Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread

A few weeks ago we actually had snow… can you believe it? Snow. Last week we had an ice warning and a couple weeks before that we actually had snow. Okay okay so it was a light dusting, but still…. We had snow. I think we had one snow day last winter too. So far this winter, I think I’ve warn my heavy coat twice maybe. Once was in Texas and the other was up in Kansas City. Not even around here, granted we’re only 2 1/2 hours south of Kansas City. And I just got a new heavy coat for Christmas. Anyway, I have it so I’ll be ready!

That morning when I woke up, I was in the mood to bake. I had a bunch of bananas that needed to be used for banana bread or cake or muffins or something of the sort.

When my parents went to Hawaii they brought back a banana bread mix. Now I never had enough bananas for the mix because usually I had 1-2 and this called for 5 but this day I actually had enough.

I even followed directions and mashed the bananas before adding to the mix. Usually when I make banana bread and it says to mash them in a separate bowl, I usually just peel and mash in my hand as I’m adding to the banana bread mixture. Yup, that’s me. I follow directions real well sometimes. ha! Hey, they get mashed I just don’t dirty up a bowl that way. All I have to do usually is wash my hands. But this particular day I was feeling real rebellious and mashed them in a bowl. Look at me go.

Now it called for 4 mini loaf pans but I don’t think I own mini loaf pans so I made 2 regular sized pans and just separated between the two. I had to bake a little longer but it worked out perfectly!

And this stuff was friggin awesome. Now I want to know how they made it. It was strange all I added were the bananas and some melted butter. No eggs… wonder if they used meringue powder in it? Who knows… all I know is YUM!

 

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Champagne-Vanilla Cupcakes

There is one magazine I love to get and that’s Food Network. I really credit Food Network for my love of cooking. Truthfully it was my grandma’s (both of them), but when I went to college I kind of lost that until I stumbled across Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals show… I then somehow became hooked again. So the re-found my love my grandmothers instilled in me.

I used to get the magazine, long ago before I went to grad school. Then grad school came and I didn’t have time to read anything other than school books, but now I’m back to reading Food Network Magazine. My first issue was the January/February 2017 issue. I read the editor’s note and she mentioned that they came up with a cupcake for any reason for every month of the year. I decided right then I needed to partake and try them all. Some sound better than others, but still… I need to try them, right? Something to do anyway.

January’s cupcake is the Champagne-Vanilla Cupcake. Yes please.

The first thing I was supposed to do was pour the Champagne (or in this case sparking white wine) into a bowl and whisk until the bubbles dissipate. ✓

When I moved I misplaced my vanilla beans. I needed 1 vanilla bean for this recipe though so I stole one out of my homemade vanilla. It worked great!

As I was walking around the kitchen working on the different pieces, hubby placed the cork back on the wine and the next thing we knew, the cork went flying and wound up in the glass sitting next to the bottle.

Combine the flour with the baking powder and salt.

Then I needed an egg yolk. I was proud of myself for not making a mess separating the egg.

The cupcakes were supposed to make 12 2/3cups… I wound up with 11. I must have filled them up a bit much… that and we learned with my fried pies that I’m not so good at the math apparently. Don’t worry, I am good at math but who knows what happens.

While the cupcakes were baking, it was time to make the custard for the whipped cream topping.

It said cook until it was thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. I don’t think this qualifies as coating the back of the spoon, but by the time I got to this point, I was so tired I didn’t care and called it good.

I have to say, the cupcakes themselves were better without the frosting. The cupcakes had excellent flavor!!

There was a lot of chilling in making the frosting. Chill this, chill that, mix this, mix that. I’m really not sure I did the frosting correctly…. especially if you see my iced cupcakes.

Mine definitely weren’t picture perfect like the ones in the magazine. My icing was extremely lumpy. Somewhere I messed up.

These cupcakes were excellent. I wasn’t as crazy about the frosting. They were a labor of love… you wouldn’t be making these quickly, but sometimes that’s what makes the best cupcakes… labor of love.

