Cocoa-nana Bread

Quick Post:  I had a few leftover bananas from my produce box that were perfectly spotty for a banana bread. This bread is dense, chocolaty, rich, and fudgy. M enjoyed a generous slice on his way to work and called me to tell me how good it was 🙂 He knows I love compliments on my food – especially new recipes. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Cocoa-nana Bread – adapted from Obsessed with Baking via Dorie Greenspan 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup semisweet cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1/2 cup store-bought chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over baking.)

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute, until softened. Add the sugars and beat for 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled — it’s okay. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40 to 45 minutes (total baking time is between 70 to 75 minutes) or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding. Invert and cool to room temp right side up.

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Quick Post: I’m always on the lookout for more dressings to spice up my salads. This one is so yummy – creamy, tangy, herbaceous, slightly spicy and a little sweet. This would be a perfect spread for sandwiches or topped onto grilled chicken or shrimp. It does take a little extra time to prepare, but it’s worth the effort and I’ll definitely make this again. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Creamy Cilantro Dressing – adapted from Pinch of Yum
  • 3/4 – 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons plain  Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Directions: 
1. Place all ingredients in your stick blender carafe and blend. Thin out with more olive oil or lime juice as needed.

Granola

Yes, another granola recipe. I have changed this one up a bit by using coconut oil, and a lower cooking temp. The coconut oil’s smoke point is 350, so I’m knocking the temp by 100 degrees just to be on the extra-safe side. This smells fantastic while baking!
Verdict: I enjoyed this granola with sliced bananas and raisins. This is my first time using sesame seeds for anything, but I can’t really taste them in this, but I have read how beneficial adding them to my diet is. Apparently the seeds are high in copper, manganese, calcium, fiber and other important nutrients. So, despite the maple syrup and honey in this, the granola is healthy and packed with nutrition. This was also my first time using coconut oil which is also super healthy and considered by some to be the healthiest oil on earth. My first thought about coconut oil was “is this going to make my food taste like coconut”, but it’s flavorless. I’ve been looking for ways to use the oil and it’s not just for food but can be used on your skin and hair. There is a lot of information to look through! 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Aunt Melissa’s Granola – adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup sesame seed
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • raisins or your favorite dried fruit for serving
Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly oiled or a silpat.
2. Combine the honey, maple syrup, oil, water and vanilla, set aside. Toss together all of the dry ingredients. (leaving the raisins and dried fruit out until after the granola is baked).
3. Add the honey mixture and toss with a spoon until the oats are well covered. Spread the granola in a thin layer on the baking sheet.
4. Bake for 40-50 minutes. After 20 minutes toss the granola with a spoon and rotate the trays from top to bottom so they both bake evenly. keep a close eye on it as it starts to turn brown so it doesn’t over bake. It will be a deep golden brown when it is done.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I have wanted to try this recipe for sometime. Just yesterday, I picked up my first box of produce from a local organic co-op and in this weeks box there are Roma tomatoes! I can’t let these go to waste and I know I wont use this many in a week. What better way to use these than to make a homemade pasta sauce? I do need to buy about another pound at the store, but that’s ok – I still wanted to try this.

This was really tasty and I’m glad I went with my “doctoring-up” instincts or this wouldn’t have had enough flavor for us. I didn’t add the red pepper flakes while I cooked the sauce so my spice-a-phobic daughter wouldn’t have something extra to complain about. It’s like pulling teeth to get her to eat anything! We all enjoyed this with roasted garlic bread, which is obviously not pictured…it was that good! I will have to make it again sometime and make sure I keep my hands off until I get a picture. I used my go to garlic bread recipe on half of this loaf and used an entire bulb of roasted garlic in place of the chopped. It was unbelievably good – a little too good because I couldn’t help myself from eating three pieces! I joked that I was “carbo-loading” for the gym tomorrow. I haven’t indulged like that in a whole month 🙂 These are destined to be “repeat offenders” – thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce – heavily adapted from Dishing the Divine

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cut into large dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • sprinkle of teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 8 ounces shell pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
Directions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Chop your tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Layer the tomatoes on a sheet pan that has sides. Add olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Roast for 25 minutes or until tomatoes are bubbly and browning in spots, stirring once or twice. Set aside.

In a large skillet set to medium heat pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook until slightly caramelized then add your roasted tomatoes to the skillet. Stir to combine and add vodka, cook for 5 more minutes. If you prefer a smoother sauce, blitz the mixture with your stick blender. Add in Pecorino Romano cheese over top and toss in chopped basil – taste for seasoning. Set aside.

Put a large pot of water to boil, and add a generous amount of kosher salt to the pot. Add your pasta and cook according to package directions. Before you drain the pasta, reserve about two cups of the pasta water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, stir to combine, add the pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce. Serve with roasted garlic bread and a green salad.

Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

I’ve been kind of obsessed with finding a carrot soup recipe because I’m on the lookout for healthy, vegetarian lunches and dinners. I’ll admit it doesn’t look appetizing at all – but it’s the taste that counts! 😉 This is a mix of a few different recipes I found – but it’s mostly a huge experiment of flavors. I added a little of this, and a little of that which resulted in a peppery, thick soup. I know it’s not my most favorite thing I’ve ever made, but it’s pretty good. I’m not the best at whipping up meals off the top of my head, but I’m getting more adventurous. Thanks for reading 🙂
Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup – adapted from The Wednesday Chef
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • fresh orange juice ( I used about 1/4 of one orange), to taste, optional
  • cilantro leaves
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the carrots in a roasting pan and toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Season with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the carrots, add the onion and roast 15 minutes, until the carrots are brown and tender. When carrots are cool enough, cut them in bite-sized chunks.

2. Heat up a large soup pot over medium, add the carrot-and-onion mixture, cilantro leaves and the dry seasonings. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then stir in the lentils. Add the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are falling apart. Squeeze in your orange juice, add more cilantro and check for seasoning and serve.

Peanut Butter Granola Bites

The kids love snacks – especially my five year old. If I let her, she’d graze all day long – she’s a bit of a snacking fiend. This aren’t the healthiest snack that I could make, but at least I know what is in them. The kids were running low on granola bars and I have been meaning to make them some, and I made the mistake of mentioning it to my son. That boy never lets me forget a food promise! He’s as bad as his dad 😉
These are sticky to work with, so I recommend chilling the mixture for at least 10 minutes before forming them. I tried one (for quality control’s sake *wink*) and they were really tasty. The peanut butter flavors this nicely and they’re only slightly sweet. The mini chocolate chips are a nice addition, the coconut and oats give these a nice chewy texture and the rice cereal adds a pleasing crunch. I was afraid the uncooked oats would make these hard to eat but I was pleasantly surprised. I will make these again, but maybe in bar form. The bites wont make good lunch box snacks, but rather after school snacks because they fall apart easily. Maybe it’s because of the humid climate that these never set up tightly, so I serve these straight from the fridge. I placed the ball in a muffin paper so the kids’ hands wouldn’t get sticky. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Peanut Butter Granola Bites – adapted from Lisa is Hungry
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cold cereal like Rice Krispies
  • 1 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
Directions:
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the maple syrup or honey, peanut butter and butter. Heat until the butter is melted and the peanut butter is loosened.
2. Combine cereal, oats and coconut in a medium bowl. Pour the warm peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and fold tom combine. Stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the peanut butter mixture. Allow the mixture to cool a bit for easier scooping. Mix in chocolate chips if desired.
3. Using a small scoop, scoop mixture onto a wax paper lined baking sheet. Press balls together with clean and damp fingers if they break apart a bit. Place in the fridge for about 15 minutes to harden and set. Place balls in cupcake liners and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Makes about 24 bites.

Roasted Broccoli

Quick Post: I’ve never had roasted broccoli and have wanted to try it for some time. Broccoli was on sale today and I needed a “diet-friendly” side dish to go along with this tilapia and these mashed potatoes. These were so good – a little salty bite, savory, nutty a little sweet…so good. It’s my new favorite way to enjoy broccoli 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli –

  • 4 cups broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Directions:
Preheat oven to 425.
Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces. Cut the stalk into 1/8-inch thick, round slices. Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter

Quick Post:  This is a new favorite! The kids inhaled this perfect after school snack, either served with apples or spread on a piece of toast. Make sure you start with the smallest amount of sugar first and taste for sweetness, adding more if necessary. This didn’t turn out too sweet – I used about 7 tablespoons. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread – adapted from 52 Kitchen Adventures

  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup unsweetneed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 T canola oil (or peanut oil if you have it)
  • 1/8 – 1/4  tsp fine sea salt

Place peanuts in food processor or blender. Process until they become almost liquified (be patient: first, it will grind up, then make a ball shape, then become smooth, and then look wet – it took at least 10 minutes). Add in cocoa power, powdered sugar, oil and salt and blend for a couple of minutes until thoroughly combined. Add more salt to taste and a little more oil if too thick. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. It may need stirring before serving.

Honey Mustard Dressing

This was absolutely perfect compliment to my salad. I’m also loving the addition of apples, walnuts and feta to my basic salad toppings. The dressing couldn’t be easier to whip up – it actually took me longer to search for a recipe than it took to make. Three ingredients are all you need for this tangy and sweet dressing. This is my new favorite salad! Thanks for reading, enjoy 🙂

Honey Mustard Dressing – adapted from Food Network

  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Directions:

Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth.

 

Homemade Peanut Butter

Quick Post: I had to make this – I just couldn’t help it. It’s so much more rich and flavorful than store bought peanut butter and it’s worth the little effort it takes to make. Tomorrow I’ll post the kids new favorite chocolate peanut butter spread. They couldn’t get enough of it! Thanks for reading, enjoy:)
Homemade Peanut Butter – adapted from A Homemade Kitchen
  • 1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 to 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (optional)

Place nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. With lid on, pulse the peanuts until they become a smooth and shiny butter, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. If it seems your peanuts aren’t turning into a paste, slowly add the oil until incorporated and smooth. If peanuts turn into a paste easily, omit the oil. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your preference.