Monday, February 10, 2014

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are my family's favorite muffins, hands down. They keep well, just as delicious for breakfast if you make them the night before. (That's my kind of muffin!) And they also freeze beautifully. Moist, sweet, and studded with bits of chocolate, what's not to like?

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes 1 dozen)

  • 3 bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup oil

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, quickly stir wet ingredients into the flour mixture just till moistened. Spoon batter into lined or greased muffin pan.

Bake 18-20 minutes at 375 F. (For mini-muffins, bake 10-15 minutes at 350 F.)

Cool on a wire rack. Store cooled muffins in an air-tight container.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Vegetable Mélange

This dish of layered vegetables baked in a rich, savory sauce is like a comfortable stew that got dressed up for company. I serve this on chilly winter days when fresh produce is harder to come by and I can whip it together from things already in my pantry. The leftovers are homely, but even more delicious than the original version.

To make this vegetarian meal gluten-free, just skip the bread crumbs and thicken the sauce with cornstarch instead of flour.

Vegetable Mélange 
  • 3 cans green beans (drained, reserve liquid)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (reserve juice)
  • 1 can whole-kernel corn (drained, reserve liquid)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 4 T. butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2-3 T. flour
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved vegetable juice
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

  • shredded cheese (cheddar, colby, or swiss)
  • about a cup of fine soft bread crumbs (2 slices of bread in the blender!)
  • (2 T. melted butter, optional)

Drain the tomato juice into a large measuring cup. Add liquid from the beans/corn to make 1 1/2 cups. Discard the rest.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook over low heat for a minute. Gradually whisk in vegetable juice, as you would for a white sauce. Cook over medium heat till "gravy" thickens. Add seasonings.

Layer drained vegetables in a 9 x 13 pan in order given. Pour sauce evenly over the whole pan and cover with shredded cheese up to an inch from the edges.* If desired, stir the melted butter into the bread crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs around the edge of the casserole, creating a border around the cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour at 350 F.

*Note: To keep the cheese from drying out, you can wait and top the casserole with cheese and bread crumbs after the first 45 minutes of baking. But I am usually too busy or lazy to do that. And I kind of like the texture of toasty cheese.

Cake Mix Cookies

These are my shortcut cookies. My family loves them as much as any of my from-scratch recipes: for dessert, school lunch, or after school with a glass of milk.

And the combination possibilities are only bounded by personal taste. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
--Dark chocolate fudge cake with mint chips
--White cake with milk chocolate chips and walnuts
--Devil's food cake with white chocolate chips and pecans

Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 box (18 oz.) cake mix
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • (1/2 cup rolled oats, optional)
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips
  • (3/4 cup chopped nuts)

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 F.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Oven Puff Pancake

Whether you call it German Pancake, Danish Pancake, Oven Pancake, Aeggekage, Puff Pancake, or Dutch Babies, this is one amazing breakfast! The batter is similar to crepes, but instead of frying it in individual portions, you pour it all into a hot greased skillet and bake it in one magnificent puff.

And it's so easy! I doubled this recipe and used my two biggest skillets. I could have used a 9 x 13 pan instead, but I love the wedge-shape pieces that come from a round pan. I think the pancake cooks differently in a skillet, too, and wouldn't give up that crusty edge for anything. 

German Puff Pancake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoons white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 

Put 3 tablespoons butter in a large cast iron skillet. Place skillet in the oven while you preheat it to 450 F. 

Thoroughly blend ingredients using an electric mixer. Carefully pour batter into hot skillet with melted butter and return to hot oven.

Bake 15-18 minutes at 450 F.

Remove from oven and serve immediately with one of the following toppings:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Jam 
  • Cherry pie filling
  • Sliced strawberries lightly glazed with orange marmalade

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cobb Salad To Go

A few weeks I was looking for fresh lunch ideas. This riff on the Cobb salad was a hit with both my husband and my son. If I was serving it as a main dish dinner salad, I might add cooked chicken, but this made a fine mid-day meal.

When I sent this salad as a school lunch, I made it the night before but packaged the cheese, the dressing, and the croutons separately. Then my son put it together himself. Don't forget to pack a fork!

Jerusha's Cobb Salad
  • leafy greens (spinach/lettuce blend)
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • avocado, chopped
  • hard-boiled egg, diced
  • cooked bacon, crumbled
  • cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ranch dressing
  • croutons
I filled a bowl with torn greens, then arranged the toppings in wedge shapes on top, finishing with a drizzle of ranch dressing and a scattering of croutons.