BBB* (Best Banana Bread…ever!)

muffins

Some recipes just make me proud.

 These are the ones that have evolved and been perfected over many, many years of making and baking..

Enter one of the best examples:

BBB*–  Best Banana Bread ever.

For starters, I’ll say I mostly make muffins out of this batter. They freeze beautifully and my husband likes to microwave one or two in the morning for breakfast. Over time, what’s changed most about this recipe is how healthy it’s become. I’ve made additions and substitutions and the finished product below is pretty darn moist and delicious with not a lot of ‘bad for you’ ingredients.

In a bowl beat:

3 eggs

Add:

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon of each: Vanilla, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon

Put two snack-sized (individual cups) of applesauce into a one cup measure, top it off with extra virgin olive oil..add to bowl and mix with:

4 mushed bananas.

Add one cup wheat germ and 2 1/3 cups white flour.

Add shaved dark chocolate or chocolate chips to taste. This is where the sweetness will come from.  Original recipe called for 1-2 cups of sugar! 😧 (Waay too much!!)

I also like to add chopped walnuts.

Scoop into muffin cups and bake at 350 until golden brown.

EASY, IMPRESSIVE PRESENTATION & DELICIOUS!

soup

So as I pulled a full head of rubbery celery out of my fridge the other day, it struck me that I hadn’t made cream of celery soup in ages. Found a recipe on epicurious.com and we were in business. The flavors were SO delicious, the recipe so easy, that I decided to serve this as a starter on Christmas eve this year instead of salad. While I will be adding the 1/2 cup cream for Christmas, this soup was still delicious, smooth, and healthier of course, without it OR the butter.

 

CREAM OF CELERY SOUP

  • 1 chopped head of celery (save the leaves)
  • 1 chopped large potato
  • 1 chopped onion (med)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (I use a shot of oil instead)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cups chicken broth (I used a full box of broth)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I think half and half would be fine-if you want it at all)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill (I didn’t use this)

PREPARATION

Combine celery, potato, onion and 1/2 stick butter in pot, cook until onion is tender on medium for about 8-10 minutes. (add salt & pepper to taste)

Add the broth

Simmer until potatoes are tender, another 8-10 minutes or until mushy.

Puree in blender, (I let soup cool down a bit first) return to pot to keep warm, add cream.

At this point, the recipe calls for 1/4 cup fresh dill..I added a few shakes of rosemary, thyme and a touch of jalapeño powder for a subtle kick. Celery is so mild, you can add whatever you want.

The fun really starts with garnish..you can just decorate with the celery leaves you saved..or some bacon bits, a few croutons..I saw a very festive topper of chopped parsley with three little chopped pieces of pimiento..very Christmassy looking! The texture of the soup is thick enough to support whatever goodies you place on it.

UPDATE- I have substituted a head of cauliflower, a 2 pound box of cut butternut squash and zucchini for the celery- all were delicious, spices were changed up to match the veggies! We also tried carrots and found that to be too intense..will find another veggie to mix with that.

 

Enjoy!

 

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photocredit:VegRep

New York Times’ most requested recipe!

Easy and delicious…

cake2

 

When it comes to cooking and baking, easy & delicious are two words that bring music to my ears. So when the NYT posted this, their most requested, recipe online last week I had to give it a try. I was NOT disappointed! This torte looks and tastes like something you’d see in a European bakery, but trust me when I tell you, it is as easy as…well…pie. 😉

ORIGINAL PLUM TORTE

cake5

(yes, you can use different fruit- I used what were most likely the last peaches of the summer from South Carolina.)

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 pitted purple plums, cut in half. (Or 6 small peaches cut into wedges with skin on or 3 large baking apples with 1/2 cup raw cranberries to sprinkle on top.)
  • Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon if you like.

HEAT OVEN TO 350 degrees.

Cream sugar and butter.  Add flour, baking powder, salt & eggs- beat well.

Spoon batter into springform pan. (I sprayed mine LIGHTLY with pam.)

In same bowl, toss fruit with some sugar and a squeeze of lemon.If the fruit is super juicy, add a bit of flour to coat the fruit as well. (Add a bit of cinnamon if using apples.)

Place fruit ON TOP of batter.- Bake for approx. one hour.

This cake was OUT OF THIS WORLD! Best served still warm for breakfast with coffee or after dinner with a small scoop of whipped cream. I am not at all convinced it would taste as good with apples, but I’ll give it a try at some point and report back to you!

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I found it!

There is a little restaurant in South Carolina that serves the world’s most delicious, hot roast beef sandwich.  For years I have tried to unlock the secret to the spicy mayonnaise they slather on the bun. But every spice I added to my own mayo mix at home seemed to take the flavor in the wrong direction, until this past  Sunday when I literally bumped into what must be the exact recipe they use… courtesy of REAL SIMPLE MAGAZINE.

