Friday, December 30, 2011

Baking in the empty nest

Abigail left for the east coast and a quick New Years in Europe this week and the house is very quiet. I started cleaning up and taking down decorations today and the house just seems quieter and more empty. So I decided to bake! The wonderful and talented Abbey from Everyday Champagne posted a recipe for banana bread with peanut butter chips. I meant to make it while Abigail was here but there was just too many Christmas goodies around. Here's the link to Abbey's blog Please check out her blog she is very creative and has fabulous ideas and tips. I love the way she added unsweetened applesauce here and cut back on sugar to make a healthier bread. I added the oatmeal for the flavor and the chewy texture and it goes well with the bananas and peanut butter.

Abbey's Peanut Butter Banana Bread my way

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cupped rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 4 mini loafs pans with vegetable spray or 1 large loaf pan.

Mix your flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.

In a standing mixer, cream your butter and applesauce until smooth. Add in your eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add in bananas and brown sugar and mix well. Add in your dry ingredients and mix until just combined, but be careful to not overmix.

Remove mixer bowl from stand and fold in your peanut butter chips and oatmeal.

Pour into your prepared pans. Bake for ~30 minutes, or until the edges are a golden brown, the top of the loaf is firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean.

Cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

I love peanut butter and bananas and the combination sounded perfect in a quick bread. I made the small loaves to give a couple away and Mike and I tried one while it was still alittle warm-heaven! Thank you Abbey. I think I'll need to make more and send to Abigail once she starts her new college in January, the University of Vermont. I just wish I could figure out a way that it could arrive hot! She'll need the warmth. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Gingerbread Pancakes

My daughter, Abigail, was home for Christmas and requested these pancakes for Christmas morning. I believe that this recipe comes from Jigger's Diner in RI via Gourmet magazine long ago.

These pancakes are wonderful on a cold morning with maple syrup, applesauce or just alittle butter.

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 cup hot brewed coffee
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour (or 1 cup of 1 type of flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large bowl stir together coffee and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. When the coffee has cooled to room temperature whisk in the egg and butter. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until blended. Batter will be thin. Let it stand for 10 minutes. It will thicken up alittle.

Heat a griddle over medium high heat. Spray with vegetable spray. Ladle batter on griddle. Cook pancakes until bubbles appear on surface and the undersides turn brown. Flip pancakes and cook about 1 more minute.

Makes about 16 5" pancakes.

Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Peppermint Bark means Christmas

There is something so Christmas-y about peppermint and chocolate just ups the ante. I look forward to my annual peppermint mocha and Ghirardelli dark chocolate peppermint bark squares every year. This year I made some peppermint bark to give as gifts and it looked and tasted delicious. The red and white crushed peppermint with white and dark chocolate just looks festive to me.

I found this recipe in the Chefs catalog and here's the link

Christmas Peppermint Bark

12 ounces high quality semi sweet chocolate chips like Guittard
1 pound white chocolate chips (with cocoa butter) like Guittard
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup peppermint candy canes, crushed

Place candy canes or peppermint candies in mini-food processor and pulse until in small pieces. Set aside.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil, letting it hang over the sides. Grease foil with nonstick spray. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler* over medium-low heat. Pour evenly into jelly roll pan and smooth into approximately 10 x 15 rectangle. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup peppermint candy. Place in refrigerator until cold and firm, about 15-20 minutes.

Heat white chocolate chips in a double boiler over medium-low heat until chocolate is almost melted. Remove double boiler* insert from pan and stir until completely melted. Stir in extract. Cool slightly. Pour this over chocolate layer, and, working quickly, spread to cover. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup crushed candy.

Chill until both layers are firm. Lift foil out of pan and shake off excess candy. Peel foil from bottom of peppermint bark. Trim edges. Break into pieces or cut into squares.

Makes approximately 2 pounds

*I don't have a double boiler so I use a large pot filled about 1/3 with water. I place a metal bowl that does not slip all the way into the pan on top. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Let the water simmer and place chips in metal bowl over water. Stir until they are melted. The bowl gets hot so remember to use a oven mitt or towel when touching the bowl.

I took the first batch to work and it disappeared in no time. I sent some to my folks in NC and to Mike's family in TN. This was fun and easy and if you're like me the taste of Christmas. I apologize for not taking pictures. I am trying to improve on that-my New Year's resolution maybe? Enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spur of the moment turkey soup/chili

Mike and I got our tree on Sunday and as I knew we would hunker down to put it up and decorate it, I ran to the store to make sure we were set. I bought some things for the week and decided to pick up some things to make soup. I ended up with a soup chile combo that really hit the spot.

Turkey Soup/Chili

~1 pound ground turkey
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons oregano
1-2 teaspoons red chili flakes (to taste)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
~2 cups chicken stock
~2 cups white wine
14 ounces chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon concentrated tomato paste
14 ounces Italian cannellini beans
1/2 can creamed corn

Heat oil over medium high heat, add onions and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic and stir into onions and cook a couple of minutes. Add carrots and celery and cook until softened. Put in thyme, oregano and chile flakes and stir until fragrant.

Cook turkey until no longer pink. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and simmer for about 1 hour. Taste and season with salt, pepper and more chili flakes. This is even better made a day ahead.

We had a green leaf salad, with toasted walnuts and shaved Pecorino and freshly baked bread with a bottle of 2010 Vino Robles Viognier. This was a warm and cozy meal and perfect for a cold evening at home. Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pomegranate Molasses

I read this recipe by Eric Gower in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday November 27th. I had a bottle of pomegranate molasses in my refrigerator and thought it would be fun to give this a try. Here's the link
I bought prawns from Gulf of Mexico as suggested by the article. We had this as a main course with a simple salad.

Pomegranate Molasses Prawns my way

12 large prawns, peeled and deveined, with tails left on
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon white rice, finely ground in a spice grinder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt

Rinse and dry the prawns, and place in a bowl; add the 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, and mix gently.

Combine the ground rice, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne in a small  bowl. Set the prawns on a flat surface, and sprinkle with half of the ground rice-spice mixture. Turn prawns over, and repeat.
Heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat; add the  prawns and brown, about 2 minutes. Turn over and brown the other side, about 1 minute or so, depending on the size of the prawns.
Liberally sprinkle with salt and serve hot, with pomegranate molasses for dipping, if desired.

This was quick and easy and very delicious. Mike and I really enjoyed it. I want to discover some more recipes to use my pomegranate molasses with. Enjoy!