Monday, May 21, 2012

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And, when life gives you bananas...

Make banana bread, of course!

I dearly love banana bread.  It is one of my all time favorite go-to quick bread recipes.  Every time I buy bananas I hold out a secret hope that they will get overripe before we can eat them all.  Unfortunately, I also just really love bananas.  I eat one pretty much every day.  We almost never have brown bananas sitting around waiting to be mashed up with flour, sugar, and eggs and baked into delicious bread.

I realize that I could just keep a few now and then for the sole purpose of making banana bread, but I like to think of banana bread as a special treat.  It really isn't very good for you; you shouldn't have it too often.  So, every once in a while it's nice to see those extra brown bananas sitting on the kitchen counter.  They hold the promise of happy breakfasts and sweet snacks.

I also love to experiment with different banana bread recipes. 
Add a few chocolate chips in the mix?  Don't mind if I do. 
Strawberries and bananas make a good combination, don't they?  Let's try it.
How about getting a little crazy and putting peanut butter and oatmeal in?  Why not?

Here are two of my favorite fun banana bread recipes for you to try sometime.
Strawberry Banana Bread by Averie Cooks
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins by The Well Fed Newlyweds

But wait!  There's more!

This week was a good week.  This week I had three bananas that never got eaten.  Three bananas that sat on the counter getting browner, sweeter, and more beautiful.  This week I got to gather my baking supplies and make a loaf of banana bread.  But, did I just make any old loaf?  I should say not!  This week I made Reese's Peanut Butter Banana Bread.
Yep, you read that correctly.  This recipe from Cookies and Cups contains three of my favorite indulgences, chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas, all in one delicious loaf of bread!

I whipped out my supplies and had this bread baking in no time.  I know my husband will be glad I did.  He loves Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and there are quite a few mixed into this batter.
Of course, I had to do some quality control testing once it was out.  No worries, friends.  This bread is good!  The peanut butter makes for a more dense bread, not quite as moist as traditional banana bread.  But, the gooey peanut butter cups scattered throughout more than make up for that, in my opinion.  Make sure you eat it warm.  So, either gobble it up all by yourself as soon as it comes out of the oven, or warm up slices in the microwave the next morning for a quick breakfast as your family runs out the door.  They'll love you for it.  (And, probably beg you to buy more bananas ;)

Reese's Peanut Butter Banana Bread
adapted from Cookies and Cups
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter*
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz bag of Reese’s Mini cups*

  • Preheat oven to 350 and grease loaf pan.*
    In a medium bowl whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.
    In a large bowl whisk together your mashed bananas, peanut butter, oil, egg and sugars.
    Combine wet and dry ingredients; stir until just combined.  Don't overmix!
    Fold in your peanut butter cups and spread batter into prepared pan.
    Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
    Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

    * I used natural peanut butter, so my bread probably is not as sweet as breads using peanut butter with more sugars in them.
    * I couldn't find the Mini cups, so I just used Reese's Miniatures and chopped them up a bit.
    * If using a dark pan, keep an eye on your bread.  With 20 minutes left to go, I turned the temp down to 325 and covered the pan with foil to prevent overbrowning.

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    Love. True Love.

    My husband was a super sweetheart last night.  He watched Cinderella with me.  Voluntarily!  He says it was his first time ever watching it.  Personally, I think he was just curious about the movie he knew I would be introducing to our daughter at a very early age.

    Cinderella has always been my absolute favorite Disney princess.  My mom says I would watch it over and over and over again as a little girl.  I must have, because I found I still had every single line of the movie memorized - even though I haven't watched it in years!

    I've always been a hopelessly incurable romantic.  I really think it all starts back with stories of princes and princesses, knights in shining armor, and love at first sight meetings.  You want to know something I've discovered at the old age of 24?  Life isn't a fairy tale.  Yes, I do believe it has it's fairy tale moments; but life, especially love, is not an at first sight-happily ever after feeling. 

    Love is a choice. 
    Happily ever after takes work.
    Isn't that what God's Word teaches us, anyway?

