Saturday, October 30, 2010

Banana Pancakes

Can't think of much better on a rainy Saturday morning than cuddling with my girls, making banana pancakes, and listening to some Jack Johnson.  These pancakes were perfect with a little maple syrup and they're a good way to use up ripe bananas.  Enjoy!

Banana Pancakes (4 servings)

1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 T vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Combine dry ingredients with a whisk.  In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients.  Stir flour mixture into banana mixture - batter will be a little lumpy.  Pour batter onto a heated, buttered pan or griddle and cook until pancakes are golden brown on each side.  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Buttermilk Coffeecake

This is what I brought to the pumpkin carving party with our friends.  I really like coffee cake and have been looking for a good, basic recipe.  This got good reviews from friends and my little sous chef (see cowgirl in the post below!) and I think I've found what I'm looking for.  I liked how there wasn't a bunch of butter in the crumble topping and the cake was moist and light.  Perfect with a cup of cider of coffee!

Buttermilk Cinnamon Coffee Cake

2 1/4 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon (divided)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg

Whisk together the flour, sugars, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, salt and ginger in a large bowl until well combined.  Remove 3/4 c. of the mixture and put it in a smaller bowl.  In that smaller bowl, add the remaining teaspoon cinnamon, the almonds and oats.  This will be your topping but set it aside for now.  

Back in the big bowl, add the baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk and egg.  Stir until it's smooth.  Spread in a buttered 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle the topping over the batter.  Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

What to do with your pumpkin seeds

I never really know what to do except roast them in the oven with a little salt.  This year, I tried a new technique and a new spice combination and it was awesome!  You only dry the seeds in the oven - the toasting happens on the stovetop and the spices are added after that.  This isn't the low-sugar option but it was delicious!  Big sister declared them "Yum."

I know it's not Halloween yet, but here are some photos of the girls from today.

Big sister in her cowgirl costume:

The pumpkin dad carved for her:

The little pumpkin:

And, the toasted seeds:

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (makes 1 cup)
from Martha Stewart's website

1 cup pumpkin seeds, fresh out of the pumpkin and rinsed
4 T sugar
1 T vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
cayenne pepper to taste

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I think foil would work fine) and spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer.  Bake in a 250 degree oven for about an hour, stirring once or twice.  You want the seeds to be really dry but not toasted or brown.

Mix the spices in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the sugar.  Heat the oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the pumpkin seeds and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Toast, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and the seeds caramelize and turn light brown - about 45 seconds - 2 minutes.

Dump the seeds right into the bowl with the spices and stir well to coat the seeds.  Let them cool off and enjoy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pumpkin Ice Cream

'Tis the season . . . not much to say about this except for I was glad to have friends over to dinner to share it with, otherwise, I would have eaten way too much :)  It was creamy, a good blend of spices, and delicious.  I'm imagining ice cream sandwiches with this ice cream between some gingersnaps!

Pumpkin Ice Cream (makes 1 qt)

2 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. salt

Heat cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until almost boiling.  Whisk egg yolks together in a small bowl.  Add hot milk, a few tablespoons at a time to temper the eggs.  Add the egg yolks to the saucepan.  Heat for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.  Don't let it boil.

Refrigerate the milk mixture until cooled.  In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and the rest of the spices.  Add to the cooled milk mixture.  Refrigerate a few hours or overnight.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Hooray for some cooler weather!  This is a great fall soup - sweeter than other butternut squash soups that I've made but filling and tasty.  It served 3 adults and I was wishing there was a little more.  It would be easy to double the recipe.  If you do that, don't overdo it with the broth - just enough to cover the squash and you can add more later if the soup is too thick.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (2-4 servings)


1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (I think mine was about 2 lbs)
1 gala apple, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1/4 c. apple juice
1 T. butter
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and nutmeg and saute until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the squash, 4 c. vegetable broth, apple, and apple juice.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) until squash and apple are tender, about 30 minutes.  

Puree soup in a blender and return to the pot (I used my hand blender right in the pot, off of the heat).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Bring it back to a simmer.  Thin the soup with more broth if it's thicker than you'd like it to be.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Breakfast for my Biggest Fan

My husband is my biggest fan.  He doesn't regularly read this blog, but he inspires ideas for recipes, compliments my cooking on a regular basis, and overlooks the grocery bills.  When we first got married, he did a lot of the cooking because I wasn't the greatest cook.  I owe a lot of my improvement in that area to his constructive criticism:  "This is really good but it would be even better if you . . . "

Since my husband loves baked apple desserts (apple pie, apple fritters, apple crisps etc.), for his birthday breakfast this year, I tried to recreate a baked apple pancake that we had in a restaurant awhile back. It turned out really good, but super sweet.  Next time, I think I might skip the butter & cinnamon sugar that I put on the top and serve it with a little maple syrup on the side.

Happy birthday honey!

Baked Apple Pancake (4 servings)

3 T unsalted butter (divided)
2 medium Gala apples, peeled and thinly sliced
3 eggs
1/4 c. brown sugar (divided)
pinch of salt
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in an ovenproof skillet.  Add the apple slices and heat until tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and stir to combine.  Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, salt, milk & flour in a bowl.  Pour over the apples in the skillet.  Bake in the oven until puffy, about 10 minutes. While the pancake is baking, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and the cinnamon.

Remove the puffed pancake from the oven, dot with 1 tablespoon of butter that you've cut into small pieces, and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.  Put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes, until browned.   Slice and serve.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No Ham Bone

At Christmas time, my dad always received a honey baked ham from someone he did work with.  When the ham was gone, my mom would sometimes make split pea soup with the ham bone.  Over the years, I've tried unsuccessfully to make split pea soup and the reason it wasn't flavorful was simple:  no ham bone.

