Tomato & Avocado Salad

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I had a pretty good garden crop this year, especially the tomatoes.  A bumper crop of the luscious round globes had me eating them in a variety of ways, especially with the extended summer heat of September.  The thought of having to prepare and cook a hot meal on days where the mercury climbed above 30C had me melting into a puddle.  Salads became a staple for lunches and dinners.

A favourite is this super simple and super tasty tomato and avocado salad.  With so few ingredients, you are done in a snap!

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Ingredients
4 Garden Fresh Tomatoes (for a prettier plate, use multi-coloured tomatoes like Golden Queen and Heirloom varieties)
2 ripe Haas Avocados
1/4 cup diced Red or Sweet Onion
6 fresh sprigs of Cilantro
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Juice of 2 Limes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with the fresh lime juice and set aside.

Slice tomatoes and arrange on 2 plates.  Peel, pit and slice avocados and arrange over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle onion over tomatoes and avocados.  Drizzle with the olive oil and lime dressing and top with fresh cilantro leaves. That’s it! You are done!  To make this into a satisfying and healthy dinner salad, just add some grilled chicken or salmon along with a nice crusty loaf of whole grain bread.

Serve immediately.  Makes 2 servings.

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Lightened Up Egg Salad

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I love eggs.  One of Nature’s wonders of the food world.  I would love to eat them everyday, but my family history is peppered with heart health issues so I only indulge when I really, really, really have a craving for them.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I came back from a bike ride and while cooling down from the physical exertion, I started having a hankering for egg salad for lunch.  Not keeping any mayo in the house (high in fat and calories) I Googled whether or not I could sub fat free Greek yogurt for the mayo in egg salad.  Why yes you can!  Duh. I have already been replacing mayo in a lot of other dishes (chipotle mayo for my fish tacos for example) so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner to replace mayo with yogurt in egg salad.

Probably because I hadn’t had a craving for it in a very long time, until now!

So I took my favourite egg salad recipe and just swapped out the mayo with the yogurt.  You know what?  You would never know it wasn’t mayo!  I am going to have to splurge a little more often on egg salad, it was just too darn good!

For anyone wanting my egg salad recipe, here it is below, but most recipes that you find online are pretty close unless you get into some weird flavour combos.  Me, I like plain old egg salad. Nothing fancy for me.  I am a purist when it comes to this long standing traditional dish.

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Deborah’s Egg Salad Recipe

Ingredients
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced green onion (green parts only)
1/4 cup (or more to taste) of Fat-Free Yogurt
1 Tbsp mustard
1/4 tsp chile powder (I like to use either chipotle chile powder or pequin chile powder)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In a medium bowl, mix together mustard and yogurt, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Let sit in fridge for at least 60 minutes to chill.

Serve on buns, wraps or whatever vessel you prefer. If you are doing the no carbs thing, lettuce bowls make an attractive presentation.

Enjoy!

Deborah

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CopyCat Deep Dish Shroom Pizza

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This is 2 years in the making.  Well, technically dreaming of making it over the last 2 years, but the other day I finally had an epiphany about the mushrooms in this pizza.

Hubs is back working in NY state temporarily on a special project and pretty much the first thing I asked was if Uno’s Shroom Pizza is still on the menu.  Sadly no, they pulled it off again.  I can see why because of the amount of cheese used as well as the time it takes to make this pizza, or more importantly, the time necessary for marinating of the mushrooms can cause their costs to produce to be quite high.

I knew the little round scrumptious fungi were marinated in something, but I couldn’t figure out what.  Until the other day.  I was minding my own business, trimming my herb garden when it hit me.  Thyme, there has to be thyme in it along with the white wine.

After gardening chores, I pulled my tablet out and googled “marinated mushrooms”….BINGO.

A dozen or so recipes came up, pretty much all the same with slight variations.  So I picked one and got to work.  The mushrooms need to marinate overnight, hence why I think this (and the amount of cheese) is why Uno’s Grill only brings it back for a short time.  Definitely a loss leader for them, I am sure they try to sell more beer/liquor to make up for it.

