best ever banana bread

bananabread
Hey, I’m not claiming this to be the best banana bread ever. Let’s face it, banana bread is banana bread, plain and simple. Paul McCartney gave this title to the bread and I liked it, as reminded me of something a toddler would say, so I kept it.  This banana bread was super moist, and stayed moist before it was consumed.  I loved that it used some whole grain gluten-free flours instead of the traditional white flour, and my kids loved it even though there were no chocolate chips hidden in it.  

Best ever banana bread:

recipe from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup ground rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Superfine sugar (sometimes called baking sugar) is granulated sugar that has been ground into finer crystals than your regular granulated white sugar. Bakers like it because the smaller crystals cream very easily into butter, this leads to products that have a finer crumb and lighter texture when finished.  You can make your own superfine sugar by by processing regular granulated sugar in the food processor until it is very fine. A minute or so is usually more than enough time to process the sugar, and the newly chopped crystals will work just as well in recipes as store-bought superfine sugar. I was to lazy to make my own so I just purchased it.  

Preheat oven 350°F.  Grease a 9×5 loaf pan; set aside.  
Mash the bananas in a small bowl with a fork.
Cream together (with either a hand held mixer, standing mixer or by hand) the butter and superfine sugar until light and fluffy.   I used my handheld mixer.
Beat in the 2 eggs, one at a time.  

Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the 3 mashed bananas.  

Sift together over a bowl, the 1 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup corn flour, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. 
  Fold the dry ingredients into the mixture until incorporated.  You will be left with a very thick batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Smooth the top with a spatula. 
Bake for 1 – 1 ½  hours or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. 
My bread took only 1 hour to bake, so make sure to keep an eye on it.
Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.
Slice up and top the bread with some butter if desired.
This bread is the perfect afternoon tea or breakfast bread.  I paired a slice with some greek  yogurt topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries for breakfast the other morning.  It was a nice break from my grape nuts routine!

favorite turkey burgers

favorite turkey burgers

favorite turkey burgersSummer has officially started in our house.  We’ve hit the pool, Six Flags, played board game after board game and spent some time chilling out with friends this week.  We’re doing what we do best in the summer, and that is relaxing and taking a break from all the running around we do during the school year. It’s so nice to be able to wake up and go with the flow rather than having your day all planned out for you.   

My friend Andrea sent me her family’s favorite turkey burger recipe a while back after I posted my turkey burgers.  She said it was a family favorite and that I should give it a try.  Well, we tried these last weekend and they were a HUGE success.  These turkey burgers rock and they’re one of the kids’ favorite dishes now (ranked in the top 5).  My kids loved them so much that they asked for them again last night.  I happily obliged, as I loved these burgers as well.  They are packed with so much flavor from the Gruyere cheese, mustard, scallions and garlic.  I also love that the cheese is in the burger!  These burgers are now a family favorite in my house as well as Andrea’s, so I am positive that they will be one in yours.  

favorite turkey burgers

favorite turkey burgers:

recipe adapted from Andrea per Martha Stewart
serves 4
Note:  These burgers taste AMAZING topped with some cilantro-lime mayo

  • 1 pound ground turkey (dark meat) 
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese 
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced 
  • 3 hefty tablespoons dried breadcrumbsI used Ian’s panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
You can make this a make-ahead meal simply by assembling the patties in the morning, and covering and refrigerating them till dinner. 
DSC_0086-2
In a medium bowl, gently combine (with a fork, spatula or gently with your hands) the turkey, scallions, mustard, grated Gruyere cheese, breadcrumbs and minced garlic; season generously with salt and pepper.  
Note:  When you mix your seasonings into the meat, it’s important to remember that the more you handle the meat, and the more you squish it around, the more dense your burger will be. You might also squeeze out some of the juices and end up with a drier burger.Gently form the mixture into four patties. 
Note:  If you find that your patties are not holding together, then add a bit more breadcrumbs till they do.

