Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Julia's Best Banana Bread

Julia's Best Banana Bread
Banana bread is a favorite at my house.  Eating it plain, with butter or to make PB&J's  - it is always good.  I have a recipe I make but when I saw this one for Julia's banana bread I had to try it.  As you can see from the recipe, it is very easy to make. There are no spices just the flavor of the bananas.  You start by whisking together flour, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl you whisk together eggs, sugar, bananas, and vegetable oil. Pout the batter in a pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.  I had to put foil over my bread because it browned so quickly.  This is due to the browning effect of baking soda.  You can read more about the effect here.
The  bread had a nice sweet banana flavor and was very moist.  It  also had a nice crust to it.

Julia's Best Banana Bread
From Bon Appetit

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
3/4 cup vegetable oil


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a  9x5x3- inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth.  Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

4. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.

5. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread.  Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf

Do Ahead:  Banana bread can be made 3 days ahead.  Store airtight at room temperature.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hash Browns

Hash Browns
The latest issue of Food and Wine magazine did a section on cooking legends.  Of course, one of those legends was Julia Child.  One of Julia's favorite sides according to the article was hash browns.  She served the dish with roast chicken or Cornish hen.  I served mine with Balsamic Pot Roast.  Hash browns are a relatively easy and flavorful dish to prepare.  Julia's are seasoned with salt and pepper and   are cooked in vegetable oil and butter.  First, the potatoes are peeled and cut into cubes.  Then  the potatoes are boiled in salt water until they are almost tender.  They are then drained and fried in a skillet with butter and vegetable oil.  They are cooked until they crusty on the bottom. The potatoes are then turned and cooked again until crusty.  Your dish is now ready to serve.
While this was a simple dish to prepare, the hash browns were very tasty.  I loved the crustiness on the bottom of the potatoes.  They were not mushy like some hash browns can be.  They went well with our pot roast.

Hash Browns
From Food and Wine Magazine


1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper


1. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, add  4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer, partially covered until almost tender.  Drain and pat dry.
2. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet.  Add the vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter.  When the foam subsides, add the potatoes and cook over moderately high heat, tossing until lightly golden.  Season with salt and pepper and roughly mash the potatoes with a spatula.  Dot the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the potatoes, cover and cook until crusty on the bottom, about 3 minutes.  Slide the potatoes onto a plate and invert them back into the pan.  Cook until the underside is nice and  crusty.  Slide the potatoes onto a platter and serve.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cheating ~On~ Winter Pea Soup

Cheating~On~Winter Pea Soup
This week our assignment in French Fridays With Dorie was pea soup.  At first, I wasn't too sure about this recipe - peas were cooked with romaine lettuce. This wasn't in my book a good combination.  The kids were not too sure about it either.  However, I persevered and made the recipe for our dinner.   I am so glad I did:) So were the kids.    This soup was delicious.  The romaine lettuce added a wonderful flavor to the soup.
Peas, Onions, and Lettuce
This is a very easy and quick soup to make.  You start by cooking an onion that has been diced in butter for about 3 minutes.  You then season  with salt and pepper and add broth - I used chicken broth.  Bring the broth to a boil and then stir in the frozen peas and lettuce.  Lower the heat and let the soup bubble away for 10 minutes.  Puree the soup in batches.  I let the soup cool down before I put it in the blender.  Taste -  adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve with a dollop of sour cream.  I swirled some heavy cream into my soup.  A perfect soup for an evening meal  to take off the winter chill.
This recipe can be found on page 59 in Around My French Table.  

