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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Food and All That Jazz

I so enjoyed my evening last night. My son and his fiancee came for the weekend and a friend and fellow co-worker from my days at Cable Prep was here as well in Connecticut. The phone rang in the afternoon  and it was my friend Eric asking if I would like to join him for a drink. Part of my family was here so I simply asked him if he wanted to join us for dinner and hang out with all of us. I was happy when he said he would.

After talking with my husband about our extra dinner guest and chatting about Eric's talent on the trumpet, I called him back and asked if he would mind bringing the trumpet to play for us. I think he was delighted to be asked (and I know he doesn't leave home without it) and of course he agreed.

Our dinner consisted of London broil marinated in my London Marinade, grilled chicken thighs with my Apricot Basting Sauce and a saute of yellow summer squash with onions and garlic and simply seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

A few cocktails, lots of laughs and some tears were shed during Eric's visit. We had a simple but tasty dinner and great jazz music afterward made this night with family and our friend extra special.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Potato and Summer Squash Gratin

With the abundance of Summer Squash that came in over the last few days I needed to come up with a way to utilize some of it and decided that for a side dish I would make a gratin using both squash and potato. The one thing I knew going into this and wondering if it would be a bad thing is that squash when cooked produces quite a bit of water; but it actually helps to keep the whole gratin moist.
There are not a lot of ingredients to the dish which makes it super economical. I used a 9 x 5 baking dish and it serves about 6 nice sized portions. You can swap out zucchini for the yellow squash. The key to using so little of each vegetable is slicing them thin. I used the blade from my food processor but you could use a mandolin if you have one. Another thing is the cheese; make sure you use a cheese with good melting qualities and has great taste. The panko bread crumbs is optional as you could just sprinkle some remaining cheese on top.
  • 2 medium yellow squash (or use zucchini)
  • 2 medium russet potatoes (or Yukon gold or red potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup or so of diced onion
  • 1 - 1 1/4 cups cheese - shredded (your choice)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (optional)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  1. Slice the potatoes really thin and keep in cold water so they do not turn brown.
  2. Slice the squash thin as well and place in a separate bowl.
  3. Spray the bottom of your dish with cooking spray.
  4. When you are ready to assemble the dish, drain the potatoes and blot with paper towels to remove some of the water.
  5. Begin layering in potato and squash together in any fashion you want.
  6. Salt and pepper each layer as you go along and add in some of the diced onion along with a light sprinkle of the shredded cheddar.
  7. When you have finished the layers pour in the milk. For the top layer you can combine 1/2 cup panko and 1/2 cup cheese to sprinkle over the top or just use the cheese.
  8. Bake in a 350° oven for about an hour and 15 minutes until a knife inserts easily through all layers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chocolate Sour Cream Blueberry Bread

Have some bananas that you need to use up? This bread I have made before and it is very, very tasty. So I am making it again and this time I am adding cocoa powder. My husband loves chocolate desserts and this is one way to tame the beast!
The only extra ingredients I needed were the bananas and the blueberries. Every other ingredient was in my pantry. The bananas were 58¢ and the blueberries were $1.99. Total cost outlay was $2.57. That is why I urge you to find recipes using up what you have already and spending a small amount of extra money to pull off a dessert or a side dish or main course.
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 lrg. eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and extra for greasing the pan
  • 1 heaping cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
  1.  Preheat the oven to 350° and grease your pan or spray your muffin tins.
  2. Mash the ripe bananas with a fork or coarsely puree them in a food processor.
  3. In a bowl stir together (a whisk works well) the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon and nuts.
  4. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, melted butter and 1 cup of the mashed banana puree.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the banana mixture.
  6. Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until combined. The batter may be slightly lumpy.
  7. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  8. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The top should be firm to the touch and using a cake tester or wooden skewer see if the middle comes out clean.
  9. Let cook on a rack for 30 minutes before unmolding the loaf.
This recipe is really so easy to put together.

 Mash the two bananas. I mashed them on a paper plate.

 Sift together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center.

Whisk together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
Add the wet to the dry and fold together to incorporate all ingredients.
Fold in the blueberries.

Place the batter in your pan and make as even as possible.
You are ready to bake.

What a special treat for your family - it smells so absolutely delicious you can't imagine!