Pregnancy Craving #2: Banana with Peanut Butter {Peanut Butter Banana Bread}

Ahhh, the oven is fixed!

And I’m back in business.

This week’s recipe is brought to you by my craving for anything that combines the flavors of bananas and peanut butter.  (Best brought to my mouth by simply dipping a banana into, you guessed it, peanut butter – I have my own dedicated tub for just that purpose, by the way.)

Anyhow, when I saw this recipe, I knew I needed to make it.

The Recipe:

Peanut Butter Banana Bread, adapted from Joy the Baker

3 ripe bananas

1/3 c vanilla yogurt

1/3 c crunchy peanut butter

3 T butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 t vanilla

1/2 c granulated sugar

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1 c all-purpose flour

3/4 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1/2 t cinnamon

1/8 t ground allspice

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

In a mixer, beat bananas until light and creamy.  Add yogurt, peanut butter and melted butter. Blend in eggs, sugars, and vanilla.  Mix until no sugar lumps remain.

Add all dry ingredients, and fold together with a spatula until no more flour bits remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before running a butter knife along the edges of the pan and inverting the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely.

The Results:

Well, this is certainly great banana bread… but it’s not nearly as peanut buttery as I’d really hoped.  (Hubs didn’t even realize there was peanut butter in it.)

I could taste the peanut butter, myself, but it was a very subtle undertone instead of the salty burst of flavor I was looking for.  Not that this stopped me from eating it at all.  Somehow, I perservered. 😉

Anyways the texture is super moist with an almost barely crunchy crust, which delighted my senses.  And, honestly, you can never go wrong with a good banana bread regardless of what you’re craving.


So, I still recommend trying this – but if you want the pb and banana combo, I think I’d double the amount of peanut butter.  Or just spread some on top.

Happy Hump Day!

Pregnancy Craving #1: Chocolate {Deep Dark Chocolate/Toffee/Espresso/Brownie Cookies}

Okay, I’m starting a new series here on the blog… devoted entirely to my crazy pregnancy cravings.

So be aware that most of these will probably have absolutely no nutritious value whatsoever.

But man, will they taste good!

And for now, I’m really okay with that.

I had to start with, of course, chocolate.  (I know, big surprise… but seriously, I cr-ave it; breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And dessert.  And snack.  And in the middle of the night when I’m awake with darn insomnia.)

I digress.

Anyways, this was my attempt to fulfill my need for something chocolate plus.

The Recipe:

Deep Dark Chocolate Toffee Espresso Brownie Cookies, adapted from Just a Taste

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 c bittersweet or dark chocolate chips

8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced

3 large eggs

1 c plus 3 T sugar

1 T instant coffee granules

3/4 c all-purpose flour

1/3 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1 c toffee pieces

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a double boiler (a small pan set within a larger pan of simmering water), combine the unsweetened chocolate, 1 c of chocolate chips, and butter, stirring until melted.  Remove the smaller pan containing the chocolate from the double boiler and set it aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs, sugar and instant coffee granules on high-speed until very thick and mixture forms a ribbon when whisk is lifted, about 3 minutes.

Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the bowl, whisking just until combined.

Turn off the stand mixer.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and stir just until combined.  Stir in the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips and toffee pieces.

Portion heaping tablespoons of batter about 2 inches apart on parchment paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are cracked and puffed on top.  Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Additional notes from the original recipe:

The batter will be much looser than your average cookie dough.

When in doubt, underbake the cookies, as they’ll continue firming up as they cool on the cookie sheet.

The Results:

Obviously, I had some serious ideas of what I wanted included in this recipe.

(What the baby wants, the baby gets.)

But I actually started this recipe wanting to lower the amount of coffee flavor in half… instead, I misread it and instead of lowering the instant coffee from 2 t to 1 t, I thought I was lowering 2 T to 1 T (which actually increased the coffee flavor).  But really, it was a happy accident.

And I do have to say all the flavor compliment each other well.

This is not a sweet cookie, so be aware.  (If you want it sweeter, check out the original recipe and use semi sweet chips instead or use semi sweet bakers chocolate.)  It is rich and chocolately – and the texture is just like a brownie.  It’s got a little crisp outside and absolutely full of chewy goodness on the inside.

If I were to make it again, I might actually break up toffee bars instead of using the toffee pieces, so you can really taste them in each bite.  But other than that, I found these excellent.

And very, very satisfying.


I hope you do, too!

