Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

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I have a very tumultuous relationship with banana bread. I either LOVE it or it just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t know what it is. I love a dense cake, but dense banana bread is sort of meh.

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But, I just came across a new recipe…

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And it changed me…

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…FOREVER.

This Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread recipe yields the perfect balance between dense and fluffy, chewy and crusty.

You simply MUST try it, especially if you are broken up with banana bread, as I was. Now we’re back on. Here’s to a long and successful future!

Cinnamon Swirled Banana Bread

** I didn’t use the banana on the top, and I also made two smaller loaves**

Kristin

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Gluten Free Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

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It might seem that I am on a chocolate cookie kick. And that might actually be true. But, I really think the universe is lending itself to chocolate cookie situations. It’s a circumstance beyond my control. Who I am to mess with that?

This time around, I made Gluten Free Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. Mexican Hot Chocolate is simply spicy hot chocolate. The spices lend a lovely warmth to the creamy, rich chocolate. And they do the same in the cookie form.

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These cookies are crunchy and chewy, rich with chocolatey flavor. They have a little kick from cayenne and a lot of warmth from cinnamon.

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And, let me just tell you how delicious they are with ice cream sandwiched between two of them. I can barely think straight and think of that at same time!

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I just know you’re going to love these! They were perfect accompaniment to Taco Night.

Gluten Free Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

2 1/2 C powdered sugar

1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder

2 t Saigon cinnamon (it’s a bit stronger in flavor than “regular” Ceylon cinnamon)

dash cayenne pepper

1/4 t Kosher salt

1 T cornstarch

3 egg whites (or 9 T All Whites)

1 t vanilla extract

1 C bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Add parchment paper or a Silpat (I used both and the parchment paper worked better with this recipe) to a baking sheet.

Sift together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and cornstarch. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy, about one minute. Add vanilla and mix together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop onto your prepared pan, about one inch apart. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes (mine took 16). Let them cool completely before removing from the pan.

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Enjoy with ice cream! Or systematically eat them one by one, while standing over the sink, and hoping that no one sees you. Either way.

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Enjoy! Disfrute, mis amigos!

Kristin

Half Whole Wheat Banana Cake Muffins

Have you ever heard of something that is half whole wheat? And that is both cake and a muffin at the same time? Me neither. Until now. These are so good, they’ll knock your socks off! I was inspired to make these for two reasons – 1) I had two completely brown, sad, and huge bananas on my counter (they were so pitiful and self-loathing, that they wouldn’t even hang on my banana hanger anymore), and 2) my oldest son had a craving for banana cake after a classmate brought some in his school lunchbox and who am I to mess with his cake-filled dreams.

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These came out so moist and soft, and with a tender crumb, just like cake should be (unless it’s wedding cake. I adore and crave a dense wedding cake.). I used both whole wheat flour and cake flour. I love when healthy and delicious collide.

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They are full of cozy, homey banana flavor and spiced with warm cinnamon.

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If given the opportunity, I would have eaten the whole pan.

Fortunately enough for me and my waistline, I was not afforded that opportunity.

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I also made a few mini muffins, perfect for little hands.

I hope you make these sweet little things and find them to be as easy and delicious as I did.

Half Whole Wheat Banana Cake Muffins

Recipe makes 12 standard muffins, 12 mini muffins, and a little extra for a tasting (I used a mini spring form)

Recipe adapted from: “Banana Upside Down Mini Muffins”, Weelicious Lunches

2 large ripe bananas (or about 3 medium)

3/4 C buttermilk (I made mine with cashew milk and vinegar)

1 large egg

3 T oil (I used peanut, you can use canola, vegetable, or coconut)

1 t vanilla

1 C whole wheat flour

1 C cake flour

1/3 C packed brown sugar

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Place cupcake wrappers in a cupcake tin.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla, and whisk together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.

Pour into the cupcake wrappers, about 3/4 full.

Bake for 12 minutes. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tins.

These are truly bananas! Try them.

Kristin

Soft Pumpkin Ginger Cookies

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It’s just about that time of year where we make loads of cookies and share them, in hopes that our friends will do the same. to spread joy. I’ve already been thinking about what I want to do this year. As per the usual, I am early (I sort of always am, when it comes to food planning, except for dinner planning – I don’t do that, to my dinner demise). I don’t normally like to make more than three kinds of cookies. It becomes overwhelming, especially when I have so many people, with whom I like to share.

I’ve been trying cookies ALLLLL YEARRRR LONNNNG, you know, for research and all. I’ll be sharing my favorite recipes with you.

Yesterday, I made these little beauties.

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I LOVE pumpkin and I LOVE ginger, especially in the form of a soft ginger cookie. These are the best of both – Soft Pumpkin Ginger Cookies.

They screamed my name from the second I found them.

I, naturally, ran out of sugar halfway during my rolling of the balls (at least I had enough for the cookies, themselves!), so I used raw sugar to roll. I actually ended up liking those even more. They were sparkly. These would make such beautiful food gifts this upcoming holiday season. And they are delicious – soft, crunchy from the sugar, full of pumpkin flavor and warmth from spices.

Make them.

http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/pumpkin-gingersnap-cookies/

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Imma go eat one or ten right now.

