Friday, March 20, 2009

Banana Muffins

Returning to the blogging world. Spent the past...well...quite a while...just wanting to spend time with my that puppy is gone, it's time to return to this hobby.

I've been cooking & baking like crazy, or so it feels. I don't have a whole heck of a lot of motivation, but I make dinner most nights of the week. And I try to make something (muffins, scones) for breakfast in the morning. Today, (although it's the weekend, so probably not the best timing for "work brekkies"!) I decided to use up some of the buttermilk that I had leftover from St. Patty's Day irish soda bread to make these muffins.

I just found this recipe the other day on Phemomenon, and immediately bookmarked it because of the excess buttermilk in my fridge. And while I was getting the ingredients ready, I realized I also had quite a few bananas to use up. Perfect!

I made quite a few changes, the most significant being swapping banana in for the butter. Healthy, no? :) They rose really tall, perfect muffin texture and delicious!

Buttermilk Spice Muffins
adapted from Mimi's Cafe

1/4 cup sugar
1 cup mashed bananas (abt 2 medium bananas)
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup & 1 Tbsp buttermilk

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream bananas and sugar (I used a hand mixer). Add 3 eggs and blend until well-combined. Batter will be very wet at this stage.

In a separate small bowl, sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon & nutmeg.

Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the banana mixture and combine until just blended. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk, combine. Blend in the rest of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk. Batter will have thickened quite a bit.

In separate bowl (you can use the one you used for the flour), combine the topping ingredients and mix until combined.

Grease muffin tins. Pour batter in the muffin tins 1/2-3/4 full, then add a small spoonful of the topping. Put into oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

*Now obviously these are not your typical bakery muffin! Not quite as moist (no butter!) but still great texture and flavor. And not as sweet, because I severely slashed the sugar. I love muffins like this because I feel good about grabbing them for breakfast in the morning! And because of course they taste delicious. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spinach Zucchini Ricotta Frittata

Ok, this is a little late in the season, but seeing as how Tim hates anything pumpkin or fall spices, I haven't been doing much seasonal cooking & baking around here. Well, that's a lie. We've tried a few winter squash recipes, but they were very simplistic & really not worth mentioning. Squash is still growing on us...give us time...or suggestions! :)

With the last of the zucchini from the farmers market (besides the 14 bags I froze) I decided to make this delicious looking dish from Simply Recipes. As I mentioned, squash is still growing on us, & Tim is usually reluctant to eat recipes with zucchini...but he loved it! The zucchini tasted amazing having been fried before mixing it into the frittata. It's also relatively easy to make, so it's a win on all sides!

Spinach Zucchini Ricotta Frittata
adapted from Simply Recipes

6 large eggs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small zucchini, or one larger one, washed and sliced into thin rounds (about 3/4 pound)
2 cups fresh spinach

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the ricotta and Parmesan and beat to combine. Add the salt, freshly ground black pepper, basil and thyme and beat to combine. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch oven-proof stick-free skillet on medium high. When the oil is hot and begins to shimmer, add the zucchini slices. Stir so that the zucchini slices are all coated with some of the oil. Cook, stirring only occasionally (if you stir too much the zucchini won't brown), until the zucchini slices are lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add spinach and heat for another minute or so. Remove from heat. Remove zucchini slices and spinach from the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon to a bowl. Let cool for 30 seconds or so, and then stir the zucchini slices and zucchini into the egg mixture.

Reheat the skillet. There should be a couple of tablespoons of oil left in the pan, if not, add some. When the oil is hot, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Do not stir it. Reduce the heat to medium. Let the egg mixture cook. Run a spatula along the edge of the frittata, separating the cooked edges from the pan. Let the egg mixture cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top is beginning to set, about 5-6 minutes.

Set the top rack 5 inches from the heating element in the oven. Preheat the oven broiler. Once the top of the frittata has started to set in the pan on the stove top, remove the pan from the stove and place it in the oven. With the broiler on, the door of the oven needs to be open. You can let the pan's handle stick out from the oven through the open door. Cook under the broiler until the top starts to become lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

*Alternatively, instead of using the broiler, you can place a plate face-down on top of the skillet. Flip the skillet over to release the frittata on to the plate. Then slide the frittata from the plate back on to the skillet. Let cook for a couple of minutes more until the bottom side gets browned.

Slide the frittata out of the skillet onto a serving plate. Let cool for a minute or two and serve.

Serves 2-3.

*I used the broiler method...worked for me!

Since it's no longer zucchini season, I bet this dish would work well with just spinach. Not that spinach is really in season either, but much easier to come by in the winter...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

As annoyed as he looks, he actually doesn't even notice he's wearing it! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Be amazed.

For the first time in my life (ok, maybe not my entire life), I followed a recipe to the T. Exactly. I didn't even try to change a thing.*

I've been falling all over myself trying to make apple recipes (although...why? we go through apples like they're going out of style...I can barely keep enough around for baking!) at about the same time we had a basket full of (rotting) bananas sitting in the kitchen. I forget if I food blog searched for a recipe or if I happened upon it another way, but regardless of how it went, this recipe is perfect. It comes from The Goddess's Kitchen and it involves banana bread & caramelised apples, so, really, it would be hard to go wrong.

