MS Cupcake Club: Banana Pecan

September 30, 2009

banana nutI signed up to participate in a bonus round of the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club. Members are required to bake one recipe a month, on the 15th. A bonus round for the Banana Pecan Cupcakes was set for Sept 30 on a voluntary basis. I couldn’t pass it by. It just so happens that the kids had been asking me to make banana bread AND I had some practically rotten bananas at the ready.

Mr. MarthaAndMe grew up eating banana bread a lot. I didn’t. His mother always baked banana bread inside a clean tin can, so that it came out round. As a kid, that was a big deal to him. Although I don’t bake my banana bread in a tin can, I do make it once in a while. Mr. MarthaAndMe likes to put cream cheese on his (blech!) but the kids like theirs plain. I always use my grandmother’s recipe which is foolproof. I was ready to give Martha’s recipe a try though.

Martha’s recipe is pretty similar to mine, but she uses cake flour. Normally I banana nut2use half white flour and half wheat flour in mine, but I followed the instructions here. The rest of the recipe was pretty unremarkable. I whipped it up and filled cupcake papers with it. Then it hit me – the recipe has no cinnamon in it! That is a travesty, so I mixed some cinnamon and coarse sugar together and sprinkled it on the tops of the cupcakes. Also, I left about 6 cupcakes without nuts for Dude Martha, who prefers no nuts in his.

These cupcakes took a lot longer to bake than Martha said – about 10 minutes more. They turned out nicely and everyone liked them. I did not frost them because these are really a muffin, not a cupcake and I also did top them with cinnamon and sugar.

I think I would stick to my grandmother’s recipe in the future, but I might make them as muffins, because they are convenient for freezing and for people to grab for breakfast.

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Apple Braised Turkey

September 29, 2009

turkey and appleI like apples and I like turkey but I never thought to put them together until I saw Apple Braised Turkey Thighs in October Martha Stewart Everyday Food.

This recipe takes about 2 hours to cook, so it’s a nice thing to make on a fall Sunday. I used a turkey breast instead of turkey thighs with this. It was very easy to make. You start by quickly searing the turkey breast to brown the skin side. Remove it and cook some shallots and then add in some peeled, cored and quartered apples. Put the turkey back in, add apple cider and chicken stock and bring to a boil, then stick in the oven for an hour covered and a half hour uncovered.

When mine was done, I took out the turkey and apples and cooked down the remaining liquid (with the added teaspoon of apple cider vinegar), then I added some Wondra to make it thick like a gravy. This was delicious! It wasn’t as sweet as you might think and the apples and turkey went together perfectly. We had some turkey leftover and I used it in my lunchtime salads for the rest of the week and it was incredibly tender and flavorful. Even the kids liked this one.

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Martha Mondays Assignment: 10/5

September 28, 2009

mondaysTeresa at HomemadeIowaLife has chosen Warm Vanilla Cider for next week’s assignment. The recipe is on page 68 of October Martha Stewart Living. If you need the recipe, email me.  I look forward to trying it!

Martha Mondays: Apple Brown Betty

September 28, 2009

mondaysThis week’s Martha Mondays is Apple Brown Betty, chosen by April at AbbySweets. I make apple crisp every fall, but have never tried Brown Betty – and didn’t even know what the difference is until I made this recipe. The difference has to do with the starch component. When I make apple crisp, I make a topping of flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon. Apple Brown Betty relies on bread crumbs.

I made fresh breadcrumbs as Martha directs. You mix your apples with apple brown bettycinnamon, sugar,  and nutmeg and lemon juice and then some of the breadcrumbs (which have been tossed with butter).  Dump it into your pan and cover with the remaining breadcrumbs. This gets baked covered in foil for 40 minutes, then you uncover it until the apples are soft.

It looked and smelled good. There’s nothing like the smell of apples and cinnamon to make it feel like fall. We liked it, but we like apple crisp better.  The texture of the breadcrumbs is hard to get used to when you’re used to the softness of apple crisp. This also isn’t quite as sweet as my apple crisp recipe.  Somehow apple crisp is mushier – you can’t see slices of apple, but in this they stayed fairly intact. It was good, apple brown betty2and would definitely be better with some vanilla ice cream, but I won’t make it again.

Here’s my recipe for apple crisp which I would make instead of this:

Peel, core and slice 6 apples. Toss them with 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 cup of water. Put in a square baking dish (sprayed with Pam). Mix and crumble together 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 4 tbsp butter. Spread over the top of the apples. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for an hour.

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Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash

September 27, 2009

morr acron squashMoroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash (October Martha Stewart Living – not on Martha’s site yet- email me if you need the recipe) sounded like something fun and different. The few Moroccan dishes I’ve had, I’ve liked.

You start by cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds and roasting them. I love to roast acorn squash with butter and brown sugar in the hollow, but this was something new. Once it cools, you scoop out the squash.

Next, you cook some ground beef and mix in cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook onions and garlic and add bulgur wheat, water and salt and cook until the wheat is fluffy. You add in raisins (I didn’t have any, so I didn’t add this), parsley and pine nuts, as well as the squash you’ve scooped out of the shells. Put it back in the shells and bake for about 15 minutes. This looked and smelled good.

