Posts Tagged ‘nuts’

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Cooking Light magazine recently had a feature on Banana Bread recipes.

I frequently have a freezer full of too-ripe bananas, just waiting to be turned into Banana Bread. (This has never been more true than lately; I think we’ve got about 12 frozen bananas in there!) I have an old standby recipe for banana bread from David’s family, and I’ve made other types of banana bread before, but I was excited to try some of the Cooking Light varieties, especially after seeing their outstanding reviews. The first one to catch my eye was this Peanut Butter Banana Bread.

I’ll admit, I made some tweaks. For one, I didn’t have chopped peanuts, or creamy peanut butter, so I cut out the middle man and used chunky peanut butter. Worked great. I’m not a fan of super-sweet desserts, usually, and Banana Bread is more of a breakfast treat to me than it is a dessert anyway, so I skipped the extra sweetness from the peanut butter glaze, though I’m sure it would’ve been tasty. I liked the way it turned out. Moist, rich-but-not-too-rich, with just a hint of peanuty goodness. The peanut butter added flavor without overpowering the bananas. The most successful Cooking Light recipes are ones that don’t seem “light,” and this definitely falls into that category. I’ll probably make this one again–if I was making it to give to someone else or to bring to a party or something, I’d probably try the glaze, too.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2010

For the Bread:

  • 1 1/2  cups  mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3  cup  vanilla fat-free yogurt
  • 1/3  cup  crunchy peanut butter
  • 3  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground allspice
  • Cooking spray

For the Glaze (optional):

  • 1/3  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  1% low-fat milk
  • 1  tablespoon  creamy peanut butter

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare bread, combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into a standard 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool.

4. If you want to make the glaze: combine powdered sugar, milk, and 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over bread when cooled.

Nutritional Info: Calories: 198; Fat: 7.4g; Protein: 4.7g; Carbohydrate: 29.7g; Fiber: 1.9g

Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

It’s green bean season, and we got a whole bushel from my grandparents a week or so ago. I’m sure we’re not the only ones looking to use up some great garden green beans, but other than my friend Leah, who will sit and munch them like potato chips, everyone seems to do the same thing with beans. This time, I was looking for something a little different.

I found this recipe on the Cooking Light website. Despite the bacon and sauce, it works out to only a Point for a cup, which is nice. I used center cut bacon, and substituted chopped walnut pieces for the almonds in the original recipe (David’s not a fan of almonds).

I thought it was tasty, and probably worth another try. There’s sugar in the sauce, and that made it turn out sweeter than I had imagined, probably compounded by the fact that I also substituted regular balsamic vinegar for the white balsamic that the recipe originally called for. I was in a hurry, and ended up tossing things in the skillet a bit differently than called for, and so the end product had bits of candied bacon throughout (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I think, overall, the beans could have used more salt.

As I said, I’ll probably try this one again, following the original a bit more closely to see how things turn out.

Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Adapted from Cooking Light, November 1996

Ingredients

  • 2  pounds  green beans
  • 2  bacon slices
  • 1/4  cup  minced shallots
  • 3  tablespoons  coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2  tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1/4  cup  balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Cook green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well; set aside.

Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet. Crumble; set aside. Add shallots to bacon fat in skillet; sauté 1 minute. Add almonds; sauté 1 minute. Remove and let cool. Add sugar and vinegar; stir until sugar dissolves. Add crumbled bacon.

Pour vinaigrette over beans, tossing gently to coat.

The World’s Best Coffee Cake

Monday, July 26th, 2010

That Pioneer Woman. Somebody should buy me her cookbook. Everything she makes looks delicious, even if it’s something I wouldn’t normally like. I also love her sense of humor. And how she’s not afraid of butter.

