Thursday, July 31, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers-Bonus Recipe Couer a la Creme

Absolutely delicious! Sinfully rich! These were our first thoughts as we tasted this month's Barefoot Blogger's bonus recipe, Coeur a la Creme. We really liked this traditional French dessert, but I think my husband and I could have split one serving. A whole serving of this is incredibly rich. The texture is very light and fluffy comparable to a whipped cream. Yet, the flavors of the vanilla and lemon extract meld perfectly giving it it a taste similar to a cheesecake. The raspberry sauce was one of the best I have had. Not to sweet and not to tart, a perfect balance. The raspberry sauce would be great accompaniment to other desserts such as cheesecake or a bittersweet chocolate cake. This was a really simple recipe to make. I was a little concerned when I made it because I didn't have an liquid in the bottom of the dish, however, I found out from some of the other Barefoot Bloggers this was completely normal. Coeur a la Creme is traditionally made from unsweetened soft white cheese curds set into porcelain heart-shaped molds with perforated bases for the whey to drain overnight. I imagine those recipes produce a lot of liquid in the bottom. They are then unmoulded and served with cream poured over, covered with sugar. This recipe was very thick when it came out of the mixer and doesn't really have a true soft cheese in it. This dessert would make a beautiful presentation for a Valentine's day dinner or just for a special romantic evening. If you are going to make it, be sure to pick up some of these cute little Coeur a la Creme dishes. Thanks to Becke at Columbus Foodie for this decadent pick.

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce
Source: Barefoot Contessa in Paris

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce, recipe follows
2 half-pints fresh raspberries

Place the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds and beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.

Line a 7-inch sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl, making sure that there is space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, discard the liquid, unmold the cream onto a plate, and drizzle Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce around the base. Serve with raspberries and extra sauce.

Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce:
1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)

Place raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and orange liqueur into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

Yield: 2 cups

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer Berry Cooking Class

Dallas is known for having an array of some of the finest restaurants in the country. One of the shining stars in Dallas is Abacus. Abacus is one of six five-star restaurants in Dallas. Those outside of Dallas, may remember Top Chef contestant Tre Wilcox. Tre worked at Abacus. He has since moved on to start his own ventures. Owner and Executive Chef, Kent Rathburn is quite acclaimed both locally and nationally. Chef Rathburn and his brother beat Bobby Flay on the premier episode of Iron Chef. My husband and I have dined at Abacus a few times. Our favorite experience was our first visit when we indulged in the nine-course "small plates" tasting menu. These plates may have been billed as small but they were so filling. It was one of the most amazing meals we have ever had.

Last week, I noticed a listing in the paper for a summer berry cooking class taught by one of of Abacus's pastry chefs. The menu sounded fabulous: strawberry shortcakes with mascarpone whipped cream, blueberry lemon curd tart; and blueberry, peach and strawberry turnovers. Overall, it was a fun evening where I learned some great techniques and recipes for using up those wonderful summer berries that will quickly be fading from the farmer's markets. The recipes used were very adaptable and gave me many new ideas for some wonderful creations of my own.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Penne Rustica

I happened to see Robin Miller make this recipe on the food network the other day. I don't usually watch this show and have never made any of Robin's recipes. The recipe appealed to me because it was light and had several ingredients I like such as artichokes, olives, and roasted zucchini. Overall this meal was good but not amazing. I think it needs a sauce or something to bring all the flavors together. I think I'm going to reheat the leftovers for my husband and melt some cheese on top. It might even work better as a pasta salad with a vinaigrette dressing. Sounds like an idea for lunch today! I think the recipe is a good starting point but it needs some adjustment.

Penne Rustica
Source: Robin Miller and the Food Network

1 pound penne pasta
Cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup jarred artichoke hearts, quartered
Cooked zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 roasted Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook penne according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in chicken and remaining ingredients.

Monday, July 28, 2008

French Coconut Pie

I didn't have any plans to make pie this weekend, that was until my husband and I watched The Waitress. It was an adorable and quirky romantic comedy. I highly recommend it. The only problem is that after you finish the movie, you will be craving pie! My husband really likes coconut pie, so that was his pick. This recipe was very easy and I already had all the ingredients on hand. This recipe uses a pre-made pie crust. I use Wholly Wholesome Pie crusts sold at Whole Foods. I keep them in the freezer for pie baking emergencies! These crusts taste homemade and they have no artificial ingredients or preservatives. This recipe was a hit at our house. Minus the baking time, it only took about 10 minutes to throw this together. The filling of the pie was a delicious coconut custard. The top browned leaving a creme brulee like crust. I only cooked mine for the minimum 45 minutes and it got a little browner than I would have liked. So, I recommend checking this pie often to ensure it doesn't get to done. I served this with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

French Coconut Pie
Source: The Lady and Son's Savannah Country Cookbook

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 (3 1/2–ounce) can shredded sweetened coconut (about 1 cup)-I use organic superfine
1 cup milk
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell-I used a Wholly Wholesome Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, flour, sugar, coconut, and milk. Pour into pie shell. Bake until firm, about 45 to 60 minutes.

