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

06/16/14
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low sugar strawberry rhubarb jam {canned}

Vacation is over and we’re back to reality.  I fully intent to share our family shenanigans, but first, let’s jam!

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I’ve made this jam twice now and both times my mind has been filled with great memories of my grandma. It’s not that this is her recipe or that I remember cooking a particular recipe with her. It’s more of her stance on cooking – making meals healthier. I vividly remember my dad telling me about her pies made with barely any sugar and whole grains in the crust…. which I don’t think he was too fond of. I love how she made healthy eating a norm for her family growing up. Homemade with real foods. She passed away a few years ago but I like to think that my cooking would have made her proud.

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After two separate strawberry picking adventures I made jam. I knew I wanted to attempt a strawberry rhubarb jam, knowing that strawberry and rhubarb work so well together. I searched for a recipe low in sugar since I wanted the focus to be on the fruit and found this one. It’s pectin free as well and has a genius way of thicken up the jam for a soft set. It’s not super set up like store bough jelly, but is also not runny and syrup like. It’s pretty perfect in my opinion.

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The jam is not overly sugary but has sweet notes come through from the strawberry and a slight tang from the rhubarb and lemon juice. Perfectly balanced in my opinion.

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Low Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Makes 5 half pints

Recipe slightly adapted from here

Ingredients

  • 4.5 cups fresh rhubarb cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4.5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Place rhubarb, strawberries, water and sugar in a medium-sized pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the juices are released and begin to cover the fruit. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to separate the fruit from the juices. Set the fruit aside.
  2. Return the the juices to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow to cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by approximately half (an easy way to check this is to use the handle of a wooden spoon. Dip it into the liquid to “stain” it. Then use that as a measuring guide for how much it’s cooking down). Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, as you go.
  3. Add the fruit back to the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Stir in lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until a spoonful of the mixture mounds on a frozen plate without spreading. Once ready, you can pack it into jars, or tupperware, and freeze. Or, follow the process below for canning.
To can
  1. While jam is cooking, sterilize 5, ½ pint jars along with lids. Fill the jars to within ¼ inch of the top with jam; wipe the rims, top with lids and tighten rings to fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove jars from water bath and set on a kitchen towel to cool for 24 hours. Check for seals (you’ll hear a pop when it seals) before storing in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

It was my first canning of the season. I’m so glad it turned out well, I can’t wait to can all summer long!

What is your favorite kind of jam? Do you plan to can this summer? If so, then what?

Heather

More on canning: