Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My house smells divine!

Is there anything better than the smell of Banana Bread?


We had too many. They ripened too fast.

And since I still can't stand sweet there's no way Axel could eat them all on his own.

So here's my adaptation of the recipe I grew up with. Oh, and my favorite way to eat it? Warm (even toasted) with a slice of cheese. Mmmmmm!

baked banana breadBanana Bread

1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas*

  1. Preheat oven to 325F / 160C
  2. Line a 5"x8" (13cm x 20cm) loaf pan crossways with baking paper.
  3. Mix the milk and baking soda together in a cup and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  4. Cream together the sugar and vegetable oil.
  5. Add in eggs one at a time and cream well.
  6. Stir in flour and milk sugar.
  7. Add mashed bananas**
  8. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

Mom's original recipe called for shortening so I've always used butter. Eureka moment this week when I used oil instead! It creates the perfect texture. Before I had always considered Banana Bread just "ok" now I might just be an addict. Yummmmmeeee!

Of course I reduced the sugar, it calls for 1 whole cup. No thank you. I find the bananas add enough sweetness.

I only had two bananas today and it was fine. I also never mash them. Just add them into the mixing bowl at the end and stir until incorporated.

naked banana breadIf you use a 5"x8" pan like I suggest it will be very full, but it makes a lovely high loaf. Trust me.

Also gone are the days of greasing and flouring pans. I just line the bottoms or go across like I did here. It works a treat and makes it easy to lift out. Just loosen the loaf at the ends and voilá!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Passing the Torch

Oh boy ... I do love me no bake cookiessome No-Bake Cookies and when I saw my bestie from college pin a recipe I got the hankering again. A quick glance at the recipe she pinned revealed that it was identical to the one I grew up with. Kind of nice that some recipes just stay as we remember and don't get "adapted" via via. Yep, I am fairly certain this recipe was penned into my little grey cookbook during one of those phone calls home after I had set up my own pad.

I made multiple batches of these cookies this week and gave them away as fast as I could. Axel doesn't like them (that peanut butter problem of his) and I can / could only eat so many. But ugh ... I seriously overdosed. Which probably explains why it's been three years since I made them (I know for certain I have not made them since we moved into this house).

So now it's your turn ... at least for the next three years. I think I'm good for awhile.

No-Bake Cookies

In a medium-size pan bring the following ingredients to the boil and allow to boil gently for ONE minute:
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 2 cups sugar*
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Meanwhile measure these things out so they're handy when that one minute is up:
  • 3 cups oats (yes, this is one time I think instant are better than rolled) 
  • 4Tbsp cocoa powder on top.
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter* (I like Adams chunky for this - trust me you do not want peanut butter that has sugar added .. these cookies are sweet enough on their own)
- I don't think my mom ever added coconut and it might be good but coconut is grated to a fine dust here so I've never bother trying.

When your timer has gone off (yes set it. I don't have one and if you go over the minute you risk the mixture getting crumbly ... they still taste good but the texture of the cookies is not as good), pull the pan away from the heat and quickly stir in the peanut butter until it's mostly combined. A few lumps are ok ... in fact sometimes it's a nice surprise ... almost like a Reece's hiding in your no-bake.

Then pour in the oats and cocoa powder and mix until combined.

Working as quickly as you can drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. I don't bother lining my baking sheet with aluminum foil or baking paper - it's just more waste. Instead, after they are cool, I use a twisting action to release the cookies from the pan.

DO NOT MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH ... unless you have double the hands to help you drop the cookies. The batter will cool, stiffen up and become crumbly. It's just not worth it.

* A word on sugar. Yes, whenever possible I try to reduce the amount of sugar in most recipes. This is one occasion where I have never tried. I just don't know what it would do to that boiled stuff you need to bind these cookies. But I do insist that my PB is sugar free. I borrowed some from my neighbour for the 3rd batch last week. Uck - waaaaayyy to sweet for this girl. But let me know if you have any tips / hints here.


Friday, June 1, 2012

You know it's summer when ...

I start making this!

There are a couple versions of this salad around. I have really simplified it to just the core basics. You can always add more but I like it like this. I can't call it plain and simple - it packs way too much flavor for that. But easy - yes!

Woops - yah, there should be a picture .. but you can find those other versions here, here and here. Honestly I'd rather share really good recipes than worry about getting the right pic.

One version has sugar and melted butter in the dressing .. seriously? Others add chickpeas, corns, beans, etc which I think is fine but distracts from the lovely popping of the Quinoa (I'm a sucker for anything that pops in my mouth ... poppy seeds, figs ... ). And some add avocado but I don't like that it goes slimy in the fridge.

I make a ton of this salad (at least double) and then just eat away at it.

Hehe, Axel doesn't like it so it's mine, all mine! Well ... I do share with friends. It's just too good to keep it a secret.

Quinoa, Cilantro & Lime Salad

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

2 medium tomatoes, diced
3 scallions, chopped finely
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped


the zest and lime of 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly and add to a pot of salted water (some cook in bullion, again - I don't bother). Bring to a soft boil and let bubble away for about 10 minutes or until the little tails on the seed loosen up.
  2. Drain thoroughly and at this point I allow it to cool down.
  3. In the meantime, chop the tomatoes, scallions and cilantro.
  4. Whisk the dressing together and then toss it all in a bowl with the cooled quinoa.
  5. Refrigerate and enjoy!
I'd tell you how long it stays good in the fridge but I don't know. Mine never lasts that long.
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