Friday, June 24, 2016

Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

Ooh, these muffins are a treat!  Soft, cakey, sweet, very chocolaty (there's half as much cocoa powder as flour!), and even pretty to look at with their high crowns.  They're basically cupcakes without frosting, studded with chocolate chips instead.  The banana flavor isn't particularly strong, either, so they may be a good choice for someone who isn't a banana fan.  Someone like me!  I loved these, even with the banana. 
 
The recipe is from Our Best Bites.  I found it months ago, and was just waiting until I finally had 3 over ripe bananas.  My husband has one for breakfast most mornings, but he's done a great job lately of finishing the bunch before any of the bananas turn brown.  The original recipe called for applesauce and artificial sweetener, but I used oil and real sugar instead, plus a lot more mini chocolate chips.  I wasn't trying to make a low calorie muffin, so why not make them as tasty as possible?
  
 
Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins
 
3 very ripe bananas
1 egg
2/3 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 C canola oil
1 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C mini chocolate chips, plus more for on top
   
Preheat oven to 375 and line a 12 well muffin tin with muffin papers.  Set aside.
   
Place bananas and egg in stand mixer and mix until bananas have broken down.  Mix in sugar, vanilla extract, and oil until smooth.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix just until well combined, scraping down the bowl partway through.  Stir in the minichocolate chips.
   
Divide batter evenly between muffin papers, and top each dollop of batter with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
   
Yield: 12 muffins

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Buffalo Beans

This is a delicious dinner, and happens to be both incredibly easy and dirt cheap.  The original recipe is from the Orangette blog.  I'm not sure why the beans are so good with only 4 ingredients, but they really are, and they're amazing served over rice with a soft boiled egg or two on top.  I keep large cans of pinto beans in my pantry specifically for this recipe.  Oh and I call these Buffalo Beans because the hot sauce I used (Frank's Red Hot Sauce) is the kind traditionally used for buffalo wings.
 
Quick Note: I like to cook the rice in chicken broth and add parsley, but that's up to you.  Also, to soft boil eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil, then gently lower as many eggs as you want to cook into the water.  The eggs should be covered with water.  Set a timer and boil for 5 minutes.  Drain off boiling water, fill the pan with cold water, and let sit for a minute so the eggs are cool enough to handle.  Dry off, peel, and serve.
 
  
Buffalo Beans
 
2 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
28 oz can pinto beans, undrained
2 Tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce, or other hot sauce to taste
cooked rice
 
toppings:
soft boiled eggs
chopped avocado
grated cheese
 
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, and add garlic.  Saute until garlic is light golden, then add can of beans and hot sauce.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 30 minutes.  Serve beans over rice with optional toppings.
 
Yield: 4 servings

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bess Truman's Mac & Cheese

I can't even remember how I came upon this recipe, but I found it on the American Table website .  It's apparently the mac and cheese recipe of Bess Truman, Harry S Truman's wife.  It's one of the simplest mac and cheese I've seen, and I'm always happy to try a new mac and cheese recipe, so gave it a go.  The results were interesting.  There's no sauce to speak of, but the mac and cheese is pretty moist (in a good way) from the milk.  It has a surprising amount of flavor, considering how few ingredients there are.  My husband wasn't fond of this recipe because he prefers saucy mac and cheese, plus he's just generally particular about mac and cheese.  I really enjoyed it, though, and would happily both make and eat it again.
 
I wanted to stay true to the original recipe, so the only thing I changed was to sprinkle salt on the noodles.
 
Bess Truman's Mac & Cheese
 
1/2 lb macaroni noodles
salt to taste
2 C grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg
2 C whole milk
1/2 stick salted butter, cut into pats
 
Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8 by 8 baking dish.
 
Cook 1/2 lb macaroni in lightly salted water.  Spoon half of it into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle on a little salt.  Sprinkle on half of the cheddar.  Top with the rest of the noodles, a little more salt, and the rest of the cheese.  Beat the egg, then stir in the milk.  Pour evenly over the mac and cheese.  Arrange pats of butter evenly on top.
 
