Monday, March 25, 2013

Coconut-Mango Banana Bread

I have to apologize for taking so long to actually post this recipe. As I continue with my "lifestyle" change, I'm learning to adjust my schedule to fit in some exercise and learn how to make recipes that aren't so empty of nutrition. Again, not to worry, my recipes will never be health food--just a little healthier, or meant to be eaten in moderation.

Lately, I've become somewhat of a mango fanatic. Seriously, where has this fruit been all of my life? I actually had to look up on the Internet how to slice it up, but it's really not so hard. Check out what the National Mango Board has to say about it:

I may have to find myself one of those mango slicers....

Aren't they beautiful?

At any rate, I decided to add some mango to my last batch of banana bread. Plus, since I bought a can of coconut cream awhile back and I had no idea what to make with it (truth be told, I didn't even have an idea of what kind of consistency it had), I thought coconut might give the bread a tropical feel...quite important here in Minnesota where there is no end in sight to the cold weather.

Sometimes it's all about using what's in the cupboard...

Coconut-Mango Banana Bread
Printable Recipe

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
4 very ripe bananas, slightly mashed
1 can (14 oz) coconut cream
2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chopped mango
1 cup finely chopped macadamia nut
1 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. F; butter and flour two 9 X 5 X 3 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom; set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat the bananas, coconut cream, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla until well blended, about 2 minutes. Spoon the flour mixture into the banana mixture and beat on low speed until just blended. Stir in the chopped mango, macadamia nuts, and coconut.

Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sweet Pea Cupcakes with Carrot Cream Cheese Frosting

It's hard to believe that today was the first day of Spring....we actually had a below zero windchill going on in my neck of the woods. Luckily, it doesn't have to be dreary in the kitchen. How about some brightly colored cupcakes to lighten things up?

The third Thursday of each month happens to be an Improv reveal day. Improv is a blogger challenge hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. This month the flavors to work with are Peas and Carrots. Very Springlike, no?

I have to admit to being a little preoccupied with things other than cooking or baking this month, so when Kristen offered up the idea to use baby food--jars of pureed peas and carrots--I latched on to the idea. This has to be one of the quickest ideas I've come up with yet for our Improv challenge...and I feel a bit lazy with my ingredients. Honestly, though, once in a while there comes a need to use convenience long as they are doctored up a little.

Oh my's been way too long since I bought these little jars...

Sweet Pea Cupcakes with Carrot-Cream Cheese Frosting


1 box lemon flavored cake mix
1 jar (1/2 cup) pureed peas (baby food)
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon peel


4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons pureed carrots (baby food)
1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; line a 24 cup muffin tin with liners.

In a large bowl, blend the cake mix, peas, eggs, buttermilk, and orange peel together until smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide the batter among the 24 cupcake liners and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter, carrots, vanilla, and orange peel together until smooth. Add enough of the powdered sugar to reach the consistency you like. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with cute stuff, if desired.

Don't do what I did and dump the entire jar of carrots in the bowl...duh! I ended up with way too much frosting, and it was so thin I ended up dipping the cupcakes in the bowl to frost them!

My thoughts? This was a lemon indication of peas, which is probably a good thing. I like to think that I made a box mix a little healthier by replacing the peas for the oil. The frosting was good, but there wasn't a huge amount of carrot flavor. I don't think 3 tablespoons of pureed carrot negated the fat and calories in the cream cheese, butter, and sugar, however. The consistency of the cupcake was that of a sponge cake and, all in all, I feel it was a success. Of course, I had to test it all out by eating 3 cupcakes in rapid succession.

Please do yourself a favor and check out what everyone else is making with Peas and Carrots!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos..#recipesfromtheheart

Today we are joining together to help raise awareness for Heart Disease. Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic lost her Mom to heart disease when her mother was 47, and Kim was 15. Each year on the day her Mom passed she shares stories and photos of her Mom. This year she joined forces with Jen of Juanita's Cocina, whose life was also touched by heart disease when her Stepfather had a heart attack. Jen's Stepfather is alive and well more than a decade later, and for that, Jen is thankful every day. The ladies got in touch with other bloggers to ask them to share their own stories about how heart disease has touched their lives. So today we share stories and recipes from our hearts to yours, in memory and honor of Momzie, Kim's Mom. We hope you will share your stories with us today as well.

Like Kim, I too lost a parent, my father, to heart disease when I was 15. I like to think that with advances in medicine, he would have had a much better chance of surviving today. Recently, I was told that I had really high cholesterol levels. I realized then, that no matter what kind of advances there have been in medicine, the best chance for avoiding heart disease was going to have to come from myself. So, when Kim asked if I would be interested in being part of her effort to raise awareness for heart disease I did not hesitate to say yes.

I've been modifying my eating habits for several weeks now, but it took awhile for me to really get serious about it. In fact, it was last October that I told my doctor I was intent on dropping some pounds and getting my cholesterol back down to normal levels....of course I had to get through the holidays first. The Cooking Light magazine that I picked up right after my doctor's appointment sat on my nightstand gathering dust. Until now. Holy cow, there are some great recipes in there! I chose my favorite one to share with you today, but I did make some minor changes.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos (slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine)


1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2" pieces
3 tablespoons lower sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons lightly salted dry roasted peanut, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, diagonally sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (or chile paste)
1 large garlic clove, minced
8 (6") corn tortillas
2-3 green onions, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Place the chicken in a large zip-lock plastic bag. Add one tablespoon soy sauce and 1/4 cup corn starch; shake the bag well to coat the chicken. 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil, swirling to coat. Add the chicken and saute for 6 minutes, or until done. About 2 minutes before the chicken is done, add the peanuts and the celery to the pan.

While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the remaining soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, honey, rice vinegar, Sriracha sauce, and garlic. Add to the pan, stirring to coat the chicken and cook for an additional minute.

Heat the tortillas under a broiler, turning after about two minutes, until the tortillas are lightly blistered. Place two tortillas on each of 4 plates; divide the chicken mixture among the tortillas. Top with the green onions and the bell peppers.

To be honest, I've never made Chinese food before...I didn't know what I was missing.

The hubby gave these a thumbs up!

I saved enough to make one taco for lunch the next day....

Joost Stapelbroek  (The Dutch Baker) 1917-1974

Three brothers--all died very young, from heart disease. 

Please visit these other fabulous bloggers for more stories and heart healthy recipes: