Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Classic Banana Bundt

Today for TWD we are doing a "rewind" -- this is one of my favorite recipes from Dorie's Baking From My Home To Yours. It was first picked for us at Tuesdays with Dorie to try by Mary at The Food Librarian, and you can find the recipe here at Mary's site if you do not have the book and are looking for an amazing banana cake / bread / bundt recipe.

I say banana cake or bread because this banana cake tastes like banana bread to my husband and ever since we made it with TWD back in August 2009 it has become "our" banana bread recipe. It is probably the most baked recipe from BFMHTY at our house, and it is picky husband's favorite banana bread.

He likes it plain, full banana flavor with no add-ins, which is delicious. I like it plain as well, but love it with add-ins, my favorites being coconut and chopped macadamias, which were add-ins in my previous favorite Hawaiian Banana Bread recipe. Don't tell that recipe, but this one with the add-ins is even better!

Before and after baking shots...

Sometime I switch out the sour cream for buttermilk, I've even used whole milk once before in place of the sour cream and this bread / cake still came out perfectly. I also like to add extra vanilla. If you are making minis this recipe is perfect as well, I think it would also work great in a plain old muffin tin or loaf pan -- although I haven't tried it yet, because a bundt is just so much more fun :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Canadian Butter Tart Muffins

These are one of my new favorite muffins. I found the recipe here at the Recipes and More website and was so surprised at how good these were. This is an easy recipe and the kids loved helping with the maple syrup on top -- although that was quite messy!

Canadian Butter Tart Muffins
from Recipes and More

1 1/2 cups raisins
1/4 cup granulated sugar (white)
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla or butterscotch flavoring
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnuts ,chopped or pecans
1/3 cup maple syrup

Place raisins, sugar, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot, slightly thickened and just beginning to bubble, about 4 or 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F, prepare 12 muffin cups or insert paper muffin cups.

Stir flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in warm raisin mixture, stirring until just combined. (I just added my flour mixture into the raisin mixture, it does look really thick but it will come together, don't worry) Stir in nuts until evenly mixed.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake in 375 oven until golden and a knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean -- 15 to 17 minutes.

Remove from oven immediately and pour about 1 tsp of maple syrup over the top of each muffin . Cool in cups for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack. Tastes best served warm. -- I drizzled the syrup on after removing the muffins to a cooling rack since I thought they might get stuck inside of the cups with the syrup and crumble, which would not be good.

These were so delicious and just perfect for a cool fall morning, plus they made the house smell amazing while baking! Kids and picky husband all loved these muffins so they are a make again for us for sure :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beer Pizza Dough

This is one of my favorite pizza dough / crust recipes. It is from allrecipes. It makes a soft dough that is a little tricky to handle, but is absolutely worth the trouble once it is done baking. I've made this dough at least a dozen times with different beers and it always turns out perfectly.

Beer Pizza Dough
from allrecipes

1 cup warm beer -- I have just warmed it up in the microwave, original recipes uses flat beer
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Put beer, butter, sugar, salt, flour, and yeast in a bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough setting, and press Start. I've always used my bread machine for this one but I bet it would also work well in a KA mixer or by hand.

Remove dough from bread machine when cycle is complete. Roll or press dough to cover a prepared pizza pan. I like to use a pizza screen and bake on a preheated pizza stone but I've also used this recipe with a regular pizza pan or cookie sheet without the stone.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F -- If you are using a pizza stone you could up this to 500 or your highest oven temperature, it bakes faster, but also gives a great crispy outside chewy inside crust.

Spread sauce and toppings on top of dough. Bake until crust is lightly brown and crispy on the outside, about 17-24 minutes
. -- If you are using the higher oven temperature with pizza stone your pizza will be done in under 10 minutes, I'd start checking it after baking for 5 minutes, it gets done very quickly.

Here is a photo of the nice crispy bottom thanks to a pizza screen and pizza stone. This crust always gives nice "pizza bubbles" too!

I topped this pizza with freshly shredded mozzarella and sliced mushrooms and homemade pizza sauce. I always sprinkle the tops of my pizzas with a touch of Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan before baking them. It really gives them that pizza parlour flavor.

