Thursday, September 25, 2008

Best Ever Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,
melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped *
Brown sugar

* Can substitute chocolate chips, or omit altogether.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9" x 5"-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon (if desired) and salt; set aside. 

Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have some texture.

With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, beat the remaining bananas and sugar together until you have a light and fluffy cream.

Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

 Mix in the dry ingredients just until blended; do not overmix.

Fold in the nuts (or chocolate chips) and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle brown sugar across top of batter, if desired.

Tap pan on counter to get air bubbles out.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. (Don't worry if the bread has a crack down the middle of the top.) Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning.

Cool the bread in the pan for approximately 10 minutes, and then cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spicy Italian Roast

My family all calls this recipe, Spaghetti Roast and this is, hands down, my hubby's favorite roast that I make.  Of course, I love any recipe that can be made in the crock-pot and is ready when you walk in the door.

There is nothing like walking in the house to the smell of THIS roast at the end of a long day!


3 - 4 pound boneless beef roast
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 ( 4 oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 onion, diced
1 pkg. spaghetti sauce mix
1 ( 8 oz.) tomato sauce

* Note from MiMi: My family are all big gravy eaters, so I double the amount of mushrooms, spaghetti sauce mix and tomato sauce.

Place roast in crock-pot and season with garlic salt.

Add drained mushrooms and diced onions.

Combine package of spaghetti sauce mix and tomato sauce and stir until well blended.  

Pour tomato sauce mixture over all.

Cover and cook on "Low" for 8 - 10 hours OR cook on "High" for 2 hours and then turn on "Low" for 4 more hours.

Serve thickened gravy over hot pasta or rice.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ham and Potato Casserole

This is a recipe that my family has made for years. My mother used to make it and then, after I got married, I started making it for my family.  It is so easy and always a favorite!

I have made it many times using leftover ham slices, but it is so convenient to use canned ham and crumble it. 

*Note: This is also good in the crock-pot with leftover ham sliced into thin slices.

5 - 6 potatoes, sliced
2 cans Hormel canned ham
1 onion, sliced in rings
1 can cream of mushroom soup**
1 cup milk
Salt & Pepper to taste

** Can use 2-3 Tablespoons of flour mixed with 1 cup of milk as a substitute for cream of mushroom soup.

Thinly slice potatoes and layer in a single layer on bottom of 13 x 9 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Crumble ham over layer of potatoes.

Slice onion into rings. Separate rings and layer over top of ham.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Repeat these layers again; ending with a layer of potato slices. Combine can of mushroom soup and 1 cup milk and whisk together until well-blended.

Pour soup mixture over entire casserole.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until browned.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mashed Cauliflower

My family loves these "mashed potatoes" and my husband says he actually likes them better than "real" mashed potatoes. Even people that are not normally big fans of  cauliflower usually like these!  

I first learned of mashing cauliflower from my South Beach Diet cookbook.  The recipe in there calls for Fat free half and half and "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray, but I prefer to use "real" ingredients without high fructose corn syrup and other additives.  (If you prefer the SB Diet version, substitute 1 oz. "I can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray for the butter and 1 oz. Fat Free Half and Half for regular Half and Half.) They are very good either way!  

1 head of cauliflower
3-4 Tablespoons butter
3-4 Tablespoons half and half

Remove all leaves and the stem on the head of cauliflower. (I knock the stem part on the divider in my double sink and the entire stem will come off of the head.)

Cut cauliflower into florets.

Place florets in salted boiling water and cook until fork tender; about 10 minutes.

Remove from burner and drain cauliflower in colander until well-drained.

Pour cauliflower florets into bowl of food processor.  

Pulse and grind cauliflower until all pieces are mashed well; stopping to scrape down sides as needed.

Gradually add butter and half and half to mashed cauliflower while pulsing -- until mixture is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour mashed cauliflower back into your pan. Keep warm on Low heat until ready to serve.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups All Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

In another mixing bowl, combine melted butter (which has cooled), brown sugar and granulated sugar.

Mix together with electric mixer until well blended.

Add egg, yolk and vanilla to sugar mixture and beat until well blended.

Add flour mixture and beat at low speed just until mixture is combined.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll heaping 1/3 cup batter into a ball. Pull dough balls apart into 2 pieces and place on cookie sheet with the "jagged" edge of each piece facing up on cookie sheet.

Bake approximately 15-20 minutes on rack in middle of oven until cookies are light golden brown and you notice that the outer edges are starting to get firm. The center of each cookie should still be soft.

Let cookies cool on cookie sheets approximately 10 minutes and then transfer very carefully to wire racks to cool.

Yield: About 2 Dozen

Oh, and make sure that you have plenty of this on hand!