28 July 2009

Mom's Banana Bread

I bet most of you already have a favorite recipe for banana bread in your recipe box... but just in case you misplaced your mother's recipe, I will share my mom's secret with you.  None of the ingredients are really out of the ordinary, except this one contains loads of love and care.  Mom made this for us when we went off to camp, when she was about to leave town on a trip, when we had girlfriends sleep over in high school, and she even sent it to us in college care packages.  Thanks, Mom!  Love you forever.

My sister and I always asked Mom to undercook the bread by 5 minutes so that the center was still mushy.  Dad would come home from work only to realize that his little girls purposely sliced the middle, mushy pieces out of the loaf already.  Poor guy; he rarely ever had the chance to enjoy the warm, gooey center! 

Mom's Banana Bread
(Makes 2 small loaves or 1 large loaf)

1 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Margarine
2 Eggs
2 C. Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Large Ripe Bananas
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 C. Sour Cream

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  With an electric mixer, blend the sugar, margarine, eggs, flour, salt, and baking soda until combined.  Add the bananas, vanilla, and sour cream; mix until combined.  Let stand for 10 minutes before baking.  Grease pan(s).  Bake for 35 - 40 minutes if you are using 2 smaller loaf pans.  Bake for 50-60 minutes if using a large loaf pan.  After baking, check center with a toothpick and make sure that it comes out clean.  Remove from pan and cool on a baking rack. 

Idea: Wrap up the banana bread and give it to a friend as a 'thank you' gift.

27 July 2009

Simplified Paella

My godmother, Amy, put on quite the Sunday night dinner at the lake. She made individual packets of seafood wrapped in foil and her husband, Sean, grilled them to perfection. Amy also put her own Spanish twist on the traditional Paella rice and made saffron cous-cous with figs and pimientos instead. It was a delicious, quick, and enjoyable side dish with the seafood and vegetables.

From the chef:
"What a beautiful Sunday night on Gull Lake!! We all love trying new food and especially using fresh and healthy ingredients. I am happy to have been the guest chef on Thyme for Wine!! Hope to do it again!" -Amy H.

Grilled Seafood Packets with Peppers & Artichokes
(Adapted from Cuisine at Home & Amy's personal touches)
Makes 4 Servings

1 Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced
4 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1 Large Onion, chopped
1 C. Canned or Frozen Artichoke Hearts (thawed if frozen), drained and quartered
8 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Smoked Paprika
Kosher Salt to taste
1/2 C. Dry White Wine
1 Lemon, thinly sliced
4-6 oz. fresh seafood for each person (scallops, shrimp, halibut, snapper, etc.)
Chopped Fresh Parsley

Preheat grill to medium heat. Combine bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, artichoke hearts, garlic, paprika, and salt in a bowl. Add wine and stir to incorporate. Cut four pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil about twice the distance around food to be wrapped. Fold each sheet in half to form a double layer. Divide vegetable mixture into four portions. Place one portion in center of each piece of foil. Place one serving of seafood on vegetables in each packet. Top seafood with a few lemon slices. Bring opposite sides of foil together above food, folding edges over to make a 1-inch crease at top of each packet. Continue folding over crease until foil presses flat against food and top of packet is well sealed. Flatten ends of packet; fold or roll them together toward center to seal. Grill packets, covered, over direct head about 10-15 minutes (depending on type of seafood). Remove packets from heat; unfold slowly to avoid being burned by steam. Transfer seafood and veggies to plates; garnish with parsley.

Spanish Cous-Cous
(Adapted from Cuisine at Home & Amy's personal touches)
Makes 4 Servings

2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 C. Uncooked Cous-Cous (or 2/3 C. Uncooked Quiona)
1/4 C. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 C. Water
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp. Saffron Threads
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 C. Frozen Peas
1/4 C. diced dried figs (about 2 oz.)
2 Tbsp. jarred, chopped pimientos, drained

Saute garlic in oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add cous-cous (or quinoa). Stir for 1 minute to toast cous-cous. Deglaze pan with chicken broth. Add water, bay leaf, saffron threads, and salt; stir lightly. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat until liquid simmers; cover pan and cook cous-cous for 5 minutes (quinoa takes about 20 minutes). Remove pan from heat. Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in peas, figs, and pimientos. Cover pan and let cous-cous sit for 5 minutes. Fluff before serving.

