Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Banana Crumb Muffins

I had a trio of overripe bananas staring me in the face, so I decided to take full advantage and bake up some banana muffins while Madeline napped.  These muffins have the added bonus of being topped with cinnamon and sugar – pure deliciousness.  I wanted to bring some to playgroup this week so I made up a few regular sized muffins to keep at home for Dennis and also baked up some mini muffins for the kids.  I made the muffins this morning and have already eaten two of the mini muffins – oops.  I should probably put them out of sight so there are at least some left over for the kiddies…

Banana Crumb Muffins (adapted from AllRecipes)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease muffin cups.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugars, egg, vanilla, and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Mix in canola oil until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven, about 10 minutes for mini muffins and 18 minutes for regular sized muffins.  The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Booskerdoo Coffee

One thing I rarely mention on my blog is my love of coffee.  When I was pregnant the one treat I never felt guilty about was my morning cup of coffee.  In a world where Dunkin’ Donuts are popping up on every corner, a good cup of coffee is becoming increasingly hard to find.  That’s why I was so excited when the folks at Booskerdoo Coffee sent me some of their coffee to review.  Into the French press it went!

Booskerdoo is based in Monmouth Beach, NJ and was started up by James Caverly.  James had a career in Advertising and Marketing but eventually decided to take his home roasting to the next level and open up his own shop.  Booskerdoo emphasizes the freshness of its roasts – the beans are roasted and shipped on the same day.  James maintains strict quality control and any beans that aren’t sold within the first week of being roasted are donated to the Red Cross. 

The area where Booskerdoo is located was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, though the store was lucky enough to escape with minimal damage.  Booskerdoo donated 10% of its sales from the Jersey Diner Style Blend to the Monmouth Beach Fire Department as a thank you for their hard work during and after the storm.

The Diner Blend was one of two samples the company sent me.  The Diner Blend is, as James puts it, their “rendition of a classic.”  New Jersey diner coffee isn’t known for being bold and assertive, and the Diner Blend is a good roast for people who enjoy a milder flavored coffee.  It is a definite step up from what you’d get in most diners as it lacks the bitterness that you often find.

The second sample I was provided with was their Black & Tan, which blends light and dark roasts.  This blend was much more my style as it has a strong, chocolaty flavor and goes down smooth.  I would be happy to add this coffee to my regular rotation, and even happier to do so from a company that is so supportive of New Jersey.

*Though samples were provided, the opinions are my own.

Booskerdoo Coffee
36 Beach Road, Suite 9 
Monmouth Beach, NJ 0775

Monday, December 17, 2012

Marinara Magnifica

As a former vegetarian I love the idea of Meatless Monday as I’m always looking for recipes that satisfy without the addition of meat.  This marinara recipe is one of the first foods my husband requests as the weather turns cooler and he’s less willing to grill outside.  It’s perfect for freezing and breaking out for a quick weekday meal.  I guarantee you won’t miss the meat with this recipe.

Marinara Magnifica (from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups chopped onion (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion and sugar. Cook 30 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Makes 9 cups of sauce.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

First, an apology for being so lax in my posting for the past few months.  I gave birth to my daughter Madeline in September so I’ve been a bit busy since then.  We had a lot of sleepless nights at the beginning so if I had any free time it was spent napping, not baking!  But now that she’s 2 ½ months we’ve started establishing a bit of a schedule.  I’ve learned to take full advantage of any time that she’s napping or when my husband is home to watch her. 

This past weekend was Thanksgiving and I was all set to post a recipe that I made for Thanksgiving dessert.  Unfortunately it turned into a bit of a disaster (I’ll blame it on being out of practice) and most of the results went into the garbage.  I had the chance to redeem myself on Sunday when our friends stopped by with their young daughter.  I planned to make these Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, only to realize I didn’t have caramels that morning.  Really, the baking gods were working against me this weekend.  I decided to just leave the caramel layer out and add in a mix of dark and white chocolate chips to jazz the bars up a bit.  I also added a sprinkling of salt on top to balance the sweetness.  The bars ended up turning out great, and they were done in under an hour.  With a newborn in the house, that’s essential!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips (I used both white and semi-sweet)
Sea salt for sprinkling over bars

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, mix together the melted butter and sugars on medium speed until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Press the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the bars with sea salt.

Bake the cookie bars for 30-32 minutes, or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then cut into squares and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blueberry Streusel Scones

Now that our local farmer’s market has opened for the season we come home with a bounty of produce every weekend.  My fridge was overflowing with Jersey blueberries so I figured I should find a way to put them into a breakfast treat.  I decided to make scones with blueberry streusel topping after I came across the recipe from Joy of Baking.  They were easy enough to make, though it was hard to transfer them over to the baking sheets after cutting the circles into wedges.  I ended up just reshaping them a bit once they were on the baking sheets.  Dennis really liked these, especially since they had the crumbs on top.  If you’re looking for a way to use the best of summer produce, I highly recommend you give these a try.

 Blueberry Streusel Scones (from Joy of Baking)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup cream or milk

Brushing tops of scones:

Milk or Cream

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in middle of oven.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Gently fold in the blueberries.  In a small measuring cup combine the milk, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough or the scones will be tough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 11/2 inches thick.  Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into four pie-shaped wedges. Place the scones on the baking sheets. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream or milk.

For the Streusel Topping: In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until crumbly.  Top each scone with a teaspoon or two of the streusel mixture.

Bake the scones until nicely browned, about 18 - 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a scone comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Makes 8 scones.