Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cranberry Banana Bread

Still attempting to use up my banana's and cranberry's that are taking up home in my fridge/freezer, I decided the other day to make Cranberry Banana Bread.  Again I searched for a recipe, and again I adjusted the found recipe to my liking :)  I'm still on a super health kick, using butter/oils sparingly, using only whole wheat flour, and uping my fruit/vegetable intake.  This bread goes along with this strategy perfectly!  Hope you enjoy :)

Cranberry Banana Bread
adapted from TwoPeasKitchen

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 ground flax seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup fat free vanilla greek yogurt, I used Chobani Blueberry
2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1 large egg
about 1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries, halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a loaf pan, I used an 8x5x3 inch pan.  Mash the bananas in a large bowl.  Add the yogurt, agave nectar, egg and milk.  Stir until combine.  (I did not feel like doing dishes this day so I made this a one bowl recipe, the dry ingredients can be combine in a separate bowl before mixing the wet.  This will result in a less chewy bread.)  To the wet ingredients add the dry ingredients.  If the dough is too thick add a touch more milk, I did not measure exactly but I am pretty sure that I used about a half cup of almond milk.  Add cranberries and stir just until combined.  Place dough in the pan and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until crust is browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

This bread is delicious!!!  The only things I would do differently next time would be to add some walnuts, as the original recipe calls for.  I was fresh out of walnuts :(  I would also increase the amount of sugar in this recipe, perhaps up it by another tbsp of agave nectar.  I was fine with the taste of the bread, however I have a slight feeling that it may not be sweet enough for others.  This also could be because I used fresh instead of dried cranberries, which tend to be much sweeter.  I really enjoy the texture that comes from using so much oatmeal in the recipe!

Today is going to be filled with some errands, a test for a new job, class and then dinner with the boy :)  I head to Boston bright and early tomorrow morning to chaperone a Lakers player.  Super excited as I've never been there before, unfortunately I will only be in the city for 24 hours and Saturday morning will be spent watching the BU lacrosse clinic.  At least I'll get some drills out of that :)

If you could go to one city for 24 hours where would you choose?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Banana Oat Bars

In an attempt to use up more of the banana's I have in my freezer I searched foodgawker this morning for some healthy recipes.  I came across this one, from All Day I Dream About Food.  I changed a few things here and there to make it a little healthier and I am certainly glad I did because I do not really think the changes take away from the overall flavor.  Avocado replaced the butter and some almonds got thrown into the mix, results = delicious and guilt free :)

Banana Oat Bars

1/3 Cup mashed Avocado
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup coconut
1/4 cup chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.  "Cream" the avocado and brown sugar together until well combined.  Add egg and mix thoroughly.  Add mashed banana,salt and cocoa powder.
Creamed avocado and brown sugar
Once combined add remaining ingredients.  Spread evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake in the preheated over for 30 mins.

I added cocoa powder to counter the green color of the avocado.  It did not affect the taste much and I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if I did not include this, I do not know how green it would really look... next time!  I also decided to line the pan with parchment paper since I used avocado in place of the butter/coconut oil.  I think that the bars would have been just as easily removed with a greased pan if you do not have parchment paper.  I just did not want to take chances the first time, I've had too many catastrophies!  There's nothing worse than delicousness you just can't get out of the pan.  A few changes I may make next time is to play around with the mix-ins.  Perhaps some chocolate and peanut butter chips, or butterscotch chips?  Raisins, craisins and nuts for a trail mix bar?  The possibilities are endless!  I also want to try it with no sugar, or perhaps exchanging the brown sugar for maple syrup, agave nectar or honey.  I'll let you know if any of these work :)

I'm enjoying my Sunday fun-day watching football at Bunny's with some friends and then having 'bar' night with Sam.  We tend to not be able to both drink together, as one of us usually has to drive home, so tonight is our night to hit the town and walk/cab home :)  Enjoy your Sunday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Winter break as left me with a lot of unoccupied time.  Thankfully this has allowed me to do some baking! I attempted to make homemade pretzels on Saturday, the did not turn out picture worthy... ie HORRIBLE! Needless to say I have a new goal of perfecting pretzels this year.  I've really been in the mood to bake a cake, however I have 3 birthdays to celebrate/bake for in the coming weeks so I've held off on this front.  This has lead to me using up leftovers in my fridge/freezer.  Doolittle's over ordered banana's a while ago so I got the leftovers which ended up being over 30 banana's.  Half of them have been used thus far, and about 5 of them went into Banana Chocolate Chip muffins last week.  Unfortunately I forgot to snap a photo, I promise I'll get better at this.

