20 May 2011

banana chocolate chip muffins

I was about the whip up a batch of these muffins yesterday when I realized I've never posted about them and I haven't posted in ages!  Yes, I am still baking, just usually not anything new.  That and my husband and I recently moved across the country which put a lot of things on hold for a while.
But, I have a post today and even though I absolutely despise bananas, I LOVE banana chocolate chip muffins.  I know, it really doesn't make any sense, but it is true.
So, if you have yourself some bananas that you are just going to throw out, hold your horses and make up some of these muffins...they're divine.

What you'll need---
1/2 cup of oats
about 1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup margarine or butter (whatever you have on hand)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sour milk or buttermilk if you have it
3 bananas that have seen better days
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
about 1 cup chocolate chips

What you'll do---
Step 1: Pour the 1/2 cup of water over the oats and let them sit.  You need enough water to cover the oats so they can soak it up but not enough that the oats are swimming.  I usually use warm water.

Step 2: Cream the butter and sugar.

Step 3: To the creamed mixture, add 2 beaten eggs and 1/4 cup sour milk and mix well.  If you have buttermilk just use that.  If not, you can sour your milk by added about a tbsp or so of vinegar to regular milk.

Step 3: Take your bananas and mash them up (**Note: I only had 2 bananas and the recipe still works fine without any changes.  The muffins just end up not as banana-y).

Doesn't that look tasty?

Step 4:  Add the mashed bananas and the oats to the rest of the mixed ingredients and mix well until you get a nice soupy-looking mess...yummm!

Step 5: To the soup, add the flour, baking soda and salt and once again, mix well.

Step 6: Now stir in the chocolate chips.  I like to do this by hand so my mixer doesn't pulverize them.  Also, if you coat the chocolate chips in some flour they won't sink to the bottom of your muffins.  I had this happen last time so I made sure to coat them so they stay suspended in the batter.  Thanks to Paula Deen to that tip!

Step 7: Fill up your muffin tin.  I like to use paper liners so clean up is easier.  And, if you spray the liners with a little cooking spray, the muffins won't stick to them when you gobble them all up...just a tip.  Oh and a good idea to preheat your oven to 300 now too!

Step 8: Bake the muffins at 300 for 25-30 minutes or until they are set and just browning around the edges.  These are moist muffins so they won't really brown.  Just keep an eye out for when the muffins look firm.  It should take about 25 minutes.

Step 9: Enjoy!!!

Yummm...stacks of muffins!!! :)

I love these muffins and they are so easy to make.  That and if your bananas go bad you don't have to throw them out...you can use them up!  I let my husband take some to work with him this morning so I wouldn't eat them all.  After doing this post I'm kind of regretting it...... ;)

23 February 2011

chocolate souffles

I did it!  I finally made souffles!  I have always considered souffles one of the ultimate things to bake.  You know, everyone says how difficult they are because they are finicky and hard to bake.  Well, for the first year and a half of my baking experimentation, this reputation succeeded it scaring me off.
But, for Valentine's Day I wanted to make something new, delicious and even a little romantic.  So, I decided I was going to do it...I was making souffles.  Let me tell you folks, these souffles are pretty easy!  You can totally make these and probably even bake them right.  The trick is, to remember that they are supposed to be mousse-like and not cake-like.  Keeping that in mind, you'll do great!  Don't be scared off by the souffles!  Seriously, you are missing out if you're afraid to make them.  So give these a try.  The ingredients are simple and so is the recipe.  And no, of course you don't need a special occasion to make them....

What you'll need---
12 ounces of your favorite milk chocolate (I just got a 12-ish ounce hunk from our bulk section in the grocery store)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (ya, never said these were healthy...just AMAZING!!!)
2 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
6 egg whites, at room temp (if you have the time...mine weren't)
2 tbsp sugar

What you'll do---
Step 1: Butter your ramekins and then sprinkle them with sugar, tilting to coat completely and tapping out the extra (like you would flour in a cake pan).

I used 4 larger ramekins, probably about 1 1/2-cup ramekins and I had just enough batter.  The recipe I used calls for eight 3/4-cup ramekins.  Just use whatever you have though

Step 2: Combine the cream and sugar in a bowl that you can place over a double boiler.  

I just used my usual pot and put a smaller pot of simmering water underneath it.

Step 3: Melt the chocolate and cream over simmering water until it is nice and smooth.  Remove from heat and let it cool for just a couple of minutes.

Step 4: Stir the egg yolks and salt into the chocolate mixture.
Step 5: In another bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the 2 tbsp of sugar and continue beating until semi-firm peaks form (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this)
Step 6: Using a rubber spatula, add 1/4 of the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture to lighten.  Then fold in the remaining egg whites in two additions.

If it's looking a little lumpy, don't worry like I did!  Just keep gently folding and everything will turn out great!

Step 7: Divide the mixture into your ramekins and set on a baking sheet to bake.

