New Year, New You … New Me … I Don’t Know, Titles Can Be the Hardest Part

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*Recipes follow story 

The amount of meals I’ve made and photographed but not written about over the past few months are numerous.  There was a time when I couldn’t stop cooking, taking photos and writing, but over the course of the past few months, I came to the conclusion that I do not need to write about food all the time and document all that I do in my kitchen on a regular basis –  to prove to myself that I’m productive. What I need to do is cook, be healthy and conscious of it (most of the time) and take the time to enjoy doing it because it makes me happy. I’m working towards a little more balance and a little less beating myself up because I did, didn’t or thought I should’ve done something.  I was also gifted an Apple TV for Christmas, so splitting my time between writing/cooking and HBOGO is going to prove challenging, I already know this.    

Last night my friend Eve and I were texting one another and in response to my: I’d like to get back to updating my blog -she said, no one is judging you but you. How true.  

When I made brunch for Nan and Su, I forgot about frittatas and food combinations, and thought more about warmth and comfort. Frittatas are comforting, don’t get me wrong, but soft polenta screams happy belly.  Topped with spinach and mushrooms, I took a look at theKitchn and referred to their method and Marcella Hazan’s tips for proper polenta preparation. Instead of individual ramekins, I made one big bodacious egg bake (although ramekins are on my list of needs) and paired it with fresh fruit cups topped with dollop of orange yogurt, slivered almonds and cranberries. Huddled around the dining set I bought 12 years ago, we enjoyed not only the food we ate - but one another’s company.  Sharing the experience of a meal really is shit without the proper companions. 

So, here’s to all things good in the year to come; delicious food, a satisfied heart and stomach, love, balance, sharing and being present. Cook to make yourself or someone else smile, because it’s properly combined, gluten free, easily digestible - because it satisfies a craving, a curiosity to try something new - or just because you imagine it will taste really fucking good. 

Cook and eat with intent.

xo

Orange Yogurt with fresh fruit
Serves 4

1 small container of Greek yogurt
1/2 Mineola orange + zest (or whatever is juicy and in season)
2 T. honey 
1-2 T. slivered almonds
1-2 T. dried cranberries
Fruit of your choice (I chose pineapple and bananas and sliced the remaining half of my Mineola orange

-Mix yogurt with juice of orange, scraping out some of the flesh so you’re left with chunky yogurt - yum
-Drizzle with honey, mix, top with zest/peel, cover and refrigerate
-When ready to serve, assemble fruit bowls, topping with yogurt and sprinkling with almonds + cranberries  

Baked Eggs with Creamy Polenta, Spinach and Mushrooms
*I made a few tweaks

-Added mushrooms, sauteing first and then folding in spinach
-Polenta recipe was halved, adding pecorino to the polenta instead of using to top the eggs
-Whole milk in the polenta was substituted with fat-free half and half. I’m sorry if I broke your rules Marcella Hazan
-I was preparing brunch for three, so the polenta recipe was halved and I did make 2 eggs per person.  There was more than enough polenta for three people and 6 eggs
-Prepared in one dish, I found the eggs needed a little more time than noted on the site.  Follow the instructions re: hot water bath but you’ll no longer need a cloth to set your one pan.  20 minutes uncovered and 7 minutes covered with foil gave me perfectly set egg whites with delightfully soft and slightly gooey yolks

Check out this wonderful NYT article and video piece on Marcella Hazan.  I hope I’m still going and cooking into my old age too.

Monday, January 6, 2014   ()

Giving Thanks

I made a list of the things I’m thankful for.  That’s all I have to say.  

