Monday, March 24, 2014

Recipe Remake: Coconut Banana Muffins

These were one of the first recipes that I made and posted to my blog in 2009. They were a mess the first time I made them. I burned the tops and they were underdone on the inside. I finally got around to remaking these. They were perfect this time, sweet, moist, and delicious, and I didn't burn the tops! I think they would be even better with the addition of white chocolate chips.

Coconut Banana Muffins
Source: slightly adapted from Epicurious

1 and 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas (mashed)
1 stick butter (melted and slightly cooled)
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, mix together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, coconut extract, and 1/2 cup flaked coconut with a spoon until well combined.
Fold flour mixture into banana mixture until flour is just moistened.
(You can mix in 1/2 cup white chocolate chips at this point, if using.)
Fill liners two-thirds full and sprinkle with remaining coconut.
Bake until golden brown for 18 to 22 minutes.
Cool muffins on a rack.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beer-Simmered Beef Roast

My husband and I love beer. Not just any old domestic, however, but specialty, craft beers. We especially enjoy local beers and have been blessed with a handful of small craft breweries in our area. One of our favorites is Nimble Hill Brewing Company, which offers tastings at its wine/beer tasting room in Tunkhannock. Did I mention they started as a winery? They have great wine as well. If you're ever in the area, you should check them out! 

We always bring home a growler when we visit the tasting room (in addition to a few bottles of wine). Growlers of beer only are fresh for several hours. I've been told they can last longer, but I have yet to find one that lasts more than a day. This time, we took home a growlette (a half-sized growler) of their lager (Flinke Hugel) and their porter (Midnight Fuggle). If you mix them, you get black and tan (Midnight Flinke). Their porter is my favorite. It's smooth with hints of coffee and chocolate. It's the best porter I have tasted.We were unable to finish our growlettes this particular day, so instead of dumping the almost-flat beer down the drain (I know it's a sin to waste beer!), we used it to make beer-simmered beef roast. Along with the beer, I added onion soup mix, garlic, black pepper, and mushrooms. The results were heavenly. The beer complemented the other flavors to yield a perfectly tender roast with a slight beer flavor.

Beer-Simmered Beef Roast

4-pound beef roast (any cut)
1 package dry onion soup mix
1.5 cups dark beer such as a lager, stout, or porter (I used Nimble Hill Midnight Flinke, a black and tan.)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1–2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup mushrooms (chopped)

Sear beef roast on all sides.
Whisk together onion soup mix, beer, pepper, and garlic.
Transfer roast to a slow cooker and dump beer mixture over roast.
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Add mushrooms during the last 2 hours of cook time.
Optional: Strain the beef drippings to make gravy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

One Banana Banana Bread

I had a hankering for banana bread, but I only had one ripe banana. After a quick search online, I found an easy recipe. I decided to change it up a bit to make it a bit healthier. I swapped half of the butter for unsweetened applesauce, added ground flax seed, cut the sugar in half, and added a handful of chocolate chips. I know, chocolate is not healthy, but it does contain antioxidants! The bread was so moist and delicious. It was perfectly sweet, and the flax seeds added some texture. Next time I will sub all the butter for applesauce and omit the chocolate chips.

One Banana Banana Bread
Source: Adapted from What A Crock!

1 large ripe banana (mashed)
1 egg with enough milk to make 1 cup of liquid (I used unsweetened almond milk.)
1/2 stick stick butter (melted and cooled slightly)
1/8 cup (2 oz.) unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/8 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray. (No need to flour pan.)
Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix everything with your hands until combined.
Mix in chocolate chips (if using).
Pour batter into pan.
Optional: I sprinkled the top with ground flax seeds.
Bake 50 to 55 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cajun Shrimp & Grits with Andouille Sausage

I have seen many recipes for shrimp & grits, but I never tried them. I know grits are a staple in the South, but here in the North, they are not very popular. When I came across a recipe for an easy shrimp and grits recipe in EveryDay with Rachael Ray magazine, I knew it was time to give them a try. I decided to expand on the recipe and add andouille sausage and cajun seasoning to kick it up a bit. We used a lager in the broth from one of our favorite local breweries, Nimble Hill Brewing Company. The results were amazing. I don't know why I waited so long to try shrimp & grits. They were cheesy and creamy and paired perfectly with the spicy broth, shrimp, and andouille. If you're looking for an easy Southern dinner, give this recipe a whirl. You won't be disappointed.

Cajun Shrimp & Grits with Andouille Sausage
Source: adapted from EveryDay with Rachael Ray, January-February 2014

For the grits:
1 cup instant grits
4 cups water
1/2 cup corn
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
salt to taste

Cook grits according to package directions. 
When finished cooking, stir in corn, cheese, butter, and salt.

For the shrimp and andouille:
1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 pound andouille sausage
1 to 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning (more or less to taste)
1/3 cup beer (We used Nimble Hill Flinke Hugel, a lager.)
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Meanwhile in a skillet on high heat, simmer beer and butter for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add cajun seasoning, shrimp, and andouille and simmer for about 2 to 4 minutes until shrimp and andouille are cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve mixture over grits.