2013 Thanksgiving Menu

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It’s hard to believe that we are just one week away from Thanksgiving (Although, if you have driven around South Philly lately, you’ll see that people have jumped the gun as usual and have already put out their Christmas inflatables. I hate those things.)!

I always feel like there is a lot of pressure and stress that comes with being in charge of one of the most important meals of the year. Which is why I have never volunteered to host a Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, my mom does most of the cooking and I pitch in to the best of my ability in helping to plan the menu and prepare the side dishes and desserts.

A couple of weeks ago, we sat down and came up with the following menu for this year:

Appetizers

Pumpkin dip and Onion dip with veggies

Cornbread bites

Dinner

Turkey (obviously)

Sausage stuffing (we make this up as we go along every year, but this recipe provides a good starting point)

Butternut Squash with Sage

Green Beans with Vinagrette

Regular and Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Cranberry Sauce with Apple Cider

Dessert

Apple Crisp

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Cream Cheese Pound Cake 

If you haven’t started planning yet, time is ticking! This is a great time of year to go through the cookbooks collecting dust on your shelves, revisit ideas you have bookmarked or pinned and to draw on traditional family recipes.

Of course, you will find no shortage of inspiration on the interwebs. As you can see from clicking around on our menu, much of it comes from Martha Stewart.  We were looking for simple recipes that required just a few ingredients each crazy and that had at least some elements that could be prepared a couple of days in advance. Martha just so happened to have a bunch of recipes that fit the bill, but we spent time browsing Cooking Light, Real Simple, the Food Network and countless blogs. One of my favorite resources comes from a blog that I recently discovered called The Bitten Word. Each year, it features an index of all of the Thanksgiving recipes from the top food magazines. This year’s installment is the biggest yet, with 304 recipes from 11 different publications.

What will be on your Thanksgiving table this year?

Recipes: Breakfast Cookies, Two Ways

Breakfast cookies

Banana oatmeal breakfast cookies (top) and apple oat breakfast cookies

As I said a few weeks ago, there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating cookies for breakfast.

I don’t see anything wrong with eating any dessert item for breakfast, for that matter. A piece of birthday cake is basically a muffin with icing on it, right? And, ice cream is totally fine because it’s just frozen milk, after all.

As fun as this philosophy is, it sadly, does not benefit one’s waistline. Especially if one is trying to find hers again after having a baby.

So, what’s a girl to do when she wants something sweet, but healthy, for breakfast?

Enter the breakfast cookie.

These oat-based baked treats are hearty, satisfying, and have just enough sugar to satisfy a sweet tooth. And, they are ideal for those mornings when all you have time to do is grab something on your way out the door (or between baby catnaps).

Each recipe below takes less than an hour to make from start to finish. So, you can throw them together the night before (if you are super organized) or the early morning (if you are a procrastinator like me). Plus, they are a great way to use up fruit that is probably already sitting on your counter and other ingredients that are pantry staples.

Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

From: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

I picked this recipe based on the fact that everything could be thrown into the same bowl. Ain’t nobody got time for doing a ton of dishes.

The ample amount of oats in these cookies made them pretty hearty. Their chewy texture reminded me of baked oatmeal. I thought these had a great combination of flavors, that got even better after the cookies sat overnight.

I stored these cookies in the refrigerator because I felt like the slightly sticky texture and the chocolate chips would become a melted mess if left on the counter. They would probably freeze well, too.

What you will need

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup ripe bananas, mashed (about three small ones)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Drop onto greased cookie sheet (Note: I again used my medium sized cookie scoop and got just over 20 cookies from this recipe).
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until bottoms of cookies are light brown.
  5. Cool on wire rack.

Apple Oat Breakfast Cookies

From: Yummy Mummy Kitchen

These cookies had a soft, crumbly texture (almost like a scone) and are a great way to take advantage of all of the apple varieties that are in season right now. Next time, I think I will probably throw a handful of dried cranberries in as well.

