Banana Oat Muffins

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Great option for a healthy breakfast or snack, using up ripe bananas.

Prep Time 15 minutes, Cook Time 20 minutes, Ready in 35 minutes

Degree of Difficulty – Easy

Servings 12 muffins

PREHEAT OVEN 400  DEGREES

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas (around 2 medium/large bananas)
1/4 cup almond slivers (optional)
Directions:
  1. In medium bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly.
  3. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined.
  4. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, and divide the batter among them.
  5. Bake 400 degrees F (205C) for 18-20 minutes
  6. Let muffins stay in muffin pan for 5-10 minutes resting on a cooling rack.
  7. Remove muffins from muffin pan  and place on cooling rack.

 

Dry ingredients below

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Wet ingredients below

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Mixed dry, mixed wet below

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Combined wet and dry below

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Baked set of muffins below

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recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.Com

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe-Tools/Print/Recipe.aspx?recipeID=6714&origin=detail&servings=12&metric=false

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Savory Cheesy Waffles – Kid Helpers Welcomed

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Some times a change up in a waffle is good.  This is a pleasant tasting savory waffle.  The recipe is from C is for Cooking, Recipes from the Street by Susan McQuillan

This recipe goes well with crisp bacon or grilled ham.  A dose of sautéed apples also makes a nice topping.

Makes: 9-11 circle waffles depending (on amount of batter used per waffle) or 12 (4 inch) squares

Preheat your waffle iron now.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare this batter

Ingredients:

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2 eggs

1 cup low fat milk

1 cup low fat yogurt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar, swiss, or jack cheese (6 oz)

Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron
  2. In medium bowl, beat together two eggs
  3. Add to same medium bowl the milk, yogurt, and oil.
  4. In a larger separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt)
  5. Pour the medium bowl into the larger dry ingredient bowl and mix until evenly moistened
  6. Stir in the cheese until it is mixed in.
  7. Pour enough batter over the hot iron (about 1/2 to 2/3rds filled in the center)
  8. Bake the waffles until the beeper or light indicates done (otherwise stop when crisp and brown)
  9. If not using waffles right away, cool on a wire rack so waffles stay crisp.  Can keep warm in low heat oven (250) on a baking sheet
  10. These waffles freeze well for up to two months.

 

Eggs, milk, yogurt, oil

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Add in Dry Ingredients

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Add in cheese and stir

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Drop bater on waffle iron

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Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – Kid helpers welcomed

 

 

 

 

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It is hard to go wrong with this recipe.  It produces a cookie with a nice blend of crisp and chewy.  The dough will freeze well for up to 30 days.  I found the recipe years ago on a cookie sheet purchased from Williams-Sonoma.   It is not the recipe on their website today.   If price is no object, I recommend Williams-Sonoma’s “Goldtouch” cookie sheet pans (with raised sides).  I am not being paid to mention this.  Cookies, in particular, tend to produce an extra nice texture using their high end sheet pans.   http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/usa-pan-goldtouch-nonstick-half-sheet-pan/   I enjoy the versatility of the sheet pan with sides for many non-cookie recipes (meat loaf, roasted vegetables etc).

At full speed this dough can be prepared in less than 15 minutes assuming you have softened your butter in advance by setting it out on a counter for 30 minutes to an hour.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients:  

Note how short and simple the list is!