Bake mac and cheese for about 45 minutes, until golden and bubbly and the interior temperature reaches 160 degrees.  I covered mine with foil 35 minutes in so the cheese wouldn't brown too much.  Let mac and cheese sit for 10 minutes before serving so it can set a bit.
 
Yield: 8 side dish servings

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pizza Sticks

This is an easy and yummy recipe, even for adults!  I found it on the I Wash, You Dry blog, and changed it by using homemade pizza dough instead of dough from a can, and I added parmesan.  Not much to the recipe.  The pizza sticks are similar to something called pizza rollers sold at our favorite pizza place, but these are undeniably better.  Next time I make them, I'm going to try freezing a bunch of them before baking so I can see how they do when baked from frozen.  Talk about a convenient, quick dinner or lunch!
 
Quick Note:  Use part skim mozzarella.  I made half of these with regular string cheese, and half with lactose free cheese sticks (not specifically mozzarella).  Every single one of pizza sticks made with the full fat lactose free cheese burst open in the oven and leaked their cheese everywhere, I think because of the extra fat.
 
  
Pizza Sticks
 
13 oz pizza dough (1/3 of this recipe)
40 slices pepperoni
10 mozzarella string cheese sticks, or a brick of mozzarella cut into 1 oz sticks
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
optional: pizza sauce and ranch dressing for serving
 
Preheat oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
 
Roll out pizza dough into an approximately 11 by 16 inch rectangle.  Make one long cut lengthwise, then cut the two strips into 10 rectangles total.
 
Line up 4 slices of pepperoni on each rectangle of dough, then top with a cheese stick.  Wrap the dough around the cheese sticks and pepperoni, sealing the seam and the ends.
 
Arrange pizza sticks on the baking sheet.  Melt butter and stir in garlic powder and parsley.  Brush over pizza sticks, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
 
Bake until golden, about 10 minutes.  Let cool a couple of minutes before serving.
  
Yield: 10 pizza sticks

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ultimate Chicken Strips

This is a recipe that my friend makes frequently and comes from Betty Crocker.  I'm so glad I finally got around to trying it myself, because these are the best chicken strips I've ever had.  Better than this one that's breaded in crushed crackers (though we still love that one and will continue to make it), better than the Honey Chicken Nuggets, better than a buffalo chicken strip recipe I haven't posted yet.  Better than any I've had in restaurants, too, but that's not too much of an accomplishment.  They're so good!  Lots of flavor, crunchy, very moist, and just great.  My husband dipped his in barbecue sauce, but I thought they were good enough to eat plain.  I served the nuggets with Cheesy Ranch potatoes and a fresh fruit salad, what a yummy dinner.
 
Quick Note:  I make my own Bisquick mix using this recipe.  It's very quick and easy and cheaper than the purchased kind, tastes better, too.
 
Ultimate Chicken Strips
 
2 large chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lb)
2/3 C Bisquick
1/2 C grated parmesan
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
3 Tbsp butter
 
Preheat oven to 450 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lightly grease the parchment paper, and set aside.
 
In a gallon sized Ziploc bag, place Bisquick, parmesan, salt, paprika, and garlic powder, seal the bag, and shake to combine.  Beat the egg in a bowl.
 
Clean chicken breasts and cut into 1/2 inch thick strips.  Dunk half of the strips in the beaten egg, then place in the bag with the Bisquick mix.  Seal and shake well, until chicken is coated.  Arrange chicken on baking sheet, and repeat with the rest of the chicken strips.
 
Melt butter and spoon a little over every piece of chicken.
 
Bake until chicken is golden, crunchy, and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
 
Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Oreo Brownie Trifle

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Making Memories with your Kids.  The blog is written by Erin, who is a school counselor and mom of two super cute kids.  I'm very fond of Erin's blog and have been visiting it since I was first assigned it a couple of years ago and made Pop Tart Cookies.  Since then, I've made her Coconut Macaroons and Snickerdoodles, plus a couple others.  I actually made a recipe she made for a past SRC tonight for dinner, and made a casserole of hers last week, which I'll post about soon.  Erin's blog is very playful, for lack of a better term, and she makes all kinds of incredibly delicious looking and at times off the wall recipes that really appeal to my off the wall self.
 
