Driving slow on Sunday mornings

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I needed to borrow a line from Maroon 5 because it perfectly describes the Sundays I’ve been spending this last month and a half. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably sick of hearing me complain about how tired I’ve been recently. Sorry, guys. There just have been weeks when I feel so out of it that I don’t spend time in the kitchen at all (thank goodness for backlogs and former baking frenzies). I haven’t made any breads in a while which makes me sad, but I’ve gained a new appreciation for things that are quick to whip up with an equally satisfying pay-off. And since it’s nearly the weekend once again, I thought it would be nice to share just that kind of recipe.

Making the easiest ice cream ever

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Where have I been these past few days? Well, it’s been crazy. I contemplated taking a hiatus from blogging, but that would be the absolute worst thing I can do for myself, especially at a time like this. I don’t want to give up all the things that keep me sane. I’m firm in my resolve to keep blogging in general, and to keep having kitchen adventures to write about. But sometimes, things happen that can get in the way of the things we want to do.

The days following the 15th of January have been tremendous, and in a bad, really tiring way. It feels like someone pulled a rug from under my feet, and I keep trying to get up but slip back down because there’s actually a puddle of water underneath that rug. It feels like I’m running through a narrow path in a forest where all the trees seem to be reaching for me with their wooden fingers, and no matter how much I swat them away, they keep bouncing back and scratching me instead. Heck, it feels like I’m in a game of dodge ball, and there’s no place to run to because all the balls are coming at once in every single direction.

And maybe I’m having a difficult time getting back into stride what with this whole situation, but goodness does it suck up all the life out of me. ‘When does it end??’ I ask myself. Yeah, I want my life back, but as I shared in my personal blog recently, it’s gotten to the point where I have no idea when that is going to happen. This adjustment period is pretty ridiculous.

So Sunday morning I wake up and all I want to do is lounge around in my jammies, and yet a teeny weeny part of me is telling me to go into the kitchen. Surely it’ll do me good. Besides, didn’t I promise myself to post something for World Nutella Day this year? I already missed baking and posting for my birthday so I really didn’t want to miss another promise made to myself, but what to make that wouldn’t take too long and too much effort?

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Well here it is: Nutella-Banana Ice Cream. Would you believe this thing only takes four ingredients?!

Low-fat Oatmeal Banana Bread for my soul

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I’ve been having such a rotten streak lately and I absolutely hate it. Since my last post, a couple of things happened that have left me feeling like someone drowning in a fountain of emotion, and today finally, I am drained and fatigued. You know how in the height of your emotions, you feel like you have so much fight inside you it could lift a mountain? Well when it ebbs, all that is left is a hollow tiredness. The fight in me just went poof and in a moment I am certain I will begin to realise how much time and energy I have wasted being stupidly upset.

Oddly enough, this blankness feels so much better than all those times I had my fists balled up to my sides and my teeth gritted. I’ve cried maybe a month’s worth of tears in the last few days alone, and my eyes feel swollen and are kind of misty as I stare at the screen, but the important thing is, it feels like the storm is over. I actually feel like my old in-control self again.

Sometimes I feel like The Hulk when I let my heart get the better of me, because things start going crazy. Somewhere in the aftermath of my emotional meltdown, I think I subconsciously made the decision to simply face whatever is about to happen even though I do not agree with any of it. But if it doesn’t happen in the way that I have been resisting, then thank God. But whatever the future brings, I will have to deal with it in the best way I possibly can.

bread 2

This morning, I sat down for breakfast and the banana bread I made a few days ago was staring right back at me. Now I’m not the type of person who channels my frustrations on food. You won’t see me nursing any heartaches with a tub of ice cream, or stuffing my face with chocolate and candy after a hard day. You’d be more likely to see me running or punching stuff; sometimes sleeping to clear my head, or simply reading in a quiet place to escape reality. But today I understand more than I have ever before why people go to food for comfort, because for a reason I cannot explain, the moment I took a bite of this bread, I felt immensely better.

