April 17, 2014

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

by Shannon

Just about every January or February, right when I think I might snap from the cold winter weather, I find myself driving to the nearest candle store to buy the biggest coconut candle I can find.  The scent of coconut takes me to back to summertime when it was warm and suntan lotion filled the air.  It’s something I do to try to trick my brain into thinking it’s not so cold out.  Well, we are in Spring now and the temperature outside is 80 one day and 30 the next so when I went to Target the other day, I didn’t realize until I got home that nearly everything I bought had coconut involved somehow: coffee creamer, air freshener, instant iced tea, chocolate, and coffee (see my Instagram picture of this collection here). Obsessed with coconut much? Well, it just seemed like an appropriate time to breakout the actual coconut and make this Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze.

Sweetened coconut flakes are mixed with basic banana bread batter, which is made with low-fat yogurt and pumped up with some dark rum. A little extra sprinkling of coconut tops the batter which is then baked until golden brown.  Once cooled slightly, the bread is given a little extra sweetness with a simple lime juice/powdered sugar glaze which adds a whole other layer of flavor.  I almost left off the glaze because the bread was so perfectly beautiful without it but I’m glad I added it.  The citrus flavor really complements the coconut making this a real island-y banana bread.  Coconut is one of those things that people either love or hate. I don’t think I could live without it.

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Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.  Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

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Add banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla; beat until blended.

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Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut.

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Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan.

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Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely on wire rack.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Whole-wheat flour for half of the white flour

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

April 14, 2014

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

by Shannon

I noticed a funny thing that happens after I’ve been eating healthy: when I eat something bad, I feel like crap. I have been pretty into eating vegetables lately (which has never happened in my life) and have been craving them.  So after eating multiple veggies for days, I then ate something full of sugar and who-knows what else which resulted in me feeling the worst I’d felt all week.  I felt tired and I got an irritating headache. Hmm…wake up call? The truth is, I’ve come to this realization before but the bad stuff just tastes so darn good!  I’m hoping one of these days it actually settles in and prevents me from eating the bad stuff in the first place. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying some springtime veggies, including this Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes.

Bright grape tomatoes and garlic are cooked in olive oil until soft and tender before being tossed with a little balsamic vinegar.  The mixture then tops fresh asparagus that has been boiled until bright green and crisp. Goat cheese (if you prefer) can be added for another layer of flavor but I left it out. With asparagus now in season, this a great recipe to have on hand when you get tired of eating it steamed and plain but still want something healthy. Double this batch and it would make for a great seasonal side dish at Easter this Sunday.

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Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

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Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook 3 minutes. Stir in salt.

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Arrange asparagus on a platter; top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper (if desired).

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Goat cheese

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

April 4, 2014

Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers

by Shannon

I have a confession to make.  My heart hasn’t really been into my blog lately.  You may have noticed by my lack of posts (or maybe not since I’m very sporadic with my posts anyway). I still love to find new recipes, love to make them and even more, love to eat them but I really feel way out on left field when I look at other food blogs. I don’t understand how people have so much time to dedicate to their blog (I have a full-time office job) or how they are able to make so much unhealthy food without gaining weight (I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life).  It gets frustrating and it’s hard to stay motivated.  But I try to remember that I started this blog not for any other reason than because I like to cook and because I have tons of recipes to make.  So, my kind readers, I’m sorry if I don’t post everyday like I did when I started this blog in 2011.  But it’s too much for me to cook so much food and is another reason why I’m on a serious diet right now.  It stinks but this is real life.  So, shocker, today I bring you even more chicken and vegetables with this recipe for Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers.

Chicken is coated with a tasty mixture of salt, fennel seeds, pepper, garlic powder, and dried oregano before being roasted in the oven until tender and juicy.  Meanwhile, a mixture of multi-colored peppers, shallots and fresh rosemary are simmered in some broth and hit with a tangy shot of balsamic vinegar. I love chicken and especially love chicken when it’s baked with herbs (dried or fresh) so the fennel seed, garlic powder and oregano really provide a serious bolt of flavor.  I’ve become slightly obsessed with fennel seed as of late and also have developed a little obsession with peppers so this dish is perfect for me.  I didn’t eat peppers or fennel seeds as a kid so the idea of this dish would have caused me to frown and pout if it would have been put in front of me.  Now, it’s exactly what I look forward too.  Diet and all.

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Preheat oven to 450°F.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Brush chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle spice rub over chicken.

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Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute.

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Arrange chicken in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes or until done.  Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, shallots, and rosemary; sauté 3 minutes.

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Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

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Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

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