Thursday, March 19, 2020

One-Bowl Banana Bread

This one-bowl Banana Bread recipe is what I call Banana Bread Without All The Fuss. I have been making this recipe since I purchased my first cookbook, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, in the early 1980s. Unlike most recipes, this banana bread doesn't require a mixer, as it has no butter that needs to be creamed. In fact, it has no fat at all other than that provided by the eggs. This is not a banana cake, therefore, but a banana bread that has a compact crumb that is moist purely from the power of the bananas.

As with all banana breads, though, you want to use ripe bananas. The riper, the better. One common trick is that when you are down to that last banana that's riper than you prefer, let it continue to ripen until it is spotty brown, then stick it in the freezer. The skins will turn almost black, but that's OK. When you have collected 3 or 4, let them thaw to make the banana bread. You'll want to peel them over the mixing bowl. Depending on how ripe they were when they went into the freezer, they will be very soft, and there may even be a separated liquid. That's OK.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Easiest Easy Roast Chicken

I've been making this easy roast chicken for years. The inspiration comes from Thomas Keller, of the world-famous French Laundry and other restaurants. You'd think that a good roast chicken recipe shouldn't be this simple, but trust me -- If you are accustomed to rubbing things over or under the skin, basting, or otherwise fussing with your chicken, you don't need any of that to have a great bird. If you've never made roast chicken before, this is foolproof and requires next to no effort. The only issues you might run into is if your chicken is spoiled, or if there's a problem with your oven.

The lovely thing about roast chicken for me, as a single grrl, is that it gives me multiple meals. The first is obviously as a traditional entree as it emerges hot from the oven, all crackly brown skin and tender meat. But, after the remainder is cooled sufficiently, the whole thing gets wrapped in foil and put in the fridge. Now I have the makings for a chicken sandwich, or chicken salad, or some tasty protein I can add to a soup or a salad. The possibilities are endless; the presence of a roasted chicken in your icebox is the gateway to additional tasty lunches and dinners.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Small Batch Wedding Cupcakes

Small Batch Wedding Cake Cupcakes

One of my favorite items at Gigi's Cupcakes is the Wedding Cake Cupcake, and this small batch cupcake recipe gives me all of the thrills with none of the downsides. It may sound boring to some people, but I just adore the hint of almond and vanilla and the purity of the white cake and white icing. Even for a dedicated sweet tooth like mine, however, Gigi's mountain of frosting on an oversized cupcake can be a bit much, and I'm just not in the store's neighborhood that often. An issue in making your own cupcakes, though, especially when you are a Single Grrl, is that most recipes make at least a dozen, and often two dozen, and they can be hard to cut down to make fewer. Luckily I stumbled across a great small-batch vanilla cupcake recipe several years ago. It only makes six home-style cupcakes, which is great when you want to have enough to share but not enough to have endless stale leftovers. I've tweaked the recipe to give it that "wedding cake" flavor, but you could easily revert to regular vanilla cupcakes by omitting the almond flavoring. While they are not a duplicate of Gigi's, they are tender and flavorful, just perfect for a sweet bite with tea or coffee or as a fun dessert, with or without colorful sprinkles.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Chicken and Dumplings: The Good Kind

There are two basic schools of Chicken and Dumplings: Those where the dumpling dough is rolled out and cut into strips, and those where the dough is softer and dropped into the stew in blobs. The first type is what you would find at Cracker Barrel: Bits of chicken in a bland gravy with broad, slippery noodle-things. I find this type of Chicken and Dumplings to be edible, but unappetizing. By contrast, the recipe below is a slightly creamy chicken stew, rich with vegetables and herbs and topped with fluffy clouds of steamed dough. This is the definition of comfort food. This is Chicken and Dumplings as it should be.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I've been making blueberry muffins for a long time, using various recipes over the years. I never had a particular favorite, though. I hadn't made any for a long time, but recently I needed an easy breakfast-y treat for a Meal Train and the idea of blueberry muffins struck. Looking for a new recipe, I checked Smitten Kitchen as I almost always do, and of course she had one that looked just the thing. It included lemon, which is my favorite flavoring for blueberry muffins, and called for yogurt or sour cream in place of the usual milk or buttermilk. Her recipe is an adaptation of other recipes, and so on, and so on .... Here's my take on it; I've even included a variation for Orange Cranberry Muffins.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Butterscotch Blondies

This recipe for Butterscotch Blondies from Land O' Lakes has been a standby for me for many years. I picked up the recipe one year when I was doing an assortment of bars for Christmas boxes. It earned a firm place in my repertoire and is an easy choice when I need to bring a treat to a potluck or party but am short on time. It's one of those recipes -- like my Ginger Molasses Cookies -- that tastes so much better than you would assume from just reading the recipe.

Butterscotch Blondies

Note:  This recipe can also be made in an 8 x 8 square pan, although it may require a little more time in the oven. Double the recipe if you'd like to make a 13 x 9 pan, and increase cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes.

adapted from Land O' Lakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (about 1/2 bag) butterscotch morsels

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Sift together flour,
baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter with sugar and brown
sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add dry ingredients,
beating on low speed until thoroughly combined.

Spread batter in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle butterscotch pieces evenly over top.
Bake 5 minutes or just until butterscotch is shiny and soft. With knife, swirl pieces
into batter to create a marbled effect. Return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes
longer, or until set. Cool on wire rack; cut into bars.

Yields: 16 bars

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sweet and Salty Goldfish Crunch Mix

This party mix is great if you want something a little different than the usual Chex Mix.

Sweet and Salty Goldfish Crunch Mix

2 (6-oz.) bags salted Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers
1 1/2 cups dark raisins
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
1 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tbls. light corn syrup
2 tbls. water
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix goldfish, raisins and peanuts in a large baking pan. Place in warm oven (275F) while making syrup mixture.

Melt butter in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Add sugars, corn syrup and water. Boil to 270F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over warm goldfish mixture and toss gently.

Spray 3 large cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Spread mixture equally on the 3 prepared cookie sheets. With a wooden spoon, separate into bite-size pieces while still warm. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Makes 8 cups.