Friday, January 14, 2011

The Best Banana Bread Recipe EVER!!!

makes 1 loaf or 1 dozen muffins

These are soo good, especially if you can get your hands on coconut oil.  mm mmm,  I think I am going to make some right now...

1/2 c. melted vegan butter, melted regular butter, melted coconut oil, canola oil (or if you need another option... 1/4c. of any of the above and 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce)
3/4 c. sucanat, brown sugar, or regular sugar
1 1/2 c. flour ( I use spelt, but you can use all-purpose or whole wheat)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 VERY ripe mashed bananas ( the more ripe, the more flavor!)
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8x4 loaf pan or muffin tins.

This is a one bowl wonder, which makes clean up nice!  In a large bowl, mash the bananas.  Add in all the ingredients and mix until well incorporated.  Do not over mix or your bread will be dense.  Pour batter into prepared pans and bake.

If you are making a loaf, bake for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

If you are making muffins, these typically take about 18-20 minutes.  Maybe a tad more, just keep an eye on them.

Cool to a wire rack and enjoy

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

FIrst off, I apologize ahead of time... you will become addicted to these and eat way more than you should.  Ok, now you can't say I didn't warn you!

I call these cinnamon rolls, my "redemption rolls!"  Why, you ask?  I set out to make cinnamon rolls for a Christmas morning treat for my family.  I got up super early, slaved away in the kitchen, cleaned up the huge mess (p.s. there is a mess to be made, just another friendly warning), put the rolls in the oven, and... YUCK-O!!!  They were hard, not very flavorful and all together disappointing.  So, I made it my mission to redeem myself, and I did!  Thanks to my talented friend, I was able to make some deliciousness!

Here is my adaptation of her sticky bun recipe:

2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 c. sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 room temperature egg
warm water, roughly 110 degrees (about 1 cup)
3 c. flour (I used 1/2 spelt and it worked great... next round I will try all spelt)
3 T. evaporated cane juice (sugar)
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp oil
1/4 c. room temperature earth balance vegan butter (or reg. dairy butter)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/3 c. evaporated cane juice (sugar)
1/4 c. melted earth balance (butter)
1/2 c. sucanat (brown sugar)

glaze (optional)
powdered sugar
soy milk


In a small bowl, combine, 1/4 c. sucanat (brown sugar), and yeast.  Crack an egg into a glass measuring cup and whisk gently.  Add enough warm water to the egg to fill it to 1 1/4 cups.  Pour this water/egg mixture over the yeast and sugar, cover and set aside for 15 minutes.

In a mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add in flour, sugar and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Slowly add in the yeast/water mixture and oil.  Mix with dough hook until the dough forms a ball and comes together.  (I had to add a smidge more flour to help mine form a ball).  Place dough ball into a well oiled bowl, cover, and place in a warm area.  It needs to rise until it doubles in size.

Flour a flat work surface and place risen dough on it.  With lightly floured hands, flatten out dough until it is roughly a 12x18 rectangle.  Spread room temp butter over dough and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar. Now it's time to roll!  You are going to roll it into a long log, so take the long edge that is nearest to you and roll it backwards.  To cut the rolls, start by using a sharp knife and make a mark in the middle of the roll.  And from there, mark off 12-14 spots to cut.  I found it best to gently saw back and forth instead of pressing down and smooshing the roll.

Pour melted butter in a 9x13 dish and sprinkle with remaining sucanat (brown sugar).  Place the rolls in dish so that you see the spiral and leave a little space between each roll.  Let them rise in a warm area for about 30 minutes.

Place rolls in a preheated to 375 degree oven and bake for 25 or until golden brown.  While they are baking, whip up the glaze by adding roughly 1 cup powdered sugar to a bowl and about 1/2 cup soy milk.  Whisk until smooth.  These measurements are approximate, you may need to add more sugar if it looks a little runny.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, wax paper or foil and turn rolls over onto it.  Once they have cooled a tad, drizzle glaze over them.  Ready, set, go...  DIG IN!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Roasted Beet Salad

Some friends of our made this for a Christmas party, and it knocked my socks off!  It was smoky, sweet, tangy and perfect.  I found out that it was a Rick Bayless recipe and wanted to try it myself!  It is a perfect side dish to any festive mexican dish, and cold leftovers make a yummy snack the next day!

serves 6 as a side dish

1 1/2 -2 pounds of small beets (well scrubbed, both ends trimmed, and quartered)
1 large red onion, sliced 1/4'' thick
1-2 poblano peppers (I roasted both, but ended up only using 1) -optional
2-3 Tbsp worcestershire sauce -optional
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 onces manchego cheese, shaved -optional

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Whisk together olive oil, worcestershire sauce, s/p in a small bowl.  Put beets, onions and peppers into a large bowl and toss with mixture, making sure to coat everything well.  Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet and into the oven to roast.  Stir every 10 minutes or so, making sure to turn the peppers, to the skin blisters evenly on all sides.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Remove the peppers and continue roasting for another 20-30 minutes more, stirring every 10 minutes, until the beets are tender.  When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the blistered skin, the stems and seeds. Rinse to get off any left behind seeds, then chop them up.

