Peanut Butter Banana Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

“How was your mom’s?” Roo asked.

“She cleaned out my old room and found some interesting stuff.”

“Nothing too damning I hope.”

“Well, she found some old diaries. Thankfully they were written when I was 12 and the most horrible thing I could have admitted to back then was throwing a hockey stick at my brother.”

“You what?”

“He deserved it.”

“Says the thrower.”

“She did find something random,” I said, changing the subject.  I handed Roo a piece of paper that had been deliberately folded over and over again.

“What is this?”

“A letter that S gave me before I left for college.”

“Huh,” he said, glancing at the letter then putting it down on the coffee table, “What’s in your other hand?”

“Oh. Nothing.”

“Is that a CD binder?”

“No.”

“What CDs are in there?”

“It’s empty.”

“You brought back an empty CD binder from the 1990s. To our apartment. Which is already cluttered with how many back-issues of Rachael Ray Magazine?”

“Hey, your DVD collection -”

“Which there are of 5. What CDs do you have?”

“Well, ok,” I said, handing it over.

Roo unzipped the binder, flipping it open in the middle. “You listened to Godsmack?”

“I listen to everything.”

He flipped the sleeved page over, pulling out a CD labeled with thick permanent marker, “System of a Down?”

“Yeah, I listened to them in college. I liked the song about chop suey.”

“I don’t think it was really about chop suey.”

“Whatever. So, I was thinking about it on the drive home; after reading the letter, listening to some CDs in the car -”

“You listened to these?”

“Maybe. Maybe Dave Matthews Band. Who are still awesome by the way.”

“Agreed.”

“Anyway, all of this made me remember, how S, L and I ran around that farm, acting like we owned the place.  We would skip out on barn chores to do Dunky’s runs. Do you remember when they came out with ‘the breakfast sandwich?'”

“It was kind of epic. Back when Dunky’s used to be good.”

“I know. And I remember saying, ‘Bagels at Dunky’s?! Uh, no thanks.’ But then I had one and it was delicious! Or so the hungover 18 year old me thought.”

“Now they taste like sawdust.”

I smiled, “And we would order iced coffees with milk and 10 sugars, boxes of donut holes – mostly chocolate of course- and oh! Cumby’s! We would go to Cumby’s all the time, buying pints of Ben and Jerry’s. L would get Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Or maybe it was Peanut Butter Cup? I forget what S would get…”

“That sounds really -”

“Awesome, right?”

“Gross.”

I sighed. “I want donuts.”

“What?”

“Reminiscing about all of this makes me what donuts. Peanut butter, chocolate…”

“Banana?”

“Genius.”

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A Simple, Warm Breakfast Bowl

I am not the most pleasant person to share a bed with.  I sleep with my mouth open.  I drool. I steal blankets; winding them around me, making them impossible to take back.  And if you try to wake me it’s like poking an angry bear.

Don’t even get me started on how I look first thing in the morning.  Let’s just say I’m notorious for not removing my eyeliner and by 6 a.m. I look like I spent the whole night crying and fighting with myself.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Roo left me in the middle of the night, but he’s been a good sport.  We rarely get up without one another unless he has to get up early for extra help before school.

Roo’s currently on April vacation, and when I rolled over at 5:30 this morning I wondered what he was doing up so early on a non-school day.  Pre-coffee and bleary eyed (again, I hadn’t removed my eyeliner), I wandered out into the hallway.

Was he in the bathroom?  I knocked on the door, “Love?”

“Yeah,” Roo answered from the living room.

I walked over and sat next to him on the couch, “Oh good. You’re alive.”

“Hmm?”

“I thought you didn’t come back to bed was because you were in the bathroom.”

“How long did you think I was in the bathroom for?”

“Well, that’s why I came out.  I was worried that you had died. On the toilet….Like Elvis.”

“So, I guess I should be happy you’re comparing me to the King of Rock?”

“And ignoring the fact that I thought I foresaw your death, woefully on the toilet? Yes.  Anyway, why are you up?”

“I have a headache.”

“Oh…do you want breakfast? Sometimes I get headaches when I’m hungry.”

“If by breakfast, you mean 5 peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, then yes.”

“Five?”

“I mean, you did compare me to Elvis.”