Step 8: Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (for me, the magic time was 19 minutes).  The souffles are done when the puffed tops feel firm but not hard or stiff.  They should slightly bounce when you touch them (don't touch too hard or you'll deflate them!!!)

Mine rose but not as much as they could if you wrapped parchment paper around the ramekins with kitchen twine.  If you do that, they will rise a lot more.  I'm poor though I couldn't afford it.

Step 9: While the souffles are baking make some homemade whip cream to top them with (just add s few tablespoons of sugar to some whipping cream and beat away)
Step 10: Serve warm with the whip cream and ENJOY!!!!

These really are easy and incredible.  Try them out today and you'll be so glad you did.  Souffles really aren't as difficult as their reputation makes them out to be.  Just remember to serve them nice and warm or else they will start deflating...that's just what eggs do!  I hope you enjoy this one, because my husband and I sure did!

***Just a note---you can prepare the souffles in advance and put them in the refrigerator.  We only cooked two on Valentine's Day and then saved the rest and they still baked up great after leaving them in the fridge for a few days.  

07 February 2011

pasta e fagioli

So, I know, I usually only do posts about baking.  However, as a "new year's resolution" a decided to start baking less sweets and more whole-wheat bread (I have discovered the joys of whole wheat bread flour...it is so much better than just plain ol' wheat flour!).  And while I am in the process of trying to find a great bread recipe and trying out lots of new ones I have yet to find one post worthy...it's a work in progress folks.

So to keep up with the blogging and to put off doing homework I have decided to start doing some posts about my cooking adventures.  Now, you have to know, I rarely follow recipes.  Rather I look at a recipe to be inspired.  So I'll share these inspiring recipes with you and perhaps let you know how I alter them...that is if I can remember.

Last night, since my husband is sick I decided to make soup and I happened to have the ingredients for pasta e fagioli.  This is one of my favorite soups and it is really easy to make and it is pretty healthy.  I mean, it has a whole bunch of beans in it...fiber hear we come!

So here is the link to the recipe I made (figured this would be easier than typing it up)---
Pasta e Fagioli
As for the changes...I did two stalks of celery and two carrots.  I did a can of tomatoes plus a small can of tomato sauce so it would be more tomato-y.  I also ended up using four cups of stock and even added an extra cup of water so the pasta have some moisture to soak up.  The biggest change was that I added a can of kidney beans as well as the white northern beans.  I love beans and they are such a wonderful source of fiber so I try to incorporate them into lots of things.

All in all, this soup is really flavorful and very easy to make.  Pair it with a nice salad and some whole wheat rolls and you've got yourself and delicious and healthy meal!  Enjoy!!

26 January 2011

cinnabon inspired cinnamon rolls

These cinnamon rolls are divine.  To quote my husband he said he had, "died and gone to heaven," when he took his first bite.
I woke up Saturday morning wanting to make cinnamon rolls, so I did.  I decided to try a new recipe because the one I have made in the past makes a lot of dough and I just didn't want to do that.  So, I found this recipe and gave it a try.  Let me tell you folks, I'll never make any other cinnamon roll recipe.  Yup, it's that good.  So here it is...give it a try and wow everyone you know.

What you'll need---
For the dough:
1 scant tbsp (1 packet) of yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 cups flour

For the filling:
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup softened butter

For the frosting:
8 tbsp butter
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

What you'll do---
***I didn't take any pictures of the dough making process because I didn't think to do a post until the dough was rising.  The dough is easy to make though, so don't worry about it!
Step 1: Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk (let it dissolve for a while, longer than you would in water)
Step 2: Add sugar, butter, eggs, flour, salt and mix until all combined.
Step 3: Knead (the longer you knead it, the better but if you're doing this by hand, don't over work yourself)
Step 4: Cover lightly in oil and rise for an hour or until it about doubles in size (mine didn't double on the first rise so I ended up rising it again later)
Step 5: While the dough is rising, make the filling by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon (I didn't make as much as the recipe calls for because I knew I wouldn't need that much and I didn't want a bunch of leftovers that I would have nothing to do with).

Step 6: Once the dough has risen, roll it out until it is about 1/4-inch thick.  Try to make it as square as possible.  It helps to shape the dough into a square before rolling.

Step 7: Pour the softened/melted butter over the dough and spread it out.  Then sprinkle on the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture as evenly as possible.

Step 8: Starting at one end, roll the dough up like a big ol' swiss roll...this is always my favorite part...ha ha.

Step 9: Cut into cinnamon rolls and place in a buttered baking dish.  Depending on the size you cut your rolls depends on the size of a dish you'll need.  I did more smaller rolls and needed a 9x13, but you could easily do less bigger rolls and put them in a 9x9 or 8x8. 

Step 10:  At this point I rose the rolls again for about 30 minutes so they could double.  This isn't necessarily needed but I would recommend it.
Step 11: Bake at 400 for 15-25 minutes, until the start to brown.