Key Lime Bars

I know, I know, I know.

I’ve disappeared again.

Sorry.  We’ve been dealing with what I like to call, “The Kindergarten Krud.”  It’s been hanging around our house for weeks – including 7 days of fever and no school for my oldest.

Let’s just say it hasn’t been fun.

Anyhow, I needed something bright and happy to make/eat around here, and the moment I saw these Key Lime Bars, I knew they fit the bill.

The Recipe:

Key Lime Bars, from Foodness Gracious


2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 c sugar

1/4 c brown sugar, packed

2 c all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

1/2 t fresh mint, chopped


4 eggs

1 1/2 c sugar

6 T flour

1/2 cup fresh key lime juice

2 t lime zest

1 drop of green food coloring

powdered sugar and fresh mint for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, salt and mint.  Beat on low-speed until the mixture just comes together.

Dump the crust mixture into the prepared pan and use your finger tips to spread it out evenly all over the base of the pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until slightly browned on top.

While the crust is baking, in a medium bowl whisk together eggs and sugar until light and pale, about 8 minutes.  Add the flour, lime juice, lime zest and green coloring. Whisk until completely blended.

Remove the baked base from the oven and immediately pour the filling mix over the hot crust.  Return to the oven and bake
for 20-25 minutes, until brown around the edges and set in the middle.

Cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar and more chopped mint.  To store lime bars, place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I made this dish for a get-together for my youngest’s toddler group parents.  Not only was I excited to be back in kitchen baking, but I was excited to get out of the house.  Without kids.

(Seriously, I pretty much was stuck in our house for a week.  Stir-crazy can’t even describe how I was feeling.)

It wasn’t a hard recipe – though I have to admit that I got awfully tired of juicing key limes – I must’ve done at least 20.  Oh, and I’d suggest doing that part before you make the crust, because it takes a while.

I promise it’s well worth it.

These tart-sweet treats hit all the right taste buds, if you ask me.  The crust is buttery, chewy, with a little crunch – and the filling is puckery tart (in the best way possible).  With the sprinkle of sweet powdered sugar, it’s a lovely combination.

The other parents seemed to enjoy them, and Hubs said they were even great for breakfast.

And they certainly brightened up a pretty dreary couple of weeks around here.

Can’t ask for more than that.

Lemon Bundt Cake with Raspberry Filling

Sometimes, you just need to say, “Screw the diet.”

(Or maybe that’s just us.)

And if you are going to be bad… might as well be really, really, really bad.

(Yes, three ‘reallys’.)

I mean seriously, if I was going to cheat, I was going to do it right.  I would go the distance and fully commit to the dark side, in order to be completely and utterly satisfied with my bad choice.

And that’s where this cake came in.

The Recipe:

Lemon Bundt Cake with Raspberry Filling (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Filling (from

2 – 12 oz packages of frozen raspberries (not packed in syrup)

1 1/3 c water

1 1/2-2 c sugar (to your taste)

2 T of lemon juice

5-6 T of cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 c of water

In a saucepan combine the raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice.  Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the raspberries have broken down.  Remove the mixture from the heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve. Return the strained mixture to the heat.

Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of water.  Whisk the slurry into the raspberry mixture.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool completely, stirring every once in a while.

It will take awhile to set up. It will thicken like a jelly. May stir it for easier spreading on cake.


3 lemons, zest grated and saved, then juiced for 3 T juice (save the remaining for glaze)

3 c all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1 t salt

3/4 c lowfat buttermilk

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 large egg yolk, room temperature

18 T unsalted butter, room temperature

2 c sugar

Take out eggs and butter about an hour before baking, so they can come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray and flour 12 cup Bundt cake pan.

Mince lemon zest into a fine paste (about 2 T).  Combine zest and juice in a bowl; set aside to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bow.  In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk.  In small bowl, gently which eggs and yolk to combine.  In standing mixer fitted with a flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium high speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Reduce to medium speed and add 1/2 of eggs, mixing until incorporated.  Repeat with remaining eggs and scrape down sides.  Reduce to low speed; add about 1/3 of dry mixture and 1/2 of buttermilk mixture – mixing until just incorporated.  Repeat with another 1/3 of dry and the rest of the wet ingredients.  Scrape bowl and add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture.  Mix until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.  Remove bowl from mixer and stir a few times to make sure everything is incorporated well.

