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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Garage Sale and Banana Bread

Yesterday, we had our badly needed garage sale. We got our butts up at 5 a.m. to set everything up and fried out in the sun till 2 p.m. (even though we had SPF 50 on). BUT the good news is we made just under $400 and still have a few items we can put up on Craigslist to see if we can sell them there.

Afterwards, we got a truck and hauled everything to Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. I took about a gazillion books we were trying to sell to a used bookstore to resell and donate to the Iraqi Veterans Hospital. Plus, we were selling cold drinks, Lemon Pound Cake, and Banana Nut Bread at the sale, so I took the leftovers to the Central Fla. SPCA to give to the staff. I sometimes do that as an appreciation for what they do everyday. Afterwards, we were pooped!

Good karma, we haz it!

Now about those cakes. We sold quite a bit of it and got some wonderful comments. The banana nut bread is a recipe from Southern Living that took me FOREVER to find. It seems all other banana nut breads I tried were too dense and dry, so I went of a quest one year to find THE RECIPE. When I first made this, I knew it was going to be a hit just by the way the batter tasted. Now, normally I am not a batter licker, but it smelled so good I couldn't help myself!


Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread
Recipe source: Southern Living

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) packaged of cream cheese
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups All purp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (I use over ripe bananas)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until blended. Mix in bananas and vanilla until blended. Hand mix in pecans.

Preheat oven to 350. Spoon batter into two, greased & floured 8 x 4 inch loaf pans and bake for approximately 1 hour or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. When finished, cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and cool for 30 minutes before slicing (it's hard to do, I know!)

The Lemon Pound Cake is an Ina Garten recipe and I adore her. If she were so hopelessly devoted to Jeffrey, I'd marry her and have her babies. Every recipe I've ever made of hers has been a pure #1 hit. Again, the batter was a dead give away. I'll have to post that another time, cuz it's late and I'm still recovering.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Paradise Lost

Well, hubs and I made our hit-and-run to Key West this past weekend. We drove down on Friday, stayed Saturday, and drove back on Sunday. It's about an 8 hour drive from Orlando...or close to 6 if I drive.

When hubs tells people that he's from Key West, he inevitably gets some sort of response asking WHY in the WORLD would he ever move from such a wonderful place? Well, unless you have a major drinking problem or enjoy working three jobs to stay afloat, Key West isn't all that or a bag of chips. But, it's fun to visit every now and again.

Whenever we go down there, we HAVE to visit Sandy's and either drink a Buche or Colada Cuban coffee. Sandy's is both a laundry mat and a Cuban Deli, but they serve the best damn Cuban sandwiches and Cuban coffee on the island. Basically, Buches are served in the leetle, leetle 1 oz. cups because they are the equivalent of Cuban speed. Over the years, hubs and I have built up a tolerance for Coladas, which are about 4 or 5 Buches in one glass. After one Colada, we're flying for the rest of the day. Don't tell my cardiologist.

Saturday night, we went to dinner with his family for his mom's 85th birthday party. It was really interesting to listen to some of the old "Conchs" talk about what Key West was like back in the 70's and 80's. Waiters and waitresses used to get tipped in cocaine instead of money and the clubs had parties that were basically free-for-all orgies. Good times!

And of course, no visit to Key West would be complete without a picture of a chicken.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Off to Margaritaville

Well, we’re off this weekend to Key West for hubby’s family reunion, or as he likes to call it, “A Dysfunctional Odyssey”.

Hubby is from Key West and still has a good majority of his family living down there. They are a bunch of “conch-heads” and you would think living down there is da’ bomb, but alas, it is not. It fails.

It’s one thing to visit down there for a wild weekend or Fantasy Fest, but another if you live down there. Actually, it’s pretty boring and the locals avoid Duval Street like Mike Tyson taking a SAT.

BUT, we know of all the good local places for NOMs and good Cuban coffee. Mostly, it will be quasi relaxing and quiet. Oh wait, did I tell you that it’s ALSO Bike Week down there this weekend too? No? I did not?

Should be good for major LOLs. I’ll bring the camera.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Meal in a What???

Wanna a great recipe that will not only use up leftovers, but is also an awesome meal/snack to serve during football season?

Make a Meal In a Loaf!

It's a meal!
It's a loaf!

It's delicious!

Yep, this is another keeper I snagged from my ever resourceful Cooking Forum. Thank you Katie for such an awesome idea!

I used the ham, swiss, and pickle mixture, which tasted amazingly like a Cuban sandwich sans the roast pork. But I could imagine it with:

- Steak/chopped, cooked roast, provolone, sautéed onions with a horseradish spread
- Pepperoni, mozzarella, and roasted veggies with pizza sauce
- Cooked, chopped turkey, swiss, chopped tomatoes with a Ranch dressing

The possibilities are endless!

And don't be afraid of the yeast people! I didn't use my Kitchenaide for this either. Just mix the dough in a bowl, then turn it out on a floured cutting board and knead.

