Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Peach Banana Bread

I don't really bake often because it seems that I always need to make an extra trip to the grocery store just to make basic cookies or cakes.  There is always SOME ingredient that I don't have.  But one thing I do bake often is banana bread!  I don't know about you, but there are always 2-3 bananas in our bunch that get too ripe and are never eaten.  I throw these in the freezer so that I have them on hand at all times.

Therefore, I make banana bread probably about once a month (we buy a lot of bananas!) and I have to say it was getting a little boring.  So I decided to make it a tad more exciting by adding peaches, and it has become a favorite amongst my friends and co-workers.  This time of year, I have to resort to canned peaches, but towards the end of summer I bet you can get some amazing ripe peaches and make this bread taste even better!!  Banana bread is great because you can add whatever you want to it.  Berries or chocolate chips would be awesome.  I personally like it as a dessert rather than a breakfast, but to each their own!

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Tsp. baking soda
1/4 Tsp. salt
1/2 Cup butter
3/4 Cup brown sugar
2 Eggs, beaten
2 1/3 Cups mashed overripe bananas (I use 3 bananas)
3/4 of a can of peaches (or about 2 fresh peaches, pitted and peeled), cut into 1/2" chunks

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine, flour, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.  Stir in eggs and mashed bananas (I put the frozen bananas in the microwave for about a minute to thaw them, the peel will come right off) until well blended.  Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.  Gently stir in diced peaches.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.  

Bake in preheated oven for 65 minutes (I find that it might take up to 10 minutes longer with the peaches added.  At this point, watch the bread closely and test often with a toothpick.  When it comes out clean it is done.)  Let bread cool about 10min.  Slice and serve!
(Adapted from this banana bread recipe.)

Please drop some!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Best. Surprise. Ever.


The past week and a half has been c.r.a.z.y.  Crazy.  Crazy good.  On Monday, May 13th, 2013 this guy proposed to me in one of the most creative and thoughtful ways known to man :)  And I said "Yes" in the most incoherent way possible, between shock and happy tears.

The History

To really do this story justice, let me back up to the summer of 2011.  I had just graduated grad school and ended my 9 year career as a student.  I had more time than I knew what to do with and figured I better start to fill it with new hobbies and activities I hadn't had the time to do since high school.  Most of my life had been dedicated to school for a decade, but not anymore.  The first thing I decided to do, for some crazy reason, was join a softball team.  Let me just say, I am THE most uncoordinated person there is.  I don't do sports.  I do solo exercise where no one is counting on me to accurately throw a ball or outrun another human being.  But, a good friend (Nicole) and a friend I was just getting to know (Tina), invited me to play and I said, "What the heck...I'll try it!"

It was perfect, too, because the team was formed by an architecture firm that Tina worked for so I figured, if anything else, I would be hanging out with other people in my field, networking over beers and baseball, and meeting new friends.

Where it all started...
Well, I was right, I did meet new friends.  One of which was Denny, and oddly enough he was the only non-architecture person on the team (thank God...I don't think I could date someone in the same field as me).  But he was really good at softball and he happened to know a lot of the kids on the team, so he played.  I would come to find out that he is good at ALL sports, softball was the tip of the iceberg.  Anyway, we played the whole season together, never really hanging out until a couple of months after the season ended - I invited him to my birthday.  The next weekend we went to a concert together for Halloween, and the rest is history!

All uphill from here.
It has been a whirlwind of a year and a half with him, and I can safely say there is never a dull moment.  Many-a-time during our time together, I have been outside of my comfort zone.  But that's what I like - the challenge and excitement.