A simple Saturday lunch!

I'm always on the look out for new and exciting lunch ideas. I recently got an email from Whole Foods with a list of sandwich and salad ideas. One suggestion was a tuna apple salad. Great suggestion, but they had no recipe. I still liked the idea and knew I could make my own. My husband and I really liked this. It was a light yet filling lunch for a hot summer day. To dress the greens I used my favorite dressing, blackberry basil vinaigrette. I use this vinaigrette on lots of different salads, its perfect for the summer.

Tuna Apple Salad
Mixed Greens
1 Can of tuna
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 Granny Smith apple (1/4 cup diced the rest sliced)
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix tuna, mayo, diced apples, salt, pepper and dill. Serve on top of mixed greens with sliced apples and a drizzle of blackberry basil vinaigrette.

Blackberry Basil Vinaigrette
Source: Southern Living

½ (10oz) jar seedless blackberry preserves (I have also used raspberry)
¼ c red wine vinegar
6 fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, sliced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. seasoned pepper
¾ c. vegetable oil

Pulse preserves and vinegar; add next 4 ingredients. With blender running, add oil slowly. Process until smooth.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blueberry Pancakes

I saw this post about Blueberry Pancakes and pancake making phobia the other day on the Smitten Kitchen. I knew I wanted to try this recipe, especially since I had both blueberries and buttermilk to use. I will admit I have issues with making pancakes. Its one of those short order items I just haven't mastered. What better way to start a Sunday morning then a plate of piping hot homemade blueberry pancakes? I figured since I have French Toast down now, I would try pancakes again. I have to say the recipes is called the Best Buttermilk Pancakes and they were right! These were the best tasting homemade pancakes I have ever made. The only pancakes that rival these are the delicious pancakes I had at Kirby Lane in Austin, Texas. I will definitely use this recipe again. Unfortunately, I still haven't mastered pretty when it comes to pancakes, so I just couldn't photograph them! You could say my pancakes were rustic. At least they were all in one piece! My process is coming along though. I think my next step is to purchase a griddle so I can better regulate the temperature and make more pancakes at a time. If you have any recommendations for a good griddle, let me know. Hopefully, I will be able to update soon with a picture of some beautiful pancakes! Note, I halved the recipe and it was plenty for us.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Source: Martha Stewart's Original Baking Classics as adapted by the Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or slightly less table salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon extra for brushing griddle

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen and thawed (optional)

1. Preheat an electric griddle to 375°F, or place a griddle pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons melted butter, and whisk to combine. The batter should have small to medium lumps.

2. Test the griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If the water bounces and spatters, the griddle is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining 1/2 teaspoon butter onto the griddle. Wipe off the excess with a folded paper towel.

3. Using a 4-oz. ladle, about 1/2 cup (for a 6-inch pancake), pour the batter in pools 2 inches apart. If you wish to make blueberry pancakes, arrange a handful over the cooking pancake, pressing them in slightly. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. If any batter oozes or blueberries roll out, push them back under with your spatula. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.

4. Repeat with the remaining batter. You can keep the finished pancakes on a heat-proof plate in the oven at 175°F. Serve warm.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Smoked Salmon Spread

What can I say? Another wonderful recipe by Ina. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with this weeks Barefoot Blogger pick of Smoked Salmon Spread by Ashley at the Spicy Skillet. I love smoked salmon and the recipe sounded good, but my husband wasn't as enthusiastic. I probably should have made this for Fourth of July and served it then but I wasn't thinking that far ahead! I thought about trying this out on some friends, but my little one has been sick so we have been in quarantine! What to do? Halve the recipe and eat it with fresh crudites for lunch! It was the fanciest lunch I have ever made for just myself. I'm glad I got the chance to try this recipe. I would certainly want to make it for a party. It would be a nice accompaniment to a brunch menu but would dress up well for a fancy dinner party. It also takes only about 5-10 minutes to make and can be made ahead. I really liked the suggestion of several of the Barefoot Bloggers who recommended serving this inside cherry tomatoes or with sour dough baguettes. Ina would be proud! I can truly say I have been having so much fun participating in the Barefoot Bloggers and getting to try recipes that I might have skipped otherwise. Check back next week for the bonus recipe of Couer a la Creme. I can't wait to use my new molds. I've heard this one is a winner too!

