Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Pecan Streussel

February 17, 2011

I know, I know.  This is not the season for the great pumpkins. But… let me tell you a little secret, I am addicted to quick bread! I seriously don’t know what I would do without them. I have to have a slice of some sort of quick bread everyday for breakfast, therefore I usually bake some sort of bread every weekend.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite variations, which I adapted from my go to quick bread recipe, which can easily make this pumpkin variation, or this Cranberry Orange Bread. I usually keep a stock of canned pumpkin in my pantry so I can enjoy this all year long. What I have done a little bit different this time was that I had a little bit of streussel leftover from making this yummy Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins, so I used that on top–and oh wow, I realized what I had been missing all of these times!  It really added some fun twist to my regular ol’ pumpkin bread. Happy Baking!!

Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook

Ingredients
8 oz of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 large eggs
1/3 cups of flavorless oil
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1-1/2 cups of all purpose flour (or, white wheat flour–but remember that the texture would be slightly firmer)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease bottom of 8-1/2 X 4-1/2 X 2-1/2 inches pan. Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, do not over-mix.

Bake for 50-60 min (I would start checking at 40 min to make sure that it is not over-baked). It is done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Yield: 1 8×3-inch loaf

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

January 31, 2011

I know my recent posts have all been dessert; but I do eat other things in addition to dessert 🙂 I was basically lured into trying this recipe because I kept on seeing it advertised on every magazine that I was reading at that time. I couldn’t remember when the last time I had pulled pork and never made it before; so I wanted to give this a try.

I didn’t have a boneless pork butt, so I used a bone-in version, and let it cook for 12 hrs. It was super tender, fell apart beautifully and was ridiculously delicious. I sprinkled some smoked paprika as well to give it a bit more spiciness to it, and it was perfect.  I love that it makes so much and  they froze and reheated well.  I  served it with this Carolina Cole Slaw and used store-bought barbecue sauce (although I think they were delicious without it as well. What could be more perfect winter meal than this? Happy eating! 🙂

Ingredients
1 5-pound boneless pork butt (shoulder) –I used a bone-in version that I think made it even more flavorful!
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
Soft sandwich buns

Directions
Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl and rub evenly over roast. Place meat in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add water. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours or until pork is very tender.

Remove pork to a large cutting board or platter and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Pull, slice or chop to serve. Serve in buns with barbecue sauce.

Makes 16-20 servings


Red Velvet Cake Truffles

January 29, 2011

Since I discovered these addictive Oreo Truffles, I learned how easy it is to turn your favorite ingredient into these delightful little treats. And just about anything covered in chocolate has to be good right? Then I saw Jen from Beantown Baker turning her leftover slice of Red Velvet Cheesecake cake into truffles… brilliant!!! I didn’t quiet have a leftover cake, but I did have some trimmings from my Red Velvet cake when I tried to stack the layers together and some  cream cheese frosting left, so I went to work on making these! I brought these to work to the excitement of my co-workers who called them divine and dangerous… because they were quite addictive! There is really nothing that can go wrong with bits of red velvet cake mixed with cream cheese frosting, dipped in chocolate…  Many thanks to Jen for the inspiration.

Ingredients
3 cups of crumbled Red Velvet cake
1/4 cup of Cream Cheese Frosting
1/3 lb of melting chocolate

Directions
Mix all of the crumbled cake and cream cheese frosting together. Form them into a 1/2-inch diameter balls. Refrigerate for approximately 10 minutes.

In the meanwhile, melt chocolate either in microwave (at 50% power), or over double broiler.

Dip cake balls into melted chocolate. Let set for a few minutes and store them in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: approximately 2 dozens


Banana Stuffed French Toast

January 22, 2011

As soon as I  saw this recipe printed on a recent Williams Sonoma catalog, I knew that I had to make these. I love having bananas for breakfast; and love them in all of my baked goods.  I don’t normally make French Toast at home not because I don’t love them-but because I don’t have access to places that sells breads that would make wonderful French Toast. This was a great excuse for me to make Challah; which I had been putting off for a very long time. While this recipe calls for a specialized panini maker; I think they be as wonderful as well on a regular griddle; you just need to flip them to ensure that both sides get browned. I really loved how the caramelized bananas inside the gorgeous challah slices really added sweetness and interesting contrast of texture to the crispy bread. I think having the right kind of bread is very critical in this recipe. If you are looking for something special to make; this may be one to try. Next time, I would also double the amount of caramelized bananas and used them as topping as well.  Happy eating!