We’re eating healthier (most of the time) and so I don’t make these treats for David as often as I once did. And when I do, I try to make something that’s not too tempting for me. I managed to stay away from this coffee cake for most of the week, but I’m not sure it was due to lack of temptation. The cake was the perfect amount of sweetness, with great cinnamon and pecan flavors. It was slightly dense, and had the perfect slightly-crumbly texture. It’s got me dreaming of other things I could put in a coffee cake. So much for avoiding temptation.

I followed the directions from the site almost exactly. I don’t have a pastry cutter, so I put the dry ingredients in the food processor with the cold butter for those steps, and pulsed several times. Just enough to chop and distribute the butter, but not enough to remove the clumps. You want clumps! She recommends a large pan, and I would definitely agree. I used a deep white roasting dish from CorningWare, and the cake rose to the top of the pan. A regular 9×13 Pyrex would’ve been cutting it close for sure.

The World’s Best Coffee Cake (According to The Pioneer Woman)

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 1-½ stick Butter, Softened
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 3 cups Flour, Sifted
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1-¼ cup Whole Milk (I used 1 cup of 1% milk with 1/4 cup of cream, because oddly enough, I keep 1% AND heavy cream on hand, and never have whole milk)
  • 3 whole Egg Whites, Beaten Until Stiff

FOR THE TOPPING:

  • 1-½ stick Butter, Softened
  • ¾ cups Flour
  • 1-½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 1-½ cup Pecans, Chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg whites and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined. Don’t overbeat. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 (or LARGER!) baking pan. A cake pan with higher sides would be best.
  3. In the bowl of your food processor, pulse topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until completely set. Enjoy!

Lightened-Up Banana Bread

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I love banana bread, and zucchini bread, and everything in that family, but most recipes I come across are insanely unhealthy. My grandma’s recipe for zucchini bread worked out to 15 points for a one-inch slice. Yummy, but yikes!

I tried this recipe with a healthy dose of skepticisim. I am suspicious of fat free cream cheese, for one. And I wasn’t quite sure how the baking mix would turn out in this.

It turned out great. The loaf made the house smell amazing, and I couldn’t wait for it to be finished so I could try it. It was one of those things I had to struggle to let cool before I tried it. Fortunately, it was worth the wait. The texture was light and crumbly–a little less dense than a traditional banana bread, and a little lighter in color. Otherwise though, the flavor was excellent. Next time, I think I’ll try it as muffins or mini-muffins, for a little built-in portion control. As it was, baked in the traditional loaf pan the nutritional info worked out to about 160 calories, 4 grams of fat, and less than one gram of fiber per slice, or 3 points.

Lightened-Up Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
2 large eggs
2 cups reduced-fat baking mix (such as Bisquick)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add banana and eggs; beat until well blended. Add the baking mix and walnuts, and stir just until moist.

Pour batter into a 9-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Tent bread with foil, and bake an additional 15 minutes.or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Note: I think this recipe came from the Weight Watchers message boards, but I’m not 100% sure. If anyone knows the source, let me know and I’ll be sure and give credit. This would be great with chocolate chips, dried cranberries, or any of the other classic additions to banana bread.

Does anyone else have any favorite “light” baked goods recipes?

Halloween Brownie Bites

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

These tasty mini-treats are perfect for bringing along to a halloween party, especially if you’re looking for a healthy option. They’re still brownies, but they’re actually very low-fat and have a decent amount of fiber due to the added pumpkin. (Don’t worry, they don’t taste anything like pumpkin!)

I’m not always a big fan of these low-fat baking tricks, but this one worked out very well. Perhaps because I started with a good quality brownie mix (mmm…Ghirardhelli!)

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Halloween Brownie Bites
Makes 48 mini-muffin sized brownies

  • 1 standard brownie mix
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 egg whites
  • sprinkles or walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat your oven according to the package directions on your brownie mix. Lightly spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, or line with mini-cupcake wrappers. Set aside.

2. Using a the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, beat together the pumpkin puree and egg whites until well combined. Add the brownie mix  and continue to beat on medium until the dry mix is fully incorporated. Important: Do not add anything else to the mix, no matter what the back of the box says. No oil. No whole eggs. No water. The batter will be very thick, but that’s okay.

