Category Archives: Baking

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

I thought that this would be a Totally New Post, but as it turns out, I wrote down the recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Bread a very long time ago.  But this is the first time I’ve shared it in post form, so I hope you enjoy it!

Today is my Dad’s birthday, and if you were to ask him what the best thing that comes out of my oven is, his answer would probably be this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Pan

Growing up, we were not Banana Bread People because my mother was the baker in the house and she was allergic to bananas.  So I have no idea as to when I decided that this was such an important thing to make because it’s not even like I had that much experience eating the stuff.

While the chocolate chips aren’t something that make this recipe Different, Dad would tell you that they are the most important part.  And I mean honestly, no one eats Banana Bread for the nutrition so stop playing around and add the chocolate in.  You’ll be happier for it.

What I would say makes this recipe Different is the blend of white and brown sugars.  I think that the combination gives the loaf a better crust and a more caramelized flavor than you would get if you went white sugar-only.

What you will not be able to replicate in your own kitchen (unless you keep your own stash of antique pans) is This Loaf Pan.

Bread

It was my great grandmother’s and not only is it the only pan I have ever baked Banana Bread in, but Banana Bread is the only thing I bake in that pan.  It’s a bit of a strange relationship we have.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 bag chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour a loaf pan (9″ x 5″)
  • Cream butter and sugar until smooth.  Stir in eggs and bananas.  Add vanilla and salt.
  • Incorporate flour, baking soda and chocolate chips.  Stir gently until just combined.
  • Pour batter into pan, and bake for 1 hr.

Red Wine Honey Cake with Plums

In case you didn’t already know, we are exactly in the middle of Rosh Hashanah.  The beginning of the High Holidays.  The Jewish New Year.  That One Holiday That No One Really Knows How To Pronounce.

Each year my in-laws host two beautiful dinners to celebrate with family and friends.  The tables are packed, the wine glasses are always full and there is enough food to put Thanksgiving to shame.

Everyone brings something to contribute – a dish, a bottle or some lovely flowers.  Most years, I’ve waited to receive an assignment because I don’t really have a Jewish holiday dish that is “mine.”

But this year, as I was perusing the New York Times I found a recipe for  Red Wine Honey Cake with Plums.  I am a big fan of Melissa Clark’s and I’ve had success in general with the recipes that appear in that newspaper.  I claimed dessert immediately.

I always struggle with Pareve (neutral) desserts at the holidays because I loathe and despise margarine with a hatred that is unequaled on this earth.

They are dry.  The texture is off.  Everything sort of tastes the same.

So I was especially intrigued by this dessert because it had none of that.  Instead we had olive oil.  Honey.  Red wine.  A lot of sugar.

And plums.  Macerated with honey and thyme.  Because that’s just…different.

Now would  also be the time to give y’all the full disclosure that actioning this cake meant that I got to use my Bundt pan.

Secret: I am basically a Bundt-hoarder.  I have a standard 6 cup pan.  I have six miniature pans.  I have two separate muffin tins (standard and holiday).

With a collection like that, I should probably be actioning Bundts on a weekly basis.  Nevermind the fact that loosing a cake from a bundt pan is probably one of the most prayerful acts a baker can commit.

I’m getting distracted.  Back to this cake of ours.  After tossing it in the oven, trying to light my oven on fire with the overflow from the cake and finally wrestling it all into submission, we came up with…this.

Plum Cake

It was essentially a spice cake of sorts.  Very dense but extremely moist.  I feel like it’s always a bit tricky to strike a balance there because we’re just one step away from creating something that more closely resembles a carb-shaped brick than anything edible.  Am I right?

I don’t know that I’ve ever actioned any sort of dish that involves plums, but I really like how the sweetness of the fruit balanced with the cake.  Even though there is nothing light At All about mixing fruit with sugar, it still managed to lighten up everything.  This dish would be a complete disaster if you attempted it with any sort of berry, but I think you could have a lot of success with any sort of stone fruit or even a heavier, more syrup-y arrangement.

Hell, you could probably do a glaze if you were feeling so inclined.  Live a life without limits.

Bake Sale for Beka

Today marks the beginning of the 2013 Bake Sale for Beka!

bake-sale-for-beka-2013

What to say…

…Simply put, Our Girl Beka suffers from Crohn’s Disease.  And basically it is The Worst.  She is running her first half-marathon and is raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

So 30 odd bloggers got together to throw a virtual bake sale to help her raise money to research and fight this awful plight.

While we all know that I have somewhat patchy-abilities when it comes to baking, I am definitely a crouton maker of epic proportions.

So I donated a batch of these beauties to the sale.

