Banana Pecan Muffins

File Mar 15, 6 46 04 PM

I made these initially to thank my neighbor for his generous gift of grapefruit. But I think this will be a recipe that ends up in our regular rotation — it was really delicious! I have streusel left over and the recipe was only supposed to make 10 muffins, but as you can see I was able to get a dozen out of the batter. I think I may actually make pancakes using the streusel this weekend — that sounds like it might be interesting.

The original recipe is from The Bread Bible, by Beth Hensperger. I’ve made several yeast breads, rolls, quick breads and muffins from this cookbook and have generally always been pleased. They are definitely best warm out of the oven or, if you have leftovers, reheated for just a short time.

Banana Pecan Muffins

Makes 10 – 12 muffins

Streusel

  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Muffins

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 c. pecans, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease or line 10 – 12 standard muffin cups. If you only need 10, fill the other two cups with water.
  2. To prepare the streusel: In a large bowl with a whisk, combine the sugar and flour until blended. Using a pastry blender cut in the cold butter until coarse crumbs are formed. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a whisk or electric mixer, combine the flour, oil, and eggs until light colored and foamy. Add mashed banana and beat well. the banana will be incorporated but will still be chunky.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the pecans and the banana mixture and stir with a large spatula until just moistened, about 10 strokes (or more…).
  5. Spoon into the cups until level with the top of the cup. Place 1 Tablespoon streusel on top of each muffin. Place the pan on a rack in the center of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the tops feel dry and springy. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

They were really delicious, the only thing I’ll do differently next time is make a half batch because 12 muffins to too many for two people. 🙂

This year I am joining The Frugal Girl in trying one new recipe each week. You can check them all out here.

 

 

 

Stir-Fried Noodles with Asparagus, Mushrooms, Tofu and Cashews

file-mar-05-7-19-23-pm

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen. I have really enjoyed every recipe that I’ve made from that book so far. It’s vegetarian (Katzen was the author of the original Moosewood Cookbook) and not rooted in any particular flavor profile–the recipes really are a collection of global flavors. This does mean that sometimes the ingredients are less common, but for the most part they can be found at a regular grocery store. This particular dish is a mash up of traditional sesame-based stir-fry sauces and the magic that is lemon and asparagus. It seems like it might not work, but it really, really does. If you are hesitant about using the lemon zest and juice in the marinade, I would say to just try it. For the most part you didn’t notice, but every so often you’d get a bit with some zest in it and all of the sudden the asparagus bloomed as well.

As usual, I changed a few things around with the recipe — I used soba noodles instead of linguine, as I had just made the Lemony Greek Pasta Salad and wasn’t eager for more white pasta. I also think that soba or udon noodles work so much better in noodle stir-fries, to be honest. They carry and add flavor. I don’t even know where you would buy 8 oz of tofu — all my stores sell it in 12 oz containers. Let me tell you about what would happen to 4 oz of tofu just hanging out in the fridge…science. That’s what. Anyway, I didn’t want to waste any tofu so just used the whole box. I also buy mushrooms by the box, not by each, so just went ahead and used a full pound. I adjusted the marinade to some extent, although I didn’t up the sugar quantity because I’m really trying to NOT eat as much sugar or the toasted sesame oil because I actually ran out! My pantry challenge is starting to have consequences…

Stir-Fried Noodles with Asparagus, Mushrooms, Tofu and Cashews

Serves 4 or 5 (generously), Vegan

  • 1 c. cashews, lightly toasted and salted
  • 8 scallions, minced, white and green parts separated
  • 1.5 T. minced or crushed garlic
  • 2 T, grated fresh ginger (heaping)
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice (from one lemon)
  • 2 T. toasted sesame oil
  • 4.5 T. water
  • 3 T. brown sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 12 oz container of tofu, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 – 8 oz soba noodles OR 8 oz linguine
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • Crushed red pepper
  1. Place the cashews in a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Set aside.
  2. Place the tofu and mushrooms in a 9X13 pan. In a small bowl, stir together the scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, sesame oil and brown sugar. Pour over tofu and mushrooms, stir gently to ensure all sides are coated. Marinate for at least 15 minutes (and up to 2 hours). Stir occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook noodles according to package directions. When finished, rinse under water and then allow to drain thoroughly. Set aside.
  4. Place a large skillet over medium heat for about a minute, then add the canola oil and swirl to coat the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high, toss in the asparagus and 1/4 t. of salt. Stir-fry until the asparagus is just tender, 5 – 7 minutes. Add the drained noodles and another 1/4 t. salt, mixing as best you can with tongs. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until noodles and asparagus entwine.
  5. Pour in the entire panful of marinade, tofu, and mushrooms. Turn to heat to high and stir-fry another 3 minutes, tossing in the ground cashews and a light touch of red pepper as you go. When the sauce and the cashews are well distributed and everything is heated through, taste and add salt as necessary.
  6. Serve immediately, topped with a scattering of the scallion greens.

