Friday, July 30, 2010

Week 48: Famous Banana Bread

This isn't a new recipe.  This banana bread has been in my rotation since I met Brad 11 years ago. It is his grandma's recipe. The first time I made it was in the kitchen of the college house Brad lived in. Four college boys. One kitchen. I had to bring all the baking supplies and gear. It may have been the only thing ever cooked in the oven - besides french fries or frozen pizzas.

Prep time: less than 15 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Makes 1 loaf

1 C sugar
1/2 C (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 egg
3 mashed bananas
3 Tbsp milk with 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in it
2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line bread pan with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, banana, and milk mixture. Mix well.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt.

Pour batter into pan and bake for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

My Notes:
Listen to the part of the ingredient list that tells you to dissolve the baking soda in the milk. It, apparently, is the secret to making the bread.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Week 48: Potatoes au Gratin

Brad and I lived together in college. We used to buy ridiculous things for dinner - like potato dishes that came in boxes from the grocery store. You know what I mean, right? Dried potatoes with an envelope of mystery seasoning. Remembering those was what led me to this recipe.

Taken from Pioneer Woman Cooks
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Makes 4 servings

2 whole Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
Cooking spray
3/4 C heavy cream
1/4 C whole milk
1 Tbsp flour
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp salt
Ground pepper, to taste
1/2 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking dish or 4 ramekins with cooking spray.

Slice potatoes in 1/4" slices, then cut each slice into fourths.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Repeat this two more times, ending with the cream mixture.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling. Add grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving by the spoonful.

My notes:
These were amazing! They stayed piping hot for quite awhile after coming out of the oven. I should have timed the other food to allow time for the potatoes to cool. The potatoes also over-flowed all over my oven resulting in a hazy atmosphere for the rest of the evening. Next time, I will cook them on a tray.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 48: Crockpot Pulled Pork

This was a Sunday supper for us. Sunday suppers are usually something that need to cook all day, and it has just been too hot lately to have the oven on for the entire day. So, I searched for a crockpot recipe and ended up with this.

Taken from Savorysusie at Tasty Kitchen
Prep time: Less than 5 minutes + 10 minutes later
Cook time: 8 - 10 hours + 1 hour later

1 large onion, sliced
3 lb Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast
2 C (16 oz) ginger ale
16 oz BBQ sauce
1 package sandwich buns (8 count)

Place half of the onion in the crock pot. Put the meat on top of the onion layer. Layer the other half of onion on top of the meat. Pour ginger ale on top.

Cook 8-10 hours on low.

Remove meat from pot. Discard liquid and onions. On a plate, pull the pork for the sandwiches. Place the pork back into the pot and cover it with the BBQ sauce.

Let it cook on low for another 30 minutes to 1 hour to let the BBQ sauce heat.

Serve on buns.

Pulled Pork 3

My Notes:
This was great - officially part of our regular rotation.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Week 47: Chocolate Cobbler

I don't think I even need to explain why I picked this recipe.

Taken from Susan Hawkins for Tasty Kitchen

1 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
7 Tbsp cocoa powder, divided
1 1/4 C sugar, divided
1/2 C milk
1/3 C melted butter (5 1/3 Tbsp)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 C hot tap water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa, and 3/4 cup of the white sugar.

Stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a deep ungreased 8-inch baking dish.

In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining white sugar (it should be 1/2 cup), the brown sugar, and remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the batter.

Pour the hot tap water over all. DO NOT STIR!

Bake for about 50 minutes or until the center is set.

Let stand for a few minutes and serve with homemade ice cream using the gooey sauce to spoon over all.

My Notes:
This was amazing hot out of the oven and again on day 2. I garnished it with fresh cherries on Day 1; the cherries weren't needed. It might also be good with sliced bananas or nuts added.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week 47: Shrimp and Sausage Skewers

My mom makes amazing kabobs. No recipe exists. They are just a simple combination of steak, shrimp, and/or chicken with onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and canned potatoes marinaded in olive oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mom's kabobs are about the only ones we ever make. They are just so good that it doesn't make sense to try something else.

This cover recipe was on the cover of Bon Appetite. It really caught my eye. The photo persuaded me to try a new kabob. I wasn't sorry.

Taken from Bon Appetite, June 2010 (p. 82)

3/4 C olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
2 tsp dried thyme
5 tsp smoked paprika
4 tsp Sherry wine vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 pound (about 16 - 20 per pound) uncooked shrimp
1 pound fully cooked andouille sausage, sliced in 1-inch long pieces
12 cherry tomatoes
12 2-layer sections of red onion wedges

Whisk oil, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, Sherry wine vinegar, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper in medium bowl to blend for glaze. Transfer half of glaze to small bowl and reserve for serving.

