07/13/14
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chocolate orange banana bread

Thanks for your sweet comments on my last post.  Sometimes my mama heart likes to shine :)

Today is about FOOD.  It’s been quite hot here lately and I find my bananas turning brown more quickly than normal.  And more quickly than I like.  Does anyone else notice that happening with heat? Most of the time I’ll toss them into the freezer for later use, but this week I made some banana bread.  It’s flavored with cocoa and orange, which instantly brings me back to the hearth (or favorite restaurant).  They have a warm chocolate orange cake that is sinfully delicious.  The banana bread is healthed up a bit and the sweetness is taken down a notch.  We’ve been enjoying it as a dessert after dinner, and an afternoon pick me up.

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The recipe came from this month’s Secret Recipe Club blog An Affair from the Heart.  The author, Michaela write a beautiful blog and shares so many tasty looking recipes.  She’s a busy stay at home mom to four.  One of my favorite things I read in her about me page is that her family sits down together for dinner, no electronics allowed.  That’s been a new rule of mine I’ve been enforcing (on myself too) lately.  The family dinner is so important!

Anyways, I found her chocolate orange banana bread recipe.  To make it a little less dessert like (but still treat like!) I skipped out on the chocolate chips, cut the sugar down and used whole wheat flour.  The bread came out perfectly after baking for an hour.  Hunter and I cannot get enough of it.  Hope you enjoy it too!

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Chocolate Orange Banana Bread

adapted from here

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, prepare large loaf pan with oil spray.
  2. Combine sugar, honey and oil in your mixer (or by hand with a whisk), add in eggs, bananas and orange zest, mix.
  3. Sift together all of your dry ingredients.
  4. Alternate dry ingredients and orange juice into sugar/banana mixture.
  5. Mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl.
  6. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

How do you like to use your brown bananas?

Heather

07/8/14
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ice box peanut butter cup pie

July 1st was a day for celebration. My wonderful hubs turned a new age. Happy birthday my love!  I won’t tell you how old, but the number starts with ‘th’ and rhymes with dirty… I’ll let you see if you can figure it out.

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I wanted to make a special dessert for him, and since reese’s cups are one of his favorite things, I went for the chocolate-peanut butter mix flavor. I had pinned a pb cup pie recipe to my ‘recipes to try’ board a while back waiting for the right time to make it. The original recipe was vegan. Mine was not. I made just a few slight changes to the recipe: used regular unsalted butter instead of vegan butter/coconut oil for the crust and I only added about half the amount of coconut milk/cream.  Much better ingredients and a shorter list than reese’s cups!

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It was deeeeelish. We still have some in the freezer for a special treat. If you freeze the extra I highly suggest cutting your slices because it’s really hard to do once fully frozen. Lesson learned.

Check out the vegan recipe from minimalist baker (along with their beautiful and mouthwatering pictures) or follow it below with my adaptations.

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Ice Box Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Recipe very slightly adapted from minimalist baker

Ingredients

CRUST
  • 1 sleeve graham crackers (or sub similar gluten free cracker/cookie)
  • 4.5 tbsp unsalted butter
PIE
  • 12 ounces firm silken tofu, slightly drained and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk OR coconut cream, chilled overnight
CHOCOLATE GANACHE TOPPING
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly oil a standard glass pie pan (8 inches x 1 1/4 inches).
  2. Add graham crackers to a food processor and process until you achieve a semi-fine meal. A little texture is OK, just remove any large pieces that didn’t get ground. Add melted butter and pulse to combine.
  3. Add to greased pie pan and press down with your fingers to flatten. You can lie a piece of plastic wrap over the top when pressing down to ensure a more uniform layer. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
  4. Add tofu, peanut butter, honey to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more honey for added sweetness or a pinch of salt if your peanut butter wasn’t very salted.
  5. Next, whip your coconut milk into whipped cream in a large, chilled mixing bowl. Find trouble-shooting tips here. Optional: sweeten with a little powdered sugar and vanilla.
  6. Fold the peanut butter-tofu mixture into the whipped cream.
  7. Pour filling over crust and pop in the freezer to chill. Once it’s fairly chilled and slighty firm (about 1 hour), prepare your ganache.
  8. Add chocolate chips to a bowl and heat your milk to a low simmer. Then pour over chocolate chips and don’t touch for 5 minutes to allow it to melt. Then stir gently with a spoon or rubber spatula until a smooth ganache forms. If it doesn’t quite melt, you can also heat it in the microwave in 10 second increments until smooth and melted.
  9. Spoon over the top of the pie and spread in an even layer with a knife or spatula, working quickly as the ganache will get clumpy if it sets too long.
  10. Top with crushed, salted roasted peanuts (optional) and pop back in the freezer to set. 20-30 minutes before serving, remove from freezer and serve. Alternatively, you can chill this in the fridge, but it is much more delicate to slice and serve, but just as delicious.
  11. After the initial chill, make sure you cover the pie with plastic wrap to keep it fresh.

