A twist on an old favorite: Swirl Banana Bread

Published November 12, 2014 by jenmatteson

My hubs loves bananas, and he’ll buy them any time he goes shopping on his own (so almost never). The problem is, he won’t eat them all before they start becoming a bit…questionable. Of course, my initial go-to is banana bread, but I thought this time I’d change it up slightly. After taking a look at the ingredients in this bread, I’m not sure you could call it bread, it is basically a cake. Oh well – it’s delicious!

Banana Swirl Bread

I ended up using a combination of unsweetened, bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate. I thought I had more bittersweet in the cupboard, but I guess it’s now on my shopping list. But the unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate seemed to balance each other out nicely. The bread wasn’t too sweet, which I liked. I also subbed skim milk for whole. I’m not a huge fan of spending $4 on a half-gallon of milk that I’ll only use 1 cup of, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. If you choose to use whole milk, I’m guessing the texture may be slightly more rich, but I’m not sure it’s really needed. While measuring the milk, I was slightly distracted and poured an entire cup. I ended up adding about 3/4 cup, instead of just a 1/2 cup, so the batter was runnier than it probably should have been. This is what I blame my poor “swirl” on :)

Banana Swirl Bread

This is an excellent way to use up some old bananas, and also spice up your same old boring banana bread!

Banana Swirl Bread

Banana Swirl Bread

Source: Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Servings: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1½ ripe bananas, peeled
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
zest of ½ a lemon
1 tablespoon dark rum
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup skim milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter or non-stick spray loaf pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

3. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with the lemon juice, zest, and rum.

4. Melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the remaining stick of butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated. With the mixer running, pour in the milk; once blended, add the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas.

6. Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into the prepared pan. Using a table knife, swirl the batters together, taking care not to overdo it.

7. Bake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes and if the cake starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.

A Trip to Mexico Followed by Thai-Glazed Corn

Published November 4, 2014 by jenmatteson

I know I went back on my word of posting once a week, but I have a very good excuse. Our best friends got married in Mexico, so Nate and I were gone celebrating for 10 days! That didn’t leave a lot of time for cooking and blogging leading up to and after, but we’re back on track now! I was too busy balling my eyes out, and my husband was too busy sweating up a storm (ruining their pictures) to take any of our own pictures of the actual ceremony. But what we did do is spend one wonderful day with alone with the bride and groom, and it was absolutely fabulous! Here’s a quick pic of the four of us on a cliff off Isla Mujeres after sampling some of the local tequila, of course ;)

Fun with Besties in Isla Mujeres

We have so many awesome memories from Mexico with the Fishers and Co., from their beautiful wedding, spending great times with their family and friends, sailing, swim up bar, water aerobics and trivia, Isla Mujeres and getting completely poured on, cards in the lobby bar, deep sea fishing, all the way to getting put on official probation by the hotel Assistant Manager. I am so thankful to be included in such a special event and will remember that vacation forever! I’ll share more pictures of our awesome trip once we have them uploaded.

Because there’s no real good transition from trip to Mexico to Thai glazed corn on the cob, I’ll just jump right in…

I feel like we didn’t eat our share of corn this year, but can you ever have enough? Probably not when it’s fresh from the farm! I grew up eating corn on the cob in probably one of the most traditional ways – boiled with butter and salt. As I got older, I enjoyed it grilled in the husk with salt and pepper. This glaze really takes corn to a whole new level.

Thai-Glazed Corn

The glaze is slightly sweet, but the fish sauce adds a salty element. Grilling for just a little longer after brushing on the glaze caramelizes the sugars and makes every single kernel pop! I think this glaze would be great on almost everything – chicken, pork, shrimp, fish! It’d even be a great wing glaze!

We’re pretty much at the end of the prime corn season, but if you’ve still got some fresh ears, I highly recommend trying out this recipe.

Thai-Glazed Corn

Thai-Glazed Corn

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. Asian fish sauce
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
4 ears of corn, shucked
chopped cilantro, for garnish
lime wedges, for serving

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Cook over moderate heat until the glaze is syrupy, about 10 minutes.

