banana shortbread

banana shortbread

Banana shortbread. Why hasn't this been in bakery shops yet? Seriously a wonderful combo: butter, flour, sugar, and bananas. What's not to love?
I have been dying to create this for a while now. Easy to make, even easier to eat. This is a tad bit moister than most shortbreads, that's because of the bananas, but to be honest I liked it a bit moister. I think a pineapple shortbread might be in order next. What kind of kicked up shortbread would you like to see/try?
Note: these banana shortbread wedges are fabulous dipped in melted chocolate!

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banana shortbread
inspired from america’s test kitchen
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½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cups (7 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2/3 cups + 1 TB confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temp
1 ½ bananas, wicked ripe, mashed w/ juice of ½ lemon

Pulse oats in spice grinder or blender until reduced to fine powder, about ten 5-second pulses (you should have ¼- to 1/3 cup oat flour).
In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oat flour, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt at low speed until combined, about 5 seconds.
Add butter to dry ingredients, then add in the banana mixture, and continue to mix on low speed until dough just forms and pulls from sides of mixer wall, 5 to 10 minutes. (I chilled my dough overnight—I think it needs to be chilled at least 2-3 hours before using)
When ready to bake, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
Place closed collar of 9- to 9 ½-inch springform pan directly on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (do not use the springform pan bottom).
Press dough into collar in even ½-inch thick layer, smoothing top of dough with back of spoon.
Place 2-inch (oven safe) biscuit cutter in center of dough and cut out center. Place extruded round on side of rimmed baking sheet and replace cutter in center of dough. Open springform pan collar, but leave in place. (I did not open collar until see below).
Bake shortbread for 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. (release latch on the collar on springform pan, but don’t take off. Recipe by dawn finicane)
Continue to bake until edges turn pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove tray from oven; turn oven off.
Remove springform pan collar and cutter; score surface of shortbread into 16 even wedges, cutting halfway through shortbread.
Using wooden skewer, poke 10 holes into each wedge. Return shortbread to oven and prop door open with handle of wooden spoon, leaving 1-inch gap at top.
Allow shortbread to dry in turned-off oven until pale golden in center (shortbread will be firm but giving to touch when ready), about 1 hour.
Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool shortbread to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut shortbread at scored marks to separate and serve.


lox and glazed donut

Oh yes. Serious food cravings here. Stay with me, don't click away! I know this is odd, but you have to try this. This is the ultimate in salty and sweet. I know a lot of you are devoted foodies, and devoted foodies are open to new things. Right? Good.
And some of you may have already had this combo before and know exactly what I'm talking about.
Seriously good. Make sure you get the good kind of lox, ok? Oh and those krispy kreme donuts? Yeah, those are just PERFECT for this, especially when they are still warm.
I'm telling you....you have to try this.


sweet potato quesadillas w/ fig reduction, spicy corn relish and pecans

Aren't quesadillas fun? I mean you can literally put anything and everything in them. Not to mention the vast amount of cheeses out there that can be used in quesadillas is enormous. I have rarely used queso blanco cheese. Not because I don't like it, but because I haven't found what works good with it since it is a very mild cheese, almost like a mozzarella cheese. I just loved the layers of flavors in this sweet potato quesadilla. It has the sweet/saltiness of my fried sweet potatoes, the mildness of the cheese, the sweetness of the fig reduction and then some heat with the spicy corn relish. Of course I had to add my sweet & spicy pecans to it for extra crunch. I got those pecans (as everyone knows who follows me on Twitter) at Trader Joe's. It's gross really how much of those pecans I consume on a weekly basis. Have you tried them? Is there anyone out there that is addicted to them as I?
With these quesadillas, if I was to make them again I might go with a stronger tasting cheese next time, maybe a mild cheddar. Don't get me wrong these were good; I just love to always improve upon my creations the next time, then the next time, and so on.