NOTES:  

This can get a little smoky, so be aware if you have a sensitive smoke detector. I didn’t add any additional salt at the end, but I also didn’t measure the salt when I added it with the asparagus and the linguine, so YMMV.

I buy soba noodles at an Asian grocery near my home. They are sold in a 3lb package, and inside there are a lot of little bundles that weigh between 3 and 3.5 oz each. I used two bundles. The original recipe calls for a half pound of linguine or similar noodles.

The tofu doesn’t get crispy using this method. I don’t mind that at all, but if you are unsure of tofu because of the texture, this may not be the recipe for you. The flavor because of the marinade and then the stir-fry is incredible, though.

I hope you try it out if this sounds interesting. If you do, let me know — we really, really loved it and will make it again for sure.

******

This year I am joining The Frugal Girl in trying one new recipe each week. You can check them all out here.

Steak w/Mushroom Marsala Sauce

file-feb-25-11-53-33-pm

I made a nice steak dinner for us all to enjoy while my parents were here. I do the same thing, more or less, every time I cook a steak. But I wanted to make a mushroom sauce for over top and at some point I saw a recipe or a mention of a mushroom Marsala sauce which sounded yummy and I had all the ingredients on hand. I couldn’t find the recipe or post that sparked this quest, but I found another recipe that I used as a guide. Really if you are familiar with making a pan sauce, you could do this without a recipe. I used about four times as many mushrooms as the recipe calls for and upped the other ingredients, too, but only eyeballed it. I’m guessing that I doubled them, probably. It wasn’t super liquidy, which is my preference, but if you want a saucier sauce, I’d just increase in equal proportions.

They were really, really great! Michael made the potatoes and I steamed the green beans in the microwave before tossing them with some minced onions I’d sauteed in some butter. It’s hard to go wrong with a steak, I think. But we’ll probably do something like this again, it was so good.

The method I use to cook steaks is spelled out in this post at The Kitchn.

And the recipe I used as a guide for my sauce is here at No Spoon Necessary.

*****

This year I am joining The Frugal Girl in trying one new recipe each week. You can check them all out here.

Cheesecake

cheesecake-cropped

I’ve made cheesecake before. And actually I love the recipe I usually use; it is from my great aunt and I have a lot of good family memories associated with it. However, it is buried in one of my recipe boxes and I was in a bit of a hurry. I’ve never used the recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, so I thought I’d try it out. It was really, really good. The texture was fantastic. It originally didn’t have a sour cream topping, so I made my own right before serving. It really functioned more as an icing and provided a nice contrast to the denser cheesecake. I served macerated strawberries alongside, although it was lovely plain and I’m sure pretty much any other fruit would be really tasty, too.

Cheesecake Supreme

–from The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

  • 1 1/4 c. crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts (I omitted)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon (I omitted)
  • 1/2 c. butter (I only ended up using about 1/4 c.)
  • 3 8oz packages cream cheese (I used two Neufchatel and one regular)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 t. lemon zest (I used zest from a whole lemon)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. For crust, in a bowl combine crushed graham crackers, walnuts, the 1 T. sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of an 8 or 9 inch springform pan; set aside.
  2. For filling, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, the 1 cup sugar, the flour, and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in milk until smooth. Stir in eggs and, if desired, lemon peel.
  3. Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place pan in shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes for the 8-inch pan, 35-40 minutes for the 9-inch pan, or until a 2.5 inch area around the outside edge appears set when gently shaken.
  4. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen the crust from pan sides; cool for 30 minutes. Remove sides of pan; cool cheesecake completely on rack. Cover and chill at least 4 hour before serving.

NOTES:

I didn’t use the walnuts or cinnamon in the crust, nor did I add extra graham crumbs to make up the difference. I prefer that the crust of a cheesecake be mostly on the bottom. I didn’t use as much butter either, and it was still plenty buttery and rich.

My cheesecake cracked, which is not a big deal, but then I decided I wanted to cover it up before serving it at bookclub. I also really like the tang that a sour cream topping adds and how it lightens up what is really a very rich dish. Since my cheesecake had already cooled by the time I made this decision, I decided to make more of an icing, I guess. I used about 1 cup of sour cream, powdered sugar and a little vanilla. Stirred until combined and then spread on top of the cheesecake. It never totally firmed up, but that was actually also a nice contrast, too.

I used the zest of a whole lemon rather than just 1/2 t. It gave the cheesecake wonderful flavor that contrasted really nicely with the strawberries that were served alongside.

*****

This year I am joining The Frugal Girl in trying one new recipe each week. You can check them all out here.