Soft Crunch Banana Bread

“I may have referred to myself as an STD today,” I said, sitting down next to Roo on the couch; my purse and gym bag still slung over my shoulder.

Roo furrowed his brow. “You what?”

“You know how I haven’t been able to take my favorite spin class because of the Lexington job?”

“Yes.”

I sighed. “Well, I finally went. When I walked into the studio, my instructor exclaimed, ‘You’re back!’ and I replied -”

“Do I even want to know?”

I looked down at the floor and muttered, “I’m back. Like herpes.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

Roo shook his head. “No. Just….no.”

“Then I said I made her a loaf of banana bread.”

“I’m guessing she wasn’t too excited to take it from you.”

“She looked at me as if I had put my hair in it.”

“Well-”

“I know!” I whined.

Roo patted me on the back and removed my purse and gym bag from my shoulder.

“Oh, thanks.”

“No problem,” he replied, as he opened my purse.

“What are you -”

Roo looked up. “I’m looking for the banana bread. So what if you put your hair in it.”

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Roasted Red Pepper Soup

It’s hard making friends after college. The pool of new people drastically decreases, there’s usually a lack of liquor conversation, with the majority having more interest ‘pinning’ a cookie that’s inside a cupcake that’s inside a pie, than attempt to fill the awkward silence.

It’s not like you can knock on people’s doors to see if they want to be friends. That’s how you get your pic trending under #creeper on Twitter.

Which may explain my desperation behavior at my new job.

Ohmygod. I love Rihanna too!”

Lindsay turned around and removed her earbuds. “What? I couldn’t hear you.”

“I said, ‘I love Rihanna too.'”

“Ok.”

“We should be friends.”

Let’s be clear, I don’t walk around my neighborhood, trying to hear what’s playing on strangers’ iPods. Instead, I’ve convinced myself that a new job is like college, but with paychecks. You know, an absolutely proper place to make new friends.

“Do you do yoga?”

Amy took a sip of her tea. “Sometimes.”

“I noticed that you wear leggings a lot-”

She set her mug down on her desk. “You’ve been noticing…what I’ve been wearing?”

“I do yoga too!”

“Um-”

“We should be friends.”

I’m surprised I haven’t been reported to HR. ‘Noticed what you’re wearing?’ She looked at me like I said, ‘it puts the lotion in the basket.’

“You had soup for lunch yesterday?”

“Yeah it was leftovers.”

I pulled two Tupperware containers from my purse. “I brought you some soup I made last night. It’s roasted red pepper.”

“Oh…I already ate.”

“It’s 10 a.m.”

“Like I said-”

“You eat lunch at ridiculously early times too?”

“Uh-”

“Be my friend.”

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Lime Pound Cake

“Are you packing cake in your purse?”

I zipped my bag closed. “Yes.  I need it after the bars close.”

Roo looked at me, puzzled. “Why?”

“Whenever I go out with E, I end up drinking more than I should. And unfortunately, we have a history of making terrible decisions when that happens.”

“Like falling asleep, hugging a half-eaten bowl of Cheerios?” Roo joked.

“I can’t believe you remembered that.”

“Well the bowl was on my side of the bed.”

“I know.  And E hasn’t forgotten about finding me in her bed, drooling on a box of crackers.”

“You’re like the Goldilocks of after hours.”

“There were crumbs everywhere.” I sighed, bending over to fix the strap on my sandal.  I tucked it back into its clasp and stood back up. “This is why I need to bring a snack.  For all I know, E and I could relive our worst meal in college.”

“Dirty water hot dogs?”

I shook my head. “Pasta Roni with Cheese Dogs. I swear I had heartburn for days.”

Roo turned to the kitchen table and cut a slice of cake. “Here,” he said, wrapping it with aluminum foil and placing it in my hand. “Bring another slice.”

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Yogurt Cake with Lemon and Blueberries

Every morning I walk into the kitchen, turn on NPR, sit at the table and open my laptop. I check my email, Facebook and Twitter.  I scroll through updates/tweets from hours prior, often wondering if other people go through the same ‘ritual’ everyday.

“When you check your Facebook, do you keep scrolling until you see something you remember from the day before?” I asked Roo, as he walked into the kitchen.

He stopped and scratched his chest, his eyes bleary from just waking up. “That’s exactly what I do.”

“I thought I was the only one.”

“It’s the most efficient way to do it.”

“And do you hate yourself for technically wasting all that time?”

Roo laughed, “No, it’s the most efficient way to catch up on the ‘News.'”

I got up from the kitchen table and walked over to the Keurig. “And is that typically it?” I asked, flipping the switch on.

“Well, I check Fantasy Baseball and my email too.”

“And wait for me to make the coffee,” I joked.

“If by ‘making the coffee’ you mean, pushing a button, then yes,” he replied, as he removed the saran wrap from the yogurt cake on the counter.

I pointed at the slice he was about to pop into his mouth. “And make you breakfast cake?” I said.

“I believe this appeared on the counter overnight. It could have been Monkey who made this.”

“Yes, our evil cat has developed a sudden penchant for lemon, blueberries and baking.”

“Correction, our evil genius of a cat.”

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Demerara Quinoa and Carrot Cake

Just a warning, this is not your typical all-American, “carrot cake.”

I’ve said in the past that I hate carrot cake.  I wish I liked it, I really do.  It would, for example, make family functions easier, as my father loves carrot cake.  He has even gone so far to question my relation to him, as he can’t understand why I, his daughter, would loathe a nut filled, over spiced, cream cheese laden thing.  Ok, the latter part is my description of the cake.

Sorry Dad, I’m yours, carrot cake hating daughter and all.

Well, now that we’ve gone over that speed bump, let’s start over fresh.

I’ve been receiving what seems like an endless supply of carrots from my CSA.  Week after week I’ve opened the cute, little green reusable shopping bag to find bundles of crooked-legged carrots waiting to be used at the bottom.

I love carrots raw, cooked in savory dishes, whatever, just don’t put them in a cake.  Roo on the other hand, likes carrot cake, but isn’t a fan of them otherwise.  And for someone who doesn’t like carrots, he’s had to endure them for dipping into hummus, soups with a suspicious amount thrown in (“Where are the potatoes?”), and a stir fry that should have honestly been called, “carrot sauté with a couple green leaves on the side.”

Needless to say, I needed a new sneaky method to use up the carrots without Roo becoming convinced he was going to turn orange from an overdose.

Quinoa carrot cake was the answer.  I was a bit nervous making it as I’m clearly jaded from the original stand-by from (what I’m convinced of) “suburgatory.”  Also, I’ve never used quinoa as a “flour” for a cake before, and had no idea how it would turn out.  Would it still be intact, curly-tails and all?  Would it have a strange aftertaste?

The cake turned out to be extremely moist, with a subtle nutty flavor (from the quinoa), and the crunchy demerara sugar topping almost made me almost feel a little guilty when eating it.  Like stealing the sugar crusted tops of blueberry muffins your mother would make on a Sunday morning, kind of guilty.

Was that just me as a kid?

But don’t feel guilty dear reader, it is so so good.

Like snakes on a plane good.

If you like that kind of thing.

No?

Well then you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Adapted from Fresh365

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup demerara sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling

Three quarters of a cup of white whole wheat flour (If you only have all purpose, you can use that)

Three quarters of a cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Quarter teaspoon fine sea salt (I use Diamond)

Half cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance), melted and cooled

Half cup soy yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds, combined with 6 tablespoons of water, mixed and set aside for about 10 minutes)

1 heaping cup, loosely packed, finely grated carrots (I used the “fine grate” side of the blade on my food processor)

Equipment

A loaf pan (I used an 8″x4″)

Two medium sized mixing bowls

A spatula

A whisk

Parchment paper (optional) to line your loaf pan with, or vegan butter and flour to coat your pan with

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

Line your loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease and flour it.  Set aside.

In your first mixing bowl, add the quinoa, white whole wheat flour, all purpose flour,sugar, baking soda and salt.  Mix them together with a whisk.

In the second mixing bowl, add the melted butter, soy yogurt, flax eggs and vanilla extract.  Mix them till combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, in increments, mixing till just combined.  Fold in the grated carrots till combined.

Pour/scoop (the batter is quite thick) the batter into your prepared loaf pan.  Smooth off the top of the batter.  Or not, and call it “rustic.”

Place the loaf pan in the oven.  Bake the cake for about an hour.  At the 45 minute mark, sprinkle the tablespoon of demerara sugar over the top of the cake.  At the 50 minute mark, check the cake with a toothpick/cake tester (I used a knife as I ran out of toothpicks).  If the toothpick/cake tester comes out clean, it’s done.  If not, bake for another five minutes, and repeat testing until the cake is done.

I’ve eaten this cake warm, and it’s delicious.  But, like most bakers suggest, it is better to wait to eat this cake when it’s cooled to room temperature as it tastes best the way it’s supposed to be served.