Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mickey Mouse Part Two

Here's the finished product after decoration. Not quite as nice as I had hoped, but that's the point of a practice run!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mickey Mouse Cake Part 1

When I was younger, I didn't really love Mickey Mouse. I don't think I understood why he never wore a shirt, even when it was cold outside, and his laugh...seriously, what's up with his laugh? Anyway, I am making a Mickey Mouse cake for a baby shower (would've been nice if she wanted the Hungry Caterpillar). This is a trial run. I have never made a two-tiered cake before, so I figured that practice would be good. Necessary in fact. I'll be bringing the cake into work on Monday to show the recipient, see if she likes it. I was originally going to do Mickey Mouse head and then have ears being cupcakes (she wants some cupcakes), but the idea of trying to draw a face was a bit too much for me. So, two-tier cake it is (about 35 people need to be fed). I am also going to be making probably a dozen cupcakes with some cut outs that will match the cake. Coordination...I'm on top of things.

Today didn't exactly go as planned. Got up, ran a ton of errands, met with a friend for lunch, then car started smoking. Never good. Turns out I have a cracked reservoir tank. Awesome. Part should be in hopefully on Monday. Until then, I just hope my engine doesn't decide to blow...sadly a real possibility at this point. By the time I got the car looked at and home from the grocery store, it was about 4:00. Threw in some laundry (discovering after I put my money in that the dryers in my building don't work this week....had to bring over wet laundry to the next building over) and got started on baking. Below is pretty much what I've been working on since about that time...So, about five hours later and I can kick my feet up. Decorating comes tomorrow.
I prepared the fondant yesterday (see the caterpillar entry for recipe). Today, I used black and red coloring, while setting aside some to not be colored. (That part will be painted silver later.)

Using the black fondant, I cut out circles for ears and heads, and then also shaped 3-D mickey mouse heads.

Yellow Cake

7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups butter
5 cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 cups buttermilk**

**If you don't have buttermilk (and don't feel like paying lots for it), take regular milk and squeeze in some fresh lemon juice. (About a teaspoon for every cup) Let sit for ten minutes and then you have buttermilk!

Sift in a medium sized bowl the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

Then in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add vanilla. Then beat in one egg at a time.

Add some flour mixture to the egg mixture. Then add some buttermilk. Then the flour...and so on.

Then in greased 9 inch cake pans, add the mixture. Do the same for the six inch cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. When you remove the cakes from the oven, place cakes on a cooling rack. You'll want to put the cakes in the fridge when cool.

This will make 3 9-inch layers, and 2 6-inch layers.

Strawberry Filling

1 package of fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon

Remove the stems from the strawberries and put in a food processor. Roughly chop, but do not liquefy. Then place in a small bowl. Add honey and lemon. Mix well. Set in fridge until ready to use.
Next steps!

Remove the chilled cakes from the fridge. Using a very sharp knife, level each layer (both the 9-inch and 6-inch cakes). Looking at the 9-inch layers, choose a base layer. Using buttercream frosting, put a thin layer on the top. Then using a piping bag, build a "wall" of icing around the edges. This will prevent the filling from oozing out through the sides. Add several spoonfulls of strawberry filling on top of the icing, within your "walls".

Then take the next layer and place it on top of your base layer. Do the same thing with the icing and filling. Take your third and last layer and place it on top. Using a thin layer of buttercream frosting, ice the sides and top, taking care to make the sides as even as possible. (Fill in any gaps with the icing.)

Do the same thing for your two 6-inch cakes, but do NOT place them on top of the 9-inch cake yet.

Even more steps!

Since it's a two-tiered cake, it is important to make sure that your bottom tier can support the top tier. Safest bet is to use dowels. You can find these at any craft store or hardware store. They don't need to be too large in diameter since it's only two tier. Mine was about 3-4 mm.

Measure the dowel next to the 9-inch cake and make a mark at the top of the cake on the dowel. Cut the dowel to this length. Do this to make five total dowels. Roughly measure on the 9-inch cake where the top tier will go (I used the pan I originally baked with). This gives you an estimate of where the dowels should be placed.

Insert one dowel in the middle of the cake. Then arrange the other four in a rough circle around it (closer to the edges of where the top tier will sit).

