Banana-y Banana Bread.

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Bananay Banana Bread!

 

 

There are probably 990 kabillion banana bread recipes on the internet and in every grandmother’s cookbook. The problem, according to my husband, is that none of those recipes contain enough bananas.  A lot of them tell you to use an overly ripe banana, or maybe two, but depending on the size of your bananas, this one can take as many as 6.

It should not surprise you that this is really banana-y banana bread.

Bananay Banana Bread.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture – stir just until moistened.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  5. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

Notes:

This banana bread is dense and .. well, there are a lot of bananas in it. You can adjust the cinnamon to your preference – we often use closer to a tablespoon because it compliments the banana flavour (and because we like cinnamon).

Skillet Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

Oh yeah.

Oh yeah. 1970s-style goodness.

You will have to forgive the photo, above. It does not do justice to this cake. But I made this recipe rather late in the evening, just as the kids were heading to bed, and so the photo was taken close to 10pm after a very busy weekend. I am totally just phoning it in here, is what I’m saying, when it comes to this picture.

See, I had promised myself – and my husband – that I was going to make this cake during the holidays. And I was quickly running out of holidays in which to live up to my promise.  I’ve been craving it for weeks!

This is a really easy recipe to make and was really, really tasty when we finally got to eat some at 10:30-ish on Sunday night.

Skillet Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients:

Topping:
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3/4 cup, packed, of light brown sugar
1 can of pineapple chunks, reserve the juice for the batter
as many little red maraschino cherries as you like

Cake batter:
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of unsweetened pineapple juice (from above)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a 10″ cast-iron pan, make the topping. Melt the butter over medium heat and add in the brown sugar.
  3. Cook for 4 minutes on medium, stirring constantly. The sugar and butter will turn into a thick caramel that will make you feel tingly just looking at it.
  4. After 4 minutes, remove the skillet from the heat. Arrange your pineapple chunks and cherries (if you’re using them) in a delightful pattern. I went with concentric circles. You can do whatever you want. Set aside to cool.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. In a bigger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together – I used my stand mixer for this step.
  7. Add the eggs in, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
  8. Add half of the flour mixture, stir well.
  9. Add pineapple juice, stir well.
  10. Add the rest of the flour mixture and stir until it’s mixed. Don’t get crazy with this step.
  11. Gently pour/spoon/scrape the mixture out of the bowl and onto the carefully arranged pineapple (and cherries) in the cast iron pan.  Smooth it a bit if needed. Don’t worry much.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes – until the top is golden. Check it with a toothpick or a cake tester – it should come out clean.
  13. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate so everyone can see your beautiful pineapple arrangement. You might have to put a few pineapples or cherries back in place – use a fork because they are ridiculously hot and covered in melty sugar.
  14. Cool until room temperature-ish (if you can wait that long) and then serve! Yay!

Violet’s Cheatie Kringles.

The cheatiest Kringle EVER.

The cheatiest Kringle EVER.

My husband hails from Wisconsin which is the Land of Kringle. He requested Kringle for Solstice this year (we don’t celebrate Christmas). The last time he asked for a Kringle I just mail-ordered it – a process that turned out to be ridiculously complicated. We live in Canada, you see, and there are rules about how things can be shipped and extra costs for pastries (or something) and, in the end, it was stupidly expensive.

I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make one at home – I mean, it’s food. And, if it didn’t turn out, I’d just get out ye olde credit card and buy one from Wisconsin.

My first attempt was awful in terms of what you’d expect from a Kringle. I’m not from Wisconsin and even I knew it wasn’t authentic by any stretch of the imagination. I had my suspicions after viewing the recipe, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

Nope. There’s a reason that recipe isn’t posted here.

In order to make the official O&H version, I discovered that I would need to spend 3 days in the process. I intend to attempt this during the Christmas holidays – when I have 3 days off in a row and the patience to spend rolling things out. When that happens, I’ll post again to let you know how it turns out.

In the meantime, however, I made the easiest cheatiest Kringle EVER and my beloved husband really liked it and, so, I am going to share the recipe. If you can call something that uses frozen pastry a recipe.

Violet’s Cheatie Kringles

Makes 2 Kringles.

