Sunday, November 25, 2007


I woke up this morning and remembered that I had 2 huge bananas on my kitchen table. I went in and saw that they were way too ripe to eat. I remembered that I had made a banana bread recipe that I found on Amber's blog a while back and that I hadn't made it in a while. I also remembered that the recipe hadn't made it onto my blog yet, so I decided that I'd make banana muffins for the week.

This recipe really is the best banana bread I have ever had. Its so moist and delicious. The recipe on Amber's blog calls for 3 bananas, but my 2 bananas were huge, so they were just fine. Next time, I will buy double the bananas and make a double batch. I was only able to get 10 muffins out of this recipe. but I'm not very good at making my muffins all the same size. So if it weren't for my 2 huge muffins, I may have been able to make 12 muffins :-) Here's a link to the recipe in Amber's blog.

Banana Bread (source: Amber's Delectable Delights)

3 bananas, smashed (I used 2 very large bananas)
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup nuts (I omitted these because i do not like nuts)

Combine all ingredients, except for nuts, using a mixer. Add nuts and mix by hand. Grease bread pan. Pour batter into bread pan and bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Check with toothpick for doneness.

Amber says you can easily make these into muffins, which I did. You can bake the muffins at the same tempertaure, but decrease the baking time to 25 minutes. My muffins were done perfectly in 20 minutes :-)

Sweet Potato Pie

This year, I wanted to try something new for Thanksgiving. We almost always spend the holiday with my Dad's family, and there are so many people that I usually only have to bring a dessert or bread. The past 2 years, I have made a Pumpkin Roll, and everyone has really enjoyed it. But I wanted to try something new this year. Something that we never have.

I decided on Sweet Potato Pie. No one has ever brought it to any family gatherings, and I was itching to try something new and exciting. I searched the web and came across a recipe on It seemed simple and got great reviews, so I decided to give it a try. I was nervous because I knew I wouldn't be able to do a trial run. And I don't like taking something that I've never tried before. But it turned out really great and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

The only thing that I did differently from the original recipe was to bake it longer. I took my pie out of the oven after 30 minutes and it was not done. This caused it to crack down the middle. So I'd say that this pie actually needs to bake for a total of about 50-60 minutes. It bakes for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, and then the recipe says to bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. But it really should bake for 40-50 minutes at 350. Anyway, it still turned out great. Since I didn't make any changes, I will just link to the original recipe.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cheesy Baked Penne and Sort of Homemade Breadsticks

I want to start by saying that I added the picture above because my dog made it into the shot. Can you see him? Fortunately, the picture of the pasta didn't turn out too bad either :)

I have been craving some baked pasta for the past week or so. So since it's Friday, and it's cold and windy, I thought tonight would be a great night for some comfort food. I threw this together pretty quickly and I would consider this an extremely easy dish even for a beginner cook. I will say that next time I will add more sauce. But it was very yummy and very comforting and it really hit the spot. Craving fulfilled!

Cheesy Baked Penne

1 lb penne pasta
1 28 oz can marinara sauce
1 15 oz container of Ricotta cheese
about 1.5-2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided (I like my pasta really cheesy. This is NOT a healthy dinner)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. Boil pasta in salted water until almost al dente. Meanwhile, combine sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, and seasonings in a large bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Drain pasta and add to cheese mixture. Stir pasta and cheeses together until well combines. Spread cheese and pasta in pan and top with reserved mozzarella cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Sort of Homemade Breadsticks

1 round of refrigerated pizza dough (I used Trader Joe's brand)
olive oil spray
garlic powder
dried oregano

Preheat oven to 350. Roll dough out into 10 inch circle. Slice into sticks with a pizza wheel and lay on greased baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and oregano. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chicken in Mushroom Pan Sauce

Another recipe inspired by Elly! Actually, I first saw the recipe that inspired this meal on Ashley's blog, Delish. It looked so yummy, and since I had a bunch of mushrooms left from when I made my soup, I decided to do a mushroom sauce instead of an herb sauce. I also did not use wine because I was cooking for my daughter as well and I guess I felt more comfortable skipping the wine altogether and just used broth. It was so tasty and comforting. I also made mashed potatoes for the first time in a long time. Its kind of hard for me to make mashed potatoes, because the meals that they go with are usually meat meals. And since we're kosher, that would mean not using butter or milk or cream in my mashed potatoes. And I was pretty sure, until tonight, that you just can't have good mashed potatoes without all those things. Well, I will say that they are certainly better with butter and milk and cream, etc. BUT. My mashed potatoes were very good tonight.

Chicken in Mushroom Pan Sauce

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally or pounded thin (I always slice mine)
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup chicken broth (I used part homemade stock, part store-bought broth)
3 ozs sliced baby portabella mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Add flour, salt and pepper, and oregano to a shallow dish. Mix together and dredge the chicken in the flour. Add oil to a skillet and heat. Cook chicken in skillet, about 4 minutes on each side, until done. Set aside and keep warm. Add mushrooms to pan and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute or so. Add broth and cook until reduced and thickened; about 5-7 minutes. Serve sauce over chicken and potatoes.

Non-dairy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4 small-medium yukon gold potatoes
2-3 cloves smashed garlic
chicken broth
2 tbsp non-dairy margarine

Boil potatoes with garlic cloves. Drain and smash with a fork. Add broth and margarine and mix until smooth and margarine is melted.

Chicken Vegetable Mushroom Soup

So the first thing I did with my homemade stock was make soup! It was soooo cold and rainy here last week and it was perfect weather for homemade soup. I had also been inspired by all the delicious soups and stews on Elly's blog. I have been eying them and drooling over them for some time and was so happy to be able to make my own. I definitely did not use a recipe. Instead, I just looked over all of Elly's recipes and used parts of them in mine.

Chicken Vegetable Mushroom Soup

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
8-9 cups chicken broth (I used homemade stock)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 ozs sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 large carrot, cut into bite size chunks
dried oregano
dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch Oven, heat oil and cook chicken until almost done. Remove chicken and set aside. Add onion to the pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add stock and all other ingredients, except chicken and mushrooms, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Add chicken and mushrooms, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Homemade Stock

I roasted a whole chicken last week, and decided that I wanted to make homemade stock from the leftover bones, fat and meat. I am thrilled with the outcome and I have already purchased another chicken to roast and plan on making another stock very soon. I am not going to post about the chicken that I roasted because I really did not follow a recipe and I didn't get any pictures. I will say this though. It tasted amazing and comforting and I can't wait to eat like that again.

Here is what I did with the stock:

bones, fat, and some meat from 3-4lb chicken
1 leek
2 whole cloves of garlic (I honestly can't remember if I added these, but I'd like to think I did)
1 carrot
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
a handful of fresh parsley
1 tbsp peppercorns
salt to taste

Add all ingredients to a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. The longer you simmer, the more flavor you will get. Strain, let cool to room temperature, skim fat, and store in fridge for up to a week. Can be frozen for much longer than that!