Wednesday, October 28, 2009

...banana CRUNCH muffins...

So, I had these bananas hanging on the banana hook...forever. Seriously, these were the ripest bananas could possibly get - I'm pretty sure of it. And, of course, I've got about a hundred banana recipes (who doesn't?!), but I just didn't feel like I was in the mood to make a single one of them. So I went from my banana recipe-stumped funk to none other than the one and only, and voila...banana crunch muffins!!! Thank you, dear Ina Garten, for these wonderful, flavorful, sweet & delicious morsels. I have to say that the topping is absolute perfection! But I did run out because I topped the first pan quite generously, and I must declare that these muffins are fabulous enough to stand on their own, even without the topping. Also note, this recipe made mucho batter, so I actually ended up with 18 large muffins! Needless to say, I'm glad I didn't just go with the same old banana bread - this new ambition of "trying something new for the blog" absolutely paid off! Hope you like!
Banana Crunch Muffins
From the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook &

3 c. flour (I used half whole wheat)
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 c. whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mashed ripe banana
1 c. medium diced ripe banana
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. granola
1 c. sweetened coconut
sift flour, sugar, baking powder, soda & salt into bowl. add melted butter & blend. combine eggs, milk, vanilla & banana and add them to the flour & butter mixture. scrape the bowl & blend well, but don't overmix. fold in diced bananas, walnuts, granola & coconut into the batter. fill each muffin cup to the top. top each w/ dried banana chips, granola, or coconut, if desired (I used them all!). cook 25-30 minutes @ 350 degrees. cool slightly, remove from pan & serve.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Tis the season for squash, my friends! And this year, I've decided that I'm no longer willing to let these awesome vegetables simply stand by as the sidekick to whatever meat I'm in the mood to cook. That's right, you are now entering the zone of squash as a main dish ... are you ready? Can you handle it? I sure hope so, because if not, you'll be missing out on some seriously tasty dinners! This is only the first of many - ok, maybe it's the first of a few, but whatever. I thought I'd start things off with none other than the spaghetti squash. I received this recipe in an email, and I was just too intrigued to let it go. I had to try it. I'm really glad I did, and so is Dick (he finished off the leftovers for lunch today)! Anyway, if this spikes your curiosity at all, just give it a whirl - it's super easy, healthy, filling, and mucho delicioso!
Spaghetti Squash Casserole

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise, seeds out
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small chopped onion
1 tsp. dried basil
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. grated parmesan
3 Tbsp. seasoned bread crumbs
preheat oven to 400 degrees. place squash cut side down onto a greased pan. cook 30 min. or until tender when pierced w/ a knife. with a fork, scrape strands out into large bowl. meanwhile, warm oil in a skillet. cook onion, garlic & basil 4-5 min. add tomatoes. cook 3-4 min., or until mixture is dry. to bowl w/ squash, add cottage cheese, mozzarella, parsley, salt & onion mixture. stir to mix. pour into a prepared baking dish. sprinkle w/ parmesan cheese & bread crumbs. bake 30 min. or until bubbly & heated through.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

*PeRfEcT Peanut Butter Fingers

What is creamy and/or chunky, delicious, and can make all of your problems seem to melt away? There's only one right answer here, and you all know exactly what it is ... peanut butter. Whether you're eating it on a sandwich, in ice cream, on a banana, in cookies, or just feel the need to load up a spoon and enjoy it lick by lick, peanut butter is sure to make you feel better about pretty much anything. Unless you're feeling a little crazy and try to pair it in a shake with mint (I don't know why Dick thought that one would work!), but those are the few and very far betweens. This little dessert has been a personal fave for years, and I recently tasted the best recipe ever, so I had to try making it for myself. The secret touch to this recipe that sets it apart from all others I've tried is a generous layer of peanut butter on top of the "crust" just before you add the chocolate frosting. GENIUS! Ashley, whose brilliant idea that step of the process was has forever changed my peanut butter finger loving life. All I can say is pour yourself a glass of milk, and prepare yourself, because half of the pan will be gone before you know it!
Peanut Butter Fingers
From Ashley Olney

3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. peanut butter, plus extra for middle layer
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. flour
1 3/4 c. quaker oats
chocolate frosting (store bought or homemade)
mix all ingredients in a large bowl. heat oven to 375 & cook for 10-12 minutes. let cool. spread peanut butter on top, followed by chocolate frosting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

>Portobello Mushroom Bake<

So, Dick claims that he's not a big fan of mushrooms, but I think deep down he really is. Maybe not raw mushrooms, but I'm not big on raw ones either, so that's ok with me. Anyway, I think I've just about got him converted after this dinner! He loved it, and so did I! I think next time I'll leave out the chicken and add more mushrooms to make it a vegetarian meal. The red peppers add so much flavor, and the parmesan cheese really puts the cherry on top! You'll love this one, too - it's the perfect dinner for an awesome Autumn day! We ate it with a spinach salad, and it was still delicious as leftovers for lunch at work the next day, too. This is one we'll add to our list of fave casseroles, for sure!

