Red, White, and Blueberry Banana Bread

Red, White, and Blueberry Banana Bread

I know Memorial Day is almost here because we bought our flowers last week.  I’m looking at them on the deck as I type this.  They are in all the colors of the rainbow, soaking up the morning sun.

I hate to play favorites, because really I love them all, but there is a pink dahlia in the corner that is just gorgeous.  Of course, then there are the pansies, hibiscus, petunias … like I said, I hate to play favorites.

Red, White, and, Blueberry Banana Bread

Our trip to the garden center almost didn’t happen.  Last Friday was a beautiful day, the perfect day to go.  Not too hot, not to cold.  The garden center was pretty much empty, allowing us to look around without having to fight the crowds.

I really wanted to buy all the flowers.  They are just so pretty and the smell is intoxicating.  If only we could bottle that smell, especially for the middle of winter when it seems there is no hope left in the world.  While we didn’t buy all the flowers, we did a pretty good job.

Red, White, and Blueberry Banana Bread

But the weekend, Mother Nature and I were not on speaking terms.  It was so cold that there were wind chills.  And hail.  And snow.  It was gross.

The flowers took cover in the garage and seem to have made it through quite well.  Now they are outside, enjoying life and I am thoroughly enjoying their presence.

Red, White, and Blueberry Banana Bread

Since Memorial Day is right around the corner, I wanted to make a patriotic treat.  Enter Red, White, and Blueberry Banana Bread.  It is soft and moist and packed with banana flavor.  The supporting flavors from cherries, blueberries, and white chocolate, totally take this over the top and make is the best banana bread I’ve ever had.

Even better, I baked it in a 9 by 13 to change things up.  It is easier to get out of the pan than in a traditional loaf pan and it cut the baking time slightly.  This is perfect for breakfast, snack time, or dessert.  The whole family will totally love it.

Enjoy everything about summer with this Banana Bread as your go to treat!

Red, White, and Blueberry Banana Bread

Red, White, and Blueberry Banana Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 16 servings

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

7 large ripe bananas, well mashed

1 cup blueberries

1 cup cherries, pitted

1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In a large bowl, stir together sugars, oil, eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas until well combined. Stir in flour mixture, followed by blueberries, cherries, and white chocolate chips. Mix until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet in case it bakes over. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Serve warm or cool completely in pan. Bread may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or frozen in pieces, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the microwave about 1 minute.

http://piesandplots.net/red-white-and-blueberry-banana-bread/

Banana Bread Blondies

Banana Bread Blondies

Family is the most important thing in life. I am so lucky to see my parents every day. It is hard for me to imagine a time when that will not be possible. It is impossible for me to imagine going weeks, months, or years without seeing them, but that is the reality for many people.

While I may see my parents every day, I understand how it feels to be away from family, because I do not often have the opportunity to see my aunt and uncle. They mean so much to me and are people I know I can always turn to no matter what. However, they live hours away and over the past few years, my uncle’s job has taken him to several different locales, including one in another country!

My Family

My aunt, me, and Mom during her last visit.

This makes it nearly impossible to see them. I always wish I could call them to come over for dinner or to watch a movie or go shopping or to see a play, but without weeks or months of planning and schedule checking, it can’t happen. Even with the planning, it often doesn’t happen.

One thing that brings us all together is food. Western Union understands really well. Many of their customers are “Dual-Belongers,” meaning they live in one place for a better education, career, or life, but their family, and therefore their heart, lies somewhere else. They rely on Western Union to send money home, which seems like no big deal to them. It’s something they do without question or second thoughts.

Banana Bread Blondies

Food helps link them to their homes, whether those homes are oceans away or a long drive. Once Western Union heard from their customers how important food is in linking them to home, their family, and memories, they created #WUHomeCooked, a heartwarming video in which they surprised some of their customers with a surprise meal from their family!

The video is really inspiring and reminds me how lucky I am to have any family at all close to me. The world can be a really lonely place. It made me think of my aunt and uncle and how they must feel when they are far away from home and family, as well as how I feel missing them.

Banana Bread Blondies

They don’t always get to cook, a simple thing I take for granted because I do it every day. While eating out is fun, it gets old after awhile, and a homemade meal, or even better, a baked treat sounds good to them. I was inspired by my aunt’s love of banana bread to create these Banana Bread Blondies.

I wish I could send her some (oh! Maybe I could do that!), but I hope if she gets the chance to make them, she feels as connected to me as I did to her while whipping them up.

They have all the classic banana bread flavors with the dense, chewiness of a blondie and are rather addictive. Plus, they only take one bowl to mix together. I think I’ll grab another one while I pick up the phone and talk to my aunt. I hope you find ways to stay connected to those most important to you. Just as Western Union discovered, food is a great way to keep that connection going!

Banana Bread Blondies

Banana Bread Blondies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 18 bars

Ingredients

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

3 small ripe bananas, mashed

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup pecans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together sugars and butter until combined. Mix in the bananas, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in the flour and salt. Fold in the pecans until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan before cutting into bars.

Blondies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, or frozen, individually wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag, for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour or in the microwave 30 seconds.

http://piesandplots.net/banana-bread-blondies/

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Cherry Banana Bread

Cherry Banana Bread

Have you listened to Taylor Swift’s newest smash hit “Shake it Off?” Or watched the video? Seriously, have you? If you haven’t, go do it now. I’ll wait and so will this banana bread. I don’t mess around when it comes to awesome music.

“Shake it Off” is the most uplifting, energetic, feel good song I’ve ever heard. When I’m down, it makes me feel better. When I’m tired, it gives me energy. When I need to sing like no one’s listening and dance like no one’s watching, I pump it up and let loose.

