Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coconut banana bread ♥

I made coconut banana bread for you this week.  If I could, I would wrap a loaf up for each and every one of you and send it to your doorstep wrapped with a big red bow. Wouldn't that be nice?  Better than a heating bill or an advertisement.  I'm getting too many of those lately. Just a little sweet something from me to you to show you how much I care.  I wish....

For now I will have to settle with sharing the recipe.  This was the first time I have ever added coconut to banana bread.  It tastes as delicious as it sounds! (actually, I thought I invented this until I goggled it and found at least 100 variations of it.  I'm using the Martha Stewart version : )

I like mine with my coffee in the morning, warm with cream cheese spread on top.  Makes my mornings at the office a little bit easier ♥  Especially in the bitter cold and snow.  That walk across the parking lot is not fun.  Brrrr!

Oh Spring....where are you????  Please hurry.


1 stick butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine butter & sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs.  In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add to butter mixture until just combined.  Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in coconut. 

Bake in a greased loaf pan for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Let rest in pan for 10 minutes then turn onto rack to cool. 

This recipe makes a beautiful loaf.  The secret is the sour cream.  It keeps it moist and flavorful!

Happy Thursday, Friends! We are almost to the weekend! ♥


Friday, January 24, 2014

Almond Pizzelles ♥

This winter is starting to feel endless.  The holidays are over and all we are left with now are cold(freezing actually) days, snow, and ice.  I am itching to decorate my house with fresh flowers and color! I think the technical term for what I have is called the January blues.  Is anyone else suffering from this? I'm done with being cold.  I'm dreaming of warm breezes coming through my windows, waking up in the morning to the sunshine (and not the darkness) and seeing flowers in my yard.  I know, I have to be patient.  I'm working on it.  I'm keeping busy. I just started and wonderful book called Lost Lake on my Kindle (I'll tell you more about that later) that I cannot put down.  It's so good! I'm watching endless amounts of Brittish TV shows on Netflix (have you seen the Forsyte Saga yet???) and I've been in the kitchen doing a lot of baking - trying to keep the house warm and cozy.  This is what lifts my spirits.
This past week we were snowed in (again) due to a storm that dropped 15 inches of snow on us!  I decided to make cookies.  Since we were housebound I didn't have many ingredients on hand.  No chocolate chips!!!  Uh-Oh! What to do?  Then I caught a glimpse of my pizzelle maker waaaay in the back of the cabinet.  Hmmm, maybe I'll give this a go? I pulled it out, dusted it off, and suddenly remembered how much we love pizzelles. I got this pizzelle maker as a shower gift over 15 years ago and I've only used it a few times.  I don't know why.  The cookies are delicious, require very few ingredients, and come together in no time.  I whipped up two dozen of these while my little guy watched Home Alone 1,2,3,4,&5.  It was a marathon! My house is currently booby-trapped because my son is obsessed with these movies.  I'm not kidding.  Last night my husband got a broom in the face when he opened the hall closet door! : )

Anyway, if you have a pizzelle maker and want to give these a try, here is the recipe.  I used the one that came in my operating instructions, although I looked at some other recipes online and they are all pretty much the same.  Easy-Peasy....

3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons almond extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted & cooled
3/4 cup sugar

First melt the butter.  Set aside for it to cool.

 Beat the eggs and sugar.

Add the cooled butter, vanilla, and almond extract.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and then add it to the wet mixture.  Blend well. 

Heat up your pizzelle maker.  Mine took about 8 minutes to come to full baking temperature.  Coat the entire surface (top and bottom) with a nonstick cooking spray. 

Drop one heaping teaspoon of batter onto each mold.  I learned it is better to put the batter a little behind center (toward the back) to produce fuller size cookies. You will see this with experimentation.  After a few tries you will find what spot and amount of batter works best for you. 
Close the iron and wait approximately 35 seconds (these cookies cook up fast!).  Remove with a fork and place on a cookie rack to cool.  No two are alike. Don't worry about imperfections. They taste so good it really doesn't matter : )

 Pretty as a picture!

Once cooled they will become nice and crispy!  Sprinkle with powered sugar if you like ♥

You can do so many things with pizzelles. Right after you remove them from the iron you can shape them into cups and fill them with ice cream or pudding, you could shape them into cannoli shells and fill them with pastry cream, or even make ice cream sandwiches with them.  Also, experiment with the flavorings.  For a more traditional flavor, omit the almond extract and add 1/2 teaspoon anise.  I've even had them made with lemon extract, and that's really good too!   


Get yourself a cup of espresso...

and the current book you are reading on your Kindle and have a moment to yourself.

I did eventually share with my family, but the first few went to me (John was still busy booby-trapping the house).  These light, crispy cookies remind me so much of Spring.  And since its nine degrees out today I needed a little pick me up! 

