Going bananas

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Hello from the other side!! I am writing my first post as a *wife* and it’s surprisingly not about meat and potatoes. Over the past 3 months of married life, I have come to realize how much time is spent in the kitchen as a wife.  Time spent COOKING instead of in my previous life, where all my energy in the kitchen was devoted to baking. Despite the neglect to baking, I have managed to go through 40lbs of King Arthur flour since we moved in. It might have something to do with our obsession with homemade pasta, but I will have to save that for another post.

For now, I am going to teach you how to never through an overripe banana out again. I typically buy way too many bananas, secretly hoping that some will be left at the end of the week to bake with. But, as I mentioned before, food has been finding a way of simply disappearing in my house. Finally though, as I cleaned up the kitchen last night, I spotted three unwanted speckly bananas. And I got to work, before these too went missing😉

img_9315First, take a stick of butter at room temperature and 3/4 cup brown sugar and combine.

img_9316Once mixed, add 2 eggs. I insisted on this ceramic egg holder when we got our new place and it makes it so easy to store your eggs while you let get to room temperature!

img_9317Next, mash the bananas and  combine with the batter. Then, add milk.

img_9320The last step is adding the dry ingredients.  I have used all sorts of mixers but I swear by the KitchenAid mixer. The mixer effortlessly incorporates all of the ingredients for a nice evenly distributed batter.

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And of course, last but not least, pour batter into a loaf pan (another kitchen must have that my best friend got me for my wedding was this loaf pan) and bake in a preheated 325F degree over for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean!
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Below is the full recipe, all in one place🙂

Banana Bread

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbs milk
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Cook in a preheated 325F oven for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean! Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  If you want to make this super indulgent, slice and serve with honey, melted butter or ice cream! Enjoy!
 

 

 

 

Red, white and blueberries

Happy 4th of July!! If you’re struggling with what to make for your family BBQ today I have JUST the idea🙂


I am ashamed to say that I have never made a blueberry pie. I am an absolute blueberry fanatic but I always thought a blueberry pie took my favorite little fruit and turned it into a gloop of candle-flavored mush. I was soo wrong! Another reason I never made this pie is because anytime I have blueberries in the house, they don’t last very long. 😉 This week was different though.

Last Saturday my fiancé and I were driving home from the beach and as we drove through New Jersey we completely (!!!!) stumbled upon Hammonton’s Blueberry Festival!! Hammonton, NJ is the blueberry capital of the world and every year I anxiously await the start of their shipments to our local food stores in PA.  We ended up leaving the festival with an entire case – 12 pints of blueberries- and huge smiles on our faces.

A blueberry pie was the perfect solution to the perfect problem- too many blueberries! 😀

I’ve previously posted about my all-time favorite pie crust recipe and it’s the same one I’ve decided to use for this (and for every other pie I will make for the rest of my life- it’s almost too good to be true). You may look like a lunatic pulling vodka out first thing in the morning but this is critical to the recipe- your family will understand. 😉

This pie looks best with a lattice top but pies are fun because you can experiment with different designs depending on your preference/comfort level with pie dough. Because of the lattice top we will use a double pie crust variation of my all-time-favorite recipe. You will need the following ingredients, a large food processor and a mixing bowl.

Double Crust Pie Dough:

  • 12 tbs unsalted butter
  • 8 tbs shortening
  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c ice water
  • 1/4 c vodka (A small disclaimer -my vodka is always in the freezer😛 but if yours is not, you must chill your vodka before using!)

Add 1 1/2 c flour, 2 tbs sugar and 1 tsp salt to a large food processor and pulse until combined, about 5 seconds. Cut up butter and shortening into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks and add to food processor.


Pulse until no flour remains and clumps form, about 10-15 seconds.


Scrape down the sides and add the remaining 1 c flour.


Pulse 4 or 5 times until the dough just starts to clump.


Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the liquid.


Stir together with a stiff spatula or wooden spoon until you form a dough ball.


Once dough sticks together, use your hands to flatten into a 4 inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. You can also freeze this dough for up to a month!! Before use, let dough soften slightly.


Once the dough is done then it’s smooth sailing! The filling is a pinch to throw together!

For the filling you will need the following ingredients.

Blueberry Pie Filling:

  • 2 pints of blueberries (about 5 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs cornstarch
  • 1⁄2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Add all ingredients, except for butter, to a large a bowl.


