Almond Butter Banana Bread

almond-butter-banana-bread

My mother’s banana bread is pretty perfect just the way it is.  It is just about the only recipe that I never mess with – I have tried other banana bread recipes, but none compare.  The only experimenting I have done over the years is to create a non-dairy version that my husband can enjoy.  Coconut milk makes a wonderful substitution from the buttermilk that normally I use.

This month I received some delicious products from Woodstock Foods to try – and for some reason when I dipped my spoon into the delicious almond butter – it was the banana bread that I couldn’t stop thinking about.  What if I added almond butter to the mix…would magic happen?  Well, I think it was the combination of Stonyfield Farm’s Grass Fed Yogurt with the Almond Butter that really sparked something.  This was one of the best batches I have ever made.  But seriously, with this recipe, have I ever made a bad batch?  These loaves came out a little more tender, and the almond butter just gave it a little richer flavor.  Success all around – particularly for my kids who now have a special treat for breakfast all week.

Ingredients

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Mash bananas with a fork and set aside.  Mix oil, sugar, yogurt, vanilla, almond butter and eggs well.  Add mashed bananas.  Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl, and add to banana mixture until just combined well.  Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 x 5″ loaf pans.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from pans while still warm and wrap with plastic.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: almond-butter-banana-bread

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Woodstock Foods are always my own.

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Black Current Scones

black-current-scones

It is the season of giving, so in that spirit, I decided to bring back my annual holiday gift post – plus a few added bonuses, thanks to my friends at Stonyfield Farms and Lavoons.  Please continue reading below for a fun holiday giveaway!

I have a very regimented super market routine which almost weekly involves Trader Joes and Whole Foods.  My favorite day to go to Trader Joes is on Sundays – and that is because of the violin player that is faithfully there every week.  I am not sure if he is homeless, but he plays the violin for money, and he is actually really good.  He wears the same clothes every week, and is super thankful when people put money in his open violin case.

This holiday season Stonyfield Farms wanted us to pay it forward, by giving us a $50 gift card to donate to a charity of our choice, or someone we know in need.  I took that gift card, and traded it in for a $50 Trader Joes card, and that’s what I left him on Sunday.  I thought he was going to cry.  I hope he has a wonderful holiday feast…

If you are wondering how you can pay it forward, how about with a holiday cooking gadget that to make life easier in the kitchen?  Every year it is so easy, and this year was no exception.  I created this list in about 5 minutes – and if it helps just one of you with holiday shopping this year, it was completely worth it.

  1. Chef’n GarlicZoom Garlic Chopper – a close friend sent this to me this year, and I swear I look for opportunities to use it because it is just that much fun!  Chopping garlic has never been so easy.
  2. Lavoons Measuring Spoons – ok, talk about fun – these are just amazing – no need to get a knife to level off your dry ingredients – this gadget has it all built in! 
  3. Large Cookie Spatula – this has been on my favorite holiday gifts list ever since I started this.  I use this for just about everything – cakes, roasts, anything that has to be moved, and requires a large surface area to do so. I have even got my husband to start using it…
  4. Silpat – I was a non-conformist for many years, and did not think I needed one of these – but this year I was sent one to try out, and I fell hard.  Cookies cook more evenly, and there is absolutely no sticking at all.
  5. Channel Knife – ever wonder how they make those pretty garnishes on cocktails?  This is the trick – and if you do it right, the lemon oils spray onto the cocktail and given the drink an extra depth of flavor.

Now for the really exciting part – Lavoons gave me an extra set to give away to one of my readers!  Please comment on your favorite cooking gadget, and you will be in the running for a set of these measuring spoons.  I will select a winner on Wednesday, December 21st at 5:00pm PST, so please don’t delay!