This recipes doubles well, I almost always make a double recipe so we can have one veggie pizza and one with pepperoni for picky husband. The kids usually have a little of both pizzas and really look forward to homemade pizza night :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Simple Strawberry Jam

This delicious treat started last summer when I made my first homemade jam. I found this recipe at allrecipes and it turned out perfectly. I have not canned before and was a little too nervous about it so I just put my jars in the freezer. We had amazing strawberry jam up until a couple of weeks ago thanks to pulling a jar from the freezer whenever we ran out. I can't wait to make jam again next summer after a fun family day picking strawberries at the patch.

Simple Strawberry Jam
from allrecipes

2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. I didn't mash mine, just left them whole for a chunkier jam.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil.

Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate. I just put the jars in the freezer (the first one went in the fridge) and pulled them out as needed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cranberry Shortbread Cake

Today's Tuesdays with Dorie treat is Not Just for Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake picked for us to try by Jessica of Singleton in the Kitchen, thank you Jessica! This is a simple and delicious dessert that I absolutely loved. My only little change was to crumble the top layer of the shortbread crust on instead of rolling it out. This was such a nice pick and just perfect for this time of the year.

My four year old son came into the kitchen while this was baking and said, "thanks for making pancakes for dinner" and I had to explain that there were no pancakes and I was baking a Cranberry Shortbread Cake. About fifteen minutes later my five year old daughter came downstairs and peeked into the kitchen, "mmm" she said, "I smell waffles and bacon" -- so apparently this cake smells like various breakfast foods :) Silly kids, they always keep my laughing.

And because we had our first dusting of snow last week, I felt it was appropriate (okay, I guess I'm just excited about the holidays, give a girl a break) to get out my new snowman cake plate, you can't see the base in the whole cake photo but here is a close up of the adorable little snowman on the pedestal, isn't he cute?

Monday, November 8, 2010

PB & J Quesadillas with Quick Fruit Salsa

I am participating in NaBloPoMo this month and really hoping to keep up with the goal of posting every day. I'm running late today, so here is a quick little lunch or after school snack that is sure to please any PB & J fans in your family. These quesadillas are something my kids like for a quick and easy lunch and sometimes that is just what you need.

PB & J Quesadillas

Soft Taco Sized Tortillas, flour or whole wheat are great (2 per quesadilla)
about 3-4 tbsp of peanut butter (per quesadilla)
about 1 tbsp of your favorite jam or jelly (per quesadilla)
2 tbsp butter -- or you can just spritz with olive oil

Spread 1/2 of your peanut butter on each tortilla, spread the jam over the peanut butter on one tortilla and sandwich them together.

Having the peanut butter be a barrier on each side helps the jelly not leak through or soak into the tortillas. Spread the butter on the outside of the tortillas, or spritz with olive oil on each side.

Heat griddle to medium heat and cook until the bottoms are slightly crispy and golden brown, flip over and cook the second side until it is also golden brown.

Quick Fruit Salsa

you can use any fruit here, sliced grapes and cubed apples are especially popular at our house, if you want to use cubed bananas, add them just before serving so they don't brown. For this salsa I used just an orange and some strawberries since that's what we had on hand.

1 orange, peeled and cut into small chunks
5 strawberries, cleaned, stemmed and diced
1 tbsp honey or grade B maple syrup

Put your fruits in a bowl and mix gently, drizzle honey or maple syrup over the fruits and let them sit for 10 minutes or so for the flavors to mingle. Serve with quesadillas.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie

Time for Sweet Melissa Sundays, today our pick is Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie, chosen for us to try by Debbie of Every Day Blessings of The Five Dee’s -- you can find the recipe here at Debbie's site if you do not have The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

This recipe had some new twists on the traditional pumpkin pie, starting out with seeping chopped ginger and crushed cinnamon sticks into cream, and then making a custard base to be mixed withe the pumpkin puree before being baked.

Above is my before baking photo and below is my after. I used the suggested crust recipe in the book but forgot the touch of baking powder. It still turned out nice and flaky and buttery tasting.

