10 Grain Banana Muffins (3) | Espresso and Cream

Yesterday afternoon Joe and I returned from Kansas City where we spent the weekend with Joe’s brother, Jason and his wife, Ali. Since it’s a seven hour car ride for us to get there, we don’t see them nearly as often as we would like, so it felt like a treat to have a long weekend to spend with them. The guys got to golf and go to the driving range while Ali and I ate at a great vegan/vegetarian restaurant and did a little shopping. And I finally got that start-of-summer pedicure I’ve been talking about for the last month.

Before we left on our little road trip, I made a bunch of healthy snacks for the car ride. It’s a habit I’ve gotten into in order to save money on the road and prevent myself from getting hangry while we are traveling. Trust me, snack are always a good idea. And it’s even better when those snacks are healthy.

10 Grain Banana Muffins (2) | Espresso and Cream

These muffins are much lower in sugar than a traditional muffin, and I could easily see them being served alongside soup or roasted veggies when spread with a little butter and sprinkle with salt. However, my preference for these muffins is to serve them with sweeter toppings, such as almond butter or a drizzle of honey. In addition to being packed with bananas, they’re also made with 10-grain hot cereal, rolled oats and almond milk. They would make a great breakfast or a snack in lunches throughout the week!

10 Grain Banana Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Serves: 15
 
These 10-grain muffins are just slightly sweet and so good for you, too! I like to make a batch at the beginning of the week for snacks and quick breakfasts, especially slathered with peanut butter or almond butter for a boost of protein!
Ingredients
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup oil (I used canola but for a more savory flavor, you could use light olive oil)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups uncooked 10-grain hot cereal (I tested with Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 15 standard-sized muffin cups with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, egg, sugar, oil and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Stir in the 10 grain cereal, followed by the almond milk.
  4. In a second bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to 10 grain cereal mixture. Stir until just combined.
  5. Spoon about ¼ to ⅓ cup batter into the 15 prepared muffin cups. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and just baked through in the center. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Serve with almond butter, peanut butter, butter or jam, if desired.

 

 

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Sometimes when I have a recipe to share it’s almost like going through the motions; I know exactly what I want to say about the recipe, how the flavors are balanced and the recipe’s ingredients shine and the like. But this morning when I sat down to write it was life, more than anything, that felt right to be writing about.

A few people over the last couple weeks have asked how we are doing, a very loaded, complicated and thoughtful question to ask 6 weeks after the fact. It’s a question for which I don’t really have a good answer. We’re moving forward, thinking about the future in all of its uncertainty. There are some days that the sadness and uncertainty hit me like a ton of bricks and just when I think I’m doing really well, I find myself crying on the kitchen floor out of nowhere. We’re celebrating milestones of our yet-to-be-born nephew and niece. And, quite honestly, it’s strange and difficult and hard to navigate juggling feelings of loss and sadness that co-mingle with happiness and anticipation for those around us.

On vacation I re-read Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist and it spoke to me even more than when I read it the first time. If you’ve never read it, I would urge you to run to the bookstore or the e-store and buy/download it today. I’ve been coming back to this quite time and time again:

“…sometimes the happiest ending isn’t the one you keep longing for, but something you absolutely cannot see from where you are.” 

It’s hard for someone like me, who is all about answers and research and knowing the next steps, to do blood test after blood test only to get absolutely zero conclusive answers. Hearing you are absolutely healthy as can be is both a relief and a frustration. Um, have you read my medical record? It doesn’t seem like it to me.

I realize now more than ever that this experience has changed me in the best and deepest of ways. I’ve become more empathetic and noticed people hurting that I never would have noticed before. Instead of feeling like “those are your problems,” my heart genuinely hurts for others in a way I didn’t think possible before. I like this new side of me, even if the journey has not been what I had imagined thus far.

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And now I’ve totally gotten away from the point, haven’t I? Well, our neighbors are the kindest older couple we could have asked for and they regularly bring us little treats, like maple syrup from their trees up north at their cabin and rhubarb from their garden. I’ve never really had a taste for rhubarb personally, but my husband loves rhubarb more than anyone I’ve ever met.

He was so excited when a bag of rhubarb was waiting for us after work one day that I couldn’t resist throwing it into a crisp that very evening. This recipe is inspired by a recipe from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook**still a favorite in my house and has been one of my go-to books since childhood. The crisp is perfect in all sorts of ways, sweet and tart at once and just the right amount of crunchiness. Joe raved about this dessert when he sat down with a giant bowl of it this week, and I have a feeling if you love rhubarb you’ll feel the same.

