January 30, 2012

Banana Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

Every now and then I get in the mood to bake a cake. Slathered in frosting, layer by layer, covered in sprinkles. Instead of making a huge cake that would taunt me and wink at me from across the room, I made a smaller, "healthier" version of a cake by using bananas and my 8 x 8 pan. But I didn't skip out on the frosting.

It is brown butter frosting, after all. The magic of brown butter. I love watching the butter melt and allowing it to become a warm amber color. It's so easy to make and once it's done you'll be surprised at how moist this cake is. It holds up well too, hanging out in an air tight container for more than a week.

Source: Lauren's Latest
Servings: 12

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup plain applesauce, unsweetened (I used yogurt)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large bananas, mashed

1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8×8 square dish with non stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, excluding the sugar. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a different bowl, whip sugar, oil and applesauce together. Stir in eggs, vanilla and mashed banana. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Pour into prepared dish and bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool completely.

To make the frosting, place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Just after the butter melts, start swirling the pan in small circles. After about 30 seconds or so, the butter should start foaming and will turn an amber color and smell nutty. Once this happens, remove from heat immediately and pour into a different container. Cool to room temperature.

Once butter has cooled, whip together with vanilla, powdered sugar and cream until smooth and creamy. Spread over cooled cake and top with chopped walnuts, if desired. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

January 18, 2012

Mac n' Cheese Soup

I've had this recipe dog-eared for months. The photograph in the magazine, Cuisine at Home, is a cheese-lovers, i.e me, dream. Filled to the rim with noddles in a cheddar bath and topped with crumbled bleu cheese (I can't have any bleu cheese right now, so sad). I die. If only I could make my bowl of soup look that good.

It's good enough though, right? I love that it has some crunch to it with bites of celery (also making it "healthy") and that it is super easy to make. Have it for lunch or dinner. With a grilled cheese on the side? Or would that be too much?

I'd love to experiment with different kinds of cheeses in the near future. The recipe calls for sharp cheddar, which is perfect, and fitting. How fun would it be to mix it up though and use different flavors? Let me know what you come up with.

Source: Cuisine at Home
Servings: 7 cups

1 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced celery
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I used regular pepper)
2 cups whole milk
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese (optional)
2 tbsp. minced fresh chives

Cook macaroni in large pot of salted water according to package direction; drain and set aside.

Sweat onion and celery in butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour to coat and cook 1 minute. Deglaze with wine and simmer until nearly evaporated. Stir in broth, mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne. Simmer until slightly thickened, 5 minutes, then whisk and warm through. Do not let boil or base may become grainy.

Add cheddar, 1 cup at a time, allowing it to melt completely before adding the next cup. Stir in macaroni, lemon juice, and salt; remove from heat.

Combine bleu cheese and chives in a small bowl. Garnish each serving with bleu cheese mixture. 

What soups are you loving lately?

January 16, 2012

Whole Wheat Grilled Chicken Wrap with Bacon

I don't know about you, but sometimes figuring out what to have for lunch can be a daunting task. Around these parts we have sandwiches, salads, or leftovers. Lately I've been making lots of salads to reach my veggie quota, but I've also turned to whole wheat pita bread.

It's really hard to photograph a wrap. How do the great food bloggers do it?

I constantly have lettuce, chicken, and cheese in the house. Those are essentials in my kitchen. Without them I'd be lost, especially without cheese. This week I had bacon in the produce drawer too, a rare commodity. As much as I love bacon, I try not to buy it too often or I'll put it into everything we eat. Which is exactly what I did this week. Oops.

What I love about wraps is how customizable they are. You can change them up so often it's hard to get bored of them. In this wrap I've got grilled chicken strips, bacon, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and honey mustard dressing. This isn't really a recipe, more of an idea of something new to have for lunch, in cause you've been struggling. I'm thinking of trying shrimp next!

Grilled Chicken Pita

Whole wheat pita bread
2 slices of bacon, cooked
Grilled chicken strips, cooked (I buy a bag of them at Costco already prepared)
Head of romaine lettuce
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Honey Mustard Dressing

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey mustard
Squeeze of lemon juice

Heat up pita bread in the microwave for 20 seconds. Fry bacon in a skillet and drain. Using the same skillet reheat grilled chicken strips, flipping over when starting to turn brown. Layer lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, shredded cheese, and chicken. To make dressing, combine olive oil, honey mustard, and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour over wrap contents and enjoy!