Alternately thread shrimp, sausage, cherry tomatoes, and sections of onion onto long metal skewers. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet.

Coat grill rack with nonstick spray and heat grill to medium-high. Brush skewers on both sides with glaze from one bowl. Grill until shrimp are opaque in center, turning and brushing occasionally with more glaze, 6 to 8 minutes.

Arrange skewers on platter and serve with extra glaze.

My Notes:
This made for about the easiest dinner ever because it requires absolutely no marinading. The final product had plenty of flavor, too. We served it with crusted bread heated on the grill and a fresh salad.

A fabulous summer supper.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 47: Greek Panzanella

My life was not complete until I made this salad. I found the recipe through Barefoot Bloggers, and it it turned out to be the perfect summer meal. I did decide to serve it with some chicken breasts marinaded in Penzey's Greek seasoning.

Taken from Ina Garten
Prep time: 10 minutes
Marinading time: 30 minutes
Makes 6 servings

For the salad:
Olive Oil
1 small loaf of French bread, cut into 1" cubes (about 6 C)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4" thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 lb feta cheese, cut in 1/2" cubes
1/2 C calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 C olive oil

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently for 5 to 10 minutes until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.

Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives, and bread cubes and mix together lightly.

Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Serve at room temperature.

My Notes:
No notes needed. Absolutely delicious.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Week 46: Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

I tried a red velvet cheesecake cupcake at Just Baked! in Ann Arbor.  It was delicious and needed to be re-created in my own kitchen.

Taken from My Baking Adventures

Makes 8 cupcakes

8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2  Tbsp lightly beaten egg (break egg, mix with fork, measure)
1/4 tsp vanilla

1 C + plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour (5 oz)
2 tsp unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C vegetable oil
2/3 C granulated sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp red food coloring
3/4 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 8 muffin cups with paper liners.

Prepare filling first. Beat together softened cream cheese and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and stir until smooth. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a second mixing bowl, stir together oil, sugar, vinegar, egg, red food coloring, vanilla, and sour cream. Mix very well, then add flour mixture and stir just until blended.

Measure out approximately 1/3 C red mixture and set aside.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full. Spoon cream cheese mixture over red mixture, dividing evently between all cups. Drop small spoonfuls of reserved red batter on top of cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 20-23 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Carefully lift muffins from cups.

Best serve slightly chilled.

My Notes:
The proportions in my recipe above are actually a doubling of the cream cheese mixture in the original recipe. This was great because it added to the cheesecake-y flavor of the finished product. It did make really giant cupcakes, though. Cupcakes with hugely deformed tops. Tops that had to be chopped off to make the dessert look more like a cupcake and less like a mushroom. Tops that looked totally ugly after being chopped off. Ugly tops that were covered with cream cheese frosting from a can (gasp!) that was piped on top.

Next time, I would only fill the cupcake liner about 1/4 of the way full of the red velvet mixture, making 10 cupcakes instead of eight. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week 46: Green Risotto

How about one more recipe cooked with/for others to finish the week?

You know how much I love my risotto. I made this for Em and Justin - without a recipe. That's right. I've officially made risotto enough times to not need someone else's recipe. I just went to the grocery store and the farmers' market to collect things that looked yummy and whipped this up.

Makes 6 servings
Prep and Cook time: about 45 minutes

6 C vegetable broth
1 lb asparagus, chopped after removing rough ends
4 Tbsp butter
3 zucchinis, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 red onion, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C arborio rice
2 C white wine
1 1/2 C frozen green peas, thawed
1 C chopped smoked mozzarella

Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Add chopped asparagus. Cook asparagus in broth for several minutes or until cooked to desired tenderness.  Remove asparagus from broth and set aside. Allow broth to continue simmering.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add zucchini. Cook 5 - 7 minutes or until cooked to desired tenderness. Removed zucchini from pan and set aside.

Melt 2 remaining tablespoons of butter in the same pan. Add onion. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes. Add mushrooms, and continue cooking until mushrooms are tender. Add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Add rice. Cook for about two minutes or until slightly translucent, stirring often. Add wine. Cook, stirring often until wine has evaporated or been absorbed.

Add one ladle of broth. Continue cooking over medium-low to medium heat until broth has been absorbed. Stir often. Continue adding broth, one ladle at a time, until rice reaches creamy, smooth consistency. Rice should be soft with a slight crunch to it. The process of adding the broth should take about 25 - 30 minutes. Adjust heat accordingly.

