cafela: (nutmeg)
2014-02-28 11:32 pm
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Banana Bread Muffins

I am not terribly breakfast-inclined. At least, not when it comes to making my own. Most weekends, I scrounge up some leftovers to reheat rather than eat cereal or poptarts. It's not that I don't like breakfast foods--I love breakfast foods! But I'm not a morning person, and if I take the time to cook breakfast, it's automatically going to end up as brunch, or possibly lunch. I never cook breakfast on weekdays because I'm always scared I'm going to forget to turn off the stove or the oven. But breakfast is an important meal, and I try not to skip it. Most of the time, that means I take an apple to work, or maybe a fruit cup, because they're easy to pop into my purse and I can eat them at my desk with little fuss. I tried the pop-tart route when I was a teacher, but since I quit teaching, eating pop-tarts just reminds me of how dreadful my weekday mornings were back then, so they're not an option.

However, sometimes I get sick of apples and fruit cups. Fortunately, we always seem to have bananas that sit on the counter, not getting eaten. Yes, they're still fruit--but they're fruit that can be turned into delicious muffins. I arrived at this recipe through some trial and error--the original recipe called for coconut flour, which I don't keep and which is basically the alternative baking flours opposite of almond flour. The great thing about it is how good for you it is--almond flour is just very finely ground almonds, so you get lots of fiber and healthy oils and cut down on carbs. Also, there's no added sugar, but it doesn't taste as though it's missing. They're good for breakfast, a snack, or a simple dessert.

I will say, these have a slightly weird texture, and they're one of the few foods that are much better eaten after waiting for them to cool--when they're hot out of the oven, they're not quite set up, no matter how long you've left them in the oven. It's like they need to sit and dry out a bit. The great thing about this quality is that they stay fresh and really get better with each day; they last up to a week if you keep them covered.

Banana Bread Muffins
3-4 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt

Mash or whip bananas in your mixer until nearly liquefied. Add the other ingredients in the order given, beating slightly after each addition. Pour into well-greased muffin tin. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes (check at 30 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean. The muffins will look very dark brown, but that's okay, they're not burned, it's just a super dark muffin. Makes about 18 regular muffins.

*Note for those with gluten allergies: You can make this without the all-purpose flour, using just almond flour, but you should omit the vegetable oil and add another egg if you do.
cafela: (Default)
2013-11-22 10:59 pm
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Southern Cornbread Dressing

It's nearly Thanksgiving, and it's later than normal this year. I've managed to get a lot of Christmas shopping done already, and I already have Christmas cards ready to go out, so it seems wrong to not make Thanksgiving food until next week. So I've gone ahead and made my family's cornbread dressing. There are a lot of great variations on dressing/stuffing, but this is my favorite.

Dressing is actually really easy to put together--it's just the prep that takes work, especially if you don't like crunching on pieces of onion or celery. To avoid that, I always chop the onions and celery into very tiny little pieces--basically, I mince it, so that once it's cooked down, it essentially melts into all the other ingredients. Also, I hate celery in everything--except this dish. Including celery does make a big difference in the flavor, so if you don't like it, don't leave it out if you can help it, because I promise, it won't taste like celery. When celery cooks down the way it does in this recipe, it tastes nothing like celery normally does.

Also, while a lot of cornbread dressing recipes include just cornbread, I've always found that it has a better overall texture if you use a combination of bread and cornbread, so that's what I use. If you're hell bent on just having cornbread, make 2 recipes' worth of cornbread and omit the sandwich bread.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Southern Cornbread Dressing
1 recipe's worth of Buttermilk Cornbread (or any cornbread that has no sugar in the recipe)
4 tbsp butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 large chicken breast (you can increase the amount of chicken if you want, or use leftover turkey)
salt & pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp chicken broth
9 slices white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
3/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
3 eggs, lightly beaten

First, make your cornbread.

While your cornbread cooks, chop your onion and celery. Melt 4 tbsp butter over medium high heat in a pot/skillet large enough to hold all the celery and onion. Add the celery and onion, cover and let cook (stir occasionally).

Take a small pan and melt 1 tbsp butter in it. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper, then add it to the small pan. Add 2 tbsp chicken broth, cover and let cook over medium high heat until cooked through.

By this point, the cornbread should be done, so when it is, remove from oven and from the skillet so it can cool.

Get a large bowl (large enough to hold all the ingredients combined) and tear up the sandwich bread. Add the torn up pieces to it. Once the cornbread is cooled enough to handle, crumble it into pieces (2 inches or so) and add it to the bowl as well. When the chicken has cooked through, remove it from the pan and chop or shred it into small pieces. Add the chicken to the bowl.

Sprinkle the sage and the pepper into the bowl. Mix everything that's in the bowl at this point. Add the 4 cups chicken broth, then add the beaten eggs. Mix everything in the bowl again. Add the celery/onion mixture, and mix once more. The mixture should be somewhat soggy--if it is still dry, add another 1/2 cup of chicken broth. If it goes into the oven dry, it will be too dry once it's cooked (though if it does turn out dry, a quick fix is to pour 1/4 cup warm chicken broth over the top).

Uncooked Dressing

Spoon into two pans or casserole dishes, or one large casserole dish. Cook in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes if you have two pans, 30-35 minutes if you have one large dish. It is done when the top turns golden brown. Serve with gravy or cranberry sauce or even just by itself.

cafela: (ninja biscuits)
2012-12-05 12:43 pm
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Buttermilk Cornbread

I love cornbread, and so does my husband. It's an essential part of the dressing I make for the holidays, too. It goes great with chili, or pork chops, or a bowl of beef stew. This recipe is very close to the one you'll find on White Lily cornmeal; my family uses that recipe, and I've tweaked it over time. Our original recipe calls for a whole stick of butter, and it is good that way, but it's just as good with half the butter. It has a good crust and soft, light crumb. It is NOT sweet, because proper cornbread shouldn't have sugar in it. If you add sugar, technically you're making "johnny cake," not cornbread (however, if you really prefer sweet cornbread, all you have to do is add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the batter, and that should do).