    Think about I Corinthians 13.
    Love is patient.  kind.  doesn't envy or boast.  isn't arrogant or rude.  doesn't insist on it's own way.  is not irritable or resentful.  doesn't rejoice at wrongdoing but with the truth.  bears all things.  believes all things.  hopes all things.  endures all things. 
    Do those qualities come easily for any of you?  They don't for me.  In my sinful heart I am a selfish creature.  I want my own way in my own time.  I want to be served instead of serve.  The list goes on...
    But, this kind of selfless love is expected of Christians, Christ imitators.

    Think about Ephesians 5.
    To wives, Paul says to submit to their husbands.  In other words, they are to "obey," "yield to admonition or advice," "arrange themselves under."  In speaking to husbands, Paul says that they should love their wives as Christ loved the church.  He gave Himself up for the church.  Philippians 2 states that he took upon himself the form of a servant.
    Sacrificial love is commanded of Christians.

    Love is selfless.
    Love is service.

    While I have no problem with sharing my love of princess movies and stories with my little girl, allowing her to pretend and dream about her Prince Charming and happily ever afters,  (Chances are, I will be pretending and playing right along with her.  I did get up at the crack of dawn to watch the Royal Wedding, after all.)  I pray that at a very early age she will also learn what true, Christlike love is.  I pray she will see it lived out in her parents' relationship with each other, with her, and with others.  And, I pray that our desire to faithfully live out this kind of love will point her to Christ, the only One who truly loves her selflessly and sacrificially. 

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    Yummy Baked Doughnuts I am getting very bad at blogging consistently.  I would make excuses, but I really don't have any.
    I know it's been a long time though, because Blogger seems to have reworked their whole website and it took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to even write a new post.  That was enough time to make me reconsider posting today at all.  But, lucky for you, I am posting and am posting a delicious recipe for Baked Doughnuts from the blog Krissy's Creations.
    Somewhere around week 30 of this pregnancy my desire for sweets and junk food shot through the roof.  Up until then, I was very consistent about working out daily and making healthy eating choices.  Suddenly all I want to do is sit on the couch, eat ice cream, and completely ignore the fact that I should go for a walk or do my Prenatal Yoga DVD.  I think part of it has to do with the fact that I haven't been sleeping well at nights any more and my energy level is dwindling.  Only 7 more weeks and then...oh wait...I still won't be sleeping through the night.  I really couldn't be happier about that prospect though. :)
    I have really had to fight a mental battle every day about choosing to eat healthy and work out daily.  I've come to the conclusion though that I can have a special treat once in a while and that's ok.  Don't tell me it's not, because it is.  My Tall Light Mocha Coconut Frappuccino told me so.  And, I walked extra today.  It all evens out somewhere.  I think.  Just probably not on the scale.
    Off the rabbit trail and back to the point of this post - doughnuts!  The perfect special treat! I made these yesterday.  I actually only ate 2 small doughnut holes out of the entire batch, but that was enough for me.  There is still something completely satisfying about baking yeasty, sugary deliciousness and sending it out for others to enjoy.  At least, for me there is.  I love sharing baked goods with others.  Which is why I'm sharing the recipe with you today!
    I've been wanting to attempt baked doughnuts for a long time, but they require special equipment depending on the type of doughnuts you make.  For baked cake doughnuts you need a doughnut pan, and for yeast doughnuts you need a doughnut cutter.  (Like a biscuit cutter, but for doughnuts) 
    I finally decided that I wouldn't let my lack of special equipment deter me (although both are now on my birthday wish list!).  I used the rim of a drinking glass for the doughnut and the lid of my nutmeg container for the doughnut holes.  It definitely took more time this way and the doughnuts are slightly misshapen, but I am still pleased with my first attempt at doughnut making.  They tasted good.  That's really all that matters.  The doughnut making process takes quite a bit of time.  It took me 3 hours from start to finish, including rising time.  So, plan accordingly.  Make them on a lazy Saturday morning.  Or spend one of those rare free evenings baking doughnuts for your family to have for breakfast the next morning.  They will love you forever. 

    Here's the original recipe.  Enjoy!
    Baked Doughnuts