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This Will Change Your Life (and mine) {recipe: starbucks banana walnut bread}

1 Sep

Back in May, exactly one day after Mother’s Day and two days after I had thrown a baby shower for my most wonderful friend, I, myself peed on the magic wand to discover some timely news.

I have not told you all yet, blog readers,  but I, two-years-and-change-into-marriage, what-should-I-do-with-my-life, oh-things-are-so-easy-to-not-have-kids, am pregnant. Yes, sometime in mid-January we are supposed to be having a baby. I am just sure ours will come via stork, clean and wrapped in a nice blanket and not with the traditional arsenal of medical tools awaiting every pregnant woman at the hospital. I am sure.

From starbucks banana bread

That being said, I have the normal pregnancy stuff, nothing that I can really tell you which would be out of the ordinary. But there is one little caveat. The only thing I didn’t expect is probably this craziness of feelings and thoughts and emotions. I am not a huge “feeler.” I would say, in any event I sort of guard myself from becoming too excited that I would be devastated if let down, and I also deny becoming too upset about anything, because what is that going to help, really?

Let me tell you what has changed. Not just my expanding waistline, or the fact that I am a human incubator harboring giant soon-to-be milk factories, or that any time after 2pm, I could slide into unsuspecting narcolepsy, or that I think if I don’t find out this baby’s gender, I can’t feel bad that I don’t feel prepared for this baby because heck, I don’t even know if it is a boy or a girl. Oh, there is more than that.

We shall call it a tornado of emotions. Now, I would not call myself an over-emotional person. Moreover, I think that I don’t get excited enough about things because I fear disappointment, or that I am not greived enough, because I am trying to shield myself from pain and hurt. Until now. Now, there is no filter. No shielding.

So, last Saturday, I was a huge jerk to my loving husband. I then proceeded to cry, uncontrollably, for at least 90 minutes and between sobs said things like, “I am so overwhelmed,” and, “I am just sad.” And Jon would have done anything to help, but all I wanted was for him to “sit there with me” to console me, after I was so rude. Then I got over the overwhelmed part and cried because I was being a horrible wife and how am I supposed to be a good mother if I am already a horrible wife? It went on. He stayed. Consoled. I survived.

Whew. So, I got through it and I am back now, in action, but something inside me thinks that will not be the last time.

Well, a few good things have come out of the last week. We had some friends and their cute baby over for breakfast last Sunday and I made this banana banana bread that is so, so good. I then proceeded to make it three more times within the following week. That’s how good it is.

All that being said, the banana bread will change your life; the banana bread AND the baby will change mine. Can you tell I am nervous?

From starbucks banana bread

I can’t take credit for this recipe. I started with a recipe for Starbuck’s Banana Walnut Bread that they posted on their corporate site. With a few modifications, this is awesome.

Starbucks Banana Walnut Bread

makes one 9×5 in. loaf.

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/8 cup sugar

1 egg

1 T. vanilla

2 c. flour

1 t. baking soda

3/4 t. cinnamon

3 very-ripe bananas

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 325 F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

Mix together oil and sugar until blended. Add egg and vanilla and stir.

Stir in flour, cinnamon and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, mash bananas until creamy and then stir in  buttermilk.

Add banana mixture to flour mixture andstir to combine.

Stir in half of nuts.

Pour batter into pan and top with remaining nuts.

Bake 45-60 minutes or until wooden toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

From starbucks banana bread
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Changing Scenery {recipe: carrot cake cupcakes}

17 Mar
From carrot cake cupcakes

I recently changed desks at work. In three years, this is the fifth cube that I have occupied. I think I am the most-moved one on the team, and I like it. I love changing desks, even if it’s just a few yards over, or swapping with someone on the next row. Management likes to keep us all sitting near the people we are working directly with, which helps collaboration and discussion, and I like new things. Not bright-shiny new, but just new-to-me things. New cube neighbors, a new view.

My current cube is somewhat in the middle of our department, technically on a row with people who I am not on a team with.

They are nice enough to let me sit here. So I made them cupcakes.

I took photos of these cupcakes because they were soooooooo pretty (probably because they weren’t my idea, but they were Deb’s), but I have had them for weeks and forgot that I had not posted the recipe.

From carrot cake cupcakes

These are very, very good. The carrot cake is moist and the frosting is creamy and sweet. Smitten Kitchen used maple in the frosting, but I did not have maple syrup, so I used honey and all was well.

From carrot cake cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

yields 24 cupcakes

2 c. all purpose flour

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt1 T.  ground cinnamon

1 t. ground nutmeg

2 t. ground ginger

2 c. sugar

1 1/4 c. canola oil

4 large eggs

3 c. grated carrots (I used a food processor to grate them)

1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Place liners in 24 muffin cups.

