Saturday, March 24, 2007

Broccoli Stuffed Shells & Chocolate Banana Cake

Marc and I invited my mom and stepdad over for supper tonight - we're celebrating! My stepdad, Nick, finally got his residency in Canada! It's a surprise, shhhhh......

A celebration calls for a cake!! Since he LOVES bananas I thought I would make the chocolate banana cake my sister is always raving about. I've had it once or twice before - I remember it was a lot of work so I decided that I would only make the cake part and make my mom's icing recipe. It was quick and easy to put together. I got to taste the cake part after I baked it since I had to slice off the part that was rounded - super moist and delicious - just how I remembered it! The icing is always amazing and I cheated and dipped some of the cake in the icing - DELISH! Like the original recipe, I also added sliced bananas in between the 2 layers of cake.

For the main course it had to be pasta! I had raved so much about the broccoli stuffed shells I made awhile back that I had to promise my mom that I would make it for them the next time they were over - as good a time as any! Besides all the changes I made the first time I added a few extra ingredients; I added about 8 slices of pancetta that I sauteed until golden brown and crispy and a handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes. I sneaked a taste of the ricotta/broccoli mixture - OH MY GOD, DELICIOUS!

It's going to be a yummy night!

Chocolate Banana Cake
By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen (Modified)
Original recipe here

2 bananas, sliced

3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream
3 cups (750 mL) sifted cake-and-pastry flour
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking soda
1-1/2 cup (375 mL) chopped, smashed bananas

My Mom's Icing:
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup Cocoa
2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tub cream cheese

In bowl, cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Beat in sour cream.Combine flour, baking soda and chocolate; add in 3 additions to creamed mixture alternately with 2 additions of bananas, mixing just until flour is incorporated.Spoon into 2 greased 8-1/2-inch (2.25 L) spring form pans, smoothing tops. Bake in 350F (180C) oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until tops spring back when touched. Let cool on rack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of pans; let cool completely.

In a mixer mix butter and cocoa on low speed (it will take quite awhile for it to blend but suddenly it comes together, 30 secs about...hang in there). Add vanilla and water. Then add one cup icing sugar at a time until well blended (it takes awhile here too). Add cream cheese and beat until smooth.

Broccoli & Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells

1 box jumbo shell pasta (~ 40 shells)
8 slices pancetta, chopped
1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Egg, beaten
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2-3 cups of broccoli florets steamed and mashed
6 cups of your favourite tomato sauce ( I used my mom's rigatoni sauce without the meat)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup grated fresh provolone (hard) cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, saute pancetta until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to absorb access oil.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine ricotta, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, egg, sun dried tomatoes, and mashed broccoli in a medium size bowl. Mix well.

In a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coat bottom with 3 cups sauce.Spoon or pipe broccoli/cheese mixture into each shell. Arrange stuffed shells, seam sides up, in prepared dish. Pour remaining sauce over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella and provolone.

Cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

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