Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buttermilk Banana Bread

My husband devoured this bread.

I loved it too.
I think it's the buttermilk—my new favorite ingredient. Don't ask me how, but it adds a hint of tartness, sweetness, and creaminess all at once.

This recipe is from yet another awesome food blog, My Kitchen Cafe. (Thanks, Melanie!) I've never tried a light variety of banana bread like this one, but now we can't get enough. It has a milder banana taste than some banana breads, and the crust is buttery deliciousness.

I substituted 3 tablespoons of applesauce for 3 (out of 8) tablespoons of butter, and I honestly couldn't tell. (The last time I made this recipe I didn't make the substitution, so I do have something to compare it to, by the way.)

Buttermilk Banana Bread
From My Kitchen Cafe

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup mashed bananas (About 3 average-sized bananas)
4 tablespoons buttermilk
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash baking soda

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix until combined. Poor batter into a greased and floured bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the loaf immediately and let cool on a wire rack.

It's bread is fantastic as is, but for a sweet twist, I added a buttermilk glaze. Mmmm!

Buttermilk Glaze
Start with 1 cup powdered sugar and 3 Tablespoons buttermilk. Whisk to combine. Add a 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, depending on your preference. You may have to add more buttermilk or sugar until you get a good consistency.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Penne Rustica: Revisited

Remember this recipe?
I thought I'd remind you that it's great. I made it again the other night and wanted to share a couple tips. First off, I liked it even better with whole wheat rotini and/or bowtie pasta. I think the other ingredients just stick better to these pastas than to penne. Next, it's all about the veggies. The more artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, zuccini, red onion, and basil—the better. So keep the veggie to pasta ratio heavy on the veggetables.

Have these tips convinced you to try this one? It's a healthy pasta you shouldn't pass up. Have a great week! I've got a to-die-for buttermilk banana bread recipe coming soon.

*Need another to use up those roasted red peppers in? Try Real Simple's provolone and roasted red pepper crisps.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Simple Honey Wheat Bread

Sorry to post another bread recipe so soon, but I am in love with this recipe. I can't help but agree with the 353 reviewers on who gave this recipe 5 stars. It's fabulous!

Beware: This makes a lot of bread. Three loafs, to be exact. My kitchen aid mixer was full to the brim with dough, but it all worked out in the end. My friend Amber and I had a bread-baking day, and we each went home with one BIG loaf and a mini loaf, thanks to my cute mini loaf pans.

This bread's texture is fantastic—moist and tender—and the hint of sweetness is exactly what I look for in a homemade wheat bread. And don't forget to try it as toast!

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast (equal to two 2-oz. packages)
2/3 cup honey, divided into two
5 cups bread flour
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 Tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 3 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead in additional wheat flour (1/2 cup to 1 cup) until the dough just pulls away from the counter, but is still sticky to the touch. Place in an oiled bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

  • If you're mixing in an electric mixer, you can skip adding the flour by kneading on a floured surface and instead add the flour directly to the bowl as the mixer does the mixing. The point of this step, by the way, isn't kneading; it's incorporating the remaining flour. Just make sure the dough pulls together.
3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Remove from pan to cool loaves on a wire rack. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard.

If you're timid when it comes to making bread, read this fabulous tutorial on breadmaking: "For Beaming, Bewitching Breads."

Enjoy the bread and be proud of your domesticity!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dessert first, right?

The best food blog I know of for family friendly food is Picky Palate. She shared a cookie recipe I just had to try. I love all chocolate chip cookie recipes, and I rarely make the same one twice...So you'll probably be seeing more in the future! This particular recipe is a must-try if you like your chocolate chip cookies thick and chewy. I scooped my cookies about half the size that the recipe calls for (making 2 dozen instead of 1 dozen), and they were still big and soft in the middle.

These are knock-off cookies of a famous bakery in NYC called Leavin's.

8 ounces (two sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups BREAD flour (13 1/2 oz)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 to 1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped, untoasted walnuts (I skipped these.)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix butter and sugars just until they come together. Don’t overbeat. Add the egg and beat just until incorporated. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to batter and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. The dough should be neither sticky nor dry.
  3. Divide dough into about 12 mounds, but keep the mounds kind of raggedy. That is, don’t smash them into compact balls. Bake on ungreased insulated cookie sheet or an upside down rimmed cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350. Cool on sheet for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

This should make a dozen 4 oz. cookies or eight 6 oz. cookies.

I worried that my dough was too dry, but the cookies turned out beautifully. So don't stress if your dough seems a little dry. It barely pulled together in my kitchen aid—guess that's just the way it is! Anyway, the neighbors on both sides of us were very happy with the cookies, so I hope you are too!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Barbecue Chicken Salad

(FYI, this is more of a weeknight dinner idea than an actual recipe. Nonetheless, de-lish.)

Barbecue Chicken salad is a great way to use up all your extra veggies because pretty much anything works in it. I think I'll be experimenting for months to get just the right combination of ingredients suited to my and Ryan's taste. After making it tonight and evaluating what we needed more of, I'd say this is the perfect start for us:
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Grated (sharp) cheddar cheese
  • A whole bunch of white corn
  • A ton of red onion, sliced in rings (not pictured here)
  • Grilled barbecued chicken
  • BBQ sauce for dressing
  • One bunch of cilantro (I think this ingredient is key—the more, the merrier!)

Then if you're feeling like it, you could throw in a few of these ingredients too:
  • Black beans, to boost the fiber and protein.
  • A red bell pepper, which I used tonight because I had one on hand. I would definitely recommend it; it lends a nice crunch.
  • Broken tortilla chips, for even more crunch.
I know a lot of people like to dress a BBQ chicken salad with ranch, so go for it if you're a ranch fan. To cut some fat calories, we usually skip the ranch and just dress the salad with a little extra BBQ sauce.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Has everyone noticed what a huge trend cupcakes are right now?

I was so excited when I was asked to bring cupcakes to a church function this week. I had a couple of weeks of advance notice, so I spent some time browsing and other fancy sites for some killer cupcakes. But in the end, practicality won. A box mix and store-bought frosting. :) But with some creative toppings, I think they turned out pretty cute, don't you?

Have a great week, everyone!