Tag Archives: cream cheese

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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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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