Friday, February 26, 2016

Banana Bread Muffins

When bananas are overly ripe they get this funny taste that I dont particularly care for.  My husband doesn't even seem to notice it.  If you don't like that taste, you can put a bit of cinnamon in.  If my bananas are more towards the brown side I use it.  If they are just starting to brown I don't. You don't especially notice the cinnamon but it balances everything out, in my opinion.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins With Peanut Butter Frosting

4 ounces butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 large bananas, mashed
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes.  Add in eggs one at a time.  Add in vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Stir in banana to butter sugar mixture and then dry ingredients.  Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon into muffin papers in a muffin tin 2/3 full.  Bake at 350F for about 20- 30 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-4 tablespoons milk

Blend together peanut butter and butter.  Add in the vanilla and milk and finally the confectioners sugar.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Perfect Pastry Crust

This really is the BEST crust I have ever made.  I used a fork for my pastry blender since I could not find mine. I have made a lot of pie dough in my time but none of them ever suited me the way this one does.

When I made this apple pie, I put 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon in it and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg- I wanted to up the flavor a little.

Perfect Pastry Crust

3 cups flour
1/4 cup lard
3/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 yolk
7 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix flour and salt together.  Cut lard and butter up into small cubes and place in the freezer.  Once it has become somewhat frozen, put in flour/salt mixture.  With a fork or a pastry blender work it into the dough.  Keep blending it until your flour looks like coarse meal.  Mix in yolk, vinegar and water.  You may need a little more water if it is dry out.  If it is humid, not so much. Chill for at least an hour before rolling it out.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Meyer Lemon Curd Fool with Blueberries

There were a few Meyer lemons left so I had to make some curd as we have all been kind of "curd crazy" lately.  Its been so good, enjoying it on toast and shh... a spoonful here and there for a quick sweet treat after a meal.

We had some leftover ricotta from some manicotti I made.  I decided to put it to good use. Just so you know I literally have to hide it somewhere in back of the refrigerator because its one of my husbands favorite things to eat! He will eat it by heaping tablespoons.  No kidding.

Wanted to share a silly video my daughter told me about that cracked me up.

Meyer Lemon Curd Fool with Blueberries

1/4 cup ricotta
2 tablespoons Meyer Lemon Curd
a few blueberries

Combine ricotta with one tablespoons Meyer lemon curd.  Spoon into a glass. Swirl one tablespoon of lemon curd on top.  Then sprinkle some blueberries on top.

Meyer Lemon Curd

4 yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Meyer Lemon Juice
1 cup butter (8 ounces), cut into pats

In a double boiler combine sugar and juice, whisk together.  Then add the yolks.  Heat the mixture and keep stirring using a wooden spoon.  Heat until it thickens.  You can see it begin to happen.  It will coat the back of your spoon and if you run your finger across the back of the spoon it will leave a trail. Once it has reached this point, remove from the heat.

Add in the butter, whisking the mixture until it melts.  It will thicken quite a bit. Refrigerate.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kabocha Peanut Soup

The other day I had one kabocha squash left over from the market in October.  Yes, you read that right.  This is the first time it has lasted so long!  I cut it in half and roasted it in the oven.  The taste was still very good.  Apparently, someone had taken the time to wax it or at least it seemed that way since it lasted so long.

Anyway,  I gave the dog a little of it because she really likes squash and I heard that squash settles their stomach.  So I thought what the heck and threw in a spoonful of peanut butter for good measure. I tasted it just because I am a little crazy like that.  It was delicious.  I thought I need to experiment with this later.

It definitely needed some type of acid to balance it out.  I thought the limes would be perfect with it. Kind of reminds me of an African Yam and Peanut soup.  Its a little simpler.  I thought of throwing in some coconut milk but wanted to keep it more light.  The peanut butter in it was already adding a few calories.

I am recording it on the blog because we liked it that much and I want to remember what I did. It really didn't need any more flavor.  It had enough just like this but I imagine some cumin or if you like cilantro, it would be a welcome addition.

Kabocha Peanut Soup

4 cups kabocha or butternut squash puree,
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
juice of 4 limes
3- 4 cups chicken broth, depending on the thickness you desire
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more if you like a little more heat)

Mix everything but the peanut butter and bring to a boil.  Add the peanut butter, it wont take long to melt once the mixture is hot.  Simmer 20 minutes and serve.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Creme Brulee

Color me impressed.  Creme brulee...