Tip:  use your thumb to create a dimple or well in the center of the patty, as this will ensure the burgers cook evenly without plumping up.  Start cooking the burgers indentation side up.

You can either grill up the burgers 5 to 7 minutes per side or cook them up in a skillet.  If you’re going to cook them up in a skillet, then heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the patties until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.    

Tip: Don’t press down on the patties or you will squeeze out and loose the flavorful juices. 
Andrea’s favorite bun to use is a toasted english muffin, and it’s now our favorite as well.  The english muffin retains all the warmth of the burger.  I broiled the english muffins with a  bit of butter to keep them moist.  We topped these with my cilantro lime mayonnaise and some spinach the first night, and paired them with some roasted cauliflower and these amazing beet chips from Whole Foods.  Have any of you tried them?  They are so good and so addicting.
Another night we topped the burgers with an heirloom tomato, some cilantro lime mayo (of course) and since I was eating some lacinato kale salad, I threw some of that on top as well.  
The burger was amazing both ways. I mean you could literally top these burgers with just about anything.  John topped his with some homemade guacamole as well as an heirloom tomato.  
It’s funny how I always seem to have a vegetarian recipe on Monday and then either a burger or meat inspired recipe on Friday.  I guess you can really see that we eat both equally.

miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu

miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu (1 of 1)-2

miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu (1 of 1)-2I’m so excited because I have found another kale salad that I love just as much as my lacinato kale salad. Wendy, Debbie & Amanda, you have to try this. This is going to be another weekly go-to salad for me. I love this salad so much that I ate a whole head of kale on Friday as well as made a fresh batch up for dinner on Saturday, and had leftovers for lunch on Sunday. It was a kale filled weekend for me. This salad is great on its own, but top it off with the miso roasted tofu and you have yourself a substantial lunch or dinner. Did I mention that this salad is also kid and hubby approved?

This is also another great make ahead salad. I do prefer to eat it fresh or within the hour of tossing it up, but it tasted amazing as leftovers the next day and even holds out to day 3 (actually my hubby likes it better the next day, go figure). I re-heated the leftover tofu in a pre-heated 250 degree oven for just a bit, and then topped it on the leftover salad. You don’t even have to re-heat the tofu, I just did because I wanted to. It tastes great, all warm on the cool salad.

miso tofumiso roasted tofu:

Recipe from Eating Well, Fast & Flavorful Meatless Meals
makes 14 square cubes
printer friendly recipe

  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons, miso – see picture and note below
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Below is a picture of miso. You can find it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store usually by where the tofu is kept. Miso is a fermented soybean paste that adds flavor to dishes such as soups, sauces and salad dressings. It is high in protein, and rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s available in different colors, white, yellow, red & brown. If you want a milder flavor then go with yellow or white. If you want a stronger flavor then go with a red or brown miso. The lighter the color, the milder the flavor. I chose this yellow chickpea miso because I wanted a milder flavor and this version is soy-free.
DSC_0203Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or brush on some olive oil. Make sure that you coat it well, because if you don’t, then the tofu will stick to the baking sheet. I used my olive oil cooking spray.

Drain the tofu and wrap it in some paper towels and gently press out the excess moisture. Cut the block of tofu into square cubes like the picture below. I cut the block of tofu into 8 slices and then cut those in half to get these squares. It really doesn’t matter how you cut up your tofu, just make sure they are cut into even pieces.

cubed tofuCombine the 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons miso and the 2 cloves minced garlic in a large bowl, and use a spatula to mix it together. It will resemble a thick paste.

miso paste with lemon and garlic_Add the tofu squares to the mixture and gently toss to coat.  It may not look like there is enough mixture to cover all of the tofu, but there is.

