Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Banana Bread

The local store where I live sells over ripe bananas for .10 cents a pound.
Who can resist that?  I bought 5 bananas for .45 cents.
I have found that the blacker the outside the better it is. The bananas that are just complete mush inside give the strongest banana flavor to the bread.  If your banana bread does not taste very strong in banana flavor you are probably using bananas that are not over ripe enough.  I like to use the basic recipe in my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.  Usually about 5 bananas will give me 2 C. mashed Bananas.  Just peel them and use a mixer on them on high speed.
To your 2 C. bananas add:
3 1/2 C. Flour
1 1/3 C. Sugar
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2/3 C. Shortening
(you can use Butter or Margarine instead of Shortening)
1/4 C. Milk
4 Eggs
1 C. Chopped Walnuts if desired
(I love walnuts in my banana bread but since I didn't have any today these loaves are plain...which makes my family happy!)
Mix all your ingredients together with a mixer.
If using nuts leave them out until the batter is mixed
and then fold them in at the end.
Pour into 2 loaf pans.  I like to grease my pans just on the bottom and half way up the sides.  When making a quick bread like Banana Bread I do not use a spray in my pan. I actually rub shortening in the pans. 
 I find it works better for me.
Bake at 350* for 60 - 70 minutes.
Bread is done when a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Set your timer.  This works for me every time.  If you let it cool for only 10 minutes and then run a knife around the edge and turn it out it will come out perfect every time.
Once the bread is cool you can slice it.  I will admit that I could not wait.  I sliced (and ate) it warm and it was so moist and delicious!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Caramel Pecan Ring

Lately the mornings have been cool.  I love warm baked goods on a cool morning.  This one is something I like to make because I usually put it together the night before, set it in the oven with no heat turned on and just let it sit there all night and rise.  When I wake up I turn the oven on and let it cook and I have a super yummy warm breakfast with no morning time fuss.  This recipe comes from my trusty
 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.
I use an bundt pan and just lightly spray it
with a no stick cooking spray.
In a heavy sauce pan I combine:
2/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Margarine or Butter
2 T. Corn Syrup
I cook this until the sugar is dissolved and all the ingredients are well combined.  No need to boil this mixture just get it hot and melted together and then pour it into the bottom of the Bundt pan. 
Next I sprinkle about 1 C. Chopped Pecans around
 over the top of the caramel sauce.
I set the pan aside and let the sauce cool while I
mix together the sweet dough. 
Heat 1C. Milk in the microwave for 2 minutes on high.
Add 1/3 C. Margarine or Butter to the Milk and let it melt in the hot milk. This will also help to cool the milk down
 so you don't burn your yeast.
In a large mixing bowl combine 2 Eggs, 1 T. Yeast and 1/3 C. Sugar.  Whisk together.
Add 4 C. Flour and 1/2 tsp. Salt.
Pour milk and butter mixture over flour and stir together with a fork.
Add enough flour to make a workable dough.....
not sticky and easy to roll.
On a floured surface roll out your sweet dough into a rectangle.  You can get this rectangle out to about 14 inches by 8 inches.  Spread butter all over the top of your rectangle.  Spread Brown Sugar over the Butter and sprinkle Cinnamon on top of the Brown Sugar.
Roll your dough from the long end making a long Cinnamon Roll.  Pick up the whole roll and wrap around the bundt pan making ends meet or slightly overlap in the pan. Place pan in the oven but do not turn the heat on....Go to bed!
(If you are making this the same day
then just let it rise until double before baking)
When you get up in the morning turn the oven on
to 375* and bake for 25-30 minutes.
It is easy to under cook this - be sure the center is done and not doughy...The ring will sound hollow when you thump on the top.
Once done baking immediately run a knife around the edges
 and turn upside down onto a serving plate.   

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crab Alfredo

 Tonight for dinner I made a request from my oldest daughter.  Tomorrow is her birthday and in this house when it is your birthday you get to pick what you eat for dinner. Since the closest Red Lobster to out home is over 2 hours away going there was a little out of the question...but copying their Crab Alfredo was not out of the question.  I looked up several copy cat recipes on the Internet and took a little from one and a little from another and put my own spin on things.  You can find copy cat recipes here. I will say that I am in love with the Alfredo sauce I made and will use this base again for chicken or shrimp or other meats....however it is NOT low fat so be prepared for a few calories.  Since this was a birthday celebration we didn't even think about that tonight!
Crab Alfredo
1/2 C. Unsalted Butter
1 T. Minced Garlic
4 oz. Cream Cheese
1 pint Half and Half
5 oz. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb - 1 1/2 lbs Crab Meat
salt and pepper 
1 lb Pasta
The first thing I did was start my pasta boiling.  I used Linguine tonight per my daughter's request, but you can use Fettuccine
or even a Penne would be good.
In a large skillet melt your butter with your minced garlic
then add the cream cheese.
Once the cheese is melted it will look like it has separated...maybe slightly curdled looking.  Don't worry as this will become very smooth after you stir in the half and half then add the Parmesan cheese.  Don't use the shake cheese you put on pasta - but buy a good hard Parmesan already grated or grate it yourself.  Once that cheese is melted add your chopped crab.  I did use imitation and it tasted fine - but if you can afford it use real crab.
Once the pasta is done cooking toss it with your sauce.
I served this tonight with a green salad and some garlic toast.
Now since this was my daughter's birthday dinner she requested a trip to Dairy Queen instead of cake and since we were not counting calories at all tonight we filled up on ice cream after this not so low fat meal!  I had a  French Silk Pie Blizzard while Helen had a Chocolate Extreme Blizzard. Erick and Brenna had chocolate dipped cones
and Shelby had a cherry dipped cone.
We had a good night and the cost was much less than if we were to go out to Red Lobster....2 hours away.  And since this blog is about affordable meals I will break down the cost for you.  I fed a family of 5 with generous leftovers.  Because I used imitation crab instead of real crab I cut down on the cost quite a bit.  Here is the break down. 
Salad = 3.58
Garlic Toast = 1.88
Crab Alfredo = 10.73
Dairy Queen = 12.25
Total for the night = 28.44
That's a whole night of delicious food, family fun and leftovers for under $30.00!