Okay, now your turn. Get our your food processor, blender, standing mixer, turn your oven on and make it yourself! The perfect cool treat for hot summer days.

What is your favorite summer treat?

Heather

07/2/14
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healthy on $75: week 3 grocery haul breakdown + meal plan

My original plan was for June to be all about healthy on $75.  And now June is gone so it’s going to continue on through July!  I still have so much to share, and it turns out I’m a little slow at pumping out the posts on it.  Here’s the third installment of my grocery haul breakdown.  Enjoy!

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Like I mentioned in week 2′s breakdown, this week was also a bit off since we were on vacation for part of it.  As I begin to write this I haven’t added up the total I spent yet so it’ll be a surprise for me too. :)

What we ate

Dinners

Friday: BBQ’d steak and bratwurst, avocado, tomato and mozzarella salad and watermelon (vacation meal I didn’t cook)

Saturday: burritos + corn on the cob (vacation meal I didn’t cook)

Sunday: sushi from the grocery store (which was ehh but after 7 hours of driving I was not down with cooking) + peas from the garden

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Monday: brautwurst and potato salad (dinner at my parents + world cup watching!)

Tuesday: fried rice with fresh peas and kale chips

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Wednesday: burritos and brownies (dinner at my parents + world cup watching!)

Thursday: whole wheat pasta with feta and sauted zucchini in a light yogurt sauce + teriyaki chicken

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Breakfasts doesn’t vary very much: banana custard oats with peanut butter, scrambled eggs with cheese and fruit,  blueberry yogurt pancakes with applesauce. Coffee + milk.

Lunches: on vacation deli sandwiches provided by my parents – back home tuna sandwiches and leftovers.

Grocery haul breakdown

In addition to the visual of what I purchased, I’ve included a picture of the receipt (when available) to show prices.  There is also an explanation of what I picked up on sale and used a coupon with and any other notes.

Safeway

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  • 2 different pre-made sushi packs

Now normally I don’t include meals out or take out in our food budget, because it’s a rarity, but this is getting included because after a long drive instead of cooking, we picked up food.  Yes, I could have made something, but I went with the easy route.  It tasted okay… but I totally could have made something better.

Safeway total: $12

Chuck’s Produce

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  •  gallon of organic whole milk
  • 2 packages of chicken breasts (on sale)
  • ground beef (discounted)
  • creamer
  • dozen eggs

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  • bananas (on sale)
  • ripe bananas (discounted)
  • 2 lb bag of avocados (on sale)
  • zucchini (on sale)
  • nectarines (on sale)
  • apricots (on sale)

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I picked up one extra package of chicken breasts, which went right into the freezer.  The produce was all on sale saving me money on items I really want!

Chuck’s Produce total: $37.42

Walgreens

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  • 2 package sof starbucks coffee (sale and coupons)
  • 2 deodorants (sale and coupons)
  • toothpaste (sale and coupons + register rewards earned)
  • sardines

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Walgreens total: $14.67

Target

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  • toilet paper (paper and mobile coupon)
  • frozen peas (mobile coupon)

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Target total: $4.68

Dent room

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  • 3 cases of yuuuuuumy microbrews (42 bottles total, 18  x 22 ounces and 24 x 12 ounces)

I wish I could say everyone could get this deal, but it’s special from my husbands work.  He worked in the beverage industry and they have a room called the dent room where you can piece together cases (or get full cases) of beer.  A case of microbrew is just 9 dollars… it just cannot be beat.

Dent room total: $21

Grand total for 5 places: $89.77

Thankful it’s lower than the previous week!  It goes to show that making food at home saves money… had we not picked up sushi, I would have been right near my target of $75.

How I saved money this week:

  • I looked through the chuck’s produce ad before going shopping to make my list based off of what was on sale.  Almost everything I purchased there was at a lower price than regular.
  • I decided on a walgreens and target run to stock up on some items that we always need – mainly the coffee and toilet paper.  The deodorant deal was too good to pass up (just 50 cents each after the register rewards!).
  • In the long run the extra beer will save us money.  All three cases will last a while and since it’s summer time and we’re entertaining more, the extra cost of buying beer each week won’t be needed.

How was your grocery shopping this week?

Heather