Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blueberry Oat Banana Bread

The wedding is coming up SO SOON!!

We're talking less than two months now.  And I couldn't be more excited to finally call Jon my husband!

Of course, this means that I have less than two months to get everything done, which is a bit intimidating.  Now don't get me wrong - we're almost there!  But those last few things that remain unfinished are killers.  Like...planning the ceremony with my pastor.  And doing premarital counseling.  And making sure I have someone to do my hair.  And seating charts...oh Lord, seating charts...


I also have to get dress alterations done because (feel free to hate me for this next part) I lost too much weight for the wedding gown I ordered!  I focused on eating right and toning up for shows and auditions, and in the process I dropped a dress size - woohoo!  So when I went to what I hoped would be my final gown fitting, I discovered it needed to be taken in quite a bit.  What complicates this even more?  The gown is in Virginia...and I'm in Buffalo.  So I have to fly back home in April to make sure everything's perfect.  An added expense and an added stress, but worth it!

And everything will get done!  It will.  Eventually.


Two months till the wedding also means that I am down to my last two months to bake with bananas whenever I want, since the future husband is allergic to them.  I'm not going to give them up - uh, I kinda live off of them - but I will have to be very careful about when and where I eat and bake with them.

One day, I just wanted banana bread, a craving that was spurred by the three very ripe bananas I had sitting on the counter.  I was blog browsing, found this recipe on The Picky Eater, realized that I had every necessary ingredient on hand, got SUPER excited, and made it!  After I made the kitchen smell incredible and tortured myself by waiting till the next day to taste it, I was very happy that I gave into my craving!

This banana bread is about as guiltless as banana bread can get.  It's loaded with nutty whole wheat flour, hearty rolled oats, and tons of fruit in the form of banana puree and blueberries.  It also happens to be delicious.  I will recommend that you err on the side of too much mashed banana, though - I think I'd increase the amount I used for the future just for added flavor.  But if you're in the mood for banana bread that won't kill your calorie count for the day, bake this one up - you won't be disappointed!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Oat Banana Bread
Source: The Picky Eater

1 cup buttermilk (I used buttermilk powder and water)
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe banana - about 2-3 medium bananas (I say aim for 3)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 375˚F with a rack positioned in the middle.  Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray and lightly flour.  Or use Baker's Joy and do it all at once! 
Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, mashed banana, brown sugar, and oil in a large bowl until uniform and smooth.    In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Gently fold in the blueberries.
Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing out the top.  Bake for approximately one hour, until browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan to the rack to cool the rest of the way.  Enjoy!

**And stay tuned - I had fun with this bread that I'll share soon :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shrimp and Vegetable Fried Quinoa

We've been through the whole "if you crave Chinese food in Buffalo" issue before.  So I won't bore you by repeating it with this make-your-own-fake-Asian-food-that's-better-than-Buffalo-takeout post :)

This recipe was born of a need for a quick, easy, clean pantry meal that would last me for several days of leftovers and, well, wouldn't make me look bloated in a costume with no stomach.  Gotta love tech week!

I got the idea for a fried rice-style quinoa dish here and thought it would be a great solution.  Plus, I had some fully cooked shrimp and some peas in the freezer; carrots, mushrooms, eggs, and low-sodium soy sauce in the fridge; and quinoa in the pantry that could be ready in twenty minutes.  Sold.  I cooked the quinoa during a fortuitously extended lunch break, then came back and cooked it all up in a jiff before rehearsal.

This dish packs a major protein punch with very little fat, thanks to the combination of shrimp, egg, and quinoa.  It was filling without being heavy and it definitely gave me the energy to get through rehearsals after a long day of classes.

Plus, it was really tasty.  This one will definitely come back to mind the next time I want Asian food that will make me feel good about myself :)

Shrimp and Vegetable Fried Quinoa
Source: Methods and amounts taken and/or modified from Cheeky Kitchen and Annie's Eats

2-3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil, divided
1 cup diced carrots
8 oz sliced cremini or white button mushrooms
About 1 lb pre-cooked tails-off frozen shrimp
1 cup frozen peas
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups cold cooked quinoa
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
Garlic powder, salt, and pepper, to taste

Place the frozen shrimp in a colander and run under cold water until thawed.
Heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan or wok.   Add the eggs to the pan, cooking and stirring till they are lightly scrambled, but not dry.  Remove from the pan onto a plate and set aside.
Add the remaining 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the carrots and mushrooms, stir-frying until slightly tender - about 5 minutes.  Add the shrimp and peas and cook for about one minute more.  Add the quinoa to the pan, stirring to break up any clumps and combine the mixture thoroughly.  Stir in the soy sauce and seasonings to taste and continue to cook, stirring every so often, until the mixture is hot throughout.  Add the eggs back into the mixture, stir to combine, and serve immediately.  Enjoy!