 

Champagne-Vanilla Cupcakes (Food Network Magazine, January/February 2017 pg 58)
Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
1 half-bottle (375 ml) champagne or other sparkling wine (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped (pod reserved for the frosting)
1 large egg, separated

For the custard frosting:
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
Sugar pearls, for decorating
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Directions

Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners. Pour the champagne into a bowl and whisk until the bubbles dissipate. Combine 1/2 cup of the champagne and the vanilla extract in a small bowl. Set aside the remaining champagne for the frosting.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the champagne-vanilla mixture in two batches, until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff peaks form, then gently fold into the batter with a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds of the way. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved champagne in a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin on top and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar, salt and egg yolks in a small saucepan until smooth. Whisk in the remaining champagne (about 1 cup) and add the vanilla pod. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the hot custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large metal bowl; discard the vanilla pod. Add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate the custard, stirring every 5 minutes, until it is the consistency of soft whipped cream, 10 to 20 minutes.

Beat the heavy cream in a medium bowl with a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Add the whipped cream to the custard and gently whisk until combined. Refrigerate the frosting, gently folding with a rubber spatula every 5 minutes, until thick enough to pipe, 10 to 20 minutes.

Working quickly, transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe onto the cupcakes. Decorate with sugar pearls. Refrigerate immediately to set the frosting, at least 30 minutes.

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Greek Omelet

I get made fun of a lot for reading recipes to cook and for the fact I can make difficult things but when it comes to the easy stuff, like eggs, I don’t have much experience there. Strange right? I guess I taught myself to cook with the help of both of my grandma’s from recipes though so that easy stuff that you don’t have recipes for I’m at a loss.

Back in December when we went to Ft. Worth, we ate at a restaurant called Ol’ South on University that is known for their German Pancake. I can’t say I’m just a huge fan of the German Pancake though so I went with a Greek Omelet. It was nice too, that it kind of fell along with the “diet” I’m doing. And I know I know, you’re not supposed to call it a diet these days… that’s why the quotes 😉.

My Greek omelet was egg whites, spinach, Feta cheese, and black olives. I decided I could probably recreate that at home, right? You know, no experience making eggs and all but surely I could, right? Enter my latest cookbook… Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls. I got it sometime after we got back from Ft. Worth and I was flipping through it. I happened to see an Egg White Omelet recipe so I decided to read through it, and then add my own fillings/toppings.

My first thought though was to wilt my spinach and cook my mushrooms.  A couple swirls around the pan of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the spinach/mushrooms. I had 2 pans going. My Mushrooms I actually put in a separate pan with the spray butter that is like no calories, no fat, something or other. I don’t exactly know. There are different types, one is a blue bottle and one is I can’t Believe It’s Not Butter… yeah that stuff you know what I’m talking about right? If you lived in the 90’s surely you do because they had commercials like crazy!

My mushrooms I sprayed with about 8 pumps of that butter and let them do their thing. Once they get started I salt them.

The spinach I just let it wilt down in the EVOO (thank you Rachael Ray for that terminology) and at the very last minute I added the mushrooms and then black olives.

So the recipe on making the egg white omelet said to use 1/2 cup of the liquid egg whites and whisk quickly. Then put 2 tbsp of the EVOO in the pan, swirl around and then pour your egg whites in after you’ve whisked them. Now, the cookbook said to put over medium high heat to cook the egg. I’ll let you know I wound up with scrambled eggs. Whoops. See, no experience with the easy stuff….

My second attempt I went to YouTube for help. It said to do it on medium low heat. It also said you put the eggs in the pan, move the pan back and forth over the eat while running a spatula through the eggs for a few minutes and then let it start cooking. Take a rubber spatula and run around it to keep it from sticking.

I placed my ingredients in the middle, flipped the side over, and pressed. Then I pulled it out onto a plate. So, they may not look the best, but they sure tasted good. And make sure not to forget the Feta Cheese… that’s what makes a Greek Omelet!

So… while mine didn’t look pretty, it tasted GREAT! Any tips on making eggs I’ll take them, remember, I don’t know how to make things that are easy… I’m still learning. I’m the one who wants to write a cookbook. Wish me luck!!

