Nutella Crackles

Nutella Crackle Cookies

Nutella Crackle Cookies

Does the thought of Nutella make you swoon?  It does me.  I love the stuff, but I tend to forget about it hiding there in the back of the cupboard.  Then when I see the jar it’s like meeting up with an old friend, picking up just where we left off.  You might say we have an “on and off” relationship.

Wouldn't you like to taste one?

Wouldn’t you like to taste one?

I had that same reaction when I saw George Clooney recently in the movie, The Descendants.  He was so good in that role.  I had forgotten how much I like him, until I saw him again.  The same for Rosemary Clooney,  she is one of my all-time favorite singers.  There is nobody who can make you feel a song like she could, and I love to dance to her music.  It’s so romantic, dreamy, jazzy, and cool.  Isn’t it odd that I have such strong feelings for the two of them?  They both make me swoon. You could say that I get swooney for Clooney.  Did you know that Rosemary was George’s aunt?  Yes, his father’s sister.  Such a talented family.

Likewise, just a taste of Nutella is all it takes to make me swoon for it and want to create something sinfully delicious.  I think this recipe for Nutella Crackles has what it takes on all counts:  crispy sugary exterior, crunchy with nuts;  a surprisingly chewy interior, the perfect blend of hazelnuts and chocolate.  Try them, you might get “swooney”, too.

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NUTELLA CRACKLES

YIELD:   about 4 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

Beat up the Nutella, butter and sugar.

Beat up the Nutella, butter and sugar.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 – 1/4 cup Nutella spread
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 – 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant expresso powder
  • 2 large eggs,
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 – 1/2 cups hazelnuts, chopped fine
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

2.  With electric mixer on medium speed, beat Nutella, butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla, expresso powder, and eggs and mix until incorporated.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture and milk, and mix until just combined.  Fold in 2/3 cup hazelnuts.   Refrigerate dough until firm, about 1 hour.

3.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Line baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.

4.  Place remaining hazelnuts in a shallow bowl. Place confectioners’ sugar in another shallow bowl.   One at a time, roll dough into 1-inch balls, roll in nuts, then in confectioners’ sugar.  Place balls 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Refrigerate the first sheet while preparing the next sheet.  Bake the first sheet and all others for approximately 8 minutes.  As each sheet is baking, chill one while you make up the next.

Cooling Cookies.

Cooling Cookies.

5.  Transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.  Repeat with all dough.

Crispy, chewy, deliciousness

Crispy, chewy, deliciousness

SOURCE:  Taste of Home Baking

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Cardamom Banana Bread with Pistachios

Cardamom Banana Bread with pistachios.

Cardamom Banana Bread with pistachios.

I like to use a variety of herbs and spices in my cooking.  I love the way they enhance or give subtle flavor to a dish.  They can turn the ordinary or mundane into something exotic and interesting at very little expense.  So following on the heels of yesterday’s post on ginger, today I want to focus on cardamom.

Cardamom is a pod consisting of a pale outer shell which has tiny seeds inside it.  It is the seeds that have an intense flavor, but they need to be crushed or ground before use. Ground cardamom is used mostly in baking where its flavor is readily recognized in the baked goods of Scandinavian countries, especially breads, stollen, cookies and buns.

Two varieties of cardamom:  whole pods and ground.

Two varieties of cardamom: whole pods and ground.

Cardamom is available in white, black and green forms. It is the white form that we are most familiar with and that which is commonly used in baked goods.  In India, however, the black and green forms are important ingredients in meat and vegetable dishes.  Black cardamom has a unique smokey flavor, and it is used mainly in curries.

If you have never used cardamom, this recipe will provide an introduction, without being overwhelming.  The bread will taste like the banana bread you know, but the cardamom will be a stand-in for vanilla.  Finely chopped pistachio nuts will provide the crunch.  This bread is not a very sweet bread so it is pleasant with coffee or tea for breakfast.  Keep this recipe in mind when you are faced with 2 or 3 really ripe (read, black ) bananas—the best kind for baking!  I love this recipe because you can mix it all by hand….no need to get out the mixer.   It’s so quick to mix up and pop in the oven while dinner is cooking,  and be cooled and ready for a snack before bedtime.  OOPS,  I’m giving away my secrets!