Stir gently to coat blueberries and immediately transfer to a prepared 9-inch baking dish.


Distribute the 1 tbs of cut butter to the top of the filling before placing the lattice top.


Now you’re ready to bake! Depending on the depth of your pie dish be careful of overflow! This is a standard pie dish and did not overflow but if you’re ever in doubt throw a foil lined tray in your oven so you aren’t spending the rest of the weekend scrubbing the stove🙂

Bake at 375 F degrees for 50-60 or until crust is golden brown. It will be tough- but let set for at least an hour! Or else this will be runny when you serve. Enjoy!

The LBD in my cookbook

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This brownie recipe in my cookbook is like the little black dress in my closet. Like my LBD, it’s there when you need it, to either dress up or dress down, let your friend borrow or when you’re running late and need to get ready in a pinch. Sometimes you even forget completely about it and when you find it you remember just how much you love it. And that’s exactly what happened with these brownies.

There are so many oily, stale, no-good brownies out there that I forgot how much I actually LOVE a good brownie. It all came together this weekend, when I was cleaning out the cabinets. Tucked away, I had FOUR containers of cocoa powder. Unopened, unexpired containers that were spontaneously purchased during those panicky moments at the food store when you can’t remember what you have at home😉

During the marathon baking of burning through those cocoa powders I rediscovered the BEST brownie recipe. It’s so simply delicious and also so versatile! I’ve swirled in peanut butter, added chocolate chips, nuts, crushed-up cookies and even doubled it to make it dangerously thick and fudgy. Seriously, endless possibilities. And then, when they’re all done, you can decide how you want to serve them!  You can enjoy them served on a plate with fresh whipped cream and berries, or with ice cream and hot fudge, or simply cut up and put in a baggie for a dessert on the go! For this post, I made them simple and classic, because you can’t go wrong with an LBD😉

My Little Brownie Dessert (LBD) Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa poder
  • 1/2 flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Add melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla into a large bowl. Mix together.
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3. Add cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until just combined.
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4. Pour into a greased 8 inch glass square pan.
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5. Bake for 20-25 minutes (I find best results at 22 minutes). Be careful not to overcook!!
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Let cool and if you just cant wait, make sure to use a PLASTIC knife to taste test😉 It makes a much cleaner cut. ENJOY😀

Tiramisu!

I’m back!! And let me tell you, this post was worth the wait. Thanks to Inspired Taste I have found the most PERFECT tiramisu recipe. I’m actually (almost) resentful of how good this recipe is because it’s requested so frequently, and it’s not the quickest thing to whip up. But don’t let that deter you! It’s easy. REALLY easy. You just need some patience, which is something I’m working on😉

Growing up, my mom always let us pick the menu of the entire day on our birthday. I know this will sound shocking, but I always loved picking the dessert! When my fiancé and I first started dating, I naively asked him to pick any dessert he wanted so I could make it for his birthday. Of course, the answer was tiramisu. Never having made it, or had one that I particularly loved, I went to trusty Pinterest and found this recipe from Inspired Taste.
That night, my kitchen turned into a chocolate covered, egg splattered, coffee smelling mess. And every second of clean up was worth it. I have since fine-tuned the process, but sort of miss that initial unknown chaos of trying a new recipe and then being blown away by it.  The original recipe has a few variations, which I’ve tried and you can’t go wrong with any of them, but my favorite variation is below.
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Tiramisu 

  • 1 cup brewed espresso, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Disaronno, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, yolk and whites seperated
  • 2 tbs granulated sugar, divided
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 28 Savoiardi Italian ladyfingers
  • 1 ounce (30 g) bittersweet chocolate or cocoa powder for dusting

 

  1. Beat 3 egg yolks (the whites will be used in the following step), 2 tablespoons of Disaronno, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Use a whisk and do not stop beating until removed from the heat.
  2. Remove bowl from heat and beat in mascarpone cheese until just combined.
  3. Whip 3 egg whites in a bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Once the yolk-mascarpone mixture has cooled a little, gently fold in half of the egg whites into the yolk-mascarpone mixture, then the remaining half just until fully incorporated.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the coffee, Disaronno, vanilla and sugar.
  5. Quickly dip the ladyfingers on both sides into the coffee mixture, and line the bottom of a 9-inch square dish with them.

