The only banana bread recipe you should be using.

I get so caught up in nostalgia, I have a special loyalty to somehow represent a period of time that is long over. I don’t ever really “get over” things, I carry these memories like an emotional weight vest. Some are good, many are bad, it helps to have both to remember why the “good ones” were good, balance. I drank an entire french press of coffee just now and the caffeine is surging through my veins as I listen to the eerie carnival sound of “The Cure”. God I love youtube….I know there are better ways to listen to music, but I love how many of the videos are uploaded with a touch of why the uploader, published it. I want to know everything about why someone else feels love for the things I love, you figure they gotta have great taste! At least in one song. I have endless weird playlists of songs that represent my psyche, some are great, some are not, but each melodic entity helped form who I am in one way or another. Sometimes when I go down the youtube rabbit hole I rediscover songs, and that is always exciting because with the song comes a slew of memories…..sometimes I will put my prize on my list, unless it releases the memories that are too painful for daily air play, then I will listen to in once and work hard to try and forget it, but it’s inside and next time it finds it way into my ears, I will feel its presence along with the fluttery feeling inside my stomach and the related anxiety surge. At least I know i’m alive! Speaking of anxiety, when I get loads of it baking helps me relax, as do cleaning tasks, so I decided to clear my freezer out of over ripe bananas I save to make banana bread and make….BANANA BREAD! (cue trumpet playing out triumphant victory tune)
I can in no way, shape, or form take credit for the recipe. I do, like everything I cook, put my own spin on it. This is the recipe.
Flour’s Famous Banana bread:
1½ cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour instead, it was super tender)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I upped this to a full teaspoon)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar(I just did 1 cup and then topped each loaf with a piece of fresh banana and sprinkled with turbinado sugar)
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
3 ½ very ripe medium bananas (1 1/3 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (I used macadamia nuts instead and added them to the top before baking along with some toasted coconut, turned out great!)
Heat the oven to 325ºF degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat the sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Or whip by hand with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes.)
With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Be sure NOT to pour the oil in all at once; add it slowly so that it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you’ve just beaten into the batter. This took about 1 minute.
Add the mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined. Fold in the dry ingredients and nuts by hand until thoroughly combined, so there are no more flour streaks in the batter.
Pour the batter into a buttered 9×5-inch loaf pan and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until the top of the banana bread is golden brown and springs back when you poke it in the middle. If your finger sinks when you poke it, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then pop out of the pan and serve. Keeps for 2 to 3 days at room temperature, tightly wrapped. Or store in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 weeks and defrost overnight at room temperature.
This recipe is in weird in that, you make a sweet aioli with the eggs, sugar, and oil. I think that is the trick to its perfect texture. I used four smaller loaf tins, but if you use a large loaf pan just make sure you don’t under bake!!! Under cooking is the worst thing you can do to this and the only way it will be a disaster, besides burning it. I think this would bake up lovely as a layer cake alternating the tender cake with cream cheese frosting! A great base for seasonal fruit, like using berries since it’s summer. Or make it just how it is….you can’t lose and baking is good for stress levels! Happy baking!!!

Nutella cookie cups

Following your passions is essential to living life, but in order to do so you really have to throw insecurity out the window. Every time I do something that is overwhelmingly frightening, even if the end result isn’t what I hoped for, I always grow as a person. Personal growth isn’t this warm, fuzzy, opioid feeling…usually it’s more like this aggressive, anxious feeling that makes you check your prejudices at the door and see the world in a new way. In reality all the things we do are just a distraction from the true questions of the universe. Things are nice, acclaim is great, but like beauty it’s fleeting. If you are lucky you will end up wrinkled and wise, not botox-ed and silicon-ed, the goal of finding yourself is not something you can artificially achieve, its a journey that ends only when you die. Death is the great equalizer and doing whatever makes that knowledge tolerable is probably the best advice I feel there is. Don’t forget our mortality puts us all at the same level, those who have enough empathy to get over their own fragile egos are way more impressive to me than someone who owns a private jet. I do think self preservation is essential, but too much of it will leave you exactly where you began.
Speaking of distractions….who wants a cookie? cookiecupThis month’s degustabox was full of wonderful things. I used the King Arthur’s chocolate chip cookie mix to make cookie cups (just drop the dough into mini muffin pan and cook 12 minutes, after they are done use a spoon to press down the center) which I filled with nutella and M&M’s my son had a play date today so this made me look like the “coolest mom ever!” so using a shortcut here and there to achieve your goals is good! Especially when the shortcut is this cookie mix, which uses all natural high quality ingredients, I was totally impressed. chickparmsand I made an excellent tomato sauce with the Mutti sauce, and goya olive oil I received. We devoured the tasty “brownie batter” Thinsters….although I would recommend just calling them “brownie” as they are quite crisp so “batter” may not be the best way to describe them. The Karma wellness water reminded me of Japanese ramune sodas, only in the way you press the top to release the vitamins, it tasted slightly sweet which made it more like a soft drink than water per se, I am guessing I would need to drink more of this to experience the full benefit. I really enjoyed the Waffle Waffle, I heated mine up, and it was very tasty and done in traditional Belgian style, so it was chewier and denser than your run of the mill waffle. These products were the standout for me this month, happy cooking!!!