The last gift I have is this recipe for black current scones.  I made these a while ago, but just haven’t had a chance to post them yet.  Scones are just the perfect breakfast/brunch treat.  They are super easy to make, and come out of the oven ready to eat.  You can even prepare them ahead of time, and warm them up prior to serving.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Ingredients

  • 4 oz (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  • 12 oz (about 2 and 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 3 oz (6 tbsp) raw sugar + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, heavy cream or stonyfield farm’s whole milk yogurt, plus extra for glazing
  • 1 scant cup black currants, rinsed, picked through and stemmed

Preparation

Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda & powder, and salt. Add butter, and using your fingers, flatten out the butter pieces to large flakes. Mix in the buttermilk or cream just until the flour is moistened and begins to form large clumps; add the currants. Mix well and knead the dough in the bowl until it will hold together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board.

Sprinkle a little flour across the top of the dough and rub some flour along a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/2 inch thick .  Cut the circle into 8 wedges.

Place on a ungreased cookie sheet and brush with buttermilk or cream, and then sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake for around 15-20 minutes or until brown on top.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  black-current-scones

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Lavoons are always my own.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Muffins

 oatmeal-muffins

Back to school means MUFFINS!!  When I am really in the running for “Mom of the Year” award, it is because I took a couple of hours on Sunday to make something absolutely delicious for breakfast.  Something homemade that is easy enough to eat on the go, or warmed up in the microwave with some melted butter.  Unfortunately it doesn’t happen as much as they would like (or I would for that matter).  I had every intention of making some fresh scones today, but it is now close to 9:00pm, and that didn’t happen.

The other week though, thanks to Bob’s Red Mill – I did have an opportunity to apply for the award, after making these scrumptious morsels.  The oatmeal and coconut sugar did not disappoint…although the star of the show was the mini-chocolate chips.  Both girls loved the muffins, I didn’t even have to remind them to eat the muffins for breakfast – which is when I know they are a total hit.

So this year, why not make waking up for school something to look forward to – I know it is not time for resolutions just yet, but this is going on my list – to bake something at least once a month – which takes care of an entire week of breakfasts. Then I know that at least 25% of the month, I can look forward to that red carpet award ceremony…

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Bob’s Red Mill products are always my own.

Ingredients

Preparation

To cook the steel-cut oats, boil 3 cups of water, then add 1 cup steel-cut oats with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  When the oats are done, stir in 1/4 cup coconut sugar.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack positioned in the upper third. Oil, spray or butter 12 muffin cups.

Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup coconut sugar. In another bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Quickly stir in the dry ingredients with a whisk or a spatula. Do not beat, just mix, stirring up from the bottom until you can no longer see flour. A few lumps are fine. Fold in the cooked oats and the chocolate chips.

Spoon into muffin cups, filling them to just below the top. Sprinkle coconut sugar on top if desired.  Place in the oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool on a rack, or serve warm.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: steel-cut-oatmeal-and-chocolate-chip-muffins

oatmeal-muffins-2

Almond-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake

Almond-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake 2

It’s hard to get yourself out of a rut, particularly when you have been doing something a certain way for years, and it works.  We all know the phrase – if its not broken, don’t fix it.  Well, it’s not always that easy.  Sometimes if you keep doing things one way, you are missing out on something better.  That is one of the reasons why I love to cook – I am always searching for the perfect recipe – one that is better than the one I previously thought was perfect.  And I think of my kitchen as my lab – I am always experimenting.

Many months ago, I signed up to be a Stonyfield ambassador by applying to be in their blogger club.  When I was accepted, I almost wrote back and said thanks, but no thanks.  My life is like one of those duffle bags that is completely stuffed – I can’t fit even one more sock in.  But if I need that sock, I have to figure out what I am going to take out.  I still haven’t quite figured that out, but all I know is I never did decline the invitation, so here I am, stuffing one more thing in.

The good news is that it doesn’t seem like it is going to be that time consuming, especially because I love cooking and baking with yogurt – and this February’s opportunity also included Devine Chocolate.  Yum!

