Monday, May 28, 2012

Banana Bread

I love banana bread! It's fast and easy and tastes great! The only hard part is making sure your husband doesn't eat all of the bananas before they have a chance to go brown. I've learned that I need to tell him which bananas have been designated for the next loaf.

Breakfast is maybe my favorite meal - scones, coffee cake, muffins, french toast, eggs... they're all so good! I think about it before I fall asleep. And if I know I have banana bread waiting for me with my coffee in the morning, I fall asleep with a smile on my face.

Banana bread isn't the most exciting thing to look at, so I thought I'd share a picture of some ranunculus that I had earlier this month.

I'm not sure of the exact origins of this recipe. It's a recipe that my mom has always used, with a little tweaking...

Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
Mash 3 ripe bananas and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter, and egg.
In a separate small bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking soda.
Pour the flour mixture into the creamed sugar, butter, and egg mixture and mix.
Add the mashed bananas, vanilla, and nuts (if using).
Put the combined mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Once you remove it from the oven, wait 10 minutes or so and then run a knife around the edge of the pan and flip it onto a cooling rack.

Once completely cooled, cover with foil.

A couple of things...

* If you won't be eating your bread right away, it freezes really well. To do so, cover the cooled bread with foil and then place in a zip-lock freezer bag, making sure all air is removed from the bag.

* For those that are not used to baking with whole wheat flour, do not be afraid. Using all whole wheat flour will not dry out the bread - but make sure to use 3 bananas! Of course, you can use white flour, or a mixture of the two, but I prefer whole wheat.

* I also like banana bread with chocolate chips. Put in whatever you think might be good. Or make muffins instead of a loaf. The same recipe works, just make sure to reduce the baking time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer is Almost Here!

The weather this past weekend was awesome! It made me excited for hosting parties outside again. Last June, we had some friends over to celebrate summer – I find any reason I can to celebrate… I tried to keep the menu easy so that I could enjoy the party as well. I think it was a success – we all had a lot of fun and I stayed relatively calm.

Cooking in our kitchen can be difficult in the summer because we don’t have AC, so I decided to grill chicken and vegetable skewers. They were still on the grill when this picture was taken - the white platters on either side were where the skewers ended up.

We also grilled grape tomatoes on skewers to enjoy with this lemon and feta dip. I found the recipe for this dip in last summer's issue of Sweet Paul Magazine. It was easy to make ahead of time and everyone loved it! The sign is a piece of driftwood Tim and I found down by the lake and the name is written using a white ink pen from the Paper Source.

For something sweet, I served brownies with lemon cream cheese frosting. I was going for a cheery yellow and green theme so thought the addition of lemon to the frosting would be nice.

In keeping with the easy menu, I made sangria. It’s best if it’s made a day ahead, so it’s a perfect drink for a low stress party. I used Bobby Flay’s sangria recipe but made a few alterations:

2 bottles red table wine
1 cup brandy
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup triple sec
1/2 cup simple syrup
seasonal fruit

Monday, May 14, 2012

Greeña Colada

I've been on a pretty serious smoothie kick lately. This is what we affectionately call a greeña colada. It has frozen pineapple chunks, coconut milk, agave nectar, spinach, and a little bit of water in it. And it's really tasty! The green color might even help that! It started as a way to use up extra spinach I had on hand, but it's turned into a treat that puts spinach on my grocery list. It's also good to use frozen mango instead of the pineapple. (No clever name for that one though ... yet. Any ideas?)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Baby Showers

One of the blogs I like to read is Joy the Baker. A few weeks ago, she posted a recipe for strawberry cream puffs. They looked perfect for a baby shower, so I decided to try making them for a baby shower we were throwing for a co-worker.

I chose not to use the chocolate sauce in the recipe because I thought it might make the transportation of these too difficult. I was happy with the result, and loved the strawberry cream in the middle. It used freeze dried strawberries that I found at Trader Joe's.

They tasted really great with coffee. But then, what doesn't taste great with coffee??

I had another baby shower on Sunday. It was storybook themed, so I made orange marmalade thumbprint cookies inspired by Paddington Bear. But enough about the cookies, because, although I love Paddington, I don't share his love of orange marmalade.

I do, however, want to share the gift wrapping with you. I found some cute wrapping paper in the store Papyrus and then, instead of a ribbon or bow, added a piece of lace. I found this lace in my grandma's old sewing supply and, although I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, really liked the colors. 

I was excited to find a way to use the lace - and the colors worked so well! Now I need to come up with some ideas for how to use the rest...