Banana Kefir Muffins

 Banana Kefir Muffins

It was my birthday last week: 31 years old. Eek. Where’d the time go?

To be honest, I think that I just pulled an emotional hamstring thinking about my declining body elasticity. Actually, I am probably in better physical shape than when I was a teenager and in my early-twenties, but my joints are starting to rebel. I am starting to get to the point that I can no longer bypass the pre- and post- exercise stretching that I used to readily scoff at. What a shame. A few more of these birthdays, and I’ll be that guy at the back of the gym, all decked out in my matching velour warm-up suit, mumbling about how wonderful my cats are, and taking a stretching class as my main source of physical activity.

On a more positive note, and juxtaposed with my rapidly aging body, my fabulous younger brother gifted me something totally awesome for my birthday.

Kefir grains.

Oooohhhh, yes.

I now have the means to make my own, homemade kefir every day for the rest of my life, to my heart’s content. How’s that for a forget-that-your-body-is-getting-incredibly-old-and-decrepit birthday present?

I love it.

And this weekend, I was on a kefir-making, and kefir-utilizing, mission.

Evidence #1: Banana kefir muffins.

 Banana Kefir Muffins

Banana kefir Muffins

Ingredients
3 large bananas, mashed (I have often used 2 mashed bananas and one grated apple)
1/2 cup kefir or yogurt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or other healthy oil)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a standard, 12-muffin, muffin pan with paper liners (or lightly grease)
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed banana (or combination of mashed banana and grated apple), kefir (or yogurt), oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla.
3. In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring only until just combined. Don’t over mix.
5. Divide the batter into the muffin pan.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

 Banana Kefir Muffins

Thanks, Alex! <3

Tomato Bread

 Tomato Bread

On Mondays, I have three jobs. Right now, I have 15 minutes in between job #1 and job #2, so I’ll keep this one short and succinct.

Homemade bread is too yummy.

I have made this tomato bread a few times and it is super delicious. Sure, it doesn’t pair well with¬†everything, but it certainly has its place.

I have made this into loaves before, but this time, I opted to half the recipe and bake it into cute little tomato-y rolls.

This is nice served with homemade soup, and makes AMAZING grilled cheese sandwiches.

Awesome.

 Tomato Bread

Tomato Bread

Adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • 2 cups warm canned crushed tomatoes (110 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I have also used nutritional yeast instead of parmesan)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour

Directions
1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
2. Add the tomatoes, ketchup, Parmesan cheese, sugar, oil, salt, basil, oregano and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth.
3. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
4. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/4 hours.
5. Punch dough down. Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Shape into loaves. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

 Tomato Bread

Cute, eh?

Sweet Potato & Avocado Salsa

 Sweet Potato & Avocado Salsa

I have had a darling little sweet potato sitting in my pantry for an absurd amount of time. This is an incredibly unusual¬†occurrence, as generally the little yammies literally fly off my shelves. There’s no reasonable explanation for my sweet potato cooking rut, but I was pretty excited to rediscover mr. spud, the-champion-of-patience, this morning.

I also had some tasty avocados, sitting and waiting to be used, in my fridge. I often find myself pairing these two ingredients together; why not?? They are two of my favs, and they both boast impressive nutritional profiles. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that they are meant to be wedded in matrimonial bliss.

So, I’ve done it once again. But this time, in salsa form.

This lovely, and quite unconventional, salsa is going to join forces with some fish tonight, but would be wonderful paired with tortilla chips, rolled up in lettuce leaves, or eaten just as is.

 Sweet Potato & Avocado Salsa

Sweet Potato & Avocado Salsa

Adapted from Martha Stewart 

Ingredients
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 – 1 red onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced (I used a handful of mixed baby tomatoes)
2 avocados, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

 Sweet Potato & Avocado Salsa

Directions
1. Steam the diced sweet potato until cooked, but still slightly firm (don’t let it get mushy). Cool slightly and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the red onion, tomato, avocado, and cilantro.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and salt & pepper.
4. Pour the dressing over the mixed veggies and carefully toss to combine.

 Sweet Potato & Avocado Salsa

The sweet potato & avocado dyad successfully strikes again.