Archive | April, 2010

“The” Banana Bread

28 Apr

How this went from being “banana bread” to “THE banana bread” is a funny story.  I came up with this recipe after a summer of banana-bread-making and a dad who just won’t stop buying bananas even though nobody eats them.  It stemmed from some recipe from some cookbook but evolved into something amazing.  My friends request it by name- one even asked for a loaf in lieu of a birthday cake.  [Yes, I do bake cakes for people.]  So here it is, in all its glory, and don’t you dare make any substitutes.

banana split har dee har

I love Natalie Dee comics.

Start by mixing 1 stick of melted unsalted butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar.

Add 3 ripe bananas, and get mashing.  Make sure you mush it up really well- you might think you want big banana chunks in your bread, but you really don’t.  Trust me, okay?

Now crack in 2 large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a generous shaking of cinnamon.

Add in 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole-wheat flour.  Mix it up.

Here’s the BEST part: add 2/3 cup chocolate chips!  I like dark chocolate chips or a broken-up dark chocolate bar, but just use whatever you have on hand.

Pour it into a foil-lined, sprayed pan and bake it at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes.  Let it cool in the pan, then turn it out and slice it up.  Try and just have one piece.  See?  You can’t.  This is why it’s THE banana bread. 😀

Tests and Such

25 Apr

Seeing as I haven’t posted in a few days, you’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to.  Or you just watched my blog get lower and lower on your Google Reader.  Anyway, my life these past few days can be summed up in these.

There’s nothing like AP US history and AP Chemistry to really brighten up a girl’s mood.  With the AP tests fast approaching, the work is only going to get worse.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, the AP tests are super-hard subject tests that you can opt to take.  If you get a good score, you can send it to colleges and possibly get college credit.  Each test is 3 1/2 hours long and is the definition of “stress”.  I don’t like them, but I send in the $80 (!!!) per test and take them anyway.  Moving right along…

 

2 product reviews!!  Oh my gosh!

 

ThinkThin Chunky Peanut Butter Bar

This bar is full of protein and has 0g of sugar.  Of course, this means it contains sugar alcohols, but I’ll take my chances since it’s delicious!  This bar is like a giant peanut butter cup (it’s chocolate-covered) and it leaves you feeling full for a long time.  Definite winner!

 

Dannon Greek Yogurt

 

Dannon

Though I was happy with the lower price of this yogurt, I wasn’t a fan of the taste.  I got the vanilla, and it was too sweet and fake-tasting to me.  On the other hand; if you’re making the “transition” to Greek yogurt, I’d recommend you try this one first because it’s more reminiscent of regular yogurt.  It also contained more sugar than I would like, and didn’t have as much protein as my beloved Chobani.  I’d like to try the Yoplait Greek yogurt, too.

 

I feel like this post is missing something.

hippo

Much better.  This is what I do when I can’t read the ^above^ books anymore. 🙂

That Time We Got Lost

21 Apr

This ranks as my best running story; I’ll probably remember some more in the future, but right now this one is my favorite.  This past summer, my friend Christine and I decided to go for a 10-mile run.  We’d done it before, so the distance wasn’t a problem, but we’d never run this particular loop without a coach with us who knew the way.  We thought we knew enough of it to figure it out, and the local running club was going to be there, too.  So off we went. 

We stayed with the club runners for the first mile, but then they suddenly sped up and left us behind.  Turns out they were doing a tempo run.  Go figure.  So now we’re on our own.  How hard can it be?  We knew to go over the bridge, turn right, see the water fountain, turn off the loop and run 1 mile out, turn around and go back, turn right, and finish the loop.  So that’s what we did.  When we got to the point where we were supposed to get off the main course, it got a little tricky. 

There were 3 different trails.  We didn’t have a GPS, so we didn’t know how far a mile was, and we didn’t want to end up in somebody’s backyard.  We picked a trail, ran for about 2 minutes, then approached a dead end.  Great.  So we turned around and tried another one.  This time we ran for about 5 minutes before reaching the highway, so we turned around and decided to forgo attempting the third trail.  We’d run a little more when we got back on the main loop to reach the 10-mile goal.  So we got back on the main path and continued to run. 

All was fine for about 45 minutes until we approached an intersection.  Right, left, or straight?  There were some bikers nearby, so we asked them how to get back to the parking lot.  They laughed and made a sexist joke.  Alrighty then.  We made a quick decision to go straight and semi-sprinted away.  This was when it started to get interesting.  We saw a small trail of rocks leading to a big house, and commented on how nice it would be to live there.  Then about 20 minutes later, we saw it again.  We were going in circles!  You can bet some expletives were being tossed around at this point.  We had easily surpassed the 10-mile mark, and now we had no idea how to get back to the starting point. 

So we opted to go to the house and ask them where the heck we were.  We walked through the backyard around to the front of the house and rang the doorbell.  No answer.  This house was on the end of a street, so we walked down the street looking for someone to ask.  A middle-aged couple was doing yard work, so we asked them the pivotal question… “Uh, where are we?”  They looked at us strangely and then told us.  Apparently we were about 5 miles from the starting point.  Crap crap crap crap crap.  That was the only thing going through my mind at that point. 

