Chocolate Banana Butter

banana chocolate butter-1 banana chocolate butter-3We almost waste more bananas in this house than I can count. The girls always swear they want a WHOLE ONE ALL BY MYSELF! But then they each eat two bites and are done. I typically use the leftover bananas for muffins or oatmeal or smoothies, but I wanted to do something a bit more exciting this time because if you don’t shake up your routine from time to time, despair sets in.

I found a recipe for banana jam with just a tish bit of chocolate and it sounded okay but I didn’t really want banana jam. I wanted banana with lots of chocolate and a softened butter consistency. So I just did my own thang.  Plus, it’s easier than making jam. And if you really want to live on the edge, you don’t even have to sterilize your jam jars. GASP. Just keep it in the fridge and no one has to know…

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That’s little Ollie’s hand. So cute. She ate this shot. banana chocolate butter-4

Chocolate Banana Butter


makes about 24 ounces

5 super ripe bananas, cut into chunks
8 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
kosher salt to taste

In a large saucepan, combine the bananas, brown sugar and water over medium heat and bring to a boil. Mash up the bananas with a spatula and boil for about 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in the dark chocolate. Pour the banana chocolate mixture into a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Add the butter and blend again. Taste test – add a sprinkle of kosher salt and let it blend once more. Add more salt to your taste. I tend to like my sweets with a salty edge, so I probably added about a half teaspoon when it was all said and done. Pour into jars and store in the fridge. We have ours on bread. I’m not really sure what else you’d need in life than good bread and chocolate.

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Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cookies with Lemon Cream Glaze

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My girls love to waste oatmeal. They pick their favorite jams to stir into a base that I so lovingly prepare with vanilla bean paste and butter and cinnamon. They seem excited. Then they eat two bites and say they’re all done. And so I eat a lot of oatmeal. And I really get tired of wasting it. I actually despise wasting food. We are a family who eats every bit of our leftovers if I can help it. So naturally I had to find a solution for the oatmeal leftovers (besides cooking something different for breakfast, which is obvious, but every time I think, “Today is the day. Today they will eat oatmeal.”)

Enter: leftover oatmeal cookies! It had to be a thing, right?! It is! I did a quick search on how to use leftover cooked oatmeal and modified the recipe to include some awesome blueberry jam and iced them with a super tart lemon cream glaze. They were pretty delicious! They taste like mini muffin cookies and they were so easy. The variations are endless, too, which is what I like. Brown sugar cinnamon? Cherry chocolate? Lemon poppy seed? They’d all be awesome! For now, here’s the blueberry version! Enjoy!

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Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cookies with Lemon Cream Glaze

makes about 3-4 dozen cookies

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. cooked oatmeal

 

First, make your oatmeal if you don’t truly have leftover oatmeal. I make one cup (which makes about 2 cups cooked) and I make mine with butter and two to three tablespoons of blueberry preserves. You could really flavor your oatmeal any way you like. The secret to good cookies is a little more flavor add-ins than you’d do for just eating oatmeal. Let the oatmeal cool to room temp before making the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Sift the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon together. Mix the brown sugar and butter together until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, alternating with the flour mixture.  Mix the cooked oatmeal until just combined.

Drop by the tablespoon full onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Let the cookies cool completely before adding the glaze.

Lemon Cream Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
zest from 1 large lemon
juice from the same lemon
salt to taste (this is important)

Add the cream to your powdered sugar until it forms a nice paste. You may not use the entire quarter cup. Add the zest and lemon juice and vanilla and then if you think it needs to be thinner, add more cream. The consistency should be like thin pancake batter. Gradually add pinches of salt, stirring well after each pinch, tasting along the way until the flavors start to sing a little louder. Salt is something I add to all my icings and glazes and it makes such a difference!

 

New Mexican Posole

Pork PosolePork Posole from scratch
This is a beautiful recipe. We have made it several times over the past couple years and each time it surprises me how good it really is. The warmth of the spices and the rounded flavors from the fatty pork, combined with the brightness of the cilantro hit the spot every time. It’s home in a bowl. This weekend looks to be dark and rainy for a lot of us across the Texas/New Mexico/Oklahoma region and I can think of no better recipe to make for staying inside and taking comfort in being home than this one.  Serve it with tortillas or cornbread for extra comfort!

