Sunday, August 30, 2009

Banana Bread

Every time I make banana bread, it is such an impromptu and spur the of moment decision. Without even thinking, when I see a banana that is way past it's prime, I shove it in the freezer. Eventually an arsenal of seemingly unusable brown bananas grow, and they are like ugly ducklings just begging to be transformed into something beautiful. And everything about banana bread is beautiful. The gentle splitting of the top of the bread as it bakes, the flecks of brown dotting the inside of the bread, and, if you add them, the luscious shine of the chocolate chips.

I found the following recipe on the blog, Smitten Kitchen. Adding a splash of bourbon was optional, and I wish that I had had some on hand to try. However, it is delicious without it. I also used 1/4 cup olive oil instead of the 1/3 cup butter the recipe called for.

Banana Bread
From the Blog, Smitten Kitchen

3-4 ripe bananas

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup light brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon bourbon, (optional)

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch ground cloves

1 1/2 cups flour

2 cups chocolate chips (I added these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a wooden spoon, mix mashed bananas with the olive oil. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon if using. Mix well. Add the spices. Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the mixture. Add the chocolate chips. Mix in the flour. Pour into a greased bread pan, and bake for about 50 minutes, until a wooden tester comes out clean.
Cool and devour.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

The Stealthy Pumpkin Muffin sits quietly, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Though there are many recipes calling for pumpkin, few are capable of leading the pack as well as the one found in the cookbook, The Food You Crave. The muffin's dark, deep brown color, usually indicative of a nut-bran muffin, camouflages its true deliciousness. But fear not food adventurer, this breakfast goodie is unique with its earthy, spicy flavor.
Indeed, like a lion stalking its prey, it will lure you into the kitchen with it's addictive aroma.

Have a wild morning!

Pumpkin Muffins
From Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave

Cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned solid-packed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat milk (+ 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup unsalted raw pumpkin seeds (optional)
Sanding sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk the milk and the apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
Whisk together both flours, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, molasses, oil and one of the eggs until combined. Add the other egg and combine.
Alternate the flour mixture with the milk mixture, stirring each time more flour is added, until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins about 2/3 full.
While the recipe calls for topping the muffins with pumpkin seeds, I opted for sanding sugar!
Tap the pan several times to remove air bubbles.
Bake around 20 minutes.
Serve while still warm!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cake Decoration!

Question: What is the best cake to make for a 3-year old girl's birthday party?

Answer: A Dora The Explorer Cake of course!

After being commissioned to decorate a birthday cake for a little girl I babysit, I got a chance to unleash my inner "Ace of Cakes". Though it took over 3 hours, I am quite pleased with the result! Be advised: this cake is about as far away as a cake can get from being vegan. But if it made a little girl smile, I don't think it matters.