August 1, 2011


Banana Bread is an American favorite that can not be matched for the Amazing aroma that comes from the kitchen while it bakes.  Making Banana Bread into Muffins makes it practical to place in a school or office brown bag lunch or to use as individual desserts.  For the most amazing dessert bake these Banana Bread Muffins and place a scoop of high quality Vanilla Ice Cream in the center of a Muffin cut into quarters and then top with Banana Pineapple Foster Sauce.  I know, my butt is already too big, too, but this is an amazing dessert and you deserve to splurge once in a while.  Big butt or not, when something tastes this good it is worth Cooking The Amazing for.

Here is the recipe.

2  Sticks Butter Softened
1 1/2 c   Sugar
1 c  Dark Brown Sugar
2  Large Eggs
1 c  Whole Milk
1/2 c  Sour Cream
2 t  Vanilla Extract
1 t  Almond Extract
6  Over Ripened Medium Bananas
4 c  All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 t  Baking Soda
1 1/2 t Baking Powder
3/4 t  Fine Grain Sea Salt
1  1/4 t  Ground Cinnamon
1/8 t  Ground Ginger
12 oz  Toasted Black Walnut Pieces
           or Toasted Pecan Pieces
1 c  Dark Brown Sugar (for tops)
OPTIONAL:  1 1/2 c  Dark Chocolate Chips

1.  Prepare ahead and use very ripe and black spotted Bananas, the kind that fruit flies swarm and allow the Butter and Eggs to come to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare Muffin pans with Cupcake papers.  This makes about 20-22 large Muffins or 30 regular sized Muffins.

2.  In a large mixing bowl with a hand held mixer or the bowl of a KitchenAid Mixer using the paddle attachment cream the Butter, Sugar and 1 c Dark Brown Sugar for 4 minutes.  It will look grainy. 
3.  To this bowl, add the 2 Eggs, Milk, Sour Cream, Vanilla and Almond Extracts and mix until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
4.  In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the Bananas until uniform and mushy, about 2 minutes.

5.  Add the Bananas to the other bowl and mix well into the mixture.
6. In a large bowl using a rubber spatula, mix well the Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Sea Salt, Cinnamon and Ground Ginger.  Then sift this mixture over the wet ingredients.  Mix for about 1 minute using a hand mixer.
TIP:  To toast the Walnut pieces (or Pecan pieces) place in a dry skillet over medium heat on the stove top and stir very frequently until the begin to brown and become fragrant.  Watch very closely because they can burn quickly.

7.  Add the Toasted Walnut Pieces or Pecans and fold in well.  If you are adding the optional Dark Chocolate Chips, add them now.  I recommend Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate Chips because they taste Amazing and are affordable.  Of course, if you have a block of Valrhona Chocolate around use it chopped into chunks.  No one will complain.

8.  Fill the Muffin cups 3/4 full and then sprinkle the tops with 1 c Dark Brown Sugar evenly divided and place in a preheated 375 degree oven on center rack. Rotate the pans 1/2 way through cooking time.  For large Muffins bake for 24-30 minutes or until the tops are browned and a tooth picks come out clean.  For regular sized Muffins bake for 20-25 minutes.  For traditional Banana Bread loaves, divide into two large loaf pans and bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and tops are evenly browned.  Your house will smell AMAZING while this bakes.  Allow to cool in the pan.

TIP:  For an even bigger butt:  Make a layered dessert by slicing Banana Bread Muffins and layering them with Grandma's Banana Pudding Recipe and topping with Homemade Whipped Cream for another delicious end to a meal.


Greek Salad made with crisp Romaine Lettuce, Salty Feta Cheese and lots of summer Vegetables right from your garden can make a great starter Salad or served with sliced Grilled Chicken on top, a complete meal.  Making your own Greek Salad Dressing using fresh Basil and Lemon juice takes this Salad from great to Amazing.  It can all be made ahead and the Greek Salad Dressing added at the last minute for a crisp Salad.  Serve this delicious Salad with Grilled Fish or my Amazing Grilled Shrimp with Lemon or Grilled Lamb or Chicken.  The Greek Salad Dressing call also be used as a marinade for grilled Meats to carry the Greek flavor into the whole meal or as a Dressing for any Salad you want to make.  It doesn't have to be a Greek Salad to enjoy this bright and tasty Dressing.
To make the most Amazing Greek Salad be sure to use Fresh Lemon juice you squeeze yourself, Fresh Basil and Feta Cheese that you crumble yourself that comes in a brine and you will be Cooking The Amazing!

Here is the recipe.


2  Cloves Garlic finely chopped
1/4 c  Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
            (about 2 Lemons)
3 T  Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 c  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 t  Dijon Mustard
25 Fresh Basil leaves
3 t  Dried of Fresh Oregano
1/2 t  Fine Grain Sea Salt
1 t  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 1/2 t  Sugar

1.  Plan ahead.  This Greek Salad Dressing tastes best when prepared and refrigerated 1-2 hours ahead.  Chop 2 Cloves of Garlic finely and place in a blender.

2.  Squeeze fresh Lemon juice from about 2 Lemons for a total of 1/4 c.  Rolling the Lemons on the counter with the palm of your hand using firm pressure will make them easier to juice.  Pour Lemon juice in the blender with the Garlic.
3.  Place all of the other ingredients into the blender:  Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Oregano, Basil leaves, Sugar, and Dijon Mustard.  Puree for 1 minute until well mixed.  Taste and then correct for Salt or Pepper or more Basil, Lemon juice, etc.  Adjust it to your taste.  The flavor will improve as it sits refrigerated and tastes best after 1-2 hours of refrigeration.  It can be used right away but the full flavor potential comes with sitting refrigerated.  It will last 3-5 days refrigerated.

COPYRIGHT (c) 2011

4.   To use this Greek Salad Dressing as a marinade place Chicken, Beef, Shrimp, Lamb, Fish or Lobster in a large ziplock bag with the Dressing and distribute well all over the Meat or Fish.  Seal tightly and refrigerate 1-2 hours before removing and grilling, basting with the Dressing as needed as it grills.


1 Recipe of Greek Salad Dressing (above)
2 Hearts of Romaine Lettuce Chopped
1/2  of a Medium Red Onion sliced thin
2  Medium Tomatoes diced
1  Medium Cucumber peeled and sliced
1/2 c  Kalamata Olives, pitted
8 oz.  Fresh Feta Cheese in brine
1 Lemon to squeeze fresh juice
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1.  Have a large bowl ready.  Prepare the Red Onions by slicing them thin and in rings.
2.  Wash and dry hearts of Romaine Lettuce and chop into large bite size pieces.  Toss with the Red Onion slices in the large bowl.
3.  Prepare all of the other Veg.  Peel and slice Cucumbers into thick 1/2 moons and large dice Tomatoes.  Set aside.

4.  Pour 1/2 of the prepared Greek Salad Dressing onto the Romaine Lettuce and Red Onions and gently toss to coat well.
5.  Add the sliced Cucumbers and diced Tomatoes.  Drain the Kalamata Olives and crumble the Feta Cheese after removing from the brine then add them to the Salad and gently toss with more of the Greek Salad Dressing to your desired taste.  Squeeze fresh Lemon juice over the finished Salad and add a few grinds of fresh Black Pepper and serve immediately.

COPYRIGHT (c) 2011