Easy Rhubarb Crisp
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 
This rhubarb crisp is easy to throw together at a moment's notice and tastes delicious when served with vanilla ice cream.
Ingredients
  • 6 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Topping
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the rhubarb, 1 cup granulated sugar and the corn starch. Toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate or an 8x8-inch square baking pan.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir until well-combined. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a fine meal. Sprinkle over the rhubarb mixture.
  4. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool 1 hour before serving.

**I noticed you can buy it for less than $1 online. You guys! Go and do so immediately. I promise you won’t regret it! It can be found HERE.

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You know those weekly roundups that people do on their blogs? I love them. Although I don’t currently have my own version on Espresso and Cream, I soak up the roundups from other people.

Recently my dear friend Laura posted a round-up which included a link to the blog Un-Fancy. It was all about creating a capsule wardrobe. If you’re like me and have no idea what a capsule wardrobe is, then check this post out. As I was reading the post, all I could think was, “Yes! That’s me!” 

Truth be told, I have a lot of clothes in my closet. It’s a little ridiculous how many items of cute, nice clothing I have. But when I go to get ready in the mornings, I have the hardest time finding something I really love wearing. I have a handful of dresses I love, a favorite pair of jeans and a few shirts I go to time and time again, but the rest of the items in my closet just sit there looking pretty 90% of the time. That’s crazy talk!

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way, but I’m incredibly sick of spending money on clothes I don’t really love. It’s wasteful and frustrating. So I decided to take the Un-Fancy challenge.

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How does the challenge work?

1. Pair down your wardrobe for a single season to just 37 items. (okay, I cheated and included 40) This doesn’t include workout gear, pajamas, undergarments, swimsuits, and/or jewelry and accessories. The items should only include pieces you really love and get super excited about wearing. Keeping this in mind helped when deciding what to keep. I just kept asking myself, “Do I really love this piece? How often have I worn it lately?”

2. Store all your off-season clothing somewhere else. Put all the in-season items that you took out of your closet for the challenge in a box for storage. I love that you don’t need to throw out the clothes just yet. If you really miss something you can go get it from the box. It made it much easier to part with these items.

3. Don’t buy anything new for the full season! Yikes! That made me nervous, but thinking about the money I’ll save each month in our clothing budget got me excited. I’m planning on putting that money away for the next three months for the next step…

4. After you’ve made it through one season, you can start to think about the next season’s capsule wardrobe. Some summer pieces may transfer over into the fall season and so on, but you can only have the same limited number of pieces. You can, however, make purchases for this next season. The idea is that after a full season of doing this experiment, you’ll get a good feel for your true style. And since you can only have 40 (or 37) items in your closet at any given time/season you’ll make smarter, more “you” purchases. I’m guessing the items I buy will also be more expensive and higher quality. Less = more!

5. Keep doing this for a full year. At that point you should have a fully fleshed out capsule wardrobe. After that, you enter maintenance mode, slowly and carefully adding pieces only as needed and only if you truly love the item you’re buying.

Does anyone else feel as excited about this idea as me? Something about it speaks to my inner minimalist, and more than anything I’m driven by having a closet full of curated items that I deeply love. The prospect is so appealing! I’ll be sharing more photos of my Un-Fancy challenge this summer using the group hashtag #unfancy and following the blog’s writer, Caroline Joy on Instagram for inspiration. I would encourage you to take up the challenge, too, if you’re as frustrated as I am!

Has anyone considered taking on a challenge like this? Is anyone on board for doing the Un-Fancy challenge with me? Let me know! I would love to follow along with you on your journey!

Madison

Wine Platter 1 | Espresso and Cream
Now that summer is practically here, it seems like everyone in Minnesota is coming out of hibernation and getting outside after a very long winter being stuck indoors. We put our stamped concrete patio in late last summer, so we’re dying to put it to good use this year. It’s amazing how much bigger our house feels when we have an outdoor space that we love.

For the longest time after college, the idea of entertaining sent me into a tizzy, feeling like I had to cook a gourmet meal every time we had friends over. Consequently, I avoided having people over very often because it was so time consuming and stressful! But after Joe and I got married, my extrovert hubby pushed me to entertain more and more frequently, having friends over for dinner, drinks, the NFL draft and for the BCS championship and any matter of other small events. Getting into a regular rhythm of having people over forced me to find a way to entertain without breaking the bank or losing my mind.

