Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

It's official - it's spring time! And what is more indicative of spring than citrus!? So now I have a beautiful vase full of lemons, limes, and clementines, which makes a beautiful centerpiece for our apartment's bar, and allows me to have zest and fresh juice any time I would like. The first spring time citrus recipe? Lemon shortbread cookies!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
juice of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in half the flour by hand with a fork. Mix in lemon juice, then add the rest of the flour, all by hand. Not all of the flour will be incorporated easily, so pour the dough out on a clean surface and knead until all is incorporated. Roll out into a rectangle, about half an inch thick, and cut with a chef's knife or cookie cutters into desired shape. Bake on ungreased backing sheets for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.

Glaze with lemon glaze, recipe to follow.

Lemon Glaze

1 cup of powdered sugar
juice of 1 lemon
a few tablespoons of milk

Place sugar in a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over top of sugar. Mix with a fork until a glaze forms. Thin with milk until desired consistency is reached. Spoon over top of cookies and allow to set for an hour at room temperature to harden.

These cookies are perfect for tea time, with a cup of coffee, or, in my case, for Tuesday night Bible Study. I hope you can share these with your friends and family soon!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Me: from A to Z

I have been trying in recent blogs to share a little more of myself in an effort to seem a bit less like a mystery and more like an actual person who sits down to write these entries curled up on the couch with a mug of tea in my hand (usually putting off homework until just a little bit later...) I tend to abuse the use of ellipses, I don't like air conditioning, and I get absurdly excited about odd things that most people wouldn't waste the energy on, like trying a new shade of lipstick or getting the first spoonful of a new jar of peanut butter. So in posts like this one and this one, I have tried to share little bits of myself. You are all obviously gluttons for punishment since you keep coming back for more. So here are a few more tidbits to chew on today, as you gradually weave together this vast blanket of crazy called Katelyn.So without further ado, Me: from A to Z

A is for age: 21, yippee! If you missed my birthday celebrations (yes, plural) check them out here and here.

B is for breakfast today: Oatmeal with a dollop of pear butter and a banana.

C is for currently craving: I still have my craving for barbecue pulled pork. Still. See here for more on this craving.

D is for dinner tonight: Probably an Italian chicken burger... I'll keep you posted.

E is for favorite type of exercise: I love to swim. I swam all the way through grade school and am thrilled to have gotten back into it this year. For those of you who swim out there, I am a flyer, and distance fly and IM's are my favorite events. I really miss swim meets, both competing in them and attending them, because obviously I don't have enough chlorine in my system.

F is for an irrational fear: I hate spiders, like HATE them.  Whenever I see one I shreak and holler like someone is coming after me, and I can't stand to get close enough to them to kill them so usually I just put a glass over it until someone comes along who wants to take mercy on me. I also really don't like drive-thru's. I would much rather physically go into Starbucks or the bank.

G is for gross food: Mayonnaise. I will probably never come to terms with the stuff. And avocados and I are on an uphill battle, but hopefully after some intense therapy and sharing of our feelings, we will again be able to share the same dinner plate.

H is for hometown: I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio. I was born and raised there, and about once a month I travel home to be surrounded by family like the good old days when I took them being there all the time for granted.

I is for something important: I am graduating with my Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration in 38 days. Oh. My. Goodness. 

J is for current favorite jam: The strawberry zucchini jam Mommaw makes, hand down. I eat this stuff on everything and we should make it by the truck load. That and her bread and butter pickles, I eat those by the jar full too.

K is for kids: I love them. Hope to two of my own one day. One day far far away from today. 

L is for current location: I'm currently a senior Business Management student at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. I LOVE Lexington, with all my heart, and it kills me to have to leave here in a few months. But on to bigger and brighter culinary school things!

M is for the most recent way you spent money: Last night I paid for a carton of orange juice with nothing but change (*looks around* I know I'm not the only one who has done that...) but that probably isn't what y'all were looking for. I bought a steal of a dress on Sunday at Target, which I plan on wearing today. 

N is for something you need: Other than a good night's sleep and a few extra hours in my day, I can't think of a thing. I'm a pretty lucky girl.

O is for occupation: I'm a full time student, but I work for the Student Government Association here at UK as a program coordinator, and I work with for a distillery here in Kentucky in their banquet kitchen - so I stay busy, but it's all fun.