“I know…You really want me to find you dead on the toilet, don’t you.”

“Having you explain to my mother how you found me would be worth it.”

“You’re so dead to me.”

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Double Coconut and Banana Loaf

This afternoon I was interrupted Facebook stalking doing my research for my next lab meeting by a phone call from Roo.  He occasionally calls when he’s stuck in traffic.

“Babe, sometimes I think I’m psychic.”

“Mmm hmm….Wait, what?”

“Are you doing something right now?”

I click my browser window closed, “Uh no, I was just petting Monkey.  What’s up?”

“As I was walking up the stairs at school today, I thought, you know what would be funny? If I missed a step.

“Uh huh, so you missed a step. Ok, well…”

“No, that’s not the whole story.”

“You missed a step and the children saw you?  Did you fall in front of a parent?  Oh no…did you take down a parent?”

“What? No. No, what happened was, I was carrying my cup of tea as I was walking up the stairs, and it spilled. Up into my face.”

“Are you serious?”

“And when I went back into the classroom, the kids were wrapped up in a conversation about what ‘their problem was.’  To which I said, ‘You know what my problem is?'”

“Oh no, please don’t tell me you did a two-face reveal of your horribly burned face,” I said, picturing him asking the class with his ‘good side.’

“Oh yes.  And when they asked, I replied, ‘I just boiledmyface.'”

“You did the dramatic point and reveal, didn’t you.”

“I boiled my face.  Of course it was dramatic.  But that’s not why I’m calling.”

“Are you ok?”

“It feels like burning.”

“Seriously, are you on your way to the hospital?  Do you need burn cream?”

“No, it’ll be fine.  But…do we have any of that cake left?”

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Banana Bread with Bittersweet Chocolate and Candied Ginger

I have this fear.  A completely irrational fear that only an obsessive planner, type A, control freak like myself could only come up with.

I’m afraid that I’m going to be a “Crunchy Mom.”

To me, a “Crunchy Mom” is basically one who strives to have their family live clean (like chemical free), healthy lives.

And what’s wrong with this?

Well, two things, 1) I’m not married and 2) I’m not pregnant.

I should have no concerns about this whatsoever.  (I told you, it’s completely irrational.)

But after watching this You Tube spoof on Shit Girls Say (if you haven’t seen the original yet, where have you been!?), I couldn’t help but relate to what those women were saying.

For instance, I saw Business of Being Born.  Again, I’m not even pregnant.  I don’t know why the film called out to me from our Netflix queue, but it did, and I watched it.

And I liked it.

I found it super informative, even though I’m slightly traumatized from watching Ricki Lake give birth on film.  Gone are the memories of Ricki prancing around on set in her oversized blazers during the opening credits.  Instead, vagina.

I also rationalize a $20 maple syrup purchase from Whole Foods. (Because it’s Grade B.  Of course.)

I love coconut oil and I have asked Roo if my shirt “shows my back fat.” The two may be related.

And while I don’t hush Roo so that I can focus on “my kegels,” (No.) a lot of this looks scarily foreseeable.

When I explained all of this to Roo (because he made the mistake of asking me, “what’s on your mind, Babe?”), he knew what to do.

He listened, “I mean, am I going to have a ‘Chicken Pox Party?’ My mom took me to one of those when I was a kid, and we all know how I’m going to turn into my mother.”

He smiled, “And I love full fat stuff. LOVE.”

He sat me down, “I’m just so….I don’t know. Everyone is having babies!  My Facebook newsfeed is basically telling me to have babies.”

And put this in front of me.

*I feel totally better.

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Chewy Peanut Butter (Banana) and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes you just need to bake yourself a batch of cookies.

Come back from grocery shopping to discover that what you thought were “full” boxes in the pantry are actually empty because your boyfriend thought it was a good idea to leave you a tablespoon of whatever in each box?  So time for baking cookies.

Last K-cup was used yesterday but you had no idea till 5:30 this morning?  Drag out your mixing bowls.

Cats claw open the ziploc bag of rosemary syrup on the counter? Handful of chocolate chips for you, and then your batter.

Eat half a jar of Speculoos Cookie Butter last night?  Throw the cookie batter into the fridge to chill and get back to that jar.  There’s still half left!