Put all the cakes back in the fridge until later.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wine and Chocolate

One of my jobs (among others) is a college professor in public health. Scary thought isn't it? I influence young minds... Awesome. Anyway, so last night was Wine and Chocolate night in one of my classes. (All over 21, mind you.) Last year, we had gone to Whole Foods. There's a second floor that has a wine bar (best Whole Foods ever!). They had hosted us, did a "whole" (hehe) wine and chocolate history/culture lesson and tasting. (I teach the best classes ever!!!) This year, a few days ago, I get such a lovely email from them saying that they can't host my class because the wine bar be open for business. Could we do it at 3 instead? Considering my class starts at 7:20 and almost every single one of my students work, that wouldn't be able to happen. Even I wouldn't have been able to get out of job #1 to get to class on time. I ended up cancelling the field trip (grrr Whole Foods, grrr). I now had to put together a lecture about things I don't know too much about. Fantastic.

My thoughts would be to have a simple wine tasting and history lesson with the same with chocolate. Simple. Key word. Simple. My department chair fortunately did the wine part of the lecture and I did the chocolate part. I bought several different chocolates from Whole Foods (I still love you even though you suck a little). Several hours before the class started, I get a bunch of emails and phone calls from the department manager and the chair. They reserved a large room in the dining hall and had a few plates of veggies, fruit, and cheeses ordered. Guess who had to pick them up? And guess who had to coordinate with the catering people when to pick it all up?? (Try convincing someone to work a bit later than usual...yeah.) One of the phone calls was to also inform me that they had gotten 12 bottles of wine. Mind you, my class has 25 students, not all who drink. 12 bottles. Good times for all!

The lecture came and surprisingly, it went alright. We drank half of the bottles and demolished the veggie, fruit, and cheese plates. I'd like to think it was better than what Whole Foods would have put on for us. (Maybe not completely true, but again, I'd like to think so.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh, my...

My father sent me two gnocchi recipes. I'm quite excited to try them out (thinking this weekend). I've never actually made gnocchi before. That's right. Gasp. An Italian who hasn't tried gnocchi, yet can make fresh ravioli in her sleep. My ancestors are shamed. To right a horrible wrong, gnocchi will be made. Actually forming the little pillows are the most intimidating part. Me being part of the technology age (or at least hanging on for dear life) looked on youtube to find how to roll the little things. I have discovered in this process the gnocchi board. Yes, a board that helps you form a decorated version of the plain pillows. My grandmother would make them with a fork, but how much more fun is it to try out a new kitchen gadget!!?? Alas, I fear I will be on amazon soon to order myself one.

I have quite the weekend coming up. I must make gnocchi (the shamed ancestors and all) and do a test run of a mickey mouse cake for my friend who is throwing a baby shower. Yes, another baby shower I will stress about. I'm excited though. I even have a sketch (I can't draw) and it looks beautiful (to me). So be prepared...lots of blogging to come!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Family Dinner

My brother and father, along with two of my friends, came to dinner last night. My dad made the request of something "light". Yeah, so that narrowed down the food choices! This was the first time in a while that I had the chance to make a nice dinner for others. I chose to make a chicken dinner with a white wine and mushroom sauce, with a side of sauteed green beans and green peppers.

Chicken with White Wine and Mushroom Sauce

1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Chicken breasts (1-2 per person)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 packages of fresh mushrooms (button, portabella, shiitake, etc), ends trimmed, quartered
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon flour or corn starch

In a large skillet, heat the oil. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken to coat and place in the skillet. Cook chicken for about five minutes on each side. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add onions, mushrooms, and garlic to the pan. Cook on low heat for four minutes (don't let the garlic burn) and stir occasionally. Return the chicken to the pan. Add wine, broth, basil, and thyme to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a serving dish. To thicken the sauce, add the flour or corn starch. Incorporate well. Spoon over chicken and serve.

Sauteed Green Beans and Green Peppers

Handful of green beans per person, ends trimmed
One small green pepper per person, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a small skillet. Add garlic, green beans, and green peppers. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the bread crumbs (about 3 tablespoons). Toss well and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

English Muffins

I have my brother and father coming into town tomorrow. I'm not one to have breakfast cereals laying around the house. I think after having way, way too much of it in college, I have shunned it. (One of the reasons why you'll never find Ramin noodles in my home.) With one of them liking to sleep in and the other liking to get up before the sun rises, I thought it would be better to have something on hand. Less coordination that way. About every couple of weeks, I'll make some english muffins. They always seem to hit the spot early in the morning. Now all I have to do is figure out what in the world will I be making for dinner tomorrow.