Smoked Salmon Spread
Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style and

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained (Mine did not need to be drained)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudites or crackers.

If you can find it, Ina recommends Norwegian salmon; it's drier and less salty than other smoked salmon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chicken and Dumplings

I wanted a feel good comfort food to make for my little one who is under the weather. I decided chicken and dumplings would fit the bill. I had to make a few changes to this recipe since I didn't have a recipe with me at the store when I decided to make this dish. I found this recipe by Emeril and set to work. This was absolutely delicious! If I was feeling under the weather, I would love someone to make me a warm delicious bowl of these chicken and dumplings. This will be on my dinner rotation this winter for sure! When I make this next time, I will probably skip the step of adding new vegetables to the pot at the end and just add the already cooked carrots and celery. I like my vegetables really tender. I can't say if my little one liked this or the gelatin (see post below) because his throat is really sore and he didn't want to eat anything. Hopefully, when he is better, he will eat several big servings of both!

Chicken and Dumplings
Source: Emeril Lagasse (

4 chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat, about 2 pounds total (I used chicken breasts that I chopped into pieces roughly the size of chicken thighs)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion, plus 1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks (I omitted since I didn't have one!)
3 carrots, cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices, plus 1/4 cup coarsely chopped carrot
1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery plus 2 stalks celery, cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices
4 sprigs fresh thyme (I omitted this as well. I substituted with about 1/2 tsp Old Bay since I didn't have dried thyme or poultry seasoning either)
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used dried)

For the dumplings:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

Season the chicken thighs on both sides with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a cast iron Dutch oven and, when hot, add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken thighs over and add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and cook until the thighs are lightly browned on the second side, about 3 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and chicken broth. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat until the thighs are tender and the meat pulls away from the bone easily, 25 to 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the butter and flour in a small heatproof bowl and, using your fingers or a pastry blender, blend until smooth. Set aside.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken thighs and chopped vegetables from the cooking liquid and transfer to a plate to cool. Ladle 1 cup of the hot cooking liquid into the bowl with the butter-flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add this mixture to the pan along with the onion chunks, sliced carrot and sliced celery and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, or until the vegetables are just tender.

While the veggies are cooking, make the dumplings by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl. Heat the milk and butter until warm and the butter is melted. Add the warm milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead lightly once or twice. Using a floured rolling pin, roll to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Using a knife, cut the rolled out dumpling batter into 1 1/2-inch strips.

When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones, chicken skin and cooked vegetables. Reserve the meat separately.

When the veggies are crisp-tender, uncover the pan and add the reserved chicken meat, peas, and parsley to the cooking liquid. Stir to combine, increase the heat to medium-high and, when the mixture comes to a boil, add the dumplings, 1 strip at a time, to the pan, using a spoon to gently submerge the dumplings in the hot mixture. Cook, uncovered and undisturbed, until the dumplings are cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir gently and serve in wide shallow bowls.

A Healthier Gelatin

Until I had a child, I never paid that much attention to food labels. Now, I read everything. It is shocking the foods that have artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives etc. If it has any of these, I avoid feeding it to my child. These ingredients were not meant to be in foods and I think the health effects are yet to be seen. My little one has been under the weather a few times and I struggled with what to feed him. Jell-O is a great food for such an occasion. However, every time I went to the store and looked at what was in the box, I just couldn't feed it to him. I recently saw a post on the cooking board I read for someone trying to make their own Jell-O. I set out to research a recipe and found one on the Whole Foods website. I made this today and can honestly say, it tastes as good if not better than the boxed mix. I especially love how versatile this recipe is. You could make mango, pomegranate or custom combination fruit mixes. It takes gourmet to a whole new level! For my first experiment today, I made Strawberry Banana. I have to say this recipe is so easy, it really didn't take me any more time to make this than it would have to make a box of Jell-O. It also only has 1 Tablespoon of additional sugar. The rest of the sugar are natural sugars from the fruit juice.

Gelatin Fruit Dessert

Source: Whole Foods

This treat is great with many of your favorite juices or fruit nectars (avoid pineapple, kiwi and papaya juice though). Vary the fresh fruit according to season; we like raspberries, sliced grapes and blueberries.

Serves 4
  • 2 cups berry juice (I used V-8 Fusion's 100% Strawberry Banana Juice)
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit (I omitted to make the Gelatin plain)

Pour 1 cup of the juice in a medium heatproof bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and dissolve.