What you will need

  • 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh apples, diced (I used an Empire)
  • Sugar for sprinkling (optional)

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.
  3. Mix together butter, milk and egg in another bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
  5. Mix in apples.
  6. Scoop heaping tablespoon balls of dough and place on cookie sheet a few inches apart (Note: I used a medium sized cookie scoop and got about 20 cookies from this recipe).
  7. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake until light brown, about 10 minutes.
  8. Cool slightly on rack.

 

Recipe: Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal cookies 3 use

Fall is my favorite time of the year to bake. The cooler weather means that my tiny house doesn’t immediately feel like a sauna as soon as I turn the oven on. Pumpkin and apple are back in season. And, finally, there are lots of occasions to bake for once the holiday season arrives.

One of my favorite things to do when I was little was bake with my mom and I have always looked forward to spending time in the kitchen with my own children. So, I wasted no time getting Little B into the kitchen to bake her first batch of cookies.

As you can see, she couldn’t quite stay awake for the job, so my mom and I ended up doing most of the work. Fortunately, these Brown Sugar Oatmeal cookies were super easy to make and B stayed asleep until the last batch was out of the oven.

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The brown sugar gives these cookies a rich flavor and chewy texture and the generous portion of oats makes them pretty hearty. I baked mine for 12 minutes, so they retained their softness, but you could leave them in the oven for a bit longer if you prefer your cookies to be crispy.

These cookies are pretty much perfect for any time of the day. Even breakfast. I mean, you have the oats, brown sugar and pecans, so these cookies are basically bowls of oatmeal in cookie form, right? And, everyone knows that oatmeal is healthy. So, starting your day off with a couple of these is totally acceptable.

Plus, they are easy to eat while toting a baby around the house in one arm. I haven’t been a parent for that long, but  trying to manage a bowl of hot cereal and a spoon, plus a baby, just seems like a recipe for disaster. I’m glad that I figured out how to save myself the trouble.

oatmeal cookies 11 use

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

Barely Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

Yield: The recipe states 24, but I got more than 30 out of this recipe, using a medium sized cookie sccop.

What you will need:

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each one.
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda and nuts (if using) in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Add it into the creamed mixture in 2 to 3 batches, mixing it until just combined. Mix in the oats until just combined.
  5. Use a cookie scoop (or a regular spoon) to drop portions of dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, spacing them a couple inches apart. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until dark and chewy.
  6. Let them cool slightly on the pan after removing from the oven and move to wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe: Cherry Streusel Bars

I hope that everyone had a fabulous 4th of July! We didn’t do anything too crazy, mostly because the idea of leaving the comfort of an air-conditioned house was not at all appealing. Watching the fireworks on TV and having an indoor barbecue with my family was good enough for me!

Whether you are spending your summer holidays indoors or outdoors, it just wouldn’t be a party without a good dessert. Flag cakes seem to be the most popular for summer’s patriotic holidays. But, if you are looking for something a little different, I would suggest these dessert bars, loaded with a tart cherry filling and a buttery almond and oatmeal topping. There was that whole legend about George Washington and the cherry tree, right? So, these are still a pretty patriotic option.

cherry bars 2

You could easily substitute other dried fruits or preserves that you might have on hand for the cherries in this recipe. Strawberries or blueberries could be another good option for summer and maybe apples or cranberry in the fall, for example.

I highly recommend serving them with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream (As usual, I whipped up my favorite version from David Leibovitz’s the Perfect Scoop).

Cherry Streusel Bars

Adapted slightly from: America’s Test Kitchen and Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful 

Yield: About 2 dozen (depending on how large you cut the bars)

What You Will Need

Note: The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon of kirsch (clear cherry brandy) in the filling and 1 cup of sweetened flaked coconut in the streusel. I left these out because I didn’t have them on hand, and don’t think it affected the flavor or texture at all.

Filling

Note: Filling can be made one day ahead and refrigerated until you are ready to bake.