On that note, and in no particular order:  

  1. There once was a broad suffering from a two year no sex dry spell, but it was officially broken as of August.  The ban on my crotch has been lifted and, for this, I am thankful.
  2. Chocolate.  Dark is preferred but Belgian is best.
  3. Friends that I could not imagine a life without. Not only do these most beautiful band of fools love me, but they accept me for the emotionally jacked up and inappropriate bitch that I am. 
  4. Gluten, I know we broke up- kinda – but when you pass my big ass lips in biscuit form – goddamn. Just Christ give thanks. Just praise be to God. 
  5. Family.  All of you.  I mean it. Even when I’m a pain in the ass.  I can be rotten, I know.  But you’re my light.  
  6. My soon to be born goddaughter.  I have a sneaking suspicion that she and I are going to read a lot of Shel Silverstein, cook, eat snacks and save this world when we get together.    
  7. A good rack. As of late the occasional stray gray is creeping up in my hair, but my knockers are doing just fine.
  8. Netflix, blanket forts, Scrabble, weeknight pork chop dinners and my couch.
  9. Good literature, book recommendations from friends and the Queens Public Library.  I’m also really excited about their new chat system where you can talk to a librarian and receive email notifications when books are ready.  
  10. A healthy body that I’ve grown to love because although imperfect - she’s strong and allows me to work-out, aimlessly walk city streets and hike up and down canyons and mountains and shit. Who knew I was crunchy?
  11. A healthy mind and outlook.  
  12. Music, from the Nelson twins to Justin, Queen and Stevie - you’re the reason this white woman dances while she gets ready for work every morning.  
  13. Weekend mornings when I can slip back in to bed with my robe, coffee, quiet and sunlight.
  14. A happy home with a grand kitchen and ample counter space to create nommy noms.
  15. Employment, without which I wouldn’t have the means to travel, dine on fine food and continue grow.

I think 15 is enough, and I’m sure you do too.

Some food photos for fun.  I’m too lazy to type recipes right now. Making that list really kicked my ass. 

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Sides of stuffing, brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots and stuffed mushrooms

imageMy biscuits bring all the boys to the yard … 

imageChocolate balls - also known as truffles 

Sunday, December 1, 2013   ()

Road Tripping 2013: Grand Canyon —> Big Sur

So, this isn’t about food. No recipe payoff at the end of my way too long for the internet rant, just some pretty photos to feast your eyes on and some words to go along with them.

On our 14 day road trip there were some notable noms (I am not looking at you, Grand Canyon. Let’s just say I’ve reached a new level of love for jerky and Trader Joe’s), but this experience made me most thankful for friendship - friendships I’m so lucky to have in this life - and discovering what my mind and body are capable of now. Things I never imagined I’d do.

There was a canyon and so swept away with her beauty I hiked down into the depths of her and managed to climb out
Stretches of naked, perfectly paved and yellow stripe painted road seemed to have no end
Mountains whispered words of encouragement
An ice blue lake with pink and blue hues was planted behind trees in a forest that looked enchanted
Waking to grazing elk and massive glaciers that have a story of their own
Warm sunlight filtered through strong standing moss speckled trees
Baffled by the gray puffy fog that floats around the Golden Gate Bridge
Seeing sights that Steinbeck treaded
Surrounded by curved roads, cliffs, waves and an eternal longing for more
Humbled by nature
Found peace
Moments of quiet turned to tears 

That’s the best way I can describe this trip - for now.  

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Grand Canyon at sunset

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Drive from Vegas to Yosemite – crazy open roads. Bikers were our only friends for 5 hours of the 9.5 hour drive. Pretty rad.

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I think these mountains talked …

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Mono Lake – shit’s real but looks fake

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Yosemite beauty

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Views from Glacier Point hike

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Long and lean trees that could make a midget of the tallest of humans

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Fucking San Fran fog

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I think this is what John Steinbeck was talking about?

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Big Sur magical magic-ness 

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Happy feet

Monday, November 4, 2013   ()

Happy 4th of July From the Great Indoors

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Nancy took this photo of me 6 years ago.  It was snapped in the living room of our old apartment.  No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, I am in fact wearing a tablecloth and a feather boa.  This photo was one of 12 that appeared in a 2007 calendar entitled, Celebrate the 12 months of Tina.  I used my novice photoshop skills to superimpose myself on various banging backdrops.  I’m pretty sure it’s the best Christmas present I’ve ever given to my family.

