Monday, December 12, 2011

Merry Christmas!

On Friday Husband and I attended the squadron Christmas party at a charming restaurant downtown.  We had a great time:  Good wine, good friends, and a delicious cajun meatloaf.  We didn't win the ugly Christmas sweater contest, but we had many compliments on our home made Christmas sweaters (complete with shoulder pads in mine)!  They only cost $7, a random assortment of craft items from my school boxes, and a little bit of sewing effort.

And now it's time.  

Moving this week.  Christmas next week.  It all happened so fast, but I know we made the most of our seven months in Arizona.  We really enjoyed living here, and perhaps we will again some day.

This is my last blog post of the year.  I'm off to celebrate and visit with family and friends before heading to Korea in January.  I will be back on the blog in 2012.  Until then, I wish you a wonderful Christmastime filled with love, laughter, and life.  Enjoy the little moments.  The rest will fall into place.  I pray the peace, hope, and love of Christ are with you this Christmas and always.

Merry Christmas and God bless you!

Monday, December 05, 2011

The coconut kind

Lately (we move next week!) the name of the game is Use Up What's In the Cupboard. We've had a few strange meals, and if I were a meaner woman I might see what I can come up with just to see the look on my husband's face. There was even one day last week that I proclaimed we needed take out instead of my latest cupboard scraps concoction.

I've been doing pretty well using things up. For two weeks we had no bread, and now that I decided to use up the flour and yeast, we have two loaves. We're having grilled sandwiches twice for dinner this week, so it's okay.

Other things haven't worked out as well. I thought I'd use up brown sugar and pecans by making a pecan pie, but now I made chocolate chip pie instead. I still used things up, but I have an entirely unopened bag of brown sugar to give away.

One of my things to use up has been a few over ripe bananas in the freezer.

I have always loved my Mom's banana bread. Warm with butter, mmmm. And I've been using her recipe myself for a long time. Sometime during college I experimented by adding chocolate chips, and that became my new favorite. Most people who know me know I love to add chocolate chips to just about anything.

Last spring, before our first move of 2011, I made banana muffins. Apparently, there are always extra bananas before a move. Maybe that will become a family tradition of ours. When I made banana muffins in the spring, I experimented with different varieties: maple almond flax, dark chocolate coconut, and chocolate almond coconut. They all turned out fabulous!

Today I think I have another new favorite, that oh-so-wonderful dark chocolate almond coconut variety! They are perfectly delectable.

Here is the basic recipe with my alterations noted.

1/2 c. shortening (I use either butter or coconut oil instead.)
1/2 c. sugar (For muffins/bread with coconut I use regular sugar, but otherwise, try maple syrup or honey. Also, 1/4 - 3/8 c. is usually plenty no matter which sweetener you use, and a liquid sweetener doesn't seem to change the consistency of the bread or muffins.)
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. flour (Sometimes I sub in 3/4 c. whole wheat flour and/or replace 1/4 c. of the flour with ground flax seed.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
1 c. mashed ripe banana
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional) (I've never cared for walnuts. I use chopped pecans or sliced almonds. Dried cranberries or cherries are also good.)
(I love to add 1/2 c. chocolate chips. Semi-sweet, milk, and dark chocolate all turn out wonderfully. Mini chocolate chips melt into the dough though.)

1. Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.
2. Mix dry ingredients, add to creamed mixture alternately with banana, blending after each addition.
3. Bake in a greased 9x5x3" loaf pan at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until done. Recipe yields 12 regular-sized muffins; bake for about 15 minutes or until done. Recipe yields 48 mini muffins; bake for about 10 minutes or until done.
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