Archive | March, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner | Banana Bread French Toast

29 Mar

When life hands you dry banana bread…then make Banana Bread French Toast!

The banana bread recipe had great flavor, but baked really dense and quite dry. To fix the dryness in the recipe below add an additional banana and an additional 2 TBS of melted butter.

The inspiration for the banana bread french toast came from a breakfast I had with Kate during one of our trips to Austin, TX. The South Congress Café serves up an amazing Carrot Cake French Toast. It has been highlighted on the Food Network and was worth every calorie. I just remember eating that on our last day in Austin trying to think of how I could take the left overs with me, but we were heading to the airport, ha!

(Adapted from Baking Illustrated)

Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf (preferably 3” inches deep)

Ingredients:

2 c King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour

1 c walnuts, coarse chopped

¼ c sugar

½ c light brown sugar

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

2 very ripe large bananas, mashed well **(see note above for change)

1 – 5.3oz container Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt

2 large eggs, beaten lightly

4 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled **(see note above for change)

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ TBS orange zest

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Spread the walnuts on a small baking sheet and bake 5-10 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients including the zest in a medium bowl.
  5. Gently fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, with a silicone spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  6. Bake until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Total baking time is 55 – 60 minutes. Rotate the loaf at the 30-minute mark of the baking time. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Banana Bread French Toast Time:

Makes 2 full servings or 4 side servings


Egg Wash:

In a shallow vessel whisk:

2 Eggs

¾ c milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ TBS sugar

pinch of salt

  1. Soak 4 slices of Banana Bread in the egg wash while you are making the topping

Topping:
Combine the following 3 ingredients in a small bowl:

3 heaping TBS of Greek Yogurt (I used Sophia’s Greek Yogurt of Belmont, MA)

½ TBS freshly grated orange zest

½ TBS honey

¼ c Pure Maple Syrup (heated) for drizzling… yum!

Cooking Directions:

  1. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 TBS of butter in the skillet. Place the egg wash soaked banana bread slices in the skillet and cook for 3 minutes on each side.
  2. Remove cooked slices from heat and cut in half.
  3. Place 4 halves of the slices on each plate.
  4. Top with a heaping TBS of greek yogurt topping.
  5. Grate orange zest over the top for garnish.
  6. In a small microwave safe bowl pour ¼ c of pure maple syrup.
  7. Heat in microwave for 20 seconds.
  8. Drizzle over the French Toast and enjoy!

Weekday Breakfast Treat | Almond Butter Delight

28 Mar

A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to spend a few days at Canyon Ranch on a work trip to Arizona.

The food was delicious and healthy. It was refreshing not to have to worry about scavenging protein for breakfast or deconstructing pre-made hotel sandwiches to create a healthier lunch option.

This recipe was one of my favorite things from the breakfast spread at Canyon Ranch. I like to put it on thin wheat crackers (like Ak Mak or Wasa Thin & Crispy Flatbread). Jess prefers to spread it on caramel rice cakes. It would also be yummy as a dip for fresh fruit.

My favorite thing about it (aside from it’s deliciousness) is that it’s really easy to whip up a batch for the week.

(Recipe from Canyon Ranch)

Makes 10 (2-TBS) servings

Ingredients

1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese 

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ TBS honey

¼ cup almond butter (without added salt)

Steps

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender container & puree until smooth. (It might seem a little loose but it will firm up a bit after it’s been chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours.)

2. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Enjoy within one week.

Nutritional info: 65 calories, 4 grams fat, 5 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrate, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 12 milligrams sodium, trace fiber 

 Notes: I buy the highest quality ricotta that I can find & swear it makes all of the difference in this recipe. My favorite is Calabro Fat Free Ricotta. It’s so good I eat it straight out of the container sprinkled with a little bit of salt & pepper. YUM!

 Tip for accurately measuring honey in recipes: Spray the measuring cup or measuring spoon with a little bit of non-stick cooking spray before measuring the honey. The honey will easily slide into the recipe – no sticky messes or sad dollops left behind on the measuring implement. 

Weekly Deal | Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent BOGO*

27 Mar

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Disclaimer: pup not included!
*Four simple letters: B – O – G – O, and I was hooked! “BOGO” is bargain hunting speak for buy one get one free. 

I found this week’s deal at my local CVS. (It’s not just for toiletries and travel sized goodies, my friends.) I have learned that armed with my handy, ExtraCare savings card, I can save a bundle without much preparation/crazy hours of coupon cutting.

CVS Weekly Deals Sun 3/25 – Sat 3/31
Arm & Hammer Liquid Laundry Detergent (32 loads) BOGO $7.29 each.