Spread this spicy mayo on top of burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, BLTs or a wedge salad. It will enhance fish, crab cakes or drop a dollop on top of those already delicious corn cakes I gave you the recipe for earlier this summer. The secret ingredient is the Asian chili garlic sauce which I was easily able to find at my grocery store.

sauce

Trust me when I tell you this will become your GO-TO mayo to elevate the flavors of EVERYTHING you use it on. The recipe is simple and strange sounding but give this a try..you will LOVE it!

SPICY MAYO

STIR TOGETHER:

1/4 cup Asian chili garlic sauce (Huy Fong Foods, Inc.)

1/4 cup dill pickle relish

1 cup mayonnaise

 

No kidding, that’s it! (No wonder it was featured in REAL SIMPLE – HA!)

 

photocredit:www.dishmaps.com

 

 

Fresh Summer Corn Cakes – What a treat!

 

Ripped this recipe out of my August OPRAH magazine while at the beach last week-end. I LOVE summer corn, and the ingredients had me intrigued. These corn cakes are just as delicious as I thought they’d be. Serve with a dollop of salsa or sour cream on top.. add additional finely chopped veggies or spices as you prefer..just make sure they stay moist enough to shape into cakes and fry -Delicious, impressive looking and easy to make ahead and keep warm for a buffet.

 

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour (I used a bit less)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp paprika (I used some Chipotle powder)
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 cups corn kernels. (I put 5 ears in a pot of water and boiled them for about 6 mins. let them cool, removed kernels.)
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 3 chopped scallions. (I used chopped  green onion)
  • 2 large, beaten eggs
  • About 3 TBSP olive oil- for frying
  • I added finely chopped red pepper, garlic and jalapeño powder.

 

Mix all the ingredients together well with a spatula, adding the egg mixture last and making sure everything is well combined. Texture should be sticky enough to mold into small patties.

Before I placed the cakes on a plate to refrigerate, I dredged each one in a bit of flour, tapping off all the excess. I felt like this created a better seal that would help them keep their shape. I think it also prevented the cheese from melting out when I fried them.

Remove the cakes from fridge about an hour before you cook them so they can come back to room temperature. Fry them gently on Med-low in oil, turning them once when browned.

These cakes are super flavorful if you add enough spice and a bit on the drier side so some kind of topping like salsa is perfect for them!

 

Recipe by Nikki Dinki, author of an intriguing new cookbook entitled: “Meat on the Side”

Dinner-so tasty and so easy!

pork

I adore one pan wonders!

It’s not that I’m lazy..well, OK..maybe some days – but I am always on the look-out for easy, healthy recipes that are a breeze to clean up. This one definitely fits the bill!

Pork Tenderloin with roasted sweet potatoes and cabbage

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour  a good amount of olive oil in a large pan with sides. Sprinkle the following seasonings on top:

Salt, pepper, garlic a hefty teaspoon of mustard and any other spices you might enjoy. I used “Savannah Sizzle” with chipotle powder and other spicy ingredients. (Available at http://www.SaltTable.com  These flavored salts are my new obsession.)

Roll a pork tenderloin in the seasonings for a good coating and remove.

Add a few sweet potatoes cut into fat wedges and chunked up cabbage. Toss them in all the spices as well. Make sure they are nicely coated- add more oil or spices if you need to.

Place the tenderloin on top of the veggies.

Roast in oven about 25 minutes until meat thermometer registers 145.

SMELLS AMAZING AS IT’S COOKING!

Let the pork rest for 5 minutes- serve and enjoy!

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Photo & recipe credit:Realsimple.com

 

Chicken change-up

skillet chicken

This deliciously different Cooking Light recipe is a great option when you have to prepare chicken – AGAIN – but really want something that tastes unique. You only use one pan, so clean up is easy.. Just follow the simple steps:

Collect ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • carrots (I cut lengthwise, about 4 strips per carrot)
  • small red potatoes cut in half
  • Thyme, Rosemary and Ground jalapeño powder
  • 1 lemon sliced into thin pieces (seeds removed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim, just a bit less)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • parsley

 

 

STEP 1– Preheat oven to 425

STEP 2-Heat large, ovenproof skillet on stove top. Add oil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper-add to pan.     Fry 5 minutes on one side, flip and cook 2 minutes on other.

STEP 3– Remove chicken and put on plate, cover with foil. Place carrots and potatoes in pan, sprinkle with thyme and rosemary. Put in oven- bake for 10 minutes.

STEP 4– Remove pan from the oven, Place chicken in pan on top of carrots and potatoes  with lemon slices on top of meat-bake for 12 minutes.

STEP 5-Remove pan from oven, place veggies and chicken on plate and cover with foil. In a bowl, mix together the milk, stock, flour, lemon rind and jalapeño powder to taste. Slowly add to pan and whisk until thick, scraping pan to loosen all the yummy bits. Add parsley, chicken and veggies- cook for a minute or until heated through.

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photocredit: Cooking light magazine