Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Banana Bread For Dinner

Eat me - eat me all day long!

I don't know if I should be doing this.  But for the sake of all my friends, I'm going to let you all in on a little secret.  It's my Banana Bread secret.  I've eaten this bread for as long as I can remember - and since I'm pretty sure my mother doesn't read this (meaning what she doesn't know won't hurt her) I'm taking a risk.  So you guys - shhhh.   Keep this to yourselves.  Or don't - its not like this is posted in a public site or anything...

I've made this recipe many times.  My mother made it and I think my grandmother did too - but I can't remember back that far - I can hardly remember what I ate today or how I got dressed.  My college roommates devoured many loaves and I'm pretty sure they'll be the first to loot this recipe.

Here's what you'll need:

3/4 c butter                            11/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c banana (3 or 4)          3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs                                   1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c buttermilk                     2 c flour
1 tsp vanilla

Optional:  3/4 c nuts or chocolate chips or both

Also - if you lack buttermilk - add some lemon juice to milk and watch it "butter" up.

Or if you want a visual to get everything out and throw ingredients in at random (amounts, at least).

The great thing about this recipe is that you can be a talentless hack and it will still turn out great.  First, you need to buy some bananas believing you will eat them.  Then, don't eat them.  After they've gone black (seriously, if you let them go black it tastes better - black as in the peel - if the banana is black then they're probably a good six months old and you either have disgusting hygiene or have been in a coma).  Basically you're going to dump everything together, mix, and bake.  And then the most important step - you should lean in close for this and eat and eat.  After making this, its all I had room for - hence, banana bread for dinner.

Okay, Real Step 1:

Peel the bananas and mash them up.  I'm tough so I don't have any qualms about hand mashing my bananas.  If you do, find a child, maybe a man, or I suppose you could use a potato masher if you're really that big of a baby.

Squish, squish

They should look something like this:

Step 2:

Throw all your ingredients together - except for the flour and sugar (and optional chocolate chips/nuts).

Whoops, forgot the butter.  As an FYI, you can use margarine.  I grew up using Imperial stick margarine.  Now I pretty much use whatever I happen to have in the house.  If I have both options, I choose margarine - I'm such a stickler for tradition - and its cheaper.

Step 3:

Blend the crap, I mean crud out of it.  My hand mixer is digital and the number reads level 2.  You'll have to figure yours out.  It's not really that high of a speed - aim for medium.  Once again, really hard to mess this recipe up.  Now, go ahead and dump the sugar in.  You're welcome to gradually add or dump depending on your ambition/laziness level.  You can see where I fit in on this particular day.

Step 4:

Dump/gradually add flour.  Your mixture should not be perfectly smooth.  You'll have banana chunks and some butter/margarine chunks.  These are happy chunks - leave the happy chunks alone.

I like being chunky, okay? Deal with it!

Step 5:

Grease two 9X5 bread loaf pans.  This can mean spraying them with some Pam or you're welcome to exert more effort and grease them with butter or Crisco.  At this point, if you are indecisive, or married, add chocolate chips (or nuts, or both) to half the batter.  That may sound tricky.  How on earth do you add said chocolate chips to half the batter?  Pour out half the batter first!  Then add.  Suddenly its clear (I sure hope, at least).

Side Note:  This is evidence of my devotion to chocolate.  No wimpy 12 oz bag for me.  Check out this baby.  Also, semi-sweet is the way to go.  Milk Chocolate is for children.

I'm good for your heart!  And your bad days.

Step 645:

Put them in a preheated oven set to 350 F.  It's okay if you're too impatient to wait for it to preheat all the way - I am (impatient) - and I'll just toss those suckers in regardless.

Step 645, part b:

Bake for one hour at 350 F.  Watch some TV, pay some bills, Facebook, read some blogs, ignore your homework, watch some more TV, and voila!  You're bread is magically done!  You can stick a toothpick in if you're nervous about it being undercooked.  The toothpick should come out clean if it is - done that is.  The smell in your kitchen will make it hard to be patient.  You'll be tempted to take it out early and even once its out you'll want to dive straight in.

