Unsalted Momma

Go Bananas!

There are times when I cannot get enough bananas to eat.  I’ll eat 2-3 bananas a day.  That kick will last maybe two weeks, then I’m left with those three bananas that I just can’t bear to choke down.  Banana craving over, browning bananas staring me in the face every day.  I used to go with the obvious and make banana bread, but then, as I looked through my Ina Garten, How Easy Is That, book, I found a banana cake recipe!  Oh sweet and delicious banana cake, with a smooth cream cheese frosting.  

The very first time I made this cake, I definitely left out the baking soda, leading to a dense cake with an underdone texture.  Because I need perfection, I made the cake again the following weekend and redeemed myself.  Since the baby was born, I’ve had three bananas hanging out on my banana hook, dying to be turned into cake. Since I’ve been feeling pretty good since the birth of my newest princess, I decided to go for it!  

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She’s here!!

Hello there my dear readers.  It has been quite a few days since I’ve posted and if you have not heard, my newest little princess is here!  She was born on Sunday, March 25 at 2:38pm.  We had a crazy weekend, including lots of emotions, crazy cravings, and finally, the birth of our baby girl!  

Life has been pretty interesting.  It has been quite an adjustment going from two kids to three.  Balance is important, but not sure we will ever figure it out!  Big brother and big sister are doing well, they sure love their sister.  

Of course it did not take me long before I wanted to bake!  Lets not forget this is my food blog.  For a while now, I’ve been drooling over the “crispy cakey” chocolate chip cookies from the chocolate issue of Food Network Magazine.  I have a few chocolate chip cookie recipes I usually use, but this one intrigued me.  I love a good cookie with a crispy outside but fluffy inside. 

Little lady number 1 was my cookie assistant.  She helped me measure out all of the ingredients.  The recipe was quite typical, though used a little extra baking soda to help with lift and called for a hotter oven to bake the cookies faster.  The faster bake time allows for the outside to be crisp and the inside nice and fluffy.  The end result?  Well, I’ve already had 4 cookies, and I’m trying not to go back for more!  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Caramel Marshmallow Madness!

While we lived in San Francisco, I found it hard to find new mom friends.  I’d hang out at the playground with the nannies and on a rare occasion, meet a mom who stayed home just like me.  Luckily one of these encounters was with Shauna Sever; you may know her as, The Next Door Baker.  During the time of our friendship she began writing a marshmallow cookbook.  Marshmallow cookbook you ask?  Oh yes, all kinds, from a simple vanilla to a maple bacon and even a margarita mallow!  Marshmallow Madness is a book you must add to your collection.  Not only is it well written and easy to follow, but it is probably the cutest cookbook you’ll ever own.  

For a while I’ve been preparing to make marshmallows, building up my supplies that are absolutely necessary, such as unflavored gelatin and light corn syrup.  Since I’m still pregnant, I figured why not try out a recipe today.  Salted caramel was the winner!  I made caramel last week for the banana cream tarts and had enough to use for this recipe.  First, I whipped up a batch of vanilla marshmallows.  Then, quickly, I split the “batter” to make caramel ones, and then swirled the two together.  The marshmallows need to rest in a baking dish for 6-8 hours before they are ready to eat.  By the time we had finished our dinner, the mallows were ready!  The salty, sweetness of the caramel combined with the vanilla was a perfect union of flavor.  It was hard not to eat the whole lot of them.  Get the book, make these perfect puffs of flavor and enjoy!

A Guinness and Bailey’s Cupcake

For some time now, my dad has been on ancestry.com trying to learn more about our family history.  What I know of my heritage is that I’m, 50% Russian Jew, 25% Slovak, and 25% euro mix.  Part of that mix is British Isles, but not sure if its absolutely at all from Ireland.  Good thing on St. Patrick’s Day, anyone can be Irish!  Fun fact, St. Patrick’s Day was created to celebrate the arrival of Christianity to Ireland.  St. Patrick used shamrocks to describe the Holy Trinity to the polytheistic population of Ireland.  Typically St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in church, wearing green, and lifting lenten food and alcohol restrictions for that day.  Desiree over at Honey Dearest makes chocolate stout cupcakes with irish cream buttercream to celebrate this holiday.  Since we were finally invited to a St. Patty’s Day party, I decided to join her for this new tradition!

