Peanut Butter Chocolate Filled Banana Bread

 Banana bread is such a delicious snack and its truely a classic! I'm pretty sure most of us grew up eating banana bread (I know I did!!). My mom would often bake banana bread for us and I always loved it when she would put chocolate chips in it. This time I decided to depart a bit from the classic and changed it up by putting a layer of peanut butter chocolate yumminess in the middle of this loaf. It was a total success. The loaf has disappeared quickly in our house with requests for a repeat being made frequently. :) So, today I'm going to share this delish recipe with you.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Filled Banana Bread
Recipe adapted from Starting Out by Julie Van Rosendaal

Banana Bread:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup low fat greek yogurt (honey or vanilla flavour is nice, but plain is okay too)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Filling:
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8x4 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until well combined - mixture will have the consistency of wet sand. Add the bananas, eggs, yogurt and vanilla and beat until wel blended.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and gently stir with a spatula until just combined.
  4. Pour one half of the batter into the prepared pan. Then prepare the peanut butter and chocolate mixture by combining all four ingredients and stirring until smooth. Spread chocolate peanut butter mixture on top of batter in pan, then top with the remaining banana bread batter.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for one hour and ten minutes, or until the top is cracked and springy to the touch. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

This is such a great twist on a classic recipe. It comes together really quick - perfect to make for a Sunday morning breakfast or to bake up and take in lunches. :)

This post has been linked up with the Recipe Party over at the Sweet Spot! Head on over and check out the other delectable goods other bloggers have created this week. :)
Happy Baking my Friends!! I'm looking forward to a marathon weekend in the kitchen, so you should have some yummy posts to look forward to next week. :D


Daring Bakers' Challenge March 2012 - Dutch Crunch Bread

Well, its time for this month's Daring Baker's Challenge again. This challenge wasn't all that daring, but it was delicious. Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses. Sara and Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch Bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to make a one of a kind sandwich with our bread.

The bread is quite interesting - it is a white sandwich bread topped with a thick layer of a mixture of rice flour, yeast and water. This mixture cracks and turns golden as the loaf bakes, giving the bread it's unique appearance. I'm going to send you over to the Daring Baker's website for the recipe since I didn't change a thing. I used the white sandwich bread recipe and topped it with the dutch crunch topping.

 I decided to make my bread into a Muffuletta sandwich. I adapted the recipe from Bobby Flay's Throwdown cookbook (which is a stellar cookbook, well worth the purchase!!).

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay's Throwdown

  • 1 round loaf of dutch crunch bread
  • 1/3 lb thinly sliced genoa salami
  • 1/3 lb thinly sliced serrano ham
  • 1/3 lb thinly sliced lean capicola
  • 1/3 lb thinly sliced spanish salami
  • 1/4 lb thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • 1/4 lb thinly sliced swiss cheese
  • 1 recipe special dressing
Special Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp sherry cooking wine
  • 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 pepperocini peppers
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • salt and pepper
  1. First, make the special dressing. Combine all ingredients except the capers in the bowl of a food processor. Whirl until mixture is almost smooth, but still a little chunky. Stir in the capers.
  2. Slice the bread in half horizontally. Spread both halves of the bread generously with the dressing. Layer the meats and cheeses on the bottom half of the bread and cover with the top half.
  3. Serve cold. Serves 8 - 10 people.

 Here are some pictures of this monster sandwich. Don't worry about the olives in that dressing... my hubby hates olives, but he was madly in love with this sandwich. It all goes together so perfectly with no flavour overwhelming the others.

 It was a little hard to cut due to all of the toppings, but it still tasted great.

This post has been yeast spotted!

This post has been linked up with Fusion Fridays over at Jennifer Cooks. Head over to check out other delicious goodies other bloggers have whipped up this week.

Thanks Sara and Erica for hosting an interesting challenge. I can't wait to go around and check out what kind of sandwiches everyone else made. Happy Baking my Friends!


Meatball Souvlaki!

 Want something quick, easy and different to make for dinner? Make these awesome meatball souvlaki pitas. You can have these on the table in under 30 minutes - can't beat that on a week night. Plus, these will help you get out of that rut of having the same old week night meals. Your family will thank you!

