The Missing Ingredient

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Banana Crumb Muffins August 24, 2008

Using only a few of the thousands of comments on this recipe (literally!), I made a few changes.  Great basic recipe; try adding chocolate chips, chopped walnuts or pecans, coconut, or old-fashioned oats.  Changes in green.


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 bananas, mashed (4)

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup butter melted (substituted half apple sauce, half vegetable oil)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 Tbs. butter

Extras added by me, Optional:

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

3/4 tsp. cinnamon


1.  Preheat over to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease 10 (12) muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt (and 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon).  

3.  In another bowl, beat together bananas, white sugar, egg and melted butter (applesauce/oil) (and vanilla).  Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.  (I used a stand mixer to combine the liquids and then added the flour mixture for a few spins until it was combined.)

4.  In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 Tbs. flour and cinnamon.  Cut in 1 Tbs. butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Sprinkle topping over muffins.  (Pat down topping into tops of batter to prevent melting to the sides.)

5.  Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.


Stir-Fried Five-Spice Pork with Lettuce Wraps

This dish reminded me of the Christmas holiday season with the five-spice powder.  Since you probably don’t use this spice regularly, I recommend you buy the five-spice powder in the Asian section of your grocer instead of the regular spice section.   I found it for $2 versus $5.99 in the regular spice aisle.  The recipe would be good with dark boneless chicken as an alternate to the pork.

Source:  Food and Wine Magazine

1 Tbs. peanut oil (I used vegetable oil)

1  1/2 Lbs boneless pork shoulder; outer fat trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 small onion, cut into 1/3-inch dice

1 carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise

1 celery rib, thinly sliced on the bias

3/4 tsp. Chiness five-spice powder

1/3 cup canned whole water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped

3 Tbs. chicken stock or low-sodium broth

2 1/2 Tbs. hoisin sauce

8 basil leaves, torn into pieces

2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Iceberg lettuce leaves, for serving


1.  In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil until shimmering.  Add the diced pork shoulder and stirofry over heat heat until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate.

2.  Add the onion, carrot and celery to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add the five-spice powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the water chestnuts, stock and hoisin sauce, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the pork to the skillet and stir-fry until heated through and coated with the sauce, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil, scallions and sesame oil; season with salt and pepper.  Spoon the pork into bowls and serve with lettuce leaves for wrapping.  Serve as an appetizer or as a main dish with steamed write or brown rice.


Berry-Brioche Bread Pudding August 23, 2008

Filed under: Dessert — xigumdrops @ 11:17 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I cut this recipe in half, used an 8×8 nonstick baking dish, and it served 6 huge pieces.  The recipe says 8 servings using an 8×11 pan but it’s more.  Also, make sure there is room in your baking dish for the pudding to rise as it bakes.  It falls back down once it is cooled.  The following is the full recipe as originally written.  Comments are in green.

Source:  Food and Wine Magazine

Unsalted butter, for greasing the dish

1/4 cup turbinado sugar 

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. kosher salt

4 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups blue berries and raspberries, plus more for serving (blackberries)

1 pound loaf of brioche, cut into 1/2-inch dice (Mexican sweet rolls pan de leche, torn into 1/2 inch pieces)

Whipped cream, for serving


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8×11-inch baking dish and coat the dish with the turbinado sugar. (Be sure to get the butter in the creases of the pan or the sugar won’t stick to the sides)

2.  In a large saucepan, bring the cream, milk 2/3 cup of the granulated sugar and the salt to a simmer over moderately high heat, then remove from the heat.

3.  In a bowl, whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and vanilla.  Gradually whisk in the hot cream until blended.  Strain the custard through a fine strainer into a large bowl (to catch any egg chunks).

4.  In a small bowl, toss the berries with 2 Tbs. of the granulated sugar.  Using a fork, coarsely mash the berries.  Let stand until juicy, about 5 minutes.

5.  Mix the brioche into the custard.  Fold in the mashed berries.  Transfer the pudding to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 Tbs. of granulated sugar.  Cover with foil (loosely as it puffs up) and bake for 45 minutes, until set in the center.  Remove the foil and bake in the top third of the oven for 20 minutes longer, until lightly golden.

6.  Preheat the broiler.  Broil the pudding for 1 minute, until golden brown.   Transfer to a rack and set stand for 30 minutes, until cooled slightly.  Cut the bread pudding into squares and serve with remaining berries and whipped cream.


Garlic-Chile Wet Paste Marinade August 22, 2008

I only had 30 minutes to marinade and forgot to wipe off the paste.  I used a grill pan indoors.  Pretty good overall.  Changes in green.

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated

6 Tbs. corn or vegetable oil (4 Tbs)

6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (2 Tbs)

2 medium scallions, minced (3 Tbs)

1 medium chipolte chile in adobo sauce, minced (1 Tbs)

1 medium jalapeno chile, minced (1 Tbs)

2 Lb. flank steak, patted dry with paper towels

2 tsp. kosher salt


1.  Puree first 5 ingredients in blender until smooth, scraping down blender as needed.

2.  Place steak on rimmed baking sheet or in large baking dish.  Using a dinner fork, prick stead about 20 times on each side.  Rub both sides of steak evenly with 2 tsp. salt and then with paste.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

3.  Using paper towels, wipe paste off steak; season both sides with pepper.  Grill steak until well browned.


Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

These potatoes are pretty time consuming but really delicious.  They would be a great side dish for Thanksgiving as an alternative to traditional sweet potatoes. The chipotle flavor is very mild. I cut the recipe in half and it made enough for 2 large sweet potatoes split into 4 servings (with a 1/4 cup extra sauce leftover).  I substituted about 1 Tbs. of brown sugar for the maple syrup and it turned out great.  You could add more if you like a sweeter taste.  I also replaced half of the heavy cream with whole milk to make it a bit healthier.  I used a microwave to soften the potatoes instead of an oven for the “first bake”.  Changes in green.