Also, you may have noticed that my copyright logo/name are getting more bigger and/or prominent on my photos? This is because I have, again, been the victim of someone stealing my photos. But now they are cropping out the copyright stuff. This happened once before and I learned that I should put a visible copyright mark on them. I would hate to have to eventually make a visible watermark in the middle of the food photo. Why people steal others works and photos is beyond me.... If anyone can tell me how to add a visible watermark while retaining the quality of the photo I'm all ears.

Sweet potato quesadillas w/ fig reduction & spicy corn relish
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I used my sweet potato hash for the filling of this quesadilla.

Sweet potato hash
2-3 sweet potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes
EV olive oil
A few TB’s of butter
salt & pepper
caramelized onions
a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
couple dashes of Tabasco sauce

Caramelize some onions (about 1 giant sweet yellow onion) after it's done caramelizing add a few drops of the Worcestershire sauce, set aside.
Heat up same skillet with some EVOO and fry up the sweet potatoes until nice & crispy, season with salt and pepper. Towards the end of cooking add a few tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt into the hash. Then add in a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, mix until combined. If you want a bit of heat like I do then add in some cayenne and/or Tabasco.

Use some of the hash place it the middle of a large tortilla, add a few chunks of queso blanco or queso fresco cheese, a few dashes of Tabasco (optional). Seal edges of tortilla with egg wash, fold over and seal and then fry up in a non-stick pan. The egg wash will seal up once it gets hot. Serve with fig reduction and/or spicy corn relish (see below).

Fig reduction
Is nothing more than this jam cooked over medium heat till it reduces and thickens a bit. If you’re not into making your own jam, then you can buy some premade and heat up. But I do suggest you try this fig jam recipe as it’s really good.

cinnamon fig jam
from eatingoutloud.com

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 lb. mission figs (about 10-12 figs)
1 3″ strip lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 lemon juiced

Add water and sugar to a pan and place on a medium heat to dissolve.
Remove the stems from the figs and cut into quarters. Add to the sugar mixture along with lemon zest, cinnamon stick, and lemon juice. Bring the mix to a light simmer and leave the pan uncovered. Cook for about 1 hour or until the mix thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

The spicy corn relish is from stonewall kitchen. I buy this stuff by the case -- it’s that good.


apple pie ice cream

Sometimes it really blows my mind that some people prefer smooth ice cream to chunky. I am not one of those people. I am one of those people that will order the ice cream filled with lots of stuff. (I think I've mentioned this before). When at the local ice cream stand I am that person scanning all the hand painted boards depicting all the flavors for the one that blatantly says "LOTS O' STUFF IN THIS FLAVOR" ice cream. My reasoning, (in case you care) is if you're going to have fattening ice cream (still fattening if it's smooth too) then why not go all out and have it with stuff in it. AND, (yes there's a part two), who doesn't love a little bit of extra texture and flavor with their ice cream base? Layers of flavor right? I know I need a little excitement in my 'there's gonna be junk in your trunk if you eat this ice cream so why not go all out'.
Latest creation of ice cream is an apple pie ice cream. Chunks of apple cooked in brown sugar then added to an ice cream base along with giant chunks of buttery cinnamon pie crust. Was it good? Yes, it was really good, really rich and flavorful so one would only need a little bit to satisfy an ice cream craving.

apple pie ice cream
by vanillasugarblog.com
print recipe

vanilla bean ice cream base
by david lebowitz (the ice cream master)

1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
5 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 ts pure vanilla extract

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk with the tip of a paring knife. Add the bean pod to the milk.
Stir together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Rinse the vanilla bean and put it back into the custard and cream to continue steeping.