3. Scoop into mini-muffin pans. I had enough batter to fill my 24-cup pan twice, and just baked two batches. If you have two mini-muffin tins, you could probably do both at the same time. If you plan to use any nuts or sprinkles, now is the time to add them. I used orange sprinkles  on one pan, and I pressed a walnut half into the top of each mini brownie in the other pan.

4. Bake according to package directions, adjusting the cook time if your package doesn’t call for mini-muffins. The mix I used wanted to be cooked for 40 minutes in a 9×13 pan, but the mini-muffins only took 20 minutes. Just keep a close eye on them. Allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes or so, then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Note: The nutritional information based on the mix that I used and the directions above is 55 calories, 1 gram of fat, and .5 grams of fiber per brownie bite.


Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

This recipe caught my eye on the cover of last month’s Real Simple magazine. I’m not really prepared to admit how much I liked the rest of the magazine or what that says about my life stage (I clearly have more in common with the Real Simple crowd than the Cosmo one), but I definitely enjoyed the feature on “A Month of Easy Dinners.”

This ravioli dish was very tasty. Just a little bit out of the ordinary, but quick to throw together. An excellent weeknight dish, since I spent 20 minutes, at most, throwing it together.

Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

  • 1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 crisp apple (I used a honeycrisp), cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

1) Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.

2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

3) Add the apple, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss to combine. Spoon over the ravioli and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Carrot Zucchini Spice Mini-Muffins

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

There are two different kinds of healthy recipes. Ones that you eat when you’re trying to eat healthy, and some that are so tasty that you’d eat them anytime.

A good example of this is Diet Coke Chicken, which we discovered when my mom was doing Weight Watchers years ago. Even though it was a Weight Watchers recipe, and the initial draw was the zero-Points sauce for the tender chicken, the dish was so tasty that it became part of our regular rotation in no time.

These muffins are another example of this kind of recipe. They’re made with whole wheat flour, and sweetened with applesauce and honey. Very low fat, high in fiber, and super-moist. They taste like zucchini bread, but the last time I looked at the recipe for a zucchini bread (my grandmother makes an awesome one!) it called for a TON of oil as well as sugar. Like the Diet Coke chicken, I found this recipe looking for a healthy treat, but I think I’d make it anyway. They were that good. (Especially with a dab of cream cheese frosting).

IMG_2238

muffin

Carrot Zucchini Spice Mini-Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchini, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup applesauce (I used an all-natural, no sugar added)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a mini muffin pan by lining each cup with mini-cupcake wrappers or spraying with non-stick spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl (or in a large stand mixer) combine all ingredients and stir well. Transfer to the prepared muffin tins, filling each  cup about 2/3 full.

3. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Makes 72 muffins. One serving is 3 muffins.

Sweet Cornbread Stuffed Pork Chops

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Ahhh…pork week.

This is our “default” pork chop recipe. It starts with brining, which if you haven’t tried, you simply have to, right away. It’s a simple process, just requires a bit of extra time, mostly, but it makes all the difference. Brining takes plain, dry pork and turns it into the most juicy, flavorful chop you’ll ever taste. Just about every kind of pork we eat gets this same brining treatment. The sweet cornbread stuffing is just a bonus. 🙂

stuffed pork chop

Alton Brown’s Stuffed Grilled Pork Chops
Adapted from Good Eats

nocoupons

  • 4 double thick pork loin chops
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups cider vinegar, heated
  • 1 pound ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, halved
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. In a plastic container put the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and mustard powder. Add the hot vinegar and swirl to dissolve. Let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes to develop flavor. Add ice cubes and shake to melt most of the ice. Add chops and cover with brine. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Remove chops from container and rinse. Cut horizontal pockets in each pork chop for stuffing. Combine rest of ingredients, and put into piping bag (or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off) that is not fitted with a tip. Pipe each chop full with cornbread mixture.

