Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rum and Coconut Banana Bread, TJ Terrors, and Mother's Day

I'm sure all of your children are complete angels, but Christ on a crutch, if you are one of the assholes who lets them run around Trader Joe's with those little miniature carts when the place is PACKED as they are screaming bloody murder and you are immersed in a ridiculously loud cell phone conversation, I will never speak to you again.  The produce section is not the bumper car area.  GAH.  I had to get that off my chest.  ((Yes, I know the obvious answer is that I'm the idiot who chose to go there on Saturday afternoon, but some things can't be helped.  Not. My Fault.))


An incident such as that requires baking therapy.  Wait.  Strike that.  More boozy baking therapy.  Let's do rum and coconut banana bread.  This recipe came from My Baking Addiction and just seemed like a really good idea.

Not the most photogenic stuff, but ohmygod, you should smell it...
What you need for one loaf:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, slightly packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark rum  ((I should admit right here that the pourer fell out of the bottle as I was measuring over the mixing bowl and there might be more.  Oopsiedoodle.))
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 4-5 bananas)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter and flour a loaf pan.  ((WTF does butter and flour mean?  Here's how I do it.  Take a stick of butter and hold it in a paper towel.  Rub it all over every surface of the pan.  It doesn't have to be shellacked, but get a good layer on there.  Then take a little scoop of flour and put it in the pan.  Shake that bastard around so the flour coats the bottom and the sides.  Then turn it upside down over the sink and tap out the excess.))

Using your mixer, combine the butter and the brown sugar until it is light and fluffy.  This will take about two minutes.  Add the eggs, vanilla, rum and bananas and combine well.

((At this point, you are going to think this crap looks terrible.  It has a weird consistency prior to adding the dry stuff.  It's fine.  Don't worry about it.))

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Using a rubber spatula, add the flour concoction to the mixing bowl with the banana stuff in it.  It will take some muscle to get this mixed together because you are doing it by hand, not with the mixer at this point.  Pay attention.  Be sure you are scraping the hell out of the bottom and the sides.  Finally, fold in the shredded coconut.

Pour it into your loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.  Cool it on a rack in the pan.  It will tip out easily once it is cool.  If you live in the desert, I highly recommend storing it in a baggie in the refrigerator.  If you don't, well, you are on your own.  The fridge couldn't hurt though.

Nutritional Info:  Booze calories don't count.  Oh wait, that's not right.  If you cut this into twelve pieces, I would call it about 250 per slice.  Yikes.


Not sure if you knew, but Mother's Day is tomorrow.  Or maybe today depending on when you read this.  Or maybe it was six months ago if you are just catching up.  Hi person in the future!  I've taken on quite an undertaking for dinner tomorrow.  Let's just say I've already spent two hours on it today between making marinades, chopping veggies, making pastry creme, and making a blackberry reduction ((which I'm thinking would be AMAZING on pancakes.  Or crepes.  YES, FUCKING CREPES.  Great, now I have to make crepes tomorrow in addition to everything else.  I hate it when I have excellent ideas.))

Happy Mother's Day!      

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bruschetta, Slobbery Success, and Craft Projects

Today I scored almost ten pounds of cherry tomatoes from my friend Shannon's garden.  ((Oh the stories we have on each other.  Holy shit.  We could blackmail each other for the the rest of our lives.))  Do you have any idea how many tomatoes that is?  Like a million and twelve.  More or less.  They seemed perfectly suited to making a huge vat of bruschetta topping for a party tomorrow...

What you need:

A crapload of cherry tomatoes ((or maybe like 4 cups worth))
1 small to medium red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 handfuls of fresh basil
2 tablespoons EVOO
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
A loaf of Italian bread or pre-made crostinis

What you do:

After thoroughly washing everything, commence the tedious process of chopping the cherry tomatoes.  I was cutting each into 8 pieces.  ((Yes, it took until twelve minutes after forever.))  Dice them up as finely as you have patience for.  Don't freak about the seeds.  A lot will come out as you cut them, but no big deal.