Combine the remaining juice and the sugar in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Pour the hot juice mixture into the gelatin mixture and stir to combine. Pour into four ramekins, small ceramic bowls or one medium bowl. Add the fruit and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or until firm.

New Favorite Meatloaf Recipe!

I was pretty satisfied with my favorite meatloaf recipe. My other favorite, is Martha Stewart's recipe. I still love these two recipes, but Dave Lieberman's recipe is a serious contender for best meatloaf ever. I was in Sur La Table last week looking for Couer a la Creme molds for next weeks Barefoot Bloggers bonus recipe. I noticed Dave's cookbook on a sale table. I can't resist a cookbook so I started flipping through it. Several recipes looked really good so I decided to add one more book to my ever growing collection. One recipe that particularly intrigued me was the recipe for Bubby's Meatloaf and Red Pepper Sauce. The recipe was really simple and I was skeptical as to whether we would like this or not as it was very different from my other recipes. Well not to worry, this recipe tastes like the type of meatloaf you would get at an old-fashioned diner. The bell pepper sauce gives the meatloaf a sweet and sour style tang. This meatloaf was also incredibly moist. This is comfort food at its very best. If the rest of the recipes in the book are as good as this one, the book was a really good deal! I won't retire my other meatloaf recipes. Michael Chiarello's is a great Italian style meat loaf and Martha's is a classic savory dish with a little gourmet pizzaz. We really like meat loaf so it is nice to have several wonderful recipes to choose from.

Bubby's Meatloaf and Red Pepper Sauce
Source: Dave Lieberman's A Fresh Approach to Home Cooked Dinners
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
3 ounces tomato paste (1/2 of 1 small can, reserving rest for the sauce)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (I added some additional oatmeal and bread crumbs since I only had 1 lb ground beef and added enough sauce for 2 lbs)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed

Red Pepper Sauce:
3 ounces tomato paste (from reserved 1/2 can)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 small red pepper, seeded, cored, and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 grinds black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the meatloaf and work together completely by hand until all ingredients are evenly distributed and the mixture is uniform. Place meat mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and shape into a loaf about 11 inches long and 4 inches wide. It is important to form it like this so that it cooks evenly throughout. The loaf should be in the middle of the pan with room on both sides for the sauce to pool.

Red Pepper Sauce:
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Cover the meatloaf with the sauce and allow excess sauce to pool around the meatloaf. Cover pan with aluminum foil but avoid contact with meat loaf by leaving at least a couple inches of space between the top of the meatloaf and the foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 45 minutes longer. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Fig Season!

I love figs! I'm not sure how it started but once I discovered figs, both dried and fresh I was hooked. Fresh figs are only available a short time so you have to grab them when you see them. Unfortunately, they can't be frozen. In the winter months I like to use dried figs in salads, baking and roasting. My husband and I visited Napa/Sonoma several years ago and I fell in love with The Girl and the Fig Restaurant. Their fig salad is delicious. My husband bought me the cookbook so I could recreate some of the recipes at home. I also purchased Fig Heaven which is full of yummy fig recipes. Although I didn't make this recipe exactly as directed it was delicious. The figs, bacon and goat cheese are a perfect match and serve to complement the roast chicken well. I served this with brown rice and a spinach salad with blueberry basil vinaigrette. Below is the recipe for the chicken with my changes. I hope to showcase more fresh fig recipes soon.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Fresh Figs and Goat Cheese
As Adapted from Fig Heaven by Marie Simmons

4 large boneless and skinless chicken breast halves, fillets removed (I used bone-in chicken breasts with the skin on and stuffed the filling under the skin)
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced fresh green or black figs (about 6 figs)
1/2 cup crumbled, well chilled goat cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
4 slices pancetta or bacon (I used bacon)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I omitted)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (I cooked mine at 350 since I didn't use the boneless).

Place the chicken breasts smooth side up on the work surface with the thickets portion to your right. Butterfly the breast by cutting through the thick side toward the tapered side so you can open the breast like a book. Sprinkle the butterflied chicken inside and out with 1/2 tablespoon thyme leaves, pinch of salt and pepper. (I omitted this step)

In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of thyme, the figs, the goat cheese, 1 tbsp olive oil, the garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and a grinding of black pepper. Toss to combine. Spoon the stuffing onto one side of each chicken breast, dividing it evenly. Close the chicken over the stuffing. Wrap a slice of pancetta around each chicken. Hold the breast closed and the pancetta in place with a toothpick or small metal skewer. (I omitted this step and stuffed the filling under the skin).

