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Friday, November 22, 2013

Pecan Pie, 3 Ways

It's Friday and we are one day closer to T-Day. I will get straight to the point this time: we are talking about pecan pies. I've got 3 different ways to celebrate the southern belle, each with a unique and subtle twist. Here we go:

The traditionalist...

Blue-Ribbon Pecan Pie
Rubyane Surritte 


  • Flour, for dusting
  • ½ recipe Buttery Pie Dough
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups roughly chopped pecans, plus ½ cup halves


  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12" round. Fit into a 9" pie plate. Trim edges and crimp; chill 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 350°. Whisk corn syrup, sugars, butter, vanilla, salt, and eggs in a bowl; fold in chopped pecans. Distribute filling evenly over dough; arrange pecan halves decoratively around the inside edge of the pie crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 1 hour. Let cool completely before serving.


Southern Pecan Pie with Spice Crust
Nick Malgieri

  • Sweet Dough Spice variation, for a 1 crust pie, see below
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 2 cups pecan halves or pieces, or a combination, about 8 ounces
  • One 9 inch Pyrex pie pan
  1. To make the filling, combine corn syrup and sugar in saucepan and stir to mix. Place over low heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. Remove from heat, add butter and allow butter to melt. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs until liquid and whisk in salt and Bourbon. Whisk in syrup and butter mixture, being careful not to over mix. Allow to cool while rolling and forming the bottom crust.
  2. Set a rack at the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  3. Arrange pecans in crust. Skim foam from top of filling (or the top will have an unattractively mottled surface) and pour over pecans. With the back of a fork, press the pecans down into the filling so that they are covered.
  4. Bake the pie for about 45 minutes, until the crust is baked through and the filling is set and well puffed in the center. Cool the pie on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE: Use the Cocoa flavored Sweet Dough, above, instead of the Spice Crust. Add 4 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate to the hot syrup mixture along with the butter. Allow chocolate to melt and whisk filling smooth. Stir the pecans into the filling, rather than pouring it over them.

WALNUT RUM PIE: Replace Bourbon in filling with dark rum; replace pecans with walnut halves and pieces. Use the plain Sweet Dough, rather than the Spice Crust.

Substitute other nuts, such as hazelnuts or almonds, or a combination of several kinds of nuts.

Sweet Dough for Pie:

Ingredients:One-crust pie, about 10 ounces dough:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose bleached flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
Two-crust pie, about 1 1/4 pounds dough:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose bleached flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs

To mix the dough by hand:

  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and add to dry ingredients. Toss once or twice to coat pieces of butter. 
  2. Then using your hands or a pastry blender, break the butter into tiny pieces and pinch and squeeze it into the dry ingredients. Occasionally reach down to the bottom of the bowl and mix all the ingredients evenly together.
  3.  Continue rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse-ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible. 
  4. Beat the egg(s) in a small bowl and pour over the flour and butter mixture. Stir in with a fork until the dough begins to hold together, but still appears somewhat dry. Scatter a teaspoon of flour on the work surface and scrape the dough out onto it. 
  5. Press and knead the dough quickly 3 or 4 times, until it is smooth and uniform.
To mix the dough in the food processor:
  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in work bowl fitted with metal blade. Pulse 3 times at 1-second intervals to mix. Cut butter into 1 tablespoon pieces and add to work bowl. 
  2. Process, pulsing repeatedly at 1-second intervals, until the mixture is fine and powdery, resembles a coarse-ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible, about 15 pulses in all. 
  3. Add the egg(s) to the work bowl and pulse ten times or so, until the dough forms a ball. Scatter a teaspoon of flour on the work surface and scrape the dough out onto it. Press and knead the dough quickly 3 or 4 times, until it is smooth and uniform. 
  4. Press the dough into a disk (two equal disks for the larger amount of dough). Sandwich the disk(s) of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and press it into a 6-inch circle. Refrigerate the dough until firm, or until you are ready to use it, at least 1 hour.
Storage: Keep the dough in the refrigerator up to two days, or freeze it double-wrapped in plastic. Because the dough is thin, it will defrost quickly at room temperature when you intend to use it.


SPICE CRUST: Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each freshly grated nutmeg and ground cloves to the dry ingredients before mixing in the butter. Double the quantities for the 2-crust recipe.


