Tag Archives: banana

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!

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Bananas for the Weekend

Well, it’s back to reality today, eh? Back to the routine . . . work, school, etc. I hope you were as ready as this kiddo.

Get it little guy! I am so going to make one of these for my future kid(s). (I have plenty of time though, don’t you worry. That won’t be for quite a few years).

I hope everyone had a fantastic Labor Day weekend, Mine was pretty good, but most importantly, it was pretty laid back. I spent quite a bit of time preparing for my VACATION! Madre and I leave tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited. Oh, and when I wasn’t packing, I was caching up on lost time with Michael C. Hall:

Who else is addicted? I swear I could watch the entire season in one sitting . . . if I had the time. The mystery, the morbid excitement, and the dark humor are fantastic. I also personally love Deb. I find her foul-mouthed, blunt reactions completely refreshing. She basically tells it how it is, although brutally. There are many times that I wish I could do that, but I don’t have the guts . . . or my conscience takes over. Anyway, if you haven’t experienced the utter brilliance that is Dexter, I am giving you full permission to go indulge. At this very moment. Seriously, go. Rent it. You will thank me later.

Among my packing and TV watching, I had planned to squeeze in a blog post; however, things did not work in my favor. Things meaning my computer. It’s the grandpa of MacBooks I do believe.

I am not even sure how old it is, but it is dying a slow and very painful (for me) death. My Uncle purchased it used off ebay several years ago and made some fixes/adjustments. After lending it to a friend for a period of time, he lent it to me when my Dell crashed during my sophomore year of college. It then turned into a graduation present once I was finished at the U of A in 2011. So, how many years is that? I’m not exactly sure, considering we don’t know how long the previous ebay owner had it. Let’s just say that this baby is a testament of Apple’s products. (My Dell lasted 2.5 years before crashing). However, it is getting to the point where I need to move on . . . if only I had enough money to buy a new MacBook.

(Source)

I’m really not exaggerating about the dying a slow and painful death part. Last night, I went to upload the pictures from my phone . . . it took 2 hours. Then, I got an error message telling me that the photos I supposedly uploaded, well, didn’t. Hmmmmm . . . Oh, and with every other click, I have to wait for an unknown amount of time watching this:

(Source)

What I like to call: The CIRCLE OF DEATH

The two of us are not friends. I have called it a variety of other colorful (no pun intended) names. It seriously takes FOREVER.

(Source) Oh Sandlot! 🙂

Sometimes, I wait so long that I have no choice left but to force shutdown and restart. And don’t even get me started on how many times I have been filling out job applications and my Mac just freezes, refusing to move. Oy vey. Deep breaths. Very deep breaths.

Thankfully, I did succeed with uploading my pictures this morning. You should be very thankful too. Why? You may ask? Because I did whip up a tasty treat this weekend. Once again, over-ripened naners were calling to me. Begging me to make their lives useful. I couldn’t refuse their pleas.

Go Bananas Whoopie Pies

I have had these tagged in my recipe book ever since they appeared in an issue of Food Network Magazine. Since I had the ingredients, AND since I it would be a great treat for Madre to bring to her non-chocolate-loving coworkers (gasp!), I couldn’t help but call it fate.

I pretty much followed Food Network Magazine’s recipe to the T, except for two minor alterations:

  1. I used reduced fat cream cheese (that’s all I had)
  2. I threw a few chocolate chips in the batter at the very end (for my last pan), because some of us just need a little chocolate in our desserts!

I give these guys a thumbs up! Ummm . . . how can I not? Peanut butter and banana are quite a pair. Although, I was a little surprised at the filling. I expected it to be more fluffy and frosting-like. This filling is definitely more of a thick, peanutty spread. You won’t be disappointed though. No worries!