Oil a large 13x9 shallow baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Turn and roast the other side until cooked through, about 10 minutes. (I cooked mine at 350 degrees for about 45-55 minutes).

Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the chicken to a serving platter and cover with foil. Add the wine to the pan and heat to a boil over high heat, scraping the browned bits and reducing wine to syrup about 5 minutes. Drizzle wine over chicken and serve. (I skipped this step).

Carrot Ginger Bread

This was my favorite recipe of the two carrot recipes. I was expecting this recipe to be denser like a banana bread. I was pleasantly surprised when this turned out to be light and fluffy like a cake and had a delicious ginger flavor. The cake is also a gorgeous color inside when sliced. This recipe works well for breakfast, a snack or can even hold its own for dessert. If you don't want to juice your own carrots, you can buy carrot juice at your local grocery store.

Carrot Ginger Bread
Source: Everyday Food

nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup carrot juice (approx. 1 lb carrots juiced)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (I omitted, but I think they would be a great addition)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8 by 4 inch (1 quart) loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and carrot juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, whisking just to combine. Fold in the walnuts.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert loaf onto rack to cool completely. Slice just before serving.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mango Carrot Smoothie

Several weeks ago, I was browsing one of my favorite cooking stores, Sur La Table. I went there to get Popsicle molds but couldn't help looking at all the other fun cooking gadgets. Lo and behold, I spotted a juice extractor attachment for my Kitchen Aid Food Processor. I had no idea, they sold attachments for the food processor. Even better, it was on clearance! Fast forward to yesterday when I finally had a chance to use it. I was watching an episode of Everyday Food on PBS this weekend and saw these recipes using carrot juice. The attachment was very easy to use and produced a beautiful carrot juice for these smoothies and the carrot bread. My two pounds of carrots yielded 2 cups of juice. I can't wait to try juicing more fruits and vegetables with this attachment. This smoothie was really light and refreshing. I had it with my lunch but it would be great for breakfast or a snack.

Mango Carrot Smoothie
Source: Everyday Food

Serves 4.

  • 1 peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped mango (about 1 cup)-(I used canned organic plus the juice)
  • 1 1/2 cups carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I omitted)
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  1. In a blender, puree mango, carrot juice, yogurt, honey, lime juice, and ice cubes on high speed until smooth.
  2. Pour into glasses, and serve immediately.

Friday, July 18, 2008

New York Crumb Cake

In Texas its very hard if not impossible to find an authentic New York Crumb Cake. I knew when I saw this recipe on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, it must definitely be the best one to make. This cake was easy to make and can easily be doubled for a larger crowd. The cake was buttery and light and the crumb topping was the perfect match. I liked the crumb to cake ratio. I would definitely make this one again, except I just found out my Mom has my Grandmother's crumb cake recipe. Had I known that to begin with, I would have made that one from the outset. My Grandmother was an amazing cook and I know her recipe will be the best one. Don't worry if you don't have a family recipe, this one will not be a disappointment. I apologize for the picture, it doesn't do the cake justice. I just couldn't get the right lighting for this one and I was in a hurry.

New York Crumb Cake
Source: America's Test Kitchen

Crumb Topping

1/3 Cup granulated sugar
1/3 Cup dark brown sugar

3/4 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon table salt
1 Stick unsalted butter , melted
1-3/4 Cups cake flour


1-1/4 Cups cake flour
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
1/4 Teaspoon table salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, softened
1 Large egg
1 Large egg yolk
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 Cup buttermilk or 1/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1.Using whisk, combine sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl
2. Add flour and stir with wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, well formed chunks of dough.
3. Set mixture aside until ready to add to cake batter.

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

2.Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish.

3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer on low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, and there are no visible butter chunks remaining. This should take about 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping bowl.

4. Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer. Crumble the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in an even layer over batter, beginning with edges and then working toward center (take care to not push the crumbs into the batter). Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Adventures in Pickle Making!

I've never canned anything before in my life. I must admit, I have always been some what fascinated with the process but too nervous to try it alone. My Mother-in-Law had a tremendous crop of pickles this year and was nice enough to invite me over to learn about canning. We had a lot of fun making these pickles. Here are some pictures of the process. We used mixes to make both bread and butter pickles and dill pickles, so I don't have a recipe to share. I think we must have made 10-15 jars. There were still more cucumbers left to be used. I'm betting we could have made another 10 jars! I had some serious pickle cravings when we were done! I think the hardest part about canning, is you have to wait 4-6 weeks to taste these. They looked and smelled delicious, so hopefully our efforts paid off. I'm working on some personalized labels for the jar to complete the process. If you have any thoughts on a fun name, let me know! Hopefully, our next project will be to make pumpkin pies from scratch from the beautiful sugar pumpkins growing in her garden.