These past few weeks have been hard. One or more of us has been sick since the very beginning of March. We’ve had the flu, some weird pink eye thing, a cough that lasted three weeks, the stomach flu and double ear infections – twice. I’ve felt at times over these weeks that it doesn’t really matter what I cook – everyone is just going to either not be in the mood to eat, barf it up, or wish they just had a cracker, anyway. It’s so hard to keep going and to keep doing what you love when life starts throwing crap your way. It’s so easy to give up and get fast food every day. (And I did.) But then, you feel worse. And so you go through the cycle again and it just doesn’t get better until you step back and plan ahead and make a few meals a week that FEEL good and nurture your body AND your spirit. (That can include cookies.) You don’t have to do it every day – but a couple times a week, it’s worth the effort. And it pays off in really good leftovers. 🙂

I hope you are all well this week. And if you’re not, seriously, text me and let me know and I’ll bring you some soup.New Mexican Posole

Posole

New Mexican Posole

  • 1 ½ pounds hominy
  • 3 ounces dried red New Mexico chiles (about 10 large chiles)
  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, not too lean, cut in 2-inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and stuck with 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted until fragrant and coarsely ground
  • 2 cups finely diced white onion, soaked in ice water, for garnish
  • Lime wedges and cilantro for garnish

Drain hominy and put in large soup pot. Cover with water and bring to boil. Let simmer briskly for 30 minutes.

Toast dried chiles lightly in cast-iron skillet or stovetop grill, just until fragrant. Wearing gloves, slit chiles lengthwise with paring knife. Remove and discard stems and seeds. Put chiles in saucepan and cover with 4 cups water. Simmer 30 minutes and let cool. In blender, purée chiles to a smooth paste using some cooking water as necessary. Purée should be of milkshake consistency.

Season pork generously with salt and pepper. After posole has cooked 30 minutes, add pork shoulder, onion stuck with cloves, bay leaf, garlic and cumin. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches, then return to a brisk simmer. While adding water occasionally and tasting broth for salt, simmer for about 2 1/2 hours more, until meat is tender. Skim fat from surface of broth.

Stir in 1 cup chile purée and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning. (At this point, posole can be cooled completely and reheated later. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

To serve, ladle posole, meat and broth into wide bowls. Pass bowls of diced onion, lime wedges, cilantro and oregano, and let guests garnish to taste.

*recipe adapted from the New York Times Cooking

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies 2

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
I’m sitting here after putting my “baby” down for a nap a few minutes ago (praying she’ll go longer than her usual 45 minutes) and Peg and Cat are singing loudly in the background as my very grown up four-year old gets out of taking a nap because I want her to be exhausted enough to go to sleep at nine instead of ten tonight.

I’m winging it this week – Matt is away on a company trip for three days and I’m a few hours in and feeling so, so tired. I have lots of coffee and a good sense of humor, so I’m sure I’ll be fine. But having help from 5:30-9 every night is vital to my sanity. There’s something about getting a fresh set of not-exhausted-yet hands to hold the babies or take them outside and swing them so I can cook dinner in peace. And he is kind of the best there is and the most helpful person on the planet, so it’s extra hard to be without him. So I’m going backwards with my usual routine – I’m cooking lunches this week and keeping dinners simple. Because the last thing I want to do after finally getting both girls in bed is to clean my dirty dishes. I plan on reading a book or doing half of a yoga routine. And while I don’t ever recommend eating your feelings because that’s a silly thing to say and they would probably taste like sauerkraut, anyway – just eat these cookies instead. All eating is emotional eating, after all.

It’s good to be back, friends 🙂

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies 3 Cherry Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: about 24 cookies
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1.5 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup softened, unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla bean paste
1 egg
2 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped, dried cherriesHeat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended. Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt; stir in chocolate chips and cherries.
Onto ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies3
Hello there! This is a delightful little cookie that takes no time at all to make and is so much fun for little helpers! I had this idea a while back whenever I saw powdered peanut butter in the grocery store and have wanted to try it out. It took a little tweaking, but I loved the texture of the cookie itself. One word of advice: don’t use jelly! I know, I know, it’s a riff off of peanut butter jelly sandwiches, but use something a little thicker like a jam or preserve. I used grape jelly because it’s iconic and it really ran out of the cookies more than I would have liked. This did not stop them from being utterly addicting; it just kept them from looking super pretty.

Thumbprint cookies have always been a favorite of mine and this version is so fun and really makes you feel like a kid again. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, I think this would be a great recipe to have for a cookie exchange! Drizzle it with a bit of white or dark chocolate to make it even more fancy! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies2

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies


makes about 2 dozen

1 cup salted butter, softened
½ cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, plus ¼ cup more for dusting
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup peanut butter powder

about 1/2 cup fruit preserves or jam

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, blend butter and sugar until fluffy and light, 2 minutes. Add vanilla and salt, scraping down bowl as needed. Pick up the baby, who has been crying at your knee for the past ten minutes and hold her while you try to measure out peanut butter powder. Let her sneeze into it. Do everything with one arm tied behind your back. Switch to low and gently mix in flour and peanut butter powder, just until combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Create some interest by making some pea-sized and some into the shape of a carrot. Pretend to eat them, but then actually do. Place dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Press down the center of each ball with your thumb, making a slight depression, or a hole clean through to where you can see the bottom of the baking sheet.

