Blackberry Basil Jam

Blackberry Jam 3

When Kroger has blackberries on super cheap sale, you buy all of them and figure out what to do later. Here’s what I did …

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I am mildly obsessed with combining fruit and herbs, so when I decided to make jam I naturally had to think about what herb would go well with it.

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I was torn between basil and thyme, and don’t think I could have gone wrong either way, but basil turned out to be just perfect.

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Toast with salted peanut butter and blackberry-basil jam. :::drool:::

I found a good Giada recipe, but cut the sugar down because I enjoy the tartness of blackberries. This jam is perfect with peanut butter, on a cheese platter, with a spoon or on crackers, a la Joey Tribbiani style (:45).

Blackberry Basil Jam 

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 oz. cartons of fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 oz. basil leaves (or as much or as little as you like)
  • Juice from 1 large orange
  • Juice from 1 medium lemon

Preparation:

Place fresh blackberries in a medium saucepan and turn to medium heat. As the blackberries warm and soften, mash them lightly (and carefully) with a fork. In a food processor, combine the basil, sugar, orange and lemon juices. Blend until smooth. Stir the mixture into the blackberries and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the mixture is thick, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow the jam to cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week. Serve on bread, with cheeses, on top of peanut butter, layered in desserts … the opportunities are endless.

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Banana Sweet Potato Bread

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Some things you just get a gut feeling about. When you have too many bananas, and too many sweet potatoes and get that gut feeling about a sweet potato banana bread, you go with that feeling.
Banana Sweet Potato Bread
I had no reason to believe that this recipe would turn out even mediocre, because I was sort of making it up as I went, but it turned out marvelously! I love naturally sweetening by using sweet fruits and veggies. Nature has so many options. Sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, beets … the list goes on and on. Can’t wait to see where the next surplus of produce takes me.Banana Sweet Potato Bread 2
Banana Sweet Potato Bread
Recipe heavily adapted from The Minimalist Baker
Ingredients:
  • 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 3/4 cup sweet potato puree (I just bake mine whole until tender and scoop out the flesh)
 Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease or spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray. I like to put a strip of parchment paper that extends above the top of the pan for an easier removal at the end.
  2. Mash bananas and add all of the ingredients except the oats and flour, whisking to thoroughly combine.
  3. Add flours, oats, bran and flax. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top. I added chopped pecans on top. Feel free to do the same, or chocolate chips stirred in would be wonderful.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a rack. Then slice and serve.

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Black Bean Brownies

I’ve been wanting to try black bean brownies for a long time now. Everyone says you can’t detect the beans at all, and gee whiz, now that I’ve had them I can say … they’re right! I created this brownie recipe after researching tips from other recipes online and struck gold.

They taste even better than they look, and I’m fully aware of how good they look.

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Dense and fudgy with an intense cocoa flavor, these brownies are incredibly addicting and that’s ok – because they’re good for you too. If you’re like me, and always seem to have a can of black beans and bananas on-hand, make these immediately. This is not a drill. Go!

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Put all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a blender or food processor. Process until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and fold into batter.
  4. Pour the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle more chocolate chips on top.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out mostly clean and there are cracks in the top of the brownies.
  6. Cool the pan completely and then refrigerate until chilled. If you used parchment paper, you should be able to lift the brownies out of the pan easily. Cut the brownies as you like. I got 16 squares out of my pan.

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Black Bean Brownies

Strawberry-Banana Spelt Muffins

This is a guest post from a talented chef with a great recipe for a unique twist on banana muffins.

Banana Strawberry Spelt Muffins

From Chef Thomas:

“I love eating bananas raw, but I am very specific about my raw bananas. They have to be all yellow, or yellow and green; no spots! Once the brown spots start to form, I just don’t like the flavor. But I can’t throw spotty bananas away, so what should I do? I guess I could make some sort of baked good… *twist my arm!*

But baked goods typically have a ton of butter and sugar … what about my diet? I decided to take a basic banana bread recipe and try to put a healthy twist on it.

