Tag Archives: baking

Baking, Cars, and Comfort Food

It’s Monday. I think I’ve got something that will put a big ol’ goofy smile on your face:

(Source)

Isn’t that cute? It kind of makes me want an otter . . . I wonder if anyone actually has one as a pet? Besides zoos that is. I am sure someone does. I mean, one guy here in Ohio had a whole bunch of exotic animals. Unfortunately, he released them and there ended up being a massive hunt to track them all down. Can you imagine? You wake up one morning and, “Hey, Mom! There’s a lion in our backyard . . . “ Crazy.

Anyway, Friday seems like light years away now. I had a pretty packed weekend. Of course, there was some baking involved!

Banana Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Some sad, brown-spotted bananas that had been chilling in the kitchen for some time inspired these babies. What’s a girl to do with super ripe naners? (Is that really even a valid question?!)

I was tired of making banana muffins, and when I saw that I had all of the ingredients for these bars (rarely ever happens), I knew it was fate. I just had to make them.

This recipe comes compliments of Jaclyn at Cooking Classy. I highly suggest that you go check out her blog if you are looking to whip up something delicious.  These bars are a testament to the utter deliciousness you will discover!

Now, the banana batter to this recipe is relatively healthy (no butter and I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream); however, the flavor is in no way sacrificed. It is perfectly banana-y and moist! Yet, in my opinion, it’s the frosting that really stole the show here. I am a cream cheese frosting gal with a cinnamon obsession, so I went crazy over this frosting. It was also the perfect texture for these bars—fluffy, but with just the right touch of gooeyness. I think I could have licked it all off the top of the bars if no one was looking.

Take a look at that sugar-infused wonderfulness.

Speaking of wonderfulness, my Saturday ended up being unexpectedly delightful. After a quick trip to the gym to get my cardio on (I still can’t strength train), I met my friend, Lori, to make a very important trip.

That’s right! She bought a new car! She was able to get a pretty good deal through a friend who works at a dealership about 2 hours away. So, Saturday afternoon we headed down to get her new baby.

I was really thankful that she asked me to accompany her. It gave us some solid catch-up time that was desperately needed. Plus, I got to check out her new ride: a Hyundai Elantra

That’s a good lookin’ pair!

I loved the heated seats and iPod compatibility. Oh, and 41 miles to the gallon highway?! I want one!

The rain snuck up on me on the ride home, and with a sick Madre to boot, the rest of my evening was devoted to chilling inside and watching The Descendants. It was pretty good, not outstanding but good. I can see why it was nominated at the Academy Awards. But, I mean, you can’t really go wrong with George Clooney. 😉

Compared to my Saturday, my Sunday was less than thrilling. I spent the bulk of my day swapping out my summer clothes for my wintery ones. Doesn’t that sound like jumping for joy fun? I know you’re jealous. Thankfully, Madre and I did take a break to walk Ellie and enjoy the exceptional fall weather. Ellie was quite appreciative, too.

She wastes no time hopping in your lap whenever you sit down. I think she’s part feline . . . except she is so much more loving than a cat. (And not allergy aggravating!)

Due to Madre’s continuing sniffles and sore throat, when dinnertime rolled around, we decided it was a perfect night for soup.

Chicken Chowder

I found this soup in a Penzeys catalogue awhile back, and it has become a hit with my family. It packs a great amount of protein for a soup, and the milk also provides a great source of calcium. Madre and I enjoyed this with a toasty baguette we had purchased from Krogers.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ C butter
  • 1/3 C finely chopped onion
  • ½ C finely diced carrots (I just chopped up some baby carrots we had in the fridge)
  • 1/3 C finely diced celery (I did not include celery this time and it tasted great still)
  • ¼ C finely diced green pepper (about ½ of a pepper)
  • ¼ C flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper (I used a little less)
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 1 28 oz. can of diced tomato (I didn’t look close enough at the amount, and only bought 1 can of diced tomatoes . . . which is 14 oz. It still tasted fine, but make sure it’s a 28 oz. can!)
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 T parsley
  • 3 C milk
  • 1 C diced cooked chicken

Directions:

  • Melt butter in stock pot over medium-high heat
  • Add onion, carrot, celery and green pepper. Cook until tender (2-3 min.)
  • Sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper. Stir gently until combined.
  • Gradually mix in boiling water.
  • Stir in tomatoes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add apple, thyme and parsley.
  • Simmer for 30 min.
  • Add milk and chicken. Cook until heated through (5-10 min.)
  • SERVE!

(I like to add a few . . . or 10 . . . shakes of hot sauce to mine!)