Here’s where the story gets weird.  The woman asked us if we needed a ride, and after approximately 4 seconds of careful thinking [what if they’re serial killers… oh well… they’re probably not], we took her up on the offer.  It took about 15 minutes to drive back to the parking lot where we started.  We were extremely lucky to have found these people, and we never even learned their names.  Here’s what I took from this experience:

1. Know the trail.

2. Don’t trust that bikers know where they’re going.

3. Carry a cell phone on your long runs.

4. Don’t trust everyone, but if you’re really desperate and in a nice neighborhood than chances are you’ll find some random couple to give you a ride.

5. Getting lost makes the run go by so much faster.

🙂

Soup and Cheddar

21 Apr

Hello there darlins’.  Just FYI– I’ve never actually lived in the south, but I say “y’all” and other southern jargon on a regular basis.  Anyhoo…

 

Breakfast and lunch were boring, and I didn’t bake anything today, and I didn’t swim or run, so today was a fairly uneventful day.  But my prom plans are set!  And I bought my purse and shoes on the internet.  Win.

Dinner consisted of takeout from Panera Bread as it is every Tuesday, and today I went with chicken noodle soup and whole grain baguette.

Then I was still hungry, so I had 2 slices of sharp cheddar cheese.  I don’t remember what brand it was, but it wasn’t this brand, and I’m pretty sure it was local.  This makes me feel semi-good about myself.

And some tortilla chips.  These were not local, as I do not live near Mexico… or wherever these were made.

All the cool kids go for the crispy rounds.

 

Now I’m watching Glee and listening to Madonna remakes.  I really don’t think they should be showing this sort of stuff on a family show.  Eh, well.

 

***PS. I’m getting my wisdom teeth out this summer!! Yay!!! [note the heavy sarcasm].

image 

Y’all enjoy your night!

Boston Marathon!

19 Apr

I want to run the Boston Marathon.

Or any marathon, for that matter.

 

Teyba Erkesso (ETH), winner, Women's Open Race

She doesn’t look happy enough to have just won the women’s division of the marathon.  Of course, after running 26.6 miles in 2:26, I wouldn’t be too happy either.  Look how both her feet are off the ground though!  That’s pretty cool.

image

That’s me after the mile.  Running a 6:30 pace, might I add.  Way slower than the Boston superstars.

And that’s me trying on my Debutante dress.  Can you tell I don’t have much to talk about today?  Great, thanks.

I’m off to work on le Petit Prince and admire Saint-Exupery’s exquisite artwork.

Enjoy your night, darlins’.

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

19 Apr

This is what these were supposed to look like.

And this is what they actually looked like.

CMcupcakes 046

Nevertheless, they were very fun to make with friends.  They would be fun for a childrens’ party, but I wouldn’t recommend making them with children unless you mind broken cupcakes and blue frosting-stained countertops, in which case go for it.

Start with cupcakes.  Bake them yourself or use a mix.  I used a mix because, well, these cupcakes aren’t meant to be super-high-class.  So I picked Funfetti.  Of course, if you’re going to bake your own, might I recommend these?  I mean… not to be biased or anything, but they’re fairly amazing.

Use a knife to slit the tops of your cupcakes about halfway around.  When you squish the cupcake, its mouth should, uhh, move.  We had lots of fun with this.

CMcupcakes 045

Now stuff 1/2 a Chips Ahoy cookie into the slit you just made.

 

Take 1 cup of vanilla frosting, store-bought or homemade.  I really prefer homemade buttercream, but I went for Pillsbury Whipped Supreme this time.  I wanted to spend my time decorating instead of whipping powdered sugar into butter.  Your choice.  Scoop a tiny spoonful of your frosting into a little bowl, then dye the rest of it blue.  Just use food coloring until you get a shade you like.

Spread it onto the cupcake, taking care not to get Cookie Monster’s fur onto his beloved cookie.  Use a fork to score the frosting so it looks more “life-like”.

 

Now take a chocolate chip and dip it into the white frosting.  Stick it onto the cupcake, then repeat with another one.  These are Cookie Monster’s eyes.  If you’re feeling really motivated, you can use candy melts [as shown in the FIRST picture] and stick the chocolate chips on top.  Whatever floats your boat.

 

Of course, some of your Cookie Monsters might end up like this little guy.

CMcupcakes 047

You win some, you lose some.

Tasty Chocolate Chip Cookies

17 Apr

Everyone likes chocolate chip cookies.

Cookies 050

I bake a lot, and sometimes it takes hours to make an elaborate dessert.  But nothing makes my friends and family as happy as when I make chocolate chip cookies.  They’re super easy to make, boringly easy, but the dough is scrumptious and the cookies come out chewy, tender, and chocolatey.  Here’s the recipe I always use.

Courtney’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose power
  • Big handful of chocolate chips

Cookies 044 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until they look like the picture below.  Basically, cream for longer than you think you need to.

Cookies 045

2. Add the egg, vanilla, espresso, baking soda, and salt.  Stir, then add the flour in 1/2 cup increments, stirring after each addition.

