Happy New Year from The Gorge!

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beginner’s banana bread

November 17, 2011

It’s a sad day when good fruit goes bad.  Except for bananas.  When they turn all brown on the outside and smushy on the inside they transform into super bananas!  Pop a few into a freezer bag and they make the perfect basis for your next breakfast smoothie.  Or prepare this totally easy recipe for a warm treat great for any breakfast or snack time.

Banana Bread Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ripe bananas, smashed (2-3 medium bananas)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

Oh oh oooh, oh oh ooh, oh oh oooh, The White Stuff.  Whisk it together (sugar, baking powder baking soda, salt and 1 cup of flour) in a large bowl.

*Glorp*  Smashed frozen ripe bananas isn’t exactly the most attractive  substance on the planet, but think about what deliciousness this ooze turns intos!   Add smashed bananas, butter and milk.  Beat with a mixer on low speed until blended, then on high speed for a couple minutes longer.

Add eggs and remaining flour, beat until blended.

Get a little nuts!  Then fold them into the batter.

Whoa.  It’s getting majestic in here.  Pour batter into greased loaf pan (8x4x2).

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a centrally stabbed toothpick removes clean.

Cool for 10 minutes.  Remove from loaf plan and cool thoroughly.  Wrap and store overnight before slicing.  Use this time to think about all the delicious ways you can eat your homemade banana bread.

With melty Nutella!

Or creamy cream cheese, sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon!

And if there was any left I would have attempted more options.  Like french toast.  Or – holy wow – can you imagine BANANA bread pudding!  Wowzers, time to start collecting hyper-ripe bananas for the next loaf.

turtle muffin

October 9, 2011

om nom turtle muffin

Turtle Muffin at Star Lounge.  2521 W Chicago Ave.

welcome back, blog

October 2, 2011

Sorry.  I have been missing in action for the past couple of months.  It simply became too hot in my studio kitchen to warrant any additional heat.  I had to move the chocolate from the cupboard into my fridge because everything was melting.

i'm melting

Including myself.  And so I went out, where I enjoyed things that I can finally share because I can now comfortably concentrate at a heat-emitting device in my own home.

mocha sundae

I ate a lot of ice cream this summer.  Like this amazing mocha sundae, cappuccino ice cream with chocolate sauce and topped with chocolate covered espresso beans.  It was a good way to keep my internal temperature down, or so I told myself.

bloody mary friend

I made sure to stay hydrated.  I met friends for drinks and made friends in drinks, like this friend I found at the bottom of my Bloody Mary.

mason jar mojito

And this mason jar Mojito at Moonshine.

gin and tonic

And this gin and tonic at Archies.

raspberry crown

After late nights out, there is nothing so wonderful as a big brunch by the light of day featuring seasonal fruit.  Peach and raspberry pancakes with almonds and house made amaretto churned butter at Nookies Too.

burger

There was plenty of room for backyard barbeques, including the amazing discovery that basil becomes a fantastic lettuce replacement on a burger when the herb is so rich and leafy in the summertime.

blueberries

I could not get enough blueberries this summer.

handy helpers

I even went on an adventure to Michigan and enlisted the help of my three-year-old twin niece and nephew to pick wild blueberries that are infinity times better than anything I’ve ever found in a grocery store.  While my nephew found the bucket an interfering step from branch to mouth, my niece successfully picked a half pound of the good “purple” blueberries and none of the yucky pink or green blueberries.

blueberry margarita

And that very evening, with a couple of fine ladies, we turned a couple pounds of those teeny blueberries into totally healthful margaritas.  Cheers!

Thanks for sticking around in my absence!  I am back from this break with my kitchen and excited to get to work baking, shooting and writing about the fun and delicious things I come across!

bacon and egg cupcakes

July 22, 2011

Although not technically a cupcake in the traditional sense, these bacon wrapped eggs from Recipe Cards are a cute and impressive addition to any brunch spread – not to mention a total breeze to make using minimal ingredients and taking less than 20 minutes to whip together!

So many wonderful recipes are written to make enormous batches, leaving a lot of lonely leftovers.  These fantastic little “cupcakes” are made individually so you only have to make exactly how many you want right now; for your family, your breakfast-for-dinner party, or just you.