Kristin

Sweetie Pie

hearts

Tomorrow is a big day in Bigs’ class – it’s his Valentine’s Day party! No matter how many old (relatively speaking) pictures I show him, he doesn’t remember Valentine’s Day last year. So this time around should be groundbreaking for him. I think he’ll really enjoy it! The parents of Bigs’ classmates have been invited to a potluck lunch in his classroom, and we are so excited! I was in charge of desserts. Obvi. It’s what I do. Plus, they may not know it, but none of the other attendees want anything I’ve cooked. Blarg.

will you be mine

I made three different desserts. I love variety. I think that’s why I love buffets so much (don’t judge). I need options. Lots of options.

All the desserts I made for tomorrow are gluten free. Not only is my husband GF, but one of Bigs’ sweet classmates is. I love being able to make desserts that everyone can eat. AND that taste great!

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The first dessert I made was a Cherry Vanilla Almond Meringue Cookie.

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I doubled the recipe and it made approximately one million. The recipe called for cherry extract, but as my life typically goes, I did not have that. I did, however, have a Duncan Hines Cherry Vanilla Frosting Starter (powder intended to be mixed into vanilla frosting). It added both a lovely cherry vanilla flavor AND color. I also added Wilton pink (rosa) gel color and extra almond extract to make up for the vibrant cherry flavoring. They came out so festively pink and delicious!

http://momspark.net/holiday-dessert-cherry-almond-meringues/

The second dessert I made was a chocolate cookie I first made about a week ago – Vegan Chocolate Haystacks. SO GOOD! And easy. Two of my favorite things.

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This time, I used Hershey’s DARK chocolate cocoa and they came out richer and more chocolatey.

http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/2013/12/vegan-chocolate-haystacks.html

And lastly, I made a GF chocolate cinnamon cookie that I’ve made half a dozen times before. They are really unbelievably good. These were the first cookie I’d eaten that really broke my own personal stigma against gluten free food.

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Chock FULL of chocolate chips, these little babies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Yummers. This is a family favorite cookie in our house, long before my husband went GF and DF.

http://food52.com/recipes/19209-divine-gluten-free-chocolate-cookies-no-seriously

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I put the desserts in a hot pink tray that I found at the Dollar Store. I also found the little vase there as well. It says, “Love” in different fonts on it. I filled it with conversation hearts. I think it looks cute.

I meannnn, this would be a lovely addition to any Valentine’s Day table!

Even one’s own personal table for one, if that’s your case. If single, I’d DEFINITELY make sure I were eating well.

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I can’t wait to tuck into this (my portion ONLY) tomorrow!

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Happy Valentine’s Eve Eve (so lame)!

I am sadly missing out on a Mommy Night Out making chocolates due to horribly inclement weather. Such a bummer, but I’ll pinch a cookie out of the batches I made today and pretend I’m in a chocolate factory (using the depths of my imagination).

Valentines

Have a sweet night!

Kristin

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Busy as a Bzzzzz!

Busy as a bee

We have been so busy. School is back in (yesssss! I love having BOTH my boys around, but when Bigs is in school for a few hours a week, I am really able to find time to get stuff done.) and sometimes getting back to an old schedule takes a little adjusting. Sure my kids never slept in during winter break, but we still had to move a little more quickly to get places.

For Bigs’ first day back at school yesterday, I did a transportation themed lunch.

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Mind you, I’m a bit rusty from not doing any special school lunches since December 12th. I made a choo-choo and race car shaped PB&J, I put some dried fruit, nut and raisin mix in there with some orange yogurt raisins, some pretzel sticks and an applesauce squeezy fruit. He said he really enjoyed the train sandwich!

And dinner was even mostly successful.

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I roasted zucchini and squash (in a tian fashion, without the cheese or breading).

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I cut the up the veggies and tossed them in olive oil and Montreal steak seasoning and baked them for about 40 minutes.

I served them with sun-dried tomato, garlic and herb chicken sausage and green bell pepper tossed in a homemade tomato sauce.

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Everyone (all the adults – we had a friend over for dinner) ate it and there were no leftovers.

Did I mention that I am on a self-imposed diet? I am. It’s a dessert on weekends only diet. AUGH! I am three days into it and have stuck with it so far. It’s going to be hard when I start baking again.

Well, since today is Wednesday and there is no school, I decided to TRY to start a new tradition – Special Breakfast Wednesday. During the school days, we just don’t have enough time to MAKE a breakfast (that isn’t cereal, toast, etc.). So this morning I made pancakes from scratch. Snickerdoodle Pancakes. And they were HEALTHY. And let me tell you, they were some of the best pancakes I’ve eaten in my whole life. Bigs ate 10 small ones. Smalls ate about 4. And that’s a lot for him.

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I used a recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. She does healthy desserts and breakfasts. I’ve made her Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip before and it was wonderful. These particular pancakes have a very small amount of sugar and no fat at all (or eggs)!!

They browned up quickly and beautifully.

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Like every other time I make pancakes, I get better at making them as I go through batches. The last batch is always the best. Works out for me since I always give the first batches of pancakes to the boys and my husband first. 😉

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There, that’s better. Golden brown.

Anyways, they were DIVINE. I am not exaggerating. They were so wonderful. I still smell the cinnamon in my house. I will be making these again and again. And I can easily make them gluten and dairy free. They were made even better with real maple syrup.

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Real maple syrup can make anything better.

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These are a great “work-around” to my no dessert during the week diet!

Here is the recipe:

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/12/snickerdoodle-pancakes/

TRY THEM!!!

Anyways, off to ready the house for my bestie! She is up from where she now lives, four hours away from me (waaaaaaah) and we are going to spend some time together this morning with our kids.

Have a blessed day!

Kristin