Banana Bread

I love a good piece of Banana Bread – don’t you? Well, unless I’m talking to my husband, but I already knew he was a little weird!  This recipe is one of my favorites to make. It always comes out really delicious.

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread

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Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup plus 2 TBS sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil

3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed

2 TBS creme fraiche or sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

 

Directions:

1. Set oven to 350′. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray)

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

3. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.  Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche/sour cream, and vanilla.

4. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts.

5. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour

 

My Notes:

* This last time I made this recipe I accidentally forgot the sugar until after I poured it into the loaf pan – thankfully I remembered and was able to pour it back into the bowl and mix the sugar in.  Bread turned out great!

* I made one loaf of bread out of the above recipe. It took 1 hr and 40 minutes to fully cook.  I checked it every 10 minutes after the first hour.

* You can make 42 muffins using 1/3 cup of batter in each cup. I used Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream and each muffin is 194 calories.

* I don’t care for nuts in my bread, so I leave them out.

* My friend Priscilla just recently told me about this trick, and it WORKS – try it out!  When you take your bread out of the oven take it out of the pan and only let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then wrap tightly in foil – yes, while it’s still hot. Do not put in a ziplock bag.  It will keep the bread moist and delicious – no need for slathering it with butter!

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Make it a GRATE day!

Love,

Christy

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Roasted Corn Salad

I first made this recipe last summer. I needed a quick easy appetizer type recipe and this one fit the bill perfectly.  It’s a Pioneer Woman recipe so I KNEW it was bound to be AMAZING….and of course it is!

I found the recipe in her beautiful cookbook: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. If you don’t own this cookbook go get it! It’s a beautiful cookbook filled with amazing recipes, even if you don’t cook it’s a gorgeous book to look through.

So I will admit that Brian actually made most of this since I don’t run the grill – which is awesome for me.  So when I’ve forgotten to make dinner I can let him come home from work and say “Hey Babe, we’re grilling out tonight!” and he loves it. I don’t feel like a bad wife for not having dinner on the table, AND I get dinner mostly made for me – win win!!

“Katies Roasted Corn Salad” by Ree Drummond

Ingredients:

Olive Oil

8 Fresh Corn Ears

1 Red Onion, quartered

2 yellow Squash, halved lengthwise

1 Red Bell Pepper

2 Medium Tomatoes

 

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup Olive Oil

12 Basil Leaves cut into chiffonade (stack the leaves on top of one another, roll tightly, and slice across thinly)

1 tsp Kosher Salt

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely or smashed.

(I also like to add a dash or two of pepper)

 

Directions:

1. Heat the grill. Drizzle corn liberally with olive oil.

2. Grill Corn for 5-8 minutes until the corn is beginning to brown

3. Drizzle the onion with olive oil and grill just until it starts to become tender. Do not allow to over cook, as you’ll want the onion to remain somewhat firm.

4. Repeat with halved summer squash and red bell pepper. Allow vegetables to cool slightly after grilling.  We used THIS grill basket.

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5. Roughly chop the onion, squash and pepper with a sharp knife, scrape the corn kernels from the cob. Dice the tomatoes and add them to the mix.

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* I like using THIS TOOL to get the kernels off of the cob, SUPER easy and HERE  is a video showing you how it’s done!

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6. To make the dressing: in a separate bowl, pour the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and whisk together until combined

7. Finally add the basil, a dash of salt and garlic and whisk together

8. Place the vegetables in a large mixing bowl and pour the dressing over the top. Stir to combine.

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9. Serve with Tortilla chips and crackers, or spoon on top of grilled chicken. Delicious!

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We like to let this sit and marinate for about 24 hours before serving it.

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Hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s super delicious!!

Make it a GRATE day!

love,

Christy

Our Baby Journey…..part 5.2

Here you can read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five

So I feel like I need to backtrack just a little to tell you about our Foster Care journey as well – because it all fits into our story.

When Brian and I met and later married we talked about adoption and while I have always been open to the idea of adoption, Brian was a closed book, he wanted nothing to do with it. He wanted his own children or none at all. (please don’t take that as a bad thing, adoption isn’t for everyone!)