25 July 2009

Blue Margaritas

The weatherman doesn't know what he is talking about... today turned out to be quite nice!  Nice try, Sven!  We are up at Doug's parents' cabin this weekend.  Doug and I were sitting down on the dock and his cute mom brought us freshly blended blue margaritas!  Don't worry - it was past five o'clock!  Blue water, blue skies, and blue margaritas :)  What a great day.  Thanks for sharing the recipe, Mrs. D!

Blue Margaritas
(Doug's Mom's Recipe)

1 (10 oz.) Can Frozen Margarita Mix
3/4 C. Tequila
2 Tbsp. Lime Juice 
Lime Wedges for Garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Fill with ice to 5-cup level and process until smooth.  (Optional) Run a lime wedge around the edge of a margarita glass and then dip the rim of the glass onto a plate of margarita salt. Serve immediately and garnish with a lime wedge. 

17 July 2009

Lemon-Ginger Chicken

My mom's recipe for chicken breasts in a lemon-ginger sauce is absolutely one of my favorite meals! We like to serve it over brown rice, accompanied by green veggies or a nice salad. A chilled glass of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio would be an excellent beverage choice! Mmmm...

Lemon-Ginger Chicken
(Mom's Recipe)
(Ingredients for the Marinade)
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, finely minced
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

(Ingredients for the Sauce)
1/2 C. Lemon Juice
5 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
1/4 C. Chicken Broth
2 tsp. Lemon Zest
1/8 tsp. White Pepper
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp. Water
1 Tbsp. Sweet Butter

Garnish: Cilantro Sprigs and Lemon Slices
*Also, I like to serve this over Brown Rice - works well with the sauce*

In a bowl, gently mix light soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger & cinnamon. Add chicken; marinate 30 minutes. You can grill, pan broil, or bake the chicken (I like to bake the chicken because it tends to be moist and holds the flavor of the ginger). Next, start the sauce - In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, sugar, soy sauce, broth, lemon zest & white pepper; bring to a low boil. Thicken with a little of the cornstarch mixture. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Place chicken on rice; spoon sauce over chicken. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lemon slices. Serves 4.

16 July 2009

A Perfect Summer Bootleg

Here is a summer cocktail recipe that is perfect for a boat ride or sitting on the deck at the cabin!  It is kind of a wavy day on the lake, so Doug and I decided to enjoy these on the deck!  Yes, I'm blogging and drinking at the same time.  Is this legal??!  This is the first time that I made a mint bootleg for Doug, and he loves them!  So to all of you out there who are thinking that this sounds like a "chick drink"... IT'S NOT!  This is an Anderson family recipe, so consider yourself lucky that I'm sharing it with you!  Try it the next time you are on the lake!

A Perfect Summer Bootleg

1 Can Frozen Limeade Concentrate
1/4 C. Water
Fresh Mint (to taste)
Vodka of Choice
Sparkling Water

In a pitcher, mix one can of frozen limeade concentrate with 1/4 C. water.  Chop a small handful of mint leaves and fold them into the limeade mixture.  Fill a glass with ice cubes.  Pour vodka into the first third of the cup, pour the next third of the glass with the limeade mixture, and then pour the sparkling water in the final third of the glass.  Gently stir all the ingredients together and garnish with a lime wedge or a sprig of fresh mint.  

American Girl Salad Dressing

Yes, believe it or not... I had an American Girl doll when I was younger.  My sister had the doll, Kirsten, and I had Samantha.  Hahah, this is bringing back memories!  They don't even make Samantha dolls anymore - she's retired (just like me)!  Anyway, we had this cookbook that included recipes from Kirsten and Samantha's kitchens.  I became obsessed with making Samantha's salad dressing; it is a mustard-based italian dressing.  I've been making it for so long, I haven't had to pull out the cookbook in a long time...  Now that I'm looking at it as an adult, I find myself cracking up!  The cookbook's first TIP for cooking is "1. Choose a time that suits your mother, so that you will both enjoy working together in the kitchen."  Hilarious!!  Nevertheless, I would definitely classify this recipe as an "oldie but goodie!"  ENJOY!

