Sunday, February 10, 2013

Best Ever Banana Bread Recipe and bonus Orchid DIY

 I've always wanted to make the perfect banana bread.  You know, the one that is good enough to bring over to your new (prettier, richer) neighbor.  Or the one you'd feed the Queen were she to pop by for a spot of tea.  (Because she does that.  LOL.  Growing up, this threat of random visits from Her Royal Highness was always hanging over my head.  "You wouldn't serve that to the Queen would you?  What if the Queen needed to use your bathroom?  How would you set the table if the Queen was coming for dinner?"  You'll be relieved to know that in spite of everything I still turned out OK.  And I can set a mean table -- the knife and spoon on the right, the glass above, the fork on the left, atop a napkin.  I am eternally grateful for my etiquette training as it has spared me some social embarrassment when throwing dinner parties and will, I am sure, save my bacon the next time the Queen drops in.

Anyhoo, this banana bread is soooo good -- crunchy on the outside, oh so tender and slightly gooey on the inside.  Especially if served warm, with lots of butter, while the chocolate is still all melt-y.  The spices are optional.  It's good either way.  Do add the walnuts, unless you or your neighbors are allergic.  It makes for such a satisfying chew.
The inspiration for this loaf came from a recipe I found on the smitten kitchen.  (I wanted to make a banana bread without butter because I was running low so I googled "banana bread with oil" and this came up.  It's made with coconut oil, which is especially healthy.)  Some serious (and quite wonderful) tweaks were added by yours truly.

 I made a HUGE batch because 
  1.   I had so many squishy bananas.
  2.  I wanted extra to put in the freezer.  (I used my silicone mini loaf pans from Epicure & got 8 loaves out of this batch.)
 Here's the recipe:

Banana Bread
  • 9 over-ripe bananas
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1cup coconut oil, liquified
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3 cups whole walnuts (be sure they are very fresh)
  • 1 extra large dark chocolate bar, cut into rough chunks
  • Roughly chop the bananas in a large bowl with a potato masher, squeezing lemon juice over to keep from browning.
  • Whisk eggs.  Add oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  • Add wet ingredients to bananas.
  • Combine the rest of the (dry) ingredients in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Fold lightly just until combined.  Do not over-stir or the loaf will be tough.
  • Sprinkle top of each loaf with additional brown sugar, or coarse raw sugar would be even better.
  • Bake at 340 degrees F until golden brown and set in the middle.  Don't over-bake or they will be dry.
Makes 3 large loaves or 8 mini loaves.

Now for a quick DIY.  Pretty sure I'm not the first one in Blogland to post this idea, although I swear I didn't copy it.  But just yesterday I saw an almost identical arrangement on Emily's mantle.
Basically you take two cheapo wimpy orchids like the $9.99 ones from IKEA, and stick them in a clear glass cilinder.  (I got this vase from Superstore a couple years ago.  I'm not sure if they still sell them but you should be able to find something similar at Michael's or Walmart.)  The actual root ball of the orchid will be quite small, so you can remove and rearrange the moss that comes with the plant.  Play with it til it looks just right.  There you have it.  A simple way to add serious style and substance to this ubiquitous big box store flower!

Have a creative kind of day!


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