What do you like to have for lunch?

January 12, 2012

Chicken with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce

I've been eating a lot of tomatoes lately. I'm not a huge tomato person, I like them in salads, sandwiches but I could eat brushetta all day long. But for some reason I've noticed myself buying batches of tomatoes at the store. It's not because of a pregnancy craving either; I'm not dying to stuff them in my face.

But somehow they are making their way into my cart.

My favorite tomatoes are cherry tomatoes. I like to halve them and throw them into a salad or mix into pasta. I also like to make small caprese salads with them, drizzled in lots and lots of olive oil. This was a perfect way to use up what I had left of my tomatoes last week.

It's a super easy meal, so easy I categorized it as a "weeknight meal." You can get this on the table in 15-20 minutes. I loved the homemade butter spread in the recipe, however, next time I think I'll double it. The sauce could have used a bit more!
Source: Bon Appetit
Serves: 2

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped marjoram or oregano (I had oregano)
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 cups mixed cherry tomatoes (My store didn't have mixed)
Flat-leaf parsley

Mash butter, garlic, marjoram (or oregano), and paprika in a small bowl to blend. Season butter with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium heavy skillet over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet, cover, and cook until no longer pink in center, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. Tent chicken with foil to keep warm.

Increase heat to high. Add tomatoes to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to char and burst, about 5 minutes. Add remaining marjoram butter to skillet. Crush tomatoes slightly to release juices; stir 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon tomato sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

January 9, 2012

Crispy Parmesan Sage Pork Chops

I'm happy to report that I cooked dinner 4 nights in a row this week.

I've wanted lots of pasta, chicken, and pork. And nothing that takes too long, it seems like I'm not as patient as I used to be, which wasn't a whole lot to begin with, so now I'm really not patient. I tackled my overbearing aversion to baking (what is this baby doing to me?) and made oatmeal banana bread this week too! I wanted to make cookies too but since its been a while we were all out of unsalted butter and I had no idea. Hubby, sweet as ever, volunteered to go to the store but I figured it was better not to have the cookies if we already had banana bread.

So, if you're looking for something quick and easy for a weeknight, these crispy pork chops will be a perfect fit. I loved the hint of lemon and sage, a nice change to the regular 'ol pork chop. Served along side baked potatoes I was one happy camper.

Source: Food.com
Servings: 4

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
1 lemons, rind of, teaspoon grated
2 large eggs, whisked
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with
salt and pepper
4 boneless, thin cut pork chops
1/8-1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Mix in bowl, bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, dried rubbed sage and grated lemon peel. Then, on a plate put flour seasoned with salt and pepper; coat chops with flour. Dip in egg. Then dip in bread crumb mixture. Melt butter and olive oil in a oven-proof skillet. Brown chops until golden. Transfer to oven and bake until meat thermometer says 150 degrees, about 20 minutes.

January 7, 2012

My Top Ten Favorites of 2011

So I'm behind with my New Year wrap up post. With all the unpacking, cleaning, and decluttering I've done this week I'm finally making my way back into the blog world. Reunited, I hope!

In 2011 I received and discovered lots of new things. A waffle maker, ice cream maker, bbq grill, and a new found love for butternut squash and biscoff spread.

My favorite posts from 2011 are in no particular order. Some of these posts didn't get the praise I feel like they deserved, like this egg and bacon salad.

 So simple yet so delicious.

I fell in love with biscoff spread and made lots of cookies.

We were also obsessed with homemade strawberry ice cream.

Everyone devoured this frozen peanut butter pie. 

I can't imagine making a better burger than these.

A cheesy side dish I pair with chicken, steak, and pork chops.

I dreamed about my first roast chicken for days.

This slow-cooker orange chicken was one of my most popular posts.

The only pancake recipe you'll ever need.

My favorite cookie recipe- oatmeal chocolate chip.

What are your cooking goals for 2012?

January 3, 2012

I Think You Deserve to Know...

...why I've been MIA.

That's right! This little bugger is responsible for my absolute lack of desire to cook and look at food. Hence the reason for no blog posts, no comments, etc. I'm 12 weeks and 1 day pregnant!!!

Thankfully I've had no morning sickness, but extreme food aversions to the point where I can't think about food until I'm starving and then I just throw something together quickly to satisfy my hunger. My food aversions are starting to subside and last night I was able to cook a full meal. I'm going to try my best to start blogging again soon. Thank you to my loyal followers who have stuck with me. Happy New Year!