Ready to be Pureed

Dinner is Served

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Balsamic Pot Roast

Balsamic Pot Roast
Balsamic Pot Roast is easy to prepare, very tasty and requires little clean up.  Everything is cooked in a slow cooker. Perfect for days when you are on the run or just need an easy meal.   The hardest part of this dish is chopping the carrots, onions, garlic, and celery.  This fragrant and flavorful mixture of veggies is place over your roast that has been seasoned with salt, thyme, and black pepper.  Pour  beef stock and balsamic vinegar over the roast.  Cover and cook on low for 10 hours. That is it.  Dinner is cooking.  The recipe suggested to serve the pot roast with prepared polenta and sauteed sweet peppers.  I served mine with Julia's Hash browns - recipe to come In February 2013:)
I loved the flavor the veggies and the balsamic vinegar gave the roast.  The meat was very moist and tender.  An added bonus, very little clean up:)

Balsamic Pot Roast
From Family Circle Magazine

1 beef chuck or bottom round roast, about 3 1/4 pounds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups unsalted beef stock
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
Prepared polenta and sauteed sweet peppers (optional)


1. Spray slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray.  Season roast with salt, thyme, and black pepper.  Place in bottom of slow cooker.

2. Scatter onion, carrots, celery and garlic over roast.  Pour stock and balsamic vinegar over top.  Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours.

Veggies Over Roast

Veggies, Beef Stock, and Balsamic Vinegar

3. Remove roast and allow to rest 15 minutes before slicing.  Skim fat from cooking liquid.  Mash vegetables in cooking liquid to slightly thicken sauce.
4. Serve sliced roast with sauce and, if desire, polenta and sauteed peppers.

Makes 6 servings

Monday, February 18, 2013

Coeur a la Creme

Coeur a la Creme
I am a little late with my post for French Fridays With Dorie.   My coeur a la creme mold was late in arriving. This was one recipe I have wanted to make for a long time but was a little hesitant to make.  It looked so lovely and complicated.  Far beyond my cooking skills I thought.  I was in for a surprise.  This dessert is not hard at all to make. In fact, it is very easy:) You just whip until smooth cream cheese with some confectioner's sugar and a pinch of salt.  To the mixture you add some vanilla extract and some framboise, creme de cassis, kirsch, or dark rum if you wish.  Fold in some heavy cream that has been whipped and pour the mixture into your mold that has been lined with cheesecloth.  Cover the mold with the cheese cloth and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.  I chilled mine for about 24 hours.  When you are ready to serve, you unmold and serve with the toppings of your choice. I served mine with fresh raspberries and some honey.
Not only was the dessert the center of conversation, it was delicious.  Rich and creamy with a nice light texture.  
This recipe is a keeper.  You can find this recipe on pages 425-426 in "Around My French Table."

Folding in Whipped Heavy Cream

 Lined With Cheesecloth

All the Whipped Cream Has Been Folded In

Ready to Chill

Thursday, February 14, 2013

FFWD: Secret Valentine: Port Chocolate Sables

Secret Valentine Cookies
A great big THANK YOU to Gracie from Food Fascination  for these delicious and beautiful cookies.  The family  loved them.  I had to hurry up and take the picture before they were gone.  Check out Gracie's Blog.  You will love it.
Thanks again:)

Port Chocolate Sables

2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted Butter
½ cup sugar
¼ cup confection sugar
½ tsp. salt

CREAM TOGETHER.  Blend well , turn speed to LOW, then
2 large egg yolks

MIX in by hand:
½ cup chopped and frozen, chocolate (I used Jacques Torres’ Bin 27 Port Chocolate)

2 cups all purpose flour

Drape a towel over the mixer, so you don’t get flour everywhere
MIX on LOW until the flour disappears into the dough.  Don’t overwork the dough.
Divide into 2 and roll into a 9 inch log.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cut into ½ inch rounds, place on baking sheets, one inch apart, and bake for 17 – 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let the sables cool on the baking sheet before lifting them on to a rack.
Cool to room temperature.


Happy Valentine's Day Everyone

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic & Cranberries

Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic & Cranberries
Recently, I wrote a post  Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en Papillote for French Fridays With Dorie.  In reading some other posts,  Brussels sprouts were paired with Balsamic Vinegar.  Balsamic Vinegar is one of my favorite condiments. Pairing the nutty flavor of the Brussels sprouts with Balsamic vinegar sounded delicious to me.  I also wanted a recipe where the Brussels sprouts were roasted. Roasting enhances the flavor of the veggies.  In doing searches, I found a recipe from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic & Cranberries.  I got busy making the recipe.  I only made half of this recipe.    Brussels sprouts are cleaned and cut in half, if you desire to.  Toss them with some  oil and salt and pepper them.  Roast the Brussels sprouts until they are brown.  While the sprouts are roasting prepare the Balsamic reduction.  You bring balsamic vinegar and sugar to a boil.  Then you reduce the heat and cook until the mixture is thick.  When the Brussels sprouts are done, you drizzle the balsamic reduction over the sprouts and sprinkle with dried cranberries.
I loved this side dish.  The balsamic reduction was perfect with the roasted Brussels sprouts and the dried cranberries added just a hint of tartness.