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2 1/3 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ tsp salt
2 sticks or 16 tbs unsalted butter room temperature  [Plan this step well in advance]
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Set out your butter well in advance so it will be soft
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350
  3. Line cookie sheet with parchment
  4. Over waxed paper sift flour, baking soda and salt- set aside  – The cookies just taste better if you take the time to do this step
  5. In electric mixer with flat beater- beat the butter on medium low speed until smooth -30 seconds
  6. Add two sugars and increase the speed to medium and beat until slightly fluffy, about 1 minute – scrape side of bowl if needed
  7. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition – precision is not necessary but try to add the egg yolks in one at a time
  8. Beat in vanilla- stopping mixer to scrape sides
  9. Reduce speed to low, gradually add dry flour mix (putting in approx. a 1/3rd or 1/4th at a time) and beat until just combined.  Do not go fast (use level 1 or 2 at best) or you will blow flour all over the place.  I find taking the time to add the flour in stages produces a better dough.
  10. Hand stir in chips in 3-4 small batches to evenly distribute chips.  Use a strong spoon.
  11. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, spacing 2 inches apart
  12. Bake until golden brown 10-14 minutes.  For my oven 12-12 1/2 minutes is about the right amount of time.  The cookies will look slightly underdone.
  13. Transfer pan (not cookies) to wire rack and let the cookies cool on pan set on rack for 5 minutes
  14. Then transfer cookies to rack (taking them off the cookie sheet) and let cool completely after tasting one cookie of course.

Makes 36 good sized cookies or many more smaller ones- William Sonoma

I like to freeze at least half of the dough in a flat one inch high square/rectangle (like the packages you see in stores)  or a round log (shown below that you may see in stores as well).  Wrap the dough in parchment and then place in freezer bag.  Defrost cookie straight from freezer by setting out or place in fridge a few hours before you want to use the cookies.  If the dough still seems hard from prior freezer storage, cook the cookies an extra minute or two.

Don’t overcook the cookies.  They will continue cooking on the cookie rack.  At the same time do not leave the cookies on the sheet pan too long before transferring the actual cookies to the rack.  The cookies will continue to cook some outside the oven if they remain on the cookie sheet. 

Beating the butter below

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After adding the sugars below

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Adding the flour in

 

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Dough should be somewhat thick

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Slowly add your chips in batches

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Freeze excess dough in a log or a flat rectangle inside parchment paper and then placed in a ziplock bag

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Enjoy!

Shrimp (or Chicken) Biryani – Prepared Easy Style

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Shrimp Biryani

Simply Asia makes an Indian Essentials Spice Packet called: Chicken Biryani.  Being a big fan of Biryani, often eaten at our local India restuarant I was up to the challenge of testing a quick and easy way to make Biryani vs a more complicated recipe that involved no short-cuts.  (The long method will be posted later this week and was also equally successful).  The dish was easy to make.  The skillet did take a little effort to clean but overall clean up is reasonable for the quality of the dish.   We had zero left-overs for three people, one of who is under 5 and one of whom is a hungry man.  So I suggest doubling the recipe if your crowd is large or if you want any leftovers.  The serving amount on the packet notes 6.  Given we had no sides, our portions were on the larger size.

This dish looks and tastes great.  The dish does have some nice, yet mild heat.  The spices noted in the packet are chili peppers, turmeric, red pepper paprika, and salt.  The packet also lists sugar but that was not detectable  and the packet itself only lists 15 calories so it cannot be too much.  Sodium is listed as 440mg (18% of daily value) which is not too bad for a prepared packet like this.

Ingredients:

3/4th cup of plain vanilla yogurt

1 package of Simply Asian Chicken Biryani -see photo

2 tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)

1 medium onion thinly sliced

1 pound of uncooked shrimp (shelled and deveined)  – Packet calls for 1 pound of chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes.  Thighs would likely taste fine too.

1 medium tomato, chopped

3 cups of water combined with 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth (original recipe calls for all water)

1 cup of white basmati rice (I used brown which did complicate the recipe some given a longer cooking time) – Read directions carefully before starting recipe if using brown rice.  Otherwise you will waste time waiting for your rice!

