Banana Coffee Almond Shake

Coffee Almond Banana shake

Coffee, frozen banana, toasted almonds, milk and a squeeze of chocolate sauce.  How can you go wrong with that?!  This is an extremely simple, delicious and relatively low sugar pick-me-up for your hot summer afternoon!  I saw a recipe similar on Serious Eats and had to try my own version!  The only sweetness comes from the banana and a tablespoon of honey – not too shabby for something that seems pretty indulgent!  It was absolutely perfect for that mid-afternoon I-gotta-have-something-sweet attack that happens to me every day.  Enjoy and change up the ingredients as you like!
Coffee Banana Almond shake

Banana Coffee Almond Shake
makes one large or two small servings

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, room temp
1/4 cup milk (any kind of milk will work)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 frozen banana
1 TBS honey, agave nectar, whatever you like best
5 large ice cubes (about a cup of crushed ice)

In a blender, add the coffee, milk, almonds and banana and blend for about 30 seconds.  Then add the ice and blend for 30 seconds to a minute more.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce (or not – it’s up to you, but I had some in my pantry and, well, it was awesome) and serve!

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Blueberry Granola and Cinnamon Vanilla Yogurt Parfaits

Blueberry Granola and Cinnamon Yogurt Parfaits Yogurt and Granola Parfaits
This is a very simple snack that you can make ahead of time and have it ready to pull out of the fridge at any time during the week!  I had some blueberries in the freezer that needed to be used and so I created a soft granola that could be good cut into bars, or crumbled up like I did here, to add to yogurt, cereal, ice cream, whatever!  I love these little jam jar parfaits – I used the small 4 oz. size for Olive and used the bigger 6 oz. size for us big kids.  Layered with plain, rich Greek yogurt that I mixed with some cinnamon and vanilla bean paste – these are ready for my fridge and ready for a week of snack time, pregnancy cravings or a quick breakfast!

Sweetening plain yogurt with cinnamon and vanilla bean paste (which is slightly sweet) adds enough sweetness without adding several teaspoons of honey or sugar, like we all feel compelled to do with plain yogurt.  You’re getting plenty of sugar from granola (never let anyone tell you granola is a diet food) and so there’s no need to add even more by buying a pre-sweetened yogurt (which can have over 20 grams of sugar in each serving!) This recipe makes a really large batch of granola that’ll last you a while and I hope you enjoy the smell of your entire house while you make it!

blueberry granola parfaits

Blueberry Granola Parfaits
makes about 3 cups of granola

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBS cinnamon
1 TBS vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup honey
1 stick melted butter
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dried currants, raisins, whatever you like

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and cinnamon.  In a medium bowl, combine the steel cut oats and 1 cup boiling water and let them soak for 20 minutes.  Drain and add to the other oat mixture.  If you don’t want to do this, simply add 2 more cups of regular rolled oats.  I liked the steel cut chewiness, but I’ve done this recipe with all rolled oats before and it works fine either way!

Add to the oat mixture the vanilla bean paste (can sub regular vanilla extract), melted butter and honey and stir well to combine everything.  Gently fold in the blueberries, currants and pecans (or any trifecta you desire).  Spread mixture out on a greased, rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Take it out and let it cool and then break it all up and spread it out on the sheet again and let it bake at 250 for about 30 more minutes until it’s all golden brown.  If you want to make granola bars, increase your first bake time to 30 minutes and let it cool completely before cutting into bars.  While it’s cooling and still hot, I’d spread some white chocolate chips over the top and let them melt and then spread them all over for a topping for your granola bars, if you’re gonna swing that way.

Cinnamon Yogurt

1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and whip up until fully blended.  Layer in cute little jars with the granola and top with fresh berries for the snack pictured here!  Garnishing with mint adds a wonderful flavor addition and brightens everything up.

*this can easily be made gluten-free by substituting the flour for coconut flour and insuring that your oats are gluten free.  Check the box – a lot of brands are, nowadays!

Cinnamon Yogurt and Blueberry Granola Parfaits

Figs with Cream and Honey

figs and honey
Fresh figs are exceptionally hard to find around here.  I’m not exactly sure, why, because our climate is perfect for the fig plant.  Maybe I’m just going to the store at the wrong time of day.  Maybe some old lady waits till she sees the truck and loads up the back of her Cadillac so she can make jam.  Whatever the reason, I’ve never had much luck finding them.  Most that we can find are dried and the fresh ones are crazy expensive.  So when I happened to pass these by, I got really excited.  I got some from a friend a few years ago and made some killer port wine figpote, but I’d never just given the fig a chance to be eaten plain without dumping a bunch of sugar on it.  (I know – I dumped honey on it.  But not a lot, really.  And it seems okay when it’s not white sugar by the cupfuls in a huge jam pot.)

These figs are currently at Market Street and they are beautifully ripe.  A fig is nearly an instant dessert without doing any fancy prep to it.  It has such a luscious texture and the flavor is mellow and pairs well with so many things.  So, with just a little work, you can escalate a simple fig into a high-end dessert you might get charged $12 for at a restaurant that claims to be “up-scale.”  Not to mention, it’s wonderfully easy for a baby or toddler to eat, and it goes so well with wine, you might just feel like it’s the weekend in the middle of the week.  Desserts can do that.  And because this is a very sensible dessert, I’m giving you permission to eat it on a Tuesday, instead of waiting for the weekend.

figs with creme fraiche

Figs with Cream and Honey
serves two

4-6 fresh figs, depending on size
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tbs honey, plus more for drizzling
2 tbs roasted, salted pistachios

So, basically, the ingredients are the instructions.  Wash the figs, slice them down the middle and remove the stems.  Arrange them on a plate and whip up the creme fraiche with the honey until smooth and place in the center of the figs.  Top the creme fraiche with the pistachios and drizzle the whole thing with extra honey and serve!  Creme fraiche can be replaced by greek yogurt, fresh whipped creme, or even marscapone cheese.  The pistachios were a last minute addition but they totally brought everything together and added real depth to the dish.  In the tone of James Oseland, I give this dish 3 and a half starrrrrrs.

figs with creme fraiche, honey and pistachios