Fast forward a few years, we are living in Iowa, and some friends of ours become licensed Foster Parents.   We watched them go through the ups and downs that is Foster Care, and then end up with the sweetest two children that you would ever meet. (They actually got to adopt these children this year, but that is their story to tell, not mine)  Brian’s heart was softened by these friends and especially by these sweet kiddos. We really felt God leading us into Foster Care and possibly even adoption through the Foster Care system.  At that time we knew there was a HUGE possibility that we would be moving for Brian’s job again, so we decided to wait until we got moved to get into Foster Care classes.  During the wait I found a Christian Foster Care Agency in the Dallas area that I just fell in love with. The people I talked to on the phone and through e-mail were fantastic and you could tell that they really loved their job, and it was more than a job to them, it was a calling.  So we signed up for classes starting in January 2013. Told them a little about our background (read: Infertility Treatments), and why we really desired to become Foster Parents.

Fast forward: we get moved, holidays are done and over so we start getting a room set up for this new child/ren that will be joining our family hopefully by Spring/Summer. We found a crib, car seat, high-chair, bouncer, play mat and more.   I had washed all the children’s clothing that I had and got them hung up in the closet according to size. We were ready.  During this transition time I turned down 3-4 Nanny positions because we planned for me to stay at home with this little child.

The Foster Care application was very adamant about us being ACTIVE in a local church (which we LOVED!) so we decided to be quick about finding a church to be a part of (it usually took us an average of 9 months to find a church in the past.) We were going to 4 different churches a weekend some times, really praying and seeking God to where He would have us serve.  We ended up at the best church, under the best teaching, in a fantastic Sunday School class, and in a fantastic Small Group – yes it was a whirlwind decision, but we KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that this is where God wanted us.

IT’S TIME TO START CLASSES!  We were so excited.  We decided to meet at the training center in Dallas since it would have been a waste of time for Brian to come home to get me – it ended up being the WORST driving trip that I have had here in Texas to this day.  It rained BUCKETS and BUCKETS and I wasn’t used to the traffic or the Texas drivers yet – I was a mess. Then I got stuck in traffic, my GPS had me ending in an empty field, no building in site. I pulled into the next parking lot that I could and called Brian SOBBING because I was so stressed out. He’s talking me through the directions and then I realize that I’m in a strip club parking lot and a VERY sketchy figure is headed my way!! SCARY! Thankfully I just had to get back on the road and go the opposite way my GPS said to go. I only ended up being 1/2 hour late to the first class (it took me almost 3 hours to get to the training center – it should have taken me 45 minutes!)  So we get into the class and everyone went around the room and introduced themselves. We were shocked at quite a few older people (60 yrs +) were in the class (not talking grandparents here), and the couples who both had full time jobs. The class ends, we turn in all the paperwork that we had completed before the class (some 20+ pages of information) and then we head home – another traumatic drive!

The next day the director calls me and wanted to ask a few questions about our paperwork. 1. My ear surgery. I explained it to him, and that was all good. 2. Infertility.  I told him that we were still pursuing treatments, but would really love to do Foster Care along side of the treatments.  He then told me that as long as we are pursing treatments, and for 1 year after our last treatment we wouldn’t be accepted into their program.  He also told me that this was not a Texas “law” just a “rule” that they followed.  So I got off the phone – bawled, and started looking for another agency.  Every agency I talked to said the same thing, they all followed these rules.  I quickly texted our friend and asked her if Iowa was the same, she assured me they were not.  It just felt like a HUGE door being slammed in our face.

I cried A LOT those next few days – and closed the nursery door – I just couldn’t even look at it.  One more “punishment” for being “infertile”

A few weeks later I asked Brian to take the crib down while I was gone one night, he did so, ever so graciously.  We sold it along with almost everything else we had purchased – I just couldn’t look at it.  We moved the guest bed out of the office and made the nursery into the official guest room.

The door was closed on becoming Foster Parents as long as we were pursuing fertility treatments, and we weren’t ready to give up quite yet.

Fast Forward to where we are now:

I am almost glad to have gone through that experience.  While it hurt like heck, and no I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and yes Foster Care is still something we may pursue down the line, we learned from it. AND most importantly it got us into a FANTASTIC church, small group and we have friends faster than any move before.  We have a fantastic support system filled with people who love and care about us.

It’s amazing to me sometimes how God has a bigger plan for us that we could ever imagine.  I’m so glad to trust HIM with my future and not myself!

Watch for part 6 coming soon!

Make it a GRATE Day!

Love,

Christy

Precious Moments

A few weeks ago on the way back from visiting friends I stopped at the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage Missouri. Now the funny thing is that I went to College not even an hour from this chapel and during my years at college NEVER made it down to see it. I wanted to, it just never happened.  So I figured I had time that day, so I stopped.  I’m so glad I did.  It is such a beautiful serene quiet, dare I say Holy place.