1/4 cup sliced almonds (original recipe calls for cashew halves)

1/4 cup raisins

2 TBSP butter, melted (microwave 40 seconds)

Directions (Prep Time 15 minutes, Cook Time around 35 minutes white rice, 45 minutes plus if brown Biryani rice

  1. If using brown biryani, rinse with water mixing up the rice with a spin over a strainer prior to prepping your ingredients.  This will help cook the rice faster.
  2. Mix yogurt and seasoning mix, set aside
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat
  4. Add onion to skillet, cook and stir for 3 minutes
  5. If using brown biryani and directions note cooking time for 40 minutes, begin prepping your brown rice now; otherwise skip to step 6 now .  Bring water/chicken stock to a boil in medium saucepan on medium high heat.  Add rinsed rice.  Stir.  Once the water begins to boil, cook your brown rice for 20 minutes uncovered on medium heat (vs medium high).  Drain rice in strainer, discarding liquid.
  6. Stir into skillet, prepped chicken (if using chicken), tomato and yogurt mixture.  If using shrimp see step 7 for adding shrimp which takes less time to cook.
  7. Bring skillet to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; (if using shrimp add now); cover skillet and simmer for 10 minutes
  8. If using white biryani, while covered skillet is simmering in step 7 above, begin to bring water/chicken stock to a boil in medium saucepan on medium high heat.  Add rice.  Stir.  Once the water begins to boil cook your white rice for 5 minutes uncovered on medium high heat.  Drain rice in strainer, discarding liquid.
  9. Spoon rice on top of shrimp (or chicken) mixture.  Sprinkle with nut choice above and raisins.   Drizzle with melted butter.
  10. Cover with tight fitting lid.  Cook on low heat 15-20 minutes if white rice – although cook further if rice is not ready.  Add a little bit of water if necessary to cook rice longer.  If using brown rice cook on low heat 25-30 minutes  although cook further if rice is not ready.  Add a little bit of water if necessary to cook rice longer.
  11. Let stand at least five minutes off heat covered before serving.

Prepped ingredients below

 

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Yogurt mixed with spice packet

 

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Uncooked slice onions

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Browned onions

 

 

 

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After shrimp added

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Drained cooked rice

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Just before covering skillet

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Adding in rice, nuts, raisins

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Quick stir

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Final dish

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Tasty Turkey Burger

Turkey Burgers - Uncooked

Turkey Burgers Prepped for Fridge – Double Batch (2 1/2 pounds of meat)

Insert Photo to Come

Turkey Burgers After Grill.

These turkey burgers are moist and tasty and best grilled outdoors.  They take about 10 minutes to make.  I strongly recommend putting them in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before grilling.  This way the burgers firm up more and stick together when grilling.

Makes 4   4-5 oz burgers.

(Recipe can easily be doubled with success)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds 93 percent lean ground turkey

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 generous teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil (if indoor grilling)

Directions:
1. Transfer ground meat to medium bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, ricotta cheese, and mustard until blended, and divide meat into 4 portions. Lightly toss one portion from hand to hand to form a ball, then lightly flatten ball with fingertips into 1-inch-thick patty. Repeat with remaining portions.

2a. To Grill: Grill burgers over medium-low fire (you can hold your hand about 5 inches above grill surface for 5 seconds) until dark spotty brown on bottom side, 7 to 9 minutes. Turn burgers over; continue grilling 7 to 9 minutes longer or until bottom side is dark spotty brown and center is completely cooked or instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees. Remove from grill and serve immediately.

2b. To Cook Indoors: Heat a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron or stainless steel with an aluminum core) over medium heat until very hot, 4 to 5 minutes. Swirl oil in pan to coat bottom, then add burgers. Cook over medium heat without moving burgers until bottom side of each is dark brown and crusted, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn burgers over; continue to cook until bottom side is light brown but not yet crusted, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Reduce heat to low, position cover slightly ajar on pan to allow steam to escape, and continue to cook 8 to 10 minutes longer, flipping burgers if necessary to promote deep browning, until center is completely cooked, or an instant-read thermometer inserted from the side of the burger into the center registers 160 degrees. Remove from pan and serve immediately.

Serve with normal burger toppings.  I generally do not add cheese on top given cheese is inside the burgers, but don’t let me stop you.

Ice Cream Cake with Chocolate Mint Crunch Base and Layers

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Dad’s birthday is coming up and everyone in this family loves Birthday Cake but particularly ice cream cake.  This is a good easy first ice cream cake to make and takes little time (30ish minutes to prepare and clean-up).  It is super simple as is clean up and can made up to a week in advance.  We will be using ours this Friday and I will take some pictures of the cake removed from the pan then.  I like this cake because it is also much cheaper than buying an ice cream cake and for those who have to worry about nut allergies much safer!

