Dec
16

With the recent tragedy in Newtown, I can only express how heartbroken I am. I will continue to pray for the families and those affected by this devastating tragedy.

With that said, I’ve wanted to reach out and hug the people who mean the most to me.

And sometimes I say I love you with bread. As simple as that sounds it means a lot.

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Oct
15

I have a few foods that I have fond memories of. They continue to be my favorites throughout the years.

This got me thinking… what makes food memorable? It is simply the taste of it? Or more of what we associate with our food experiences?

Every time I have hot chocolate I’m taken back to when I used to ice skate with my girlfriends. We’d grab a cup of rich creamy hot cocoa with excessive jumbo marshmallows, whole milk, and all things that fitness magazines say we shouldn’t have.

When I want to indulge in things like that, I remind myself that I’m just living life. You know, enjoying those simple moments filled with laughter, good food and friendship. In fact, those moments are building memories. So damn right, I’m having that hot chocolate!

With extra whip cream thank you very much.

Often times I wonder why I find pumpkin pie to be the best dessert on the planet. I mean, it’s so simple! But eating pumpkin pie reminds me of the first time I made a pie by all by myself. How I crafted the crust with such determination. In that very moment, I was discovering my passion and creativity for baking. So really it’s not the dessert itself, it’s the memories that come with each bite.

Now it’s my soul food; it feeds me happiness in the form of good memories.

To date, one of my favorite meals was scallops with spaghetti squash, roasted red peppers, with this incredible creamy sauce. It was finished with a chocolate soufflé and rich chocolate ice cream. Which of course I devoured. I think it’s memorable to me specifically because of the person I was with.

Time spent with good people can make food special. This I know to be true. Just think about some of your favorite foods. Or the best meal you’ve ever had. It was probably more of an experience and memory rather just based on taste alone.

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Sep
23

I love when my weekends are full of good cooking.

Yesterday I enjoyed the day grocery shopping, eating a huge greek lunch with tzatziki (my favorite!), and drinking a little white wine… or A LOT of white wine. No biggie. For a quality nutritious dinner, I destroyed a giant cup of frozen yogurt with four flavors: pistachio, cheesecake, vanilla bean, and red velvet cake batter. Seriously extraordinary.

But then today a little bit of magic happened.

Cause I made this banana bread.

And I made it vegan.

And gluten-free.

And irresistibly healthy.

Because I love you, duh.

This recipe was inspired by my dark chocolate raspberry oatmeal banana bread, which happens to be my favorite banana bread EVER. The ingredients call for gluten-free oat flour and I love making it myself; all you do is throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Simple and easy!

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Sep
16

I’ll never forget the day I fell in love with baking. I was 7 years old.

My Mom decided that we would make a homemade pumpkin pie for the holidays. We spent hours deseeding and roasting pumpkins. I always enjoyed our time together in the kitchen because she gave me the best tasks.

On that particular day, I was in charge of making the pie crust look beautiful and fancy. Using my small hands, I tried my best to mimic the pie crust I had seen on the Thanksgiving dinner table, which of course resulted in something unsymetrical and pretty funny looking. Nevertheless, Mom was beaming at my accomplished pie crust and I was too! Eating the pie was the best part though; each bite brought me comfort and happiness knowing that I helped create a little slice of magic.

And so my love affair with baking began.

These days I find myself so busy that baking seems like a daunting task. It’s time-consuming, and sometimes a little bit complicated BUT I have to remind myself the results of home-baked goods are always unmatched. Lately I’ve been wanting to get back to real baking, the kind that is more like a project. And what’s more fun and interesting then making bagels from scratch? Seriously!

Now surprisingly, I don’t own bread machine, so I kneaded the dough by hand (talk about a calorie burner!); I felt accomplished and proud. Although, using an electrical mixer (such as a KitchenAid) would also work with this recipe.

Alas! I’m here to convince you to make homemade (handmade?) bagels. I’ll take you step-by-step through the recipe so that you can make these too! It’s a wonderful weekend project and great to do with kids. These bagels also happen to be lower in calories than bakery style, plus they’re chewy and toast perfectly. It’s some serious magic.

And since it’s Fall, we might as well make them pumpkin bagels, right? Then top them with a homemade whipped cinnamon honey butter.

