Thursday, October 28, 2010

Banana Bread, Muffins & Heart Filled Bundt's

OK, I have a confession to make, when I said I was going to share "My" Famous Banana Bread Recipe, I fibbed a little, it's actually not my recipe, it's my Mother-in-law's recipe. I believe in giving credit where credit is due and I owe her all my credit. I've only made it famous in Alaska amongst my family and friends by serving it at almost every holiday celebration, neighborhood party, school function and holiday gift exchange. It's one of my most requested items that I've made around the holidays each and every year.

In 1987 when my husband and I took jobs in Anchorage Alaska, we up rooted our family and moved away from everything and everyone we had known.  Leaving behind our family and friends just before Christmas made it one of our most difficult holidays ever. In order to try and make my husband and son's feel a sense of home, I called my Mother-in-law back in Minnesota and asked her for her Banana Bread recipe, it's one of my husbands favorites. Knowing that my family loved and missed their Grandma, her cooking, baking and Sunday dinners. I figured it was something I could do to bring a little bit of home to our new life in Alaska.

This is one of those recipes that will fill your heart with joy, bring back wonderful memories, and comfort you in times when your missing your family. It will help create family traditions for years to come as you enjoy making this bread for or with your family members. Over the years I have learned how to perfect my ability to make the best banana bread ever for my husband (we all know a wife can "never" compete with their Mother-in-laws cooking....Right Mom... : ) but we sure can In doing so, I've created so many wonderful memories for my family and friends.  I hope you will to!

Over the years through trial and error, I've made a couple changes to the recipe, not that it wasn't perfect  But... you know me... I can never leave things alone. One, I added more banana's to make the bread more moist, dense and come out perfect every time. Two, I've found different ways to utilize the recipe by making them into smaller loaves, muffins, and heart shaped gifts of love to share with my family and friends.  

My kids love the mini loves and muffins best, they ate them in the morning, afternoon and night, they even took them to school and bartered with their friends.There's nothing better then when your kids friends tell you how much they love your baking. I've even had some of their mothers call for the recipe, saying that I ruined their kids... "Now all they want is your banana bread."  I tell them "I'm sorry" with a huge smile, and offer to email them the

I've learned over the years to double or triple my batches so we have extras in the freezer at all times. It freezes well, ships well and gifts well. It can be served as a brunch appetizer, as a snack, compliment any meal or be a meal in it's self. I always make a fresh batch the minute I have overripe bananas, you never know when you'll need a quick loaf. They also make very cute gifts that everyone loves to receive.

It makes me beam to see others smile and enjoy my baking, to feed them a little bit of my love. Every loaf is made from my heart, blessed by my energy. It give me so much joy to make others feel good. I want to thank my Mother-in-law for her wonderful recipe and gift of love, every time I make a batch I think of her.

Judy's Banana Bread
2 Large Loves
Sour Milk: Mix 4 teaspoons of Baking Soda and 6 Tablespoons of Whole Milk in a small bowl. Stir and Set a side and let rest.

1 Cup Crisco Shorting (1 stick)
4 Large Eggs
2 Cups Sugar
4 Cups of Flour
9 medium Bananas pealed and blended in a blender. You should have a full pitcher of blended bananas.

In an extra large bowl mix Shorting, Sugar, and Eggs together until well blended and smooth.

Add 1 Cup of Flour to mixture and mix in. 

Pour Sour Milk into Mixture and mix. Be sure to stir well before pouring into mixture.

Add 1/3rd of blended bananas into mixture, mix.

Add another cup of Flour to mixture, mix

Add 1/3rd of blended bananas into mixture, mix.

Add another cup of Flour to mixture, mix.
Add last 1/3rd of blended bananas into mixture, mix.

Add last cup of Flour to mixture, mix. 

Prep your pans whichever your using. When I double or triple my batch, I make several different kinds of breads. I like to make two pans of muffins, two pans of mini loves, and two bundt pans as shown below. You can use regular bread pans or which ever pans you prefer. Spray your pans with a non-stick spray. I use a natural spray, but Pam works well. I've tried to butter my pans, but they tend to burn quicker so I've given up on that method for my banana breads.

