Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bakers Delight

My first forays into cooking were always about baking, cookies, attempts at brownies and cakes (cupcakes even). They were always a need to feed my own sweet tooth and then slowly but surely I realized how much I enjoyed cooking as opposed to the precision of baking. Cooking requires far less precision, a dash of this and a pinch of that vs. the measured strictness of baking. Occasionally I still find myself baking, it's infrequent, mainly because I shouldn't be eating it as much as I wish I could, so when I can make my baking healthy I'm a happy girl. Two of my favorites taste bad for you but really aren't that bad with their whole wheat flour and oil alternatives.

Chocolate Banana Bread
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Applesauce
2 Eggs
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Flax Seeds
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Cup Walnuts
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a loaf pan.
2. Cream sugar, applesauce and eggs. Add bananas and vanilla extract.
3. Sift/whisk together dry ingredients.
4. Gently fold dry and wet ingredients together. Add flax seeds, walnuts and chocolate chips.
5. Bake at 350F until the top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean (appx 45-50 minutes depending on how deep the loaf pan is).

Banana Caramel Muffins
2 Large Eggs
2/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup Mashed Bananas (2 Medium Bananas)
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Wheat Bran
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Diced Dulce De Leche (Goya makes a bar form of this but if you can't find it caramel chips would be fine)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Whisk eggs, banana, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and bran together
3. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add moist and dry ingredients together, mix well.
4. Stir in chocolate and caramel. Scoop into muffin wrappers in a muffin tin.
5. Bake 15-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

I have to apologize now, the photo isn't stellar, it was a cell phone camera pic.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


A few years back I took a business trip to San Francisco, while there I had some of the best seafood I've had in years and have since spent time trying to replicate some of those vittles. While the cioppino I ate there was amazing I certainly can't down-play how great this recipe's well worth the expense in seafood!


1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
3/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped fennel
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes and their juices
1 8oz bottle clam juice
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound mussels, well scrubbed and de-bearded
1 pound firm fish, such as halibut or snapper, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 pound lump crab meat
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped green onions, green tops only
Sourdough bread, accompaniment

1, In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery, and fennel, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf, salt, oregano, red pepper, fennel seeds, thyme, and black pepper, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the white wine, stir to deglaze the pan, and cook until half of the wine is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the plum tomatoes and their juices and the fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Add the mussels and simmer until the shells open, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove and discard any unopened shells.

3. Lightly season the fish and shrimp with the salt and pepper, and add to the pot. Simmer, covered, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the parsley. Ladle into large soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese and green onions.

Serve immediately with hot bread.