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homemade banana bread: a delicious cure for the cold outside

oh so good with a cup of coffee
oh so good with a cup of coffee

Its been, well, arctic of late, to say the least. And who really wants to go outside. But alas, there is still work and school to attend. So to ease the pain brought on by those freezing temperatures, its time for a crowd favorite here in my home: banana bread.

I keep a stash of overripe bananas in a ziploc in my freezer for just these kinds of occasions. I let them defrost for a bit in a bowl, as there always seems to be a lot of extra “juice” once the bananas have melted. But they are the perfect consistency for the quick bread.

One important note, be sure your butter is room-temperature. I’ve tried to cheat here and there, (melting the butter. etc) and the bread always turns out the best with the softened butter.

And it really does taste amazing fresh out of the pan, still piping hot with cup of fresh coffee, especially when its arctic outside!

 quick bread in the roundBanana Bread
(recipe modified from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)
8 tbsp, softened butter (1 stick)
2 cups AP flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3-4 very ripe bananas-mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with butter.
• Mix together in a large bowl the dry ingredients: Flour, salt, baking powder,  and sugar.
• With a mixer, cream the butter. Then add in the eggs and the mashed bananas.
• Add the butter-egg-banana mixture to the dry ingredients and combine. Now add in the vanilla and the spices. Mix until combined.
• Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for almost 45-60 minutes. (my oven is less than reliable so I start checking the bread at around 45 minutes with a skewer to see if the center is done. Your testing instrument of choice (knife, toothpick etc) should come out clean.

• Cool for about 15-20 minutes before trying to get the bread out of the pan. Its a mess if you don’t!

Now go cut yourself a slice and pour yourself a nice cup of coffee to enjoy with it!

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zucchini bread, part 1

Lots summer zucchini,  but what to do with it all? Afterall, there is only so much quiche and frittatta a girl can eat! (Or that my children and husband will eat….)

And so I turn to my trusty friend, the bread maker. Its probably the best kitchen item I was ever given, that bread maker. Its seen a lot of flour and made a lot of amazing bread. And this recipe is one of my favorites.

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Its pretty simple as bread recipes go. Simply adding in flour, water, sugar, butter and the grated zucchini, a little ground clove and a little cinnamon.

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Close the lid, add in the yeast to the dispenser at the top of the machine and press start.

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It takes about 4 hours from start to finish for the bread dough to mix, rise and bake. Even on a hot summer day, its totally worth it. Everything tastes better on a piece of freshly baked bread.

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a csa bounty of zucchini, squash & onions…oh my!

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Our CSA, Mountain View Farms in Western Massachusetts is amazing. Last Thursday, I came home to find my counter full of zucchini, squash, onions not to mention beets, swiss chard, kale and cucumbers. Just the sight of all that luscious greenery made me happy. Getting to cook with it all, made me even happier.

Fresh sliced onions  sliced onions

After seeing how beautiful the onions were, I suddenly had a craving for onion tart.
So that’s where I started. I simply sautéed sliced onions in a pan with a little olive oil, plus a pinch of herbes de provence and little salt and pepper. Once the onions had cooked down a bit, I added in splash of white wine,  put the lid on the pan and let them simmer.

Meanwhile in a separate pan, because by now I had decided to make a quiche with all the zucchini, I browned a bit of canadian bacon to add into both dishes.

simple onion tartOnce both the onions were almost caramelized and the bacon just browned, I tossed them both together and added the mixture to my (not homemade) pie shell.

After about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, the tart was done. Salty, sweet and fragrant.

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I worked up the zucchini quiche at the same time,because you can never have too many things cooking at once on a hot summer afternoon.

I sautéed the zucchini , a little more of the onion and the rest of the canadian bacon. Once the vegetables where cooked through (but not soggy) and had cooled just a bit, I added them to the beaten egg and grated cheese mixture. Gave it a good stir to coat the vegetables, and poured everything into the pie shell.

It took 45 minutes at 350 for the quiche, but the result was worth it.