Banana Bread

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I always make sure to have some fruit options at home. This past week, I realized that I overlooked a small bunch of bananas which were ripening quickly, so I knew it was time to make some banana bread. The last time I made banana bread, I wasn’t very impressed, so I tried another recipe. This one was much better!

Banana Bread
adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

The Skinny – per serving, serves 12

Calories: 184.5
Fat: 1.3 g
Fiber: 1.7 g

banana bread

Blueberry Crumb Bars

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For the What’s Cooking Ingredient Challenge, the challenge ingredient was blueberry. Since the grocery store had blueberries on a good sale, I bought a pint and decided to make the Blueberry Crumb Bars from Smitten Kitchen.

I made these in a half batch since I didn’t have a quart of berries and plus, I’m usually hesitant with any desserts involving lemon. I hate lemony desserts. I know…weird. :)

These bars were pretty good, but I still noticed lemon and I think that’s what probably made the dessert not as tasty to me. Next time I make these, I’ll omit the lemon.

Blueberry Crumb Bars (halved)
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter (1 sticks or 4 ounces)
1 egg white
1 pinch of salt
Zest and juice of one half lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 8×8 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar,  flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg white. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Yields: 16 squares

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

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I love blueberries. I’m especially happy that it’s blueberry season, because they are super cheap and fairly local. Local fruit is the best!

I’ve been wanting to make blueberry muffins for quite a while, but I also didn’t want them to be high in calories/fat either. So, I skinny-fied a highly rated recipe on Food Network. Is it any surprise that Ina’s recipe is the highest rated? So, of course, I’m going to play with her recipe.

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
Source: adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup no-sugar added applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (could have used half splenda/half sugar but I was out)
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces fat free sour cream
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin pans.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in applesauce and mix together until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.
  3. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Yields 24 muffins.

Nutritional Facts:
Calories: 144, Fat: 2.9 g, Fiber: 0.8 g
POINTS*: 3

Do you want to compare to Ina’s original recipe?
Calories: 218, Fat: 12.5 g, Fiber: 0.7 g
POINTS*: 5

Watermelon Sorbet

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I’ve been looking at watermelons in the stores a lot lately. It’s so hot outside (100+ degrees – heat index) and a nice, refreshing watermelon was what I was craving!

So, I went to the local produce stand and bought my first watermelon of the summer. I was having company over last night and wanted to end the meal on a lighter note. I was originally looking at The Perfect Scoop for inspiration, but I didn’t have limes. I was afraid to use lemons instead, but found this Alton Brown recipe on Joelen’s blog. It used lemons! YAY!

I’ve never cut up a watermelon, so I was sure that I was going to make a juicy mess. It wasn’t all that bad, but look at how GORGEOUS and ripe this watermelon was…mmm!
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The verdict? This was a light, refreshing sorbet and a definite MUST for the summer! Seriously make this for your 4th of July party! Your guests won’t be disappointed! Also, it’s (along with other fruit sorbets) VERY skinny, especially if you made this with Splenda, which I didn’t have on hand at the time. :)

I’m submitting this to Joelen’s monthly Tasty Tools event, which features the ice cream maker! I’m sure there will be a ton of great summer treats for this blogging event so definitely start following her blog if you haven’t already!

Watermelon Sorbet
Source: Alton Brown -  found on Joelen’s Culinary Adventures

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound, 5 ounces diced watermelon, muskmelon or honeydew
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (omitted)
  • 9 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups

Directions:

  1. Place the melon in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vodka, and sugar and process for another 30 seconds. Place the mixture into the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F; depending on the temperature of your ingredients and refrigerator, this could take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Makes 12 (1/2 cup) servings.
(I added a little too much melon than stated, and it was overflowing in the ice cream maker, so I estimated based on 1.5 quarts yielded instead of Alton Brown mentioning this yields 1 qt.)

Calories: 112, Fat: 0.4g, Fiber: 0.5g
POINTS*: 2

Cuccidati (Italian Fig Cookies)

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(Yeah, those are Christmas sprinkles. I was too lazy to go get regular nonpareils!!)

These are my ultimate childhood memory. I love these cookies more than words can say, and I heavily depended on one bakery to give me these cookies 364 days/year.  The other day, March 19, I could depend on a St. Joseph’s altar for these tasty treats. My dad is half Sicilian, so of course, he got me stuck on italian cookies early on.