3. Grill the chops on medium high heat for 6 minutes on each side. Turn each chop 45 degrees after 3 minutes to mark.

Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Prosciutto and Pine Nuts

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Leah, an integral part of my “Test Kitchen” here, gets recipes emailed to her from her work’s wellness programs. She emails them to me when they sound good, and even though I almost always agree with her, I believe this was the first one that I’ve made.

Fresh beans were expensive at the store, so I opted for whole frozen green beans (Green Giant Selects, I believe, which seemed a little better quality than the store brand frozen veggies we usually buy). I also skipped the sage, and used thyme instead, because that’s what we had on hand. Finally, I halved the recipe you see below, and it was plenty for the three of us.

Sauteeing the green beans brings out just a touch of  sweetness, and the prosciutto adds a tasty balance of salty flavor. The toasted pine nuts are delicious, too.

Even David ate his veggies that night, and he doesn’t care for green beans at all. I’m sure we’ll be making these again.

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Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Prosciutto & Pine Nuts
Adapted from, well, Leah’s email

  • 2 pounds of green beans trimmed (I used frozen)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt divided
  • 2 teaspoons of minced fresh sage (I used minced fresh thyme leaves)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 ounces of prosciutto thinly sliced, cut into ribbons
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add beans, return to a boil, and simmer until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto; cook, stirring, until crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.
  3. Wipe out the pan; heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add the beans, garlic, sage, 1/8 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are browned in places, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in pine nuts, lemon zest and the prosciutto. Season with lemon juice, the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

There’s a lot of David’s favorite foods floating around this blog these days. The fajitas, the potica, the bruschetta…and now cinnamon rolls. David loves cinnamon rolls. But really, who doesn’t?

Along with potica, this was one of those things that we were waiting for more counter space. Now that we have it, I finally decided to bake some up. I borrowed this recipe from Kristen at Dine & Dish. The recipe was relatively easy to follow, and the cinnamon rolls were extremely tasty. I’m interested in trying other recipes, to see what difference they make in the final product, but overall, I was very happy with this recipe, and I probably would make it again.

Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Dine & Dish

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 6 cups flour half all-purpose and half bread flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup salted or unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons salt (cut down to 1 teaspoon if using salted butter)

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Proof yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water, with 1 teaspoon sugar added; Set aside for five minutes.
  2. Put milk, sugar, salt, and about one cup flour in a bowl of a stand mixer, and beat with the paddle attachment until well-mixed.
  3. Add eggs and yeast mixture and a couple cups of flour and beat again, until combined.
  4. Switch to the dough hook. Add the soft butter and the rest of the flour, adding the rest of flour very slowly, while the mixer is running. Continue needing with the dough hook until all flour has been incorporated and dough is firm.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter, and knead the ball of dough until it is smooth and satiny, adding only enough to keep if from sticking.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease all sides.
  7. Let rise in warm place until double, about an hour,covering bowl with a towel or plastic wrap.
  8. Punch down, kneading for about 30 seconds to remove bubbles; Cover and let rise again.
  9. Punch down dough again.
  10. Cut with a knife into four parts, and shape into balls; Roll each ball into a 8 X 14 inch rectangle.
  11. Spread the dough with about 3 tablespoons butter, leaving far edge unbuttered.
  12. Spread with one fourth the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  13. Roll up; roll tightly; Pinch edges; Cut into slices.
  14. Place in greased pan and let rise until double in size, 45-60 minutes.
  15. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  16. Frost with softened cream cheese frosting.

Note: This recipe makes about 2 dozen cinnamon rolls—enough that David’s been eating them for breakfast every morning since! He’s not complaining though.

The original recipe called for all of the mixing and kneading to be done by hand. I adapted it for the Stand Mixer. I also sprinkled two of the dough quarters with chopped walnuts, for a change of pace. They were good, but David thinks “pecans would have been better,” so we’ll probably try that next time.