*Note to self, post all 12 months on the blog at some juncture in time  

The 4th was always one of my favorite days of the year, even though it meant sticky weather and playing outside (I preferred to be inside reading) - the food always promised to be tops.  As a nod to my grandmother I made her warm potato and string bean salad - because no Corrado block party or BBQ was complete without it - and my table wouldn’t have been the same.

These days, I’ve decided that an air conditioned 4th suits me best.  This way, my thighs don’t stick together, I don’t get sick after one hot dog and my hair doesn’t frizz.  I’m separated from the elements which means I’m genrally happier and less cranky.  It really works out best for everyone.  

I wasn’t invited to any BBQ’s and even if I was, I would’ve lied and said I had another BBQ to attend - just so I could sit on my couch in my underwear.  

I’m writing this while watching Clueless.  And before Clueless I watched 13 Going on 30.  My buddy Nancy is lying next to me on my giant couch, and we’re happy, full and - best of all - not sweating.

I’m feeling pretty strongly about renaming my blog: ilovefoodandcookingbutihatesweating.com  

Thoughts?

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Sausage + Peppers

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Warm Potato + String bean Salad

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Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

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Brownie Pudding

Thursday, July 4, 2013 — 1 note   ()

On How To Entertain In The Heat

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Roasted Broccoli with Pignolis + Parmesan

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Loaded Baked Potato with Sour Cream + Yogurt + Chives
Pork Chop with Shake N Bake (link to the commercial from 1991, it changed my life - really)

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imageLemon Bars

Despite the days of terrible heat and humidity that have been looming in New York, I managed to cook this past weekend. 

I wanted to impress my newest friend, Rebecca, being as she made me a killer brunch on Saturday. I always get anxiety when tasked with cooking for someone new.  To me, cooking is like being naked – and only special people get to see me naked (I’m not in my 20’s and drunk anymore).  And it’s been a while, so I had stage fright.

For dinner I tapped into her love for loaded baked potatoes and roasted broccoli (also two things I will never pass up when presented on a plate before me).  I tried not to overthink our meal or change the plan and make a salad because that’s the easiest thing to do in the heat.  Salads make a great dinner, but only when you’re alone and eating in your underwear and tank top - or if you’re a really health conscious couple.  Boring.

When you know what someone likes, you give it to them - real.

Because just about every item on my dinner menu required the use of the oven, I pulled out all the stops - blasting two air conditioners and a fan.  I even resorted to frying bacon in my bra and underwear.  Not to fret, I was wearing an apron, as oil burns are always killer. While blasting the Beyonce station on Pandora, I attempted to fry and dance to Soldier.  Catching a reflection of myself, when I ran to my bedroom to get my leopard Isotoner slippers (no lie), I suddenly felt like I was starring in some naughty, yet quirky, cooking video for Cinemax after dark. Up Next: Watch women with real bodies cook in their underwear without a care.  

Thrust upon me was a reality check.  I imagined an intruder climbing into my bedroom via the fire escape, quietly entering my kitchen and attacking me from behind.   

I thought about the time I ironed topless and burned my nipple.  I was 19.

I imagined Rebecca arriving way early and I’d open the door in my apron, forgetting I wasn’t clothed, and she’d run away screaming and telling everyone at work I’m a pervert.      

Cooking and partial nudity don’t mix.  Not in the heat.  Not ever.  Only in romantic comedies, which, let’s face it, are a bunch of lies.   

When I was done with the bacon, I put on stretch pants with a tee and proceeded to finish baking lemon bars, potatoes, roasted broccoli and pork chops.

Rebecca arrived right on time, and I was sweaty – but once we started eating (with my back directly placed by the air conditioner vent) – I forgot about the heat completely.