I love that these cookies are absolutely peanut buttery and loaded with chocolate chips.  But what puts my mind at ease is that they actually have less fat and sugar than your average peanut butter chocolate chip cookie; all without compromising on taste.

Half of the butter is swapped out with banana, maintaining that chewy cookie texture but with a subtle boost in flavor.  The banana is very mild, but when great men like Elvis loved the peanut butter and banana combination, how could one go wrong with it in a cookie?

These cookies are both delicious raw (you may make more than 40 cookies if you have more self control than I did when scooping out the dough) and baked.  And for someone thinking about embracing a plant based diet for their New Year, this is probably the easiest way to start!

Make these cookies for your co-workers, your loved ones, or for the most important person of all, yourself.

Makes About 40 Cookies

Note: The batter needs to be chilled for at least a half an hour so please plan ahead when making them!

Ingredients

Three quarters of a cup of creamy peanut butter (I used natural, well stirred, and it turned out fine)

Quarter cup of mashed banana (one small banana was enough for me)

Quarter cup of butter (like Earth Balance)

One cup of sugar (this yields a not too sweet cookie)

Half teaspoon of vanilla extract

Three quarters of a cup of white whole wheat flour (if you only have all purpose, that will work)

Three quarters of a cup of all purpose flour

Half teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Three quarters of a teaspoon of fine sea salt

Half a cup of bittersweet chocolate chips (you can use semi-sweet chips, just note that it’ll be a sweeter cookie because of this)

2 – 4 tablespoons of soy milk (or your choice of non-dairy milk, sweetened is fine) as needed if the batter is too dry

Equipment

A stand mixer (or at least electric beaters, I don’t think this will work if mixed by hand.  Peanut butter is a fickle thing.)

A medium sized mixing bowl

A whisk

A spatula

A clean tablespoon (your fingers will suffice in making dough balls as well)

A cookie sheet (two to make baking go faster)

Parchment paper (optional), just makes clean up faster

Add the peanut butter, banana, butter, sugar and vanilla extract to your stand mixer bowl.  Beat the ingredients together till well combined.  Scrape down the bowl to ensure it’s fully incorporated before adding your dry ingredients (down the sides, to the bottom then back up top).

In your medium sized mixing bowl add the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix the ingredients with a whisk till well combined and there are no visible lumps.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in increments.  Be sure to scrape down the side of the bowl, down to the bottom and back up with your spatula, to ensure that all the ingredients are combined.

The dough may be a bit dry (it was in my case).  Add a tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time, as much as needed.

Add the chocolate chips and mix till just combined.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes (if you live in New England, you can take full advantage of your porch/garage during this cold weather and store it there without losing crucial fridge space).

Place your oven racks to the upper middle and lower middle positions in your oven.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

With a clean tablespoon (or your fingers, whatever), scoop out the dough and place onto your (lined) cookie sheet, about one cookie’s width apart.  (On my cookie sheet, I was able to place 20 cookie dough balls on it.)

Bake your cookies for about 12 – 15 minutes.  They will look soft when they come out, but if you check their bottoms, you’ll notice that they will be browned.  Don’t over bake them.  They will not spread out like crispy cookies and look a lot like the dough balls that you placed in the oven.

Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for at least a minute before moving (so you can rinse the sheet off with cold water for reuse)/devouring them.

Marbled Banana Bread

10 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Boyfriend Marbled Banana Bread

1. The trash is always taken out

2. Even though your apartment doesn’t have a dishwasher it doesn’t matter because they miraculously get done every night

3. Feet are never left alone in a cold corner under the duvet as they are always sought out to be intertwined

4. Cold hands always have a home in another’s warm ones without complaint (except that one time when you placed your ice cold hands on his bare rib cage and he screamed like you were skinning him alive…note to self, laughing so hard that you can’t breathe wasn’t the best response)

5. Heavy grocery items are whisked away from your overburdened shoulders with ease

6. No matter what kind of <insert hysterical moment of bad body image> day you’re having, you’re always looked at like you’re the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen when you’re getting dressed

7. He always moves to stand over the bathtub and gives you the sink, even though he started brushing his teeth way before you walked by and decided it was a good idea too

8. He ignores your obvious cookbook buying/Amazon addiction

9. He said he hated brussels sprouts and tofu but now serves himself seconds

10. He will often visit you in the kitchen as you make dinner to say it “smells really good,” pop a few items into his mouth, thinking you won’t see it but you always do

(This list of course will be followed by “10 reasons why you should make yourself something great because you live with your boyfriend,” because of course no relationship is perfect.)

