{Chocolate Coconut} Peanut Butter Banana Bread

 

Oh man.  I am ready for the weekend.  This week and last have been one of those I-just-want-to-crawl-in-a-hole-as-fast-as-possible weeks.  I’ve messed up what seems like a million times at work this past week or so and it is so frustrating.  I just want to punch myself in the face.  Not really though.

Okay, maybe a little bit.

As a slight perfectionist, I find it quite difficult to make mistake after mistake, especially when you aren’t the only one having to bear the consequences of those mess ups.  My boss is completely nice about it but I hate that feeling of “letting them down.”  And I have a ridiculous time letting it go.  All last weekend my mind would wander toward what I did wrong at work, how I could’ve fixed it, what my co-workers were thinking/saying about me, how I could make it right… My mind would not stop going there.  I was worrying about a situation that I had no current control over, and fretting about mishaps that I couldn’t take back.

It’s true that we have to live with the decisions that we make, or the things we do wrong, no matter how big or insignificant they may be, but there is a point when living with it can cross over to being consumed by it, and I have been consumed.  I find myself being swallowed up by my own thoughts, concerns, future projections, and other’s opinions quite a lot.  I take myself out of the current moment to instead be in a negative space that leads me nowhere.

There is a point where I must remind myself that I am human, I will make mistakes, I will learn as best I can to avoid doing them again and I will let. it. go.

Then I will reward myself with a high five and a slice of chocolate coconut  peanut butter banana bread… whew thats a mouth full.

Let take a quick second to talk about this peanut butter.  Its…  just really delicious.

What could go wrong with chocolate and coconut swirled into creamy peanut butter?  Nothing, thats what.  Absolutely nothing.

Well, except maybe my waning self control once I hold this jar of pb in one hand and a spoon in the other.   I’ll just consider that a tasty mishap.

Okay, here’s the deal.  Quick breads are fantastic for many reasons.  They are very versatile, quick to put together, hard to screw up, and freeze well.  Plus they are delicious.

All you really need are two bowls.  Whisk together your dry ingredients first.  Whisking them before adding them to the wet ingredients ensures that everything is equally distributed.

Next, things start to get wet and wild.  Sugar and eggs are whisked into a lovely mixture.  Add bananas, yogurt, melted coconut oil, and peanut butter.  Things start to get really crazy when the sugar, banana, peanut butter situation invites the dry ingredients into the party.  They mingle and turn into a silky batter ready to be baked.

But first generous dollop of peanut butter gets swirled into the batter.  You can always leave this step out and the bread will still be delicious… but, really, why would you?

Here it is.  A version of banana bread that you will come back to again and again.  The flavors are well balanced, playing nicely and sharing the spotlight.

The peanut butter and banana combo is an obvious win.  The addition of chocolate and coconut are like the moment you get the win, rip your shirt off, and fall on the grass in just your sports bra.

Thats a bad comparison…  does anyone even remember that?

Oh well, make this bread and your tummy will be happy… high five!

{Chocolate Coconut} Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate coconut peanut butter, or any other nut butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon slat
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter one 9×5 in loaf pan or 3 6×3.5 loaf pans (this is what I did).  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, flax seed meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until well incorporated. Add yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, and coconut oil.  Whisk to combine.
  4. Pour flour mixture into the banana mixture and stir until just combined.  Don’t over mix!
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan(s), about 3/4 of the way of the pan.
  6. Optional: Put three dollops of softened peanut butter on top of the batter.  Swirl into the batter with a toothpick, skewer, or knife.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 45-60 minutes (if you are just using one large loaf pan it will be more on the 60 minute range.. opposite for the smaller pans!).  Test to see if the bread is down by placing a toothpick in the center and having it come out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for for about 20 minutes.  Run a butter knife along the edges to invert from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Bread will last well wrapped for up to 4 days at room temperature.  Alternately it can be stored in the freezer for a rainy day or just a crappy work week.

Blueberry Pie Bars

Hi Friends!

Can I just say that I am really enjoying the cooler weather?  I was actually excited when I woke up a couple days this past week and the gray wall of clouds hid the sun and a slight mist dotted my windows.  It seemed refreshing.. and oddly comforting.

Portland must be changing me if I’m pining for cool weather and clouds instead of an extended stay of sunshine.  Next thing I know I’ll give up my umbrella completely, because we all know that a true Pacific Northwesterner does NOT use an umbrella.  Frankly, I’d rather not get my shoes wet.  The umbrella will stay for now.

