Trying a New Online Recipe: Banana Walnut Bread (sans walnuts)

With bananas being a staple in this house, making banana bread is nothing new. I’ve made various versions of it as long as I can remember and still am up for trying new ones. This time via a tweet from Healthy Living Blogs, I found Banana Walnut Bread by Sara Runs, which was a loaf recipe rather than the muffin versions I’ve made more so recently. Muffins are great for both weekend mornings and “grab and go” weekday breakfasts but a still warm loaf cooling in an amazing smelling kitchen just screams weekend. I chose to make it on a snowy lazy day version of a Saturday and so ended up warming up the house a bit and making something delicious at the same time.

BananaBread_SR_112515

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping: Easy. I “shopped” my own kitchen since the recipe included basic ingredients that are staples. I omitted the walnuts since that was the one thing we don’t keep on hand all the time.
  • Prep: Easy. As long as you have enough bowls for the steps, it is super easy. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer and so there was very little effort needed.
  • Cooking: Easy. I set the oven timer to the full 55 minutes and only  checked on it twice. I ended up adding an extra two minutes to the time.
  • Make it again: Absolutely. The banana bread turned out so delicious that we almost ate half of it within ten minutes. I can see myself making this to give away as well.
  • Modify it: Since I didn’t have walnuts in the pantry, this was a modified recipe to begin with. When I do have walnuts, most likely when the holiday baking season has been around a bit more, I will try making that version/the actual recipe.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes but this didn’t last long.
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Trying a New Online Recipe: One Banana Banana Bread

TANR_OR

The banana hook at our house is rarely empty for long though it does get stuck with overly ripe fruit from time to time. When the yellow skin starts channeling 101 Dalmatians, I start thinking one thing: banana bread. This time there was one lonely banana sitting in the fruit bowl attached to the hook. Since my usual recipes need at least a banana and a half, rather than crossing my fingers that this wasn’t a *”Two Banana Day” and winging it, I decided to see what I could find while searching for a one banana based recipe. What a Crock’s “One Banana Banana Bread” seemed very straight forward and easy so it was the winner.

Banana bread muffins

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy. Everything was already in the kitchen.
  • Prep:  Easy. The most time consuming part was melting the butter and chopping up the banana. Since I was using my KitchenAid stand mixer, I wasn’t going to experiment and see what the paddle attachment could do to a whole banana. My guess was make a mess.
  • Baking:  The muffins cooked much faster than I expected. Maybe I preheated the oven too long. I know I was multi-tasking while they were in the oven so that too can be added to the list of why they came out a bit too browned and slightly burnt at the bottoms of a few. Luckily, I had used cupcake liners or I would have been scraping muffin bits out of the bottom of the tins..
  • Make it again:  Yes. Even with the slight overbaking, they were quite good. Darth Husband liked them as well. Next time I’ll set my timer at short intervals to figure out the best range of time for my oven.
  • Modify it:  Maybe, but not right away. Getting a nice golden color needs to happen first. Then I can see what I could add. Nuts were an optional ingredient but since we had none in the pantry that would mesh well, I opted not to use them.
  • Works for leftovers: Baked goods generally result in leftovers in our house. I stored them in a gallon sized  zip top bag and a few days later, they still tasted good.

*Big Block Sing Song is a kid show I never knew about until someone mentioned the song. Of course, it got stuck in my head.

 

Making a New Tradition: Carrot Cake

ECsli

I found this carrot cake recipe in a promo magazine for All Recipes that arrived in the mail. I’ve made recipes from All Recipes before and this one caught my attention right away and so I decided to make the cake for Easter. My great-aunt used to make carrot cake from scratch for Easter ages ago. I’ve heard stories about how great it was but also how it was a lot of work.

Luckily this recipe was worth the work because it needed three cups of grated carrots.  Darth Husband helped me with that part of the recipe. Actually having the carrots wasn’t a problem since we always have carrots in the house. Both of the dogs go crazy for carrots. We buy the giant bags so there is enough for everyone in the house, well everyone but the cats because they really don’t care. Cosmo was confused because we kept saying the word “carrot” but then it was passed over his head.

The cake baked almost perfectly. Only one small spot stuck to the pan when I flipped it over as well. I divided it into one decent sized square cake and one smaller one. Even with extra sides to frost (and the frosting that I ate straight from the bowl), I still had more than enough frosting.

I was really impressed that it turned out that well. I will definitely be making this again.

Just Add a Mixer: Julia in the Kitchen

Though my mother and grandmother both baked when I was growing up and still do, I first remember using a stand mixer in a school based Home Ec class. I want to say it was junior high but there was class I took in high school as well. At home we had a hand mixer which definitely helped out when baking but this was magic. I added a red Kitchen Aid mixer to my someday wish list.

That wish finally came true and I now have one.

ngrkm

Norm the Gnome, my coffee storing cookie jar,  is keeping her company.

Darth Husband and I decided to make bread. Rather, we talked about it and I was going to make it.  He’s an excellent cook but isn’t too fond of baking. I, on the other hand, love baking.  I figured I’d make white bread then move on to other kinds. I had made egg braid bread ages but that’s all I can remember.  Our old oven was extremely unreliable in terms of temperature. Anything being baked had to be rotated an excessive amount of times. Now that we have a new oven I was ready to tackle baking without having to set the timer for small intervals.