Dough and Streusel

Note: The suggestion of using the dough/topping from the America’s Test Kitchen (ATK)  raspberry bar recipe came from Gastronomy Blog. It’s true–the ATK recipe has just the right texture and sweetness and it always bakes up perfectly. But, adding the extracts and cinnamon called for in the Bon Appetit recipe gave something extra special to the bars, as those ingredients are the perfect complements for cherries!

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon sized pieces (16 tablespoons are needed for the dough, 2 tablespoons for the streusel)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with an aluminum foil sling. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter.
  2. Combine the dried cherries and the preserves into a chunky puree using a food processor. Set aside.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in bowl of electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment for the mixer, beat in 16 tablespoons of butter, as well as the vanilla and almond extract at slow speed, until the mixture comes together in moist clumps. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture in a separate bowl for the streusel topping.
  4. Gather remaining dough together into a ball and press into the prepared baking pan. Pierce dough all over with a fork and bake until golden, about 22 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
  5. Remove crust from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
  6. While crust is cooling, make the streusel topping add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, light brown sugar, oats and almonds to the reserved dough and mix with a fork or pastry blender until small clumps form.
  7. Once crust is cool, spread cherry filling over it with a spatula and sprinkle streusel topping on top. Bake until filling is bubbling and streusel topping is golden brown, about 25 to 27 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and set pan on wire rack to cool for two hours. Remove bars from the pan using foil sling and cut into squares to serve.

 

Recipe: Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

If you are planning a festive meal for today, I highly recommend whipping up a batch Irish soda bread. The traditional version of this dense, hearty bread features just four ingredients–flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk–but you can doctor it up with just about anything you want to enhance its flavor and texture. For example, serve it as a dipper for stew or soup or try adding sugar, honey and dried fruit (I used golden raisins since I had a box in the cabinet) to the dough to sweeten it up. The possibilities are endless, and the loaf comes together quickly and easily.

If you ask me, the best way to enjoy this bread is to keep things simple and top a slice with a generous smear of salted Irish butter as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

From: Baking Bites

What you will need:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon to bring the dough together. It will look shaggy, (almost like a shortcake dough) and will be moist and a bit sticky (I recommend adding the buttermilk slowly to make sure that doesn’t become too wet and hard to handle). Add the raisins, if using.
  4. Once dough comes together, knead for a minute or two in the bowl and form into a round ball. Place on baking sheet.
  5. Cut an “X” in the top of the bread (about an inch and a half deep). This will help the inside of the bread to bake.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown
  7. Remove from oven. Transfer to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

During the past week or so, avocados have become of my main ET-related cravings. Twice over the weekend, I decided what to order in a restaurant based on the fact that avocado was advertised as an ingredient in certain dishes.

So, imagine the meltdowns that almost ensued when the avocados were left out. Both times. Chester can tell you that it wasn’t pretty.

I mean, do you think I ordered that stupid roast turkey sandwich because I actually wanted roast turkey? No. I ordered it because what I really wanted was the avocado and that was the only thing on the menu that promised I could have it.

Jerks.

As traumatic as these two incidents were, this post isn’t really about avocados. But, I have a point. And, that is: when you want to eat a particular kind of food, nothing else will do.

Which is why I had to console myself with chocolate chip cookies. They never disappoint.

There are millions of recipes out there for chocolate chip cookies, but this is the first one that I’ve tried that just about replicates the Nestle or Pillsbury varieties that we all scooped out of those plastic tubes of refrigerated dough when we were kids. A generous helping of brown sugar and a healthy dose of chocolate syrup gives these cookies their crispy edges and chewy centers. A cold glass of milk is a must.

The only tweak I would make next time around would be to add an additional half a cup or so of chips, because I like to have that chocolately flavor in each bite. I felt like there were not nearly enough to go around, especially as  I scooped out the last six or so cookies in the batch. (My go-to brand of chips–and any kind of baking chocolate, for that matter, is Ghirardelli–because they have the richest flavor and they can stand up to the heat of the baking process).

