Archive | December, 2012

Mrs. Olson’s Banana Bread with Buttercream Frosting

21 Dec

When my girlfriends and I were visiting Jen Olson in Iowa last fall, we talked a lot about food and recipes. We started to swap some recipes as well. Jen showed me her mom’s banana bread recipe and I quickly asked Jen to email it to me.

This bread is heavenly. It’s like no other banana bread I’ve ever had. It’s much more of a cake than anything.

You can really taste the brown sugar in the recipe – I think that’s what sets it apart from the rest. That, and there is a great amount of bananas added. Pay no mind to the burned quality of the bread……my oven was in poor shape 😦

And the icing…..oh man. This buttercream icing will now be my GO-TO icing for everything from now on. It is fabulous and sweet and creamy. I will probably need to make it its own blog post in the near future.

It’s a very simple bread, that is very people-pleasing. I took some in to share with my co-workers after Hurricane Sandy, and it was eaten immediately.

I am so thrilled that Jen shared her mom’s recipe with me. This will be my only banana bread recipe that I will ever need for life.

Look at this stuff……..sinful!!!!!

Mrs. Olson’s Banana Bread with Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown sugar (you can sub a cup of white for one of brown if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups mashed very ripe bananas
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans.

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla and bananas. Add dry ingredients last.

Pour in loaf pans. Bake at 350 45-50 minutes or until done. (start checking around 40 minutes)

Jen’s mom served this bread with a buttercream frosting recipe that she added just a little bit more milk to make it a creamy spread.

The BEST Buttercream Frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup half & half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Directions:

Beat butter in large bowl at medium speed until creamy.

Gradually add powdered sugar and salt alternately with half & half and vanilla, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Stir in corn syrup.

When loaves are fully cooled, spread over top and serve.

Guacamole

11 Dec

There are a zillion different ways to make guacamole. There are a zillion recipes – each with varying twists and levels of heat, sometimes just variations on amount of the same ingredients to use.

For Supper Club in October, I decided to make a simple guacamole. I found the recipe in Cooks Illustrated Mexican issue.

I think most guacamole is really good. Although I grew up not liking it – and didnt like avocados. I mostly didnt like them because there wasnt much taste although there were a lot of calories. But as of 5 years ago, I realized the wonder and awesomeness of the avocado.

When cutting avocados, it’s best to slice down the middle and break apart. Then slam your knife into the seed and twist it in a circle and pull it out of the fruit. Then slice each half of the avocado lengthwise all the way across as it sits in your hand, then move the avocado sideways in your hand and slice lengthwise the opposite way. Then you can scoop it all out easily!

This recipe was rather delicious. It wasnt too onion-y, it was flavorful and thick, but not too thick.

This is a really easy dip to bring to a party if need-be. It will be wildly popular with your friends as they dig in with their chips. And it’s SO easy to make!

Ole!

Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  • 2 tblsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 2 tblsp lime juice
  • Salt

Directions:

Mix everything together and mash to your desired consistency. Sprinkle lime juice and salt last and taste.

Can be made ahead 1 day as long as saran is placed DIRECTLY ON TOP of guac (so guac doesnt get brown and gross) and refrigerated. Return to room temp before serving.

Emile Henry Factory Sale

9 Dec

My BFF John works in Delaware and got a flyer to an Emile Henry Factory Sale on 12/8 in Delaware. He immediately invited me to go with him. I jumped at the chance. I love Emile Henry merchandise. I have purchased it in the past for others, but never for myself. I’ve only ever had Emile Henry lookalikes. If you aren’t familiar with Emile Henry, here is their website – you have most likely seen the pie dishes at least. They make high-quality ceramic ovenware and cooking products:

http://www.emilehenryusa.com/

This was my chance to get some pieces at 80% OFF!!!!!! Yes, you heard me – 80% off.

Emile Henry wasn’t the only vendor there – Rosle, Mauviel, Lekue, and Duralex. I wasn’t really into the Lekue products – lots of silicone pieces. For whatever reason, I don’t trust silicone baking products.

John was excited to check out the beautiful copper pots by Mauviel and he ended up getting one. I got a couple random Rosle and Duralex items. And for my Emile Henry purchases…I got a STEAL.

Emile Henry pie dishes are usually $45 a piece in stores. They had an apricot colored pie dish on sale for $8!!!!!!!!!! Some other colors were $15. Come on…..$8 and $15? Insane. They also had an apricot Lasagna Dish on sale for $13!!!!!!!!! Can you imagine? That sells in stores for $70…….INSANE! I think they might be discontinuing the apricot color or something. We couldnt believe the prices – everyone around was marveling about it.

