Archive for October, 2011

October 17, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

What to do with those aging bananas? I always buy a bunch of bananas and for some reason the last two have a better chance of making it into a banana bread than they do being eaten. Why are the last bananas always unwanted? Could be a not-so-subtle ploy by my family to have me bake a banana bread? Being the quintessential foodie mom, I pull out the stand mixer and start baking.  I’ve been making this same recipe adapted from the Joy of Cooking for years. I recently tried to make a different recipe using honey and whole wheat flour, it was a disaster. So much for trying to be healthier. Let them eat cake… or banana bread! This is a no fail banana bread. Moist and sweet, it comes out perfect every time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 5 1/3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large over-ripe lonely bananas
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Take the eggs and butter out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before you make this. They work better when at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter (or grease) an 8″ loaf pan.

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the room temperature butter with the sugar until smooth. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing in between. Crack the eggs in a small separate bowl and lightly beat. Add eggs to the mixer slowly and combine.

In separate bowl (I just use the empty dry ingredient bowl so I don’t make more dishes) mash your bananas (leaving a few little chunks). Take the bowl off the mixer and stir in the bananas by hand, then stir in the chocolate chips. Don’t over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with your rubber spatula and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until it’s golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

* A couple of notes… you can also add raisins which I love and my family hates. Or you can add nuts (chopped walnuts are nice). I’ve made this with all three (chocolate chips, raisins and nuts), and then you can call it Banana Junk Bread. Yum! Depending on how large your bananas are, when the bread bakes it will crack along the top and may seem under done along the center crack. If your toothpick comes clean everywhere else but in that center part – it’s done. 

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October 15, 2011

Fast Weekday Spicy White Pizza

Fast Weekday Spicy White Pizza

Friday night pizza has never been simpler. I picked up a pizza dough from our favorite pizza place and a few toppings at the market. In less than 30 minutes we sat down to a pizza that’s better than what’s delivered to your door. This combination of toppings was sensational. Creamy cheese, spicy italian sausage and the kick of italian long hot peppers, unbelievable! Getting the dough from your local pizza place makes this process less of a project. For this pizza I used a perforated metal pizza pan instead of the pizza stone. I think it was even better. Crisp, evenly browned crust and bubbly toppings. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pizza dough
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • About 3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2 links hot Italian sausage
  • 1 link sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp very thinly sliced fresh Italian long hot peppers (or more if you like it hot)
  • Sprinkle fresh parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Drizzle finishing olive oil

* The 3 links of sausage was equal to about 3/4lb 

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. If using a pizza stone, remember to preheat the stone with the oven.

Remove the sausage from the casing and break apart in a frying pan. Cook over medium high heat, breaking into small crumbles. Remove from the pan when cooked through and lay on a paper towel to drain. Set aside.

Sprinkle a large cutting board with flour and roll out your pizza dough nice and thin. I like to move the dough onto a pizza peel before adding the toppings… it makes transferring the pizza onto the stone in the oven easier. If you are using a metal pizza pan, you can place the rolled out dough onto the pan at this point as well. Evenly sprinkle the ricotta cheese over the dough. Do not cover the entire dough with the ricotta, it’s just an even sprinkling – the cheese will spread out as it melts. Lay on the sliced mozzarella, the fresh garlic, sliced long hots and the crumbled cooked sausage. Top with a little parmesan and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Bake in the oven for about 7-10 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and toss over the chopped basil and give it a final drizzle of your finishing oil. Serve with hot pepper flakes on the side for a little extra zip. Delicious!!!!

* I used fresh ricotta from our specialty market. It’s much creamier than the grocery store ricotta. I think it makes the pizza extra special. If you can get your hands on some fresh ricotta cheese, give it a try. 

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