Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The BEST Banana Bread

I've only posted this recipe once before- as Banana Monkey Muffins, but its just so delicious I had to post it again. And this may not be my last time. I cannot apologize. Also, I think you will thank me. My mom has always made this perfect, moist and delicious banana bread whenever we had brown bananas. Now I've taken to doing the same! Funny how we all turn into our mothers, isn't it? It's OK- I don't mind one bit! :) This recipe is delicious as muffins, bread or even cupcakes. OK, I lied. I have also posted it in my Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes recipe. :) Oops. I'm sorry, but not really.

Another great thing about this recipe is its so quick and easy to make. Literally 5 minutes until its in the oven. It also doubles and freezes well. I had 5 very brown bananas so I made two loaves, intending to give one away, but somehow the other one ended up in the freezer for a later date. Oops. I really hope you get to make it soon!

The BEST Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
 Preheat oven to 350. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. It may work better to lay 1 piece going one way and another piece going the other way, both overhanging the pan for easy removal. Spray with cooking spray.

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until well combined and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add bananas, followed by sour cream until mixed. Slowly add flour mixture until batter is fully mixed. Use a spatula to fill prepared pan with batter and scrape bowl. Tap to settle. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden brown. Cool in pan for several minutes, then remove by holding both sides of parchment paper and allow to cool fully in parchment paper on rack. Best served slightly warm with butter.


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Monday, September 26, 2011

How To Poach an Egg

I JUST poached an egg!!! Very exciting stuff. I thought this was way beyond my skil llevel, but the authors of The Best of America's Test Kitchen made me believe in myself! I have posted several recipes from this cookbook- I cannot get enough of it. Everything is described in detail with photos and tips- I highly recommend it. They gave step-by-step instructions on how to make eggs benedict. Now, I will try that another time. This time I just wanted to learn to poach an egg. One egg out of two made it on the first try, so yippee! It's really esay too- you can do it too!

Stuff you need to poach an egg:

  • eggs
  • 2 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • water
  • large skillet with lid
  • teacups
  • slotted spoon
How to poach an egg:

  1. Fill a large skillet with water- almost to the brim. Add salt and vinegar and bring to a simmmer over high heat for several minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, crack your eggs into a teacup. You can put up to 3 eggs in each teacup, depending how many you are brave enough to poach at one time. I recommend starting with 1 or 2.
  3. Gently slide your eggs from the teacup into the simmering water. Cover pan and remove from heat. The residual heat of the water will cook your eggs.
  4. Let sit 5-7 minutes (mine took 7) for eggs with a runny yolk. Remove gently with a slotted spoon.
  5. Season and enjoy!

I had mine on a biscuit- yummy! :)

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Friday, September 23, 2011

University of Texas Cookie Cake

Hook'em Horns! Isn't it cute? :) 

So tasty, but you have to cut it first or everyone else feels bad cutting the first piece. ha!


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Orleans Surprise

Man, I'm always so behind on posting! haha Well I drove to New Orleans several weeks ago to surprise my dad for his birthday. It was a success! A long drive, but well worth it! I had a fun weekend with the fam eating delicious New Orleans food and listening to jazz music. Here are a few photos. Oh, and a tried to make my dad his favorite dessert, banana cream pie, but it didn't go so well. I'll save that for another post.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I made these when my friend, Michele, was in town from the UK, and luckily, she grabbed a quick iphone photo!
These pancakes are really good. Like really good. The perfect combo of cinnamon rolls & pancakes- brilliant RecipeGirl! Unfortunately, although I have made these twice, I have not taken any pictures of the final result! I guess I was really hungry & impatient. Regardless, I wanted to share the recipe with you so you can enjoy them too. The cinnamon filling & frosting last for a while in the fridge, so all you need to do is whip up another batch of pancake batter (Feel free to use your favorite recipe instead) & heat up the cinnamon sugar mixture in the microwave to make it softer- add some melted butter if needed.

For the final result, you don't NEED to add syrup. Or chocolate chips. I think the syrup adds a little extra something. And hey, you need the glaze too!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Recipe from RecipeGirl
For the pancakes:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk ( I used skim)
  • 1 TBSP canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the cinnamon sugar filling:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
For the cream cheese glaze:
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • sprinkle of salt
Make the pancakes:

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Measure the milk in a large measuring cup, add egg & oil and beat slightly with a fork. Whisk in wet ingredients until batter is just moistened. (lumps are A-OK).

Make the cinnamon sugar:

Mix together all 3 ingredients until well combined and scoop into a plastic bag. Set aside to set up. You don't want it to be too runny or too hot- the consistency of toothpaste is just right. You can put it in the fridge for a few minutes, if needed.

