Archive for ◊ January, 2010 ◊

24 Jan 2010 Double Decker Pear Banana Bread
 |  Category: Breads, Breakfast & Brunch  | Tags: , ,  | Leave a Comment

The bread is smiling! Did you ever think of mashing overripe pears, mixing them with mashed overripe bananas, and then stirring them into a spiced quick bread batter?  Me neither…until a Spiced Banana Pear Bread recipe popped up on Laura’s Best Recipes, originally posted on  I took the posted recipe…, then thought I could make it better by adding the “double decker” layer from the pumpkin bread I posted last month.  Well…, easier said than done, but I finally did it!  I love the banana-pear taste, still banana, but milder.  The quality of the pears does affect the flavor of the bread.  The best loaf I made was with very overripe Royal Rivera pears, the least flavorful was made with canned pears. Now don’t go expecting a cheesecake experience from the cream cheese layer, it’s pleasant, but it’s main purpose is to keep the bread moist (and it’s fun to look at, too).  This bread needs to be refrigerated overnight (in a perfect world) before slicing, so plan ahead.

Double Decker Pear Banana Bread

For Batter
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup peeled, mashed overripe pears (canned pears can be used…if there are no more fresh pears left on the planet)
3/4 cup peeled, mashed overripe banana
1/4 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla) or sour cream
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
Optional, for decoration
thinly sliced pear slices
brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan (spray with Pam, or spread with butter and flour…I like to add a double layer of parchment paper on the bottom, too).  With an electric mixture beat butter and white sugar together until creamy (about 3 minutes) then stir in brown sugar and beat for another 2 minutes or so. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well blended.  Add vanilla, pears, bananas, yogurt or sour cream and mix well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.  Stir into batter and mix until just combined.  Pour 1/2 of batter into the bottom of pan.  Pour filling layer over,if desired.  Pour rest of batter over the filling layer.  If you have an extra pear, decorate top of loaf with very thin slices and sprinkle with 1 tsp brown sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Let loaf cool on rack.  Wrap cooled loaf tightly in plastic wrap and store overnight in refrigerator before slicing.

For Filling (optional)

4 oz. softened cream cheese
3 T. sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
3 T. minced crystallized ginger or 1 tsp. vanilla
2 T. self-raising flour

Soften cream cheese in MW.  Stir in sugar, sour cream, egg, and  minced crystallized ginger or vanilla. mix well. Stir in flour. Use as directed above.

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24 Jan 2010 Bavarian Coffeecake

I remember getting my first bread machine and the thrill of finally being able to make edible yeast bread.  For awhile there I was making a loaf or two a week. I made all kinds of crazy concoctions, and most of them I liked. The “delay timer” enabled us to wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread and come home to freshly made pizza dough.  I was so enamored of the bread machine that I bought one for my Mom and sister for Christmas one year (they weren’t so enamored-ODD!). My daughter Abby has grown up with homemade bread, pizza crust, foccacia, and coffeecakes.  This  year she asked for a bread machine for Christmas.  My mother gave her one–and no, it wasn’t the one I had given her years ago (although hers is still in mint-dare I say unused?-condition.) One of my favorite bread machine cookbooks, and the source for this recipe, is “Bread Machine Magic” published in 1992. My paperback copy has been used so much it no longer has a cover or spine and has to be held together with a rubber band.  This coffeecake is delicious…sugary, cinnamonny, and creamy…all the best parts of a cinnamon roll without the extra work and the extra pound of butter. (Recipe makes 1 1/2 lbs dough)

Bavarian Coffeecake

3/4 cup of approx 1/2 water and 1/2 milk or buttermilk
1 egg
3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy cream

Place water/milk mixture, egg, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in pan of a bread machine. Press “dough” setting and “start”.  Remove dough from bread machine when machine beeps and place in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.  Pat the dough to fit.  Cover pan with a clean kitchen cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled (usually 45 – 60 minutes).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With two fingers punch deep holes all over dough.  Sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough (and into the indentations).  Drizzle cream over top and into indentations (you may decide to punch a few more holes at this point).  Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly, and serve warm. Eat quickly.  This coffeecake looses most of its magic after a few hours.