Plain Jane
Chocolatey Chip Deliciousness
This banana bread DOES NOT require butter.  It is extremely moist and delicious.  However, some people (cough) put butter on everything.  And one of those people live in my house.

Makes for a good picture at least.  I always love to watch butter melt.  The melty fat just melts your heart.

Good luck on your dummy proof baking feat!  Let me know how it goes!  Unless,  you mess up.  I don't want to hear about your ability to mess up something fool proof.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I'm home again. Well, just while I eat this.

My dear friend from work had the lucky fortune to attend a conference in San Francisco.  I printed out a map and marked it with some of my favorite places, you know, in case she had a moment where she was not in a meeting (or decided to take a "bathroom break" for a few hours).  I was really excited when she called me Monday night to ask about food choices.  She had attended a VIP event that served finger foods. And once those little treats were gone - they were not replaced.  I can't even tell you how much I have to say about that.

The fortunate thing about San Francisco is that you can even go to a food court (at least at the Westfield) and find good food.  This is where I sent her for a quick bite.  I wish she had had time to check out some of my fave spots (Mama's, Yank Sing, Tartine) but alas she did not.

She did however have time to bring me this.  And how I love her for it.  I devoured it in two days.

 You don't even need butter for it - but you must toast it.  Sourdough=home.  Sigh, I think I need to take a trip.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shiny New Product Review: Ben & Jerry's Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream. Go Sawxs!

I've fallen off of the wagon.  My attempt to eat a little healthier went right out the window after I found out that I'd been accepted into the 2010 NYC Marathon and after I read about Ben & Jerry's new flavors.  One of them in particular I was giddily willing to throw my healthy eating out the window for - marathon or not.  Serious Eats did a review on the new flavors which is where I learned of them.  They also reviewed some new limited edition flavors, one of which is Flourless Chocolate Cake - a Walmart exclusive.  YUMMM!  (the YUMMM is for the ice cream not for Walmart - I know some of you were going to go there - so I stopped you, okay?)

Was the promise of potentially melty delicious ice cream enough to draw me in to Walmart?  If you know me, you already know the answer.  Duh - I'm known for a few things (or at least I used to be). 

1.) Eating entire cartons of ice cream in one sitting (and I don't mean Ben & Jerry's sized)
2.)  Eating straight out of the carton (it saves dishes!)
3.)  Picking the best parts out (brownies, cookie dough, Oreos)

I don't do one of those anymore.  You can guess which.

So, I ventured to one of the local Walmarts in search of a creamy, cool treat.  Alas, the fabled flavor of Flourless Chocolate Cake was not there.  However, Boston Cream Pie was.  And while not a pie lover, I am a Boston Creme Pie lover (its really not anything like pie). 

Here are my discoveries (I should totally be paid for this - its like an expedition.  There's danger, wild animals, and either disappointment or an unearthment of something incredibly life changing.) 

First off, the packaging is wicked awesome.  It has a picture of Paul Reveah (the guy on the horse) and a cow saying, "Go Sawxs!"  The cow is even holding a four leaf clover on another part of the carton.  Go Irish!  How can you not love it already?  Boston Cream Pie is described by Ben & Jerry as:  "Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream with Yellow Cake Pieces, Fudge Flakes & Swirls of Pastry Cream."  I was definitely excited by the prospect of cake - not as sure about how pastry cream would translate into ice cream.   

Here Goes.