My darling children, or “wee bairns”, love to help me whenever they can in the kitchen.  Now that they are getting a bit older, I’m more willing to let them help, but at 4 and 2 and a half, it can still be a challenge.  Each one gets a turn to help measure and dump ingredients into the bowls.  Its a great little activity when I actually have the patience to let them do it.  They especially LOVE sampling all that they have helped create.  This recipe was a bit tricky though, what with the beer and Bailey’s.  The kids did get to sample the cupcake, but with some homemade whipped cream on top, rather than the Irish cream laced buttercream. 

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Tartine’s Amazing Banana Cream Tart!!

For quite some time now, since our move back to the East Coast, I’ve been wanting to try out my skill in making Tartine’s Banana Cream Tart.  While in SF, we lived about 2 miles south of Tartine.  I’d load the kids up in the stroller, hike up Guerrero, then park my self at a table with a giant latte and usually a morning bun.  On a “special” occassion I’d reward myself with the banana cream tart.  I mean, I did just walk 2 miles, pushing a stroller, up hill….  Plus, I had to walk walk 2 miles back home too.  If you are in San Francisco, you MUST get yourself a banana cream tart.  At least share it with a friend!

This tart was challenging but fun to make!  There were a few different parts that needed to be made and then put together to create this perfect masterpiece; pastry dough, caramel, pastry cream, and whipped cream.  Be ready for lots of pictures.  I shall now take you on my delicious journey.  

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Grilled Asparagus Sandwich

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I’m a Pinterest-aholic.  That’s right kids, it finally has happened.  My pinning is under control, but I can barely wait a day or two to try the newest recipes I find!  To keep myself organized, I’ve created a “Recipes to Try” folder, so then I can keep track of what I’ve made and liked, and what I have made and disliked.  For example, the “guaranteed” crispy sweet potato fries, they were not crispy.  In fact, they were quite soggy and chalky.  They came off my list.  The pineapple smoothie, thats a keeper!    

Picture from Taking time for Mommy

Yesterday I saw a recipe for a roasted asparagus sandwich on a baguette.  Now, I’m an asparagus newbie.  Until about a year ago, I would never have even tried the stuff.  In California I was introduced to some amazing ways to prepare it and fell in love!  Its one of my favorite veggies to make.  When I saw this sandwich, I was pretty psyched! 

This morning I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some thin asparagus and a fresh baguette.  The sandwich also includes pickled red onions, a hardboiled egg, dijon mustard, and dill.  I also added some pecorino romano cheese and some Muldon’s flakey sea salt.  My first step was to make the hard boiled egg.  Once I had taken the egg off heat, I began making my asparagus.  To prepare the asparagus (about 5 pieces), I snapped off the woody ends, tossed them lightly in some olive oil and garlic and then put them on my grill pan.  You’ll want to keep them on a medium to medium-high heat and move them every now and then to make sure you get some good grill marks.  I cooked them for about 6 minutes. 

When the egg was done, my asparagus grilled and my onions pickled, I began to build my sandwich.  It was AMAZING.  Pretty sure this is my new favorite thing to eat.  If you were sitting next to me while I was eating this sandwich you would have thought I was eating the most decadent dessert I’d ever tasted.  This never happens with me and veggies.  Looks like my Pinterest addiction worked out in my favor this round.  Try something new and put this sandwich in your belly.  Seriously.  

Grilled Asparagus Sandwich

**Update:  Made this sandwich again for dinner, and this time when I pickled the red onions, I also added shredded carrots.  It added a little something extra to the taste of the whole sandwich.  The hubs loved it and thinks next time we should try it as a pizza!  I like where he’s going with this.

Springy Smoothie

In honor of the beautiful weather, I have decided to do a smoothie post!  There has been a pineapple smoothie floating around my pinterest boards.  Luckily I had some fresh pineapple recently cut up in my fridge and a banana laying around ready to be used.  I made just a few modifications to the recipe.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie

- 1.5 cup diced pineapple

- 1.5 cup frozen strawberries

- 1 banana

- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

- 1/2 T sugar

- 3/4 cup water

Toss all ingredients into your blender and blend well.  Pour into two glasses and share one with someone you love :).  (If you aren’t 37 weeks pregnant or sharing with a child, go ahead and replace that water with some sparkling wine!)

Oh my strawberry yogurt cake…

As my pregnancy is coming to a close, 36.5 weeks and counting, I’m trying to fit in as many recipes as I can before the long and tired nights begin.  I may have expressed my love of strawberries before, but I think this next dessert took my love to a new level.  I now give you, the strawberry yogurt cake.