Spread the marinated tofu in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

miso roasted tofuBake the tofu on the middle rack, turning one to two times during baking, until browned, about 18-20 minutes, or until the tofu is browned on all sides.

miso roasted tofuYou can really do so much with this tofu. You can throw it on any other salad of choice, eat it on its own or top it on your favorite pasta. The choices are unlimited.  We love it topped on some cold soba noodles with summer vegetables.

cold soba noodles with miso roasted tofu and summer vegetablesWe also love it in a vegetarian banh mi sandwich.

vegetarian banh mi sandwich with sriracha mayonnaise
Oh, I forgot to mention that Eli loved this tofu (not the salad, but we are working on that).  Zoe love’s both the tofu and salad.  She is really turning into my kale gal.
miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu

miso kale salad:

Recipe adapted from Eating Well, Fast & Flavorful Meatless Meals
Note: This is not a make ahead dressing, as it does not sit well on it’s own. I would make it up and then toss it with your kale. Once mixed with the kale, it sits well.
printer friendly recipe

  • 1 bunch (whole head) lacinato/dinosaur kale, curly kale or red kale, large stems removed, thinly sliced – to see a step-by-step demonstration on how to de-stem and slice kale – click here.
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons miso
  • 1 clove garlic, minced - I used 2 medium cloves and it tasted great
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, miso and garlic in a glass measuring cup or small bowl.
Make sure to whisk the ingredients together well. The dressing will be a bit thick and pasty.

miso dressingPut your sliced and de-stemmed kale into a salad bowl.

Pour in the dressing a bit at a time (see my note below) over the kale, and mix well so that all the kale absorbs the dressing.  I actually massaged my kale a bit so the kale really absorbed the dressing.  You don’t have to go crazy massaging this kale salad.  When I say, “massage” your kale, I literally mean, get your hands in there and massage it.  You will notice that the kale reduces in size quite a bit, and what seemed like a mess of kale is now 1/2 of what it was.
Note:  Add the dressing to taste.  Some heads of kale are smaller than others, so just use the amount of dressing for the amount of kale you have.  The first batch I made had less kale so I only used 3/4 the amount of dressing I made.  The second batch I used had a bit more kale, and I ended up using the whole amount of dressing.
Add the 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, and toss to coat.
Top the salad with some roasted tofu, or not.  The kale salad is great on its own as well.
This salad is creamy and bowl licking good.  It’s the perfect meal for any vegetarian or non-vegetarian.  
Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Be sure to store the tofu and kale separately.
Got leftovers?  Just re-heat the tofu in a 250 degree oven until warmed. This salad tastes great day two and even day three.
You can also make a kale caesar salad wrap. Just top a whole-grain tortilla with the leftover kale salad, the warmed tofu and then smash an avocado on top and wrap it up. It’s just a fun and different way to enjoy this salad.
kale caesar salad wrap
Like kale salads?  Then you need to try my  lacinato kale salad.  This salad has turned kale haters into kale lovers.
lacinato kale salad video
kale and ricotta salata salad
kale salad with delicata squash, almonds and aged cheddar

buffalo burgers with chipotle mayonnaise

buffalo burger with chipotle mayonnaise
Tomorrow is my kids’ last day of school!  Yippee!  Summer is officially here!  I have never been more excited for summer than this year.  It is time to kick back, sleep in, read trashy novels, hang by the pool for hours on end and get together with friends that we never seem to connect with during the busy school year.  Tomorrow I’m picking up the kids (swimsuit on) and heading to the pool for some much needed play time, and that much needed glass of wine, or two.  

Summer in our house is all about burgers, salads and grilled foods.  It’s hot, so I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen with the oven or stove on. When it comes to burgers, I prefer sauces rather than ketchup or mustard.  My favorite sauce thus far is my cilantro lime mayonnaise.  I wanted to try a different and spicier sauce for the buffalo burgers, so I found this chipotle mayonnaise recipe from Bobby Flay.  This sauce is spicy, and John and I loved it paired with our burgers.  The kids thought it was a bit too spicy, so next time I may cut back a bit on the chipotle pepper for them.  If you’re making this for adults, then keep the sauce as is.

