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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Champagne Mango Banana Bread

Hi there! Good to see you again. Your hair looks fantastic today.

Who's tired of it being 105 degrees outside? 

My dogs certainly are. 
They are so incredibly dramatic. Two minutes outside and they look at me like it's the end of the world. "Mommy, save me".
Nala, my princess Rhodesian won't even set her foot on the grass if it rains. What a princess pansy!

Regardless of their dramatic qualities, they are the only babies we have at this point! Jon and I love them more than anything. They love baked goods as well. Any chance Nala gets, and she's up on the counter enjoying whichever dessert I made last.

I've come to a five conclusions in the past couple of weeks. They are pretty much common sense.

#1 - When in doubt, use butter. Butter makes people happy. Butter is always a good decision in my book.

#2 - Chocolate on top of anything makes it taste good. Remember that one, it'll come in handy in the future.

#3 - Champagne mango bread tastes just as amazing as some other quick-breads. Don't let the word mango throw you off. This bread is a-d-d-i-c-t-i-n-g.

#4 - Champagne (or Ataulfo) mangos are wonderful. The flavor is intense, sweet, delicious, and they aren't stringy at all. You can only get them a few months out of the year though.

#5 - Keep baked goods stored somewhere other than the counter, so Nala doesn't jump up and devour them.

Champagne Mango Banana Bread
Adapted from allrecipes.

makes one 9×5-inch loaf

3 medium or 2 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ripe champagne mangos, sliced into chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract, and whisk briskly to incorporate.
Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.  Fold in mango chunks.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle with extra sugar if you’d like.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean, or with just a few crumbs.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before transferring out of a pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.
This bread will last, wrapped at room temperature, for up to 5 days… but it’s best when eaten within a few days.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Whole Wheat Squash Muffins with Walnuts and Chocolate

Hey, how are you doing today?  

I hear you. Me too. Total bummer in this heat.

What's that? You think the Twilight movies are secretly great? 

Me too. I won't tell your secret.

Have you ever used squash for baking before?

Oh my gosh, what a coincidence, I haven't either!

I thought I'd give it a whirl. Guess what?

Total success. Totally yum yum yum. 

You should try it too!
I realize that I'm having a conversation with someone who isn't really there. You're not there, are you?

 That's okay though. That means more muffins for me. That means more delicious chocolate in a bowl that I can spoon into my mouth. More amazing, moist muffin-ness. 

This is the best muffin I've ever tasted.

Do yourself a favor, make them. Make them now. 

Eat them all with a cold glass of milk. Then thank me.
Whole Wheat Squash Muffins with Walnuts and Chocolate
1 and 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cups grated yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips to melt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tray with liners.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, spices and baking soda.
To grate squash, use food processor and pulse until chopped, or use knife.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar, and continue beating until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, squash, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Stir in sifted ingredients. Use ice cream scooper to fill muffin cups. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Be careful not to over-bake. Remove muffins from oven. Warm up one cup of chocolate until melted. Smooth chocolate over each muffin. Stuff your face. You'll love it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Zucchini Quick-Bread & Farmer's Market Photos

I really need a vacation. 
My husband and I both do. 
We are probably going to Vermont this winter for a ski vacation. 
Even more than going to Vermont in the winter, I'd love to go during the summer. 
It's so beautiful there. The weather, the nature. 
It just looks wonderful. Maybe next year, or in a few.
Berries are beautiful. They are so summerish (is that a word?). They make me think of my Grandad. Picking berries on the side of his shed. Oh, how I miss being a child.

I think the best part of a farmer's market is all of the color and freshness. It's always so pretty! Also, the samples. Need I say more? I got to try some interesting berries this past week that I've never had before. I'm always up for trying new things.

In a couple of months we are going to the mountains in Virginia. Shenandoaha is gorgeous and I plan on hiking. I also plan on swimming, playing miniature golf, eating ice cream. Just doing whatever I want for a change. 

This zucchini bread is moist, hearty, full of delicious flavor. 
It's in my top 5 quick breads. 
It's crunchy because of the mix between zucchini, whole wheat flour, crushed almonds, and the chocolate chips add a bit of sweetness. My husband demanded I make another one for him to take to work the following day, and so I did, and he was happy. (He more like politely asked me).

Also, I should mention how easy it is to make. It doesn't take very long to whip up (hence the name quick bread). 
The baking is the part that requires some patience, as it takes about an hour and 15 minutes. It's well worth the wait.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Zucchini Quick-Bread
Adapted from: Paula Deen

Makes two 9" loafs. To make one, simply cut the recipe in half.