Baked French Toast

As much as I love to cook, I'm not the best short order breakfast cook. French toast on the stove never seems to work out well for me. When I host a brunch, I really like to make Creme Brulee French Toast Casserole. Its really decadent and always a hit. I make it every now and then for Sunday breakfast but its not a regular because its really rich. I recently had some wonderful French toast at my mother-in-law's house. She was testing a recipe for America's Test Kitchen and it came out beautifully. If I were inclined to make French toast on the stove, I would use that recipe. I clipped this recipe from Everyday Food a while back. I liked that this recipe makes individual French toast slices all in the oven. Even better I started it Saturday night and had French toast ready to cook when I got up on Sunday morning. All I had to do was transfer it to a baking sheet and pop it in the oven. We really liked this French toast, it had a nice custardy taste and was very moist. I used Challah as the recipe suggested, its my favorite bread for French toast. I didn't make the raspberry sauce but I'm sure that would put this recipe over the top!

Baked French Toast with Raspberry Sauce
Source: Everyday Food, December 2007

Serves 4
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 thick slices challah, brioche, or other egg bread (1 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 bag (10 to 12 ounces) frozen raspberries (or strawberries), thawed
  • Smoked chicken sausage, warmed, for serving (optional)
  1. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, whisk together eggs, milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt.
  2. Arrange bread in dish in a single layer; let soak 15 minutes. Turn bread over; cover, and refrigerate until most of the liquid is absorbed, at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with butter. With a spatula, carefully transfer soaked bread to sheet. Bake until French toast is set in center and lightly browned on the bottom, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine raspberries and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, mashing lightly with a fork.
  5. Remove French toast from baking sheet with a thin metal spatula; serve with raspberry sauce and, if desired, sausage.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rustic Nectarine and Blackberry Crostata

I've been wanting to try a crostata recipe for a while. A crostata is basically a free form pie that originated in Italy. The rustic nature of this dessert appealed to me. Blogging about this recipe is challenging for me. My husband and I critiqued it after eating it and both agreed that it was good, pleasant, just not exciting. My husband thought he preferred a traditional pie with double crust better. I thought it was a good solid dessert but didn't reach the level of exceptional that I had hoped for nor that was given by the reviewers at I''m thinking Ina's Chicken (see below post) was a hard act to follow! The crust was different from other recipes I have seen by virtue of the addition of polenta. The end result was a much thicker crust than a typical pie crust. The orange rind added nice subtle flavor to the crust. I think with some tweaking this recipe could be really amazing. A crostata is a wonderful addition to any dinner or brunch. The great thing about a crostata is that you can change it up to take advantage of whatever fruits are in season. I'm looking forward to trying an apple crostata this fall. For those that are interested, here is a link to the recipe:

Rustic Nectarine and Blackberry Crostata

Lemon Chicken with Croutons

Wow! That was the first word we used to describe this dish. Not only will this become a regular on the menu at our house but will probably be one of my standard dinner party dishes. So, if you come over for dinner soon, expect to see this on the menu! This dish really impressed both myself and my husband. This dish exemplifies that it really only takes a few simple ingredients combined with good technique to produce an outstanding dish. The chicken was incredibly moist and flavorful. This dish was worthy of any five star restaurant. I think if I could be invited to dinner by any food network star, it would definitely be Ina. I have made a few of her recipes in the past, but having made several in the last couple of months I have realized how talented she is.

Lemon Chicken with Croutons
Source: Barefoot Contessa in Paris

1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion, sliced
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (1 baguette or round boule)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to
10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Torta di Pasta (or Spaghetti Pie!)

I found this Giada recipe and loved not only the simplicity but how it made a light summer meal. I'm such a fall person its hard for me to come up with summer foods! This recipe came together really quick. Next time I make this, I will probably add some basil, garlic oil, and maybe some artichoke hearts or sausage to give it a bit more flavor. The recipe is definitely a good starter recipe that can be personalized to your own tastes.

Torta di Pasta
Source: Giada De Laurentis/Food Network

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss with the sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside to cool completely otherwise the hot pasta could curdle the eggs when you add them later on.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and pepper, Parmesan, and fontina to blend. Add the cooled spaghetti mixture; toss to coat.

