Chocolate and Bananas

Mmmmmm....cake.....

Mmmmmm….cake…..

Bananas are a hot commodity in our house. I almost always take one to work for my breakfast. Big girl likes to also have one for her breakfast. So, I tend to buy a large amount of bananas. If I only buy one bunch of bananas then we tend to be out of bananas by the mid-week. However, if I buy a lot, there are usually 4 or 5 that get way too ripe before we can eat them. So, I am always on the lookout for a recipe that will use up those overripe ones. If you follow this blog, you know that I’ve found a favorite banana bread recipe that is super easy to make. I recently found a recipe for a cake that uses bananas, chocolate, and applesauce. You can find it here.  The pictures made the cake look delicious (and we eat with our eyes first!) so I thought that I would give it a try.

Don’t assume that just because there are bananas and applesauce in this cake that it’s a, um, healthy cake. There are a lot of chocolate chips in this cake in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. But, I wasn’t looking for a healthy cake. In fact, I don’t think that one should eat “healthy” cakes. The point of eating a cake is that it is a treat and it should taste like a treat.

Yay! Cake!

Yay! Cake!

This is a much more banana-y cake than what I was expecting and it isn’t nearly as chocolate-y as I would’ve thought since it smelled so strongly of chocolate as it was baking.  But, it was a nice and super moist cake.  Will definitely be making this one again.

 

 

Zucchini Muffins

After making the zucchini bread and having great success, I started to look for a good recipe for zucchini muffins. I found this one on the same site that had the bread recipe. It looks promising. Then, I realized that it was exactly the same recipe as the one for bread – just in muffin form. Oh well. The bread was yummy so I figured it would be good as a muffin as well.

The only thing that I changed up this time was that I used golden raisins instead of the cranberries. I wanted to add more raisins than I did but these are special raisins so I couldn’t use too many. We are working on potty training in our house and golden raisins are the “potty treat” so they are a hot commodity in our household.

Zucchini Muffin

Zucchini Muffin

I am a big fan of this recipe.  I already knew that it made a good bread and now I know that it also makes a good muffin.  Next time, the only thing that I would change is trying to make sure that each muffin is close to the same size.  Some of them came out really, really big.  So, I had to bake them a little longer than I would have liked to.  But, other than that, this is definitely one that I’ll make again.

Banana Bread – with chocolate chips

Once again, I made my go-to banana bread recipe. And if you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know that each time I make this recipe I try to play around with it a little bit.  This time, I added 2/3 cup of chocolate chips before baking.  Chocolate + banana bread = Yummmmmm.

Chocolatey Banana Bread

Chocolatey Banana Bread

This may be one that I need to dial down a bit.  It was chocolatey.  I mean, it was really, really, really chocolatey.  I think that it would’ve been fine with just 1/3 of a cup.  But, all in all, it was good.  The bread had a good consistency and the chocolate chips were nicely interspersed throughout the bread.

In a lot of recipes, if you are adding something like chocolate chips, they recommend tossing the chips in some flour to ensure that they don’t just sink to the bottom. Don’t worry about that with this bread, though.  The bread is super thick when you mix it up so I didn’t bother tossing them in flour and as you can see from the photo, the chocolate chips were in every single bite.

Zucchini Bread

Our garden has produced an abundance of zucchini this summer! Yay!

Check out the can of Diet Coke for a size comparison of our crop.

Check out the can of Diet Coke for a size comparison of our crop.

Now comes the task of figuring out what to do with all of that zucchini. The first thought was making some zucchini bread.

I found this recipe and decided to give it a try. I loved that it used a lot of zucchini and that when completed it made two loaves.

I started grating and grating and grating and then wringing out the moisture and wringing and wringing and wringing. I got all of the way the recipe until the butter part and then realized that I didn’t have enough. So, instead of 3/4 cup it is closer to just over 1/2 cup.  And, if you’ve followed this blog you know that I love cranberries so of course I added the “optional” cranberries.  🙂

Zucchini Bread with Cranberries

Zucchini Bread with Cranberries

The results?  Super moist and flavorful bread.  I’ll definitely be making this one again.  I’ll probably make it several times and throw some bread in the freezer.

