Banana Chocolate Snack Cake

Banana Chocolate Snack Cake

Bananas….and chocolate…and a slight sprinkle of cinnamon. I know you can already imagine how good your house will smell. This banana chocolate snack cake was delightfully simple to throw together and received rave reviews from everyone who tried it at my house. My seven-year-old nephew said, “I think I’m falling in love,” after his first bite (and we all know that seven-years-old aren’t afraid to tell the truth!).

Banana Chocolate Snack Cake

I found this banana chocolate cake to be the perfect hybrid between dessert and snack. You could even enjoy it for breakfast! The dark chocolate chips make it feel a bit more decadent, but then the bananas and whole wheat flour throw a few points towards wholesome. But whatever you want to call it or whenever you want to enjoy it…this cake is good.

What’s also good? Sweet Lu is sixteen months old this week. She grows brighter by the day. We are so very blessed.

Lulu Sixteen Months

Banana Chocolate Snack Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup mashed, ripe bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup whole milk

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Allow foil to slightly hang over sides. Grease lightly with butter.

In a medium bowl, beat together softened butter and sugar, until creamy. Add in egg and vanilla extract. Stir well. Fold in mashed bananas. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold dry ingredients into banana-butter mixture, alternating with the whole milk. Once combined, gently fold in chocolate chips. Spread into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from pan.

Pear Butternut Squash Muffins

Pear Butternut Squash Muffins

Remember the butternut squash bread I made last week? Well, I’ve taken it one step further. On Sunday morning, after a blast of cold air arrived, I chopped up a ripe pear, shredded a cupful of butternut squash, and pulled out my mixing bowls. These muffins rose beautifully in the oven and made my entire house smell like the very best parts of fall.

Earlier this week, I photographed another birth. This first time mama labored with such strength and beauty…but oh-my-heavens what a long birth! I left my house at 4:00pm on Wednesday and didn’t return home until 10:00am on Thursday morning.

KeeganPreview

I’ve gained even more respect for my sweet sister, who works as a night nurse, in West Virginia. After staying up all night to capture Zebulon’s entrance into the world, I could barely function. And I feel like my body is STILL trying to catch up from that missed night of sleep. But was it worth it? Absolutely. And there’s little that a strong cup of coffee and one of these muffins can’t fix.

Pear Butternut Squash Muffins

Pear Butternut Squash Muffins

1 ripe pear, unpeeled and chopped

1 cup shredded butternut squash

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

2 eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper wrappers. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together butter and coconut sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs, beating well after each addition. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk into butter-sugar mixture. Mix until just combined. Gently fold in butternut squash and pear. Scoop into prepared muffin pan. Upon placing in oven, reduce temperature to 375 F. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until muffin domes have peaked and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Butternut Squash Bread

Butternut Squash Bread

Is it just me, or do you also hate the thought of peeling a butternut squash? The skin of those autumnal vegetables is extraordinarily tough…and I get nervous even though we have good, strong knives. And yet, their deep orange flesh just begs to be tossed in oil and roasted in a hot oven. I just can’t resist them in the fall…and so I take deep breaths and work slowly but steadily with my knife.

Butternut Squash Bread

This butternut squash bread is a perfect way to welcome October (is it really already October?) We roasted half of a squash for dinner, and then I grated the rest. Coconut sugar, whole wheat flour, walnuts and then a heaping two cups of grated butternut squash make this bread a wholesome indulgence. I’m enjoying a slice right now, alongside a cup of tea, as I watch the sun set and wonder, will one of my moms go into labor tonight? I have three moms due in October, which means that I’ll likely be disappearing when the moon is high…my camera bag in tow. And wouldn’t a slice of this bread be the perfect midnight treat? A jolt of energy and flavor to prepare me for the unpredictable beauty of labor.

So make this. It will leave your house smelling a bit more like fall.

