Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nutella Banana Bread

Do you ever wonder how you can change up plain old banana bread? We love banana bread around here but it is sure nice to change it up every once in a while. So when I saw this recipe over at Sugar Plum I knew it had to be delish. If you need a change give this bread a try. It really is a wonderful combination.

Nutella Banana Bread adapted from Sugar plum
5 3/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c buttermilk
4 c. bananas, mashed
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 T vanilla
5 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 3 large loaf pans or 7-8 mini ones with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugars. Then add the mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk and mix well. Stir in the flour, powder, soda, and salt and mix just till combined. Divide the batter in half, pouring on half into another bowl. Stir the nutella into one half of the batter until combined. Alternate spoonfuls of batter into loaf pans until all the batter is used up. Swirl the batter gently with a knife(not too much!!) Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.

Note: it makes quite a bit of bread. if you don't want that much just cut the recipe in half or take some to a neighbor. It also freezes well so you can make it all and just freeze what you won't eat and take it out when you need it!! (that is what I do)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Whole Wheat Naan with Chicken and Chick Peas

Love love love Naan. I have been searching for a good whole wheat naan recipe and I finally found one. It was so yummy and tasted just as good as regular. Now when I can find something and make it a little bit healthier for us that tastes just as good it makes me happy. Give this recipe a try it is awesome. Eat it with curry, falafel, meat and veggie kabobs or fill it with chicken and chick peas like we did.

Whole Wheat Naan
1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour(I used fresh ground white whole wheat)
1/2 cup bread flour( I didn't have so used all purpose)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
Olive oil,for cooking

In a large bowl stir together the water, yeast, and sugar and let stand for 10 minutes.Stir in the yogurt, oil, and egg until mixed. and then stir in the flour and salt. Knead until you have a soft, pliable dough. Cover and let rise until doubled in size...about an hour. Punch dough down and divide into 8 -10 pieces. Roll out each piece ,on a lightly floured surface , into a thin circle. Heat a skillet, wiped with a tiny bit of olive oil, over medium heat and fry each side until brown dots appear.

Crockpot Chicken and Chickpeas
4 chicken breasts
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 2-3 lemons
1/4-1/3 cup fresh oregano or 1 T. dried oregano
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 T. minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 - 1 cup water
1 tsp. chicken bouillon

Place all in a crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low 7-8 hours. Serve in WW Naan bread with tomatoes, avocados, fresh spinach, and feta cheese. Or you can serve with rice!!!

Note: for my kiddos I took the onion and pepper out of the meat. I just wanted to use them for the flavor. My kids will eat onions and peppers just not in big chunks!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

CHEESCAKE!!! Is as I have said before my most favorite treat ever. For my birthday we always have cheesecake instead of cake. This by far is the best cheesecake I have ever made!!(even better than the pumpkin one) I have had this recipe marked to make for a long time but I was waiting for a special occasion to use it for. It was one of my dear friends birthday a couple weeks back and her husband was gone for it so I invited her and her kids for dinner and dessert. She requested cheesecake and I decided now was the time to try this recipe. I mean this said dear friend was in the delivery room with me while I had my baby 9 months ago because my husband was gone at the time. She listened to me yell out in pain(because said baby came way too fast for an epidural or any pain medication for that matter)So I decided this was the least I could do to make up for that. It was a hit to say the least!! Her oldest son(11) said it was the best cheesecake he has ever had!! Now that is a compliment!! So if you want some compliments get in the kitchen right now and make this for your loved ones!! Oh and so I don't forget I got this recipe over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe..Just like so many of my other recipes!!!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
4 T. butter, melted
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs(or you can use chocolate cookie crumbs) I prefer the grahams cracker
1/4 cup sugar

5 (8 oz each) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 tsp flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream(you may use light but not light cream cheese)

Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1- 1 1/2 cup flour(I had to use 1 1/2cups)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
an additional 1 cup mini chocolate chips to fold into batter with cookie dough balls

For the cookie dough: Cream the butter and the sugars until creamy and fluffy. Add the milk
and vanilla and blend. Mix in the flour and the chocolate chips. The dough will be fairly soft but you don't want it too soft so add a little more flour if you need to. Roll the dough into small balls(about teaspoon sized) and place them on a wax lined plate or cookie sheet and freeze while you are making the rest of the cheesecake.

For the crust: Lightly grease the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan. Combine the butter sugar and crumbs and mix well. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.

