My Awesome Ride

Since it’s Monday…

As prices at the pump continue to climb, I’ve cut down the number of wheels on my daily transport.  Actually, with the warm winter weather here, it’s been rather nice riding more, though it’s rather difficult when I need to run out for kitty litter…

My Awesome Ride

All those trees in the background with the big orange Xs are the ones we are cutting down.  Invasion of the Pine Bark Beetle 😦

and now, Pleasure Viewing

I don’t know how many times I’ve taken our Space Program and NASA for granted.  But I’m coming to appreciate them more, just as they are being killed off.

Maybe it’s the increased awareness since 9-11 that the space community headquarters “Houston” is right here in our midst.  Maybe it’s the opening of the “Aerospace Retraining Center” next to my local grocery store.  Maybe it’s my friend from spinning class at the “Y” who was just laid off because of the cutbacks in the budget for a tiny, barely funded agency.

I think we’d better enjoy stuff like this as long as we still can…

 

star forming

Hope you find it as beautiful as I do 🙂

Happy Hanukkah!

Lemon Raspberry Granola Pancakes

In the interest of saying SOMETHING about food this year…

I give you RASPBERRY GRANOLA PANCAKES!!!

See recipe for Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes…

Don’t fold the raspberries into the batter, however, as they have a tendency to be a bit mushy softer.

Ladle out the pancake onto the pan or griddle, then drop the raspberries artfully onto the top, and sprinkle with a bit of granola.

I also added a bit of lemon zest to the batter.

Try not to go overboard with the granola.  Just trust me here.  And try to find an unflavored granola.

When you flip them, you’ll have to smash them a bit, like a burger, but not too hard.

They are delightful! 😛

Stress…

I just happened to see this.  Though I generally wouldn’t post this, as I’m trying to remain multi-generational and family-friendly, I thought it was pretty hilarious, so must share.

Y’all have a great day!

I’m off to feed and walk Snobber-dog, but at least the trip there and back gets to be on the bike, now the rain has stopped.

And a FINE day it is for a ride, too!  😀

Brown Butter Strawberry Banana Bread

Yesterday, it finally rained.  Not just a soggy drizzle, but all out, thundering, lightning, blow over the plants on the patio RAIN.  I almost ran outside to stand in it until the lightning forks in the near vicinity had me rethinking that urge.

Instead, I made banana bread.

With strawberries.

Two of my favorite things.  With butter!  🙂

Brown the butter (about 5 oz or 1/2 cup) in a saucepan over medium heat.  Yes, this is something that requires attentiveness.

The butter will foam and crackle as it melts, and then brown.  Swirl the pan to keep it from burning.  When the butter begins to brown and smell nutty, pour it out of the pan so that it immediately stops cooking and hopefully prevents burning!  I just poured it into the measuring cup, and popped it into the freezer to cool for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp cinnamon.

Awesome action shot.  (Added difficulty of holding the camera in my left hand!)

In a medium bowl, whisk 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup buttermilk.

Mash 3 medium sized bananas.

Stir the mashed bananas into the egg mixture.

Check on the butter in the freezer.  It should be cool by now.

Whisk it into the egg and banana mixture.

Add the wet ingredeints to the dry, and fold together, then fold in  3/4 to 1 cup diced strawberries.

Stir until all ingredients are just combined.  Over stirring makes tough bread.  😦

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, and top with thinly sliced strawberry.  I saved the biggest one from the package for the top.

It’s so pretty, I wanted to get a spoon and just eat it.  But instead, I baked it for about an hour.

I’m glad I waited!  It looked even better when it cam out of the oven!

Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then finish cooling on a wire rack.  DO make sure that cooling has finished before wrapping it up, as condensation will make the crust soggy.  And nobody likes a soggy crust.  😀

I just had some for breakfast.  The tartness of the strawberries gives a nice contrast to the sweetness of banana.  This would make a great gift, as it is really pretty…but I think I’ll just eat this loaf!