In case you’re looking for more breakfast recipes that uses this power fruit; check out the following recipes:

Banana Bread, Easy
Banana Bread, Flour Bakery Famous
Banana Bread, Kona Inn
Banana Crunch Muffins
Banana Pecan Muffins

Recipe by Chef Bryan Voltaggio via Williams Sonoma

Ingredients
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. water
2 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1-lb. loaf day-old challah, ends trimmed, bread cut into 6 slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick
2 cups milk
6 eggs
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. granulated honey ( I used 1/4 tsp of regular honey–not sure if this was the correct amount)
Seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean

Directions
In large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, add the 2 Tbs. granulated sugar and the water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture is lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bananas and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a slit 2 inches long in one side of each bread slice, cutting three-fourths of the way. Stuff the pockets with the banana mixture, dividing evenly.

Preheat an electric panini maker to “panini” mode. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, cinnamon, granulated honey, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and blend with an immersion blender. Pour into a baking dish. Soak half of the bread slices for 5 minutes, turning occasionally.

Place the bread on the panini maker and cook, adjusting the top plate so it lightly presses the bread, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet. Soak and cook the remaining bread slices. Serve the French toast with maple syrup and your favorite toppings.

Yield 6.


Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Garlic Mayonaisse

November 13, 2010

I have always been a fan of sweet potato fries. Normally, I just slice them, toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake them in the oven. So when my CSA box included a recipe from Giada that includes basil salt with garlic mayo, I decided to give it a try. The garlic mayonaisse really turned me off at first, but actually, it turned out to be so delicious that I used them to dip my roasted carrot sticks. I really loved how the subtle lemon juice and garlic really gave the mayo a tangy flavor that cuts the sweetness of the sweet potatoes; it was a well-balanced pairing. The fresh basil also added brightness to the fries and the mayo together. I don’t think that I can go back to my simple sweet potato fries without the fresh basil and garlic mayonaisse now! I hope you give this one a try, happy eating!

Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis, as seen on Food Network

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.


Banana Pecan Muffins

October 6, 2010

Some of my readers probably have noticed that I love baked goods with bananas. And I could not help myself but wanting to try this variation from Tyler Florence when I saw him making it. His recipe calls for half of the bananas used to be whipped into a cream-like consistency which I have not seen before, and it also has pretty simple ingredients that I readily have available in my pantry. My verdict? Wow! I loved this so much that I had been making this at least once a month since I discovered it earlier this year. These muffins are moist, full of banana flavors and I enjoyed the pecans variation as well instead of the regular walnut. What I love the most about this recipe is that not only that it’s delicious, it is fail-proof, easy (I can even memorize all of the ingredients and directions), and is still pretty forgiving in terms of flavors when I decided to substitute the all-purpose flour for white wheat flour and half of the butter with apple sauce. What else can you ask?

Still got some bananas leftover? Here are some other recipes I have tried and enjoyed using bananas:
Banana Bread, Easy
Banana Bread, Flour Bakery Famous
Banana Bread, Kona Inn
Banana Crunch Muffins

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used white wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I substituted apple sauce for 1/2 of the butter)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins (of six muffins).

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 12 muffins


Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

September 10, 2010

Okay, so we love pasta at our house. We have them at least once a week, and we wanted to try something different and quick that can go in the regular weekly meal rotation. I was looking for a pasta recipe that did not use any sort of alfred0 or marinara type sauce, and I stumbled upon this one from Giada’s on Food Network, and I was floored at how easy this dish was to put together. It has basically ingredients that we normally have at our pantry and it turned out to be delicious as well. I modified the recipe a bit to make it heartier by adding chopped vegetables and organic sausages. This is now a one-stop dish and it’s fabulous… happy eating!

Inspired by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients
2 cups cooked sausages (or, if you prefer, you can skip this and make it into a vegetarian dish or replace with cooked chicken)
2 cups of eggplants (I have also substituted them with other vegetables like green/red peppers, squashes, and anything that would hold up well when sauteed)
12 ounces penne pasta
1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped them into fine pieces, keep the oil
2 garlic cloves
1 cup of thinly sliced onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional
2 tbsp of olive oil

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic in olive oil in a big pan until it becomes soft, then add the onion, followed by the vegetables. When all of the ingredients are tender, about 3-5 minutes, add the sun-dried tomatoes. Turn off the stove.

Transfer the pasta into the big pan, combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the Parmesan.

Yield: 4-5 servings