The Proposal

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when Denny was spending a LOT of time helping our friend Nick build skis at his shop (Fortitude).  He started to spend nights and even a couple of weekend days helping him and I was getting curious.   When May 13th came around, we went to an unusually crowded happy hour (at least for a Monday night), at the Ale House, which has an amazing view of the city.  Upon arrival, I noticed about 20 of our friends there...some of which we hadn't seen in months.  Sure I was curious, but it was quickly explained to me that a friend's brother, whom everyone knew, was in town for one night only (which was true).  About half way through the night, Nick told me that he made Denny a custom snowboard as a "thank you" for all of his help over the last 2 weeks and that he was going to present it to him that night.  When the board came out, Denny thanked Nick but explained that the board was really for me.  He then flipped over the board and it said "Marry me?" on the other side.  I was floored and obviously said "yes".  How could I not!?  It turns out that Denny had been building me this snowboard, from scratch (!), with Nick's help.  One word: Impressive.

A word to the wise - try something you wouldn't normally try, do things for the sake of trying something new and meeting new people because you never know what will come out of it!  Needless to say, this guy makes my day, my month and my year.  I love you, Denny!

(More boring stuff, like recipes, to come soon.  This deserved its own post.)

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Would you say your pesto is the besto?"

"Would you say your pesto is the besto?"  If you can name where that line is from, then you win:  the satisfaction of knowing that you aren't the only nerd who watches too much tv.

This week I was craving pasta.  Pesto pasta.  I figured, I had some nuts, I had some greens, and I had some cheese....so therefore, I could make pesto.  I love all of the combinations that this simple condiment provides.  Cilantro, parsely, parmesan, walnuts, cashews, the list goes on and on.  Any and all of these combinations taste so different, and so good.  I don't think I ever met a pesto I didn't like.

When I ventured into making this, I looked up some recipes just to make sure I knew what I was doing.  And, it turns out that you can't really mess it up.  I kind of eyeballed all of the ingredients until I got the right consistency and did some taste tests along the way.  One thing I discovered in this research was that one pesto called for chicken broth, which I hadn't seen before.  I latched on to this idea and used more chicken broth than olive oil until I got to my desired consistency.  I would say that is a pretty healthy alternative!

These ingredients are ballpark figures, but should get you where you want to go.  I suggest playing around with it until you get to something you like!

2 Handfuls almonds.  Toast in a pan over medium head for 3-5 minutes, until fragrant.
1/3c Olive Oil
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1.5c Fresh baby spinach
1/2c Feta cheese
3/4c-1c Chicken broth.  Adding just a little at a time until desired consistency.
5 Garlic cloves
Salt & pepper to taste

Throw all in a food processor and let 'er rip.
Note: I have an itsy bitsy food processor, so I tried using a blender.  It broke everything down, but I ended up needing to break this into 2 batches to put in to my tiny processor to really get it smooth.

This is great tossed with some veggies, pasta, chicken, etc etc etc etc.  Pretty much great with everything!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Simple Pleasures | Sunday Morning Breakfast

Happy Sunday!

I hope you all are enjoying your day...especially since it is Cinco de Mayo!  I have been CRAVING Mexican food and can't wait for what today brings.

One of these days I will post something non-breakfast related, I promise.  But, in case you can't tell, it IS my favorite meal of the day!  Aside from dessert, which, according to me, is absolutely a meal.  Eating cereal or yogurt or something very blah on a weekend just doesn't cut it for me.  Save that for the weekdays when you need something quick on your way to work.  (By the way, even that can be avoided...we usually make a bunch of breakfast burritos and freeze them.  Grab one on your way to work and microwave for 2 min in the office - boom.  More on that later.)

This particular breakfast (pictured) was kind of unexpectedly cool.  I bought a small bag of colored potatoes, just because I thought they would be fun.  I have bought them before, but they are so tiny that I left them whole and roasted them in the oven.  This time, I had a few potatoes left that were going to go bad soon, so I cut them up for hashbrowns....and they were beautiful inside!!  And, added bonus, apparently they provide nutrients that derive from their color, that other potatoes do not.  From now on, I am trying to pick at least one item at the grocery store that I wouldn't normally buy, because you never know if it will start to become a favorite!

Saute these potatoes with some garlic, onion, bell pepper and seasonings, and they provide a perfect bed for a fried egg or two.