Thursday, April 25, 2013

Banana Bread

We go through a lot of bananas in our house.  Ryder has at least one per day.  It's usually his snack after his nap.  Because we have a little monkey who loves bananas we rarely have ripe bananas, they are long gone before they get to that stage.  A few weeks ago, we were out of town and I forgot to bring Ryder's bananas, tragic, I know.  Anyways, when we got home we had a few ripe bananas that were perfect for banana bread.   

I found the recipe below a couple years ago in the October 2011 issue of Taste of Home Magazine.  It's an easy recipe, it tastes great and the bread stays soft.  This is now my go-to banana bread recipe.

Banana Bread

Taste of Home Magazine
October 2011

Banana Pecan Loaf
1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
3 Medium Ripe Bananas, Mashed
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

Pineapple Spread:
1 Package (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 Cup Canned Crushed Pineapple, well drained

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in bananas.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture.  Fold in pecans.

Transfer batter to greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing loaf from pan to a wire rack.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and pineapple.  Serve with banana bread.

Note:  I've made it with both pecans and walnuts.  Both ways are great!  I have never made the pineapple spread, but thought I would include it in case anyone else wants to try it.  

My Spider-man and little monkey

When I was pregnant with Parker, I would wake up in the middle of the night with the worst charley horses or leg cramps.  They hurt so bad!  Leg cramps are often caused because of a low levels of potassium, which bananas happen to have a lot of.  I ate a lot more bananas when I was pregnant with Ryder than I did when I was pregnant with Parker and I only had a couple leg cramps when I was pregnant with Ryder.

I found the following information on bananas on the Growing Organic, Eating Organic Facebook page.  I didn't realize all of the benefits of bananas have.  

"Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

200 students at a Twickenham school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system..

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chroniclercases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Many other cultures see bananas as a 'cooling' fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has FOUR TIMES the protein, TWICE the carbohydrate, THREE TIMES the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals.. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, 'A BANANA a day keeps the doctor away!'"

Happy Champagne Thursday!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Free Paint Sample

Trying to decide on a paint color?  Have a small project to paint?  There are coupons for free 8 ounce Valspar paint samples from Lowes, in the May issues of Better Homes and Garden and House Beautiful.  The coupons are probably in other magazines too, but those are the two that I noticed.
*Paint color from Spring Color Palette


This 8 ounce paint size was perfect for my recent chair project.  I was able to paint both chairs with one sample size container.

Go find your coupon(s) and get painting!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mini Bench

My mom found this little bench, bought it for a couple dollars and decided I needed it.  It was a little beat up, but overall very sturdy.  I gave it a quick sanding, a couple coats of primer, a few coats of Rust-Oleum Navy Blue Spray Paint and a couple coats of protective finish.  Now it looks shiny and new!


I primed the bench the same time I primed my green chairs.  When you have a few projects to paint its nice to group them together and paint or prime them at the same time to save yourself some time in the future.  

The mini bench is perfect for extra seating around our round table, its the same height as the green chairs.  

It will also be great for sitting on while working in my garden, once the weather finally warms up around here.  The boys can use it as a little table outside when we start eating outside.  There are lots of good uses for this little bench.  Plus its easy to move around and it doesn't take up too much space.  

Happy Champagne Thursday!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Frozen Pineapple Mojito

I love mojitos!  They are one of my favorite Summer drinks, but I drink them year round.  So refreshing!  I was reading my friend's blog the other day and she wrote about Frozen Mojitos, they sounded so good.  Definitely something I needed to try!

Anyways, last night as I was cutting up the last bit of a pineapple, I was thinking a pineapple mojito sounded good and I just happened to have everything I needed to make one.  Then I remembered reading about the frozen mojito and quickly got out my blender to make a frozen pineapple mojito.  I have a Warning Pro blender and it is awesome for blended drinks.  It works great and you are never left with any big chunks of ice or food in your drink.  Perfect consistency.  I believe this is the one I have or it is very similar.

Frozen Pineapple Mojito
Serves 2

3 oz White Rum
2 oz Simple Syrup
12 Mint Leaves
Juice from two limes
1/2 Cup Pineapple
1/2 Cup Club Soda

Combine all ingredients and blend.  Serve in a fun cup and garnish with lime, mint leave or pineapple.  Add a straw and enjoy!  Bonus points if you have an umbrella straw.  Then pretend it is Summer and not 40 degrees outside.  I am so ready for some warm weather!

You can substitute the pineapple with any other fruit.  Strawberry and mango would be delicious!  I believe there is a Pineapple Mint variety too, using that kind of mint might be even better.

I love this blender!

Happy Champagne Thursday!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easy Play Dough

The boys and I made play-dough last week.  Parker loves play-dough and I have a love-hate relationship with it.  It's fun to play with and it makes you feel like a kid again.  And I love that it keeps Parker occupied for a chunk of time, but it always ends up everywhere.  I find it for days afterwards.

We've always had plenty of Play-Doh around, so we had never made our own before.  This was a fun afternoon activity for Parker and I to work on together.  Plus I got to use my KitchenAid, which is always enjoyable for me.  I found a few recipes online and altered them a little and made my own recipe.  It's an easy recipe and only takes a few minutes to make.

Play Dough
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Salt
2 Tablespoons Oil (I used Canola, but any cooking oil should work.)
2 Tablespoons Cream of Tartar
1/2 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
1 1/2 Cups Super Hot Water
Food Coloring

Mix flour, salt, oil, cream of tartar and peppermint extract together.  Then add hot water and food coloring and mix together into a dough.  It makes a decent amount of play dough, so if you want more than one color,  separate the dough and add the food coloring as the final step.  The peppermint extract isn't necessary but it gives the dough a nice scent.

I store our play-dough in a Ziploc bag, making sure to remove all the air, so it doesn't dry out.

What you'll need


Ryder only played with the play dough for about a minute before he threw it on the floor.  He throws everything!  This morning he threw a brush at me.  He's got a good arm on him.  I did get a couple cute pictures though.  I love his tongue sticking out.  

Parker busy creating and making shapes with the play dough.  We got out our Easter cookie cutters this particular afternoon.  I keep all of our cookie cutters in a plastic bin in the kitchen for Park and Ryde to use for play dough.  They get used more frequently this way.  I love to bake, but I usually don't have the patience  or the time to roll dough and make sugar cookies.

Happy Champagne Thursday!