Friday, January 25, 2013

"Save the Dying Bananas" Banana Cake

It was mistake for me to ever, ever join  Pinterest.  It has become a daily time suck.  I bet you can all guess what boards I like to visit most?  Yep, you're right if you guessed the food & drink boards.  I have pinned a lot of recipes.  Today, I decided to try one.  Of course, I adapted it....can never just MAKE a recipe at face value.

One of my New Year's Resolutions (if I actually have any, I try not to make them because it just adds to that feeling of mommy-failure when I don't deliver!) is to try not to allow food waste if at all possible.  I have tried very hard, more recently, to have a use for every piece of food that is going bad, to eat left overs, or turn them into something new and clever.

Sitting on my counter yesterday were two VERY overripe bananas.  Throwing them away would mean admitting defeat.  Eating them would have been impossible (ew).  Baking something with them was my only option.  I'm kinda tired of the traditional banana chocolate chip muffins, banana walnut breads and the like.  It didn't seem to float my boat.  So where did I go?  Pinterest, of course.  I found a banana cake recipe worth trying, that my measly two bananas could make.  Of course, I was missing a host of other ingredients, so I improvised! :)

Here's a link to the original recipe so that I'm not plagiarizing, and giving credit where credit is due, this person deserves credit, as well as a peruse on their blog....Butter Yum's To Die For Banana Cake .  Another thing I should mention is her cake has a recipe for a vanilla bean frosting (which also sounds divine, but in the interested of saving money and not wasting a half a tub of vanilla frosting in my fridge), I used half a can of Baker's Corner Vanilla Frosting instead of making my own.

Well, here goes....

Aldi "Save the Dying Bananas" Banana Cake (using Butter Yum's adapted recipe)

2 overripe bananas
2/3 Cup Grandma's Best Sugar
1/2 Cup Fage Greek Yogurt (or whichever brand your Aldi sells, I hear this might be regional!)
1 Golden Hen Egg
2 Tbs Country Creamery Butter, softened
1 tsp Stonehill Classics Pure Vanilla
1 Cup Grandma's Best Flour
1/4 tsp Sebree Salt
1/2 tsp Baker's Corner Baking Soda
1/2 Tub Baker's Corner Vanilla Frosting

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream together sugar, butter, yogurt and egg.  Add in mashed bananas and vanilla, mix well.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt & baking soda.  Add to mashed banana mixture and mix well.  Pour into a greased 8 X 8 pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly).

Allow cake to cool before frosting with frosting.

Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cream of Broccoli Soup

For those of you in the Northeastern United States you know we are gripped in a brutal cold front!  It was 11 degrees when I went to pick up my kids from Karate!   That's just too cold.

Leftovers from last night inspired me to make this, that and the desire to be WARM from the inside out!    This filled the bill.  Add some bread and top with cheese, DELICIOUS!!!!!

Cream of Broccoli Soup

3 1/4  Cups chopped Broccoli (set aside about 1/4 cup flowerettes to put in the soup after blending)
1/2 Medium Onion
1 Stalk Celery
1 32 Oz Carton Simply Nature Organic Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Chef's Cupboard Bullion cubes
1 Cup (or less) Friendly Farms Half and Half
1/2 Cup Friendly Farms Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded

In a soup pot, place chopped broccoli, onion, celery inside.  Pour Chicken Broth over top.  Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are soft and tender.

Using an immersion blender, blend until very smooth.  Add the half and half as you're blending.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, uncovered.  While simmering, add reserved flowerettes.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Aldi's gone ORGANIC!

Hey there, have you heard?  Aldi's begun carrying a new line of organic products called "Simply Nature".  I've heard good reviews, hoping to test some out.

Thought that you'd all like to know!

Check them out!!!  Aldi test markets things, and when they're really popular, they become regular items, so buy, buy, buy, if you want them to keep the Organic line!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mock-zoh Ball Soup

This soup could also go by another name, Shiksa Ball Soup!  I use that term very affectionately towards  myself.   When I was a sophomore in High School, I dated a very sweet, talented Jewish boy.  He was a senior.  He played piano.  And I instantly fell in love.  I'm a sucker for cute musicians, what can I say?

Let's just say that this boy's Mother was not fond of me and would refer to me as "Danny's Little Shiksa".  She wouldn't him take me to the prom, either.  Oh well.  Looking back, I'm not heartbroken at all.  He was a great guy, and he helped me develop a love for Billy Joel.  LOL :)

Well, I do have a love of other Jewish things, too.  Matzoh Ball Soup just to name one.  I usually buy the mix, because, being a Shiksa means that I didn't have a bubbie to teach me the fine art of matzoh ball making.  I, of course, always doctor the recipe....that's just who I am!  The other day, I was very sick, and craving the healing powers of a good Jewish mama's Matzoh Ball soup.  I had one box left in my cabinet and made it.