Anyway, back to the shrooms!  Marinating the mushrooms is THE key to this pizza and this must be done 1 day earlier.  As for the deep dish pizza crust, I like Uno’s 5-grain version but couldn’t find a copycat out there (another thing to work on) so I just used my own pizza dough recipe here: http://www.ournorthernhomestead.com/how-to-make-your-own-pizza-doughand-make-it-healthier-too/

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CopyCat Deep Dish Shroom Pizza!

Ingredients

Pizza Dough (recipe link above, or google Deep Dish Pizza Dough recipe)
1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed and stems removed
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1 lb Button mushrooms (if buttons are not available, quarter larger mushrooms)

For Marinade:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar (or White Balsamic Vinegar)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme (or 1/2 Tbsp dried)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Rinse mushrooms and slice a layer off the stem end (if mushrooms are larger, quarter them); bring a pot of water to a boil, add mushrooms and reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain mushrooms and rinse with cold water, set on a towel to dry.
Meanwhile, whisk remaining ingredients together in a container large enough to hold all the mushrooms and marinade. Add mushrooms and combine. Seal up container and place in fridge overnight.

Directions

Prepare Pizza Dough (see recipe link above), this will make 2 small pizzas or one large one. If making 2 small, use a 9″ cake pan or a deep dish metal pie plate. For a large pizza, use a large, cast iron skillet.
**Note – if making 2 small pizzas, divide toppings in half between the 2 pans

Grease skillet/pans with Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 500F

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Roll out dough and lay over the pan, gently press dough down and up along sides to the top edge. Trim an excess dough. **Let dough sit for 20 minutes before filling**

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Drain mushrooms from marinade (reserve marinade – see footnote) and place in bottom of the pan on top of dough.

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Layer spinach (I actually used chopped chard from the garden as I didn’t have spinach, which is an excellent substitute) over the mushrooms.

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Add mozzarella cheese and top with parmesan or asiago.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (for 9″ size), up to 35 minutes for a large pizza **keep an eye on the top crust so that it doesn’t burn)

Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes and serve!

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Voila! A thing of beauty!

Deborah

*Marinade Footnote – Marinade can be used for roasting beets, trim beets, place in a baking dish and pour marinade overtop.  Cover and roast for 35-45 minutes in a 400F oven or until beets are cooked through.  Let cool, peel and chop.  These are FANTASTIC on salads!

**Edit ~ I used the leftover marinade as a salad dressing….yowza! What fantastic mushroom flavour it added to a tossed salad!

 

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Squash & Black Bean Quesadilla

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Tonight’s dinner was a snap, especially when you already have 2 of the star ingredients cooked and on hand.  In this case, it was the squash and beans.  I am a bean snob, I prefer to rehydrate and cook my own vs canned beans, something about starting out from scratch that has always appealed to me, in whatever I do.

Anyway, back to quesadillas!  and yes, another (say it with emphasis now)… a-nother!Mexican flavor inspired recipe.  I had already made the beans for another batch of my black bean and wild/brown rice enchiladas and the squash was leftover from dinner on Sunday, so I was looking through my recipes for quesadillas and landed on my empanada recipe and thought…why not switch out the sweet potato for the squash and slap the contents into a tortilla?!

Bravo! We have a winner!  A couple other changes and the whole thing was on the plate in less than 15 minutes.

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Ingredients
1 Cup cooked black beans
1 Cup roasted butternut squash (if cubed, mash slightly)
1 small clove garlic, peeled and mashed
1 Tbsp finely chopped jalapeno
3 Tbsp chopped red onion
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Large 10″ Whole Wheat floour toritilla
Olive Oil
1/4 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
Juice from one lime
Avocado
Sour Cream
Cilantro

Directions

In  skillet set over medium heat, lightly toast cumin, coriander, salt and pepper until fragrant (about a minute), add oil, onion and jalapeno.  Saute for 2 minutes until onion softens, add garlic and lime juice. Stir constantly for about a minute or two until garlic softens.  Reduce heat to low and add beans and squash.  Combine thoroughly and let contents warm through (about 2-3 minutes).  Remove from pan and set aside.

In same skillet, turning heat up to medium-low, place tortilla in the pan and add cheese to one half.  Add squash/bean mixture over the cheese.  Fold tortilla in half and cook until the bottom starts to brown (about 2-3 minutes).  Flip and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from skillet and serve immediately with cilantro, sour cream and avocado.

