Friday, February 3, 2012

February 3, 2012

This week started out with a major recipe fail! I was so disappointed. It was an America's Test Kitchen recipe, which I normally can count on 100% to be a great recipe. It was a pork roast; I even double butterflied it as directed, and follow the directions to the letter. just wasn't meant to be. No need for details...just know that this roast couldn't make it onto the blog.

After such a failure even I was surprised that I attempted a second ATK recipe this week. I suppose it was like "getting back on the horse", and I am glad that I did. I had a few overripe bananas, and had seen a recipe for banana bread that caught my eye because it was beautiful. In the recipe the final step before baking is to shingle banana slices on the sides of the loaf, and I must say, they absolutely made the bread look great. And as a bonus, it tasted great too! It is definitely a bit more work than the usual quick bread banana bread we all make, but this was worth the extra bit of time. It does call for 5 ripe bananas - just to warn you. I had to call a friend to gather reinforcements because I only had 3 speckled ones in my fruit bowl! If you happen to freeze your bananas when they begin to turn, they will also work very well in this application. Give it a try - I bet you will be pleased with the outcome.

One dinner menu this week included both a new main dish as well as a new side dish - shredded buffalo chicken sandwiches and baked onion rings. The chicken was great, but fairly spicy, so I want to make it again with a modification that I think will really help with the heat. Once I do that, I will share the recipe. The baked onion rings were a hit with Ryan and I! Owen doesn't like onions, and Hannah was eating tons of spinach salad, but Ryan and I really enjoyed them. One of the ingredients...corn Chex! The recipe I was using called for corn flakes, and I didn't have any, so I improvised with corn Chex, and they turned out well! When I make them again I will just have t see what kind of cereal I have on hand in my pantry.

And the last recipe for the week...Cookies & Cream Cookies. Liam helped me make these in the afternoon before the kids got home, and our family loved them! We shared them with a few friends as well, and they really enjoyed them, too! Funny story...Liam cried as I put some on a plate to give away, and then grabbed one from the cooling rack to eat. (He really is the Cookie Monster around our house.)

So, while the week began poorly with the first recipe such a disaster, it ended up as a pretty good week. We'll have to see what next week brings.

New Recipes
Banana Bread
Baked Onion Rings
Cookies & Cream Cookies

Cookies and Cream Cookies


* 1 cup butter, softened
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1 (4.2 ounce) package Cookies 'n Creme pudding mix
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 1/4 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 10 Oreo cookies, broken


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugars for 5 minutes. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Once the eggs and vanilla are combined add the pudding mix.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda with a whisk then add it to the butter mixture.
4. Stir in Oreo cookies. They will break up additionally while the mixer is blending the cookie dough.
5. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes in preheated oven until cookies tops barely have a touch of brown.
6. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

9 minutes and 45 seconds was the magic amount of time for each of my batches. I also used parchment paper instead of cookie spray.

Banana Bread

* 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 5 very ripe bananas
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 2 large eggs
* 3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse (optional)
* Additional optional banana, not as ripe as the others
* 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
3. Place 5 ripe bananas in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and poke 3 to 4 venting holes in the plastic. Microwave until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid).
4. Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until mostly smooth.
5. Whisk butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla into the bananas.
6. Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
7. Slice optional banana diagonally into 1/4‑inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of loaf in 2 rows, leaving 11/2‑inch wide space down center to ensure even rise.
8. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
9. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen, and it redeemed them in my eyes after the pork roast failure earlier in the week! While the bananas sliced on the top looked beautiful, I was the only one that enjoyed them, so perhaps those can be optional. 50 minutes was the perfect amount of time in my oven.

Baked Onion Rings

* 1 medium onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
* 2 1/4 cups low fat buttermilk
* 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
* 1/2 cup crushed corn cereal
* salt to taste
* seasonings of your choice (I used a pizza seasoning blend)
* cooking spray

1. Slice the onion, not to thinly. Place the slices of onion in a shallow dish.
2. Pour the buttermilk over the top and let them soak for about 1 - 2 hours, refrigerated.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
4. Combine panko, cereal, salt and spices together. Place half of the crumbs in a large dish, and reserve the rest for when the first batch is used up. (This should help avoid clumping and they should stick better to the onions.)
5. Dip each soaked onion ring into the crumb mixture; coat well.
6. Place rings onto two cookie sheets. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake about 14-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Use tongs to work with the onion rings rather than your hands and this should keep the crumb mixture from clumping up too quickly. It will eventually clump, but hopefully using the tongs will postpone it a bit. For the corn cereal, the original recipe called for corn flakes, but I only had corn Chex on hand, so I went with that. Use what is in your don't know how it is "supposed" to taste yet, anyway, so experiment with what you have on hand.