Meal in a Loaf
Recipe By : Katie, from The Cooking Forum
Serving Size : 8

4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages yeast
1 cup water
1/4 cup dijon mustard (I used an extra 1/4 cup to spread on dough)
2 tablespoons butter
1 - 2 cups chopped cooked ham -- (8 oz.)
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese -- or cheddar
1/2 - 1 cup chopped dill pickle
1 egg - beaten

Set aside 1 cup flour. Melt butter in a 2 cup, microwave safe measuring cup. Add water (hot tap is fine) to butter then add yeast and sugar. Mix well and let sit to activate the yeast. Mix water mixture into 3 cups of flour then add mustard and salt. Mix in enough reserved flour to make a soft dough and knead 4 minutes. *OR* Throw everything in the bread machine.

On a greased baking sheet, roll dough to 14"x12". Spread extra mustard down the center of dough, sprinkle ham, cheese, and pickle down 1/3 of dough length. Make cuts from filling to edges of dough at 1" intervals. Bring strips from opposite sides of filling together, twist, and place at an angle across filling. Cover. Let rise until almost double (about 1 hour). Brush loaf with egg. Bake @ 375° for 25 minutes or until browned (mine took about 45 minutes). Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh, Snap!

I love food that fools you. Not in a bad way, mind you, but when your brain expects one thing and you’re delivered something else. It makes you think about expectations and perceptions. More importantly it lets the food you want to highlight really shine through.

These cookies are just the ticket. Oh yes, they’re gingersnaps alright, but just a little more “snappy” than what you’d expect. The kick comes from a touch of cayenne pepper, which really emphasizes the ginger’s finishing “snap”. Hence the extra snappy.

I make these every year for the holidays, but I’m careful of who I give these to. Some people are really sensitive to spicy food and don’t like them, but they really do rock. Or snap!

Extra Snappy Gingersnaps

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1/4 cup egg whites (from about 2 eggs)

Combine the flour, baking soda, and spices in a mixing bowl and set aside. Cream the butter until smooth and fluffy in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer). Add the sugars and mix. Add the molasses and mix. Add the egg whites
in 2 batches, mixing to combine after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing to combine after each addition. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread a few tablespoons of granulated sugar on a small plate. Roll the dough into 3/4-inch balls, then roll each ball in the sugar until lightly coated. Transfer to parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving 1-inch of space between the cookies. Bake until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on wire racks and store in an airtight
container. Yield: 60 cookies.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Projectus Interruptus

“By this time next week, things will be back to normal”
“We’ll have this all done by next month”
“By next Friday, all of these boxes will be outta here!”
“By this time next month, we’ll have our house back”

I’ve been spouting crap like that for the past 3 months! From July until this very moment, our life has been a non-stop project. And I know we bring it on ourselves; life wouldn’t be the same for hubs and me if we weren't tackling something major at least ONCE a year. :-)

So we decided to take the money we saved from our “stimulization” check and buy some badly needed office furniture. It came in this weekend (of course), which meant we had to rent a truck to go pick up the furniture. Oh, and while we were at it, let’s use said truck to haul all the crap we don’t want any more out of the storage unit for a huge, huge HUGE garage sale on the 27th. As hubs quoted from CCR, “And when the tax man comes, lord don’t the house look like a rummage sale.” Our house looks like an inside-out yard sale and the garage is chock-a-block stuffed with furniture, books, and boxed things that have no description.

By this time next month, things will be back to normal.

And on top of that, we’re having the carpets cleaned either today or tomorrow. So, everything that’s on the carpet had to be moved onto the tile. Hey, did you know that an old computer (that’s not running) will condense water on the bottom metal panel and soak your carpet?

Yeah, we didn’t know either.

Sigh.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hey, Nice Buns!

Whew! It's been catch-as-catch-can around here lately. Quite honestly, these past three or four weeks have been a mess...what with remodeling both bathrooms, getting the same cold/flu virus TWICE, an annoying amount of wind and rain, courtesy of Fay, and being transferred at my job.

There hasn't been much going on food-wise. In case you haven't noticed!

But, life is about to get back to normal (whatever that is!) and it's time to get back in the kitchen. Last nite, I made the most AMAZING dinner rolls/buns ever. And trust me, I've baked a lot of bread in my time.

These were so easy, I didn't even have to lug the trusty-ol' Kitchenmaid out and use the dough hook. I just mixed this all up in a big bowl, then used my hands to finish kneading in the same bowl. I ended up using just a touch more flour called for, as I found the dough to be very shaggy.

This recipe made 20 HUGE buns (we wanted to use them for sandwiches) or will make 36 nice-sided dinner rolls.

The Spicery Rolls
(Again, another keeper from the Cooking Forum!)

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup margarine (I use butter)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water (hot but not boiling)
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/4 cup yeast (yes, that is correct...Active Dry is fine)
9 1/8 cups flour

In a large bowl, pour boiling water over butter. Add salt and sugar and stir well. When butter is melted, mix in additional water. Stir in evaporated milk. Slowly add flour and yeast. Turn out onto floured board and knead for about 10 minutes. Next grease a large bowl thoroughly, put the dough in it and turn it over so the surface will be greased. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, punching down twice, about an hour. Form into dinner-size rolls. Let rise until doubled. Bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 36 large rolls.
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