Banana Bread

I have a confession to make.  I have turned into my mother.  When I was younger, I was definitely a careless and reckless person.  My mom was always someone who had to be logical and responsible about something.  Now that I am older, I have acquired her “waste not” attitude.  I hate the idea of throwing away food.  Mostly because I work my ass off for my money and then I have to spend it on groceries.  Sometimes, my boyfriend tells me to pick up some things here or there, like bananas.  And then two weeks later, he hasn’t touched it and they are going bad.  Insert inner scream. 

TADA! I took last-leg bananas and turned them into banana bread! This is nothing new.  I am not saying this is a hack or something ridiculous like that.  I am doing the ta-da because this is the first time I have ever made banana bread, and it was a HIT! I made it using this pin for banana bread, and it was a huuuuge success.  Coming from a country boy whose mama probably made him fresh banana bread every week, it was the ultimate compliment!

Below are the directions from the Food.com site:

  • 1⁄2cup  butter
  • 1 cup  sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 bananas, finely crushed
  • 1 1⁄2cups  flour
  • 1 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1⁄2teaspoon  salt
  • 1⁄2teaspoon  vanilla
  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and crushed bananas.
  3. Combine well.
  4. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.
  5. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
  7. Keeps well, refrigerated.
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Eclair Cake

So little known secret about my family and Labor Day Weekend: It’s like everyone’s birthday.  Today is my sister’s birthday.  Yesterday was my cousin’s birthday.  The day before was my other cousin’s birthday.  And the First of September was another cousin’s birthday.

Our Labor Day BBQ has always been a huge birthday party, so we like our cakes.  Disclaimer: the cake I’m about to show you was not for any of their birthdays, but I felt it was very fitting to share a cake today.  I actually made this for a co-worker’s going-away party, and it was a huge hit.  I am always so relieved when I try a new recipe and people are all over it.  By the time I got up to get some snacks from the party, there was one measly slice left!

Thank goodness I split the recipe in half and left the other half with the boyfriend just so we can enjoy it in peace!  Also because eclairs are his favorite, and leaving him without a piece of eclair cake is just wrong. 

To Pinterset I go! I used this recipe from Mom Spark.  I would have opted to make my own chocolate ganache, since using canned icing tasted way too artificial.  However, I was standing in the middle of the grocery store and could not find the recipe for a ganache.

Like I said, HUGE HIT! Super easy, not more than 30 minutes of prep time–and most of it consisted of figuring out how to lay the graham crackers evenly on the bottom of the pan. It’s no-bake, so you do have to wait for it overnight, which works best, or wait about 3 hours.  I love the way the pudding soaks into an softens the graham cracker.  It’s absolutely addicting!

Salute to Summer: Thai Tea Popsicles

In a very DC Girl in Pearls fashion, I had an itching to turn everything I love into popsicle form this summer.  My favorite summer evening drink is a smokey iced Thai Tea.  Seriously, if you have never had Thai Tea, you need it in your life, immediately.  

All you need is some Thai Tea Bags, Coconut milk (the good kid with all the fats), sugar, and a mason jar.  If you can’t find the bags or milk, or want a better flavor, the mix should do.

So I grabbed a mason jar and threw in three tea bags in there.  That’s what she said.

So JK, I tied the bags to a spoon that could rest on the lip of the jar.  Basically, I don’t want to go fishing for the bags later.

I filled it with boiling water and actually left it into the sink just in cad the heat was too much and would crack the jar.  Safety first.

When it’s all cooled down, I added half a can of the coconut milk and three tablespoons of sugar.  I really couldnt get the flavor right, so whatever.

 

 

I used those kiddie popsicle molds I found at Target.  I actually couldnt even find them in the dollar section!  The one I ended up grabbing was in the actual house wares section and it was Jelly Belly brand for their ice cream maker.

A day later, I had a yummy smoky popsicle of my favorite summer flavor.  The coconut milk floated to the top mostly, so it created a slight ombre pattern.  I definitely want to do this with the powder mix so that the flavor is even throughout the popsicle.

NutriBullet RX

You know I love anything that has “RX” tagged onto the end of it (Lexus RX, the official pharmacist car).  That being said, I was recently in the market for a blender.  The Vitamix is a little out of my price range, so we were looking for something more along the lines of the NutriBullet or Ninja.  We really wanted the functionality of a super blender that could make soups–because we are that lazy.

I originally went into Bed, Bath, and Beyond for one of the regular NutriBullet models.  My BF refuses to go for the one they had at Costco because “the motor isn’t good enough.” He’s right.  The one at Costco is a 600-watt motor.  We had planned on getting a 900-watt NutriBullet at BBB until we asked an employee his opinion on all the blenders.  We had mentioned wanting to make soups with it, so he pointed us in the direction with a blender with that capability: The NutriBullet RX.

