Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I really like to eat bananas, but I am really picky about how yellow they have to be to eat by themselves. I only like them when they are nice and yellow without any spots. Needless to say, last week I couldn't get to them fast enough so they started to brown. Usually when that happens I will put the browning bananas in the freezer to save for baking. Today it was rainy and dreary, so I wanted my husband to have something sweet to come home to after work (besides his lovely wife, of course!). I found a similar recipe for banana muffins at Allrecipes.com and combined it with my vanilla chocolate chip bread recipe.

Let's just say this recipe is so good it's bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S :)

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
2 Tbs milk
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 large extra ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tins. In medium bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pudding mix. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine shortening and sugar. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time until well combined. Add milk and vanilla, then bananas to mixture and combine well.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture until just combined then fold in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and place in oven to bake.

Bake muffins for 20-23 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chicken and Roasted Corn Taquitos

I first saw this recipe on another blog that I follow (My Kitchen Cafe) and thought it looked great. I used reduced fat cream cheese, tweaked the seasonings a little, and added the roasted corn. I also tested it out using flour tortillas. They were ok, but much better with the corn tortillas. The flour tortillas were a little too much tortilla for this dish. Also, the roasted corn adds so much flavor and turns what could be just an appetizer into a heartier main dish. They were fantastic dipped in sour cream and salsa!

Baked Chicken and Roasted Corn Taquitos
adapted from My Kitchen Cafe
Makes 12-14 taquitos

4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 C. salsa
1 Tb. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
4 Tbs. chopped cilantro
1 ear corn on the cob, roasted or grilled (can substitute canned, but roasted it much better!)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
12-14 small tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.In a medium-sized bowl, mix softened cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and corn. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

Working with a few tortillas at a time, place 3-4 between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds, until tortillas are soft and pliable and don't crack while rolling. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture on the lower third of a soft tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place filled taquitos seam side down on the baking sheet, making sure they don't touch each other. When ready to bake, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. Serve immediately. Taquitos are great dipped in salsa or sour cream!

Lattice - Top Cherry Pie

I have to admit, they're a pain sometimes, but I LOVE pie. There's just something about pie that feels so fun and summery. This pie is perfect for a Memorial Day barbeque or any summer party. I made this cherry pie using fresh, hand-picked cherries from my husband's Aunt Jan's house. They were fresh and a little tart - just perfect!! When the pie is finished, the filling is just a little tart, sweet, juicy, and screams summer sunshine. The almond extract gives a depth of flavor and uniqueness to the pie, but if you don't have any on hand, just use double the amount of vanilla (it will still taste great!).

Cherry Pie

(Adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
1 to 1 1/4 C. plus 1 Tb. sugar (more or less depending on the tartness of the cherries)
1/4 C. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 C. fresh or jarred sour cherries
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 recipe Lattice - Top Pie Dough (below)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Mix 1 cup of the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the cherries and almond extract. Add up to 4 more tablespoons of sugar if the cherries still taste tart. If using fresh cherries, let the mixture sit about 20 minutes. Then spread the cherry filling in the unbaked pie crust bottom.
Weave the lattice strips over the top of the pie. Seal and crimp the edges. Lightly brush the lattice top with egg wash. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Place the pie of the heated baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature again to 375 degrees and continue to bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Lattice - Top Pie Dough
(America's Test Kitchen)
3 C. all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
2 Tb. sugar
1 tsp. salt
7 Tb. vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
10 Tb. butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, chilled
8 to 10 Tb. ice water

Process the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter the shortening over the top and continue to process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer to a bowl.

Sprinkle 8 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture. Stir and press the dough together, using a rubber spatula, until the dough sticks together. If the dough does not come together, add the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two even pieces and flatten one piece into a 4-inch disk (for the crust bottom). Flatten the other into a 4 by 3-inch rectangle (or the lattice strips). Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Roll the bottom crust out and fit to a 9 inch pie plate. Roll the lattice strips to form a 10 ½ by 13 ½ - inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or knife and a ruler, cut lattice strips. Freeze the strips slightly to make them easier to weave on your pie.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Grandma's Sugar Cookies

These sugar cookies are really butter cookies, but they are perfect for cookie cut-outs and hold up really well to decorating. These cookies are a softer cookie and don't get too crispy and thin like a lot of sugar cookies tend to do. I am still searching for an icing recipe that I love, but I've included the one below because it's very simple and tastes delicious. Just be sure you have plenty of time for this icing to dry before storing, otherwise the cookies will stick together. The cookie recipe, however, is from my Grandma and I still haven't found one I like better!

