Monthly Archives

May 2012


Higher Protein Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

May 30, 2012

Espresso and Cream has been pretty light on the recipes lately, and I think it’s time to remedy that! I’ve been doing a bit more baking and experimenting with quinoa flour over the past couple months. Initially, I thought it was a difficult flour to work with. It has a slightly stronger, nuttier taste than whole wheat flour, and it doesn’t contain gluten, so it typically needs to be cut with another type of flour. But once I started working with it a little more, I grew to love the flavor of quinoa flour when mixed with a little all-purpose or white whole wheat flour. I also love that it is higher in protein that tradition flours, which makes it a great addition to quick breads and other treats you want to make a little healthier, like banana bread.

Each week, we buy somewhere between 8 and 10 bananas, which means I’m always looking for new ways to dress up banana bread. There are already a number of recipes for banana bread on Espresso and Cream, but I don’t really believe there is one, ultimate banana bread. There are just too many ways to adapt the bread depending on what you’re in the mood for. Last week, I happened to be in the mood for something that was slightly healthier than traditional banana bread, but still packed with hits of sweet chocolate. This is the perfect breakfast bread or afternoon snack, and Joe even called it the “best banana bread you’ve ever made.”

One measure I use to judge the quality of a banana bread recipe is it’s “aging potential.” In my opinion, a really good banana bread tastes better as the days go by. Somewhere between the second and third day after baking it, the bread truly tastes the best. After taking this bread with us to Minneapolis last weekend and eating it throughout the days we were there, I can assure you that the aging potential is spot-on.

Higher Protein Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

*3 bananas, mashed
*1/4 cup butter, melted
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1/4 cup granulated sugar
*1/4 cup milk
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup quinoa flour
*1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a loaf pan. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, combine the bananas, butter, egg, and sugar. Beat until well combined. Add in the milk, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and beat until combined.
*In a small bowl, combine the white whole wheat flour and quinoa flour. Add the flour to the wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Do not over beat. Stir in the chocolate chips.
*Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned and a stick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean. Cool on wire rack.

Happy Baking!


So Long Insecurity

May 29, 2012

I don’t know about you, but now that we’re nearing the halfway point of the year I’ve been feeling the need to re-commit myself to my “No Fat Talk” pledge for 2012. Over the past couple months, I’ve found myself mumbling unkind words about my body or myself under my breath. Or letting a “Do my thighs look huge in this?” to Joe here and there. It may not seem like a big deal, but I want to stop these little words and thoughts in their track, to re-gain the ground that may be slipping ever so slightly while I become less diligent.

A couple months ago, I started reading a book that has been slowly transforming the way I think about my body, self image, and all that goes with it. I took a long hard look at my “fat talk” and realized that at the core of those words was a deep insecurity about myself that was allowing those thoughts to thrive. I had heard great things about Beth Moore’s So Long Insecurity and had done several of her Bible studies in the past. I’m about half way through the book, and I can’t say enough great things about the words of encouragement and wisdom shared by Beth. If you’re looking for an extra dose of encouragement, I would strongly suggest picking this book up. I’ve been keeping track of the pearls of wisdom I read, and I wanted to share a few of them as an encouragement to you today.


Dynamic creatures that we are, we are ever changing and ever spiraling up – or down. Please don’t misunderstand. God forbid that we live life in a vicious cycle of gaining ground and losing it. I’ve learned some lessons in the last decades, and I hope to heaven I don’t ever have to relearn them. However, I’ve never arrived at a place where injury or uncertainty no longer issues an invitation to some pretty serious self-doubt even when I make the tough decision not to bite the bait. I still get thrown for a loop more easily that I would like and find myself in a temporary but painful setback of insecurity – one that affects me too chronically to deny that something is broken somewhere. I tend to respond with a classic case of devastation. “I know better than this,” I chide. “I can’t believe I’ve fallen for this again. My head knows good and well that this doesn’t define me. Why can’t I get that message to my heart?”

Listen carefully: the enemy of our souls has more to gain by our setbacks than by our succumbing to an initial assault. The former is infinitely more demoralizing. Far more liable to make us feel hopeless and tempt us to quit. We can rationalize – even truthfully – that an initial assault caught us by surprise. Setbacks, on the other hand, just make us feel weak and stupid: I should have conquered this by now. I happened on a question not long ago that perfectly expresses this mentality: How many times must I prove myself an idiot? 

I hate that I can still be so easily shaken, and somehow I convince myself that if I could just develop a healthy enough psyche, life couldn’t touch me. I’d be completely immovable. One thing keeps nagging at me, though. A man with an incomparable heart for God once confessed, “When I felt secure, I said, ‘I will not be shaken.’ O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed” (Psalm 30: 6-7)

…To be honest, I don’t know whether you and I are at a common place right now. I just have a hunch. See if this sounds like something that could erupt from your own pen: I’m sick to death of insecurity. It’s been a terrible companion. A very bad friend. It promised to always think of me first and meticulously look out for my best interests. It vowed to stay focused on me and help me not get hurt or forgotten. Instead, insecurity invaded every part of my life, betrayed me, and sold me out more times that I can count. It’s time I got healthy enough emotionally to choose my lifelong companions better. This one needs to get dumped. … Thank God, a time comes in a willing life when you’re ready to face a Goliath-sized foe all by itself and fight it to the stinking death.