This recipe makes one serving, size up as necessary!

Salud!

Deborah

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Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms and Kale

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DSC06088I think last night was one of the best creative nights in the kitchen that I have had in a very long while.  I turned out a fabulous vegetarian dish packed full of vitamins and protein that can be used as a stand alone meal or be a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or salmon.  Sometimes I amaze myself with my ingenuity.  Believe me though, I have had major flops too, so I take this win as a small victory.

Looking in the fridge I knew I had a container of leftover roasted squash, not enough for soup, but enough to be added to….something.  So the chef hat went on as I gathered ingredients out of the fridge.  Mushrooms…yup, have to use those.  Kale, absolutely (I was bitten by the kale bug last week again, I always forget how much I like it). Then what to add as “filler” I pondered.  As I was staring into the pantry, there sat a jar of black quinoa – perfect!  A few other odds and sods pulled out of the pantry and fridge and a game plan was forming.

As I prepped the kale and chopped some onions, I wondered if quinoa could be cooked like a risotto? Short answer, no, but dinner did take a long time to cook as I discovered that fact (I will explain later), but since I was starving, it was time to get cooking!

Ingredients

1/2 dry black quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked squash (roasted and mashed)
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped kale (stems removed)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp good red wine (don’t buy “cooking wine”, use the good stuff!)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat oil in a saucepan over med-high heat; add onions and cook until just starting to turn transluscent (about 3 minutes), add mushrooms, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are tender (3-5 minutes).

Add quinoa and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add broth and wine and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to med-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is cooked (about 15 – 20 minutes), remove lid and raise heat back to a boil.  Boil off any remaining liquid.

Turn heat to low again and add the squash, mix until combined.  Taste seasonings at this point and adjust to your liking.  Add kale, stirring to mix in, then cover and let the kale steam for 2-3 minutes until bright green.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings as a meal alone or 4 servings as a side dish.

What I found with trying to cook quinoa as a risotto (seriously, don’t waste your time trying) is that the quinoa needs to sit in the liquid and cook at a lower heat or it won’t plump up.  After 30 minutes of adding liquid and stirring it was still rock hard.  Once I added more broth, lowered the heat and covered the pot, the quinoa cooked.  Lesson learned!

Meanwhile, I am having the remainder of this dish for lunch today, simply outstanding!

Deborah

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount per Serving
Calories: 184
Calories from Fat 45.0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 0.49g
2%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 99.65mg
4%
Total Carbohydrate 26.38g
13%
Dietary Fiber 8.46g
33%
Sugars 3.39g
 
Protein 5.31g
3%

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat
9%
Carbs
57%
Protein
11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories need.

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Cheddar Chive Cornbread

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Today I was waffling.  Waffling about whether to make cheddar chive biscuits, or cheddar chive muffins.

So I made cheddar chive cornbread instead.  I know, sometimes what I think I want, I don’t want at all.  The mind of a woman was clearly at work here.

Since I had just given my rapidly sprouting chive plant a trim last weekend, it was a good time to rummage through my recipe files for an appropriate dish to use some of them up.

No big fanfare here, just a simple, delicious cornbread to enjoy with a Tex-Mex dinner menu (or anytime!).

DSC06019Cheddar Chive Cornbread

Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 tbsp minced fresh chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

1. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. In another bowl, whisk eggs, butter and buttermilk.

3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.

4. Gently fold in cheese and chives.

5. Spread mixture in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 18 pieces that are 1″ x 2″

Enjoy!

Deborah

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Chipotle Fish Tacos ala Deb!

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Yay!  I am finally getting my world-famous Fish Taco recipe on the interweb-thingie! You know, that thing that a certain Billionaire said wouldn’t catch on?  I wonder what he thinks about that statement now?

Anyway, back to fish tacos….yum..yum..yum! Ramona ~ This is for you, so go ahead and share away!

This recipe is great when you need to whip up a dinner fairly fast, the only part that needs time to percolate (love that old fashioned term) is the salsa, it’s basically being pickled to develop the favours.  It is also fairly waist friendly when the chipotle sauce * is used in moderation,  for an even lighter option, check out the * tip at the bottom of the page.