On a completely different note, do you ever have those days when you just want to eat everything in sight?  Me too.

Scone for breakfast?  Sure!  Giant chocolate chip cookie?  Why the heck not?  Part of my BF’s salty cheesy quesadilla?  I better at least have one bite…

Sometimes you just need an eat day.  Sometimes you need to treat yo self!

Fall is officially here, but summer bounty is still holdin on by its finger tips.  Lets just keep buying berries as long as we can.  Lets buy berries and freeze them, can them, eat them fresh.  Lets buy berries and make pie with them.  Lets buy berries and have an EAT day.

These blueberry pie bars are a sweet treat that will leave you hopped up on sugar and ready to tackle anything (until you crash 3 hours later).  Just kidding…  Sort of.

These bars start off with a brow sugary oatmeal crust.  A dash of cinnamon gives them some warmth and that familiar pie flavor.

Butter is a delicious, necessary ingredient.  It gets cut into the dry ingredients until the dough forms into large chunks.

Blueberries are the star ingredient, and rightfully so.  Their deep blue colors turn royal purple after a trip to the oven, and fresh summer blueberries offer the right sweet to tart ratio.  I used fresh but frozen is definitely an option as well!

Cinnamon and brown sugar along with a little flour are mixed with berries.  Lemon zest gives these bars a much needed pop of freshness.

A little bit of the crust is set aside while the remaining gets pressed into the pan.  Top that with the berries and crumble the rest of the crust on top.

Then they take a little trip to the oven.

I’m not gonna lie, these pie bars are sweet, and a little square goes a long way.  I might try reducing the brown sugar next time I make them, or using another type of fruit (Deb used raspberries in the original).

Have an eat day now or freeze some for a rainy day.  Either way, you’ll be glad these are in your tummy.

Blueberry Pie Bars

Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

For the crust and crumb:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the blueberry filling:

  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.
  2. Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.
  3. Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. (Note: The book suggests you reserve one cup only.  Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hans or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.
  4. Make the blueberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the blueberries are evenly coated.
  5. Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the blueberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.
  6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

A Look Back- Summer Livin

I’m taking a look back at summer 2012.  It was filled with travels, milestones, new adventures, new friends and lots of good food.
Come take a look!

My summer started off great with a little jaunt across the Atlantic.  I took my passport and hopped on a plane to Berlin with my BF, his brother, and his brothers GF.
We saw the Berlin Wall in a walking tour around Berlin.  In Prague we went to the beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral and sipped on coffee in the Old Town Square.  We rode the train from city to city, passing by beautiful fields of yellow.  We stayed across from and saw an Opera at the Staatsoper in Vienna.
We ate lots of food… of course!  Gelato was a great afternoon snack in Prague.  Lemon sorbet was a (very delicious) palate cleansers at a Italian influenced dinner.  Beer gardens in Prague and Munich made for a great afternoon break.  Bread and cheese from the Naschmarkt was the perfect lunch after our arrival in Vienna.  Coffee was a daily occurrence.  But the fragilite from Demel Pastry Shop in Vienna was by far my favorite treat of the trip!
I started two jobs this summer.  One at a gym.  The other at a podiatrist office.  I’ve taught people how to squat and lunge.  I’ve learned lots about natural foot health.  (Correct Toes are a miracle worker and shoes should be flat, wide, and flexible… just so you know)
I graduated from college!  So did Mirjam and Lisa.  We were all very excited in our square hats and giant gowns.
I saw the great outdoors.
I went to Mount Saint Helens.  I hiked to the top of peaks to see incredible views of Mt. Hood.  I saw the Columbia River Gorge in all its glory.  I took strolls through the park.  And I walked across suspension bridges.
I ate foods.
Pizza at Nostrana.  Salt and Straw ice cream.  Bone marrow and pretzel toast.  Kale salad from Caveman Cart.  TWO double yolk eggs (that never happens!).  A paleo picnic breakfast in the park.  S’mores deconstructed with a side of bourbon.  Shrimp and veggie skewers for dinner on the deck.
Its been a good eating summer!
I drank drinks!
Brew fest was fun and raspberry beer was my fav.  Red wine with JoJo B on NW 23rd.  Gin and tonic at the Mansion.  Purple haze with my mom.  Margaritas on the rocks.
I took another trip this summer.
I headed North to Canada with my momma.
We got on a boat to Victoria, BC.
We went whale watching on a small boat.  It was crazy cold and we were all just as excited as a kid at Disneyland when we saw the whales.
Butchart gardens was beautiful and unique.  After a stroll through the gardens we had ginger orange scones at high tea.
We stayed at Abbeymoore Manor, a beautiful bed and breakfast run by the nicest people! The mornings were enjoyed with a cup of coffee while we ate homemade breakfast.
The harbor was filled with boats and the sky filled with clouds!
I became obsessed with three things.
Chocolate popsicles.  Bing cherries.  Annie’s bunnies.
Boom Boom Pow!
I got my nails done did.
I blazed like nobodies blazeness.
I yolo’d a haircut.
I also listened to lots of JtB and Shutts
I found this old picture of my family vacation.  We were in Hawaii.  And, obviously, we were thrilled.
This picture continues to make me laugh… every time I see it.  I have got to get back into lady bugs…
 All in all, my summer was great summer.  Tell me about yours!
P.S. I am now ready for bright colored leaves, cool autumn breezes, and comfy sweaters.