Stir sugar and oil together until incorporated.

Add in eggs one at a time and stir after each addition.

Add spices,  salt, and baking soda and stir well.

Add in flour and stir until blended.

Stir in carrots and nuts.

Drop into cupcake cups.

Bake 12 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes then transfer cakes to a cooling rack.

The cupcakes should cool completely before you frost them.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

2 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1/4 c. honey

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy (this will take about 10 minutes).

Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.

For the spikey frosting, I used a Wilton #129 tip and just kept dolliping, dolliping, dolliping!

This Will Make it Alright {Recipe: Salted Butter Caramel}

4 Mar

Tough economy? Need dessert? Specifically, need dessert that you can pull out of the fridge and eat with a spoon, straight out of the jar?

From Salter Butter Caramel

I have something for you. I love it so much that I thought I posted it already. I thought you were already enjoying it. But you weren’t. And I am sorry.

This carmel is very easy, and so pure and tasty. Do you have those Kraft carmels in your baking pantry? Go get them, and see that they have many, many ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Scroll down to my (really, it’s Deb’s) recipe. It has three ingredients. Simply delicious, like this.

It only takes about 10 minutes and one pot.

Are you ready?

Oh, you are not convinced yet? You wonder what you will do with this carmel? Ok. I can understand that. Here is what you can do with the carmel:

  • Spread on pretzles
  • Drizzle over icecream
  • Spoon into coffee
  • Add to plain yogurt
  • Use with apples
  • Put it on this
  • Or this
  • Or this. Yes, do that. I did.

I am sure you can think of more uses. Now I am sure you are ready to make the caramel.

 

From Salter Butter Caramel

Salted Butter Caramel

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

makes about 1 cup


1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 12 pieces

1/2 cup plus two tablespoons heavy cream

Melt the sugar over medium to moderately high heat, whishing constantly, in a 2, 3, or 4 quart pot (you’ll need the extra space later. The sugar will not do anything for a while, then it will start to liquefy and brown quickly. Cook the liquefied sugar to a carmel color. The darker color you bring it to, the more bitter the caramel will taste. Try for a dark copper color.

Add the butter and stir it in, pour in the heavy cream (the caramel will bubble up!), and then turn off the stove.  Whisk until your caramel is smooth.

You use it right away or pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.It won’t last that long, you will find all sorts of tings to ear it on. Namely a spoon. When you use it out of the fridge, you may want to microwave your jar 30-60 seconds.

From Salter Butter Caramel

Beat the Tricky Weather {recipe: best granola}

20 Jan
 

Did you ever read Sybil? That is what our weather has been like. It’s cold, then hot, then cold again – all in one day. One day it will be cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon, and the next day it will be hot in the morning and cold in the afternoon. What’s a girl to wear? Is the daily question. But really, what’s a girl to cook? Is my eternal mantra, and the weather sometimes jacks up my plans.

No one wants to come over to your house and have soup when it’s 85 outside. And likewise, your ice cream is not as endearing when it’s skimming below freezing outside.

And on top of that, the allergies. I don’t have bad ones, but it seems like most do. The closest I come is our dog, who gets these horrible bumps inside his ears and on his legs and gnaws at his feet so long and intently that you wonder if he will make it to summer with any feet at all. That’s all to say I can’t imagine those ailments manifesting in my own body. Relentless allergies. 

Can you give us a foolproof recipe for unpredictable weather and allergies?

I can.

Granola! 

 

I have made many a failed batch of granola, but those days are over. This is a forgiving recipe full of hearty nutrients. It will be great for any time of year and any time of day, for that matter. I eat this granola for breakfast, or a snack, or dessert. 

This granola is full of honey. Use local honey to help build up you resistance to allergens!

Go for it and buy organic oats and cereal. You’re already making your own granola, go all-out to make it good for you! If you don’t like something, leave it out! If you love something, add more! That’s the beauty of granola.

 

Granola

3 cups oats 

1 ½ cups nuts, chopped (I used almonds and cashews)

¼ cup flax seeds

½ cup sesame seeds

2 generous cups cereal (I used puffed brown rice cereal and something that was cheerio-type)

2 cups dried fruit, chopped (I used cranberries, cherries and dried apples)

1 cup honey or brown rice syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup brown sugar 

¼ cup molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350. Spread first 4 ingredients on 2 9×13 pans and toast for about 15 minutes, you’ll be able to smell  the toasted nuts. Remove from oven and stir in fruits and cereal.

When the pans cool, grease or butter them.

