Monday, May 24, 2010

FAIL--cupboard cleaning recipe #4: double chocolate banana bread...

amendment: this recipe simply does not work.  i tried it again, following the directions, and i still ended up with extremely mushy bread (i even almost burnt it because i forgot about it in the oven).  sad, sad.  i think there's just too much liquid---maybe halfing the sour cream and halfing the butter would fix it--but, frankly, i'm not up for a third go-around.  my apologies!
ah, the smell of rotting bananas.  if you don't bake with bananas, that thought probably turns your stomach. but to those of us who know the pure gold that comes with those growing black spots on an otherwise yellow fruit, it is the smell of goodness and hope.  well, at least of goodness.

i went on a search for a tasty banana bread recipe that was kinda dessert-y, but also used less oil than my current go-to banana bread.  i stumbled across this recipe and thought it was worth a shot.  it used sour cream and butter (rather than oil).

i deviated from the recipe in one way, and frankly, i regret it.  those of us who have made quick bread know that the #1 rule of quick breads is to mix just until incorporated for fear of making a stiff and dry bread.  i "knew better" than the recipe directions of mixing for 3 minutes in a kitchenaid (yes, the gasp of do-you-know-what-you're-doing hit me too when i read that)--but alas, the combination of bananas, sour cream, and butter are so moist that if you do as i did, and only stir until combined, your bread will be squatty and moist to the point of almost mushy.  so, i tip my hat to the exception of the rule and encourage you to follow the directions as originally written.

the bread has a great balance of banana and chocolate.  happy baking!

double chocolate banana bread
by alice at savory sweet life

makes two 9x5" loaves

2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 large ripened bananas, mashed (or 5 small)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup sour cream
2 cups chocolate chips

preheat oven to 350-degrees.

cream butter and sugar together.  add egg, vanilla, sour cream, and bananas.  add baking soda, cocoa, and flour.  mix everything until well incorporated (about 3 minutes in a kitchenaid mixer).  stir in chocolate chips.

pour batter into two lightly greased 9x5" loaf pans.  bake 50-60 minutes.  allow to cool in pan approximately 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Monday, May 17, 2010

cupboard cleaning recipe #3: protein-rich avocado goodness...

this lovely picture of green deliciousness does not do justice to the goodness available to you.  in this second edition of what to do with random ingredients, we combine two seemingly disparate ingredients: greek yogurt and avocado.

greek yogurt has a tang kinda-sorta-but-not-really like sour cream.  the big difference is that greek yogurt has a great deal of protein in it.  in fact, a serving of greek yogurt has twice the protein of an egg!

that said, this dip/spread is versatile.  the recipe below is more dippy with balanced flavors.  if you want more of a creamy guacamole, use a full avocado and maybe even add some diced tomatoes.  i ate this with chips that had cheese melted on them--and let me tell you, the medium white cheddar was amazing with this dip.

oh, and in the spirit of cupboard-cleaning, there are a few dried ingredients in here that can easily be replaced with fresh.  happy dipping, spreading, guacamole-ing to you!

creamy avocado dip/spread
1/2 avocado, mashed (can up it to 1 full avacado for more of a guacamole)
1 six-ounce container plain greek yogurt (can use sour cream)
1 tsp lemon juice (could use lime here)
1/2 tsp dried cilantro (or 1 tsp fresh chopped)
1/8 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp dried onion
pepper to taste

mix well.  or in the infamous words of my mom: "mix as usual".

Monday, May 10, 2010

cleaning cupboards recipe #2: peanut butter cup type bars...

as the adventures in cupboard cleaning continues, stumbling upon three packages of graham crackers and a 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips brings the obvious recipe of peanut butter cup-type bars...mmm, just like those terrible (wonderful) candy cups, this made-at-home recipe rivals it closely.

take one package of graham crackers and beat the tar out of them with a rolling pin--you may want to put them in a plastic bag first, but that mess is entirely up to you.  dump them in a medium mixing bowl and add powdered sugar.  set aside.

in a small saucepan, melt butter with peanut butter.  once melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  add to graham cracker mixture and stir to combine.

lightly spray an 8x8 pan and lightly press graham cracker mixture into pan.  in another saucepan (or microwave-safe bowl), melt milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chips together.  then spread that glorious mixture over top the graham cracker layer.

now, a more classy blogger would refrigerate this for 30-45 minutes until the chocolate sets, would then cut a perfectly measured portion and show you the layers in beautiful symmetry.  but....well...that is not the way of my people.  my people are more of a scoop-a-heap-while-it's-still-warm kind of people.  which is why you get this instead:

yes, these can be made in mini-muffin cups.  you could also paint melted chocolate on the bottom and sides of said mini-muffin cups, freeze for the chocolate to set, then fill with graham cracker mixture, then top with rest of chocolate.  yeah.  we didn't do that today.  somedays the craving for pb&choc is too strong for such dilly-dallying.

