Sunday, 30 November 2014

My favourite Banana Bread recipe and what I do with it

Banana Bread is a comfort food of mine.  Moist, with not too much sweetness (not like cake).  However, it can still be a carb-avoider's enemy.  Unless . . . that's right . . . someone (ahem) alters the recipe in such a way as to make it an acceptable carb.

This is my go-to recipe and I change it up depending upon what I have available or what I'm in the mood for.

Protein Banana Bread

Makes 2 loaves

4 ripe bananas
1 can (540 ml/19 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups Splenda (or white sugar)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick oats
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Spray 2 loaf pans with Pam (or equivalent).

Blend all wet ingredients in a food processor.  Mix together all dry ingredients.  Add blended wet ingredients to dry, and stir until combined.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for around 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.


Now, like I said, I do change it up sometimes.  Today, for example, I had 2 ripe bananas.  So, I took out from the freezer my shredded pattypan squash, thawed it, and squeezed the excess liquid from it.

I also cut back the nuts a bit and added chocolate chips.

And, I added 1/2 tsp. dried orange zest, well, just because. (It ended up adding a brightness to the banana flavour.)

I made 1 dozen muffins (27 minutes in the oven) and 1 loaf.  As you can see in the picture, muffins are already missing.  LOL

Now, of course, due to the whole wheat flour and quick oats, these are a little more dense than some would like.  The flour/grain content can be adjusted to suit your own preference.  More all-purpose flour will make it fluffier.  Just keep the total grain content the same.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Pumpkin & Beet Green Scones

Oh my!  These are so light, fluffy, and melt in your mouth delicious!  This is a really nice, savoury scone.

I used my homemade canned pumpkin (1/2 jar, with the liquid squished out in a strainer) and my blanched beet greens that I had frozen. 

Pumpkin & Beet Green Scones

Makes 12 scones

3 oz. frozen, blanched chopped beet greens, thawed (or any green, like spinach, kale, etc.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup cold butter or margarine
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk with 2 tsp. vinegar)
2/3 cup canned pumpkin or squash, drained
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix the flour, salt, soda, baking powder and sugar together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers.  Blend in the grated cheese. Make a well.

In another bowl, beat the egg and buttermilk until well combined. Mix in the pumpkin and beet greens.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix lightly until just combined.

Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-paper-covered baking sheet.

Bake about 20 minutes until lightly browned.

Canned Winter Squash

It's been a tad busy lately and I kept putting off the canning of some squashes I had got on sale. I had 5 acorn squash and 6 small pumpkins that were giving me the stink-eye every time I passed them so I eventually got to them last week.

I didn't take any pictures of the process but I still have 6 butternut squash to do, and the process is the same, so I'll make sure to take pictures when I can the butternuts.

I ended up with 9 500-ml jars of acorn squash and 18 500-ml jars of pumpkin.

And, of course, from from those squashes came a delicious by-product: roasted seeds (pumpkin in the background and acorn squash in the foreground).  I cleaned the seeds, patted them semi-dry in-between 2 tea towels, tossed them with salt and EVOO, and then roasted them at 400ºF for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Pureed Pumpkin

Halloween has come and gone, but the pumpkins remained.  After all the fun of carving them, it seemed a shame to toss them into the garbage.  I decided that this year I was going to use the pumpkins by freezing pumpkin puree for later use.  Edmonton's weather this year was perfect for storing the carved pumpkins in my unheated garage until I had time to deal with them.  It was just like a fridge. 

These lovely pumpkins ended up as 13 2-cup bags of puree and enough to make a batch of Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Now, I do have some small pumpkins that I'm going to can, along with some butternut squash, acorn squash, and sweet potatoes, but Halloween pumpkins aren't really very good to can.  They have a lot more water than the little pumpkins.  However, if you "de-water" the Halloween pumpkins, the puree is very tasty in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.

(As a side note: If you carve your pumpkin early and it starts to look a little dried-out, soak it in a tub of water overnight and it will plump up again.)

"De-water?"  What is that?  All it means is to squeeze (or let drip) the excess water from the pumpkin after it is cooked. 

Well, with that said, this is what I did.  I carved up the pumpkins into wedges to roast (you could also steam them, too).  I didn't use much of the faces, though (other than to sneak up on my kids with this one in front of my face LOL)

I also used the smaller bits, too.

I roasted the pumpkin at 400ºF for 1 hour, covered.

I removed the rind after roasting, then squeezed the pulp in a cloth to remove the excess water.

I found the best way to puree the pumpkin was with an immersion blender.

That puree ended up mostly in my freezer in 2-cup amounts.

I did set some aside for some cookies, though.  I love these ones.  The pumpkin spice flavour isn't overpowering due to the oatmeal/chocolate flavour.

I also had some puree leftover to have with dinner.  I made a cheesy pumpkin rice by making a basic cheese sauce and adding the pureed pumpkin into it before adding it into some rice cooked in some of my homemade vegetable broth.  Delicious, smooth, creamy, and very filling as a side dish to tonight's grilled pork chops.

I think some nice, comforting pumpkin soup is in the near future, especially since we got a cold, wet snowfall today.