Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Published March 14, 2015 by jenmatteson

Bananas and peanut butter. What a classic combination!

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins Yet again, I was stuck with two lonely, overripe bananas that my husband wanted nothing to do with. I forewent the regular banana bread, and thought I’d try some muffins. Not just banana muffins, but banana and peanut butter muffins. Yum! These muffins have less sugar and fat than your typical waistline-enemy, using honey and non-fat Greek yogurt. You also get a great serving of whole grains if you substitute whole grain flour for all-purpose. Sadly, the whole grain flour makes them look a little blah, but trust me, they don’t taste like it.
Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

These are pretty simple to make, and for me, I had everything required in my kitchen already. I LOVE when that happens. If you want an extra treat, melt some peanut butter to go on top of these suckers. I didn’t try it, but I’m guessing you won’t regret it!

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Source: Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Servings: Makes 12 muffins


2 large bananas, ripe to over ripe, mashed with no chunks
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup non-fat plain Green yogurt
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2  cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (all-purpose would work)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk mashed bananas, honey, brown sugar, yogurt, egg and milk together until combined. Whisk in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined.

4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 12 minutes more, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup

Published January 31, 2015 by jenmatteson

I remember Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup making several appearances at my childhood table. I didn’t like it for the longest time. In fact, I didn’t like beans period. Especially baked beans. Clearly, I was a troubled child. I finally overcame my distain for these particular legumes, and embarrassingly enjoyed this sodium packed soup with my family often.

Before roasting mushrooms and onions

Flash forward a particular number of years, and here we are. I saw this recipe in my latest wine shipment insert from Viansa, and thought it was the perfect time of year to make soup. It didn’t once cross my mind that this soup would bring me back to my childhood frienemy, Campbell’s. But oddly enough, it did. Much better, and far more classy, however! ;)

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup

The soup didn’t turn out quite a thick as the photo in the insert appeared, but that could easily be fixed by pureeing more beans. I didn’t, and I still loved it. While the soup reminded me of bean with bacon soup, the smell made me think of a mushroom pizza. Probably because of the roasted mushrooms, thyme and sage (great observation, Captain Obvious!). The roasted mushrooms alone were amazing, I could have probably just eaten the entire pan full, but because I didn’t have any more, I restrained myself and put them in the soup.

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup

Adding the crispy pancetta is an absolute necessity. If you don’t have it, or don’t want to spend the dough for it, bacon would be a fine substitute. The crunchiness of the pancetta give the soup a balanced texture, while the salt really deepens the flavors. Serve with a  salad or a nice hunk of bread (rosemary focaccia pictured above) and you have a wonderful, light but filling winter meal.

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup

Source: Adapted from Viansa
Servings: About 8


1-2 tbsp. olive oil
6 oz. pancetta
16 oz. mushrooms, halved or quartered (so they are similar in size)
2 large sweet onions, quartered
3 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 1/2 tsp pepper, divided
8-10 fresh sage leaves
8-10 stems + 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, divided
48 oz. chicken broth
3-15 oz cans white beans, drained


1. Drizzle olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until crispy and golden, about 8-10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss mushrooms, onions and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on prepared baking sheet. Add sage leaves and stems of thyme. Roast for 10 minutes, toss, and roast for additional 15 minutes.

3. While vegetables are roasting, add broth, beans, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves to a large stock pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. When vegetables are done roasting, separate mushrooms from onions and garlic. Retrieve 2 cups of the white beans and 1 cup of the broth from the stock pot. Add to food processor or blender along with roasted onions and garlic. Blend until smooth.

4. Add pureed bean mixture back to stock pot, bring to a boil and whisk until smooth. Reduce heat to simmer. Add roasted mushrooms to soup. Salt and pepper to taste and top with pancetta.

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Published January 24, 2015 by jenmatteson

Chocolate. Caramel. Need I say more.

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel Buttercream

There are so many wonderful dessert combinations, but personally, I believe that chocolate and caramel take the cake (get it, cake!?). Salted caramel can be very difficult to master. Which is why I bought salted caramel topping instead of making my own. Yes, you read that correctly – I used store bought and did not make it from scratch. Oops.

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel Buttercream

I cut these out in squares and used a piping bag to frost because they look pretty, but you can certainly keep them in the pan and spread the frosting on with a spatula. Or a dump truck. That’s what you’ll want to use anyway, because this frosting is GOO-OOD! Seriously, I would have piped this directly into my mouth had I not been making these for Thanksgiving (which means other people besides the hubs and myself).

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel Buttercream

The brownies themselves are no joke either. The dark chocolate is rich, fudgy and velvety, and also keeps them from being too sweet. Paired with the caramel buttercream, it’s the perfect salty and sweet treat!