CARDAMOM BANANA BREAD WITH PISTACHIOS

YIELD:    1  9″ x 5  loaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

    Mix together the dry ingredients.

    Mix together the dry ingredients.

  • 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups sugar  (I used 1 cup, but if you like a sweeter bread use the 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom    If you like cardamom, this amount can be increased up to 1 teaspoon.
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts

1.  Preheat oven to 350*   Lightly grease or spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

2.  In a large bowl combine the first six ingredients.  ( flour through salt )

3.  In another bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, sour cream and banana.

Everything in two bowls; mix by hand.

Everything in two bowls; mix by hand.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix partially.  Add in the pistachios and finish mixing, without over mixing.  This keeps the bread light instead of heavy and dense.

5.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350* for an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Banana bread, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

Banana bread, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

SOURCE:   adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light.

Pumpkin-Spice Cookies

I am still baking with pumpkin on Day #2. of living without a refrigerator.

They look good.  How will they taste?

They look good. How will they taste?

I keep running into recipes that promise fantastically delicious baked items using just two ingredients.  That’s what I said, only two ingredients(?) and one of them is a boxed mix of some kind.  With all this pumpkin puree on hand and needing to be used, I decided to give this concept a test run with this recipe for cookies.  Some of you may remember that I made a two-ingredient recipe once before and that was this one.

For this recipe all you need is a box of Spice Cake Mix, and a can (or two cups) of pumpkin puree.   It couldn’t be simpler.

Two ingredients;  that's all you need!

Two ingredients; that’s all you need!

Empty the cake mix into a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to remove lumps.  Add the pumpkin.

Add pumpkin to cake mix.

Add pumpkin to cake mix.

Stir well and voila,  a thick spicy dough for cookies.

Makes a nice thick dough.

Makes a nice thick dough.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoons-full onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Using a cookie scoop makes uniform size cookies.

Drop dough by teaspoons onto baking sheets.

Drop dough by teaspoons onto baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 350* oven for 13 – 15 minutes..  Cool on cooling racks.

After baking.

After baking.

These cookies are cake-like in texture, rather dense, and chewy.  Ok, now the truth comes out.  I added 1 more ingredient:  1/2 bag of Heath Toffee Chips.  The cookies would be very good –nice and spicy–without adding anything but the toffee bits made them just that much better.  At this stage they were pretty terrific,  but then I went and frosted some of them with cream cheese frosting (using up what was in that old refrigerator, remember?) and for the remainder after the frosting was gone,  I sprinkled them with confectioners’ sugar.   Oh, La-La-La!

Looking good just dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Looking good just dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

:)  :)  :)  :)

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Sorry, no pics of the frosted ones.  I gave them to my husband to take to his Lodge meeting for the guys.  Get them out of here before I eat them all!

TWO INGREDIENT PUMPKIN SPICE COOKIES

  • 1 box Spice Cake Mix
  • 1 can pumpkin or 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree

Empty cake mix into a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to remove any lumps.

Add pumpkin and mix to combine well.  (Here’s where you get to add any other “goodies”, like nuts or chips.)

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake at 350* for 13 – 15 minutes.  Mine took almost the full 15 minutes, but start checking them at 13 minutes.  If undercooked, they well be doughy.    I got a total of 30 cookies.

SOURCE:   Duncan Hines.com

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Walnuts and Cappuchino Chips.

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Walnuts and Cappuchino Chips.

Challenge Day #2 without a refrigerator.  Back in October when pumpkins were plentiful, I roasted several and made pumpkin puree that I froze in 2-cup measured amounts.  Without the freezer to keep it frozen the puree ( which has a high liquid content) thawed out quickly.    So you have probably already guessed that I am making baked goods using the pumpkin puree.  The first item I made is today’s recipe:  Pumpkin Spice Bread.