IMG_73696. Spoon half of the mascarpone filling over the lady fingers and spread into an even layer.
IMG_73707. Grate half of the bittersweet chocolate over filling.IMG_73718. Repeat steps 5, 6, and 7 for another layer of mascarpone- ladyfingers-chocolate.IMG_7379

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours and ENJOY!!

A Taste of Summer

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I woke up this morning to snow. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely beautiful. It gently defined each tree branch, even against the gray sky. It accumulated in just the corners of my windows so that it looked like I was on set of the Polar Express. And then, I snapped back to reality and realized my car is covered in snow and the walkway needs to be shoveled. And at exactly that moment, I started the countdown until Summer.

I am a big believer of living in the Present, but sometimes I can’t help looking forward to something. For me, the summer reminds of eating a piece of tart key lime after a long, sunny day by the pool. So today, we are going to bring a little taste of Summer to this snowy day.

My mom used to go to Key West in the Summer and would bring us back various key lime flavored goodies, my favorite of all being Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice. It is all over the place now, so you can typically find it in your food store, and if not, a quick visit to amazon.com will do the trick.

After these trips to Key West, my mom would make key lime pie for us. The pie was a showstopper at barbecues and pool parties and I always thought people were just being polite. My mom has made hundreds of desserts (maybe thousands- which would explain a few of my heavy years) and this one was almost too simple for me to truly appreciate when I was younger. It wasn’t until real life kicked in that I realized what a beautiful thing simplicity can be.

One other great thing about this recipe, is that the directions are right on the side of the bottle. So when you go to the store to buy your ingredients, all you need to do is check the side of the bottle to double check your kitchen is fully stocky.  The side of the bottle will read:

Nellie and Joe’s Key Lime Pie 

  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks (whites not used)
  • 1/2 cup of Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice

Combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie crust and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating. Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream, or meringue and garnish with lime slices.

I wasn’t kidding when I said how simple this recipe is!! The graham cracker crust should be made ahead of time to allow it to cool. The recipe for the crust is below.

Graham Cracker Crust 

  • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 stick of butter

Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Melt butter and add to mixture. Mix together with a fork until the consistency is like wet sand. Pour mixture into a greased 9″ pie dish and press down until it is firm along the bottom and edges of the dish. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before adding the key lime filling.

Now, last but now least- the whipped cream! For me, fresh whipped cream is like a slightly melted version of ice cream .. so make with caution😉

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add all 4 ingredients and whisk on high speed until consistency becomes thick. Refrigerate until time to serve and then dollop on each slice of key lime pie🙂

Bread Pudding Bliss

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I’ve seen dozens of bread pudding recipes and when I look at the recipes, I am so underwhelmed by them. I think to myself, how could that possibly have any flavor?! Or doesn’t it turn into a big mush?? But something happened over the weekend that changed my mind.

We were out at dinner and could not decide on a dessert- a nightmare, right😉 Whenever I  and am torn between choices, I always ask the server. Their enthusiasm makes me think most people don’t, and they usually are pretty helpful guiding me in the right direction. So, the waitress said I would be missing out if I didn’t get the bread pudding and for some reason, I trusted her. You know- that 2 glasses of wine, girl-talk confession-mode type of trust. And the rest is history. I never thought I liked bread pudding, and you might be thinking the same thing. But I am convinced I can change your mind.

The bread pudding came out piled high on a warm plate, with a buttery bourbon aroma coming off of it. Each bite was a perfect texture/flavor balance. The soaked bread was soft, and not mushy. The flavor was  creamy, and not eggy. And to compliment the sugar and spice, there was that buttery bourbon sauce smothering the whole thing. So, I left the restaurant with a full belly and a mission. I had to make my own bread pudding! So here it is..

It is so simple, and pretty impossible to mess up so it’s a great staple recipe to have. It also is a pretty hefty portion so it is a great dessert to make when you’re entertaining a large group. The ingredients you will need are below.