Meanwhile, heat the honey, salt, sugar, molasses, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until ingredients are combined. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.

Pour honey mixture into bowl with oat mixture and stir to combine.

Spread the mixture evenly into pans. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the granola turns golden. It will be soft and and sticky.

Let the granola cool for about 5 minutes, then remove from pan and spread on waxed paper. Let rest until completely cooled.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

Original post: https://saltimbocca.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/best-granola

Quick, Easy and Flexible: Hummus

9 Oct

Hummus is like the most popular cheerleader on the squad. She’s flexible, she shows up at every party, everyone likes her, she’s easy…well the hummus is easy, I don’t know about you, cheerleader. I haven’t made hummus before, I don’t know why, I just buy it on occasion if it is on sale and that’s it.

From Hummus

About a month ago, tahini was on sale, so I bought some (you see a trend in my shopping, I know. sale=possibility for purchase. no sale=no possibility) with the intent to make hummus one day, and I have a can of chick peas in the pantry. I don’t know when I bought the chick peas and I couldn’t decode what looked like a possible date on the can, so I am just trusting that cans last a few days short of forever, so I should be good. I think the beauty of hummus is that you can play up whichever ingredient you favor, and run with it. Unlike the peanut butter, you can keep adding more of whichever ingredient you like with no repurcussions. 

From Hummus


Hummus

1 can chick peas/garbanzo beans (same thing), rinsed and drained

1/3 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste. think: peanut butter but from sesame seeds))

juice of 1 lemon

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1-2 T. olive oil

1 t. salt

chile powder (optional)

extra olive oil (optional)

 

Blend chick peas in food processor, when blended, add tahini, garlic, and salt. 

Stream in the lemon juice, and olive oil until you reach the consistency you like. 

Sprinkle with chile powder and drizzle with olive oil for presentation.

Homemade Peanut Butter – I’m not special

7 Oct

But, homemade peanut butter is special. It is so, so good. There is something that makes the peanut butter so fresh when the peanuts are ground only minutes before the peanut butter enters the mouth. 

 

From HRPB

Using honey-roasted peanuts makes the peanut butter naturally sweet and doesn’t require any extra sweetness. Sure, slap it on some bread with jelly, but you can also leave the jelly aside and let the slightly crunchy, slightly sweet, slightly salty peanut butter stick to the roof of your mouth with a piece of fresh bread. 

Now, if you don’t use honey roasted-peanuts,  you can use honey or sugar to sweeten your peanut butter if that suits your fancy, BUT and this is a big but…once you add honey you cannot turn back. You can’t add more peanuts, or more oil, or anything. If you do, the peanut butter will freak in rebellion and ball up and then you will add and add and add more oil to try and thin it out, but it won’t work and you will end up with peanut butter balls that have a nasty, greasy oil:peanut ratio. Once you add honey you need to start completely over to make another batch of peanut butter. I tried to take a shortcut and just add more peanuts after the honey addition when cooking with Carrie and I am clealy still bitter about it.

From HRPB

 

Peanut Butter

1 C. roasted peanuts (or use honey roasted and omit the extra honey)

1 t. salt

1-2 T. canola oil

2-3 T. honey or sugar

 

Place peanuts and salt in the bay of a food processor and start.

Once peanuts are ground and look like they are not being affected anymore by the food processor’s spinning blade (about 2 minutes), stream in the oil, 1 Tablespoon at a time.

Once the peanut butter looks like you want it to (about 60 seconds), you can add honey or sugar – stream it in and process only about 10 more seconds until the honey or sugar is incorporated.

Try not to eat it all before you put it in a jar. Store in fridge for up to 60 days.

From HRPB

Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

16 Nov

Some cookies are pretty, others are not, some are homemade and others store-bought (just had to keep going there). These cookies are dark–an Oreo-Cookie-how-did-you-make-chocolate-that-dark? kind of dark. They are very tasty though, like the dark chocolate truffle cream that is inside of a milk chocolate candy in a box of chocolates.

This recipe is void of eggs, so the cookies spread apart a lot and are prone to breaking (leaving me to be prone to unnecessarily eating all broken cookies).

Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

img_1740.jpg

1 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup Hershey Special Dark Dutch-Process (this is essential for the dark-chocolateness of the cookie

1/2 cup butter, cubed and room temp

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup milk

1 1/2 cups chopped white chocolate, white chocolate chips, or white chocolate chunks.

Preheat oven to 325 and place oven racks in the upper and lower middle position.

Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa.

Beat butter until light and add sugars, creaming well.

Add vanilla and beat until smooth.

Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternately with the milk.

Chill dough for 15 minutes.

Scoop dough into balls and bake 10 minutes.

img_1739.jpg