Coconut Almond Butter

You really can’t go wrong with almond butter. ¬†You really can’t.

It’s so delicious. ¬†Almondy. ¬†Smooth yet gritty. ¬†Stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth thick.

And coconutty, in this case.

Gosh, I want a(nother) spoonful.

For this recipe, sweetened coconut flakes are toasted and processed ’till smooth with a bunch of toasted almonds and a little bit of salt, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Coconut Almond Butter

  • 3 C almonds
  • 1/3 C packed sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roast the almonds on an ungreased baking sheet for 5-6 minutes, or until toasty and crunchy.  Set aside to cool and toast the coconut on the same sheet for a minute or two until golden brown.

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth! ¬†Though this sounds easy, it’ll take about 10-15 minutes (don’t despair!), and a bunch of times opening the lid and scraping down the sides.

Totally worth it, though.

I topped the jar with some leftover toasted coconut for a pretty picture, but when I ate the spoonful I loved the crunchy texture it added. ¬†I would definitely mix in some toasted coconut right into the jar next time I make this–maybe an extra 1/4 C or so would be amazing.

Nothing wrong with a little extra coconut flavor, you know?

This almond butter could have been a bit smoother if I let it process another minute or two, but frankly, I got bored of waiting.  You could also add a spoonful of coconut oil if you want it to be drippier.

For pictures of the process or other almond butter ideas, see the following:

Classic (Slightly Salted) Almond Butter

Chocolate Almond Butter

and my personal favorite,

Cinnamon Sugar Almond Butter.

I haven’t been good about taking pictures of things other than food lately, but I’ll try to get back on the Henry photography bandwagon since I know ya’ll love the little devil so much.

Here’s the little guy on Instagram (follow me @laurenzietsman) (does one use an @ for Instagram or just Twitter? ¬†You can follow me on Twitter @A_Full_Measure, too!) (love you!).

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Strawberry Buttermilk Scones

I’ve recently decided to limit my baking (sweets) to once a week, since I have little (read: absolutely zero) ability to control my tasting of unbaked doughs, batters, toppings, mix-ins, you name it. ¬†Not to mention eating the finished product. ¬†So as for now, once a week sweets it is.

And these hardly count as a sweet–made with salty buttermilk and with only two tablespoons of sugar, these scones are best drizzled (read: drenched) in honey to complement the tangy and juicy layer of fresh strawberries between the rich and crumbly buttermilk crunch.

Nothing like salty and buttery goodness to help you fully appreciate summery sweet strawberries.

Strawberry Buttermilk Scones (adapted from¬†Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads)

  • 1 C chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 6 T butter, chilled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 2 eggs (one for the dough, one for a wash)

This is a pretty easy recipe as far as baking goes, but made much easier by a stand mixer. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon) and mix well. ¬†With the mixer running on low, add the chilled butter (chopped into small pieces) until the flour and butter blend into the texture of grains of rice or very coarse sand. ¬†Finally, add the buttermilk and one egg, mixing only until just combined. ¬†With scones, the less you mix, the better–for a finely textured and fluffy scone.

I added a little bit of flour to the original recipe because the dough was so wet I couldn’t imagine shaping it in any sense of the word (recipe adapted above to how I made it). ¬†Divide the dough in half (it will still be sticky and wet) and shape it into a roughly 9″ circle on a floured surface and transfer to a floured cookie sheet or a sheet lined with a non-stick mat.

Layer the chopped strawberries on top.

Add the second half of scone dough, and lightly press the edges together. ¬†Brush with the lightly beaten second egg (I had an egg yolk left over from a previous meal, so I brushed mine with egg yolk plus a little water–that’s why mine is such a pretty dark golden color!). ¬†You can lightly score the top with a knife to divide the circle into 12 or 16 scones now, if you wish.

Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let it cool on the baking sheet, then cut into slices and enjoy!

Other than enjoying the scones themselves, I loved having a chance to eat a bunch of beautiful strawberries. ¬†Some of the farms out east (on Long Island) are ready for strawberry picking this weekend! ¬†I’d love to pick a bunch and make some jam this year.

Fritz really liked the crunchy outside of the scones combined with the soft, fluffy insides.

I’d definitely make these again–and if you have a sweeter tooth, you can either substitute the strawberries for some ¬†sweeter jam, or add a bit more sugar to the dough. ¬†Just add slightly less flour to make up for the extra sugar.

Fritz and I also were able to eat lunch outside today before starting our work, and took a gorgeous evening walk during a study/work break. ¬†We’ve vowed to try to get outside a lot more this year–here’s hoping that our healthy habits stick!

