Banana Muffins

Mmmmmm  Yummy

Have you ever purchased bananas from Costco? Its less than $2 for a bunch, and usually there is 6-8 in a bunch. I mean 6-8 big bananas. Costco has spoiled me. I can’t buy my bananas anywhere else. As happens to me occasionally though, I totally underestimated the ripeness of my banana bunch. In a day or two I ended up with 6 huge brown bananas. I already have a few loaves of traditional banana bread in the fridge, so I wanted to find something a bit different.

Pretty Little Muffin

Using foodgawker (one of my favorite food sites), I found these Greek Yogurt Banana Muffins from Creme de la Crumb. Let me tell you – these are divine. This will probably be my go to banana recipe.

They are fluffy and moist, and the greek yogurt provides a bit of a protein boost. The chocolate chips are noted to be optional, but I threw in plenty.

My favorite greek yogurt (for cooking)
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Making Changes – Cooking at Home

My mother volunteered me to write a post about the benefits of cooking at home, and I admit, I feel like a bit of a fraud writing it. Mostly because I live with two devils (my husband and 10 year old son) who are infamous for such lines as, “Oh, let’s just order something” or, “I want Zia Taqueria!” To which my instant and mouthwatering mental response is, “Well crap, now I want a fish taco and nothing else will ever make me as happy as that fish taco and dear God in heaven turn the car around and drive to Zia or I will kill you all right now.” *Sigh* Thank goodness I have my (almost) 2 year old son to balance the other two’s unending temptation-filled mutterings by his sheer power to ruin any seated meal, let alone one had out in public. Dining out with Augustine? It just should not be done.
Augustine ~ 7 months old.

All that being said, I guess I should be proud that we eat at home roughly 6 nights per week. Eating at home entails consuming food prepared here, not just bringing Five Guys burgers and fries home and eating them at the dinner table, with or without actual dinnerware. Except for about four weeks last month when I was in the throes of first trimester nausea/exhaustion/crying misery. But we won’t count that, right? 

Could be a fetus, could be the fruits of too much Five Guys.
Things that I find make us drastically less likely to order a last minute pizza or something else I’ll regret are budgeting, menu planning, freezer cooking, and my pressure cooker. Budgeting keeps me aware and accountable to how much we spend on groceries vs. eating out. When I know takeout will cost us $35 and how many meals I could feed us on that same amount, takeout just doesn’t taste as good. Menu planning in advance allows me to have ingredients on hand, thus eliminating one excuse for not cooking. Freezer cooking gives me access to a freezer full of either ready-made meals, or things I can just throw in the oven while I sit on the couch and obsess about how much harder pregnancy is at 34 than it was at 23. Finally, my pressure cooker prevents us eating takeout due to not having enough time to bake/roast/boil (insert something obnoxiously time consuming here; i.e. boil brown rice).

   

Having a ready stock of easily prepared sides is also helpful. Sweet potatoes sitting on the kitchen counter in my fruit and vegetable rack, staring at me condescendingly day after day is usually sufficient for me to declare, “That’s it, you guys are going in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes…now let me fish something out of the freezer to eat with you.” Costco has a great selection of frozen vegetables (many organic), which are a simple and healthy side to any main dish. One of our favorites is stir fry veggies, which we saute tossed in garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce.
As you can probably infer from all of this, dining at home is an active struggle and something we tackle on a daily basis. But most days I win, and to reward myself we budget and meal plan with one day per week allotted to eating out. Really, the whole thing is absurd because more often than not my husband and I look at each other across the dinner table and agree that no restaurant can compare to my mother’s spaghetti sauce recipe, my meatloaf, or his Jalapeno Cilantro chicken (recipe coming soon!). And then Augustine screams and pegs one of us with his food-laden fork like a javelin from 6 feet away, Ayden starts gagging on an imaginary piece of chicken gristle, and we know that the four of us should not be allowed to dine in public anyway.

We are open to renting him out to food addicts as aversion therapy.

I am including some other links to previous posts that are also relevant and most of them also have recipes.  I apologize for having all the links, but it helps to keep the post from getting too long and rambling.
Check back on Friday for the last post in our series – “Making Changes – Choosing Healthy Food”.

The Quest for the Perfect Sandwich Loaf – A Guest Post

Some of you may know that in addition to writing I also greatly enjoy spending some time in the kitchen.  In fact, my new daily routine is to wake up, hit the bathroom and then head into the kitchen to make something to eat.  Oh don’t be like that!  I wash my hands first.  Whenever I make something potentially messy (such as baking bread) I always be sure to don my chef jacket.  Again, don’t think I’m some master chef because I own a chef jacket.  I actually own two because they keep my T-shirts from getting all jacked up when I cook.  Initially my roommates thought my jacket was hilarious, but now when they see me buttoning it up they gather around in mild awe to speculate what I’m cooking.  I’m still waiting for someone to realize I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time…  Recently I was asked about my new sandwich bread recipe.  I still have some tweaking to do, but if you’re looking for a loaf of fresh bread that can hold up as a sandwich (and for super cheap, too) then this is a fine place to start.
The Perfect Loaf
source: Amused Muse 

What is it like?
The original recipe touted that this bread was “What Wonder Bread wished it was.”  I have to say the finished product is pretty impressive, I’ll give it that.  It has a small, solid crumb that holds up pretty well in a sandwich without making the bread really dense feeling.  The crumb, for those of you that don’t know, is the size of the air pockets inside a loaf of bread.  Ideally a good sandwich loaf has a small sturdy crumb that you could slice and not have gaping holes going through it.  That would make for a very messy PB&J, let me tell you.  The smaller crumb also gives it some structural integrity to make it hold up in the middle with lots of toppings.  The crust on this particular loaf also comes out fairly soft (or it does now anyway) so you’re not trying to bite through a real tough strip around the edges.

Look at that big ‘ole crumb
source: Christopher Harrison
What Adjustments Have Been Made?
The first time I made this the crust turned out rather tough.  The crumb was pretty solid but could have used a little more baking time in my opinion.  The second go-around I got an amazing final rise, but when I cut the first slice I quickly realized why.  The bread had developed this long cavernous bubble right below the top crust that ran the length of the loaf.  This was the result (I’m guessing) of not actually kneading the dough before shaping it.  The flavor of the bread came out divine though.  I pan toasted a slice with some butter and topped it with a fried egg like usual and my eyes literally rolled back in my head at the first bite.  Do you need to pan toast home-made bread?  No, I just do it because I’m a super manly lumberjack kinda guy that takes satisfaction in doing everything the hard way.  Also because I don’t own a toaster.
I am so trying this soon!
source: Jeffrey W

So What’s the Recipe? 
Intimidating, that’s what it is.  It’s not that difficult and you don’t really need to know what you’re doing either.  I mean, come one, I made it.  I would also like to point out that I went into great detail with the instructions (and added in some humor) which makes the recipe quite a bit longer than it originally was.  It’s also a work in progress so expect slight changes and notes to be added in the more I make it.  Hopefully by the time I’m done it will be the recipe for the ultimate loaf of home-made sandwich bread!  You can also find it in the recipe box on the menu bar up top.  Happy baking and try not to burn the house down!
The Amused Muse is a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none bachelor, cook, writer, parent and full-time (and possibly slightly mad) night owl who writes for Muse’s Mixed Nuts.  This post first appeared on Muse’s Mixed Nuts.  You can also find him on Google+ or hiding in the pantry waiting to scare the pants off of someone.