The pastry cream was a little sweet but overall good.  If you don't know what pastry cream is, I'll tell you the poor man's version - vanilla pudding - and if you don't know what vanilla pudding is, I can't help you but maybe a therapist can help you leave your house once in a while.  The cake pieces were divinity and deliciousness.  I wish there were more - but carefully added so as not to overdo the cake/ice cream ratio.  They were spongy and made me think of buttery pound cake.  I will tell you my one true criticization (remember? I make up words).  The "Fudge Flakes" just don't do it for me.  When I've eaten Boston Cream Pie in Boston I don't remember eating little bits of hard chocolate.  Ben & Jerry apparently need to travel a bit more.  It shouldn't be too hard.  Boston is not all that far from Burlington, Vermont (did I mention I've been to THE Ben & Jerry's?  I even have an official ice cream scooper from there).  I realize it might be scary to venture down south where they shave and shower but still, they should find out what the real stuff is.  Especially, because you don't want to anger Bostonians.  They're a rough crowd.  And you definitely don't dare to defile a Boston delicacy by doing it improperly. 

Boston's Ben & Jerry's Tea Party
  Ben & Jerry, if you are listening.  Please add CHOCOLATE GANACHE.  That is all.  Oh, and I'd eat it again.  

Friday, April 9, 2010


In case you have leftover Peeps...

I found a use for stale, rock hard (or fresh and fluffy pillows of delight) Peeps. Not only are they easy to make but fun to say. Peepseos! I'm pretty sure someone is going to write an upbeat song or jingle for these creations now.

Here's lookin' at you kid
Simply take the following:

Separate the Oreos. Make sure to break a few - because it would not be acceptable to use broken Oreos and you can thereby conclude that they must be disposed of (in my belly!) properly. I'd recommend having icy cold milk at the ready. Cut the heads off the Peeps (try to ignore their little Peep screams) and then put their bellies in between an Oreo and place their little decapitated heads on top.

Help Us!

Microwave for about 15-20 seconds. Do not stick your fingers in the hot marshmallow. I learned that lesson when I was ten.   They will look like they've grown up!  Or, gotten a little jollier over the holidays.

Yummy!  Next time I make these, I'm adding chocolate frosting in between the Oreos for added gooey happiness.  You may not need more chocolate - but I do.  Enjoy!

Easter With My Peeps, Yo!

Them Be Fightin' Words!
Okay, so it's not exactly Easter anymore.  Your point?  You think I live within the restrictions the world sets?  Just for that, I'm having breakfast for dinner - booyah - now that' living on the edge! 

After reading the different ideas and uses for Peeps on my fave food blog Serious Eats I decided to take action and do my own creative thing.  Had I planned further in advance than five minutes and chosen not to sleep in - this could've been much more awesome.  But, I figured who cares - I'm expressing myself.

Here goes:

Mud Wresting Peeps Boston Cream Pie
I found this really fun website,  and thought I'd try out a recipe from it.  It's kind of like Wikipedia but for food - at least in that people can edit the entries.  I found this recipe and decided to give it a go. 

I'm going to put this out there in case you dare to follow my lead and try this out.  The person who wrote this either had ADD or was still hungover because they missed a few things.  And not that it would have been hard to figure out but because I have ADD (well, I don't know if I really do but I figure most of us do at this point) I made a few of my own goofs.

Okay, we're really starting this time.  I'm going to cheat and copy the recipe over (and maybe add some commentary).

Step 1: In large bowl, let eggs warm at room temperature (I'd say an hour). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. At medium speed, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until very thick and light, about 5 minutes.

Step 2:  Meanwhile, sift flour with baking powder and salt. In measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup water (the ingredient list says nothing about water so I thought they must have meant milk - I've never added lemon juice to water - but I have to milk to substitute for buttermilk.  I also made the jolly mistake of having all 1 1/2 cups of milk measured out and thought it went here.  Fortunately I caught myself at 1/4 c - and was to lazy/cheap/curious to go back), 1 teaspoon vanilla and lemon juice.

Blend flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, into egg mixture, alternately with water mixture. Beat 1 minute. Turn into 2 greased 9 inch layer pans, dividing evenly. Bake 25 minutes, until surface springs back when pressed with fingertip. Invert pans, setting rims on 2 other pans(I broke the rules here and used a cooling rack, also make sure to do this step - it will not be so easy to get cake out if you don't invert - turn upside down if you're not into fancy words). Cool 1 hour (or for however much time you have, I was running behind and let it cool for 20 minutes).