Chocolate Pecan Pie 
Susan Spungen

Pie Dough
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Unsweetened whipped cream

  1. In a food processor, combine the 2 cups of flour with the sugar and salt; process to mix. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and process until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. With the machine on, slowly pour in the ice water and process just until it's incorporated. Transfer the dough to a bowl and knead a few times. Pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Let the dough soften slightly. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a round, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9-inch glass pie plate. Press the dough into the pie plate, being careful not to stretch it. Using scissors, trim the overhang to 1 1/2 inches. Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate the pie shell until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Prick the chilled pie shell all over with the tines of a fork. Line the shell with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Fold the foil over the weights so the side of the pie shell is exposed. Bake the shell for 25 minutes, or until the side and rim are golden. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking the shell until the bottom is beginning to brown, about 15 minutes longer. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
  4. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, stirring once. Transfer the pecans to a plate. In a small microwave-safe glass bowl, melt the butter with the chocolate in a microwave oven. Stir until blended and smooth. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and add the brown sugar. Stir in the eggs, corn syrup, vanilla and kosher salt, then stir in the pecans.
  5. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until set in the center. Let the pie cool completely. Serve with whipped cream.
MAKE AHEAD The pecan pie can be refrigerated overnight. Serve cold or bring to room temperature.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Traditions of the Apple Variety

Happy hump day dear readers! Today we must discuss the traditional food that claims the spotlight of every Thanksgiving meal (I'm not talking turkey here...obviously!). Let's talk about APPLE PIE and how we are going to make it more than hum drum, but rather quite spectacular this year! Here are 3 takes on the fruity dessert that make it better than anything the pilgrims ever expected! (Did they even eat apple pie?)

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust
Paul Grimes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably white), coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (trans-fat-free), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 to 8 tablespoon ice water
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 pound Gala apples (3 medium)
  • 1 1/2 pound Granny Smith apples (3 medium)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
Make pastry dough: 
  1. Stir together flour, salt, and cheese in a large bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Add butter and shortening and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 6 tablespoon ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.
  2. Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.
  3. Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in half, then form each half into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Make filling and bake pie: 
  1. Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Peel and core apples, then slice 1/4 inch thick. Toss apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt until evenly coated.
  3. Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch round.
  4. Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with milk, then cut 5 (1-inch-long) vents.
  5. Bake on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.
Cooks' Notes: Dough can be chilled up to 2 days or frozen up to 3 months.

Fried Apple Pies
Ronni Lundy

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup hot skim milk
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled and cut up
  • 2 cups unsulphured dried apple slices (7 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the salt and baking powder. In a large bowl, combine the hot milk with the shortening and stir just until nearly melted; there should be a few pea-size pieces of shortening left. Add the flour and stir with a fork just until a dough forms. Gather the dough and knead until smooth. Roll the dough into a 6-inch log, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the apples with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft and the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes. Add the brown sugar and mash with a fork or potato masher until blended. Stir in the raisins and let cool.
  3. Cut the log of dough into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Working with half of the balls at a time, on a very lightly floured surface, roll out each ball to a 6-inch round. Brush the edges with water. Mound 2 heaping tablespoons of the apple filling on the lower half of each round. Fold the dough over the filling to make a half-moon, leaving a 1/2 -inch border; press the edges to seal. Using a lightly floured fork, crimp the edges decoratively. Transfer the pies to a large, lightly floured baking sheet and repeat with the remaining balls of dough and filling.
MAKE AHEAD The pies can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight.

Apple Pie Bars
Cathy Odson

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup water, as necessary
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
  1. MAKE THE CRUST Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the sheet and 1/2 inch up the side. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden. Let cool on a rack.
  2. MAKE THE FILLING In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 1/4 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to 1/2 cup of water to each pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.
  3. MAKE THE TOPPING Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the walnuts. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps.
  4. Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.
MAKE AHEAD The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.

Happy baking! One week 'til apple time! (What, you thought I'd say turkey time? Heck no!)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Elegant Sauce AND Thanksgiving Pumpkins!

There's a bright moon out on this chilly Tuesday night and what better idea than plan your Thanksgiving desserts while eating a warm bowl of bucatini? There is none! Tonight I'm bringing you a deliciously easy and warming idea for dinner (supplement your favorite meatballs here) while you make your choice among these yummy pumpkin pie recipes. 

