Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bananas Foster

If you like bananas and rum and caramelized sugar, you will LOVE this! Here is my version of Bananas Foster...enjoy! The plated presentation was a little messy, but boy, was it delicious and - alert - will send you on a sugar high. Next time I will add some pecans during the sugar-melting/caramelizing part to offset so much of the sweetness and also to add some contrasting texture.

a messy presentation, but oh, so yummy!

3 T. unsalted butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. apple pie spice (or scant 1/2 t. cinnamon, pinch ginger, pinch freshly grated nutmeg)
1 T. orange liquor (Cointreau or similar)
3 bananas, sliced lengthwise, then sliced in half
1/4 c. rum
vanilla ice cream (or pancakes, waffles, or crepes)

In a large pan, melt the butter, brown sugar, and apple pie spice over low heat until the sugar completely dissolves and begins to caramelize.

Carefully add the banana slices; spoon the sauce over the bananas. Cook on each side for 1-2 minutes, until softened, continue spooning the sauce over the bananas as they cook.

When the bananas are softened, remove pan from heat and add the rum. Return to heat and tilt the pan (or use a long match) to ignite the rum; cook for another 1-2 minutes until the liquor flame is extinguished. Or, if you are nervous about setting the pan on fire, just cook for 1-2 minutes after adding the rum without igniting the alcohol.

Gently spoon the bananas and some delicious sauce over ice cream (or pancakes, etc.); serve immediately.

ingredients for the Bananas Foster

the bananas go into the pan and sauce is spooned over

then the bananas are flipped, cooked a bit more and the rum is added

serve over ice cream

so delicious!

Bye for now...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Gingerbread house making party, Dec. 2013

It's that winter wonderland season of the year again and that means it's time for...a gingerbread house decorating party! We had a similar party a few years back that was loads of fun. I made up all of the houses in the days before and then friends and family came over for the decorating (candy-overload!).

here's my house

The recipe was a "structural" recipe, so not good for eating, however I did make some cookies that folks could decorate and eat...or just eat. The gingerbread house recipes can be found here, the icing recipe here, and the Christmas cookies can be found in this post.

I find that this is a good project to do over several days - make the dough and bake the house pieces one day and then assemble the houses the next day.

Here are my photos of the process and of everyone's houses.

the dough was a bit tough to roll out but microwaving it until warm
made it much softer and easier to manage

one house, ready to bake

the house pieces stacked and ready to assemble

beat the icing until stiff peaks form

keep the tip covered with a wet towel so it doesn't dry out

for the house "platforms" I used cardboard squares covered with foil

voila, a pretty silver base

now, time to assemble...icing is piped along the edges and stuck together
on the base

cans are useful to hold the pieces in place while they dry

one house done...11 more to go...OMG!

it looks like a small gingerbread village

houses and cookies...almost ready for guests

the houses and snacks laid out for the pickin'

getting ready for decorating!

so much candy!

And now...the parade of houses:

a bit hard to see, but I gave my snowman a tiny carrot nose was all shriveled up by the next day

Bye for now...

Christmas cookies!

I was never a big rolled cookie fan until I found this book, Cookie Craft: From Baking to Luster Dust, Designs and Techniques for Creative Cookie Occasions by Janice Fryer and Valerie Peterson. Their nutty cookies, made with pecans, are my favorite...they are amazingly delicious. They have a toasted nutty flavor and the recipe and dough are so easy. This year I also made the plain sugar cookies and the gingerbread cookies from their book.

pretty cookies, ready for gifting

The cookies are very easy to make. The dough is so forgiving and manageable and the quality is the same even after rolling and re-rolling the scraps. After the dough is rolled and cut, it's chilled, then baked. The dough is also great because the baked cookies do not lose their shape or get distorted so what you see going in is what you get coming out.

After they are baked, decorate with icing, sparkly sprinkles...or just enjoy plain!

ground yummy

the nutty cookie dough, ready to roll out

the chilled cookies are lifted off and baked

the gingerbread dough; just like the nutty cookies, it was so
easy to work with...and delicious too!

la dee da...making gingerbread people...

and, finally, on to the sugar cookies with lemon zest...
three cookies in one night...I'm tired!

nutty snowmen...into the oven

...and out of the oven!

pretty snowflake cookies, cooling

now that's a lot of cookies!

ready for decorating and for eating

gingerbread people and trees

the baked lemon sugar cookies

I decorated these cookies for my officemates and neighbors...

happy reindeer

Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!!

shimmering snowflakes

snowmen lined up for inspection

Bye for now...