I’m still working on setting a beautiful, casual table. That’s something my mom currently helps me with to a great degree. Perhaps she should do a guest post sometime soon? But I do feel pretty comfortable having people over regularly without going crazy. In fact, I have actually grown to enjoy it.

Wine and Cheese 3 | Espresso and Cream
Last weekend we had our friends Ben and Jen over on Sunday night for wine and snacks on the patio. I’ve found that having people over on Sunday night is one of my favorite things because it seems to prolong the weekend a little bit, giving me something to look forward to on Sunday night rather than just thinking about how sad I am that the weekend is over and has gone by so fast.

I didn’t really plan much in advance, but my mom and I did pick up a few items at Whole Foods on Sunday afternoon. The following was included in our spread:

1. 1 bottle of red wine from our wine rack
2. A couple different beers we had in our fridge for the guys
3. “Edamame Caviar” purchased from the Whole Foods deli section (must recreate at home!)
4. Two types of cheese (one hard, one soft; served at room temperature for best flavor)
5. Grapes (cut into small clusters for easy eating)
6. Roasted, salted almonds
7. Chips and crackers (a mix of crackers and blue corn tortilla chips)

It was the perfect combination of sweet, salty and hearty foods that also served as a light dinner. And although we used small white plates from Pier 1, you could make clean-up even easier by keeping a stash of pretty disposable plates on hand. There is nothing nicer than throwing the plates away at the end of a night when you just don’t feel like washing dishes, is there?

Wine and Cheese 2 | Espresso and Cream

How do you like to entertain? Are you comfortable entertaining casually and more frequently? Or do you prefer to do one big party every now and again? 

Madison

Homemade Burger Buns 3 | Espresso and Cream
I’m not quite sure what makes some weekends so wonderful and fulfilling, but this weekend was one of those great weekends. It felt like the perfect combination of relaxation and productivity with just the right amount of time spent with friends and family, and a little down time, too. Since the weather was absolutely beautiful, we grilled and spent more than one night drinking wine out on the patio.

Joe and I have this pretty great deal going. Since his parents are cattle farmers, we have a deep freeze filled with all the beef we could ever ask for. It makes it easy to entertain during the summer because we can always throw a roast in the slow cooker or brats and burgers on the grill. However, burger buns aren’t something I always have on hand.

Case in point? This weekend when my mom was visiting and we didn’t have any buns on hand. Instead of going to the store, I decided I could use the yeast we had at home to make hamburger buns from scratch. I found a great recipe from All Recipes and was amazed at the results. The rolls were really quick to pull together and didn’t take a lot of hands-on time. I simply pulled the dough together and went about our other weekend activities while the dough took time to rise.

Homemade Burger Buns 2 | Espresso and Cream
There’s something so incredibly gratifying about making bread from scratch, hamburger buns included. Although it may seem like a little bit of an undertaking, I promise that the flavor and texture of the rolls makes it worth the extra effort! Joe said that the burgers we made this weekend were some of the best he’s ever had. Maybe he’s just getting the good husband award, but I’ll take the compliments when they come.

Homemade Burger Buns 1 | Espresso and Cream

Homemade Burger Buns 4 | Espresso and Cream

Homemade Hamburger Buns
Author: 
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 8
 
Homemade hamburger buns are easier to make than you might think and they're incredibly delicious! Totally worth the small bit of extra effort to make them at home.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 packet (0.25 oz) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading as necessary
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Topping
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt for topping, if desired
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Stir until well combined. Stir in 1 cup of the flour until well combined. Add in the remaining flour and salt, along with the egg and butter.
  2. Knead using the hook attachment of the mixer for 5 to 6 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic but not sticky. Add an additional tablespoon or two of flour if necessary.
  3. Place dough in a greased bowl, covered, in a draft-free place (I like to put it in a slightly warmed up oven) for an hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Once dough has risen, punch down and knead a couple times. Divide dough into 8 portions shape into discs about ½ inch thick. Place rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet a couple inches apart. Dust tops of rolls with flour. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place in a draft-free location for another hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Heat oven to 375F. Brush tops of rolls with the whisked egg. Sprinkle with salt. Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely. Cut rolls in half and fill as desired.

 

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