2. Preheat grill to medium heat and grill corn until charred and tender, 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush cobs with glaze during the last 5 minutes. Cut each corn cob into thirds (or don’t, because you’ll likely want an entire ear to yourself), transfer to platter and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

Published September 30, 2014 by jenmatteson

Salads are pretty common in our house in the summertime, and what makes them even better is fresh lettuce or greens from the garden. This year, I’ve planted three different kinds of lettuce, and am already getting to enjoy them (yeah, I started writing this in June). But, what’s great about lettuce is it’s hearty enough to withstand cool nights in the fall. Even on the last day of September, my lettuce is still going strong!

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

I’ve never made a chimichurri before, but it sounded delicious and couldn’t have been more simple. The recipe I followed from Food and Wine called for parsley, but if you are a regular reader (I know, who could be regular when I haven’t been posting much lately), you know I rarely have parsley and almost always use cilantro in its place. Even better, I used cilantro from my garden!

The only other substitution was cannellini beans in place of black-eyed peas. I didn’t have any, but I had everything else, so I decided to just roll with it (you can too!) and make what I already have work. It did! I loved the chimichurri not only as a marinade on the shrimp, but it was a great dressing for the salad, as well. We didn’t need (or have) any extra to pass at the table, so I don’t think it’s necessary, but go for it if you like things saucy!

Griled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

Nate cooked the shrimp perfectly, he says with my help, but he did all the work. I just said when they should come off the grill. The warm shrimp, paired with the fresh garden flavors of the salad were a perfect combination. This is great for a quick dinner, and even an entertaining dinner, as it’s filling, but not too heavy.

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. finely chopped oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
pepper
10 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup cannellini beans
1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups mixed greens
1/2 avocado, sliced

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic and crushed red pepper. Season generously with salt and pepper and adjust to taste. In a large bowl, toss shrimp with 2 tbsp. of the chimichurri and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Grill shrimp, turning once, until lightly charred and just cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to plate.

3. In a large bowl, toss beans, tomatoes and greens with 2 tbsp. chimichurri. Season with salt and pepper and pile evenly on two plates. Top with shrimp and avocado and serve. Pass remaining chimichurri at the table.

A Summer of Not Blogging…

Published September 23, 2014 by jenmatteson

Yes, I know, I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I used to, but I must say, it touches my heart when people ask me about it and say they miss my posts.

To be truthful (not like I’m not always truthful with you), not only has our busy summer prevented me from blogging, but so has our new high tech computer. You see, our Mac was ruined at our wedding celebration last September. Someone carelessly (me) set it next to a faulty slushy machine, which exploded all over the computer. Since then, we were using my old HP, which started shorting out. Finally, we decided to get a new laptop. One with Windows 8. One with a touchscreen. One that is thin with a large screen. Neat, right? Well, sort of. It was a little too much technology for Nate and me, and its taken an extraordinary amount of time for me to learn how to use the picture software.

So, my goal is to post at least once a week. I figure I’ll never learn how to use it, and use it well, unless I’m actually trying to learn!

In the mean time, please enjoy some unedited shots of our busy spring/summer!

One of the first nice days of the summer was a Sunday our good friends were in town. We had brunch, and well, things really escalated quickly. Later that night, Kim and I disappeared for a few hours. We were supposed to go pick up pizza and return, but we stopped off at the bar for a few instead… Meanwhile, Charlotte enjoyed the sunshine.

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Above: Spending the afternoon with the bestie at Stella’s. 7-14-21 happened, and Kristin always loses.

Below: My sis-in-law’s grandfather raised the flag at a Twins game. We got to hang with our niece and nephew at the game. My nephew, Carter, tried his first Target Field Dog! He got about halfway.IMG_1233 IMG_1234 IMG_1239

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below left: I threw a Dr. Seuss themed baby shower for my bestie, and got a goldfish as a centerpiece. Charlotte liked him a lot.