Crouton

While I can’t say that they’ll clean your house for you, I can tell you that Marcus eats them as a snack because he loves them so, and they transform All Salads into something far better than what you started with.

Also: You will never be able to eat regular croutons from the store ever again.  Sorry I am not sorry about this.

So I hope you’ll click on over and bid!  The sale runs from 7:00 AM PST on June 22 until 8 PM PST on June 23!

My Weekend in Instagram

Hello, Sunday night.

Yes, I took more than two pictures this weekend.  But (1) I am saving some for later this week and (2) you only need to see so many snaps of a pint of beer before you are like, ENOUGH ALREADY. WE GET IT.

I will spare us all from this fate.

What’s sort of hilarious is that I’ve gone from feeling wordless to having, well, lots to share.  So I’ve made a list for myself and we’ll get through all of that in time.

For now, this weekend.  In photos from Instagram.  I think that last week, I finally felt like everything was finally “normal.”  And last weekend was the most “normal” weekend that Marcus and I have spent together in probably two months.

That’s a little bit insane when you think about it.

So we needed this weekend big time, and it did not disappoint.

The snaps.

On Friday, Steel Toe’s taproom finally opened up and we showed up about an hour after they got pouring to drink and celebrate.

Steel Toe

It was wonderful and then some.   Jason (the Head Brewer) has a really good thing going on there and it’s really nice to see someone so deserving have such success.

More selfishly: I really appreciate having a taproom in St. Louis Park.  They will always be unlocking the doors on Friday afternoons as I am driving home from work.  This is a really good system in my book.

Today, I got together with all of the women on Marcus’ side of the family to bake hamantaschen for Purim.

It’s a really wonderful thing that we all do together every year.  And as I say “we all” and “every year,” I am now counting on my fingers and realizing that we have all been baking together for six years now.

:)

It was the pinnacle of industriousness.

Hamantaschen

About a thousand cookies later, we called it a day.  For inquiring minds that want to know, we mainly did mixed fruit, but there were also a few batches of peanut butter-chocolate chip and cherry pie filling.  Poppy seeds are nowhere to be found.

What did you do this weekend?

Sweets Week: S’more on a Stick

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Happy Sweets Week, y’all!

And more importantly, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Since I largely missed out on the festivities of Soup Week because I was in Israel, I was SO thrilled that I could get to work with my favorite cooks to fill your houses with little treats for loved ones.

If you’re like me, sometimes you have hours to dedicate to actioning all manner of baking and sometimes you’re left with minutes.

Today’s treat is one that will fit comfortably into the latter category.

You see, I planned a Toothpick Potluck for my department today.  Which means that everything being served has to be served on a stick.  Retrospectively, we probably could have re-named it State Fair Potluck, but I didn’t want everyone to be deep-frying everything.  You know?

Anyhow, since this potluck fell in the middle of the week, I knew that anything I made would have to be a night-before-sort of thing.

I bring to you, S’more on a Stick.

05 Stick

I was not kidding.

What you’ll need: Semi-sweet chocolate chips, graham crackers and jumbo marshmallows.

01 Ingredients

Oh, and some toothpicks (or cake-pop sticks or whatever).   This is profanely simple and straightforward.

What I’ll need for you to do: Crush the graham crackers (I did mine using an immersion blender) and melt the chocolate chips.

Personally, I microwave my chips or melt them on the stove in a pot over medium-low heat.  Yes, I realize that doing that whole double-boiler black magic-thing is supposedly “better” but (1) I don’t have that set-up and (2) this is really easier if you have the ability to watch your chocolate chips melt so that you can fend-off burning.

Because pretty much two minutes later, you’ll have the melted chocolate-arrangement you were hoping for.

From here, you will toothpick each of your marshmallows and get dipping.  Spooning the melted chocolate over your marshmallows is going to be easier and will yield a better “crust.”  So do that.

02 Chocolate

Once you’ve covered your marshmallow in chocolate, plop it in the middle of the graham cracker crumbs and spoon the crumbs over the marshmallow.

03 Graham Crackerws

No, you wont contaminate all of your graham cracker crumbs with blobs of chocolate.  So put that thought far from your mind.

From there, you’ll pop a toothpick into the top (chocolate-covered end) and slide the other toothpick out of the bottom of the s’more.  This is the part of the s’more that will sit on the tin foil while it cools and sets.

From there,  transfer it to the baking sheet.

Repeat.

04 Tray

Allow the s’mores to cool (I just left my baking sheets in the garage since it’s wintertime) and serve when the mood strikes.

Seriously.  How easy is that?!

