Tag Archives: healthy dessert

Got Bananas? | Two New Recipes That Are B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

1 Dec

We’ve gotten into this habit of buying bananas and forgetting about them until they are just on the brink of almost too ripe. Ugh. While I like them riper than I did in my childhood days, there’s a point where they are just to sweet for eating plain & are perfect for adding to oatmeal or topping a piece of toast with almond or peanut butter. This past summer, they couldn’t get overripe fast enough–I loved peeling, breaking them into quarters or thirds and tossing in a ziplock bag in the freezer for morning smoothies. YUM! But now I feel as though they stack up in the fridge, almost black, waiting for us to take the time to transform them into some delicious baked good.

I usually love going back to old favorites but I was in the mood for something new so I broke in Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From my home to yours” book that I got Jess for her birthday (oops!) and baked her Cocoa-Nana Bread–perfect for bringing into work. I also wanted something a little healthier that I knew we could safely keep around the house for us to enjoy. Enter iambaker‘s Chocolate Chip Banana Bars. Oh hi!

Needless to say, it was a perfect banana filled Sunday of baking.

First, the decadent-it’s-okay-to-eat-chocolate-for-breakfast recipe.

the lighting in our kitchen makes the bread look reddish but it was actually very very dark brown

the lighting in our kitchen makes the bread look reddish but it was actually very very dark brown

Cocoa-Nana Bread from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (we use sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar (we use raw sugar)
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk (tip: if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, just add 1 tsp of vinegar to 1 cup of milk, stir & let sit for a few minutes)
1/2 cup store-bought chocolate chips

Steps
1. 
Center a rack in the oven & preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet–or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over baking.)

Maker’s notes: And it did! This incredible tip transforms the way I’ll bake other quick breads from now on. There is nothing more frustrating than taking your labor of love out of the oven with either a raw center or burned outside just so the bread could bake all the way through. I used 2 baking sheets stacked & it worked perfectly.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt & baking soda.

3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I just used a hand mixer because I didn’t feel like dragging out the KitchenAid), in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute until softened.

4. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled–it’s okay.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas.

6. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter.

7. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated.

8. Stir in the chocolate chips and scrape the batter into the pan.

9. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40-45 minutes (total baking time = between 70-75 minutes), or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Maker’s notes: Covering the bread with a foil tent is another really amazing tip that will change the way I bake future quick breads! The top came out perfectly and not overdone in the least bit.

10. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding it. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side-up.

11. Store wrapped in plastic at room temperature and the bread will stay fresh for about 2 days. Tightly wrapped, it will keep up to 2 months in the freezer.

The verdict
Tasty! The loaf is really pretty–it baked nice & high with impressive cracks. The flavors were more developed the next day. It’s definitely chocolatey but you can still taste the banana. I’d love to try making a bread pudding with it because I think it would be super yummy dusted with powered sugar and topped with homemade whipped cream for dessert.

Next…the healthier sweet treat that would be a fun recipe for the kids to help make.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bars (Paleo) by iambaker

I followed iambaker’s recipe exactly so I’m not going to repost the recipe here but rather link to it here. Her photos are perfectly mouth watering! Check it out.

The verdict
I like her philosophy & skepticism (about Paleo “baking”) and was encouraged to try these due to the fact that she is a baker who typically uses all of the traditional  ingredients like flour, eggs, butter, etc. We liked these a lot. They were best right after baking–warm or at room temp–but I was hesitant to store them on the counter because they aren’t baked for very long & are quite dense/moist. So I cut them in the pan & stored them in the refrigerator. I let them come to room temp before enjoying (or warmed them in the toaster oven/microwave). When I make them again, I might use almond flour to add a little extra texture.

Summer of Love | Picnic Recipes Galore

25 Jul

Summer is for harvesting garden goodies, hanging out outside — picnics, hammocks, BBQs & early morning outdoor bootcamp — cold brewed coffee, fizzy fruity delights, cooking with farm/our container garden fresh ingredients, crafty endeavors, new friends & romps with the pups. Phew…all that and we’re back in BlogLand with a vengeance!