Below right: I tried catching a line drive at shortstop with my face in softball – didn’t work. Broken nose and concussion.

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Below: Our annual canoe trip down the Namekogen River with our closest friends.

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Above: My niece very interested in my dad filleting fresh fish. She even touched them!

Below: One of my best girlfriend’s bachelorette party in Wisconsin Dells. Too much fun!!

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Below left: Made it to the Great MN Get Together (MN State Fair) with Kristin and the hubs.

Below right: Huge cleaning and organizing initiative in our basement – Maverick helped by supervising from this box.

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Above: We celebrated our one year wedding anniversary with dinner at Union and a show at The Brave New Workshop.

Below: Our first annual end of the summer party – one night of debauchery on our flip cup table. Some horse racing also took place.

 

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Below: We both finished our hunter safety training this summer. My new waders, and below that, Nate shooting clay pigeons.IMG_1350IMG_1423

Blueberry Scones

Published September 2, 2014 by jenmatteson

I’ve been on a bit of a berry kick lately, and unfortunately, my eyes were bigger than my berry hungry stomach. Get it!? Of course, the best price for berries is Costco, where you get a crap-ton (yes, it’s a scientific measurement) for the same price your local grocery sells those teeny tiny cartons. So, while it’s a better bang for your buck, it’s quite a bit of berries to eat for two people. Not to mention that I eat mostly blueberries – what we have the most of – and Nate exclusively eats raspberries (which, yes, I prefer, but are SO much more expensive).

Blueberry Scones

We were heading out of town for the 4th of July weekend, so I knew if we didn’t eat them up, they’d go bad. I decided to make something we could take with us for the weekend, so I whipped up these beautiful blueberry scones.

I may or may not (mostly may) have been making a handful of other things at the same time, so I overlooked the fact that there is lemon zest in these. Whoops! They still taste awesome, but I wished I remembered because they would have had just a little more pop! The scones are flakey and light, and not too sweet. A perfect little breakfast snack – a great idea to bring to share at work or any brunch gathering!

Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Scones

Source: Adapted from Marth Stewart
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed
1 tsp lemon zest
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, 3 tbsp. sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter and pulse until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Transfer to mixing bowl and stir in blueberries and zest.

3. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together heavy cream and eggs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in egg mixture. Lightly stir with fork until dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times to mix well.

4. Pat dough into a 6-inch square about 1 1/4 inches thick. Using a floured knife, cut into four 3-inch squares, then cut squares in half on the diagonal to form eight triangles. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, brush tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Summer Jell-O Shots

Published June 18, 2014 by jenmatteson

I recently subjected myself to a new type of torture, or what many people call exercise. Bootcamp to be more exact. Now I’m no stranger to working out, and usually before work, but I was committed to this bootcamp for two weeks – 6 AM workouts M-F, and 8 AM workouts on Saturday. Oh, and don’t forget about the strongly encouraged second workouts on all these days.

While I make it out to be hell, it was actually a lot of fun. I was searching for a new type of workout, as my typical routine had put me into plateau mode. What’s more, not only are there four wonderful bootcamp coaches pushing and supporting you throughout the two weeks, but the camaraderie in the 31 person group was extremely foreign and amazingly inspiring to me.

On the last day, we decided to do a potluck, and I offered to bring Jell-O shots. No one seemed extremely against the idea, so I went for it! The last time I made fancy Jell-O shots (watermelon mint), they turned out pretty good, although I had some trouble with the gelatin sticking to the watermelon rind. I was a bit scared I’d have that same issue this time, but I didn’t at all. They turned out so well and everyone seemed quite impressed.

Lemon Meringue Jello Shots Greyhound Jello Shots

It’s hard to pick a clear favorite here with the delicious flavors; the lemon meringue was dreamy, the Arnie Palmer was summery and refreshing, and the greyhound was perfectly tart. They are super simple, and get a lot of great compliments, so try them out at your next gathering!

