Monday, December 26, 2011

SRC Banana Bread

I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing holiday! For this month's SRC I had Baking and Creating with Avril and wonderful blog with a variety of deliciousness! She had a ton of muffin and quick bread recipes, and since I needed something to take to Christmas Brunch, I decided her banana bread would be the perfect recipe to pick! It was wonderful This bread is perfectly breakfasty and not too sweet. Enjoy the bread, and don't forget to check out the Secret Recipe Club, and Avril's blog!

Banana Bread:
1/3 cup of butter, melted
2/3 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp of almond extract
2 large bananas, overipe and mashed
3 tbsps of milk
1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of raisins, heaping

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar until combined. Add in eggs and almond extract and beat until well combined. Add in milk and bananas and mix together. Mix in flour, wheat, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, and salt until just combined. Stir in raisins. Spray a 9"x5" loaf pan with non stick. Pour batter into the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool before slicing. (adapted from baking and creating with Avril)

Happy Eating.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I always heard that chopping your own chocolate bars into chunks, makes much more delicious cookies than using bagged chips. But, until now, I never felt the reason to experiment with this. Chocolate chip cookies are already amazing, do they really need to be any better? Anything can be a bit better, and these certainly were, high quality chocolate and the un-uniform shape of the chunks, plus the peppering of shavings that sort of melts in give these giant cookies a definite grown-up appeal and sophistication without losing it's everyone friendly, endlessly appealing nature. I know I say this all the time, but these might be my new favorite cookie. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies:
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
1 1/2 baking bars of dark chocolate (like the Ghiradeli bars)

In a large bowl beat together butter and sugars, on high speed until combined and smooth. Add vanilla, egg and yolk and beat until combined. Add in half the flour, and the baking soda and salt and stir until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour. Chop chocolate into small pieces and add chocolate and the shavings chopping the bar produces and stir into dough. Freeze dough for 20 minutes until firm and chilled. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with non-stick. Scoop dough by 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) and bake 12 at a time on baking sheet. Refrigerate dough that isn't being used until ready to start that batch. Bake for 8 minutes, then lower temperature to 350, rotate tray, and bake an additional 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Let cool before removing from parchment paper. (adapted from Dishing the Divine).

Happy Eating.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Broccoli Sausage Bake

I have an insatiable and unholy love for stuffing. It might be my favorite food ever. In college I used to buy the boxed stuff and make it in the microwave. So this casserole is my new favorite thing ever, because it tastes like stuffing, but is a fairly healthy and well balanced meal. It's full of whole grain (rye), veggies, and lean protein, and it tastes like stuffing, but cheesier. So ya, try and resist this easy and healthy casserole.

Broccoli Sausage Bake:
1/2 loaf of rye bread, about 9 oz
1 head of broccoli
1 onion
5 cloves of garlic
8 oz of turkey sausage, without casing, prefiribley spicy
3/4 cup of 2% mozzarella cheese, shredded
1.5 oz of sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp of pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cups of chicken broth

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Lightly toast bread until crisp. Chop broccoli, onion, and garlic, and place on cookie sheet. Roast until broccoli is tender, and onions are slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and lower heat to 350. Cut or tear bread into small chunks, in a 9 by 13" casserole dish, lightly sprayed with non-stick, stir together bread, broccoli, onion, garlic, sausage, and cheese. Mix together the chicken broth and spices, then pour over the bread/broccoli mixture. Bake until liquid is absorbed and top is browned, about 20 minutes.

Happy Eating.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Continuing with all things deliciously pumpkin (my favorite fall flavor), today I have a pumpkin cheesecake. Cheesecake is one of those things that looks impressive, but really isn't hard to make. You can kind of just throw everything in a bowl and mix it all up and then pour it into a pan. The hardest part is telling if it's done, it will not look done, you still want a little wobble in the center. If you cook it too long it will crack a little, but it will still taste amazing, so not really the worst thing in the world. Make sure you use a spring-form pan, so you can get the cheesecake out with out crushing it. Enjoy some pumpkin cheesecake goodness.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
4 tbsp of butter, melted