Make the cream cheese glaze:

In a small heatproof bowl, heat butter in microwave until almost melted. Add cream cheese until melted. Be careful, the cream cheese will "pop" in the microwave. Whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth. Set aside. 

Assemble the pancakes: 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and spray with butter cooking spray. Scoop 3/4 cup batter into pan. Wait 1 minute and snip small amount of corner of bag and squeeze spiral of filling on top of pancake. Once lots of bubbles begin to form on the top, flip pancake and cook a few more minutes until both sides are cooked through. Top with cream cheese glaze and maple syrup, if desired. Chocolate chips are a nice addition too if you're feeling crazy.


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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Someone Got Glasses...

OK. Fine. Maybe it wasn't him... Isn't he cute though?

I finally went to get my eyes checked after getting really bad headaches several times a week. This is what I ended up with..

I'm still getting used to them- I only need to wear them while on the computer/reading/working, so basically just 5 days/week.... I love how they make everything so clear though! ha :)

Have a great week!
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Taco Salad

When I went to California, my Mimi had a delicious Taco Salad dinner waiting for my mom and I when we arrived from the airport. I was starving, and it was delicious! I couldn't believe I hadn't thought to make something like this before, and when I was still thinking about it when I got back to Austin, I knew I had to make it! It's so easy, and there's no real recipe. Use whatever ingredients you have on hand or you like best. You can use tortilla chips instead of corn chips, but I really like the flavor and crunch these offer. The leftovers from this even taste delicious. You just re-heat the meat and beans in the microwave and take all the fresh stuff from the fridge. Mimi had some El Tortito's salad dressing that was extra tasty on top too, but there is no El Tortio's in Texas. Sad day. I was fine just using salsa though.

No beans in this version though. Avocados and olives are nice too!

Taco Salad
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup your favorite salsa
  • Fritos corn chips
  • 1 bag lettuce- I like romaine
  • a few green onions, sliced
  • a few sprigs of cilantro, torn
  • corn, if you have it
  • 1 can black or refried beans, warmed up on the stove
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • extra salsa/dressing for garnish
Cook the ground beef according to the directions on the taco packet. When it calls for 3/4 cup water, substitute 1/2 salsa + 1/4 cup water. Place corn chips on bottom of plate. Add meat and beans. Add remaining toppings, as desired. IT's really fun to let everyone "make their own plate."


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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

America's Test Kitchen: The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

There are so many chocolate chip cookies out there and they are all a little different. Everyone has their favorite. My normal chocolate chip cookie recipe is the one on the back of the Nestle chocolate chips- why mess with perfection? These cookies are truly wonderful too, but in a different way. I think they are the new favorite around my house!

The browned butter and dark brown sugar really add another layer of flavor you didn't think was possible with cookies- also they are HUGE. Let's face it, everything I've tried from my The Best of America's Test Kitchen Cookbook has been AWESOME (i.e. Baked Ziti). I can't wait to try the rest of the recipes!

One of the best parts? I froze half of the balls of dough to bake when the craving strikes! Just place frozen balls on parchment and bake in preheated oven (375) for 15-18 minutes.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
The Best of America's Test Kitchen
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup backed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg , plus 1 large yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chcolate chips or chunks

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour and baking soda in amedium bowl- set aside.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and melt 10 TBSP butter. 
Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is a dark golden brown color and has a nutty aroma (1 - 3 minutes). Remove from heat and use a spatula to transfer melted butter to a large heatproof bowl. Stir in the remaining 4 TBSP butter into hot buter until melted.

Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to the butter mixture and whisk until combined. Add egg and egg yolk and whisk until smooth (30 seconds). Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes and whisk for another 30 seconds. Repeat the whisking and resting process 2 more times until the mixture is thick and shiny.

This may seem silly, but apparently a scientist contributed to this recipe and the process of allowing the sugars to rest before baking allows them to be dissolve more and therefore have  more caramely flavor. I can't disagree!

Stir in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined (about 1 minute). Stir in the chocoalte chips and give it one final stir to make sure there aren't anymore flour pockets.

Divide dough into 16 portions (each about 3 TBSP). These are BIG cookies! Place onto prepared baking sheet (or freeze in parchment paper in plastic containers. Make sure they are at least 2 inches apart to allow for spreading (no more than 8 balls per sheet, depending on the size of your sheet). Bake 1 tray at a time until the edges are set but the center is still soft and puffy and they are golden brown all over - 10-14 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and cool completely on sheet before serving.

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