However, it was bland. I added a lot of extra salt and pepper when I was mixing it up and that didn’t help much. You can taste the cinnamon and nutmeg and the garlic, so those flavors come through. The pine nuts give a nice crunch, but it just didn’t have enough flavor and I don’t know why. Maybe raisins would have helped, but I feel as though it was missing seasonings. Maybe some red pepper would have perked it up. I just don’t know.  I was really disappointed. And since I made the whole recipe and Mr. MarthaAndMe was away on business and the kids didn’t want it, I have three of these sitting in my fridge!

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Twice Baked Potatoes

September 26, 2009

twice bakedTwice baked potatoes are something I make often and which I learned from my mom. Martha has a recipe for Twice-Baked Sour Cream and Chive Potatoes in October Martha Stewart Everyday Food, so I was ready to give hers a try to see how they compare.

Martha wants you to oven bake your potatoes. I was pressed for time, so I did mine in the microwave as I usually do. This recipe includes butter, sour cream (I used light), milk (I skipped this – I think it makes the potatoes too thin), chives and salt and pepper. You mix this with the insides of the potatoes which you’ve scooped out and then put it back in the shells.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to doctor this up a bit. I added cheese, which is an essential component in my mind. I also sprinkled the tops with paprika which is another essential component.

I liked these with the chives – very tasty. They were creamy and smooth and very filling and comforting. Some variations on twice baked potatoes that I’ve made in the past have included onions, garlic, various types of cheeses, thyme, or bacon. What’s nice about this recipe is that you can adjust it to your tastes and you don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to turn out.

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Squeamish Squash

September 25, 2009

squeamish squahMy October issue of Martha Stewart Living just arrived and I was anxious to dive in. I happened to have a butternut squash, so I thought I would make Squeamish Squash, part of a Halloween menu. Scary name, but I like butternut squash and I like rice.

First you boil some thinly sliced ginger in 2 cups of water. Then add a cup of rice and half of a butternut squash that’s been peeled and cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Add a tablespoon of butter and some salt and let it simmer. It sounded easy. I was a bit worried when I added the squash and it went far above the water line. I ended up adding a little more water. This took about half an hour to cook.

Here’s the bad news. It was inedible. I could barely taste the rice and the squash was essentially flavorless, even though there was a hint of ginger. It was like a giant pile of orange mush. I tried adding salt and pepper and even some parmesan cheese, but nothing worked. Down the disposal this one went and good riddance. Squeamish squash indeed.

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Seared Salmon and Greens

September 24, 2009

seared salmonYou can never have too many ideas for salmon. We eat it a lot. In September Everyday Food, Martha suggests preparing it seared with bok choy, rice and a sauce made of soy sauce, fresh ginger, lime and agave. I didn’t have any agave and we ate this with some bread from the bread machine instead of rice. I also did not sear the salmon, but grilled it. This is a nice preparation. You wilt the bok choy and cook it with some garlic. When you plate it, you add the sauce to both. I enjoyed this and it was a quick way to brighten up salmon. It tasted best when we ate it together – salmon and bok choy together on the fork. It would be very good with rice as well.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

September 23, 2009

tunanood1Mr. MarthaAndMe LOVES tuna noodle casserole. He asks for it for his birthday dinner every year. I never had tuna noodle casserole until I met him (my parents fooled around with all kinds of crazy food things, but never anything so traditional!). And I have to admit I’ve never been a big fan of it. Over the years, I’ve learned to make it so that I can choke it down. Usually I use 2 cans of tuna, one can of cream of mushroom soup, and egg noodles and I add in mushrooms, broccoli, peas, Worchestershire, Italian herbs, and lots and lots of cheese. Even so, I’ve never really cared for it.

In the September edition of Martha Stewart Everyday Food, Martha has a section on foods made using a bechamel sauce, one of which is tuna noodle tunanood2casserole. I knew Mr. MarthaAndMe would be happy to find tuna noodle casserole on his plate for dinner, so I gave it a try. First I made the bechamel sauce, which is very easy – cook some onions (1/4 cup chopped) in 3 Tbsp butter, add flour (1/4 cup – I doubled this to make it thicker) to make a roux then stir in milk (4 cups) and let it thicken. It does take some time to make, but it’s not hard at all.

I cooked the green beans (10 oz – what a great idea – I never thought to add those!) and then cooked my whole wheat spirals (1/2 lb). I mixed the tuna (2 cans) with the noodles, beans and bechamel sauce and poured it into a casserole dish. Then I used some whole wheat bread (5 slices) to make breadcrumbs and mixed them with melted butter (2 Tbsp) and poured them on top. That was it! This was incredibly easy.

I baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes and it came out bubbly, warm and pretty. And here’s the newsflash. I actually liked it! All these years that I’ve been making this for him, it never occurred to me to substitute a real sauce for that nasty canned cream of mushroom soup. If only I’d known! This was simple, but very tasty. I loved having the beans in it. They gave it some substance and balanced out the creaminess of the sauce. The breadcrumbs on top are the perfect touch (in the past, I’ve used crumbled crackers or potato chips). This is really a terrific recipe.

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Martha Mondays Assignment for 9/28

September 22, 2009

mondaysApril from AbbySweets has chosen Apple Brown Betty for our next project. Sounds perfect for this time of year! I’ll post my results on Monday. Share yours as a comment or link to your blog posted to my post on Monday. As always, if you would like to join, let me know and I will add you to the blogroll.

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