Really Eating

Banana Bread

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on October 22, 2011

This is my go-to recipe for banana bread. I’ve tried a handful of different recipes, often willing to see if a tweak in this ingredient or the additional of that ingredient will convert me from this one, but alas, I always come back to the original.

It probably also has something to do with the fact that this recipe doesn’t call for any ingredients out of the ordinary–no sour cream, no buttermilk, etc. If anything, when I have a craving for banana bread, I sometimes don’t have the 3-4 over-ripe bananas I need to make it!

I buy a bunch of organic bananas almost every week and sometimes we can’t eat them fast enough to avoid the eventual over-sweet ripening from happening. Both of us like our bananas a little under-ripe (or just-ripe) so once they tip into that starting-to-brown territory, I just set them aside and let them ripen… and ripen… and ripen. If I have 3-4, I’ll make bread right then and there, but if it’s just a lone rang-er, banana, I’ll stick it in the freezer.

I never really understood what to do with frozen bananas, but I had always *knew* in the back of my head that they were re-usable. I finally did a quick Google and found out that:

  • You can definitely use frozen bananas in recipes. Some people even claim that they’re easier to cook with/taste better, maybe because of their mushy consistency.
  • You don’t have to defrost them, but sometimes they’re easier to use when slightly defrosted. I would suggest putting them in a plastic bag or container of some kind to protect the rest of the fridge from banana defrosting slime. You could also just leave them out on the counter for an hour or two (with your eggs and butter).
  • Some people claim that you can snip off the top of the bananas and squeeze out the insides… but I haven’t had any success with this method.
  • I use gloves to peel off the uh, peel, and minus cold fingers, works for me!
Original recipe was from the ever-reliable Simply Recipes, with a few tiny tweaks/additions below.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • Toppings/add-ins: Mini chocolate chips, chocolate chips, walnuts… whatever you have on hand

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub butter wrapper/butter over a 4×8 loaf pan (I like this one).

Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. With a wooden spoon or spatula, mix in the mashed bananas. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. (One bowl recipe, yes!)

*If you’re adding in any extras, fold them into batter gently at the end.

Pour mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool before serving.

Store in an air-tight container to keep the bread from drying out. A quick toast is a great way to re-heat for breakfast or snack.

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Apricot Chicken

Posted in Recipe Fail, Recipes by Bethany on April 6, 2011

Over the summer, the markets were inundated with yummy yellow and white peaches and nectarines. I’d often get too greedy (or ambitious, if you want a positive spin) at the market and come home with way too much produce for two of us, especially since I’m the only one who really loves eating produce all day long.

This timely recipe popped into my Google Reader mid-July and I finally put it to the test closer to the end of the month. Why the delay? Well, I didn’t have apricots in the house and strangely enough, I don’t really ever buy them. I don’t think I dislike them at all, but I just never found myself attracted to them. I asked Elise (the main blogger at Simply Recipes) if I could use peaches and she suggested I use yellow, so I proceeded with that.

If you haven’t noticed already, this is another Recipe Fail post, so I’ll post the actual list of ingredients and directions found on the original recipe and try to dissect why it was a Fail. A quick disclaimer- I can only blame myself for Recipe Fails. I’m pretty sure most food bloggers only post recipes they’ve tried and love, but I go ahead and alter something (sigh), yielding a sad, far-from-perfect result.

Actually, now that I think back, I’m not sure if this is a PURE recipe fail. I didn’t mind the chicken, but the sauce wasn’t quite right… it had kind of a Chinese taste to it, and I’m not exactly sure if that’s what it was supposed to taste like (based on the comments).

I’d be willing to try it again in the summer with actual apricots instead of peaches and will let you know how it goes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds apricots, roughly chopped, pits removed and discarded
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (can sub olive oil)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot sauce (you can add more if you like)
  • Black pepper

Directions

Place the chopped apricots in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and the vinegar. Let sit while you brown the chicken in the next step.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place chicken pieces in the pan, without crowding the pan, and brown them on each side. As the chicken cooks, sprinkle salt over it. Once the chicken is browned, remove the pieces from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. As the onion cooks and releases moisture, use a flat edged spatula or wooden spoon to scrape off the browned bits from the chicken (called fond) from the bottom of the pan.

Once the onions have browned a bit, add the chicken stock and lower the heat to medium.

Put about 2/3 of the apricots, along with any juice they have given up, into a blender and blend into a purée. Pour the purée into the pan with the chicken stock and onions.

Add the cinnamon, rosemary and Tabasco and taste. You may need to add some salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 10-20 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, put the chicken and the remaining apricot pieces into the pan and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Serve hot with rice.

Classic Baked Chicken

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on April 5, 2011

I knew I had to try this recipe when I read this: “This baked chicken recipe is one of those recipes that every home cook should have in their repertoire.” I’m a home cook, right? I’m not much of one, but I definitely cook and at home, so that meant I had to try this.

It’s as easy as it sounds. The original recipe includes instructions for how to make gravy after the chicken’s done, but I’ve never been determined/courageous enough to try that part of the recipe. I’ve made it with a handful of different chicken parts (cut up chicken, thighs-only, drumsticks- all bone-in) and it always turns out delicious.

Note: It’s one of those recipes where having an instant-read thermometer is super helpful because certain parts of the chicken cook faster/slower and you don’t want to end up with some pieces overcooked and others still pink.

As a sidenote- I was always a little wary of chicken with bones in it and/or skin; I think I only cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts for much of my time in college. While yes, white meat is “healthier,” I now better understand how chicken cooks differently on the bone, how it changes the flavor, and how it costs much less at the grocery store. Seriously! I rarely see boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1/pound, but you’ll find drumsticks, thighs, and legs for $1 or less somewhat frequently.

Ingredients

  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken (6 thighs, 8 drumsticks, or whatever you want)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse chicken pieces in water and pat dry with paper towels. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil (I used a rimmed baking sheet). Rub some olive oil over all of the chicken pieces in the roasting pan. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange the pieces skin-side up in the roasting pan so the largest pieces are in the center (the breasts) and there is a little room between pieces so they aren’t crowded in the pan.

Cook for 30 minutes at 400°F. Then lower the heat to 350°F and cook for 10-30 minutes more (approximately 14 to 15 minutes per pound total cooking time) until juices run clear (not pink) when poked with a sharp knife or the internal temperature of the chicken breasts is 165°F and the thighs 170°.

Remove roasting pan from oven. Remove chicken from roasting pan to a serving plate. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Refer to the original recipe for instructions on how to make gravy with the drippings/oils/yummy goodness.

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