Friday, January 16, 2015

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

I love to make eat chocolate covered bananas in the summer.  It's definitely one of my favorite hot weather treats but now that the temperatures are dropping in the cooler end of the thermometer, I had to find other ways to enjoy my chocolate banana snacks.  So of course, I turned my favorite flavor combination in to a cupcake.  (I think I can turn anything into a cupcake.)

I amped up the flavors a little bit by adding some Nutella to the mix too.  I just love the flavors of the rich, dark, hazelnut chocolate frosting with the cool, moist banana cake.  Now I'm going to have to figure out how to get Nutella into my frozen bananas for the summer. 

I can think of no better way to use up perfectly ripe bananas than to bake them into a cupcake. 

Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup mashed over-ripe bananas (from about 2 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds, set aside.


Mash bananas together with lemon juice, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter, 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, granulated sugar and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.

Mix in remaining 1 Tbsp vegetable oil. Blend in egg, then blend in egg white and vanilla.

Mix in banana mixture.

With mixer set on low speed and working in three separate batches, add in 1/3 of the flour mixture alternating with 1/2 of the buttermilk and mixing just until combined after each addition.

Divide mixture among 14 - 15 paper lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 18 - 22 minutes. Allow to cool in muffin tin several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cupcakes are one of Ben's favorites.  


Friday, January 2, 2015

Chicken Shepherds Pie

Everyone seems to have at least one dish that they were served as a child that absolutely traumatized them.  For me, even the very mention of the words "broccoli frittatta" sends chills down my spine.  I won't go into the gory details but you can be sure that the rest of my family shares in my broccoli frittatta related nightmares. 

For my husband Ben, it was a bad "Shepherd's Pie" experience as a child that traumatized him.  I've made it for him several times in the 21 years that we've been married and he just can't seem to get over his past Shepherd's Pie experience and appreciate a new (and delicious) version.

I had almost given up and resigned myself to the fact that we would never be a Shepherd's Pie eating family UNTIL, I saw a recipe for Chicken Shepherd's Pie in my latest edition of Cook's Country.  If anyone can change Ben's attitude about this dish, it's Cook's. Here goes nothing...

Chicken Shepherd's Pie
2 pounds chicken thighs
salt and pepper
6 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, sliced thin
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup sherry
2 cups chicken broth
2 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg, beaten

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Melt 1 T. butter in skillet and add chicken thighs.  Cook until browned on both sides.

Transfer chicken to a platter.

Add onions and carrots to the skillet and cook 5 minutes.

Add garlic and thyme and cook 30 seconds.

Add sherry and cook until pan is almost dry.

Stir in broth.

Return chicken to skillet along with accumulated juices and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken reaches 175 degrees. 

Remove chicken from skillet and allow to cool.  Once cool, shred.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 1 inch of water.

 Bring to a boil and continue to cook 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Drain.

Return potatoes to skillet and add 5 T. butter and salt to taste. Stir with a fork to combine.

Whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water.

Bring broth mixture to a boil and whisk in cornstarch mixture.  Return to boil and cook 1 minute until thickened.

Remove from heat.  Stir in peas, lemon juice and shredded chicken.

Spoon into casserole dish.  (I divided mine between 2 dishes.)

Spoon potatoes over vegetables.

Beat egg and brush over potatoes.

Bake 15 minutes at 375.  Turn on broiler and place under broiler for 5 minutes or until potatoes are browned. 

Sooo...I kind of renamed my Shepherd's Pie - Chicken Pot Pie.  I served it to Ben and guess what? - he liked it!  That just proves that it's all about memories associated with the name - not necessarily the dish. 

Who knows, maybe Cook's will come out with a broccoli frittatta recipe that will change my mind about frittatas completely. (I'm not holding my breath.)