Ingredients:
1 box of frozen puff pastry (contains 2)
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 can of pie filling (your choice of flavour)
1 egg
2 tablespoons white sugar (or coarse, if you’re fancy)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Thaw your puff pastry per the directions on the box. I used President’s Choice brand and thawed it on the counter, at room temperature, for about 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Using a mixer, combine the softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup of white sugar. Mix until it’s light and fluffy and happy.
  5. Lay the pastries flat. Divide the cream cheese mixture in half – spread one half down the centre of each pastry (in a strip that’s about 2 inches wide)
  6. Spread pie filling on top of the cream cheese. It’s up to you how much pie filling you decide to use – go nuts or be conservative.
  7. Fold one length of the pastry over top of the filling. Fold the other side of the pastry on top of that. Repeat with the second Kringle. Fold the ends of both Kringles underneath. (I feel like I have made this step very confusing. Have I?)
  8. Brush the tops of both Kringles with the beaten egg (you won’t need the whole thing) and then sprinkle with white sugar. Bonus points if you had some fancy, coarse sugar sitting around for this.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes – or until everything is nice and browned. I turned mine halfway through to keep things even.
  10. Cool the Kringles for about 15 minutes. While they’re cooling, combine the icing sugar with the 2 tablespoons of milk and the vanilla extract.
  11. Drizzle the extract over the cooled Kringle.
  12. Cut ’em up and eat ’em.

Notes:
Make your own icing sugar by tossing a cup of white sugar into the blender and pulsing until it’s powdery. This stuff tastes WAY better than the icing sugar you buy in the store – did you know they put corn starch in there to keep it from clumping? Ew.

Violet’s Vitamin C Breakfast.

Mmm.. smoothie.

Mmm.. smoothie.

There are few things that I love more than kitchen-related gadgets – except maybe when kitchen gadgets go on sale at Costco and then they’re a really good deal. I emptied my piggybank this week and bought a Blendtec blender. It was a really good deal.

The blender, so far at least, is all that it’s cracked up to be. Powerful as all get-out, loud as all get-out, and fun. You may know the name from the “Will It Blend” series – and the answer is, Holy Crap, It Will Totally Blend and You Will Squeak With Glee While It Blends, Too.

So far I’ve used it just to make smoothies – and two glasses of carrot ginger juice. I’ve been drinking my breakfasts for a few years now, following almost the same recipe for all those mornings, so I’m on a quest to shake that up a bit. Today I invented a recipe (based on one of the recipes that came with the blender).

Violet’s Vitamin C Breakfast

Makes 2 servings. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of milk
1 orange, peeled
3/4 cup ice cubes
3 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
3 tablespoons of wheat bran
1 scoop of vanilla soy protein powder
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon of honey

Directions:
Throw everything into the Blendtec in the order above. Hit the “whole juice” button.

Notes:
I add wheat bran and/or oat bran to almost everything.

Crabapple Jelly.

Such a pretty colour!

Such a pretty colour!

We have a beautiful crabapple tree in front of our house and, last year, I made my first-ever batch of jelly. It took forever to gel, the colour was pale, but it tasted pretty good!

This year, I followed the instructions a bit more carefully, had my husband’s help in prepping all of the crabapples (So! Much! Work!) and it turned out beautifully. Look at that colour! It’s a tart, sweet, lovely jelly.

Here’s the recipe:

Crabapple Jelly

Makes about 8 x 250 mL jars

Ingredients:

5.5 pounds crabapples
5 cups of water
1 pouch (85 mL) of liquid pectin
7 1/2 cups of sugar

Directions: 

  1. Wash the crabapples, then remove stem and blossom ends. (Don’t peel them – they’ve got loads of pectin in them!) Chop coarsely.
  2. Combine crabapples with water in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Using a potato masher, crush the apples, then simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the liquid and the apple mixture into a dampened jelly bag and let the juice drip for at least 2 hours or overnight. (Remember, if you squeeze the bag, the jelly will be cloudy – but it will get things done faster!)
  5. Prepare 8 x 250 ml (half-pint) jars, lids and rings.
  6. Measure 5 cups of the prepared apple juice into a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Add all of the sugar.
  7. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add liquid pectin.
  8. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
  9. Pour or ladle the jelly into a hot jar, leaving 1/4 inch of head space.
  10. Wipe jar rim, place lids and rings.
  11. Process for 10 minutes.
  12. When processing time is finished, remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes.
  13. Remove jars and allow them to cool.
  14. All jars should seal. If they don’t seal, place them in the fridge and eat them soon.

 

Caramel Apple Jam.

Look at that gooey goodness!

Look at that gooey goodness!

This is the season for apples. Hoooboy, is it ever. And while you can always make apple sauce or apple butter (recipes later!) there’s something nice about making a gooey, caramel jam out of them.

Here’s the recipe:

Caramel Apple Jam
Makes 5 half pints. 
6 cups diced peeled apples (tart and sweet in combo)
1/2 cup water
1 package powdered fruit pectin
2 cups cane sugar
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  1. In a heavy pot, combine the apples and water. Cook and stir over low heat until apples are soft.
  2. Stir in pectin and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  3. In a bowl while you are waiting for the rolling boil, measure the sugars and spices.
  4. Add the measured ingredients and return to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Mash or use an immersion blender if there are bits of apple that have not cooked down into the jam.
  6. Remove from the heat and ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace.
  7. Process for 10 minutes in a water bath at a full boil.