Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

It’s funny.  I have several pages of scribbled recipes/ideas and a folder full of recipes that I want to whip up.  I could go many months before I would need to think about what to make next.  But you wanna know how often I turn to this list or open the folder?  Rarely.  Instead, I find myself in the kitchen, making a dish that randomly pops in my head or making something that I am craving - chocolate is generally involved.  And sometimes, I just need to use an ingredient before it expires or I am trying to clean out my fridge/cupboard.

And that is how I came to make this banana bread.  My freezer had become not a freezer but a holding pattern for overly ripe bananas.  I have bananas stuck in every nook and cranny … I either need to eat my bananas faster or buy fewer.  So, it was time to put some of these to use.  And the only thing I know how to make with overly ripe frozen bananas is … Banana Bread.

But, guess what?  I am not a huge fan of banana bread – there was a year in college where we made banana bread until it came out our ears…and there my love for banana bread fizzled.  Too much of a good thing.  But, I figured it was time to dive back in and figure out a way to make it something that I would want to eat.

What came out of my kitchen I would not describe as traditional banana bread.  From the chocolate to the bourbon, this is banana bread on steroids.  Most importantly though, I enjoyed it!  No surprise right?

Chocolate.

Bourbon.

Bananas.

Make this happen.

Be a better swirler than me.

I have faith in you.

 

Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

Makes 1 Loaf

Ingredients 

  • 1+1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 + 1/2 Cups Mashed Bananas (about 3 medium very ripe bananas)
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Bourbon (totally optional, but I’d make it mandatory)
  • 1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Boiling Water

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Liberally butter the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (or line with parchment paper).

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk/beat together brown sugar, white sugar,  and  vegetable oil.  Mix in mashed bananas, vanilla, and bourbon.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula fold in the dry ingredients.  Remove about 1/3 of mixture and set aside.  Pour the remaining batter into prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth.  Mix cocoa mixture and chocolate chips into the reserved batter.  Spoon the chocolate mixture onto the top of the batter already in the pan.  Drag a butter knife through the batter in a swirling motion and remember to bring batter from the top to the bottom.  Do not over mix when doing this.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean – kinda clean, there will be melted chocolate, but not batter.  Remove from oven and place on wire rack for 5 minutes to cool.  Remove from pan and let sit on wire rack until completely cool.  Bread can be stored at room temperature if wrapped in tinfoil/plastic wrap for up to 3 days.  It can also be frozen.

Enjoy!

Butter Chicken

Sooooo.  I have something to fess up to.  I have never eaten Indian food.  Not a curry or a even a piece of naan has graced my lips.  A complete oversight on my part.  It feels good to come clean.

I have never stepped foot in an Indian restaurant.  I have never eaten Indian take-out.  And up until recently, I had never cooked an Indian dish.  I wasn’t proud of my oversight, but I wasn’t beating myself up about it…that was until I spoke with my dear father.  I was chatting with my dad and he was inquiring about my day and how the cooking was going.  After I chided him for being on facebook at work (thats how he knew I was cooking on my day off…yep, dad is a facbooker)…dad mentioned that he wasn’t a real fan of the Indian cuisine - a bit too spicy for him.  What?!?  Wait a minute.  Hold the train….Dad, you have eaten Indian food?   And I haven’t?!?  I now hang my head in shame.  Sorry dad, but you just aren’t the person in my life who I thought would be eating Indian food….before me.  Everyone else…yes.  Dad, no.   (however, dad does have an ipad (his children don’t) and kinda gets facebook… so he is kind of hip, i should have known)

… 

Read More »

These days…

I like to eat food out of large bowls.

Or large plastic containers, when it comes to eating lunch at work.

Some of my favorite dishes to eat out of large bowls are:

anything pasta related

 salads…I am Elaine-esque when it comes to salads…

anything with mashed potatoes

 a favorite combo is mashed potatoes, turkey, and corn… all mixed up – Thanksgiving in a bowl!

Ice cream…duh.

Especially cake and ice cream or pie and ice cream…..

Chicken and Noodles…over mashed potatoes of course

Mac and Cheese… 

Read More »

I hope you like mushrooms..

How was your Monday?

Mine was pretty decent…work went fast and there was less traffic on the road ( thank you Mr. Lincoln, Washington, and the rest of y’all.).  I thoroughly enjoyed my almond butter/apple butter sandwich on Ezekiel bread at lunch.  I had a good talk with mom on the drive home.  It was a day off of running…thankfully, my legs needed the rest after 12 miles yesterday.  I had my pajamas on by 7pm.  Don’t judge me.  I had a picture accepted on this website.   And to top off this pretty awesome Monday…I had a big ole’ bowl of pasta for dinner.  Pasta and pajamas…oh heavens!

Whole wheat rotini with a mushroom ragu sprinkled with asiago cheese and a dollop of ricotta cheese.  Yep.  That so happened in my house last night.