Portobello Mushroom Bake
From Prevention Magazine

8 oz. small rigatoni pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
2 large portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 onion, halved & sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
2 cans (10 oz each) condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 c. chicken broth
2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
preheat the oven to 375. coat a 13 x 9 baking dish w/ cooking spray.
prepare pasta according to package directions.
meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. add the chicken and cook, turning once, for 8 minutes or until golden. remove to a plate and keep warm.
heat the remaining Tbsp oil in the same skillet. add the mushrooms, onion, and peppers & cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until soft.
in a large bowl, combine chicken, pasta, mushroom mixture, soup, broth, & sage. spoon into the prepared baking dish. sprinkle with the cheese.
cover loosely with foil and bake 20 minutes. remove foil and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until hot and bubbly.

Monday, October 19, 2009

~Adam's Apple Mashed Potatoes~

So, I was looking at the "recipe of the day" that I was emailed from my favorite Food, and it looked too simple and delicious not to try. I've definitely never had apples in my mashed potatoes before, so this was a first. To tell you the truth, I've also never made my mashed potatoes from scratch before, so the whole thing was a first for me! hahaha embarrassing, but true. Dick was a little hesitant, about the whole thing...especially when I told him the recipe was from Guy Fieri (he comes across a little nutso on TV, don't you think?!), but he loved them, and so did I. We had them on the side of some chili-crusted salmon I found at on one of my fave cooking blogs: Gourmified, and we looooooved that, too! I highly recommend both recipes. The only thing I'd change about the potatoes is to add more garlic, or mince it up or something, because that flavor just wasn't strong enough for me. Here's to you, Guy - I'm now much more confident that there is method to your madness...but still a little nervous about your hair lol.
Adam's Apple Mashed Potatoes
From Guy Fieri of the Food Network

3 1/2 lbs baby yukon gold potatoes, halved
kosher salt
8-10 cloves garlic
black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 c. half and half
3 Tbsp butter
2 Granny Smith apples, cored & diced
preheat oven to 350. put potatoes in large pot & cover 1 inch w/ cold water. bring water to boil over high heat, add salt, and cook about 20 minutes until tender.
meanwhile, create boat shape w/ tin foil & add garlic cloves. season w/ salt & pepper, drizzle w/ oil. seal foil & roast about 30 minutes until nicely caramelized. heat half & half in small saucepan over low heat until hot.
drain potatoes & put back into pot. heat from pot will continue to dry out potatoes. add half & half, butter, and roasted garlic & mash. fold in apples & season to taste.

Monday, October 12, 2009

~Pumkin Chocolate Chip Cookies~

You know what I love about Fall? 1) Halloween - I loooove to dress up! 2) My birthday is in October, and in my family we usually end up celebrating more of a birthweek or a birthmonth, so that's always good. 3) Usually the weather is cool enough to wear my fave sweaters & boots, but really you never know what you're going to get in Utah. And 4) the food that is in "season" for Fall! I can't get enough tasty soups, squash, comfort foods, and let's not forget the pumpkin flavored desserts! I know, I know, you can get pumpkin cookies and breads all year long, and I do, but this is the time of year when they shine - when they truly stand out in all of their delicious pumpkin glory.
I found this recipe last year, before I was in the habit of citing all of my sources, so I don't remember exactly where I got this one. I do know I found it online (broader than broad, i know hahaha).
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
From somewhere in cyberspace

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 c. milk chocolate chips
beat butter until smooth. beat in sugars, a little at a time until mixture is light & fluffy. beat in eggs one at a time, then mix in vanilla & pumpkin. In a separate large bowl, mix dry ingredients. slowly beat flour mixture into the batter in thirds. stir in the chips. scoop onto sprayed cookie sheet in heaping tablespoons. bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until brown around the edges. cool on wire rack.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Soup's on! w/ cHiCkEn NoOdLe SoUp

I know, I know! This is like my 4th soup recipe in a row! But the weather is finally cooling down to that brisk Fall that I LOVE, and the leaves are changing, and it just feels like "soup weather," ya know?! Plus, they've all been crazy simple and fast, so they're nice to make after going to work. I'm not gonna lie though, I think Dick might be all souped out for the time being. He hasn't complained at all, he even requested the black bean soup again the other night, but I'm just sensing a vibe that's saying give me something solid! hahaha Anyway, I've made homemade chicken noodle soup before, and it has always always always been better than anything I've had out of a can - my days of canned chicken noodle are long gone! The one that set this one apart from the others is that it called for dill. LOVED IT! Once again, it was easy peasy and a big hit! We ate it for dinner while watching Biggest Loser this week, and it was very satisfying, but can I just say that if that Loony Toon Tracy doesn't get sent home next week I'm going to lose it! hahaha But seriously, if you like chicken, and you like noodles, this one is right up your alley.
Chicken Noodle Soup
From November 2009 Woman's Day Magazine

