My mom makes the best banana bread.  Yes, I am well aware that many people think that their own mothers or grandmothers make the best banana bread and so it should be.  Whenever I have a banana or two that are past their prime (cue the fruit flies), I stick them into my freezer for later use.  Banana brad is great for using the overripe fruit, but once in awhile, I want something other than bread.

It’s no secret that I love frosting of any kind and so I knew that these Banana Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting and Walnuts were calling my name.

These bars are everything that you are used to getting from your banana bread:  moist, dense and plenty of sweet banana flavor.  The thick layer of brown sugar frosting is so rich that you crave the earthy bitterness that the walnuts provide.

This recipe can be made for a large group in a jelly roll pan, but I cut it in half and made it in an 8-inch square baking dish.  However, I did not cut the frosting recipe in half because I prefer a thick layer of frosting that nearly matches the thickness of the bars!

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in a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar

add egg, yogurt and vanilla

add banana

add dry ingredients and mix well

pour into prepared pan, bake and cool completely

to make frosting, combine butter, brown sugar and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil for 30 seconds

remove from heat and quickly stir in powdered sugar and vanilla

pour over cooled bars and top with walnuts

allow frosting to cool before cutting and serving

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Every year at this time with the promise of skirts and swimming suits right around the corner, I find myself craving lighter meals.  And since lightening up in my world would never involve giving up dessert (blasphemy!), I look for ways to make my desserts a bit lighter too.

This Berry Crisp that I made last week was healthy enough that I ate it for breakfast with a little bit of nonfat Greek yogurt mixed in.  I eliminated some of the sugar in the berry filling because I personally enjoy the subtle tartness of berries and do not need them to taste overly sweet.  I also replaced some of the flour in the crisp topping with ground almonds to increase the protein and healthy fat.  And my main fat source was coconut oil which made me feel better than loading up on butter.

Now don’t get me wrong, this crisp is obviously less sweet than traditional recipes (i.e. my husband dumped a couple of teaspoons of sugar on his portion), but it is certainly enough to Satisfy My Sweet Tooth after dinner and even give me a breakfast to look forward to.

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combine berries, sugar and cornstarch

combine topping ingredients in another bowl

pour berry mixture into prepared pan

pour topping over berries

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Who doesn’t love pizza in any form?  Around Super Bowl time, I was seeing all kinds of pizza dips popping up as suggestions for game day fare.  Football is not a huge deal at our house and so I had to wait for another occasion to make a version of pizza dip.  Hosting book club last week happened to be the perfect reason to give it a try.

Many of the recipes that I have seen for pizza dips involve cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream as a base layer.  One of my favorite swaps for mayo and sour cream that makes dishes healthier is nonfat plain Greek yogurt.  It is tangy, thick and creamy without being heavily laden with calories and fat.  I also cut down on a few calories and grams of fat by using reduced-fat (part skim) mozzarella cheese.

This dip is plenty flavorful even with these healthier modifications.  Top the dip with a variety of vegetables and you’ll really have a popular dip that you can feel great about serving.

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combine cream cheese, yogurt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning

spread cream cheese mixture into pan

top with pizza sauce

sprinkle cheese over the sauce

top with chopped veggies (and meat, if using)

bake until cheese is melted and serve

 

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Reading has always been one of my great loves.  One of the best feelings is being so wrapped up in a story that all you want to do in your free time is find out what happens next and continue reading.  My girlfriends and I started a book club and our first meeting was earlier this week.  This will be a first for me and I am excited about having the club to hold me accountable for reading a book in a timely fashion.  I mean, I guess it wouldn’t kill me to read something other than a cookbook ro magazine!

I hosted our first meeting and we selected our first book.  You know me, I always love any excuse to try some new recipes!  Much of my inspiration for the fare that I made came from the Food Network Magazine 1,000 Easy Recipes cookbook.

Food Network Magazine has always been one of my favorite cooking magazines because it is filled with colorful photos of all of the recipes.  And the recipes are always very creative and usually relatively easy to recreate.

I was thrilled when Hyperion Publishing sent me the book to review.  The cookbook replicates what I love so much about the magazine:  bright, inspiring photos and so many good recipes, I could not decide where to start.  Literally, I have had this book for awhile now and have been fretting about why I had not began making some of the recipes and doing the book review yet.  And after making some appetizers for book club, I now know why I had been hesitating.  I opened the book and hoped to find ideas for 2-3 appetizers.  Soon, my list had grown from 2-3 to 5 and then 8 and I had to reign my enthusiasm in and remind myself that only 4 other girls were coming over!  That is exactly what happens to me with every section of this book from appetizers to pasta to cocktails and dessert.

At the beginning of Food Network Magazine 1,000 Easy Recipes, there are several sample menus that pair up recipes throughout the book for different occasions.  Each recipe in the menu suggestions is accompanied by a photo, so you can really get an idea of what each menu would look like.

The chapters are broken up nicely:  Appetizers & Snacks, Breakfast & Brunch, Main Dishes, Salads & Sides, Drinks & Dessert.  And within each chapter there are some fairly unique sections such as Kebabs, Nachos & Potato Skins and No-Bake Desserts.

Food Network Magazines 1,000 Easy Recipes is a cookbook I would give as gift for a bridal shower, wedding or a graduation.  This is one book you want on your shelf because it gives you hundreds of recipes for any occasion all in one book.  Many of the recipes are quick and easy, perfect for a last minute get together.  In short, I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for the next book to add to their collection.

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I often find myself wanting to cut a recipe in half or double it and I have a great table with measurement conversions that I wanted to share with you.  I will also include this this on it’s own page (link on the top bar) so that it can be a quick reference for you anytime you need it.  I hope this helps in your everyday quest to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth!

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