Monday, September 19, 2011

Banana Caramel Muffins

This year is my third and final year of residency (well, technically, I'm sticking around to be Chief Resident next year, but I'll be attending at times by that point). I had very ambitious thoughts about bringing in breakfast on the Monday mornings that we didn't have conference. Sadly, the 12-15 hours shifts tired me out and I only brought in breakfast twice (and one time I cheated with a boxed coffee cake mix!)

I brought these in to share with my wonderful interns & medical students. They were AWESOME! It was like having dessert for breakfast with the caramel glaze, but was a great way to kick off the week. You'll have more glaze than needed - I have to admit I ate a spoonful before throwing it away. If you're having guests, you could probably double the muffin portion of the recipe and have plenty of the glaze with a single batch of it.


One Bowl Banana Muffins (Adapted from Herbavoracious)

2 large ripe bananas, peeled
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375. Line 10-12 spots in a muffins tin with muffin/cupcake liners, or grease the pan with non-stick spray.

Mash the bananas in a microwave safe bowl. Add the butter and microwave 20 seconds at a time until the butter is softened but not melted. (It is fine if a little bit of it melts).

Using a potato masher or whatever you have to hand, mash the bananas and butter together until there isn't a lot of lumpiness left.

Thoroughly stir in the sugar, beaten egg, milk, vanilla extract, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Fold in the flour until just moistened. (Do not over beat)

Distribute the batter into the tins. Bake until quite dark brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry, rotating once about halfway through baking. Total baking time was about 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan & allow to cool completely.

Caramel Glaze (Adapted from Taste & Tell)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar

In a saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Whisk in the cream and powdered sugar until no lumps remain. Immediately spoon over the muffins, or dip the top of the muffins into the glaze.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Strawberries & lemons are a common flavor combination. In fact, one of my favorite summertime refreshing beverages are strawberry lemonades. When my husband asked me to make some cupcakes for a party for his boss (who achieved tenure at Harvard!), and the weather forecast was in the 80-90's, I knew this would be a perfect, refreshing treat to share.

Everyone enjoyed the cupcakes, and the wonderful party - where his boss was not only surprised by the party, but the way he was greeted was by all of his employees throwing water balloons at him! (It was his wife's idea!) Thankfully, he's a great sport, and started catching the balloons & throwing them back at people!

STRAWBERRY LEMONADE CUPAKES (Adapted from Tips for a Typical Mom)

Lemonade Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Yellow Food Coloring (optional)

Follow instructions on box and bake into cupcakes

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
4 large strawberries
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon strawberry extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Chop strawberries finely and place on paper towel to soak up some of the moisture. Add butter to bowl and beat with a mixer until fluffy, add vanilla & strawberry extract, and about 2 cups of the sugar. Blend well, incorporate cream. Add in small amounts of powdered sugar, beating well after each addition, to reach the desired consistency.

Frost & decorate as desired. (I topped with lemonhead candies)


Monday, September 12, 2011

Cheesy Smashed Potatoes

Growing up, adding cheese was a guaranteed way to get me to eat something healthy. (Or not so healthy, I remember eating a lot of "cheese bread" consisting of a slice of Velveta on a piece of white bread, microwaved until melty - Yuk!)

One of my aunts used to make some cheesey mashed potatoes - so cheesey, that I think there was more cheese than potato in them. I wanted to make something similar, but keep them *slightly* healthy, and retain some of their texture. These were a great combination between baked potatoes & creamy mashed potatoes. The cream cheese & sour cream blended into the mashed potatoes well, but the skin (and nutrients) remained.

(Sorry for the awful picture!)

Cheesey Smashed Potatoes

5 lb bag of potatoes
8 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups cheddar cheese

Clean potatoes, cut up (keeping skin on), and boil until tender.

Place approximately half of the potatoes into a bowl with the sour cream, cream cheese & garlic. Mix until well blended. Add in 1.5-2 cups of the cheddar cheese, milk as needed for creaminess and remainder of potatoes. Mix *just* until blended (it will still be chunky).