{Kitchen Diaries} We’re just loafing around

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Well it would seem that I have run across some form of streak with the loaves I’ve been making as of late. They’ve all been really good, and I could only wish I managed to take really good photos so that these recipes can be featured on the blog in the way that they deserve. Alas, my photos aren’t exactly to my liking, so I decided I would just write a Round-Up.

The first two loaves are these fantastic quickbreads; chock full of lovely flavors that really hit one spot or another. The third loaf though I found a bit strange. Let’s just say that although going the healthy route with food is a smart idea, it’s generally difficult to follow this road with pastries and baked goods. They are by nature indulgent, and more often than not, they taste best when left alone without tweaking to make it seem healthy. I’m not saying that healthier-but-still-yummy versions of some pastries do not exist, just that some of them do not turn up as good as expected.

But I shall deliver the good bits first.

Marmalade Yoghurt Loaf

This cake was a chance encounter on Ree Drumond’s website. I found myself curious about the flavour combination, which is mainly why I made it. Boy, am I glad I did. I really loved the way this smelled, especially after smothering on the yoghurt and marmalade topping. The orange marmalade’s scent just really pops!

Marmalade Yoghurt Loaf

The cake was super moist and perfectly spongy and lovely; something dainty-looking for a formal tea party, I thought. The yogurt-marmalade topping provides a zing to the lightly lemon-flavoured bread. I followed the original recipe to a T and also used orange marmalade for my glaze, and it was marvelous. But if you don’t like orange marmalade, you can pick your favourite marmalade jam for this because it’ll be one of the major flavour players.

Just a quick note though: In Ree’s site, her glaze was kind of runny. Mine, as you can notice, is rather thick (and in effect really tangy- YUM!) and I’m not sure why that is. In any case, it was delicious, and that’s the only important part!

Cocoa-Nana Loaf

Yes, you read that right: Cocoa and banana. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a new flavour combination for a lot of people, but I’ve never actually made anything like this before. I mean, sure I’ve eaten chocolate covered bananas on sticks, but one of my little brothers isn’t such a fan of this flavour combination so he always urges me to make something else.

I’ve still been thinking about baking something with these two as the star ingredients however, and I am glad I finally did. I’m a huge fan of anything banana and chocolate, usually separately, but when I saw this on The Kitchen Sink Recipes blog, I knew I had to make it as soon as possible. And there was not a doubt in my mind that it would taste marvelous.

Cocoa-Nana Loaf

Upon tasting this loaf, I felt that the chocolate really brought out the banana flavour all the more. They complement each other really well, lending each other a hand in terms of conveying taste. The texture of the cake is very soft and tender, and it kind of melts in your mouth while you eat. I wouldn’t recommend having too many pieces though, as the loaf is slightly sweet, I thought. That’s actually what my little brother thought as well, after he finished off a couple of slices.

This recipe was adapted from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker, a fantastic book which I have looked through over and over a million times but have never baked from. I guess this would count as recipe number 1?

Healthy Spongy Banana Bread

Okay. I’m going to be honest with you on this one. I actually didn’t like this recipe, because the result I got was more banana sponge than cake. Yes, it tasted like bananas, and honey actually, but the texture of the bread was really weird. Maybe too spongey for me. Quite frankly, I think it would make a good accompaniment to ice cream (which is mainly how we finished the loaf, actually defeating its “healthy” label), maybe coffee even, because it would get soaked right to its core and give you this wonderful explosion in your mouth with every bite.

But then again, I was looking for something closer to the texture of real banana bread without being too sweet or too fattening. I think if I were keeping track of my calorie count (which I do occasionally), I would much rather devote them to a slice of real banana bread rather than this one. It’s simply more satisfying.

Banana Bread

Part of me wants to make this again just to make sure it wasn’t a glitch that I got this funny-textured bread, but the bigger, more logical part of me is telling me to move on and try another kind of “healthy” banana bread. I haven’t given up on this healthy thing yet.

Now why did I include this in this post, you would ask? Well, I actually really liked my photographs of this bread. It would be unfortunate not to post it, so take this a sort of “recipe review”. I give it 2.5 out of 5 gold stars! In case you’re interested, here’s where I got the recipe.

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