This recipe comes from the Milk and Cookies cookbook, which features recipes from the  Greenwich Village bakery of the same name. It’s the first recipe that I’ve tried from the book, which contains about 90 recipes. I like that the author gives the recipe for the base dough in each section (vanilla, peanut butter, double chocolate, etc.) and then several variations. So, once you have the basics down, the possibilities are endless!

Cookes 3_Checkter favorite

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

From: Milk and Cookies by Tina-Marie Casaceli

Makes about 2 dozen

What you will need

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup chocolate syrup
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  3. Put butter in bowl of electric mixer and beat until light and creamy
  4. With mixer running, gradually add both sugars and syrups.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat to incorporate. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Add dry ingredient mixture and beat until just combined. When dough is still streaky, remove bowl from mixer. Stir in chocolate chips
  7. Using a cookie scoop, place dough two inches apart on baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or until brown and crisp on the edges and set in the center.
  8. Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool.

Happy Birthday, Checkter!

Chester got another year older this week (I won’t tell you his exact age because that’s just mean and I’ve made fun of him enough lately for his proximity to 40). So, we celebrated with food, of course.

Saturday night, we had dinner at one of his favorite places, Fogo de Chao, where he estimated that he ate about a pound and a half of filet mignon, lamb and other assorted meats. My favorite thing about Fogo is salad bar, which offers a huge assortment of salads, veggies, and cheeses. I loaded up on so much of that stuff that I didn’t even flip my card from red to green once.

We walked off some of our dinner with a stroll down Walnut Street to see the Christmas tree in Rittenhouse Square park.

Then, somehow, we found room for milkshakes at Max Brenner.

For the homemade portion of his birthday celebration, Chester requested blondies. He loves brown sugar more than anyone I’ve ever met (he told me he used to eat it by the spoonful when he was little), so it’s no surprise that he would prefer these to rich, chocolate brownies. Obviously, we are total opposites in this regard.

When I’ve tried blondies in the past, I’ve always been disappointed. They always seem to be dense, bland and dry. The America’s Test Kitchen recipe that I used for this batch completely changed my mind.

Melting the butter instead of creaming it incorporates less air into the batter, for a light, chewy texture. I also added a little bit of espresso powder to bring out the flavor of the milk chocolate and took the extra time to toast the pecans to enhance their flavor as well. The longer they sit, the better the flavors and textures have become.

This recipe could be adapted for a wide variety of preferences, using different flavors of chocolate chips or different kinds of nuts. The possibilities are endless!

Blondies

Adapted slightly from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

What you will need

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with a foil sling and coat with cooking spray
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, espresso powder, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips and the nuts, and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
  5. Bake until the top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch, for 22 to 25 minutes.
  6. Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely (about an hour). Cut into 1 1/2- by 2-inch bars.

The Friday Five: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is next week, friends!

My mom and I have been e-mailing back and forth since the end of October to plan our menu. As always, she’s in charge of the turkey and I’ll be helping out with the lower maintenance (i.e. easier) side dishes. There are so many wonderful ingredients available to cook with this time of year, including pumpkins, cranberries and apples, and we are planning to use as many of them as possible.

Here’s what we’ve got so far:

  1. Cornbread Stuffing (via Cooking Light): We’ve picked a few recipes out that we like for the stuffing. This one seems like a good base, but we’re probably going to tweak it with a few other ingredients, like golden raisins, apple, celery and onion.
  2. Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Mushrooms (via Bell’alimento): One of our favorite sides from last year will make a repeat appearance. Bonus: it’s super easy to throw together.
  3. Orange and Honey Glazed Carrots (via Saveur): We were having trouble thinking of an option for a non-green side and then I received an email from Saveur with dozens of ideas, including this one. Honey always makes for a nice, rich glaze.
  4. Cranberry, Cherry and Walnut Chutney (via Cooking Light): I love cranberries, but I like them even more when they are combined with other ingredients. We’ll still be making plain old cranberry sauce for those of us who don’t like nuts in our food (i.e. my brother).
  5. Pumpkin Pound Cake with Buttermilk Glaze (via Cooking Light): An alternative to the pumpkin pie that none of us are really a fan of.