As I started to throw ingredients together, I became bored with the idea of just plain old banana bread. I started to think of things that are usually combined with bananas and it hit me. Strawberries!! My first go at it, I used almond flour, strawberries, bananas, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, etc. I used the measurements from an online recipe I found. I had really high hopes. I put the mix in the oven for sixty minutes. I was so excited as I paced back and forth, waiting for the bread to be done. The buzzer went off and I strutted to the oven, confident I would find an amazing loaf of strawberry-banana bread! I swung the door open and was greeted by a goopy mess. Disheartened, I left the loaf in for several more minutes before giving up…for the day. I would make this work!

I told Maggie what had happened and we began to brainstorm about how to make this recipe work. She told me not to use only almond flour because it well make for a very wet bread. Maybe we could put some oatmeal in there to soak up some of that moisture. Maybe add a bit more flour. Sunday she came over and we began to put our recipe together. We added a bit of lemon zest and some oatmeal to the banana mixture. We  used two cups of spelt flour instead of a cup and a half of almond flour. We put some chopped cashews in there for some texture. The mixture looked great, we had high hopes. Then we started talking about how we would cook this mixture. While banana bread is great, it is not the most practical form of food for those of us on the go. We decided muffins would be perfect! We threw them in and enjoyed a beer while we waited. As we swung the oven door down we were met with an intoxicating smell and the sight of perfectly cooked muffins. We put the muffins on a cooling rack and they taunted us, daring us to take a bite …

The next thing I knew, our friend Ruth was taking a bite of one and her face said it all. Maggie and I joined Ruth in pure muffin bliss. We had done it! We came up with an amazing strawberry banana muffin recipe. I hope it brings you all the same amount of happiness that it brought us!”

Strawberry-Banana Spelt Muffins

Yield: 20 muffins 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 7 strawberries, diced
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews (or any other nut you prefer)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tins.

In a small bowl, combine bananas, strawberries, lemon zest, and oatmeal. In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, honey, and pure maple syrup in a stand mixer and blend together for one minute, or until creamed. Mix in eggs, salt, vanilla, and then add oatmeal mixture. Slowly, add dry ingredients into the wet ingredient, mixing only until combined. Fold in cashews.

Pour batter into greased muffin tins, about 3/4 way full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 mins, but keep an eye on them. The muffins are done when the tops spring back when touched.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Happy National Brownie Day!

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This yummy holiday also happens to fall right smack in the middle of final exams, so there was NO way I was going to miss celebrating this.

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This recipe for sweet potato brownies is truly one of my favorite recipes ever. Plus, I love the blogger that was the inspiration behind it! She has a ton of wonderful recipes, many of which I’ve tried, many of which are on my “to bake” list.

Since my obsession with healthy remakes of classic indulgences began, I really don’t enjoy the originals as much anymore. With sweet potato, dates, brown rice flour, almond meal, and raw cocoa, these brownies are not only insanely good for you, they taste absolutely incredible. There is so much nutritional goodness in these treats!

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Please enjoy the holiday with these brownies! You’ll feel happy, indulged, and amazing.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Recipe adapted from Deliciously Ella 

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup of ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour
  • 14 medjool dates (no sugar added)
  • 5 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (unsweetened)
  • 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • Flaked sea salt to sprinkle on top
  • 1/2 cup semi or bittersweet chocolate chips (optional, though not, in my opinion)

Preparation:

If you haven’t cooked your sweet potatoes, obviously do that first. You can peel and steam them, or, do as I do, and throw them in the oven unpeeled at 400 for 45 minutes and scoop out the roasted potato and discard the skin.

For the brownies, set your oven to 350 degrees.

To a food processor, add the cooked sweet potato and the dates. Blend together until combined fully. This mix alone is truly delicious and can probably be made into breads, cookies, muffins … everything.

In a large bowl, combine the sweet potato-date mixture with the remaining ingredients.

Fold in the chocolate chips until combined. Note: if you cooked your potatoes right before making the brownies and your batter is warm as a result, you will need to chill it first so the chocolate chips don’t melt.

Line an 8×8 baking tin with parchment paper and spread the brownie batter evenly. Sprinkle salt over the top for a little extra pizazz. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry when inserted. Remove from oven and let cool for AT LEAST 10 minutes. This step is very important so the brownies can properly set up.