Bucatini with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Dawn Perry

  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
  • Finely grated Parmesan (for serving)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine tomatoes (crushing them with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a 13x9" baking dish; season with salt and black pepper. Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is jammy, 35–40 minutes. Using a potato masher or fork, mash to break up garlic and tomatoes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  3. Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce and pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan and more red pepper flakes.

DO AHEAD: Tomato sauce can be made 4 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat before mixing with pasta.

Now onto the pumpkin pies! My favorite!

Pumpkin Pie
Andrew Zimmern

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • 2 cups roasted and pureed fresh pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  1. MAKE THE CRUST In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a cup, beat the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons of the water; drizzle over the flour mixture and stir with a fork. Press the crumbs together to form a rough dough, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon of water if needed. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, gather up any crumbs and knead gently just until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round. Fit the dough into a deep 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch. Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Prick the dough all over with a fork and chill for 10 minutes.
  3. Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until set. Remove the pie weights and bake for about 10 minutes longer, or until the shell is golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°.
  4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree with 2/3 cup of the sugar and the half-and-half, whole eggs, egg yolks, molasses, pie spice and salt. Pour the filling into the hot pie shell and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the center is just set and the edges are slightly puffed. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool to room temperature.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the crème fraîche and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until it holds soft peaks. Serve the pie with the whipped cream.
MAKE AHEAD The pie can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie
Sarah Patterson Scott

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chilled non-hydrogenated solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup (or more) ice water
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese*
Whipped Cream and Mascarpone Topping:
  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese*
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
For crust:
  1. Blend flour and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1/4 cup ice water; pulse until dough begins to clump, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on floured work surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch beyond rim. Crimp edges. Chill crust while making filling.

For filling:
  1. Using electric mixer, beat pumpkin and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs and next 7 ingredients and beat until blended. Add mascarpone cheese and beat just until mixture is smooth. Transfer filling to prepared crust.
  2. Bake pie until custard is set, about 55 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool. 
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Tent with foil and chill.
For whipped cream and mascarpone topping:Combine ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat to soft peaks. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Serve pie with topping.

*An Italian cream cheese; sold at many supermarkets and at Italian markets.

Maple Pumpkin Brulee Pie

  • Flour, for dusting
  • ½ recipe Flaky Butter Pie Dough
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2½ tbsp. potato starch
  • 2½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground clove
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Demerara sugar
  1. Heat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ round. Fit into a 9″ pie plate. Trim edges and crimp; chill 30 minutes.
  2. Whisk sugars and eggs in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add pumpkin, cream, syrup, potato starch, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and salt; whisk until smooth. Pour filling over dough; using a spatula, spread into an even layer. Bake until just set in the center, 45–50 minutes. Transfer pie to a rack; let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Sprinkle Demerara sugar evenly over surface of pie. Guide the flame of a blowtorch back and forth over surface until sugar caramelizes. Serve immediately.

Happy baking!

But wait, before you go...don't forget to check out my social media pages for even more pictures and fun stuff!


Did I forget anything? Bake on, my friends!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bananas Gone Wild!

It's Friday everyone! Woot woot! You know I'm excited. As I was browsing my favorite recipe sites the other day, I happened upon a recipe for banana bread...this got me thinking. What other glorious recipes can be created from the original delight - banana bread. This is a super easy cake to create, which makes it a fabulous foundation for any cook to get creative! So for today's post, I found a few recipes of bananas gone rogue...and here they are.

Close to it's predecessor, the classic loaf....

Coconut and Macadamia Nut Banana Bread
Gourmet Oct 1991

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted lightly and cooled
  1. Into a bowl sift together the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter with the sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy and beat in the vanilla, the eggs, 1 at at time, the zest, the banana, and the sour cream. 
  2. Add the flour mixture, beat the batter until it is just combined, and stir in the macadamia nuts and the coconut. 
  3. Divide the batter among 5 well-buttered and floured 5 3/4- by 3 1/4-inch loaf pans and bake the breads in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove the breads from the pans and let them cool, right sides up, on a rack.

Those crazy bananas!