The recipe below appears in Chocolate Cakes – 50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion by Elinor Klivans.  Other than flavor choices which I suggest below I follow her steps for the most part.  Her title for the recipe is Mint Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream Cake

High Level Overview:  Makes about 12 servings

  • Chocolate crumb crust – crumbs ideally processed in a cuisinart, add melted butter, and then bake for 6 minutes, cool
  • Layer 1 of softened ice cream – vanilla or mint chocolate chip work great for this recipe but feel free to improvise
  • Layer of “mint or some other type” of Chocolate Cookie Crunch – you make this by crushing your favorite cookie (mint Milanos in our case) and then mixing with melted chocolate
  • Layer 2 of ice cream – use flavor above or different kind
  • Layer 2 of mint chocolate crunch (or some other type of crunch)
  • Note need 9 inch springform pan with sides at least 2 3/4 high.  Option: William Sonoma:  Kaiser LaForme Plus Springform Pan, 9 – just make sure the sides get close to this height or you will need to make a shorter cake.

Ingredients:

Steps, Ingredients for Chocolate Crumb Crust

1 9 ounce package of chocolate wafers processed to crumbs in a food processor -about two cups *

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Steps, Ingredients for Mint (or some other distinct flavor) Chocolate Cookie Crunch

2 cups coarsely chopped crushed chocolate mint sandwich cookies – such as 20-25 Pepperidge Farm chocolate mint cookies.  DO NOT USE A CUISINART FOR THIS STEP.  Place half the cookies in a bag and pound them to break into pieces or use a rolling    pin.  It is ok to have some cookie pieces that are visible.  Repeat with second batch of cookies

4 ounces of chocolate chips semi sweet or chop 4 ozs of semi sweet chocolate

1 tablespoon of corn or canola oil

2 quarts of ice cream (vanilla, mint chocolate chip, peppermint etc) softened until spreadable.

 

Directions:

  1. Position rack in middle of the oven.  Preheat to 325.  Butter 9 inch springform pan with sides at least 2 3/4th high.
  2. Remove ice cream to begin softening
  3. To make crust:  In large bowl, stir the wafer crumbs processed in Cuisinart and melted butter to moisten crumbs evenly.  Scrape mixture into pan.  Use back of hand or spoon press crust evenly over bottom and form a 1 inch side.  Make sure not to make the crust too thick on the bottom where the bottom meets the side.  Bake for 6 minutes.  Let cool before adding ice cream which should not be a problem timing wise.
  4. To make the mint (or some other distinct flavor) chocolate cookie crunch: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (but wax paper will do).  Put the cookie crumbs in in a large bowl and set aside.  Put the chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl or top of double boiler and place it over but not touching , barely simmering water in a sauce pan (or the bottom of a double boiler).  Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.  This should take just a few minutes.  Pour the chocolate over the cookie crumb bowl.  Stir until crumbs are evenly coated.  The mixture will be shiny and pieces will form of various size 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.  Spread the crumb mixture on the parchment lined baking sheet.  As it cools it will become duller and crisp up.    You should have about 3 cups depending on how many cookies you use.  Let this rest on the cookie tray for at least 5 minutes and preferably 10.
  5. Spread 1/2 of the softened ice-cream over the cooled crust.  With an ice cream spade or some other way smooth the top of the ice cream.
  6. Sprinkle half the cookie crunch over layer one of ice cream.
  7. Sprinkle the rest of the crunch.
  8. Wrap the cake tight with clear plastic wrap tightly and then heavy aluminum foil.
  9. Freeze overnight or up to a week.
  10. To serve the cake, unwrap it.  Let it soften for a few minutes and then use a thin sharp knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan.  Remove the sides, and use a large sharp knife to cut the cake into slices.
  11. Enjoy.