Cookies 046

3.  Stir in a big handful of chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup-ish).  Use more if you want more; less if you want less.  Don’t use too much though, or else the chips will melt all over your baking sheet.  Not pretty.  But this dough is definitely lovely.  It’s really good dough, so taste a little if you want.  Err.. or more. 😀

Cookies 047

4.  Using a cereal spoon, scoop blobs of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Tip: wet your (CLEAN) fingertips with water and shape the dough blobs into more uniform circles.  This makes them look prettier.  But frankly, nobody really cares if they’re pretty or not.

Cookies 048

5.  Bake for 9 minutes.  The edges of the cookies should be golden brown, and the tops should be puffed up.

Cookies 051

6.  After 2 minutes of chilling on the cookie sheet, transfer the cookies to a wire rack.  Let them cool a little more before you taste one.  Once cooled, store in a Tupperware container for up to a week.

How To Swim

16 Apr

I’ve noticed that swimming is becoming a “hot trend” in the blog world, with notable bloggers like Caitlin and Meghann trying it out.  I live in a town where swim clubs outnumber restaurants, so I learned to swim at a young age.  It’s difficult for me to comprehend that some people don’t know how to swim, or worse, are afraid of water!  So I put together this post to give you some beginner swimming tips: I’m not a swim teacher or anything, but hopefully this should help you learn without paying for a lesson!

image

  • Getting in the water is actually the hardest step– especially when the water is cold!  You can do this gradually, or just hold your breathe and get in, which is easier in my opinion.
  • Don’t freak out in deep water.  Just because the water is deep doesn’t mean you have to touch the bottom.  I’m 5’4”, so any water deeper than 6 feet is all the same for me.  Just relax!
  • Wear the right swimsuit.  If you’re comfortable in it, you’ll be more comfortable in the water.  Make sure it fits and is tied tightly!
  • Count your laps.  Every lap you swim is an accomplishment- count every one you do, and try to do at least one more each session you swim!
  • If in doubt, get out.  If you ever feel short of breathe, weak, or panicky in a pool, get out immediately.

Another Ordinary Day

15 Apr

Hello there.  I had a quite exhausting day thanks to a lovely little thing called pollen.  Dear allergies, please go away.  Love, Courtney.  I know you’re not supposed to eat dairy when you have a cold, but I’m not giving up my a.m. yogurt.

My Dad just bought this cereal.  I’ve tried it before and loved it, but stopped buying it for some reason.  I’m glad it’s back!

After breakfast it was school, school, school until 3:00.  Meh.  Then I met with my chemistry teacher to go over some stuff.  AP Chem is so difficult!  It’s way more than just protons and neutrons… how does “dysproportionation” sound?  Needless to say, I’m glad to have the extra help.

 

I’ve been loving these as of late.

They may not look like much, but these bars are good!  The dark chocolate tastes real unlike some other bars, and the NuGo folks put it both outside and inside the bar.  The nutritionals aren’t bad, either.

 

My friend lent me this Jodi Picoult book. and I can’t put it down!  So far this is up there with My Sister’s Keeper in terms of my favorite books by her.  You can tell she really researches the topics of her stories before she writes them.

 

That’s all for now! 😀

Makeover!

15 Apr

Prom is coming up.  I know the majority of my abundance of readers [note the sarcasm] are older than high schoolers, as the majority of blog readers in general are older than high schoolers.  But fancy rite-of-passage dance or not, everyone likes to look good.  I’m a purist when it comes to makeup- aka, I spend as little money as possible.  These are the items that are my absolute necessities.  And note, I’m allergic to everything, so most of these products are hypoallergenic.  So here goes…

 

Almay Eye Liner Pencil, Black

As a former ballet-dancer, I’ve been using eyeliner since I was 5.  And I never liked it, either.  This stuff is great because it goes on smooth unlike messy liquids and pencils.  It doesn’t rub off until you take it off, in which case it comes off easily.  It’s available in other colors, but I like black the most because I only need a little to make my blue eyes pop.

 

Clinique “Take the Day Off” Makeup Remover

I know this is a bit more $$$ than drugstore brands, but it’s definitely worth it.  Each bottle lasts forever and doesn’t make your eyes feel greasy.  It can also be used on your entire face, so if you need to take off lipstick, it won’t poison you (always a plus).  Unlike other brands, this actually feels good when you use it- not oily or irritating at all!

 

Burts Bees Lip Balm, Pomegranate

There are no words to describe the amazing-ness of this lip balm.  It smells good, makes your lips feel soft, and is totally natural!  I would recommend buying it in mass quantities, because once you try it, you will become obsessed with it.

 

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Spot Gel

I must admit- I’ve never had a problem with my skin.  I never broke out [aside from the penicillin incident] and whenever I get a pimple, I break out (haha get it?!) this gel immediately.  It dries up pimples while you sleep, and in all the years I’ve used it, it’s never taken more than 3 days to totally remove it.  Just be sure to dab it ONLY on the affected area, or else the surrounding skin will become dry and irritated.  It works like a charm!

 

More to come in the future… I need to go study for a US history quiz. 😦