Chocolate Banana Bread

It’s Hump Day, and it definitely feels like it. I just started working at the pool again on Monday, teaching both morning and evening lessons, and lifeguarding in between. Even though I’ve only worked two days so far, I’m already exhausted. Only 38 more days of work to go!

Since I’ve been at work all day, I haven’t had time for baking. When I get home, all I want to do is eat and sleep! I’d love to bake a batch of snickerdoodle blondies or chocolate chip cookies to pack in my lunches (sweet treats are NECESSARY for long days at the pool), but I just don’t have the energy.

Luckily I made a few mini loaves of this awesome chocolate banana bread on Sunday, which I’ve been snacking on during my breaks at work. I altered the recipe to make the bread a bit lighter, and it was still so yummy!

Classic banana bread has always been one of my favorite quick breads (only second to pumpkin bread), but this version blows it out of the water! I mean, what isn’t better with chocolate? :)

Chocolate Banana Bread

Source: adapted from Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. 

3. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, bananas, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add in flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.

5. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

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Filed under Bread, Dessert

Green Monster Muffins

I am a spinach monster. Over the past week, I have singlehandedly consumed an entire 1-pound container of baby spinach from Costco. Although my family does eat a lot of vegetables, none of our dinners last week required spinach, so the huge container remained untouched. I absolutely hate seeing good food go to waste, so I took it upon myself to eat it all for my lunches and snacks.

Usually I try to incorporate spinach into my meals more creatively, but since I had SO much, I ended up cramming most of it into my daily green monster smoothies. I’m sure my nutrient intake was phenomenal, but I was pretty tired of my spinach overload by the end of the week.

Yesterday, I had just a few handfuls of spinach leftover, but I felt like I would turn absolutely green if I had another smoothie. I’d been wanting to try baking with spinach, so this was the perfect opportunity. I thought about baking a savory spinach bread, but I decided a sweet one would be more interesting. After a quick search, I found a recipe for Green Monster Muffins – just like my smoothies, but in muffin form!

These are probably the healthiest muffins that I’ve ever had in my entire life. They’re made with whole wheat flour, very little oil, and lots of spinach! And they’re actually really tasty!! The muffins are slightly sweet and citrusy, and the spinach flavor is undetectable. My family didn’t love these muffins as much as I did, but at least I got them to eat their leafy greens! :)

Green Monster Muffins

Source: slightly adapted from The Chic Life

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup PACKED baby spinach, washed and chopped finely in a food processor
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (I used lime zest)
  • chopped walnuts for topping

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 12 cup muffin tin (or 24 cup mini muffin tin) with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.

3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and sugar until light. Then whisk in applesauce, chopped spinach, oil, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add in flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Bake in preheated oven for 14-17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

6 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Muffins

Mocha Almond Fudge Cookies

I’ve been at home for four weeks now and our oven is STILL non-functional. It takes a while for things to get fixed around our house. :) The toaster oven has served me pretty well, but it’s just not efficient for baking a large batch of cookies. Somehow I’d managed to avoid baking a single batch of cookies for nearly a month!

But on Saturday afternoon, I had a serious cookie craving that just could’t be ignored. Also, I had saved a recipe for these Mocha Almond Fudge cookies a couple of months ago and I couldn’t get them off my mind! If a recipe has chocolate + coffee involved, I am ALL over it. :)

It took about six batches, and nearly an hour to bake up all the dough, but these cookies were definitely worth the hassle. The cookies are wonderfully soft and fudgey when still warm from the oven, and the delicious crunch from the toasted almonds have them rivaling Cappucino Cookies as one of my top 5 favorite cookies ever!

Although the cookies are fabuous, I like the raw cookie dough even better! It tastes EXACTLY like the mocha almond fudge ice cream from Baskin Robbins. I’m a little ashamed to admit how much raw dough I ate while baking, but let’s just say there could have been another tray of cookies if I’d practiced some more self-control. :)

Mocha Almond Fudge Cookies

Source: slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup lightly brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 heaping tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
Directions
1. Place chopped almonds and cinnamon in a saucepan and toast over low-medium heat, shaking pan occasionally. This should take no more than 10 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Fold in toasted almonds and chocolate chips.
4. Refrigerate dough for 2-4 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool cookies on wire rack.

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Filed under Cookies, Dessert

Zucchini Bread

I’m one of those people who actually loves the taste of raw vegetables. This is probably going to make me sound really crazy, but I really enjoy their fresh, crispy bitterness, and I don’t like salad dressings because they just cover up the taste of the veggies! Some people gag at the thought of eating kale, beets, celery, or brussel sprouts, but I love them all! In fact, I can’t think of a single vegetable that Idislike.

Lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate even more fresh produce into my diet (as if I didn’t get enough already) because I just feel so much more energetic and healthy and clean when I eat this way. I’ve been doing this by having a green smoothie as part of my lunch every day. Smoothies are great because you don’t have to chew so much. :) Usually I include a few handfuls of kale and/or spinach, a big hunk of cucumber, plain Greek yogurt or soy milk, and a half a frozen banana or apple for a little sweetness. My siblings say my smoothies taste like grass, but I think they’re delicious!

I even like vegetables in my dessert! Pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots are some of my favorites, but I’m on a mission to incorporate a less common vegetable into a baked good. Leafy greens, perhaps? Kale cheesecake, anyone? Okay, I’m TOTALLY kidding about that one. It actually sounds really gross.

Anyways, I thought I’d start with something a little more familiar (and appetizing) – zucchini bread! This is my healthified version of a recipe I found on allrecipes. With a little less sugar, applesauce for half of the oil, and extra zucchini, it was great! I just wish that I could actually taste the squash! I love seeing all the little green flecks in the bread, so next time I think I’ll try to pack in even MORE zucchini. :) 

I’m off to a tea party with a mini loaf of the zucchini bread. Have a lovely weekend! :)

Zucchini Bread

Source: adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Whisk in oil, applesauce, and sugar until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in zucchini, walnuts, and raisins.

