Happy Easter to you and your family! Whether you’re celebrating Easter with your family and friends with a big feast or a quiet intimate meal at home, I hope it is a relaxing one. I wanted to share this cake with you today, and it’s completely unrelated to spring, or eggs. It is a simple banana cake, made fancy in a bundt pan. It can be dressed up with lemony icing, or a little powdered sugar like I had it. It is great with coffee in the morning, and as wonderful with a hot tea for an afternoon snack. It is dense, moist, and chock-full of banana flavors and bits, and tastes even better the second day around. I have been wanting to bake a cake in a while; there’s just something very soothing and relaxing about baking a cake for me. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I haven’t baked a real cake in probably over a year. When my hubby and I first became parents four years ago, we talked about traditions. And one of the “traditions” that I decided to adapt for our growing family was that I was to bake a fancy cake for our birthdays. You know, the kind that requires layers, buttercream frosting, some sort of fillings, and little pretty piped decorations around it.
I then quickly realized that my daughter really preferred cupcakes instead of a cake. So I switched my game plan of having layered cakes to cupcakes. In the world of fondant, buttercreams, fancy meringue, I also adore simple cakes like this. The one that calls out for simple enough ingredients that you’re likely to have around the house so you don’t have to pick up missing ingredients from the groceries, uses up the over ripened bananas on your kitchen counter (and who doesn’t have those right?), but yet it is still stunning in its simplicity. I took this to work for a bake sale; and I was a bit worried at first that it couldn’t compete with platters of rice krispies squares, brownies, or the monster cookies. I had to leave the office early that day, so I didn’t see the end of the bake sale. But I heard later that someone came in at the last minute and bought every last piece of the baked goods we had (including this gorgeous baby!), and we ended up with over $500 in donations. Mission accomplished. I hope whoever took a slice or two of this gorgeous cake agreed that it was simply a delightful treat.
With the winter being as cold as it has been, it’s really hard not to crave for comfort meals like this. When my hubby recently asked if we could make beef meatballs instead of our regular beloved turkey meatballs, I actually jumped in joy. Because yeah, that really sounded good, spicy good beef meatballs covered in piping hot tomato sauce. But let me tell you something else, do you know what else that makes these meatballs amazing? Pureed bacons in the meatballs. Yes, you heard me: bacons. Who had a brilliant idea to puree bacons? I never thought such method even existed. And then, to make it even more “bacony” (if that’s even word!), we will throw even more bacon into the sauce as well. How can you not love that? And because every single cold weather meal needs a little bit extra kick of heat: a generous amount of red pepper flakes.
These meatballs were excellent: juicy, tender and was very flavorful. The red wine sauce was gorgeous and coated the meatballs beautifully. I normally bake my meatballs, so frying them in a pan was little time-consuming for me. In the future, I may try to pan-fry them a little bit first before throwing them into the oven to save some time. Since the meatballs were pretty loose-be gentle when frying them and allow some room in the pan to ensure that they’re not too crowded. They’re also pretty spicy, so my daughter didn’t care for it as much. She can usually handle a good amount of heat in her dishes (she’d eat Korean spicy noodle for example), but she just didn’t care for this sauce. But it was a perfect meatball recipe overall.
This week has been my first week back at my work after a 5-weeks stint of my “temporary” new assignment. I almost couldn’t believe those weeks just flew by, although probably a week of spring break in the middle also helped. We also finally got a little taste of warmer spring days, with a few days where the temperature went up in the 60′s degrees (it even went up to 70 degrees!!), which is pretty much considered warm at this point by anyone in Iowa. It’s also the second week of APRIL already, can you even believe it? Then my son caught some kind of crud at daycare last week, which is the first time in a while now. It seems like at this point, I’m really truly ready for the summer to be here in full swing.
With the longer hours at work, I wanted to prepare something even quicker that I could make for our meals, with potential lunch leftover, and I thought that it is time for me to give this spin to a classic egg salad a try. I had this recipe bookmarked for a while, so I thought, what a perfect time than now? As a cook and a baker, I don’t normally follow food trend; and sometimes I’m a little too conservative. I don’t try to mix a few candy bars and turn them into brownies or cakes for example. The same approach goes to my egg salad. I pretty much like mine simple – with mayo, and a little salt and pepper. But Sriracha? Bacon? Mmm… I love each one of those components individually, would I like them together? YES, I did. I absolutely loooved having that extra kick of spice in my creamy egg salad, and the crunchy salty crumbled bacons were just such a treat! If you’re looking for a new egg recipe to try with all of those leftover Easter eggs, this is definitely worth a try. You may never go back to your regular egg salad after this experience. Have a great week everyone!
I always try to keep my freezer somewhat stocked with quick meals that I can quickly get to when we’re so busy. Some weeks, I am successful in replenishing my freezer stash, but sometime, I just don’t have the time. When I do have a little extra time though, maybe an hour or so, I always make sure that I stash frozen cookie dough! I love having freshly baked cookies available in a moment notice for movie nights on the weekends, or even when I am having one of those days during the week where I need a little pick me up.
I basically like these classic Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookies, I mean, who can bet classic right? But since I have been loving everything that I have baked from my new Flour cookbook, I decided to give this one a try. Joanne mentioned that she was also inspired from the classic Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe, but she made several tweaks that I think made them even better. She uses some bread flour and two different chopped chocolates, and highly recommends that you let the dough rest overnight in the refrigerator. I don’t know about you, but being married to a die-hard cookie lover, this last step was a little hard to do.
So we baked half of the dough after only resting for about 30 minutes or so in the frig, and allowed the second batch rested overnight in the frig. And my verdict was: you should let the dough rest overnight, it made a huge difference in my batch. I don’t know what it was, but the cookies almost had a more stable texture in overall. It has all of the great flavors that you expect in traditional chocolate chip cookies, but they’re just better. Give them a try and let me know your verdict :)
I’m ready to start this weekend, what about you? I’m actually more ready for the nice weather that we’re supposed to get tomorrow so I can spend some time outdoor with my family. It’s hard to believe that in a few days, it will be April already, so yes – I’m definitely ready for the spring weather to arrive. I’m still pretty giddy with my new website redesign launch from earlier this week, I hope this new format gives you a more enjoyable reading experience.
My hubby and I got into a little argument last weekend about waffles. Yes, waffles! Apparently, he loves waffles. And little did I know… apparently, more so than pancakes or this Baked Oatmeal, which I absolutely love – and can eat every day, and do sometimes for breakfast. I was like, who is this man? I have known him for about 8 years, and have been married to him for over five years – and this was my first realization that he loves waffles more than pancakes or Baked Oatmeal for breakfast! I thought he told me that this baked oatmeal has converted him into an oatmeal fan (psst… like me). Apparently not. He felt like we need to make waffles more often at home.
While I don’t consider myself a foodie snob, I am definitely picky about some certain food. Waffles done right is definitely one of my favorite breakfast food. Who likes soggy waffles, right? The best waffles in my opinion are crispy in the outside and tender in the inside. Or, it can also be light and fluffy (I still need to post the recipe for those waffles!). In my humble opinion however, waffles is a little time consuming, and ahem…. a little temperamental to make without planning if you ask me. Especially now that we have a busy crawling baby and a toddler running around in the kitchen, I definitely prefer simpler and quicker things to make. To my husband’s defense, he said that our daughter loves waffles, and she likes them cut up in quarters and then dipped in maple syrup. So here you go, the best waffles that you can have without planning ahead. Have a great weekend everyone!