Baking

Banana Cake in a Blender

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Posted by Lauren

It’s time to talk about cake. Better yet…  banana cake from a blender. If you’re like me, you might stock up on extra bananas just so that a handful will reach that perfect spotty brown color. Freckled bananas are ideal for baking – NOT eating. Ew, mush.

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You might have seen the above photo on Instagram – I was so excited about the ease of “blender cake batter” that social media seemed like the right outlet. Anyways… our house had about 12 bananas on the verge of passing their prime, so I used up 4 in a blender experiment Saturday night. The trial went so well that I can’t stop myself from posting about it now, although I think a few more tests are in order to confirm accuracy ;)

Banana Cake (or Banana Bread) in a Blender

Ingredients:

2 cups mashed (super ripe) bananas (I used 4 bananas)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup soy flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup egg whites
Sprinkle of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350* F and grease/cooking spray a 13×9 pan.
  2. Set up your high power blender (Vitamix, Blendtec, etc; this recipe wasn’t tested with a basic blender). Peel bananas, put them in the blender, and blend until decently smooth. Small banana chunks are ok. Pour 80% of the mashed bananas into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place sugar and then butter into the blender, in that order. Slowly turn to speed 5/10. It took me about 4 minutes for the butter and sugar to start creaming together fully. I had to stop the machine once to push some larger butter chunks closer to the bottom/blade. This might be easier with spread butter…
  4. While your butter and sugar become best friends cream, whisk together the all-purpose flour, soy flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Make sure you sift your flours! Sifting = Success. Why soy flour? Because I had it on hand, it reduces the gluten content a smidgen, and it has a slightly nutty flavor that goes will with banana/cinnamon.
  5. Add the egg whites, vanilla, and mashed bananas back to the blender. Blend until fully incorporated. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or so. The mixture will be the consistency of a very thick smoothie.
  6. Pour the contents of the blender in to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon. I love a good wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until done.

The cake tasted great on its own (a la banana bread) but was also fantastic with some chocolate frosting (um, what wouldn’t be?). I want to investigate this whole “blender cake batter” concept further, maybe even eliminate the dry ingredients bowl altogether. I’ll keep you guys updated with my successes and failures!

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On Sunday night, I brought the banana cake and the above veggie dish over to my mom’s house as part of her birthday celebration dinner. I combined leftover toasted sesame quinoa with roasted spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower. Yup, I’m still in love with toasted sesame oil!

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My mom, David, Nathan, Ben, Michelle, Kyle and I sat down to a nice dinner of avocado super greens salad, sweet potatoes, BBQ chicken, and the veggie dish I already talked about. My newest discovery: sweet potatoes + BBQ sauce. YUM.

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After some present opening, the Birthday Girl got up and cut her cake. She was a little camera-shy…. but that didn’t stop us from singing Happy Birthday!

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Earlier in the day, I “tested” the banana cake – for observation and analysis purposes only, of course. After a 1.5 inch perimeter disappeared from the cake pan, I decided to assemble and frost it so I’d stop myself from “just another slice.” This was a very effective technique :) I was totally happy with the end result!

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For dessert, we had to make the tough choice between blackberry pie and banana cake. The smart folks asked for both!

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FYI: I used my homemade chocolate Italian meringue buttercream to separate the two cake layers and frost the top/outside edges. The dots are chocolate covered espresso beans and the sloppy writing is peanut butter from a squeeze bottle. It kind of looks like a 3rd grader decorated the cake, but that’s ok with me!

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Not the cleanest cross-section… but you get the point.

I can’t wait to try more blender cakes! Also, one more time: Happy Birthday Mom! You’re looking younger ever day ;) Love you!

-Lauren

Long Weekend in 14

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Posted by Lauren

Saturday night

14) Make your own pita pizza with sun-dried tomato pesto, grilled shrimp, mushrooms, and jalapenos.

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13) Sip on a glass (or two) of wine, watch House Hunters, and top off the night with Yogurtland when the boyfriend suggests dessert.

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Sunday morning

12) Lazily sleep in, eat two blueberry waffles, and then get started on a batch of fabulous devil’s food cupcakes.

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11) Add pulverized Kit Kats and Reese’s peanut butter cups to the cupcake batter…. and the frosting. WOW. Unreal combo.

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10) Use adorable, quilted pot holders (these were made by Kyle’s mom and I also have the cutest matching aprons. I am in LOVE with them!!) to cool off the cupcake tins.

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Sunday afternoon

9) Go on a hike with some awesome ladies – in my case, Susannah and Adrienne. We soaked up the sun and talked about all sorts of things, including kegels. Yup, look it up.

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8) Leave the cartography to the experts (them, not me!) and enjoy the sweeping Bay Area views from Russian Ridge (one of the open space preserves my roommate recommended we check out).

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Sunday night

7) Celebrate your friend’s day of birth with a pitcher of the good stuff. Jello shots optional.

