Monday, January 31, 2011

Soup Night Edition #2: Corn Chowder

Here's another soup night recipe, this time from a guest blogger! This is my dad's recipe for corn chowder. You might want to run out to the store tonight and get all of the ingredients to make this soup for tomorrow, when the big snow hits! Here's hoping for a snow day coming up this week!

Corn Chowder

Something like this:

Chop up 6-10 large Potatoes, cover just to the top of the potatoes in water in a large pot and start boiling.

Chop up one or two large Onions.
Chop up several celery stalks

Fry up a package of bacon.
Remove the bacon from the pan when done, crumble or cut in to small pieces.

Cook the chopped onions and celery in the bacon grease until soft.  Stir in a couple of big spoonfuls of flour when its done.

Reduce heat on the boiling potatoes, add milk, while stirring, into the Pot with the potatoes until it is fairly full (you do need room for the corn and other ingredients)

Stir in all the other prepared ingredients.   Add a little Paprika and pepper.  Add a couple of big spoonfuls or clumps  of brown sugar.  Stir

Add 3 cans of corn or creamed corn or a mixture of both.   Stir

Simmer for a good long while until the potatoes are really soft.  Stir occasionally.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Soup Night Edition #1: Tomato-Cheese Tortellini Soup

I'm taking a little break from the baking posts to bring you... Baking Through Life: Soup Night Edition.

Every Wednesday night in January, we had Soup Night at my house. People would stop by, eat some soup, and hang out for a while. It's a great way to break up the week and bring some warmth and flavor to dreary, cold January. We had lots of great soups, so whether you missed out coming or you just want to make them for yourself at home, I'll be posting some of the better ones here.

(I didn't think of posting the recipes here until after Soup Nights were over, so I didn't take any pictures of the soups. You'll have to use your imagination!)

First up, Tomato-Cheese Tortellini Soup. This is probably one of the easiest soups you'll ever make, but it also tastes really great!

You will need:
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can fat free chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 c. fresh or frozen cheese tortellini (about 12 oz.)
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  1. Combine tomatoes, chicken broth, and Italian seasoning in a large saucepan or pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Add tortellini, zucchini, and pepper. (I just put the tortellini in straight from the freezer.)
  3. Simmer 7-8 minutes or until pasta and zucchini are tender.
Makes 4 servings.

Stay tuned for Sweet Potato Soup and Greek Wedding Soup.
Let me know which other soups you'd like the recipes for, too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The One Where I Make Banana Pancakes

You know that Jack Johnson song about banana pancakes? 

Makin' banana panckes/Pretend like it's the weekend/Ain't no need to go outside

Well, since this is the view out my window today:
And it is still the weekend (thank you, Martin Luther King, Jr.), today seemed like the perfect day to make some.

I can't remember where I got this recipe, but I make it a lot and it's super easy and super tasty.

You will need:
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour (I use whole wheat white flour from Trader Joe's)
  • 1/4 c. white flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 sliced banana for garnish (optional)
1. Combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and cinammon.

2. In a separate bowl (I usually use a big measuring cup so I don't have to wash another bowl), whisk the butter, egg, and buttermilk.

3. Mash the banana and add it, with the wet ingredients, to the dry mixture. Mix together until just combined. Add chocolate chips if you want.

4. To make the pancakes on the stove, either ladle out as much batter as you want for each pancake, or use this amazing invention (if you are lucky enough to have gotten one from your grandparents for Christmas):
This handy little guy lets you squirt out as much or as little pancake batter at a time as you want. All you do is fill it up, like so:

Then press the handle at the side to open up a little hole at the bottom and let the batter out, like this:

It also saves a lot of mess, since usually I scoop out the batter with a measuring cup and get batter all over the counter.

I wasn't sure if the chocolate chips would fit out the bottom or not, so I just sprinkled them on top after the pancakes started cooking:

The batter is pretty thick, so it kind of glopped out the bottom and made some rather misshapen pancakes, but they still turned out yummy! The recipe makes about 10-12 medium sized pancakes.

5. Add the sliced banana (I used up all my bananas in the pancakes). Syrup and butter are optional, especially since the chocolate chips make them so sweet already.

You still have time to make some today...maybe for dinner?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The One With My Favorite Things: Baking Edition

If you've spent some time with me, you know that I can become a little bit obsessed with different things. I thought I'd share some of my current favorite baking obsessions...

1. Aprons: Something about wearing an apron makes me feel very domestic, like a real baker, even if I'm just making slice and bake cookies! I have 2 aprons that I love - a little half apron from the flea market and a full size apron from anthropologie. I've also got my eye on this cute turquoise one from anthropologie (love all their aprons!)

2. Bowls: I have been obsessed with bowls for quite a while. My favorite ones for baking are from Crate & Barrel. I love the set of five mixing bowls. I have the older set, without all of the ridges. I use them so much that the biggest one cracked and had to be thrown away. I searched everywhere for a replacement: on-line, at the outlet store. Finally, after I stopped looking, I found this yellow matching bowl at T.J. Maxx for $5 - it was such a happy day!

3. Measuring Cups and Spoons: I have 2 of the cutest sets I have ever seen (both from anthropologie). I think the actual measurements might be a little off, but they're so cute that I just can't help using them!

4. Fair Trade Ingredients: Fair trade just means that the people working to make these things are treated fairly and paid fair wages. They are more expensive, but "someone's gotta pay!" So far I've bought fair trade sugars - white, brown, and powdered, and fair trade chocolate chips and baking cocoa from Whole Foods. My next step is fair trade vanilla.

5. Pandora Radio: Technically this isn't a baking necessity, but I like listening to some tunes while I bake. If you haven't tried Pandora, check it out here. All you do is put in an artist or song you like, and they play a bunch of great songs that are similar. It's a great way to discover new music, and it's free! Depending on my mood, these are some of my favorite "stations": She & Him, City and Colour, and (no mocking) Taylor Swift.   

Those are my current favorites...Any ideas to add to my list?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The One With the Muffins

If you, like me, have been eating lots of junk over the holidays and ignoring all of your healthy food so that your bananas now look like this:
Then you have come to the right place! Today I decided to make banana bread muffins with my old bananas. When my bananas go bad, I stick them in the freezer to use later. When you are ready to use them, just let them unthaw a little, then cut off one end. The banana just slides right out (it looks a little gross when it comes out, but it's a good way use your bad bananas instead of throwing them away).

There are lots of ways to make banana bread, but the secret to this recipe is:

The sour cream makes it really moist (sorry if you hate that word as much as I do, but it really does describe the bread) and the chocolate chips make it a little more fun. 

Here's what else you will need:
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 6 bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 1/2 c. flour
  • 3 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 (16 oz.) container of sour cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
It's a pretty easy recipe to follow...

1. Cream the butter and sugar.
2. Add the eggs and bananas.
3. Fold in the flour, sour cream, vanilla, salt, and baking soda.
4. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours for loaves or about 25 minutes for muffins.

*If you are making loaves and the top starts to get brown before the middle is done, just put a piece of foil lightly over the top of the loaves (don't press it down). This way the middle will still cook without the tops getting any darker.

I halved the recipe and it made 24 muffins. The full recipe makes 3 loaves, or 48 muffins. Just a note, if you are halving the recipe, make sure you read it correctly because I accidentally put in 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking power instead of teaspoons, so then I had to scoop out all the extra. Oops!

The other good thing about banana bread muffins is that, since they are made with fruit, you can cheat a little on your New Year's diet and not feel too guilty about enjoying them. Yum!