Go Bananas Whoopie Pies

By: Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/4 C packed brown sugar (I used dark, again it’s all I had on hand)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla ext.
  • 1/2 C mashed very-ripe banana (about 1.5 naners)
  • 1/2 C buttermilk (I put 1.5 tsp white vinegar in a measuring cup and then filled it up with milk up to the 1/2 C mark)
  • 2 C AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 T butter, softened
  • 1 C creamy PB
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla ext.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in egg and vanilla.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine banana and buttermilk.
  • In another bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  • Gradually add dry mixture to creamed mixture, alternating with banana/buttermilk mixture.
  • Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes (or until set).
  • Cool for a few minutes on pan, then transfer to wire rack.
  • For filling, cream peanut butter, cream cheese, and butter until fluffy. (Mine wasn’t that fluffy . . . )
  • Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  • Spread onto bottom of one cookie; top with another cookie.
  • EAT! (Oh, and store in the fridge!)

For the love of peanut butter. Are you drooling yet?

How about now?

Did you know that these are called Gobs in Pennsylvania? I coworker last summer brought chocolate cookie with vanilla filling whoopie pies to a function one time, and when I exclaimed, “Yes! Whoopie Pies!” I was met with a dozen quizzical-faced colleagues. It took awhile for me to live that one down. I’m still calling them whoopie pies though. Gobs sound ugly.

Speaking of oddly-named things. Look what Madre and I found while browsing Kroger yesterday:

Snacks on a Stick Maker

It gets better. Look at all the delicious, high-quality and nutritious food you can make:

That’s steak, corn dogs, OMELETS???, pizza, pancakes, and cookies. On a stick . . .

Madre came up with the product’s new slogan: “You may never have to use silverware again!” I think it’s fitting.

Before I go take care of some other vaca preparations, I will share my workout with you.

Workout:

I began with a nice 40 minutes on the elliptical machine. You know, to get my sweat on. The weight room was pretty packed after I finished, so I headed upstairs to complete a Plyometric workout I found.

I only did the entire circuit one time through, but I was still a sweaty fiend. Loved it! Those Hamstring Sliding Curls and Split Jumps are killer! I will definitely be revisiting this one again, and no worries, I will step it up and go for at least two rounds.

I finished with some random exercises to hit my arms and back:

  • Seated Narrow Grip Cable Rows (3 sets of 10)
  • Inclined Dumbbell Curl (3 sets of 10)
  • Back Extensions (3 sets of 10-using 10 lb. weight)

Told ya it was random!

Well, that’s it for me today. I haven’t decided if I will be lugging my Mac to Mexico with me, so I may not be back until the 11th! Have a great week!

Questions of the Day:

  • If you were to purchase a new laptop, what would you choose?
  • What’s your favorite TV series?

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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!

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Peanut Butter-Banana Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

Want to know how to catch a guy who doesn’t like sweets?

I know, I know . . . HOW can someone NOT LIKE sweets?!?! Well, have no fear, this recipe will make even the most sweet-toothed intolerant person change his tune. Seriously.

I’m talking about Peanut Butter-Banana Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies.

Phew! That’s a mouthful. A mouthful of GOOEY GOODNESS that is! 🙂

This recipe is compliments of Emily. I have mentioned her blog before when I made her Chunky Monkey Biscotti, and cannot help but oggle all of her delicious recipes. I hope that I become confident enough to invent new and creative recipes like she does one day. Brilliance here, folks.

Anyway, I have been wanting to try these PB and naner bad boys for quite awhile now, and when I saw that we had some very brown bananas perched on our hanger . . . well, there was no turning back.

I had fun making these babies. I mean, these cookies combine two of my favorite ingredients (I honestly think peanut butter and bananas are a better pair then jelly. Sorry, Jam. You and your bread can chill in the cupboard. Peanut butter has found a new leading lady.) Plus, I liked the hands-on aspect of rolling the dough around the filling. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the smell while these guys were baking in the oven! Sweeeet Gooodnes! My mouth was salivating just from standing in the kitchen.

Look at the size of these puppies. These are cookies fit for a man.

My brother ate three in one sitting . . . which probably equals six regular-sized cookies. Justin ate one as soon as I offered, and I sent him home with several more. All of them were suspiciously gone a day later. . . I told you: I can make anyone a sweets lover, and these most definitely helped. 😉

Have I convinced you to try a hand at making these yourself? C’mon! It’s peanut butter. And bananas. AND a hint of CHOCOLATE! Triple threat, baby!

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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?

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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!

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