Source:  Food Network Bobby Flay

4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed (and pricked of course) 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (half heavy cream, half whole milk)
1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo, pureed (I used the full 1 Tbs. chipotle in my 1/2 recipe)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened 
1/4 cup creme fraiche  (reduced fat sour cream)
1/2 cup maple syrup, plus 2 tablespoons (1 Tbs. brown sugar)
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
Nonstick cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.1.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until soft, 45 to 50 minutes. (Microwave 3 minutes per side, alternating sides until soft; about 12 minutes.) Remove the potatoes from the oven and let rest 5 minutes. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the flesh, being careful not to damage the skin. Rice the flesh in a ricer set over a bowl.  

2.  Bring the heavy cream and chipotle puree to a simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Stir the warm cream, butter, creme fraiche and 1/2 cup of the maple syrup (brown sugar) into the sweet potato mixture until combined. (Gradually blend in the sauce because you don’t need it all) Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray. Fill each of the skins with the cream mixture, place back on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown (15-20 min). Remove the potatoes to a platter and drizzle the tops of each with the remaining maple syrup (omitted).


Sweet and Hot Pepper Chicken August 19, 2008

Filed under: Asian,Chicken,Spicy — xigumdrops @ 9:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

This one is a spiced up healthier sweet and sour chicken recipe.  I didn’t have any dried chilies so I added an extra jalapeno.  As I was mixing them in, I decided that each piece of chicken probably shouldn’t be covered in jalapeno (AGH!) so I removed some before I finished cooking.  Comments are in green.

Source:  Food Network Emeril

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce (?! never head of that; I just used more soy sauce)

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup chicken stock (low sodium)

1 Tbs. chili garlic sauce (overflowing 1 Tbs.)

2 tsp. sugar

4 tsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp. minced ginger (ground)

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. minced green onion bottoms

10 dried red chiles (omitted)

1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced (probably around 1.5 jalapenos after I took some out of the pan, stemmed, seeded and chopped)

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 cup sliced yellow onion (red onion)

2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

1 tsp. sesame oil (omitted – as I am typing this I realized I forgot this!  Didn’t miss it.)

1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro leaves (stems left in; I love how they taste!)


1.  In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, dark soy and cornstarch.  Whisk to blend well, add the chicken to the sauce.  Toss to evenly coat the chicken and set aside to marinade for 15 to 20 minutes as you chop everything else.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine the ketchup, stock, chili garlic sauce and sugar.  Stir to combine and set aside until ready to use.

3.  Place a wok over high heat and add the vegetable oil to the pan.  (I add the oil first and then turn on the heat to avoid splattering.)  Swirl the wok to be sure to coat well with the oil. Add the ginger, garlic, green onions, dried chilies (omitted) and jalapenos to the wok.  Cook, stirring often until the garlic is frangrant and the chilies begin to brown, about 20 to 30 seconds.  Add the chicken, bell peppers and onions to the pan and stir-fry until the chicken is no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the sauce to the pan and bring to a boil, being sure to toss well to coat all the chicken and vegetables evenly, about 1 to 2 minutes.

4.  Sprinkle the sesame seeds, sesame oil (oops omitted) and cilantro into the pan and toss to combine.  Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice.


Caribbean Grilled Chicken Kebabs August 17, 2008

Filed under: Chicken,Grilling — xigumdrops @ 4:40 pm
Tags: , , ,

You can be creative with the veggie/fruit sides with this marinade.  Try red onion, pineapple, red bell pepper, shallots, or peaches.

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

3 cups vegetables and/or fruit (I used 1 large red onion and 1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch chunks, and 1 large peach sliced)

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 recipe caribbean marinade as follows:

Caribbean Marinade:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 Tbs)

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon


1.  Mix marinade and chicken in 1 gallon zip-lock bag; seal and refrigerate, turning once or twice, until chicken has marinated fully, at least 3 and up to 24 hours.

2.  Light grill.

3.  Lightly coat vegetables and/or fruit by tossing in medium bowl with oil and salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Remove chicken chunks from bag; discard marinade.  Use 1 hand to hold 2 skewers about 1/2 inch apart, then thread portion of chicken and vegetables on both skewers at once for easy turning.  Repeat with remaining chicken and vegetables to make 8 sets of double skewers.  I used single wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes.  I also cooked the veggies separately from the chicken in a grill pan.

5.  Grill kebabs, uncovered, turning each kebab one-quarter turn every 2 minutes, until chicken and vegetables and/or fruit are lightly browned and meat is fully cooked, about 9 minutes (or 8 minutes for white meat chicken).  (Lid should be down if cooking with gas.) Check for doneness by cutting into 1 piece when it looks opaque on all sides.  Remove kebabs from grill when there is no pink at center.