Friday, December 31, 2010

Recipe: Banana Bread

A breakfast treat from Cooking Light.  Not that this can masquerade as a healthy breakfast on par with low-fat cottage cheese and fresh fruit (which is overrated anyway but highly recommended by the trainer), but it's wonderful.  The Bananas Foster Bread is also a treat.    You give me 3 bananas that are 'questionable' and I'll give you a loaf.

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup plain (or vanilla) fat-free yogurt
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6.75 oz (1 1/2 cup) flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat over to 350.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, beat with mixer at medium.  Add sugars.  Beat until combined.  Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a smaller bowl.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.  Pour batter into 9x5 loaf pan coated with cooking spray (line pan with foil to make removal easier).  Bake for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from over; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recipe: Toffee Bars

Yet another recipe that is likened to in delicious and addictive.  My sister found the Eagle Brand Classic Recipes book at my Grandma's house and brought it to me.   Honestly EB milk (or the generic store brand) goes in a lot of fabulous desserts and these were no exception. 

1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter/margarine, melted and divided
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (12oz) chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips)
additional chopped walnuts / pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 13x9 baking pan (or line with foil and make your life easier).  In large bowl combine oats, flour, sugar, nuts, 6 tablespoons melted butter and baking soda.  Press firmly on bottom of pan.  Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons butter and condensed milk.  Cook and stir until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.  Pour evenly over baked crust.  

Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.   Remove from oven; immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Let stand 1 minute; spread chips while still warm.  Garnish with chopped walnuts / pecans.  Cool completely.  Cut into bars.  Store tightly at room temperature.

Denver Lights

This Christmas season I had a chance to enjoy two annual events here in Denver that involve light:  The Parade of Lights and Zoo Lights.   What's not to like about being outside with family and friends and enjoying Denver's unseasonably good winter weather.  Cheers!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Recipe: Mississippi Mud Cake

The cover picture on the Simply Chocolate (from the editors of Southern Living) cookbook had their photo of the Mississippi Mud Cake and it was the deciding factor in me checking out the book from the library.   I took the recipe in the book and modified it a little, using a springform pan to make the cake round for better slicing and using their suggestion bought brownie mix rather than making the batter from scratch.   It is super rich and delicious, a small slice goes a long way.   Peanut Butter Cup ice cream is great on the side.
1 package family size brownie mix
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
1 10oz back of mini marshmallows (I only used half as many, since the pan was smaller)
Frosting:  16oz powdered sugar, sifted,  1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup butter, softened, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Follow instructions on the brownie mix.  I used a 10 inch springform pan and followed the 9x9 pan baking instruction.  I also use the high altitude instructions for Colorado.  Mix toasted pecans into the batter and pour into the springform pan.   Bake per package instructions.   Remove from oven, sprinkle mini marshmallows over the top and return to oven for 5 minutes.  

While base is baking, make the frosting.   Sift together the cocoa and powdered sugar.  Add butter and milk and beat with electric mixer until smooth.   When you take the cake out of the oven after the 5 minutes with the marshmallows, immediately pour frosting over the top.   Let cake cool and then remove the ring from the springform pan.   Slice and serve with ice cream.  YUM!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe: Crescent Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels

This is one of those recipes that you can add to or modify to make the perfect savory treat for any occasion.  My normal plan of attack when finding a new recipe online is to read it, plus the first 20 reader reviews and see if any of the suggestions make sense (ie freezing the dough for 20 minutes to make it easier to slice - great idea!).  Click here for the original recipe from  I doubled this recipe since I was making it for a party.

1 (8oz) can of crescent dinner rolls (I used the reduced fat store brand)
2 tablespoons ranch dressing (used low-fat and probably more than 2T)
1/4 cup cooked real bacon pieces (used turkey bacon and a lot more - again from the reader reviews)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions (passed on these)

Heat oven to 350.  Unroll dough from can, forming into 2 long rectangles (12x4 - using 4 triangles).  Press perforations to seal.   Spread dressing over each rectangle to edges.  Sprinkle with bacon, cheddar, and onions (if using).   Starting with one short side of the rectangle - roll up the rectangle, pressing the edge to seal.  (reader review - wrap and freeze for 20+ minutes to make easier to slice) Cut each roll into 8 slices using a serrated knife.   Bake 12-17 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet and serve warm.