Nectarine Huckleberry Tart

I often think way too much about what others think of me.  My decisions, my actions, my thoughts so quickly go toward what the person next to me is thinking.  I get taken captive, in a sense, by the possible judgement or objection of somebody else’s thinking, someone else’s moral compass, someone else’s way of doing things, someone else’s opinion.

I decide things based on what I believe other people would like.  I look for approval. I want someone else’s “okay.”  I look to someone else to validate me.

I was reminded last week that everyone has some kind of ugly baggage that they are carrying around with them.  Or even just a part of their life that they think others might label as wrong or weird or what have you.

I was reminded that those people I am so worried about are just like me.  No better.  No worse.  We are on equal ground.

I can live my life even when someone disagrees.

Sigh.

This past week I decided to make a tart.  This tart took forever to decide upon because I was worried about how it would turn out.  And I was worried about that because I was taking it to a work bbq and I wanted everyone there to like.

I really get ridiculous sometimes.  I mean who doesn’t like a buttery crust topped with fruit?  Someone, I am sure of it.

The crust for this tart is super simple.  Flour, almond, and butter get weighed and measured.  Then lemon zest is mixed into the sugar.  This helps release the oils in the zest which means a more pronounce lemon flavor in the final product.

All of these ingredients are worked together until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough is crumbly. The dough is then pressed into a tart pan.

Just use your fingers thats definitely the best way to do it.

Huckleberries, which I proudly picked myself, are rinsed and dried off a bit.

Deliciously fragrant nectarines are split open and cut into small wedges.

Take a minute to admire the gorgeous fruit!  Such brilliant colors…

Huckleberries go in first.  Nectarines are layered on top.  I start around the outside edge first and move toward the center.  It doesn’t have to be perfect… quit caring about what other people will think. (I’m talking to myself here)

Now, bake that beauty!

I absolutely love the colors of this tart after its been baked.  Deep purple, mauve, and taupe.  Perfect.

I have to say this tart was a success.  There is a thick layer of lemony crust, which I greatly appreciate.  A touch of cinnamon adds a warmth to the sweet nectarines and tart huckleberries.  A scoop of gelato is a nice touch… just a suggestion.

And yes, the co-workers thought it was delicious.

Nectarine Huckleberry Tart

Recipe from Pease Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds, crushed or use almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • zest of one lemon
  • 4 nectarines, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 cup huckleberries
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter or spray a 9 1/2 inch removable bottom tart pan. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl mix the lemon zest into the sugar until its incorporated well.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix in the almonds and sugar.
  4. Add the butter to the dry ingredients.  Using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture and continue to mix just until flour is incorporated.  Dough should be clumpy not one solid ball.
  5. Dump the dough into the prepared tart pan and press dough into pan using your fingers or the flat bottom of a cup.  The dough should be flush with the top of the pan.  Place tart crust in freezer while you prepare the fruit.
  6. In a medium bowl, gently mix together the nectarines, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Let sit for a few minutes to release some of the juices of the fruit.
  7. Remove crust from freezer and sprinkle the huckleberries on top of the crust so that they lie in one single layer.
  8. Beginning with the outer edge place the nectarines along the whole outside edge of the tart pan.  Continue this process until the crust in filled with nectarines.
  9. Bake tart for about 40 minutes or until the edge of the crust is browned slightly.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack or at least 10 minutes.  Serve warm or cooled… both are delicious!