This summer, don’t hate your oven, embrace that shit.

Put on your air conditioner  and dress wisely.

 

 

Monday, July 1, 2013   ()

A Very Neapolitan Easter

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Easter holds a happy place in my heart.  No, not because I was the fat kid and my family would give me fruit baskets instead of chocolate to open up (every Easter morning for a number of years) that was terrible! But because Easter - in our home - was celebrated with an all out protein party. We’re talking salamis, provolone, ricotta salata, hard boiled eggs, lamb and or goat. I still recall sitting in church, in my too tight and too pastel Easter costume - scalp itching from some stupid straw bonnet - with a bow, of course - fantasizing about young spring goat and lamb and how tasty and tender they are.  I was 9.  What kind of 9 year old fantasizes about goat meat covered in wine, eggs, cheese and peas? 

I didn’t think I’d celebrate Easter this year.  I imagined it would be much like my Christmas Day.  A good one on one chat with the Chinese food take out lady, an order of steamed chicken and broccoli shows up and I stone myself on Netflix and dark chocolate until I fall asleep - waking up only to realize my hand is down my pants and I should really go for a late night walk and see a depressing film.

Instead, I took control of the situation.  With my family no longer close by, I decided it was time to woman up and cook a goat.

I contacted my Aunt Jo - and by contacted - I mean she texts.  Between my Aunt and my Mom’s memories of grandmas goat, Neapolitan Easter dinner was about to go down. My Aunt reminded me that my Uncle Gino would serve an antipasto of hardboiled eggs, ricotta salata and salami.  All deliciously salty and bloating, so we’d be pretty full before we even arrived to the presentation of the goat and oil slicked artichokes.  Perfect.

While scoping out Astoria for ingredients, I set my eyes on some fava beans and asparagus.  Spring is in the air indeed - and  I love a fresh green fava bean and long lean stalk of asparagus.  

Traditionally, our family would have a fruit plate and pastiera di grano for dessert - which is a grain pie that could be likened to a lumpy cheesecake with citron chunks in it.  I made it one year, omitting the citron because that shit gets stuck in your teeth.  This is also dessert people and fruit  is not dessert.  I know, I can hear all of the women in my family - but it’ll help you digest.  Bullshit.  In my adult life I’ve read enough food combination books to know that fruit should not be eaten within an hour of any meal. Simply put, fruit is a pre-cursor to dessert so you don’t feel like you’re being a total fatty by closing right in on some cake and cookies. 

I served homemade truffles.  Thank you, Ina Garten, you’re brilliant. Rather, the little gnomes in your test kitchen are.  I delicately placed some strawberries beside the truffles and, wouldn’t you know, my guests ate them all. 

Although I miss holiday arguments, crowded tables, my grandmother walking around hunched over with a corning ware dish, rationing out portions of goat and artichokes - I’m glad to know I can cook a meal, like her.  Sure, I’m insecure before I cook a meal - but Easter goat was proof to my palette that a little old Italian woman lives inside of me. Creepy, I know.

Enjoy. 

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Fava Bean Salad

1 c. fava beans, cleaned and removed from pod
10 red cherry tomatoes
10 small yellow tomatoes
1T. olive oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Lemon juice
Shards of Pecorino
Endive leaves

-Pepare a large bowl with ice water and put aside 
-Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add fava beans, boiling for 1 minute
-Strain fava beans and quickly place in ice water bath (this will ensure your beans stay bright green)
-Remove fava beans from ice water and peel back the waxy outer shell of the bean and discard (repeat)
-Place fava in a bowl with tomatoes, salt, lemon juice and oil - then toss to coat
-Spoon fava salad into endive leaves and top with pecorino
-Nom happily!