3 pounds Brussels Sprouts
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Salt And Pepper
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Dried Cranberries

Preparation Instructions
Trim/clean Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half if desired (or you can leave them whole). Arrange on two baking sheets and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and roast at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown.
Combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and reduce until very thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the roasted sprouts, then sprinkle on dried cranberries. Toss and serve immediately.

Makes 16 servings

Monday, February 11, 2013

Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket
I love the aroma which fills the house as this beef brisket is baking in the oven.  This is one of the family's favorite dinners and it is so easy to make.   Place the brisket on foil and cover in a mixture of barbecue sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke.  Wrap the meat in foil and place in a large baking dish.  Bake the brisket for 1 hour for each pound - I baked mine for 5 hours.  Let the brisket set for 30 minutes and slice.  I spooned some of the sauce from the pan over my brisket before serving.  MMM delicious and so simple to make.

Beef Brisket


1 (4.5-5 pound) beef brisket trimmed
½ cup Barbecue Sauce
¼ cup chili sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Mix the barbecue sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke together in a mixing bowl.

3. Place brisket on a large piece of foil.
4. Spoon the sauce mixture over the brisket.

5. Wrap the brisket in foil and place in a large baking dish.

6. Bake brisket for 1 hour for each pound.
7. Let the brisket sit for 30 minutes before slicing.  Serve with extra barbecue sauce, if desired.

Serves 6

Friday, February 8, 2013

ABC Wheat Bread

ABC Wheat Bread
Yesterday, I made a marvelous tasting bread by Marjorie Johnson, ABC Wheat Bread.   The ABC stands for apples,  bananas, and carrots. This bread has lots of healthy ingredients in it, honey, ground golden flax seeds, Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour, along with the apples, carrots, and bananas. ABC bread is also super easy to make.  First you proof the yeast.   After you proof the yeast, you add the rest of the ingredients to the to the yeast in a large mixing bowl.  Knead for about 8 minutes and then you let the bread rise.  After the first rise, you divide the dough into thirds and roll the dough into a rectangle.  You then roll up the bread like a jelly roll and place in the prepared bread pans.  Let the jelly rolls rise and then bake.  Once the bread is a nice golden brown color remove from the oven and brush with butter.  Cool and slice.  The result is a great tasting healthy bread for toast, PB&J's, etc.
A little info on Marjorie Johnson:   Marjorie Johnson has won thousands of Blue Ribbons for her baking.   I first was introduced to her on the Jay Leno Show.  She was full of energy and very enthusiastic about  baking.  I  was eager to know more about her so I  checked out her website  Blue Ribbon Baking.  It is interesting to read about this super baker.  I urge you to visit her website.

Apples, Bananas, Carrots
ABC Wheat Bread

1 1⁄2 cups warm water (100°‐110°F)
4 teaspoons Fleischmann’s ® Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup finely chopped, peeled apples
1 cup mashed, ripe bananas
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1⁄2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
2 teaspoons salt
1⁄4 cup canola oil
1⁄4 cup honey
1⁄2 cup ground golden flax seeds
5 cups King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour
1 1⁄4 – 1 1⁄2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

1. In electric mixer bowl, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand 5 minutes to proof yeast.
Water, Yeast, Sugar
Yeast Ready

2. Stir in rest of ingredients. Using dough hook knead 5 to 8 minutes on low speed. If dough does not form a ball around the dough hook, add 1 or 2 tablespoons additional flour.

3.Place dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until double. Punch down dough.

4.Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12 x 8‐inch rectangle. Starting with shorter side, roll up as for jelly‐roll; seal edges and ends.