But that’s not all!  Our fat pants-worthy Sweets Week run-down is:

Sunday:

Red Velvet Vanilla Marble Cupcakes – Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic
Retro Raspberry Divinity (and a giveaway!) – Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head

Monday:

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies – Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Mini Meringue Strawberry Pie – Katie @ The Hill Country Cook

Tuesday:

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti – Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten
Samoa Crack Dip – Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama

Wednesday:

Avocado Peppermint Chocolate Mousse – Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain
Cherry Garcia Chocolate Bark – Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver

Thursday:

S’Mores on a Stick – Kat @ Tenaciously Yours
White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting – Mads @ La Petite Pancake

Friday:

‘Pucker Up’ Lemon Marshmallows – Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World
Mini Chocolate Mousse Pies – Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic

Saturday:
Berry Smoothie Ice Cream Pie & a Giveaway – Anne @ From My Sweet Heart

Cookie Week: Colossal Cookies

We need your help to kick kids’ cancer’s butt! Send Kirsten (ComfortablyDomestic AT gmail DOT com) an email by this Saturday with the total number of cookies that you’ve exchanged this holiday season, she will tack your number on to our Cookie Week Exchange total, and then Glad to Give will donate one dollar to Cookies for Kids Cancer for each one of your cookies added to our exchange.

It’s hard to believe party-kittens, but it’s actually time for Cookie Week!

The cookie exchange that I organize for my department-mates (Does this surprise you?  No.) was held on Monday.

Since another co-worker revealed to me that she was going to make Shortbreads, I scuttled my original plans and instead heeded the call of The Universe.

Which directed me to make Lauren’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat (AKA Colossal) Cookies.

You should too.

Because apparently they are some black magic secret from her husband’s grandmother written on an honest-to-God recipe card.

Those are the best kinds of recipes.

I’m not going to do an extremely detailed step-by-step here because

  1. Lauren already did that(it is beautiful, look at hers!)
  2. See #1.

First things first: Set the stage.

Baking 1

I have no real explanation for why I needed to have two pads of Post-Its present.

And then start drinking.  Be serious about it.

Baking 2

#DrinkLocal

You will mix together all of the things, as is our custom.

Baking 3

And then you eat all of the batter bake it all up.

Baking 4

Please note that this snap of my batter was taken something like, 36 cookies in.  These cookies can be colossal size-wise, or they can be colossal because they will take over your whole kitchen.

Baking 5

Give thanks because six dozen cookies later, you realize you will only have to make two batches for your department’s cookie exchange instead of four.

And then do some soul searching about whether or not it’s appropriate to exchange non-Christmas-themed cookies at a holiday cookie exchange.

Following that, package them in Hanukkah bags, realize you’re three short and in light of the 10″ of snow falling to the ground accept the fact that three people are getting cookies in ziploc bags.

Who else is baking?

Comfortably Domestic–Decorated Shortbread Cookies (plus a King Arthur Giveaway)
Inside NanaBread’s Head–Dark Chocolate Turtle Thumbprints
La Petite Pancake – Glazed Honey Lemon Cookies
Bakeaholic Mama–Bacon Maple Sugar Cookies
Wanna be a Country Cleaver–Homemade Mint Oreos
Comfortably Domestic–Gingersnaps Reboot
Decadent Philistines Save the World–Sesame Plum Thumbprints
Bakeaholic Mama–Brown Sugar Toffee Shortbread Cookies
Munching in the Mitten–Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

The Greatest Cheesecake Ever

A month or so ago at work, we were celebrating someone’s birthday and someone brought up this mythical cheesecake that a former co-worker used to action.

Like seriously, I have never heard people speak so lovingly about a baked good that was not their grandmother’s.  So there’s that.

To be totally honest, I’m not a big cheesecake person.  I’ll eat a slice if it’s the only thing on the spread, but otherwise I’ll usually go out of my way to pick something else.  Let’s just call me cheesecake-neutral.

Anyway, a few weeks went by and finally one of my co-workers rustled up the recipe (written in some sort of just-barely decipherable scrawl…because it was a secret recipe), which I was pressed into service to make.

Most important order of business: New York Cheesecake Supreme is not some sort of secret recipe, it is on the internet.  It’s actually the first recipe on the Cooks.com results page when you search “Cheesecake Supreme.”  Don’t tell my co-workers that, it will break their hearts.

Second most important order of business: Even to a cheesecake-neutral person like me, this cheesecake was phenomenal.

Look.

 

Having read the November AND December issues of bon appetit over breakfast this morning, I am fully aware that right now we’re supposed to be focusing all of our efforts on roasting meats/boozing and when we are not roasting meats/boozing we are supposed to be eating (crosses self) winter squashes and kale salads.

But save yourselves from that fiber-laden fate and do something that will spread joy instead.

Are you a cheesecake lover?  Cheesecake hater?  Cheesecake neutral?