My girls had been asking me to make a coffee cake for a while, and all of a sudden it hit me – why do you need to use sour cream or buttermilk in a coffee cake, why couldn’t you use yogurt instead?  So I started researching a little – and I learned that it is a perfect substitution, and with a little milk, you have basically created your own buttermilk.  So, I heavily adapted this recipe that I found in the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, and I created my own perfect coffee cake.  The yogurt made the cake super moist, with a slight tang – and the chocolate bar – oh my word.  That was just perfect as the topping.

So the next time you go through the motions, doing the same thing you have always done – think more broadly – be creative, and think about ways in which you can make it better.  There is always a way…

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions are always my own.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3.5 ounce Devine Chocolate with Whole Almonds Bar, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup Stoneyfield Farms plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Preparation

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray and line the bottom with parchment.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, both sugars, the butter and the salt until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

To make the crumb topping, transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the chocolate and espresso.  Set aside.

Sprinkle the baking soda into the remaining butter-sugar mixture.  Whisk the yogurt together with the milk. Add the yogurt/milk mixture, egg, vanilla, and almond extract to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix just until combined.  Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly.  Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan.

* If you find yourself without espresso powder, replace it with 1 teaspoon cinnamon for an equally delicious cake.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Almond-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake

Summer Vegetable Frittata

Summer Vegetable Frittatta

What a weekend…all focused on food.  Ok, so maybe most of my weekends are all focused on food – but this was different.  I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference here in Seattle, and not only did we eat (and did we ever), but there were multiple sessions focused on photography, technology and writing.  When I attend a conference like this, I realize how little I actually know – and how little time I actually have to spend on my blog.  I know I could have prioritized it more during my summer sabbatical, but to be honest, I just didn’t want to sit behind a computer when I was in the most glorious food cities in the world.  I am happy with my decision…and maybe someday I will be able to devote more time here.

Aside from eating and learning, I actually met some really great people.  The two blogs I would like to highlight have something in common – these women got their significant other’s involved in their blogs!  I love it!!  The first blog is Dang that’s Delicious – an adorable blog with outstanding photos.  And would you believe they actually met at the food blogger’s conference a couple of year’s ago??  He was not attending, but they met at a bar downtown – what an amazing story.

The next blog is A Tasty Mess – and they travelled all the way from Houston to attend the conference.  They wasted no time at all, and even fit in a UW Husky game!  I loved getting the chance to talk to them, they are young and energetic – and by the look’s of that incredible blog – they have a beautiful life eating, drinking and writing about their adventures.  Next year’s conference is going to be in Sacramento – so if you are a blogger looking for a great way to learn and grow, definitely check it out.

So what do I do after a weekend of eating and drinking?  Turn to vegetables.  Vegetables from my incredible market basket.  The market basket that I look forward to every Thursday.  This week’s basket contained all the ingredients for this delicious frittata (even the eggs!!) – and this recipe below.  It was completely dairy-free, and tasted like summer.  Fresh and delicious.  And next week we get to visit the farm!

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 8-10 fingerling potatoes, washed and thinly-sliced
  • 2 sweet Bullhorn peppers, washed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced potatoes to the skillet and sauté for about 6 to 8 minutes, until tender but firm. Remove from skillet. Add another tablespoon oil, then add the peppers, onions and garlic. Sauté for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until the peppers and onions are softened, and garlic is fragrant. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Remove from skillet.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs and thyme with a pinch of salt and pepper. Return the potatoes to the skillet, arranging in an even layer. Top with vegetable mixture and then pour eggs evenly over the vegetables. Drizzle olive oil around the edge of the pan to ensure easy removal.

