Banana Black Bottom Muffins

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Have you ever had a black bottom muffin/cupcake? It’s basically a chocolate cake base with a cream cheese cheesecake-like topping and it is definitely a decadent treat. These have some redeeming nutritional value since they have three bananas and we used low-fat cream cheese, but do not be fooled- even though these are acceptable for breakfast (probably), they’re not health food. Our suggestion is to not use extremely overripe bananas, which impart a lot of flavor, since a milder banana flavor is best here.

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We’ve been trying to do a little bit more healthier cooking and baking, which is certainly a challenge when the weather is crazy! We did pretty well this weekend and ate mostly vegetarian- we made kale and potato cakes on top of a salad with pickled apples as well as eggplant Parmesan burgers that were very good (although we did make these grilled cheeses, which were pretty decadent, but we did use low fat cream cheese). Regardless, I cannot remember a colder winter where we live-in the past couple weeks the temperatures in the morning have been occasionally been -1 and 0, and we’ve received many inches of snow. Obviously this is nothing compared with the weather in the Midwest, but it’s still really cold, and cold weather practically forces us into baking something. Today the temperatures are supposed to be in the single digits as well. I like cold weather, but I am ready for spring! The one benefit is the artistic arrangement of icicles that have formed on our house and on bushes. Too bad our little brother knocked off most of them yesterday.

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Banana Black Bottom Muffins/Cupcakes

Makes 18

Recipe from Bakerella

Ingredients

Cream cheese topping:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 small banana, pureed completely
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate base:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bananas, pureed
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and lump-free. Beat in banana, egg, and vanilla until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in bananas, oil, and vanilla.

Line 18 cups in muffin pans with liners. Divide chocolate batter between the pans, and then top with the cream cheese mixture. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until cooked through. These are best served at room temperature, but you should refrigerate leftovers. Enjoy!

Our Favorite Pizza Crust

pizzacrust

As you can tell from our blog, our pizza stone gets quite a workout. We use it at least every week or so because everyone loves pizza and it’s easy. We like to make fun topping combinations frequently, but no matter how great the toppings are, you need a great crust to start with.

We have tried countless crust recipes, and most have been not quite what we are looking for. None have been bad exactly, but they usually don’t strike the right balance between crispy exterior and soft (but slightly chewy) interior. However, we finally found the recipe that is the one. It doesn’t have any annoying steps, and the texture is pretty much perfect. It has a small amount of vinegar in it, and I discovered through some research that it just helps with the crust’s structure. Don’t worry, you can’t taste the vinegar. However, this crust does have a slightly more complex flavor than other ones that we have tried- I don’t know if that has anything to do with the vinegar or not, but it is delicious!

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Pizza Crust

Recipe from Cooking Classy

Makes enough dough for about 2 medium-sized pizzas

Ingredients

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups warm water, 110 degrees, divided

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon white vinegar

3 3/4 – 4 cups unbleached flour or bread flour (556 grams)

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast, 2 tsp sugar and 1/2 cup warm water until yeast has dissolved. Let rest 5 minutes. Add in remaining 1 cup warm water, olive oil, salt and vinegar.

Fit mixer with paddle attachment and set to low speed and slowly add in 1/2 of the flour and mix until combined. Switch to a dough hook and slowly add in remaining flour.  Knead dough on medium-low speed about 7 – 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. It may be a bit sticky (add more flour if needed). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Use as desired. Enjoy!

Tip: Heat your oven with the pizza stone in it to its highest temperature (ours goes up to 550, but sometimes we heat it to a bit lower) for 45 minutes before baking the pizzas. Your crust will be much crispier on the bottom!

Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake

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One of our aunts makes an olive oil cake that is truly excellent. She’s made a rosemary lemon cake and a fennel cake with a berry compote on top. Each time she’s made it, Leah and I have told ourselves to find a good recipe and make one on our own! Because an olive oil cake is healthy since there’s no butter…right? We will pretend that’s true for today.

We baked our cakes in 3 mini loaf pans, since we are weird, but the recipe is intended for one standard loaf pan. We brought this on a picnic a couple months ago and everyone in our family loved it. Grapefruit may seem like an unorthodox citrus choice for a cake, but have faith. It might be wise to double the recipe if you’re serving more than 8 people since this cake is good! There’s a slight earthiness from the olive oil, but the grapefruit flavor is bright and wonderful. This particular cake is very moist, particularly thanks to grapefruit syrup that is brushed over the cake after baking. It’s the perfect cake for serving when you are trying to escape the January good-produce-free vortex, since citrus season is here!

Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake

Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Serves 8

Ingredients

For the cake batter:

1 1/2 cups (90 g) all purpose flour

2 tablespoons grapefruit zest (you’ll need somewhere between 1 and 2 grapefruits; we needed closer to 2)

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (95 g) turbinado or raw sugar

1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil (use the best-tasting kind for the best results)

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (30 ml) grapefruit juice

1/3 cup (80 ml) buttermilk or plain yogurt (not Greek yogurt, unless you thin it out)

For the syrup:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup (80 ml) grapefruit juice

For the glaze:

1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar

2 tablespoons (30 ml) grapefruit juice

Pinch of salt

Directions

Heat oven to 350. Butter and flour a standard loaf pan (or if you are a weirdo like we are, 3 little loaf pans).

Rub together the grapefruit zest into the sugars by hand in a large bowl for a couple minutes to release the oils in the zest. Whisk in the oil and then whisk in each egg, one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a smaller bowl. Combine the 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice with the buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk mixtures to the large bowl. Start and end with the dry ingredients.

Put the batter in the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top. Ensure there are no air bubbles. Bake the cake for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until the cake is golden brown and a tester in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the syrup (do this while the cake is baking, towards the end), combine the sugar and grapefruit juice in a small pan and cook until the sugar dissolves.

Poke holes in the still-warm cake and brush it well with the grapefruit syrup. Let it cool completely.

Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, grapefruit juice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk until no lumps remain. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake and let set until you are ready to serve. Slice and enjoy!

Pepper Jack & Cheddar Bean Dip

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Whenever our mom made chili when we were younger, we would always pick around the kidney beans that she put in it. We did not enjoy refried beans on our tacos, and we certainly did not eat black beans. Over time, we have realized that beans are not nearly as unappetizing as they seem to be. While neither of us loves beans in our chili, we do like beans in other applications- black bean burgers and burritos are two of our favorites (I guess our black bean hatred has left us!).

When we were hunting through our pantry recently to get some cooking inspiration, we found a can of refried beans. We remembered that we had seen a recipe for this dip a while back and since we had all the ingredients on hand, we decided to make it. Let’s face it, it isn’t pretty at all. Don’t be fooled by its outward appearance; this is one of the most addictive dips out there. It has a bit of creaminess thanks to the cheese and the sour cream and has plenty of spice. It was delicious served with the Trader Joe’s equivalent to Fritos Scoops. This may not be the healthiest way to eat beans, but it’s at least a little bit healthier than the pimiento cheese dip.

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Pepper Jack and Cheddar Bean Dip

Serves 6-8

Recipes from Annie’s Eats, originally from Life’s Ambrosia

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

1 (14.5 oz) can refried beans

2 tbsp. sour cream

¼ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. kosher salt

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, in ½-inch cubes

1/3 cup pepper jack cheese, in ½-inch cubes

Directions:

Heat the oil in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and jalapeno, and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes (stir occasionally).  Stir in the refried beans and cook until heated through.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until the cheese is melted.  Transfer to a bowl and serve hot with corn chips. Enoy!

Chocolate Chip Waffles topped with Almond Butter, Honey, and Sliced Bananas

waffles

Our littlest brother loves waffles, especially chocolate chip. Our mom usually makes waffles once a week, so Leah and I rarely bother. But we generally find it a challenge to pass up trying a “specialty” waffle recipe, so of course we had to try this one. It’s a fun twist on the peanut butter- banana- honey combination.

This is a good way to eat waffles since the chocolate chips are sort of balanced out by banana slices and almond butter, which make these a very acceptable and nutritious breakfast. Despite their healthy toppings, they taste like a dessert waffle and are a fun way to start the day. These waffles would be a great breakfast to eat before midterms (or any sort of test), which we have this week. Midterms are not fun at all, but on the bright side, we have a five-day weekend following them!

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Chocolate Chip Waffles topped with Almond Butter, Honey, and Sliced Bananas

Recipe from Joy the Baker

Serves 3

Ingredients

For the waffles:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled completely

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate

For topping:

Almond butter

Sliced bananas

Honey

Directions

Turn on your waffle iron to allow it to preheat.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and  sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined, and then stir in the chocolate pieces. The batter may remain a bit lumpy, which is fine

Cook the waffles in the waffle maker according to its directions. Serve waffles warm topped with almond butter, bananas, and a drizzle of honey. Enjoy!

White Pizza with Sage, Prosciutto, and Garlic Oil

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After making these sliders the other day, we made a pizza with the leftover prosciutto, sage, and provolone. Yes, I know we have a lot of pizza on our blog, but pizza is probably the most easy recipe to adapt and invent new combinations, and of course it is delicious!