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 Steamed Artichokes

6 small artichokes, cleaned and quartered
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
20 black Italian olives, pitted
1/4 c. good olive oil
1/4 c. water
Kosher salt

-Begin to clean artichokes and, as you’re cleaning, place them in a pot with cold water, lemon and 1T. of flour - this will keep them from turning black
-Over medium low heat, add oil to a large stock pot, then add artichokes + garlic cover for 5 minutes
-Remove cover and add water
-Replace cover and continue to cook for another 7-10 minutes - watching that there is enough liquid in the pot so the artichokes do not stick and burn
-Remove cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until outer leaves of the artichoke are tender (admittedly, mine were a little tough - I should have peeled back more leaves)
-Salt and serve with cheese

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Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed
2T. good olive oil
Kosher salt

-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
-Line a baking sheet with asparagus and toss to coat with olive oil and salt
-Roast for 12-15 minutes until asparagus are medium brown but still maintain a somewhat firm stem

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Grandma’s Goat With Eggs + Peas

1 1/2 lbs. goat, cut into 2” pieces, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 c. good olive oil
3 shallots, minced
1 1/2 c. white wine
1 1/3 c. peas
3-4 eggs beaten + 1/2 c. grated Locatelli cheese
Fresh parsley + lemon for garnish 

-In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, set over medium high heat, add olive oil 
-Add goat, cooking until browed and remove from pot and put aside
-Add shallots and reduce heat, covering, and cooking onions for 20-30 minutes until melted down 
-Transfer goat back in the pot, add 1 c. of wine and cook uncovered until wine reduces - about 30-40
-Add peas and the remaining wine and cover, cooking for an additional 30-45 minutes 
*If your liquid is not reducing, cook with lid slightly open
-Add eggs and cook until eggs are completely formed - but they should be soft and fluffy, coating all of the goat and peas
-Remove from heat, plate, garnish and serve

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Chocolate Truffles 

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013   ()

It’s Been A Minute

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imageRoasted Chicken With Fennel, Lemons, Brussels Sprouts & Root Vegetables


My blog is woefully out of date, and the 8 people that do read my blog have reached out to me personally about updating and posting my kitchen musings.  So, this is for you Lily, Owen, Chris, Natalie, Eve, Aunt Deb, Aunt Joyce and Aunt Marian.  

I opened up my world and let Martha Stewart inspire me.  Sure, I try not to take advice from her because I’m jealous that she has so much money, her own line of glitter (ok, I don’t want to be in a dispute between Macy’s and JC Penney - but on the bright side she’s in demand), but secretly I want to be you Martha Stewart.  If I could be the hybrid version of Martha and Ina Garten, in the home, with the hair and bod of Kim Kardashian - life would be a dream.  The pretty photos and helpful hints on cooking and crafting in last months issue of Martha Stewart Living really rocked my Saturday - hard.  

I settled on making a roasted chicken for my girlfriends.  I switched things up just a bit, and Instead of spatchcocking the chicken (essentially butterflying and removing the whole backbone) I took the lazy route and butterflied (it all looks the same when it’s lubed up and set in a roasting pan, kinda like sex with the lights off).

Once again, call me lazy, but I’d like to think it’s just rustic … as of late I’ve been roasting all of my vegetables whole. It saves a ton of prep time and still looks pretty when plated.  If you’re not in a rush (they do take a touch longer to cook) - this is a great solution to feeling daunted by slicing, cubing, and doing fancy knife tricks.  Shit, I’m totally disregarding what I did learn in my knife skills class.  Maybe when I do have a date night, I’ll impress said suitor with my skills - but for now - whole veggies for the friends and myself.  Chef Brendan McDermott would be really upset at me.  

Come to think of it, I should sign up for his butchering class.  Maybe if he showed me how to spatchcock I’d be into putting a little more effort into my meat prep.  A good looking man standing beside you or behind you with a knife can be both hot and distracting, but I’m willing to take the risk again.  

On that note, I’m back in the kitchen and on the net - bitches.

Happy Roasting. 