Chill thoroughly, then remove the vanilla bean and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. If you want to make the apple pie ice cream, this is where you would now add in the cooled sautéed apples and chunks of cinnamon pie crusts.

apple filling:
4-5 large Cortland or any other flavorful apples (I don’t recommend granny smith)
Fresh lemon juice
2 tb of butter
¼ or more of light brown sugar
Couple dashes of cinnamon

Peel and cut up apples into chunks. Toss apples with the fresh lemon juice in a ceramic bowl, set aside.
In a sauté pan melt the butter until bubbly (not brown), add in the brown sugar and let dissolve a bit, then add in the apples and let them cook down a bit—about 5 minutes while occasionally stirring. Recipe by dawn finicane. You don’t want to cook the apples thru, just soften them a bit. Cool completely before adding into ice cream

cinnamon pie crust chunks:
one (or two) pie dough recipe (use as much or as litle as you desire)

Take your favorite pie crust recipe and you can either bake this one of two ways. What I did was sprinkle the pie crust (generously) with cinnamon-sugar, then roll it up like a cigar. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough roll into ½ thick (or less) chunks. Place on greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until light brown and crispy. The second way is to not roll the pie dough, but sprinkle the dough with cinnamon-sugar and just bake in a pie plate or cookie sheet as you normally would any pie. Recipe by dawn finicane. Once the pie crust is light golden brown and done, let cool and break apart into chunks. Let the cooked chunks of pie crust cool completely before adding to ice cream base.

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levain bakery cc cookie

levain cc cookies round 2 7

Can I share a food obsession with you? Have you heard of Levain Bakery in NYC? To me, they have some of the best cc cookies. They are thick, really thick cookies loaded with chocolate chips and walnuts. A couple years ago I tried to clone their chocolate chip cookies, thought I was pretty close and then closed the book on it. Until now when I tried to clone them again, this time using a different type of butter: European butter. I think I am a tad bit closer to perfecting a clone-like version of this infamous chocolate chip cookie. The European butter did make the cookie taste far better. European butters have a higher butterfat content--so naturally anything with a higher butterfat is good for baking. levain cc cookies round 2 6

What do these taste like? First off, they are huge, can't tell from the photo, but they are about 4-5 inches across and 2 inches thick; they are like a shortbread, but moister cookie dough, a tiny bit dry, very buttery tasting, nice crispy outside, and with the addition of the European butter now it's not so dry.

Also made them into bar shapes (using a pan), then did a step further by dipping them in dark chocolate.
Seriously, it was that good, one could just open a bakery and JUST sell those choco-dipped bars. levain cc cookies round 2 3

levain bakery cc cookie (clone)
inspired from Levain Bakery NYC & CookieMadness.net
print recipe

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted European butter, (cold & shredded like cheese)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour (13 ½ oz)
3/4 ts sea salt
1 and ¼ ts baking powder
1/2 ts baking soda
12 ounces (2 cups) good quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts

If using dough right away, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
(It’s best to chill, though; I chilled overnight (note: keep in mind this is a very dry dough, and will be hard to mix once you put the chips and nuts in; I used my hands Take the butter and using a cheese grater, shred the butter into a bowl, put it back in the freezer until ready to use.

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars just until just combined.
Don’t overbeat. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until incorporated.
Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended.
Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Divide dough into 12 big 4 oz lumps.
Mold into giant golfballs; do not press flat!
Keep them as balls on the cookie sheets. Bake on ungreased cookies sheets (one sheet at a time). (I chilled my dough balls for 20 minutes BEFORE baking).

Bake times (how I’ve done it the past few times; pick one if you dare):
Put the cookies in a 375 degree oven and set timer for 8 minutes.
When timer rings, without opening oven or removing cookies, reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until cookies appear set.
OR I did mine at 365 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until done. (Mine were done in 18 minutes) Makes 12 (mine made 13)


sushi bowl

Let's just call it delish bowl. I've seen these before on Tastespotting and thought how wonderful and colorful. What a way to brighten up the senses with all these colors beaming in front of you. I do eat a lot of sushi here and am not the greatest at creating that perfect roll. So I found this much easier. Plus you can add whatever you fancy, no matter the size. Right now I'm going through an avocado craving--so far lasting now into two weeks, and as I type this I want to make another sushi bowl with fresh uni. Oh that sounds so good. Finding fresh uni on cape cod is hard, you wouldn't think so since cape cod is on the ocean. But it is. The last place I had really fresh and tasty uni was in NYC. What would you add to your sushi bowl? I love to hear what type of sushi others love-I'm always up for trying new sushi.

