Saturday, August 7, 2010

Banana Pancakes and Shark Week

I originally wanted to have my post title be a quote from Jack Johnson's Banana Pancakes, but I refrained from being too cliché.. But as it is Friday, why don't you make you banana pancakes, pretend like it's the weekend now...
Sorry. I had a moment.
(Yes. I am continuing to listen to this song as I write this post.)

This week has been slightly uneventful, yet stressful and full or work.  But fortunately, I had friends and Shark Week to get me through.  For those of you who are too sheltered and don't know what Shark Week is, it is one of the best weeks of the year (I compared it to being the Hanukkah in August).  Basically, the Discovery Channel decides to grant its viewers with a week of continues sharky love - a gift every day of several hours of shark TV.
I know, I know... Sharks are scary and they eat things... But I mean, come on. Sharks are awesome.  They really don't just eat things, they are natural predators who don't like people to invade their personal space.  Sharks are awesome, and I would totally watch shows about sharks all day every day.
Shark Channel, anyone?!

Dusted with a little powdered sugar, anyone?
Anyways, a few mornings ago my friend and I decided to make pancakes before our workout (kind of contradictory, I know..) and she had an extra-ripe banana.  So we chopped them up and threw them into our pancake mixture.

Here's a secret, too... Put a dollop of sour cream in your pancakes to make them fluffy. Who knew?
Here's another secret... put a little oil in your pancakes and it will prevent them from sticking... What??!

Let's bow down to my fantastic friend Alicia for introducing me to these awesome tips!

So here's what we did...
Banana Pancakes
Jiffy baking mix, using the recipe on the box to make pancakes
1 tbsp sour cream
Look at that caramelized banana!!
1/2 tbsp oil
1 ripe banana, chopped (or mashed) and incorporated into the mixture.

Mix all of the above ingredients into the pancake batter.  Cook the pancakes until they start to bubble, and then flip.  Add a little milk if the batter thickens.

There you go! Yummy banana pancakes to enjoy.
Don't forget to catch up on the last few days of Shark Week!

Ciao e Bella Cucina,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spicy Roasted Veggies with Spicy Fettucini

My friends have been feeding me. It's fantastic because I've been so poor, I haven't bought groceries in three weeks.  I'm living off of what I call, "Reserve Food," or "Bomb Shelter Food," because I've been eating out of my freezer/cans for the last few weeks.  I made my last box of pasta the other day... this is bad, I know.
And my friends realized that too, so they have helped me out. One brought over food from her garden at home, and we roasted some squash and carrots.  They were divine!  And on top of that, we made green bean fettucini with a little habanero sauce :) I like it spicy!

Roasted Veggies
Whatever vegetables you choose (we used carrots, onions, and squash. I've also done it with tomatoes)
Olive oil
Cajun seasoning (I use Slap Ya Mama)
Garlic powder

Cut the vegetables to your liking - you don't want them too thin, but the thinner they are the faster they cook.  Make sure they are of equal size so nothing cooks unevenly.
Spread them equally on a cookie sheet or roasting pan.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil and toss the veggies.  Sprinkle liberally with the garlic powder and cajun seasoning, and then sprinkle a little paprika and then toss the veggies.
Roast at 400°F for approximately 20 minutes (the thinner they are, the faster they cook... or the opposite).  Cook until opaque and tender.

Spicy Fettucini
Oil from roasted veggies
Olive oil
1/2 box fettucini, cooked
Large handful of green beans
Habanero sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Cook the green beans in the olive oil and garlic.  Once the fettucini is finished, toss in the noodles with the green beans.  Add in the oil from the roasted veggies, salt to taste, and about 6 drops of the habanero sauce. Toss and serve.

Now that was easy!

Ciao e Bella Cucina!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New KitchenAid? Let's Make Banana Bread!

I have a list called, "Mom, when you die you are giving me this..." and it is a list of kitchen items.  It consists of things like her All-Clad, Japanese dishes, China, a wooden bowl, a wooden pasta fork, and her KitchenAid (and various other items, as well).  She laughs every time I say it, and realizes I'm not kidding. My mother is the one who brought the wonders of cooking into my life, and I want that legacy to continue even after she's gone... When I make my first sukiyaki for my family, or a nabe.  Or ever time I make pasta.  But of course, that will be a long way from now. Seeing as my mother is in perfect health (and I'm happy about that) and I don't want to get married until I'm 90.

Anyways! So I get a call last fall from my mother (which was odd because I'm always the one who calls her) and she tells me, "You're grandmother has a present for you."  And I'm slightly shocked, but not all-to surprised.  My grandma is a fantastic woman, but she normally doesn't give presents. Just money (which ash always helped me in many many ways).  I promptly ask my mother what it is and she says, "Her KitchenAid."  I'm shocked.  Out of everything I want in my life, the KitchenAid is the one thing I knew would take me 500 years to purchase (since they're awfully expensive).  I laughed. I cried. I nearly had a myocardial infarction.  I was in cooking heaven, and this was at the same time I was discovering my absolute love for food and had a $5.00 hand blender.

Look at the color on the loaf - so golden!!
When I came home over Christmas there it was - in my grandmother's garage - a nearly brand new, barely used, professional "with-the-arms" KitchenAid with all the fix-ins.  I was nearly jumping out of my snow boots.  And to top it all off? My grandma offered me a go around at her cookbook cabinet.  I got about 100 cookbooks, mostly for baking, and I left with that KitchenAid.  But my tiny apartment could not accomodate, so I didn't bring it down until last week. And the first thing I do? I make banana bread, of course!

Banana bread is one of this things that instantly takes me back to my childhood.  I love the smell of the dough, and as it bakes it makes everything around it aromatic.  My mom always made it for swimming meets, so we could have a sweet, yet starchy, boost of energy at the end of the night.  This recipe was stolen from my neighbor many, many years ago.  And I will admit that it needs a change.  I made it and I was confused, because my bread was flat.  And I researched baking soda and baking powder (because the recipe called for baking soda) and there it was - baking soda requires acid, baking powder already has cream of tartar in it.  So, you may need to add a little cream of tartar to this recipe to make your bread nice and fluffy.

Banana Bread
3 large, ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Crisco (I used 1/4 cup unsalted butter)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Beat bananas until they are mashed in a small bowl.
In a stand mixer, beat eggs until light.  Then add sugar and butter and mix well.
Then add the flour, salt, and baking soda and mix well.
Mix in the mashed bananas.
Spray or grease 2 loaf pans and pour mixture evenly between the two.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and they pass the toothpick test.

Enjoy this delicious banana-y bread!
Look at that air pocket!
Ciao e Bella Cucina!