Monthly Archives: January 2011

Bananas Foster Cheesecake

Forget banana bread. From now on when I have bananas lying on my counter on the verge of disgusting, they’re going into cheesecake.

I’ve never been impassioned by plain cheesecake, preferring to drown mine in cherry topping or fresh strawberries. The fruit makes the dessert healthy, right? I also enjoy throwing fruit into the cheesecake itself and opting to drown the cheesecake in caramel sauce, apparently.

This recipe is especially wonderful because the cheesecakes are in individual containers–no fighting over who gets the bigger slice.

This recipe comes from Tasting Table. When it arrived in my inbox, I swooned. Audibly.

Bananas Foster Cheesecake:
Cheesecake
8 ounces cream cheese
1 and 1/4 cups banana purée (made from 3 very ripe bananas)
1 teaspoon gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or, in a pinch, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Graham cracker, for garnish

Sauce
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum

1. In a large, heatproof bowl, combine the cream cheese with the banana purée and place the bowl above a saucepan of simmering water. Stir the mixture until the cheese melts. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it bloom for 1 minute.
2. While the cream cheese and banana mixture melts, use another bowl to combine the cream with the sour cream, sugar and vanilla seeds. Whip until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes. (You could do this by hand, but using a mixer helps a LOT.)
3. Whisk the gelatin into the banana mixture until well-combined. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the salt. Whisk in half of the cream mixture, then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining cream mixture.
4. Divide the batter among six glass cups. Gently tap the glasses to settle the filling and whip any excess from the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
5. To make the sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until dark amber, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully whisk in the cream. Whisk in the butter, then the rum. Transfer the caramel to a heatproof container, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. To serve, drizzle the cheesecakes with the caramel sauce and garnish with graham cracker.

By the way, there will be leftover caramel sauce. It tastes good on a spoon or on ice cream. How versatile.

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Banana Bread and a Desperate Plea

Apparently I’m not yet over the concept of breakfast week. Or, more accurately, the bananas that ripened all too quickly in my pantry wanted in on the early-morning action.

Speaking of action, this blog has been seeing a lot of it recently. If you’re new here, or even if you’re an old friend, I’d love for you to leave a comment and tell me about yourself–why you’re here, what you like to eat, whether you live in the Triangle and want to be Real Life friends… let me know!

Pretty please?

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s. I added chocolate chips because there was no reason not to.

Banana Bread:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips, if desired

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9–inch loaf pan and set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl for several minutes, until fluffy. Add eggs and beat to combine.
2) In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir in nuts (and chocolate chips, if you want) and pour into prepared pan.
3) Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of bread cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then place on a rack to cool.

Bacon Cheddar Muffins

I’ll let my roommate’s reaction speak on this recipe’s behalf.

Reaction 1:
(gasp) These might actually be better than ABC sandwiches.

Reaction 2, one minute later:
These are the best muffins I’ve ever eaten.

Don’t even pretend you’ll just be eating these for breakfast. I know better.

Recipe adapted from this one. (These folks called for a tablespoon of salt. A TABLESPOON. I’m not tryna’ give you all hypertension.)

Bacon Cheddar Muffins:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked and broken into small pieces

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 standard-size muffin cups. (I greased mine with leftover bacon grease. TMI?)
2) Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in medium size bowl.
3) Combine milk, butter and egg in a separate bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
4) Gently stir in cheese and bacon. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.
5) Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers come out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack or plate.

Next time, I think I’ll press a chunk of cheddar cheese into the center of each muffin. And maybe add a few more slices of bacon.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread


For some inexplicable reason, this cinnamon raisin bread is still sitting on my counter, despite being baked on Saturday.

I promise that it’s really delicious; it’s just that I haven’t really been home much, and the granola is so darn convenient, and apparently I have better self-control than I originally thought.

[Pause here implied, as I go cut myself a slice. Okay… two slices.]

I highly recommend setting out a plate of butter next to the bread. Let it get to room temperature so when you cut a slice, and the toaster is simply too far away, no butter melting is required.

I think this days-old bread wants to be made into French toast by now. It’s on the verge of stale, and only beaten eggs and milk can save it. Stay tuned.