Some very dear friends of ours from the town in which we use to live let us have the company of their daughter for a few nights.  She is the same age as our daughter.  They were little together when we lived next door and always got along famously.  We all get along rather well. We see eye to eye on a lot of things.  We think they are some of the coolest people we know.  Cool as in not going with the flow, but cool as in having good values, among them, the importance of family.

Anyway this wonderful 12 year old girl and my daughter together made creme brulee.  Ahhhh-mazing! It was delicious.

Next time it is served in our house, I will be the one making it and probably will try out this pumpkin creme brulee that I saw on The Daily Meal.

Creme Brulee

6 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F

Whisk together egg yolks, 4 tablespoons white sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.

In a saucepan, heat the cream, stirring over low heat until it almost comes to boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.

Pour cream mixture into the top pan of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to broil.

In a small bowl combine remaining 2 tablespoons white sugar and brown sugar. Sift this mixture evenly over custard. Place dish under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully, it will go from brown to burnt in seconds.

Remove from heat and cool. Refrigerate until custard is set again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Herbed Baked Tofu

This is the tofu that will change your mind about tofu.  Seriously.  My Mother HATES tofu.  She tried this and asked me which tofu I bought. Yup!  It is just that good!  It totally does a disappearing act around here. I have made it many times but it just doesn't make it to the photo shoot, like, ever!

Herb Baked Tofu
Original recipe from Wegmans

1 brick tofu extra firm and pressed
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon  dill weed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 350F.  Make sure you press the tofu well.  The more liquid you get out the better.  

Cut the tofu into bite sized cubes.  Toss with olive oil. dill weed, black pepper, sesame oil. soy sauce and garlic.  Place tofu on parchment sheet and on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Amish White Bread

This is really easy and really delicious white bread.  It makes two loaves.  This is a good thing if you have company because homemade bread disappears faster than you can say "melt-in-your-mouth". Whats not to love a fresh piece of bread, still a little warm with a pat of butter melting all over it?

Also, I have made this bread with a combination of 2 cups wheat flour and 4 cups bread flour.  It takes a little longer to rise but it is definitely going to come out nice, so it is worth the wait.

Had to share this with you.  A really neat video I just saw.

Amish White Bread

2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
½ tablespoons instant yeast
½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup oil
6 cups bread flour*

In a mixer (or a bowl, combine yeast flour, sugar and salt.  Do not sit the yeast next to the salt though. Mix it altogether.  Add in the oil and the water, all at once.  Mix in the mixer for about five minutes. Knead by hand if you are not using a mixer.  Place the dough ball in a bowl with a little oil in it. You place the ball in the bowl and then flip it over.  The oil coating helps so that  the top of the bread does not dry. Cover, let rise, one hour.

Remove from bowl and divide into two equal pieces.  Place in loaf pans (8 x 5).  I kind of form the dough into a tube.  I don't handle it too much to protect some of the rise I have already achieved. Let rise again, covered for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven before the end of the second rise to 350°F.  Place loaves in oven and bake for about 30 minutes.  You want the bread to be golden.  190-200°F internally.  A meat thermometer works really well for this.

*You can substitute 1 cup of regular flour with 1 tablespoon of wheat gluten.  What differentiates bread flour from regular flour is a higher gluten content.

Friday, February 12, 2016

BEST Meatloaf, EVER!

If you don't already make your meatloaf with oatmeal, you should.  Its really good.  It gives a great texture to the meat!  Perfect!  This recipe will blow your socks off.  You have to do the sauce, that is what makes it.  Creamy and delicious and packed with flavor.

I know everyone makes claims about the "best" this and that.  But, honestly, this is really the best I have ever eaten.
I had extra sauce so I served it on the side.

Makes two 5 x 8 loaves, one for eating and one for freezing.  Certainly have it if you only want one.

3 pounds ground beef
2 cups diced peppers that have already been sauteed
4 eggs
1/2 cups soy sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder
sprinkle black pepper
2 cups rolled oats (plus)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
3  tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven 350. Mix all meatloaf ingredients together.  You want it to be able to form a shape- not too loose.  If you need to add more oatmeal, do so.  Place in loaf pan or mini tins. Mix all topping ingredients together and brush on top. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 160F.  One loaf pan is about 75-85 mins. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Panera Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup

My daughter LOVES Panera.  She absolutely loves their broccoli cheddar soup. I had to make this soup. The only thing I would change next time is to omit the cayenne.  I liked it but it was a little too hot for her.

