Saturday, March 28, 2009

Going Bananas

It's beautiful. The sun is shining on a 70+ degree day. Then, the clouds roll in and a thunderstorm builds; tornadoes loom; the skies are angry as the temperature drops and the weather changes. Hours later, Mother Nature turns the rains to ice, and the cold winds bring the blinding, blowing snow of a blizzard which closes interstates, schools, and offices. However just a day later, winter weather warnings once again give way to sun, clear skies, and spring temperatures...only to have the threat of more snow on the horizon of the forecast.

Yes, that is a week of weather in south central South Dakota. It is bananas. In spite of the clean living of most of our residents, we are at the mercy of what seems to be a PMSing Mother Nature. Well, I know what I want when PMS comes knocking at my door: cake. Roasted Banana Cake with Brown Butter Frosting has the best frosting ever, and we all know that frosting MAKES a cake. Let's bake some up as an offering to crazy old Mother Nature. Let's hope that Roasted Banana Cake On My Plate will save us from going bananas with the ever changing weather.

Roasted Banana Cake with Browned Butter Frosting
2 cups sliced ripe banana (about 3 medium)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Baking spray with flour
1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine banana, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon butter in an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes, stirring after 17 minutes. Cool slightly.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.
Combine 2 1/4 cups flour, soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Combine banana mixture, buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in another medium bowl.
Place 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix well.
Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternating with banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with baking spray.
Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
To prepare frosting, melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
Combine browned butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth.
Spread frosting over cooled cake. Sprinkle with pecans.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Strawberry Whine

Fresh spring strawberries are surfacing in every grocery store. Ripe, plump, juicy, red sweetness. What is there to whine about? How about whining about the fact that with fresh strawberries, I can eat an entire baguette in one sitting? all by myself? without even thinking about it? Spread a little (or a lot) of a cream cheese mixture on a toasted, but still chewy baguette, top with slices of fresh strawberries and a drizzle of strawberry sauce, and I inhale it. I am a pig for Strawberry Bruschetta On My Plate, and don't like how much treadmill time I have to log to make up for it. *whine*

Strawberry Bruschetta
1 French baguette
1 (8 ounce) container spreadable cream cheese
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar-free strawberry jelly

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice bread about 1/4-inch thick.
Place in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly brown, turning once.
Stir together cream cheese and honey; spread on one side of each toasted baguette slice.
Arrange strawberry slices on the cream cheese.
Heat jelly in a custard cup in a microwave oven on high power for 30 seconds; stir (or heat and stir in a small saucepan until melted).
Drizzle over strawberries. (Serves about 24 slices...enough for at least 12, but maybe only one piggy person like me)

Thursday, March 26, 2009


March 25 was International Waffle Day. Yep. That was yesterday. A good food blogger would have had a submission ready to post early in the day. A good food blogger might have tempted you with perfectly crispy or decadent fruit-topped waffles for breakfast, chocolate waffles for dessert, or savory waffles for dinner. The blogger might even have gotten creative and thrown in some Waffle Fries just to stir things up.

Obviously, I am not a good food blogger. There are many AMAZING food bloggers out there, and I can while away an entire day reading their recipes, soaking in their tips, knowledge, and humor, and drooling over their food porn photos. Their skills (in the kitchen, with words, and behind the camera) entrance me. What I do here is just share what's On My Plate. As the heading says, this is just my menu with a little life thrown in.

As for my life and my menu on March 25...friends can tell you that I love a good holiday celebration. So of course, waffles had to be the main attraction on International Waffle Day. The evening before, I had mentioned the possibility of banana waffles to Hubby, and while he didn't verbally protest, I did get "the look." I wasn't willing to give up, though. Hitting my online recipe sources, I was actually searching for a bacon waffle recipe (because everything is better with pork fat, right?) when I stumbled upon a Mexican Cornmeal Waffle recipe that had caught my eye some time ago.

What better way to celebrate Waffle Day than with dense, cornmeal waffles as a base for a cumin and green chile spiced ground beef and kidney bean mixture, shredded lettuce and cheese, dollops of sour cream, and a drizzle of hot sauce? I gave my nod to International Waffle Day with a taco salad on a cornbread waffle On My Plate.

Mexican Cornmeal Waffles
1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups canned tomatoes with green chiles
1 can red kidney bean
shredded lettuce
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
taco sauce

Mix flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt and sugar.
Beat the egg yolks, add the milk, and combine well with the cornmeal mixture.
Beat the cornmeal mixture until smooth.
Add the melted butter to batter and mix well.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into batter.
Bake in a hot waffle iron until golden brown.
Meanwhile, brown the ground beef, chopped onion, and garlic.
Add all other seasonings (may adjust to taste), tomatoes and beans; simmer uncovered at least 20 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and flavors have blended.
To serve, layer waffle topped with meat mixture, shredded lettuce and cheese, sour cream, and drizzle with taco sauce.(Serves 6)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Eeny, Meeny, Zucchini, Panini

There are a lot of days that I just don't know what to cook. My fridge, freezer, and pantry are overstocked, but nothing will jump at me from their depths. Nothing will scream at me to be prepared and enjoyed. I am hungry, but don't have a clue what I am hungry for. It is like a game of Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe to chose what's for dinner.

On one of those recent days, I had been busy working at home all day and followed it up with a late afternoon dental appointment. Sitting in the chair in my little paper bib waiting for the dentist, I was doing a mental inventory of the groceries stuffed into my fridge and remembered purchasing some zucchini. Mmm. Zucchini Oven Fries would be good. They would be excellent with Paninis. Yum. What a great pairing. Ding. Ding. We have a winner.

Or, rather, I had a winner until I sent a text to Hubby announcing the menu. He wasn't feeling it. He wanted something else, but didn't know what. I was back at square one. Ugh.

I think that I gave up that night and let Hubby create some concoction with leftover Chipotle Pork. I know that I didn't starve, but whatever we had for dinner wasn't memorable, and certainly wasn't crispy with Parmesan on the outside while moist and tender on the inside Zucchini Oven Fries or layers of deli meat and melted, cheesy goodness inside the crunch of a perfectly grilled Panini. A craving had developed, and there was no need for Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe the next night. I had to have Zucchini Oven Fries and Our Favorite Paninis On My Plate.

Zucchini Oven Fries

1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
(I usually combine plain bread crumbs with garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning, all to taste.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
(Honestly, the green can does work well for this, even though I prefer fresh grated.)
4-5 small zucchini
1 beaten egg

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Trim zucchini and cut in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/4 inch wide sticks resembling french fries.
Combine bread crumbs and grated cheese in a shallow bowl.
Beat egg in a 2nd shallow bowl and dip zucchini fries into egg, then into crumb mixture.
Place on baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender. (Serves 4)

Our Favorite Paninis

8 slices sourdough bread
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices provolone (or mozzarella) cheese
4 slices cheddar cheese
1/2 lb deli turkey
1/2 lb deli ham
1/2 lb sandwich pepperoni
1/2 lb Genoa salami
pepperoncini peppers, cut

Preheat the panini grill.
Combine mayo and mustard together and spread on each slice of bread.
Layer remaining ingredients on each of 4 slices of the bread.
Start with Swiss cheese, then ham, cheddar cheese, then turkey, provolone (or mozzarella) cheese, then salami and pepperoni, and finally peppers before topping with remaining 4 slices of bread.
Brush the outside of each sandwich with butter and grill until crispy on the outside and melty on the inside. (Serves 4)
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