We celebrated our first anniversary (and 7th year of togetherness!) over the weekend & it was filled with commissioned art (thanks to Nan Lawson, Flowers In May & the fact that paper is a traditional first anniversary gift), yummy food & sentimental goodness (Remember when I wanted a set of these ? Well, Jess surprised me with a vintage 1940’s set in mint condition. *swoon*).

custom illustration by Nan Lawson

custom anniversary illustration by Flowers in May

I had ambitious plans to surprise Jess with a romantic outdoor picnic — filled with smartly designed paper goods, mason jars upon mason jars, yummy food reminiscent of our wedding catering — spread on a handmade little blanket/quilt made out of fabric from our wedding. But I participated in ArtBeat as a craft vendor on Saturday & totally ran out of time (despite planning the picnic menu & starting projects months ahead of time).

my table at ArtBeat! Opal & Ollie Etsy shop opening in August! stay tuned…

So…the weather forecast wasn’t promising & I decided, the morning of, that we’d either eat inside or on the deck. Oh, and, I didn’t finish the blanket but I made really great progress & will finish it one night this weekend. We used an adorable picnic blanket as a tablecloth that our friends Cobi & Sarah gave us as a wedding shower gift. K.I.S.S., right?

Now on to the good stuff!

The menu (with links to recipes & my notes)…

Deviled eggs | Recipe: Mark Bittman (basically your traditional deviled egg recipe: hard boiled eggs, dijon mustard, mayo, S&P) | I topped each with a tiny bit of dill relish instead of paprika.

BLT corn salad lettuce wraps | Recipe: Joy the Baker | This charred corn salad was incredible. I used high quality bacon & oven roasted it. Charring corn in a small apartment kitchen over an open gas burner flame is amazingly fulfilling! I wondered if the corn would actually cook & it did…perfectly! It turned a darker yellow as the kernels crackled & blackened. Mess warning: the stovetop was eat-off-of-it clean before this endeavor & corn shrapnel was everywhere after 3 ears of corn were nicely charred. Well worth it though!

Best berry salad | Recipe: Our very own!

Chocolate yogurt snack cakes | Recipe: Smitten Kitchen | Ah-mazing! I added a teaspoon of espresso powder to the recipe to bring out the depth of chocolatey goodness & dusted the cooled cakes with a little bit of powdered sugar. I’d make them again in a heartbeat. Oh, I had trouble finding whole milk yogurt (weird because I remember seeing it years ago – before the shelves were overflowing with a million brands of Greek style yogurt) so I opted for 2% Swiss yogurt.

Coconut rice pudding with fresh mango | Recipe: Mark Bittman (traditional rice pudding from How to Cook Everything, see very bottom of this post for recipe) | I substituted light canned coconut milk for the cow’s milk. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract after the pudding finished cooking. I served it cold with diced fresh mango to mimic the flavors of Jess’s favorite mango sticky rice dessert from a local Thai restaurant.

Home-brewed Arnold Palmers | Recipe: Tyler Florence | The slushy & bright homemade lemonade makes this drink extra special. Definitely prepare this a few hours ahead of time as all of the components need to be nice & cold. Served up in a mason jar with tiny heart etched in the glass (by yours truly!).

mis en place: chocolate yogurt snack cakes

roasting corn!

the spread!

Arnold Palmer with a twist

Rice Pudding (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)

Ingredients:
2 cups water

1 cup long or short-grain rice (I used arborio)
dash salt
2 cups milk (I used canned light coconut milk)
3/4 cup sugar, or more to taste (3/4 cup was plenty for our taste)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom (I skipped the spices because I knew I wanted to top with mango)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps:
1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in the rice and the salt. Cover & cook over low heat until almost all of the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

2. Uncover, pour in the milk, and cook, stirring frequently, until about 1/2 the milk is absorbed. Stir in the sugar and spices and continue to cook until the rice is very soft and the milk absorbed. About halfway through the cooking, taste and add more sugar if necessary. 
3. Spoon into custard cups and serve warm or cold, garnished with whipped cream. I served it topped with diced fresh mango. 

This keeps well for 2 days, or more, covered and refrigerated. Serves 8.

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