Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I LOVE this banana bread recipe and I'm not even a big fan of banana bread.  Must be the chocolate chips.  Love me some chocolate chips! 

This banana bread is a favorite of my son, Joe.  I'm going to bake some for him tomorrow.  :)

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for about 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. I use the mini chocolate chips because they don't sink to the bottom.  Add the nuts (if you like nuts, totally optional).  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don't get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that's typical.  Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Toast the slices of banana bread, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.

I'm pretty sure this recipe originally came from one of Tyler Florence's shows.  I've been making it for years so it's hard to remember!  I'm also pretty sure the chocolate chips were my addition.  :)


Monday, March 21, 2011

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

Jordan Marsh was a Boston-based department store founded in 1841 by Eben Jordan and Benjamin L. Marsh. With the rise of retail conglomerates, Jordan Marsh became part of Allied Stores (1931) and then Federated Department Stores (1988), a move that renamed all stores Macy's.

On the first floor of the flagship store Jordan Marsh held a bakery famous for its delicious blueberry muffins. The bakery had been a vital part of the shopping experience at the store. In the early 1990s Jordan Marsh closed its bakeries followed shortly by Macy’s acquisition of the store. Since the closing, the blueberry muffins have became the focus of much lore around the Boston area. A December 2004 Boston Globe article put it best: "For decades, any decent downtown shopping trip ended at Jordan Marsh, where the promise of a sugar-crusted blueberry muffin could make annoying children angelic."

After the store's closing, former Jordan Marsh baker, John Pupek, opened the Jordan Marsh Muffin Company in Brockton, MA. Pupek’s company made thousands of blueberry muffins a week, as well as other delicacies made famous by Jordan Marsh. In 2004 he decided to close his store and hang up his apron for good. Fortunately for us, we can bake these at home.  Here is the recipe:

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

  • 1/2 cup  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries
  • sugar for tops of muffins
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-mold regular size muffin pan with paper muffins cups.
Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt until soft. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until light and fluffy. Whisk the flour and baking powder together, and stir into the batter, alternating with the milk. Stir in the vanilla. Mix until just incorporated. 
Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Spoon batter into the 12 muffin cups.
Sprinkle sugar on the tops of the muffins.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are light gold and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sugary Shamrocks!

Top o' the mornin' to ya!
Here is my recipe for wicked good, melt in your mouth sugar cookies!

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well blended. (About 2 minutes) Roll out the dough on floured work surface. Cut into desired shapes. Bake for about 15-17 min. depending on the size of your shape, until golden.
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp warm milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch ofsalt
  • food coloring of choice
Combine all ingredients. Mix well in stand mixer with whisk attachment. Chill icing for about 15 minutes while cookies are baking. Spread a thin layer of icing on the cookies while they are still warm. Add sprinkles before icing hardens. Transfer to a cooling rack.

I put the cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes to let the icing harden and then I package them in cello bags to give away.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade Irish Cream Liquor

I just saw a recipe for Irish Cream Cupcakes that I am dying to try (will share that recipe later) and I don't have any Irish Cream.  Well it's snowing like crazy out so instead of going to get some I'll make my own!
(And yes, I do have all of these ingredients on hand) :o)

Here is my recipe:

Irish Cream Liquor

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated) 
  • 1 2/3 cups Irish whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix all ingredients in a blender on high for 30 seconds.  This will keep in the fridge for about a month.


Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

Here is another quick weeknight dinner recipe for you.  It's from one of my favorite chefs, Tyler Florence.  It takes hardly any time at all and tastes just as good as what you would get from an Italian restaurant (even better if you ask me!).

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

  • 1 pound linguini
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • 20 large shrimp, about 1 pound, peeled and deveined, tail on
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves


For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

I like to add a bit of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese on top but some people don't like to add cheese to seafood dishes.  I say cheese is good with everything!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day! (3.14)

I love me some Pie!  My favorites are Key Lime in the summer and Apple in the fall and Chocolate Silk all year long!

Williams Sonoma posted on their Facebook Page a link with 74 pie recipes!

I am dying to try this recipe for Key Lime Pie from The Pioneer Woman!  She recently posted one for Chocolate Silk Pie that looks delish too!

I am a little under the weather today so I won't be baking any pie but will bake one sometime this week, for sure!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

This is one of my favorite quick recipes.  I love Chinese food but we don't have many options for take out here in my little town.  I saw this recipe on Emeril Lagasse's show a few years ago.  I've changed a few things but it's pretty close to the original.  My son, Nick, asks for it often!  I hope you'll try it!


  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 2 pounds top sirloin or petite sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 large heads broccoli, cut into florets and blanched
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or more or less to taste) 
  • Steamed white jasmine rice


Whisk together the garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and honey. Mix well and set aside until ready to use. Preheat a wok or a large skillet. Once it has reached a medium heat, add 1/2 of the peanut oil. Dredge the beef in the cornstarch, lightly shake off any excess cornstarch and add 1/2 of the beef to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 of the blanched broccoli to the pan and shake frequently.
Add 1/2 of the sauce and stir to evenly coat the beef and broccoli. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Repeat the process with the other half of the ingredients. Serve immediately with steamed white jasmine rice.

*It will be easier to slice the beef in thin strips if it has been partially frozen.