Category Archives: Baking

The Quest For The Best – Banana Bread

Here we go, and so another week starts!

How was everyone’s weekends? Mine was low-key. I am still dealing with this kink in my neck, which I am now convinced might actually be a muscle tear. Or death. Depends on the Google search. The left side of my neck, chest, and shoulder is swollen and my veins are popping out. I’ve been doing the Shaquile O’Neal Icy Hot technique, with lots of anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxers to make me pass out at night.

On the bright side, it’s taken the focus off the pain in my arm!

Anyways, as y’all know, I love to spend my weekends baking and creating in the kitchen. The other day, I impulsively bought eight overripe bananas on sale at the grocery store with visions of banana-y creations in my head.

I briefly thought about the whacky concoctions I could try with the black bananas. But the pain in my neck wasn’t really keen on doing a lot of standing, mixing, and one-armed lifting. I then remembered my quest to find the best banana bread recipe, and figured this was as good a time as any to continue in that quest.

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You see, I’ve been baking banana bread since I was in middle school. For a long time, cookies and banana bread were all I could ever bake. In all this time, I’ve never been able to produce what I deem the “perfect” loaf. A banana loaf as good as the ones bought fresh from bakeries and cafes. I just couldn’t figure out their secret.

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I’ve read up a lot on the subject of banana breads. Many swear by using sour cream, others insist on a glaze or sugary coating over the crust. Some use juice, walnuts, or say the ripeness of the bananas is key.

Well, I think I have discovered what makes a perfect loaf for me. The kind of loaf that is dark in colour but light in texture. Full of flavour without being too full of sugar.

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The answer? BANANAS. And lots of ‘em.

Most banana bread recipes only call for two bananas, which makes for a loaf where you can hardly even taste them.

This time around, I used four bananas per loaf and it was bursting with banana flavour. I didn’t fully mash the bananas either so there are little chunks of bananas weaved throughout the bread.

I used this banana muffin recipe. The only thing I changed was that I turned it into a loaf and baked for 45-50 min. I also left the sugar topping off out of pure laziness, but I will probably add it next time.

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I think my quest may be over. No fancy ingredients or techniques required. Just plain ole’ bananas to make a stellar banana bread recipe. Plus, it’s dead simple, and in no way an extra pain in the neck ;)

Sweet n’ Tart Rhubarb Muffins

It was not my original intention to share this recipe on the blog.

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I’m actually not the kind of person who follows a lot of recipes. Rather, I create things in the kitchen based on my cravings and nutritional needs. Sometimes I just can’t find a recipe that uses all the ingredients I want, or is healthy enough, or has the certain flavour or texture I’m after.

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I had a bunch of my mom’s home-grown rhubarb leftover after making the Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes last week. My original intention was to make sugary rhubarb muffins with a streusel topping. But then, my freezer ran out of Pumpkin Protein Cream Cheese Muffins, and I found myself missing my favourite mid-morning office snack.

Thus, these non-sugary, non-streusely muffins were born. I needed a healthy snack that would take me to lunchtime, not a dessert to give me a tummy ache.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unflavoured soy protein powder**
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 10 stevia packets (equal to 6 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar)
  • 1/4 cup oil (I use coconut)
  • 1 cup flavoured yogurt (I used peach, it was a good choice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
  • milk, as needed

**Soy protein works as a flour replacement here, meaning the recipe will work just as well with 2 1/2 cups of flour. If you go the protein route, I find soy or pea powder work best in baked goods. Unless you’ve had success with whey before, I find a lot of brands turn baked goods hard and squeaky.

Directions:

Mix flour, protein powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together sugar, stevia, oil, yogurt, vanilla, and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Slowly add milk until you have a thick batter, then stir in rhubarb. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350F oven.

Yields 30 mini muffins, or probably 12 regular muffins if you own a regular muffin pan. I (still) don’t.

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The end result was a surprisingly sweet spiced muffin, with a hit of tart rhubarb in every other bite. There may be no sugary streusel, but I now realize it’s a shame to mask the taste of rhubarb with sugar. I absolutely love these muffins just the way they are. A perfect example of a happy kitchen accident. It’s why I just had to share it with you!

Chicken Over Cornbread and Chorizo

Remember when I blogged about finding fulfillment outside of exercise?

Well, suffice it to say cooking/baking is now my main hobby.

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I still have yet to decide if this is a good hobby for a person with limited exercise capabilities to have. There’s always that issue of an expanding waistline. But you don’t always choose your hobbies, sometimes they choose you!

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Finding my way around the kitchen with the capability of 1.5 working arms certainly poses its challenges. But the good kind of challenges that inspire me to do better, and not the kind that just frustrate me.

Can’t lift a pan into the oven? I’ll show that pan.

Okay, I may have also sustained a few burns in the process, but it’s all burns of love.

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This recipe was featured in the same issue of the Globe and Mail as the Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes. A particularly good food section that day I must say. I’ve never made cornbread before and have been hankering for it ever since my old-roommie Megan made jalapeño cornbread a long, long time ago. I used this “Easy Cornbread” recipe because it looked more on the savoury side. However, while incredibly easy, it wasn’t my favourite.

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After baking, the cornbread is then crumbled and sautéed with chorizo, paprika, fennel and onion. Then baked with chicken on top. If I were to ever make this again, I would double the paprika or make a spicy cheddar cornbread, and add mushrooms and red peppers to the sautéed mix.

Okay, maybe I just want an excuse to make more cornbread. Which is a-okay, seeing as this is my new favourite hobby and all.

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