Thursday, November 20, 2014

Banana Oatmeal Cookies


Once again, we have too many bananas around here. Since Dominic and I just made cinnamon muffins yesterday, I went searching for a different way to use the bananas, other than making banana bread or muffins. I fished out my banana cookbook that an office mate from a LONG time ago gave me and started looking through it. Hmm, there are 56 banana recipes in the cookbook, such as banana scallops, banana cabbage salad, banana chicken salad, banana grape marlow, and banana caramel ice cream.  All those sound, ahem, interesting, but when I found a recipe for banana oatmeal cookies,  I knew I was on to something.  A bit of banana "trivia" - what is a group of bananas called? A hand! A single banana is a "finger." Today, both the hubby and Dominic each ate a "finger." The hubby had one in his lunch I made him and Dominic ate a "finger" with his cinnamon muffin for breakfast. LOL.  I was more than a bit concerned about how mashed bananas would turn out in a cookie - I had visions of the cookies spreading out across the cookie sheet as it baked and dripping onto the bottom of my oven!! Luckily, that didn't happen.  I made these around 11 this morning and had a few for a snack with the rest of my coffee before I went outside to shovel the snow!!



Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
  (about two large)
1 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In large bowl, put the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, shortening, sugar and egg. Mix well with large spoon. In small bowl, mash the banana with a fork and then add to the ingredients in the large bowl. Add the oats, walnuts and chocolate chips and mix thoroughly by hand.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for about 18 minutes or until the cookies turn dark brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the cookie sheet about 2-3 minutes. Remove to wire rack to continue cooling. Makes 28 cookies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Turkey Pot Pie


For months, okay, probably years, Lauren has asked me to make a chicken pot pie. Previous attempts did not end well, so I kept telling her, "I'm on the lookout for a good recipe!"  Well, I should have just asked my best friend. She gave me an awesome recipe, a handful of months back, which I made a few small changes here and there to. Chicken pot pie is great, but you can also use leftover turkey to make a turkey pot pie. Since the hubby had bought an eight pound turkey breast recently, I had TONS of that leftover!!  I watched my husband last night at dinner go back and forth to get more after he finished his first plate full. I finally said, "isn't that your FOURTH piece?!?!?!?!"



He looked at me and said, "who's counting?!?!?!?!" I guess I must have been! I have to admit, it was pretty tasty (I had seconds). I love making a homemade crust with shortening - it makes it so flaky! Remember, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and its a great way to use up some of that leftover turkey. I'm thinking as much as my husband and Lauren love turkey pot pie, I may need to make two!

Ingredients

Pastry:

2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus two tablespoons shortening
5 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
14 ounce can chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
16-ounce package peas and carrots, frozen

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In medium bowl, put the flour and salt. With two knives, "cut" in the shortening until it resembles small peas. Add the water and mix with a large spoon until a dough begins to form. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured board, roll each half into a 9 1/2 inch circle. Put half into a 9-inch ungreased pie pan and set the other half aside while you prepare the filling. In large stockpot, put the butter, flour, onion, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with large spoon, until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the broth and milk. Heat mixture to boiling, stirring constantly and then boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat and add the chopped turkey and the frozen peas and carrots. Mix well and then pour into the pie pan. Place the reserved pastry on top and tuck the edges in. Cut a slit in the top to allow the steam to escape while it's baking. Cook uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is just beginning to brown. Let cool about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Confederate Coffee Cake


I am always on the lookout for different and unique quick breads. In my vast collection of over 100 cookbooks, I found a recipe for "Confederate Coffee Cake." I am not quite the history "buff" that Lauren and my hubby are, but anything to do with the Civil War, I find fascinating.  Growing up in Maryland, I have visited the Antietam National Battlefield and crossed over the Mason-Dixon Line many a time. Want to hear an interesting bit of history? On April 2, 1863, in Richmond, Virginia, a very large and angry mob of mostly women started protesting the high prices and shortages of food. It was called, "The Richmond Bread Riots." Evidently, it was the South's largest civil disturbance of the Civil War. A good thing that came out of the "Riots," was that within the week, the City Council approved a plan for a "relief program." As much as I love to bake and take care of my family, I can just picture myself if I lived in Richmond back then. I would have been at the front of those "Riots" leading the way!

Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine, melted
1 cup white sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping

1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons margarine, cold
  (cut into small cubes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. In large bowl, cream the margarine and white sugar together. Then, add the eggs, flour, baking powder, milk and cinnamon. Mix well with large spoon or with electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared loaf pan and set aside. In small bowl, put the topping ingredients. Mix well with small spoon and then sprinkle evenly over the top of the coffee cake batter. Bake for one hour and then test to see if it is done by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean, it's done, if not keeping adding time in five minute intervals. When coffee cake is baked through, remove to wire rack and let cool for at least one hour before trying to remove it from the pan. Place on wire rack to continue cooling. Enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween "Dirt" Cake


When thinking of different ways to decorate this "dirt"cake, I challenged myself to see if I could actually make a cake without using any sprinkles!  It was tough, but I managed :) I have seen many, many recipes for this type of cake on the Internet, but about 90% of them used chocolate pudding and whipped topping. I decided to go in a different direction and make a devil's food cake in keeping with the Halloween "theme" and then spread orange frosting on the top.  The "dirt" is crushed Oreos.  I used a few Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies as the "grave" markers and some candy corn, marshmallow pumpkins and some gummy worms.  When I showed the hubby my finished "creation" he said, "wow!" Yesterday, when I was cutting the three of each a piece, I plucked one of the pumpkins out of the "patch" and popped it into my mouth. Dominic's eyes got as wide as saucers. I think he thought I was eating a real pumpkin!!! Poor guy, I reassured him it was candy!!!

