Archive for April, 2010

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Banana Split Cake

April 29, 2010

I end up with lots of leftover bananas from making smoothies, but there’s only so many times in a row that I want to make banana bread!  This is a moist banana cake with coconut and maraschino cherries.  Adding in some pecans brings it even closer to a banana split!  Try it warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and some chocolate syrup.

You will need…

  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 c butter, melted
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c coconut flakes
  • 1/4 maraschino cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 c pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 t nutmeg
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c all-purpose flour

Then you…

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites with the bananas, butter and sugar.
  3. Stir in the coconut, cherries and pecans.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients.
  5. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish.
  6. Pour in the batter.
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool on a wire rack 10-15 minutes.
  9. Invert to serve!
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Feta-Baked Hummus

April 27, 2010

Tired of traditional cold hummus with veggies?  Try this baked version on for size!  It combines traditional hummus with feta, and it comes out of the oven warm and bubbly.  Fresh spiced pita chips make it a great idea for a party starter!

You will need…

  • 10 oz hummus (homemade or from the store)
  • 1 c feta, crumbled
  • 3/4 t cumin
  • 3 (6-inch) pitas
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 t ground black pepper

Then you…

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Combine the hummus with the feta and cumin.
  3. Using cooking spray, lightly grease a small baking dish. Spread the hummus mixture in the dish.
  4. Bake at 400, while you prepare the pita chips.
  5. Cut each pita into 8 wedges. (If you want thin chips, break each wedge into its two halves!). Spread on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  6. Combine the salt, garlic powder, red pepper and black pepper.
  7. Lightly coat pita with more cooking spray and sprinkle with the seasonings.
  8. If you want more chips, double or triple from the pita through the pepper!
  9. Reduce the oven to 350 and bake the chips alongside the hummus until crisp and golden, about 12-15 minutes.

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Paprisquash Soup

April 25, 2010

Awhile back there was a soup poll!  I didn’t forget that butternut squash soup won, but I was doing some sleuthing for tasty soup ideas.  This soup is full of squash flavor with lots of roasted yellow pepper.  Then there’s smokey paprika to round it out!  If you wanted, you could use sweet Hungarian paprika too – it just will highlight the sweetness of the soup.  I decided to use frozen, pureed butternut squash because it’s easy to find in the supermarket.  If you wanted another variation on this soup, then try it with canned pumpkin puree!  Adding toasty sunflower or pumpkin seeds when you serve adds an unexpected crunch. Yumm!

You will need…

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 1/2- 3 c yellow bell pepper, chopped (about 2 large)
  • 1 1/2 c carrots, chopped (about 2 medium)
  • 1 c yellow onion, chopped (about 1 large)
  • 1 1/2 t Spanish smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 c broth, divided
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper
  • 2 boxes (12 oz) frozen pureed butternut squash (or 2 cans pureed pumpkin)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Sunflower seeds, toasted for on top

Then you…

  1. In a large stockpot, warm olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add yellow bell pepper, carrots, and onion.  Cook 10 minutes or until just starting to turn tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add paprika and garlic, and cook about 2 minutes more.
  3. Stir in 3 cups of the broth and the black pepper.
  4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until the veggies are soft all the way through.
  5. Puree the cooked vegetables with some of the cooking liquid until smooth.  Return to the broth in the stockpot.
  6. Add the two frozen squash and the remaining 2 cups of broth to the pureed soup base.  Bring to a simmer and allow the squash to thaw.
  7. Simmer another 10 minutes or until heated through.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  9. Serve with toasted seeds, and if you’re feeling adventurous, a dollop of Greek yogurt!

Note: Whenever you are blending hot liquid, be sure to give the steam some space to escape.  Putting a clean dishtowel over the top of the blender lid will help you avoid any spills!

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Italian Bread

April 23, 2010

Fresh Baked Loaves

This is a variation on a recipe from a class called “Student Chef” — offered by my Junior Senior HS’s Family and Consumer Sciences Department.  My family really likes this one served with lasagna, but the other night I wanted to make mini loaves that could be used for sandwiches and taken to work.  If you want the small loaves, just divide the dough prior to the second proofing!