After letting this cool for about three hours, well to room temperature, I sliced a piece (the first photo of this post) for my husband, who is the pumpkin pie lover around here, to try. He really didn't like the texture, which is lighter and softer than your typical pumpkin pie. I on the other hand, thought it was pretty good, all of the flavors came together really nicely. I'm hoping that after an overnight in the fridge for this pie to really firm up picky husband will give it another chance. I hope all of my SMS friends who gave this a try had lots of happy pumpkin pie taste testers.

ETA: Picky husband thought it was pretty good after a night in the fridge :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mushroom Mascarpone Pasta

This is a very simple and easy recipe with delicious results. I recently ordered some Marella Linguine Arcobaleno Pugiese Pasta aka Rainbow Linguine and wanted a simple sauce to go with it so I could really taste the pasta, which is made in Gioia del Colle, Bari, in the Puglia region of Italy.

Mushroom Mascarpone Pasta

2 tbsp butter
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1 small container mascarpone cheese (8 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesiano Reggiano
1/4 cup cream (more or less to get the consistency you'd like)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb pasta, cooked according to package directions -- you can cook the pasta while making the sauce

Saute the mushrooms in the butter over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes until they are nicely browned. Turn off heat.

Add in the mascarpone, Parmesiano Reggiano, and cream.

Turn on the heat to medium low and gently stir the cream and cheeses into the mushrooms.

Gently simmer, while stirring, until the sauce comes together and continue to simmer for a few minutes. If the sauce is too thick add a touch more cream, if it is too thin, simmer a little while longer until you get your desired pasta sauce consistency.

isn't that rainbow linguine pretty?

Plate the pasta and spoon the sauce over top...

Serve with extra grated Parmesiano Reggiano and enjoy!

I think the grated cheese looks like snow in the above photo :)

The kids and I loved this special pasta dish -- they are always excited when we try a new pasta shape or color. Picky husband is not a fan of mushrooms so we made this for lunch while he was at work. If you are a fan of mushrooms or mascarpone or creamy pasta dishes (or all of the aforementioned) you should give this simple dish a try for sure!

I'm submitting this dish to Helen of Fuss Free Flavours who is hosting Presto Pasta Nights #189 -- thanks, Helen!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Potato Gratin -- French Fridays with Dorie

Time for French Fridays with Dorie! November FFWD recipes are: Potato Gratin, Caramel Topped Semolina Cake, Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans, and Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux -- I was so excited that we got to vote for November recipes and 3 out of the 4 that I voted for won! Sadly, Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en Papillote, my 4th choice, got out voted :( I hope the group will get to that recipe soon, it really sounds delicious and I've never cooked anything 'en papillote' before and that sounds fun.

We got to choose the order we'd like to post the recipes this month, and I went with the Potato Gratin first. I love potato dishes but don't make them too often. I have a special cheddar scalloped potato recipe (which is basically a gratin with a sharp cheddar bechamel based sauce) that always gets requested at Easter and this recipe sounded similar.

I followed the recipe pretty much word for word, using russet potatoes, Emmentaler cheese that I bought at a recent visit to Whole Foods -- my only tiny change was using roasted garlic cloves in my garlic cream. This is a very simple recipe to prepare.

The baking, well, that is a different story. My gratin looked and tested done at the suggested 45 minutes, so I let cool and sliced into what my kids called "potato pie" -- my 4 year old even asked for whipped cream with it and I had to explain this was a savory dish, not a sweet one :) Anyway, the slices looked absolutely perfect, but my gratin was not done! My potatoes were raw and crunchy, not a pleasant surprise. How could this be? I don't know! I think that my gratin tested done since my potato slices were so thin and the tester knife went right through them, but they were way under-done. So...

I popped the remaining back into the oven, without the baking sheet underneath this time. I think mine needed another 30 minutes or so. The taste was phenomenal with such basic ingredients, I really loved the flavor, just be careful to make sure your potatoes are really done! I'm so glad I didn't make this when we had company, whew. I will be making this again, it truly is delicious, and just upping the baking time to 1 hour and 15 minutes or so, probably covering with foil so the top doesn't over brown. Can't wait to see how everyone else did and get cookin' on the other delicious picks for this month :)
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