Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paleo Banana Bread

I blame the change in hormones following my surgery (or something), as today I seem to be in full on "nesting" mode and can't seem to focus on much else.  I started off the morning making Hot & Sour Soup (of course I was missing most of the veggies and tofu, and it was snowing outside, so it's not quite the same as the recipe I posted previously). I haven't tried the soup yet because someone got me a little distracted... with banana bread.
Paleo Banana Bread
Paleo Banana Bread

My friend Cassy posted this recipe on Facebook and tagged me with it. I think the implication was "let's get the person who probably has the ingredients to make it and try it before I waste my time, etc".  I took the challenge and learned a lot in the process. As I was making it I texted her "This better be good because I'm using the last of my almond flour". Turned out I had exactly 2 cups left (might have been more if I'd had a sifter).

Of course, since I'm completely incapable of following recipes, my recipe was more like this:

3 eggs, separated (keep the yolks and whites separate!)
3 or 4 tbsp honey (up to you!)
4 tbsp (soft) coconut oil (you may need to warm it up if it's hard).
3 mashed bananas (3 small, or 2-3 big)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups almond flour
1 cup pecans
2 large handfuls of chocolate chips


  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the egg yolks and honey in a large bowl until light and fluffy. I use a hand-held mixer for this. It didn't take long.
  3.  Add the coconut oil, vanilla, and mashed banana to the bowl, mixing well.
  4. In a smaller separate bowl, mix the cinnamon, baking powder and almond flour and sift well.
  5. Add that mixture of spices and powder to the bowl and stir well.
  6.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Use hand mixer on high. Stiff peaks are vital. 
  7.  Fold the egg whites into the banana mixture to pull it away from the sides before gradually folding the rest of the egg whites into the mixture.
  8. Add nuts and chocolate chips (if desired)
  9. Grease bread pan with coconut oil (or butter)
  10.  Place in oven for 40-45 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  11. While the bread is still warm coat the top with butter or substitute (I use coconut spread)

I did my best to actually follow the directions given. However.... 
  1.  I use coconut oil in EVERYTHING 
  2. I like a LOT of cinnamon
  3. I don't own a sifter (I need to rectify that).
  4. - I was running low on honey so I used a little less, figured the bananas would be sweet enough (and I was right). 
  5. Everything is better with chocolate!
Why can't I get stiff peaks?
I had never whipped eggs to a hard peak in my life. I guess there is a first time for everything, and as usual this first time didn't go so well.The picture on the left is me NOT getting it right. I literally stood there with the mixer for probably 15 minutes. Paul came home from work early and I told him what I was doing. He looked at me and said "why don't you try putting it on high?". I did that... it didn't help. 

Tip: Make absolutely sure that you don't get any yolk in your egg whites or they will not get stiff!  That said, I ended up using 6 eggs for this recipe because I had to start over.

I used coconut oil to coat my bread pan and when I first pulled the bread out and tasted it I felt like it was missing something. That's where I decided to try a good coat of coconut spread (I don't do butter) on the top. It tastes just like butter so it gave it that same flavor and tasted quite good.  I took Paul a piece to try and when I tried to walk away after his first bite he grabbed the rest out of my hand, then came back for me.  Verdict: It was worth using the last of my almond flour and wasting 3 eggs to make.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winter Art Pieces (Playing with my Cricut)

Mostly this blog is things that I found on Pinterest and was inspired to try to create. In this case, I didn't find my inspiration on Pinterest, but rather on the shelf at TJ Maxx. I saw this cute art piece hanging on the end of the rack as I wondered through the store on Black Friday. I don't know what I was thinking even going in the store that day (but I did find a good supply of yummy GF cookies). I thought this was really cute but felt like it was totally something I could create on my own.  Initially, I thought I would actually try to recreate it, but that's just not who I am. In the end, I just used it for inspiration.

In October I convinced my husband that I needed a Cricut. I'm still not really sure how I pulled that off, other than that he seems to have an issue saying "no" to me, so unless I talk myself out of something I want I usually end up with it.  Since I hadn't had time to really do much with it, this project became my first one using the machine. I'd played around with it a little bit cutting some basic shapes and just getting a handle on how to use it, but this time it was on purpose. 

First I had to find a reindeer, there are tons of cartidges with reindeer on them, but I ended up buying (via the Craft Room) the basic Christmas cartridge, which had several reindeer options, as well as lots of other good winter and Christmas images.  From there I printed off the my reindeer of choice on several different cardstocks (including a basic brown). I had already created some shapes to make snowflakes with (during my earlier testing of my new toy). 

The one thing I really loved about the original image above was the burlap background with the worn paper look on top of it, so I decided to stick with that. For the base I used a piece of wood (if I did it over again I would just use a 12x18 canvas). I covered the wood with the burlap (which was a learning process for me) using spray adhesive and staples.  Then I built my main image on a piece of poster board before I adhered it onto the burlap. The top half of the background image is a napkin (I seperated the layers and just used the top layer with the color), then I used pieces from 3 different scrapbook papers. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, really not much like the original inspiration other than that they both have a reindeer.  Looking at it now there are definitely things I'd do differently if I had it to do over, but that's always the way it is.

While I was playing with Christmas themes, I used some tree images and some of my left-over snowflakes and put this together.  More for practice with the Cricut than anything else.