Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Magnolia Bakery's Chocolate Chip Peanut Banana Loaf

Magnolia Bakery--one of the best bakeries in New York City. So when I took a trip down to visit my older sister last weekend, I decided to bake her something from their cookbook. Heck, maybe she'd be able to compare my creation to the actual thing!

Only half of this Chocolate Chip Peanut Banana Loaf made its way down to the city, and a slice never made it to my sister's best friend as planned. Take that as: THIS BREAD IS DARN GOOD.

1/3 cup (5-1/3 T.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup milk
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup finely chopped, unsalted peanuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Bake at 350ยบ. Grease and flour 9x5x3" loaf pan.

Using a large bowl, cream butter and sugar on low speed, until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time. Add banana and milk. Mix in flour and blend thoroughly.Stir in peanuts and chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan.

Bake 45-55 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes and remove from pan.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another Summer Salad

Wegmans has done it again. Another Menu magazine, loaded with ideas, recipes, and new products to try, appeared in our mailbox a few weeks ago. The large section devoted to fresh summer salads is especially appealing. We've tried several and have an early favorite to share.

Quinoa has long been something of a mystery to me. Even its pronunciation posed a problem (the consensus seems to be keen-wah). This recipe for Red Quinoa-Avocado Salad contains many of our favorite summer ingredients and seemed a promising place to begin.

Red Quinoa-Avocado Salad


1 pkg (7 oz) Food You Feel Good About Red Quinoa, cooked per pkg directions, chilled
1 pkg (12 oz) Food You Feel Good About Frozen Super-Sweet Corn, thawed
1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
2 plum tomatoes, 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, cubed small
1/2 cup Food You Feel Good About Lemon Vinaigrette
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Add cooked quinoa, corn, cilantro, green onions, and tomatoes to mixing bowl. Fold in avocados and dressing; mix until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper; serve

Nutrition Info: Each serving (1 cup) contains 210 calories, 27 g carbohydrate, (4 g fiber), 5 g protein, 9 g fat, (1 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, and 240 mg sodium.
Calories: 210

It was delicious! The nutty flavor of the quinoa was an unexpected treat. Are you a quinoa fan?  How do you prepare it? Any ideas would be welcome.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone with a food-related post to share: Book reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button, head over to Beth Fish Reads, and link up anytime over the weekend.
*cross-posted at Lakeside Musing

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Doughnuts

Disclaimer: This is not a real doughnut! It's a devil's food cake with chocolate butter cream frosting made in a doughnut cake pan that Santa brought me.
Maybe he's getting tired of cookies?

Let's talk doughnuts.

What is it that draws me to them? I love food and nutrition, fitness and exercise. So why doughnuts?

When I think of round circular treats, I think of Sunday mornings after church with my family. They served refreshments in the church hall following 9 o'clock mass, so as soon as we finished the final prayer, my sisters and I would book it down the aisle right after the priest to get first dibs. Cinnamon-sugar, glazed, chocolate headlights. The good ones always went first.

But on those mornings when our parents couldn't tear my sisters and me away from our Barbies, we went to 11 o'clock mass. No guitar group, no doughnuts, and crowded pews with sleepy high school students . . . we were always just outside of our element.

Or is it fond memories of time spent with my dad that makes me gravitate towards doughnuts? I think of long road trips through towns that time had forgotten to visit my great-great aunt in Vermont. Young Margaret would get restless and Dad would get sleepy. Nothing that a special sweet, sticky treat and a steaming cup of coffee couldn't fix. Or maybe it's the picture in my mind of my dad regularly bringing in boxes of doughnuts from a local bakery to his (most-of-the-time) grateful staff. He's a thoughtful guy, and I'd like to think I have a lot in common with him. Sometimes, it's easier to show people you care with an impressive three-layer cake, or a plate piled high with warm, soft cookies, or a box of fresh doughnuts.

It could be because doughnuts have always been seen as "the bad guy." And maybe I feel like I doing something a bit daring when I bite down on these circular desserts of apparent doom. Maybe it's the thrill of eating something we're always told to stay away from, to avoid like that kid in the sandbox who sneezes into his hands and doesn't give them a good scrub-down afterwards. Doughnuts are the most obvious of junk food, the option that wins the prize for the most I'm-trying-to-avoid-you effort during the morning coffee breaks.

But Margaret! Sugar! Fried! Calories! Trans fat! What are you doing? Relax guys, I got this.

Although doughnuts are meant to be a breakfast food, I classify them as a dessert, a splurge, or a treat. I try to eat a clean diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean (vegetarian) proteins, and healthy fats. I exercise five or six days a week and attend yoga classes whenever possible. Now what I'm about to tell you may or may not be flawed logic. But what good is leading a healthy lifestyle if one can't, well, be naughty every now and then? Take care of yourself, but don't deny yourself. If it's your great uncle's birthday party--have a small slice of cake. If your significant other gives you a box of fine chocolates--have a couple, but share with him or her! If you just finished a day of shopping that was brutal to your feet and your credit card, and you have a gal-pal who is eyeing the doughnuts and you're thinking you could deal with treat--go for it. Have the doughnut. When treats are just that--treats--I believe they're okay. Every now and then. Occasionally. When it's a full moon. Whatever--live a little, enjoy yourself, be bad. Have the doughnut!

National Doughnut Day, created in 1938, is celebrated annually on the first Friday in June.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone with a food-related post to share: Book reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button, head over to Beth Fish Reads, and link up anytime over the weekend.