Love,
Nomnoms.

Roasted Chicken With Fennel, Lemons, Brussels Sprouts & Root Vegetables

1 chicken, butterflied
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 lemons, sliced
3 large onions, sliced
2 bulbs of fennel, sliced a 1/4” thick 
1/4-1/3 c. olive oil, divided
4-6 large carrot, peeled and halved
4-6 parsnips, peeled and halved
12-14 brussels sprouts, halved
Kosher salt 

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Slice lemons and lay 6 slices, making a circle, on a roasting pan - and drizzle with olive oil
-Place half of your onion slices on top of your lemons and drizzle with a little more olive oil
-Set chicken a top lemons and onions, rubbing with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
-Take 4-6 more lemon slices and stuff under the skin of the chicken, along with sprigs of thyme
-Roast chicken for 30-35 minutes until skin is brown
-While chicken is roasting, prepare vegetables - placing carrots, parsnips and brussels sprouts in a roasting pan (be sure the pan isn’t crowded or they will not brown) and put aside
-Place fennel slices and remaining onions in a bowl and coat with olive oil, salt and thyme and put aside
-Remove chicken from the oven, carefully draining off excess oil/fat into a bowl and use excess oil/fat to coat carrots, parsnips and brussels sprouts (drizzle with a little extra olive oil if necessary)
-Place fennel and onions around the chicken and place back in the oven, continuing to roast for another 30-35 minutes - until meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees
-Place vegetables in the oven and roast until browned
-Hack up, I mean - cut chicken into pieces, serve with roasted vegetables and nom

Monday, March 4, 2013   ()

Fall Into Baking For Friends

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
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My living room (this is where I do most of my laying and writing of this blog, thought you should know about the recent updates to my space)

The best part about autumn in New York, aside from the obvious - like no longer sweating, wearing hoodies, phenomenal hair weather, diving into a more neutral make-up palette (I can’t pull off reds when I’m pale, but boy did I hit the jackpot on some gorgeous pouty pink lipsticks), rocking big, bold colored scarves with long sleeved tees and reuniting with my couch after a long summer of running around …

BAKING!

Me and my oven are back together, bitches. 

The best part about baking this bodacious chocolate chip banana bread pictured above … giving it to a man that I adore.  

My buddy, Crobin, just completed his first short film.  A labor of love, Alan Smithee is a coming of age story, telling the tale of a young boy - who’s somewhat of a loner - growing up on Long Island.  I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the film, which left me happy, sad and wanting to live in Crobin’s brain for just one day.

I keep asking him if I can, but he won’t let me.

Please, watch the trailer - you’ll be intrigued and swept away with stunning visuals.  The trailer is big, and the film - with it’s killer audio, stellar writing and cast - make Alan Smithee memorable.  We all have a part of Alan in us.

I’m so glad Crobin completed this film and that he’s sharing it with the world.

Chocolate chip banana bread was his nom request, since it wasn’t feasible to bake enough for all of the folks at the screening.

Here’s to Fall, films, baking and big dreams coming true.

http://alansmitheemovie.com/

Thanks for inspiring me to turn on my oven, buddy.

xo

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

3 c. bananas (mashed)
1/4 c. milk
1 T. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 c. sugar
1 stick of butter (room temp)
2 eggs 
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking sode
1 tsp. salt
1-1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocoalte chips 

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
-Place flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl a whisk.  Put aside.
-In a large bowl, mash bananas, add milks, cinnamon and nutmeg. Put aside.
-Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
-Add banana mixture to creamed mixture and stir until combined.
-Little by little,  incorporate dry mixture to wet mixture until flour is mixed in (do this gently).
-Fold in chocolate chips.
-Pour batter into prepared loaf pan (and place on a large baking sheet in case there’s any overflow while baking) and bake for 50-60 minutes until deep brown and testing toothpick comes out dry. 

 

Sunday, October 7, 2012   ()