Step 3:  Make Filling: Make pudding as label directs, reducing milk to 1 1/2 cups; add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool; refrigerate, with sheet of waxed paper (I did not do the wax papered thing - its pudding!  Pretty darn hard to mess up, which is why you should love it - also why you should use instant) placed directly on surface, several hours.

Step 4:  Make Glaze: In small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Remove from heat; add sugar and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla, mixing until smooth. Stir in 2 1/2-3 tablespoons hot water (don't go crazy with the water - it'll thin quickly), 1 teaspoon at a time, until glaze is of pouring consistency.

To Assemble: On cake plate, put cake layers together with filling; pour glaze over top, letting it run down sides. Refrigerate - about 1/2 hour.

I'm Bananas!

Back to me now.  First off, the author of this recipe also does not know how to add vanilla or pudding counts if you actually paid attention to the recipe (I didn't until I was knee deep).  Also, I think it should sit longer than 30 minutes.  The best Boston Cream Pies are super moist and delicious - and it helps if you let everything sit for awhile.  I actually don't think it would hurt to cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.  Make sure not to over bake your cakes - depending on where you live - your bake time may vary.  Watch your cakes like a hawk at the end. 

Now for the fun part!

My husband likes Ultimate Fighting (the UFC) and all that other wrestling, fighting crap.  I make him turn if off when I'm in the room.  But in the spirit of Easter (and an excuse to do something stupid/fun) I decided to indulge him.  Mud Wrestling is classier, don't you think?

We Be Mud Wranglin' Peeps
How freaking awesome am I?  Totally am.  Too bad it didn't taste anything like the most amazing Boston Cream Pie - from Boston.  It was okay - but I don't settle for okay if I'm putting effort in.  I'm using a different recipe next time.  Maybe from someone who doesn't have ADD or a hangover.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

ING New York City Marathon Here I Come!

I'm the really fast looking one just so you know.
Just wanted to broadcast a bit of exciting news.  I put in for the ING New York City Marathon back in January.  I was sitting in one of my MBA classes paying my utmost full attention to the subject of Managerial Accounting (or was it Global Business Negotiations....?  You get the picture) and feeling unmotivated and out of shape.  I enjoy running but have found it very hard to find the time, what with being in a full time, competitive MBA program, employed full time, and all the other projects I find myself diverted by.  I needed a push - to run farther than a paltry five miler.  Plus I've decided, I have absolutely no self control when it comes to eating so if I want to be a little less shapely it will have to be due to increased running not starving.  Lastly, my brain likes it - its much cheaper than therapy.

I decided to take the plunge and put my name into the hat.  From what I could tell I had a one in three chance of getting in.  I also convinced my BFF to take the plunge as well.  Misery loves company.  It's been a few years since I've run a full marathon so I thought it would be nice to have someone in the trenches with me this time.  Plus she's sassy, stylish, and also likes to eat.  So the NYC Marathon would be a perfect venue for us together (her sassiness would entertain me of course during the race.)

So today was the big day of finding out if I would get the self inflicted kick in the butt to run.  Part of me was hoping for no - because - where on earth am I going to find time?  But...I GOT IN!!!   So, I am ecstatic to visit New York at least twice in one year (I'll also be there at the end of this month - eating it up!) and I have an excuse to eat even more!

Also, on a side note - sadly, my friend did not get in.  Three of us registered and joined the New York Road Runner's (NYRR) in hopes that it might bolster our chances.  One of us got in.  So, while we might feel cooler to be part of an awesome running club - it did not seem to help the odds.   Just an FYI in case you were going to try the same thing.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cookies 'N' Cream Milk

My wonderful friend at work tried to do something nice for our boss today by purchasing him a BYU (Brigham Young University) chocolate milk.  BYU Chocolate milk is like his version of coffee - sometimes he's just not his jolly self until he's had one.  The BYU creamery has some of the best chocolate milk out there.  I think the only place I've been that has been better was a creamery in Tennessee that kept all of their milk in yellow opaque containers.  It was thick and creamy deliciousness.  Literally like what I imagine eating melted Ben & Jerry's Flourless Chocolate Cake Ice Cream would taste like (minus the cake chunks.) 