Nutrition: (1 C) Calories 170, Fat 7g, Carb. 17g, Protein 11g, Fiber 3g, Sugar 10g

Gotta love comfort food! It’s even delicious reheated for lunch or dinner in a hurry.

Well, I have to cut this sort-ish! I am off to bed for a good night’s rest, because I have my third interview tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed again!

Leave a comment

Filed under lamentations, recipes

The Unexpected Expected

The last 24 hours have been immensely emotional, to say the least.

As bible study was wrapping up last night, I realized that I had missed a call from my grandmother (aka: Gma). Alarms and sirens immediately began blasting in my head because she had called me earlier that afternoon to tell me that my grandpa (aka: Gpa) was not doing well. He had not gotten out of bed and had been put on antibiotics for congestion. Wait, maybe I should back up a bit, eh?

Over the past few years, Gpa has suffered several strokes, and he is now living in a great 24-hour care facility. He has been quite a trooper though. He has persevered through several falls, illnesses, breathing issues, etc. As Madre says, “he has the constitution of an ox.” However, things have gotten progressively worse over the last month or two. So when Gma called yesterday afternoon, my heart immediately sank to my stomach. I knew this was not a good sign.

When I realized I had missed another call from Gma, I immediately called Madre to get the scoop. (I can’t say why I didn’t just call Gma first. Maybe I was too scared to hear.) Anyway, Madre informed me that Gpa had come down with pneumonia, and the nurses were calling hospice. I am so embarrassed, but tears immediately began streaming down my cheeks as I heard this. In front of EVERYONE. (The HORROR). I couldn’t help it. I mean, I have been preparing myself for this type of news . . . but you never really are ready. You know?  Well, once I got back home from bible study, Madre left to make the 2 hour drive to my grandparents’ town. I had to stay at home due to the lack of sleeping room at Gma’s.

As you can imagine, today has been nothing but tense muscles and sad sighs. I actually have a love-hate relationship with my phone at the moment. Every time I hear that swoosh sound that signals a text, I hold my breath. Gahhhhhh.

At the moment, Gpa is holding steady. He is on strong antibiotics, but hospice does not know if he is strong enough to pull through this time. So if you are willing, my family would truly appreciate your prayers (or well-wishes, or thoughts, or whatever you prefer).

Since Madre is comforting Gma and Poppa is working, I had to find ways to keep myself (mostly my mind) preoccupied. So what did I do? (after going to the gym, of course)

I BAKED.

Yup. Definitely my motto today.

The silver lining is that my sugary frenzy produced some purely delicious recipes to share.

The first:

Chocolate Banana Swirl Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Batter:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 mashed extra-ripe bananas
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Dutch process)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat butter and sugar until thoroughly combined.
  • Add eggs one at a time.
  • Add vanilla and mix until well combined.
  • Add flour, baking powder, baking soda. Mix well.
  • Divide the batter equally between two bowls.
  • Add the mashed banana to one bowl and the cocoa powder to the other.
  • Place paper liners in a muffin/cupcake pan.
  • Fill one side of each cup with banana batter and the other with cocoa powder.

  • Swirl batter together with toothpick.

  • Bake for about 15 minutes.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:

  • 1 stick (1/2 C) of unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)
  • 1/2 C creamy peanut butter (natural pb not recommended)
  • 4 C powdered sugar
  • 1 T milk

Directions:

  • Beat butter until softened.
  • Add cream cheese and whip well.
  • Add peanut butter, whip.
  • Add powdered sugar 1 C at a time.
  • Add milk slowly.
  • Beat on high speed until nice and fluffy.
  • Frost those cupcakes! 🙂

I even made little mini me cupcakes with my extra banana batter!

This batter was thinner than the cocoa one, so why not make little baby banana cupcakes? Just dollop any leftover bater into a mini muffin tin. Oh! That peanut butter frosting!!!!! Your taste buds will be giddy with glee. SO DE-LISH!

Well, this girl is tired from all that worrying and baking! I will share my second scrumpdidiliumptious recipe tomorrow!

Powered by Qumana

Leave a comment

Filed under lamentations, recipes

Bananas, Guinness, and Army Wives

That title pretty much sums up my Sunday!

Before I planted myself in the kitchen for the day, I met my best friend, Lori, at church. I actually just started going to church again about a month ago, after having not gone in over a year, and I’m really enjoying it. This time around, I feel like I have more of a purpose to go—a yearning to grow closer to God. And this church provides such a safe haven to do just that. I love the pastor and his messages, and the people I have met have been nothing but welcoming. It almost is like coming home in a way. Smile

One of my favorite passages from yesterday’s message was from 1 Corinthians 15: 58:

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

It is just served as a reminder for me that we need to live for Him. Because He works through us and has a plan for us- even if it is not the one we have for ourselves.