This is a very nice recipe, quick to put together, and it makes a tasty bread that is good for dessert, a snack, or for breakfast.  You can add nuts, or chips of any kind to “fancy up” the recipe as you wish.  In this version, I added about 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts, and also 1/2 cup cappuchino chips. Regular chocolate chips are also a good addition.  To get a nice crunchy top to the loaf, I sprinkled it heavily with demerarra sugar before baking.

PUMPKIN SPICE BREAD

YIELD:    1  9″ x 5″ loaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups flour  ( I used 1 cup all purpose white flour and 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour.)

    Lots of great spices go into this bread.

    Lots of great spices go into this bread.

  • 1 tesp. baking soda
  • 1 tesp salt
  • 1/2 tesp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tesp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tesp. allspice
  • 1/2 tesp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tesp. cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree ( canned or homemade)
  • 1/3 cup water, as needed

1.  Mix together all the dry ingredients i.e. flour through cloves.

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

2.  In bowl of mixer, on medium speed, mix sugar, oil, and eggs.  Stir in pumpkin.

Wet ingredients:  oil, eggs, and pumpkin.

Wet ingredients: oil, eggs, and pumpkin.

3.  Slowly blend in the dry ingredients, add water alternately, as needed.   I did not use the water because my pumpkin puree was so thin, that the batter was the right consistency without the water.

4.  Stir in any additional ingredients like nuts or chips.  Pour into prepared 9″ x 5″ pan.

Before baking sprinkle the top of bread heavily with sugar for a nice crunchy top.

Before baking sprinkle the top of bread heavily with sugar for a nice crunchy top.

Bake at 350* for 60 – 75 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cover with foil if the top is getting too brown.   Cool on wire rack.  Slice and serve when cool.

Fresh from the oven, cooling on a rack.

Fresh from the oven, cooling on a rack.

Delicious while still a little warm.

Delicious while still a little warm.

SOURCE:    Taste of Home

Making A Mess In the Kitchen

A rainy day outside, and for some unknown reason I gravitate to the kitchen where I want to cook or bake something.  Well, a couple of things have come together in a coincidental fashion.  One being my husband’s birthday in a day or two, another being his father’s birthday the following week.  That one is a milestone birthday for which the whole family will gather to celebrate.  And I have been asked to make one of the desserts. Since the milestone birthday is the weekend before Halloween, I want it to be somehow tied in—haven’t decided the details yet.  But  I thought I would give a recipe a test run for my husband’s birthday and see if he liked it.  If it was successful I might make it again for the party.

A perfect “sugar-baby” pumpkin.

So—now we come to the messy part.  I had bought a fresh baby pumpkin with the thought that I would roast it and make my own pumpkin puree.  Following the directions of a fellow blogger, I stabbed the pumpkin in the heart and other vital parts and threw him into the oven.  I did put him on a baking sheet because somehow I just knew he was going to leak some stuff.  After baking for about an hour I checked for doneness, and finding the stab wounds leaking and oozing, I poked him and my finger left a depression, so I surmised he was cooked, and removed the pumpkin from the oven.   I then let it cool so I could handle it comfortably.

Cutting it in half I encountered a million seeds each one attached to a slimy orange string. Grabbing a large spoon I began to scrape them out, trying to direct them into a bowl I had set in the sink.  But they had other ideas and so off they went sliding and skittering all across my counter, and 0n to the floor. They were slimy and slippery so picking them up was a challenge, but somehow I managed to capture the runaways.  At that point it was clear to me that half a pumpkin was more than I could manage, so I cut that in half.  Now I’m down to a quarter of a pumpkin….a tad easier to hold and scoop out the slimy seeds and strings.  So far, so good.  With all that accomplished, I then peeled away the skin and cut the remaining flesh into chunks.