While your making this soup listen to this blues song by Martin Harley.  He was featured on the Blue Plate Special, WDVX, in Knoxville, TN.  I loved it.

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Panera Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Use a good cheddar for maximum flavor.

⅓ cup butter
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
3 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
8 cups chopped broccoli
4 medium carrots, grated
3 cups cheddar cheese (I used Cabot's Sharp)
¼ tsp. cayenne powder (it will be a little spicy- next time I would reduce it by half or omit)
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Saute the onions in the butter until lightly golden.  Add the flour and  cook until the flour is golden. This is what gives the soup more flavor so don't be hasty.  Add in garlic, salt and pepper as it browns. After it is golden, add the broth, white wine. broccoli, carrots, nutmeg and cayenne powder. Once it is tender add in milk and cream.  Make sure it is heated through then add in cheese, heat until melted. Serve.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Passionfruit Curd

I love passion-fruit.  It doesn't grow around here.  I usually buy the puree from the frozen section, Goya sells it.  It works great.  This here passion-fruit puree was painstakingly and lovingly picked by my brother and brought from TN to NY.  How lucky am I?

I used half the juice when he arrived that summer and the other half I froze.  I just made the curd after finding it in my freezer.  Was in perfect condition saved there int he little Mason jar!

I realized I had not ever blogged about passion-fruit curd so I had to share it with you.

Passion-fruit Curd

4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup passion-fruit puree
12 tablespoons of butter, cut into 6 pats (6 ounces)

In a double boiler*  combine yolks, sugar and juice.  Whisk together and then switch to a wooden spoon.  Keep stirring until it coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until completely melted.  Refrigerate.  Once it is set, it is ready for slathering on toast and  biscuits and whatever your little heart desires.

*If you dont have one then place a metal bowl or a glass bowl over a saucepan.  You just dont want the bottom of the bowl to touch the water.  So choose with that in mind.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Crock Pot Pot Roast

So many years since I made this certain type of pot roast that requires cans and packets of prepackaged stuff.  I wanted that pot roast.  I haven't made it since, seriously, November 2001.  Yup, you heard me.  The reason why I remember it so vividly is because I made it for my husband before he was my husband.  It was the first meal I ever made him.  Straight for the stomach I went.  Of course, you know the old adage, " a way to a mans heart is through his stomach".  Honestly, on our second date I had given him pumpkin muffins.   Really, I was not trying to hook the guy, I merely thought he is a bachelor, let me give him something homemade.

Fast forward to the other day,  I totally had a hankering for this.  I decided to make it again.  True confessions I bought a can of mushroom soup.  Yes, of course, I could have made it myself but I wasn't in the mood. The rest I did myself.

I will tell you exactly what I did, this way when I want to remake this I will know how to do it.

I served it with some freshly baked loaves of bread.  Great for dunking into the juice!

Crock Pot - Pot Roast

3-4 pound pot roast
large can of condensed mushroom soup
4 cups beef broth*
1/2 cup dried minced onions
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning
4 large potatoes, diced
5-7 large carrots, diced ( I like a LOT of carrots in mine)

In crock pot combine mushroom soup, minced onions, garlic and beef broth.  Mix well.  Place roast in crock pot.  Turn on high for 2 hours then add in carrots and potatoes.  If you are not going to be home for a normal work day put the roast on a lower setting and add everything in.  I like to add my carrots and potatoes later as they become less mushy.

*If you dont have beef broth, beer makes an excellent replacement.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cheesy Mashed Potato Waffles

These are the most amazing waffles I have ever eaten. I have made them three times before but sadly was unable to take a decent picture.  They were consumed so fast and so completely.  But alas, these were made early enough to take a picture.

Cheesy Mashed Potato Waffles

4 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 eggs plus 1 yolk
2 cups Swiss Cheese or cheddar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Fluff up mashed potatoes with a fork to loosen it all up if it has been in your refrigerator.  If you freshly cooked it, then no worries.  Once you have fluffed a little, add in the eggs. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda, salt and pepper.  Combine with mashed potato mix.  Finally add in cheese.

Scoop by 1/3 cup heaps onto waffle iron.

Note:  I found five minutes in the waffle iron was the perfect amount of time for a slightly browned waffle. All the more tastier when it is a little browned.