not without a fight

I kind of just blew my entire budget…

I’ve never been much of an Ocean State Job Lot fan.  In fact, I usually avoid the store like its the plague.  Most of what they sell is stuff you don’t need (or want.)  Hence the reason why I never go there. 

Until today.

Don’t ask me what it was that first drew me in.  Not the aesthetics of the building, thats for sure.  But once inside, there was absolutely no turning back.  An entire isle was dedicated to nut butters.  Jams and jellies that you can only find at Whole Foods.  Flaxseed for half of the normal price.  I was a bit awestruck, really. 😉 

Current Favorite Snack: 1% cottage cheese with Bear Naked Banana Nut Granola and a dollop of Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter.

After recovering from my excitement, I felt like baking. 

It truly is a rare moment to have a bunch of spare bananas lounging around my house.  The occasional soggy apple or pear may find its way into the trash, due to neglect and oversight.  But never—never!—does this happen to a banana.  Green bananas.  Yellow bananas.  Brown bananas.  It really doesn’t matter.  They’re gone in a matter of days, as they find their way into each and every family member’s morning meal.

In order to celebrate the rare and momentous occasion of having ripe bananas at my disposal, I decided to bake a banana bread.
 

Just as a side note, I’ll usually take the time to read through the ingredient list before pouring everything in. 
 

I guess the excitement of banana bread overcame me, because I didn’t even give the list a second look. 

And—apparently—I don’t have cream of tartar sitting in the back (or front, for that matter) of my pantry.

I remember someone once telling me that you can substitute baking powder for a cream of tartar/baking soda combination.  I wasn’t sure if this was actually going to work, but there was no turning back.  My bananas were mashed, and there was no way I was going to give up.  Not, at least, without a pretty darn good fight.

(With the dry and wet ingredients, remember to only stir until *just* moistened.  This is especially important if you’re using whole wheat flour.  Nobody wants a tough, gummy banana bread!  Those lumps are completely okay–and normal.)

Substituting baking powder for the cream of tartar/baking soda seemed to work out alright.  The result was a little more dense than I would have liked, but all in all, at least my banana bread was saved from the doom of a trash can. 😉 

There was nothing fancy about this bread.  No cinnamon.  No nutmeg.  No vanilla.  No walnuts or chocolate chips.  Completely unadorned. 

Because sometimes you want those deep, dark chocolate chips.  Sometimes the crunch of a walnut, surrounded by the flavor of a sweet, sweet banana is nothing short of perfection.

But sometimes you just want the basics.  Bananas.  Bread.  Banana Bread.

Your Basic Whole Wheat Banana Bread

This is a spin off on my whole wheat chocolate chip banana bread.  If chocolate is what you’re after, just add 1/2-3/4 c. of dark chocolate chips after mixing the flour together with the banana mixture.  OR, try melting a bit of chocolate and drizzling it over the banana bread before serving.  Both ways are equally scrumptious. 😀

  • 1 c. mashed ripe banana (about 2-1/2 medium)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir just until moist (do not overmix).  Spoon batter into an 8×4 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack, remove from pan.  Cool completely on rack.

Question: Have you ever substituted another ingredient after realizing that you didn’t have the one that was originally called for?  How did this turn out? 

It’s Wednesday

Honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed to let you in on today’s eats.  There is no explanation for my odd choices, the strange combinations and the obvious lack of aesthetics.  But if I was allowed to use one word—just one—to give you an excuse, this would be it: Wednesday.

I don’t know what it’s like at your house, but over here, Wednesday is the day when the refrigerator begins to closely resemble an old ghost town.  If you’re lucky,  you might find a lonely raisin sitting at the bottom of its container in the pantry.  And maybe—maybe—there’s a slice of cheese or two still left in the deli drawer of the refrigerator.  But I won’t even mention the vacant veggie drawer.  Or the freezer for that matter (I think my dad is more then ready for a restock of meat in this house!)

So there you go.  That is my excuse.  It’s Wednesday.

At least I managed to find this sitting way back in the closet:

Who knows how long it’s been there, but desparate times call for desparate measures. 

  • 1/3 c. Hodgson Mill Multi Grain hot cereal
  • 2 T. wheat bran
  • 1 c. milk + 1/2 c. water
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • toppings: banana slices, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 T. Galaxy Granola and a scoop of chunky Teddy Peanut Butter

This reminded me a lot of oat bran and was absolutely delicious.  I don’t know why I haven’t used this up before now!

Morning Snack: the very last grapefruit and the very last of the almonds

I scrambled through the fridge in search of the last remaining vegetables and managed to put together a green salad for lunch.  Even when the fridge is seeing the worse of days, there always seems to be a carrot and a bit of red onion way down at the bottom somewhere.  It’s something I can pretty much count on. So on top of the mixed greens, I sliced a carrot, diced some red onion and threw on a sprinkle of sunflower seeds for good measure.  Along with 1/2 c. garbanzo beans and the last two end slices of a German dark wheat bread, this became a decent lunch.  Not pretty.  But decent. 😉

Pink Lady!