P is for pet peeve: People being late. And unprepared. And not responding to emails.

 Q is for a quote: I love quotes. I enclose them in cards, send them in emails, and pull them out when I really don't know how to start a paper. This one is one of my favorites: "Small minds talk about people. Mediocre minds talk about places. Large minds talk about ideas." I heard this from a speaker I attended last week and it has stuck with me.

R is for random fact about you: I've never played a video game and I've never had a Pop Tart.

S is for favorite healthy snack: I love to make smoothies because I can make them out of anything and get to enjoy them for longer than most other snacks.

T is for favorite treat: I love frozen yogurt with strawberry zucchini jam or chopped up fruit and nuts on it. Or from Fro Jo's here in Lexington - delicious!

U is for something that makes you unique: I don't match my socks. Ever. Just because.

V is for favorite vegetable: Just one favorite? Homegrown tomatoes, still warm from the garden.

W is for today’s workout: I swim every Tuesday and Thursday, but instead of a workout, we played water polo in class today. For those of you who haven't played, water polo is still a heck of a workout!

X is for X-rays you’ve had: I had one of my knee once to make sure everything was ok (as a kid I was building muscle faster than I was growing tall to make room for the muscle, which caused a few obnoxious consequences) and ones a few months ago before I had my wisdom teeth taken out.

Y is for yesterday’s highlight: Yesterday was awesome because my roommate got into Graduate school and we celebrated! It was so fun hanging out with her and celebrating her success.

Z is for your favorite animal at the zoo: Polar bears, flamingos, and babies. Any babies.

I got this template from one of the blogs I frequent called Meals and Moves, which can be found here. I made a few alterations, but the gist is still the same. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chipotle Doesn't Have Anything on Me

As you all know by now, I am a sucker for Tex-Mex and Mexican food. It is always my go to when I am out of ideas for dinner time, I not-so-jokingly kid that I could eat my weight in chips and fresh salsa, and it is the only way I have found to stomach avocados (I am still on uneasy ground with them... see here.) That being said, my weekend was filled with nothing but writing my business plan (not joking, that's all it was - I need to go back to school to get a break!) but was interrupted briefly to make this yummy bowl of comfort.

I think I should go ahead and put my two cents in there when it comes to the burrito fast food debate. Qboda, Chipotle, Pollo Loco, Taco Del Mar, Taco Bell (shudders)... so many to choose from, essentially offering the same things, and shamelessly overpricing their product. I mean come now, how expensive is rice, beans, grilled vegetables, and lettuce? Not. Very. But I have a special weakness for Moe's: But really, Moe's salsa. I buy it by the cup full and ask for it as a birthday and Christmas present, not joking. Seriously, if you aren't lucky enough to have a Moe's by you, drive to the nearest one, tell them Katelyn sent you, and I'm sure they will give you a discount.

And I am now following them on Twitter... I'm such a dork...

To avoid paying too much for rice and beans, plus saving the time to walk there, I decided to make my own rice bowl this weekend. It turned our scrumptious, I could use brown rice (which Mexican restaurants won't jump on board with,) and I saved eight bucks. Win-win-win!

Cilantro Lime Rice Vegetable Bowl

Cilantro Lime Rice:
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup finely minced fresh cilantro (I used the paste that comes in the produce section of the grocery)
juice of half a lime
salt and pepper to taste

Cumin Scented Black Beans:
1 can black beans, un-drained
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 TB minced cilantro

diced avocado
salsa/pico de gallo
shredded lettuce/spinach
shredded cheese (I used pepper jack!)

Mix rice ingredients together and place in your serving bowl. Warm your beans in a saucepan, bring to a hard simmer, then take off the heat and spoon your desired amount over your rice (making sure to get some of that yummy, spicy, cumin-scented juice too.) Top that with your sauteed veggies of choice (I used onions and red bell pepper) or meat for you carnivores out there. And finally, top off your bowl with all the toppings your heart desires.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Supper

One of my favorite vegetables of all time is spaghetti squash, followed closely by kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. For those of you who haven't worked with it before, go out to the store right now and buy one. Seriously. Grab your keys, grab your wallet, get in your car, and drive to the store and get one of these babies. I'll wait here...