We started this pizza with our favorite crust as of right now (it deserves a blog post soon!). It has great flavor, it’s easy to make and easy to work with, and it has a good texture. We topped the crust with garlic-infused olive oil, mozzarella and provolone cheeses, finely chopped sage, and provolone. The prosciutto and sage get crispy in the oven and perfectly complement the melty cheese and garlicky oil. Honestly, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better specialty pizza at your local pizza parlor.

One final note: we don’t generally love prosciutto except in small doses, so we kept it pretty light on our pizza. That said, it you love prosciutto, feel free to increase the amount!

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White Pizza with Sage, Prosciutto, and Garlic Oil

Makes 1 pizza

Created by us

Ingredients

1 ball of your choice of pizza dough

1/3 cup olive oil

4 cloves of garlic

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (adjust to your desired level of spice)

2 slices of prosciutto, chopped (we used a little over one slice on ours)

2 sage leaves, chopped finely

2 slices of provolone cheese, quartered

4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 with a stone placed on the center rack. In a small skillet, combine garlic, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. Cook until garlic begins to sizzle and is fragrant. Don’t let it brown. Set aside.

On a piece of parchment on top of a cutting board, press out dough. Brush well with garlic oil and top with cheeses. Top with sage and prosciutto.

Use cutting board to guide parchment and pizza onto baking stone. Bake until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two before slicing. Enjoy!

Cranberry and Turkey Sliders topped with Sage and Prosciutto

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We are sadly back in school this week after a beautiful two full weeks off. Our school has several buildings and so we have to walk outside when switching classes, which should be awfully fun Tuesday morning when the temperature is to be 1° and the real feel is to be -20°. I know it’s nowhere near as bad as in Minnesota or Iowa, but it still shouldn’t be fun! I like the cold weather, but preferably not when I’m wearing tights! This is the time of year for comfort food, for sure, and these sliders fit the bill.

We made these sliders when relatives came over on Saturday, with a few adaptations from the original. Instead of the amazing-sounding cranberry bacon chutney, we made this cranberry butter since we were in a time pinch (we had yearbook that afternoon and had very little time for prep in the morning) and it was great. Our mom was roasting a turkey, so we used that instead of deli turkey. It was delicious that way, but if you don’t have leftover turkey, we would recommend using deli meat- there’s no sense in roasting a whole turkey just for sandwiches!

Cranberry and Turkey Sliders topped with Sage and Prosciutto

Recipe adapted slightly from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Makes 24 sliders (serves 6-8)

Ingredients

24 dinner rolls

24 slices of turkey (again, we used it from a whole roasted turkey)

6 slices of provolone, quartered

Cranberry & Bacon Chutney or Cranberry Butter or any cranberry sauce you want

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 slices of prosciutto, chopped

4 large sage leaves, thinly sliced

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 and line a rimmed baking pan with foil.Brown the butter in a skillet and stir in prosciutto and sage.

Make sandwiches, starting with a slice of turkey, cheese and then a dollop of cranberry butter. Place sandwiches in the pan so that they are close together. Brush with butter and sprinkle over the prosciutto and sage that is leftover in the skillet.

Bake for 15 minutes until the sandwiches are hot through the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!

 

Oatmeal Snack Cake

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Despite our lack of posting over the past couple of weeks, we have done a good amount of baking over Christmas. We’ve been making some repeat recipes (such as chocolate chip cookies and brownies) but a few new recipes as well, including pecan crescent cookies and this oatmeal snack cake.

This cake is pretty wonderful. It is ultra moist and soft and has the perfect hint of spice in it. The topping is even better. It is similar to the frosting on German chocolate cake: a brown sugar frosting with coconut and pecans. Once it is placed on the cake, the whole thing is put under the broiler for a few minutes until the topping is browned. It’s truly heavenly, with the toasted coconut and pecans and the brown sugar melting into the cake. It makes the ideal cake for making on a snowy day, which is just how we made it! We didn’t have school anyway, but it’s nice to have all this snow that hit the Northeast as an excuse to stay inside and do some baking (and homework…).

Oatmeal Snack Cake

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes 1 8×8 in. cake

Ingredients

For the cake:

1 cup quick-cooking oats (you can use old-fashioned, but make sure you let the mixture soak for a longer amount of time)
¾ cup water
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ cup pecans, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 in. metal pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Stir together oats and water in a small bowl. Let soak for 5 minutes. In the meantime, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add flour mixture in two separate additions, being careful not to overmix. Stir in the oats. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Preheat broiler and adjust oven rack to 9 inches from the top of the oven. While cake cools briefly, stir together all the ingredients for the topping and spread over the cake. Put under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until topping is starting to brown. Remove from heat and cool before serving. Cut into slices and enjoy!