Meatball Souvlaki
Recipe adapted from Everyday Favorites by Canadian Living

  • 1 cup plain, fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup grated baby cucumber (about 1 baby cuke)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh mint, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 greek pitas
  • shredded lettuce
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • thin slices of red onion
  • hummus
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup garlic and herb croutons, whirled in the food processor until finely ground
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk egg. Whisk in the crouton crumbs, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix in beef. Roll into 1 tbsp balls - makes approximately 24 meatballs). Place on a prepared pan. Bake in 450F oven for approximately 18 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. In a bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint, dill, salt and pepper. Spread pitas with a layer of hummus. Then spread a layer of the yogurt mixture over pitas. Sprinkle with lettuce. Divide tomatoes, onion, then meatballs. Fold each pita in half to eat. Enjoy! Serves 4.
 Easy and delish! Hope you enjoy this one. We sure did! Stay tuned for tomorrow's Daring Bakers reveal. Its a good one. :)
This post has been linked up with Fusion Fridays Link Party over at Jennifer Cooks. Head on over and check out what other fabulous dishes the blogosphere has whipped up this week.

Happy Cooking my Friends!


Green Smoothie {Healthy, gluten-free and Vegan}

 Many of us are becoming more conscious of what we're putting in our bodies every day. With all of the genetically modified foods, chemical treatments and other scary things out there, I'm not surprised. But, it can be hard to find the time and energy to make sure we're purchasing healthy ingredients and making healthy food. That's where this green smoothie comes in - its a great way to start your day and you can feel good knowing that everything that goes into it is good for you and will give you that kick of energy to start the day. Its quick and easy and you can pre portion out the fruit and veggies a few days in advance so all you do is dump in blender and go! Plus, you won't have to worry about getting enough fruit and veggie servings for the day, this one's packed full of whole fruits and veggies!!

The reason I'm sharing this recipe with you is because of my mom. My mom has been struggling with some serious health issues for the past few years and nothing seems to help her much... not the most expensive medicine, expensive doctors or expensive supplements. But a friend of hers recommended that she try going vegan for a while and see if it helps. She thought "what do I have to lose". She has been drinking variations of this smoothie as part of a vegan diet for the past few months and over those month's we've seen a huge transformation in her. No, she's not cured, but she is feeling much better and most days she can get up and walk around and has way more energy than she did before. She asked if I would share this recipe on my blog for anyone out there looking for a healthy and delicious (if you can get over the colour!!) breakfast or snack.  So of course I agreed to share with you. Hope you enjoy!
Green Smoothie {Healthy, gluten-free and Vegan}
Recipe from my Mom

  • 1 organic banana (make sure its ripe, because you need the sweetness and flavour)
  • 1 organic ambrosia apple, cored and roughly chopped
  • juice of one organic lemon
  • 2 cups roughly torn organic greens (kale, lettuce, swiss chard, or any combination of them)
  • 2 cups cold water
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender (vita-mix is best, but any blender will do). Blend all ingredients until smooth and vibrant green (colour will vary depending on mixture of greens used in smoothie). Makes two large servings. Store leftovers in the fridge for later.

 You can mix it up a number of different ways to give yourself some variety - vary the type of greens you use (for some crazy colour try some organic purple kale!!), you can put pear in instead of apple, or any other fruit you want! If you find this isn't quite sweet enough for you, try sweetening it with a couple teaspoons of agave syrup. And a little trick to get over the green colour of the smoothie - drink it out of a travel mug through a straw!
Do you have a favorite vegan recipe? Would you like it featured on my blog? Send me an email with the recipe (don't forget to include the source of the recipe) and a photo from last time you made it and I will most definitely feature it on my blog. Can't wait to hear from you.

Happy Cooking my Friends! Stay healthy!


Thrifty Veggie Mama's Quinoa & Black Bean Chili for SRC

 Woohoo!! Its time for Secret Recipe Club again (in my opinion, one of the highlights of my month). I get to check out a new blog and sometimes experience a new way of cooking. That was the case this month when I was assigned Thrifty Veggie Mama's blog. She has so much healthy stuff on there... definitely a new style for me. :) Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this month's assignment and had the opportunity to try out a new vegan recipe for my mom who is a newly converted vegan. Perfect timing I guess!

Thrifty Veggie Mama is written by Jamie. Jamie is a busy, mother of three kids (all under the age of five!!) who has been vegetarian for a few years now. I loved the various flavours in her blog and how healthy and wholesome the recipes are. Oh, and I did notice that a lot of the recipes are very easy to put together! What more could you want?