Hubby and rat Boy might have to fight me for it.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

We really do live on a bizarre schedule around here.  After 2 weeks of vacation in the middle of September, we are switching from having Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday as Hubby’s days off, back to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off.  It’s really no wonder that I have trouble remembering what day of the week it is sometimes.

I suppose it’s a good thing that Rat Boy likes homeschooling, because I’d probably send him to school on Thursday through Sunday some weeks, and Monday through Thursday on others.

I actually tried to take him on Saturday one time when he was younger.  He wouldn’t get out of the car.

But I digress.  And probably will again, possibly in the near future.

Quinoa.  Apparently that’s where it’s at for the pot-smokin’ hippie  healthy foods-oriented crowd.  I’ve tested fed it to Hubby and Rat Boy on several occasions.  I usually throw some frozen veggies in with it, as a half-ass, fast attempt at a pilaf.  They were not impressed.

Quinoa, pronounced “Keen-wah”, is a grain that is not a grain.  I totally understand if it has identity issues.  It is referred to as a pseudocereal, because it is not a member of the grass family like wheat, but instead has relatives like beets and spinach.  And it’s amazingly healthy.  And grainy.  Great substitute for rice (and we are a rice-loving family).

And it’s OLD.  Like older than the Roman Empire, or the Greek, or even the Egyptians!  Quinoa originated in the Andean region, where it was domesticated 3000 to 4000 years ago for human consumption.  There is even evidence that shows an association with pastoral herding 5200 to 7000 years ago.  So much for the world civ lesson.

I recently discovered there are red and black varieties, as well as the white.  Mum, over the weekend, asked me to make a couscous salad for her retired teachers meeting, and because I was feeling persnickity a bit avante guarde, I decided to instead do quinoa.

1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups water cooks just like rice.  Bring to a boil, then simmer on low 20 minutes.  Cooking times are longer for the red and black varieties, as are the cooking times for more whole hulled rices.

Cool…overnight if possible, then add cherry tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, and feta cheese.  Amounts of course will vary, depending on how much you’d like to make.  I started with 4 cups of red quinoa to 8 cups of water.  I made a LOT of quinoa.  WAY more than I’d intended.  But no worries.  It even freezes well!

Isn’t it pretty?

Toss everything together with a drizzle of olive oil…I used a roasted garlic infused variety that I put on everything I possibly can.  Did I mention that I really like garlic? Oh yeah, and juice from about 2/3 of a lemon.  I used Meyer, but can’t always get them, so I’m sure a ‘normal’ lemon would be fine too.

I added some chopped fresh oregano to the first batch, then basil…yes, it’s still going strong out on the porch…to the second.  And some mint.  Because Mediterranean dishes use mint.  Just believe it.

It really is pretty.  Colorful.  Tastes fabulous.  Healthy.  Can you possibly ask for more?

Oh yeah, easy to make also.

Kitchen Kat expressed his approval by nomming on my leg while I was doing the washing up.

I can’t believe how huge his claws look.  😛  And how bad my kitchen rug looks.  I should be totally embarrassed now.  But it’s been a long day.  I’ll work on that tomorrow.

Banana Muffins with White Chocolate

I love bananas.  I love chocolate.  I love cooking with bananas because they make this awesome crusty-golden beauty that tastes as good as it looks.

I also love muffins.  What’s not to love?  Bread with fruit and chocolate.  I can totally get behind that!

 

Side bonus…muffins are WAY easier to make than cake.  Plus, it’s like having a tiny cake of your own with every muffin!

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray the muffin pan with non-stick.

Whisk together 1 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt.

Mash 3-4 meduim to large bananas, and combine with 1/2 cup melted and cooled butter, 2 large beaten eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry, using the well technique, stirring until just combined.

Add 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, and spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin.  Bake 20-25 minutes.

I used 4 bananas, and needed to add about 3 tbsp flour to stiffen the batter.  Also, the recipe made about 16 muffins.  My muffin tin has 12 cups.  On the last 4 muffins, I used the center row and filled the empty cups with water, so the muffins would bake evenly.

Cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then complete cooling on a wire rack so the sides and bottoms don’t sog out!  Then eat.  Might need to hide a few…these went FAST!!!

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