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Because We Love to Cook
ladymeag
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ladymeag
With a small child, we go through a lot of bananas. Some of them wind up living on the counter long enough to get over ripe for him to eat. We've frozen six such bananas for future use, so I didn't want to add three more to the freezer. This is what I did with them.

Chocolate Banana Bread

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl or mixer, cream the butter just until lightened, then beat in the melted chocolate, eggs, bananas, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined; do not overbeat.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick stuck into the center of the bread comes out almost clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.

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ladymeag
worldwiderecipe
ladymeag
Well, of course I perfect my pancake recipe just as my husband and I decide that we need to start a hard-core diet for a while. I guess you guys can have some nice, fluffy pancakes!

Buttermilk Pancakes
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk, plus extra (I use an extra 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons cooking oil (vegetable, canola)

Mix dry ingredients, make a well, add wet ingredients, mix. Add buttermilk in excess of 1 cup as needed to make a smooth mixture. Ladle onto a heated (medium-ish heat, about 350F), lightly greased griddle 1/4 cup at a time. Cook until bubbles form, flip, cook an additional minute or two. Serve with butter, syrup, bacon, whatever floats your pancake boat.
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ladymeag
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ladymeag
I found this recipe (that has since been tweaked a bit) as "Red Velvet Pancakes." Nope, didn't taste a thing like Red Velvet (Waldorf-Astoria) Cake. But with a few changes, sure tasted like spice cake!

The original poster for the aforementioned recipe makes me look like a terse writer. Seriously, the guy had a story woven into the instructions - made it hard to follow quickly! I sure hope my posts don't look like that to everyone else.

With the Butter Pecan Syrup and Whipped Cream Cheese, I saw absolutely no need for butter. Or more than two pancakes. You can make the Butter Pecan Syrup in advance and just warm it up to serve. It will separate in the refrigerator, just stir it up when you heat it. If you don't like the look of the pancakes, you can replace the 1 tablespoon of water with any color of food coloring you like. I'm just not that keen on that much food coloring in my food these days.

I pulled the syrup off the stove immediately after cooking and left it sitting on the counter (in a serving dish, of course) until the pancakes were ready and it was still plenty warm.

Spice Cake Pancakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
1/2 stick butter (melted and left to cool a bit)

Preheat your non-stick skillet, griddle or preferred pancake cooking device. You'll want to set it a little lower than you do usually for pancakes. (About 325 F degrees for an electric.)

Mix the dry ingredients in a large non-metallic bowl (glass or plastic will do nicely). Mix all of the wet ingredients, except the melted butter, in a separate bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix lightly (slightly lumpy is okay). Add melted butter, mix (slightly lumpy is okay, but you want this closer to well mixed without being over-mixed).

Lightly grease/oil/butter the cooking surface and drop the pancake batter about a 1/4 cup at a time. The batter will spread as it cooks, so give it some room. Turn when the pancake looks dry around the edges and has bubbled a bit in the middle (about five minutes) to cook for another two to three minutes. Serve as desired.

Butter Pecan Maple Syrup
2 c/2 sticks/1/2 pound butter (I used salted, if you use unsalted, you might want to add salt)
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup maple syrup (the real stuff, not "pancake syrup")
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons water

Toast the pecans in a 350 degree (F) oven, turning/stirring every few minutes until warm and lightly toasted. In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the heated/lightly toasted pecan halves and cook on medium about five minutes or until the butter is a little frothy. Add the maple syrup. Carefully add the vanilla extract and water (might froth up a bit). Continue to cook about five minutes to thicken.

Whipped Cream Cheese
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. (Or mix in a bowl with a heavy wooden spoon - upper arm workout with breakfast!)

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ladymeag
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ladymeag
Quick and easy alternative to chili.

Taco Stew

1/2 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 cups chicken broth
1 large zucchini, cut into small cubes
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup medium salsa

Brown meat in a large pot over medium high heat. Drain, remove and set aside. In the same pot, sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add meat back to pot and sprinkle mixture with taco seasoning to blend. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes.

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ladymeag
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ladymeag
This is so, so basic that I can't believe I hadn't done it before!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 pounds pork shoulder roast
1/2 cup water
24 oz tangy bbq sauce

Place half the onion slices in bottom of slow cooker or crock pot; add pork, water, half the barbecue sauce and remaining onion slices. Cover and cook on medium 8 to 10 hours, stirring occasionally to break up the pork. Combine pork with remaining barbecue sauce and serve.

