Archive | February, 2012

Banana Bread

26 Feb

I don’t know what is going on in this house but the last couple of weeks I have bought bananas but nobody seems to be eating them. So what do we do when we have very ripe bananas in the house? Well, make banana bread of course. This is going to be a picture heavy post. I am obsessed with banana bread. Love it! Can’t you tell?

I used the recipe that my sister uses with a few modifications. It turned out so good. Love to eat banana bread with a nice cup of coffee.

 

Banana Bread – heavily adapted from Crust and Crumb

  • 8 ounces flour (1 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 TBSP baking powder
  • 1  tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 TBSP butter, room temp
  • 8 ounces sugar (6 ounces brown, 2 ounces white), I used 3/4 c Brown and 1/4 c white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 11-12 ounces very ripe banana (about three medium), mashed
  • 3/4 cup lightly toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts, I omitted this. I don’t like nuts in my bread. yuck! 🙂
Directions –

1. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes.

3. Mix in eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg before adding the next. Mix in vanilla and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

4. Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/3 of the buttermilk, then 1/3 of the mashed bananas. Continue in this manner until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth. Stir in walnuts.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease one 9×5 loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until baked through. The safest way of knowing if it is finished is to test them with a probe thermometer. The internal temperature should be 180 – 185 degrees.

6. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out on a rack to cool for at least one hour before slicing.

 

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Orange Chicken

23 Feb

Trying to save a bit of money lately by not going out so much but one of the things my husband misses about going out, or ordering in I should say, is Orange Chicken. So I went to one of my favorite blogs to see if Annie has made any orange chicken. Yup she has. I can always rely on her blog if I need a good recipe. Anyway, I made it last night and it was so good. I never get orange chicken when we eat Chinese food but like I said it’s one of my husbands must-haves. Since I don’t have any reference point I can’t say that it’s better than the one at a fast food joint but I’m betting it probably is 🙂

 

Orange Chicken

Ingredients:

For the marinade and sauce:

¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth

¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1½ tsp. finely grated orange zest

6 tbsp. white vinegar

¼ cup soy sauce

½ cup brown sugar (dark or light)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. cold water

8 thin strips orange peel (optional)

For the coating and frying:

3 large egg whites

1 cup cornstarch

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

3 cups peanut or canola oil

Directions:

To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well.  Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag.  Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well.  Refrigerate and let marinate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.  Place the saucepan with the remaining mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add the mixture to the saucepan with the sauce.  Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the strips of orange peel, if using.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate and whisk until frothy.  In a second pie plate combine the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend.  Drain the chicken of the marinade in a colander or large strainer; pat dry with paper towels.  Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat.  Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a 11- or 12-inch round Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350˚ F.  Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Return the oil to 350˚ F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces.  Serve over rice, if desired.

**My notes:

I used 1/2 cup fresh orange juice because I only had 2 oranges, I used 1 cup chicken broth to make up for not having enough orange juice. I omitted the orange zest because my husband doesn’t really like that in his orange chicken.

You could double the sauce recipe if you like a little extra sauce to drizzle over you rice. This recipe makes just enough for 3 chicken breast.

Source: Annie-Eats

 

Hot Dog rolls

19 Feb

A twist on the plain ol hotdog. I have made these 3 times in the last month. They are a hit with everyone in the family and really easy to make. I can get 8-9 hot dog rolls out of this recipe.

Serve with a salad and some baked beans…mmmm….our favorite. Enjoy.