Chop the red onion finely, mince the garlic, and cut the basil into strips.  Take a minute to recognize how fracking deee-lightful fresh basil smells.  

Throw everything into a large storage container.  Add the olive oil, the balsamic, and give it a couple of cracks of sea salt.  ((Now, I love me some balsamic.  Actually, any vinegar, but balsamic in particular.  Accordingly, I put a lot on.  You can use less.  In fact, you can adjust anything you want!  It's basically a free country unless you are a woman, a minority, a non-heterosexual, have a disability, or are just generally kind of weird.  Anyway.))  Toss it all together and then cover tightly and refrigerate overnight for the flavors to get all lovey dovey together.

When you are ready to serve, smear a couple of spoonfuls on top of sliced Italian bread.  Throw them under the broiler for a couple minutes.  You can also buy pre-made crostini thingies.  I also think this would be good on grilled chicken, a salad, or really most anything.  See previous comment regarding the freeness of this country.  I don't think "freeness" is a word.  Again, refer back to previous statement.

Nutritional Info:  This is basically a freebie...  2 tablespoons ((without bread)) would only be about 60 calories.  Go wild.


As I mentioned yesterday, I delivered the Slobberloaf packages yesterday.  Dog #1 went insane and then proceeded to spit all the dry kibble out and follow me around the house until I left.  Dog #2 ((who is toothless)) loved it and took some out of my hand as I was crumbling it into his bowl.  Dog #3 wrote me a love letter on Facebook.  I have another 6 pounds cooking right now and I cannot get my dog to quit staring at the oven.  I actually think this batch will be better because I used a slightly fattier type of ground beef.  Once it cools, I'm going to figure out how to package it and get it delivered for sale tomorrow!  


I have an assignment for you.  You need to make these:

Yes, that would be a mason jar super-glued to a candle stand.  BRILLIANT.  I shall be scouring Goodwill stores for candle stands in my free time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Grand Marnier Souffle with Creme Anglaise, Slobberloaf (tm), and Laundry Lists

There is a raging storm outside...  It's the desert, so I'm sure it will last all of ten minutes max.  However, it is a distinct Phoenix phenomena that when it rains, every six months or so, we all go stand outside and stare at it and immediately turn into the biggest driving wimps on the planet.  I have driven in pure white-out blizzards, on black ice, and in six feet of snow and there is no way in hell I am going out in a little rain here.  Although I will say, my ability to drive in snow has completely disappeared as well, so maybe I don't actually have a point.  Disregard.

Today in an attempt to be as completely random as possible, apparently, I embarked on two very distinct cooking projects:  Grand Marnier Souffles with Creme Anglaise and ... well ... Slobberloaf.  I'll explain.  I was contacted by a business in downtown Phoenix about providing my dog treats for their customers.  The treats were such a hit, that they then wanted to know if I could do entrees.  Accordingly, Slobberloaf is an entree for dogs.  It is essentially the same as a regular meatloaf you would make for yourself, but without all of the spices.  However, as I placed several pounds of ground beef and fresh vegetables in the oven, no shit, I could actually hear my father's voice say, "JESUS CHRIST!  WHAT THE HELL?!"  If he weren't already gone, this would have killed him.  Of all the bullshit I have pulled in my life that he found offensive, this is the ultimate insult.  Anyway, I actually have four mini-loaves and the assorted roasted vegetables in the fridge to be delivered to my testers once this sky explosion stops.  I freely admit that while this was cooking, I decided I was trying a bite.  It's good!  And oh my God, Kirin, my chow/retriever mix, lost her damn mind.  I have a very firm rule about No Dogs in the Kitchen and I couldn't peel her away.  I think this is going to be a hit.  Check it out:

Ground beef with potatoes, carrots, and celery
I'm positive that I could have passed this off as a regular recipe and no one would have known the difference.  I'll see what my test subjects have to say and if they all agree, these will be for sale shortly!

