Monday, September 29, 2008

Micky D's- Cloned Sandwhiches

You. Must. Read. This. Now!

1996 McDonalds Hamburger

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

What to Do with Lots of Ripe Bananas

I went to our neighborhood corner store, Sarah's Market, last night. It was 10 minutes until closing time, and there were a ton of over ripe bananas on the checkout counter. I made a joke to the owner that it looked like she was going to have to make a lot of banana bread. Well, she must have not wanted to make banana bread, because she laughed and then insisted I take the bananas. So guess who got to make lots of banana bread? Perfect excuse for me to procrastinate studying for my child psychology classes.

We got about 10 bananas that were already in danger of fruit flies getting to them so I wanted to make something fast. I've never liked to freeze bananas, even though that's what a lot of people do- something just changes in the consistency that I don't like. Since baked goods generally freeze well, I figured I could make a bunch of banana bread muffins and freeze them to use for several on-the-run breakfasts.

This is hands down the best banana bread recipe I have ever tried or had. I think the secret is in its simplicity. It takes less than 10 minutes to mix the ingredients together. The toughest part is just waiting for them to come out of the oven.

Here is the basic recipe, you can do lots of things with this and add your own fabulousness. I usually just make the basic recipe and add in a generous amount of mini chocolate chips (a combination I absolutely love) and bake in a loaf pan.

Basic Banana Bread Recipe:
  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

This time, I didn't have any chocolate chips, so I made two different variations with things I had on hand:

Banana Pumpkin Muffins
  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin butter (I got mine pre-made from Trader Joe's)
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
Makes about 15 muffins
5 Weight Watchers Points

Chocolate Banana Muffins
  • 4 0r 5 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
Makes about 12 muffins
6 Weight Watchers Points

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Spray loaf pan or muffin tin with cooking spray. Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl (I use a potato masher). Cream the rest of the ingredients together with the bananas. Pour into prepared loaf pan or muffin tin (use 1/3 cup batter per serving if using muffin tin) Bake 30 minutes for muffins, an hour for a loaf. Insert toothpick or knife, you will know its done when it comes out clean.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lemon Ginger Cupcakes

It's a rare person who doesn't love cupcakes. They are a current trend on their way out, but I don't think I could ever get tired of them, there are so many varieties! (by the way, I kind of think brownies and blondies should be the next "it" thing in kitchy baking.)

I actually made these from left over cake batter for a friend's birthday cake. I brought these to share at work, and lets just say there wasn't a single crumb left by one o'clock.

I will post the birthday cake recipe later, but for now you can try and guess how I made them- I made my own recipe!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cherry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Oooooh these are sooo good. I'm not so sure they really count as "breakfast", since they are really more of a dessert. Then again, I have never been one to turn down dessert for breakfast! This is inspired by Smitten Kitchen who got their recipe from Baked Bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I gotta check out their bakery next time I make it up to New York, the pictures on their website are mouth watering!

I know, my pictures really suck. I really need to get a nice camera or have my other one fixed. I was tempted to not even post this picture, but whats a recipe without a picture? Trust me though, these are to die for. If you don't like cherries, you can substitute any kind of berry or mix of berries you like. Next time I make this, I might try apricots instead, yummmmm!


For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For the cherry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound cherries, fresh or frozen (pitted)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Oil, butter or spray the baking pan.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined, and then pour back into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and stir until mixture is crumbly.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside. Keep the oven on while you make the cherry filling.

Make the cherry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the cherries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the cherries are evenly coated.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the cherry mixture evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Let them cool for as long as you can stand it, and enjoy!

Makes 16 bars
5 Weight Watcher Points per serving

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sourdough Starter!

I've decided that if I want to learn to bake, then I should probably have on hand at all times a sourdough starter. So many possibilities (and not just sourdough bread)! Just think:

Blueberry Sourdough Muffins
Sourdough Pizza Crust
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
Chocolate Sourdough Cake
Sourdough Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce
Sourdough Pancakes (there are many options with this!)
Sourdough Carrot Cake
Fresh Tomato Basil Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Rustic Sourdough Noodles
(OK- not exactly baking, but still intriguing)
Sourdough Biscuits

I think you get the point...

Making a sourdough starter is so amazingly easy, it's pretty much idiot proof. You just have to make sure to "feed" it once a day for the first few days. After that, you mostly just need to tend to it once a week.

Here is what you do:

Mix together one cup of flour with one cup of warm water. Pour into a wide mouthed jar or other container. Avoid using a metal container, because it can affect the starter in an adverse way. Make sure there is a way for a little bit of air to circulate in the container. I used a mason jar and punctured a hole in the lid with a nail. Put aside and keep at room temperature.

After about 24 hours, you will need to "feed" the starter: throw out half the starter, and mix in half a cup of warm water and a half cup of flour. Set aside for another 24 hours and repeat. After 3-5 days, your starter should be bubbly and yeasty smelling which means its ready to use; at this point you can begin keeping it in your refrigerator. Your starter will keep for as long as you continue to feed it once a week or so.

If you want more details on how to make a sourdough starter, John Ross over at Sourdough Baking has lots of information and advice, along with a basic sourdough bread recipe.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dry Socket

If you read my previous post, you know that I just had my wisdom teeth taken out. Its been 6 days since the unholy day and I have been mostly fine, eerily fine even. Except last night I woke at 3 AM to an unbearable searing pain on the left side of my face. After diagnosing myself in the only way a "Gen.comer" knows (the Internet), turns out I have dry socket. Oh yes folks, DRY SOCKET. Just hearing the term is like nails on a chalkboard. Ever hear of the twinkie defense? Well, if I do something really evil or violent I think I can claim dry socket defense. Oh yea, dry socket only happens to about 5% of people who have a tooth extraction, lucky me!

In reading up on my condition, I stumbled upon a particularly comical blog post about a guy who pretty much had the same exact experience though he was able to, I'll put this lightly, give a much more adequate description of the experience. I only wish I could have written it, because it pretty much sums up exactly whats going on with me at the moment. Hey- at least I'm not alone!

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Wisdom: A Tale of Dental Redemption