Ok, now that you're back, get ready for a yummy dinner! Spaghetti squash is about the size of a Nerf softball but heavy for their size. They have a smooth, light yellow skin and can be found with the other various squashes, usually being refrigerated. Once baked, the insides can be scooped out to make perfect "spaghetti" strands, and they can even be baked to al dente, for those of you who, like me, like a bite to their pasta. Top off the strands with your favorite sauce (I thawed out some homemade stuff made with spinach, chunky tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers, and lots of basil.) Talk about your veggie servings for the day!

Baked Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Pierce the squash skin with a paring knife and place in a baking dish, whole. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until, when pierced with a paring knife, the squash is tender.

Allow to cool until you can handle it, then slice in half and scrap out the insides with a fork. Now you have yummy spaghetti that is just as versatile as the wheat-based alternative. Toss with some browned butter and sage, top with sauce (like I did here,) or bake in a torta with some eggs and parmesan cheese, crowned with fresh tomato chutney. 

Feel free to let me know how you like your spaghetti squash that I just made you go out and buy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This is not Barbecue Pulled Pork

I had this uncanny hankering for barbecue pulled pork this past week. I know, odd right? Probably because last weekend was St. Patrick's Day and there was a plethora of cabbage in the grocery store, waiting to be boiled with corned beef, and cole slaw (or as my uncle used to call it, cole salad) is a natural accompaniment for pulled pork. So while perusing the aisles (and realizing I get inexplicably and somewhat shamefully excited by grocery shopping,) I pondered the feasibility of making pulled pork in my minimally equipped college kitchen. I could make barbecue sauce, that wasn't a problem, but how shall I make the pork tender and juicy, without a crock pot, which is my traditional cooking method for pulled pork?

Still pondering, I collected my ingredients somewhat haphazardly - ketchup, brown sugar, onion, and Tabasco for barbecue sauce, whole wheat buns for sandwiching, and a pork shoulder for roasting - and headed home, still pondering the best way to go about this endeavor. I could tightly cover a baking dish with foil, but needed to be careful not to over cook the pork into tough, chewy submission. 

Plan in hand, I returned home only to find out that we were out of aluminum foil. What?! All visions of moist and succulent pulled pork evaporated and I was left with bags full of groceries for which I now needed to find uses. I found a can of jalapeno diced tomatoes in my cupboard, along with a jar of salsa, and decided to retreat into my comfort zone and go the Tex-Mex route. After all, anything wrapped up in a tortilla is delicious. Plus the extra liquid from the canned tomatoes and salsa would help keep the pork moist and create a protective crust, sans foil.

Taco comprised of roasted pork, warmed salsa, shredded cheddar, spinach, and lime

This was delicious and all, but I still want pulled pork!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm a Geek for Greek

Greek food that is... though Greek men aren't bad either. And the Grecian Islands are second to none. And I love Greek inspired fashions.... 

Anyway, today we are reveling in the wonders of Greek food! I was having a real hankering for Greek food over Spring Break last week and to squelch this craving, not to mention transport my family to Greece for a little while on Spring Break, we made this delicious, healthy, and pretty authentic Greek meal (nevermind the fact that we were watching the NCAA tournament games while preparing it in the kitchen.)

Tzatziki (Greek yogurt dipping sauce)

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated, and salted
1 16oz. container fat free plain Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely minced
the juice of 1 lemon
1/4 chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper, to taste

Salt your grated cucumber (about 1 tsp) in order to draw out the water in the cucumber; mix and set aside. Mix the rest of your ingredients. Squeeze the excess water out of your cucumber and add to the yogurt mixture. Mix and chill.

Use half of this dipping sauce to marinate your chicken (around a pound and a half) for at least 24 hours. Skewer the chicken chunks and grill.

I'm also a geek for Shelby's great photography! We have the pleasure of viewing a few posts worth of her pictures this week - buckle up, they are pretty awesome!

We paired our wonderfully marinated, cut-it-with-a-fork tender grilled chicken (which had to be grilled in the pouring rain by my dad ducking out from under an awning to flip the skewers, what a trouper) with a Greek inspired orzo salad. Orzo is a wheat based pasta, just like spaghetti or penne, but is shaped like rice, as you can see below. It cooks super fast, takes on a lot more flavor than rice does, and can be found in whole wheat versions for those of you out there who care about whole grains like I do. We tossed our orzo with yellow bell pepper, celery, cucumber, lots of fresh parsley, and a vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and celery seed (Finally! An application for that tricky celery seed that is hiding in the back of your spice rack.)