I ended up using a recipe from Joy of Cooking but using all purpose flour instead of bread flour. The plan was to make it using ingredients that are always in the house. I want to have an easy recipe that will be able to make easily and without heading out if I want to bake on a whim.  Realistically if it worked out well then we’d have fresh baked bread more often.

Just making the dough was so much easier with the stand mixer.  I was able to clean up faster too which is something that is always needed. I make a mess in the kitchen when I bake. The kitchen isn’t destroyed but where is a decent amount of flour to clean up. As I was cleaning up, I was thinking of what to name the mixer.  A bit silly, I know, but if people can name a car, then why not a mixer? After thinking of a few names I decided on Julia. If it wasn’t obvious the Julia is from Julia Child. I figured the mixer would be used predominately for baking and when I think baking and Julie Child I think butter.

After the kitchen was cleaned up, it was time to wait: wait for the dough to rise… twice and wait for it to bake.  The smell of bread baking makes me impatient. However, it was definitely worth waiting. The bread turned out perfectly.

brd

Holiday Cooking, Time, & Family Traditions

Today I helped my mom make my great-grandfather’s stuffing recipe for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner. This is one of those recipes that stays in the family and must be made every year. It would not be Thanksgiving without it.

The prep time for just one batch is around a half hour since it is more than just bread and seasonings. This time we made four batches. That is a lot of pre-cooking, chopping, and mixing but every minute is totally worth it. The turkey gets stuffed, the rest is baked, and there are always leftovers. A portion of our leftovers is my breakfast the next day, which is another tradition – stuffing and a bit of pie and/or cheesecake.

A lot of people are now discussing holiday foods and guilt or making the right choices. One thing that I don’t see is making the right choices when approaching the people involved in creating those holiday foods. I only helped my mom make the recipe. My parents took the time to go shopping and get the ingredients for the recipe. If it needed specialty items, that would have been another stop or another trip all together and therefore more time.

What frustrates me is that people take the kindness of others who cook or bake and make it the topic of something to complain about, be it themselves or how it is going to lead to some bad consequence. (Food allergies and/or specific health issues are not included in those bad consequences since that is just plain common sense. If something has peanuts in it, I won’t eat it and people understand.) I honestly don’t think some people even realize what they are doing.

More times that not it is regarding baked goods. Time and time again I hear someone muttering something along these lines after they walk up to the plate of whatever.

  • Oh, I can’t. That will wreck my diet.
  • Oh, I’m fat enough. (usually followed by a laugh or grimace.)
  • Oh, that’s too much sugar/fat/butter.

ME! ME! ME!

NEGATIVE! NEGATIVE! NEGATIVE!

LACK OF FILTER! LACK OF FILTER! LACK OF FILTER!

Baking and cooking takes time, thought, effort, and money. What about a plain old “no, thank you” which is much more polite? How about something along the lines of “thank you for taking the time to make this to share” if the person is standing right there?

If the person who brought the “offensive food item” isn’t even there, then isn’t the muttering self sabotage/verbalizing negative thinking? It’s the Holiday Season, a time for good tidings, spending time with loved ones, cheer, sprinkles, frosting and… well you get my point. 80/20 is often seen as an everyday balance is for healthy to “not.” (I use “not” since people have different views of what isn’t the most healthy way of eating.)

If a day is a holiday celebration, then it is not a regular day. In general,  I try to eat a decent balance of foods. Some days are more balanced than others but I never deny myself something as long as I have a realistic approach to it. I often joke that if you want a cookie, eat the frickin’ cookie and not the entire package. I think holidays need to have that realistic approach. Maybe it is a 75/25. Maybe it is splurge on a few predetermined day and then keep the usual plan every other day.

Personally, I plan to enjoy every bite. Will I stuff myself at the Thanksgiving dinner table? Of course. Will I eventually eat so many Christmas cookies that I no longer want to see another one? Yes. Will I still make sure the majority of the time I have a realistic approach and not feel guilty later? Yes. Will I make sure to say THANK YOU to someone who shared something from their kitchen or someone else’s? Definitely.

Spice war

Now that the temperatures are starting to feel more fall-ish, the grand pumpkin debate will start. It seems like once fall hits everyone is going pumpkin crazy.  I’m guilty as well especially since Darth Husband and I have already gotten our first pumpkin spice lattes of the season. HOWEVER, I honestly think that apple pie/apple spice doesn’t get all it deserves. 

Yes, I am rallying support for apple pie.  Maybe it is due to my goal of making an apple pie this fall. While I have baked apple pie, I honestly cannot remember when other than that it was prior to us having this house. With our wonky oven it will be a challenge but hopefully one that I can manage.

Darth Husband loves pumpkin pie.  It has to be middle range – not overcooked nor undercooked. When we find the right level he’s in heaven.  I’m not anti-pumpkin.  My grandmother makes an amazing pumpkin pie from scratch and that is my breakfast the day after Thanksgiving every year.

So what is your vote? Pumpkin? Apple? Both?