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Chipotle Fish Tacos ala Deb!

Ingredients

1 Haddock fish filet per person (or any firm, white fish), sliced into 1″ chunks
2 Cups shredded iceburg lettuce
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced red or green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced radishes or jicama
1 Tbsp finely diced jalapeño
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (recipe below to make your own)
Juice of 2 limes
3 Tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s)
1/4 tsp (or more to taste) of Chiptole Chile powder
3 Large whole wheat flour tortillas
Fresh cilantro leaves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

1. At least 4 hours before serving, prepare the salsa by combining the radish (or jicama)   , peppers, onions and the juice of 1 lime.  Stir to combine, cover and keep refrigerated until time to assemble.

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2. Thinly slice the lettuce into a bowl, cover and chill until needed.

3. Prepare the Chipotle Mayo by combining the mayonnaise, chipotle chile powder and 1/2 tsp of the fresh lime juice.  Stir to combine then refrigerate until needed.

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4. In a frying pan set over med-high heat, add 1 Tbsp of Olive oil and sprinkle half the cajun seasoning all over the bottom of the pan.  Add fish and liberally sprinkle the remaining seasoning on the top side of the fish.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until fish starts to brown on the bottom, flip fish and cook until the bottoms start to brown.  Add remaining lime juice to pan and cook for another 2 minutes or so until the juice cooks off and the fish flakes easily with a fork.  Remove from heat.

To assemble Tacos

1. Warm tortillas by zapping in the microwave for 15 seconds.
2. Spread a tsp of chipotle mayo in the middle of each tortilla.
3. Divide shredded lettuce evenly among the 3 tortillas
4. Divide the salsa evenly among the 3 tortillas.
5. Divide the fish pieces evenly among the 3 tortillas.
6. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

We roll our tacos up burrito style, but these would also be good in hard corn tortilla shells but way messier!

Note ~ This makes 3 tacos ~ 1 for me and 2 for hubs,
so increase amounts for feeding more people.

* To lighten up the chipotle mayo, sub fat-free yogurt for the mayo.

Make your own Cajun Seasoning

In a mortar and pestle, combine the following ingredients (makes about 3/4 cup):

1 1/2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp dried Oregano

We have ours with a large side salad, but these would also be great with a side of Mexican rice. Enjoy!

Deborah

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Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir Fry In A Wrap

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I know, I know, I have been remiss of late, life gets in the way you know?  I have many ideas and unfortunately not enough hours in the day.  BUT, today I managed to pull this together in less than 15 minutes, combined with the time it took to make lunch AND type this out, it gives me hope I can throw together some more gems to this blog in the future.

So here it is!

I love wraps.  The food kind that is, although I do like the knitted kind as well, but you can’t eat those.  I love to rummage in the fridge and see what’s in there to insert into the ever-present whole wheat wraps that are a staple in our house.

Usually its lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, avocado, etc that get layered and rolled up to be scarfed down at lunch, but today I had some Asian inspiration with the leftover bok choy from the weekend.

I thinly sliced the bok choy (about a cup), and thinly sliced the remaining half of a yellow bell pepper, one crimini mushroom and a couple tablespoons thinly sliced red onion.  I added everything to a hot pan over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of Olive Oil (along with fresh ground pepper and salt) and sauteed until veg’s were tender.  Oh, and I added a sprinkling of ground garlic as I thought a whole clove would have over-powered the dish seeing as the amounts were made for one wrap.  If making enough for 4 people, then I would definitely add a clove or two of garlic.

After the veg has cooked until tender (about 5 minutes, you may have to add a couple tablespoons of water if it starts to dry the pan out), add a couple shakes of red pepper flakes and about 3 tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce.  Stir together and remove from heat.

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Zap the wrap in the microwave on high for 10 seconds, place the sauteed veggies in the middle of the wrap, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and top with chopped green onion.

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Roll up and eat!  This totally hit the spot and was quick, easy and done in slightly less than 15 minutes.  This is also one of those recipes that can be totally customized, like tossing in leftover grilled chicken or pork…and BAM! a new menu item created to feed the masses.