At this point, I like to cut myself a brownie to eat because, well, who could possibly resist a warm brownie? But then, I place the brownies in the fridge to chill so they cut more easily. This is especially important if you use chocolate chips because they will be very ooey gooey 🙂

Sweet Potato Brownies

Just look at that flaked Himalayan salt …

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Pack up and place in fridge for a healthy dessert anytime you want.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

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After a veryyyy long day, I needed to do some baking to clear my mind. Not having made as many pumpkin things as is my duty in the Fall time, I reached for the pumpkin puree I had in my cupboard and thought of what to do …

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins 2

I decided on muffins.

The website where I found this recipe insisted these were the “BEST pumpkin muffins” ever. With a claim like that I was skeptical at first, but they looked great, so I tried them out …

I withdraw any previous skepticism because these muffins are quite frankly, the bomb diggity.

The streusel really makes these muffins. It provides a buttery, flaky surprise on top that adds a nice complement to the hearty pumpkin cake below. The glaze is the icing on top, both because it is literally the icing on top, and because it makes the muffin soo much better. The browned butter in the icing provides an interesting savory element because it’s nutty and a little salted. Really works well with the pumpkin and spices.

Pumpkin Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze 

Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod 

Yield: 12 muffins 

Directions:

For the muffins:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the streusel topping:
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the brown butter glaze:
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 or 4 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Pour butter into a small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, browned butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter among the 12 lined muffin cups.

To make the streusel, in a small bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Cut the butter into the mixture using your fingers until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Stir in the pecans and mix until combined. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over each unbaked muffin.

Bake muffins for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cool to room temperature.

While the muffins are cooling, make the brown butter glaze. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Pour butter into a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, browned butter, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of milk. If the glaze is too thick, add an additional tablespoon of milk.

Generously drizzle cooled muffins with glaze.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

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Banana Granola Bars

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This picture should tell you how good these bars are. I forgot to snap a pic before I started eating!

Banana Granola Bars cooked

These granola bars are my own creation and they are awesome. No sugar, no butter, no unhealthies.

At about 150 nutrient-dense calories each, these bars are nutritious, tasty, and filling. Perfect for an anytime snack. I love to slather one with natural peanut butter and devour. ❤ Enjoy!

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Banana Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats 
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour 
  • 1 tbsp flax meal 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup molasses (or honey, pure maple syrup, etc.), more or less to preference 
  • Scant 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, optional

Preparation:

Toast oats and pecans for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

In a large bowl mix the coconut flour, coconut, flax, cranberries/raisins, salt, and cinnamon. Add the toasted oats and nuts and mix all together.

Microwave bananas for 2 minutes until broken down and all sweet and liquidy. Add molasses (or other sweetener) to hot banana puree and stir to combine. Then add the peanut butter and vanilla to the banana mixture and stir until well combined.

Pour wet mix into the dry ingredients and incorporate completely.

Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper. Pour the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top if you so desire! Press mixture firmly into pan.

Bake in 350F oven for about 30 minutes. Let bars cool completely.

When completely cool, remove from pan by pulling up by the parchment paper.

Place parchment and bars on a cutting board and cut into bars or squares. They will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

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Banana Granola Bars 3

Banana Granola Bars

Banana Granola Bars cooked 2

Calorie count: 1,745

# of bars: 12

Calories per bar: 145 calories

Farmer’s Market Saturday

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Simple pleasures are the best. I love watching the produce at the Farmer’s Market change with the seasons. It’s all about squash, beets, and eggplant right now, and I’m not complaining.

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The beauty of beets. With matching fingernail polish ❤

Farmers Market 10.18.14

Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli

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It all started when I bought a massive tub of old-fashioned oats from Aldi’s yesterday.

Muesli

I wanted to make something with them so badly and I was feeling snacky, so I went for my go-to granola. That recipe typically takes at least 40 minutes. Well, within 15 minutes my granola was burnt to a crisp. My oven is a nightmare and my landlord will now get an earful about how her oven burnt my granola, among other deceased baked goods. May they rest in peace.

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(Crystallized Ginger. Mmmm)

I couldn’t eat my granola, but I wasn’t done with the oats. I wanted to DO somethinggggg with them. For whatever reason, I thought of muesli. I’ve never made muesli before. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten muesli before. In fact, I’m not even positive I have seen muesli before. But I was going to make it.

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(Coco-Cran-Almond-Ginger-Chia Muesli, to be exact.)