1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup warm (not hot) milk
2 tablespoons unsalted melted butter

Pour the warm water in a small bow and add the yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy (about 10-15 minutes).

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Make a well. Add the egg, milk, butter, and yeast mixture into the well. Using your hands, mix well. The dough should not be too sticky. If so, add more flour. If the dough is crumbly, add a little bit of water. Knead well for no more than 5 minutes. (Do not overknead or the muffins will be more heavy.)

Lightly grease a large bowl and place in the dough. Cover with greased plastic wrap (I normally spray it with cooking spray). Cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about an hour to and hour and a half).

Take the dough out of the bowl and lightly knead for about one minute. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick and cut rounds. (I use a drinking glass since I don't have a biscuit cutter.)

Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet to low to medium heat. Lightly grease the surface. Place the muffins on the skillet. They will get larger while cooking. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes. Be careful to keep checking the bottoms so they won't burn. Enjoy with jam (pictured with huckleberry...), cream cheese (awesome with locks and capers)...

**UPDATE** Had the muffins for breakfast Saturday morning, and both brother and dad ate several each, while commenting on how they didn't know you could make english muffins without them being Thomas English Muffins from the store!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

*Warning, I am currently riding a strong caffeine buzz. I will explain shortly.

As mentioned in my first post, I compiled a "friend cookbook". I was flipping through it today and I saw a recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies. They just sounded like they would hit the spot and the list of ingredients were rather short. Sounds perfect! I had to go by Whole Foods anyway, so I picked up some vegan chocolate chips and raw sugar. Baking a vegan recipe is rather new to me. Sure many of my recipes end up being vegan by default, but this was a first time baking without ANY animal products. I was curious about the no egg part.

There are a couple of notes to the recipe below. For the cinnamon, she says to put in a LOT of cinnamon. I believe her quote is "obscene". I put in about 2 tablespoons and they seemed about right. Any less would be odd I think. For the vegan chocolate chips, you can get them at Whole Foods - even as a Whole Foods brand, which is cheaper than normal. Also, don't use too many chips or the dough will be crumbly. Lastly, for the sugar, turbinado seems to work the best. Sucanat works as well, but it tends to suck up a lot of the moisture.

2 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon to taste
Vegan chocolate or carob chips
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water

Make sure all ingredients are room temperature. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and "a ridiculous amount of cinnamon". Add chips and mix well. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the sugar and oil. Mix it well. Add vanilla and water. Mix well. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Be careful not to overwork it. Add more chips if needed.

Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees for five minutes. Flip and rotate the sheets (to make sure they are cooked evenly, in case of hot spots). Bake for another 4 minutes. The cookies aer done when they seem a little bit softer than you want them to be (they'll solidify some as they cool.)

Take them out and move to cooling racks. If they come apart as you move them, let them sit on the pan for 2 minutes.

I'm sure you all have forgotten about the caffeine buzz. Well, I made all of these cookies, so I decided to share them with my neighbors. Being neighborly and all. They invited me in to share some "bun", or coffee in Ethiopia Semitic. Homemade and very, very strong coffee. Being an ex-peace corps volunteer, I couldn't refuse. An opportunity to have cultural AND food exchange was too good to pass up. (Plus, wouldn't I have insulted them to refuse??) It was delicious (saying a lot since I don't actually drink coffee). It may have had something to do with two spoons of sugar, but we'll go with the coffee. Since that was at about 8:00 and I'm still shaking (it's after 10), I think I'm in for a long night. I did enjoy sharing food and culture with my neighbors, as it was the first time we've all really talked. We even watched an Eritrean movie together (they are from Eritrea), one that I couldn't understand, but that's the beauty of acting. Actions speak louder than words. (It did help when they translated some so I didn't get completely lost.) Very sad movie, but again, great experience!

P.S. Discovered a new setting on my camera, well new to me, hense the cool cookie picture above. Pictures will improve, I promise!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Busy Cooking

Whenever I have a day off (once a week), I end up cooking a bunch. It's the only way I can ensure that I will have lunches throughout the week and not spend a fortune eating out. Today was such a day. I made the potatoes and green beans (below) and also an eggplant and tomato spread of sorts. That shall be the official name for it. Eggplant and Tomato Spread of Sorts. Sounds good to me!
I was a bit apprehensive since growing up I was never a fan of eggplant. Because of that, I haven't really had eggplant as an adult. Knowing that taste change (and I should really stop being such a wimp), I bought a couple at the farmers market this morning. A friend of mine gave me another eggplant recipe, which I will be trying out in the next few days. It got me thinking about eggplants and I should really give it another go. (Again with not being a wimp.) Here is the result!