Salad Dressing

3 Tbsp. Tarragon Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Water
1 tsp. Dijon-style Mustard
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 C. Olive Oil

Put the vinegar, water, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper into a pint jar.  Cover the jar and shake it to blend the ingredients.  Slowly add the oil, put the lid back on the jar, and shake it again until the oil is mixed well with all the other ingredients (sometimes I put all ingredients in a measuring cup and mix with a fork or small whisk).  Make the dressing early in the day and keep it in the refrigerator; shake it once more before tossing with the salad.  If the dressing is simply going to be served on the side, pour it in a fancy little pitcher or cruet

14 July 2009

Cinnamon-Grilled Peaches

I can't think of an easier, more beautiful summer dessert than grilled peaches with cinnamon sticks. It just takes a matter of minutes to prepare this dessert from start to finish. Going to a backyard BBQ with some friends? Offer to bring dessert! You will just need to stop at the grocery store on the way and pick up some peaches and cinnamon sticks! So simple, yet so delicious!

Cinnamon-Grilled Peaches

1 Peach, slightly firm to the touch
2 sticks Cinnamon

*Adjust the amount of peaches and cinnamon sticks for however many guests you have for dinner. I usually use the rule that a half of a peach is just perfect for each guest. Example: 8 guests = 4 peaches & 8 cinnamon sticks.

Preheat the grill to medium-heat and brush the grates with olive oil or carefully spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Wash each peach and cut them in half, starting with the seam. Remove the pit from the peach by twisting each side. For each half of the peach, you will use one cinnamon stick. Carefully pierce one side of the peach with a cinnamon stick and poke it all the way through (as in the picture). Next, you will want to lightly brush the cut side of the peach with olive oil. Place peaches on the grill cut-side down and grill for 3-4 minutes, then flip them over and grill for another 3-4 minutes.

The peaches will start to soften and release wonderful aromas! Serve your guests immediately and they will surely enjoy the warm peaches alone, with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream, mint, or even honey.

13 July 2009

Rhubarb Crisp

Doug and I drove back from the cabin last night and I had the strangest craving for rhubarb.  Who craves rhubarb?!!  Weird.  Well, after searching through some old cookbooks, I became inspired to create my own version of rhubarb crisp.  It turned out to be a wonderful summer dessert, and by request, I served it with Adele's frozen vanilla custard!  My only suggestion on this recipe would be to use smaller, skinnier stalks of fresh rhubarb instead of the thicker stalks.  The orange zest introduces a nice flavor to your ordinary crisp recipes.  Just try it!

Rhubarb Crisp

5 C. Rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Flour
3/4 C. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Water
1 tsp. Orange Zest (optional)
1/2 C. Margarine
1 C. Brown Sugar
2/3 C. Flour
1 C. Rolled Oats

In a large bowl, toss the sliced rhubarb with the cinnamon, salt, 2 Tbsp. flour, sugar, water, and orange zest.  Place in a buttered 9x9-inch glass baking dish.  Put the margarine, brown sugar, flour, and oats in a bowl and cut the butter mixture by using 2 knives or a pastry cutter; sprinkle over the rhubarb mixture.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes or until the topping is golden.  Makes 6 generous servings. 

Variation:  To make this a Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp, you could make a substitution using 3 C. Rhubarb and 2 C. Strawberries for a sweeter dessert.

09 July 2009

Artichoke + Goat Cheese Spread

Two things that never go out of season: artichoke hearts and goat cheese. Last night I flipped through my Junior League of Minneapolis cookbook and came across a few recipes that sounded tasty. This appetizer seemed fitting for a quick and easy dish to bring to a wine and cheese party tonight. I'm sure I'll make those other recipes in the next few weeks, so look for that soon... In the meantime, please try this recipe the next time you need to whip something up in a short amount of time!