Fill cookie centers with a teaspoonful of preserves and be sure to lick the spoon between each cookie. Makes it better. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffy, but take care not to over-bake. Let cool a few minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to finish cooling on wire rack.

When cookies are completely cooled, eat seven or eight with a glass of milk while singing every song you know in your best cat voice. Cookies can be kept in airtight container at room temp for a few days. Emphasis on “can.”

*recipe adapted from Chew Out Loud

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Lamb Burgers with Cucumber and Mint

Lamb Burgers
Burgers are a favorite dinner item in this house. I can put nearly anything on a burger and my three year old will eat it. She may pick it off after a bite or two, but it’s almost like the word “burger” justifies just about anything included. I couldn’t quite sell her on having the tangy mint and cilantro lime yogurt on top, but I figure as long as she is willing to try something that looks like this, we are doing good.

I don’t really cook with lamb all that often. It’s not on my carnivore radar, but it really is deeply flavorful and lean at the same time. Because of it’s low fat percentage, I added an egg to the meat mixture, kind of reminiscent of a meatball recipe. We topped the burgers with cool slices of cucumber, lots of chopped mint and cilantro and the zesty yogurt sauce and called it a success. I think bits of feta incorporated into the patties would’ve been even better – there’s always room for creativity and error in creating a burger and that’s why it’s one of the most enjoyable dinners to make around here. Not to mention everyone can top them in their own way, so a particular palette doesn’t get ridiculed.

lamb burgers with mint, sour cream and cucumber

Lamb Burgers with Cucumber and Mint

1 pound ground lamb
1/2 sweet onion, diced fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped cilantro and mint, divided
1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cucumber, sliced
buttered onion rolls

In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, onion, egg and half the cilantro and mint. Add a teaspoon of salt and pepper and mix well to combine. Form into somewhat loose patties and cook on a buttered grill or griddle about 2 minutes per side and an instant read thermometer reads at least 160F.

Combine the yogurt, lime juice and other half of the cilantro and mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on top of burgers with sliced cucumbers on buttered onion rolls.

 

Apple Crisp: Food Memories

Fall Apple Crisp
I’ve done a few posts on food memories from my own family and ones from friends and I love those posts more than any other. They are more than just recipes – they are links to the past and to feelings that can’t be accessed any other way. Food is such a tie to our heritage, to our families and to the love we felt when we first experienced those memorable dishes. I never tweak these recipes because it’s my job to post about and honor the memory, not the recipe itself. My dear friend, Becky, had this picture of her grandmother’s hand written recipe on her Instagram account and when I saw it, I knew I had to make it.

Last year, Becky invited me over to look through her grandmother’s things before they had an estate sale in the wake of her passing. I had the honor of taking home a patchwork quilt she had made. Not only do my girls play on it outside nearly every day, but I used it as a backdrop for the photos I took of the final dish. I hope it makes this post that much more meaningful for my friend.

The recipe itself is completely delicious and comforting and full of the essence of the fall season! I love that it calls for “oleo” – a sure sign the baker lived through the 50s 🙂 So this was the only tweak I made by using butter instead. I also topped the apple crisp with cinnamon horchata ice cream because I was all out of whipping cream. I’m sure if Nana could have tasted the ice cream, she wouldn’t mind the substitution.

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I asked Becky to share a few thoughts about her Nana and this recipe. She also provided this amazing picture and it makes me wish I’d known her. She looked so joyful.

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My Nana (Oma Lee) was the 5th of 6 kids born in 1926 to a generous, kind-hearted family. They took in the homeless, cared for the sick, fed the hungry. They also laughed more than most.

For a couple of years while I was in college, I got to live with her and got to know her on a deeper level. She was a counselor to me, a friend, comic relief, an adult when I acted like a child. We watched Miss America pageants and Hallmark movies together and ate dilly bars from DQ.

Nana shared an apple “pie” recipe with me during that time, and it’s the only apple pie I’ve ever made, because its kinda fool proof (I need that) and darn tasty.

I made it for her once and she went on and on about how delicious it was. When I reminded her it was one of her recipes, she laughed for the longest time then said in a straight voice, “well that’s why it’s so good”. Man, I miss her.

Apple Crisp 2

Apple Crisp

6 cups peeled, sliced apples
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
For the streusel topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter

Whipped topping or ice cream to garnish

Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix together apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter.  Place in a greased 8″ square baking dish. Set aside.

Combine the 3/4 cup sugar and flour and then cut in the butter until the texture is fine crumbles. Sprinkle over the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until apples are tender*. Serve warm with dollops of whipped topping (or ice cream!)