Muesli is like a less fancy granola. But seemingly boring things can surprise you sometimes.

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Muesli is super easy and surprisingly delicious! The preparation is easy peasy, but you do have to plan a little before you enjoy it. The oats have to soak up the milk for at least a couple of hours, or even overnight. It ends up super creamy, dreamy, soft and lovely. The cranberries get all plump and somehow the almonds maintain their crunch. Also, if you add frozen blueberries, everything turns a magical shade of lavender.

The whole thing is like cereal that’s gotten a little soggy in the milk too long, but you like it like that. You really, really do.

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Toasted Oats and Coconut Muesli

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted almonds (unsalted), chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (low or no sugar)
  • 2 tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Almond milk
  • Optional: frozen fruit, honey, pure maple syrup, etc.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment and bake oats in an even layer for 5-7 minutes, or until toasted. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Take out oats and dump in a large bowl. Pour coconut on same sheet with parchment paper and bake in an even layer for 3-5 minutes, or until toasted. Watch even more carefully! Take out and dump coconut into the same large bowl.

Toss the oats and coconut together, then add the dried cranberries, chia seeds, spices and salt. Mix until everything is combined.  … and, that’s it!

As I said, you need to plan a little before enjoying muesli, so once it’s all mixed together you can store in single-serve mason jars for an easy and portable breakfast. To prepare: the night before, or at the very least, about 2 hours before you want to eat it, take your cute jar of muesli and sprinkle some frozen blueberries on top. Pour almond milk over top just until the milk covers the blueberries. Place in the fridge and then, right before serving, drizzle with some maple syrup or honey. I found that the crystallized ginger provided plenty of sweetness, so I didn’t use anything extra.

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Muesli 2

Muesliafter

Spent Grain Banana Bread

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I recently came into possession of some “spent grains” from a fairly famous local brewer. 🙂 Spent grains are basically “the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients.” They can be used for all sorts of things, but of course, I used them to bake something delicious.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 2

In researching different recipes to utilize the grains, I became somewhat disheartened, because so many comments to the recipes noted how dry the end product was. I decided to use a recipe I already had, and use a small amount of spent grains to add some toasty flavor. I sort of eased my way into using spent grains so I wouldn’t end up with a dry and bitter banana bread on my first try. To use spent grains in baking you typically have to dry it out in the oven for several hours, then grind it up into a flour consistency. I used the method found here to make my spent grain flour.

Spent Grain

Spent Grains pre-drying in the oven.

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Dried spent grains being ground into flour.

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Alas! Spent grain flour.

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My god is this banana bread good. I’m fairly certain I semi-collapsed when I took my first bite, fresh out of the oven. It helps that I had an amazing base recipe to start with, but I am definitely patting myself on the back for this one. The recipe comes from Dominique Ansel, a very famous New York pastry chef. I used to work mere blocks from his bakery, so I am verrryyyy familiar (embarrassingly so) with his talents. One variation in technique I always make to my banana breads, is to microwave the ripe bananas before mixing them with everything else. This draws out a lot of the sugars and gives them a sort of roasted flavor. I’d like to think Dominique himself would be interested in this technique. It really adds something special in my humble opinion.

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This recipe is perfect (seriously you should just stop what you’re doing, go buy some “Manager’s Special,” overripe bananas, and get down to work on this right now), but next time I work with spent grain, I think I will make a hearty, savory bread to really highlight the toasted flavor of the grains. And then perhaps pair that hearty bread with a complementary brew. Excuse me now while I go look into that …

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Banana Bread with Spent Grain

Recipe from Dominique Ansel 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (or 2 cups flour if you’re not using spent grains)
  • 1/2 cup spent grain flour (omit if you’re only using regular flour)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preparation:

Note: This recipe is for 1 regular sized loaf. If you’re making mini loaves like I did, do everything the same except only bake for about 25 minutes. It could take less or more time, but that was how long mine took.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place peeled bananas in a medium bowl and microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. This will draw out some of the natural sugar and juices.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, spent grain flour (if using), baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and combine with the mashed bananas. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined. Fold in the melted butter until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (or mini loaf pans) and bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Mini loaves will take about 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

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Spent Grain Banana Bread 4

Spent Grain Banana Bread

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