Bananas and chocolate!  In a loaf!  Make this for someone you love right now.  Or tonight for yourself.  I won’t tell.

Inspired by Post Punk Kitchen

Makes 1 Loaf

Ingredients

3 large very ripe bananas, mashed

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Quarter cup of soy milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk) with a quarter teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, mixed and set aside for about 5 minutes

Three quarters of a cup of sugar (this yields a not too sweet cake, if you’d like a sweet banana bread, go for 1 cup)

2 flax seed eggs (2 tablespoons of ground flax seed mixed with 6 tablespoons of warm water and set aside for at least 5 minutes)

2 cups of white whole wheat flour (If you would like the crumb that you would normally find in banana bread, all purpose is the way to go; for something a bit more luxurious and velvety, I would suggest using 2 cups of cake flour. I personally love the nutty, heartiness of white whole wheat. It makes me feel like I’m eating something wholesome.)

1 teaspoon of baking soda

Three quarters of a teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Quarter teaspoon of fine sea salt

Quarter cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

3 – 5 tablespoons of boiling water

Quarter cup of unsweetened applesauce

Quarter cup of mild tasting olive oil

Equipment

One large mixing bowl

One medium mixing bowl

One small mixing bowl (to hold the cocoa powder and water in to be mixed)

A whisk

A spatula

A 9″ loaf pan

Parchment paper to line the loaf pan or baking spray/butter and flour the pan

A clean knife (like a dull butter knife)

Place your oven rack to the middle position and preheat your oven to 350F.

If using parchment paper, line the loaf pan, otherwise be sure to use plenty of baking spray/butter and flour the pan.

In a large mixing bowl add the mashed bananas, soy milk with apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, applesauce, olive oil and flax seed egg.  Mix till combined.  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Whisk the ingredients together to well combined (making sure there aren’t any lumps) and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl add the cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of boiling water.  Whisk till it becomes a smooth paste.  If it’s still lumpy, add another tablespoon of water.  Keep adding water and mixing until it’s smooth.  Set aside.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing till just combined (be sure to scrape with a spatula the sides of the bowl, going down to the bottom and back up to ensure all the ingredients are mixed).

Remove half of the batter and place in your medium mixing bowl (where your dry ingredients used to be).  Add the cocoa paste from the small mixing bowl and mix together till combined.

Start adding your cocoa and plain banana batter to the loaf pan.  I just scooped out some plain and cocoa and threw it into the pan in bit dollops.  If the batter starts to run away from you in the pan (because you greased it) it’s ok! It’s a marbled loaf, the sloppy batters aren’t going to hurt it.

When all of your batter is in the pan, take a clean knife and run it through the batter, making a couple swirling patterns.  There is no “perfect” way to do this.  Just swirl about and it’ll turn out great!  Trust yourself.

Bake the loaf for 60 – 75 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean (or with a bit of dry crumb, not wet) when inserted into the center of the loaf/the cake springs back at touch.  Check the cake at the 55 minute marker as all ovens run at different levels of hot.  My normally super hot/I love to dry out cakes asap oven took 70 minutes to fully bake this cake.  Very unusual for my sometimes nemesis, but it was probably just having an off day.

Recipe Redo – Banana Pancakes

Many people are worrying what the heck they’re going to cook for Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m worrying about what I’m going to eat before that meal, to keep me fueled for a long day of cooking.

Traditionally, my mother would wake up early to put the bird in the oven and then spend the rest of her day cooking; hungry, cranky, and maybe a little light-headed after having a glass of wine once the rest of the family started to show up.

That is not how I want to spend my day, especially because I’ll be cooking with my mother this year.  That’s all my dad needs: two hungry, cranky, not-all-there women trying to figure out how to relight the pilot on the stove.  Explosive is an understatement.