4. Divide batter between prepared loaf pans and bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean.

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Dessert

Mini Pecan Pie Muffins

It’s FINALLY starting to feel like summer around here. It was so warm and sunny the entire weekend! I usually prefer cold over hot weather, but it had been so incredibly dreary for the past few weeks that I was dying for some sunshine.

I had quite an active weekend (for me, anyways) – nice weather always gives me so much energy and makes me feel like doing things! Because I don’t start working until June 20th, I spend a lot of time just bumming around the house. Although I do exercise daily, the other 23 hours of my day are mostly spent sleeping, drinking tea, and keeping up with my favorite blogs. :)

On Saturday, though, I woke up early to go hiking with friends. I felt so productive! Also, I went out to dinner with the family and spent the evening shopping at an outdoor mall. I am now the proud owner of the cutest little bowls and a fun apron from Anthropologie, as well as some clothes that were on major sale!

I guess that was a little too much outdoorsy activity for me though because I spent the most of yesterday afternoon baking in the kitchen. I made a batch of granola, and I also baked mini pecan pie muffins because I tend to get strange cravings for fall desserts throughout the entire year.

Other than being super cute, these little muffins really do taste like pecan pie. Also, they are the easiest muffins to make EVER. The recipe calls for just 5 simple ingredients, and the whole process took a grand total of about 25 minutes. Perfect treat to take care of a pecan pie craving when I’m feeling too lazy to make a batch of these.

Mini Pecan Pie Muffins

Source: slightly adapted from Bake at 350, originally from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms by Jane Doiron

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together. Spoon batter evenly among muffin cups.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes. Edges will be crispy. Do not overbake. Remove muffins from pan and cool on a wire rack.

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Filed under Dessert, Muffins

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Yesterday morning, I went into work to renew my CPR/AED and Lifeguarding/First Aid certifications. It was my first time getting in a pool since last year, and now I absolutely reek of chlorine, even though I’ve showered twice. I guess I better get used to it because this is what I’ll be smelling like all summer!

Anyways, I needed someone to practice my lifeguarding skills on, so I dragged my sister to the pool with me to be my “victim.” She wasn’t too thrilled about waking up so early in the morning, and demanded that I make cupcakes for her for subjecting her to such torture. Of course I was happy to oblige! :)

I decided on these salted caramel cupcakes because I have been the LOVING sweet and salty combo lately. If I find a recipe for a dessert that calls for a sprinkle of sea salt or see a menu item with the word “salted,” I’m immediately ALL over it. These and these have made their way to the top of my favorite desserts list.

But I think these salted caramel cupcakes top them all. They are probably the BEST cupcakes I’ve ever made. I had the hardest time keeping my fingers out of the salted caramel buttercream as I was frosting the cupcakes, and I don’t even like frosting!

My sister wasn’t too pleased with some of my healthier baked goods, but she thoroughly approved of these cupcakes! They are definitely not going to last long around our house. :)

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Source: adapted from Savory Bites

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk)

For the salted caramel buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • generous pinch sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard 12-cup cupcake pan with liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. Turn mixer speed to low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions. Beat until just combined, scraping down sides of bowl.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes (it only took 18 minutes in my toaster oven), or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely.

5. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook sugar over medium-high heat until it begins to melt. Stir with a wooden spoon until amber brown in color. Carefully pour heavy cream into saucepan in a steady stream, stirring constantly until mixure is completely smooth. Set caramel aside to cool.

6. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup at at time to desired consistency, and beat until smooth. Add cooled caramel (reserving just a few spoonfuls to drizzle cupcakes with) and sea salt, and beat until light and fluffy.

7. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired and drizzle with reserved caramel.

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Filed under Cakes/Cupcakes, Dessert

Black Bean Brownies

My friend Katie is joining the Peace Corps, and leaves for Togo tomorrow! Since she’ll be in Africa for the next couple of years, a few of my high school friends and I slept over at her house last night to hang out for the last time before she leaves. Yes, we are all college graduates and we still have sleepovers! :)

Lots of awesome food was consumed including various desserts baked by Katie’s mom, chocolate (!) beer, and Jeni’s goat cheese and cognac fig ice cream that I brought, which originated in Ohio! (Ohio has grown on me over the past four years, but Oregon will always be #1 in my heart!).

Also, we had homemade waffles and yak/bison sausages from the farmer’s market for breakfast! Plus MORE cookies and chips. Basically, I had a TON of junk food this weekend, and not much of my usual oatmeal, kale salads, tofu, etc. I am definitely in need of some healthier eats this week.

But of course there is no way that I can eliminate sweets from my diet completely, so I just decided to make a healthier version of one of my favorite desserts. I’ve been on a put-weird-ingredients-in-my-dessert kick lately. Last week it was chickpeas in my blondies and avocado in my cake. Today, I put black beans in my brownies.

I know it sounds pretty unappetizing, but they tasted just like regular brownies. They are delightfully chocolatey, super fudgey, and not beany at all! If I hadn’t made these myself, I would never have guessed that the main ingredient was a can of black beans. Also, these brownies are completely gluten-free and oil-free! Pretty unbelievable, right? You MUST try them for yourself!

Black Bean Brownies

Source: adapted from Amy Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  •  1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place black beans, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, eggs, instant coffee, and vanilla extract in a food processor and process until completely smooth and well-combined.

3. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Bake in preheated oven for 26-30 minutes, or until top is dry and edges begin to pull away from baking dish. Cool brownies completely in pan before cutting into squares.

9 Comments

Filed under Bars/Squares, Dessert