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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Banana Muffins

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Am I the only person that has a hard time passing up the rotting bananas at the grocery store? They practically give them away and as I look at them my mind conjures up all the delicious things they could become. It was after one such grocery trip that I came home with a bag of bananas that had not been yellow for some time. A loaf of banana bread and a couple dozen banana muffins later there was nary a browned banana in sight. And as always, the goal of a heavenly smelling house had been accomplished. I’ve already shared my banana bread recipe with you so today’s little treat is banana muffins. They’re pretty much the same thing, except they come in your own individualized little package and they have a cute little crumb topping.

Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  •             1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •             1 teaspoon baking soda
  •             1 teaspoon baking powder
  •             1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •             ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  •             1/2 teaspoon salt
  •             3 bananas, mashed
  •             3/4 cup white sugar
  •             1 egg, lightly beaten
  •             1/3 cup butter, melted
  •             1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  •             2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •             1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •             1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare muffin tin (I get 12 muffins from this recipe). In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for about 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

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Candied Nuts

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Every Christmas I candy nuts. One of my parishioners would give a huge container of pecans to me for Christmas so I had a large stash to work with. Unfortunately, he passed away right before Christmas and I miss him like crazy. He was about as tough as one of those nuts and he was so much fun to visit with. The Christmas season was really busy as his funeral was the day before Christmas Eve. I never got around to making any candied pecans until just the other day. I really don’t have an excuse. They are insanely easy. I just didn’t have the heart to do it until just the other day. Strange how you mourn for people in different ways, isn’t it?

So, here’s the recipe. Like I said, they are absurdly simple and your house will smell like heaven as they bake (and for quite some time after).

Candied Nuts

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 4 cups nuts (I used half pecans and half walnuts)

Preheat oven to 225. In a large bowl beat the egg whites and water. Add pecans and stir to coat.

Whisk together the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then pour over the pecans, stirring to coat.

Spread pecans on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray and bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Ham and Green Beans

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We’ve established the fact that I am cheap, correct? I base many of our dinners off of what is on sale in the produce section or meat counter. Why waste money? So, having said that, Fareway had fresh green beans on sale for 78 cents a pound. I snatched them up and picked up some ham. Fresh green beans are delicious and when you don’t have to weed the little suckers they are that much more so. I still have nightmares about the mosquitos that used to swarm the green bean plants of my youth.

Cooking, unlike baking, is not a science but rather an art. Who needs a recipe when you have decent ingredients? So, this isn’t really a recipe so much as a “what I did.” Feel free to mess with this to your heart’s content. Like I said, when you have good ingredients, it is hard to mess it up.

Ham & Green Beans

  • 1 pound green beans, snapped (you could use frozen I’m sure)
  • 4-5 potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 pound ham, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can chicken broth

Prepare crock pot (you know my love for crock pot liners). Put all ingredients into crock pot, cover with chicken broth and water (I just filled the broth can with water). Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Lemon Brownies

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The season is (possibly) finally upon us for lemonade and all things outdoors. While chocolate is my one, true food love lemon is a pretty popular companion in my kitchen. And now that spring is here it is definitely a go-to flavor. I adore lemon bars but when I came across this recipe on Pinterest I was intrigued. Don’t get bogged down in the name brownie… it isn’t. But, I don’t really know what else you would call this recipe. The consistency/texture is somewhat similar to a brownie and you can’t call it a lemon bar recipe because, well, it isn’t. So we’ll stick with brownie for now.

This was my first attempt at the recipe so, in a move that is not all that normal for me, I stuck to the recipe. I’ll tweak it next time. The glaze MAKES this recipe because the base really isn’t as lemony as I would prefer. Next time, I’ll up the lemon content. Having said all that, it is definitely a recipe to keep around. It is super easy and super quick to throw together which is always a plus for a weeknight treat.

Lemon Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, melted & slightly cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon packed lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 9×13″ baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar & salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice & zest until combined. Mix the butter mixture into the flour mixture until well combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25-35 minutes until set and just golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean.

Let the bars cool in the pan before glazing.

For Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon packed lemon zest until smooth.

Pour over the lemon brownies and cool before serving.

Chocolate Pudding

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My name is Meg and I’m a chocoholic. To be honest with you, I’m not sure a day goes by that I don’t have chocolate in some form or another. I don’t consider it a problem and I am not interested in changing. So don’t go planning a (very) unwelcome intervention.

This recipe is a chocolate stand-by, it is fast and it is chocolatey. Two characteristics not always found in the same recipe. In fact, this chocolate pudding was ALWAYS in my fridge while I was pregnant. Take a look at the recipe, it really isn’t all that unhealthy and if you are a better person than I, you could make it a whole lot healthier. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t go make the junk in the box! That isn’t real chocolate (frankly, I’m not sure what it is) and this doesn’t take any more time. Not to mention, I can pronounce things like “sugar.” No number of advanced degrees is going to equip you to pronounce what is lurking in that junk. I may not be a health nut but I am a purist.

Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons butter

In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch. Whisk in milk.

Microwave for 3 minutes on high. Stir, and then cook at 1 minute intervals for another 2-4 minutes, or until thick. Stir in vanilla and butter. Chill.

Hot Cross Buns (Bread Machine)

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Wondering where I have been? I’m a priest. It was Easter. Don’t ask. But hey, I’m back from vacation so my little brain is slightly less fried than it was a couple of weeks ago. I think we can all be thankful for that!

It isn’t that my family has been starving or that I have not been cooking. It is merely that it has not been documented. But I did get a snapshot of this recipe before I trotted off to church with them on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns are a fine Anglican tradition on Good Friday, and I’m all about tradition (feel free to laugh). While I may have made Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday these are in no way traditional. I don’t care for raisins, I added a few more spices, and who wants plain old icing when you can have cream cheese instead? If you want a little more traditional or you’re dying to hear more about Hot Cross Buns, feel free to Google them.

Now that it isn’t Lent or Holy Week, I’d just make these and spread the icing on top. But I’m lazy. And I love tons of cream cheese frosting. Whatcha gonna do?

Hot Cross Buns

Buns:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons yeast for bread machines
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water

Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Break 2 eggs into 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough water to measure 1 1/3 cups. Place egg mixture and remaining bun ingredients (except fruit, 1 egg and cold water) in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough/Manual cycle. Do not use delay cycle. You will probably need to add another tablespoon or two of water after a few minutes of mixing.

Add fruit at the Raisin/Nut signal or 5 to 10 minutes before last kneading cycle ends. Remove dough from pan. Cover and let rest 10 minutes on lightly floured surface.

Grease cookie sheet (if not nonstick). Divide dough in half. Divide each half into 8 equal pieces. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Snip a cross shape in top of each ball, using scissors. Cover and let rise in warm place about 40 minutes or until double.

Heat oven to 375°F. Beat egg and cold water slightly; brush over tops of buns. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool.

Mix icing ingredients and place in Ziplock bag. Cut tip from bag and pipe crosses on each bun.