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bananabread

Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends! If you’re searching for a recipe to bring to a party host or offer house guests, this quick bread delivers every time. The banana/chocolate combination is loved by everyone in our household. Dense and not overly sweet, this bread is made even better slathered with your favorite peanut butter. It makes a great breakfast treat (and a smart bribe when the kids are not quick to get out of bed on a school day), a wholesome snack to send along in a lunch box or a quick bite before an early evening baseball game.

You’ll need: 

• 2 cups of all-purpose flour
• 3/4 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (approx. 3 bananas)
• 2 large eggs
• 1/3 cup plain yogurt (we prefer whole milk)
• 4 oz. semisweet chocolate
• Butter for coating the pan

To make:

Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter a 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl to use for later.

Cream sugar and butter in a large bowl at medium speed until blended (about one minute). Add banana, eggs and yogurt. Beat until blended. Adjust the mixer to low speed. Slowly add the flour mixture until moist.

Break up the chocolate and place in a medium-size, microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for about one minute or until the chocolate is nearly melted. Stir the chocolate until smooth and allow to cool for a minute or two.

Next, add one cup of batter to the chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Then spoon and spread 1/3 of the plain batter into the base of your loaf pan, followed by 1/3 layer of the chocolate batter (the batter will be thick but spreadable with a silicone spatula). Alternate the batters 1/3 at a time, ending with the plain batter.

Use a butter knife to gently swirl the two batters together in the loaf pan.

Bake for approx. one hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick at the center comes out clean. Cool ten minutes on a wire rack and if you wish, remove the loaf from the pan. Cool on the rack completely before serving.

Yields: One loaf. Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

PS: The very best banana muffins. And a Memorial Day weekend adventure in Damariscotta and Newcastle.

 

 

 

 

 

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Now that the first half of fall is over, and all of the family commitments that come with it, MP finds herself wanting to slow down. She knew the minute she pulled out this beloved pumpkin bread recipe that it was time to take a brief hiatus from weekend travel, houseguests, and get-togethers before the holidays. This super moist pumpkin bread is her simple solution to slowing down. Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, it is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or warm cider. MP can’t think of a better way to take a self-imposed time out.

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After a vacation week spent celebrating, visiting family and getting much-needed sleep, our troupe wanted a gentle return to a regular routine. We made this wish a reality by creating a simple meal plan for the week. MP and DP have learned that a ready-made breakfast, lunch or dinner can make the whole day go more smoothly. Really! The kids get up later, but still make the bus. Everyone goes to work or school with a packed lunch. And in the evening, dinner is ready to go, which is a gift after a long day.

With this idea in mind, MP made baked oatmeal—our go-to, healthy(-ish) breakfast—on the last day of vacation. This dish is so simple to make. All you need is a few baking staples and your favorite fresh or frozen fruit on hand.

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Ever since reading this cookbook, our family has worked hard to eat whole foods as often as possible. We’ve also given up weeknight desserts, and sip homemade smoothies or enjoy big bowls of fruit with fresh cream instead. Our new favorite treat is this easy frozen yogurt that you can make in a food processor. And all you need is four simple ingredients: the frozen fruit of your choice, whole milk yogurt, honey and lemon juice. That’s it!

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Our team had a quiet New Years Eve (DP was sick with a cold), so to make up for it, we planned a decadent New Years Day Celebration. MP made a creamy quiche au fromage, bacon, and our favorite marbled chocolate banana bread. We had a giant bag of oranges in the fridge, so the kids made fresh-squeezed orange juice and poured it into champagne glasses. When the food was nearly ready, CP#1 and MP rifled through an old dress-up box for crazy hats, leis, and noisemakers to add to the festivities. The result? A fun New Years Day brunch for the four of us.

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MPs friend from book group always makes the most delicious, buttery desserts. Her sugar cookie recipe really is the best. It’s our go-to, traditional holiday cookie. The dough is so easy to work with and the cookie itself is perfect with a drizzle of semi-sweet chocolate, a sprinkling of sugar, or decorated with Royal icing.

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We’re preparing to host our first Thanksgiving, and MP has been busy baking anything she can freeze ahead, mainly pies, cranberry sauce, and biscuits. And while stuffing can’t be prepared ahead of schedule, MP figured cornbread would freeze well. She turned to a new cookbook in our house, “Eating in Maine,” by Rockland food bloggers, Jillian and Malcolm Bedell.

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