I bought 1 bottle for $7.29, got another bottle FREE and used a $1.00 coupon that I cut out of the newspaper two weekends ago.
So, I got 64 loads worth of laundry for $6.29 – that’s just under $.10 per load!!!!

CVS Savings Note:
Tip #1: Scanning your ExtraCare card at one of the savings stations BEFORE you start shopping is a great way to save more money, since it will print out unexpected “Extra Bucks” or store coupons right on the spot. (Wha wha?!)

Tip #2: Using the self-checkout lane is the way to go for a few reasons! (I swear it feels like I’m doing something shady but until they stop me…). First, it’s easier to ring yourself in so you can split your order into two/multiple transactions. (Warning: you might have to do a little bit of math first!) Second, if you have any store incentive savings/specials (e.g. buy 2 Dove products & get $2 “Extra Bucks” back), ring these in your first transaction & THEN use the Extra Bucks you earn on the second transaction to maximize your savings. Don’t forget to use manufacturer coupons, too!

Take it Slow Sunday | “Japanese” Iced Coffee

25 Mar

 

I’ve never liked waiting but as an adult, I’ve grown to appreciate that really amazing things in life take time.

It’s true. Jess and I met a little bit later in life and I’m finally at a stage in my life where I have many “I can’t believe I get paid to do this” moments. Though when it comes to most things (like standing in the grocery line or walking behind a very slow walker), patience is on my list of improvement areas…but when it comes to coffee, I’m happy to wait.

It’s still March, but the weirdly warm weather has spurred blooming trees, chirping birds, porch parties and my daily craving for iced coffee.

Jess discovered this brewing technique shared by Erin Meister, a Counter Culture Coffee barista trainer, a few years ago and it’s still our favorite way to make iced coffee. It’s also very economical. (Double yay!)

Note: We make it exactly as above but use a 10-cup Chemex & a folded Chemex filter that we dampen under the faucet (to diminish any flavors that the dry paper filter might impart to the delicious coffee) before adding the ground coffee & pouring the water over.  

Zucchini Bread…it’s healthy, right?

23 Mar

My friend’s birthday is this weekend and I love an excuse to bake! Sometimes it is a occasion that warrants it, other times a holiday, but more often it really is just an excuse to bake and experiment. (The “experimenting” part drives Kate nuts! Heh.)

So, said birthday friend, dropped a not-so-subtle hint that zucchini bread is his favorite baked good. (He’d actually mentioned this before and THEN at least 2 more times after that.)  Happy birthday, Shaun! (Sometime today, I’m sure you’re going to be tearing into this bad boy at work…)


(Adapted from NY Times published September 9, 2008)

Makes 2 8″x4″ loaves

Ingredients

2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour

3 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 TBS unsulphured molasses

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp King Arthur Espresso Powder

2 cups grated zucchini

2 oz. package of Taza Chocolate Cocoa Nibs (chopped)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Steps

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans with non-stick spray, set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat eggs until light and foamy, 3 minutes. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, melted butter, baking soda, vanilla, molasses, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, espresso powder and remaining flour. Mix just until blended. Stir in zucchini, nibs, and walnuts.

3. Divide batter between pans. Rotate pans 180 degrees after 30 minutes of the total 1 hour baking time. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

4. Let cool on wire rack in pans for 15 minutes. Turn bread out of pans and let cool on rack or enjoy warm!

The result: A yummy sweet-but-not-too-sweet bread that even your cutest little veggie hater will love!  There’s something about cacao nibs in baked goods that’s insanely delicious. They add a little bit of crunchy texture like the walnuts in this recipe. Speaking of…

A fun note: I used nibs from Taza Chocolate — a local organic, gluten-free, dairy free, & soy free mexican style small batch dark chocolate made in Somerville, MA (yay!). Their rustic chocolate is a robust dark chocolate with floral notes (Kate thinks the notes are very fruity) that appeals to bakers and purist chocolate lovers alike.

 

Thrifty Craft | Calendar Envelopes

21 Mar


It’s my natural instinct as an artist to hoard *um, I mean be SUPER resourceful about* materials that inspire me to make them over & use them again. Here’s a fun project that I came up with last year as a way to use our 2010 calendar (I couldn’t bear to recycle all of those cute Boston Terrier PUPPIES!). We are always in need of envelopes for our dog walker’s bi-weekly payment, etc. & we like to keep corresponding fun. These also make a cute gift paired with some pretty colored blank cards & tied up with some baker’s twine.

