Dehydrator

I’ve become obsessed with dehydrating things. I started with pecans and walnuts and now I’m doing strawberries.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Best Banana Bread Ever

IMG_3430 I LOVE this banana bread recipe.  People I work with LOVE this recipe.  It’s easy and delicious.

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup mashed bananas (I don’t actually measure, I use whatever bananas I have available)
3/4 C white sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I’ve used all whole wheat, too)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  • Spray one 9×5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray coating.
  • Blend together the eggs, buttermilk, oil and bananas.
  • Sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to banana mixture and stir in pecans. Mix well.
  • Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

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My notes:  I usually use a muffin tin (regular makes about 16 muffins, or 12 muffins plus almost a full tray of mini muffins, I also have a 12 count square muffin tin that makes 12 – see picture at the top)  The picture of the two loaves is a DOUBLE batch of this recipe.

Just adjust the time for the muffins (start checking after 40 minutes, and do the toothpick test)  The last time I made these, I used half semi sweet and half white chocolate chips and walnuts instead of pecans.  Add whatever items you’d like!

I’m still debating the sweetness of this banana bread. I’ve cut back the white sugar from 1C to 3/4C, but I think I could take it down to 1/2C of each sugar.  You play around with it and see what works for you (and let me know!)

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Recipe Index has been fixed

I fixed the Recipe Index page this morning and it’s painfully obvious that I need to start posting the other bazillion recipes that I have stored on my computer.  But for now you can find some of my recipes here or click on Recipe Index on the menu above.

Happy cooking!

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Wordless Wednesday

peaceful

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Pignoli Cookies

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As with most of the things I love to eat, there’s a story behind these cookies.  When I was a kid visiting my grandparents in Brooklyn, my grandma would often bring out a plate of cookies after dinner.  The grownups would have espresso (and I vividly remember my grandpa stirring in about 3 tablespoons of sugar in his and then rubbing a lemon peel around the rim of the espresso mug.)  Among the assorted cookies and sweets, were these cookies that looked like they had peanuts all over them.  To be honest, they always grossed me out. I mean, who would eat peanuts on a cookie?  (Oh how my views have changed….see The JenTastic.)

Turns out, they weren’t peanuts, they were pine nuts and when I finally got past my issue and tasted that delectable confection I was a fan for life.  Pignoli cookies soon became one of my favorite NY treats.  One of the foods that immediately brings me back to the time I spent in Brooklyn as a child.  If you’re wondering, the other foods are super cheesy-pie cut-like-it-should-be pizza and my ultimate favorite, lemon ice, which I always ordered as a scoop of lemon and a scoop of chocolate.  It’s one of those weird things like how people in south call all soda “coke” and then specify when you ask them what kind of “coke” they want. In Brooklyn, Italian Ice is called lemon ice no matter what flavor you order.

It’s impossible to find pignoli cookies in Chicago, (kind of like Drake’s Cakes can’t be found here, or really good lemon ice) so I had to live my life without them until I decided I was going to find some pine nuts and make them for my dad when he came to visit.  If you were to buy these cookies in Brooklyn be prepared to pay around $34 or more PER POUND.  They are very expensive.  I learned why when I went to the store to purchase the ingredients to make them.  Almond paste $$, pine nuts $$$.  Yikes!  I easily spent $10 for those two items alone (of course the pine nuts cost more than that, but you only use a cup.)

I trolled the Interwebs for a good recipe because this was one I was never going to be able to figure out on my own and I decided to use Anne Burrell’s recipe.  I made LOTS of mistakes the first time I tried this, like using the mixer and messing up a ton of spoons. I’ve found that the food processor is the best piece of equipment for this cookie.  I also found that a bowl of water is my best friend when forming the dough balls and rolling them in the pine nuts.

And you know of course that my camera takes awful indoor photos.  I’m always apologizing for the yellow tinge.

Pignoli Cookies (this makes about 15 cookies)
One 8-ounce can almond paste
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon honey
large pinch ground cinnamon
pinch fine salt
1 large egg white
1 lemon, zested
1/2 to 3/4 cups pine nuts

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line sheet trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  If using parchment, you want to spritz with nonstick cooking spray, too.
  • Add the almond paste to your food processor and pulse to break up the dough.

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  • Add the confectioners’ sugar and pulse a few times until well combined.

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  • Add the honey, cinnamon, salt, egg white and lemon zest and process until the mixture is well combined and very thick, about 30 seconds to one minute.

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  • Anne’s directions say to put the dough into a pastry bag and pipe them into balls, but that seemed like a huge waste of expensive, precious dough.  So I wet my fingers and rolled the dough into balls and then into pine nuts. Then I flattened them out on the cookie sheet.  This way, there is NO waste of the dough.

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  • Bake 15-17 minutes until the cookies are golden brown, but sometimes they take longer but I would start checking on them around minute 14.  On subsequent batches, I’ve put the cookies much closer together.  They don’t rise very much.  I like smaller cookies, but you can make them small or medium sized, just decrease or increase the cooking time.

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  • These cookies have to cool for a while before you take them off the parchment and then they should cool on a rack for a while and they tend to turn chewy with in a day or so.  Be prepared to eat them immediately.  🙂

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Repeated without interruptions.

One 8-ounce can almond paste
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon honey
large pinch ground cinnamon
pinch fine salt
1 large egg white
1 lemon, zested
1/2 to 3/4 cups pine nuts

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line sheet trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. If using parchment, you want to spritz with nonstick cooking spray, too.
  • Add the almond paste to your food processor and pulse to break up the dough.
  • Add the confectioners’ sugar and pulse a few times until well combined.
  • Add the honey, cinnamon, salt, egg white and lemon zest and process until the mixture is well combined and very thick, about 30 seconds to one minute.
  • Anne’s directions say to put the dough into a pastry bag and pipe them into balls, but that seemed like a huge waste of expensive, precious dough.  So I wet my fingers and rolled the dough into balls and then into pine nuts. Then I flattened them out on the cookie sheet.  This way, there is NO waste of the dough.
  • Bake 15-17 minutes until the cookies are golden brown, but sometimes they take longer but I would start checking on them around minute 14.  On subsequent batches, I’ve put the cookies much closer together.  They don’t rise very much.  I like smaller cookies, but you can make them small or medium sized, just decrease or increase the cooking time.

These cookies have to cool for a while before you take them off the parchment and then they should cool on a rack for a while and they tend to turn chewy with in a day or so.  Be prepared to eat them immediately.  🙂

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Neglectful

Dear Blog (and reader….readers?)

I’m sorry that I’ve neglected you for the past 10 months. I’m ready to get back on track.  See you soon!

love,
Me.

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