Baking Directions:
Bake large loaves @ 350' for 1 hour for two loaves of breads. (start checking at 50min. to prevent burning)
If your making muffins,  fill cups 1/2 full, I use a large cookie scoop, and put one scoop per cup,  and bake for 20 minutes. (being careful not to over bake or they will be dry...not so good.)

If you make bundt pans banana breads, fill pan 1/2 full and bake for 40 minutes, watching to make sure you don't burn your breads. 

If you double the recipe, you can make 2 muffin pans, 2 mini loves pans and 1 heart bundt cake pan.
When I triple the recipe, I can make an additional bundt cake pan.

Once your bread, muffins, or bundt breads are finished baking take out let cool about 15 minutes in the pan then promptly remove from baking pan and allow to cool on a rack. If no rack is available, placing on wax paper works just as well. Be careful not to burn yourself when removing breads from the pan... again, speaking from I use a thin metal spatula to assist and guide breads out of pans and to separate and loosen bread from the pan.

1. Follow the steps one by one. By mixing each ingredient as they are listed above allows your bread to take on a different dimension of denseness. When I've added all the ingredients together at the same time, my bread doesn't come out the same. By doing it this way it allows the bananas to be layered into the mixture.
2. To add a variety to your bread, you can add 1 cup of fresh or frozen blue berries per recipe, or a family favorite is adding 1 cup of milk chocolate chips. 
3. It's very important to keep track of the number of Cups of flour you're adding. How I keep track is when I take my first cup of flour, I use my knife and make a 3 in the flour so I don't lose count. with each cup taken, I reduce the number so not to mess up. Or you can keep track with a note pad and pencil or put each cup of flour in separate bowls so you'll know exactly how much flour you have left. Do what ever works best for you. I have on occasion miss counted and  ended up forgetting a cup or adding a cup. If that happens, you can add more bananas if you need to. If you forgot a cup... well... it's really going to be a moist bread...sometimes it wont completely set up... so it's important to keep correct count....speaking from It gets especially tricky when your making a double or triple batch.
4. I prefer to use Pampered Chef stoneware pans for my muffins, breads and mini breads but you can use which ever works best or that you have on hand, but be sure to watch to make sure your bread isn't getting too dark, if it starts to get to brown, quickly remove. Metal pans have a tendency to get darker much quicker, which is why I no loner use them except for my bundt pans which are Nordic ware bundt brand bake ware.  Pampered Chef    
5. If your using multiple different kinds of pans such as glass, metal, stone aluminum etc... it's important to bake  "like kind" of pans together such as if your using stoneware and Nordic Ware, I would bake the stone ware first and then the Nordic ware... when you bake with different kinds of products, your baking will be uneven. The stoneware gets much hotter and will make your aluminum pan product burn much quicker. I baked one of my stoneware mini loaves pans with my Nordic ware and a glass bread pan. My glass bread pan became extremely dark and burnt on the corner that was closest to the stone pan. I've tried a couple different scenarios, and had the same issues which made me come to the conclusion to bake them separate.
6. All of my hints are from errors I've made or things I've learned along my journey. If you have any questions, or if you find my teaching method confusing, please send me a note so I can clarify.  This recipe is actually very easy if you take it each step by step. The rewards will be well worth your efforts, I promise!
7. When freezing your breads, I prefer to use Reynolds Heavy Duty Tin Foil for all breads large or small. I store the muffins in a freezer Ziploc and take out what I need and let thaw on a plate. You can  re-warm your bread right in the tin foil wrap if you prefer warm fresh banana bread. Serve with butter....yummy! I hope you'll create a new tradition with your friends and family and enjoy some homemade love. Until next time....
~With much Love~
Chel Marie

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shredded Chicken Curry

I've been requested to post this recipe by my Beautiful Daughter to be. While in Hawaii for a visit, she fell in love with my version of Chicken Curry. I was taught how to make this super easy dish by my dear friend Fusako who use to owned a restaurant in Anchorage Alaska called Momma O's. She use to serve this to her lunch crowd on Wednesdays. If you didn't get there earlier enough, you missed out. It was the best curry I had ever eaten.. It's one that's quick, and easy and can be made for large groups of people or can be froze into individual sized meals for times when your spent and don't want to cook but would like a decent meal.  I hope you'll love it as much as I do, Enjoy ♥ 

Shredded Chicken Curry 
Chel Marie's Style

1 Whole Chicken, Roasted
1 Box of 3.5 oz Golden Curry Sauce Mix
Cooked Steamed Rice
2 1/2 Cups of Water for Curry Mixture. 
Additional Water for making the rice.