Materials

1 old calendar (the more interesting, the better!)
1 envelope (small-medium) 
pair of scissors
ball point pen or pencil (for tracing template) 
straight edge (I prefer a cork backed metal ruler)
bone folder or popsicle stick
magazine or self healing cutting mat (to protect your work surface)
glue stick

Steps

1.Disassemble the calendar & cut the calendar pages in half. Set the cover of the calendar aside.

2. Carefully slide your finger under the glued edges of the envelope & pull it apart, smoothing it flat. (If you’re worried about ripping it, steam it open over a kettle or pot of boiling water. The envelope I used — a stray that I found in the bottom of our filing cabinet — came apart just fine without any extra effort.)

3. Take the cover of the calendar (or any other sturdy piece of cardboard or card stock you have lying around), trace the envelope onto it using the ball point pen/pencil & cut it out. This is your “template”!

4. Trace your template onto the calendar pages. I traced the side of the calendar page with the image on it because I wanted to be very intentional about how the image would appear on the finished envelope but you could trace the template on the other side if you’re worried about the pen marks showing up on the finished envelope. Speaking of…I used a Sharpie so it would show up in pictures for this tutorial but I’d recommend using something with a finer tip.

5. Cut out your calendar page envelopes.

6. Using your bone folder (or tip of a popsicle stick) & straight edge, create a crease along each side of the envelope. (Just match up the corners with your straight edge & slide the bone folder along the edge — using the point to create a little invisible line in the paper.)

7. Fold each flap of each envelope on the creases.

8. Place a folded envelope on top of a piece of scrap paper  & glue the sides of the bottom flap. Fold it in and smooth it down (make sure the bottom corners are really glued down!). Repeat for the remaining envelopes.

 

Maker’s note: As I use each envelope, I seal the top flap with a little piece of tape, a swipe of a glue stick or a decorative label/sticker.
If your calendar images are really bold/dark, you might also want to stick a label on the front of the envelope for the address.

I’m a couponer, sorry about the wait in the check out line…

19 Mar

Friends of mine started watching TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” and quickly got me hooked. The reality is that we live in a smallish apartment with no access to the basement and minimal storage space, so we don’t have a stock pile of 300 deodorants, 50 2 liter bottles of soda, etc. Just sayin’.

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My goal: To start saving more money so that one day in the not so distant future (fingers crossed) Kate and I (and the pets) could have a house with a yard and not be eternally renting. That is how it all started…

These days I buy two Sunday newspapers and print coupons out that are offered online. I even mail coupons to friends. It has actually turned into more of a hobby and a way to correspond with friends and save money in the process.

This Week’s Deals:

CVS Sunday 3/18 – Saturday 3/24
*sale prices reflect using your Extra Care card
Number of transactions: 2 (I always use the self check out line)

Transaction #1:
Alaway: sale price $11.99 with $4.00 coupon
TOTAL: $7.99 plus tax, earning a $2 extra bucks coupon for next visit

Transaction #2:
– Kettle Potato Chips (8-8.5oz bag): sale price: $2.49 with $1.00 coupon TOTAL: $1.49
– Kellog’s Cereal (8.7oz-15oz box): sale price: $1.77 with $1.00 off TWO boxes coupon TOTAL: $2.54 (for two boxes)
– Johnson’s baby products (13-15oz): sale price: $2.99 with $1.50 coupon TOTAL: $1.49
TOTAL: $5.52 then use your $2 extra bucks coupon
Final Transaction #2 ORDER TOTAL: $3.52 plus tax

Pet Smart
*sale price reflects using customer Rewards card
World’s Best Cat Litter (7lb bag): sale price $7.49 with $3.00 on line coupon
TOTAL: $4.49 plus tax

Shaw’s Supermarkets Friday 3/16 – Thursday 3/22
*sale prices reflect using your Shaw’s Rewards card
– Barilla Pasta: sale price: $1.00 with $1.00 coupon with purchase of a jar of Barilla Sauce — cost with coupon & sale: FREE pasta!
– Starburst Jelly Beans: sale price 2/$5 with $1.00 coupon — cost with coupon & sale: 2/$4
– Filippo Berio /olive Oil (16.9oz-17oz): sale price $3.99
$1.00 coupon printed from Filippo Berio websitecost with coupon & sale: $2.99
– Chobani Greek Yogurt (32 oz): sale price $5.79 with $.50 coupon from chobani.com
$.50 coupon Doubles to $1.00 off — cost with coupon & sale: $4.79
– Chobani Champions 4 pack: sale price $2.89 with $1.00 coupon from chobani.com cost with coupon & sale: $1.89

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