Well, after church and a quick trip to the grocery store for supplies, I was ready to get down to business.The first things I had to get done were FOUR batches of protein bars for Discovering Strength clients. Clean eating approved, protein packed, and low in calories . . . these things are pretty great little numbers, let me tell you. I might have made a batch for myself also . . . Winking smile

The next thing on my list was finding something to do with my crazy ripe bananas. I certainly couldn’t eat them in their current state (I LOVE bananas and peanut butter), since I am slightly allergic to bananas. (I break out if I eat them when they are too green OR too ripe. They must have that picture perfect yellow peel!)

over-ripe-bananas

(Okay. . . those aren’t my exact naners, but they look exactly the same!)

So, after leafing through my huge recipe binder, I stumbled across a recipe Madre used to make all of the time: Banana Cupcakes! Basically, they are just banana muffins, but they are so delicious and MOIST! I think I would eat 2 or 3 after I got home from jr. high. (If only I could still eat like that!) Anyway, yes, they are THAT good.

I tried my hand at making them myself, but I have to admit, I was not perfectly happy with the end result. I remember Madre’s cupcakes having nice rounded, pillowy tops. Mine turned out kinda flat . . . bah! In my defense, I looked at the baking soda and found that the expiration date had passed. So, I am going to take the low road and blame it on the baking soda. It can’t defend itself anyway, so I automatically win! (Yes, I just sounded 7 years old!) Smile

Maybe you will have better luck at achieving those golden muffin tops:

Banana Cupcakes

Banana Cupcakes

(from Gma)

Yield:18

Ingredients:

  1. 1 C. sugar
  2. 1 C. mayo (no substitutions)
  3. 2 C. flour
  4. 2 tsp. baking soda
  5. 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  6. 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake/muffin tray with paper liners.
  2. Combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend until smooth and incorporated.
  3. Fill cups about 1/2 full of batter.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes. (Or until lightly golden).
  5. Cool on a wire rack.

So moving on to Guinness . . . . Winking smile

Well, since I was helping move Gma on St. Patty’s day, I decided to make up for lost time and treat my family to Guinness Brownies!

Guinness Brownies

I can’t really take any credit for this recipe, since all I did was take Emily’s recipe (WONDERFUL) and subbed Guinness for Oktoberfest beer.

But the result: pretty darn good! We’re talkin’ rich, creamy, decadent chocolate brownie here people. And the ganache frosting . . . swoon!

guinness piece

Check out that dense chocolate! Mmmmmm . . . my thighs are getting bigger just looking at it. Winking smile

That about wraps up my cooking adventures for the weekend. Lucky I was solo all day, since I monopolized the kitchen for the day . . . no one would have been able to make a meal! Well, I guess I wasn’t quite solo . . . I had a bunch of Army Wives to entertain me in the background:

army-wives1

Haha! Yes, I am one of those people who likes background noise. I think it’s a woman thing—we rule at multitasking. Am I right or am I right? It’s actually a pretty good series . . . dramatic, witty, hot men . . . well some Winking smile

Well, I am off to work on my online class! Have a fantastic Monday!

Questions for the day:

  1. How do you use your over-ripe bananas?
  2. Do you like background noise when you are working and/or cooking?

Leave a comment

Filed under recipes, Uncategorized

Pickle Jars & Snickerdoodle Bars

I know what you’re thinking . . . it’s been a week! A week since my last post!

How Dare you Ellie

BUT I do have a good excuse. I promise!

Lets hear it ellie

Okay, maybe my only excuse for not posting on Thursday was that I was pretty busy prepping for the weekend. But it was a busy weekend! Not only was my family helping my grandma (who I affectionately call Gma or Grammy- I love you Grammy! if you are reading this) move into her new apartment, but I also got the honor of picking my Uncle B up at the airport on Friday night! He flew all the way from Arizona to take part in all of the festivities . . . uh, work. Winking smile

Therefore, due to lack of internet access and being completely exhausted, I decided that blogging could wait.

Although I did venture back home briefly to fill some work orders and visit with my friend Lori, I turned right around and jetted back down to Springfield once again for my Gma’s auction a day and a half later. Now THAT was one interesting experience. The auctioneer amazed me with his super speed speech . . . I wonder how long it took him to learn how to speak that fast. And that intermittent mumbling? That is an art form. 