My other project is part of my French Ambition Tour.  As I have mentioned, I recently read My Life in France ((Julia Child's life story of her years in Paris)) and received Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This has inspired me to attempt to learn to make some things which frankly, I can't pronounce, but what the hell. I'm planning to make the souffles on Sunday for Mother's Day, but decided I really should give them a test run.  I think they turned out really well, especially for a first try.  I am also now a pro when it comes to separating eggs.  Here are some pics:

Immediately out of the oven



With the Creme Anglaise
I managed to restrain myself and only had a couple of bites of one.  It really is tragic they don't keep.  Although, I can admit I had a piece of the edge of one an hour later and yep, still good.

In other non-cooking news, I have finished the coursework for my personal training certification and now just need to devote 5-6 hours to taking the online exam.  I have also been hired to do two freelance articles which I am really, really excited about.  Tomorrow I am delivering the menus I constructed to the Bed and Breakfast that is interested in using me.  There is so much going on that it is scaring the shit the out of me.  My twitch is back.

It appears the rain is subsiding a little, so I'm going to go deliver the Slobberloaves....  Credit for the name to my Cousin Cecily who said she had heard it referred to as such, but Google didn't corroborate that.  I'm taking the name.  I dig it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Super Easy Broccoli Pasta, Parmesan Bashing, and Inertia

Oh Monday.  Another week, another renewed attempt at clean living.  I ate like a total garbage can over the weekend.  Somehow, I was persuaded to eat both fried cheese curds and then fried pickles on Saturday evening all in the name of carb therapy for a friend.  What can I say?  The spirit is strong, but the flesh is weak or something like that.  Ugh.  I must be a really good friend.  Shaking it off.

Let's do something easy and clean, shall we?  This is a simple broccoli and pasta recipe that I found via Skinnytaste.  I adapted it slightly to add a little more pizazz.

Exhibit A
What you need for 2 big servings or 4 small servings:

1 cup of uncooked pasta ((I used gemelli))
3-4 cups of broccoli
2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 of a red pepper
4 green onions
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

How to make it:

Get a pot of water on to boil.  While that is heating up, chop up your broccoli, removing the stems.  Set aside.

Mince the garlic, chop the green onions (the white parts), and the red pepper and put aside separate from the broccoli.

Once the water is boiling, add both the pasta and the broccoli to the pot.  I typically do not boil vegetables and in fact, I can be kind of a loud mouth about why you shouldn't boil vegetables.  ((Who me?))  It sucks out the nutrients which kind of defeats the whole purpose.  However, for some reason, I was feeling overly complacent today and decided to do as the original recipe said.  Next time, I will steam the broccoli separately because that's just the way I like it.  So there.  We knew that complacency wouldn't last...

After about ten minutes ((or whatever the package says)), remove the pot from the stove and scoop out about one cup of the pasta water and set it aside.  Throw the pasta and the broccoli into a colander to drain.

Return the pot to the stove and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  ((It will get hot fast, so turn the heat down.))  Add the garlic, red pepper, and green onions, and let them cook for a couple of minutes until they smell mega-delicious.  Add the pasta, broccoli, and the cup of pasta water back in.  Crack some salt and pepper over the top and stir.  ((The original recipe said to add another tablespoon of oil at this point, but I didn't think it was necessary.  Use your judgment.  If you have any judgment, that is.))  Smash the broccoli to break it down into small pieces if it hasn't fallen apart completely too.

Remove to a serving bowl and top with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  I'm telling you.  If you are buying and using that Kraft crumbled crap, we can't be internet friends anymore.  You can get a huge thing of Parmigiano Reggiano at Costco for less than ten bucks.  Seriously, I know.  I hate Costco too, but just do it.  GAH.

Obviously, there are tons of ways you could modify this...  Add other veggies, add some chicken.  Go crazy.  Don't let me of all people slow you down.

