Thursday, September 23, 2010

Best Ever Banana Bread

My very first cookbook, the Immanuel Lutheran Church 90th Anniversary Cookbook, was a gift from my Grandma Renner back in 1992 from her tiny little church community in Zap, ND.  This cookbook is classic German Russian cooking, and I love it.  It is full of the recipes that my Grandma cooked for us when our family visited my grandparents farm.  The one recipe that I've made more than any other from this book is "Best Ever Banana Bread" by Ella Lieffelbein (what a great name:)) It's true.  It really is the best banana bread ever.  I never bake any other kind of banana bread. . . .why change a good thing?

Best Ever Banana Bread

1 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs
1 C. mashed ripe bananas (2-3)
1/2 C. canola oil
1/4 C. plus 1 T. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. walnuts ( I normally use 1/2 C.) or chocolate chips if wanting a dessert bread

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  In a medium bowl, combine eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture, stirring with whisk until just combined. Fold in nuts. Pour into a greased 9x5x3 inch baking pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 25 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean. This loaf was done in 1 hour 15 minutes). Let rest and remove from pan when cool.
 Recipe does not double well.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Carribean Style Pork

This is my Cooking Light Slow Cooker cookbook. . . the binding is coming apart, it has food stains, and is one of my prized possessions.  It's a staple in my kitchen.

 Carribean Style Pork is one particular recipe from this book that I've made over and over again.   It is a bit time-consuming initially, but then all you have to do before dinner is cook up some rice.  The best part is that it smells great cooking all day long.

Carribbean-Style Pork
1 tsp. olive oil
2 lbs. boneless center-cut pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1 in. pieces
2 cups chopped red bell pepper (large pieces)
6-7 green onions, chopped

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.
Heat oil in a skillet over med-high heat.  Add pork and saute for 3-4 minutes until brown on all sides.
Place pork, pepper, and green onion in slow cooker.

2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter (use the real stuff)
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. cumin seed, crushed (I only had ground cumin)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and pour on top of pork mixture.  Stir well. 
Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on high for 1 hour.  Turn slow cooker down to low and cook for another 5 hours.
 Serve it on top of  brown or white basmati rice, and top with more sliced green onions.  Add a side salad or vegetable.  This recipe serves 4-6 people and can easily be doubled.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Haute Dish

Haute Dish.  Chef Landon Schoenefeld.  Reinventing classic Midwestern cuisine.  Enough said.  I've been dying to go to Chef Schoenefeld's new place.   He's a well-known Minneapolis chef, who had gotten good press and some not so good press.  I happen to love the guy's food and have followed him since his days at Bulldog NE.  He recently opened up Haute Dish in the old Cafe Havana location on Washington Ave in Minneapolis.  I was thrilled to have an excuse to go to Haute Dish before seeing Wicked.  Our friends, Keith and Trycia, came with us.
We started out with drinks (Old Fashion and Mint Julip for the guys and wine for the ladies).  The server recommended we each get an entree and depending on how hungry we were, ordering a few "firsts" and/or "mediums."  We decided to share the Corn Button  and Stuffed Pepper to start us off, and then each order an entree.

The Corn Button with ricotta, sage, and mushrooms.  Delicious creamy goodness.


Stuffed Pepper with couscous, patty pan squash, and curry. Delicious as well. 

Trycia and I both ordered the Fish Special (Scallops).  Trycia said the scallops were, "the best dish I've had in a long time." Yup.  Me too:)  Incredible.  They were cooked with cashew butter, golden raisins,  and brussel sprouts.  Loved:)

 Courtland ordered the Tator Tot Hotdish, which is the signature dish.  Short ribs, baby green beans, porcini bechamel, and tots.  I had a bite.  Wholesome comfort food goodness.

 Keith played it safe with the burger, which the waiter disclosed took 6 months to perfect. Keith agreed.  Perfection. 

Overall, we loved everything.  Service was attentive and friendly. Atmosphere was hip and had a super club vibe. We didn't have time for dessert. . . next time. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Veggie Chili

Fall is in the air.  The Minnesota State Fair is over, the leaves are starting to turn,  and the air is crisp.  Most people who know me are well aware that I love the heat and dislike colder weather (I know. . .why do I live in MN?).  That being said. . .I'm ready for football, cuddling up on the couch in front of the fireplace, and cooking up a storm in the house.  Soup, chili, casseroles, and roasts are on my mind.    This chili recipe is healthy, economical, and easy enough to cook on a weeknight.   My husband even likes it without meat.   It can also be made in the crock pot-just saute veggies over the stove and throw everything together in the crock pot on low all day. 

Veggie Chili (originally from Cooking Light)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow pepper
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder ( I add a bit more)
1 tsp. ground cumin ( I add a bit more)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cans (16 oz.) stewed tomatoes
2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can(15 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in Dutch oven over med-high heat.  Add veggies and saute for 5 minutes.  Add brown sugar and rest of ingredients. I like spicy food, so add more seasonings. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. 

Serve topped with cheese of your choice, chunks of avocado (salted, and sprinkled with lime juice), and tortilla chips.

It's game time!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Carrot Cake Birthday Cupcakes

Every year on Courtland's birthday, his one request is that I bake him Carrot Cake.  I've tried low-fat and bundt cake varieties in the past.  This year, in the spirit of the cupcake craze, I decided to bake cupcakes. This recipe is an adaptation  from Ina Garten's cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa Parties!"  I followed most of the recipe;  however, I substituted canola oil for vegetable oil, used less powdered sugar in the frosting, and toasted coconut instead of sauteing carrots for the topping.  I also adjusted the baking temperature and time.  There was plenty of leftover frosting. . .a bonus for the kiddo to top on graham crackers.  This recipe makes 22 cupcakes, so invite a few friends and family over to enjoy them with you.  Or have 2. . .I just might have done so:)

I know. . .he's almost 4 and probably shouldn't be using a knife by himself. . .but he's got skills.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups oil (I used canola)
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 Tbsp.
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 lb. grated carrots (2 1/2 cups)
1 cup raisins (I used golden)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 lb. ( 12 oz.) cream cheese (light) at room temp
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sieved

1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin pans with paper. 
Beat sugar, oil, and eggs in a bowl with a mixer until it turns yellow. Add vanilla extract. 
In another bowl, sift 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.   Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Toss carrots, raisins, and walnuts with the 1 Tbsp. flour.  Add to the mixture and mix well. 
Scoop the mixture into the muffin cups until almost full.  Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, mix cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl until just combined.  Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

For the topping,  melt butter in saute pan and add coconut.  Saute coconut until lightly browned.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost generously and garnish with coconut topping.

Time for candles!