For my selection I made the Quinoa and Black Bean Chili. Oh it was amazing and received rave reviews from my mom!! To be honest, I didn't change much. I added a bit more water because my quinoa seemed to absorb the entire cup and a half of water in the recipe, so I ended up using more like 1 3/4 -2 cups of water. And I also used about 4 tbsp chili powder and 1 1/2 tbsp cumin. Other than that, it was alllll the same. You could mix up the veggies if you want and don't be shy about the jalepeno - it just rounds out the flavour without being ridiculous spicy!

So I'm going to send you on over to Jamie's blog to check out the recipe. Stop by and give her blog some love. I guarantee you'll be bookmarking it for later! I know I'll be back.

Happy Cooking my friends! And thanks for stopping by. I can't wait to hop around and check out what all of my fellow group C-er's made from their assigned blogs. :D


A Trip to Tofino & a Restaurant Review

It was rainy and cloudy at Long Beach, but it started to clear off quickly
 It feels like I've been gone forever... two weeks in blogland is quite a long time. Thats how long its been since I've posted. I've been away for work these past two weeks and just haven't been doing any cooking or baking to post about. On my trip for work though, I did get one day off during which I took a lovely day trip to Tofino, BC with my co-worker. In this post I'm going to show you some really pretty pictures from our trip and tell you about a great restaurant and resort in Tofino - The Wickaninnish Inn.
Log bridge, part of the rainforest walk
 First, if you've never been to Tofino, it is a small coastal town on Vancouver Island (just off the west coast of Canada). It is absolutely breathtaking with a great combination of outdoors-y activities and delicious restaurants. Our first stop when we got to Tofino was Long Beach. We walked almost five kilometers on that beach... as its name suggests, it goes on forever. We also got a really great view of Incinerator Rock! As we started walking the beach, it was spitting rain and super cloudy, but during our walk, the sun started coming out and by the time we had reached the end, the clouds and rain had burned off and we were left with sunshine and lovely blue skies. Boy can the weather change quickly!
Me on the log bridge on our rainforest walk
 Next up, we drove a little way out of town and took in one of the 1km rainforest walks. The rainforest walk is a cool boardwalk through our coastal rainforest here where you can see the huge, beautiful trees and other rainforest-y scenery. Its so spectacular in there and it never gets old. I've done this walk a couple of times on previous visits and it still takes my breath away how beautiful it is. So, why all this walking? Hmmm.... needed a bit of exercise prior to stuffing ourselves on gourmet coffee and desserts at the Wick Inn's restaurant The Pointe Restaurant.
Nim modelling for me at the Pointe Restaurant at the Wick Inn
 This restaurant is one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. The service is impeccable, the view is one of a kind, and the food is presented in such an amazing fashion! Its impossible not to be impressed in some way or another at this place. Our server's name was Bappa and he was witty, conversational and such a fantastic server - we would probably go back just because of him!

We started out ordering coffee - I ordered a latte and Nim (my co-worker) ordered a mocha. Both beverages were deliciously smooth and were served with raw cane sugar. Next, I ordered a bowl of the chowder - it was lovely with baby shrimp, fresh Port Alberni halibut, clams, potatoes and corn and finished with a generous drizzle of prawn oil. Absolutely spectacular! It is a huge portion, so don't be afraid to share. :) A selection of bread accompanies the chowder along with homemade butter! Our bread selection contained a toasted walnut bread, cranberry sourdough bread and buckwheat bread. All were very fresh and had great flavour. I think our favorite bread was the toasted walnut bread though.

Then we moved on to the course we came for - dessert! Oh so good... I am wishing I could go back there right now. Nim ordered tiramisu - which was no ordinary tiramisu. The portion at the back of the plate has a lady finger base and is topped with mascarpone ice cream sprinkled with cocoa powder. At the front of the plate is coffee and liquor soaked "spaghetti" served on a delicious chocolatey sauce and topped with a sprinkle of pistachios and little frangelico chocolate crisps.
The Wick's take on Tiramisu
 Then I ordered the Key Lime Pie. It wasn't really pie, more like the chef's rendition of the flavours of key lime pie. I was totally okay with that! It was presented so spectacularly. They brought it to the table and then poured the spiced rum sauce over the blown sugar tower very dramatically at the table. The dessert started with a base made of a disk of white chocolate, next it had a small scoop of key lime sorbet which was enrobed in creamy coconut custard ice cream. Then the whole thing was crusted in a graham crust and served inside of a blown sugar tower. As I mentioned above, it was then topped with a lovely spiced rum sauce that went so well with the lime and coconut flavours hidden inside. This dish was an absolute show stopper!!!
Key Lime "Pie" served in a tower of blown sugar

View from the Pointe Restaurant
 And thats about all I have for you today. Stay tuned tomorrow - it's the Secret Recipe Club's group C reveal day tomorrow. I'm really excited about the blog I've been assigned and I can't wait to share it with you. Sometimes keeping the secret until reveal day is the hardest thing about this club. :) :)

Long beach at the end of our walk - all clear and sunny

I'm so glad to be back to blogging. I feel like I've been going through withdrawals these past two weeks! I've missed you all. Hopefully you're still hanging in there.

