Mixed Bag Monday (part 17): Party Salads

I am always trying to get more inspired to make side dishes. I mean to do more, but I usually get more excited about main courses and desserts. Occasionally I come across recipes I save, hoping for a reason to make them. Today I am sharing a few pictures from two recipes that were okay but not ones I would likely repeat.

The first comes from How Sweet Eats. I did not have a melon baller, and did not wish to pay more than a few dollars for one, sooooo we didn’t do balls. Forgive us? K helped me by cutting the watermelon. It was fairly easy to make…

Chopped produce and a vinaigrette mixed together is simple. But, the final dish was only “fine” and nothing spectacular.

Next I made a farro salad from America’s Test Kitchen. I liked this one more, but I would have liked less farro and more of the other ingredients.

I also made the mistake of doubling the recipe when a single batch would have been sufficient. My family always makes too much food for things.

Maybe I should have just done this and left out the farro? Then K might have tried it.

I liked it, but it was too much for just me to finish since I’m also still trying to convince the Fudgelet of farro’s merits.

Do you have any successful party salads to share?

 

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Mixed Berry Scones

I’ve made lots of scone recipes and decided to try a new one for my dad. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I will try it again for sure, but I am not sure if it is a real keeper over my other berry scones. Berries always make scones a bit more challenging and a bit more rustic-looking. These were so hard to form into scones, but the end result was delicious. So, that is why I will try them again, because maybe I need to practice it further. I just had a challenge keeping the dough together.

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Apple Rose Pastries

The Fudgelet and I don’t really watch television, but we do watch some YouTube videos together. Especially baking ones. One of our favorites to watch together is Rosanna Pansino’s channel. At first, I thought she was a little annoying, but then she grew on me and I like watching what she makes. The videos are usually short and colorful with easy descriptions the Fudgelet can follow. He has watched enough baking videos with me to now say things like “stir until well-combined” and “are you using the paddle attachment?”.

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Flour Bakery’s Banana Bread

I’ve made my dad banana bread numerous times now. And when he has been happy each time, it seemed silly to bother looking for another recipe when the first one had been doing so well. Except for one problem…I didn’t have yogurt. I also didn’t have much time to go buy yogurt, and I wanted to make the bread ASAP to freeze it and have it ready to ship. Then I decided to search through my cookbooks and see if I had any other prospects.

99% of the recipes I have made from my Flour Bakery cookbook have turned out amazing, so I decided to check and see if they had a recipe. I didn’t think they would…and yet they did! More importantly, I had all of the ingredients because I happened to have sour cream in my fridge. It seemed meant to be. So, I turned my dad into a guinea pig once again…although because I didn’t trust it entirely, I put a little extra batter into a ramekin and baked it alongside the loaf. The Fudgelet, K, and I could have a small taste test to make sure it wasn’t bad. Not only was it not bad, but it had me rethinking my thoughts on banana as an ingredient (I usually only eat it raw). Impressive, and definitely the recipe I will try again the next time my dad asks for banana bread. My only complaint is I need to cook it even longer. My dad likes his treats dry. Cakes, breads, etc. So, this was a little too moist for him, even with my extended baking time. So, the plan for next time is to use only 2 bananas (I used 2.5-3) and to bake for 1.5 hours instead of 1.25 hours.

One of my favorite parts of this recipe is that the nuts are evenly dispersed. That means the top is smooth and the bread more uniform. With my other recipe, occasionally some nuts would burn on top. This solves that issue.

Directions for Flour Bakery’s Banana Bread

Adapted from Flour

  • 210 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 230 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 300 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream (I used sour cream)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan. In a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. On low speed, slowly drizzle the oil into the stand mixer bowl over the course of a minute.

Add the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla, mixing on low speed until combined.

Use a spatula to fold the flour mixture and nuts into the stand mixer bowl.

There should be no flour streaks, and the nuts evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1-1.5 hours, until golden brown and the center springs back when you press it with your finger. Let it cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before removing it to finish cooling.

Directions for Flour Bakery’s Banana Bread (without pictures)

Adapted from Flour

  • 210 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 230 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 300 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream (I used sour cream)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan. In a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. On low speed, slowly drizzle the oil into the stand mixer bowl over the course of a minute. Add the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla, mixing on low speed until combined.

Use a spatula to fold the flour mixture and nuts into the stand mixer bowl. There should be no flour streaks, and the nuts evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1-1.5 hours, until golden brown and the center springs back when you press it with your finger. Let it cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before removing it to finish cooling.

 

Vanilla Cake with Blueberries, Chocolate Ganache Frosting, and Spooky Marshmallow Spiderwebs

Woohoo! I’m back to recipes with long titles. Well, I’ve already done some of those post-baby, and this one really wasn’t hard to do. The cake recipe was straightforward to make, even with a little Fudgelet hanging around snacking on the blueberries.

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Dutch Baby with a Strawberry Topping

I made a Dutch baby before, and recently I decided to try a different recipe because I wasn’t sure if I still liked my old one. This isn’t that different, but seemed to make a much fluffier, custardy, and yummier oven pancake. I especially liked it with some simmered strawberries.

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Simmered strawberries are great, especially if your strawberries have sat in the fridge a little too long. Sometimes they are a little too soft to enjoy fresh, but they are perfect for a topping like this. They are usually extra sweet and juicy, which is ideal for simmering. I didn’t take too many pictures since the process for making these is almost identical to the other recipe I posted, but I highly recommend them.

Directions for Dutch Baby with a Strawberry Topping

Adapted from The Faux Martha (who also adapted it some from Joy the Baker)

Dutch Baby

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the butter in a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and place it in the oven while the oven preheats. It will melt and get bubbly.

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Chiffon Cake with Peach Mascarpone Buttercream

This is posting almost 3 months after the fact, and you might think peaches aren’t ideal in October…but here is K’s birthday cake from this summer. I am here to let you know that the peach in the cake is purely from a jelly, so you can make it anytime of year. He requested a peach cake. When I looked into cakes with peaches, I saw that usually they are more of a topping since that is the best way to enjoy peach (raw). I thought about making a strawberry shortcake type of peach cake, but then saw a mascarpone buttercream that I thought would be really yummy. I then decided a peach jelly would be good to connect the flavors. I ended up using a peach/mango flavor I found that K really liked.

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