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Bread Pudding

  • 1 loaf challah bread, cut 1-inch cubes (about 6-7 cups)
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2 tbs vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Topping: 3 tbs melted butter, 1/4 brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Chop up bread and place in a greased 9X13 baking dish. In a mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and beat until fully incorporated. Pour custard over chopped bread and let rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, brush the 3tbs of melted butter over the top and sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the liquid has set and the edges are just starting to brown. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Bourbon Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup bourbon

In a small saucepan, melt butter, then add sugar and egg. Stir constantly while cooking, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Whisk in bourbon to taste. If you’re storing this, you will need to heat and stir before using because it tends to separate when cooled.  Pour on top of a slice of warm bread pudding and enjoy!!

 

Happy New Year!

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Time certainly flies when you’re having fun. I had great intentions of posting about my my Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert recipes and then- I got engaged!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Instead of looking up new recipes to try, I have been completely absorbed in researching venues, photographers, and dresses. Not to worry- there has still been plenty of baking going on! So, after lots of research and a heart on our new 2016 calendars for September 17th, I return to blogging!!

This recipe takes a classic apple pie and adds a fun and delicious crumble top. I make this all year, but truth-be-told, this time of the year is the best for baking. New Years resolutions aside, visiting friends and families always enjoy a bite of something freshly baked. And sometimes, on these cold days, I have a hard time leaving the kitchen because  it ends up being the warmest place in the house🙂

What I love about this recipe is that it is so versatile.  In the Summer, you can add blueberries or strawberries for a fresh taste of Summer. In the Fall and Winter, some homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream make a great side. You can also opt to swap the crumble top for a double crusted pie, or even one with a lattice design.  Whatever you do, I promise it will be a hit!  This apple pie recipe is the pie I started bringing to my financé’s house for the holidays when we first started dating and just minutes after the first slice is cut, the pie is always gone!

The biggest/best secret to this recipe is that the pie crust contains vodka. I have tried so many different pie crusts and they all tend to fall apart and become a mess on me as I roll them out. I almost gave up making pies all together because of how frustrating the process could be. Then I found this one and it comes out perfect -every single time! The recipe is from the Americas’s Test Kitchen Cooking School cookbook, which has become my baking bible. It is a great reference for basic technique and education on the hows, whys and what-ifs.

Now, for this recipe you will need a large food processor. If you don’t have one then stop reading this right now and go find your nearest Bed Bath & Beyond. It is truly a lifesaver in this, and so many other recipes!

Single Crust Pie Dough: 

  • 6 tbs unsalted butter
  • 4 tbs shortening
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs ice water
  • 2 tbs vodka (A small disclaimer -my vodka is always in the freezer😛 but if yours is not, you must chill your vodka before using!)

Add 3/4 c flour, 1 tbs sugar and 1/2 tsp salt to a large food processor and pulse until combined, about 5 seconds. Cut up butter and shortening into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks and add to food processor. Pulse until mo flour remains and clumps form, about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides and add the remaining 1/2 c flour. Pulse 4 or 5 times.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the liquid. Stir together with a wooden spoon. Once dough sticks together, use your hands to flatten into a 4 inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. You can also freeze this dough for up to a month!! Before use, let dough soften slightly.

Ok, so once you have your crust, roll out to fit into a 9 inch pie dish. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 375 and place a rack in the lower third of the oven. This will help prevent the crust from burning. It is now time for the filling and the crumble top! For the apples, you will need 10-12 apples of mixed variety. I like to do a mix of Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Honey Crisp.  Wash and peel your apples. Once done with that, the hard part is over! Core the apples and cut them in halves to prep them for the food processor. Then fit your food processor with the slicer and use to slice your apples. I like mine on the thicker side, but that’s definitely a personal preference.

Apple filling:

Place all of your sliced apples into a large bowl and mix with the following:

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c  melted butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Transfer apple mixture to the crust. Now all you have left to do is to add the crumble on top!

Crumble Top:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into tbs

I was not kidding when I said a food processor would be your new best friend. For the crumble, add the first 5 ingredients to the processor and blend. Then add the butter and pulse 5 or 6 times until butter is incorporated.  Sprinkle crumble on top of the pie.

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Last, but not least- once assembled, brush the edges of the pie crust with an egg white wash. Place in the oven, preheated to 375 F, and bake for 50 minutes. I like to check in on the pie 30 minutes through to see if I need to add foil pie crust guards. Depending on how thick the crust is, you might. I love this crust so I am usually a little heavy handed on the pie crust edge. Once the crust and crumble have a nice golden brown, remove from oven and let cool. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!!!🙂