Have a nice weekend, Friends! If it's warm where you are, please send some of it my way....xo

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nutella Hot Chocolate ♥

This month's edition of Martha Stewart Living has a quick recipe for Nutella Hot Chocolate.  I've always wanted to try this, but for some reason I never have.  Just when I think I'm over Winter and have had enough of it all, low and behold this catches my eye.  I tried it on Saturday at my parent's house during a snow shower.  You can't get more "Winter" than that!  The view was beautiful and hot chocolate delicious!  So rich and creamy - I'm completely hooked!  What are you waiting for....
Combine 1 1/2 cups milk and 1/3 cup Nutella (hazelnut spread) in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over med-high heat and whisk until smooth. Divide into two tea cups or one BIG mug  and top with marshmallows or whip cream.  Enjoy! ♥
After being spoiled with some warmer temps these last two weeks, it looks like we are in for another cold spell and possible storm on Wednesday.  Here we go again.   I better stock up on the Nutella! : )  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Baked Oatmeal ♥ with bananas and almonds

Have you ever had baked oatmeal?  If the answer is no then I'm so glad you stopped by today : ) 
If the answer is yes, then you will certainly understand why I love it so much.  It's warm, sweet, comforting, hearty, satisfying, and delicious! A perfect breakfast for a cold January morning. 

This may take a little bit of planning ahead, but believe me it's worth it.  Even my 6 year old, who is not an oatmeal lover, loves this.  I like mine drizzled with a little bit of honey.  It's so good!!!  Cereal is great, but there is something about a hot breakfast in the winter that makes my whole day.  
January is cold and dark, but as long as I have my morning coffee, baked oatmeal, and Downton Abbey to daydream about, I'll survive. Spring will be here...eventually.

Here's how to make it:
2 cups oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 cups milk
2 eggs  (1 large egg or 2 small)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 bananas
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl combine the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.   

 In a separate bowl mix the maple syrup, milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla. 

Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Mix in the almonds. 

Spray a 9 inch pie plate with nonstick spray.  Slice up one of the bananas and arrange it on the bottom of the dish.  Pour the oat mixture over the banana. 

Slice the second banana and arrange it on the top.   Sprinkle on a few more almonds if you wish.
Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown.  Smells delicious.....

Serve warm, drizzled with a little cream or honey on top! Mmmmm!

This dish can be stored in the fridge for up to four days.  Reheat leftovers in the microwave.  I ate this all week last week.  It was so nice to wake up in the morning and know my breakfast was done.  Hearty and delicious!
What a wonderful way to start the day! : )

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Frosty Day at the Beach ♥

On Saturday I went to the beach.  I wanted to go for a drive to see the ocean.  This beach is about 20 minutes from my house.  We come here just about every weekend in the summer.  It's a very different experience in the winter. But I love it.  Maybe even more. 
It was absolutely freezing on Saturday.  The temperatures were in the teens, but with the wind chill it felt more like zero below! I can only imagine how icy cold the water was.  Even so, it was beautiful! The waves were crashing on the shore and there must have been a thousand seagulls that could have cared less.  They were riding the waves and loving it  : )
I bundled up with my hat and scarf and ventured out for a walk. Being near the ocean makes me happy.  I love the sound of the waves and the smell of the salty air.  It's calming and peaceful.  I'm not a fan of going to beach on a hot, hot day with a million people.  I much more prefer it like this.  There weren't many folks there and I felt like I had the whole ocean to myself. 
I was walking and thinking about my resolutions for the new year and wondering to myself how the heck am I going to be able to balance everything??!!  Life is busy, but I'll take it one step at a time.
We all have similar struggles and that's why I love my blog/twitter/instagram friends.  We are kindred spirits trying to figure it all out together. ♥
Little treasures wash up on shore even in the winter. I was temped but didn't bring any home. Regretting that decision a little bit ♥
Off in the distance I saw this guy surfing! What a cool hobby! I have to admire someone that is that dedicated to his hobby! : ) He was loving it and I was smiling at him the whole time! #inspiration

After a while I began to feel numb and decided it was time to go home and have some hot tea! I was so glad I went.  I felt like I hit a re-set button.

Right now we still have a lot of snow from last week's storm.  My green grass and rose bushes are buried under there someplace. See you in the Spring!
Today was my son's first day back to school after a two week winter break! He did not want to go (and I don't blame him : )  I promised hot chocolate with marshmallows waiting for him after school!
I remember that feeling of not wanting to go back to school after vacation.  No more staying up late and tonight he'll have homework! Ugh. This morning he asked me how many days till February vacation!
So that's January - It's time to get back into a routine.  I promised myself better sleeping habits, healthy eating for my family, and at least two walks per week.  That's my plan and I'm sticking to it! (fingers crossed!)  2014 is all about feeling better and having more energy! ♥
Tonight I'm going to make a roast chicken with carrots and potatoes so the house will be warm & cozy when my hubby comes home from work.  With the bones I'll make soup.  And I just turned on my bread machine so a fresh loaf will be done at dinner time.  It's that kind of week. Meal planning is also one of my resolutions : ) There will be plenty of leftovers for tomorrow too.  Planning ahead is a stress reliever for me~

Happy New Year, friends!  I hope you all have a great day!
I'll be back soon! xo