Buen Provecho! (Oh wait, that’s Spanish…. I wonder how it is said in Mandarin?…. I must go google…)

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Bodacious Banana Bread ~ Take II

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I am taking the time to update my Banana Bread recipe from its current form to a low-sugar form.  Hubby and I have embarked on our get healthy, get fit movement for a year now and collectively, we have lost about 65lbs! WooHoo for us!  There is still some weight loss to go, but in order to achieve (and maintain) a healthy weight, you need to change your eating habits and since we both love our banana bread, I wanted to be able to continue eating/enjoying this yummy stuff so the sugar and a lot of the AP flour had to go.  Here is an updated version, but I will leave the original version below the updated one for anyone wanting to enjoy it.

**Mainstream Bodacious Banana Bread**

Ingredients

3-4 Medium bananas (over-ripe), mashed
2 large Eggs, room temperature
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/3 cup Unsalted butter
1/4 tsp Baking soda
2 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup All Purpose flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat flour
3 Tbsp Ground Flax meal
1/2 cup Chopped walnuts

Directions ~ Whip butter, eggs and vanilla and then follow the remaining directions below in the original recipe, making sure you omit the sugar*

* You really don’t need the sugar in the banana bread as over-ripe bananas are really sweet unto themselves (and trust me, you won’t even miss it!).

The Banana

banana

You can mash it.
You can slice it.
You can slather it in peanut butter.
You can make a banana split sundae out of it.
Or you can peel it and just eat it plain….

But one of the most amazing things to come from the humble banana is Banana Bread.

Walking into a home to the aroma of banana bread baking is just about as good as it can get…aside from regular bread baking or cookies.

These are known as comfort smells.

Which is way better than stinky sneakers…

Banana Bread is one of those things that can be whipped up quickly, hence the name ‘Quick Bread’ as there is no need for yeast and therefore does not need to be coddled like regular bread.  Start to finish, it takes about an hour and 20 minutes to make, including baking time.

To make your own loaf of this yummy, banana goodness, just follow the recipe below and soon you will be slathering butter on a hot from the oven slice of this marvelous, Bodacious Banana Bread.

So gather up the ingredients and let’s get started.

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Ingredients

3-4 over-ripe bananas, about 1 cup mashed
1/3 cup un-salted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a large bowl (or stand-mixer), whip butter and sugar together, add eggs and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy…

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In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; mix well.

In another bowl, mash bananas to desired consistency.  If you like chunks of banana in your banana bread, leave larger pieces, or puree if you don’t like chunks.

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Add the mashed bananas to the batter and beat until well incorporated.

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Add the flour mixture and mix well.

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Finally, fold in the chopped walnuts…

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 Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spoon  batter into a greased 5″ x 7″ loaf pan.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.  Some ovens are hotter than others, so check every 5 minutes after the 50 minute mark.

Bodacious Banana Bread

Remove from oven and let cool for about 45 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from pan, slice and serve to the masses.

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Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

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Hubby says these are NOT cookies.  Cookies are super sweet and bad for you.

I beg to differ.

DSC04550I found this recipe in a magazine and as usual, tweaked it to add things to my liking.  These are a great option for when you have zero time in the morning for breakfast before you run out the door.  Just grab and go.

I also sub them for a quick lunch and/or snack when I am on the road for several hours of the day.  Quick, healthy and good for you, regardless of hubby’s opinion.

Super easy to make, start to finish they are done in half an hour.

Ingredients

1 medium banana, mashed
1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter), smooth or chunky – your preference
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp skim milk or almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup 12-grain flour (or whole wheat flour, I like the 12-grain though)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup pepitas (raw or roasted, no salt)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (raw or roasted, no salt)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins or blueberries (experiment!)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. In a large bowl, combine mashed banana, honey, milk, peanut butter and honey, mix well.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon

4. Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just coming together.

5. Add seeds/fruit and mix to combine.

6. On parchment lined baking sheets (2), drop 1/4 cup spoonfuls and flatten to 1/2″.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 12-16 minutes.
Makes 12 cookies

These freeze beautifully too so may just want to double or triple the batch if you are making for a family.

Enjoy!

Deborah

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