Hot Dog Rolls

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

Dough

    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 stick butter, melted
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 tsp yeast
    • 1 egg
    • 2/3 cup water

Hot dogs

  • 6 large hot dogs
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg, for egg wash

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl mix the water, yeast and sugar together and let it sit for about 10 minutes until it starts bubbling.
  2. In another larger bowl, mix the flour with the salt.
  3. In a small bowl melt the butter and add the egg and whisk it well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the flour, including the yeast mixture and mix. You can use your mixer here, but I just kneaded the dough by hand. Add more flour as needed, I used 2 cups of flour, but if you need more, just add some more. Place the dough in an oiled bowl.
  5. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rest until it doubles in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
  7. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Roll out each piece into a small rectangle and place a hot dog in the middle of the dough, then just wrap the dough around the hot dog, covering it well.
  8. Cut each covered hot dog, into 1/2 inch pieces, cut the hot dog all the way through, but stop as you reach the dough. Take each piece and roll it out and shape it into a flower as in the picture below.
  9. Repeat with remaining hot dogs. Place rolls on a baking lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Brush each roll with egg wash and top with cheddar cheese, parsley and green onions.
  10. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Source: Jo Cooks

Valentine goodies continued

15 Feb

Here are a couple of the other things I made for the day of love.

Butterfinger Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes Ingredients: For the cupcakes: 1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour 2 tsp. baking powder ¼ tsp. salt 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature 1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar 4 eggs Scant 1 cup mashed ripe banana 2/3 cup buttermilk 12 fun size Butterfinger bars, cut in half

For the frosting: 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened ½ cup creamy peanut butter 3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

For garnish: 4 fun size Butterfinger bars, coarsely chopped

Directions: To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium low and add in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix in the mashed banana until well combined.  With the mixer on low speed alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing only until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 to ¾ full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until smooth.  Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and well blended.  Mix in the whipped topping until smooth and fluffy.

To assemble the cupcakes, place a candy bar half on top of each cooled cupcake.  Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and pipe onto the cupcakes, covering the candy bar completely.  (I used a large, unlabeled star tip to frost these cupcakes.) Sprinkle with chopped candy bars for garnish.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Yield: approximately 18 sandwich cookies, but depends entirely on the size of hearts you make.

For the cookies:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 oz. red food coloring

Ingredients:

For the frosting

8 oz. cream cheese

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.

Using a heart template cut out from card stock, trace evenly spaced hearts onto pieces of parchment paper sized to fit two cookie sheets.  Place the parchment on the cookie sheets so that the side you have drawn on is facing down; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the food coloring.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip.  Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the heart tracings as a guide.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack.  Repeat with any remaining batter.  Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip.  Pair the cookies up by shape and size.

Pipe filling onto flat side of one cookie and place another cookie on top. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.

Milk Chocolate covered strawberries (for  my hubby)

1 cup Milk chocolate chips

1Tbs. shortening

In a double boiler melt chocolate chips and shortening til smooth. Holding strawberry by leaves, dip into chocolate and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Let harden for about an 1hr. Eat or store in refrigerator.

Sources:

Butterfinger cupcakes- Annie Eats

Red Velvet whoopie pies – Annie Eats

Valentine Cookie Pops

15 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day all! I made some cookie pops last week for one of my sons classes. Here are a few pictures of the finished cookies. Hope that you all enjoy today and got spoiled by your loved ones. Of course we should act like it’s valentine’s day everyday…just saying 🙂 I also made some Red velvet whoopie pies and chocolate covered strawberries for my husband and kids. More about that tomorrow.

Basic Sugar Cookies

Preparation: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bake sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 eggs, plus1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, whisk  flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Cream butter, cream cheese, sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl lightly mix eggs and vanilla together.  With the mixer running on medium low, slowly add egg mixture to creamed butter mixture, continue mixing until combined.  Turn off mixer, using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula gradually fold dry mixture into wet mixture and continue to fold until combined.

2. Divide the dough into four flat disc and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove chilled dough one disc at a time and roll on a lightly floured surface into 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes.