I decided around Christmas to look up this recipe, because I wanted a challenge in baking. If it didn’t work out, I still had my trusty Italian bakery. If it did, though, there would definitely be a mini-baking victory in order! Let’s just say  there’s a mini-baking victory in order! These cookies came out JUST like the ones I know to love!

Cuccidati
Source: Gourmet through Epicurious

Ingredients

For filling

  • 1 cup packed soft dried Mission figs (8 oz), hard tips discarded
  • 3/4 cup raisins (3 3/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup mild honey
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (used Meyer Lemon zest)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (for next time, this will be omitted.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds (4 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (3 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
    **For the nuts, I toasted and food processed them into a powder, since I never noticed nuts in cuccidati filling before.**

For pastry dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange or lemon zest

For icing
(didn’t use this for the recipe. The cuccidati that I’ve eaten have only had nonpareils on them.)

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • Garnish: multicolored nonpareils

Directions:

Make filling:

  • Pulse figs and raisins (and nuts) in a food processor until finely chopped, then stir together with remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

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Look at those pretty dried figs.

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Fig filling. Mmm…

Make dough:

  • Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and zest and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Halve dough and gather each half into a ball, then flatten each half into a rough 6- by 4-inch rectangle between sheets of plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 8 hours.

Form cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Roll out 1 rectangle of dough (keep remaining dough chilled) into a 15- by 14-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Trim to a 13- by 10-inch rectangle (chill trimmings), then cut into 4 (10- by 3 1/4-inch) strips. Arrange 1/3 cup filling in a 1-inch-wide log lengthwise down center of each strip, then fold sides of each strip up over filling to enclose it, pinching edges together to seal. Turn rolls seam-sides down and press gently to flatten seams. Cut logs crosswise with a floured knife into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices and arrange 1/2 inch apart on buttered large baking sheets. Make more cookies in same manner with remaining chilled dough, trimmings (reroll once), and filling.

**Just a note. This dough becomes very sticky when room temperature. So roll this dough out as quickly as possible. I did this between wax paper sheets, flipping the dough often. **

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Adding fillingimg_7277
Rolling dough
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Slicing cookies

  • Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until golden around edges, 16 to 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool until warm, about 10 minutes. Make icing while cookies bake.
  • Whisk together confectioners sugar, vanilla, and enough orange juice to make a pourable icing.
  • Brush icing on warm cookies and decorate with nonpareils (if using), then cool completely.

Notes:

• Filling can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered.

• Dough can be chilled, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, up to 3 days.

• Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

I’m submitting this post to this month’s Tasty Tools events from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures! Go check out her blog for other fun challenges!!

Banana Bread

I ended up noticing while making the Pumpkin cake, that we had some pretty ripe bananas on the counter. So, I forked out a recipe I’ve been eyeing for quite some time and went to work on this!

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Banana Bread
Source: Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (omitted)Directions:

    1. Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2.  

  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add butter, eggs, nuts, and mashed banana. Beat until well blended.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

 

This bread was OK, but I think next time, I’m going to look for a recipe using MORE bananas. It had a pretty subtle banana flavor, and I wanted more! I love bananas! :)


Eggnog Cookies and a couple of recipe revisits!

For my last day at my old job, my coworkers asked me to bring in some goodies for them. I decided to make Cranberry White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti (scroll down a bit for the recipe), Eggnog Cookies and Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies.

The treats went over really well!

Here’s the recipe for eggnog cookies. These left for a very subtle spice taste, so if you want more eggnog, add more. Many people on Allrecipes adapted the recipe that way.

Eggnog Cookies
Source: Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Cream sugar and butter until light. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake 20 to 23 minutes until bottoms turn light brown.

Check out the spread!!

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Cranberry White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

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Eggnog Cookies

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Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies

 

Autumn Spiced Ham

I participated in the What’s Cooking recipe exchange for October/November, and was super excited when I received this recipe!

I don’t know what nestie it’s from, so I’ll give you credit if you let me know!

Autumn Spiced Ham
Source: AllRecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbs. butter
  • 1 (2 lb) ham steak (we used 1 lb. since it’s just the two of us)
  • 1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 green apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup maple flavored pancake syrup (we used light syrup)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the ham on both sides in the butter until browned.