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24 Jan 2010 Rustic Rosemary Bread
 |  Category: Breads  | Tags:  | 2 Comments

My webmaster’s sister, Jocelyn, gave me this recipe last summer. The first time I made it, I was not impressed. Hmpffff, Jocelyn’s pictures depicted her bread as lovely and tasty. Hmpffff. So I tried the recipe again. It was wonderful! A no-knead bread, that makes TWO loaves, with VERY little mess. WOWZACOWZA! I added a little sprinkle of salt, cornmeal, and extra rosemary to the crust before baking which, I think, sends it over the top. Remember, no-knead breads don’t rise as much as regular bread but rise a bit more than a foccacia. You’re going to love this…!

Rustic Rosemary Bread

Start 2 1/2 hours ahead to allow for two rises

2 1/2 tsp. dry yeast (or 1 pkt)
2 c. warm water (about 115 degrees)
1 T. sugar
2 tsp salt
4 c. flour
1-2 tsp. fresh rosemary plus more for topping (or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed)
olive oil
corn meal
melted butter
Kosher salt

Dissolve yeast in the warm (about 115 degrees) water and sugar. Add flour, salt, and 1-2 tsp rosemary and stir until blended, do not knead! Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until double in size. Remove dough from bowl, it will be sticky, and shape into two rounds and place on a cookie sheet lightly coated in oil and sprinkled with corn meal (don’t skip the corn meal, it gives the loaves a lot of character). Make your rounds tall-ish rather than round-ish (think “cupcake shape”!). Cover rounds with a towel or greased plastic wrap and let rise another hour. Brush each round with melted butter and lightly sprinkle with more rosemary, a bit of cornmeal, and Kosher salt (Yes, sprinkle the top and sides of the dough with salt-YUM). Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce temp to 375° for 15 minutes more.

Thank you for stopping by today!

(with a special bow to Jocelyn, the bendy chick!)

24 Jan 2010 (Cream of) Celery Soup
 |  Category: Soups, Veggies  | Tags: ,  | One Comment

I love celery. I love the crunch of it, I love the smell of it, I love the taste of it…and I love how it works with other ingredients rather than overpowering them. As a kid I even liked that Cream of Celery Soup in the red and white can. Imagine! My Sunset magazine arrived this morning with a recipe for Celery Soup, and it even had a “Staff Favorite” star. Can you imagine what happened next? Yep, quick drive to the store for a fresh bunch of celery. I was a bit concerned about how good the soup would be, as the only seasonings are salt and pepper, but it works! The soup is great, very mild. I like it even without the caramelized apples and sprinkle of crumbled blue cheese. I do wish I had made some crispy croutons or some crusty bread to have on the side, so I will also post a recipe my friend gave me for Rustic Rosemary Bread. I think I just might serve this as a starter for my next Dinner party. It’s perfect, light, tasty, pretty, and won’t interfere with the main course at all. Until then though, I will enjoy this as a light lunch.

(Cream of) Celery Soup

1 bunch of celery, roughly chopped into chunks about 1″ wide (1 1/2 lbs)
1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 qt. (4 cups) chicken broth or vegetable broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Combine celery, onion and broth/stock in a medium pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until celery is cooked. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small frying pan and add chopped apple. Cook apple, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until apple is caramelized. Let broth-celery mixture cool for a bit, then whirl in a blender until smooth (do this in batches, and if soup is still hot, do it in small batches). Return soup to pan, stir in half-and-half, salt and pepper. Heat gently. Ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle with caramelized apples and blue cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Based on a recipe from Sunset Magazine, Feb. 2010
Nutritional Analysis (from Sunset)

204 calories, 9 g protein, 13 g fat, 14 g. carbo, 2.8 g fiber, 515 mg sodium, 37 mg chol.

