Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekend Cooking Bonanza!

Now that I'm employed (yeah!)  at a shitty temp job (boo!) I find that I am less inclined to cook during the week.  While I still manage to make meals Monday through Friday, extracurricular baking and such has been relegated to the weekend.

And this weekend I was quite the A+ student.

I made Pumpkin Banana Bread, Roast Chicken with Fennel and Red Potatoes, and Roasted Cauliflower and zucchini Cheddar Soup.  All three were AMAzING, but I have to say the soup was probably my favorite.  It's one I made last fall, and it was as good as I remembered!  Anyway that's enough of my idle ramblings, here are the recipes and some tantalizing food porn.

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Makes 2 9x5x3 loaves

  •   1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 13/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup mashed banana
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour two 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs until lightly beaten and add sugar and mix until blended.
4. Add pumpkin puree, water, and vanilla extract and mix together with the egg/sugar mixture.
5. Add banana and melted butter.
6. Add the dry ingredients (in #2) and stir until the ingredients are combined - do not over mix.
8. Bake for 55-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean and dry.
9. When you remove the loaf pan from the oven, let the pumpkin bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.
I culled this recipe from several Pumpkin bread recipes.  I knew I wanted to make a Pumpkin-Banana bread, so I just substituted Banana for oil.  This loaf is delicately sweet and incredibly moist.  I usually pop a slice in the toaster oven for a few minutes and then give it a healthy smear of cream cheese.  Next time I make it I think I'll add some walnuts or mini chocolate chips.  

    Roast Chicken with Fennel and Red Potatoes

  • 1 (3 to 4 lbs) roasting chicken
  • 2 fennel bulbs, top removed and sliced into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 4 medium or 2 large red potatoes cut into 1in chunks
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Remove giblets and excessive fat from chicken. Rinse chicken including the inside. Pat dry the outside. Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside and outside of the chicken.   
  3. Place the bird in a medium sized baking dish.  Stuff the lemon in the cavity.
  4. Place sliced fennel bulb, potatoes, and garlic in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Arrange the vegetables around the bird in the pan. 
  6. Roast for approximately 1½ hours or until the juices run clear from an incision at the juncture of the leg to the body. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten's roast chicken from her Barefoot Contessa cookbook.  The chicken came out moist and flavorful.  It's really amazing what a little salt and pepper can do.  

Roasted Cauliflower and Zucchini Cheddar Soup


  •   1 head of Cauliflower (chopped up into medium sized pieces)
  • 1 medium sized zucchini (cut into medallions)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 28 ounces of  low sodium chicken Broth
  • 1 shallot medium diced
  •   1/2 a small onion medium diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic small diced
  •   3 strips of bacon
  • 2 cups of white cheddar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. On a cookie sheet, place the chopped up cauliflower and zucchini, drizzle with olive oil and top with the sea salt and course ground pepper. Place into the over for 30-40 minutes or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a paring knife.
  2. Fry the strips of bacon until crisp, reserving about a tbsp of the grease.
  3. In a large dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot reheat the reserved bacon grease.  Add the shallot and onion and saute until lightly browned and fragrant.  Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.  To this add the chicken broth and crumbled bacon strips.  Bring to a boil.  Once the cauliflower and zucchini are done add them to the broth; cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.  Next turn off the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.  Once cooled blend using an immersion blender until smooth and creamy.  
  4. Return the soup to a low heat and gradually stir in the cheddar cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.
This soup is so good!  The cauliflower takes on a slightly nutty taste from the roasting, and the cheddar cheese ( I used extra sharp) makes it incredibly creamy and savory.  Although the zucchini doesn't play a pivotal role in the flavor profile of the soup, it adds lovely viridescent specks  to what would otherwise be a rather bland looking pottage.  Seriously though, you need to make this soup.  Like right now.  For reals.


1 comment:

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