Banana Bread – with cranberries

I’ve made this recipe many times before. And I’m trying to add something new to it each time I try it. This time, dried cranberries.  I started with 1/3 cup of cranberries but after I stirred it together it just didn’t look like enough.  So, I added another 1/3 cup for a total of 2/3 cup of cranberries.  Anytime I add cranberries to something, I tend to add more than many people would so I wasn’t sure if this was going to be too much…..or just right.  I love the taste and the look of cranberries so you may want to play around with the amount if you attempt this.

Cranberry Banana Bread

Cranberry Banana Bread

I really liked how this one turned out.  The bread had a great consistency and the cranberries were nice and juicy.  They weren’t super-tangy as cranberries usually are but I think that this combo was a pretty good one.  I’ll definitely be doing this variation again.

 

Banana Bread….again

Once again, I have made this banana bread recipe.  It is really becoming my go-to banana bread because it is just so easy.  This time, I double-checked to be sure that I had all of the ingredients that I needed before I started so I wouldn’t have another bread turn out like this.  I then returned to my original goal of playing around with the recipe each time that I made it.  This time, I added 1/3 cup of oats right before throwing it in the oven.

IMG_20140624_204803The results?  This bread was more dense than the very first batch.  I am guessing that that is because of the oats.  I pondered adding dried cranberries to this batch but wanted one banana bread completed with just one extra ingredient before adding others.  Next time?  Cranberries.

Summer Trifle

Trifle is one of the best dishes that you can make for dessert because it can be whatever you want it to be.  You can change the flavors to match whatever you like.  Switch up the cake.  Change the pudding flavor.

For the 4th of July, I decided to make a summer trifle.  I made a super easy version.  You could, of course, bake a cake, make whipped cream, and make a homemade pudding.  But, that’s another reason why trifles are so great.  You can put in as much or as little effort as you want and you will still get a great produce.

Here’s how I made it:

 

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients.  I've got store bought angel food cake, vanilla pudding, orange juice, strawberry jam, and Cool Whip

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients. I’ve got store bought angel food cake, vanilla pudding, orange juice, strawberry jam, and Cool Whip

Step 2: Prepare your fruit.  I'm using strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Step 2: Prepare your fruit. I’m using strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Step 3: Cut the angel food cake in half and cover with strawberry jam.

Step 3: Cut the angel food cake in half and cover with strawberry jam. (This picture looks like a bagel with jam….but trust me….it’s really a cake.)

Step 4: Put the top piece back on the angel food cake and cut the cake into little pieces.  It's sort of like a yummy angel food cake sandwich.

Step 4: Put the top piece back on the angel food cake and cut the cake into little pieces. It’s sort of like a yummy angel food cake sandwich.

Step 5: Make a layer of angel food cake sandwiches in the bottom of your bowl and sprinkle some orange juice on top of each piece.  You don't want to soak the cake but the juice is important as it will soak into the cake and make it even more flavorful.

Step 5: Make a layer of angel food cake sandwiches in the bottom of your bowl and sprinkle some orange juice on top of each piece. You don’t want to drench the cake but the juice is important as it will soak into the cake and make it even more flavorful.

Step 6: Cover the first layer of cake with pudding.  This doesn't have to look pretty but you do want to cover each piece.

Step 6: Cover the first layer of cake with pudding. This doesn’t have to look pretty but you do want to cover each piece.

Step 7: Cover with Cool Whip.  Use a spoon to smooth the Cool Whip and ensure that it completely covers the layers.  Don't be stingy.  I used almost an entire tub of Cool Whip on this layer alone.

Step 7: Cover with Cool Whip. Use a spoon to smooth the Cool Whip and ensure that it completely covers the layers. Don’t be stingy. I used almost an entire tub of Cool Whip on this layer alone.

Step 8: Fruit!

Step 8: Fruit!

Step 9: Repeat with another layer of cake sandwiches, orange juice, pudding, Cool Whip, and fruit.

Step 9: Repeat with another layer of cake sandwiches, orange juice, pudding, Cool Whip, and fruit.

Step 10: Enjoy!

Step 10: Enjoy!