When I found this recipe I was pretty excited because it is baked in a bunt pan.  I have never made any bunt cake recipe because up until about 3 weeks ago, I did not have a bunt pan.  Luckily I made my way over to Home Goods and finally bought the cake pan I’ve been lusting over.  

Currently, strawberries are not in season, however, you can find them just about anywhere.  Here on the East Coast they are pumping them up from Florida, though I prefer the California ones.  These off season berries were actually perfect for this recipe because they were not too juicy and not to sweet so they did not overwhelm the taste of the cake.  When a strawberry is picked, it does not continue to ripen, it remains as is until it goes bad, making the shelf life not so long, hence the “buy one get one free” deals.  My family can eat about one package of strawberries until they are good for a little, so we always have that “free” one left over.  Luckily this recipe uses a full package.  No waste here!

The recipe is pretty typical, shift the dry ingredients, cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, and so on.  Adding Greek yogurt to cakes and breads is a great way to add moisture to what you are baking.  Be sure to choose a good quality brand such as Fage or Chobani.  Instead of regular lemons, I used Meyer lemons which when in season, are often a delicious and unique substitute.  Fun fact:  coating the strawberries with flour helps them to grab onto the batter and not sink to the bottom of the pan.  Be sure to grease up that pan so that when your cake has cooled enough, it slides right out of the pan.  Once the cake is cooled, you can add the glaze.  I added an extra tablespoon of lemon juice to make it extra drizzly.

Basically all I have to say about this cake is WOW.  I had one slice to start.  It was beautifully light and buttery, as if a pound cake married an angel food cake.  The outside developed a nice little caramelization so there was the slightest delicate crunch before you get into the moist center.  Before I knew it, my slice was gone and I was going back for seconds.  I am pretty sure by the end of the day, I had, <gasp>, 4 slices total!!  Oh sweet heaven, the cake was delightful.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Thai Fruit Salad

Just the other day I stumbled across the new Bobby Deen show called, “Not My Mama’s Meals.”  Bobby Deen is the son of Paula Deen and his new show takes her recipes and makes them lighter and healthier.  I actually have never made any of Paula’s recipes, though I do use her knives.  Her food looks delicious if not sinful, and I drool each time I watch her show.  I’ve been interested to catch Bobby’s show for a while now so I was happy to see it was on.  The only part that I caught was for Thai Fruit salad, a modification on Paula’s Fresh Fruit Salad with Creamy Custard.  It looked wonderful!

One of my favorite things about this recipe was the ease of remembering the ingredients.  I was able to watch the segment just once, and while at the store today, I remembered everything I needed.  Plus, most of the ingredients are quite unique to traditional fruit salad such as sriracha, sesame oil, scallions, and coconut milk.

Only two types of fruit are used in this salad, mango and pineapple. To pick a ripe mango, make sure that it is heavy and smells fragrant.  You should be able to push your thumb into it to make an imprint, but it should not feel squishy.  If you have never cut up a mango before, make sure you check here so that you do not get too frustrated.  Its quite easy once you know what you are doing.  To pick a ripe pineapple, try to pull a leaf from the middle of the fruit.  If it comes out easily, then the pineapple is ripe and ready to be used.  Cutting a pineapple can also be a little tricky, so make sure you study up if you’ve never done it before.

Once I had the pineapple and mango cut up, I was able to quickly mix up the sauce and add the fruit directly to the bowl.  The strongly acidic fruits met the coconut milk in pure harmony and you’ll see from the recipe, that adding honey to the sauce helps to cut some of the heat of the sriracha.  Its a deliciously light salad, easy to make, and can be enjoyed by all!  

Thai Fruit Salad

Tartine’s “Basic” Country Bread

The day has finally come for me to brag about my successful baking of Tartine’s “basic” country bread!  After failing to make my first starter, I pushed forward and created a new one.  Wild yeast can be finicky, or maybe I just did not grasp it well enough the first time around.  My second starter had a better overall appearance and smell, and within 4 days of starting the feeding process, I had a mature starter.  Within a few hours of feeding I could see the rising and falling process happen.  Once you see this consistently, you are ready to bake some bread!  

"A baker’s true skill lies in the way he or she manages fermentation.  This is the soul of bread making." -Tartine Bread

Risen leaven

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