Saturday, November 21, 2009


I am a person that likes my bananas with a little green on top. As soon as they go all yellow and start getting little brown spots on them... eh.... not so much. I hate it when the strings on the inside of the peels stick to the fruit when you peel it... NO THANK YOU! Since I am a little picky about my bananas, periodically I will throw a banana, which is too far gone for my taste, in the freezer. Once I have accumulated a few I make banana bread!

3= not quite 4= perfect 5= still pretty good 6= edible--losing interest 6.5 (not shown)= freezer time 7= NO WAY--might as well be moldy in my opinion!

Now... since I don't really like the over-ripe banana flavor that comes with those brown spotted bananas that means that I don't usually like banana bread with TONS of over-ripe banana flavor, either. What to do... what to do... ? Lets mask the flavor with something else: peanut butter and chocolate!

Don't get me wrong. It is still banana bread. You can still taste the banana, but who doesn't love peanut butter on a banana? or bananas dipped in chocolate? or the great combo of chocolate peanut butter cups? Basically I am telling you, if you are anything like me, this is THE BEST banana bread you will ever taste.

What You'll Need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
~1/2 tsp. salt (i use the palm of my hand)
1 tsp. cinnamon
tiny pinch nutmeg
2-3 ripe bananas (2 large or 3 smaller)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbl. applesauce (normally calls for butter, but I like applesauce in this recipe!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips (whatever kind you have, but semi-sweet is my least favorite...stick to either milk chocolate or dark chocolate for best results)

Prepare the "wet ingredients" by mushing your bananas and peanut butter together with fork. Once mashed stir in the applesauce and sugar before adding the eggs, one at a time. Follow with addition of the vanilla extract and the milk. Add your combination of dry ingredients but don't over-mix. Just stir until incorporated! Fold in the chocolate chips and pour into muffin tins or loaf pan for baking. Makes 18 muffins or one large loaf!

One of my roommates is not a huge chocolate lover so I made some of the muffins without chocolate for her. Still yummy. So that is definitely an option if that is your cup of tea... but I never turn down chocolate!

1. Use a spatula or spoon to stir and mix the batter... if you use an electric mixer it gets over-mixed and the muffins can turn out spongy and chewy
2. Normally, I am a big fan of rounding up on the chocolate chips but in this case if you round the chocolate over-powers and you just get chocolate chip muffins. Although still tasty, not the intended target here!

For Muffins: cook at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes
For Loaf: cook at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes

Some people might wait for the muffins to cool...using this phenomenon known as delayed gratitude... I am not one of those people.

I would rather burn my fingers and mouth on piping hot muffins fresh out of the oven when the chocolate chips are still warm and melty. I think this is partially why I prefer these as muffins rather than a loaf... loaf you have to wait a while before you can cut it. Not my style!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Indian Summer Sangria

Here in the mid-west we are having a bit of an indian summer! It's November and we've had weather in the 60s and 70s. On a nice weekend Sangria is a great refreshing drink. This was a really easy recipe and it was unmistakably delicious!

What you'll need:

2 bottles red wine (any kind you like I used a blend an a Malbec)
2 oranges
2 lemons
2 limes
1 cup strawberries and raspberries
1 cup pineapple
large splash of orange juice (up to but no more than 1/4 cup)
4 shots liqueur of your choice (I used elderberry liqueur)
4 Tbl. Sugar
8 cups gingerale (add right before serving)

Cut the fruit up into wedges or slices, sqeueeze the juice and throw in the fruit liqueur, juice and sugar and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to infuse all of the flavor. Add the gingerale just before serving!