Transfer to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the eggs have completely set in the center. Serve straight out of the skillet, cut into wedges, or flip onto a serving plate.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Summer Vegetable Frittata

Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby

Everyone deserves a break every once in a while – and there are those breaks that are definitely worth waiting for.  After 17 years of working for the same company, I am getting one of those breaks.  My job is not just work – it is all consuming.  I do things with my kids, and take time to write this blog – as a means to get away.  But to be honest, I am never really get away.  It is always in the background of pretty much everything I do.  But not this summer.  I am heading out on an adventure with my two girls, and my husband will join us later.  It will just be us for the summer.  Work will be left behind, waiting for me to engage again in the fall.

To say that this year has been a lot to handle would be an understatement.  After years of being consistent on this blog, I finally had to set it aside for a longer periods of time.  My breaks in the kitchen have been few and far between – but I hope that will change this summer – and if it doesn’t, it is because I am having too much fun doing something else.  Spending time exploring a wonderful city – eating and walking all day.

Last summer was the last time I really spent time cooking – and I made this Dutch Baby Pancake at my mother’s house – I was in such a hurry to take a picture that I didn’t even remember to sift the powdered sugar on top.  Then in a instant, the whole thing was gone – inhaled by my children.  Yes, it was that good.  Now, I am not posting this because it is a beautiful picture – but I couldn’t let this sit in the queue any longer.  With Father’s Day next weekend, I wanted to give you something that will make the father’s in your life happy.  We will be definitely be missing ours!

On Friday, my team made me a farewell video…it was absolutely amazing.  It was hilarious – but the words completely hit the mark.  It’s time to let it go…

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar

Preparation

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450.  Brush surface and sides of a large oven-proof 12-inch skillet generously with the canola oil.  Place skillet on over rack and heat until oil is shimmering, about 10 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, combine flour, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk eggs in another bowl until frothy and light, about 1 minute.  Whisk milk, butter, and vanilla into eggs until incorporated.  Whisk one-third of milk mixture into flour mixture until no lumps remain, then slowly whisk in remaining milk mixture until smooth.
 
Remove skillet from oven and carefully pour the batter into heated skillet and bake until edges of Dutch Baby are deep golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately, along with powdered sugar for generous sprinkling over the pancake.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Dutch Baby

Jammin’ Oat Muffins

Music is almost as magical as food is.  It has those same powers that can get you to remember something – you can be going about your business and a song comes on, and it takes you to a different place.  Just like food can.  I used to be completely obsessed with music when I was growing up – and someone that has been replaced with food.  I still love music, but it is not what gets me up in the morning.

In college at parties, there was a lot of Bob Marley being played – especially when the weather was nice, and everyone was outside.  For some reason, whenever I get out my jam supplies I start singing Bob Marley’s “Jammin'” song:

Ooh, yeah! All right!
We’re jammin’:
I wanna jam it wid you.
We’re jammin’, jammin’,
And I hope you like jammin’, too.

Ain’t no rules, ain’t no vow, we can do it anyhow:
I’n’I will see you through,
‘Cos everyday we pay the price with a little sacrifice,
Jammin’ till the jam is through.

We’re jammin’ –
To think that jammin’ was a thing of the past;
We’re jammin’,
And I hope this jam is gonna last.

Yep – and even though he was not talking about making jam, the words seem to work perfectly for my hobby.  But seriously, it brings me back to those college days – did I ever think that someday this song would have a different meaning to me?  That must be it, this song was all about making jam – but no one knew it.

So needless to say, when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, of course I went right back to that song.  And I sang it the entire time I was baking these as well. Of course I used my homemade raspberry jam for these, and they were fantastic.  They added the perfect amount of sweetness to these lovely muffins. Exactly what I need to get me out of bed in the morning…

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking steel-cut oats
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup raspberry preserves or jam

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray; set aside. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Crack egg into a medium bowl, and beat lightly with a fork. Add milk, oil, and maple syrup; mix well.

Pour egg mixture into flour mixture, and stir until combined (mixture should still be lumpy and very wet). Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup. Spoon 1 teaspoon preserves or jam into center of each cup of batter. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in centers. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Place muffins on a wire rack. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Jammin’ Oat Muffins