As I was going through my old recipes I found that a lot of my favorite cakes were up to date with the plant-based diet Roo and I are now on, but classic breakfast items like pancakes were a bit lacking.

These banana pancakes are a new take on a previous recipe, but honestly, I think I like them more.  Ground flax seed and white whole wheat flour give it a substantial, nutty base, only to be topped with gooey, sweet and an ever so slight crunch, caramelized bananas, making a pancake that (gasp!) doesn’t really need maple syrup.

I love that after eating two or three I feel full, energized but not weighed down from the usual weekend breakfast fare one may get at a IHOP.  (Seriously, all you can eat pancakes? Why IHOP, why must you challenge me like this?)

While it may take some convincing to sit my mother down and make her eat something before we get our multiple sides, loaf of bread and two pies started (we prep like we’re feeding an army yet there’s only five people…strange), I think she’ll be happier about not feeling so light-headed after sipping on some Pinot Gris.  Hopefully you’ll take a little time for yourself as well, before starting on your Thanksgiving meal.

Adapted from Apple Topped Pancakes

Makes About 9 – 10 Pancakes

Ingredients

Wet

2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds

1 cup of almond milk (I used “original” which is sweetened) or any other non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

Quarter cup of water

Quarter cup of pumpkin puree (unsweetened applesauce may work)

2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce (or, if you’d like something richer, 2 tablespoons mild flavored olive oil)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Dry

One and a quarter cups of white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

Eighth of a teaspoon of fine sea salt

And the rest

2 very ripe large bananas, cut into quarter inch slices (It should work out to about 4 slices of banana per pancake)

Olive oil, butter (like Earth Balance) or cooking spray; whatever you prefer to grease your pan with to cook the pancakes (if you want to be a healthy rockstar, go with the cooking spray)

Equipment

A small sized mixing bowl

A medium sized mixing bowl

A whisk

A clean quarter cup measuring cup

A large skillet

A cookie sheet (optional, just to keep pancakes warm)

If you’re using your cookie sheet, place it on a rack in the middle position in the oven.  Preheat the oven to 250F.

In a small sized mixing bowl, add the wet ingredients.  Whisk until well combined.  Set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients.  Whisk the dry ingredients till well combined, so that there are no lumps visible.  Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.  Mix everything together till combined.  Let the batter rest for 5 minutes.

Add your olive oil, butter or cooking spray to your skillet.  Place the pan over a burner on medium heat.  Add the batter in a little less than quarter cup scoops to your pan.

Cook the pancakes for about three minutes, then add some sliced banana to the uncooked side (side facing up at you).  I like to add about four slices of bananas per pancake.  Cook the pancakes for another minute (or until the underside, side facing down on the pan, is well browned), then flip over.  Cook the pancakes for another two to three minutes.

As you finish cooking the pancakes, place them in the oven on the cookie sheet, if using.  If not, set them aside or serve them up as you go.  Just be sure to serve the pancakes caramelized banana side face up (ooooh! novelty!).  Offer maple syrup, but Roo and I find that the pancakes are plenty sweet enough from the caramelized bananas, ie deliciousness.

Pumpkin Cranberry “Bites”

Lately I’ve noticed my desire for something sweet after dinner has become worse and worse. Usually, I would eat piece of fruit after.  Somehow it progressed to a piece of dark chocolate, to now cookies or cake.  All of which wouldn’t bother me, except the feeling I get prior to satisfying my growing sweet tooth.

It’s a need.  Like, a feeling of unrest until I get something laden with sugar, kind of need.  I don’t feel this way after breakfast or lunch, so I’m at a loss as to why having something after dinner has become such an issue.  And unfortunately, this nighttime habit of having one cookie usually doesn’t stop at that.  It’s as if once I start feeding my sweet tooth, the bigger and more demanding it becomes.

I’ve also noticed that Roo gets a bit irritated after dinner when he goes rummaging in the kitchen and comes up empty handed.  There has even been a few times when he’s asked if I was planning on making a cake or cookies that evening.  Inquiries like that made me realize we’re probably not doing something right.

In an effort to curb our nightly vice, I poured myself into my one-too-many-cookbooks to find a treat that wouldn’t leave me jittery after, or my sweet tooth demanding more until it made me sick (it happens).  I wanted something light, made with few, but mostly natural sugars, and a hybrid between cookie and cake (because I couldn’t make up my mind about which one I wanted more).

