Nicci Morris

Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Banana bread with a delicious twist…

In Food, Recipes on October 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm
I started making this a few years ago. I was using up old bananas to make a quickbread when I decided to add toasted hazelnuts and cocoa. I’m going to make some this weekend. It freezes great, too, which makes enjoying it in moderation easier! Yum…

Chocolate-Banana-Hazelnut Bread
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (can use substitute, of course)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 too-ripe-to-eat bananas, mashed
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (or more if you like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan with a non-stick/flour spray. (Or you can, of course, butter and flour it.)

Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Let cool. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the bananas, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Fold (don’t beat) the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. (Batter will be chunky. Don’t fret.) Fold in hazelnuts. Scrape batter into pan. Bake about 50 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.

And just try not to pick at the edges while it cools…

Like (but better than) peas and carrots…

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Photo by Tom Curtis

Photo by Tom Curtis

Peanut butter and jam. Hummus and pita. Sweet potatoes and cinnamon.

Some things just go together.

With crisp days, clear skies and plenty of leaf peeping, I start to crave the delicious (and, dare I say, diabolical) duo of cake doughnuts and apple cider. I don’t know many people who can resist a cake doughnut, what with its slightly firm and crusty honey-brown exterior that gives way (with a delectable crunch) to a light, moist and fluffy center. The best are the rather substantial ones with a bit of homemade heft. And they must have those glorious, toothsome ridges on the bottom, all without leaving so much as a hint of a greasy film on the palate. And real, fresh apple cider is a treat, whether it’s served cold and refreshing or hot and soothing, finished with a cinnamon stick.

The family and I going on a hayride at a local farm this weekend, where we will pick out pumpkins and have our fill of cider. Then it’s back home for some messy Jack o’ lantern-ing, doughnut making and seed roasting… Good times. I’ll post recipes and pictures this weekend.

What are some of your favorite fall treats? What food or drink do you crave when the leaves turn and the temperature drops?

Photo courtesy of

Smarter snacking…

In Food, Recipes on October 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Given the choice between sweet and savory, I’ll go with the latter every single time. So when I’m in the mood to snack, I often reach for something crunchy, salty and packed with umami.

How about baked garbanzo beans? I think of it as super-portable and poppable hummus. They’re perfect for on-the-run snacking or eating during a movie or a game. They’re delicious, simple and a more healthful way to satisfy your craving. So put down the potato chips and the pretzels and grab a handful of these instead. Oh, and I challenge you to eat just one handful…

Hummus Crunch
2 (16 oz.) cans garbanzo beans
Non-stick cooking spray (or you can use olive oil, just enough to coat)
Garlic powder to taste
Lemon pepper seasoning (regular or salt-free) to taste
Chili powder to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Rinse and drain beans. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the beans on the baking sheet. Give the beans a quick spritz. While the beans are still moist, sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, stirring every ten minutes or so for even browning.

What’s for dinner? Pork Chops with White Wine-Caper Sauce

In Food, Recipes on October 2, 2009 at 2:46 am

When it comes to cooking, I am all about ROI. I love to create simple recipes that taste as if they took lots of work. And if a recipe is labor-intensive, it better be well-worth the toil and trouble. Today I made something that tastes like it took lots of time and work, but it actually requires little effort.

Whenever I’m short on inspiration, I head directly for the refrigerator, the freezer and the pantry and pretend I’m competing on “Iron Chef.” What do I have on hand that I can make look, feel, smell and, of course, taste amazing? What will be the perfect foil of the day? That’s what led me to make this dish for the first time years ago. I adore tart, bright and briny flavors so I always have a jar of capers on hand.

I know an incredibly gifted chef who taught me his concept of “the perfect bite.” It’s an exacting balance of flavor and texture, a miniature representation of everything on the plate… and proof positive that you have created a perfect and delicious meal. And that is what I strive to attain each time I fire up the stove: The Perfect Bite. Tonight that consisted of pork chops served with a sauce of white wine and capers. I served it with garlicky roasted red potatoes and asparagus.

Nicci Morris

By Nicci Morris

Pork Chops with White Wine and Caper Sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

2 pounds pork chops, fat trimmed (chicken breast cutlets would also work well)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (plus more for seasoning meat)

3/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning (plus more for seasoning meat)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. While oil heats, combine flour, garlic powder, lemon pepper seasoning and thyme. Season each pork chop with garlic powder and lemon pepper seasoning. Dredge seasoned chops in flour, lightly coating each. Place chops in hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer chops to a foil-lined baking sheet and place in oven to finish cooking through, 15-20 minutes.

While chops finish in the oven, put butter in a small saucepan. When butter has melted, add onion and garlic. Saute over medium-high heat until onions have just started to caramelize and garlic is fragrant. Add capers, pepper and wine. Let the sauce come to a gentle boil to help the sauce reduce and thicken, about 8 minutes. Serve sauce over pork chops.