Last night the cranberries that have been sitting in my fruit drawer went into some Cranberry Orange Muffins.  I modified a recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook making some healthier additions and changes.

Cranberry Orange Muffins
adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

1 egg
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup All-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Orange zest
1 cup Cranberries, halved

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Beat the egg, then add milk, agave nectar and oil.  Once combine add dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined, should be slightly lumpy.  Add in orange zest and cranberries.  Using a 12 muffin tin, fill 2/3 full.  Bake for 20 mins.

These muffins are best eaten warm!  Though I'm sure they'll taste just as good tomorrow morning for breakfast :)

On a different note, it's garbage day today but both of our garbage cans are frozen to the ground!  Literally I could not get either of them to budge!  Hopefully it'll warm up and I'll be able to move them before garbage day next week, otherwise we may have an overflow.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Old Photos

While updating somethings on my computer I came across these lovely little photos!  Take a look at the progress of Kalyn's wedding cake that I made!

Bottom layer topped with Chocolate Mousse

The Crumb Coat, there's one big layer of Chocolate cake sandwiched between the chocolate mousse and vanilla cake

The almost finished product

Hope you enjoyed!  My goal this year is to take more pictures.  I used to be great at it but over the past few years I've forgotten to document a lot of fun events!  

Christmas 2010

So as promised here are some photos of the cookies made by my mother and myself.
Our Sugar Cookies

Clockwise from Top: Chocolate Ginger, Spritz, Pecan Sandies, Orange Chocolate, and Thumbprint

Coconut Macaroons and Lemon Sables

Peanut Butter Nutella Sandwiches, Chocolate Crinkles, Russian Teacakes, Toffee Squares

Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels, Peanut Butter Logs, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Rum Balls

The PB Nutella Sandwiches were a new addition this year, and let me say they were a surprisingly huge hit.  We always make the PB logs but the recipe makes more than enough, so this year we decided to make half the peanut butter dough into regular pb cookies.  I thought that was kind of boring so I suggested we sandwich two cookies with some Nutella.  They passed the taste test with flying colors, and ended up being the first cookies gone on Christmas eve.   If you want any of the recipes for the above cookies I will definitely post them, I just do not particularly want to post all 16 recipes if people won't utilize them!  In addition to the pictures above my mom also made rosette's but I forgot to snap a photo of them :( 

My Christmas was low key in the sense that we did what we always do!  Christmas Eve with my dad's family, this year that meant hosting 21 adults and 5 little kids, then presents in the AM with my brother and parent's followed by an early dinner at my Aunt's House.  All in all it was a great christmas filled with family, great food and great fun.  

After dinner and several hours of playing Kinect on Xbox I headed out to the bars with some friends.  This is something that Sam and I have recruited people to do for the past few Christmas Days and it always leads to a lot of fun.  I really enjoy going out to the bars, but not when it is so packed that you have to wait in line outside in the cold to get in.  If you have the same feelings I highly recommend hitting the bars on Christmas day as they are about 1/3 full as normal!!!  We headed to Stella's pretty late actually, unfortunately so late that we missed 2-4-1's which end at 12 AM :(  Overall fun night, hopefully we can recruit even more people next year!

The rest of the week was spent relaxing :)  Sam starts chiropractic school next week and I just finished my first semester of grad school so we were both ready to do almost nothing!!  This nothing included playing with old toys (McDonald's Hamburger maker and Dr. Dreadful), walks, football, movie marathon (Little Fockers, How do you know?, and the Tourist), sleeping, drinking and cooking.  

I spent New Years Eve over at my friend Brandon's house.  He and my other friend Lindsey had made us steaks and some other goodies, YUM!  We spent the evening eating, drinking cocktails, wine and champagne and playing games.  It was a great night, so great that I fell asleep at approximately 12:05 AM.  At least I made to New Years though right?!?!

I have break for the next two weeks and I plan on spending my time working, working to find a new job, and cooking/baking.  Sam gave me a whole grain bread cookbook so plan on looking for some bread photos soon!!  

Hope everyone had a great holiday and happy New Years!