Cocoa Banana Smoothie

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I think this just may be the hottest week of summer. And that calls for a smoothie–even better, a chocolate smoothie! There’s a soy and non-soy version for this recipe, so you can take your pick. The smoothie I made pictured here is the soy version. I’ve never made a smoothie with tofu before, and it does give the smoothie a nice creaminess. It’s not super-thick, though, so if you’re expecting a smoothie like that, you’ll be disappointed. But it has a lightly creamy texture from the tofu and banana, and the unsweetened cocoa powder gives it a rich chocolate flavor. The honey gives the smoothie a light sweetness that’s just right–not too overly sweet. But if you do want it sweeter, you can always add in a little more honey!

COCOA BANANA SMOOTHIE by NancyC, adapted from EatingWell.com

Makes 1 large or 2 small servings, about 14 to 16 ounces

  • 1 medium size banana, cut into slices or chunks and frozen (for about 3 to 4 hours or overnight)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon soft silken tofu (for a non-soy version, use plain or vanilla Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup soy milk (plain or vanilla–for a non-soy version, use regular milk; use 1/3 cup for a slightly thicker smoothie)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 ice cubes

Slice banana and freeze until firm (about 3 to 4 hours or overnight). Blend tofu (or greek yogurt), soymilk (or milk), cocoa, and honey in blender until smooth. Add in the frozen banana slices and blend; then add in ice cubes and blend until mixture is smooth.

Smoothies always sound good to me on hot summer days! What’s your favorite healthy warm-weather treat?

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Strawberry Banana Muffins

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My latest banana-inspired recipe also has fresh strawberries in it–the perfect muffin for summer! They’re so moist and full of delicious chunks of fresh strawberries. I love how the sprinkling of coarse sugar gives these muffin tops a little sparkle and crunchiness, too! I just did a light sprinkling, but you can do a heavier sprinkle if you want a real sugary top. So the next time you have some ripe bananas and fresh strawberries on hand, keep this recipe in mind! :)

STRAWBERRY BANANA MUFFINS by NancyC

Makes 11 muffins

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (cut into small chunks)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional: coarse sugar for sprinkling on top of muffins (use about 1/4 teaspoon per muffin or a little more, if you like)

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners; set aside. In medium bowl, blend sugar and butter, then add in egg, and vanilla, blending well. Mix in the strawberries and bananas. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add strawberry/banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle tops with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake at 375˚F for 15-16 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in pan 5 minutes, the remove and cool completely on wire rack or serve warm.

These muffins are great for breakfast, brunch, or an afternoon snack–they’d go great with some Strawberry Lemonade, too! Do you have a favorite strawberry/banana recipe?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

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Chilled soups are perfect for summer! And if you like cucumbers, you’ll want to try this one! It has Greek yogurt, green onions, fresh dill, and parsley in it. Some lemon juice and salt give the flavor a little punch and I also added some garlic powder to the original recipe. The croutons on top are a nice touch, too! It’s a great summery soup to serve for a light lunch or dinner.

CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP by NancyC, slightly adapted from Country Living

Makes 6 servings, 135 calories each

  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 English cucumbers, peeled, diced, and divided (divide amount in half to add in recipe at different times)
  • 4 green onions, sliced and divided (divide amount in half to add in recipe at different times)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or a little more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • a bag of your favorite croutons
  • more chopped fresh dill for garnish

In a large bowl, combine yogurt and vegetable broth, blending well; set aside.

In a food processor, puree 1 peeled, diced English cucumber, 2 sliced green onions, chopped fresh dill, and chopped fresh parsley. Add this cucumber mixture, along with the lemon juice and salt, to the yogurt mixture in the large bowl; whisk to combine. (Note: if you do not have a food processor, you can put the above ingredients in a blender and puree them all together–your blender will be pretty full, so you may want to blend it in 2 batches; after blending, pour mixture back into your large bowl).

Stir in the other peeled, diced English cucumber and the other 2 diced sliced green onions, mixing well to evenly distribute ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then serve in bowls and garnish with chopped fresh dill and croutons.

Light summer meals like this are perfect for those really hot days. You can use regular cucumbers in this recipe, too, if you’re growing them in your garden–it would be a great way to use them! I would think maybe 4-6 small or 3-4 medium cukes would be equivalent to 2 English cucumbers–that’s just an estimate!

What types of lighter foods do you like to eat during the summer?