Artichoke & Goat Cheese Spread (loosely adapted from Always Superb - Recipes for Every Occasion)
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

2 (14-ounce) jars Whole Artichoke Hearts
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. finely grated Lemon Zest
1 pound Goat Cheese (if you don't have enough goat cheese, you can add in a few ounces of cream cheese)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped Parsley (I prefer Italian Flat Leaf Parsley)
1 3/4 tsp. coarsely ground Black Pepper
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Salt
Dash of Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Pulse the artichoke hearts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Combine in a bowl with the olive oil and lemon zest and toss to combine.

Process the goat cheese in a food processor until smooth. Fold the goat cheese, parsley, black pepper, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper into the artichoke mixture. Stir in the lemon juice. Chill, covered, for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature. Serve with crostini or fresh vegetables.

08 July 2009

S'mores + Sparklers

Happy belated 4th of July! We had a great time up at the cabin for the fourth. My brother-in-law bought some fabulous fireworks and put on quite the show for our friends and family. Thanks Mark! All of my younger cousins loved the sparklers and s'mores, so of course, I had to highlight some of those pictures.

Maggie & Henry perfecting the golden-brown technique
"Alright, now pay attention! First you take the graham, you stick the chocolate on the graham, then you roast the 'mallow. When the 'mallows flaming, you stick it on the chocolate... then cover with the other end. Then you scarf. Kind of messy, but good!"

Messy 'Mallows for Morgan & Maggie

06 July 2009

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Coffee cake that is better than Starbucks? Yes, it is possible. I put my own little twist on Ina Garten's Sour Cream Coffee Cake... the end result looked absolutely nothing like Ina's cake (mostly because I used a bundt pan, instead of a tube pan), but it tasted incredible! I sent this creation to my mom's office and it was "gone in seconds!" Seriously, can you think of anything better than a perfectly moist cake bursting with cinnamon goodness? I must admit, I stole the first slice and enjoyed it with a strong cup of coffee. Delicious.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake
(Adapted from Ina Garten - Food Network)

12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter at room temperature (*I always cut my butter in cubes before baking)
1 1/2 C. Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 C. Sour Cream
2 1/2 C. Cake Flour (not self-rising)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

For the Streusel...
1/2 C. Light Brown Sugar, packed
1 C. All-Purpose Flour
3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
6 Tbsp. cold Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces

For the Glaze...
1/2 C. Confectioners' Sugar
2 Tbsp. Real Maple Syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4-5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble.

Spoon a third of the batter into the pan and spread it out with a spatula. Sprinkle with 1/2 the streusel mixture. Spoon another third of the cake batter into the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Finally, spread the last third of the cake batter into the pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon. I can't stress enough that the cake needs to cool completely before you drizzle the glaze. I was in a hurry, so I drizzled the glaze too soon and it didn't turn out like I originally intended because the cake soaked up the syrup. Hey, there's nothing wrong with that either... It still tasted great! Enjoy! Makes 12 generous slices.

01 July 2009

Pink Lemonade Cookies + Frosting

Need the perfect dessert to bring to a 4th of July party? My friend, Carol, gave me this recipe for Pink Lemonade Cookies. They are chewy, sweet, tart, and a scrumptious little taste of summer. I hope that you will try the recipe and let me know what you think!

Pink Lemonade Cookies
1/2 C. Butter (no substitutes)
1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Egg
Zest of one Lemon

1/3 C. Frozen Pink Lemonade Concentrate; thawed
1 3/4 C. Flour
Red Food Coloring (optional)

Beat butter in a mixing bowl with electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder & baking soda; beat until combined. Beat in egg, zest & lemonade. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, use a wooden spoon to stir in any remaining flour. If desired, add red food coloring to tint dough pink (I didn't choose to do that in the photo above). Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Drop by rounded teaspoon 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet (I always use parchment paper to line cookie sheets; makes removing cookies much easier). If you make smaller scoops, then you will get about 36 bite-size cookies from this recipe. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden. Cool completely & frost.

Pink Lemonade Frosting
2 Tbsp. Butter; softened
2 C. Sifted Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Frozen Lemonade Concentrate; thawed
Red Food Coloring

Beat butter, powdered sugar & concentrate together with 3 to 4 tsp. of water to make spreading consistency. Add one or two drops of red food coloring & tint to a delicate pink.