I’m not going to show you how to cook buffalo burgers.  I just wanted to throw out another meat to consider using the next time you make a burger.  We love using buffalo meat in lieu of ground beef for most dishes, as buffalo has 70 to 90% less fat compared to beef, and 50% less cholesterol. It is also leaner than both pork and chicken, and has less calories than all three.  On top of that, buffalo is higher in protein, iron and all the omega and amino acids.   There are also no growth hormones, steroids or sub-therapeutic antibiotics used.  You can research more on the health benefits of buffalo, if you want.  I think for all of its nutritional benefits, buffalo meat is worth a try, wouldn’t you say?   You can pick up buffalo pretty much at any grocery store or Whole Foods.   We get a pound of buffalo and its plenty for 4 burgers.  Buffalo meat is very filling so you don’t want your burgers to big.  My favorite way to make up these patties is to put 1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese into the patties.  It makes the burgers so juicy!

chipotle mayonnaise:

recipe from Bobby Flay
serves 4-6
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce – You can also use a 1 tablespoon of chipotle paste and omit both the chipotle as well as the 1/2 tablespoon adobo sauce as shown below. 
  • 1/2 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • juice from 1/2 lime (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Note:  If you want to cut the spiciness down, you can use 1/2 chipotle and use 1 1/2 teaspoons of adobo sauce.  Try it like that and then if you want it spicier, add a bit more of each.  
I also make this sauce using a chipotle paste as shown in the below picture. To me, it’s so much easier than opening up a can and dealing with the mess and hassle of mincing up tiny chiles. All you have to do is insert your measuring spoon and voila, you’re done. I also love that I can store the leftovers in the fridge and re-use it again and again. When I use the paste, all I have to do is stir the mayonnaise, chipotle paste and lime juice together in a small bowl, it saves cutting up an adobe chili as well as getting out the mini prep.
DSC_0033
Add the mayonnaise, chipotle and adobo sauce to a food processor and puree.  
Squeeze on some fresh lime juice to taste, and then add some salt and pepper to taste.  I added a pinch of salt, but didn’t use any pepper. 
Time saver tip:  You can make this sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it till needed.

Place the burger on a mini brioche bun (that is what we like to use) and top with chipotle mayonnaise, and any other desired toppings.
I’m looking for some good summer reads to sink my teeth into while I chill out by the pool.  
My genre is science fiction and historical fiction.
Here are some of my favorite past reads so you can get a clue as to what I like.
The Twilight series, (sorry, I read this series years ago and liked it).
Harry Potter, Hunger Games, the True Blood series, 11-22-63, by Steven King, the Game of Thrones series & Gone with the Wind.
As you can see, I like young adult science fiction as well as historical fiction.  I have also read tons of Henry VIII books, so I have finished that genre.
Any recommendations?  

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos One of my challenges is to find some new meatless dinner recipes that the whole family will enjoy, besides your typical pasta.  Don’t get me wrong, I love pasta, but I want to offer other meatless alternatives for the family.  I’ve been trying to cut back on our meat intake to just a couple of days a week, and it’s been easy to find recipes that John and I like, but it’s been a bit harder to find recipes that the kids will enjoy as well.  

I recently picked a new favorite cookbook called, Meat Free Monday, and came across this refried bean taco recipe from Paul McCartney.  It was said to be one of his favorite recipes, so I decided to give it a try.  

So how did these tacos go over with the family?  The kids & hubby rated them a thumbs up!  I rated them a thumbs up as well due to the taste factor, but also because I had dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.  These tacos are the perfect weeknight meal because everything can be made and assembled in less than 20 minutes, and chances are you have most of the ingredients on hand in your pantry. Double thumbs up to Paul! 

