Streusel Banana Bread

So was anyone brave enough to get on the scale yesterday morning?  Not me!!!  No way!  I am definitely one who would just get depressed and drown my sorrows in more food.  Better for me not to see a number until next week, after I have worked off all those extra calories and carbs.

I know this picture and recipe isn't helping any of us return to our healthier eating habits.  But now that it is officially the "Holiday Season" I can post nothing but sugar/carb/fat stuffed yummies and not have to apologize!
This bread is not your normal, everyday banana bread.  Sure, the streusel on top makes it special, but the layer of streusel in the middle just makes it indulgent!  My kids ate the whole loaf in one breakfast, so it was definitely a success.  Your family will never want boring ol' banana bread again!

Streusel Banana Bread
(makes one loaf)
recipe adapted from Canadian Living
1 1/2 C mashed over-ripe bananas, about 4 medium
1 C sugar
1/2 C butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

2/3 C brown sugar
1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 Tb cold butter

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x5" loaf pan with nonstick spray.
2.  Prepare the streusel by combining the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Set in the refrigerator until ready to use.
3.  In a large bowl, beat together the bananas, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.  Stir just until combined.  Spoon half of the batter into the greased loaf pan and top with half of the streusel mixture.  Add the remaining batter, then top with the remaining streusel.
4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 65-70 minutes until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.  Store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.

Homemade Syrup

My hubby travels a lot.  Really a lot.  I try not to complain about it too much because his absence means his consulting business is doing well.  He opened his own business over four years ago and the first 18 months was painful.  I will take him being gone anytime over silently watching our savings be devoured as he waited for new contracts.

Since he is gone so much, I serve a lot of breakfast foods for dinner.  My kids really enjoy it, and I enjoy the quick prep times.  

My kiddos do have a couple stipulations however when it comes to the whole breakfast/dinner switcheroo:
  1. All pancakes and waffles must be made from scratch.  No Krusteaz mix allowed.
  2. Homemade syrup is the only way to go. 

I can't blame them for either of those points.  While there are a few decent mixes for pancakes and waffles, there is no substitute for a scratch recipe.  I have many of them and was surprised that I have only posted these three on my blog so far.  I will have to share all my others soon!

There is not one member of our family that prefers store-bought syrup to this stuff.  I always have a batch of it in my cupboard.  Always.  If we are being extra-indulgent with our toppings though, we break out the buttermilk syrup, this syrup, whipped cream, fresh strawberries, chocolate chips and some sauteed cinnamon-sugar apples.  Mix and match them however you want on top of your pancake/waffle.  Heaven!

Homemade Syrup
(makes about 2 Cups)
2 C white sugar
1 C water
1 1/4 tsp maple flavoring

1.  In a medium saucepan, measure out the sugar.  Add the water, but do not mix together!!!  Bring to a boil over high heat and again, do not mix or even swirl!!!  Allow to boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.  Stir in the maple flavoring and serve.  Can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 1 month.

Note:  Why not stir until it is finished?  Because once your syrup cools to room temperature, you will have sugar crystals that form in the syrup.  Leave it alone and you will have a smmmooooottthhhhh result :)

Pork Carnitas

Well, we all survived another election season.  Just in time to make us extra cranky for the holidays, right?

Do your favorite food blogger a favor please?  Pour all your frustrations, anger and crankiness from the election process/results into something productive.  Like food :)
I promise you (and a real promise, not a politician-type promise) that this meat will make you happy, mellow and in the greatest mood you have been in for months.  Promise!
While there are a few extra steps to this recipe, none of them are hard or time consuming.  The end result however is out of this world.  I have made these twice already in a very short period of time and have the fixings in the fridge for Round #3.  The meat is completely melt-in-your-mouth, while the caramelization on the outside multiplies that amazing flavors.  We have a hard time not eating it all before we get the chance to stick some in a tortilla :)

Pork Carnitas
(recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
4 pound boneless pork butt, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tb fresh lime juice
2 C water
1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

1.  Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat to 300 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven, including the spent orange halves and juice.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered.  Once it simmers, cover pot and transfer it to the oven.  Cook until the meat falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours.
2.  Remove the pot from the oven and turn on the broiler.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Remove and discard everything from the pot except for the cooking liquid.  Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes.  You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining when it is finished.
3.  While the liquid is reducing, use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces.  Once the liquid has become a syrup, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot.  Try not to break up the pork any further.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper.
4.  Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat.  Place the jelly roll pan on the lower middle rack of the oven and broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and broil the other side until well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.  Serve immediately in a tortilla with all your favorite toppings.

Don't miss these other amazing Tex-Mex Dishes!