Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Per Jamie's Request

Here is my banana bread recipe, which is actually my mom's banana bread recipe, although I have taken the liberty of tweaking it.

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil (vegetable or canola)
2 eggs
3 c. flour
pinch of salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
2/3 sour milk or buttermilk
5 mashed bananas

Mix sugar, oil and eggs until combined.
Stir in dry ingredients.
Add milk & bananas, mix to combine.

Bake in greased loaf pans at 350 degrees for one hour. Makes 2 loaves. Do not add nuts. This is not banana nut bread. If it were, I would have said so.

To make sour milk, add little white vinegar to perfectly good milk when you start this recipe and let it sit until you need it. Voila! Sour milk.

Here are my tweaks:
*I always use whole wheat flour for 2 of the cups of flour. No one has ever noticed and it seems to make the bread more substantial.
*When mixing the wet ingredients, I pour in some vanilla (probably around a teaspoon), cinnamon and nutmeg. I don't measure, just pour until it seems like enough. I play around with other spices, too, but cinnamon and nutmeg are ALWAYS in my banana bread.
*I don't mash the bananas all the way. I like to have some gooey banana chunks in the bread.
*I usually use a couple of bananas that have been frozen (and are now thawed). They turn into this gross-looking banana liquid when they thaw, but it makes the bread really moist. (When my bananas are starting to get past the point where we'll eat them, I just put them in the freezer, in the peel, and save them for banana bread time.)

There you have it. This is my version of my mom's banana bread. It's kind of famous.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh, How I Love Thee...

Rotisserie Chicken. I bow to he or she who at some grocery chain board meeting said, "You know what would be a good idea? We should offer hot, juicy, delicious rotisserie chickens in our stores." Yes, yes, you should, brilliant grocery store board member. And the masses will thank you.

Rotisserie chickens are a staple of our diet. We buy a gihugic one at Costco every week (for only $4.99!), and it feeds us for about three meals. On the first night, we usually have it with potatoes or rice and vegetables. Night two, every week, is fajitas. Day three lunch is leftover fajitas. But the possibilities do not stop there, my friends. Rotisserie chicken is like the, well, it's like chicken- really, really versatile... BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO COOK IT. So it's better than chicken, even though it's chicken. You follow me?

Other fabulous things to do with rotisserie chicken: chicken enchiladas, chicken salad, chicken on salad, stir-fry, chicken noodle soup, chicken and whatever else soup, goop (a delicious cheese-and-chicken concotion we eat over rice), chicken stroganoff, chicken in pasta... the list goes on.

This is why I love rotisserie chickens. This is why I cannot live without rotisserie chickens. The word chicken is starting to sound very strange to me now. Chicken. CHICKen. chick-en. If I was Oprah, I would sing it very loudly, "CHIIIICK-EEEEEEEN!" And then I would give everyone in my audience a plate of delicious rotisserie chicken goodness and a certificate to the finest rotisserie chicken makers in the world, to have hot, juicy, delicious rotisserie chicken perfection sent to their home every week. You're wishing I was Oprah right now, aren't you? (Sigh) Yeah, me too.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Happy Experiment

Tonight was one of those nights where you look in the fridge and everything looks uninspired. You don't even really have ingredients for a meal, just eggs, milk, cheese and fruit, and a fruit-and-cheese omelette is out of the question. I don't know if they're ever in the question, but that's so not the point. So I looked in the pantry and was met with pasta, more pasta and cans and cans of beans. I was thinking it would be a cereal for dinner kind of night because I'm getting pretty sick of spaghetti, when I was reminded of the few episodes of "Pantry Raid" I've seen, where this chef goes into people's homes and makes a fabulous meal out of whatever is in their pantry and fridge. So I decided to play "Pantry Raid".

After looking at the endless cans of beans, I remembered eating a delicious black bean soup at a restaurant last year, so I headed to the internet for black bean soup recipes. Naturally, I didn't have the ingredients the recipes were calling for, so I decided to wing it. That's what all the best cooks do, right? (Also all the cooks who give their guests food poisoning, but it's best to look on the bright side.) My experiment turned out to be surprisingly good.

Here's my very own black bean soup recipe:

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can vegetable broth (or whatever broth you have)
1 can diced tomatoes (mine had zesty chiles in them, but you could use whatever tomatoe-y product you have... tomato sauce, tomato paste, salsa... you get the idea)

Olive oil
1 half of a monstrous white (or yellow) onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1-2 tablespoons cumin (to taste)
A few shakes of red pepper flake
Black pepper

So, take one can of black beans and the vegetable broth and puree it in the blender. Put that mixture and the remaining black beans into a medium/big pot over medium heat.

In a skillet, heat a couple glugs of olive oil (I'm so precise, aren't I?) and the onion over medium heat. When the onions start to get translucent, add the garlic, cumin and red pepper flake. Stir it around and let it cook a few minutes, then stir it into the pot with the black beans. Drain the can of tomatoes and add to the soup. Add black pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 15 or 20 minutes until it thickens up a bit (you can always add more liquid if you want it soupier, or strain a little out if you want it thicker). Serve hot.

I put a big spoonful of sour cream on top of ours, but it would probably also be delicious over tortilla chips (or smashed taco shells) and shredded cheese, or with quesadillas. If you try it, let me know what you think, or what variations you used. Yay for kitchen bravery!