Archive for April, 2008

Oh Noes! My Bananas!

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

So I looked on my counter today and this is what I found. An all too familiar sight in our house. Those last few bananas, overripe and left for dead.

Then an all too familiar thought goes through my head that says, “Make them into banana bread.” A thought that typically gets pushed to the side like these poor bananas, until I finally throw them in the garbage realizing there is no hope for them.

But not today! Oh no, I’m going to rejuvenate these babies this time! I owe a thanks to Culinary Cowgirl whose post and pretty banana bread motivated me to try out her recipe and use the bananas this time.

  • Banana Bread (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
    • 1 C flour
    • 1/3 C whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 6 T butter
    • 2/3 C sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 3 overripe bananas
    • Additional extras, if desired
    • In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
    • Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well blended.
    • Fold in mashed bananas.
    • Add flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, stirring until combined. At this point add any additional extras you may have.
    • Scrape batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pan.

Here’s the batter before going into the oven…

And here’s how it came out…

Although the bread was tasty, I immediately got docked for having no nuts in it. (Dang, fail..) What is this thing you call Banana Bread with no nuts?! Apparently Banana Nut Bread is the only Banana Bread. I wish I would have added some because a little crunchy nutty flavor within is never a bad thing. Next fail was me removing the loaf from the pan before it had cooled, which left the bottom of the banana bread in my loaf pan. I’m still not sure if that was the reason it stuck or if it was my lack of “additional extras”, but either way this banana bread was very moist…which was good. And using this recipe is a good way to get some wheat into your family’s diet in a very unoffensive manner in case they aren’t good sports about it.

Review: Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Chip Brownies

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

You may have seen my review of the Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Fudge Brownies. If you have, you’ll know I had another box of brownies to bake…a box of Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Chip Brownies. Even after the last experience, I still had high hopes for this flavor.

Out of the two boxes, this one looked more appealing to begin with. The box says premium golden brownie batter, so I’m not sure how it qualifies as an actual “brownie”, but either way the box picture had a look of soft, chewy gooodness to it. I love a good pan of soft baked chocolate cookies (when someone else makes it), so Duncan Hines no-prep method hit the spot. Brownie or no brownie, here we go…

That is how it looks right out of the box. And here’s how it looks after baking…

Looks a little fluffier than I’d expect a brownie to be, but I’m liking it so far. Cutting into it, I can feel that it is indeed not very dense. When fully cooked, the middle of the brownies stayed moist and chewy which was a pleasant surprise. Sure all the chocolate chips were not apparent from the top side as the box picture suggests, but the inside was full of chocolate chip gooey goodness. That gooey goodness in the center created a bit of a problem when removing from the pan. It seemed to separate, not letting me keep the top and bottom connected. You can sort of see that separation in the center from this picture…

Besides having trouble staying in one piece, Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Chip Brownies are tasty and sweet. If you need a sweet fix and like soft chocolate chip cookies, these will not disappoint. I liked them a lot.

Personally, I don’t like desserts with ice cream on top, but that didn’t stop me from noticing a neat looking recipe on the back of the box for a Chocolate Chip Sundae. Sounds fancy, eh? But its really simple to re-create. Top the brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then top that with hot fudge topping. (err cold Hershey’s Syrup)

My re-creation of the Duncan Hines Chocolate Chip Sundae…

Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Chip Brownies were almost disturbingly sweeter and more chocolatey than their evil counterpart, but they were pretty dang good for something out of a box.

Hot Pockets

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Jim Gaffigan is one of the funniest comedians of this decade. Check out this hilarious clip about Hot Pockets.

New York Strip Steak

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Its April and barbecue season is upon us. So many steaks to grill…so little time!

Of all the things that are grillable, steaks are definitely the favorite in our house, which prompted me to pick out 3 fine looking boneless New York Strip Steaks at the store for dinner.

Now for something to soak our fine friends in. McCormick’s Grill Mates has several really tasty marinades that hence the name, are perfect for the grill. For this round of steaks I chose the Mesquite Marinade, mixed it up in a large Ziploc bag and put the meat in.

Once the steaks were marinaded, out to the grill they went…

Yum! Those charred edges were GOOD! You won’t find any pink in there…we like our steaks well done, always.

Review: Marie Callender’s Old Fashioned Beef & Vegetables Crock-Pot Meal

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

I haven’t had any luck with frozen Crock-Pot meals in the past. This particular bag looked worth a shot though, having the Marie Callender’s name and consisting of ingredients that everyone in my family will eat.

As a bonus, this meal is fairly nutritious with only 150 calories per serving. There are 4.5 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and 50% of your Vitamin A for the day! It’s 550 mg of sodium (23% of daily value) was not so bad either.

The contents of the bag were 1 sauce pouch, 1 potato pouch, and the meat & vegetables.

My initial reaction when I opened the sauce pouch and smelled it was, “Gerber Mixed Vegetables…?” That threw me off a little, but I continued with the package directions placing the potato pouch in the refrigerator, stirring the sauce pouch into hot water and the beef & vegetables into the sauce. Then I turned on the Crock-Pot to low for 8-10 hours. Easy!

In the last 35 minutes of cooking time, I turned the heat to high and stirred in the potato pouch. The potatoes were cut into well-sized chunks. Some larger than others, but all very fresh looking.

The Vegetables – Most of the carrots were in large chunks and some were cut thin. I’m guessing the non uniformity was to make the Beef and Vegetables seem homemade. (but I cut my carrots uniformly for the Crock-Pot, Marie!!) The peas were visible although I couldn’t really taste them. The potatoes were just right.

The Beef – The beef chunks were fairly large. They had a good taste and were equivalent to any beef stew meat I’ve had in a Crock-Pot…sort of fatty, sort of tender, and sort of chewy. My only complaint was the amount of beef chunks in the bag. (I forgot to count) To evenly disperse the chunks to a family of 8 like the package suggests would be difficult.

The Outcome:

The Sauce - The sauce was thick and gravy-like and ended up having a tasty beefy flavor like it should, so I dropped my Gerber thoughts and enjoyed dinner. (with a fork)

It was a hit! A mild hit, but a hit nonetheless. Everyone dished out seconds and no one left the table hungry.

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