It originally came from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book (which I am totally dying to get) and was quite perfect, just the way it was written. :) I do think I may have cut my apples too small or perhaps over-caramelized them, because it was more like there were slim shivers of apples than actual chunks. I liked it that way though...added a bit of sweetness & flavor to the banana bread without taking away from the banana bread.

Mom's Banana Apple Bread
adapted from The Goddess's Kitchen

Makes one 1½ -quart loaf pan (2lb/900g)

For the apples:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the banana bread:
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups very ripe mashed bananas (2 to 3)

Before you start:Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/180oC. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.

To make the apples:Preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and brown sugar and heat until bubbling. Add the apples and cinnamon and sauté until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

To make the banana bread:-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each flour addition. Stir in the mashed bananas until combined. Then stir in the reserved apples.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool further.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The banana bread keeps well wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost (still wrapped) at room temperature.

*(Of course I did use cute little leaf molds instead ofloaf pans. That's allowed, right?)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Zucchini Rice Gratin courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

I really wanted to make the zucchini rice gratin that was recently on Smitten Kitchen. I had both tomatoes & zucchini that needed to be used, and everything about the dish sounded delicious. The only problem being that Tim hates tomatoes...and zucchini. Kind of crucial to the recipe.

Luckily I am fortunate to have a boyfriend who, despite hating quite a few of my favorite ingredients, is willing to try any dish that I make (knowing of course that a bowl of Ramen is waiting on the sidelines if it's disgusting). I was starving when I started making dinner & didn't really want to wait around to roast the veggies in the oven, so I actually just pan-fried the zucchini & onions, then threw in the tomato near the end. I also mixed together all the ingredients instead of putting the rice on the bottom, & I'm really glad I went that route. Oh & (almost done with my modifications, promise) I put 2x the number of eggs in so it was kind of a mix between the gratin & a frittata.

Verdict? "I can't believe I'm actually eating tomatoes. It's good!"

And I couldn't stop eating it. In fact, I really kind of still want to eat it.

Zucchini Rice Gratin
originally from Gourmet March 2008, via Epicurious

1/2 cup long-grain brown rice
2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/4 cup shredded Manchego

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cook rice according to package instructions.

While rice cooks, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, saute zucchini for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add onions & garlic, saute for another 2 or 3 minutes, then turn heat down to medium & add tomatoes, cooking just until tomatoes are heated through.

Pour zucchini-tomato mixture into a medium casserole dish, along with the cooked rice, eggs, 1 Tbsp oil, 1/2 of the cheese, salt & pepper. Mix well & sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Place on middle rack in the oven & bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.

I will definitely make this again. It was really easy with my slight modifications, & it was more than delicious. This time I used a few less veggies than I typically would in order to disguise the tomato & zucchini flavor with cheese and eggs. We had some Manchego cheese which I think added a great flavor to the dish, but of course you could substitute with all Parmesan.

Apologies for the horrible pictures...we devoured most of it before I even thought of taking out the camera, & then I didn't want to plate more in case my camera wasn't going to work.

Make this immediately! And eat it often. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Guiltless coffe cake!

I've been baking. And cooking. Probably more lately than usual. And yet, no posting...

Crazy, right?

In fact, I (ok, we, I didn't eat it all myself) just devoured this recipe without even thinking of taking a picture. (It was delicious, by the way. Make sure to try it!) Too hungry? Maybe. But I'd rather blame it on my camera. :) I'm just not excited about taking pictures anymore. I've been known to take hundreds of pictures in a night, but today I found myself walking out of the house to pick apples (hehe) without my camera, on purpose. I need a new camera.

Sometimes when I take photos, I get this:

Other times this:

But often the photo is mostly clear, except for a thick blue line across the top. Easily crop-able, but really not ideal.

So I'm looking for new cameras. Suggestions? Advice? I like compact cameras that I can easily carry around.

In the meantime, enjoy this banana coffee cake from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. Delicious! I made a couple changes, most obvious being the addition of dairy & check the original if you want the vegan version. This is a perfect recipe to start the day...especially if it's warm.

Banana Coffee Cake
adapted from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen

2.5 Tbsp egg whites
1/8 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/6 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/6 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
1/2 cup unbleached AP flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 medium banana, ripe

Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a small baking dish.

Mix 3 Tbsp brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine the yogurt, milk, vanilla, and 1/8 cup brown sugar in a bowl. Add the egg whites.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread to cover the bottom. Slice the bananas and place the slices over the batter. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar. Spread the remaining batter over the bananas. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cake appears set in the middle. Allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

I actually halved the original recipe & used a small pyrex bowl to make the coffee cake a bit deeper. I enjoyed it warm, and it was very moist & flavorful. And lots of healthy ingredients!