Back in 2009, the library I worked in had a cornbread contest for our dept. chair, who was trying to find a recipe that approximated the cornbread his grandmother used to make. This recipe came in 2nd by his judgement, and first by popular vote. So it's not just my family that likes it, I promise!

If you want to make a Mexican-style cornbread, follow this recipe, but add some chopped jalapenos and peppers. I suppose you could add other things in, too, but I've not tried them myself. I tend to prefer my cornbread plain with some butter, though it's buttery enough that you can forgo that. It will keep for 4-5 days if wrapped/in an air-tight container.

To make this cornbread, you NEED a cast iron skillet/pan. It does not turn out properly in a regular pan. You can buy a preseasoned one very cheaply these days.

Buttermilk Cornbread


1/2 stick of unsalted butter

2 eggs

2 cups White Lily Self-rising cornmeal

About 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup oil

Turn the oven to 425 F. Place the half stick of butter into your cast iron skillet, and put the skillet in the oven while it preheats. It is very, very important that the skillet and oven be hot before you put the batter in later. This is how you get the nice crust on your cornbread that gives it extra flavor and great texture.

Lightly beat the eggs together in your mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal, buttermilk, and oil to the egg mixture and whisk together until blended. The batter should be like a thick pancake batter.

Take your skillet out of the oven--remember to use an oven mitt! It should be hot and the butter should be melted.

Pour the batter in and use a spoon or spatula to level it if needed. I like to make sure the butter is sort of evenly spilling over the top, but it's not crucial that you do that. Bake until the top is golden brown (about 20-25 minutes).

You should be able to flip it out of the skillet immediately without it sticking to the bottom. Enjoy!

cafela: (alice in wonderland)
2012-10-12 11:22 am
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Pineapple Coconut Bread (or Muffins)

I love pineapple, and my husband loves coconut. When I stumbled across the recipe for this bread on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it sometime soon. A couple of days ago, the grocery store had pineapple on sale, and that decided it.

There's a lot to love about this recipe. It tastes very fresh, and there's a good crunchiness throughout the bread. Best of all, you can do this as jumbo muffins, and simply cut the baking time in half. It comes together very easily, and isn't overly sweet (and if you worry about that, you can leave out some of the sugar).

Pineapple Coconut Bread


7oz bag sweetened shredded coconut

1 stick butter, at room temperature (NOT COLD)

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup or 8oz sour cream

2 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, diced into chunks (a little over half of a pineapple)

Turn the oven on 350 degrees F.

First, toast about 2/3 c of your shredded coconut(the rest you will save for topping). Spread it over a cookie sheet, and stick that in the oven for about 6 minutes. Watch it, because you don't want to burn it, you just want to bring out more of the flavor. Some of it should get to be a nice golden color. You can dice up your pineapple while you wait for it to toast. When the time is up or the coconut has turned golden, pull it from the oven and let it cool.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time. Next, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture. Then add half of your sour cream. When that has combined, repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture, and the rest of the sour cream. When that has combined, add the last 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix just until everything is incorporated.
Now you get to add the toasted coconut and the pineapple.

When that's done, pour the batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan or into jumbo muffin tins. I did a little of both, because our loaf pan is 9x4 and I didn't want a super tall loaf.

Sprinkle the top of the loaf or muffins with the untoasted coconut. If you're doing jumbo muffins, at this point you can just pop them into the oven for about 30 minutes (regular muffins should probably cook about 15-20 minutes). If you're doing a loaf, you'll need to cover the top with tin foil for the first 30 minutes to keep the coconut from burning (or you can just add the coconut topping after it's baked for 30 minutes). The loaf will need to cook for about an hour total.

Let the muffins/loaf cool before eating--the pineapple will retain a lot of heat, and you don't want to burn your mouth just because you were a little impatient. ;)

cafela: (Default)
2012-09-28 01:30 pm
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Cinnamon Nutmeg Zucchini Bread

I made this for the first time at my sister-in-law's house, while visiting in July. She had a bunch of zucchini to use up, and I wanted to bake something to thank them for letting us stay with them, and this recipe was born! It's incredibly easy, since you pretty much just throw the ingredients together, mix, and bake. It's a pretty standard zucchini bread recipe, with some extra spices added to make it extra delicious. My niece and nephew gobbled them up quickly.

Cinnamon Nutmeg Zucchini Bread


3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tb cinnamon

1/2 tb nutmeg

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar (if you don't have brown sugar, just sub another cup of white sugar)

1 tb vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini--if you grate it and end up with a little more than 2 cups, it's fine)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 loaf pans or 24 standard muffin tins.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla, then mix. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg (if you want, you can mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl first, but I've found it doesn't make a difference in this recipe). Mix.

Add the grated zucchini, and mix with a spoon (the grated strips will get caught in a whisk/etc.) until incorporated. Pour batter into loaf pans or spoon into muffin cups. Bake loaves for 45-55 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Muffins will bake for a shorter time; start checking at 20 minutes.

Let bread cool, then remove from pan. Voila, a tasty treat for breakfast, or just for snacking.

You can play with this recipe by adding nuts, raisins, or by swapping the zucchini with carrots.