What came about was a pumpkin cranberry “bite.”  It’s a cakey cookie packed with the quintessential flavors of fall, perfect for “eating in the now.”  Pumpkin and cinnamon wrapped around a few cranberries make a lovely after dinner treat, especially with just a dab of peanut butter.  I love making a cup of earl grey with lemon and having one or two of these while Roo and I sit on the couch watching Parks and Rec reruns.  While you don’t need a good cup of tea or Parks and Rec to enjoy these “bites,” if there’s any take-home-message, it would be to try them with just a bit of peanut butter.  Please.

Adapted from Happy Herbivore

Makes about 20 “bites”

Ingredients

Half cup of pumpkin puree

Half of a large super ripe banana (like black), mashed

2 tablespoons of non-dairy milk (I used “original” almond milk)

Half cup of sugar (this yields a not too sweet bite, which is what I was after.)

Half teaspoon of ground cinnamon

One and a half cups of old fashioned oats

Half cup of white whole wheat flour

Quarter teaspoon of baking powder

Quarter teaspoon of baking soda

One eighth teaspoon of fine sea salt

A Quarter to Half cup of dried cranberries (or raisins, whatever your fancy)

Equipment

1 medium sized mixing bowl

1 small sized mixing bowl

A whisk

A spatua

A clean tablespoon

A cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper, optional)

Cooking/Baking spray *this is a must as there is basically no fat in the cookies

Place the oven rack in the middle position in the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the pumpkin puree, mashed banana, non-dairy milk and sugar.  Mix till combined.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the old fashioned oats, white whole wheat flour, ground cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Whisk the ingredients together until well combined and there are no lumps.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Stir together till combined.   (*It may look dry at first, but keep going, it’ll all come together.)  Add the raisins/cranberries if using.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that all the ingredients are incorporated.

With a clean tablespoon, spoon out the batter onto a lined or greased cookie sheet.  The bites don’t run together when baking, so they can be put fairly close to one another.

Bake the bites for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they are firm and springy.

Allow the bites to cool on the cookie sheet before eating.

*Seriously, try a little dab of peanut butter on these. So yummy!

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

I think I’m the only female on earth that doesn’t like Jack Johnson’s song, Banana Pancakes.  I like Jack Johnson, and some of my male friends – even some I’ve dated – have an eerily strong love for the man that loves to repeatedly tell me “we’re better together.”

No Jack, no, we are not.

I do love actual banana pancakes.  (I also love the concept of eating breakfast for dinner, also known as “Brinner.”)  I came across this recipe one Saturday morning when I was craving a warm breakfast, but with minimal effort.  This recipe is great as the ingredients can put together in five minutes and within a half an hour, we were sitting down at our kitchen table to eat breakfast.

Not listening to Jack Johnson.

I also love that everything about it seems healthy but it tastes indulgent.  If there’s anything I can suggest is please, please, use the bananas.  Sure, blueberry pancakes are also delicious, but the bananas.  The bananas caramelize.  How can you go wrong with a somewhat slightly crunchy on the outside, sweet – hey, maybe that could be creme brulee in my mouth, if I really think about, wait, why is he staring at me? –  incredibly creamy, caramelized banana slice?  You just can’t.

Adapted, a little, from Gina’s Skinny Recipes

Makes about 9 pancakes

Ingredients

Dry

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt (I used Diamond fine sea salt)

Wet

3 large egg whites

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste this time as I ran out of extract)

2 teaspoons olive oil (I use a very mild flavored one, such as Filippo Berio)

Other

3 ripe bananas sliced quite thin, for about 6 – 9 slices per pancake (I love caramelized bananas on the bottom of my pancake.  If you think that may be overwhelming, cut up one banana, and decorate your pancake from there.)

Set aside some olive oil to coat your pan

Equipment

2 small – medium mixing bowls

A whisk (maybe a spatula as well)

A medium saute pan

*Save your 1/4 cup measuring cup to ladle out pancake batter

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl with a whisk.  I don’t use a sifter as I feel whisking the components together evenly distributes them as well as gets rid of any possible lumps.  Also, I don’t own a sifter.

Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet.  I do this in two increments.  Mix together till combined.  Using your whisk to do this is fine, but if you’re worried about over mixing and can’t bear doing this without a spatula (my mother is one of those people), then grab a spatula.

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to your medium saute pan, just enough to coat the surface.  Today I used my “super huge,” (yes, that’s an official term) fry pan, and perhaps overdid it with 5 tablespoons (I was singing along to Coldplay, I can’t be held accountable with the turmoils of multi-tasking).  But you know what?  It was still delicious.  So do what you want.

Heat the saute pan on medium heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, scoop up a 1/4 cup of pancake batter.  Trying not to overcrowd the pan (I have “Martha” moments and don’t like to see my pancakes touching/fusing), scoop out as many 1/4 cup portions that will fit.  (In the “super huge,” this is three, in my medium sized saute pan, it’s only two.)  When the pancake batter starts to bubble, add the slices of banana.  I can fit about 6 – 9 slices per pancake.

When the bubbles of the pancakes get quite large and the edges begin to set (or you can cheat and peak underneath to see how brown the pancake is getting in the oil), flip the pancake.  I have to say that the larger the bubbles get, the easier the flipping is.  Also, it takes me about 6 pancakes in (which is sad because this recipe only makes 9) for me to gain the confidence to flip the pancake quickly enough so that it doesn’t turn into a amoeboid-pancake (or worse, looks like Java the Hut’s cousin…it happens).  Thankfully Roo never judges and eats the ugly pancakes.  Yes, boys usually don’t care, especially when it comes to caramelized bananas (…and carbs).

I’ll admit that I’ve flipped the pancakes (in lack of patience) to get them to that right amount of doneness that I want.  I have yet to see the pancake deflate because of this.  If I really was Martha Stewart, I’d probably discourage you from this, emphasizing “must,” and cutting at the air with my spatula saying, “not,” but I’m not Martha.  Make these pancakes in your pre-coffee state the way you want them.

When your pancakes are fully cooked, repeat adding the pancake batter to the pan, with the rest of what’s in your bowl.

You may find that you’ll have to add a bit more olive oil with every batch.  That’s ok, whatever it takes to prevent your pancakes from sticking to the pan.

Lastly, Roo and I have found that these pancakes do not need maple syrup.  But, before you call me un-American, give it a try.

Olive Oil Banana Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate

I never want to move to Suburbia.

It’s one of the many statements I’ve made to Roo, in reaction to our progression as a couple.  Thankfully he feels the same way I do – we will not be living on the end of a cul de sac or within a family compound.

I love the city.  Which is strange because I remember growing up in the suburbs, absolutely loving that a mere ten minute drive from my house was a horseback riding farm where I spent more time there than at school or my parents’ house combined.  I loved that there was an apple orchard down the road from my house, and we could go ride our horses down those fields, grabbing a few snacks off of those trees whenever we cut through.  And on occasion, we’d see deer or wild turkeys in my parents’ backyard (one year the turkeys got so bold that they were attacking children in our neighborhood and the housewives banded together to get the local news to report on it).

So, what happened?

I honestly can’t say when I came to the decision that I would only live in two extremes, city or absolute rural life, but I have a feeling it had to do with a previous long term relationship.  Coming out of that, I was convinced I would remain single for the rest of my life; perhaps going mad enough to run around the house screaming about wire hangers or making my apartment into a cat zoo.  But I knew it would not be in the suburbs, where I was previously spending all my time with that ex, thinking of marriage, buying a house, having 2.5 children and a black lab named Boss, thus, wanting to keep up with the Joneses.

Unfortunately this weekend I realized that no matter where you go, there still may be a suburban mentality lurking around the very corner from where you live.

I moved in with Roo, about eight months ago, into an apartment on a main road in Boston.  Living in the city does have some cons, and one of them is on-street parking.  We, like the rest of the residents in our neighborhood, are lucky enough that we have free on-street parking (most require permits), but sometimes there aren’t enough spots available on our actual street.  A lot of the time I park on the side road next to us, as it also doesn’t require a permit.