Apple Strudel

Happy Lunar New year!!! The world is a strange and interesting place lately…and I must say it is odd to be alive in such a tumultuous environment. It’s hard to choose optimism and kindness for many folks who are struggling right now, but I think the only choices are.. well…optimism and kindness. I know the hip thing isn’t to be nice, but it’s the right thing. I haven’t always viewed things this way, for many being a jerk is a great way to put a wall up with others and to protect your insecurities…but in order to live authentically, this defense mechanism needs a kick to the curb. Even now when I expose my soft spots, acknowledge my hurt feelings and anxieties, I feel awkward about it, so I know it isn’t easy. As I get older I realize honest communication is actually a strength opposed to a weakness, it’s human to want others to like and accept you. Studies have shown that a sense of “community” can lengthen life span and overall happiness. I feel like my circle has shrunk considerably in the last decade, but I feel like those who are in it now are there for the long haul. We all want to be liked, but we also can’t control how others feel about us….so I figure…as my mother always told me “you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar” and I want my aura to give off kindness…GOALS! Not quite there yet….but I am done burning bridges…that’s easy to do….I want to have real, authentic relationships from now on…and I am willing to start over if the other party is willing. We all are just humans and humans are imperfect, and most things can be forgiven if both parties are willing to own their shit, it does take two to tango!
Well I made some strudel, apple strudel! My mom makes great apple pie, I used her filling recipe for the most part, but instead of pastry I used phyllo. Phyllo is great, it’s a quick and forgiving way to wrap things in buttery carbohydrates! This made quite a few, and in order to not eat them all I gave ¾ of them away to my kids teachers and some neighbors, nothing says “I appreciate you” better than apple desserts! Actually maybe fat stacks of cash are better….LOL.
Here it goes:
You will need:
6 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks.
½ C. granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean split
¼ C. lemon juice
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 orange
Juice from same orange mixed with 2 tsp cornstarch.
Throw them apples in the pan with everything except the orange juice/cornstarch mixture. Crack your heat up to medium high, and bring apples to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes, add cornstarch mixture, stir well and reduce heat, cook an additional 10 minutes. Set aside to cool (I made mine the day before and refrigerated it).
1 box of phyllo thawed, or go crazy and make your own! Whatever you like.
2 stick of butter melted.
1 pastry brush
I used large phyllo sheets, so I had to do a bit of folding but the assembly is the same as my Tyropita recipe click here to follow see how I wrap them into triangles…basically like folding a flag!
I used about ⅓ of a cup of filling for each pie, I just made them until I ran out of filling, it made a bunch! I still have about five sheets of phyllo left, which I will use for some quick spanikopita! When you got your strudels rolled butter the tops and place on greased sheet pans. Cook in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 18 minutes until golden. One thing I may do next time is make a small slit on the top of each one before baking to release steam, a few of mine burst at the seams whilst baking. After they cooled I covered my pies in a mixture of ½ cup confectioner’s sugar and a heaping tsp of cinnamon. You can do a quick glaze if you prefer. I also cut each one in half, that is also optional.