In a wide shallow mixing bowl, combine beets, onion, and poblanos.  Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with cilantro.  Season to taste with s/p.  If you are using cheese (which I recommend, but just unfortunately can't eat), take a vegetable peeler and shave it over the salad.

Easy Pomodoro Sauce with Arugula

This recipe came out of desperation.  It was a night where my hubby was at work and we were bone dry on groceries.  So, out of my pantry and a few straggler ingredients in the fridge, this mouthwatering but simple dish was born.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

makes enough sauce for about 6 people.

2 boxes of POMI chopped tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 handfuls of arugula
a splash of balsamic vinegar
1 box of your favorite spaghetti, cooked according to directions

In a medium size sauce pan over medium low heat, heat 2 cartons of POMI chopped tomatoes.  Add in the chopped garlic, arugula, vinegar.  Cook until warm throughout and until the arugula has wilted down.  Season with s/p.  Spoon over cooked spaghetti.  Devour it, but save some for leftovers... you will thank me the next day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

vegetable polenta lasagna

finished product, that's my portion on the right

all the veggies and beans cooking

serves 6

I used to make a polenta dish that had italian sausage, lots of onions and red bell pepper, it was so hearty and delicious!  My hubby requested that I make a veggie version of it, because had a craving.  So I kept the same idea but added a ton of extra veggies and even some beans and the verdict is.... we LOVED it even more than the original.  We put cheese on 1/2 of ours and left some without, for ME!!!

2 tubes of polenta (I got mine at Trader Joes), cut into 1/4'' slices
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup or so of sliced crimini mushrooms
a couple handfuls of spinach
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 can of kidney beans
10 or so leaves of basil, roughly chopped
dash of red chili pepper flakes (optional)
1 jar of marinara sauce (or a little less)
6-10 slices of mozzarella cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or in a dutch oven.  Add in the sliced onions and saute for 2 minutes.  Then add in the bell pepper and saute for another 2 minutes or so.  Next, add in the garlic and mushrooms.  Cook until the veggies are tender.  Finally, add in the spinach, beans, basil, s/p and red chili flakes.  Cook and stir to combine.

Pour a little marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.  Place polenta discs in the bottom of the dish, covering it, but not overlapping.  Spoon 1/2 of veggie mixture over the polenta and then cover with 1/2 the marinara sauce. Repeat with another layer of polenta, veggies and sauce (note: using the whole jar of sauce makes it pretty saucy, if you prefer a less saucy lasagna, just use less than the whole jar).  If you are using cheese, layer your slices on top.

Cook uncovered for about 25-30 minutes.  If you put cheese on top, you may want to broil it for a minute or so, to get the cheese nice and brown and bubbly.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Grown Up Mac & Cheese

This pasta dish is a real crowd pleaser.  I have made it for large groups, as it is real easy to double and even triple the recipe.  It is not the healthiest meal, but it sure is tasty!

1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp of flour
4 cups of milk at room temperature (any fat content of your choice.  I use non-fat and it works great)
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup grated fontina cheese (i use a blend of fontina, asiago, and parmesan)
1 pound dried rigatoni noodles

Preheat the oven to 425 degree.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat.  Once it is melted add in the flour, whisking constantly.  (If you have a flattened whisk, this is a great time to use it.  It helps keep the bottom from burning.  If not, just make sure to really get to the bottom of the pan, so it doesn't burn.)  Carefully pour in the room temp milk and keep on whisking...don't stop! (If you forgot to set the milk out to get it to room temp, you can nuke it for a minute or two before pouring it in.  This is an important step in ensuring a creamy bechamel sauce.)Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.  (To do this, just dip the spoon in the sauce and when you lift it out, wipe the back of it with your finger.  If the line stays and does not drip away, then you are good to go!)  Remove from the heat and stir in nutmeg and 1/2 of the cheese and season with s/p.  Set it aside while you boil the noodles.

Bring a large stock pot full of water to a boil.  Add salt and the rigatoni.  Cook only for about 5-7 minutes.  Do not overcook the noodles, because they will finish cooking in the oven.  Return the pasta back to the pot and pour the sauce over it.  Stir to combine, until all the pasta is covered.

Grease a 9 x 13 dish and pour the pasta and sauce into it.  Cover with the remaining cheese.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until its golden brown.