Spoon 1/3 to 1/2 of batter into Bundt pan.  Use a large spoon to scoop out a well in the middle of the batter.  Fill the well with the raspberry filling – it’s okay to overflow a little.  Add the remaining batter, thoroughly covering the filling.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes back clean except for filling.

Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Invert cake directly onto rack.


2-3 T lemon juice

1 T buttermilk

2 c powdered sugar

Whisk 2 T lemon juice and remaining ingredients until smooth, adding more lemon juice until glaze is thick but still pourable.

Pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour.  Pour remaining glaze evenly over top and continue to cool until room temperature, at least 2 hours.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

So, this was a joint effort – Hubs and me, banding together for the wrongness that was to be.  He was in charge of the filling and glaze, and I took over the cake.

(Yes, I wanted to be in charge of the part that included 18 – yes 18, tablespoons of butter.  Oh, it was so wrong!)

Hubs made the filling several hours beforehand, to make sure it set up pretty firm – and he even chilled it in the fridge for a bit.  When we used it, it was about the consistency of thick jam.

This is only the beginning of the raspberry goodness. I went around one more time with more on top.

It was actually quite fun doing this with Hubs (for the most part).  It could’ve been because we were working well together… or it could’ve been because we were giddy with excitement, thinking of our upcoming treat.

And when it came out of the oven, looking all golden and delicious, smelling like a lemon dream; I’m pretty sure we were drooling.  It was very hard to wait the several hours for it to cool completely.

But when we finally got to eat… holy smokes was it good.

The lemon cake was very light and just full of lemon flavor.  And, as we all know, lemon and raspberry are always a fantastic combination, so the filling was a perfect complimentary taste.  It wasn’t too sweet, which I was worried about.  The tang of the lemon and tart of the raspberry balanced out all that sugar.

Between sharing with the neighbors and serving our boys, we actually kept our cake consumption fairly moderate.

But, boy oh boy, did we enjoy every bite.

(And went right back to our healthy eating plan – no damage done.)

It was so worth it.

Blackberry Mini-Crisps

When I left off posting in the beginning of August, not only did I have writer’s block, but I just plain frustrated.

Tear out my hair a little, frustrated.

The problem was that all my ‘healthy’ desserts tasted ‘healthy.’

(Or maybe it was because we’d been eating so many dessert treats over the last year that I was having sugar withdrawals.)

(I know, not a really horrible problem in the whole scope of things, but it was driving me crazy.)

Anyways, I was tired of having an expectation of a particular taste… and then being disappointed.  So I took a break (completely) from baking.  Hubs and I continued our daily exercise, ate less, and got really amazing results – which is always motivating to keep on track.

And I finally felt like I was ready to try baking – either in moderation or with healthier intentions.

I had remembered this post from Kristy’s blog, Eat, Play, Love, and thought it might be pretty darn amazing with some blackberries instead.  The best part – it was dessert in moderation with some healthier ingredients!

The Recipe:

Blackberry Mini-Crisps, adapted from Eat, Play, Love

2 1/2 c blackberries

1/4 c honey

zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2 c whole grain oats

1/2 c whole wheat flour

2 T wheat germ

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 t baking powder

1/4 T cinnamon

1/4 c butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 to 6 ramekins with cooking spray.  Combine honey, blackberries, and lemon zest.  Stir to barely break apart blackberries.   Evenly spoon the mix into the ramekins.

In another bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender cut in the butter.  Sprinkle evenly over the blackberries in the ramekins.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

We were blown away.


This did not taste one bit ‘healthy’ and one serving was a perfect amount to hit that sweet craving.

The blackberries were sweet and tart and just bursting with juicy goodness.  And the topping was crispy, slightly carmelized, and the perfect counterpoint to the berries.

This is my only picture… what can I say, I got lazy with my picture-taking, too – just wanted to get to the eating, apparently. 🙂

We’ve made various versions of this since then (with peaches, apples, etc.), and they’ve all been big hits.  I can’t recommend this recipe enough – it’s definitely become a favorite around here.

So try it.  I promise you will not regret it!

Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday.

Strawberry Macaroon Shortcake

Hi, my friends!

(Can I just say it’s great to be back?… Though no one told me how hard it was going to be to pull up ‘add new post’ and start writing again.  I think I’ve started this post about five times, already.  But I gotta finish it sometime, right?)

It has been a wonderful month off – with vacation trips, school prep, getting my oldest off to kindergarten (big deal!), and just enjoying my kids to the fullest.