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Everything WILL Be Okay

Usually I stay pretty quiet when it comes to politics. I have my beliefs, my opinions, my viewpoints. There is really only one person I’ve ever met that I do everything in my power to get them riled up about politics and sadly I do it for fun. Yes, I get a kick out of getting him riled up about politics. And it works every time. And sadly I’ve put this person in their place more than once. I play devil’s advocate to them about pretty much everything, even if I totally agree. Again, I kind of get a kick out of it with them, but otherwise I keep quiet.

Politics and religion are areas that get real heated real fast and can cause people to hate each other. Just look at this past year on Facebook… WOW! I’ve seen more hateful comments directed toward people with different opinions than I think I ever have before. I get standing up for what you believe and even for trying to persuade someone else into believing how you believe, but sometimes you have to agree to disagree, because at the end of the day you’re either going to be friends or you’re not. If you’re not, you definitely won’t get someone to see something in a different way and if you are, don’t ruin a friendship over stupid hurtful comments just because you believe different things.

I have been friends with a lot of people who have different opinions than I do. Be a good listener. Hear them out. Nothing says you have to agree with their point of view, ever, but sometimes it might just expand your thinking and make you more solidified on your stance. Take a lesson from the show Last Man Standing… get into a heated debate with someone with different beliefs than you, but… take the opposite stance than you currently are at. So if you’re Conservative, debate for the Liberal. If you’re Liberal, take the Conservative side. If nothing else, you’ll do research and find out how you really feel about an issue and see it from both stand points.

This was a hard election. I am 33 years old. This is my 4th presidential election. I was old enough to vote during the election where George W. Bush was elected for a second term. Then both of Barack Obama’s winning elections and now the Donald Trump Election. That makes 4 elections. I was only 17 the first winning election for Bush. I have to say this is the most heated, most hurtful election I have seen yet to date. Maybe that’s because so many more people are on social media than ever before. Maybe topics just got more heated. Maybe….. the possibilities of the reasons are endless. But this is the most hateful election I have ever seen.

Obviously I wasn’t around in the 1800’s but from what I learned in text books at school, you know, the things they want you to know… I feel like our country is about as divided as it was when the Civil War broke out. There again I don’t know. It’s just a thought that crossed through my mind the other day. I remember in 2001 when the World Trade towers were hit and our country came together and mourned the losses as a whole nation. In the last 15 years, we’ve been split so bad that it is almost like we’re multiple nations. Everyone attacks everyone and that’s not okay. We are the United States of America even if we disagree on certain topics. Agree to disagree. That’s what makes our country great. So many different people with so many different opinions and ways to keep it great that it works.

A friend shared a post on Facebook where the gal talked about how Everything will be okay. She posted it the morning of the election and then went back and added/edited some thoughts after the results were announced. You can read her article here.

I agree, Everything will be okay. The good thing is there is that thing called checks and balances so while the president does “trump” (pardon the pun) things… it has to make it through the house and the senate. Currently it is a heavy Republican Congress right now but…. not all Republicans agree with everything Trump stood for. They may agree with this but not that.

Then there are those under the table deals that happen. Sad but true. While they made it known that Trump had nothing to gain from third party people, there are those in Congress that do have things to gain from special interest groups. Those lobbying special interest groups still “slip money under the table” to get someone in Congress on their side and those people report to the president. New laws, new amendments, etc have to go through the house and the senate before they cross across the President’s desk. And another thought…. no president can undo or redo or do everything in 1 day, sometimes not even in 4 years. It took a 2nd term for Obama Care to finally make it in place for example.

Some things people won’t agree with but that’s the case with every president that has ever been in power. So sometimes it is okay to agree to disagree. That’s what keeps us all on our toes and striving for better.

I’m going to quote a friend’s comment on Facebook, “No matter who you voted for, or if “your candidate” won [or your candidate lost], everyone who voted should be proud. You should be proud that you live in a country that allows your voice to be heard. GOD BLESS THE USA!”

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