For the cheesecake: With you mixer or hand mixer beat the cream cheese and sugar, on high speed, until smooth. Add the eggs and flour and mix till smooth. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix just until blended. Be careful not to overmix because that causes the cheesecake to crack when baking. Pour half the batter into the prepared crust. Gently stir in the cookie dough balls and chocolate chips into the remaining batter and dump into the pan and spread out evenly. Bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees for one hour. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in for 30 more minutes, without disturbing it. or opening the door. Remove from oven and let cool completely and then let sit in fridge overnight before serving. Serve with REAL whipped cream and store leftovers in the fridge.

as you can see mine cracked a little but nothing a little dollop of real whipped cream can't hide!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

We had a church bbq a few weeks ago and I need to bring a salad to. I was sick of always bringing the same old pasta salad and didn't want to bring potato salad or salad with mayo in it because it was super hot out so I went in search for a yummy looking new take on the pasta salad. I found this recipe over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe and since she never disappoints(as in I have never used one of her recipes that I didn't like/love) I decided to give this one a whirl. Can I just say that this is my new go to pasta salad. It is amazing!!!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
1 lb tri color pasta(I used rotini but use whatever you like)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. dijon mustard(I only had spicy brown so that is what I used)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes(I like Mel like the sun-dried tomatoes in a jar packed in oil)
1 can drained and diced artichoke hearts(I didn't use these because I didn't have any on hand)
1/4 cup fresh basil torn into small pieces or 1 T. dried
2 tsp fresh oregano chopped or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 cup red onion
3/4 cup black or kalamata olives, sliced
2 tsp saute spice(equal parts pepper, salt and garlic powder make some up and keep in with all your other spices)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil to make a smooth dressing. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to bowl . Add the pasta and cook until al dente;drain then pour pasta into a large bowl. While the pasta is still warm pour in a couple of Tablespoons. of the dressing and toss with pasta so that the pasta doesn't stick together as it cools. Let it cool to room temp. When that pasta is cooled, add the sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes of using, basil, oregano, onion, olives, saute spice, and oregano and toss. Add the rest of the dressing and toss again until ingredients are evenly coated with dressing. Add the cheeses and lightly toss.Serve at room temp or chilled.

Note: Instead of the artichokes I used some cut up little tomatoes because I had some that needed to be used. Just use what suites your fancy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mango Quinoa Salad

Oh boy this Salad was so yummy and is so very good for you!! If you need a new salad to take to a bbq or a light side dish to go along with grilled meat then this recipe is for you!!! For those of you who haven't jumped on the quinoa band wagon I suggest you do. It is super yummy and so good for you. We use it in place of rice sometimes. My family really loves it!! Now some of you may shy away for using a sweet mango in a savory salad but believe me do not leave it out. It is amazing paired with all of the other ingredients. I first saw this recipe over at the Recipe Shoebox and the other day at Mel's kitchen Cafe. Check them out they have some awesome recipes.!!!

Mango Quinoa Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature or chilled
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper
6 green onions, thinly sliced or red onion diced(I only had a red onion so that is what I used)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro(I didn't have any on hand but will definitely use next time)
2 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. olive oil
2 T. lime juice
1 T. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Place quinoa in a large bowl. Add the mango, red pepper, green or red onions, black beans, and cilantro. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, lime juice, and sugar till smooth. Pour over the salad. Toss to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. For a main dish serve at room temp. with hot grilled chicken or shrimp. For a side dish serve chilled.

Monday, August 1, 2011

French Bread

So who would have ever thought that French Bread could be so easy to make and also that it is way cheaper than buying a loaf at the store. So I know a lot of us don't have time for the bread to raise and such especially those of you that work during the week but believe me you need to try this out. You will have a hard time ever buying store bought again. This recipe makes two big loaves so you can always freeze one and use it on a day when you don't have time to make it.

French Bread
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 T. yeast
3 T. sugar
2 T. white vinegar
Mix these ingredients and let them sit until bubbly and the yeast is activated:
then add:
1 T. salt
1/3 cup oil(i used olive oil)
6 cups flour(a little less or more depending on the feel of the dough you want a soft dough but not sticky)
Knead the dough for 2-5 Minutes. Then place in the same bowl you mixed it up in, cover it and let it raise to the top of the bowl then punch it down, cover and repeat this process 2-5 times. The more times you let it raise and punch it down the better the bread will turn out. No need to do it more than 5 times though. Next put the dough on a greased countertop and divide in half. Roll each half into a loaf and place on greased and sprinkled with cornmeal cookie sheet. Slash the tops of the bread diagonally 3-5 times and cover and let raise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 375. Place bread in the oven on top rack placed in the middle of the oven and place a shallow dish with water in it on the rack below the bread(this helps the bread get that crisp crust) Bake for 30 minutes, 10 minutes before the bake time is up brush the bread with ice water(this also helps get that really crispy crust) Enjoy one loaf warm right out of the oven and freeze the other one for later use!!!