When you first walk up to the building (that actually hosts the store, not the chapel – which I didn’t know at the time) you are greeted by a beautiful fountain with life size Precious Moments figurines.

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In this building is a beautiful little cafe’ area where they serve a few different things to eat. It looks like a little town. Of course they had the famous animal train in life size height- I think they were around 4-6 feet tall.

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Then you head out the back doors down a beautiful path lined with Angels blowing trumpets  towards the Chapel.  The first thing you come to is a lovely little rock garden – so peaceful.

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Then you see these lovely little angels lounging in the amazingly gorgeous landscape

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I saw these flowers and they always remind me of my mom and her mom, and her mom’s mom, and her mom’s mom’s mom – because we have heirloom Iris plants that have been passed down through MANY generations. I can’t wait to have a house of our own so I can ask my grandma or aunt for some of these flowers! I love that tradition and want to continue it! ….oops – Bunny Trail! DSC_0803

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This fountain was so beautiful

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Then you start down the path to the Chapel….again GORGEOUS Landscape!

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The woodworking on the doors was so beautiful!

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These windows were BEAUTIFUL!!!

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This was the ceiling in the chapel….so beautiful!

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Some more shots of the door….gorgeous….

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Looking back towards that fountain – this is the main walk up to the chapel – the grounds were just SO beautiful and well taken care of.

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Looking back towards the store/cafe’

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I loved my quick tour at the Precious Moment’s Chapel – I highly encourage you to visit if you get the chance!  Did I happen to mention it’s FREE??

Make it a GRATE day!

Love,

Christy

 

Strawberry Coconut Tres Leches Trifle

This trifle is the perfect dessert for a hot summers day. It’s light and refreshing! I love that this recipe uses ALL of each ingredient called for. You won’t have 1/2 a can of (fill in the blank) left over at the end.  This recipe can be thrown together in under 30 minutes and it is great to make early in the day and served at dinner.

Personally I LOVE my Pampered Chef Trifle Bowl – it comes apart and has a lid for easy traveling. But any trifle bowl will work just fine.

This original recipe can be found in The Pampered Chef’s Spring Summer 2010 Season’s Best Recipe Collection.

Strawberry Coconut Tres Leches Trifle

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Ingredients:

1 lb fresh strawberries

3 pkg 3 0z each Soft Lady Fingers or 1 Family Size Pound Cake

1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 can (14 oz) Unsweetened Coconut Milk

1 8oz container sour cream

1 pkg (3.3oz) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

1 tsp Korintje Cinnamon

Directions:

1. Set aside one (or three!) large strawberries for garnish later on.  Remove green stem from strawberry and slice the rest of the strawberries – I used my egg slicer again!

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2. Cut lady fingers into 1 inch pieces OR if you’re going to use pound cake (like I did, and what I prefer) You will want to slice the pound cake long ways in half

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Then Cut it into strips – I usually get about 4 strips out of the loaf

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Then cut it into cubes

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3, Whisk together 1/2 cup of condensed milk, 2/3 cup of the coocnut milk and the 8 oz of sour cream.

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4. Add Lady Fingers or Pound Cake into above mixture and GENTLY toss – just enough to coat.

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5. Attach open star tip to Easy Accent Decorator and fill with 1 cup of the whipped topping. DSC_0926

6. Combine pudding mix, remaining coconut milk, remaining sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon

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7. Gently fold in the remaining whipped topping – until just mixed. DO NOT OVER MIX.

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8. PUTTING THE TRIFLE TOGETHER:

Add about 1/2 of the lady finger/pound cake mixture to the bottom of your trifle bowl.

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Then add about 1/2 of the strawberries. You can get creative if you’d like to and line them up around the bowl and make it pretty, but I usually don’t.

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Then take 1/2 of the pudding mixture and pour it over the berries.

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Repeat layers.  Smooth top as much as you can.

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9. Take your Easy Accent Decorator and draw lines across the top of your trifle – usually about 4-5 and then turn 1/2 way and draw lines going the other way.

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You’re going to top it with a sliced strawberry or three! Here’s how you do it:

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Take your egg slicer and have your strawberry stand on it’s end

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SLOWLY start slicing the strawberry – DO NOT GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH

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At this point you will gently push the strawberry back towards the white part of your slicer or away from the wires.

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Then you will have a strawberry with cuts in it. You will gently twist the strawberry with your fingers until it fans out.

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And there you have it – a SIMPLE gorgeous easy dessert that is a crowd pleaser!

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Make it a GRATE Day!

Love,

Christy