Butternut Squash Bread

Butternut Squash Bread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cup baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon roasted cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

3/4 cups coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

3 eggs

2 cups grated butternut squash

Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper. Grease lightly with butter and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat together melted butter and coconut sugar. Add eggs, beating well. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir in grated buternut squash. Spread in prepared pan and sprinkle with walnuts. Bake in preheated 350 F oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pear and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Pear and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I photographed a beautiful birth last Monday night…and I still haven’t processed it all. Birth is one of those beautiful, sacred experiences that most people only witness a handful of times. As I move more into the world of birth photography, I still can’t believe I’m able to take part in these miracles month after month. Monday was a late night, a beautiful night, a night full of strength, primal energy, and the glorious first breaths of a new life. I’m already counting down the days to my next one. (You can see more pictures of the birth here).

FrankDelivers2BW

And so I filled my week with mothering, with editing, and with baking. Despite a VERY early cold snap a few weeks ago, Fall has seemingly left us again as recent days have been hot and the sun strong. But the change in weather hasn’t stopped me from baking some of my favorite seasonal treats. These pear and dark chocolate oatmeal cookies are moist and wholesome. I used coconut sugar instead of brown sugar, and two ripe organic pears. I also threw in dark chocolate chips because you can never go wrong with oatmeal and dark chocolate. The batter was wetter than most, but when dropped by the spoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, it rose beautifully and created the most perfect, chewy, oatmeal cookies. They would make the perfect mid-day snack and they sit lovely next to a cup of good coffee.

Pear and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal CookiesPear and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup butter, unsalted (room temperature)

3/4 cups coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

2 large pears, peeled and diced

2 eggs

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups whole oats

In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and diced pears for about 3-4 minutes. Add in eggs and beat until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in oats and chocolate chips. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Dough will be very wet. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

A few weeks ago, my mom lost a necklace. A very important and dear necklace. We spent hours looking for it: retracing her steps, moving furniture, combing her car. The necklace was no where to be found. She was distraught. I was heartbroken.

Lost things deeply move me. They unsettle me. They annoy me. I will spend hours trying to recover a lost item (even if it’s of little significance.) But this necklace meant so much more. I love my mom, and I could see the pain in her eyes and hear it in her voice. I wanted nothing more than to find it, to restore it to her, and yet I felt completely powerless after two days of frenzied searching. But we let it go, because what else can you do?

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

On Thursday, I was asked to share a painful part of my own story. I struggled with a severe eating disorder for many many years, and only recently have I started to talk about it publicly. The days leading up to my “post date were wracked with a nervous energy. Should I share? Should I not share? What in the world was I thinking? How could I lay bare such a fragile part of my story?

And then, on Thursday, a cool fall morning, I went outside with Lucy to grab our mail. I had posted my story only a few minutes earlier, and my heart was racing as I thought about all the people who would be reading it…all the judgments that could quickly ensue. As I walked back towards our house, I saw it–the golden necklace. There it was, in the middle of our sidewalk, bare and beautiful and whole.

I have no idea where that necklace came from. We walk up and down that path all day long, and I know, without a doubt, it wasn’t there the day before. Somehow, a good two or three weeks later, my mom’s necklace had been found.

And as I picked it up, I realized that although my story had its own season of loss and struggle, it also had a beautiful moment of restoration. Just like the joy and shock and gratitude I felt when I found that gold locket. And so I held my mom’s necklace in one hand and my daughter in the other arm. I shared my story, and I’m so happy that it’s meant something to people. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here. And then I’m also going to share this roasted vegetable tart with you because the seasons are changing and this was a lovely way to welcome in fall.

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

1 disc pie pastry (for a single crust)

1 red onion

1 red bell pepper

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons butter

Sea Salt

2 ounces Gruyere Cheese, shredded.

Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add onion and red pepper and cook, over medium heat, for 15-20 minutes, until soft and beginning to caramelize. Sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside to cool. Then, in a medium bowl, gently mix together sautéed vegetables, cherry tomatoes, and gruyere cheese.

On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry into a 13 inch circle. Carefully transfer pastry onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon vegetable mixture over pastry to within 1-1/2 inch of edges. Fold up edges of pastry over filling, leaving center uncovered.
Bake at 450 F for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.