When rice has reached desired consistency, stir in zucchini, asparagus, and thawed peas. Add smoked mozzarella to individual portions.

My notes:
It was tough to cook risotto on someone else's stove. I wasn't used to the heat. It took lots of extra liquid, stirring, and cooking time to get the finished product to the right consistency.

The smoked mozzarella was from Zingerman's. They make their own mozzarella. Anything that is left at the end of the day is smoked. Really, really tasty. The totally delicious bread we had with the risotto was also from Zingerman's.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 46: Ratatouille

I love cooking with other people and for other people. So, I made this while I was at Em's.

We used as much farmers' market produce as we could (admittedly, not very much). Combined with a loaf of bread (from a trip to Zingerman's in Ann Arbor) and some great cheese (piave vecchie, also from Zingerman's) this made a delicious summer dinner. The left-overs would have been fabulous over pasta the next night.

taken from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers (p. 50)

Makes 4 servings
20 minutes hands-on prep time
35 to 40 minutes roasting time

See that cool scale!??!! A fun-find at Treasure Mart (also in Ann Arbor).

1 zucchini
2 onions
1 eggplant, peeled
2 tomatoes
2 red, green, or yellow bell peppers
6 garlic cloves
1/3 C olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 C packed fresh basil leaves
Grated cheese (Romano, Pecorino Romano, or Parmesan)

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Cut all the vegetables into 1" chunks and place them in a large bowl. You should have between 12 and 14 cups. Coarsely chop the garlic. Toss the vegetables and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread on a baking sheet (or two).

 Roast for 15 minutes and stir. Continue to roast for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables are fork-tender and uicy.

While the vegetables roast, chop the basil. When the vegetables are done, put them in a serving bowl and stir in the chopped basil. Pass the grated cheese at the table.

Ratatouille 3

My Notes:
Delicious - wouldn't change a thing.

Note - we served this with some simple roasted potatoes. It was based on a recipe from the Kitchn.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Week 45: Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Chicken and Artichokes

I made this in the comfort of a fabulous friend's kitchen to celebrate her 31st birthday. The evening couldn't have been more perfect.

And, that was more than a month ago, and I haven't made it since because I'm the only mushroom lover in my house. It might just be time to cook dinner for someone else.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6

1 lb chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 sml onion, finely chopped
1 lb mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and chopped into small bits
1 tsp kosher salt, plus 1 tablespoon for pasta water
1 C dry Marsala wine
1 lb shaped pasta
1 can medium artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and chopped
3/4 C grated Parmesan
1/2 C cream
1/2 C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 8 minutes per side or until juices run clear. Set aside, slicing into bite-sized pieces when cool.

Meanwhile, place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for one minute. Add the mushrooms and one teaspoon of the salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until all the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have cooked down, about 10 minutes (though this took me much less time). Add the Marsala and continue cooking until almost all the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in remaining salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain pasta and add it into the mushrooms, Marsala and onions Add the artichoke hearts, Parmesan, chicken, and cream and cook until the artichokes are heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and pepper, then adjust seasonings to taste.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

And, in case you were wondering what we enjoyed with this. . . steamed baby zucchini (totally adorable!). . .

 . . . and Tiramisu (artfully arranged by Carmella's in Stephanie's martini glasses).

My Notes:
At one point, I was concerned that the sauce to noodles ratio was going to be off. It wasn't. The proportions above yielded a perfect bowl of pasta. I would be able to add this to my permanant rotation, if I could just get Brad to love mushrooms.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Week 45: Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a dinnertime favorite around here. I love these beef enchiladas. I've tried to find a cheese enchilada recipe to love, but I haven't yet.

We do chicken enchiladas in a "cheater" sort of way with canned sauce, black olives, and onions. Super simple. They're delicious enough, but I don't like having to rely on someone else's sauce. That led me to this recipe. . .

Taken from Annie's Eats
Prep: 1 hour
Cook and Cool: 40 minutes
Makes 12 Enchiladas (dinner for 2 hungry adults + 1 lunch)

1 med. onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 tsp canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 C water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C green olives, sliced
1 C shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
1 C shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray

Combine the onion, jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds.  Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato.  Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Nestle the chicken and green olives into the sauce.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible.  Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside.  Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the onion mixture.  Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, and the cilantro.  Stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable.  Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla.  Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down.  Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray.  Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F.  Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned.  Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

My Notes:
We made this on a Tuesday night and didn't start until 6:00. We didn't eat until after 7:00. That was a little late and a little labor intensive for a weeknight meal.

This made enough for a next-day lunch, but it didn't taste real great the next day. I didn't like the way the corn tortillas reheated.

I would make it again, though.