1 medium eggplant, chopped into cubes
2 tomatoes, chopped into cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tablespoons or so)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped onions. After it cooks for about 2 minutes, add in the garlic (don't let the onion brown). Once that has cooked for another couple of minutes, add in the tomatoes and eggplant. Simmer and let cook for about five minutes. Stir. To encourage the juices to release, I added in about 1/2 cup of water, brought back to a simmer. The sauce will start to thicken as the water evaporates. Continue to cook for 15 more minutes, stirring occassionally. Add spices and season to taste. Serve with toasted bread (I used the organic flax bread from Whole Foods).

Green Beans and Potatoes

I discovered this recipe when I was trying to use up the rest of my green beans before they spoiled. Pretty much all the fresh food I had left in my fridge and pantry were green beans and potatoes (I didn't feel like grocery shopping). This is what came out of it.

8 small yukon gold potatoes, quartered
About two handfulls of green beans, trimmed and broken into two inch pieces

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
parsely (I didn't have fresh so I used dried)
salt (if needed to season to taste)

Boil one large and one small pot of water. In the large, put the potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes until soft. In the small, place the green beans and cook for 5-6 minutes, tender, but still crisp.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the shallot, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and parsley. I used about 1 tablespoon, but season to taste. Once the potatoes and green beans are cooked, mix with the dressing in a large bowl. Add salt as needed for taste. Enjoy while still hot!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lentil Loaf

When I was in grad school, most of my classes were in the late afternoon/evening. This was not good if you were used to eating dinner around, say, dinner time. A friend of mine and I had Biostats (mental shiver) from 4:30-7:10 every Wednesday. Since we'd both be starving by the time we'd leave, we decided to make dinners for each other. Every week, we would split who would bring the main dish, salad/bread, and dessert. Then on our 10-15 minute break, we would enjoy! Poor thing made the mistake of making a lentil loaf. I was hooked!! Whenever it was her turn for the main dish, guess what I would request. Now that grad school is over, I am still craving her lentil loaf. I have the recipe and have made it many times and I only hope it's as good as her version. (Mine tends to change slightly each time depending on what ingredients I have in my fridge at any given time.) The recipe looks intimidating because of the length, but it's really simple to make.

3/4 cup lentils (doesn't really matter the type, just go with your favorite)
3 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (I used a shallot this last time...see note above about on-hand ingredients)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 celery rib, sliced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (I saved mine from the summer and then froze perfectly)
10 ounces fresh baby spinach (this last time I used arugula...adds a peppery taste)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tomato, chopped
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil

For the Sauce:
Combine the tomatoes, green onions, garlic, and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.

For the Loaf:
Place lentils in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then drain the water and rinse the lentils. Then in another large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Add rice and return to boil. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Gently simmer without stirring for 10 minutes. Add in the carrot, celery, onion, and lentils. Cover and continue cooking until the rice and lentils are tender. Turn off heat.

Add the corn to top of rice/lentil mixture and let stand, covered for about 5 minutes. Fluff and let stand again for 5 more minutes.

In a medium skillet, cook spinach over medium heat until it welts (few minutes). Drain, and squeeze any excess liquid. Chop coarsely.

Then in a large bowl, combine the lentil mixture, spinach, mozzarella cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, pepper, and half of the prepared sauce. Spoon into a greased loaf pan. You can sprinkle the top with more cheese or leave as is.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving or it will fall apart as you try to remove it from the pan. Top with the remaining sauce.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Potato and Leek Soup

The Green Grocer delivery box forces me to try new things. I have never cooked with a leek before. Low and behold, two giant leeks (okay, so they're not so giant, perfectly normal sized for leeks, but having not cooked with them before, they seem quite large) were included in this past week's box. I search the internet for possible recipes. It seems that potatoes and leeks go hand and hand. I came to this conclusion considering that's pretty much all that ever came up in search results. Figuring that I have been missing out on some level of greatness that is potato and leek soup, I felt I needed to make a batch. Here's a combination/modification of several recipes.

1 stick of butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 giant leek, sliced thin (I used both the green and white parts)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
3 large russet potatoes, chopped into cubes
7 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 half and half
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Sliced chives for garnish

Put all but two tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, and garlic to the pot, sitrring occasionally until soft (about 10 minutes). Raising the heat to high, add the wine and cook for about 5 minutes until the wine is absorbed.

