Tag Archives: heat

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 🙂

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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 😉

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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!

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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.

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Sweet Potato, Corn, & Black Bean Soup

19 Jul

I know what you’re thinking: Why is she posting a soup recipe when the heat index is above 100 degrees?! Well because this is no ordinary soup. Yes, it will entail you hovering near the stove for a half hour or so, but once you taste the result, you’ll see that this soup is actually very light, refreshing, and perfect for a hot summer day!


Yesterday was certainly one of those hot summer days. It felt like a sauna outside! My air conditioned house was a welcome reprieve after a long walk around a park with my friend (what were we thinking?!). Despite my exhaustion, I soldiered on and figured I could easily throw together this soup for dinner.

As I sauteed the corn, black beans, red peppers, and diced green chilis for the soup, my husband squirmed with delight. “My favorite ingredients in the world!” he exclaimed. I suppose this should come as no surprise, as I’ve previously posted about his obsession with black beans. But it’s nice to get some cheerleading in the kitchen every  now and then 🙂

Indeed, this  Sweet Potato, Corn, and Black Bean soup by Leftovers 4 Lunch is worth all the fanfare, and has risen to the top of my list of favorite soups. It’s super healthy (no cream or anything goes into it…just lots of veggie goodness), and contains inexpensive ingredients (a definite plus when food prices are soaring!)…but tastes fantastic. I love the silky smooth butternut squash base with the crunch of the red peppers and corn. The lime and cilantro give it just the right amount of acidity, freshness, and Mexican flair.

Hope everyone is managing to stay cool!

Sweet Potato, Corn, & Black Bean Soup (slightly adapted from Leftovers 4 Lunch)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (for me, it was 2 medium potatoes)
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernals
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz can diced green chilis (or less, depending on your desired heat level)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Add broth, water, and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add red peppers and sautee for about 3 minutes. Next, add corn and sautee until warm, about 1 minute. Finally, add black beans and diced chilis. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and sautee mixture approximately 3 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend the sweet potatoes and broth mixture until smooth. Stir in corn, black beans, bell pepper, and chili mixture. Add lime juice, cilantro, and more salt and pepper, to taste. Heat through, and and garnish with cilantro before serving.

Makes 6 servings.