Welcome to my house, please don’t lick the walls…

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

As if it wasn’t obvious enough that my life is immersed in culinary culture, it is particularly apparent when you see all of the jars of paint samples in my house. See, my husband and I have been trying to agree upon a color for our living room (and kitchen and bedroom) so we’ve been buying sample after sample to test out on the walls.

Our living room now boasts some fun (and delicious sounding) modern art:

tasty sounding paint colors

Oh cornbread…you looked so good on paper, wow, were you ugly on the wall.

After a long uninspiring battle with various shades of yellow, we have changed tactics and moved on to blues. Last weekend my husband suggested I paint an even larger section of the living room with sea salt (so far the front-runner) to see if we both still like it.

To get my strength (and sanity) up, I made a smoothie. A fabulous smoothie, in fact. I based it on the banana almond smoothie from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse but added a few extra goodies to coax it into excellence.

Continue reading

Was it Worth it: Is Julia’s banana bread really the best?

Julia's Best Banana Bread

  • The Background: My love for cooking magazines is well-known so it’s no surprise that this recipe is straight from Bon Appetit (March 2013). What might actually surprise you is that my fellow-blogger Liz from Food For Fun/deLizious food communications beat me to making it! Her post/recipe review, found here, is what inspired me to make this banana bread immediately instead of letting the recipe get buried in my pile of things to make “someday.”

Continue reading

Happy Dance Muffins: The Browner the Banana the Better it Bakes

A muffin among friends

A muffin among friends

I buy a lot of bananas — way more than I could ever hope to eat. Sometimes it happens on accident (I buy some the same day my husband does) and other times it’s intentionally on a whim (damn you, Costco), but the outcome is still the same — a corner of my counter is constantly piled high with bananas in various stages of ripeness. The good news is that I am always happy when I have a few extra bunches hanging out.

One reason is because they are a healthy snack — nutritious, full of potassium and excellent in both my morning oatmeal and my after-work smoothie.

Another reason is because I love to make this cake:

Slice of heaven

Slice of Heaven — Upside Down Caramel Walnut Banana Cake

Clearly, these two reasons are at odds with each other.

And the first week of the new year, after I have finally polished off the last of the Christmas cookies, seemed like a terrible (albeit still tempting) time to make this cake. After all, while I was sitting at the bar on New Year’s Eve, waiting for my husband to get off work, he made this for me to snack on:

Continue reading

Caramel Banana Cake – the crack of the cake world!

Every once in a while I decide to be “the nice one” in my office. Since I work in customer service/sales, tensions can rise quickly and we all occasionally get snappish when it’s overwhelmingly busy. In order to convince my co-workers that I am genuinely a nice person, I like to bring in delicious sugary treats for them. This tactic works surprisingly well, so last week, I thought I would surprise them with a tasty cake.

And, let me assure you,  despite what appears to be happening in the above picture, I did not eat this entire cake on my own. I promise I shared.

But I will admit I was severely tempted. I mean just say the name with me: Caramel Walnut Upside Down Banana Cake. Yeah, that’s right, this cake is serious. There is a lot going on with it and all of it is wonderful.

And yes, in case you were wondering, it is sweet. In fact it’s so sweet that when Deb from Smitten Kitchen made it, she actually said the next time she would just make the cake without the caramel topping. But I had made this once before, years ago when it was first published in Bon Appetit, and the notes I made said nothing about it being too sweet. Instead they said things like “this is amazing” and “best banana cake EVER.”

So even though my memory of actually eating it was hazy, I decided to proceed with the recipe as written. And it would have been a painless endeavour if my lack of attention to detail hadn’t kept trying to stand between me and success.

I had the bananas ready to go — nice and brown — but the first day I started to make this, I realized I was out of sour cream. So I went to the store and bought a small container, only to discover upon my return that I didn’t have any butter. Trying to avoid a second run to the store, I put the cake off a day and asked my husband to buy a pound of butter on his way home. Which he did, but then the next day while the oven was preheating, I realized I was out of cake flour.

After two days of failure, I almost gave up but I could just smell the caramel-y banana-y goodness. That gave me strength.

So, I sighed deeply and cursed a little before turning the oven off and watching some TV instead. Have you seen Revenge? It is an utterly addicting show. I’m actually a little scared because I could not turn it off. I am foreseeing a serious obsession.

Anyways, the next day after triple checking my ingredient list, I bought cake flour and got to work! The first thing to do is make the caramel sauce. Start the butter, sugar and some corn syrup off in a small pan and bring to a boil. Then let it boil for a minute, add the walnuts (pecans would be an excellent substitute) and spread it on the bottom of a pan. Let it cool completely. This means you really, really want it completely cool, or else you risk a splotchy caramel topping because the cake layer will sink in.

Continue reading

Banana-Rama Birthday Bonanza!

Make a wish….and you better make it a good one!

First off, I want to dedicate this post to one of my best friends, Oliver Lucky. We met our freshman year of college, probably our first day of being at school seeing as we lived in the same dorm. It’s hard to believe we’ve now been friends for 15 years — it doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were raising hell in Chinquapin Hall.

In the time that we’ve known each other, our friendship has been fairly fluid, from living in the same city to living a state apart, from seeing each other daily to maybe a few times a year. I’m lucky now because (finally!) we live within walking distance of each other and it’s been pretty awesome. However, since his time living in my neighborhood, we’ve regressed once or twice back to our college-day habits. There was an incident involving a little too much booze that may have ended with me waking up on my living room floor to find Oliver fast asleep on the couch. Or not. It’s hard to say.

Anyways, it’s his birthday today and to celebrate I made a Black-Bottomed Banana Cream Pie. This came about for several reasons — because I needed to make another recipe from my folder to keep my resolution going and because I made the mistake of buying two bags of bananas at Costco and then promptly forgot about them. That place is dangerous!

Continue reading