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos:

recipe from Meat Free Monday
serves 4-6

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounce can of refried beans or a 17 ounce box - the Fig beans come in a 17oz box and I used the whole box – I also like and most often use Amy’s Organic Refried Beans.
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped – I used Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch or two of sea or kosher salt 
  • 1 package of whole grain corn tortillas or taco shells – Paul used hard taco shells in his recipe, so feel free to use hard taco shells
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 lime
  • *Optional – 1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce – I did not add this because the kid’s do not like things to spicy

Below are most of the ingredients you will need to make the tacos.  
I really love beans from Fig Food Company as they are organic, and come in BPA free packaging.  I have a stocked pantry full of their cannellini, garbanzo, and black beans.   
You can find these beans at most Whole Foods.  
Update:  I’m finding that these beans are becoming hard to find, so I often use Amy’s Organic Refried Beans.
Below are the three ingredients you will need for the actual filling, so easy!
First, chop up your onion, and then de-seed and chop up your tomatoes.
 Not sure how to de-seed and chop an Italian plum tomato?  I will show you how.  
Cut your tomato in half lengthwise. 
Then quarter it.
Take a small knife and scoop out the seedpod.
 Lay the tomato skin side down and cut into thin strips lengthwise. 
It’s much easier to cut tomatoes on the inside than the outside.
Cut the strips crosswise into small pieces.
Heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  
Add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft but not colored. 
Stir in the refried beans.  Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until heated through.  Season to taste with some salt.  
If you like your tacos spicy, add the 1 to 2 teaspoons of chill sauce to the refried bean mixture.
John wanted a bit more spice so he diced up a jalapeno pepper and topped his taco with it instead of making the mixture spicy for the whole family. 
Below is a picture of the refried bean mixture.  
I know it’s not the prettiest picture, but I wanted to show you what it looks like.
Its time to heat up your tortillas.
You can heat up the tortillas 2 ways.  
Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20
seconds per side.
Don’t feel like turning on the grill?  Then turn on your stove.  Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side.
You don’t have to heat up the soft tortillas, but they taste so much better when you do.
Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!
Top each tortilla with the bean mixture and then add your favorite fixings.
Make sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice on each taco.
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
Here’s what we topped our tacos with.
I topped mine with Monterey jack, sliced avocado and cilantro. 
The kids topped theirs with Monterey jack, sour cream and cilantro.
John topped his with Monterey jack, some diced jalapeno, sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro.
We paired the tacos with some roasted asparagus (surprise, surprise).
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
These were so good that I had some leftovers for lunch the next day. I paired the tacos with some strawberries and blueberries fresh from the farmers market, so good!
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
Do you try and have a meatless day during the week?  If so, what are some of your favorite recipes?

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 4-6

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounce can of refried beans or a 17 ounce box
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped - I used Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch or two of sea or kosher salt
  • 1 package of whole grain corn tortillas or taco shells - Paul used hard taco shells in his recipe, so feel free to use hard taco shells
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 lime
  • *Optional - 1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce - I did not add this because the kid's do not like things to spicy

Instructions

First, chop up your onion, and then de-seed and chop up your tomatoes.

Not sure how to de-seed and chop an Italian plum tomato? I show you pictures in the post, but also explain how to below.

Cut your tomato in half lengthwise.

Then quarter it.

Take a small knife and scoop out the seedpod.

Lay the tomato skin side down and cut into thin strips lengthwise.

It's much easier to cut tomatoes on the inside than the outside.

Cut the strips crosswise into small pieces.

Heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft but not colored.

Stir in the refried beans. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until heated through. Season to taste with some salt.

If you like your tacos spicy, add the 1 to 2 teaspoons of chill sauce to the refried bean mixture.

Its time to heat up your tortillas.

You can heat up the tortillas 2 ways.

Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20

seconds per side.

Don't feel like turning on the grill? Then turn on your stove. Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side.

You don't have to heat up the soft tortillas, but they taste so much better when you do.

Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!

Top each tortilla with the bean mixture and then add your favorite fixings.

Make sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice on each taco.

Here's what we topped our tacos with.

I topped mine with Monterey jack, sliced avocado and cilantro.

The kids topped theirs with Monterey jack, sour cream and cilantro.

John topped his with Monterey jack, some diced jalapeno, sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/06/paul-mccartneys-refried-bean-tacos/