Lemon Meringue Jello Shots

Lemon Meringue/Arnie Palmer Jell-O Shots

Source: Adapted from E is for Eat
Servings: Makes 24-40 shots

Ingredients:

6-10 lemons (depending on size)
1-3 oz package of lemon Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
1 cup whipped cream flavored vodka (for lemon meringue) or iced tea flavored vodka (for Arnie Palmer

Directions:

1. Cut each lemon in half, lengthwise (so pretty much the opposite of how you would if you were regularly juicing a lemon), and juice them carefully without tearing the peel. Save juice for another use (freezing in ice cube trays works great!).

2. Hollow out each half, again being cautious not to puncture the peel. I used a grapefruit knife to loosen the edges and was able to pull the inside segments out easily. Place halves in muffin pan to help keep them balanced while setting.

3. Make Jell-O according to package directions, except in place of the cold water, substitute your vodka. Fill each lemon half and refrigerate until set. It’s easiest to pour mixture into a liquid measuring cup for easy pour into the peels.

4. Once set, use a sharp knife to slice into wedges and serve. Depending on size of lemon, you can get at least 2 wedges out of each half, sometimes more.

Greyhound Jello Shots

Greyhound Jell-O Shots

Source: Adapted from E is for Eat
Servings: Makes about 24 shots

Ingredients:

3-5 large grapefruits
2 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin
1 tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Directions:

1. Cut each grapefruit in half, and juice them carefully without tearing the peel. Strain the juice to remove any pulp or seeds.

2. Hollow out each half, again being cautious not to puncture the peel. I used a grapefruit knife to loosen the edges and was able to pull the inside segments out easily. Place halves in muffin pan to help keep them balanced while setting.

3. Pour 1 cup of the grapefruit juice into a small saucepan and sprinkle with Knox gelatin. Add 1 tbsp. of sugar (use up to 1/4 cup if you like really sweet grapefruit juice – I prefer unsweetened) and heat until gelatin and sugar have dissolved, about five minutes.

4. Pour in vodka and water and transfer to something with an easy pour spout, like a liquid measuring cup. Pour in grapefruit halves and refrigerate to set.

5. Once completely firm, cut each half, in half, and then in half again. Depending on size, you may want to cut them even smaller.

 

Meatless Monday: Basil Portobello Hoagie

Published April 14, 2014 by jenmatteson

Final trial veggie sandwich before the shower…

I must say, it was wonderful, but I sure wish I had more Portobello, because not only does the hoagie look slightly un-plump, but I could have really used a little more veg and less bread.  Don’t get me wrong, the entire thing was wonderful, but I wouldn’t have been upset with more mushrooms.  Who could be?

Basil Portobello Hoagie

I roasted my own peppers for this sandwich (soups easy), as well as used homemade hummus.  Feel free to speed up the process with jarred roasted red peppers and/or pre-made hummus.  This was another vegan try for the baby shower, and while I think taste-wise this was my favorite, it would be too difficult to keep warm and leave out for several guests.  So, I’ve decided on the Hummus Supreme!

But go ahead and give this one a try too.  I made this when it was still freezing in MN, which wasn’t too long ago, so I didn’t grill the Portobello.  I just sautéed them in some olive oil quickly on the stovetop.

Basil Portobello Hoagie

Portobello Hoagie

Source:
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

4 large Portobello caps
2 hoagies, or about 2 5-inches pieces of French bread, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup hummus
6-8 fresh basil leaves
1 roasted red pepper (approximately 1/2 cup jarred)

Directions:

1. If grilling, preheat grill to medium high heat.  Brush mushrooms with olive oil, and grill until just tender, about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let rest.  Slice into 1/2-inch strips.  If you are using your stovetop, Slice mushrooms into long strips, about 1/2-inch thick.  Preheat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook over moderate heat until just softened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest.

2. Meanwhile, divide hummus evenly and spread on both sides of bread.  Layer with basil leaves, roasted red pepper and sliced Portobellos.  Close and enjoy!

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