make your choice.  enjoy the results!

peanut butter cup-type bars

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

crush graham crackers to make 1 1/2 cups of crumbs (approximately 12 long crackers).  put in medium mixing bowl.  add powdered sugar and set aside.

in a small saucepan, melt peanut butter and butter together, stirring continually to keep butter from browning.  remove from heat and add vanilla.  pour over graham cracker mixture.

lightly spray an 8x8 baking dish.  lightly press graham cracker mixture into dish.  melt all chocolate chips together.  spread over graham cracker mixture.

refrigerate until chocolate is set.  can be kept, covered, at room temperature.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

cupboard cleaning recipe #1: iced coffee...

the adventure in cupboard cleaning launches with this post.  aren't you excited to see how to use the random assortment of odds and ends that seem to accumulate in the back of cupboards, freezers, and fridges?

why would i be motived to do such a thing?  well, it's simple: i am moving in a month and though the move is just across town, i still do not want to pack the odd accumulation of strange ingredients that have invaded my cupboards.  a fresh start is desired.  and let's face it, a new place just isn't home until after the first grocery-run!

so here we go, on a varied adventure of miscellaneous recipes.  first off: iced coffee.  how is iced coffee weird?  well, you know that pound of coffee you bought, made one pot, and thought "hmmm, it's okay, but i certainly don't want to drink that every morning."  it wasn't terrible, but it did bring a furrowed brow and a second thought.  but rather than toss it in the trash, you toss it in the freezer and forget about it.  THAT is a great coffee for this recipe.

iced coffee is your answer!  the beauty of iced coffee is two-fold:
1) it uses a lot of grounds in one fell swoop
2) the cold water brewing tames down some less desirable flavors if you don't like that coffee, and
3) you can store it in the fridge for many days...

yeah--the beauty turned out to be three-fold!  plus, it is WAY less expensive than buying the same at your local coffee shop.

take about a cup of grounds and toss 'em in a glass pitcher.  i use glass rather than plastic simply because the coffee smell tends to infiltrate plastic--and can you imagine making lemonade in that coffee-smelling pitcher later in the summer?  ick.  however, if you're committed to iced coffee enough for an identified coffee-only pitcher, plastic would work fine.

then cover the grounds with cool to cold water (NOT hot or warm.  warm-brewed creates that old-coffee taste later.  cold brewed does not.  it's a beautiful thing.)  the grounds will float around--i use a large spoon to push the grounds around, but this is not necessary.  the water will saturate them throughout the process.

then, cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours.

after 24 hours, unwrap the plastic wrap (you can save it) and grab your favorite slotted spoon to scoop out the majority of the grounds:

you won't be able to get them all, which is where your good ol' coffee maker comes into play.  DO NOT DUMP THIS IN THE WATER RESERVOIR.  sorry--needed to get that out.  instead, put a coffee filter in your coffee maker as you normally would, then slowly pour this directly into the filter:

i repeat: NOT the water reservoir (as if you were making a normal pot of coffee), but straight through the filter.  you may have to take a break or three depending on how quickly the water drains through the filter and into the coffee pot.  once the pitcher is empty, you'll need to clean out your pitcher:

one note: be wiser than i and refrain from slathering your hands with lotion during one of the filtering breaks.  washing a soapy glass pitcher with freshly lotioned hands was quite the slippery adventure!  lotion can come later.

once all the happy filtering is complete, dispose of the grounds-filled filter as you normally would and pour the coffee back into your pitcher.

now you can pour yourself a lovely cup of iced coffee and dress it up however you desire...i like mine with cream and sugar....oooh, creamy swirls:

just a reminder for you sugar-users--regular sugar takes a little bit to dissolve in iced coffee.  it will dissolve, just stir a few extra times.  quicker mix-ins would be agave, sugar syrup, or coffee flavorings.  regardless, it's tasty stuff.  and it will keep, plastic covered, for a week or more in the fridge, so don't be afraid to make a full pitcher.

iced coffee
1 cup coffee grounds
enough cool water to fill a pitcher (5-6 cups)

put coffee grounds in the pitcher and fill with cool or cold water.  cover with plastic wrap and let sit on counter for 24 hours.  using a slotted spoon, scoop out as much of the grounds as you can.  then run the rest through a filter in a coffee maker (NOT through the water reservoir).  pour filtered coffee into cleaned pitcher, cover with plastic and store in the fridge.