How to assemble this sushi bowl?

sticky rice studded with toasted seseame seeds
sliced avocados
finely shredded carrots
raw salmon (or hamachi, uni mmm uni!)
pickled ginger (I ate way more ginger that what is shown)
(not pictured soy sauce and chopsticks)
feel free to add whatever you fancy

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banana cheesecake w/ caramel-rum sauce

Have I told you my love affair with banana cheesecake? I swear I must have at some point in this blogging life. I adore the banana cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, but sadly they are located far away from me. I've had it on my list for forever to create my own banana cheesecake to indulge in. And finally I've started that process; I think I've found the perfect recipe. I'm still kind of testing and experimenting, but this one is pretty darn good. And I just had to share it with you. My blogging friend at Chez What made a banana cheesecake and shared the recipe with me. I took his advice of using the lemon on the banana, but didn't take his advice on the sheddred wheat for a crust, but trust me I will next round.

I loved the addition of the caramel-rum sauce, but completely forgot the fresh whipped cream. If you do make this, please add on a large dollop of fresh whipped cream. The Cheesecake Factory does it, and it totally adds to the dish.

This cheesecake was so good, I had to give it away ASAP because I would eat the whole thing in one sitting. That crust, man that crust was amazing. Next time I might prebake the crust a bit to get it super-crunchy. This is a cheesecake I know Emeril Lagasse would be proud of, and that makes me happy happy. Emeril if you ever do read this--I will bake one for you and deliver it right to you or you can come to my house.

Can we get a close up of the crust?

banana cheesecake with caramel-rum sauce
print recipe

cheesecake filling:
1 1/2 lb. (24 oz) cream cheese softened
¾ cup white sugar
3 eggs
4 mashed bananas, really ripe!
2 ts. good quality vanilla
1 ts. fresh lemon juice for the bananas

crust ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 TB dark brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted, cooled a bit
(I put a pinch of salt in the crust)

for the crust:
preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
To make the crust, mix the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt and butter in a bowl until well combined. Firmly pat the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan. Use a glass to press in the edges—it really helps. I like to make some of the crust go up the sides, up to you of course. Then bake in the preheated oven about 10 minutes or until "almost" golden brown.

for the cheesecake:
Preheat the oven to 320˚F. (I found this was the right temp for me. I’ve heard of turning oven to 350 degrees and baking for 5 minutes then down to 310 for remaining 50-55 minutes. You really have to find what works best for you and your oven temps).

Mash ripes bananas well and sprinkle just a little bit of lemon juice, not too much about 1 ts, set aside.
In a mixing bowl or mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add in the bananas and vanilla extract; mix well.
Pour into the crust. Bake for 1 hour. Or until the middle is not jiggly anymore.
Let cool in the oven for 1 – 2 hours. Do not open the oven door until cool. You must chill this in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours before serving. That amount of time was perfect for me.

caramel-rum sauce

1 cup sugar
6 TB unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, room temp (important!)
pinch of salt, optional
a splash of rum or dark rum, optional (room temp)

Cook notes: Please use a thick, sturdy pot for making caramel as you want even heat distribution and don't want your sugar to burn. And it is best to use a pan with high sides as the caramel mixture will bubble up. Please make sure your heavy cream is room temp and not cold. The cold will make the caramel not set up right.

Heat sugar on medium to medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. As the sugar begins to color and melt a bit, go ahead and stir it with spatula or wooden spoon. You want the sugar to come to a boil. Once it started boiling I stopped stirring.
Once all the sugar has melted and you have a dark amber color, this is the time to add the butter. Stir until butter melted, take off the heat, then add in the the heavy cream, very slowly. It will make a lot of noise and bubble up. Once added whisk/stir a lot! Keep stirring until smooth, add in your splash or two of dark rum (optional) and this is when you add in a tiny pinch of salt (optional). Keep stirring. Once smooth, let the sauce sit in pan for a while. If using straight away go ahead and do so, if storing let it cool a bit more before storing in glass jar. Make sure it's completely cool before placing in glass jar and storing in fridge.


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