Posted Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2012
Devin Holloway and Jan Ivy work hard, all week long. He travels the nation, working in IT training for a home-building company. She's a real estate agent and property manager in Fort Worth. Catching either one in an idle moment proves almost impossible.
But when you can find them in downtime mode, you can be sure of two things: They're together, and they're enjoying good food.
Jan's Banana-Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cake
Serves 8 to 10
Jan likes to serve this, on occasion, with homemade Blue Bell vanilla on top. If you aren't a fan of peanut butter frosting, Jan says to frost instead with the dark chocolate frosting made with the recipe on the Ghirardelli cocoa can. In the cake recipe, Jan prefers to use organic sugar, thanks to its slight molasses flavor.
Nonstick vegetable oil spray for baking
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar (organic, preferred)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (usually two bananas)
1 cup sour cream
1 (6-ounce) package mini chocolate chips
Makes 3 1/2 cups
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (6-ounce) package chocolate chips, if desired
1. To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 or 3 (8-inch) cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; coat paper with spray, too.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in vanilla.
4. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend. Add bananas and sour cream; beat just to blend. Divide batter evenly among pans; smooth tops.
5. Bake cakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment and let cool completely.
6. To make frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla in a medium bowl until light and fluffy frosting forms. Spread on cooled cake. You can decorate with dark chocolate chips, mini chips, and/or chocolate kisses.
See our website for their Basil Pesto recipe. Devin says a better pesto can't be found.
Tuscan Bean Soup
Serves 6 to 8
Jan says it's OK to substitute canned beans if you're short on time. If you're not a fan of spicy sausage, use a mild version instead. Find the Pomi tomatoes at Central Market, Market Street or World Market stores.
1/2 pound dried cannellini beans (or Great Northern)
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
1 chopped yellow or white onion
1 chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 (26.4-ounce) package Pomi chopped tomatoes
4 cups organic chicken stock
1 large zucchini, chopped bite-size
1 to 2 cups tightly packed fresh spinach or chard leaves
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1/2 (12-ounce) box tube or seashell pasta, cooked
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 or 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, or to taste
1. Cook the beans in water until just done (probably about 1 1/2 hours). Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook the sausage, onion, red pepper and garlic until sausage is just pink.
2. Add tomatoes, chicken stock and zucchini. Bring back to a simmer and add beans (with just a little cooking liquid), greens and herbs until thoroughly heated, about 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Add cooked, drained pasta and heat through, another 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper as desired. Ladle into big bowls and garnish with Parmesan; serve with some crusty bread and European butter, homemade pesto and/or rich Italian cheese, as well as some freshly grated Parmesan on the side.
Makes 6 servings
Devin says a better pesto recipe cant be found.
6 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
Salt to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1. Briefly soak and wash the basil in cold water and gently pat it thoroughly dry.
2. Place the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, chopped garlic and ample pinch of salt in the food processor. Process to a uniform, creamy consistency.
3. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the two grated cheeses. When the cheese has been evenly combined with the other ingredients, mix in the softened butter, distributing it uniformly into mixture. Toss the pesto with pasta or spread it on bread, toasted or room temperature. You can freeze the pesto, leaving out the cheese and butter, up to one month.
from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan (Alfred A. Knopf, $35)
"We have fun together," says Jan, who married Devin six years ago. "We make the most of the time we get."
Their shared philosophy of carving out valuable time to spend in each other's company over enjoyable meals doesn't suffer any losses during the holiday, either. No matter how wild the holiday frenzy, they'll put aside the rush and sit down to a peaceful dinner for two at home.
Often the couple take a breather together in their downtown Fort Worth condo, where they so enjoy their balcony that they installed a large heater that allows them to dine al fresco, even in winter. Every other weekend, the two escape to the getaway cabin they built near Possum Kingdom Lake.
Uncorking a bottle of good wine, Devin and Jan will ease through the evening, dining on a favorite comfort dish. Sometimes it's chili, or perhaps spicy meatloaf, but it's always a thoughtful preparation with fresh ingredients. Oh, and there's always something with dark chocolate to finish.
The evening we caught up with them, they were putting together one of Jan's own creations, a Tuscan bean soup with pasta. On the side, they served their favorite bread, a multigrain from Black Rooster Bakery in Fort Worth, which Jan makes a point to buy every Wednesday.
With that, Devin adds his favorite cheese, the variety called taleggio, a semi-soft, mild cheese from northern Italy. Another addition to the table, fresh pesto for spreading on the bread or adding in dollops to the soup, speaks to Devin's passion for Italy.
"That pesto recipe is so good, I even took it with me to make on a long stay in Italy," says Devin, who is fluent in Italian and whose dad is an opera singer. "You can't find a better pesto."
While the two will travel a bit in December -- they'll celebrate Jan's birthday in Charleston, S.C., midmonth -- they'll stick fairly close to home when the holidays hit full-tilt. Whether they're at the cabin, where Jan will be sure to bake Devin's favorite banana-chocolate chip-peanut butter cake, or dining on the heated patio on their downtown balcony, you can bet they'll be eating well, with a lovely bottle of red to warm them up.
Here's one of their favorite, easy meals. Take a page from their playbook and make it for a relaxing Christmas afternoon or a lazy day around the start of the new year.
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