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Monday, June 11, 2012

Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread

I always love making quick breads and had some perfectly ripe bananas last week... so making banana bread was a no-brainer. This is a 15-year-old recipe from Cooks Illustrated- its awesome! I brought it to a work meeting and (I think) it was enjoyed by all!

1 cups all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped finely
2-3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, beaten
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter and flour a non-stick loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the rack to the bottom-middle position.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, walnuts, and chocolate in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl stir together the bananas, sour cream, eggs, butter, and vanilla and slowly fold into the dry ingredients. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes- although you may want to check it early, just in case. Don't overcook!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes

Martha, you're the best. This is the second Martha Stewart mini cheesecake recipe I've tried, and this was just as good, if not better, than the last. I made these with the help of a few girlfriends this weekend to bring to a potluck. We made the mistake of halving the recipe because we thought: who could ever eat 36 mini cheesecakes? Well, um, we could have. And I wish we had at least made a full recipe. One of my friends said we should have actually doubled the recipe. It is possible that 72 mini cheesecakes woulda been overkill, but I'm really not so sure. These were incredible.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups plus 5 tablespoons sugar
6-ounces  fresh raspberries
2 lbs. cream cheese, room temp
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with liners.

In a medium bowl stir together the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 3 tablespoons of sugar until combined. Press about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each muffin liner. Bake until set, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Using a food processor or blender, puree the raspberries until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh strainer, extracting as much juice as possible; discard the seeds. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of sugar and set aside.

Using an electric mixer set to high speed beat the cream cheese until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. On low, add the sugar in a steady stream. Add salt and vanilla and mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated after each.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of filling over each crust and dollop 3 1/2-teaspoon drops of raspberry puree on top of each. Using a toothpick, swirl the sauce into the filling. Place each muffin tin in a high rimmed baking sheet and pour about 1/2-inch of hot water into the bottom of the pan (not in the cheesecakes, obviously). Bake for about 24-30 minutes. Carefully remove from water bath, transfer to a wire rack and cool. Refrigerate in tins, uncovered at least 4 hours. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Spinach, Bacon, & Fried Goat Cheese Salad

My favorite kind of salads are the ones filled with so much bacon, cheese, and fried things that you just know your heart woulda been better off if you'd just eaten a double cheeseburger... only half kidding. This is one of those salads that has quickly become a favorite of mine. It was so delicious and satisfying, although, when are bacon and fried goat cheese ever not satisfying? Ya gotta make this. Makes 2 main course salads.

4 ounces baby spinach
1/4 cup candied pecans
5 pieces of fried bacon- keep the bacon grease for the dressing
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Fried Goat Cheese
3 ounces goat cheese
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt

Equally divide the spinach, pecans, and bacon pieces between two bowls or plates and set aside. Next, make the fried goat cheese. To do this, take the goat cheese and cut into 1/3-inch slices using a knife just run under hot water (you should get about 6 slices). Place slices on a plate and refrigerate for a few minutes. Meanwhile, place the flour in a small bowl, the egg in another bowl, and combine the bread crumbs, thyme, garlic powder, and salt in another. Take each slice of cheese and first coat both sides in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. Fry each in a bit of olive oil until lightly browned on each side. They are delicate, to be careful. Place 3 pieces on each salad. 

Quickly wipe out the oil from frying the cheese and pour 4 tablespoons of bacon grease into the pan. If you do not have this much, substitute olive oil. Add the bacon pieces and cook until warmed. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 20-30 seconds. Add the thyme and cook for 10 seconds. Pour in the red wine vinegar and cranberries and immediately take off the heat. Give a quick stir and pour on top of salads. Eat and enjoy (this is not a salad you want sitting around for a long time... eat right away!).