Add the potatoes, water, and salt. Tie the parsley and thyme in a cheesecloth (if you don't have it, I've used the disposable tea bags and they work well) and add to the pot (you'll be removing this later). Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 25 minutes). Remove from heat and cool.

Remove the herbs and transfer the soup to a food processor. Mine is fairly small, so I did it in batches. Be careful not to do too much at once or it'll overflow. Then return the pureed soup to the pot and reheat. Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter, lemon, and cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon into a bowl and garnish with chives. It was really yummy with some toasted French bread!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chocolate Pear Tart

In my lovely box of goodies that I received earlier this week, there were several pears. I put together a chocolate pear tart. It's a dish I've made many times and it a combination of flaky pastry crust, custard, and fresh fruit. I've tried so many different recipes to find the ultimate pastry crust. This one is unique since it includes an egg yolk and fresh lemon juice. It adds an interesting flavor to the custard.

For the crust:
1 cup of flour (approximately)
1 stick of butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt together. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Add the egg yolk and lemon juice. Using your hands, work in the egg and juice. Add more flour to the dough as needed. I actually didn't roll out the dough, but rather pressed it into the pie dish to give it more of a rustic look.

For the filling:
2 medium pears
1/2 grated semi-sweetened chocolate
1 egg
1 egg yolk
6 ounces whipping cream
Sugar for dusting

To prepare the pears, boil a small pot of water and poach the pears for no more than 30 seconds each. Remove from the water and allow to cool. This will allow the skin to be easily removed.

Sprinkle the chocolate on top of the crust.

To make the custard, whisk the egg, egg yolk, and whipping cream in a small bowl together.

Core and peel the pears. Half the pears and slice them. Fan the slices and place them in the dish in a pin-wheel fashion. Pour the custard in the center of the tart, allowing it to flow into the outer edges. Sprinkle the tart with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. This will allow the sugar to caramelize. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees, bake for another 25 minutes until the custard is lightly browned. Remove from the oven to cool for ten minutes before serving to allow the custard to hold its form.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I was practically jumping with excitement today. Wednesdays are Green Grocer delivery day! Washingtons Green Grocer ( is an awesome organization that allows you to order either a large or small box of organic (or non-organic) fruits and vegetables. You can add breads, dairy products, honey, meats... Have to say that it is pretty great to come home to a box full of food! Seriously, how great is it to end the day with goodies. Oh, the yummy recipes to come. I'm thinking Chocolate Pear Tart coming up next.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pasta and Asparagus

The asparagus has been looking so wonderful the last couple of weeks, so I finally bought a bunch. They were skinny and bright green. I couldn't resist. Normally, I'd saute them in a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. I decided to do something a little different. Yes, an experiment. One that actually came out well!

1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces ground lean turkey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces small pasta (I used elbows), cooked al dente
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup broccoli
1/2 asparagus

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Make sure the bread crumbs coat the insides of the muffin "parts". Shake of any excess.

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the turkey through (no pink). Break it apart as you cook, so it is in small pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, boil a small pot of water. Add in the broccoli and cook for 1-2 minutes. NO MORE THAN THAT! Then remove and put in a bowl of very cold water to stop the cooking process. Do the same for the asparagus. Then chop the vegetables.

Once the pasta is done cooking (don't overcook), put in large mixing bowl and add the cheeses and ground meat. Toss well. Scoop mixture into each muffin mold about 2/3 full. Add some pieces of tomato, broccoli, and asparagus to each one. Top with a thin layer of bread crumbs. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until it it golden brown. After removing from oven, allow to sit for a few minutes before removing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Banana Bread

The last couple of days, it has pretty much done nothing but rain. A lot. And some more. The temperature dropped too. It feels like it should be winter to me. Well, Phoenix winter. I was shivering all day too. So, I got in the mood for some good spices to fill my home. The recipe I used below did just the trick. I may have thrown in a bit more freshly ground cinnamon and all-spice than what was called for.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 all-spice and/or nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Grease loaf pan and preheat oven at 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl combine eggs, bananas, sugar, and oil. Add this to the flour mixture. Mix until just moistened.
4. Spoon mixture into pan and back for about 45 minutes, until golden brown. Test with a toothpick and remove from oven when it comes out clean.