All in all, it was a pretty successful night. (And a HOT one at that- 85 degrees in March?!! What’s going on Ohio?) I was surprised by how much people paid for some things. For instance, a pickle jar went for $17.50. That must have been one heck of a pickle jar . . . maybe it was bedazzled. Yet, I would have thought that other items would have sold for more. Hmmm, I guess that is just the way it goes though, eh?

The rest of my time in Springfield was spent making trips to Goodwill, cleaning Gma’s house (HOLY DUST BUNNIES!), and sweating from the crazy heat. However, despite the work, I loved having the time to catch up with Uncle B and Gma. Plus, it felt great being able to help out my parents!

Oh! But before I left for the auction, I made something extra special for my Uncle’s sweet tooth:

Snickeredoodle bars!!!!

Snickerdoodle bars main

If you like regular snickerdoodle cookies, then you will absolutely LOVE these bars! They are so much moister (I think that’s a real word) than the cookies, and absolutely filled with satisfying cinnamon-y goodness! Really, you need to try these. Like right now.

Snickerdoodle Bars

Ingredients:

  1. 2 2/3 Cups AP Flour
  2. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (I just used what I had on hand)
  4. 2 Cups packed light brown sugar
  5. 1 Cup butter, room temp
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  8. 2 Tablespoons sugar
  9. 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9×13 pan.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside,
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Stir in flour mixture, making sure to blend well!
  5. Spread evenly into a prepared pan. Since the batter is thick, I found it works best if you put dollops into your pan and spread from there.
  6. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and then sprinkle it over the batter. (It won’t look like too awfully much in your bowl, but once you start sprinkling, you will see that there is more than enough to thoroughly cover your batter!)
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a little goo. (Yes, goo. You don’t want crumbs- otherwise you have overcooked!) *I cook mine about 23 minutes, but I know I like my baked goods slightly under done.
  8. Cool slightly and cut into bars. These are BEST served warm!

Snickerdoodle bars close up

Look at that golden cinnamon goodness!!!! MMMMMMMMMM

I brought a batch of these babies into Madre’s work a week ago. They were hot out of the oven! She later told me that they were gone within two hours. See?! They are that good! Now go make some for yourself. Your taste buds can thank me later!

Now off to make dinner!

Leave a comment

Filed under lamentations, recipes

Experience Needed . . .

Top o’ the morning to ya!

Hey! So, look at this: posting two days in a row! I would say I am off to a pretty good start.

Well, I can’t say that much has happened today. Not yet, anyway. For the past few months, my routine has been as follows: get up around 7AM, Job Hunt, Job Hunt, Job Hunt, breakfast, Job Hunt, check email, check Facebook, look at blogs, Job Hunt, get ready and head to the gym to work off my frustration. I tell you what, I don’t think I have ever felt as bad about myself as I do after hours of scouring for a job. In all honesty, many days I shut my laptop with a sense of overwhelming hopelessness. It makes me question my abilities, my lack of skills . . . my intelligence. Granted, I graduated from college with a BFA in Dance, so as far as industry experience goes, I have to face the fact that I am a little behind. However, that is not to say I didn’t put forth an effort throughout school. I made great grades, wrote for my school’s newspaper, and participated in an internship for a non-profit ant-speeding campaign (Picture A Safer Tucson). Yet, every morning I am faced with the reality that I am competing for jobs with people who have 5-10+ years experience in the editorial and publishing fields. (Have I mentioned that I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to serve in such roles as an editorial assistant, proofreader, publishing assistant, or copywriter?) My question always is: How am I supposed to get experience if no one is willing to give me the opportunity to gain experience? I often wish I could actually submit my resume in person instead of just online . . . that definitely was a plus: to show an employer your person in years past, eh? I guess that is one draw-back to advanced technology.

But, hey. I am going to continue to keep chugging away. Persistence must pay off at one point, right? And if there is one trait I have, that is definitely persistence.

But enough about my job woes. Do you know what I do when I am not looking for my big break?

I BAKE Smile

So, yesterday . . . inspired by Madre’s (Madre is my mom, FYI.) hint that she wished she had biscotti to dunk in her morning cup of coffee, I made these sweet little babies:

Chunky Monkey Biscotti

DSC01779

This lovely recipe came from one of my favorite foodie blogs: Sugar Plum

I started reading Emily’s blog this past summer, and I immediately fell in love. Her blog, filled with  bubbly daily musings and exceptionally delicious recipes, was one of the things that inspired me to start Going Through the Big D.

You should definitely head on over to her site and check it out! You won’t be disappointed!

Well, I am off to the gym. I will catch you later!

Happy Friday!

1 Comment

Filed under lamentations, recipes