DSC00746 Magic Bullet NutriBullet Rx N17-1001 Blender, Black

Well….we have yet to make any soups with it, but we have been going to town on the smoothies!  The blender comes with a recipe book for smoothies and soups, so we are giving those a go-around.  We have a smoothie every morning and it’s pretty tasty!  We’ve been trying “The Tummy Tamer,” as it comes as an easy transition into smoothie life.

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I just load up all the ingredients in one of the cups (3 sizes), attach the blade, and invert the cup into the motor.  We also got a hefty upgrade on the motor–1700 watts!  The smaller cup makes about two servings of a smoothie, and enough to fill up to of the large Tervis cups for us to take to work.  
DSC00744I had trouble cleaning it the first day, but one of my co-workers suggested I throw in a bit of dish soap and cycle it through the blender a few times for it to heat it and become its own dish washer–it comes out absolutely shining after a spin and a rinse under the tap!  Cleaning it is probably my favorite part.

We love it so much, we are getting it for his mom for Mother’s Day!  She is having some issues with her teeth, so it’s been all smoothies and soups for her lately.  With the easy use and easy clean up, we’re hoping her day goes by a little smoother when she uses it. <Insert “look at all this extra time I have for my family!” infomercial spiel> Saving tip: the blender is $200, with a 20% off coupon that basically never expires, it became $160.  Before I go anywhere to make a big purchase, I always see if my credit card company has a gift card I can redeem with my points to use.  I could use a $100 gift card, so the blender came out to about $60 for me!

We’re super excited to try out new recipes, but for right now, we are really enjoying “The Tummy Tamer.”  The recipe below makes two servings:

2 cups of spinach

3/4 cups grapes

3/4 cups pitted cherries

1/2 cup oatmeal

1 TBSP chia seeds

1/2 cup pure apple juice (can only find at whole foods so far)

1 1/2 cup water

I bought this NutriBullet RX myself and is not affiliated nor sponsored with the makers of NutriBullet or Magic Bullet. 

Cinco de Mayo: Taco Stew

We’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately, where we are absolutely sick of eating chicken every night and then we end up unnecessarily spending money on Chinese food or Chick Fil A every night.  We made a trip to Costco, and were like “LET’S COOK DINNER!”  I told my lovely BF that I had a great recipe for a hearty stew.  A taco stew.  He was little skeptical of it, but he ended up LOVING IT!  I personally like to crush some tortilla chips into it and he likes to serve it over rice.  Plain, it is a Paleo dish!
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Mexican taco stew

½ lb lean ground beef or turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp of gluten free taco seasoning

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 large zucchini or summer squash, cut into cubes

1-2 cups of salsa

Brown meat in a large pot over medium-high heat. Drain, remove, and set aside. In the same pot, sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add meat back to pot and sprinkle mixture with taco seasoning to blend. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes. Make this the night before and reheat it the next day.

Easy Morning Oats

It’s become part of my morning routine to make a bowl of oatmeal before I head to the gym in the morning. It’s a little sad to know that I made a great bowl and I won’t get to eat it for about two hours. By then it’s all congealed, but it’s still pretty good! DSC00639

1/2 cup instant oats

1 cup water

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 banana, sliced

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Heat up the oatmeal per box instructions, which is around 2 minutes. I then add the other ingredients and mix it until it’s pretty even. I love adding chia seeds because it really helps with the texture of the oatmeal. In case you’re wondering, I eat the other half of the banana before my workout to prevent muscle cramping halfway through.

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As much as I want to scarf this down in the car on the way to the gym, I really cannot wait until after my workout to enjoy this bowl of goodness. Yes, I leave it in the car while I work out. Yes, my car does smell of vanilla-brown sugar-banana delight when I get in.

Freezer Cooking

January is always a month of post-holiday regret, both in the belly and in my wallet. While I have to mind my physical well-being, I have to look at how I am really spending my money these days.  The two almost always collide, as we know that eating healthy takes both time and cash.  Yeah, I see you, Whole Foods, with your super expensive yet healthy snack options.

A few years ago in Pharmacy School, my friend Kim told me she just cooked for a month. Excuse me? Won’t everything go bad? Nah, she made frozen crockpot meals.  Fast forward to chubbier, poorer Kathy, and I think I found something that helps my chubby belly and my anorexic wallet. We’re trying to turn those two around. The idea is that you buy a whole bunch of things bulk (because who doesn’t need an excuse to go to Costco?) and use them all in different ways to make a few meals that will last you a month.

