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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