I will be eating this for the rest of the week.  Leftovers.  Pasta leftovers are my favorite.  And leftovers, well I am queen of leftovers.  Let me tell you.  Any dish I make, I eat for the entire week or freeze for quick meals when I work late or for when I just don’t want to cook…

This dish…I don’t think it’ll make it to the freezer.  It is too darn good.  Well, at least I think it is awesome.  (plus, pasta gets a bit mushy after being frozen).   If you were my younger brother, sister-in-law, or my aunt…you would hate this dish.  You would skip dinner and go straight to dessert.  Why?  Because they are mushroom haters… there are more mushrooms in this than they would ever be able to pick out.  I have come to realize that people either love mushrooms or hate them.  There is no gray area.  Hate or love.

And I love them.  If you hate them, I am sorry…but you are missing out.  Seriously.  They are just so darn delicious.

So, if you love them, make this…you will be in mushroom heaven.

Whole Wheat Pasta w/ Mushroom Ragu 

Serves 4-6

Adapted from Redbook

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • 2-3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 4 ounces Pancetta (or bacon) diced small
  • 3 large Shallots (or small yellow onion), cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces Baby Portobello Mushrooms, medium slice
  • 12 ounces White Button Mushrooms, medium slice
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Thyme
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 Cups Marinara Sauce ( I prefer Newman’s Own Brand)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 lb Dried Pasta – Rotini
  • 1 Cup Asiago Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese

 

Place dried porcini mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 minutes.  Drain mushrooms through a wire sieve lined with a paper towel.  Reserve mushroom water.  Roughly chop re-hydrated mushrooms.

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium/high heat.  Once warm, place pancetta, shallots, and porcini mushrooms into skillet,  Saute until shallots have softened (about 5-8 minutes).  Stir often.  If anything starts to brown too quickly, just reduce the heat a bit.

Add remaining mushrooms (baby portobello and white), minced garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and thyme.  Saute for about 8 to 10 minutes until the mushrooms have browned and are tender – you will want to stir/toss often.  Once the mushrooms have browned (and reduced in volume), add the reserved mushroom water and bring to a boil.  Boil until all the water is evaporated ( about 10 to 15 minutes).  Stir in marinara sauce and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Pour dried pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente – about 8 minutes.  Drain pasta.

Toss pasta with mushroom ragu and mix in 1/2 cup of asiago cheese.  Serve.

Top each serving with extra asaigo cheese and a dollop of ricotta cheese.

This tastes delicious the day after as well!

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you learn nothing else this day, week, month, year…learn to brown butter.  You will thank me.

Once you learn to brown butter, learn moderation or you might need larger pants and Lipitor.  True fact.

The perk to browning butter (besides the awesome nutty carmel flavor) … it gives you a chance to practice patience.  I think I am a fairly patient person.  Like most, some days are better than others…but after browning butter all weekend, I think my patience level has improved 3.84 fold.  Seriously.

You will want to speed the process up by increasing the heat.  Don’t.  Stay on medium heat.  You will want to walk away to change the tv station.  Don’t.  Keep swirling.  Keep listening to the annoying commercials.  Let the phone ring, you have voicemail.  You will want to remove it from the heat once it starts to turn brown.  Don’t.  Wait just a bit longer until the smell gets unmistakable nutty and the butter solids turn dark brown, just before burnt.  AND DON’T STOP SWIRLING.  Don’t let the butter solids stick to the bottom of the pan.  That is burnville people.  Keep out!

 

These cookies are probably some of the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made.  Hands down.  And the cookie dough….well it is out of this world!  I had to stay out of the kitchen while they were baking…I couldn’t keep my fingers out of the mixing bowl.  It is absolutely amazing the amount of flavor the browned butter adds.  Carmel hints with a bit of nuttiness….oh me oh my!

Just make these…you will see.

I don’t think I will ever use another chocolate chip cookie recipe and I might put browned butter in everything.  Just sayin’.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 2 Dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, browned, chilled
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cups All – Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Whole Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips

 

Over medium heat, place butter into a saucepan.  Melt.  The butter will begin to pop and crackle.  At this point, start gently swirling the pan.  Continue to swirl the pan of melted butter over medium heat until the butter particles have turned deep brown and the butter begins to smell nutty.  (the melted butter itself will be amber in color) Once brown, remove from heat and place in a small bowl.  Place bowl into the fridge for about 10-15 minutes or until the butter is solid again…solid but soft enough to cream.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.

Once the butter is in solid form again (but soft), place in mixing bowl with both sugars and cream.  — do not overmix here, just cream until combined — Mix in the whole egg, the egg yolk, and the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, slowly mix in the dry ingredients.  With a wooden spoon, mix in the mini chocolate chips.

Spoon dough onto ungreased cookie sheet (or parchment covered) — these will not spread much, so about 1+1/2 inchs apart should do ya.  Since these do not spread much, you may want to slightly flatten each cookie dough ball.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for an additional 3 to 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Enjoy!!

P.S.  These freeze amazingly well if they make it that long!