Taken from So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore



Welcome to the new Espresso and Cream!

May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the long weekend and taking some time to reflect on the sacrifices made by the amazing men and women who serve and have served our country.

I wanted to take a little time to introduce you to the shiny new look of Espresso and Cream! If you typically read posts in Google Reader, take a minute to hop on over to the site and check it out. This re-design has been a long time coming. In the past, most of the updates I did on the site were simple changes I made myself, which weren’t all that complex or impressive. As the site grew, it was time for the look to grow-up, too. A big shout-out to Brad over at Imagination Green for helping to execute the dream I had for the site’s appearance. He was incredibly easy to work with, spot-on with his design, and was patient in explaining tech-based things to someone who knows very little about site design and all things tech. He does all sorts of projects, so give him a call if you’re in need of a great web designer.

Let’s take a little tour of the site, shall we?

I wanted to maintain the clean, sleek look that Espresso and Cream has always had, but dress it up a little. The header and navigation bar are two of the biggest changes. The header is still very minimal, but slightly playful. And the navigation bar has been moved from the right hand side of the site to directly under the header. Hopefully this makes it a little easier to find what you’re looking for. There is a page for No Fat Talk Tuesday posts, as well as a new Fashion page. Although I don’t post a ton of fashion photos, when I do, they will be archived there.

As always, my Recipage (where all the recipes are located and easily printable) is also found in the navigation bar. I’m working on being better at updating my Recipage more often, which means recipes will be easier to print.

I’m also in love with the new format of the right hand column on the site. The tabs look a little like a recipe binder of sorts for a fun detailed touch. In the right hand column, you’ll find a “subscribe” tab, which allows you to follow along via RSS, become a fan of Espresso and Cream on Facebook, follow me on Pinterest, or follow along on Twitter. That way we can chat beyond just this site. If you’re looking for something specific, there’s also a “search this blog” function.

On the actual posts, there aren’t any major changes. The post title font has been dressed up a bit, and if you’re looking to comment on a post (which I love!), you can find that right below the post title.

Perhaps this is crazy, but I’m really head-over-heels about the very bottom of my site. Perhaps because previously I never had anything at the bottom of the page, and now there’s an actual end to the page that makes it feel more complete. In addition to a repeat of the navigation bar up top, there’s a little message from me, a list of some of my most recent tweets, and a smaller repeat of my header.

I think that’s it for the tour! I’m hoping to continue to play around with the site in the weeks and months to come. I’m new to the WordPress platform and the ins and outs of self-hosting, but already I can tell I’m going to love it!  Questions? Ask away!



Weekend Things

May 25, 2012

{Snapping a few photos while waiting for our table to be ready on date night last week.}

{My first hole of golf for the season. Not a bad first shot, considering I don’t golf much!}

{Work has been crazy, and my stack of magazines is piling up. Perhaps I’ll dig though some of them on my long weekend?}

{Clean clothes, warm from the dryer + cuddly dog = fur-covered towels that need to be washed again. But she was too cute to say no!}

{The first fresh strawberry pie of the season.}

Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone! Joe and I actually both took today off from work, so we’re at the front end of a four day weekend, which feels like a complete luxury. Does anyone have any fun plans?



Throwback Thursday and Larabar Uber

May 24, 2012

This week the kind folks at Larabar sent me a package of their new Uber bars to sample. I’ve been a huge fan of Larabars for years, and I was excited to give the new variety a try. In college, I lived on all sorts of protein bars and nutrition bars, which was far from healthy or balanced. Today, they help with the 3:30 ‘crash’ and provide the nutrition to get me through my evening workouts before dinner.

My favorite part of traditional Larabars is the fact that they contain very few ingredients, usually less than 5. The new Uber Larabars have a few more ingredients (such as brown rice syrup and honey) and a crunchier texture, which I think may appeal to those who don’t like the ultra-soft texture of the originals. But the part that really won me over was the taste. Larabar totally nailed it on the sweet-salty combination. The variety I sampled first, the Roasted Nut Roll, was just plain delicious. Going forward, I feel like I may gravitate to these bars over traditional Larabars. If you’ve tried them, I would love to know what you think!

In other news, I’ve seen a lot of people on Twitter, Facebook and blogs posting “Throwback Thursday” photos from when they were younger. I thought it was high time to participate, especially when I found this photo my mom sent me a few months ago. Can you tell this toddler is me?

Today is my Friday! Can’t wait for the long weekend ahead. Have a great day, all!