Upon sharing on FB that I was eating this, a good friend's daughter was jealous that I was having it.  Her mom had just had surgery and I was planning on making a meal to take over anyway, so I decided that I would try to make them some.  But I was out of boxes, and being sick myself, did NOT feel like driving to the store.  That, and she's a very good friend who deserves a meal that's not from a box. I thought to myself, "Self, this shouldn't be TOO hard, should it?"  So I scoured my cabinets to see what I had.  Country Pride Chicken Legs, Carrots, Celery, Chef's Cupboard Boullion....but alas, no Matzohs!  What was I going to do??????  I hopped on the internet in search of recipes for making matzohs with saltines, or oyster crackers or something.  All scared me.  That somehow trying to make this coveted soup without matzohs would fail miserably.  Not one to be deterred, I experimented.  And here's what I came up with.

WARNING:  The process is long, and arduous, and while you COULD take short cuts, you need to ask yourself, would my Grandmother (and if you're Jewish, your Bubbie) take shortcuts if making this soup.  Invariably, the answer would be "no".  So, try to avoid if possible. *if you wanted to take shortcuts, use the Fit & Active Chicken Broth (you'll need 2 boxes) to replace the broth, and use Carlini Vegetable oil in the mock-zah balls.

Mock-zoh Ball Soup

Make the Broth - this is a LONG process, and best done the day before you're planning on making the soup.  (or if you happen to be in the habit of making your own stock, you can use that reserve, just make sure to save the rendered chicken fat in another container and freeze as well).  Not adding brand names to the chicken and vegetables because I know they can vary by Aldi based on the supplier. :)

4 large chicken legs
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 onion

Place the legs in a large stock pot, cut vegetables in large chunks and place in the pot.  Cover chicken with cold water.  Place on the stove, and over medium heat bring pot to a boil.  Keep at a simmer, uncovered for about 2 hours.  The chicken legs will begin to float.  After about 2-3 hours, you can remove the chicken legs and harvest the meat off the bones.  Put the bones back in the broth and continue to cook down until the liquid is about half gone - this makes a very rich, thick, delicious stock.  It is not seasoned with salt and pepper yet, you want to wait on that.

Set aside the harvested chicken meat and pull apart into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside and refrigerate.  You want about 2 or 3 cups to put in the soup later.

After about 5 hours, drain the stock over a colander to remove the bones and solid.  Allow stock to cool, and the fat to rise to the top.  You will skim off this fat, but you will NOT throw it away, this is called "schmaltz" and is a rendered chicken fat that is used in the process of making the matzoh balls.  While you could use oil or butter or another fat, you'll miss out on the flavor that the schmaltz imparts.

For the Soup
1 Pot of homemade stock, fat removed (and saved!!!)
3 Chef's Cupboard Chicken Boullion Cubes (intensifies the broth's flavor)
2 large carrots, chopped (I cut mine in coins, then in matchsticks)
2 large stalks of celery, diced
1 small onion (or a tbs of dried minced onion)
1 clove garlic (minced, or left whole and removed later)

Saute diced carrot, onion and celery in about a tbs of oil in a large soup pot.  If you're using the dried onion, do not add at this step) Continue to cook until the celery is just about translucent.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the reserved chicken meat BEFORE you put in the mock-zoh balls.

For the Mock-zoh balls
3/4 Cup crushed Savoritz Oyster Crackers (crush first, then measure)
1/2 Tsp Stonemill Classics Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp Stonemill Classics Garlic Powder
1/4 Tsp Stonemill Classics Italian Seasoning
2 Golden Hen Eggs, beaten
1/4-1/3 Cup Schmaltz (warmed up so it's liquid)

Mix everything together in a small bowl and set aside.  This will be a touch liquid, but as it sits the crackers will soak up the liquid.  This should soak for a minimum of 15 minutes, preferably 30 if you can wait.

After that time, you can make the mock-zoh balls by using a small cookie scoop, and rolling in your hands.  They will be very soft, be very gentle with them, and drop them into the boiling broth very gently.

Cover the soup pot and reduce heat so that it is at a constant simmer.  Cook for 30-40 minutes until the mock-zoh balls have puffed and are pillowy.  Serve as close to immediately as possible.

Feel loved, and warmed, and healed from the inside out.

***NOTE:  report back from friend (and I agree), consistency was good, but taste is much different than a matzoh ball ***