June 8, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

One of my favorite cookie recipes (yes, it's from Martha Stewart's Cookies, big surprise, I know) is for banana chocolate chip cookies. They are an amazing--I would even say inspired--combination of banana bread and a chocolate chip cookie. You literally taste both in every bite, and it is a delectable experience. (I am surprised that I haven't posted that recipe on this site yet, but I will.) 

I do like to try new recipes rather than dwell on old ones, though. So when I came across a recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins, I felt like it was a legitimate new recipe to try, even though it thoroughly satisfied my banana chocolate chip complex. (I found the original recipe in Food & Wine, to which I have a free (!) subscription. The subscription came with the purchase of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer---a "wedding" present of sorts from my mother, back when she knew I was about to be engaged, even though I didn't find out for another 3 months. People around here can really keep a secret!) Since my dear friend Brittany loves the banana chocolate chip cookies as much as I do, I thought I'd bring an adapted version of these muffins for her last day at work. 

Fresh out of the oven, these are amazing--a good cake-y texture, with big banana-y flavor and gooey melted chocolate oozing throughout. If you aren't serving them right away, consider reheating them just before serving. The warmth really highlights the flavors and the texture. Toasted pecans are, as far as I'm concerned, an essential addition either way. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 large, overripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, melted butter, bananas and eggs. Mix thoroughly.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until the batter is combined.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips and toasted pecans.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 28 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool muffins for 10 minutes in pan on rack. Enjoy warm, or allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Makes 12 muffins

June 1, 2010

Fruit and Nut Trail Mix

About a month ago, I decided to make my own trail mix. I kept my eye on nuts and dried fruit every time I went to a grocery store, looking for good deals. I slowly accumulated the ingredients I wanted to use and finally got everything together to make it today.

Now, I wasn't totally sure that this is a good idea. I mean, it's easy enough to get some pre-made trail mix from the store. But, most things are better homemade and this is no exception. You can control the ingredients, so you don't have to have any cheap filler---just all of your favorites. You can control how sweet or how salty it is. You can decide whether or not to include chocolate...

I started with raw almonds from the Chico's Farmer's Market, raw pecans and roasted cashews from Costco, and dried blueberries and dried cherries from Trader Joe's. I just roasted my raw nuts, then tossed everything together for a filling, portable snack. I even pre-packed some so that I can throw this in my purse to nibble on when I'm running errands.

Fruit and Nut Trail Mix
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 cups almonds
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 1/2 cups cashews
  • 3/4 dried blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cherries, roughly chopped
  1. If your nuts are already roasted, you can skip this step. If your nuts are raw: preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, drizzle nuts with olive oil and toss to coat. (I used 1 tablespoon of oil for 4 cups of nuts.) Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Cool on sheet.
  2. In a large bow, mix together fruit and nuts. Taste to see if you want to add more of any ingredient for a different taste or texture combination. Enjoy!