Directions:

Prepare one box of  devil's food cake mix per the package instructions for a 9 x 13 inch cake - I used a 16.5 ounce box of Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix.  Let cake cool completely. Frost with your favorite frosting. I used a 15.6 ounce can of Funfetti Halloween frosting by Pillsbury. In a zippered gallon sized bag, put a dozen chocolate sandwich cookies, like Oreos, close it up and crush into small pieces. I used a meat mallet, since I don't own a food processor.  Press the different decorations gently into the frosting. I had a bag of Brach's Autumn Mix, which included two different kinds of candy corn and a handful of the marshmallow pumpkins. I also had a bag of Brach's Gummi Worms, so I put a half dozen of those on too!!  I melted some orange Wilton's Candy Melts to write the messages on the "graves." Decorator icing in a tube would work too.  Sprinkle the crushed cookie "dirt" around the decorations.  Serves 16. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Turkey Veggie Chili



Growing up, I was a picky, picky eater.  Eating chili in any way, shape or form was definitely not on my "radar" screen at all.  Never in a million years could I have ever imagined that chili would become one of my favorite foods! I have made vegetarian chili, chili with ground meat, chili with ground turkey and chili with chuck roast. The hubby has been stocking up lately on those one-pound frozen "chubs" of ground turkey when it's been on sale.  I think we had at least six in our freezer at one point a few months ago! Yikes. Earlier this week, as I did an "inventory" of what veggies we had a lot of in the fridge, I spotted a pack of carrots. When the hubby asked what was for dinner that night, I told him turkey chili.  When we sat down at the table and he looked at his bowl, he said rather tentatively, "I've never seen carrots in turkey chili before." Since there weren't any leftovers, he kind of HAD to eat the chili for dinner. Guess what? He ended up going back for seconds! The next morning, he made a point of telling me that my chili was really good. Cool, guess that means he liked the "addition" of the carrots!

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup water
12 ounce bag 3-pepper and onion blend,
  frozen
15.5 ounce can light red kidney beans,
  rinsed and drained
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in tomato sauce,
  undrained
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1.25 ounce package chili seasoning mix, any brand

In large stockpot, slowly brown the ground turkey. Drain the grease off and then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well with large spoon, cover and then turn down to simmer. Cook for another one hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put on a "bed" of rice or elbow noodles. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.  Note:  if you are on a low-salt diet like I am because of my heart "issues," try the chili seasoning mix from Mrs. Dash - it has zero sodium!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dutch Apple Pie


Not too much intimidates me, but for some reason, making a pie does. I guess, because I think they are really hard to make and I would rather stay in my "comfort zone" of making muffins :)  I normally don't have a frozen pie crust in the freezer or sour cream in my fridge, but since I did and this recipe that I found in my mother-in-law's "collection," had those two ingredients, I knew it was meant to be to make this apple pie!!  This recipe is actually pretty simple and quick to put together. You'll spend the most time peeling, coring and slicing the apples. I started out trying to layer the apple slices in a real pretty design, but then decided to just pile them up!  I was a little concerned, because I put 3 1/2 cups in and I thought the juice that was bubbling up around the apples might spill over and drip onto the bottom of the oven. I baked the pie on a cookie sheet to catch any "drippings."  It was interesting to watch this pie kind of "deflate" as it was cooling. I felt like I was watching a science experiment. When I cut the hubby a slice to "sample," he said, "this would taste good with vanilla ice cream!" I fished around in my purse, found a gift card to the Cold Stone Creamery and asked the hubby to go down the street and get us some ice cream. Yep, this pie is really good warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Great idea my hubby had, don't you think?!?!?!?!  The other night, I was telling my mom that I had made an apple pie. She gave me a good bit of advice. She said, "don't ever use Red Delicious apples in an apple pie, I learned the hard way!"  Okay, mom.  I ended up using Gala apples :)

Ingredients

9-inch frozen pie crust
3 tablespoons white flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
3 1/2 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  (about 5 medium)

Topping:

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pull pie crust out of the freezer and set aside. In large bowl, put flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sour cream. Mix together with large spoon. Set aside. Peel, core and slice the apples.  Pour apples into the pie crust and then cover with the ingredients in the large bowl. In small bowl, put the cinnamon and white sugar. Combine together with a small spoon and then sprinkle evenly on top of the pie. Put pie on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees for another 45 minutes or until the apples are bubbly and the top of the pie is turning a golden brown. Remove to wire rack until cool enough to eat.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired. Store covered with a piece of plastic wrap or foil on top in the fridge.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chocolate Brownies

Even though he doesn't talk about it very often, I know that my husband (being an only child), misses both of his parents.



I can't even imagine what that must be like for him, because I still have both of my parents and my two younger siblings. I was fortunate to have known both his mom and dad and though I was very close to his dad, I became very, very close to his mom during the final six months of her life. When I am missing my mother-in-law, I like to go through her big stack of newspaper clippings we found while cleaning out their house and see if I can find a recipe where I have all of the ingredients "on hand." When I found a chocolate brownie recipe, I knew that was one to try! When the hubby had one of these the other day and I told him where I found the recipe, he said, "I remember my mom making these!" Cool, I love when that happens :) The original recipe had 3/4 cup of chopped nuts, but I choose to use 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips, 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of peanut butter chips instead.




Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 squares (2 ounces) semi-sweet
  baking chocolate bar, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In large bowl, put the margarine and white sugar and cream together with a large spoon. In small bowl, melt two squares of the baking chocolate bar in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate in with the margarine and white sugar and then add the eggs. Mix well and then add the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine well and then mix in the milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips and the peanut butter chips. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the brownies comes out clean. Remove to wire rack to cool. Serve with a little powdered sugar on top, leave plain, add your favorite frosting or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!