Bacon and Egg Cupcakes Ingredients

  • eggs (one per cupcake)
  • bacon (approximately 1 1/2 strips per cupcake)
  • cheese (shredded or crumbled – use your favorite, mine is cheddar jack)
  • chopped herbs (thyme, chives, rosemary, dill – anything you like, I like basil)
  • salt and pepper (pinches each, per cupcake)
Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook bacon until browned, but not crispy.

In a greased muffin tin, line a muffin cup with a full strip of bacon.  In this “cupcake” the bacon acts as the liner – holding the delicious goods all together with no need to peel off and discard, just eat it right up!

Tear about half a strip of bacon into little bits and fill the bottom of the muffin tin.

Crack an egg into each tasty bacon cup.

Season with salt and pepper.  While you’re at it, take a moment to appreciate the song styling of Salt-N-Pepa.

Fill each cup with cheese and sprinkle with herbs.

Cook for 10-15 minutes (mine were good around the 12 minute mark).

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute or two.  Two of these self-contained breakfast vessels make for one sturdy serving.

Serve with sliced tomato, fresh fruit, home fries, Bloody Marys and you’ve got another delightful reason to get out of bed on a Sunday!

And if this wasn’t easy enough to follow, check out this beautiful video from Recipe Cards:

summer bread pudding

June 20, 2011

My own dear dad was beyond thrilled way back in March when I made bread pudding for the first time, so I decided to revisit the dish with a summertime twist this Father’s Day.

For scheduling reasons, I fixed up a brunch spread for the occasion, telling my brother’s family I was preparing a “baked french toast thing” because bread pudding just sounds so blah and bland.  Both my dad and my brother have extraordinary  sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) and since it was their special day, I heightened the sugar factor by using dried bing cherries in place of the raisins and amaretto in place of the whiskey for the sauce.

Served with a fresh cantaloupe and blueberry salad, a pound of bacon, and a pitcher of orange juice, the fathers in my family were delighted with my efforts (almost as much as watching my brother’s three-year-old twins use their forks to spear blueberries one by one by one).

Happy Father’s Day, for the man who introduced the concept of breakfast-for-dinner, I gave him the gift of dessert-for-breakfast!

Once a staple of fundraising bake sales and post-game soccer treats, these delightful cubes of gooey goodness have gone by the wayside.  Ever since the individually packaged interpretations of these came on the market in their bright blue wrappers, my aversion to these factory versions has kept me away from enjoying the simple pleasure of making a batch of these myself.  Now no longer the case!

I was alerted to this fabulously easy-to-make recipe from Poppytalk by my awesome friend Alda (of the printmaking duo Beside Herself), of Rice Krispie treats for grown ups.  By browning the butter, a rich almost-nutty flavour is introduced to a favorite childhood memory.

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 oz mini marshmallows (half a bag of minis – I had the fluffy full sized marshmallows and used about 20 which had to be torn into bits – a smidge sticky, yes, but it works)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups Rice Krispies

In a large pot, melt the butter while stirring frequently over medium heat.  Be sure to pay attention, as there is no fun in burnt butter Rice Krispie treats.  Remove from heat once the butter is browned and stir in the marshmallows until you’ve got a smooth goop.  Stir in salt.  Add cereal and stir until all is evenly coated.  Squish into a greased 8×8 pan with a flexible spatula.  Once cool, you’ll have nine yummy squares to share!

Between my dad, me, and a pair of three-year-old twins, this initial batch of treats disappeared at record speed.  Dad said plainly that these were the best Rice Krispie treats he has ever had (only slightly garbled by stating this fact with his mouth full with one). Since the recipe is easy enough to make, I whipped up a second batch, this time using Cinnamon Cherrios.  Two words for this adaptation: Do It.  With my attention compromised by bouncing toddlers matched with my eagerness to get these Cinnamon Cheerio treats into my face ASAP, I added too many marshmallows and didn’t wait long enough for them to completely melt into the butter.  This resulted in the appearance that Spiderman may have had a hand in helping make these.

In this instance, the subtle flavour brought by the brown butter was masked by the cinnamon, however this still yielded superbly tasty results.  Yum yum yum yum!

Cooking for one leads to a lot of interesting leftover options (I’ve been making a ton of brownie sundaes and there’s still half a tray to go).  Sometimes brinner happens, and it’s ALWAYS a great idea.