Friday, August 31, 2012

Banana Muffins with Dark Chocolate and Raspberries

My discovered a new way to use up overly ripe bananas ... wait for it ... banana muffins with dark chocolate chunks and fresh raspberries!  I was searching the internet when I stumbled across and his recipe for chocolate, raspberry, banana bread.  Three of my favorite ingredients in one recipe - dreamy.  I converted the bread recipe into muffin form because I had planned to pack them for a picnic. 

As luck would have it, I had a Godiva Dark Chocolate bar in my pantry, (That should not surprise anyone.) some perfectly ripe bananas on my counter and a bag of frozen raspberries in my freezer.  I could hardly wait to get started on this recipe.  

Raspberry, Dark Chocolate, Banana Muffins

Yield: 12 regular muffins and 12 mini muffins
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated white sugar

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)

1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup halved raspberries, tossed in 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

 3. In a separate large bowl, beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended.

Stir in the flour mixture; just until moist. Don't over-mix.

 Stir in the chocolate chunks and then gently stir in the raspberries.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

I made some mini muffins,


and some regular sized muffins:

You've got to try these muffins to believe how good they are.  They are incredible.  

Dark chocolate, bananas and raspberries are an irresistible combination.

Most of these muffins never made it to the picnic because we ate so many of them warm out of the oven.

Don't take my word for it, make a batch of dark chocolate, raspberry, banana muffins for yourself  your family.

It didn't take long before I made the recipe again, this time with no intention of sharing, I made a loaf of banana, raspberry and chocolate chip bread.  


Not sure if I liked the muffins or the bread better.  Bottom line - it really doesn't matter.  Both are decadent and delicious.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grilled Pork Skewers

It's not officially Fall yet but our Fall activities are already in full swing.  My daughter's soccer team has already begun into their season and my son's cross country team is well into their season as well.  That leaves little time for family dinners so it's back to quick and easy meals for this family.  This is a recipe that I've had for a long time and I love it because I can do most of the prep work the night before and let the meat marinade in the refrigerator overnight.  When we rush home from practice at 5:00 and everyone is starving, all I have to do is put the meat on the grill and get the vegetables ready.  Dinner in a hurry - that's the name of the game lately. 

Marinated Pork Skewers
2 Tablespoons soy sauce                1/8 teaspoon pepper                  
3 garlic cloves                                3 Tablespoons ketchup
2 Tablespoons vinegar                   1 can sprite
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder          2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
1 Tablespoon sugar                        1 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate over night. 

Thread pork onto skewers.


These skewers cooked in about 10 minutes.  (5 minutes on each side.)

I served my pork skewers with jasmine rice, steamed broccoli and a green salad.

Dinner time is when we catch up on everything that's happened in each others day.  Even though it doesn't last long, it may be the only time of the day that we all get to sit down together.  The time that we spend talking to and listening to each other is valuable. 
Dinner time is our chance to reconnect.  The meals that I make are rarely difficult or complicated - sometimes the worst meals make for the best conversations at the table.  These pork skewers are easy to make and quick to prepare.  As an added bonus - they're delicious and everyone loved them.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cabbage Salad with Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Cooking Light magazine featured a Grilled Sweet Potato and Napa Cabbage Salad with Lime Vinaigrette this month.   (Even the title is a mouthful.)  I used that recipe as my inspiration for this yummy salad.  I modified the recipe to fit my own personal taste and my busy schedule.

Cabbage Salad with Grilled Sweet Potatoes (My version)
3 medium sweet potatoes
5 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 cups shredded cabbage (I bought prepackaged shredded cabbage.)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
2 Tablespoons green onions, chopped
3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 avocado, sliced

Peel potatoes and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices.  Brush both sides with 1 Tablespoon oil.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Put potatoes on grill and cook 8 minutes on each side.  Combine lime juice, water, honey, and jalapeno.  (I put mine in this handy little Jamie Oliver flavor shaker.)

Toss cabbage, onions and cilantro together in serving bowl.  Arrange avocado slices on top of cabbage and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Cut potato slices into strips.

Arrange over cabbage.

Drizzle with dressing and serve.

The truth is that I was the only one who ate this salad for dinner.  I bought some steaks for Ben and the kids and Ben cooked the potatoes at the same time that he was grilling the meat.  Ben and the kids had the extra potato strips alongside their steaks as a nutritious side dish and I was perfectly happy with my delicious cabbage salad.  (sans steak)  This salad was easy to put together and while Ben was acting as "Grill Master" I got the cabbage and vegetables ready.  It was super satisfying and delicious.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Cracker Squares

Cookies that you don't have to bake? - sign me up.  With temperatures still in the 80's, I'm using my oven as little as possible.  This recipe for Chocolate Caramel Cracker Bars came from this month's issue of Taste of Home magazine.  These are super simple and no baking is required - yea!

Chocolate Caramel Cracker Squares
 1 teaspoon + 3/4 cup butter
45 club crackers
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I added these to the original recipe.)

Line a 9" square pan with foil.  Melt 1 teaspoon of butter and grease the foil with melted butter.


Arrange a single layer of crackers in the bottom of the pan.

In saucepan, combine milk, brown sugar, corn syrup and remaining butter.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook and stir 7 minutes.  Evenly spread a third of mixture over cracker layer.


Repeat cracker and caramel layers twice.  Immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Let stand 5 minutes and spread over top.

Sprinkle with nuts.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Use foil to lift bars out of pan.

 Cut into squares.

This is a great recipe to get your kids in the kitchen and baking.  It was super easy and everyone really enjoyed them.  (Nobody even suspected that it was crackers layered in between the caramel layers.)