I found the recipes from Part 1 of Ring Around the Rosie to be the best cost and health option for my first hand at freezer cooking.  I like that the meals are based on meats and vegetables, and very little carbs (some are served over brown rice or pasta, which isn’t a huge bust).  I also like that I can finally find a way to cut cost, but not let all the Costco-bulk go bad. For whatever reason, my boyfriend also had been hoarding different times of canned tomatoes.  I can’t even explain it. I opened up the pantry and there were at least 4 cans each of diced, paste, sauce, and whole peeled tomatoes. I can’t even.

So while my boyfriend sat there watching Sunday Football, I spent the day chopping up onions, peppers, carrots, and celery. All the leftover vegetables I didn’t use got turned into cooking-sized freezer bags (his mom got us a Food Saver for Christmas, which is exactly what we needed) or snacks (carrot and celery sticks for work).

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From the RAtR website, we made (with commentary):

Lazy Day Stew-NOT Kevin’s favorite. God he did not like it at all. I think a twist to the recipe to make it better is to add one cup of water AND one cup of beef stock. His main complaint is that there wasn’t enough liquid to cook the meat and the vegetables together in the crock pot.

Sausage and Peppers-we LOVED this. I think the key was really the peppers we had gotten from Costco–the Italian Sweet Peppers

Teriyaki Chicken-He also loved this, even though it is probably the least health option we have. Make sure you have enough teriyaki sauce for the back and the ¼ cup you add when  you cook it in the crockpot.

Savory Chicken- We haven’t got to this one yet since it needs some fresh broccoli at the end and we are creatures of laziness.

There are a few more recipes I  had bought ingredients for, but we have not had the chance to make due to lack of freezer space. Oh yeah we have a regular top-half freezer, and boyfriend has a freezer chest, for whatever reason. Each of the recipes from RAtR makes two bags of food, which feeds us for at least  one dinner, plus lunch on the occasion we don’t finish it. As far as Food Saver-ing my extras, that will have to be another blog post (when I actually get around to blanching and freezing them).

Easy Dinner Night

Like restaurant chefs writing tonight’s dinner specials, my boyfriend and I like to over-cook all the food that is about to go bad. Not like gross bad, but food we know may turn over in the next few days.  We are from the religion of Costco, where buying is plentiful, but usage is few. In an Iron-Chef-like frenzy, we decided to cook our dinner with the stuff that we had lying around for a bit too long.

Our Costco staples usually include ground beef/bison, brussel sprouts, onions, celery, asparagus, and dumplings.  Ok, the dumplings are frozen and last way longer, BUT WE LIKE TO EAT THEM. So boyfriend whipped up some chili (we also have all the fixings lying around too-I think he just likes having an excuse to make chili), broiled brussel sprouts, and some YUMMY dumplings with a soy dipping sauce. Salivating as I write this.


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Tailgate Buffalo Chicken Dip

I am still reveling in the glory that was a pharmacy-friends reunion this past weekend. Although the game did not have a good outcome, I loved being able to see these fools again.  With any football game comes a tailgate.  With any tailgate comes dip. When you say dip, someone somewhere is making Buffalo Chicken Dip.

I never really heard of it until I got to pharmacy school and EVERYONE made buffalo chicken dip.  When I stayed over at my friend’s house the night before the game, we decided to make a load of food to feed everyone at the tailgate. We used this recipe for BCD and it was probably one of the easiest dips I have ever made.  No bake time. Immediate consumption allowed.

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Tailgate tip: make all the dips in one of these foil pans so you can throw it on the grill and re-heat or keep warm.

Game Day Corn Dip

One of the greatest things I discovered while in Pharmacy School was the glory of corn dip.  Sound so simple doesn’t it.  Well my friend Allyson, a simple country girl, started bringing it to all of our potlucks and it would FAST.

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It basically has all the qualities of my favorite foods: creamy, spicy, sweet, cheesy.

 

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One lovely chipful bite.

Allyson’s recipe:

-2 bars of cream cheese (low fat is fine)

-1 small bag of frozen corn (bags have more corn, i made the mistake of using a can)

-Jalapeños from the can with a splash of the water if you like it spicy–or none at all if you don’t

-Shredded cheese (used Colby Jack)

-Seasoned salt

-Pepper

-Cayenne Pepper

-Onion Powder

-Garlic Powder

1) Preheat the oven to 400 to 425 degrees

2) Soften the cream cheese

3) Combine cream cheese, corn, jalapenos, a handful of shredded cheese, and a splash of milk.

4) If it thickens up because the corn is so cold, you can microwave it for a min or so.

5) I don’t measure any of the seasonings so basically whatever you think is good. I do add a lot of cayenne, but I like it spicy. If I had to guess I’d say it’s about a teaspoon or 2 of each?

6) After everything is mixed up, put it in a baking dish (don’t forget the Pam) and put shredded cheese on top to cover.

7) Bake it for 15-20 mins You basically just want the cheese to be melted and the center to be warm.