Sunday, August 23, 2009

SMS - Mom's Bananna Apple Bread

Sunday morning is crazy busy every week. No exception. Cooking extra for the week lunches and making a Sunday dinner helps weekdays go by smoother. Fitting everything else that I would like to get done before going back to work is what makes the day feel crazy. The local farmer's market Saturday was a hit. Variegated bamboo plants around 4 feet tall, bushy Rose of Sharon shrubs with lavender flower buds, and ground covering wild red roses were among my great discoveries now sitting next to my greenhouse, ready to be planted. A grower, supplying nearby nurseries, sells at the farmer's market near my home in Port Orchard, WA. The plants were being sold at really low prices compared to what I have seen at the local nurseries and this gentleman's plants were beautiful, healthy, and full. I have been looking for plants to create a privacy wall with a variety of texture and colors. The bamboo may be a little worrisome because this variegated variety likes to spread. Building a strong root border in the ground will be a must.

The picture above is dinner for Sunday night: Hawaiian chili. The ingredients include fresh pineapple, chunks of pork loin, red bell peppers, carrots, celery, white kidney beans, a couple of hot peppers, cumin seasoning, different pepper spice seasonings, and fresh ginger. I will post the recipe and more pictures later this week. The flavors have a little kick to begin with but mellow the next day. I add shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and sour cream to the top when serving. The chili may sound unusual but the flavor combination is delicious and filling. The recipe makes enough to set aside extra to freeze for another evening.

The Sweet Melissa Sunday pick of Mom's Apple Banana bread by Joy of Hot oven, Warm Heart was such a nice choice to be baking first thing in the morning. What a great accompaniment to breakfast! Sauteing apples in butter, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla immediately set the mood for the morning. The aroma was soothing and everyone waited with anticipation for the oven to open and the apple banana bread to be declared ready for slicing. I think this is the first recipe in a long time that I did not fiddle with the ingredients in some way.

I was busy slicing up fruit for breakfast along with ingredients for the Hawaiian chili so including a few apples for cubing was nothing at all. The dark brown sugar was a nice added touch and I added a bit more cinnamon then Melissa called for in the recipe.

Fresh oranges are essential in my kitchen because I take orange slices and add them on top of ice cubes in a pitcher, let the ice cubes melt, and everyone enjoys fresh orange water with breakfast.

I had to add a picture of my fun egg selection. I think I have mentioned before how I get eggs from my sister's neighbor. She has an assortment of hens so the eggs are different colors and sizes. You never know if a double yolked egg will pop out from the next egg cracked open. Kind of like an egg lottery =D.

If you would like to get the recipe and do not have Sweet Melissa's cookbook, Joy from Hot Oven, Warm Heart will have the recipe posted on her blog this week. Thank you Joy for such a wonderful and warming selection for the week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday with Dorie: Applesauce Spice Bars

My oven is broken. Shock and disbelief is all that is left. The stove is digital and I have to turn the breaker in the panel off and back on to reset the stove just to bake 1 thing. No burners or timers can be used at this time. Otherwise, the whole stove shuts down and a 1-888-number appears and the oven will not turn back on until the whole breaker ritual is repeated. I have never had an oven go out on me before. I think I may be taking this a little too personally! I am completely bummed out and had NO idea just how addicted I am to baking. I don't even feel like shopping for a new stove because the options and prices are all over the map. What stove is the best stove for the right price? Ugh!

Something Sweet by Karen picked Applesauce Spice Bars on pages 117 and118 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my home to yours. You can find the recipe on Karen's web blog...and you must also check out her bars. They look beautiful and the perfect comfort food.

I, as always, altered the recipe just a little. First, no applesauce. The remedy? I used my baked, spicy apple butter instead. Apple brandy was added and the raisins were omitted.

One of my weaknesses is the combination of spices like the ones listed as part of the ingredients for these delicious bars. Cinnamon and allspice add so much to the senses and provide images of homey and rustic desserts.

My spicy baked apple butter had additional cinnamon and nutmeg and the heaviness of the baked butter did not hamper the recipe, which was to my relief.

My sister, Rachel, lives next to a lady with 19 laying hens. I feel so spoiled receiving fresh eggs to bake with. Growing up, our parents had chickens and my job was to feed the chickens, retrieve the eggs, and clean them every morning before school. Cleaning chicken eggs can so damage how a child looks at an egg for years to come.

The apple brandy was added to the recipe for the fun of it. I very rarely pop the cork on this bottle and get excited every time I have a chance to use the brandy. The main reason for this is because I had a hard time finding a quality apple brandy in the first place and the recipe calling for it only required about 1/4 cup.

Dorie has done it again! The apple spice bars are truly a comfort food to be made and enjoyed over and over again. To see my fellow TWD bakers in action with unique ideas and twists, click on this link =D~!

The Charcoal Grill and Me: Black Pepper-Crusted Grilled Ribeye with Blue Cheese-Pecan Butter

Lazy summer days; where did those days go? How many of us can recollect actually getting a lazy summer day? I know the first day of Fall is not suppose to be until September 22nd but I am just not ready to welcome another season when I have not thoroughly enjoyed the present season!
I have so many grilling projects for warm days...hardy grillers can grill in all weather climates...I really am not seeing myself standing up to my kneecaps in snow grilling rib eye steaks. Maybe the scenario is what a person is suppose to aspire to "or" maybe the scenario is for people in warm climates year around "only".
Using Mesquite briquettes, the king of steaks: the ribeye, was grilled to perfection (medium-rare for me) with a coating of freshly cracked black pepper, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a thick slice or two of butter enlightened with blue cheese, crushed pecans and a taste of fresh lemon juice.
Black Pepper-Crusted Grilled Ribeye with Blue Cheese-Pecan Butter
(adapted from Grill It! by C. Schlesinger and J. Willoughby)
4 servings
The Meat:
1/3 c. freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 c. kosher salt
1 T. red pepper flakes
4 boneless rib eye steaks, about 1 inch thick (12 - 14 oz. each)
2 T. olive oil
(Be careful with putting to much olive oil on the steaks as the oil causes fire flare-ups!)
The Butter:
1 T. chopped pecans
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese (cheaper to buy a block of good blue cheese and crumble yourself)
1 t. fresh lemon juice
Toast the pecans: Heat the oven to 350 degrees (180C), spread the pecans over a shallow baking pan, and cook, checking frequently, until golden (5 - 10 minutes). Allow to cool.
Combine the butter, blue cheese, pecans, and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix well. Pile the butter mixture onto a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, form it into a rough cylinder, and wrap it up. Refrigerate until firm. (This butter will keep in the refrigerator for a week , or frozen for several months.)
Build a fire in your grill. When the coals are ignited, the flames have died down, and the temperature is hot, you're ready to cook.
Combine the black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and mix well. Rub the steaks all over with oil and coat generously with the spice mixture, pressing gently to be sure it adheres.
Put the steaks on the grill over the hottest part of the fire and cook, turning once, until very well seared - about 6-8 minutes per side for rare. To check for doneness, poke the steaks with your finger to test their firmness; if you're unsure, make a small cut in the thickest part of one steak to be sure it is just slightly less done than you like it.
While the steaks are cooking, cut the chilled blue cheese butter into 1/4 inch slices. As soon as the steaks come off the grill, top each steak with a slice or two of the butter, so it starts to melt as you serve the steaks.