Banana-Bread-and-Butter Pudding
Heather Ho

  • One 1/2-pound brioche, crust removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 6 cups)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, 4 tablespoons melted
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large ripe bananas, 2 thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter eight 4 1/2-by-2-inch ramekins. In a large bowl, toss the brioche with the melted butter. Spread the brioche on a large baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small heavy saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of the sugar with the corn syrup and water; cook over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil the syrup without stirring until a deep amber caramel forms, about 7 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully stir in 1/3 cup of the cream, the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and the salt. Immediately pour 2 tablespoons of the caramel into each of the prepared ramekins and set them in a large roasting pan. Arrange the sliced bananas decoratively in the caramel.
  3. In a large bowl, mash the remaining 2 bananas until smooth. Whisk in the milk, egg yolks, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, the vanilla and the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until smooth. Fold in the toasted brioche and let stand, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is completely absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Spoon the bread mixture into the ramekins and smooth the surfaces. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the puddings in the water bath for 35 minutes, or until firm and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool slightly.
  5. To unmold, run a knife around the puddings. Top each with a plate. Invert the plates and lift off the ramekins. Pour any remaining caramel around the puddings. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
MAKE AHEAD The baked puddings can be wrapped tightly with foil and refrigerated overnight. Rewarm, covered, in a 325° oven for about 15 minutes before unmolding.

Use your can do so much more!

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts
Marsha Klein, Barrington, RI

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine chocolate chips and walnuts in small bowl; add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat.
  2. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Run knife through batter in zigzag pattern.
  3. Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool.

Happy baking!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

You Won't Miss the Meat in This Chili!

Happy Thursday! We are on the cusp of Friday, thank goodness. Last night was a cold one here in the tri-state, so chili seemed apropos. I took a recipe from a somewhat whimsically-written cookbook and adapted it slightly to make it a fast, last minute meal. It passed the ultimate test - the meat-loving hubby test - so we know it's a winner. Here we go!

Black Bean-Sweet Potato Chili
Adapted from The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook by Kim O'Donnel


  • 2 15 oz (or somewhere around there) cans of black beans
  • 1 medium sweet potato (12-16 oz), peeled and cut into 1/2-in cubes (2 to 2 1/2 cups)
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 2 medium-sized onion, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (the recipe calls for 1/2 tsp - it's very spicy! It's your call!)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-2 1/2 cups tomato puree (I used crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 T tomato paste, dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
  • Possible garnishes: Chopped fresh cilantro, squeeze of lime, grated cotija or Monterey Jack cheese, chopped scallions, sour cream


  1. Boil the potato in water, covered, for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat and add onion. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, followed by the next 6 ingredients and stir to combine. The mixture will be pasty.
  3. Add the sweet potato, stirring to coat with the aromatics and spices. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat, allowing the ingredients to get acquainted with one another.
  4. Add 2 cups of the tomato puree and increase the heat to medium, bringing to a lively simmer. Stir in the tomato paste mixture and chipotle chiles, lower the heat, and cook until well blended, about 10 minutes, stirring regularly to keep from sticking and burning.
  5. Rinse the black beans and add to the potato mixture. Stir to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat until you are satisfied with the overall consistency and texture of the chili, about 30 minutes. If the mixture seems to thick, feel free to stir in more tomato puree or water.
  6. Serve with your choice of garnishes by itself, over rice, or with tortillas or cornbread. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Warm Your Tummy With Greek Spices While Frosting Your Cupcakes!

Happy Tuesday all! I made sure to lay out time just for you because I don't want you to feel forgotten! Today I'm bringing you one of my faaaaaaaaaaavorite shrimp recipes (Bonus: it's healthy too!) AND a tip for today - literally. First, the shrimp. This bad boy uses a variety of interesting spices that all meld together into one deliciously aromatic dish. I serve it with a multi grain baguette.

Greek-Spiced Baked Shrimp
Gourmet Andrea Albin, Nov 2008

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 1/4 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/4 pound feta, crumbled (2/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
Accompaniments: crusty bread or steamed white rice; a green salad

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
  2. Cook onion and garlic in oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add chopped tomatoes with juice and sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Season shrimp with 1/8 teaspoon salt, then stir into tomato sauce. Transfer to a 2-quart shallow baking dish and top with feta. Bake until just cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with dill.

