Archive | March, 2014

(Super Easy, Super Excellent) Banana Walnut Muffins

26 Mar

I have to admit, I am not the perfect Irish woman. I made some Irish Soda Bread Biscuits last week, which left me with a whole bunch of buttermilk (that I didn’t really have any plans for because I don’t actually know of any use for buttermilk other than soda bread!). After trying out a few different (not so great) recipes, I finally figured out a good one.

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Muffins! I love muffins. Especially when I am stress baking. I like to slather them with butter after toasting them, so I don’t like when there’s a ton of butter IN the batter (just oil and buttermilk instead). Here is my butter-less muffin recipe. It’s super duper easy and barely takes any time to throw together. It yields about 18 average-sized muffins.

PS – just because it’s butterless doesn’t mean it’s healthy, so no, you can’t eat all of these in one sitting, despite how good they are.

What I used:
3 overripe bananas (mine were frozen)
⅓ cup buttermilk
⅓ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour (preferably whole wheat)
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg
(optional – craisins)

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Start by preheating the oven to 350 and either buttering or putting baking cups in your muffin tin (this makes about 18 muffins).

I had to defrost my bananas before getting to it – I put all three in my large mixing bowl and microwaved for about a minute (it makes them so much easier to peel). Add the buttermilk, canola oil, vanilla, eggs, brown sugar, and mix until well combined and smooth – I used a hand mixer because I’m lazy.

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Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg. Mix until just incorporated. Fold in the walnuts and craisins (if you are so inclined to use them – I was). Fill each muffin well about ⅔ the way full. At this point I sprinkled some brown sugar on the top of some muffins for an extra little sweetness.

Bake for about 20 ish minutes until they’re golden and pass the toothpick test. Let them settle for a few minutes after baking, and then put on a cooling rack.

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Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

11 Mar

I love holidays. Any holiday. I love having the excuse to cook lots of food, eat (and drink) all day, and then coddle my food baby the whole next day. This year, I’ll be in Providence for St. Patrick’s Day, so I won’t be helping cook any major feast. I really have a hard time breaking tradition, so I’ve decided to sporadically make my favorite St. Patrick-esque recipes over the next few weeks.

Last year I was really only in charge of the Irish Soda Bread – I think that’s all Nick trusted me to do. Everyone there just clawed at it when it came out of the oven – major struggle. I wanted to figure out a way to make it in more single-serving pieces… like biscuits. They turned out pretty well, but I personally prefer the regular loaf of bread .. I feel better eating a bunch of small little slices than a couple big biscuits.

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What I used
3 cups flour
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick (½ cup) butter – room temperature!
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 egg, whisked

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How to
Start by crisco-ing 2 muffin tins (12 wells in total). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the butter into small chunks – dice into ½” cubes. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Combine the mix with the butter doing your best to fully combine the two. Mix the raisins and caraway seeds into the mixture.

For this next part, you should definitely have someone else near you – I ended up needing to scratch my nose in the middle of it and having to hold off until the end. Mix the buttermilk and the egg together, and then pour into the flour mixture.

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Stir until combined, but be sure to not overmix. The fun part – you probably can’t do this with a spoon. Wash your hands, and get in there. The mixture will be wet and sticky. Combine, being sure to get all the little pockets of flour that can hide out in there.

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Put the dough into the muffin tins. Bake for about 15 minutes (potentially up to 20), or until the top is brown and it passes the toothpick test.

Let cool for a few minutes, and then remove from the tins. Enjoy warm with butter!

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Graduation Trip!!

10 Mar

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I went up to Boston this weekend and Nick made me a delicious duck dinner over a sweet citrus salad… with a side of fried goat cheese.

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We had an enjoyable dinner together over which he gave me my graduation present – we’re going to Ireland for 10 days!!!! I am so excited. We’re going in mid-May, a few weeks after graduation.

Get ready for some Irish recipes as I mentally prepare for the trip!

Fish Chowder

4 Mar

My family has a motto about food that has run through generations: “you have two options for dinner, take it or leave it.” Well, my Mom has her own motto, which usually comes out after an argument about what we’re eating that day: “well if you don’t like it, too f***ing bad. Either eat it or make your own damn dinner.”

Well, my Dad brought home two pounds of cod the other night, and I protested when my Mom said she was going to bake them with lemon panko – one of my least favorite things. I pleaded with her, but she held strong to her decision. I decided to go with the “make my own damn dinner” option.

The only fish I’ve really ever made was pan-seared tuna and one piece of tilapia (four years ago), so this was a challenge for me. I decided on making a soup/chowder, and I think it came out better than I ever could have anticipated.

The pictures make it look like a thin soup, but it was thick and chunky. This recipe can easily be cut in half – the original can feed a small army. Cutting it in half would serve about 4 people.

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What I used
2 lb cod fillets
4 tbsp butter (it’s a lot but necessary)
2 tbsp flour
2 medium/1 large onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups uncooked kale, chopped
4 cups potatoes, peeled, diced (2 lg potatoes)
1 cup carrots, sliced
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups 1% milk
Old bay, parsley

What to do:
I cut the veggies into pretty big chunks (because hey, that’s how I like them).

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I melted the butter in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Once melted, sprinkle the flour on top and whisk to combine. Add the celery and onion and sweat for a few minutes until it’s close to translucent. Then add the water, potatoes, carrots, kale, salt and pepper, being sure to stir so nothing sticks to the bottom.

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The butter and flour with the celery and onion

 

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Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, cut the fish into big (but bite-sized!) pieces. When the veggies (especially potatoes) are soft, add the fish and cook for another 10 or so minutes.

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Add the milk to the simmering soup, and stir well to incorporate. Serve and garnish with Old Bay and parsley.

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Sausage Spinach Cheesy Baked Ziti

2 Mar

I love carbs. Carby carb carbs. Breads, pastas – any type, and time, I want them.
It’s actually like a bad addiction. I can’t stop at just one muffin, I end up picking at a second until I end up finishing it. I’ve eaten multiple bagels for breakfast. I just can’t help myself.

I do try to limit myself. I try to only make a couple carb heavy dinner a week… and today is that day (thank god). Knowing that I’ll eat the entire tray of food myself, I try to throw in at least one vegetable (masked by plenty of cheese).

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Enough talk. Here’s the baked ziti.

What I used
1 box pasta (ziti)
4 cups marinara sauce – I make my own, but any works
1 lb sausage (I used hot italian, decased)
10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed
12 oz part-skim mozzarella
8 oz ricotta
couple cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt/pepper

It’s really simple, so presentation really is everything here.

Start by taking the biggest pan you have and put it on medium high heat. Coat it in a light layer of olive oil, and put the garlic in for a few seconds so it lightly cooks.

Brown the sausage in the pan. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes, letting most of the water evaporate out. Add some salt and pepper.

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Add the sauce and stir well to combine, and cook for a few minutes. Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot and cook the pasta to al dente.

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Take a 9×13 pan, and spread a small layer of the sauce on the bottom. Put down about half of the pasta. Layer half of the remaining sauce on the pasta. Scoop all the ricotta out on top of the sauce. Next layer is half of the mozz cheese. Then, rest of pasta, rest of sauce, and top with rest of cheese.

Cover with tin foil, tenting so it doesn’t touch the pasta. Bake for 30 minutes, then take the foil off and bake for another 15.

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