Pumpkin Cheese Cake:
3 packages (8 ounces each) of cream cheese, softened slightly
8 oz (1 container) of Mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 cups of sugar
3 tbsp of flour
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 tsp of ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp of ground cloves
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 350, with a rack in the center. Spray a 9" springform pan with non-stick spray. Make Crust: Combine cracker crumbs, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter until moist crumbs form. Press crumbs into the bottom of the pan and bake until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Make the Filling: Beat cream cheese, Mascarpone, and sugar on low speed until smooth. Mix in flour, pumpkin, spices, and vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer running, add eggs one at a time until all are incorporated in. Put pan with crust on a baking sheet and pour batter into the cake pan. Transfer to oven and bake until cheesecake is just set on the edges, and still a little wobbly in the center, about 45 minutes. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake inside for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool, then refrigerate overnight. (adapted from Martha)

Happy Eating.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Pumpkin Overnight French Toast

Brunch is perhaps the best meal of all. You can eat pretty much anything, breakfast, lunch food, dessert. Whatever you want! This bread pudding/overnight French toast is a dessert wearing a breakfast robe, and it is absolutely amazing. Serving it with caramel sauce instead of maple syrup truly takes it to the next level of deliciousness. This is a perfect addition to any holiday brunches you might have planned, or simply for a delicious and easy to throw together weekend treat. Throw it together the night before and let the goodness soak into the bread, then throw it in the oven the following morning and enjoy the deliciousness!

Pumpkin Overnight French Toast:
2 cups of half and half
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 cup of light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 tsp of ginger
1/2 tsp of cloves
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of raisins
1 1/2 large loafs of Challah bread

Caramel Sauce:
1 1/4 cups of dark brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of heavy cream

Whisk together half and half, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and spices. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with non-stick. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and put in dish, and sprinkle with raisins. Pour pumpkin mixture over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, bake until firm and golden on top, about 45 minutes. Make the sauce: Stir the sugar and butter in a small pot, over meduim heat until butter melts, whisk in cream and stir until sauce is smooth and combined, about 3 minutes. Serve bread pudding with sauce drizzled on, or on the side. (adapted from Epicurious)

Happy Eating.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Does anyone else still have a ton of extra cranberries from Thanksgiving? Or Feel the urge to buy them every time they walk past a bag in the store? I love cranberries, but the problem is, I think, I love them in theory, in actuality, aside from sauce, I have no idea what to do with them. So I began an extensive search for cranberry recipes to rid myself of the bags and bags of cranberries that I "needed" for thanksgiving. This cake is my favorite so far, a deliciously simple and buttery base, with a sweet cranberry topping. It's extremely easy to make, just make sure you grease the pan well in order to get the cake out. I actually used a springform pan for extra cake removing ease.

Cranberry Upside-down Cake:
8 tbsp of butter, divided, softened
1 cup of sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1 3/4 cups cranberries

Pre-heat the oven to 350, with a rack in the center. Mix 6 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of sugar on low speed until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add baking soda, salt, and about half the flour and mix until just combined. Then add 1/4 cup of milk, and mix. Add remainder of flour and mix, then the last 1/4 cup of milk. Grease an 8" round pan with the remaining tablespoons of butter (it is important to use all of it, because it creates the topping). Mix together remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg, and sprinkle evenly on top of the butter. Then spread cranberries across the bottom in a single layer. Bake until a fork inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before inverting the cake onto a plate. Serve cranberry side up. (adapted from Martha)

Happy Eating.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Penne ala Vodka

Vodka sauce is something that I always thought of as being ridiculously heavy, but a little cream goes a long way, to make this delicious sauce smooth and creamy without feeling like you are eating a stick of butter. The spiciness of the red pepper and the sausage go so perfectly with the creamy texture, on bite made me forget I was ever afraid of this sauce. This is a perfect way to "winter" up pasta night, something about the cream and spice just warms you inside out. Enjoy.

Penne ala Vodka:
1/2 lb of penne pasta
1 tbsp of olive oil
3 links of Hot Italian Sausage (optional)
1 small onion
1 29 oz can of tomato sauce
1 tomato
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of vodka
1/2 cup of heavy cream
salt, pepper

Make pasta according to package directions. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown sausage on all sides then remove from pan, and slice, add back to the pan. Dice onions and add to oil, cook stirring occasionally until onions soften about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Dice tomato and garlic and add to sauce, and oregano and red pepper and cook and bring to a boil. Add vodka and stir, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer sauce until pasta is cooked, then turn off heat and stir in heavy cream. Pour cooked pasta into the pan, and stir until pasta is coated. Enjoy.

Happy Eating.