Sunday, August 31, 2014

Banana Bread

I must admit I've read about ways to bake breads that help to reduce the fats used in baking.  Some suggestions have been to substitute applesauce or other fruit purees for some of the butter or oil called for in the recipe.  As I said, I've read about it; but never done it.  Until now.

Today I decided to bake a banana bread and reduce some of the fat calories.  I didn't have applesauce, but I did have apple butter....I thought, "Why not?"

I'm glad I did this and I'll do it again.

Banana Bread with Apple Butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 /2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium ripe bananas...mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup Joe and Son's Butter Infused Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
You may bake this bread in one  9x5 loaf pan OR 4 mini-loaf pans.  Grease and flour the bottoms and sides of the pans.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir together to blend well.
In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs; add the Butter Olive Oil and apple butter and whisk together.
Add the mashed bananas and continue to whisk until the bananas have been incorporated into the egg mixture.
Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is smooth.
Pour into your desired choice of prepared pan.
9x5 loaf pan.....bake for about 40 minutes.
4 mini loaf pans.....bake for about 25 minutes.
Check with a toothpick or ice pick to see if the bread is fully baked.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Orzo Pasta Salad with Beans and Corn

Whenever there's a weekend that involves cooking out and outdoor eating, I try to prepare dishes that can be served at room temperature without danger of anyone of us getting sick.

This is similar to something I've presented before, but I wanted something a bit heartier so I added pasta.  Today I played around with Orzo pasta and some  food items I happened to have on hand. Then I added some Olive Oil and Vinegar as a dressing and the result was quite tasty as well as colorful.

I took it to the store for sampling and the feedback was very positive and people were asking for the recipe.

And here it is.

  Please note that you can feel free to add more or less of the ingredients to make a combination to your liking.  I don't think you can do anything to this recipe to mess it up.

Orzo Pasta Salad with Beans and Corn
1 1/2  cup uncooked Orzo pasta....cook according to package directions
1 small can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup finely diced sweet bell peppers (I used yellow, orange and red)
3/4 cup diced scallions (green and white parts)
2 cups whole kernel corn ( canned and drained OR frozen, thawed and cooked)
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
2 medium cucumbers ( peeled, and cut into small pieces...not slices)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Joe and Son's Garlic Olive Oil... 1/2 cup
Joe and Son's Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar....1/2 cup
In a cruet or sealable jar, combine the Olive Oil and Vinegar and shake to form an emulsion.  Set aside.
In a large serving bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients.  Toss to mix thoroughly.
Add the seasonings and spices, taste and adjust to your preference.
Add the dressing to moisten the salad, not to over saturate it.
Refrigerate for about an hour for the flavors to blend.  Let it come to room temperature and serve.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blueberry Peach Compote with Onions and Rosemary

I love blueberries! I try to use them in as many ways as I can. I love their taste, and I appreciate the fact they carry a lot of health benefits.  If you get an chance, do a Google search for "Blueberry Health Benefits".  I think you'll be surprised what these little berries can do for you.

Anyway, I use them in muffins, desserts, breakfast cereals quite often.  But I felt like branching out into using them in main course dishes.

I had a pork tenderloin that I seared in Joe and Son's Mushroom Sage Olive Oil.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper and sprinkled it with about 1/2 teaspoon of crushed, dried Rosemary.  I cooked it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes and it was simple but tasty.

But before I cooked the pork I planned on serving it with a mild sweet, savory sauce.  So, I decided this was going to be a Blueberry night.

I know the ingredients aren't something you'd normally choose to combine in a dish, but I decided to try it.  I knew if it didn't turn out well, you'd never I had nothing to lose.

The fact I'm posting the recipe should tell you it turned out well.

Blueberry Peach Compote With Onions and Rosemary*

2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cup peach slices (cut into 1 inch pieces)…fresh and peeled OR frozen and drained
1 cup finely diced onion
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
¾ teaspoon dried, crushed Rosemary
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon Joe and Son’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used Mild Picual) or Butter Infused Olive Oil
½ cup Joe and Son’s Peach Balsamic Vinegar
Pour the Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a large saute pan and warm to medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook for about 30 minutes until they turn golden in color.
Add the blueberries and peaches and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.
Season with the brown sugar, Rosemary, salt and pepper.
Add the Peach Balsamic Vinegar and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook and stir for about 10 more minutes until the berries have collapsed and the vinegar has reduced and thickened.
*This compote would pair well with roasted chicken or ham.  I would even use this compote over Brie cheese, drizzled over a slice of cheesecake or a dish of ice cream.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mushrooms and Shrimp in a Cream Sauce

Have you ever been in a hurry to get dinner together and didn't have a meal planned?  This happened to me this evening, but because I had a few staples handy and some frozen shrimp, I was able to produce a dish that actually was very good.

 It was good enough that the Hubby wanted to know if we had any leftovers....and this  was coming from someone who will only eat leftovers if there is absolutely nothing else to eat.

Anyway, some onions, garlic, rosemary, mushroom/sage olive oil, fresh mushrooms, shrimp, salt, red pepper flakes, flour and milk and some pasta was all it took and it was ready in about 15-20 minutes.

Mushrooms and Shrimp over Pasta
1/4 cup Joe and Son's Mushroom/Sage Olive Oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
12-16 ounces of fresh, sliced mushrooms...cleaned and wiped
18-20 large shrimp, fresh or frozen....thawed, deveined, with tails removed
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 -1 cup milk or half and half *
salt to taste
1/2 pound pasta or liguini....for this dish I prefer Spinach pasta or Black linquini for color contast
Pour the Mushroom/Sage olive oil into a saute pan and warm the oil to a medium heat; add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until the onion becomes transparent.
Add the mushrroms to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and it has evaporated.
Add the shrimp and stir and cook until they are pink.
Sprinkle the shrimp with the rosemary.
Evenly sprinkle the mixture with the flour and slowly add 3/4 cup of the milk or cream.  Stir until the mixture starts to thicken.  If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk to thin it out.
Add salt to taste.
Serve over the pasta of your choice.

* I used 2% milk and that's why the sauce is pale in color.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Spicy Tuscan Hummus Without Tahini

Hummus is one of my "go to" dishes when I need to fix something in a hurry for company arriving soon, or if I need a healthy snack for the kids, or even for myself.

I've tried several recipes in the past but this one is my favorite.  I like the blended Mediterranean flavors and I find it comes out really smooth and creamy even if made in a blender and not a food processor.

For those purists who are wondering about the taste of this Hummus since there is no Tahini in the recipe, make this and decide for yourself.

Spicy Tuscan Hummus
 2 cans garbanzo beans( 15-18 oz size) drained...but reserve 1/2 cup liquid
1 teaspoon dried, crushed rosemary
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Joe and Son's Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
1/4 cup Joe and Son's Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup (or more if needed) garbanzo bean liquid
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (amount should be determined by the heat you like)
salt to taste
In a blender, place the drained garbanzo beans and 1 tablespoon of liquid.  Blend on high for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the container and add the rosemary, garlic,Olive Oil, Vinegar, red pepper flakes.  Add another tablespoon of liquid and blend  for another 2 minutes.  Stir the mixture with a spatula to make sure the garbanzos are being evenly pureed.  Continue to blend until the mixture is smooth and of a spreadable consistency.    If it is too dry, continue adding more liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Add salt and more garlic and more red pepper flakes if you desire and mix well.
Chill before serving.