Through this time, I realized how much time I was spending on the computer – and how much my boys appreciate having that time for themselves instead.  So I’m coming back with a new attitude and focus… you may see fewer posts and less commenting, but know I’m still around, reading about your fantastic food and experimenting with my own.

I’ve also decided to stick to what I love to do… bake.  So they’ll be a lot fewer ‘meal’ posts and hopefully more baked goods.

So let’s get back on track with a tasty dessert.

The Recipe:

Strawberry Macaroon Shortcake, adapted from Kraft recipes

1-1/3 c flake coconut

1/2 c slivered almonds, chopped

1/3 c sugar

2 T flour

1/8 t salt

2 egg whites

1/2 t coconut extract

1 c whipped cream

2 c strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Mix coconut, almonds, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl.  Beat egg whites and coconut extract lightly with fork.  Add to coconut mixture; mix well.

Line cookie sheet with foil  Spread coconut mixture evenly onto foil, forming a flat 8 inch circle.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Remove from foil.  Cut into 8 wedges.  Top evenly with the whipped cream and strawberries just before serving.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I made this earlier in the summer to enjoy with our neighbors.  It was a perfect dessert to eat on the back porch while the sun set.

I especially enjoyed the strawberry coconut flavor combination.  And the shortcake tasted just like a regular macaroon; slightly crispy, toasted coconut on the outside – and soft and chewy in the middle.  Hubs contributed with a bourbon-infused whipped cream that was out-of-this-world.

And it was double-y good since it was one of the first ‘real’ desserts we’d had all summer.

(But more on that another time.)

All the bowls came back empty – always a good sign.

Hoping you’ve all had a wonderful month – and looking forward to catching up.

Healthier Cookie Dough Balls


My name is Courtney.

It’s been two weeks since I baked and/or ate a real dessert.

(No, these do not count – they are for breakfast.)

I think I might be slowly going insane.  Seriously, the last dessert I baked and ate was our pie on Fourth of July.  And I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed something chocolate-y.

I needed an intervention, stat… so I was very glad when I saw these healthy cookie dough balls.

I was excited to find a way to enjoy something sweet with chocolate, while still sticking (mostly) to our healthy eating (I refuse to call it a diet).

The Recipe:

Healthier Cookie Dough Balls, adapted from Bake Your Day

¼ c whole wheat flour

1-¼ c oats

1 t cinnamon

¼ t salt

1/2 scoop protein powder

½ c creamy peanut butter

¼ c applesauce, all natural/no sugar added

⅓ c all-natural maple syrup

1 T honey

2 t vanilla

¼ c dark chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, oats, cinnamon, salt, and protein powder; set aside.

Cream the peanut butter, applesauce, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl until well-combined.  Add the flour and oats mixture and stir until combined.  Add dark chocolate chips and stir well.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and roll into balls.  (I just used a small ice-cream scooper.) Recipe makes about 12-16 dough balls.

Refrigerate before serving.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Yep, this pretty much did the trick.

The dough tastes similar to most (peanut butter chocolate chip) cookie doughs I may have allegedly sampled in the past.  And it so filled my craving for something bad – without being that bad.

They are a little sticky, so be prepared to wash your hands afterwards.  But it’s a small price to pay for a little sanity happiness.


We’ll be out-of-town camping this weekend and won’t return until Tuesday… so don’t expect to hear from me until Wednesday.  And wish us luck – a two-year old and five-year old… in a tent… for several days.  Oh, boy.

Fruity Yogurt Power Pops

Yeah, I’m cheating again.

This is not a real ‘cooking’ post.

But it’s just about all I’ve got in me now.

(Not in a bad way.  Just in a ‘it’s still gorgeously warm and sunny out, and I refuse to heat up my house with the oven, plus I’m too busy making sure the boys don’t drown or kill each other in the backyard’ way.)

When I saw this post at, I just knew I had to make my own version.

The Recipe:

Fruity Yogurt Power Pops, inspired by

(Makes about a dozen + pops.)

For the Blue:

1 c blueberries

1/2 c greek yogurt (plain or vanilla is fine)

1/3 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/4 c 100% juice (I used acai berry for color)

For the White:

1 banana

1 small can of crushed pineapple

1/2 c greek yogurt

1/3 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/4 c 100% juice (apple this time)

For the Pink:

1 c strawberries

1/2 c non-fat strawberry yogurt

1/3 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/4 c 100% juice (apple again)

Blend blue mix.  Fill popsicle molds 1/3 of the way up.  Freeze for half an hour.  Insert stick(s) and let freeze for another hour.