Final plating - Greek orzo salad, feta cheese, fresh cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, tzatziki , warmed whole wheat pita bread, and grilled tzatziki marinated chicken.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Potato and Leek Soup

Sundays are wonderful things. They are a little gift at the end of each week, especially Sundays that you haven't scheduled to the brim. Today was one of those days. I slept in, lounged around, lingered over planning my weekly menu (as I am no longer on Spring Break and the luxury of going to the market for dinner ingredients every few days is no longer an option,) and went to see my sister's winter percussion performance. I drove with my windows down, hair blowing all over the place, and sang to the radio turned all the way up. It's official, Spring is here.

Soup is a wonderful thing to eat on Sundays. It is easy, filling, and homey. I heated up some leftover potato and leek soup and caught up on my Google Reader blog reading.

Potato Leek Soup

1/2 pound bacon (I used turkey bacon, but the pork counterpart is perfectly fine)
3 leeks, whites and light green onion, thinly sliced and washed thoroughly
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalked celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
4 Idaho baking potatoes, evenly diced (no need to peel first)
3 cups milk (I used skim, but any kind will do)
3 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used fat free)
toppings: bacon, green onion, sour cream, cheddar cheese - at least that is what I like on my soup.

Chop your bacon and crisp in a dutch oven over medium heat; remove to paper towels and let drain. Remove all save for 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan (or add some olive oil if your turkey bacon didn't give off much fat) and saute your leeks, onions, and celery. Sweat for 8-10 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant.  Add diced potatoes, toss, and let soften for 8-10 minutes. Add milk and chicken stock, cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer - cook until potatoes are tender. Turn off the heat and puree with an immersion blender, or stand blender. If you would like, which I do, don't puree the mixture completely and instead leave some yummy chunks of potatoes. Right before serving, stir in the plain yogurt.

Sauteed leeks, celery, onions, and garlic, cooked in the turkey bacon fat and some olive oil

Once the aromatics were tender, I added the potatoes to soften

Potato soup is my mom's favorite, and we like to eat potato soup "loaded," meaning topped with cheddar cheese, (turkey) bacon, green onions, and sour cream. And of course, two separate platings - both of which were served in whole wheat homemade bread bowls, topped with bourbon smoked sea salt. Mmmm.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rice Salad, Yummy Yummy

I have learned more and more over the past few weeks that people actually read this thing, which is crazy to me since out of all the things there are to read out there, especially when free time is oh so precious and fleeting, you choose to read this blog. I will start by saying thank you, i truly love and appreciate that you all value what I have to say and endure these terrible pictures I take, and will conclude by saying that I can recommend some great other blogs to you if you're looking to get a bigger food fix.

I made this salad a while back, as a stomach flu, a snow storm, midterms, and Spring Break all stood in the way of me posting this, but as it is Spring like outside and I spent most of yesterday lounging in the sunny 81 degree weather, this seemed like the perfect recipe to share with y'all today.

Rice Salad

1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
1/3 cup parsley, minced
1/2 cup peeled and seeded cucumber, diced
2 stalks celery (leaves and all), diced
1/2 cup sliced black olives (or more if you love them like I do)
1 1/2 C cooked brown rice
few pinches red pepper flakes
1/2 C olive oil
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
juice of half a lemon
zest of a whole lemon

Mix all salad ingredients together, set aside. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a separate bowl (or shake them up in a Mason jar.) Pour dressing over salad, toss, and refrigerate. Perfect when served with poached chicken or on a bed of spinach.  

Thank you for all your support of this blog. I do it for myself, because I think it is fun to write about my adventures in the kitchen and keep a log of what all I have been making, but it is even more fun to share these dishes with other people. After all, that is why I cook - to feed people. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I have a Giraffe Whisk!

That's right, I have a giraffe whisk. How cute is this?!

Shelby gave me this for Christmas - how precious!
So where in the world have I been? I know I haven't posted in a whole week (?!) but I was struck with a terrible stomach flu that made getting through midterms last week absolutely no fun at all, in addition to packing up and moving back home for Spring Break pretty yucky. I spent the weekend on the couch and, after five whole days of not eating anything, was finally able to stomach something more than oyster crackers. Oh how I missed you Greek yogurt, pancakes, chili, and skinny lattes. 