Normally I have purchased my already roasted chickens so I start putting together my rice first, it takes longer to cook than the chicken does.

I have a rice cooker so getting my rice started is easy. I add 6 rice-cooker cups of rice to the pan, I add enough water to go to the 7cups line, adding a little more water then rice. I like my rice fluffy and sticky.  My favorite brand of rice is Nishiki Medium Grained Rice Specially Selected. I've tried other brands but prefer  this one the best. Every one's tastes are different,  it all depends on what kind of rice you prefer, get what you like. 

If your making your rice the old fashioned way (on the stove), follow the directions on the package. You can also buy sticky rice from the freezer section, where you pop it into the microwave, ten minutes later, you have a perfect steaming bag of rice. But I like it steamed in a rice cooker. Either way, white rice works best with this meal, but if your adamant about brown rice, I'm sure it will do just fine.   

I like to make a large pot of rice so I have extras. You can use it in soups, eat it plane with some butter, salt and pepper or freeze some for later use. You'll have to adjust the amount of rice you cook with the number of people your feeding. More is better as Momma taught me, it can go into just about any dish, leftover, bread dough or  new rice dish creation. It has so many uses....use your imagination.

Now on to the chicken part of the meal:

1 Whole Roasted Chicken (You can either get one already roasted from your local grocery store, I prefer Costco's Roasted Chickens best. In today's economy, Costco's prices are best and normally can't be beat.) But if you have to roast one yourself, season it well with Lawry's Seasoning, about 3 Tablespoons full. Put 1 Tab. of seasoning inside your rinsed chicken, then sprinkle 2 Tab. along the top of the chicken. Put in Roaster, cover, bake chicken at 375 degrees for about an hour or until Chicken is nicely roasted and falling off the bone.

Let Chicken cool before de-boning. Remove the skin (feed to the got to eat it.) Debone entire chicken being careful to remove any and all small bones. They say to use a small sharp knife to remove the chicken from the bones, I prefer my cleaned hands.

Once deboned I start shredding the chicken as I'm placing it into a deep skillet pan. I've tried to cook breasts of chicken and then cut in small bite sized pieces, but it doesn't turn out the way I like it. The chicken doesn't seem to shred correctly when cooked and cut in cubs.... I prefer my chicken to be completely shredded. You can use a fork for this process... but again, I prefer to use my cleaned hands.

Once completely shredded and in the pan, I add 2 1/2 cups of water.

Place lid on pan and bring chicken and water to a boil on a medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat, stir, cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes longer. Stirring occasionally. 

When the chicken timer goes off, I remove the lid to make sure the chicken is completely shredded and stringy, that's how I know it's done and tender. I then add 1 box of Golden Curry Medium Hot Sauce Mix. Again, I've tried several brands, several different spices, and I keep coming back to the Golden Curry. If you like a bit of heat, you can get the Hot or extra Hot mix, the medium hot has a slight bite to it, but I've been told I'm a wuss when it comes to spices and heat in the kitchen.

Break apart the bar as shown in the picture below. Stir until the bar is completely melted into your chicken. Once melted, I recover the chicken and turn the heat all the way down as low as it will go just to keep the Curried Chicken hot until you want to eat or when the rice is done. I normally cook it another 10-20 minutes to blend the curry sauce with the chicken to get a better flavor. Remember to stir so not to burn or get too over heated.

Once your rice is done, and your ready to eat turn the flame off the chicken. You don't want to forget that it's on and still cooking (spoken from I serve the shredded chicken mix over a scoop of rice. You can add the rice to your chicken mixture, but I prefer to keep it separate. Some like more rice then others and vice versa.

I love to make this meal for family get-togethers, pot lucks, dinner parties, etc. I normally double the recipe so I have extras to freeze. It makes for a quick easy lunch that you can pop in the microwave, or heat in the oven.

 I like the 3 cup Pyrex storage containers. It's large enough for one large serving or two small servings depending on who's eating or my boys. I can get two meals out of each container. That's ten meals, on top of dinner for 4 when you double the recipe. That's a whole lotta bang for your buck, every penny pinched today is helpful.