Well, I tried it again today (still no ham bone) and it turned out decent.  I think the amount of diced ham really helped.  It looked like a lot going into the crockpot, but the proportions were good in the final product.  I also think slow cooking yielded better results than making it on the stovetop.  I'd like to add another spice (just salt, pepper and bay leaf in this version) the next time I try it but I was undecided this morning about what that should be.  Celery seed?  Thyme?  Paprika?

One bonus about this recipe - super cheap to make for the yield.  I have no tips about vegetarian split pea soup because I haven't had any luck trying that in the past.

Look for more soup recipes coming your way - one of my favorite things to make during the fall and winter.

Split Pea Soup (makes about 8 cups)

16 oz bag dried split peas
2 cups diced ham (I used a little thicker cut of ham - not the thin deli sliced)
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped carrot
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5 cups boiling water

Layer the ingredients in your slow cooker in the order listed (peas on the bottom, pour the boiling water over the top) and cook.  The original recipe (don't know where it's from) said 4-6 hours on high.  I did high for 3 hours, low for 2 hours, let it cool and reheated it at dinner time.  You basically want the vegetables to be soft, the soup to be thick, and nothing to burn to the bottom of your slow cooker.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Real Reason She Bakes With Me

I let her lick the spoons, bowl, and mixer attachments when we're done!  

And yes, she dresses herself these days.  Got to love the "matching" stripes.

The afternoon of this picture we were making a Chocolate Zucchini Cake.  I know it sounds a little gross at first, but I've seen these recipes around forever and always wanted to try one out.  The taste was pretty good and the zucchini adds some good moisture to the cake and allows you to cut down on the fat (see the amounts of oil & butter below) but I had some air bubbles in the batter.  I think the texture of the cake would have turned out better if I didn't overmix it.  And, I'll share a little bit of the blame with my sous chef who loves cranking up the speed on my stand mixer.  When I'm not looking.  Or when I've just added flour or cocoa powder.  It's a mess, but still a lot of fun.

I also wasn't crazy about the one-bowl method in the recipe I used from the King Arthur Flour website so I changed it in the recipe below.  I was, however, a fan of the way that the icing is done . . . pretty nifty!  If you want to make a 9x13 pan, double the recipe below and bake it between 30 and 35 minutes.

Chocolate Zucchini  Cake (one 8x8 pan)
original recipe here

1/4 cup butter, room temperature 
1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup  granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup (4 ounces) sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt
1 1/4 cups  All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup plus 2 T cocoa powder
1 teaspoon1 espresso powder, optional but tasty
1 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup (3 ounces) chocolate chips, for icing
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lighlty grease a 8" x 8" pan. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs.In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in the sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt alternately with the flour mixture. Finally, fold in the zucchini.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 27 to 30 minutes, till the top springs back lightly when touched, and it seems set. Slide the cake out of the oven, sprinkle it evenly with the 1/2 cup chocolate chips, and return it to the oven for 5 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, and use a cake spatula or rubber spatula to spread the chocolate chips into a smooth glaze. Cool on a rack. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Penne with Pumpkin & Sage

Last week I wanted to make a pasta dish without a red sauce.  I'd seen posts on other food blogs for squash based sauces before and decided to give a pumpkin sauce a try.  It was really tasty and something different.  At first when I started mixing the pumpkin in, it reminded me of baby food squash but by adding some hot sauce and other seasonings, the final taste was much more sophisticated than Gerber's. I had to work on the seasonings and taste it a few times to get the right flavor.  You could use a regular penne but I thought that the heartiness of the whole wheat pasta complimented this sauce well.  

Penne with Pumpkin and Sage (serves 2)

2 c. whole wheat penne
1 shallot, chopped
5 sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. chili sauce (like Sriracha)
nutmeg, cinnamon, salt & pepper to taste
Shaved parmesan cheese for garnish

Cook penne according to package instructions.  Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and add the shallots and sage.  Saute until the shallots are tender and beginning to brown.  Add the garlic and saute one more minute.  Add the broth, pumpkin, cream chili sauce, and seasonings and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to taste.  Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss.  Serve with the shaved parmesan cheese.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crockpot Chicken

We were so blessed with friends who brought us meals after baby girl was born. It was so nice to see someone at the door in the afternoon with a delicious dinner. To all of you who brought food for us, thank you! Baby girl has been so good and so easy going but early evening / dinnertime is her fussiest, most restless time of day and getting supper on the table, even a couple of times a week, has been a challenge.

I decided to return to my old strategies of planning a weekly menu and making supper earlier in the day . . . at least prepping or assembling what I can or using the crockpot. When I was looking through the blog, I couldn't believe that I haven't already shared this recipe. It's my all-time favorite crockpot meal - tasty, super easy, and usually turns out great. Another bonus to the crockpot when it's hot outside is that your whole kitchen doesn't heat up from having the oven on.

I like to serve this recipe with mashed potatoes and use the leftover sauce like gravy. Putting a little rosemary into the mashed potatoes goes well with the chicken.

Crockpot Chicken ala Bec

2-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 T butter
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 tsp. rosemary (fresh or dried - use more to your taste)
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or 1 clove minced garlic)

Rinse the chicken breasts, pat dry, and place in the crockpot. In a saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and heat until smooth and hot. Use a whisk if necessary. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. You may want to stir the sauce before removing the chicken.