Taken Care Of

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Here’s a promise God has given to each one of us–whatever is happening in our lives, He’s there with us and He’s taking care of us! It may be hard to see or understand how He is working sometimes, but even then, know that He is taking care of you and working in the situation for your ultimate good–He is always faithful to do that!

I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you. I will carry you and save you. ISAIAH 46:3-4 NCV (New Century Version)

The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

 

Linked to Inspired Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Dark Chocolate Caramel Nut Bars

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This is a good, easy cookie bar recipe that I’ve had for quite awhile! I think I originally found it in a magazine ad and then I came across it later at Kraft Recipes. This recipe uses a cake mix as part of the ingredients for the yummy chocolatey crust, so it’s simple to put together. I usually prefer making things from scratch, but sometimes a mix comes in handy if you’re in a time crunch. And these bars are so good you may not mind that they’re made with cake mix!

My version of these bars is a little different from the original recipe–I usually use pecans instead of walnuts (this time I used a little of both), dark chocolate chips instead of chocolate chunks, and regular chocolate cake mix instead of German chocolate. When you’re in the mood for a very chocolatey, chewy, caramel treat, this is a great recipe to try! Save some time by unwrapping the caramels ahead of time before you make these!

DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP CARAMEL NUT BARS by NancyC, adapted from Kraft Recipes

Makes a 13 x 9″ pan of bars

  • 1 (11-ounce) bag Kraft caramels, unwraped
  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk, divided
  • 1 package (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, divided (I used a mix of pecans and walnuts)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap caramels and melt them with 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until caramels are completely melted. Remove from heat; set aside.

Mix remaining milk, dry cake mix and melted butter in a large bowl. Press half of the cake mixture firmly onto the bottom of a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan to form crust. Bake 8 minutes, then remove from oven.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the nuts and 3/4 cup of the dark chocolate chips over the crust. Drizzle evenly with melted caramel mixture. Top with teaspoonfuls of the remaining cake mixture; press gently into caramel mixture with back of spoon. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts and 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips.

Put back in the oven and bake an additional 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Note: if you want to eat these warm (they’d be great with some ice cream on top!) wait about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting them so they won’t be so gooey. For less gooey bars, wait about an hour before cutting them, when they’ve cooled more. Be sure not to wait more than a few hours before cutting them; if you do, they will be harder to cut since the caramel and bottom crust will harden some.

It may be a little tricky to get your first piece out of the pan without crumbling it a bit, but once that’s out, the rest of your bars should come out easily!

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The combination of dark chocolate, nuts, and caramel is so good! What’s your favorite chocolate/caramel dessert?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener, Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Peach Cucumber Salsa

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Are you growing cucumbers in your garden this year? Here’s a recipe you can use those cucumbers in! It’s perfect for summer because it’s a little fruity, lightly sweet, and a little spicy–good with tortilla chips or as a side dish … Continue reading

Banana Oat Muffins with Maple Syrup Drizzle

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Ripe bananas once again–my bananas seem to ripen more quickly in the summer! I thought I’d try making some muffins this time. I had made some Blueberry Oat Banana Bread before, and thought it would be nice to add oats to … Continue reading

Creamy Fruit Dip

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Fresh fruit served with a sweet, creamy dip is great for a summer brunch, snack, or even a light dessert. Here’s an easy fruit dip recipe that’s so simple to make and so good! It’s made with just two ingredients–marshmallow creme and fruit-flavored cream cheese. The … Continue reading

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Feta

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If you like tart and tangy, savory and salty flavors, then this is a salad you may want to try! I decided to make this when my friend Greg gave me some cucumbers from his garden. You can’t go wrong combining cucumbers with tomatoes, … Continue reading

Blackberry Banana Bread

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It was just a matter of time before I made this Blackberry Banana Bread, since I love trying different banana bread recipes and blackberry season is in full swing! This recipe makes a nice, full loaf that is dense and moist and full … Continue reading

Blackberry Gingerbread Muffins

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Usually I think of making gingerbread during the winter holidays, but here’s a summerized version in muffin form! Fresh blackberries make these muffins moist and of course the ginger and molasses give these muffins that great gingerbread taste. I had clipped this recipe … Continue reading

Blackberry Scones

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Hope you are enjoying the last day of your holiday weekend! I haven’t touched my computer for several days and it sure has been nice to unplug for awhile! :) I haven’t done much cooking or baking this weekend either, but I did make … Continue reading