Flower and Sugar

Honey Cinnamon Banana Bread

This had fantastic flavor and was a really awesome breakfast treat. My loaf ended up baking a bit short and took less time to bake as I made a mini-loaf and a more full sized loaf so I could share with my kid sister. The cinnamon and honey are terrific together. Next time I would bump up the cinnamon even more!

Recipe (From Hungry Brownie)

  • 3 bananas [overripe is best]
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups of flour

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter and mash the bananas into the butter. Add the sugar, honey, vanilla, egg, and salt. Mix in the baking powder and flour.

Transfer batter to a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. I made a mini loaf and used a smaller full sized loaf pan. My loaves were baked through in 30 minutes – bake until the toothpick test works. I allowed it to cool for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Allow the loaves to cool completely before slicing or packing up.

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Tacozagna

Tacozagna is a staple in our house. I love how the zucchini and carrots cook down and become a filling filler for the beef. The small amount of beef makes this dish feel hearty without overdoing it. Choose an enchilada sauce that you enjoy as it will be one of the predominant flavors. I prefer to make this ahead of time and re-heat it for dinner later in the week. This takes extra time in the oven but the filling and flavors meld together more which is a bonus.

Recipe (Adapted from Rachel Ray on foodnetwork.com)

Makes 3 servings

  • ½ lb group beef
  • ½ cup onion grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 zuccini grated
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ cup chicken stock (could use water)
  • 10 oz can enchilada sauce
  • ½ cup black beans
  • 2 burrito flour tortillas (8-10 inches)
  • 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce, sour cream, and chopped tomato for serving

Preheat your oven to 400F. Brown the ground beef and sauté the onion over medium heat with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Once the ground beef is cooked through add the shredded zucchini and shredded carrot and continue to cook another 5-7 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder. Once the spices are mixed through add ½ the chicken stock. Once mixed in, if not moist enough add the other ½ cup of chicken stock. Continue to cook over medium-low heat another 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Spray a 2L round baking dish with cooking spray and spread a few tablespoons of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of the dish, then mix the rest of the enchilada sauce into the meat mixture. Place a tortilla on the bottom of the dish. Layer ½ of the filling over the tortilla, then layer ½ of the cheese, then spread the beans over the cheese. Repeat the layers, except there is only 1 layer of black beans and it is topped with the shredded cheese.

Bake for 10-12 minutes and serve with sour cream, shredded lettuce, and diced tomato.

Note: This is a great make ahead casserole. I put together the casserole over the weekend when I have additional time and keep it covered in the fridge. It does take an additional 10-15 minutes to heat through when it is baked from the refrigerator – so plan accordingly.

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Short cut supper: Egg in the hole

This is an oldie but goodie in our house. I certainly didn’t come up with this idea – but I’m not sure where I saw it first. It’s a standard Saturday morning breakfast for us when I feel up to making something more involved than cereal – although it’s really not that much more complicated! We also make this on busy weeknights for a quick dinner with a side of fruit.

I really enjoy runny eggs and love to dip the extra piece of toasted bread into the egg.

Recipe

Makes 2 servings

  • 4 pieces of bread
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper

Butter both sides of the bread. Either tear out a circle in the middle of each slice of bread or use a cute cookie cutter to make a design (fun for holidays!) Place the cut out slices of bread onto a non-stick griddle and turn onto medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until the bread is toasted and the eggs are cooked to your liking. My favorite is when the whites are just cooked and the yolks are still runny.

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Winter Inspired Salad

So it’s March in Wisconsin – which means we just got a half-foot of snow yesterday… I guess that means this winter inspired salad is still appropriate to post! It uses vegetables that are easier to find during cold winter months. I adapted the salad for what we had on hand and for what Matt and I enjoy.

I knew I would like this salad – but I was surprised at how much I did!. I know I’ll like any salad you throw roasted butternut squash and apple on. The black beans and chicken make it feel like a meal but I really enjoyed using chives as an herb and the creaminess of the black beans. The spinach rounded out the salad and the toasted pita added a crunch (although I had half of mine with hummus instead…) The only thing I will change when I make this again is to use a sharp cheddar or crumbled parmesan instead of the feta – It just wasn’t my favorite in this salad.

Recipe (Adapted from Real Simple)

For 2 salads

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1 cup chopped butternut squash
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pita
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ½ small radicchio head chopped
  • ½ cup chopped gala apple
  • ¼ cup drained and rinsed black beans
  • 1 cooked chicken breast
  • 3 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp chopped chives

Preheat oven to 450F. Toss the chopped butternut squash in ½-1 Tbsp olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.

To make the pita croutons lower the oven temperature to 350F and chop up the pita. Dress with ½ Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 5-10 minutes, stirring at 3-5 minutes. Bakes until toasted and starting to turn golden brown. [Note: we didn’t use the whole pita for the 2 salads]

To make the dressing, combine 2 Tbsp olive oil, the red wine vinegar, and the chopped chives in a small mason jar with a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake the jar until the dressing is well combined. [Again, we didn’t use the all of the dressing for the 2 salads]

Mix the spinach and chopped radicchio. Top with chopped apple, roasted butternut squash, pita croutons, shredded or chopped chicken breast, black beans, feta cheese, and dress with the vinaigrette.

Behind the scenes

Here is a behind the scenes shot of how Matt photographed the salad. He started off by determining the framing of the photograph with respect to the wine glass and white background.

Then he took a test shot of the bowl to figure out the proper exposure.

When the salad was done we replaced the empty bowl, took a few quick shots of the salad, and then we quickly tore down the photography set and ate the salad :)

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Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Peanut butter and chocolate is a common combination in our kitchen. So it’s no surprise that when some fancy peanut butter cups were mailed to us, they ended up in some baked goods! When they arrived at Matt’s office, his co-workers were pretty excited about them so Matt told them they could have the top half of the box of chocolates. They thought they were being pretty clever when they would sneak the peanut butter cups from the bottom layer and replace them with the chocolate form the top layer…

Fortunately, what kind of peanut butter cup doesn’t matter for this treat, as long as you have a good amount of them! I think Matt’s office was also a bit surprised when the chocolate was sent back to work as brownies. When they had an office party a couple weeks later, they were still talking about them! Although I’m not surprised, I used a super chewy brownie recipe my go to recipe and topped it with an additional peanut butter layer then sprinkled flaked salt on top. (I’m kinda into salted treats right now.) These were amazing, while I tend not to repeat baked goods, these might have to make a comeback!

Recipe (Adapted from Cooking in Everyday English by Todd English)

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 24 peanut butter cups roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2-3 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • A pinch of two of sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a saucepan over low heat. Allow melted mixture to cool.

Beat the eggs with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed. Once thickened slowly beat in the sugar. On low speed, add in the flour, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Try to scrape down the sides as you go. Next add the butter and chocolate mix. Once the batter is combined, fold in the chopped peanut butter cups. Pour batter into a prepared 9x13 baking pan.

In a separate bowl mix together the peanut butter and powdered sugar. (I found this easier when the peanut butter was just slightly softened in the microwave for 10 seconds.) Drop dollops of the peanut butter mix on top of the brownie batter. Use a butter knife to marble the top of the brownies. If using, sprinkle the sea salt on top of the batter.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool then cut the brownies and enjoy!

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