If your slow cooker doesn't have a medium setting, cook for one hour on high and then low for the remaining 7-9 hours.

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ladymeag
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ladymeag
This is a really basic stir fry but was delicious. The whole wheat linguine is a good substitute if you can't find soba noodles (or other noodle choices) in your area.

Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

8 ounces whole wheat linguine
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 pound chicken tenderloins or breast meat, cut into strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 cups small fresh broccoli florets (from about 1 large crown)
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips

Cook linguine according to package instructions (a little on the undercooked side is best), drain and keep warm. Meanwhile, combine broth, soy, vinegar, pepper and cornstarch in a bowl. Heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat. When very hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add chicken and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside. Add remaining oil, garlic and ginger; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add broccoli and carrot; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add soy mixture and chicken, stir well, and cover. Lower heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Toss with linguine and serve.

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ladymeag
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ladymeag
Something of a shortcut tortilla soup. Quick, easy and tasty.

Mexican Style Chicken Lime Stew

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons Southwest grill or taco seasoning
1 (16-ounce) jar mild fire-roasted salsa
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups frozen corn
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 to 3 cups restaurant-style tortilla chips
2 avocados, cut into chunks
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a large pot, heat oil and brown chicken on all sides. Stir in onions and seasoning and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to coat chicken pieces. Add salsa, broth and vegetables. Cover and simmer 25 minutes. Add lime juice, avocado and cilantro and serve immediately by ladling stew over a handful of chips in each bowl, and sprinkling with cheese.
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ladymeag
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ladymeag
We had falafel - I just took a box mix and added three tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley and half an onion finely chopped. Made this tzatziki to go with it and it is the best I've had yet, so I thought I'd put it here before I forget. (Does anyone else even read/use these anymore?)

Tzatziki
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon chopped dill

Place cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit 15 minutes, then squeeze out and drain excess water. Mix drained cucumbers with yogurt, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in dill. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.

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ladymeag
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ladymeag
This makes a nice, crispy chicken that is incredibly well complimented by the avocado. Pico is so easy (especially if you've got one of those little mini-processor style choppers) and much, much better fresh.

Beer Marinated Chicken Tacos

For the marinade
1 cup dark Mexican beer, such as Negra Modelo
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups of your favorite guacamole
8-12 Taco size corn tortillas
Pico de gallo
Queso fresco or other cheese

Mix all of the ingredients for the marinade together in a small bowl. Place the chicken thighs in a large Ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 2 hours to overnight.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator while lighting the fire. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals out evenly over the charcoal grate. Grill chicken until fully cooked and browned on both sides, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Cut chicken into thin strips.

While the chicken is resting, warm tortillas on the grill until pliable, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. To assemble, spread a heaping spoonful of guacamole along the middle of each tortilla. Pile with chicken slices, pico and cheese and serve.

Pico de Gallo

One small onion
Two large-ish roma tomatoes
1 jalapeno
2 tablespoons cilantro
Juice of one lime

Finely chop onion and jalapeno. Dice tomatoes. Finely chop cilantro. Combine with juice of lime. Let sit for at least half an hour before serving.

Notes: The finer you chop the onions, the stronger their flavor will be. Likewise, the finer you chop the jalapeno, the spicier it will be. Also, you can remove the seeds and rinse the jalapeno first if you want a milder pico.

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ladymeag
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ladymeag
This is as close as I've gotten to my mother's lamb stew recipe. It's only taken, what, ten years?

Lamb Stew

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 lbs bone-in lamb stew meat, cut into as close to two-inch chunks as possible
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups Guinness
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs oregano
3 cups baby carrots, halved
3 cups small new red potatoes, halved
1 onion, chopped
1 cup fresh English peas or frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 cup chopped green onions
Method

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat well. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Working in batches if needed, add lamb and brown on all sides. Add 3 cups water, Guinness, rosemary and oregano. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Stir in carrots, onions and potatoes. Cover and continue to simmer for another hour. Stir in the peas and green onions, add pepper and salt to taste. Simmer another 5 to 10 minutes or until peas are just cooked through. Remove and discard stems from rosemary and oregano.

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