Thursday, August 27, 2009

Amazing banana bread

I know, I know, I am totally biased, but this stuff is good. Really, really good. It does take more time than most things I make, but you know you want some. When I have bananas that are too soft to eat, I wait for them to turn all brown and throw them in the freezer. Then, when I have 3 or 4, I make this. I know some of you will leave out the coffee, but if you are willing to try a fake flavoring, I would recommend that because it gives the bread a much richer flavor. You can decrease the butter to 3 tablespoons, or you could up it to 6 tablespoons if you're feeling wild and too skinny. The original had 1/3 cup. This isn't quite as low-fat as most of my stuff, but I think it's worth it. If you want more nutritious, last time I used half wheat flour (with brewed coffee) and it worked really well.

Banana bread!!
Serves: 1 if you can keep it away from others! Ok, should be about 8 real-people servings, and 16 if you go by what most recipes say it should be.

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed

1/4 cup melted butter

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules*

3/4 cup sugar (reduce to 2/3 cup if using sweetened coconut)

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

* instead of instant granules, you can use 3 ounces of STRONG brewed coffee - add 2 tablespoons of flour if you do this.

- Preheat the oven to 350°F

- Mash bananas in a large bowl, then mix in butter and coffee.

- Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla.

- Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

- If you have a food processor, process the coconut until it is completely chopped up.

- Add the flour and coconut to the bowl and mix until fully incorporated.

- Pour mixture into a greased 4x8 inch loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

- Cool on a rack if you are patient, but I always cut into it while hot to enjoy it immediately.

Nutrition info for 1/8 of recipe (using 1/4 cup of butter): Fat - 8.4g Cal - 275 Carbs - 48 Protein - 3.8g

I sort of feel bad after putting this nutrition info, but then again Emeril's recipe, here, has 28.7g of fat and 508 calories for 1/8 of it! I think his is going to be an outlier on the heavy side, though.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Corn and bean salad

I really like making things that can be changed to make it seem new or different. I sometimes call my meals "creations" because there often isn't a good name, I just throw things together. Corn and bean salad is something that you can do a lot of different things with. Here, I added couscous to make it a main dish. I admit that it makes it similar to the southwest couscous I already posted, but I often leave the couscous out. If you want, you could throw in some meat - chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, whatever. One time I had avocado that I chopped up. Hard to go wrong, really, which is nice to use up whatever you have.

Corn and bean salad
Serves: 4-6 Cook time: about 15 minutes

1/2 cup couscous
1/2 cup water

1 bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp tabasco

- In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Once reached, turn off, add couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- While couscous is sitting, chop bell pepper, drain beans, and put them into a large bowl with the corn.
- Once couscous is done, stir it into the bowl.
- Sprinkle spices over the top and stir in. Eat immediately or wait and let the flavors blend.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Satisfying hot chocolate

I've heard a lot of times that you should give in to your cravings a little, because if you don't, then you will just keep having the craving and eat too much of things you don't want. I have no idea if it's actually true, but I like the idea. A good, rich, satisfying hot chocolate from Starbucks or another coffee shop could set you back $4 and 10 grams of fat (without the whipped topping, of course!) You could always go with a packet from the store, but it just isn't the same at all. My solution? A small, but very tasty, drink. If you use evaporated milk, it's really thick and so you feel like you're drinking something really indulgent, but it's not. I have been using Brown & Haley drinking chocolate to make this, but good chocolate chips (guittard, ghiradelli, or better) should work well. If all you have is hershey's or a cheap store brand, personally I'd save those for cookies and reach for the powdered cocoa instead. I don't think it'll incorporate properly and you'll be left with gritty waxy bits in the bottom of your cup. The other weekend we had it with Apple Oven Pancake, topped with chocolate frozen yogurt and toasted blanched almonds.

Satisfying hot chocolate
Serves: 2 Cook time: 5-8 min

One 6oz can fat-free evaporated milk (2/3 cup)
1/4 cup good chocolate

- In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until warm, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the chocolate, stirring constantly until the chocolate is completely melted and the liquid is hot. It should steam a little, but you don't want it to boil because it can change the taste and texture of the milk.
- I serve this in 3-oz espresso cups. They will be filled to the brim, which always feels better than a big cup with hardly anything in it.

Nutrition info: I'll update this if I figure out how many chocolate chips are in 1/4 cup, but I think it should be about 3-4 grams of fat and maybe 130 calories with 5 grams of protein (yay, milk!) for half of this recipe.