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Buttercream

Source: Adapted from Lund’s/Byerly’s
Servings: Makes 24


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
6 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tbps salted caramel topping (usually found with ice cream toppings)
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a shallow 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (Note: only do this if you plan to take them out of the pan to serve as I did. If you want to frost and cut right in the pan, just spray with a little cooking spray.) Set aside.

2. Melt butter and chocolate pieces in a double boiler (or over a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water) until both have melted, stirring occasionally until mixed and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar together on high speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and creamy and has doubled in volume. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the egg and sugar mixture, and gently fold together with a spatula. Sift in flour and cocoa powder and gently combine until the mixture has a sticky fudgelike consistency. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread into the corners with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is shiny and the sides are just beginning to come away from the pan. Let the brownies cool completely.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a bowl for at least 5 minutes, then gradually add the salted caramel topping and vanilla extract while continuing to mix. Cut and frost brownies as desired once completely cooled.

A twist on an old favorite: Swirl Banana Bread

Published November 12, 2014 by jenmatteson

My hubs loves bananas, and he’ll buy them any time he goes shopping on his own (so almost never). The problem is, he won’t eat them all before they start becoming a bit…questionable. Of course, my initial go-to is banana bread, but I thought this time I’d change it up slightly. After taking a look at the ingredients in this bread, I’m not sure you could call it bread, it is basically a cake. Oh well – it’s delicious!

Banana Swirl Bread

I ended up using a combination of unsweetened, bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate. I thought I had more bittersweet in the cupboard, but I guess it’s now on my shopping list. But the unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate seemed to balance each other out nicely. The bread wasn’t too sweet, which I liked. I also subbed skim milk for whole. I’m not a huge fan of spending $4 on a half-gallon of milk that I’ll only use 1 cup of, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. If you choose to use whole milk, I’m guessing the texture may be slightly more rich, but I’m not sure it’s really needed. While measuring the milk, I was slightly distracted and poured an entire cup. I ended up adding about 3/4 cup, instead of just a 1/2 cup, so the batter was runnier than it probably should have been. This is what I blame my poor “swirl” on :)

Banana Swirl Bread

This is an excellent way to use up some old bananas, and also spice up your same old boring banana bread!

Banana Swirl Bread

Banana Swirl Bread

Source: Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Servings: 1 loaf


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1½ ripe bananas, peeled
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
zest of ½ a lemon
1 tablespoon dark rum
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup skim milk


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter or non-stick spray loaf pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

3. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with the lemon juice, zest, and rum.

4. Melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the remaining stick of butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated. With the mixer running, pour in the milk; once blended, add the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas.

6. Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into the prepared pan. Using a table knife, swirl the batters together, taking care not to overdo it.

7. Bake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes and if the cake starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.

A Trip to Mexico Followed by Thai-Glazed Corn

Published November 4, 2014 by jenmatteson

I know I went back on my word of posting once a week, but I have a very good excuse. Our best friends got married in Mexico, so Nate and I were gone celebrating for 10 days! That didn’t leave a lot of time for cooking and blogging leading up to and after, but we’re back on track now! I was too busy balling my eyes out, and my husband was too busy sweating up a storm (ruining their pictures) to take any of our own pictures of the actual ceremony. But what we did do is spend one wonderful day with alone with the bride and groom, and it was absolutely fabulous! Here’s a quick pic of the four of us on a cliff off Isla Mujeres after sampling some of the local tequila, of course ;)

Fun with Besties in Isla Mujeres

We have so many awesome memories from Mexico with the Fishers and Co., from their beautiful wedding, spending great times with their family and friends, sailing, swim up bar, water aerobics and trivia, Isla Mujeres and getting completely poured on, cards in the lobby bar, deep sea fishing, all the way to getting put on official probation by the hotel Assistant Manager. I am so thankful to be included in such a special event and will remember that vacation forever! I’ll share more pictures of our awesome trip once we have them uploaded.

Because there’s no real good transition from trip to Mexico to Thai glazed corn on the cob, I’ll just jump right in…

I feel like we didn’t eat our share of corn this year, but can you ever have enough? Probably not when it’s fresh from the farm! I grew up eating corn on the cob in probably one of the most traditional ways – boiled with butter and salt. As I got older, I enjoyed it grilled in the husk with salt and pepper. This glaze really takes corn to a whole new level.

Thai-Glazed Corn

The glaze is slightly sweet, but the fish sauce adds a salty element. Grilling for just a little longer after brushing on the glaze caramelizes the sugars and makes every single kernel pop! I think this glaze would be great on almost everything – chicken, pork, shrimp, fish! It’d even be a great wing glaze!

We’re pretty much at the end of the prime corn season, but if you’ve still got some fresh ears, I highly recommend trying out this recipe.

Thai-Glazed Corn

Thai-Glazed Corn

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4


1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. Asian fish sauce
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
4 ears of corn, shucked
chopped cilantro, for garnish
lime wedges, for serving


1. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Cook over moderate heat until the glaze is syrupy, about 10 minutes.