*Becky advised that I brown the apple crisp for a few minutes under the broiler because it doesn’t really get brown during baking.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Parfaits with Cherry Almond Syrup

Chocolate Cherry Almond Parfaits
Last week I bought lots and lots of cherries. Whenever I see that they are $2 pound, I get a little crazy. Olive loves them and will stand at the kitchen sink eating them until…well I don’t know how long she’d stand there because I’ve always intervened.  I should wait and see how long it goes on next time just for fun.

But the new wears off (slightly) and I need to use up the forgotten ones at the bottom of the colander for something.  Enter: cherry almond syrup. I layered dark chocolate mousse with the fresh made, chunky cherry almond syrup and it was so perfect. I also used the syrup on sourdough waffles and I’m still thinking about those perfect, crispy little things. It’s fun to make a “loose jam” like this syrup out of any fruit you find yourself needing to use up. It’s about to be apricot season and I can’t wait to make this with those! Or plums! Ah, stone-fruits.  You have my heart.  Dark Chocolate Cherry Parfaits

Cherry Almond Syrup

I used this recipe for the chocolate mousse and used 80% Lindt instead of semi-sweet chips.  Totally intense chocolate, but so perfect (for me.)

2 cups pitted cherries, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS water
1/8th teaspoon almond extract

In a medium saucepan, bring the cherries, sugar and water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let it cook for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract.  Serve on top of ice cream, on waffles, pancakes, or in this tasty little layered parfait with dark chocolate mousse like I did.

Dark Chocolate Mousse with Cherry Almond Syrup

Creamy Potatoes with Thyme Browned Butter

creamy boiled potatoes with thyme and browned butter
Some days you just need someone to think up a side dish for you. This is not complicated.  This is nothing you couldn’t come up with on your own.  But your brain is zapped. And there are days I stand there with my fridge gaping and I just can’t be creative anymore.  I roasted the potatoes yesterday, I don’t want to roast them again! So, if you’re like me and you don’t necessarily want to do something crazy or ambitious on a Monday evening, but you DO want something different that someone else thought up for you – then this recipe is for you.  Clean, simple, warm, filling and utterly delicious.  Boiling the potatoes in their skins gives them that appealing pop when you bite through the skin and the interior is smooth and creamy.  Add in some browned thyme butter and this could almost be a meal in itself…

…but if you have a three year old who has a bit of an opinion about dinner, then you can’t serve these alone because then she’ll ask, “Where’s the rest of the meal?” She’s been asking me that for about a year, now.  Where she even got that phrase, I’ll never know.  But it’s pretty intimidating.

Creamy Potatoes with Thyme Browned Butter

Boiled Potatoes with Thyme Browned Butter

  • Servings: 4-6 as a side dish
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1 lb baby red potatoes (red creamers)
4 TBS unsalted butter
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, plus a teaspoon of chopped leaves
kosher salt for seasoning

In a large pot, submerge potatoes and salt the water generously.  Bring to a boil and boil until soft when pierce with a knife.  This took me around 15 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and transfer into a large bowl.  In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat, and add the thyme sprigs and cook till the foaming subsides.  When brown butter solids start forming at the bottom of the pan and the butter smells nutty, immediately remove from the heat and add the thyme leaves.  Swirl around and then pour over the potatoes, tossing to coat evenly.  Sprinkle the potatoes with kosher salt and serve.

The Best Appetizer, Ever

warm dates with olive oil and salt
Okay, so it’s not spinach artichoke dip (the best junky appetizer, ever) but I love it. It’s just three ingredients! It’s salty, sweet, chewy, and indulgent all in one! It’s so easy that it hardly qualifies to be a blog post, but I can’t help it because we love it so much we have it at least once a week so I wanted to share it with you.  I present to you: Warmed dates with olive oil and kosher salt. That’s it.  Matt read about this appetizer in a book I got for him for Christmas called Delancey.  We ate at Delancey’s in Seattle when we were there last year and had some of the best pizza of our lives.  It’s a cute restaurant owned by a husband/wife duo and the book is the tale of their beginnings in the food world and how they combined their talents in opening the perfect pizza shop.  He bakes the pizza and she takes care of appetizers and desserts. It’s kind of a fantasy of Matt’s to do the same and own a brick oven style pizza joint. I could totally run the apps and desserts.  Maybe one day we will after our children are old enough to be our waitstaff 😉

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These warmed dates are in that book – just a simple appetizer that are completely satisfying.  I could honestly have these dates with a slice of Matt’s bread and be totally happy for dinner.  It seems weird and too simple, but it just works.  Simply heat fresh dates on the stove in some good olive oil until they are slightly sizzling.  Then, sprinkle with kosher salt and serve warm.  Amazing and easy and spiffs up your dinner in about 15 seconds.  Also, our opinionated three year old loves them.

Warmed Dates with Olive Oil and Kosher Salt