Place in a 9x13 inch pan. (You can place these in the fridge at this point if you are preparing a day or two early.) Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, then add additional 1/2-1 cup of cheddar to the top. Place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Pan Magic Cookie Bars

I have VERY fond memories of this recipe. It has always been one of my favorite treats throughout childhood. In fact, I loved it so much, that in my 6th grade speech class, when we had to give "How To" speeches, I taught the class how to make these delicious bars. They are easy enough to let your kids join in (or even make them on their own), and they are easily adaptable to your personal tastes.


1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup flaked coconut
2-3 cups "toppings" (see below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place stick of butter in the pan, then put the pan in the oven so that the butter will melt.

Pour the graham cracker crumbs over the butter evenly, and press into the pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with your toppings of choice and the coconut.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature.

Toppings: One of the BEST parts of this recipe is how adaptable it is. For the bars pictured, I used about 1 cup white chocolate whips, 1 cup semi-sweet chips and 1 cup of M&Ms. Other wonderful toppings I've used include butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, reeces pieces, etc. Mix & match to suite your tastes.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Who remembers eating Orange Creamsicles growing up? The wonderful ice cream center with the orange popsicle outside was a summertime treat growing up that my husband & I both enjoyed. My husband had been suggesting this flavor for awhile before I finally made them. The cupcakes didn't rise as much as I would have liked, but I LOVED the frosting combination - the vanilla portion is the frosting I've been using since I started making cakes about 12 years ago. When I initially made cakes, everyone LOVED my frosting & wanted the recipe. I NEVER shared. Now that I've found lots of recipes I enjoy, I'm more than happy to share it. (I know, it uses Crisco, but in moderation, a little won't hurt us!)


Orange Cupcakes (Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride)
1 1/8 cup (9 oz) frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
White cake mix
3 egg whites

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Non-stick spray

Food Color (orange, or red+yellow)

In a stand mixer, add the cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, dye and the OJ concentrate. Mix on low for about 30 seconds and then increase to medium speed for 90 seconds (the batter will still be a bit lumpy; take care not to overmix so you don’t end up with dry cupcakes).

Spray each cupcake liner with the non-stick spray and spoon the batter into a prepared muffin pan (fill the cups between 2/3 and 3/4 full).

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cool 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and cool completely on a baking rack.

Orange Frosting (Adapted from Dulcedo)
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 cup orange juice

Beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Add half of the powdered sugar, the vanilla, the orange extract, and the orange juice. Beat until combined. Gradually add the remaining sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.

Vanilla Frosting
3/4 cup shortening
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons vanilla creamer

Beat shortening, extract & creamer. Gradually add powdered sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency, trying to get the consistency similar to that of the orange frosting.

To get the swirled frosting, place the vanilla frosting carefully in one side of your pastry bag, and the orange on the other. Frost as desired.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pasta Salad with Feta, Basil & Olives

Pasta salads are a common side at summer BBQs and potlucks. I've grown up eating some delicious creamy pasta salads, but wanted to make something that I was hoping was a bit different from the traditional salad. (Surprisingly, someone brought an almost identical pasta salad to the BBQ we brought this to! Oh well, I enjoyed the leftovers!)

This is easy to make, and can be made the day of the event if you don't have a lot of fridge room to keep in in. We used the Campenelle pasta because it would help hold onto the sauce, and it was a festive looking pasta for the BBQ. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand!

PASTA SALAD WITH FETA, BASIL & OLIVES (Adapted from The Parsley Thief)

6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound Campenelle pasta (or pasta of choice)
1 large red-ripe tomato, diced
8 ounces feta
1 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup black olives, pitted & halved

Add the olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes & garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain & transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing & toss to coat. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, feta, basil, Parmesan, & olives. Toss to combine.

Serve chilled.