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Mmm Malbec.

31 Jul

So tonight we hit Whole Foods for wine tasting. Best decisions ever. They had such good food tonight (salmon, fruit salsa) and a couple of whites that weren’t bad and a red even I liked. I proceeded to go to Trader Joe for some groceries (and I needed a cheap bottle of red wine to make sangria for a wedding shower tomorrow) and I found a rose Malbec. I have been looking for one since the delicious one I had at Barrio at the beginning of the summer. So, here I sit on a Friday night baking banana bread and drinking rose Malbec. I’m content. There’s a new Say Yes to the Dress on tonight (I love watching these girls complain about how mommy won’t buy them a $10,000 dress) and DC Cupcakes which I am officially addicted to and may have to drive to Baltimore/DC just to sample one of these delicious looking cupcakes. But that’s a whole other story. Oh and now there’s a new Say Yes to the Dress series. I really like Randy so I can’t imagine another one that doesn’t involve him as a consultant, but I’m willing to give it a try.

I make a lot of banana bread. My dad loves it. It’s easy to take to the office and cut up for people. I love it. I always have bananas that go bad. I have discovered that Meijer discounts bananas that are about to go bad. I basically always have banana bread ready bananas on hand. I’m prepared at all times. I’ve tried about 15 different recipes in the last two years. I always find a new one on the internet and give it a shot. I’ve made them with sour cream, buttermilk, cream cheese… loads of stuff. I’ve always been a fan of the Betty Crocker “lighter” recipe because I’m all about being a little healthier when possible. I try reducing the sugar, using honey, Splenda, blah-blah-blah. But, I’ve been on this maple syrup kick. I found a bottle shoved in the back of my fridge that my mom and I bought last year. I had completely forgotten about it. Still delicious and now I’ve been using it practically every day on pancakes, waffles… I contemplated using it on toast yesterday I’ve been eating so much of it. I poured some on blueberries last night. It’s getting bad. I may be addicted. So, I cut the sugar in half of a recipe I found and added three tablespoons of maple syrup. It’s in the oven. So far, it smells amazing. Oh and I added some cinnamon. I feel like bananas, cinnamon and maple syrup are a fairly logical combination, no?

Banana Bread

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup fat-free cream cheese

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff)

2 ripe bananas

2 egg whites

1/4 cup light sour cream

1 cup whole-wheat flour + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*and you could add chocolate or nuts or raisins or anything else you desire in your banana bread

I creamed the cream cheese and sugars together until they were fluffy before adding the sour cream, maple syrup and applesauce. I then added the egg whites and bananas which I mashed with a fork. In a separate bowl, I combined all of the dry ingredients and then slowly incorporated them into the wet mixture. Mix until just moistened. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes.

And it’s delicious. Next time I’m adding dark chocolate chips… or the dark chocolate M&Ms that have been sitting on my counter since I made cookies last week… or I could just finish those tonight. Mmmmm. Okay. Think healthy thoughts. Says the girl with the glass of wine and huge chunk of banana bread in her hand.


Stand still, look pretty

26 Jul

I get some of my best thinking in when I road trip. This week, after two trips to Marietta, I got a lot of thinking in. I lot of stressing and dwelling as well. I also listened to The Wreckers and belted their tunes while I drove.

On Friday, my mom and I had dinner. It was just the two of us, something we don’t do very often anymore. My mom is my best friend. It took me about 23 years to figure that out. It took me the better part of that time to also discover that my mom is always right. She’s very observant and is a good judge of character. She knows which of my friends are worth sticking around for. She’s good with reading boys and she knows what makes me happy. She always keeps these opinions to herself until exactly the right moment. How are moms so good at that? Are all moms good at that? Or is mine a rare type? On Friday when we were discussing some very serious things, she told me that before her mom got Alzheimer’s disease she said some things that weighed very heavily on her mind. My grandma told her how jealous she was of her relationship with me. She wished that she had had a better relationship with my mom, her daughter. A relationship like the one I have with my mom. My mom told me how blessed she had been to be able to thoroughly enjoy her time with me. We fight all the time, generally over silly things. She’s still my best friend and I tell her everything, even the things I probably shouldn’t. Being with her this week was something that I needed more than anything right now. It was also the hardest week of my life.

My dad is developing Alzheimer’s. Things are rough right now. To watch my mom go through this may be the hardest thing I ever do. It makes stressing out about teaching and getting exams graded seem insanely petty. My dad is depressed and there are very few things he seems to be excited about anymore. I’m trying to do what I can to make him happy… fortunately, like many guys I know, it’s easy to get to him through his stomach. He’s not picky so it’s even easier to do.

Strawberry-Banana Muffins (modified from Sunny Anderson’s recipe, Foodnetwork… I’m a little obssessed with her. She’s fun to watch)

  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 lemon, zested

In a small bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, eggs, applesauce, sugars, strawberries, and lemon zest. Combine the dry and wet ingredients but be careful not to over mix. Scoop batter evenly into muffin cups (I used mini-muffin cups). Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes cleanly out of the center (about 30 minutes with regular muffin size, 20 with mini-muffins).

I added a little crumble to the top (equal parts brown sugar and oatmeal and enough margarine to make it crumbly, like a strudel topping) before I baked them just to give them another texture. You could also add nuts or even another berry to the batter if you wanted (make walnuts or raspberries).

My dad loves banana bread but I didn’t have enough bananas to make it, so I played around with some muffin recipes. I really enjoyed these and I think he did too. And, since I replaced the oil and butter with applesauce, they’re healthier and they were light and not dry at all.