Butterscotch Banana Bread

13 Jan

My good friend Karen gave me this recipe. Makes two loaves, one for eating and one for giving away or freezing!

- 3-1/2 cups unsifted white flour
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cups ripe bananas, mashed (4-6 medium bananas)
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2-1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
- One 12 oz pkg. Nestle Butterscotch Morsels, or 12 oz combination of butterscotch, peanut butter, white chocolate, semi-sweet, or milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine bananas, sugar, eggs and butter; beat until creamy. Gradually add flour mixture alternately with milk; mix until well blended. Stir in 2 cups chopped nuts and butterscotch morsels. Pour batter into two well-greased and floured 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pans. Sprinkle tops equally with remaining nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (I err on the shorter side so the bread doesn’t dry out). Cool 15 minutes; remove from pans. Freezes well.

Spicy Chipolte Chili Soup with White Beans and Chicken

21 Dec

Drastically adapted from Organic Gardening.

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 to 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder (the more powder, the spicier the chili!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Push the onions to one side of the pan, add the chicken, and sprinkle with the chipotle chile powder, cumin, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until most of the chicken is opaque on the outside, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of the beans and 2 cups of the stock. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the remaining beans and remaining 1 cup stock. Process to a smooth puree. Stir the bean puree into the soup. Gradually add the half-and-half, stirring as you add it, so it doesn’t curdle. Dip one cup of the soup out and into a bowl, add the sour cream and stir until blended. Gradually add sour cream mixture into the soup (again, this is so it doesn’t curdle). Stir in the cheddar cheese, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.

It is important not to let the soup boil again after the dairy products have been added, so it doesn’t curdle.

Serve with additional shredded cheese and sour cream, which cuts down the heat if you find it’s too spicy. If you want a thicker consistency, dissolve 3 TBSP of corn starch with 1/2 cup of half-and-half, and stir into the soup before adding the sour cream.

Serve with potato rolls! They’re awesome.

I suppose you could lower the considerable fat content by using fat-free half-and-half, sour cream, and cheese, but where’s the fun in that?

Outstanding Chicken Noodle Soup

21 Dec

Adapted from Tyler Florence.

My husband, who is NOTORIOUSLY picky, absolutely raved about this Chicken Noodle Soup. He said it was the best he’d ever tasted, and actually VOLUNTARILY ate it three nights in a row. That’s a record for our household!

The recipe really shines when made with homemade chicken stock, for which I have a great recipe.

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and chopped
3 fresh thyme sprigs, de-stemmed (leaves only)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken stock
8-10 ounces dried wide egg noodles (depending on how noodly you like your soup)
2 – 2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (depending on how chickeny you like your soup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 TBSP Worcestershire
1 tsp Tabasco

Place a heavy soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and herbs. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another five minutes – I find the noodles are cooked perfectly at this point. Stir in the parsley, the Tabasco and the Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper (taste it first!). Turn off heat but leave pot on the burner, covered, for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to gather. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

Now, I made this recipe above and added 1/2 of a 16oz bag of egg noodles, plus another handful. This made the soup VERY noodly. When the soup cooled it looked like the broth really disappeared. However, it’s in there, and we found that we liked the more-noodle-less-broth consistency. Your mileage may vary!

Best Chicken Stock

21 Dec

Adapted from Annie’s Eats.

2 TBSP olive oil
3 carrots, washed and unpeeled, cut into chunks
3 ribs of celery, washed and cut into chunks (include the leafy hearts too, if you’ve got ‘em)
2 sweet onions, peeled and cut into chunks
1 chicken carcass plus scraps (I use anything and everything left over from making a roasted chicken – bones, skin, meat and all)
Water to cover
1 TBSP fresh cracked pepper
1 TBSP kosher salt
4 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven (like this one). Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add the chicken carcass to the pot. Add enough water to nearly fill the pot. Stir in the peppercorns, salt and herbs. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer, COVER, and let simmer 4-5 hours. Resist the temptation to add salt, though a couple of blurts of Tabasco or Worcestershire never hurt anyone.

Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl to remove the solids. Cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, remove the layer of fat that formed on the surface. Use immediately or freeze. I pour mine into muffin tins, freeze, then pop them out and store them in baggies. Each “stock muffin” equals about a half-cup of stock.

The Best Pasta Sauce EVER

26 Oct

My husband and I modified a recipe for pasta sauce that originally appeared in the Pink Adobe Cookbook. The Pink Adobe is a lovely Sonoran restaurant in Santa Fe, along the Old Santa Fe Trail. I HIGHLY recommend you check it out if you’re ever in the area.

This tomato-and-meat based pasta sauce is incredible and excellent atop Rotini noodles. Don’t skimp on the simmering time – it’s needed to develop the full depth of flavor that all of the herbs and spices provide. Trust me, you’ll never crack open a jar of Prego again!!!

Preparation time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves six

Ingredients:

- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1 TBSP worcestershire

- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil

- 1 cup beef broth
- 24-28 oz canned crushed tomatoes (whichever the largest size is in your grocery store)
- 12 oz (two six ounce cans) tomato paste
- 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1-2 tsp chili powder (depending on how spicy you like your sauce)
- 1 generous pinch EACH of dried oregano, marjoram, rosemary, basil, cumin, thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste

- grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Brown ground beef and ground pork with the worcestershire in a medium skillet. Drain thoroughly.

