for my SRC assignment and Debra suggested I do banana bread every month because of my outrageous obsession with it. Although I didn’t intend to take her up on that challenge, as soon as I received my SRC assignment, I looked to see if Karen had a banana bread recipe, because I had a bunch of bananas that were really overripe and needing to be used. And she did – this recipe, in fact.  I made this bread the same day I received my assignment – the quickest I’ve ever done it!

Since she simply called it banana bread, and I have way too many banana recipes on my blog to call it just banana bread, I added her blog name into it.  I couldn’t resist – it’s just so catchy!  :)  My second choice for this bread’s name would be “Dessert Banana Bread.”  This bread has more sugar than normal (which I totally am on board with – the more sugar the better, as far as I’m concerned), making it a bit more indulgent and appropriate for dessert…with a scoop of ice cream and caramel sauce on top, of course. haha! ;)  Oh and I have to tell you this bread is excellent with black walnuts. I made one plain, one with black walnuts. They were beautiful – sweet, dense, soft & velvety, just perfect.  These disappeared FAST – a definite winner!

Cinnamon Freud Banana Bread

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Printable recipe with picture

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 cups mix-ins (nuts, chocolate chips, etc)
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and any mix-ins you want to add. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until blended, then add the remaining ingredients, beating until combined. Add approximately 1/4 cup dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until just combined. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.

Spread into prepared loaf pans & bake for 55-70 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe source: Cinnamon Freud

***

I usually keep my recipe posts and baby posts totally separate, but since I haven’t been posting very much period, I just can’t resist including some baby love. :)  Here he is being a cloth diaper and baby leg warmers model. :D

Be sure to check out the other Group C Secret Recipe Club contributions this month by clicking the linky frog below!

Banana Bread Cockaigne

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This month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Rachel’s blog, The Avid Appetite. Cute name, and her recipes are great too!

If you’ve been reading a while, you know I have a banana bread obsession, fueled by my desire to beat a certain someone in this category at our state fair’s baking competition…which I have yet to do, despite many ribbons in other categories. As a result, I have shared 9 recipes for banana bread/muffins on my blog, and 26 more on my Facebook Fan Page in this album.  If there is a banana bread recipe on my assigned blog for the month, I usually have to fight my inner urge/obsession to make it and usually pick another recipe.  Usually.  But this time, I couldn’t.  It was the intriguing name.

Banana Bread Cockaigne (FYI it’s pronounced kah-kayne, not koe-kayne…big difference).  *Cue the harp music.*  I looked up the definition and it’s a mythical land of plenty, an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts, and pleasures are always at hand (such as banana bread, but of course).  In other words, fairy tale banana bread! Therefore the editing on the first photo to make it look like it was living in a fairy tale – lol.

So does the bread live up to its name?  The lemon zest is such an interesting twist on the classic recipe and it does indeed give it an ethereal quality.  I was skeptical but it is a truly wonderful addition to the banana flavor!  I made this bread twice in one week (switching from shortening to butter, adding extra banana, a little oil, and toasted walnuts the second time to increase the flavor, moisture, and crumb) and sent some to work with Dennis to rave reviews. Then he got a romotion, so perhaps it really is fairy tale banana bread. :) Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe, Rachel!

Banana Bread Cockaigne

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 ½ cups (6 ½ oz / 182 g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (5 1/4 oz / 150 g) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter (3 oz / 85 g)
¾ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cups (9 oz / 255 g) mashed ripe banana
½ cup (1 ¾ oz / 48 g) walnuts, toasted* and chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8×4 loaf pan** with oil; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar, butter, and lemon zest together. Add the oil and eggs and beat until well combined. Beat in the banana. Using a spatula, stir in the flour mixture until almost combined, then fold in the walnuts, being careful not to over-mix.

Spread into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Remove from pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

*To toast walnuts, spread in an even-layer on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring with your fingers in between, until fragrant and toasted. Allow to cool before chopping.

**Most loaf pans are 9×5, which is fine to use, but your loaf will be fairly flat compared to the one in my pictures. You will also need to decrease the baking time – start checking at 40 minutes for doneness.

Recipe source: The Avid Appetite

Check out the link below to see the other Secret Recipe Club, Group C posts!

 

Red Raspberry Jam

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Does anyone remember this post last October where I teased you with this picture?

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-VQbTH43Z544/UnH1scURz3I/AAAAAAAAKTw/YIjt8BflQsY/w685-h514-no/DSC08626b.jpg

{Pancakes recipe here}

It all started when I bought a gazillion pints of raspberries because they were unseasonably on sale for $1 each at that time.

After we ate half a gazillion, the rest were about to go bad, so I decided to try my hand at homemade jam.

It’s something I’ve never done but always wanted to.  Let me tell you, it couldn’t be easier! You don’t even need to go out and buy pectin, at least not for this recipe.  That’s one reason I never made it, it just annoyed me that I needed to go buy something that was already in fruit anyway. This method uses a method of cooking the sugar first to gel the jam, rather than an abundance of pectin.  Cool.