Valentine's Day cookies for Darren

Grandma's Sugar Cookies

Makes 3-5 doz
(depending on the size of the cookie cutter)

3 C. flour
1tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. butter
3/4 C. sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat well. Blend in dry ingredients slowly. Chill mixture overnight or at least 1 hour. Roll out on a floured surface, 1/3 of the dough at a time to about 1/4 thickness (I like a thicker cookie, but you can definitely make these thinner by rolling out to 1/8 thickness. They will cook faster and be slightly crispier.). Cut out using your desired cookie cutter. Place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes. Cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Sugar Cookie Icing

1 C. confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. milk
2 tsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp lemon extract (you can use any flavored extract here - almond is also great!)
food coloring

In a small bowl, stir together confectioner's sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and extract until icing is smooth and shiny. If it's too thick, add more corn syrup. Divide into bowls and add food coloring. Decorate as desired.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Roasted Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

Before this year, I had never even tried quiche. My husband and I are not vegetarians and a lot of the quiche recipes I have seen did not look like they would be very substantial. I have been proven wrong! By adding a few simple ingredients, I now have a recipe that we both really love.

It’s a basic quiche recipe (from Everyday Food) that I tweaked to include some of my favorite flavors. The sun-dried tomatoes add a rich sweetness and roasted chicken makes it a more filling meal for my husband.

Roasted Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Quiche

1 Tb. Olive Oil
2 roasted chicken breasts (from a store-bought roaster or leftover chicken)
1 large yellow onion, diced
¾ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3-4 pieces of sun-dried tomato, chopped
4 eggs
¾ cup half and half
1 to 1½ cups Gruyere cheese, grated
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 pie crust (I use a premade, frozen crust when cooking on the fly!)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. of the pepper (you can also add other seasonings/spices here to change the flavor slightly. I have added Jamacain seasonings, red pepper flakes, etc.). Cook until the onions are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cooked chicken and parsley and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and half and half. Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, remaining salt and pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, and onion-chicken mixture. Place the pie crust in a pie dish or tart pan. Scrape the mixture into the pie crust. Bake until filling is set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spring Menu Options

With my first dinner party/ summer bbq coming up in about 10 days, I am throwing around some ideas for food. There's going to be about 15 people in and out, so I want to have a variety, but I'm also feeling a little ambitious. Here are some items that I am considering:

- Baby Arugula Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing
- Taffy Apple Salad (Dad doesn't think this should be called a "salad" but it's SOO good!!)

- Mini baked brie in puff pastry with apricot or raspberry preserves and slivered almonds
- Bacon pastries or Spiced Chicken pastries
- green olive tapenade for bread
- Garlic Beer bread
- Buffalo Chicken Dip (you'd think this had CRACK in it...it's so good!)
- Chips and corn salsa
- Mushroom asparagus tarts
- Carmelized onion and blue cheese tart

Main Dishes
- Baked Mostaccioli
- Honey Balsamic Chicken skewers

- Symphony Brownies
- Texas Sheet Cake
- Cupcakes (too many to choose from!)
- Summer berry pie (blackberry again?)
- Lemon Berry Tartlets
- Lemon or Raspberry squares

So I have a long way to go before I can narrow this down...and it's still feeling pretty random to me. I want food that will be somewhat easy to make but also keep for people to munch on throughout the night.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Attempt at a blog....

With summer approaching and having some time off from teaching, I am hoping to start and maintain this baking/ cooking blog. I enjoy cooking but I truly LOVE all things baked. I hoping to use this as a way to test out all of the exciting recipes I have stumbled upon, dreamed up, and tasted. :)