I also got a beautiful ruffled-edge serving dish that I believe would be around $70 or $80 in stores, for $19.95. I love it and cant wait to use it.

Okay – enough of the blah blah blah. Here are the pics. I am sorry I didn’t take any pics of the factory sale warehouse scene – it was mobbed and we even went 2 hours after it opened.

Total lootage:

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Pie dishes:

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Lasagne dish:

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The beautiful ruffled bowl….

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If you got the email flyer (like John did), you could print out a coupon for a free gift. Here was the free gift – a set of mini duralex prep bowls. These are AWESOME to use when you want to measure out all of your spices so while you are busy cooking, you can quickly dump your spices/ingredients into the pot/bowl/pan.

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And so that you can see the amazing discounts, here is my receipt:

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Dont worry – some of these items are christmas gifts. Not everything is for me 🙂 We cant wait to go again next December. We already have a couple items in our mind picked out.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing

6 Dec

It’s still considered fall. And I wanted to make something fall-y and pumpkin-y for my co-workers.

I perused some online recipes and found this one. It looked easy and somewhat healthy. Pumpkin is healthy, right? 🙂

These bars were so darn moist and flavorful! They had just the right amount of cinnamon and allspice without being too over-powering.

And the cream cheese icing…..I mean, you could slap cream cheese icing on most baked goods and it makes it that much more amazing. But this was just incredible.

I think everyone should just whip these up real quick – they will please almost anyone. It’s a perfect treat for family, friends, and co-workers!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 and 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 14oz. can pure organic pumpkin
  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

Frosting:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

1. For the Bars: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a 9×13 pan and set aside. Mix flour, soda, powder and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

2. In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment mix the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until completely smooth and blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients until fully combined. Stop as needed to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.

3. Spread the batter into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely to room temperature before frosting.

For the Frosting:

In a mix whip together cream cheese and butter. Then add sugar and vanilla. Blend until smooth.

Chicken Mole

1 Dec

When people talk about complicated Mexican dishes,  you always hear about Mole Sauces. All my life I’ve heard how hard a mole sauce is.

In planning for Mexican Supper Club, I knew I had to make a mole sauce to challenge myself and find out just how hard this sauce is to make. The question was, where to find a recipe that was good but yet not too ridiculous with the ingredient list.

BINGO: Cooks Illustrated Mexican Edition!! You cant go wrong with Cooks Illustrated. And if you are a serious cook, I HIGHLY recommend getting a subscription to this bi-monthly magazine.

This recipe could not have been any easier, or any more delicious.

The hardest part about the recipe (and it wasnt even that hard) was roasting the chilis and dicing them up and removing their seeds. And remembering to wear rubber gloves when doing this step 😉

Honestly, this dish was out of this world. It wasnt that spicy (you could certainly modify your spice level with the amount of peppers/seeds you use). And one of the keys is ALMOND BUTTER. Dont skimp and think that peanut butter would substitute……The almond butter totally makes this dish what it is.

It’s a month and a half after I made it, and I can still taste the multi-layered flavor palette in my mouth. It was like something I’ve never had before. I will absolutely be making this again. Bueno!!

Chicken Mole

Ingredients:

  • 2 dried ancho chiles (sub 2 tblsp dried ancho chile powder if possible)
  • ½ dried chipotle chile(sub ground chipotle chile powder / ½ tsp minced canned chipotle in adobe sauce)
  • 3 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 ounce bittersweet, chopped coarse
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • One 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 2 tblsp sesame seeds, toasted plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar
  • 3.5 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, skin removed and trimmed

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Place anchos and chipotle on baking sheet and toast until fragrant and puffed, 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard seeds and stems, then break into small pieces.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Stir in toasted chile pieces, cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate and cook until spices are fragrant and chocolate is melted and bubbly, 2 minutes.

Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, at least 30 seconds. Stir in broth, tomatoes, raisins, almond butter, and sesame seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

Transfer mixture to blender (or food processor) and process until smooth, about 20 seconds, season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

Adjust oven temperature to 400 degrees. Pat chicken pieces dry and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in baking dish in single layer. Cover with mole sauce, turning chicken to coat evenly. Bake uncovered, until breast registers 160 degrees, about 35-45 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest in sauce 5-10 minutes. Transfer to large platter and spoon sauce over top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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