Triple Chocolate Banana Bread

Triple Chocolate Banana Bread

I know it sounds cliché, but this summer is passing at ridiculous speed.

I want to have time to blog, but I don’t. In fact, I barely even find the time to cook lately.  I’m blaming the kids (partly because it’s the easy thing to do. Ha!).  Even though they sleep late, giving the illusion that the days are unfolding at a lazy pace, once they are up…BOOM!  Between the endless stream of snacking, dirty dishes, teenage hangs, and driving (oh…and one is practicing for her driving test), the time for planning, blogging, and setting up photo shots is reduced to just about nothing.

Once I spied the four over-ripening bananas in the basket, I had this bread in the back of my brain.  I somehow managed to throw it together on a day when I worked an unscheduled day on the farm (even though I wasn’t feeling all too well), immediately followed by filling an emergency babysitting need for my daughter.

Summer, you are my favorite time of year.  Please slow down so we can cuddle a bit.

Triple Chocolate Banana Bread (adapted from Pastry Affair)

Ingredients

  • 4 large ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sucanat sugar (or packed light brown sugar)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, mash 3 of the bananas until chunky smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl (such as a stand mixer), cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions.

Beat in the vanilla extract and mashed bananas until incorporated.

Add the flour mixture while mixing, alternating with the milk, until the flour and milk are completely mixed in.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Slice the remaining banana lengthwise and press into the top of the batter (such as in the photo).

Sprinkle top with cocoa nibs.

Bake in preheated oven 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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Shrimp Spring Rolls

shrimp spring rollsThe assembly of these is a bit of a chore, but once you roll one or two, you get into a rhythm.  Plus, they look freaking impressive.  These traveled well in a picnic at our favorite winery.

Shrimp Spring Rolls

Ingredients

  • one pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • olive oil
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber (peeled or not), thinly sliced
  • cilantro leaves
  • parsley leaves
  • 8 rice wrappers
  • 4-6 ounces of rice (also called glass noodles)
  • salt and pepper
  • sauce for dipping

Place the shrimp in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the lime zest and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Heat one Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and sear on all sides about 3-4 minutes until opaque and cooked throughout. Don't overcook. Remove to a plate to cool.

Prepare vegetables while the shrimp cools. After the shrimp have cooled, slice them in half. This will enable them to lay flatter on the wrapper when rolling.

Get ready to roll:

Place the rice noodles in a bowl with some warm water to soften them. Drain.

Add some warm water to a shallow dish (I used a pie tin), submerge one rice wrapper in the warm water for approximately one minute to soften, being careful not to let the sides fold in. Remove and spread the wrapper out on a cutting board or other flat surface. Place vegetables and parsley and/or cilantro leaves on the bottom third of the wrapper. Add a few of the rice noodles. Place 3 to 4 shrimp, cut side up, above the noodles on the wrapper.

Start rolling the rice paper from the bottom and over the vegetables, tucking as you go. Once you have rolled over the vegetables once, tuck in the sides of the rice wrapper to form a package. Continue folding and tucking all the way, until it resembles a burrito. Cut in half with a sharp knife.

I served this with Trader Joe's Gyoza dipping sauce (because I was in a hurry), but these go great with peanut sauce, also:

2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1-1 1/2 TBSP water

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

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