2. Preheat grill to medium heat and grill corn until charred and tender, 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush cobs with glaze during the last 5 minutes. Cut each corn cob into thirds (or don’t, because you’ll likely want an entire ear to yourself), transfer to platter and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

Published September 30, 2014 by jenmatteson

Salads are pretty common in our house in the summertime, and what makes them even better is fresh lettuce or greens from the garden. This year, I’ve planted three different kinds of lettuce, and am already getting to enjoy them (yeah, I started writing this in June). But, what’s great about lettuce is it’s hearty enough to withstand cool nights in the fall. Even on the last day of September, my lettuce is still going strong!

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

I’ve never made a chimichurri before, but it sounded delicious and couldn’t have been more simple. The recipe I followed from Food and Wine called for parsley, but if you are a regular reader (I know, who could be regular when I haven’t been posting much lately), you know I rarely have parsley and almost always use cilantro in its place. Even better, I used cilantro from my garden!

The only other substitution was cannellini beans in place of black-eyed peas. I didn’t have any, but I had everything else, so I decided to just roll with it (you can too!) and make what I already have work. It did! I loved the chimichurri not only as a marinade on the shrimp, but it was a great dressing for the salad, as well. We didn’t need (or have) any extra to pass at the table, so I don’t think it’s necessary, but go for it if you like things saucy!

Griled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

Nate cooked the shrimp perfectly, he says with my help, but he did all the work. I just said when they should come off the grill. The warm shrimp, paired with the fresh garden flavors of the salad were a perfect combination. This is great for a quick dinner, and even an entertaining dinner, as it’s filling, but not too heavy.

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chimichurri

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 2


1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. finely chopped oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
10 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup cannellini beans
1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups mixed greens
1/2 avocado, sliced


1. In a medium bowl, whisk cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic and crushed red pepper. Season generously with salt and pepper and adjust to taste. In a large bowl, toss shrimp with 2 tbsp. of the chimichurri and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Grill shrimp, turning once, until lightly charred and just cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to plate.

3. In a large bowl, toss beans, tomatoes and greens with 2 tbsp. chimichurri. Season with salt and pepper and pile evenly on two plates. Top with shrimp and avocado and serve. Pass remaining chimichurri at the table.

A Summer of Not Blogging…

Published September 23, 2014 by jenmatteson

Yes, I know, I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I used to, but I must say, it touches my heart when people ask me about it and say they miss my posts.

To be truthful (not like I’m not always truthful with you), not only has our busy summer prevented me from blogging, but so has our new high tech computer. You see, our Mac was ruined at our wedding celebration last September. Someone carelessly (me) set it next to a faulty slushy machine, which exploded all over the computer. Since then, we were using my old HP, which started shorting out. Finally, we decided to get a new laptop. One with Windows 8. One with a touchscreen. One that is thin with a large screen. Neat, right? Well, sort of. It was a little too much technology for Nate and me, and its taken an extraordinary amount of time for me to learn how to use the picture software.

So, my goal is to post at least once a week. I figure I’ll never learn how to use it, and use it well, unless I’m actually trying to learn!

In the mean time, please enjoy some unedited shots of our busy spring/summer!

One of the first nice days of the summer was a Sunday our good friends were in town. We had brunch, and well, things really escalated quickly. Later that night, Kim and I disappeared for a few hours. We were supposed to go pick up pizza and return, but we stopped off at the bar for a few instead… Meanwhile, Charlotte enjoyed the sunshine.







Above: Spending the afternoon with the bestie at Stella’s. 7-14-21 happened, and Kristin always loses.

Below: My sis-in-law’s grandfather raised the flag at a Twins game. We got to hang with our niece and nephew at the game. My nephew, Carter, tried his first Target Field Dog! He got about halfway.IMG_1233 IMG_1234 IMG_1239









Below left: I threw a Dr. Seuss themed baby shower for my bestie, and got a goldfish as a centerpiece. Charlotte liked him a lot.

Below right: I tried catching a line drive at shortstop with my face in softball – didn’t work. Broken nose and concussion.

IMG_1276 IMG_1292









Below: Our annual canoe trip down the Namekogen River with our closest friends.



Above: My niece very interested in my dad filleting fresh fish. She even touched them!

Below: One of my best girlfriend’s bachelorette party in Wisconsin Dells. Too much fun!!


Below left: Made it to the Great MN Get Together (MN State Fair) with Kristin and the hubs.

Below right: Huge cleaning and organizing initiative in our basement – Maverick helped by supervising from this box.

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Above: We celebrated our one year wedding anniversary with dinner at Union and a show at The Brave New Workshop.

Below: Our first annual end of the summer party – one night of debauchery on our flip cup table. Some horse racing also took place.













Below: We both finished our hunter safety training this summer. My new waders, and below that, Nate shooting clay pigeons.IMG_1350IMG_1423


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