Source: Bakers Royale

Chicken and Dumplings

8 Feb

Well a couple of weeks ago I made Chicken and Dumplings for dinner and had plenty of leftovers for another meal. I froze the rest in a Ziplock Freezer bag and defrosted it today for dinner tonight. I love when I don’t have to make dinner when I’ve been out all day and when the boys have a basketball game at night. It’s a no brainer. This recipe was really good and you can leave out the dumplings if you want and you will have a great chicken soup. I modified the recipe a little I didn’t have dry sherry on hand so  I just substituted chicken broth. There are a lot of ingredients but nothing crazy and there are a lot of steps but I think it’s worth it especially when you can get 2 meals out of it.

Lighter Chicken and Dumplings adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, September 2009 serves 6

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (about 2 1/2 lbs)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, chopped fine (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces (2 cups)
  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup dried sherry or dry white wine
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  • 1 pound chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

For the dumplings

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 5 minutes
  • 1 large egg white
  1. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until skin is crisp and well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and brown on second side, 5 to 7 minutes longer; transfer to large plate. Discard all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot.
  2. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in sherry or wine, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in broth and thyme. Return chicken thighs, with any accumulated juices, to pot and add chicken wings. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until thigh meat offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but still clings to bones, 45 to 55 minutes (as a side note, when I halved this recipe it only took 35-40 minutes to reach this point).
  3. Remove pot from heat and transfer chicken to cutting board. Allow broth to settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using wide spoon.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin. Using fingers or fork, pull meat from chicken thighs (and wings, if using) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Return meat to pot
  4.  Whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps; whisk in egg white. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.
  5. Return stew to simmer; stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using greased tablespoon measure (or #60 portion scoop), scoop level amount of batter and drop over top of stew, spacing about ¼ inch apart (you should have about 24 dumplings). Wrap lid of Dutch oven with clean kitchen towel (keeping towel away from heat source) and cover pot. Simmer gently until dumplings have doubled in size and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 13 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately.

A couple of weeks ago I made Chicken and Dumplings for dinner. The recipe makes a big batch and we had plenty of leftovers for another meal. I froze the remaining in a Ziplock Freezer bag and defrosted it today for dinner tonight. I love when I don’t have to make a dinner on days when I’ve been out and when I know that the boys have a basketball game. Here is the recipe, I used chicken broth instead of the sherry because I didn’t have any in the house when I made this. Really good recipe there are a lot of ingredients and quite a few steps but I think that it is worth it for a good bowl of dumplings, plus you can leave out the dumplings and you have a really good chicken soup with a lot of flavor.

Source:

Pink Parsley

Target shopping trip

7 Feb

Well I went with my good friend Donna today to do some shopping at Target. The nearest on is an hour away so I don’t go as often as I would love to go. I miss Target. But I did get great deals today. Love getting clearance items and using coupons, it’s the best. I got my P & G coupon book in the mail the other day, sign up for free and get yours in the mail,  and had to use the Fabreeze coupons today.  Everything for $30 I saved a little more than  $ 22. Pretty good day if you ask me. Hope my tax refund come tomorrow so that I can pay off my truck….so excited to not have to pay a car payment anymore. More money in our pockets for me to do so more bargain shopping 😉

image

Items in picture : 2 cans Febreeze air effects, 1 box cake mix, 1 can frosting, 1 bottle Vaseline lotion, 2 bottles Garnier Fructis shampoo, 1 bottle Garnier Fructis conditioner, 2 bottles Jergens lotion, 1 bottle Clean & Clear face wash, 1 bottle Clean & Clear asstringent, 3 bags Halls throat lozenges, 2 Cascade dishwashing tablets(4 pack), 2 Nivea chap stick, 1 Febreeze room air freshener.

Fresh start

6 Feb

Well after almost 2 1/2 years of not blogging I’m back on the blog trail. Welcome to my new and improved blog. A couple of topics you might come across on this blog are craftng, cooking, couponing, photography and everyday life of a mom of three and a wife of a man serving his country in the military. Don’t know how often I will be posting but it’s just cool to know that I’ve started blogging again. I guess I should thank my sister for that.  Thanks for visiting and hope to see you return soon.

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