Anyways, she accidentally purchased Cookies 'N' Cream Milk instead of the Chocolate she had intended to buy and as a result I was the benefactor of an "oops."  I cracked open the plastic seal and took a big chug, anticipating the frothy chocolatey milky lusciousness.  My first time having it - and it's quite good.  Tastes like a melted chocolate milkshake.  More vanillaey (I can make up words - I'll put it in Wikipedia and you'll never know it was made up) than regular chocolate milk.  A bit like a Blended Cream from Starbuck's.  But overall tasty - that is, until I turned it around. 

500 CALORIES?  Now, don't think I'm some "lettuce and carrots only" type of girl.  I'm most definitely not.  But I could've eaten this. 

Shake Shack Burger of Goodness
Oh well.  C'est la vie.  In the meantime, I'm going to go get me a burger.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Curry Rules! I Drools.

What to do on a Saturday night when its 30 degrees out?  Find something to unthaw you, body and soul.  Not chicken noodle soup - something a few dozen notches up. Curry!

 I love to eat - maybe too much (is there a too much?) and am trying to watch my greenbacks like many others during our lovely recession.  However, I am consistently thwarted by my own laziness and stomach grumbles.  I am finding ways around this (when I have the patience to plan.) doesn't offer all the yummy restaurants but it does seem to contain some upstarts - and if I hate my meal - it was only 15 or 20 bucks with tip and at least I learned my lesson the cheap way.

Anyhoo, to the part we all really care about.  Delicious food - the things I crave!  I had a "gift certificate" for 25.00 off a 35.00 dollar purchase.  I use "" because there are a bunch of lame rules and restrictions - they actually scare me because they look like they came from the IRS.  Thai Garden is located in somewhat of a strip mall which could scare you off.  But don't let it.

I needed peanut sauce.  You should know now this is a major weakness.  I could literally be served a bowl of peanut sauce and remain contented for quite a while.  If the spoon is any indication....
So let me let you in on what I ordered.  I normally would order the chicken satay (with said addictive peanut sauce) as my starter but instead I decided to be wild.  I ordered the "combo appetizer."  For 12.99 this included two pieces of chicken satay (I didn't say buckwild,) two curry puffs, two spring rolls, two cream cheese wontons, and four pieces of Tofu Tod.  In the middle were some carrots for garnish.  They looked like little crowns - like the one in Where the Wild Things Are.  I was going to take a picture of my little Max but the server took my food (admittedly, as soon as she got close I stopped playing with my food.  I haven't mastered the not caring what people think when I'm doing childish things.)  

I know its hard to see - but I promise - the crown and my carrots were identical.  And my spring roll version of Max was awesome.  I'm going to have to work on my courage of defying the manners ingrained in me.  Sorry Mom.

For my next course, Massaman Curry (Gang Massaman, 9.99) and Chicken Pad Thai (9.99) were ordered.  I can't help it - peanuts are one of those "healthy" things I love.  Healthy I'm sure, even after you add coconut milk which basically goes from white gelatinous delicious in a bowl to my arteries.  The Massaman Curry was divine!  It had plenty of good sauce to pour over my rice and the right quotient of potatoes, carrots, onions, chicken, and peanuts as well.  Actually, the carrots were really good (a little on the crisp side - but this is dependant on your preference) and I appreciated that there were enough peanuts to be visible. 

The chicken pad thai was also really good.  Pad Thai is something I am always in the mood for.  The noodles were on the softer side but delicious over all.  Could've used a more generous sprinkling of peanuts on the side and another lime wedge - but once again - delicious. 

Was my soul warmed?  Indeed it was.  And as I waddled to my car, I realized, I had momentarily found nirvana.

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