5.Place in greased 8 1⁄2 x 4 1⁄2‐inch loaf pans. Cover, let rise in warm place until double.

6.Bake in preheated 375°F oven 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and done. Remove loaves from pans to wire rack to cool. Brush with butter if desired.

Makes 3 loaves, 12 slices each.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Impossible Ham-and-Cheese Pie

Impossible Ham-and-Cheese Pie
I remember my mother making Impossible pies with Bisquick when I was growing up.  These were tasty dinners and something she could whip up in a hurry.  When I found this recipe in Cook's Country, it brought back childhood memories.  Impossible pies, to me, are like quiche only you do not have to roll out a pie crust.   I am not very found of  rolling out pie dough.   In this recipe,  grated Parmesan cheese coats the bottom of the pie plate.  This makes a very tasty crust in my book.  The filling for the pie consists of Gruyere cheese, chopped ham, scallions ( I used 1 teaspoon onion powder I was out of scallions), all-purpose flour, baking powder, pepper, salt, half-and-half, eggs, Dijon mustard, and nutmeg.  You then bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes, cool, slice into wedges and eat.
This is truly a delicious easy to prepare dish.  The cheese crust adds a nice nutty flavor to the pie.

"Impossible" Ham-and-Cheese Pie
From Cook's Country


1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened plus 2 tablespoons melted
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (2 cups)
4 ounces thickly sliced deli ham, chopped
4 scallions minced
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9-inch pie plate with softened butter, then coat plate evenly with Parmesan.
Parmesan Cheese
2. Combine Gruyere, ham, and scallions in bowl.  Sprinkle cheese-and-ham mixture evenly in bottom of prepared pie dish.  Combine flour, baking powder, pepper, and salt in now-empty bowl.    Whisk in half-and-half, eggs melted butter, mustard, and nutmeg until smooth.  Slowly pour batter over cheese-and-ham mixture in pie dish.
Ham-and-Cheese Sprinkled Over Cheese
3. Bake until pie is light golden brown and filling is set, 30 to 35 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack for 15 minutes.  Slice into wedges.  Serve warm.

Serves 8

Baked to Perfection

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chicken Stir Fry

Chicken Stir Fry
Last night for dinner I needed something easy and quick.   Between picking up Becky and taking Tim to basketball practice, I did not have a lot of time to make dinner.  This recipe for Chicken Stir Fry is great because it takes very little prep work.  I buy a bag of Stir Fry vegetables that are all cut up.  I buy prepared Stir Fry Sauce.  The only thing I need to do is cut up the chicken, cook the veggies and chicken and add the sauce.  Mix together, heat  and dinner is prepared.  Serve with some rice and the family has a healthy dinner that took minutes to prepare.

Chicken Stir Fry                         


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-½ pounds  chicken tenders cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups stir fry vegetables – about 1 (16 ounce) bag
½ cup Stir Fry Sauce
Cooked rice


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until almost done.

2. Add vegetables and stir for 6-8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp- tender.

3.Add Stir Fry Sauce to chicken and vegetables; cook and stir until thoroughly heated about 2 minutes.

4. Serve over rice.

Makes 6 servings

Friday, February 1, 2013

Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en Papillote

Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en Papillote
This week in French Fridays With Dorie we made Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en Papillote.    May I say this dish was delicious.  Even the kids who are not big fans of squash ate a packet.  This dish is very easy and quick to prepare.  Cubed butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and an apple are tossed is some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  You then divided the veggies and fruit on pieces of nonstick foil.  I didn't have any so I just sprayed some regular foil with cooking spray.   Once you have divided the veggies, you sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar over each bundle.  Put a sage leaf on top and seal the packets.  The packets are put on a baking sheet and baked for 25 minutes.  When you open the packets, this aromatic air puff is released.  The taste of the sweet apples and butternut squash complimented the nuttiness of the Brussels sprouts.   I placed my veggies and fruit on a plate, but the kids ate them directly from the packets.  They said it reminded them of camping when we make foil dinners.
For me this recipe is a keeper.  You can find this recipe on pate 352 in "Around My French Table."

Veggies and Apple Tossed With Olive Oil

Placed on Foil

Ready to Eat