Tag Archives: giada de laurentiis

Banana Muffins and the Win-Win Fruit

6 Jul

OK, it has been several months. But I’m happy to report that I’m still alive and cooking…well, trying to, anyway, in this awful heat. 100-degree weather does not make me want to turn on the stove or oven. That’s how you know that the recipe I’m sharing with you today is good. It was worth the heat!

Today I baked my new favorite muffins. Starring what I consider the “win-win fruit”: bananas. You see, I am very picky about eating bananas. If they’ve got a slightly green peel and are served cold, YUM! Love them! But as soon as they turn yellow (or worse, yellow with brown spots), forget it. Something about bananas (perhaps the texture) beyond the slightly green stage makes me go, “bleh.”But would I let the fruit go to waste just because it passed the small window of time when I’ll eat them for a snack? Heck no! Then it’s time for banana bread, or better yet, banana muffins! You can’t go wrong 🙂

Image

And as a side note: I really think my husband decided to buy 6 bananas at the store this week instead of the usual 3 (which I can usually eat before they turn yellow) precisely because he knew it would motivate me to bake the rest. Yup, I’m onto him 😉

Image

These muffins are my favorite because they have all the lovely flavors you’d expect in banana bread with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, but in every bite you get a bigger proportion of the slightly crispy, sweet top (which comes from the cinnamon-sugar coating I add just before baking). Everyone knows the top is the best part of any muffin or quick bread 🙂 These muffins are also super moist and really easy to make. As long as you have bananas, you likely have everything you need on hand for spur-of-the-moment baking. Those are the most dangerous recipes, aren’t they? 🙂 Enjoy!

Image

Banana Muffins

(adapted from recipe by Giada De Laurentiis)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed
  • Extra cinnamon & sugar for topping, if desired

Preparation:

  • Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
  • Fill the cupcake liners with batter until each is almost full to the brim.
  • If desired, mix a little cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and sprinkle each muffin with about a teaspoon of the topping.
  • Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

Makes about 24 cupcake-sized muffins.

Advertisements

Lemon Ricotta Cookies w/ Lemon Glaze (no, they don’t taste like ricotta…or cookies!)

23 Jul

I felt like I needed to qualify the title of my post because admittedly, “Lemon Ricotta Cookies” don’t sound too appetizing, at least not to me. Or my husband. You should have seen his face when I told him I was making these cookies! He doesn’t like ricotta even where it belongs  (e.g. ravioli or lasagna), so I think he was scared to see it used in a cookie of all things. I assured him that these cookies had rave reviews on Foodnetwork.com, and that they wouldn’t taste like ricotta. Still, he seemed skeptical. Yet his fears quickly dissipated when the sweet, citrusy smell of these cookies wafted through our house 🙂


So, why use ricotta in cookies if they aren’t going to taste like ricotta? Because the ricotta gives these cookies an unbelievably moist, soft texture. In fact, I hesitate to even call them cookies, because they seem more like little cakes…that’s how soft they are!

And they taste wonderful, to boot. Giada de Laurentiis has a knack for creating uniquely flavored cookies that even I can appreciate, as someone who isn’t nearly as excited by cookies as I am by cupcakes, shortcakes, cheesecakes, and pies. This is the second cookie-like recipe I’ve made of hers (the first being Strawberry & Rosemary Scones w/ Lemon Glaze), and they’ve both been winners, in my book. Giada is on a roll!


Yes, these lemon ricotta cookies were on point. The glaze gives them both sweetness and a nice punch of lemon, and the soft texture really steals the show. Plus, they were a breeze to make! With only 15 minutes of baking time, it’s almost immediate gratification 🙂


Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze
(recipe by Giada de Laurentiis)

Ingredients:

For the Cookies-

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the Glaze-

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between each cookie.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
  • As the cookies are cooling, make the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
  • Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon  of glaze onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours (or less– if you’re going for that whole immediate gratification thing!)

Makes 44 cookies.

Almond and Lemon Biscotti with White Chocolate Drizzle

20 Feb

Yesterday evening I went to a little gathering at my friend’s house. She makes delightful homemade chai tea, so I thought I’d bring along a treat to accompany it.

At first, my first experience in making biscotti was something of a misadventure. The original recipe by Giada calls for white chocolate chips melted over a double-boiler. I tried her strategy but failed miserably, I think because despite my best efforts, the hot water touched the bottom of the bowl above it. The result was a disastrous big lump of white chocolate. That was the last of my white chocolate chips, so I was desperate to save it. The biscotti is somewhat savory and needs the white chocolate for sweetness. So I foolishly added heavy cream to the white chococlate lump. Suffice it to say, that did not work…AT ALL.

At that point, it was almost time for me to get ready to leave, and I could not arrive with naked biscotti. Suddenly, I remembered making white chocolate cake a while back with some Baker’s white chocolate bars. Could it be that I had some left?? I frantically searched through my cupboard, and alas, there it was! And just enough for my biscotti. A sense of relief washed over me.

Of course, I had learned my lesson and did not try to get fancy with the double-boiler again. Instead, I melted the chocolate in the microwave and got a much better result.

The biscotti turned out quite nice. The cornmeal makes them taste authentic and rustic (but you may not like the addition of cornmeal if you’re opposed to a somewhat gritty texture). They are also quite firm, even though I reduced the cooking time and temperature from the original recipe. But, biscotti are supposed to be firm– they soften up when you dip them in your coffee or tea. That is their purpose, after all.

Delicious morning treat

Almond and Lemon Biscotti with White Chocolate Drizzle (adapted from recipe by Giada De Laurentiis)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from about 3 to 4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds
  • 5 ounces white chocolate

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
  • In another large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixture until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest and then the flour, and beat until just blended. (The dough will be sticky). Stir in the almonds. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Divide the dough evenly into 2 equal mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. With moist hands, space the dough evenly apart and form into 2 (9 by-3-inch) logs. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn off the the oven, but leave the biscotti in for approximately 10 minutes longer. The biscotti should be pale golden. Let cool completely.
  • Place the white chocolate bars in a microwave-safe medium bowl. Microwave as box or bag directs (usually microwave for 30 seconds on high, stir, then microwave 50 seconds more, and finally stir until melted and smooth).
  • With a spoon, drizzle white chocolate over biscotti. Let sit until white chocolate has hardened. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 20 biscotti.