As I was thinking about what my first blog post back would be, I realized I hadn't posted about our one (and probably only) day of snow this winter. Last Monday I was woken by the glare of beautiful sunshine off of four inches of snow. It was absolutely gorgeous - and I was caught completely unprepared and unaware. But of course this didn't mean we got a snow day, no day off to go sledding, make snow men (though there were plenty around campus,) and stay in your pajamas all day. 

But that doesn't mean I couldn't make hot cocoa. 

I like to toast all of my dry ingredients before adding the wet. It may be psychological, but I really think it brings out the flavors more so you don't have to use as much of your cocoa and sugar. I mean, we are making cocoa, not blowing all semblance of a healthy diet.

Sensible Hot Cocoa for One

2 TB cocoa
2 TB brown sugar
1 pinch salt
2 pinches cinnamon
2 cups skim milk
1 splash vanilla

Toast the dry ingredients over medium in a small saucepan until you start smelling the cocoa. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the milk to make a thick, smooth cocoa, then add the additional milk to taste. Add vanilla. Bring to desired temperature (which for me is super hot so I can sip it for as long as possible.)

Here are some pictures I took as I was leaving word out at Woodford Reserve. There is this beautiful little stream right behind the distillery that always have ducks or geese on it. They were off somewhere warmer last week.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dedicated to a Friend

Story time! Pull up a chair and settle in for a tail of yesteryear. What a great way to start a Tuesday.

My senior year of high school we had a huge snow storm on a Tuesday that caused the entire town to rush to Kroger for bread and milk because white death was coming. After spending our afternoon teaching forth graders the dangers of inhaling spray paint and taking candy from strangers, (our area's Say No program at its finest,) we were greeted in the parking lot by four inches of snow. Completely unaware, unprepared, and thrilled, Alex and I trudged through the wonderland to retrieve our cars and, unable to get home himself, Alex ended up at my house. We then spent the evening talking about what we would do with our new found freedom (since our district, though stingy when awarding snow days, had already cancelled school for the next day,) ignoring homework,  and playing in the kitchen. I swear one of the many reasons why he and I got along so well is due to our ability to eat everything in sight. I will never forget how long we worked over that little pot of soup, so I wanted to share with you the inspiration behind making this soup. I was feeling particularly nostalgic when I woke up, completely unaware and thrilled, to four inches of snow and just so happened to have this soup in the fridge.

So here is how you can relive a snow day from yesteryear.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

2 TB olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribbed celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium potato, diced
2 poached chicken breasts, shredded
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
6 cups chicken stock (bonus points if it's homemade)
3 TB cornstarch, mixed into a slurry with 3 TB hot chicken stock

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add veggies and cook 10-ish minutes, or until just tender. Add the chicken, herbs, and stock. Mix and allow to come to a boil. Mix cornstarch and hot broth in a coffee mug, then whisk into boiling soup. Bring soup to a simmer and allow to cook for an hour, or until all the flavors have melded together.

Chicken Pot Pie soup topped with Ranch and Dill oyster crackers

Same soup, but served with crusty French bread - much like what Alex and I would make panini's out of.

This blog post is dedicated to my life long friend, Alex. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, I wish you the best!

Monday, March 5, 2012

When Life Gives you Buttermilk...

The best thing I know to do with leftover buttermilk is make biscuits. It is a no brainer really. But, as you know by now, I try to take the guilt out of eating by finding healthy ways to make what we all love to eat, so behold, the healthy buttermilk biscuit! (whatever you put on top, be it sausage gravy, jam, or honey butter, is completely up to you.)

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup plain yogurt (preferably Greek yogurt)
1 C low-fat buttermilk, plus more for brushing 

 Toss all your dry ingredients together with a fork. Cut the yogurt in with a pastry blender/fork/hands until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal (this is a little trickier to do than if you used shortening, but it's the same concept - just be gentle.) Use a fork to carefully incorporate buttermilk into the flour mixture, and just before it is all combined, dump out onto a clean work surface. Knead the dough into a smooth ball (try not to incorporate too much flour,) roll out to desired thickness, and cut out with biscuit cutters. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush with buttermilk. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Our university hosted our DanceBlue Marathon from 8am to 8pm Saturday (don't know what the heck I am talking about? You just have to check DanceBlue out over here - seriously,) so I was ready for a substantial breakfast yesterday morning, even though I hardly eat anything other than oatmeal and yogurt before noon. 
Scrambled eggs, potato hash, and one of my freshly baked buttermilk biscuits.

