Banana-Almond Smoothie

So this smoothie really isn’t much to look at, but its humble looks are deceiving. This is a speedy, satisfying, and healthy drink that is perfect for a weekday morning breakfast, snack, or post workout treat. Just 3 or 4 ingredients, a quick whirl in the blender, and bam, done. You could totally customize this to your liking- swap in peanut butter for the almond butter, use coconut milk (or other milk of your choosing) for the almond milk, add a handful of spinach, add a dash of cinnamon, the possibilities are endless!

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Banana-Almond Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 banana, broken into 3-4 chunks, frozen
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Source: Bon Appetit

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Oh, how I love banana bread. It’s such a comfort food. It’s one of the things my mom would bake regularly for us growing up, and she was always, and still is always trying out new banana bread recipes. There are just so many out there to try… you could probably make a new one every week for a year or a few, and still not run out, and based on the amount of bananas I have in my freezer, I might just be able to do that ūüôā I love to try new recipes as well, but my favorite banana bread will always be the simple one- unadorned with chocolate chips, or candied ginger, or seeds, or nuts. This classic banana bread recipe from¬†The Moosewood Cookbook¬†is just my cup of tea. I did make a couple of adjustments (leaving out the sesame seed coating, opting out of the addition of nuts and orange zest, reducing the sugar slightly, and adding a bit of espresso powder), but I stayed pretty true to the classic. The addition of coffee adds a little depth, but not overwhelming coffee flavor, and also adds to the moisture level. I love that half the flour is whole wheat (I used white whole wheat for a subtler flavor), so that I can feel a little better about eating this… that said, this is definitely a treat- I mean, look at the amount of butter! This is certainly not a health food ūüôā This does make an excellent breakfast treat every once in a while though, a great mid-day snack, and even a great dessert. I’m sure this won’t be my first and last banana bread recipe on this blog, because I have inherited my mom’s desire to try out every banana bread recipe known to man, but this is a great one that I will come back to again and again.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp espresso powder

1 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 2 bananas)

1/2 cup strong, black coffee

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana and coffee.

3.  Add the melted butter and brown sugar to a large bowl, and whisk together. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the vanilla, and whisk together. Beat until a little lightened in color.

4. In another bowl, add the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices and espresso powder. Mix or sift together until well blended.

5. Alternate adding the banana mixture, and the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. I added about a third of each mixture at a time. Mix gently after each addition, until all is added, and the mixture is combined. Don’t mix too aggressively, or the bread will toughen.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pop in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven, let rest in pan for 10 minutes, the remove from pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Source: barely adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

Here are some other banana bread recipes I would love to try out:

Banana Oatmeal Bread from Serious Eats

Crackly Banana Bread from Smitten Kitchen

Jacked-Up Banana Bread from Smitten Kitchen

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping from Orangette

Banana-Coconut Bread from Orangette

 

Almond Date Breakfast Bars

This is another winner of a make-ahead weekday breakfast recipe! They are the second breakfast recipe I’ve made from¬†The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and once again Deb doesn’t disappoint. I loved the combination of oats, almonds and dates, and this is a recipe that is open to endless adaptation. You could change up the nuts, the dried fruits, the nut butter… just make sure you keep the ratios the same. They are way healthier than the prepackaged granola bar as there is relatively little sugar (just the honey and dates), and the fats are healthy olive oil and almond butter. There’s no high fructose corn syrup, no processed sugar, and no¬†unpronounceable¬†ingredients. I will definitely be making these regularly, and I will be trying some adaptations as well. I’m thinking dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots…. walnuts, pecans… maybe a little coconut… there are just so many possibilities!

Almond Date Breakfast Bars

Almond Date Breakfast Bars

Almond Date Breakfast Bars

Makes 16 2-inch square bars

Ingredients:

1 cup (150 grams) dried pitted dates, chopped

1 1/4 cups (110 grams) quick rolled oats (or old-fashioned oats)

3 Tbsp (22 grams) barley or whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup (35 grams) wheat germ

1/2 cup (55 grams) thinly sliced almonds

1/2 tsp table salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup (65 grams) almond butter

1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil

1/4 cup (85 grams) honey

1/4 tsp freshly grated orange zest

1/4 tsp almond extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper- one sheet in one direction, and one sheet in the other direction, to form a parchment sling with which to remove the bars when they are finished.