You will need…

  • 1/2 pkg (1 1/2 t) yeast
  • 3/4 c warm water
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t basil
  • 1 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour

Then you…

  1. Dissolve in the warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Allow to sit about 5 minutes.
  2. Add oil, salt, sugar and spices to the mixture.
  3. Mix in the flours until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Knead on a lightly floured surface, 5-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Grease a large bowl.  Place kneaded dough in the bowl and turn all around to coat the dough’s surface.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled.  You can leave it in the fridge overnight to do this or on the counter for about an hour.
  6. Punch the dough down.  Roll into a rectangle, roll up and shape in a loaf.
  7. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Slash the tops and brush with melted butter (if desired).Time for the Second Proofing!
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again for about 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 and bake 25-30 minutes, or until the bread is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped.
  10. Allow to cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
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Hammy Hot Pockets

April 21, 2010

So what do you do with leftovers from a 10-lb ham??  How about some ham, cheese, and broccoli hot pockets? These are pretty quick to pull together, plus you could make them bite-sized for parties or larger for a meal.  I cheated and used store-bought crescent roll dough, but feel free to make your own!  Using two cans will give you 16 pockets, and you could estimate about 2-3 per person for a meal along with a salad.

You will need…

  • 2 cans reduced-fat crescent roll dough
  • 1 1/5 c cooked ham, chopped
  • 3/4 c broccoli, chopped
  • 3/4 c cheese, shredded (I used a combination of cheddar and jack)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dijon mustard, to taste
  • Paprika, to taste (optional)

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a cookie sheet (or two) with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  This will make your clean up much easier.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ham with the broccoli and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.Hammy Filling
  3. Remove the crescent dough from its can.  For each triangle, lightly stretch the wider end and then spread a little of the mustard in the middle of the wider part.
  4. Spoon about 2 T of the ham mixture in a small mound on top of the mustard.  Fold and stretch the dough over the top and press the edges to seal.  Stuffing the PocketsYou’ll get a sense of how much filling you can use per pocket as you try it out.  If you want bite-sized, just cut each triangle into smaller pieces and adjust accordingly!
  5. Place the filled pocket with the edge-side down on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.Ready to Bake
  6. Bake about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and cooked through!
  7. Remove and let cool on a cooling rack at least 5 minutes before digging in.
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Crockpot Cacciatore

April 19, 2010

This meal is inspired by the Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.  Chicken cacciatore made enough appearances on our evening table growing up for it to be considered a staple at home.  Putting all the pieces in the crockpot means you can spend all day with your family and friends and not in the kitchen.  We served this up with a batch of egg noodles; just cook them and mix them right into the crockpot a few minutes before serving.

You will need:

  • 1 can (16 oz) crushed tomatoes with juices
  • 1 can (16 oz) diced tomatoes, drained (I used some with garlic etc. already mixed in)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 green peppers, seeded and chopped
  • About 2 lbs of chicken breast (I used pre-cut stir fry style for ease)
  • 1 pkg (6 oz) baby button mushrooms, rinsed and halved
  • 1 pkg (6 ox) baby bella mushrooms, rinsed and halved

Then you…

  1. Pour the crushed tomatoes over the bottom of your crockpot.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers on top of the tomatoes.
  3. Add the chicken on top of the veggies.
  4. Add the mushrooms next, and then top with the can of drained diced tomatoes.
  5. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours, or HIGH for 2 to 3 hours.

Note:  If you want a thicker sauce, remove the chicken at the end.  Mix together 2 T all-purpose flour with 2 T water and 2 T wine.  Pour into the sauce, cover and cook on HIGH 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Recombine with the chicken and serve.

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Vanilla Maple French Toast

April 17, 2010

I’ve made this one a few times now, enough for it to become a family request.  It’s easy to whip together, and you prep it the night before, which makes the morning routine even easier.  It’s sort of a cross between traditional french toast and a bread pudding because of all of the custardy eggs.  It tastes fantastic with syrup or powdered sugar and strawberries or even warmed up berry preserves.

You will need:

  • 1 loaf of egg bread (such as Challah or Hawaiian sweet bread), cut into 1-inch or 1 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 10 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 c milk (I use 1% or 2%)
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t almond extract
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground gloves

Ready for a night in the fridge!

Then you…

  1. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in the milk, and then add in the syrup and extracts.
  3. Whisk in the sugar, salt and spices until well combined.
  4. Lightly grease a 9x13x2 baking dish and pour enough custard on the bottom to coat.
  5. Place the bread slices in the dish and pour the remaining custard over the top.
  6. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow the bread to soak up the custard overnight in the fridge.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350.
  8. Bake 45 minutes to an hour or until golden and cooked through.

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