6 c. chicken broth
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (visible fat trimmed)
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped carrots
1 large parsnip, peeled & chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp pepper
2 c. uncooked medium noodles
1/4 c. snipped fresh dill
1. put broth, chicken, celery, onion, carrots, parsnip, garlic, bay leaf, and pepper in a large saucepan. cover and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and veggies are tender.
2. discard bay leaf. remove chicken to a plate to cool slightly. add noodles to soup; cover and simmer 10 minutes, or until tender.
3. meanwhile, shred chicken with 2 forks. add to soup along with the dill.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Butternut Apple Soup

So, quite some time ago (it was seriously probably six months or so ago) I was with the fam at my grandparents' house, and I was flipping through a cookbook. My grandma is a diabetic, so it was a book of recipes specifically for a diabetic diet. Anyway, I saw this soup and really wanted to try it, so I wrote the recipe on a post-it, and six months later, here it is! The only thing I didn't do was top it with the Swiss cheese because we didn't have any, but I think that would've only made it even better! I'll definitely do that next time. We really liked it, but I definitely should have halved the recipe - we had it for dinner, lunch the next two days, and there are still leftovers in the fridge! hahaha It was delicious and super easy to make, and I always love anything I can put in the crock pot. I also love how festive it is for Fall! Don't you?!
Butternut Apple Squash
From The Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp cracked black peppercorn
5 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 butternut squash, ~2.5 lbs, peeled & chopped
2 tart apples (granny smith), coarsely chopped
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

in a large skillet, heat oil over med-high heat for about 30 seconds. add onions, and cook about 3 minutes to soften. add garlic, rosemary & peppercorns. cook about 1 minute, then transfer to slow cooker. add broth, then stir in squash and apples. cover and cook on low 6-8 hrs, or high 3-4 hrs, or until squash is tender. preheat broiler. working in batches, puree soup in blender. ladle soup into oven-proof bowls, sprinkle with cheese & broil until melted, ~2 minutes. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Reliving the best week of my life via Easy Spicy Black Bean Soup

The best week of my entire life happened almost a year ago. I'm not talking about my wedding or honeymoon, although those are come in at seriously close seconds (I know that sounds awful, but don't worry, I know that Dick completely agrees with me on this one)! I'm talking about the Eastern Caribbean cruise my grandparents took my whole family on for Christmas. It was an entire week of tropical beaches, sparkling blue ocean, unforgettable food, someone else doing my dishes and making my bed, and being on a family vacation where we could be with or escape family whenever we wanted...Heaven! I was seriously depressed for about two weeks after coming home to drudging through the snow on campus and digging my car out of our apartment's parking lot after it being buried by the plow. My whole family still talks about it all the time, and a lot of that talk is about the glorious food we ate on the Norwegian Dawn. We ate in the fancy shmancy restaurant as often as we could because none of us eat like that in real life. My sister had a steak every single night, which she loved! And I tried lots of things I'd never had before: creme brulee and duck, to name just a couple. I also got an appetizer, entree, and dessert every night just so I could try as much of the menu as I possibly could! Luckily I didn't gain the dreaded 10 pounds people talk about, although I have no idea how I pulled that one off! Anyway, it was honestly the coolest week of my life - I was with all of the people I love the most, doing and seeing the most awesome and beautiful things ever. It was hard coming back to reality, but every once in awhile there is something that takes me back. Hence, this black bean soup.
I was thinking about what soups I'd like to make last week while I mentally prepared for our crazy Utah weather to take a dive, and it just came to me. We loved a similar soup on the cruise, and this one may even be better! It is seriously jam-packed with flavor - you're gonna love it, I promise. We ate it with quesadillas, but you could do tacos or anything you want along with it. Only one requirement: you have to close your eyes and imagine you're in the Caribbean while you eat.

Easy Spicy Black Bean Soup
From Cathy Lowe of the Food Network

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. chopped green bell pepper
1 c. chopped red bell pepper
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
6 c. chicken broth
2 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
In large heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, & peppers & cook until tender 5-8 minutes. Stir in spices & toss to coat veggies. Pour in stock & beans, bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer & cook 15 minutes. In large blender, puree half of soup until smooth & stir back into soup. Serve hot with garnishes.

A few fun memories:

I sang karaoke every night w/ my sister!

Doesn't it look like Dick is in a Corona commercial?!

We rented a scooter to tour the island

Best New Year's ever!

Dick & Dad: the men of my life

I was this happy all week!!!

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