Happy Baking my Friends!


Soft, Chewy Black & White Chip Cookies

Howdy peeps! Hows your weekend going so far? I worked this morning then ran around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done before my two week trip for work... I leave tomorrow. Right now I've got the hockey game on in the background, watching my Canucks get their butts kicked (common theme this year I know) and on one of the commercial breaks, I watched a beer commercial that said "There's an art to everything..." and thats so true isn't it? As with other things, making perfect chocolate chip cookies is also an art. Its hard to find that "perfect" recipe and works out every time, but I think this recipe is one of the best I've ever tried. They've got a secret ingredient - cornstarch!! The cornstarch keeps them soft and fluffy and gives them a really silky texture in your mouth. Give them a try, you won't be disappointed.

Soft, Chewy Black & White Chip Cookies
Recipe minimally adapted from Anna Olson's Back to Baking

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars together until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt together with a whisk until evenly blended.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until evenly blended. Stir in white and dark chocolate chips.
  5. Using a medium cookie scoop, drop scoops of cookie dough onto the prepared trays, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cookies.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes, until the cookies are just golden around the edges and don't look quite done in the middle. Let cookies cool on tray for 5 minutes then remove to a rack to transfer completely.

So easy and delicious! Hope you enjoy these.

Note that I won't be around much the next couple of weeks, but I will try to get a couple posts up while I'm gone... maybe a couple restaurant reviews?!

Happy Baking my Friends!


Salmon with Red Thai Curry Sauce & Thai Black Rice

Well, that was a loooonggggg week! Apologies for not blogging more this week, but working 70 hours a week leaves little time for fun things like cooking and blogging. But, I have a peace offering - the recipe for the most wonderful thai curry sauce you've ever tasted. Serve on some broiled salmon with thai black rice and you've got yourself and exotic and delicious meal! Note that thai black rice seems to take significantly longer to cook than regular white rice, so if you're in a rush, stick with jasmine or basmati rice that don't take quite as long to cook. :)

Salmon with Red Thai Curry Sauce & Thai Black Rice
Recipe minimally adapted from No More Secrets

  • 4 fillets fresh wild salmon
  • kosher salt
  • thai seasoning
  • sesame seed oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 5 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tbsp fresh, hot curry powder (if you're using grocery store curry powder, use 1 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsp red thai curry paste
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 - 14oz can coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp tamari sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar, packed
  • thai black rice, cooked according to package directions
  1. First make the red thai curry sauce - saute the garlic and the ginger with the 5 tbsp oil in a medium saucepan. Add coriander, curry powder, thai red curry paste, paprika and cumin, one at a time, stirring well between additions to allow the fragrance to develop.
  2. Whisk in the coconut milk, tomato paste, tamari and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and transfer to a jar. It will keep refrigerated for up to three days.
  3. To cook the salmon, preheat your oven to 375F. Line a baking tray with foil and place salmon, skin side down on the prepared baking tray. Sprinkle generously with thai seasoning and kosher salt. Drizzle with a bit of sesame oil. Bake in preheated oven for 12 - 15 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.
  4. Serve salmon on a bed of black rice, drizzled with thai red curry sauce and sprinkled with fresh cilantro leaves.

This is restaurant quality food that you can serve up at home - on a budget!! Gotta love that right? Hope you enjoy this! I think the key is to use good, fresh salmon and high quality spices (especially the curry paste and curry powder). I get my curry powder from a wonderful woman in my home town - she toasts and grinds her own blend of curry powder and sells it - all of the proceeds go back to India to great charitable causes there. This curry powder is some of the hottest and most flavourful curry I've ever tasted and a little goes a long way. If you're using "regular" curry powder from the grocery store, be sure to use at least double what I've quoted above as you will need that much to get anywhere near the flavour I got from my "special" curry powder.

This post has been linked up with Fusion Fridays over at Jennifer Cooks! Hop on over there and check out what other delicious goodies fellow bloggers have been making this week. :)

Happy Cooking my Friends! Hope you have a most wonderful weeked. :)