3 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Grease (2) 9 by 5-inch loaf pans.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, spices and baking soda.
To grate zucchini, use food processor and pulse until chopped, or use knife.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar, and continue beating until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, zucchini, almonds, and chocolate chips. Stir in sifted ingredients. Pour into prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove loaves from pans. I think this bread is best while warm or even right out of the oven.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rachel's Heirloom Tomato Pie

Friends are like tomatoes. There are some that are just your run-of-the-mill, hot-house tomatoes. They are not really there for you, not really supportive. You seldom have dinner with this tomato, but there is nothing meaningful there between you both.
Some tomatoes throw you away like garbage, make you feel like you're not good enough. Those tomatoes suck. Those tomatoes make you wish you never invested in them. Yea, totally a bummer to encounter one of these friends (I mean tomatoes).
Then, there is the heirloom tomato. This tomato is unique, special, perfect just the way it is. You accept each other, you let each other know that you are totally there for one another. Heirloom tomatoes don't come often, but when you find one, you hold on to it tightly, and never let go.
My best friend (heirloom tomato friend) just moved to Florida today. Being that I live in Maryland, I'm not too thrilled about the whole thing. I cried, and cried, and I've been crying in the anticipation of this for a couple of months now. She has a daughter, I was in the room when she gave birth to her. She's so beautiful, she has hair of the sun, a smile that lights up a room. I love her. She knows Aunt Katie loves her. She is what I would consider a mini-heirloom tomato. Totally special, adorable and sweet.
We've decided to have weekly skype sessions, visit often. Even if she is so far away, heirloom tomatoes don't come by too often, and she is the best tomato I've ever had. Rachel, I love you. I made this for you.
Rachel's Heirloom Tomato Pie
Adapted from The Food Network

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons shredded manchego cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 1/4 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes
Kosher salt
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper

Make the crust: Pulse the flour, cornmeal and fine salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and 3 tablespoons manchego; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal with pea-size bits of butter. Drizzle in 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough comes together; add 1 more tablespoon ice water if necessary. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.

Put the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 13-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate. Fold the overhang under itself and crimp the edges. Pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the crust with foil, then fill with dried beans. Bake until the edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 more minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Make the filling: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Meanwhile, thinly slice the tomatoes; toss with 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a colander. Let drain, gently tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup manchego, the mozzarella, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons each chives and parsley, the thyme, 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper, and the sauteed onion in a bowl. Spread in the crust. Arrange the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with pepper. Bake until the tomatoes are browned, about 50 minutes. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon each chives and parsley.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Whole Grain Healthy Muffins

Foods that make me say "ooh":

poptarts, blueberries, fried chicken, crabs with old bay, all you can eat buffets, cookie dough, almond joy pieces, sushi, chicken teriyaki, filet, etc.
 Foods that make me say "eww":

chopped up friend onions, okra, any kind of raisins, haring, chunks of hard chocolate in ice cream.
 Fresh blueberries are like "fruit crack". I love them so much. I could eat handful after handful after handful after...well, you get the point.

There are so many fun things to do with them. Pie, muffins, cake, icing.
 I could literally spoon this batter into my mouth, and eat it raw, but I don't, because I'd probably eat it all before I could bake the muffins. This is a harty muffin, this is a muffin that tastes like it's healthy, and that isn't a bad thing, I promise.
Whole Grain Healthy Muffins
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped blueberries
3/4 cup oatmeal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted 
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey (good quality)

Grease or line 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add blueberries, greek yogurt and milk. Blend together using mixer on low until combined. Add butter and honey, mix together until blended. Use ice cream scoop to evenly fill cupcake liners.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Peach Raspberry Crumble

If a recipe calls for one cup of sugar, and you only use 1/4 of a cup, and you let that be known, you'll get some strange looks, believe me. What's funny is usually those strange looks come from the people who ask you not to keep "bad for you" baked goods around the house.
When I grab a peach usually, I don't dip it in sugar before I bite into it. 
I like it the way it is. Natural and sweet.
Anyways. This is sort of a "good-for-you" treat. I won't mention the fact that it's delicious with a little (or a lot) of ice cream on top. It's also good right out of the pan, without adding anything to it. Using only a little amount of sugar keeps it sweet and a little bit tart. You'll enjoy it and won't feel like a pig after eating it.
 Unless of course, you eat the entire crumble in one sitting, in which case, I'm totally impressed.

Peach Raspberry Crumble

makes 1 8×8-inch square baking dish

5-6 medium ripe peaches, sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries (if using frozen, just thaw and drain)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Place sliced peaches and raspberries in a square 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, oats, spices, and salt.  Add the butter and toss the mixture together with your hands.  Break the butter up into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small pebbles and oat flakes.  This took me about 4 minutes.

Toss a generous handful (about 1 cup) of crumble topping into the peach and raspberry mixture.  Toss loosely with your hands.  Spread fruit evenly in the pan and top with the remaining crumble mixture.  Bake until fruit is juicy and bubbling, and the top of the crumble is slightly browned and crisp, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and serve with vanilla ice cream.  Crumble is delicious served warm and can be stored, covered, in the fridge and reheated in the oven or microwave for serving.