Not pictured: Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and my aunt’s homemade bread.

What’s going to be on your table this year?

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Hurricane Sandy swept through the East Coast on Monday and Tuesday and I’m relieved to say that–at least in my little corner of South Philly–we came through relatively unscathed.

I know that folks in the surrounding areas, including the Philadelphia suburbs, the Jersey Shore and New York were not so lucky. Seeing the photos and news footage of all of the devastation is heart-wrenching. I hope that those who were affected will be able to recover some sense of normalcy in the coming days and weeks and begin the process of rebuilding.

At my house, the lights flickered a few times, but they stayed on. We got a bit of water in our basement, but that’s par for the course with even the most minor of rainstorms. All of the trees on our street are still standing. I feel pretty lucky.

And, I’m not going to lie. I kind of enjoyed my Hurrication.

I flipped back and forth between constant news coverage and the Food Network (I also discovered that Chester never programmed the Hallmark Channel into our cable menu. I was wondering where The Golden Girls had gone!). I finished making a photo book to document our trip to France last year. I spent quality time with my Nook, catching up on magazines and this month’s book club selection (Escape, which I highly recommend. It’s so crazy that I have to keep reminding myself it’s actually a true story). I played with the cat, although I think that she was annoyed that I was disrupting her sleep schedule. I drank way too many cups of coffee.

Best of all, I made these pumpkin cookies. Which are actually less like cookies and more like little mini cakes.* The soft, slightly spicy cookies are complemented by a sweet cinnamon cream cheese frosting. They pair extremely well with a fresh cup of coffee and are just the thing to warm you up on a cold and rainy fall day.

Soft Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

From: The Baker Chick

Makes about 3 dozen

What you will need

For the cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I didn’t have cloves, so I substituted the same amount of   pumpkin pie spice. Perfect).
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup softened cream cheese
2-3 cups powdered sugar (2 ½ cups was about the right sweetness for my taste).
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first seven ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and white sugar.
  3. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy.
  4. Add dry ingredients gradually and beat until combined.
  5. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls. The dough will be pretty soft. I used a medium sized cookie scoop to make them a pretty uniform size. Just scrap the scoop against the side of the bowl to round it off before dropping on the sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. While the cookies cooling, make the icing: cream butter and cream cheese together in bowl of electric mixer. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix until thick and creamy; Add vanilla and cinnamon.
  8. When cookies are cooled, spread frosting on top with an offset spatula.

*These cookies actually remind me of these Archway cookies that my grandmother used to buy for me any my brother when we were young. They were a soft, vanilla flavored cookie with a thin layer of white frosting and red and green sprinkles. They were oval shaped and I want to say they were called Frosted Fingers. Sadly, I haven’t seen them in years. Does anyone else remember them or know where I can find them? I’ll be your friend forever if you do!

Recipe: Classic Banana Bread

I pretty much will only eat bananas that are totally yellow on the outside. Bananas with brown spots are gross. I know that they get sweeter as they ripen, but they also get a mushy texture that I just don’t enjoy.

The only sensible thing to do with these kinds of bananas is to turn them into banana bread. In fact, the riper the bananas, the better the bread.

When I first got into baking a few years ago, banana bread was the first thing that I made. I’ve tried a few different recipes over the years, but my favorite continues to be the Classic Banana Bread recipe from Cooking Light. The yogurt in the batter makes it incredibly moist and tender. I have doctored it up once or twice with nuts and chocolate chips, but it really doesn’t need anything since the banana flavor is so intense.

Although it’s tempting to cut into the loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven, I personally think that the flavors are even better after the bread sits for at least a few hours. You could also make muffins from this recipe, freeze them, and take them out for breakfasts throughout the week as needed.

Classic Banana Bread

From: Cooking Light

What you will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.
  4. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended.
  5. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
  6. Spoon batter into a buttered loaf pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.