* Brand of Wafers for Crust – Need 1 Box

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Wafer Crumbs

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Unbaked Crust

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Baked Crust Layer 1

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Cookies Ready to Be Crushed

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Cookies Crushed by Rolling Pin (Before Putting in Bowl to Mix with Chocolate)

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Cookies Mixed with Melted Chocolate in Bowl

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Cookies Mixed in Chocolate Drizzle Back on Sheet Pan Starting to Cool

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Layer 2 Ice Cream

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Layer 3 Add Cookie Crunch (neatness not needed on this layer)

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Layer 4 Ice Cream (second half)

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Layer Five Final Batch of Cookie Crunch – Notice Cake Close to Top of Pan – Neater Looking Layer

(given top of cake)

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Side View Before Wrapping

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Wrapped Cake Headed for Freezer

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Cake Outside Springform Pan

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Piece of Cake!

 

Chocolate Pudding from Scratch – Kid Helpers Welcomed

Finished Product in a Serving Bowl

Flipping through Look and Cook (A Cookbook for Children) by Tina Davis (http://www.amazon.com/Look-Cook-A-Cookbook-Children/dp/1584793589), I came across a seemingly simple recipe for chocolate pudding.  My husband, the frequent taste tester, smugly said instant Jello Pudding would have been a lot simpler.  After looking up how to make instant Jello Pudding, I would have to conclude instant pudding is simpler (you don’t have to cook it for fifteen minutes or clean a pot) but the taste of the real deal was excellent and let’s be serious, the extra work for the real deal is 15 minutes, and it costs way less per serving and no foreign sounding ingredients.  I did not have to shop for a single ingredient.  Furthermore, my kid helper did just about everything but crack the eggs and measure the milk.  I even managed to squeeze in a fraction lesson as we experimented with the recipe.

Real Deal Pudding Ingredients:

5 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon of salt

2 1/2 cups of milk (I used 2% with no problems)

2 eggs

1 1/4 cup (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

whipped cream optional

Real Deal Chocolate Pudding Directions:

  1. In a heavy saucepan (small to medium size will do) whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt.
  2. Add the milk and eggs and whisk until no lumps.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a full boil for a minute or two.  I did not set the timer, but I stirred on and off (but mostly on until it boiled quite a bit and the mixture moved from a loose liquid to the texture you normally associate pudding with.)  I would guess it was on the stove for about 12-15 minutes.  Your common sense will take over when appropriately done.  Once it starts to boil watch carefully as you would not want to scorch your pot.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  6. Pour the pudding into a large serving bowl or individual dishes.
  7. Top with whipped cream if desired.
  8. You can serve warm, room temperature or chilled.
  9. If you are not going to serve the pudding right away, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
  10. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge and serve cold with whipped cream if desired.
  11. Serves 6 to 8 portions (book says 6 but those would be big portions)

My husband and I thought the taste was great.  Our daughter will do her taste testing at dinner tomorrow night.  The pudding was appropriately sweet and a good consistency.

I thought clean up was simple – one pot which needed a good wipe down, a bowl to crack the eggs, a large whisk, and a few measuring spoons.

For those that need instant gratification or are curious what ingredients are in a box of jello instant pudding

Jell-O Instant Pudding Ingredients:

1 Box = 3.9 oz (110 g); Instant Pudding and Pie Filling – Chocolate. Four 1/2-cup servings. 5 Minutes to homemade.

Ingredients:

Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Disodium Phosphate (for Thickening), Contains Less Than 2% of Natural and Artificial Flavor, Salt, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate (for Thickening), Mono- and Diglycerides (Prevent Foaming), Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Artificial Color, BHA (Preservative)

Jell-O Instant 5-Minute Pudding Directions:

  1. Beat pudding mix into 2 cups cold milk in bowl with wire whisk 2 minutes.
  2. Pour at once into individual serving dishes. Pudding will be soft-set and ready to eat within 5 minutes. Makes 4 (1/2 cup) servings.

No picture included because we did not make the box mix and likely never will.