About two weeks ago, my junky car that I’ve been debating donating to charity or not (because to fix it would be more than the car is actually worth) got a flat.  And, as I love procrastination, I left it in that spot until this past weekend.  Originally I was going to have the tow truck fix the tire and then take it back to my parents’ house as I finally decided to just donate it (yes, let it be the parents’ problem) last Friday, but it was nearly 100F outside. I felt guilty about having someone come over in that heat to work on my car.

The following morning, I woke up early to call AAA.  About an hour later the tow truck arrived.  After walking up the hill to meet up with him, I was surprised to find a neon green sticker affixed to my driver side window.  It read: Abandoned Vehicle Report.

At first I was confused.  My car was never “abandoned,’ as I lived less than five houses from where I parked it.  But as the tow truck driver got out, it all became clear.

One man ran over from the other side of the hill to ask if the tow truck driver was there to tow a car that he had reported, back on his side of the street.  The tow truck driver replied that I had called him myself, and that he was with AAA.  Then, as the driver started asking me what was wrong with my car, I saw people start to gather across the street.  Four, yes four adults, two of them senior men, another middle aged, and one housewife, had congregated across from where I stood and started to talk amongst each other, pointing at me, my car, and the tow truck.  It was obvious what had happened.

Boston’s version of suburbia had reported my car as abandoned.

All I could do was be happy that it wasn’t the city coming to tow my car away (much to the group’s disappointment, judging by the looks on their faces), but AAA.

Needless to say, after my car was taken away, I came stomping back down the hill in a sort of a rage.  Well, maybe not a rage, but definitely wanting to pull my own hair out.

It was nearly lunchtime when I came back to the apartment, half starved and half, let’s say, crazed.  Not wanting a sandwich, I flipped open my laptop and scanned through some of the blogs that I subscribe to.  I wanted cake.  But not a sugar filled, frosting laden, birthday type, but an excuse to eat cake for breakfast.  You know, “breakfast cake.”  Thankfully Melissa Clark’s website had a recipe made with both bittersweet chocolate, bananas, and olive oil.  A little sweet, and supposedly healthy, to make me feel better for surviving my first urban-suburbia experience.

Adapted, a little, from Melissa Clark

As you can see in this photo I went overboard with the bittersweet chocolate (1 cup).  The following recipe has been toned down a bit.  Also, I’ve tried making this with just dried cranberries (1/2 cup) and it was fantastic, and may try it next time with even more.

Ingredients

Wet

2 egg whites (or you can use 2 whole large eggs)

2 cups very (VERY) ripe bananas (I used four practically black large bananas)

1/3 cup olive oil

heaping 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (I used 2%)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I like to push the limits of whole wheat in my recipes.  If you would like a less “wheaty” flavor, I would suggest using 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour as Melissa Clark dictates.)

1/2 cup cane sugar (I used practically black bananas.  If you like a very sweet cake, feel free to use more sugar)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (I use Diamond)

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% chips)

Equipment

1 large mixing bowl

1 small mixing bowl (can hold up to 3 cups of ingredients)

whisk

spatula

parchment paper (optional, but useful)

9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan

Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter and flour your loaf pan, or line it with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites (or eggs) with the olive oil, yogurt and vanilla extract.  It’s going to look like an oily mess, but keep going until it all comes together.

In a small mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (all purpose, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, salt) together with a whisk till combined.  There is no need to sift, well, at least I didn’t find a need to.  Add the bittersweet chocolate to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, in at least two increments.  After each increment, mix till just combined with a spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl.

Pour, or more like, scoop with a spatula (the batter is quite thick), the batter into the loaf pan.  Spread the top out evenly with a spatula, and then tap the pan against a table to knock the air bubbles out.  Put the loaf pan in the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  Because ovens vary, I would say use a cake tester (knife, toothpick, whatever) to see if the cake is done at the 45 minute mark.  There should be some crumbs hanging onto the tester, but definitely not wet batter.  If you see wet batter, when you pull the tester out from the middle, put the cake back in the oven and wait another 3 – 5 minutes.

I will say that this cake is definitely not as good out of the oven versus being cooled completely.  You will (probably) only hear me say that once, as I can (as I’ve stated multiple times) never wait for the cake to cool before eating.  What I absolutely love about this cake is that it tastes even better the next day.  To me it tasted even more bananaie.  Yes, I’m making that a word.