So, here’s how we start: we’re going to proof the yeast (basically activate it)! Begin by placing warm water  in a large bowl and adding the yeast along with brown sugar. The yeast essentially feeds off the sugar.

After a couple of minutes add the pumpkin, spices, and 2 cups of bread flour and mix until a sticky dough forms (pictured above).

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Aug
22

I woke up early this morning eager to bake a banana bread. I silently mashed bananas in my kitchen and watched the sunlight creep through the windows. I mean to be perfectly honest all I wanted to do was turn on Jay-Z’s 99 problems, sing loudly and change the lyrics to “I got 99 problems but BANANA BREAD AIN’T ONE!” Too bad my roommates were still sleeping or it totally would have happened.

Now that I think about it I’m kinda glad I didn’t as I can’t say that rapping is one of my talents. And if you don’t know who Jay-Z is then maybe we’ll just move on and talk about the real star here: Banana bread. With peaches. Annndddd cinnamon. A brown sugar topping too!

It just makes me feel all cozy and wonderful.

Since there are an abundance of peaches in August, I wanted to bring you a fun recipe. Of course peach pie is delicious and peach cobbler is amazing but those are classics, and I wanted to bake something a little creative to make you swoon. The answer happened to be staring right at me: ripe bananas on my kitchen counter! I don’t know, it’s like these bananas just beg me to be mashed into delicious breads or something. Or to be made into pie.

Either way I know that anytime there are ripe bananas around, magic is about to happen. Hehe.

Look at that crust on the top of the banana bread! No seriously, stare at it for a good minute.

The crust is simply perfectly golden brown and the result of sprinkling brown sugar on top before baking. The brown sugar caramelizes and hardens when baked then forms a nice crusty exterior for that superb crunchy topping.

Oh and the inside? So flavorful and moist! Plus who can feel guilty about this bread? Not me considering I already ate 3 slices.

This bread is downright sensational. The peaches add a juicy flavor and a gorgeous addition to the top. Of course the bananas are more prominent that the peaches flavorwise, but nevertheless the juicy bits of peaches surprise you with every bite and the cinnamon really makes the flavor pop.

I wanted to keep this bread lower in fat and calories so I used minimal butter and nonfat greek yogurt. I didn’t have any whole wheat flour in my cupboard, or I might have used some of that in the recipe instead of only using white flour.

Peach Banana Bread. Don’t miss out. I enjoyed mine with a drizzle of honey and a cup of hot coffee. Then I busted out the Jay-Z.

 

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Low-fat Cinnamon Peach Banana Bread
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 12
  • Serving size: 1/12 of recipe
  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 2.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 29.1g
  • Sugar: 13.2
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Protein: 3.3g
Recipe type: Banana bread, Healthy, low fat
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Succulent fresh summer peaches combine with a low-fat moist banana bread made with greek yogurt and a touch of cinnamon.
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1 cup finely diced peaches (about 2 peaches), plus about 8-10 thin peach slices for topping
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 2 tablespoons butter, browned or melted (you can also use coconut, olive, or canola oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain vanilla greek yogurt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar until well combined. Add vanilla and egg and whisk again until well combined. Whisk in diced peaches. Add in dry ingredients and yogurt alternatively, folding together well combined.
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan. Top with thinly sliced peaches and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over the top. Dust lightly with cinnamon. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or toothpick comes out almost clean in center.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan gently and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely. Cut into thick slices and enjoy!
Notes
Can replace some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
Bread is better the next day.
Awesome toasted and drizzled with honey


Jul
20

I want to declare my love for this banana bread in some sort of outrageous way.

Hmmm maybe I should call Oprah and ask her if I can come jump on her couch like Tom Cruise did when he proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes?

Probably not a good idea. After all this bread is Scientology free and I don’t want people to think I’m nuts. Plus there’s absolutely no way to fall out of love with this bread.

We’ll just have to think of another way to tell the world about the best banana bread I’ve ever made.

In the case of banana breads, the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is completely true. I hadn’t baked banana bread in over a month and was dreaming of a unique recipe for you. Luckily the lovely people at Driscoll’s sent me some coupons for raspberries. I knew right away what had to happen. Raspberries and dark chocolate are a combination I can’t resist, but putting them into a banana bread was like an epiphany.