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil until shimmery and saute the onion, garlic, and celery until just transparent. Add the beef broth and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining ingredients (except the cheese), plus the cooked ground beef and pork. Stir to combine.

Bring to a LOW simmer and cook, covered, for one hour. Stir occasionally, and add splashes of beef broth, dark beer or red wine if the sauce seems too thick.

Dig around and try to find and remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve over your pasta of choice and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Eat entirely too much. Unbutton top button of pants. Lay on the couch and groan.

Leftovers the next day are PHENOMENAL.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

27 Nov

Also known as THE PIE(tm) on my blog.

Ingredients:
- One 9″ prepared pie crust, do not pre-bake/blind bake
- 4 TBSP butter, softened
- 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 c light Karo (corn) syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 c crushed pecans
- 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 TBSP bourbon (such as Maker’s Mark)

Cream butter. Add sugar gradually while beating. Add beaten eggs, Karo, salt, vanilla, and flour. Stir in chips and nuts. Stir in bourbon until well mixed. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to remix.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place crust in a glass pie dish, flour the bottom lightly.

Stir batter one final time, and pour into pie crust. Place on the bottom rack of the oven (if you don’t the bottom crust will come out soggy, as I discovered to my dismay) and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. If necessary, cover pie crust edges with foil to avoid burning. Continue baking for about 45 minutes, until center is no longer jiggly.

Let cool nearly completely before serving; pie surface will settle considerably during cooling. Serve with Whiskey Brown Sugar Whipped Cream.

Refrigerate leftovers.

(Adapted from a recipe provided to me by Dyskinesia and Taoist Biker, who are officially reserved a special place in Heaven for this.)

Irish Cream Brownies

27 Nov

These brownies are incredibly decadent. They taste fantastic several days later, and refrigerate very well. In fact, I like to cut them into small brownie bites, refrigerate them, and eat them very cold. With some of the leftover Irish Cream liqueur. Or vanilla ice cream. OH MAN, remember when Ben and Jerry’s made White Russian Ice Cream? That would have been so good with these! Ah, well.

This recipe was originally found over at The Wee Kitchen, who found it at Bake or Break. Bless you, ladies!!! BLESS YOU.

Batter:
- 1 cup butter
- 4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream Layer:
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur (Bailey’s recommended)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter and chocolate over low heat in a medium saucepan, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool.

Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving several inches of overhang on the two opposite sides of the pan. This will come in handy later for lifting the brownies up out of the pan for cutting. Lightly coat the foil-lined pan with a non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until fluffy (3-5 minutes). Gradually add in the flour and salt and continue to beat until combined. Set the beater aside, and fold in the melted chocolate mixture.

In another bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar and beat until creamy. Add egg and liqueur and continue to beat until combined.

Pour half of the chocolate batter into the pan. Spread all of the the cream layer over the chocolate layer. Pour the remaining chocolate batter over the cream layer and smooth. Create a marbled effect by swirling a knife through the batter.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until no longer jiggly in the center. Cool completely before cutting.

Whiskey Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

25 Nov

Put this on EVERYTHING. But especially pumpkin pie.

Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 TBSP brown sugar
- 1 TBSP whiskey (Maker’s Mark works well)

Put all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. With an electric beater, mix on medium speed until fluffy with soft peaks, about five minutes. Serve immediately. Swoon repeatedly.

Buffalo Burgers

4 Oct

I don’t think I’ll ever use ground beef again. These are SERIOUSLY good.

- 1 lb ground buffalo (bison) meat
- 2 tbsp minced garlic (about three cloves)
- 2 tbsp dried minced onion (fresh is good too)
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire
- salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, but try not to handle too much (the meat gets tough). Form meat into three large or four smaller patties. Grill on high heat for 3 minutes per side. Can also be fried or broiled, just keep in mind that buffalo meat cooks faster than ground beef. Serve on buns with your choice of cheese and condiments.

The Best Tuna Casserole Ever. I am so not kidding.

23 Sep

I adapted this recipe from one that I found on Food.com. We usually just do the stove top tuna and noodles, but lately I’ve found myself completely disinterested in eating it once I’ve made it. Enter this gem of a casserole, which I whole-heartedly assure you will be the best thing you put in your mouth today. Heh.

- 12 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked al-dente, drained and rinsed
- 1 can cream of golden mushroom soup (any cream of mushroom soup will do, but I find that the golden stuff adds nice color and flavor) – use the low fat stuff if you’re counting calories
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (low fat is ok)
- 1/4 cup sour cream (low fat is ok)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 five-ounce cans of tuna, drained
- 1/2 packet of dry Lipton onion soup mix
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, separated
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire
- 1 tsp Tabasco
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Optional – 1 cup of frozen baby peas or vegetable medley, thawed and drained

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl mix all ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese, and folding the cooked pasta in last after everything else has been mixed well. Pour everything into a greased casserole dish, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for thirty minutes. Serve hot – serves up to six.