Sunday, October 11, 2015

Substitution Sundays - Bananas

There are many different recipes that call for eggs, particularly when it comes to baked goods, but with the rising price of eggs it seems like a good idea to find ways to bake without eggs. There are certainly many recipes that do not call for this "liquid gold" (my mother, referencing the $2.50 she spent on a single dozen), but there are also ways to replace eggs with other binding ingredients. Bananas work really well as a substitute for things like muffins and sweet breads because they enhance the sweetness. Typically one mashed banana can be used in place of one whole egg.

When to replace an egg with a banana:
Use a banana instead of an egg if you don't mind your muffins, breads, or other things tasting like banana in addition to the other ingredients. If you want a very robust blueberry muffin, a banana might take away from the star of the show. However, if you want some nutty bran muffins, the banana might make your breakfast take on a whole new level of awesome. 
When to use the egg:
Use the egg if you are making pancakes. I tried substituting an extra banana for the egg in my banana pancakes and I ended up with a very thin stack of pancakes. I think this may be because the banana just wasn't up to the task of holding together the gluten network that needs to form for pancakes to get fluffy. Also use the egg if you aren't looking for banana undertones in your food. 

Note: I've never tried substituting bananas in cookies... If any of you have, let me know how that turned out! I may need to experiment with that. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Fall is officially underway! This is, therefore, my obligatory pumpkin-related post. Those who know me at all likely have heard me gush about my pumpkin obsession, which I will attempt to keep in check. It may be hard. After all, pumpkin is so versatile and tasty! That's probably why my fun fact lately has been that I am obsessed with pumpkin... I even wrote about it in Spanish class last year.

Enough about this fixation of mine. I came up with this dessert when I was trying to figure out what to do with the evaporated milk I had left from making my best friend a German chocolate cake for her 22nd. Since it was also my 22nd just days after hers, and we weren't celebrating until the weekend, I decided I needed a little pumpkin to mark the occasion. I also had a slice of bread that was on the verge of being stale, some shredded coconut and walnuts. The bread was really what inspired me because I realized it would nicely soak up the evaporated milk. Throw in a little bit of Trader Joe's pumpkin butter, some extra spices, and voila: pumpkin bread pudding.

Ingredients (2-3 half cup servings):
1/2 c evaporated milk
1/8-1/4 c pumpkin butter
Dash each of almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
1-2 slices bread, chopped
Shredded coconut and walnuts to top

Begin by mixing together the evaporated milk, pumpkin butter, almond extract, and spices. Add everything to taste, but use my measurements as a general guideline.

Next, scatter your bread in an even layer along the bottom of a buttered or oiled pie pan (any baking dish will do) and pour the milk mixture over the top, coating as best as possible.

Top with coconut shreds and chopped walnuts, if desired, and bake at 350 °F for 15-20 minutes. This version of bread pudding is ready to eat when it has started to turn a golden brown and the liquid has thickened and been soaked up by the bread.

Enjoy that warm goodness with friends, or with Netflix.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Substitution Sundays - Nuts vs Croutons

The idea I am presenting today is certainly not new; plenty of restaurants use various nuts in place of croutons in salads. This should appeal to college students, too, because the nuts you might use for muffins or even trail mixes can also serve as a crunchy substitute in any salad. For someone who doesn't necessarily eat salads that often, this can be particularly helpful. You no longer have a random bag of croutons sitting around going stale, but instead have a useful container of nuts for snacks and use in other cooking or baking projects.

I nearly always have walnuts - they are less expensive than some of the other possibilities. These tasty nuts go well with everything including banana muffins, chocolate-chip pancakes, baked sweet potatoes, and, yes, salads. Toss your salad with your choice dressing and sprinkle with walnuts. I typically go with a light, citrusy dressing when I use walnuts, but feel free to experiment.

The great thing about using nuts instead of croutons is that they provide quite a bit of protein for those salads that you may not add other forms of protein to, helping to make the meal more balanced. Of course, you should be aware that nuts also have significant fat content. It is important to eat them, like anything else, in moderation. That being said, toss a few on your salad and wow your taste buds!