Cherry Banana Bread

I listened to it and watched the video literally the moment it was released. I don’t think I’ve done that since TRL was the hottest show around. TRL . . . remember those days? Those were good times!

Since then I’ve watched it at least a few dozen additional times when I’m on the elliptical and jammed to it countless more in the car. In fact I watched the video yesterday and it made a workout that felt like it would never end so much better.

I also got Mom hooked on it. Like more hooked on it than me. Like she watches it multiple times per day. Gotta love a song that spans generations. Also, how cool is Mom that she’s as much of a popular music fan as me???

Cherry Banana Bread

And I mean, I totally get why. We all have things and feelings and people in our lives that bring us down. We need to shake those bad vibes off. We need to rise above and find hope and positivity within ourselves and our lives despite the negativity around us.

It’s a rather heavy topic and something that can be tough to do, but Taylor put this important message in such a fun package, it should be required listening.

I’m trying to shake off fall and winter with this Cherry Banana Bread, but its effectiveness is questionable at best. This bread is a slice of summer, it just doesn’t have much effect on the weather. It’s super moist with that amazing banana flavor and some cherries for a pop of flavor and burst of juicy texture. Because cherries are no longer in season (boo hoo), feel free to use frozen, thawed, and drained ones. Just put “Shake it Off” on the stereo and get baking!

Cherry Banana Bread

Cherry Banana Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves, 16 slices

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

7 large ripe bananas, well mashed

2 cups pitted cherries, fresh or frozen, thawed, and drained

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 2 loaf pans and line the bottom only with parchment. Place the loaf pans on a sheet tray for easy removal from the oven later.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Stir in the eggs one at a time until well combined. Stir in the vanilla and bananas. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the cherries until distributed.

Divide the batter equally between the loaf pans and place in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. If the loaves are getting too brown, tent with foil. I recommend doing this between 30-40 minutes into baking. Cool loaves in the pan for about a half an hour before removing and allowing to cool completely on a rack or serving tray. Bread may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour or in the microwave for about 1 minute.

http://piesandplots.net/cherry-banana-bread/

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway!

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

This giveaway is CLOSED!!!  Congratulations to Barb on winning 🙂

A few years ago, I could take or leave peanut butter.  I’d eat a peanut butter cookie or peanut butter and jelly crackers on occasion, but I could live without it.  Lately, however, all I think about is peanut butter.  I crave it like crazy.  There are fancy Momofuku peanut butter cookies, flourless peanut butter cookies, puppy chow, easy to make fudge, Good Morning Sunshine Bars.  And sometimes I stir it into oatmeal or smear it on a banana.  My food life kind of revolves around peanut butter!

When I’m at the grocery store, I’ve been buying all different kinds.  Different brands, creamy, crunchy, natural, flavored, and of course, lots of peanuts to make my own.  I can’t put enough jars in my cart.  A few months ago, I saw Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter in the store and had to try it since I’ve heard so much about it.  It did not disappoint.  Their Smooth Operator creamy peanut butter is probably my favorite store bought peanut butter.  It’s super creamy, soft, and spreadable, but doesn’t separate like some peanut butters.  It’s also not loaded with not so yummy ingredients, which gives it a sweet peanut flavor that really just makes me happy.

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

When I contacted Peanut Butter & Co. and they offered to allow me to try two of their peanut butters and give them away to one of you, my readers, I jumped at the chance.  There were a few hard decisions, though.  First I had to decide which of their flavors I wanted to try, then what I was going to make.  Decisions, decisions.

I settled on Crunch Time crunchy peanut butter and The Bee’s Knees peanut butter with a bit of honey.  They also were fantastic, the smell alone enough to make me grab a spoon and dig in!  And I chose to make Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread.  It took a couple of tries to perfect, but now this is without a doubt the best banana bread I’ve ever had!  I couldn’t stop popping pieces in my mouth as I was cutting it to share with Dad’s colleagues.  It is so moist and soft with tons of banana flavor enhanced by peanut butter.  I also made a glaze that is so peanut butter-y and delicious.  The glaze takes the bread over the top, but is totally not necessary, as the bread alone is simply delightful.

I know you want to make this bread and try some Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter, so to enter to win one jar of Crunch Time and one jar of The Bee’s Knees, answer the question: What is your favorite way to eat peanut butter?

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

To earn additional entries:

Follow @piesandplots on Twitter. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Like Pies and Plots on Facebook. Come back and let me know you’ve liked me in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Follow Pies and Plots on Pinterest. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Follow @piesandplots on Instagram. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Subscribe to Pies and Plots via email using the form at the top of the page on the right hand side. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

IMPORTANT: This giveaway is open to US residents only.

The giveaway ends Monday, July 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST.

The winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on random.org. The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen.  Good luck!

Disclaimer: I was provided with samples and the giveaway by Peanut Butter & Co., but all opinions, as always, are mine.

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

 Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 slices

Ingredients

Bread

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 ripe bananas, mashed

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup honey

¾ cup Peanut Butter & Co. Crunch Time

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze

1/3 cup Peanut Butter & Co. The Bee’s Knees

1 tablespoon honey

¼ cup almond milk (regular milk will work too)

Instructions

Make the bread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, stir together bananas, sugars, honey, peanut butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out with only a few moist crumbs, rotating halfway through. If at any time the bread begins to get too brown, tent it with foil. I recommend considering tenting after 30 minutes. Allow bread to cool about 10 minutes in pan, before removing from the pan and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.

When ready to serve, make the glaze. Place peanut butter, honey, and almond milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir to combine ingredients. If the glaze is too thick, add some more milk and microwave again. Pour over the bread, slice, and serve. Bread may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature for a couple hours or in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes. Larger pieces will take longer.

http://piesandplots.net/peanut-butter-honey-banana-bread-giveaway/

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