Since I’ve been trying to eat less wheat lately, I decided that I would use oat flour in my recipe (yes, it’s gluten-free). Can I just say WOW?! The oat flour brought a hearty, incredible flavor to the banana bread! Thankfully oatmeal is naturally high in fiber and protein, which means it’s not only good for you but also super filling. I surprised myself when I didn’t inhale the entire loaf right when it came out of the oven.

Oh and by the way, did you know that making your own oat flour is really easy? Simply throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Done!

I don’t know if it’s biting into the sweet tartness from the raspberries and the creamy bittersweet notes of dark chocolate, or if it’s simply this whole oat flour thing going on, but this banana bread just tastes like heaven. I plan on falling in love with it all over again this weekend.

So here’s what I’d really like to happen: You make this bread and inhale it. Or share it. Just tell everyone you know about it!

Here’s why:  Raspberries are good for your health. And a little bit of dark chocolate won’t hurt you; it’s an antioxidant! There is also zero butter or oil in this recipe, minimal sugar, and the only dairy is from the two egg whites (if you want to make it vegan, try it without them)!

I freaking love everything about it. From the way it smells to the way it tastes. Completely devour-able.

Have a great weekend!

 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Banana Bread
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Banana Bread, Healthy
Ingredients
  • About 3 cups oatmeal {gluten-free oats}
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup smashed raspberries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Make oat flour: Place oatmeal into blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour. You may need to stop blender and stir oats a couple of times to ensure that all oats have been blended.
  3. Measure out just 2 cups of the oat flour and place in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. In a separate large bowl, beat mashed bananas, dark brown sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs for 1-2 minutes until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in raspberries and dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack to finish cooling.
Notes
It typically takes 2 1/2-3 cups of oatmeal to make 2 cups of oat flour, so you may have some leftover. This recipe only calls for 2 cups.

To ensure recipe is gluten-free, use gluten-free oatmeal when making your oat flour


Mar
31

What are you doing this weekend?

I purchased an Ostrich egg from Whole Foods. What?! I know. The egg is bigger than my head, cost $30 dollars, and could quite possibly feed a family the size of the Duggars. Soo… are you hungry?

Welcome to the world of Monique where I impulse grocery shop and talk about things that are just weird. Apparently I was utterly fascinated with this egg. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it now. Perhaps an Easter egg hunt? I would totally be excited to find an egg the size of my head.

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Mar
11

Before I start talking about how ridiculously awesome homemade bagels are, I need your help!

I recently entered into a recipe contest for Food.com where I made Mexican Breakfast Tostadas with Avocado Pico de Gallo…. but I need your vote in order to win!  So if you would all be kind enough to jump on over to the site, register, and give me 5 stars… I would greatly appreciate it. I might even come make you these tostadas which include cumin spiced potatoes, black beans, eggs, goat cheese, and a spicy avocado pico. You need a margarita too? I know how to use a blender.

Really though, making breakfast for the special people in my life is my way of showing them I care. A creamy bowl of oatmeal with blueberries to share with my grandma, or a simple bagel sandwich to-go for a friend. My mom is perfectly happy eating toast topped with peanut butter, sliced bananas, and cinnamon. It’s those easy, delicious bites that really demonstrate my appreciation for them.

They do say that it’s the thought that counts…

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Feb
28

 

Hi. I love you. I really do. I even had to make you a healthy banana bread to say so. Fresh blueberries, thick rolled oats, and a whole lot of soul went into making this bread.

Plain and simple, you people have made me incredibly happy! Ambitious Kitchen now has over 20,000 views thanks to you. And, just look at all these pins on Pinterest from my blog. Like, Holy crap! I’m totally blushing. 

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Oct
03

I’m going to be honest with you. This is no healthy banana bread.

Although, I only used a half of stick of butter.

But then I put in more than cup of Reese’s peanut butter cups.  And sprinkled some on top.

Peanut butter cups are my favorite candy.

This bread didn’t win the bread baking contest that I was telling you about here. An Earl Grey bread did.

What?!

Confusing, I know.

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