Next step, make the puree.  For this I thought I would use my blender ( less parts to wash and put away, says I ).  So into the blender container I put about two cups of pumpkin chunks.  Turned it on,  and nothing much happened.  Only the bottom few pieces touching the blades got pureed, the rest just sat there, so I added a little water, but that didn’t help.  This is one tough little pumpkin I thought, and the blender just isn’t up to the job.  So now I get out the processor, transfer the pumpkin pieces into the work bowl and turn it on.

Whew, its working.  Success at last.  Working in small batches of pumpkin I successfully pureed the whole thing.  My yield, after all that, was about 4 1/2 cups of puree that I divided into 2-cup amounts and put one in the freezer.  The other one I am going to use in the recipe I mentioned.   I’m saving that story for another posting.  At this point in my story you are probably thinking the same thing I was:  Isn’t easier to just buy a can of pumpkin?  Of course, it’s definitely easier, but there’s just something about being able to say “I did it all myself” that makes you feel good.

Four and a half cups of pumpkin puree.

Back to the seeds:  I’d often heard or read about toasted pumpkin seeds, and having about 2 cups of them now, I thought I’d give that a try.  Handling them carefully I separated the seeds from the stringy stuff, put them into a colander and washed them, then patted them dry with paper towels.  Searching on AllRecipes.com, I found this recipe that had a lot of good reviews and suggestions for altering it somewhat for variation.

TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds

    Raw Pumpkin seeds and some seasonings.

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, melted ( or substitute olive oil)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt –This can be all one kind such as Lowrey’s or a combinations of salts like garlic salt, onion salt, or in my version I used some of Penzey’s seasoning called Forward, containing paprika and chili powder.

1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.

2.  Rinse seeds and pat dry.  Place in a bowl.  Mix together the above ingredients and pour over the seeds.  Stir well to coat the seeds.

3.  Spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Seasoned pumpkin seeds on a tray ready for baking.

4.  Bake about an hour, stirring occasionally , till golden and crisp.

These make a crunchy, healthy snack.  Just watch the amount of salt in the whole thing, especially if using butter.  I offered them to my husband, and he liked them very much.

A happy ending to my story about how I made a mess in my kitchen on a rainy day.

SOURCE:   allrecipes.com

Oatmeal Pear Scones

I went to the orchard recently to get some fresh apples and pears.  While there I noticed some recipes that were available using some of the products they were selling.  On looking through them I came upon this one for scones that included chopped fresh pears. Unusual, I thought, and worth trying out.  The recipe also called for ground ginger, but I knew immediately that I would put in some crystalized ginger, because pears need something with a little zing to enhance their flavor, and also just because I love candied ginger and use it whenever I can work it in. The recipes were free for the taking, so—I came home and soon began to bake these scones.  There is no rolling of dough or cutting involved.  They are simply dropped by the 1/4 cupful onto a baking sheet.  Quick. Easy.  Try them!

OATMEAL PEAR SCONES

YIELD:  Makes 10 dropped-style scones

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped crystalized ginger (optional, my addition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup unpeeled, finely chopped pear

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, i.e. flour through salt.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3.  In a small bowl, combine yogurt, egg and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients all at once.  Mix until dry ingredients are moistened.  Gently stir in pear.

4.  Place  10  1/4 -cups of dough on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart.

5.  Bake for 17 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Adding the crystalized ginger worked out very well.  It added an occasional sharp little bite to a very nice, not too sweet accompaniment  to coffee.  I’m so glad to have found this recipe.  I think you will enjoy it, too.

SOURCE:  Courtesy of Belltown Hill Orchards

Time to Make the Doughnuts!

Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

I’m not a doughnut person. Glazed, sticky, sweet doughnuts don’t do anything for me. Neither do filled doughnuts, like lemon cream, custard, or raspberry.  Ok, if you twisted my arm I would eat one, and most probably like it, but I don’t go out of my way for doughnuts.  Am I being clear here?   That’s why it’s so surprising that I was all over this recipe when I first came upon it.  I think because they contain pumpkin.  Pumpkin anything will get me every time.