2. In a large bowl, add the dates, oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds, salt and cinnamon, and stir to combine. In a separate small bowl, add the almond butter, olive oil, honey , orange zest and almond extract, and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir together until well combined.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and spread out evenly. (Deb recommends using a piece of plastic wrap to cover your hand so that you can press down on the mixture firmly without making a mess.)

4. Place in oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until brown around the edges. When you remove the pan, the top will still be soft and might seem like it isn’t completely baked, but as it cools, it will set.

5. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack. You can also remove the bars using the sling after about 20 minutes, and let cool on the rack and not in the pan. This will speed up the cooling process. You can also place them in the fridge to cool faster. Cut into 16 pieces with a serrated knife. They may be a bit crumbly (as mine were), but will mostly hold together! Cutting them when they are cold will help them stay together better.

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Another good oat-bar recipe: These Cherry-Date Oat Bars from the Whole Living Action Plan

Funfetti Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

So the other day I decided my pantry needed a major overhaul. It had been fairly organized in the past, but I had way too many bags of randomness (a little farro here, some leftover hazelnuts there). Just the sort of clutter that can arise when you start trying to shop more often from the bulk bins. I bought a bunch of canning jars and went to work, and organizing mainly the grains/pastas/legumes/nuts/seeds that I have, as well as the baking section in my pantry. Here are some pictures, if you are interested!

Messy pantry

 

Organized

 

Organized Pantry

 

A little better, right?! When I was¬†organizing¬†things, I came across 2 unopened containers of colorful sprinkles. These are not something we ordinarily use, and I had totally forgotten they were in my pantry. Making homemade funfetti cupcakes popped into my head right away. I love the funfetti cake made out of the boxed mix, but I really try to avoid buying those mixes, and I knew that I could make a homemade version. I started searching the web, and I came across a recipe on Annie’s Eats, one of my favorite blogs, who’s pretty much an expert on cupcakes. These were delicious, and came out looking just like the funfetti cupcakes from the mix. In my opinion, they were the best on the first day I made them, and everyday after got a little bit drier, so I’d definitely recommend eating them within a day or two of making them, for the most delicious result. I did use 2% milk rather than whole milk as that is what I had in my¬†refrigerator¬† so perhaps this is why they dried out fairly quickly. Nevertheless, these were a great way to use up some of those random sprinkles…now what to do with the rest?!?!

Funfetti cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Funfetti Cupcakes

Makes about 24

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk, divided

6 large egg whites

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

2 3/4 cup (11 oz) cake flour, sifted

1 1/2 cups (10.5 oz) sugar

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

12 Tbsp (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup multi-colored sprinkles

One batch chocolate frosting (recipe follows)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a couple of muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of whole milk, egg whites, vanilla extract and almond extract. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer, and mix about 30 seconds on low speed, to combine. Add the butter and mix on low speed about 30 seconds more, until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix for about 90 seconds more on medium speed. Then lower the speed to low, and add the egg white mixture in three batches, mixing about 20 seconds for each addition. Scrape down the bowl every once in a while. Add the sprinkles, and gently fold in.

3. Fill the cupcake liners evenly with the batter (I like to use a large cookie scoop to do this). Each liner should be about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for about 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Rotate the pans once during cooking. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, and then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. When cool, frost with the chocolate frosting (or other flavor frosting, if desired).

Source:¬†Annie‘s¬†Eats¬†(from¬†Sweetapolita)

Chocolate Frosting

Will frost 1 9-inch round layer cake or 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted

5 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3-4 Tbsp milk

Directions:

1. Add the butter and cocoa powder to a large bowl, and whip until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and stir together. Slowly add the milk until the frosting reaches your desired consistency  Whip until fluffy and smooth, a couple minutes. Alternately you could do this in the bowl of an electric mixer instead, and let it do the work for you!

Source:¬†Lauren’s Latest