Feel free to send me motivational comments/tweets/Facebook messages/threats whenever the mood strikes.

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Chorizo and Kale Pasta Bowl

This is one of my (and Fritz’s) absolute favorite meals to make when we are in a hurry but very hungry. ¬†The best thing about a pasta bowl is that you can completely mix it up every time, and it always tastes great! ¬†My basic recipe goes like this: onion and garlic are saut√©ed together; add sausage (any kind you want); add greens and cook together while the pasta boils; toss in pasta, and top with a little cheese if you want.

Super easy, super filling, super tasty.

I love using bitter greens like kale, chard, escarole, or collard greens in these types of recipes because I’m not a big fan of them raw but don’t mind them at all when cooked–especially when cooked with sausage and cheese, obviously. ¬†That way I can mix it up from the usual baby spinach and get some different nutrients.

So here’s our latest pasta bowl recipe:

Chorizo and Kale Pasta Bowl (serves two very hungry people)

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion (we were out of onions today, but I would have used some if I had it!)
  • 3 links chorizo sausage (maybe about 1/2 lb), casing removed
  • several heaping handfuls kale, roughly chopped
  • 6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat pasta (I usually use penne or rotini)
  • 1-2 ounces mozzarella cheese to top
Bring a pot of water to boil, then add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Saute the garlic and onions in a dash of canola oil, then add the sausage.  I like to take off the casing so I can crumble the sausage as it cooks, but you could also slice it.  Add the kale and cover, allowing the kale to cook down until tender and the sausage is fully cooked.
When the pasta is ready, drain it and toss it into the pot with the sausage mixture.  Top with the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
You gotta love a big bowl of hearty pasta and veggies, ya know?
The kale and cheese is my favorite part of this meal, and Fritz likes the chorizo the best. ¬†What a perfect pair. ¬†Oh…and watch out for cat burglars (ha!).
In other news, I sat outside during lunch at work today (we had a family lunch in the parking lot today), and nurtured a nice, toasty sunburn on my chest. ¬†Luckily my moisturizer has SPF-something in it, so my face was spared. ¬†I’ve decided this year that protecting my skin is more important than having a tan, so I was a little bummed to get my first burn–but at least it was a small one! ¬†I have big plans to go to the beach this weekend, but I’m gonna load up on sunscreen.

Just ’cause a girl is pale, freckly, and prone to lobster burns doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy lounging in the sun.

Also, congratulations to my sister Kristen for graduating today, and to my BFF Jenny for graduating this weekend!  You guys have worked so hard and deserve the best!

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Taco Turkey Burgers

My favorite thing ever is when I am sitting at work thinking about what I want to eat for dinner (it’s sad, really, how often I think about my meals ahead of time) and I realize that I have exactly the right ingredients to make something that I imagined up.

That happened today, and it was glorious.

I had a pound (well, a little less) of ground turkey, spinach, tomato, half an avocado, cheddar cheese, and four hamburger buns.  Combined with a little Greek yogurt and chili powder, and a taco turkey burger was born.

 

Taco Turkey Burgers (makes four burgers)

  • 3/4 lb ground turkey
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 T plain Greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
  • burger toppings: we used cheddar cheese, spinach, and tomato slices

Start by seasoning the meat while the grill preheats.  Combine the turkey, chili powder, cumin, and salt, and mix until well combined.  Shape into four patties and set aside.

Squash the avocado into a small bowl (yep, “squash” is the technical cooking term)–I use the back of a big spoon. ¬†Once it’s creamy and yummy, add the Greek yogurt and mix well.

This is the delicious avocado cream that will make what could be a dry turkey burger taste like delicious, juicy, taco heaven.  Well, that and the cheese.

Grill the burgers until cooked through, then top with the cheese, avocado cream, and all those other accoutrements. ¬†I prefer to toast the buns whenever I eat burgers, but that’s up to you.

You could just as easily make this with ground beef or chicken–turkey is just what I had in the fridge. ¬†Super delicious, super satisfying.

Equally as delicious:  Fritz.

Isn’t he just so gosh-darn handsome?

Here’s some other pictures from over the weekend–it’s our three year wedding anniversary coming up in a few weeks, and I’m happy to report that one very bad cat, many torturous nights of studying, many thousands of dollars in school loans, two apartments, and a whole food blog later, I still love the guy.

How could you not?

Tomorrow is Friday!!

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Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s? Mothers’?

Anyway, I hope you had a happy one.