Pumpkin is one of those winter squashes I have been writing about.  They’re everywhere at this time of year.  But when cooking or baking with pumpkin  you don’t want to use the Jack-O-Lantern type, but instead use the small sweet ones called Sugar Babies (or similar name).

“Sugar Baby” Pumpkins

The flesh of these cuties is bright orange, sweet, and smooth, and while the canned version is very convenient, it is not difficult to cook the real deal yourself.  So if you’re making your own pumpkin puree, cut the pumpkin in half, remove seeds, then bake or steam it,  scoop out the flesh, and puree it using a processor, blender, or hand blender.  This can be packed in measured portions and frozen, ready for however you will use it.

When choosing a pumpkin, make sure it’s firm and without soft spots. Under cool conditions pumpkins keep for months without rotting–they love a 50-60 degree porch.  In fact some get sweeter over time, so you need not feel pressured to cook and bake on the same day you buy the pumpkin. And remember the health benefits of this squash: it’s packed with fiber and is a great source of vitamin A.

Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to try using fresh pumpkin–it’s not hard to do–but if not, the canned version is certainly acceptable.  The recipe that follows is for pumpkin cake doughnuts.  With their bright orange color, moist texture, and pumpkin flavor, these baked, not fried, doughnuts are the perfect thing to have with a cup of coffee or a glass of apple cider.

The amount of dough this recipe makes is generous, and I was somewhat limited in pan choice since I only have one doughnut pan which holds six doughnuts.  So I improvised and used a mini bundt pan, only filling each well a third way full. Still having more dough to use, I poured the rest into a six-cup muffin pan, and sprinkled the tops of them with cinnamon chips.  In total,  I got 18 doughnut-bundt-muffins.  No matter what shape they’re in, they taste fantastic.  Perfect for Fall!

PUMPKIN CAKE DOUGHNUTS

YIELD:  (per recipe)  12 doughnuts

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, plus 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg and ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons flour
  • coating:  cinnamon sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 2 standard doughnut pans.  If you don’t have doughnut pans you can bake these in muffin tins, or other similar pans.  They just won’t look like doughnuts.

2.  Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt and baking powder until smooth.  Hint:  mix spices and baking powder with the sugar using a whisk for good distribution.

3.  Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

4.  Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; using a scant  1/4 cup batter in each.  If you’re making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full;

5.  Bake the doughnuts for 15 – 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.  Muffins will need to bake for 23 – 25 minutes.

Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Chips

6.  Upon removing from the oven let the doughnuts cool in their pans about 5 minutes, then loosen their edges and transfer them to a rack to cool.

7.  While the doughnuts are still warm, gently roll them in a cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat.  For muffins sprinkle the tops heavily with the cinnamon sugar.  Store at room temperature for several days

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

SOURCE:  King Arthur Baking

Chewy Granola Bars

When September and back-to-school time rolls around I always think of these bars.  That’s because my children loved them and I always made them to have as after school snacks, or to pack in lunch boxes.  I still make them because Mr. D. likes them a lot and I like to have them around for a healthy snack.

These bars can be customized to your taste by the addition of your favorite fruits and nuts or chips.  They are a great way to use up small amounts of fruits, or chips left over from another recipe.  They also freeze well and pack well so you can have them available all the time.  They can easily go along on a hike, a car trip, or camping.  What I like to do is wrap each square individually in plastic wrap, place in a covered container in the freezer, and take out the desired number as needed.  Last weekend Mr. D, and his friend went fishing for the day, and took some of these bars along to munch on.  His friend called to thank me and tell me how much he liked them.

These bars smell wonderful as they are baking, and eating one leads to wanting  another one, so they don’t last long.  It’s good to make a double recipe if you want to have a quantity on hand;  some to eat, and some to freeze.