If you’ve never had homemade jam, there is just no comparison to store bought. So good.  You might not be able to eat store bought after making your own!  And if you can bear to part with some, it makes great gifts too.

Red Raspberry Jam

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 lbs fresh raspberries
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to combine and break down the berries. I mash them with my spoon or a potato masher to break them down and the jam still has a pleasantly chunky consistency when finished. Cook until jam reaches 221 degrees, or until a small amount gels on a plate when placed in the freezer for 2 minutes. Pour into a 4-cup glass measure and pour into sterilized & prepared jars. Screw on lids and allow to sit until sealed.  Jars may be stored in refrigerator for up to a month.  For instructions on how to can the jam to keep it at room temperature for up to a year, click the recipe link below.

Recipe source: adapted from Martha Stewartx

Smoky Baked Beans

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Summertime is packed with barbecues and picnics, and I like to have an arsenal of crowd-pleasing recipes to bring.  With Independence Day approaching, I thought I’d share one of my new favorites!  I like to bring something that’s either OK at room temperature (because it’s hard to keep cold dishes cold), or something that can hang out in the crock pot without getting overcooked.  Baked beans go great with any outdoor summer meal and these were a hit at our Mother’s Day picnic. I would definitely make these again, even as a summer meal in itself!

Smoky Baked Beans

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 lb. bulk spicy pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (31 oz) can pork and beans
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans
1 (16 oz) can black beans
1 (16 oz) can butter beans
1 (16 oz) can white beans (such as Navy, Northern or Canellini)
1 (10 oz) can tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel)
1/2 cup hickory-smoke flavored BBQ sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon steak seasoning
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Brown sausage with onion in large skillet. Drain fat. Place in large slow cooker, add remaining ingredients and stir well. Cook on low for 4-8 hours.

Recipe source: Our Eating Habits

Jessie’s 10th Bruffday Paw-ty

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I’ve always wanted to throw a birthday party for Jessie and somehow never found the energy while she was our only child, but managed to pull it off when another little someone was commanding most of my time and attention.  I felt like she really deserved it this year since she had to start playing second fiddle to the human puppy after so many years of being #1.

I created the invitations on PicMonkey (I’ve been using the free version for about a year now, although it’s only $5 a month if you want to use the premium features), and had them developed as pictures at Walmart in an hour for 16 cents each.  I bought a box of envelopes on sale that fit 4×6 pictures and use them every time I create invitations or cards on PicMonkey, so if you calculate the total cost it’s still less than a quarter each – much less than you’d usually pay for custom invitations and cards! I’ve become very crafty with my frugality since becoming a SAHM. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it – necessity has bred a lot more creativity in me than I previously thought possible.

I wanted to spend the least amount of money possible while still having a nice party, so we served hot dogs, which I thought very appropriate for a dog party.

I had a lot of fun with the food table and coming up with dog-related names/signs for everything.  I bought the majority of my supplies at Dollar Tree where, you guessed it, everything is $1.  I got this wire basket there, and wrapped $1 napkins from Walmart around the $1 plasticware from Dollar Tree and then made napkin rings out of  strips of brown paper sacks that I also got from Dollar Tree.  I used the paper from the sacks to make my signs, and also as party favor bags, so I got a lot of use out of them and still have quite a few left for future use.

I found these large plastic dog food bowls at Dollar Tree, and they were the perfect size to serve food out of.  Paw-tato Chips, Puppy Chow, and Kibble & Bits.  For the latter, I mixed cheese balls with Cheddar Chex Mix that I purchased.

I got most of my ideas on Pinterest (click here to see my Doggy Stuffs board that has lots of party ideas and more), but the Paw-sta Salad was totally my idea. :)  I used the Tangy Pasta Salad recipe I posted Monday, using paw and bone-shaped pasta that I got from my SIL as a gift a few years ago (I also threw in a can of sliced black olives, just for fun).  I was so happy to finally put it to good use!  It was a hit both for the cuteness factor and taste – I got more compliments on it than anything else.

Tee hee. :)

I really had fun making dog-friendly cupcakes, or PupCakes, if you will.  These are totally my own recipe and turned out so great – Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting and bacon “sprinkles.”  Huge hit with the pups!

The humans enjoyed Cookies ‘n Cream Cupcakes after the doggies had their “cake.”  I made the paw prints using mini Oreos and chocolate chips.  If you’ve never made this cake, you need to.  I’m not an Oreo fan and even I love it.  Seriously good cake, peeps.

Jessie enjoyed having friends over, especially her BFF, Doc (pictured above).  But since most of the dogs are older and it was pretty warm, they mostly enjoyed just lazing in the pool and shade.  If you are going to have an outdoor dog party in summer, you really need to have lots of shade, lots of water to drink, and a kiddie pool to help them cool off is a great idea too!

Jessie got so spoiled with gifts – lots of toys and treats!

And we sent all the doggies home with party favor bags filled with toys & homemade dog treats.

It was a great time for both furry and human guests, and I’m really glad we gave Jessie the celebration she deserved.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

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