Now for my baking tip of the day! Woot woot.

This weekend I made special birthday cupcakes, using a new recipe I might add - very moist and sticky - just how I like my cupcakes. I topped my spectacular mini cakes with swirls of vanilla cream cheese frosting because it's a very stable frosting. Getting that bakery-quality swirl on top of your cupcake is easy, if you start from the right side and move up the mountain. Using a star tip in a pastry bag filled with your frosting of choice, start at the outside of the cupcake. Putting light pressure on the bag while holding it steady with your other hand, circle the cupcake, working your way in. As you get closer to the center, allow your hand to rise slightly, creating more of a mound of multi-dimensional deliciousness, rather than a flat plane of frosting. Release the pressure on the bag before moving it away from your cake. Work slowly; this gets easier with the 6th cupcake you'll be a pro!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Squash Gratin? Pass a Fork!

Friday is here and we are close to the weekend! Let the baking and sleeping in commence! But before we do, let's hunker down, away from the chilly night air, and have a warm, healthy, vegetarian meal. Tonight's dish will keep you warm and toasty while filling you up with a good serving of protein and carbs (don't be afraid - these are the right kind of carbs). I recently purchased a few jars of Williams-Sonoma squash (I'm like a squirrel...I am storing them away for winter) and used 2 cups in my gratin. Perfectly seasoned and ready to go! No need to wait for a butternut squash to roast in the oven if you're short on time! They should pay me for these promos...and now, on with the yumminess!

Winter Squash Gratin
Martha Rose Shulman

  • 1 1/2 pounds winter squash of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Cover a baking sheet with foil and brush lightly with olive oil. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy membranes, brush the cut sides with olive oil and lay cut side down on the foil-covered baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes, or until soft enough to pierce easily with a knife. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then peel and either mash with a fork, puree in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or finely dice. You should have about 2 cups of pureed or finely diced squash.
  2. Turn the oven down to 375ºF and oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish with olive oil. Heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a medium heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the parsley and sage, and squash, and remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the milk. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir in the squash mixture and the Gruyère. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.
  4. Cheesy slices
  5. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned on the top and sizzling. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Advance preparation: You can make this up to a day ahead and reheat in a low oven.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Crispy, Crunchy, Grown-Up Finger Food!

Happy Tuesday all! My new job has been keeping me from my blog posts, so I want to give you a little picture montage of the past few weeks! Keep scrolling because there is an awesome and easy salmon recipe below!

Homemade mini pretzels!
Boy do I love pretzels...these are dangerously addictive!
I served them with dijon mustard and warm peanut butter.

Mini pretzels WITH mini calzones!!!!
Whole wheat crust, filled with ooey, gooey,
mozzarella, pepper jack, basil, and tomato sauce.

Orzo pasta salad! Warm olive oil dressing
drizzled on top and sprinkled with mint.

Flatbread pizza covered in warm mozzarella,
blue cheese, jack, parsley, and FIGS!!!
Perfect for fall!
Parmesan Fish Sticks
Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 (18-ounce) center-cut salmon fillet, about 9 by 4 inches, skinned
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
Dipping Sauce
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or chives

For the Fish Sticks:
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the salmon fillet and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the fish in half to make 2 fillets each about 4 by 4 1/2-inches in size. Starting on the longest edge, slice the fillets into 1/2-inch pieces. Lay the widest pieces, from the center, cut side down, and slice in half lengthways so all the pieces are equally about 1/2 by 1/2 by 4 1/2-inches in size.
  3. Place the flour in a medium bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Place the egg whites in another bowl and beat until frothy, about 30 seconds. Combine the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a third bowl.
  4. Coat the salmon pieces in the seasoned flour and pat to remove any excess flour. Dip the floured salmon in the egg whites and then into the Parmesan mixture, gently pressing the mixture into the fish. Place the breaded salmon pieces on a liberally oiled baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
For the Dipping Sauce:
  1. Mix the mayonnaise, yogurt, Dijon mustard, and parsley (or chives, if using) in a small dipping bowl.
  2. Arrange the fish sticks on a serving platter and serve with the dipping sauce.
Cook's Note: The fish sticks can also be dipped in ketchup, marinara sauce, pesto, ranch dressing or vinaigrette.