Sunday, November 28, 2010

Banana Pecan Waffles

If you can't tell yet, after cupcakes, breakfast is one of my favorite things to make. We occasionally find a few very ripe bananas sitting on our counter (a very rare occurrence as my husband & I both love bananas). When we do have some dark bananas, I look forward to baking with him. Banana bread used to be my "go to" recipe to utilize them, but I decided I wanted to experiment this time and found this delicious recipe. They are very hearty waffles - I couldn't even finish one entire waffle without being stuffed! They reheat wonderfully in the oven or a wide-slot toaster, making them a great breakfast for the rest of the week!

Banana-Pecan Waffles (Original source Sunset Magazine, January 2005)
Servings 8 – 10

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs
3/4 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (approx 2 medium-large bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (directions follow)

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

In another bowl, mix egg yolks, milk, banana, sour cream, and butter until well blended. Stir egg-yolk mixture into flour mixture just until combined. Stir in the toasted pecans (see below for directions).

In another large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.

Preheat a Belgian waffle iron to high. Brush both sides lightly with melted butter. When iron is ready, pour about 1/2 cup batter per 4-inch square; close iron and cook until waffle is browned, about 6-9 minutes. Remove waffle; keep warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven up to 15 minutes. Repeat waffle cooking process to finish batter.

Serve warm with syrup or powdered sugar and some banana slices.

Toasting Pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove immediately from oven and allow to cool before using.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I've been wanting to make something "pumpkin" all fall. When I recently started my new rotation in the hospital, I was soon asked when the pumpkin treats would appear on my blog. Sadly, it isn't until Thanksgiving day that I finally post something. (However, my colleagues will be getting to enjoy these treats as I am bringing them in to share while I'm on call.)

This recipe also let me finally try my hand at whoopie pies - but in a very miniature version! These are bite sized (although a large bite!), making it easy to find room to enjoy one without feeling overly stuffed. It also means they are very easy to share with lots of friends & family!

PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES (Adapted from The Novice Chef, originally from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Makes about 8 dozen bite sized whoopie pies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup white sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup natural apple sauce
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk to sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.

Mix the flour mixture and the pumpkin mixture together. Pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. (No tip used, just the bag. Mine were about the size of a quarter)

Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on the size), until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling. They will look more like mini cakes then cookies, so don’t panic about that.

Maple Cream Cheese Filling

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese an beat until combined.
Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.

To assemble:
Turn half the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe filling onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm before serving. Best served cold.

ENJOY! Happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

Although I won't be able to spend Thanksgiving with family, I knew I couldn't let the holiday pass by without plenty of cranberry sauce! I grew up with the canned cranberry sauce - the gelled form, sliced after being slid out of the can. It wasn't until I was in college that I was introduced to the "real thing" and knew that I would never be buying a can of cranberry sauce. It is incredibly easy to make - don't be afraid to give it a try.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

12 oz bag of cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries, and cook until they start to pop. Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sesame Pasta Salad

This fall, we had a BBQ with friends. We provided the meet, everyone else brought the sides & drinks. Some of our friends stopped by the local coop on their way over to pick up some salads, and brought a sesame pasta salad over that I fell in love with. I scoured the internet for something similar, and think that this is it!

This is so simple to make up (and makes a HUGE batch - perfect if you're bringing it somewhere to share!) I think it easily be made into a more substantial salad by adding some chicken and cashews or peanuts to the mix.

SESAME PASTA SALAD (Adapted from Pioneer Woman)

16 ounces, thin noodles (spaghetti, angel hair, etc), cooked and drained
1/3 cups Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sugar
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil
4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed. Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat. Sprinkle with green onions and toss.

Chill before serving.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Jalapeno Popper dip

The last of the dips I made for Monday Night Football (with Pickle Wrap Dip and Buffalo Chicken Dip). I think this was my favorite! (But I LOVE peppers!) This tasted so much like the individual poppers, but was much easier to eat!

I only used about half of the bread crumb topping, so I would recommend cutting back. (There was still a layer about 1/2 inch deep across the top.) I also stirred the crumbs into the dip just before serving - it spread the crunchy breading throughout the dip.

JALAPENO POPPER DIP (Adapted from My Baking Addiction)

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
4 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained
1 cup shredded Mexican style cheese

1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an oven safe serving dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in green chilies, jalapeno peppers, and Mexican and mozzarella cheeses. Spoon this mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Mix together the Panko and parmesan cheese and sprinkle it over the cream cheese mixture.
Spray the Panko and parmesan with a quick spray of non-stick cooking spray.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is hot and the topping is lightly browned.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Coconut M&M Blondies

These were another treat for my treat-loving father. I made these at his place, and it wasn't long before they were stored away in the freezer, hidden from sight, and counted daily to be sure no one was getting into them without permission! (He must not have learned how to share in Kindergarten!)

These were very tasty (especially if you don't think about all the butter in them!) They are easy to dress up with seasonal M&M's - I loved the colors of the harvest ones.

COCONUT M&M BLONDIES (From Eat at Allies)

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 (12 oz.) bag M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it browns and begins to smell nutty (watch it closely so it doesn’t burn). Allow the butter to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the browned butter and sugars.

Stir in eggs, vanilla and salt. Add flour & stir until just combined.

Add the coconut and M&Ms, and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Let the blondies cool completely before slicing into squares.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Apple Turnovers

I am SO glad that I finally tried to make puff pastry! After overcoming my fear of all of the layers of the pastry, I knew I would have to use some fresh apples & make turnovers. These were very quick & easy to make, and were by far the best turnovers I've ever had! They were wonderful for breakfast, but I definitely think they would make a great end to a fall meal (especially with a little vanilla bean ice cream, and maybe some caramel sauce... YUM!)

I'm sure these would be delicious with store bought puff pastry, but I really encourage you to try making your own!

(Look at all of those layers!)

APPLE TURNOVERS (Adapted from Annie's Eats)
Makes 12 turnovers

Puff Pastry

For the filling:
3 medium to large apples (I used a mixture of freshly picked apples)
2/3 cup sugar (adjust based on tartness of apples)
2 tsp. lemon juice
dash of cinnamon

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
1 tbls. ground cinnamon

Roll the dough into a 20- by 15-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, trim and cut the dough into twelve 5-inch squares, and place 6 on each sheet. (If they aren’t all perfect squares, it is okay – you can cover it up once you fold them over.) Refrigerate the dough squares while you make the filling.

To make the filling, peel the apples and grate them on the holes of a large box grater (I used my food processor with the shredding disc.) Combine the grated apples, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl. Remove one sheet of the dough squares from the refrigerator. Working with one square at a time, place 2 tablespoons of the apple filling (squeezed of excess liquid) in the center of the dough.

Moisten two adjoining edges of the dough square with a finger dipped in the apple liquid, then fold the top portion of dough over the bottom, making sure to overlap the bottom portion by 1/8-inch. Crimp the edges of the turnover with a fork.

Repeat with the remaining dough squares. Return the sheet of turnovers to the fridge and repeat with the second sheet of dough squares. Refrigerate the filled turnovers 30 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. (I have to say that I'm pretty sure I skipped the refrigeration step)

While the turnovers are chilling, preheat the oven to 400° F. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir together until mixed well. Brush or mist the turnovers lightly with water and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake until golden brown, 16-20 minutes, rotating the sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the turnovers to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.