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6) Enjoy the cupcakes!!! Happy Birthday Dstar! (Kyle’s roommate – he’s single, ladies)

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5) On the way home, stop by Vanessa’s house (high school BFF) to catch up. She was only in town for a few nights and I’m so happy we had time to talk about everything in life. (Borrowed that picture from Facebook so you can get a visual :)

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Monday morning

4) Lazily sleep in (again!), grab a Starbucks, and then hit up Anthropologie’s sale section. (Fashion advice via text messages with your sister = crucial.)

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Monday night

3) After that whole “long run” thing, catch up with mom at her house for a family dinner of beef + broccoli burritos (fusion food!) and week-old pie (still good in my eyes).

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2) Head over to Cindy’s for another Bachelor night with her and Sarah – this time we had mini cupcakes and champagne!

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1) After the shock of Des’ dismissal and Catherine’s continuation, head home and fall fast asleeeeeeeeeeeep.

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Cheers to a good weekend and hopefully a great (slightly shorter) week at work or school!

-Lauren

7 Random Things

Posted by Nicole

Happy New Year! Here’s a quick list of random things that have been going on in my world.

1. I finally got some wunder unders from lululemon. I”m in love!

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2. Remember how I got bags and bags of cereal from the sorority house before winter break? I put the rice, wheat, and corn Chex to good use and made muddy buddies with Christmas sprinkles for extra flair. I took them to the New Year’s Eve party last night and they disappeared pretty quickly.

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3. I’m going to miss the Bay Area. It’s so beautiful here.

almaden sky

4. On New Year’s Eve morning, I convinced my mom to join me for a 7 AM workout. I ran 5 miles, went home, showered, grabbed an apple, got a facial (thanks for the present, sis!!!), got my hair highlighted, and then finally came home for lunch. It was definitely a day of primping!

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5. As for my New Year’s Eve plans, I ended up going to a party at my stepfamily’s house. The night involved champagne, but not the fancy stuff like this bottle of Cristal I found in our fridge. I think my mom is saving it for my 21st on March 8th… right? ;)

cristal champagne

6. After lounging around for a few hours, we kicked off the New Year in a healthy way with a hike at Almaden Quicksilver. I split up from my mom and David at a few different points because I wanted to run, but did manage to hike with them for a couple miles. In total, I covered 9 miles and ran 6 of them. Woo!

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7. It’s dinner time! This was my appetizer and my first time having avocado toast. I’m a big fan :)

avocado toast

Ok, time to eat dinner with the family. It’s the last family dinner because I drive back to LA tomorrow morning :(

– Nicole

Christmas Eve 2012

Posted by Nicole

Christmas Eve was an extremely long, busy, and fun-filled day. My mom, Lauren, and I woke up early, got coffee, checked out of the hotel, and hopped on the southbound train out of San Francisco.

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On the way back home, we made our annual stop at Sun Fat Fish Market to pick up supplies for Cioppino. This year, we got crab, mussels, clams, prawns, squid, and snapper — All fresh from the San Francisco Bay! Literally, the live crab were wheeled in while we were in the store.

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After a few errand stops (wedding ring for David!, lunch, and bridesmaids shoes), we were back home and ready to get started on the night’s feast.

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I made two loaves of whole wheat banana bread while my mom prepared the cioppino base. She always uses the prepared Cioppino sauce from Trader Joe’s and adds onions, spices, and other magical stuff to make it extra delicious.

whole wheat banana bread

vegetables

Next, I chopped two eggplants, a lot of carrots and parsnips, a butternut squash, some brussels sprouts, and some broccoli (from our garden!) and tossed them with olive oil, minced onion, garlic powder, a summer savory spice blend, and red pepper flakes. The veggies roasted for about 40 minutes on 420* and turned out great!

While the step-bros played video games, the rest of us finished setting up for the feast. My mom decorated the beautiful table and we took advantage of Lauren’s DIY chalkboard glasses.

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DY chalkboard glasses

As for the rest of the food:

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Wine Walnut Wheat Bread and Seeded Sourdough from Le Boulanger

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Salad with Apples, Cranberries, Pistachios, Green Onions, and Bleu Cheese Dressing

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Candied Walnuts and Pineapples for the salad

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Roasted Vegetables

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Cioppino with Lemon Pepper Noodles

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Unpictured: Polenta rounds spiced up with garlic powder and cayenne

Desserts Galore! Brittle, Pumpkin Roll, Sugar Cookies, Hersheys Kisses, Dark Chocolate Powerberries (from TJ’s, love these) + Pie, Chocolate Covered Figs, M&Ms, Peppermint Bark, etc.

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Dinner was delicious! My (first) plate:

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After dinner, we all hobbled into the family room to open the mountain of presents. We didn’t have a Christmas tree this year, so the presents went in the middle of the room. OK, scratch that, we did have a miniature 12 Days of Christmas tree out!

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As we opened gifts, there were smiles all around. Some of our highlight gifts: a new camera lens and an Apple TV for Lauren, snowshoes and a beautiful Canon Rebel T3i for me; and so much more! We were very very blessed this year.

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We ended the night with many rounds of Cards Against Humanity and then called it a night.

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Christmas Eve was so fun! I love having two Christmases each year :) Details about the second Christmas with our Dad’s side of the family coming soon.

– Nicole