And this final picture?  This is literally the last of everything.  The last fruit (i.e., a mango split with dad.)  The last vegetable (i.e., roasted broccoli.)  The last slice of Trader Joe’s whole wheat sourdough bread with a bit of butter.  The last two eggs with a bit of sliced mushrooms and more red onion.

Now that the fridge is completely emptied and the last raisin has been eaten, I can refill with new grocery items.  Wednesdays may be frightening, but Thursdays (aka, shopping day) offer that bit of light at the end of the tunnel. 😉

post dinner sweetness: slice of homemade whole wheat chocolate chip banana bread (same picture as yesterday but consumed before a new pic could be snapped…oops!)

And there you have it.  A peak into another one of my typical Wednesdays, when my economical, waste-not-want-not trait comes into full swing.  It’s not always pretty (and sometimes it’s scary), but I find a great satisfaction with clearing out the fridge from top to bottom. :mrgreen: 

Question: Do you enjoy using up the very last of any remaining leftovers?  Are there any foods in your house that you refuse to run out of?  I refuse to run out of peanut butter.  This would warrant an emergency run to the grocery store. 😉

Eating and Cooking

I woke up feeling not quite myself this morning.  But—at the same time—I didn’t really feel sick either.  It was as if my body couldn’t quite make up its mind, with my immune system trying to decide if it could fight this thing off or if it should just hold up a white flag and surrender.  The battle of the flu.  Boo.

Thankfully, my appetite is still in full swing.  And so is my desire to cook.  So I proceeded to eat and cook away the afternoon.  I’ll spare you from having to witness my breakfast, snacks and lunch though.  They weren’t anything to brag about (i.e., when I’m not feeling like my normal self, strange cravings come into play.)  However, dinner was simple but kind of special, so I’ll tell you all about it. 😀

Brazilian Black Bean Soup and Fresh Veggie with Mozzarella Quesadillas

You’ve seen the black bean soup before, and it was just as tasty tonight as it was the first time around.  Or maybe even better?  It freezes really nicely and seems to come out thicker and spicier than when I originally made it last week. 

The Fresh Vegetables with Mozzarella Quesadillas are completely new and original though.  As an aside, I considered calling these the “Last Veggie Standing Quesadillas” since they quite literally contain the last of my refrigerator’s veggies. 😉 But I didn’t want the thought of limp old veggies to deter you from trying this, because it’s super fresh, earthy and very satisfying.  I happened to make this with zucchini and carrots because it’s what I had on hand at the time.  But don’t be too uptight with this recipe.  Your imagination—and your veggie drawer—is the limit!  Mix it up and try something new—you may surprise yourself (and your lucky tastebuds!)

Fresh Vegetables with Mozzarella Quesadillas

  • 1 whole wheat wrap
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced about 1/4 inch thick and then diced and scattered over the wrap
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • handful of boston lettuce (or other green: lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.)
  • red onion, sliced thinly
  1. Spread mozzarella over whole wheat wrap and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in pan over medium-heat and add zucchini and carrot.
  3. Once zucchini is cooked to preferred tenderness, add lettuce and onion and reduce heat to low.  Stir and take off heat.
  4. Add vegetable mixture to flat wrap and fold in half.  Place on hot, nonstick griddle over medium heat.  Once browned underneath, carefully flip over and cook other side until cheese is melted and wrap is crispy.

Slice and enjoy!

This afternoon, I also had an ample amount of time to make a fun dessert bread.  I have been waiting patiently day by day, watching the bananas become speckled with age spots, as they slowly became the perfect candidates for a banana bread.  This is a rare occasion in my house—bananas are almost always consumed before reaching this state of sweet perfection.  But when the situation occurs, I’m ready.  And today, with a new banana bread recipe in hand, I got right to work.

I am anything but a banana bread purist.  Add in those walnuts, the raisins, the coconut, the chocolate chips!  Smear a warm slice with peanut butter.  Add a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves to the batter.  While I like to keep my meals simple and fresh, my banana bread likes to explode with flavors and fillings.

That being said, this one was actually kind of simple (I know, I know…totally contradicting myself here.)  This time, I stuck to one simple addition–dark chocolate chips.  I cut back on the sugar a bit to compensate, but it’s still super sweet (I bet you could even cut back a little more on the sugar without even noticing a difference!)  This is truly a terrific recipe.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread—courtesy of Cooking Light and lovingly tweaked along the way. 

  • 1 c. mashed ripe banana (about 2-1/2 medium)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. hershey’s dark chocolate chips (or semisweet chocolate chips if preferred!)
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir just until moist (do not overmix).  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into an 8×4 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack, remove from pan.  Cool completely on rack.

You’d never guess this was made with whole wheat flour, by the way.  It’s moist, sweet and full of flavor.  Delicious!

Spending the day cooking, baking, mowing the lawn, going for a 3-mile morning run and running a few errands has resulted in a very tired girl.  So on that note, I think it’s time for me to relax.  😉

G’night!

Question: Are you a banana bread purist or do you like it with all different toppings and mix-ins?