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Friday, April 27, 2012

Random Food Fridays - Tropical Banana Bread

I've mentioned that I love coconut, right? 
And pineapple too, right? 
So, add them to banana bread? 
You bet!

I've been experimenting with this banana bread for a while. I wanted it moist and chewy and not too sweet. I wanted to include coconut oil, but not so much that it made the bread dense. I think I've finally found the right balance.

This is good toasted or room temp. This photo shows it embellished with butter. You might try peanut butter for a breakfast treat. I like it that way.

This bread keeps well. Although, none have lasted more than a week at my house. It's too good. I guess I'm predicting it keeps well based on the fact that the last slice tastes as good as the first.

Tropical Banana Bread
4 medium bananas
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup dried, shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

Peel bananas and break into chunks in a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and mash thoroughly. (I use an immersion blender.) Stir in the drained pineapple, sugar, vanilla and melted coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and coconut. Stir the fruit mixture and the dry mixture together until just combined. Divide into the two prepared loaf pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. When done, remove from oven and immediately turn out of the pans on to a cooling rack. Makes two loaves.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Random Food Fridays - Puff Pastry to the Rescue!

I've had a few weeks. Boy Howdy! Have you ever had a run of stuff? None of it was about me, I just had several people in a row (and simultaneously) to worry about. Too many trips to the hospital. Too much emergency stand by. Too much stress.

I like my life a lot. Emergencies make me super edgy and super schmoopy-grateful all at the same time. My worry-people are out of danger and in recovery. I'm looking at the azaleas and dogwoods and seedlings coming up. I have a robin family living in my yard. The world is busting out green and new.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! All kinds! All kinds!

That's a little song I sing when I'm feeling grateful. When I sing All kinds! All kinds! I lock my eyes on some thing of beauty and splendor and address it directly. It's silly, simple and repetitious, but it sure works. 

I want to acknowledge all those people who are going through extraordinary stresses in their lives. I like to share good, homemade food on my little blog. I hope that folks will find my food accessible and encouraging. But I, for one, will not give you the stink-eye when you stop for pizza or a sandwich or a burger when your life has prevented you from seeing to your own needs. Sometimes you just have to eat what you can and get through it.

That said, a Saturday of shopping, chopping, cooking and eating can be a blessed relief after two weeks of mostly eating out. I was also able to get out in the garden and plant my little lemon tree and some seeds. Tending my life is so sweet. Chores can seem like a chore, but when you know you are willing and able to care for your own life and home, chores become a sacred occupation.

Our lovely, at-home meal had an assist from frozen puff pastry. I'm really sold on this stuff. I found a version at whole foods that came in rounds. The one I've gotten from Trader Joe's is square. Both are almost impossible to render un-delicious.

I was inspired to make an asparagus tart by this entry from Good Life Eats. I didn't read the instructions very carefully, so mine is a little different. Really, you could make this yummy with any veggie and cheese you like.

Another of the magic properties of puff pastry is that it comes in packs with two sheets. TWO SHEETS! That means a jammin' girl like me can make a tart, lickity-split! I spread red raspberry jam on half of this circle, leaving about an inch for sealing. I brushed the edges with an egg wash made from the egg whites leftover from the asparagus tart. After folding and sealing, I brushed the top with egg wash and sprinkled with sugar crystals. 20 minutes at 400, and Ta-Daaaa! Jam Tart!

Asparagus Tart
1 round of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 cup grated gruyere
1/2 cup sour cream
2 egg yolks
about 1 lb. asparagus
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the thawed puff pastry on the parchment. Mix the cheese, sour cream and egg yolks and spread on the pastry, leaving an edge of dough. Trim the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends. Arrange the asparagus on the cheese. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Random Food Fridays - The Sore Throat Action Plan

Meyer Lemons, Ginger, Licorice Mint Tea

There's been a pretty bad cold going around these parts. Luckily, I'm well past it and this tea helped me get through it. It is simple, soothing and effective. If you have never had licorice in tea, it is delicious. It adds a natural sweetness without sugar. 

For one pot of tea:

1/4 of a lemon
6 slices fresh ginger
1 Licorice Mint tea bag

Squeeze the lemon juice into the tea pot, then drop in the whole thing. Add remaining ingredients and cover with boiling water. Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes, but 15 minutes is better. Drink up and get some rest!