There are three major mothers in my life:

1). Mine. ¬†Basically everything I hope to grow up to be, in the end. ¬†If you know my mom, it’s pretty obvious why.

Pretty obvious even if you don’t know her.

2) My sister, Erin. She is celebrating her first ever Mother’s Day as a mom. ¬†And an amazing one, at that.

3) Fritz’s mom, Tharrie. Amongst all those horror stories of horrifying mother-in-laws, I lucked out. ¬†She is always inspiring and encouraging.

And I hope she doesn’t mind me saying this, but she has been working incredibly hard and getting into amazing shape in the last few months–I almost didn’t recognize her at the airport!

Seriously.

Fritz and I were lucky enough to spend this weekend with his parents and his sister, and we decided to go out east to the wineries, the beaches, the farms (and the local asparagus!), and the cute shopping towns.

Sometimes I love living on Long Island, and today was one of those days.

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day?

I love you, Mee-Maw!!

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Asparagus and Goat Cheese Risotto

I love when asparagus is in season.  Because that means spring and sunshine (occasionally) and sweatshirts and my last chance to make hearty winter dishes before full-on summer hits and all I can think about eating are cold salads and frozen fruits and grilled meats.

So as one (of many, I’m sure) last hurrahs, here’s a hearty and delicious risotto that celebrates asparagus…and my affinity for all things goat cheese.

 

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Risotto (serves 6 as a side)

  • 1 T butter (I use unsalted but either would work)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 C arborio rice
  • 5-6 C chicken broth (I used 4 C broth and 2 C water to manage the salt a little)
  • 2-3 oz goat cheese
  • 1 bunch asparagus

Start off by roasting the asparagus. ¬†Snap off the bottom of each stalk where it naturally wants to separate (just bend it until the tough part pops off) and place them on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with olive oil. ¬†Sprinkle with salt and roast on the middle rack of a 350 degree oven until tender, about 15 minutes. ¬†Once ¬†they are done, set aside to cool until handleable, then chop into 1″ pieces.

To get ready for the risotto, bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan and reduce heat to medium to simmer. ¬†You’ll spoon the hot broth 1/2 C at a time into the rice to make the risotto–and it really does have to be hot!

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until they soften.  Add the rice and stir, letting it toast for 30 seconds or so.

Start adding the broth 1/2 C at a time–once the first ladle full¬†is absorbed¬†by the rice, give it a stir and add another. ¬†You don’t want to stir the rice nonstop, but you do have to do it every few minutes to make sure the rice cooks evenly. ¬†The first few spoonfuls of broth will get absorbed quickly, then it will start to slow down–and it’s better to add less, since you can always add more but you can’t take it away!

The rice is done cooking when it looks thick and creamy but is still a little al dente in the middle–it shouldn’t be mushy. ¬†Take the rice off the heat and let it rest for a minute or two, then stir in the goat cheese and the asparagus.

If it feels too “dry” at this point, you can add another spoonful of broth and mix it right in.

The goat cheese definitely took this to the next level. ¬†I would have added white wine, too (substituted for a bit of the broth), but all of our current stash is too sweet! ¬†Someone has been drinking all the dry whites around here…

(…and that someone may or may not be me).

If you don’t like asparagus, you could substitute (or add) any vegetable that you do like–peas or mushrooms would both be great in this recipe.

And if for some crazy weird reason you don’t like goat cheese, you can use Parmesan instead. ¬†But if you don’t like goat cheese, you are also missing out on some of life’s finest tangy dairy and you may want to seek professional help.

This is definitely a nice hearty side dish, so you may want to serve it with a salad or something light instead of another (God forbid) starch.

I’m off to go take care of a rapidly evolving migraine (meaning–I’m gonna go to bed and hope it goes away!), but I hope you guys are all planning some amazing Mothers’ Day brunches and desserts and cocktail hours that I get to hear about after the weekend!

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Lightened Up! Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

You guys know by now how I feel about soup. ¬†And if you don’t–well, I freakin’ love it. ¬†I’d have soup for every meal if I wasn’t concerned that my teeth would fall out if I never used ‘em.

Plus I like to crunch things every once in a while.  And I guess I would want to have separate elements on my plate every once in a while.

Okay, so I’d definitely never eat soup for every meal. ¬†But I still like it a lot.

Here’s a ridiculously tasty and satisfying recipe for you for a good old broccoli and cheddar soup. ¬†I never liked that smelly green soup growing up, so it was easy for me to take the inspiration and change it significantly without feeling like I was messing with a classic. ¬†A few substitutions for high-calorie ingredients, plus a lot of additions to up the flavor makes this a soup that even a green-soup hater ¬†or a health freak can love.