Recipe: Candied Walnuts

Something I love when at festivals, fairs, or Christmas markets are candied nuts.   It may be one of the most profitable things ever, because you pay $4-6 for a small cone of nuts, when you could make a pound or more at home for the same cost.   This is another delicious recipe from All Recipes

1 lb walnut halves
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 8-10 minutes until the nuts turn brown and the kitchen smells awesome.  Stir together sugar, cinnamon, salt, and milk in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium high heat for 8 minutes or until the mixture reaches the softball stage (236 degrees - here in Colorado, I've found you've got to go down about 10 degrees because of the altitude).  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla immediately.   Add walnuts to syrup and stir to coat well.  Spoon nuts onto waxed paper, and immediately separate nuts with a fork.  Cool and store in an airtight container. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Colorful Willemstad

Painted Houses and Queen Emma Bridge
View from Queen Juliana Bridge

Queen Juliana Bridge

With all the holiday craziness going on, I've been remiss, both in highlighting my Thanksgiving vacation and all the recipes I've been knocking out in the past two weeks.   "Town" in Curacao is Willemstad, a very colorful port, with not just one, but two famous bridges.  The Queen Emma Bridge is on pontoons, is popular with tourists, and moves out of the way for boats and ships to get by and the Queen Juliana Bridge is one of the tallest in the world...some of those big ships can go under it.   It was a pretty place to spend a half day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Recipe: Loaded Potato Soup

I mentioned potato soup to my trainer - and even though this recipe is from Cooking Light - it did not get his approval because of the potatoes.   It turned out well and I will definitely make it again...even if it does get circled in my food journal.   The recipe is in the 'super fast' section to be made in 20 minutes, but I let it simmer on the stove for a bit after adding the potatoes and sour cream.   I also doubled the recipe from what was in the magazine.    The recipe below is the original from the magazine.

What You Need

4 (6oz) red potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped (or pre-chopped) onion
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups 1% milk  (I used skim)
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 bacon slices, halved (I used turkey bacon and chose to chop it up and put it in the soup instead of as a garnish)
1/3 cup shredded cheddar
4 teaspoons thin sliced green onions

What You Do

Pierce potatoes with a fork.  Microwave on high 13 minutes until tender.  Cut in half, cool slightly.
While the potatoes cook, head oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, saute 3 minutes.  Add broth.  Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk, add to pan with 1 1/2 cups milk.  Bring to a boil; stir often.   Cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper. 

Arrange bacon on a paper towel on a plate in the microwave.  Cover with a paper towel; microwave on high for 4 minutes then crumble bacon.

Discard potato skins ( this was extra work - I kept most of the skins on ).  Coarsely mash potatoes into soup.  Top with cheese, green onions and bacon.  I also used spicy red pepper and hot sauce to give the soup a little kick

Recipe: Creamy Lemon Macadamia Cookies

Yet another recipe from the Best Ever Cookie Book,  although 'creamy' is not a word that I would personally choose to use in a recipe title...must be a nod to the cream cheese.  It is a delicious combination of flavors not common in cookies.  

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter/margarine
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
2 teaspoons lemon extract
7oz (1 1/2 cups) whole macadamia nuts  (I usually coarsely chop some of them)

Preheat oven to 300.  Combine flour, soda and salt in a medium bowl.   In a large bowl blend sugars well with an electric mixer.  Add the butter and cream cheese, and mix to form a smooth paste.  Add the egg and extract.  Beat at medium speed until fully combined.  Add the flour and macadamia nuts at low speed until combined, do not over mix. 

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 18-20 minutes (Colorado style, start at 15 minutes).   Immediately transfer cookies to a cool flat surface.


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