 

Although it isn’t really a necessity, trifle should really be made in a clear bowl so that you can see all of the beautiful layers.  I have a beautiful glass trifle bowl that I usually use but I didn’t want to worry about transporting it.  This particular trifle was made in a plastic bowl purchased for just a couple dollars.  Remember, you eat with your eyes before you actually taste the food.  It will still taste delicious if you don’t use a clear bowl….but it’ll be a showstopper if you can admire how it looks, too.  🙂

Super Easy Lemon Poke Cake

I love all things lemon.  Lemon meringue is my favorite pie.  Lemon is my favorite Starburst and my favorite Skittles flavor.  I have a board on Pinterest just of lemon recipes.  So, when I saw this recipe, I knew that I had to give it a shot.  Now, when you read through the recipe you will probably think, “Wow, that does look easy.”  Well, I looked at it and thought, “Wow, that looks easy but I’m going to be even more lazy when I make it.”  So, instead of making a lemon curd, I used a store bought one.  I know.  I know.  I could’ve easily made a homemade curd, and I very well might do that the next time I make this one to ensure that it’s super lemony.  But, when you plan on making something for an occasion like Easter, I feel like it’s perfectly fine to take some shortcuts if it means less stress and less work.

The best part of this recipe?  I mean, besides just how easy it is?  This is something that little girl could easily help me out with.  She had the job of poking the holes into the cake.  And then she had the job of eating a spoonful of Cool Whip.

The verdict?  Will definitely make this one again since it was so incredibly easy but if I use store bought curd again, I think that I’ll heat it up before adding to the cooled cake so that it really seeps down into the cake.  I think ensuring that the curd is pourable will also make it a little more lemony in each bite.  But, all in all, a nice little cake recipe.  It makes me want to play around with other poke cake recipes.

mmmmmmm.....cake

mmmmmmm…..cake

Banana Bread – The dough thickens

The last time that I made this bread, I said that perhaps the next time that I made it I would play around with the recipe some.  Well, let’s just say that tonight’s bread probably took that a bit too far.  First off, I realized after I already started mixing ingredients that we didn’t have any eggs.  O. K.  A quick search led me to this site with some substitutes for eggs.  If you are searching for egg substitutes, please keep in mind what you are preparing.  This site lists some substitutes for different types of baked goods (bread vs. cookies).

Problem 1 solved.

I added the rest of the ingredients.  I like to clear up the kitchen as I work so I started to throw measuring spoons into the dishwasher.  At that point, I realized that when I had added baking powder to the dough I actually should have added baking soda.  Oh.  Great.  At that point, I figured that this bread was either going to be edible or throw-out-able and there would probably not be an in between.  So, go big or go home, right?  I added 1/3 cup of oats.  Why?  Because the whole point of baking the bread tonight was to play around with the recipe.  The dough quickly became really, really, really thick.  Insanely thick.  1/3 of oats could make that much of a difference?  Who knew?  Not me.  To counteract that I added a couple squirts of honey.  I figured at that point I had nothing to lose. (Plus, if the bread didn’t turn out heavy as a brick, honey and banana always pair well together.)

I threw it in the oven with the knowledge that in an hour I would either have an experiment gone right or a large loaf of cat food.

The result?

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

It is definitely darker than the last time and a lot denser.  It also has a weird under-cooked flavor.  Is it edible?  Yes.  Is it really yummy? Um, no.  But, I haven’t lost my determination to keep playing around with this recipe.  But, I think that next time I’ll check to be sure that I have all of my ingredients ready to go before I start mixing.

Super Easy Banana Bread

We had several overly-ripened bananas and the best thing to do with overly-ripened bananas is to make a banana bread.  I did a quick search online for easy banana bread recipes and came across this one.  I liked that it seemed to have very little prep work and the ingredients could all be mixed together in one bowl.

This recipe came together incredibly quickly.  It may be the only bread recipe (other than a quick bread mix) that I would attempt when one has to keep listening for little toddler feet who are supposed to be in their bed and instead keep running around their room.  I did ponder adding some oats to it for no other reason than because the oats were sitting on the counter – so, perhaps next time.

I will definitely try this recipe again.  The crust was nice and crunchy.  The center was soft but not the weird tastes-slightly-undercooked thing that happens with some banana bread recipes.  Plus, it was easy.  I do think, though, that next time I’ll play around with the ingredients.  Perhaps add some oats, or honey, or dried cranberries.

The finished bread

The finished bread