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (Lightened Up!)

  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C chopped leeks (I used frozen leeks–new product for me from Trader Joes!)
  • 1/2 C carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large bunch broccoli, diced
  • 6 C chicken broth
  • 2 C skim milk
  • 3 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 T flour
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Follow a basic soup recipe for this one: in a light sprinkle of canola oil over medium-high heat, add the onions, garlic, leeks, and carrots to a large soup pot and allow them to sweat until they begin to soften.  Add the potatoes, broccoli, and chicken broth, turn the heat down to medium and cover, simmering until the potatoes and broccoli are tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the flour in a small saucepan for 30 seconds or so over medium heat, then add the milk slowly, stirring until a nice “roux” (okay, not officially a roux, but close) is formed. ¬†Add the cheddar cheese and stir until the sauce thickens and the cheese melts, 3-5 minutes.

Combine the cheese sauce into the veggie base and stir.  Either use an immersion blender (one of the best kitchen tools ever) or blend the soup in a blender (do about a third at a time) until it is smooth.  I left the soup with some chunks and pieces of veggies left just to make it a bit more enjoyable to eat.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The secret to this soup is to use extra sharp cheddar–little will go a long way to flavor this soup. ¬†You can (and probably should) top the soup with some extra cheddar, too.

I really thought this soup was great–it was hearty, but you are seriously eating a giant bowl of vegetables. ¬†The potatoes help to make this taste nice and creamy without having to use heavy cream, and the other vegetables keep it from tasting like a giant spoonful of blended broccoli.

Also, I found this picture from before we moved and it made me laugh.  A lot.

I’ll try to take some pictures of the apartment tomorrow, now that we have the place mostly set up. ¬†If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve already seen most of it.

Have a good night!

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Basic Honey and Nut Granola

I rarely make granola at home, because:

  1. I can’t stop eating the ingredients when I am putting it together;
  2. I can’t stop eating the soft and chewy clusters during baking;
  3. I can’t stop eating the crunchy, slowly cooling clusters once they are done baking; and
  4. Whatever I don’t eat only lasts a day or two once Fritz gets his hands on it.

As you can see, there may or may not be a willpower (or lack thereof) issue going on here.

A classmate of Fritz’s did us a huge favor last weekend by letting us borrow his truck, so I had promised treats in the form of cake or cookies. ¬†He requested something healthier, so I decided there’s no better treat than granola, chock full of the good stuff.

This is a basic granola recipe that you can change however you want by adding different mix-ins after you finish baking and cooling the clusters.

And it turns out that when you make granola with a purpose, you can set aside a big jar!  Makes me think that I should tell myself that each batch has to last a week, and give making it for us another try.

Basic Honey and Nut Granola (adapted slightly from Oh She Glows)

dry ingredients

  • 2 1/2 C raw oats (I used old-fashioned)
  • 1 C raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C raw walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 C raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 C sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
wet ingredients
  • 4 T honey
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 3 T agave nectar
  • 2 T peanut butter
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
mix ins
  • 1 C raisins–could also add pumpkin seeds, craisins, or whatever strikes your fancy

To make: preheat the oven to 300 degrees. ¬†In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.¬†In a small saucepan, bring the wet ingredients to a boil, the reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes. ¬†Pour the wet ingredients over the dry (it’ll be thick and difficult to stir at first!) and make sure to mix everything thoroughly.

Spread onto a baking sheet covered with a nonstick mat or parchment paper, and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes to make sure it all bakes evenly.

Remove to cool–it will harden as it cools, not during baking. ¬†It’s okay that the granola is still soft right when you take it out of the oven! ¬†It’ll get crispy as it cools.

Once it cools, break it into pieces if it hasn’t broken up yet, and mix in the raisins. ¬†Store in a large airtight jar or plastic container for up to a few weeks…but it won’t last that long.

An important thing to note: this granola does not taste like peanut butter! ¬†You wouldn’t know it was in there unless I told you–it just adds a nice saltiness to everything.

Also, make sure that all the nuts you use are raw, otherwise they’ll probably burn as you bake them.

I loved how dark and crunchy everything got–it tasted amazing mixed in yogurt with banana (my breakfast) or in a big bowl with milk (Fritz’s dinner part 1). ¬†Perfectly sweet with a hint of salty and maximum crunch.

Even Henry likes it.

We’ve finished up with the majority of our side of things on the apartment: I made curtains, we hung shelves, and Fritz put some final touches on the place. ¬†Now the landlord has to do his side of things: mainly put a ceiling on our laundry room. ¬†I’ve seen Henry disappear into the ceiling and it makes me very nervous!

