Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins or Loaves

To heck with expensive bakery muffins, make your own, I say!

*Disclaimer: Consumption of said muffin may induce joy, contentment and a general sense of well being. Use with caution.*

what you'll need, my little pretties....

~ 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (I used some from a can of "yams" drained and mashed)
~ 3 whole Medium, ripe Bananas (I use frozen bananas, let them thaw and drain them because they get watery)
~ 1 cup Sugar
~ 2/3 cup Vegetable Oil
~ 2 whole Eggs (large)
~ 2 cups Flour, Not Sifted
~ 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
~ 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
~ 1/2 teaspoons Salt

~ 2/3 cups Mini Chocolate Chips (optional)
~ 1/2 cups Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Mix together sweet potatoes, bananas, sugar, oil and eggs.
Then add in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips.
Fold batter carefully until flour is incorporated.

As for the walnuts, I reserve these and toss them on top so that they toast as the bread bakes. They end up tasting amazing this way, trust me.

This batter ended up filling four 5 X 3 inch little loaf pans (GREASED! or you’ll be cussing me).
I suppose it would fill up two 8 X 4 inch loaf pans, too. But, my volume math is a little rusty so whatever you use, leave about 3/4 of an inch from the top of the batter to the top edge of your pan.

Or, just throw all caution to the wind and make muffins instead.

Bake loaves at 350F for 15 minutes, then turn down to 325F for another 30 minutes.

If you’re making muffins, it will depend on the size of your muffin tin.
I made Texas sized bakery muffins, so they took 30 mins. or so.
Just watch them, I gently press on the top of the muffin when I think they are close to done. If they are done, they will spring back and feel firmish. If they are not done, it will feel gooey.
Or, stab them with a toothpick.
Whatever floats your witch.
"She turned me into a newt!"
"A newt?!"
"I got better..."
(Monty Python lives!)

Hey, how technical is that? My grandfather was an engineer, so I come by it honestly....not.

Test them to make sure they’re cooked through the middle. But take care NOT to overbake, or you will have dry muffins.
And there is nothing worse than a dry muffin.

Makes 4 mini loaves or 8 or 9 Texas sized muffies.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PB and J cookies

Can't you just feel the love?
Its like a Sunday afternoon at grandma's and a treat after a long day at school all rolled into one.
We like raspberry preserves, but please get crazy and use your favorite!
But, eww...don't use orange marmalade.
Okay, use it, but don't tell me if you do.

what you'll need:

1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter flavor shortening
3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 c. fruit preserves or jam (not jelly)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place sheets of foil on counter top for cooling cookies.
Combine brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Add egg. Beat just until blended.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.
At this point, I like to chill the dough for an hour.
Roll into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
With your thumb, make an indention in the top of each dough ball and fill with about 1/2 tsp. preserves.

Bake one baking sheet at a time for 8 - 10 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown. (Please note that this time is relative, your oven may be cooler or hotter than mine. Also, depending on how many cookies you put on the cookie sheet, it may take a little longer. So, keep your eye on them!)
Do not over-bake, you'll want them to be barely golden on the edges.
Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to foil to cool completely.

Pour yourself a glass of milk and join me for pb & j, my way ;)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our Garden, Lasgana Style

I was horribly remiss at taking photos along the way. My hands were so grubby that I was reluctant to pick up my baby...err, camera.
But, here was the process for any who are interested in lasagna gardening!
No, there is not a lasagna pasta plant.

The Lasagna style refers to a layering of different materials.
We started with a sunny place in the backyard lawn...okay, lets be honest here, its mostly dandelions.
I loosened up the sod with a garden claw then layered the whole area with recycled newspapers, about 4 pages thick.
Wet those down.
Top with a scant layer of straw.
The theory is that the newspapers smother the lawn then break down to provide a nice compost for the veggies.
I hope it stifles the weeds, too.
If not, you'll hear me ranting soon enough.

Here is where I took the first photo:

Our garden is tiny, a 4 foot by 8 foot rectangle. But, there is only 3 people in our family, so I hope it is plenty!

Next, I layered a 2.2 cubic ft. bag of peat moss, 16 bags (40 lb.) top soil and 2 bags (also 40 lbs.) of manure.
My dear husband cut some metal supports for one end so I can string some twine to carry the load of the pole beans.