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22 Jan 2010 Spicy Glazed Bacon
 |  Category: Breakfast & Brunch  | Tags: ,  | 2 Comments

It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s spicy….we’re talking some serious yumminess here. Take a good quality, thick-sliced bacon, sprinkle it with light brown sugar, cayenne and black pepper, bake until sizzling hot, crispy and sticky…ohmyYYY. My friend Jamie said, “It was like candy in bacon form. I thought I was dreamin’ ….”

Spicy Glazed Bacon

8 slices thick-sliced good quality bacon (I use the Applewood smoked bacon from Costco)
3 T. light brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more, I use a heaping 1/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp black pepper (or more)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay bacon on a rack on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. While bacon is baking, mix brown sugar with cayenne and black pepper. Make sure peppers are evenly distributed in the brown sugar. Remove bacon from oven. Sprinkle each slice with 2 tsp of the brown sugar/peppers mix. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Turn bacon over, sprinkle with any leftover sugar mixture (if desired) and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until crisp. Watch bacon carefully–the bacon can quickly overheat and burn. Cooking times are all approximate…the thickness of your bacon will make a big difference in the cooking times…use your best judgment and keep your eye on it for the last few minutes.

This recipe was adapted from a one published in “The 150 Best American Recipes”

Thank you for being a fan,


22 Jan 2010 Pear Berry Pie
 |  Category: Fruits, Pies & Tarts  | Tags: ,  | 2 Comments

I love pie…, but I am not very good at making the baked-in-the-oven kind. The crust causes me the most trouble. Something always seems to go wrong. I under-cook the bottom crust on a regular basis. When my food processor died a few years back I started using the red box of Pillsbury rolled pie crusts. I have a new food processor now, but I haven’t gone back to making my own crust yet. It’s the filling that makes a pie for me, mmmmmm… warm, sweet, dreamy, fruity pie filling… Is there any better dessert for the cold winter months? Fortunately, I have a lot of recipes for GREAT pies that focus on fabulous fillings. This is one of my favorites. Make it quick while pears are still in season! If you have a great pie crust recipe, use it. If not, unroll some of those Pillsbury pie crusts and master the pie filling, which is the best part of the pie anyway…

Pear Berry Pie

Single pie crust, baked in a 9 inch pie pan and cooled

For Filling
3 lbs. firm but ripe pears (I use a variety-usually 2 each of 3 varieties)
1/2 cup sugar (divided use)
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (have used lemon before, too…just up the sugar by a tablespoonful or so)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups fresh blueberries or raspberries or combination (can use frozen, but fresh results in a less mushy product)
1/3 cup plus 1 T. flour

Peel, core and chop pears into 3/4 inch chunks. Combine pear chunks, orange juice salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large frying pan. Saute until pears are tender, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Transfer pears to a large bowl and let cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the pie crust and the pears are cooling, prepare the streusel. Stir berries, flour, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar into pear mixture. Toss to blend. Pour filing into cooled crust and then sprinkle with streusel topping. Press down slightly. Place pie in preheated 350 degree oven and bake for an hour. If streusel gets too brown, cover lightly with foil. Cool pie on rack until lukewarm. Cut into wedges and serve, which I like to do with a blog of freshly whipped cream. Serves 8.

For Streusel
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar (dark is best)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup cold butter
1/4 tsp salt

Put all ingredients into a food processor and using on/off turns process until coarse crumbs form. Alternately, using a pastry blender (or fingers) work cold butter (grated or cut into small chunks) into flour, salt and brown sugar. Stir in chopped nuts. OR, melt the butter, pour over flour, sugar, salt and chopped nuts. Stir with fork until large crumbs form. (texture is a bit different on finished pie, but I enjoy it)

Original recipe is from

Thanks for stopping by the kitchen today!