Blend white mix.  Add to molds, filling another 1/3 of the way up.  Freeze for an hour.

Blend pink mix.  Add to molds, filling to the top.  Freeze for another hour or until ready to serve.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Let’s just say my boys are obsessed with our small smoothie blender, so even making this recipe was super fun for all.  Even though it’s several steps, the overall time spent working is minimal, and you get several pops out of it.

(We also happened to have some extra, which I just poured into ice-cube trays.  These will be perfect to pop out and add to any regular smoothie any morning.)

Once complete, we were all excited to give them a try… and we weren’t disappointed.  They have a fresh, tangy flavor that was very refreshing while hanging out in the backyard in the sun.  And I knew they were pretty darn healthy, which always makes me feel good.

As you can see, I had no actual popsicle sticks, so lollipop ones had to do.

Refreshing, tasty, and healthy – a perfect combination, if you ask me.

Wishing you all a great end to your weeks.

Strawberry Freezer Jam, Year Two

I had to buy store jam last week.

This is the first time I’ve had to do this since last summer, and it made me sad.

And motivated.

We spent the sunny weekend at our good friends’ house and one of the bonus benefits was that they desperately needed someone to clear out their strawberry patch… we forced ourselves to help.

And, you all know what fresh-picked strawberries are good for… jam!

I’d only gotten one box of pectin, which made 6 cups… I have enough strawberries for about 4 more batches.

So check out last year’s simple recipe.  All it takes is some strawberries, a lot of sugar (which I choose to be in denial about), and quite a few dirty dishes – but it is so worth it.


Since we were on the road, I didn’t do a darn bit of cooking… but we did have some fun.

So I’ll leave you with some happy summer thoughts, photography-wise.

Red, White, and Blue – Berry Pie

I’m going for a quick post today, as Summer has finally hit the Northwest.

It never fails – July 5th is almost always our unofficial start to summer around here.

(I have to admit, yesterday was pretty darn perfect, too.  I do believe they said on the news that it was only the ninth Fourth of July since 1948 that it was at least 70 degrees with no rain.)

Anyways, we’re scheduled for 7 days of sun, with our highs in the 70’s and low 80’s – which to me, is pretty darn near perfect.

(Though I am thinking about you all in triple digits… hoping you get some much-needed relief very soon.)

So, I’m going outside.

And I’m staying out there.

Just be prepared, I may not be baking for a bit.

Because these seven days… could possibly be our whole summer.

In the meantime, enjoy our delicious holiday dessert.

The Recipe:

Berry Pie, adapted from Knead to Cook

1 recipe of Pate Brisee, (though you do not need to pre-bake it)

6 c of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries (your choice of ratios – I used 1 c blueberries, 2 c raspberries, 3 c strawberries)

zest from one lemon

juice from one lemon

1/4 c of all-purpose flour

1/4 c of sugar

1/2 t of ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Gently mix all of the ingredients in a bowl together.  Avoid breaking the berries as best as you can.  Fill your pie crust.

Bake the pie for 20 minutes.  Then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 40 additional minutes.

Remove and let cool.  Then cut and serve.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

As you probably noticed, I used the Pate Brisee again.  As I told Hubs, I needed to prove I was the boss of that darn recipe (though I may have used some other, um, less appropriate words.)  Anyhow, this time it went very, very, smoothly.  And the berry part was a snap, too.  Seriously, this was so simple and quick to put together.

And when it came out, it looked and smelled like a dream.

Now, I want to let you know that it turned out a little tart – which I loved, but if you don’t, you can add a little more sugar if you need.  We served this treat up with a scoop of good ol’ vanilla ice cream.

And it was the perfect patriotic dessert.

Hope you all are having a wonderful week!

(Oh, and a quick side-rant about Facebook… I just want to let you know that I am still posting things on FB, but they are only allowing small amounts of my followers to see them.  For example, yesterday’s post was only shown to 28 people.  That’s 28 out of more than 800 of you out there.  If I want you all to see the posts, I get to pay them to do it.  And that’s paying them separately for each post.  So… I guess I’m going to encourage all of you out there who follow me on FB, to check back more frequently on the blog itself and/or sign up for email updates.  And I’m still brainstorming what else I can do.  Thank you all for reading – you all are the best!!)

(Boy, my short post got long quick.)