Step 13: While baking, make the frosting by creaming the butter and cream cheese and then adding the rest of the ingredients.
    ***Just a note, I put less butter in the frosting so it would be a little tangy-ier. 
Step 14: When the rolls are done, serve them up with the frosting and ENJOY!!!!

And that's it...easy peasy and incredibly delicious.  So if you have a craving for some cinnamon rolls, don't go buy them!  Just make these and they will change your world!  Ha ha ha, enjoy, folks!

19 January 2011

one of my husband's favorites

This is one of my husband's favorite recipes and we make it quite often because of that.  This recipe originally comes from my best friend, but as I have made it more, I have modified it a little.  All in all, it's easy and it is delicious.  Give it a try!

Apple Crisp

What you'll need---
6-8 Granny Smith apples (we typically use 6 medium sized apples, but it really all depends on the size and your apple to crisp ratio preference)
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2-1 cup flour (I don't like too much flour in my crisp)
1-3 cups oats (I typically do around 2 cups because I love a really oaty crisp and you get all that fiber!)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
2/3-1 cup softened butter (if you are using margarine, only use 2/3 cup and no more)
vanilla frozen yogurt (optional, and you can always use ice cream, I just prefer frozen yogurt)

What you'll do---
Step 1: preheat oven to 350
Step 2: peel and thinly slice the apples and place in a greased 9x13 pan (I like to toss my apples with a little cinnamon/sugar mixture just to give them added flavor.  It really improves the taste, at least to me)
Step 3: combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.
Step 4: add the softened butter and mix until everything is well coated and moist and the mixture is wet but still chunky/crumbly (I add more butter because I like big moist chunks rather than a drying crumblier crisp).
Step 5: Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown and the apple juices are bubbly.
Step 6: Serve with frozen yogurt and enjoy!

This is really a super easy recipe you can mix up and adjust to fit your preference.  I hope you enjoy it and thanks go out to my best friend for giving me this recipe back when we were roommates...hope you don't mind that I posted it!

11 January 2011

favorite quick treats

Sometimes I want a yummy treat, but it's either too late to bake or I'm too lazy.  When this happens, I typically fall back on three of my favorite quick treat standbys.  Depending on which ingredients I have really chooses which one I make.  That is unless I have a craving and I send my husband out to buy the goods to make what I want.  So if you have a sweet tooth and not a lot of time to make something sweet, try one of these.

Recipe 1
Butterscotch Crunchies

What you'll need---

2 packages (6 oz each) butterscotch chips
½ cup peanut butter
6-7 cups cornflakes

What you'll do---

Step 1: Melt butterscotch ships and peanut butter together over medium heat.  
Step 2: Measure cornflakes into a large mixing bowl and stir in the peanut butter/butterscotch mixture.
Step 3: Drop from teaspoon onto waxed paper.  
Step 4: Allow to set (can put in fridge to set quicker, just put the wax paper on cookie sheets).

Recipe 2
No Bake Cookies

What you'll need---
1 stick butter/margarine
2 cups sugar
2-3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
heaping 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2-4 cups oats

What you'll do---
Step 1: Melt the butter then add the sugar, cocoa and milk. 
Step 2: Cook/stir butter, sugar, cocoa and milk until boils.
Step 3: Boil for 2 minutes
Step 4: Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla and oats.
Step 5: Drop onto wax paper with spoon and allow to set.

Recipe 3
Puppy Chow

What you'll need---
7-9 cups rice Chex
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter/margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

What you'll do---
Step 1: Measure the cereal into a large bowl and set aside (I like less cereal so I start with less and add more if needed later).
Step 2: Melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter until smooth.
Step 3: Remove from heat and stir in vanilla
Step 4: Pour mixture over cereal and mix until evenly coated.
Step 5: Add powdered sugar and mix until coated (you can also pour it all into a large bag and shake to mix).

06 December 2010

some amazing bread

My husband was in Mexico last week and got home yesterday.  So, to welcome him home, I decided to try out a new bread recipe to go with our favorite Corn Chowder.  I found this recipe months ago and just never got around to making it because, well, it requires more work than usual.  For this recipe you have to make a "sponge" the day before and let it sit over night before finishing the recipe.  But, trust me, it's totally worth your time.  This bread is awesome and I can't wait to eat leftovers tonight!
So since it's a rather long and involved recipe I'm just going to give you the link to it---
Rustic Italian Bread
And I'll also give you some tips and shortcuts.
For starters, I added a little sugar to the biga and the dough.  Sugar helps the dough rise more by giving the yeast something to eat so I like to add sugar to bread recipes when it's not included.
Second, if you don't want to wait hours for the rising to be done, just preheat your oven to the lowest temperature, turn it off when it reaches that temp.  Put your dough in a bowl and cover it with a damp cloth and then put it all in the warm oven.  Seriously, this will cut your rising time in half.  By doing this you are basically making a proofing box to rise your dough in.
If you like making delicious bread, this recipe is for you.  It may look hard and confusing, but really, it isn't.  Enjoy!