CHEWY GRANOLA BARS

YIELD:  about 1 dozen bars, cut 2″ x 4 1/2″

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cups oat flour  (or 1/3 cup quick oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-3 cups mixed dried fruit and nuts (example: cranberries, apricots, dates, raisins, coconut, almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup, or corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon water

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13″ x 9 ” pan.

2.  Stir together all the dry ingredients including fruits and nuts.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, syrup or honey and water.

4.  Toss the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

5.  Spread in prepared pan to evenly cover the bottom and pat down gently.

6.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.  Remove from oven, loosen the edges and let cool for 5 minutes.

7.  Use a knife ( or bench knife) to cut bars while still warm.  Cool on rack.  Wrap individually to store or with parchment paper between the layers in an air tight container.  These bars freeze well.

SOURCE:   King Arthur Flour

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa

I’ve been making this salsa every summer since 2003 when the recipe for it was published in our local newspaper. It uses the kernels of sweet corn cut from the cob plus black beans and anything else you might want to add.  That’s what I like about it;  its so versatile.  If I have a tomato that needs to be used, I cut it in, or perhaps an avocado that’s ripe.    If I don’t have a red onion I use scallions,  likewise if I don’t have cilantro I use parsley.  If you like some heat in your salsa, cut in a small jalapeño.   Put everything in a bowl, mix up the super simple dressing, and Bingo! its done.  We use this salsa as a snack, with  healthy multigrain chips,  or sometimes I use it as a salad.  Just put 1/2 cup on a leaf of romaine, arrange some tomato wedges and cucumber sticks around it, and there it is, a quick salad.

I find that the flavor improves if you make it a day ahead of when you will serve it but that’s hard for me to do.  I always want to sample it right away.  Oh, another thing:  if you like cilantro as much as I do, use twice the amount!

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl mix together all of the following:

  • 2 ears fresh corn, cooked, cut kernels from cob
  • 1 16 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Toss all the above with dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons oil ( corn, safflower, or olive)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Serve with tortilla chips or cheese quesadillas.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Do you like Banana Bread?   I do.  I think most people do.  How about Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips in it?   Yes?  Me, too.  How about Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips in it and  –wait for it—- Peanut Butter?   WOW!   Do I have your attention now?   Well, this recipe certainly grabbed my attention,  and I only found it because I cleaned my bookcase.  There fallen down behind several bigger books was an old issue of Taste of Home magazine, March, 2009.

I knew when I found it that I must have kept it because of some recipe that appealed to me.  Sure enough, the turned down page indicated bread recipes that had won a contest. ( 12 of them!)  They all looked so good, it would have been a hard decision which to make first except that I had two ripe bananas, and all the other ingredients on hand,  so that was the decision maker.

The  smell of this bread baking is heavenly and anyone at home when you make it will come running to find out what smells so good and when they can have some.  It has a layer of crumb topping and melted chocolate chips in the middle, and more crumbs on top.  Every bite is scrumptious!  The recipe makes 2 loaves;  8 inch x 4 inch pans.

TOPPING

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

BATTER

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 pkg. ( 8 0z. ) cream cheese softened.  1/3 less fat is OK
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Add the peanut butter, and using a fork, mix in to form a crumbly mixture.  Set aside.

  1. In a large bowl cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in bananas and vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon;  Stir into creamed mixture just till moistened.
  2. Divide half the batter between two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans; sprinkle with half of the topping.  Top with the chocolate chips.  Repeat layers of batter and topping.

   

  1. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to finish cooling.

    

From My Experience:  If you do not have the exact pan size,  go a little bigger rather than smaller  because this is a fairly large recipe and pans will be full.  Also use more than half the crumb topping in the center of the breads, and less for the crumb topping.  I split mine in half as directed and as the bread rose in the oven the crumbs fell off and burned on the oven floor.  More crumbs fell off as I tried to get the breads out of the pans.  Finally, I would suggest using mini chocolate chips so they melt during baking.  My chips were the large size and they remained whole instead of melting .  Everything tasted wonderful, but these were the problems I encountered.

SOURCE:   Taste of Home magazine,   March, 2009