So, my original plan was to make Slug Candy.  It's just too hilarious.  I will still make it sometime, but decided now wasn't ideal for a number of reasons too boring to go into.  My next plan was to post about the Chicken Broccoli Casserole I made last week, but my camera up and died on me.  Since I don't have a cell phone (weird, I know), I had no way to photograph it.  That meant I was forced (forced!) to make another recipe for Secret Recipe Club since the post had to have a picture.  Lucky for me, I managed to scrounge up a cell phone to photograph SRC Take 2, which is Oreo Brownie Trifle.  It's a terrible picture, but better than the MS Paint rendition I would have had to make if I didn't have the cell phone, so I'm happy.
 
I had my husband pick between this, Snickers Brownie Trifle, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup S'mores.  He loves Oreos, so chose this trifle, surprising no one.  I'm definitely going to make those PB S'mores soon, though!  You really should take a stroll through the dessert section on Erin's blog, it's quite the treasure trove.
 
The trifle turned out well.  It's very sweet and a little goes a long way!  I did have to change the recipe a little, sorry, Erin.  My husband is lactose intolerant and can't have sweetened condensed milk, so I left that out and used lactose free milk instead.  I also sorta halved the recipe because the full batch would have been a LOT of trifle for two people.  The recipe is still essentially the same, though!  It's sure to please kids and Oreo lovers everywhere.  I will definitely make it again when I want something over the top and fun.
  
Quick Note:  You can use vanilla or cheesecake pudding mix if you can't find Oreo. 
 
 
Oreo Brownie Trifle
 
1 box brownie mix that makes an 8 by 8 pan, plus ingredients on box
about 15 Oreos
4 serving size box of instant Oreo pudding mix
1 1/2 C milk
8 oz tub Cool Whip, divided
 
Prepare and bake brownies according to directions on box, set aside and cool completely.  Cut into small cubes.
 
Whisk together box of pudding mix and milk.  After it sets, fold in half of the Cool Whip.
 
Layer 1/3rd of the brownie cubes in a trifle dish.  Top with 1/3rd of the pudding mixture, then dollops of 1/3rd of the Cool Whip.  Sprinkle with 5 crushed Oreos.  Repeat layers twice more, starting with brownies and ending with Oreos.  
 
Cover trifle and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
 
Yield: 10 servings
   

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Perfect Pancakes


The base recipe is from the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes recipe, which is originally from the Recipe Girl blog.  I've only ever made those pancakes once because, in addition to being delicious, they're kind of a pain in the ass, but I've made the base recipe countless times.  I actually usually mix up the dry ingredients for 6 batches or so, store it in a bag in the pantry, then just scoop some out and add milk, egg, and oil when I want to make pancakes.  It has become the default pancake recipe I make, and we have pancakes most weekends.
 
These pancakes aren't just good, they're perfect.  We're both major pancake lovers and I've experimented with many recipes over the years, but this is The One.  They taste exactly like great pancakes you'd get at a restaurant: soft, fluffy, thick but not too thick, and are just pancakey perfection.  I enjoy making fancier pancakes, too, but this is our standard.  You can add mini chocolate chips or blueberries to the batter, or add a little molasses, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg to make gingerbread pancakes.  I've done all of these and they've been great!

   
Perfect Pancakes
 
1 C flour
2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C milk
1 egg
1 T vegetable oil
butter to grease the skillet
  
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk, egg, and vegetable oil, and whisk until smooth.
  
Tturn your oven to 200 degrees and place an oven safe plate in the oven.  You will put your pancakes in the oven as you make them so they stay warm.  Melt a small amount of butter in a nonstick (this is very important!) skillet or on a griddle set to medium-high.  Spoon on batter to make whatever size pancakes you want.  Cook the pancake until the edges are dry and there are bubbles on the surface.  Carefully flip the pancake using a wide spatula and cook for another 45 seconds or so until set.  Place the cooked pancake on the plate in the oven, and proceed in the same way with the rest of the batter.
  
Yield: 2 generous servings