Frosty the cupcake

How is everyone enjoying “The most wonderful time of the year”? I will tell ya, I’m not quite as “bah humbug” as a week ago, but I also will be relieved when the “holidaze” is over! Last week we got snowed in, well more like “ice rinked” in. Walking to the car took the skill of a young Tonya Harding….ok that may be slightly exaggerated…but it was slippery! My December Degustabox had so much great stuff for being snowed in that it really came in handy. The Pillsbury Purely Simple cake and frosting mix is what I would like to review today. I was super impressed with these as a convenience product they use milk, eggs, and real butter instead of the usual water and oil, and the frosting mix comes dry and you add the milk and butter yourself. I really do think these turn out more like homemade then any other cake mix I have used. I subbed in eggnog for milk in both and the family loved them. It makes 24 cupcakes, but I used four of my cupcakes to make the snowman cake truffles for the top. I got the idea from Christina Tossi of Milk Bar, all you do is crush your cooled cupcakes into crumbs and add 1/4 cup of frosting, mix together to form a thick paste, shape into snowman sized balls, roll in coconut and assemble. You can choose your own adventure here and shape them into whatever you would like, if it seems dry add a bit more frosting. Once your snowmen are assembled, frost the cooled cakes, and put a snowman on each, I used sprinkles for eyes, mini chocolate chips for buttons, and pretzels for arms, but this is all open to creative expression. I let the kids decorate their own and to be honest it was a really fun activity and they were as tasty as some homemade cakes I have made.
Making holiday memories isn’t always easy for me, I get caught up in schedules and practicality, but I am sure the kids won’t remember how clean the floors were or how organized the laundry is…they will remember Frosty the cupcake and the fun snow day that we had. I hope your holidays are wonderful, I know things aren’t easy for anyone right now and the future seems uncertain. I struggle everyday with my anxious feelings but sometimes I have to breath deep and take each moment at a time, focus on really living and being present with the kids…..I fail at times…daily….but sometimes I feel it and my heart melts and I remember why the struggle is necessary to really understand the good stuff. This day was a good one, and I hope I can inspire you to create your own memories, not about being photogenic or perfect but to feel that warmth and joy that comes with letting go and being present. Feliz navidad.

Chocolate drizzled pistachio and cherry baklava


Today I have teamed up with Chocoley Chocolate to bring you a delicious recipe, right in time for the holidays. I don’t fancy myself a baker whatsoever, but I do make a mean Baklava! I did a rolled version today, which simplifies the process a bit, and infused some new flavor combinations that rival any of the traditional versions I have made. Continue reading “Chocolate drizzled pistachio and cherry baklava”

Fruity Fluffer

This is one of those “You can take the girl outta Utah, but you can’t take the Utah outta the girl!” recipes. This is in essence a fruit salad, made slightly more “classy” than the original that I have had at many a BBQ over the years. This came about because my son wanted fruit salad (thanks Wiggles) everyday and I ran out of fun ways to make it, then it dawned on me that we hadn’t had this version of my youth! It’s simple and people love it, they may pretend they are too groovy but once you turn your back the bowl will be gone! Keep in mind I did update it a bit, but not much, and this is a fun throw back to a 60’s era recipe that every homemaker had in her arsonal. Continue reading “Fruity Fluffer”

Balsamic strawberry spoon cake with poppy seeds

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So I had a smashing time at the Kenton farmer’s market on Friday! The berries were especially lovely, and by buying in bulk I got a screaming deal on some strawberries. We ate most of them au natural but I had about a pint left yesterday and whipped up this lil’ cake, which conveintly coincided with Food52’s Your best berry recipe contest (Update it was chosen as a community pick!). The balsamic packs a nice tang and makes little pockets of syrupy loveliness that balances out the sweet cake, and right at the end a bit of crunch from the poppy seeds! I am not a great baker, but this recipe hybrid I created is fool-proof and delicious. I like no nonsense rustic stuff, if you are looking for hotsie totsie…..go elsewhere, if you want something easy that will highlight the best of the season then read on! Continue reading “Balsamic strawberry spoon cake with poppy seeds”

Underground Panna Cotta with Grapefruit & broiled Orange

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Wow!  Feel like i’ve been gone forever, we have successfully moved into our own home, but not successfully unpacked yet. It has been awesomely stressful as with most things that are good decisions.  I have also gone to Seattle, and to the coast, not to mention registering Ava for school, Ari’s birthday, and an awesome visit from my homeboy SMP!  On his recent visit he brought along some Underground Herbal Spirit made in my hometown and I decided today was the day to make a quick and easy dessert with the herby elixer before I drank it all. Continue reading “Underground Panna Cotta with Grapefruit & broiled Orange”

Broiled ruby red grapefruit with vanilla bean or a discussion on simplicity.

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In my opinion (which you get a lot of here on my blog) I have found nothing sexier then simplicity. When you can take something or someone and just enjoy them as they are. The most beautiful things on earth are those that require no particular accoutrement, for example a beautiful sunset or a newborn baby. True beauty is natural, uncomplicated, and done with ease. Life is incredibly short and it seems we manimals have a particular gift for over complication, in relationships, in appearance, even in food. From experience the best dishes I have made usually have the least (usually 5 or less), but best ingredients I can find.
Continue reading “Broiled ruby red grapefruit with vanilla bean or a discussion on simplicity.”