I cut up the ham, as shown, to make it fit in the skillet!Lay the sliced apple over the ham. (A neat trick for slicing apples is put them in a bowl with orange juice to prevent browning until ready to use for your recipe. You won’t get orange flavor, I promise!) Pour the syrup over the apples. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally until the apples are cooked through.

Sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve immediately.

 

 


This recipe couldn’t have been easy enough! We were skeptical at first though, because we didn’t want an apple pie ham LOL! However, the taste was subtle and sweet. My fiance mentioned how yummy the apples were especially in the recipe.

 

Serves 4
POINTS*: 4

I ended up making garlic bread with a whole wheat loaf of french bread, brushed on butter, Penzey’s Northwoods seasonings, Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle, granulated garlic and a little bit of parsley! Really tasty!

I also made my fiance’s favorite dish, GBC! (Green Bean Casserole). Our favorite recipe is right here!

All in all, this was a great dinner for a Friday night!! :)

Blueberry Pound Cake

So, a few weeks back, I was in the grocery store…looking for cake mix for my first fondant cake, and these blueberries at $2/pint caught my eye. I had to buy them…just had to bake something with them. However, I had NO idea what to make. So, being on my diet, I looked at Cooking Light and searched blueberries…lo and behold, this recipe for a blueberry pound cake came up. It was on my “to make” list…

I finally had the opportunity to make this cake Monday, and with a few healthy substitutions for an already healthy recipe, it came out great. However, moreso like a sweet bread than a pound cake. Regardless, my stomach was happy and so was my diet!

I will admit, though, the cake looks purple because after I put all the ingredients in the pan, I forgot to put in an extra egg (that was called for)…so I mixed it in stupidly and realized OH NO! THE BLUEBERRIES!!!….thus my cake is purple….


The loaf :) I made this in a loaf pan instead of a tube pan because I didn’t have a tube pan..it worked out well!!

Blueberry Pound Cake (gone bread)
adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar (used 1 cup splenda, 1 cup sugar)
  • 1/2 cup light butter
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided ( 1 cup WW flour, 2 cups AP flour)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) carton lemon low-fat yogurt (I hate lemon in desserts, so I used blueberry yogurt instead)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (omitted…I don’t want a glaze on it)
    4 teaspoons lemon juice (omitted…same reason)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 tablespoons flour and blueberries in a small bowl, and toss well. Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in blueberry mixture and vanilla; pour cake batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl; drizzle over warm cake. Cut with a serrated knife.


My end slice :)


Look at that crumbly goodness!

Makes 16 servings.

Nutritional Information:
Calories 278.9
Fat 8.5g
Fiber 1.8g

POINTS*: 6

**I’m not sure how accurate Cooking Light is here…because their dessert had less fat, 10 more calories and 0.3 less g fiber/serving (weird!)**

Strawberry Bread

Hard to believe, but I reduced the calories by 100 calories per serving on this bread, and am sure that I didn’t impact the taste much at all!

My dad bought a flat of Louisiana strawberries late last week, and so I have been trying to figure out ways to get rid of the strawberries since their lives are at their end..lol. This helped me rid of a pint and in an awesome way!

This bread is delicious, especially with a dollop of cool whip. I want another piece but I know I snacked enough earlier when I got home lol. Here is the original recipe with my substitutions from AllRecipes.

Strawberry Bread

INGREDIENTS

* 2 cups fresh strawberries
* 3 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 1/8 cups AP flour)
* 2 cups white sugar (1 cup splenda, 1 cup white sugar)
* 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (12 oz. no sugar added applesauce)
* 4 eggs, beaten
* 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans (omitted because I hate pecans)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter and flour two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.
2. Slice strawberries, and place in medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, and set aside while preparing bread mixture.
3. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl: mix well. Blend oil and eggs into strawberries. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, blending until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in pecans. Divide batter into pans.
4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn loaves out, and cool completely.

I did end up just baking this in a 8×8 pan since I couldn’t find the loaf pans :(. Worked out just fine!

All in all this was delicious and I’m looking forward to this for breakfast tomorrow morning!



Original nutritional facts:
Fib
16 servings

Calories: 285
Total Fat: 17g
Fiber: 1.5g
Points: 7*

With my substitutions and omissions (especially note the fat changes):

16 servings

Calories: 165.5
Total Fat: 1.6g
Fiber: 2.1g
Points: 3*

That’s a 4 point difference per serving! I’m sure that was just the applesauce vs. oil difference but that’s amazing!