Nutritional Info:  For 1/4 of the recipe, approximately 275 calories and 7 grams of fat.  Not. Too. Shabby.

This picture would suck with crumbled Kraft Parmesan cheese.  I'm just saying.

Off to get back to work.  It is a big week around here...  Lots of things are coming together at a really fast pace.  Luckily, I can keep up.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes, Pressure Cooking, and Rorschach Tests

Boring cupcakes are just that.  Boring.  For just a little bit more work, you can do something cool, so why not?  <<Sees heads nodding in agreement.>>  That's what I thought.  That's why I like you people.  Today let's do Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes.

These basically replicate an old-fashioned soda fountain float in that the cupcake is topped with whipped cream and a cherry ((which I keep mistyping as "cheery" which is really not in my wheel-house.)) 

The one in the center, hiding between the samoa cupcake and red velvet cheesecake.
 This recipe is slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson's, "How to Be a Domestic Goddess."

What you need for 12:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tbs cocoa powder
3/4 cup Coca-Cola
1/4 cup maraschino cherry syrup
24 maraschino cherries
1 can of Reddi-Whip ((because how can this possibly go wrong?!))

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line your muffin tin with muffin papers and make sure they are cute, dammit.

In one bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

All the dry, white stuff goes in this bowl.

In a second bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla by whisking the hell out of them.  Set aside.

All the wet, yellow-y white stuff goes in this bowl.

Take your jar of maraschino cherries and drain the juice into a small sauce pan.  ((Save the cherries!))  Add the Coke ((and use regular coke, not diet)), bring it to a boil, and let it boil gently for 5 minutes.  Boiling gently means there are still plenty of bubbles in the brew, but it isn't going apeshit.  Stir it occasionally, scraping the bottom, to be sure you aren't burning the cherry juice.

Bubbly Coke

After 5 minutes, remove it from the heat and throw in the butter and the chocolate.  It should melt the butter quite quickly, but if not, put it back on the burner for a couple of seconds to speed things up.  Keep stirring!

With the butter and chocolate
Pour the contents of the sauce pan into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  


This is not a Rorschach Test ((however you spell that))
At this point, feel free to get a little concerned that this appears to be NOTHING like cupcake batter.  I did.  

Add the wet ingredients from Bowl #2 and stir.  Give a sigh of relief.

That's workable
Mix well and fill your cupcake liners.  

NOW.  These do not "fluff up" like some cupcakes do.  Go ahead and fill the liners at least 3/4's of the way full.  ((I use a 1/4 cup measuring doo-hickey to fill them.  It is about the right amount and the stuff doesn't slop all over.))  

((Pretend there is a picture here.  I was on such a picture-taking roll.))

Smush a maraschino cherry in the middle of each one and bake for 15 minutes OR until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.  ((I want to say it took closer to 20 minutes for mine.))

Allow them to cool and then top with aerosol Reddi-Whip.  Use a lot.  Why?  It's fun.  Add another cherry on top.  

So cute.  And the cherry is off-center.
Now, let me say this because maybe this isn't obvious...  You need to "frost" these IMMEDIATELY before serving.  Otherwise, the whipped cream will basically melt all over.  Want more fun?  Have the kids ((or 30-year-old kids, whatever)) frost their own.  No party is complete without a can of Reddi-Whip anyway, right?  Oh what?  Um, hi relatives!  I don't know what I meant there either.  Disregard.

Nutritional Info: Who cares?!  Just kidding.  The buttermilk, butter, syrup, and chocolate situation made these into a situation.  Approximately 325 calories per serving.  Whoops.  Have one and have a salad for dinner.  


Off to finish working on a tasting menu for a Bed and Breakfast that is interested in having me do events and weddings!  Gah!  PRESSURE!  Just kidding.  The pressure is good for me.  It keeps me honest.  And even if it doesn't work out, it is excellent practice for the next time.  We got this.