Preheat the broiler. Melt the butter and oil in a 9 1/2-inch-diameter nonstick skillet over medium heat. Transfer the spaghetti mixture to the skillet, pressing to form an even layer. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the broiler. Broil until the top is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Cool in the skillet to room temperature.

Invert the torta onto a platter. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature.

Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

I've had The Perfect Scoop cookbook for a while now and was excited to try my first recipe. I saw many rave reviews for the recipes in this book on other blogs and they were right! This recipe starts with a delicious vanilla custard base that would easily be adaptable with other mix-ins or great all on its own. The ice cream was perfect the day we made it, however, I found after sitting in the freezer longer, the berries became crunchy. I omitted the vodka mixed in with the raspberries because I was feeding the ice cream to children. I realize now, the vodka was intended to keep the raspberries from freezing. So if you are making this recipe, keep that in mind. I will definitely be trying more of the wonderful recipes from this book. My biggest problem, is picking which one to choose next!

Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream
Source: The Perfect Scoop by Dave Liebovitz

Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I would like to try vanilla bean paste next time)

Raspberry Swirl

1 1/2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (I used fresh)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vodka (I omitted-see note above)

To make the ice cream, warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula scarping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

An hour or so before churning the ice cream, make the raspberry swirl by mashing the raspberries together with the sugar and vodka with a fork (if using frozen raspberries, let them thaw a bit first) until they're juicy but with nice-sized chunks or raspberries remaining. Chill until ready to use.

Freeze the ice cream custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. After you remove it from the machine, layer the container with spoonfuls of the chilled raspberry mixture.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers-Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

When I saw this recipe, it looked good but I didn't really have high expectations that a cornbread recipe could be exceptional. Let me just say this is probably one of the best corn breads I have ever had. I think the only one that tops it is the delicious mini-corn bread served at Stephen Pyle's Restaurant in Dallas. This recipe was really effortless. This cornbread has a beautiful light and airy cake like texture and is very moist. Due to the fact that jalapenos are now potentially suspect in the salmonella outbreak, I substituted with canned chili peppers. This is my go-to cornbread recipe from now on! I'm glad I made a 9x13 pan because I definitely want leftovers! Thanks to Sabrina and Alexander at Cooking with the Kids for picking this great recipe! Check out the Barefoot Bloggers site to see how the other bloggers fared with this recipe. Stay tuned for Smoked Salmon Spread on July 24th and a bonus recipe, Couer a la Creme on July 31st.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread
(Source: Barefoot Contessa at Home)

Yield: 12 large pieces

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeño peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Slow Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

I knew I would be making Ina's Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread for the Barefoot Bloggers this week and I wanted something that would compliment it. I found this recipe from the November 2007 issue of Everyday Food. I intended to make it in the crock pot but didn't get back from the store in time. Luckily, the directions provided an alternative oven method. My husband proclaimed this meal delicious and I agreed! The addition of the chipotle in adobe gives it a pretty good kick. This dish will be perfect for a lazy Sunday during football season.

Slow-Cooked Tex Mex Chicken and Beans
Source: Everyday Food, November 2007

Serves: 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: Varies, depending on method.

1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed ( I used canned organic white beans)

1 jar (11 ounces) mild or medium salsa (1 1/2 cups)

2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), chopped

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, for serving

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Step 1: In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chiles, flour and 1 cup water. Season chicken with salt and pepper; arrange on top of bean mixture. Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken.

Step 2: Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours (Do not open lid or stir).

Step 3: Remove chicken from stew; shred into large pieces and return to stew. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.

Oven method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Follow step 1, using a 5-quart Dutch oven or large pot, substituting 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed, for the dried beans, and increasing water to 2 cups. Cover pot and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Transfer to oven and cook until chicken is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Proceed with step 3.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tangy Potato Salad with Scallions

Look at these gorgeous cucumbers!

Happy 4th of July! We have been enjoying a wonderful and relaxing day, topped off by a great meal and hopefully some fireworks this evening! Its a wonderful day to remember all of the great things our country has to offer and how lucky we are to enjoy all the freedoms we have.

I wanted a low key meal for our cookout today. We had cowboy burgers purchased at one of our favorite local grocers. The ground beef is mixed with roasted jalapenos and cheddar cheese. Pretty simple to recreate at home. For sides we had fresh sliced cucumbers from my in-law's garden. They were not only the prettiest little cucumbers but tasted so good. I also made this quick potato salad recipe from the July 2008 issue of Everyday Food. Like all the recipes from that magazine, this one is like the perfect little black dress. Its simple, tastes great and goes with most anything. This recipe requires only a few ingredients, takes less than 30 minutes to make and is perfect for outdoor events since it has no mayonnaise. For dessert we had Tollhouse Cookies with homemade Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream from Dave Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. This was possibly the best ice cream I've made, or ever had! I'll post pictures and the recipe sometime this weekend.