This recipe explains the cinnamon-raisin-swirl-bread-making process way better than I ever could. (And there’s more pictures!)

Tomorrow, however, there will be bacon cheddar muffins. I swear it. And just to better prepare you:

Almond Coconut Granola

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about breakfast. Perhaps it’s the promise of new beginnings that pervades this time of year–the hope for a fresh start on January 1st and, by extension, each morning. The impending possibilities make me want to wake up and eat something delicious.

Or perhaps my breakfast fixation evolved from my obsession with reading Ruth Reichl’s Twitter page. The former Gourmet editor posts an update nearly every day about what she’s eating for breakfast. I’m jealous of anyone who possesses the creativity and financial means to create a new breakfast every morning.

But you’re also looking at someone who, as a child, ate oatmeal every day for more than a year. (By choice. Or, more likely, to avoid having to make a choice.)

That little girl would be very proud of this recipe, I think. It still involves oats and brown sugar, but it’s also portable. And you can put it on practically everything without fearing judgment. There are oats! There are almonds! I’ve even done my part to Save the Bees of NC with local honey.

May all your breakfasts be so hopeful ‘n’ wholesome. Until you read my post about cheddar bacon muffins. Then you have my permission to be bad again.

Granola recipe adapted from Joy the Baker.

Toasted Almond Granola:
4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup slivered raw almonds
1 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened flakes)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil in a pinch)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1) Place oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line one large with parchment paper or Silpat.
2) In a large bowl, combine oats, whole almonds, slivered almonds, coconut, cinnamon and salt.
3) In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt butter, then whisk in coconut oil, honey and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
4) Pour the sauce over the oat mixture and toss together with a spoon or two to ensure that the oats are covered thoroughly.
5) Press mixture down gently onto baking sheet. Bake for about 9 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir granola and place back in oven. Bake for another 9 minutes, stir again and put back in the oven for about 9 minutes more.
6) Let cool on the pan before placing in an airtight container.

Also, if you’re looking for other delicious granola combinations, this basic recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini is wonderful.

I’ll be posting more breakfasts over the next few days, especially now that my classes don’t begin until 3:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays. A few recipes will involve bacon. You know how I feel about bacon.

Let me know if you’ve got a recipe I simply have to try, bacon-centric or otherwise.

Beef Stew

It’s cold outside. Snowing, even.

I also started classes today. My last semester of college has begun.

So, I made stew. It’s just a meat ‘n’ potatoes kind of day.

End of story.

This stuff is going to taste even better tomorrow, I can tell. The greatest aspect of this recipe is altering the ingredients to suit your personal tastes. More meat, additional vegetables, etc. It’s really difficult to mess up, I promise.

Beef Stew:
1 pound stew beef
1/4 cup flour
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 or 2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash ground allspice
2 cups beef broth
5-6 carrots, sliced
3 potatoes, quartered
cornstarch (optional)

1) Coat beef pieces in a bowl with flour, salt and pepper. Cook the meat on medium heat in a large pot with oil until the beef is browned thoroughly. Add onion and soften briefly. Add garlic.
2) Stir in Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, paprika and allspice. Pour in beef broth and let simmer for about an hour.
3) Add carrots and potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft, for about an hour. If the stew gravy isn’t thick enough, remove a cup or so of the gravy from the pot and stir in a few tablespoons of cornstarch until all the clumps are gone. Combine back into the stew.
4) Serve with bread for maximum gravy enjoyment.

I’m also in the process of writing up my New Year’s resolutions/bucket list for the year. What’s on your list?

Baked Macaroni and Cheese


In case you were wondering, I made macaroni and cheese for my grandparents this evening. Sure, it’s 70 degrees outside (I can’t stop dwelling on that glorious detail, sorry), but my grandpa is sick and cheese makes everything better.

I followed this Mark Bittman recipe pretty closely, but I used more bread crumbs and grated extra cheese to sprinkle on the top. I’m clearly thumbing my nose at weight-loss-related New Year resolutions.

Next time, I’m using more cheese and adding bacon. Boo-yah!