Ain't he just the greatest?
Hands off ladies, he's mine.

Then the plants went in...3 acorn squash, 3 zucchini, 4 salad cukes, 4 bell peppers, 6 pink girl tomatoes, uh, many pole beans and in the corners some cilantro and basil.
I probably planted too tightly, I just couldn't throw seedlings away.
They look up at you with those bright green leaves and just...well, you know.

I promise to update the garden as the beans sprout and the vines flower.
The whole schpeal cost me about $60, but that investment should reap some decent rewards in the coming months. And next year, I'll just have to amend the soil with a little compost and plant!
Hopefully, soon I will so much produce that I will be begging you all to come and take vegetables off my hands!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brown Sugar Pancake/Waffle Syrup

The first time I had some brown sugar syrup over my fluffy, hot pancakes, I thought "where has this been all my life??"
So, when you find yourself out of that wretched stuff marked "maple syrup" when in reality it is only flavored corn syrup, make some of this.
You may never go back to maple!

what you'll need:

~2 c. brown sugar (I used light)
~1 c. water
~4 T. butter, unsalted
~1/2 tsp. salt
~2 tsp. vanilla

Add all but vanilla to small saucepan, bring to boil while whisking to dissolve the sugar. Let boil rapidly over medium heat for a full 3 minutes.
Immediately remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and let cool for a couple minutes until serving.

To keep, I poured the excess into a canning jar to place in the frig. (DO NOT stir it as it cools, it will form grainy sugar crystals in the syrup.) It will thicken up quite a bit, but you can pop in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up before serving next time.

oh, its sooo good...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Really, really, reallllly good frosting

chocolate, that is.
Its like a whipped ganache or mousse, quite lovely.
Your family will make yummy noises and sing your praises.

what you'll need:

~1 c. heavy cream (confession time, I only had half and half)
~2 Tbl. corn syrup
~pinch salt

~20 oz. semisweet chocolate, like Nestle's mini chips or chopped chocolate of your choice.

~1 tsp vanilla
~1 cup powdered sugar
~2 sticks butter, cut into pieces

Heat cream with corn syrup and salt on stove until simmering. (Can you handle another confession? I threw it in the microwave for about a minute or a little more until it was hot, but not boiling.)
Meanwhile, put chocolate pieces in your mixer bowl and with the mixer running add simmering cream mixture slowly and mix for one minute, until chocolate is melted.
I used the whisk attachment on my Kitchen Aid.

Add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix again.
Then, with mixer running, add butter one piece at a time, waiting until the piece is incorporated before adding another. Cool until thick and spreadable.
It will look like thin fudge until its cold.
Beat with an electric mixer for a few minutes before spreading.
It will lighten in color and get all whippy looking, like this!

Great on all flavors of cakes, I made chocolate...of course.
makes about 4 cups of frosting, maybe a titch less.
Keep refrigerated! I doubt it would handle high temps very well, not that it sticks around for very long.
Also, GREAT for cupcakes!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Navajo Tacos

Not your typical taco...well, unless you're Navajo!
I love these things...soft, fluffy flat bread topped with everything you love in your tacos.
So, make up a batch of fry bread and get creative.
Whether vegetarian or with meat, your choice!

what you'll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk, warmed, but not hot
1 T. veggie oil

2 cups shortening for frying, or as needed (depending on size of skillet)

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk and oil, and mix until the dough just until it comes together.
Add more flour if necessary to be able to handle the dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, for about a minute. Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes.

Heat shortening in a large, deep heavy skillet to 350 degrees F. Oil should be about 1 1/2 inches deep. Break off 1/2 cup sized pieces of dough, and shape into round discs 1/4 inch in thickness, making a thinner depressed area in the center. Fry breads in the hot oil until golden on both sides, turning only once. Drain on paper towels.

Top with your favorite ingredients.
We like either ground beef or shredded, cooked chicken, lots of lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream and loooooooooads of guacamole!

Another thing you can do with fry bread is to dust it in a mix of cinnamon and sugar as soon as they come out of the oil.
These little guys aren't diet friendly, just so you know.
But, a great treat!
Makes about five 6 inch rounds usually, but don't quote me on that.


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