Tangy Potato Salad with Scallions
Source: Everyday Food July 2008

Serves 8

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 pounds Yukon gold or other waxy potatoes, scrubbed, halved, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup white-wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Set a steamer basket in a large pot. Fill with enough salted water to come just below basket. Bring to a boil; place potatoes in basket, and reduce heat to medium. Cover, and steam, gently tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar and scallions in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. When potatoes are cooked, transfer to bowl with vinegar mixture. Toss to combine; let cool, tossing occasionally.
  3. When potato mixture is cool, mix in oil; season potato salad with salt and pepper. (To store, refrigerate, up to 1 day.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Double Dutch Chocolate Fudge Upside-Down Cake

Yesterday, I was preparing to cook dinner, which didn't involve much since I was only popping a meatloaf I had previously frozen into the oven. I steamed some broccoli and threw together some mashed potatoes, not much challenge. Then it hit me that I really wanted something chocolate! I grabbed my Lady & Son's Cookbook and found this Double Dutch Chocolate Fudge Upside-Down Cake. One of the things I really love about Paula Deen's books is that I can always find a recipe that uses ingredients I have on hand. This recipe was very simple to throw together. I was a little skeptical about how this would turn out when I saw the layer of hot water sitting on top of the cake. However, when it was done baking, the cake had risen to the top and there was a decadent gooey hot fudge layer beneath. I don't have a picture of this one, because although it was absolutely delicious, it was not much of a looker for photography purposes! I didn't make the whipped cream to go on top and I think that would have made it more photogenic along with some fresh mint and a raspberry. This dish can definitely be dressed up for a dinner party or go for a casual weeknight meal.

Double-Dutch Chocolate Fudge Upside-Down Cake
Source: The Lady and Sons II

Serves 8-10

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar, divided use
2 tablespoons, plus 1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided use
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder, the baking powder, and the salt. Add the milk, the oil, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla, and stir until blended. Stir in the nuts,if using. Pour the batter into a greased 9x13-inch pan.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar with the 1/4 cup cocoa powder; stir well. Spread this mixture over the batter in the pan. Using a large spoon, drizzle the boiling water over the cake; do not stir. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm. Let the cake cool slightly. Meanwhile, whip the cream with the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Cut the cake into squares and place them upside down (gooey side up) on dessert plates. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream onto each piece of cake.

Banana Oatmeal Waffles

Last weekend, we decided to have a lazy Sunday morning and make waffles at home. Many are familiar with Dorie Greenspan's wonderful baking compendium Baking From My Home to Yours. Most people are probably not as familiar with a wonderful little book she authored in 1995, Waffles From Morning to Midnight. I previously made these delicious Pumpkin Pie Waffles from the same book in November. This time I had some bananas that I needed to use so I chose the Banana Oatmeal Waffles. The addition of the oats makes these a really hearty waffle. The only thing I would change next time is to cook them on the highest waffle iron setting and probably a bit longer than the setting goes. The addition of the bananas gave them a higher water content and caused them to be a little soggy. I think I will follow Dorie's serving suggestion and serve them with some strawberry butter next time.

Banana Oatmeal Waffles

Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Waffles From Morning to Midnight

4 T unsalted butter

1 cup old fashioned oats, (not instant)

1 cup all purpose flour

1 T double acting baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

3 T firmly packed brown sugar, dark or light

1 ½ cups buttermilk

2 large eggs

2 medium size ripe bananas, thinly sliced crosswise

Maple syrup or honey for topping

Preheat your waffle iron. If you want to hold the finished waffles until serving time, preheat your oven to 200F.

Melt the butter; reserve. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and brown sugar. In another bowl, beat together the buttermilk and eggs with the whisk until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Mix in the banana slices and melted butter.

Lightly butter or spray the grids of your iron, if needed. Brush or spray the grids again only if subsequent waffles stick.

Spoon out a full ½ to 2/3 cup of batter (or a little more than the amount recommended by your waffler’s manufacturer) onto the grids. This batter is thick and lumpy, so push and spread it to the edge of the grids with a metal spatula or wooden spoon. Close the lid and bake until golden and crisp. (It may need a little longer than other waffles because the batter is thick.) Serve the waffles immediately or keep them, in a single layer, on a rack in the preheated oven while you make the rest of the batch. Stir the batter between waffles to redistribute the banana slices.

Makes about five 6 ½ inch round waffles.