Bologna to Bolognese: Adventures With Food

Food is necessary. Food is fun. Food is an adventure!

My name is Shannon and this is my adventure, my love affair with food.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Bread

It seems time for personal interest is now at somewhat of a premium in my life with my little one becoming mobile and more bold by the day. It seems each time I think I am prepared to restart my blogging I find I can't quiet get back on track. Regardless I think I'll give it another go because I miss sharing the goodies that come out of my kitchen! This week's gem was born of a craving for banana bread and the desire to not pack the baby in the car and make a trip to the market for additional ingredients. I must say I'm grateful though as resourcefulness was certainly the mother of a tasty invention "Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Bread.

It all started with a banana. I had been saving the last two icky spotted bananas for my favorite banana bread. Then the day I came downstairs to make it I found just one banana. (It turns out my husband is willing to eat very ripe fruit.) So now I was left with the ugly banana and no way to make the bread. I foraged around in the fruit bowl and came up with a wizened apple and the fridge yielded some leftover pineapple and after some consideration I decided it would do. (Really all you need is enough moisture for the bread and something that will have good flavor.)

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Bread


2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed fruit (In this case 1 banana and 1/2 can of drained pineapple chunks)
1 chopped apple (optional)


In a food processor blend the pineapple and banana until  well combined. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the other wet ingredients. Mix until well combined. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing continuously.  I like to add mine in three chunks. Once your batter is smooth pour it into the greased and floured baking vessel of your choice (Loaf pan, muffin tins, bunt pan, whatever you like) and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45-5- minutes.

This is a rich dense bread and should come out golden brown and delicious. I used my favorite Banana bread recipe as the base "Sheila's Banana Bread from the book "Bountiful Ohio Good" by James Hope and Susan Failor. I find it a simple and versatile base that always yields great bread so adapt and have fun!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Again the blog has been suspiciously silent as my attention has been diverted by a certain sweet boy. With all the new and delightful things he does each day I have slipped into a routine of easy unimaginative meals eaten quickly before little hands can snatch it off my plate and fling it to the floor. So I am of two minds with this weeks post. You should have seen this back in November and for that I am sorry. However I have this to share with you at a time when I've been too busy to make much of note and for that I am grateful. If you've followed the blog for a while you may note that this has a feel similar to the Harvest Pasta but it is it's own dish and a very nice twist on your traditional potato salad.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad


2 sweet potatoes
1 acorn squash (or firm, in season squash)
1tbsp garlic diced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayanne
1 onion
1-2 tart apples
lemon juice
s & p to taste
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
2tbsp basil vinegar

Preheat the oven to 450 f. Dice the onion and cube the sweet potatoes and squash and spread in one flat layer on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle the spices over top. Roast until tender (approximately 30-45 minutes) but not mushy. While the vegetables are roasting dice the apple and lightly dress it with lemon juice to prevent browning. Make the dressing by combining the salt, pepper and vinegars. Once the vegetables are done roasting remove them to a bowl and allow them to cool. Add the apple and the dressing. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. Some freshly grated nutmeg and a rough dice of some tarragon would be a nice finish.

This could also be made with grilled vegetables, some rough chopped nuts would add a nice crunch  and if you prefer a creamier potato salad you could add 1/4 cup good mayonnaise. Overall a fun and tasty alternative to traditional sides and perfect for any summer barbecue.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Brilliant Butterfinger Cake

So after a much longer hiatus than anticipated I am finally ready to settle back in and share some of the yummy goodness that has been meandering through my kitchen these past few months. I can think of no better way to celebrate the blog's return than with a decadent celebration cake I made for my husband's birthday. He loves peanut butter and if it's combined with chocolate all the better. So this year I decided to make a chocolate peanut butter cake. This is not just any chocolate peanut butter cake though. It's a three layer chocolate fudge cake dotted with peanut butter chips, sandwiched with fluffy peanut butter icing, then smothered with chocolate icing and topped with crushed Butterfingers candy.

Now we were out of town until right before his birthday so I had to cheat a little since I didn't have all the ingredients to make this from scratch. However there are numerous recipes available online both for the cake and the chocolate frosting. The chocolate frosting is actually one thing I definitely intend to change next time I make this sinful sweet. This time I used a prepared icing but next time I intend to top this cake with the thick fudge like icing my grandmother used to make for her icebox cake.

So understanding that these substitutions were for the sake of time, here's my version of a chocolate peanut butter cake.



1 recipe of your favorite chocolate cake (or 1 box mix)
1/2 package reeses peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate syrup (optional to use as a substitute for some of the required liquid in the recipe)

Peanut Butter Icing:

1 cup peanut butter
5 tbsp real unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk or cream
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt


1 recipe of your favorite rich chocolate icing (or 1 can prepared chocolate icing)
1/2 bag of butterfingers fun size candy bars crushed


Start with your favorite chocolate cake recipe (or in a pinch box mix). Since the peanut butter is such a strong flavor you will want to have a good balance so I find that a dark chocolate cake or a fudge chocolate cake is best to make sure the chocolate flavor is intense enough. I have listed chocolate syrup as an optional ingredient. I substituted chocolate syrup for part of the water called for by my box mix to add more chocolate flavor. It worked well but is not necessary.  Prepare the cake to specifications, add in the peanut butter chips, and separate evenly into three oiled and floured 9 inch cake pans (9 inch pans are ok too). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for at least ten minutes then remove from the pan and move to a rack to cool completely before icing.

Now for the peanut butter icing. This seemed easy enough and everything I read said it should be simple. All the same my first batch curdled on me and was a complete disaster. So I started over and was more careful. Start by creaming together the peanut butter and butter in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time. Next a pinch of salt and the vanilla, then add milk a tablespoon at a time until icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be fluffy and smooth and about the same, only slightly thicker, consistency as regular buttercream. Don't try using margarine for this you need real butter and if you use natural peanut butter you may have some separation issues so be aware. If your icing is too thin add more powdered sugar, if it is too thick add a smidge more milk.

Now you are ready to assemble. Place your first cake layer down on your platter and top with half the peanut butter icing. Sprinkle a generous layer of crushed Butterfingers over the icing. Top with the next layer of cake, the second half of the peanut butter icing and another sprinkle of Butterfingers. Top this with the final layer of cake and ice the whole thing with chocolate icing. Decorate the top of the cake with more crushed Butterfingers mounding them up slightly in the middle.

If you can hold off digging in long enough to serve this to people it will be a hit. (If you can't, blame it on the kids or the dog! They'll love it anyway!) Oh and don't expect any leftovers.