When he’s not sneaking around our heads M:I-V style, or swiping granola, he’s sitting on the windowsill having the time of his life:

 

He loves the new place, that’s for sure.

 

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Cajun Coffee Dry Rub

Could it possibly be true…could I be blogging for the second day in a row?! ¬†The heavens rejoice and I am feeling so excited to have my kitchen fully unpacked, only a few small projects to do, and to have my camera back out and in action!

It’s amazing how quickly I got used to not blogging, and how it feels weird to start thinking about it again every time I want to bake or cook. ¬†It feels good to be back, though. ¬†Cathartic. ¬†Yummy.

Note to self: whipping together a late-night giant batch of cookies (chocolate snicker doodles) to “test the oven” only works if you manage to bake them, rather than just eating most of the dough and having a belly ache the next morning.

I’m trying to stop using “stress” and “moving” as excuses to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. ¬†Time to get back on the lean and green bandwagon and try limiting myself to, you know, three cookies a day instead of six.

Starting with pork chops!

I threw together this dry rub quickly so that Fritz could grill the pork chops and corn while I figured out what to do with some green beans and pine nuts (answer: butter).

Cajun Coffee Dry Rub

  • 1/4 C finely ground coffee
  • 1/4 C Cajun spice mix (we happened to have a premixed spice–if you don’t, try using a combination of any of these: chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper together with a little cayenne for heat)

Combine and store in a glass or plastic container.

To use, dry the meat with a paper towel (we made two big pork chops) and rub the seasoning directly onto all surfaces of the meat.  Grill over high heat for a few minutes on each side.  Take off the grill, cover with foil, and allow to rest for a few minutes minutes to finish cooking.

By the way, I was talking with a few coworkers about cooking (one of our favorite topics at the clinic) and as of 2011, the Department of Agriculture cooking regulations dropped the “safe internal temperature” of pork from 160 degrees to 145 degrees–meaning your pork can safely be tender and pink in the middle.

I had always thought that to be safe, pork had to be cooked to whiteness through and through (still true of ground pork), but it tasted mighty fine to have a nicely pink and juicy chop without worrying about trichinosis or E. coli.

Not that I worry much about foodborne pathogens in general, but still.  Some of you might!

Anyway, enough of that.

The coffee Cajun rub was delicious! I love a good dry rub–it really added a salty and tasty crust that was more Cajun than coffee.

It also blackened beautifully.

Do you eat pork cooked medium or are you still well-done people?

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Banana Bread Green Monster

Oh, hey guys.  Remember me?

I’m so excited to announce that we are officially moved into our new apartment–it’s definitely not my dream home, but it has a dishwasher, washer and dryer, nicer kitchen appliances, a big closet to house my shopping addiction clothes, and a little more room to wander around in. ¬†Meaning that our kitchen, living room, and dining room are not one room as it was in our last apartment.

In fact, I sometimes catch Fritz wandering around looking for me like a little lost child.  Not sure how he will handle a move to a big-boy house.

Anyway, we are still waiting for the landlord to hook up the internet (hopefully this weekend) so I get it in the whole house and not just in our dining room. ¬†Now that the kitchen is all unpacked, the internet is partially good to go, and I’ve been grocery shopping–the blogging can make triumphant return.

Pictures of the apartment to come in the future. ¬†Until then, since I went for a few days eating pizza and almost no vegetables, I started craving green monsters hard core…and thought of a new one!

Banana Bread Green Monster (serves two…or one very thirsty lady)

  • 1 ripe banana, frozen (peel before freezing!)
  • 1 C milk
  • 2 handfuls spinach leaves (I use fresh)
  • 1/4 C walnuts
  • 1/4 C oats
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

My first though upon making this was, “how the heck have I never thought of this before?!”

So delicious!

Combine the ingredients in your blender, light stuff on bottom (spinach, oats, cinnamon, walnuts), heavy stuff on top (banana–and ice, if you use it), and pour the milk over the top.

Blend the heck out of it until it’s nice and smooth.

Gosh, I’ve missed green monsters. ¬†It feels so good to have the kitchen set up again!

This one tastes just slightly nutty from the walnuts and the oats, and was very filling.  Best part was how banana-bready it tasted!

You could add some ground flaxseed, too, or vanilla, or whatever else makes you think of banana bread.

Try not to kiss your blender.

For your viewing pleasure, some pictures of our pre-move–when Henry would hide in boxes and leap out to attack people. ¬†People meaning Fritz.

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