I also decided, since it was snowing outside, to treat myself to a little coffee drink. I always keep leftover coffee in a Mason jar in the fridge so I can have iced coffee when a craving hits. Plus you can add your flavoring (in my case, just some skim milk and a dash of vanilla, and lots of ice) and shake it up to get those wonderful foamy bubbles!

Hope it is snowy and beautiful where you guys are too!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mango Smoothie, and a Bit of Bad News, and a Chance to Make a Difference

I don't know if the weather was as crazy for you guys as it was for us today, but goodness gracious! I hope everyone is safe and sound, and that we can put all talk of tornadoes and severe weather far far behind us.

That being said, I have some sad news (sad only to me I am sure, but I shall share anyway.) So my campus hosts an annual fund raiser called DanceBlue that raises money for the Children's Oncology Unit at our UK hospital. DanceBlue is a 24 hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon, where dancers dance for literally 24 hours after collecting donations from family, friends, and sponsors who are supporting them in this fund raising effort. This is DanceBlue's seventh year and so far it has been able to raise and donate over 2 and a half million dollars to the Children's Oncology unit. In 2011 alone we helped raise a total of $673,976.60!! Teams that sign up to dance together often sponsor and dance in honor of a family with a patient at the clinic, as is the case with my Alpha Gamma Delta sorority team. DanceBlue holds a special place in my heart, and has literally changed my life in the most touching and inexplicable way, which is why I have danced all three years I have been a University of Kentucky Wildcat. My sad news is, unfortunately, that this year's marathon, my last DanceBlue marathon, has been postponed and shortened due to the inclement weather.

 My heart is broken, because DanceBlue is something that, while in pain and wondering if you are going to make it through, you still are so thankful to be a part of, because you are only experiencing 24 hours worth of the pain that these children have to suffer through on a daily basis. 

In short, we dance for those you can't, and refuse to take childhood cancer sitting down.

If you are at all interested in donating to DanceBlue in order to support these children who have been diagnosed with cancer, or if you would like to learn more about this marathon which has taken such a hold on my heart, please check out this website.

So as I emerged from my tornado shelter, now faced with having to feed myself (something I wasn't planning on doing in my own kitchen tonight) I made a smoothie, mostly because I didn't feel like eating much. It was a wonderfully yellow mango smoothie, perfect for DanceBlue and definitely FTK appropriate (For The Kids.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Roasty Toasty Banana Bread

Happy Leap Day (yesterday) y'all! A whole extra day in the year which is essentially a freebie from Father Time as a reward for making it through the past three years. "Oh! I see that you endured 2009, 2010, AND 2011 without an extra day in February. Well this year, because you were SOOO good, I will gift you a whole extra day. Use it well and keep up the good work!" Yes, that is in fact how I think Father Time would talk too. All jovial and saint like, much like Santa Claus.

So what did I do to celebrate this extra day (disregarding the tornado warning and torrential downpour that soaked me to the bone for the rest of the day)? I made banana bread. But not just ANY banana bread, roasted banana bread. I know! Get back Jack, this stuff is good! I had read on one of my various food blogs that roasting bananas before adding them to banana pudding is a great way to develop natural sugars in the fruit and thus make it taste more banana-y. So, as I am not a huge banana pudding fan, applied this technique to banana bread. 

Bananas before the oven...

... and roasted bananas after the oven.
After mashing and adding to the rest of my wet ingredients, which included a lot less sugar because of the banana's now more pronounced natural sugars, I tossed it with some flour and nuts and threw it in the oven to wait the excruciatingly long 40 minutes for the loaf to be done. I have already decided that whatever is left of this beautiful loaf will soon turn into roasted banana french toast - more on that later!
Wet and dry, moments before marrying and making beautiful banana bread babies.

Roasted Banana Bread

2 medium bananas, with their ends cut off
2 TB agave nectar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

Place bananas on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until skins are browned and inside fruit is warmed and fragrant. Peel bananas and mash with a fork. Mix in a bowl with all wet ingredients, mix completely. Set aside. Mix all dry ingredients in a separate, larger bowl. Pour wet into dry and stir just to combine. Pour in a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until center comes out clean when poked with a toothpick.