banana pancakes

Now that I’m officially done with sophomore year (halfway through college, what?), I can finally take a break from writing papers to write a blog post. My first Saturday at home, I had a banana pancakes morning to myself—Jack Johnson style. I put on a soft acoustic playlist and got to work. Well, as much work as these simple three-ingredient pancakes require. When you want pancakes, but without the prep or the guilt that comes with them, then these pancakes are perfect: only eggs, overly-ripe bananas, and a splash of vanilla. The result is an omelet-like texture, but with the sweetness of bananas. You can’t expect a true pancake when you make these, but you can somewhat satisfy the craving, without the added sugar or carbs. I find that they are a great grain-free option that pair well with fresh berries and maple syrup.

banana pancakes

Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas, mashed

2 eggs (plus one more for fluffier texture)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all in a small bowl. Cook 1/4 cup of batter at a time over medium heat. Top with whatever you’d like (chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, peanut butter, syrup, Nutella, etc.)

 

carrot cake

Happy Easter! As it is the only appropriate way to celebrate any holiday, I had to bake. This was long awaited, too, because I gave up sweets for Lent and needed something extra good. I went all out with a four-layer carrot cake with flower decorations. The cake is my great-grandmother’s recipe (which I forgot to write down for this post; email me if you want it!) topped with a lot of cream cheese frosting. It’s super moist and erases any misconceptions that carrot cake is healthy. It’s also an easy, fail-safe recipe; just make sure it’s baked through. All the flower decorations are piped by hand, which was fun but also frustrating. I only recommend if you feel a certain amount of dedication to your cake and even more patience. I say go for it, because the end result is gorgeous and sure to impress.

For the colored frosting, I used totally amateur food coloring from Dec-a-Cake. The roses are piped with a large star tip. The blue/purple flowers are piped with a slanted tip on to parchment paper on top of a metal spinner that is included in most piping tip sets that you can buy. For the leaves, I used a basic leaf tip and two tones of green frosting. If you want more information on piping flowers, I highly recommend Pinterest or Wilton.com, because there are a lot of straightforward tutorials for lots of different designs. Or you can contact me, though I’m a complete amateur.

I baked the cake in two layers, then sliced each in half to create four. There was a slight sinking problem in the cake though, which I suspect is from opening the oven too early in the baking process to see how much longer the cakes needed. But it’s nothing a little frosting can’t hide, as you can see from the photo of the inside, below.

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christmas sugar cookies

Since I’ll be doing some more holiday baking this weekend, I’m going back to Christmas. One of the best things about Christmas (and there are so many good things) is making sugar cookies. Mixing the dough, rolling out and cutting shapes, snagging a few bites here and there, covering yourself in flour, decorating with frosting and sprinkles — all a part of Christmas since I was little.

Usually my family likes a thicker, softer cookie with plenty of icing, but I wanted to try a thinner one with more delicate decorations. Though they tasted good and looked pretty, my brothers held out for our traditional sugar cookies, so I made a second batch topped with buttercream and colored sprinkles. But it was worth the two batches; I loved piping the tiny lace-like patterns while catching up with hometown friends, and getting excessive with the sprinkles while watching a Christmas movie with my family.

floured

plain

delicate

buttercream

Both cookie recipes are family recipes that we’ve been using for years. The icing and buttercream I make up as I go, combining milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla (and butter for buttercream, obviously) until I’ve gotten the right texture, thickness, and taste.

 

For thinner sugar cookies:

1 cup butter (salted), room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture. When the dough is mixed, wrap in plastic and chill for about two hours. Roll out to ~1/4 inch thick before cutting. Cook in desired shapes at 375°F for 5-8 minutes, or until the edges turn golden. Let cool completely before decorating. I used a thick icing (no butter), Williams Sonoma glitter flakes, and edible pearls.

For thicker sugar cookies (my grandmother’s recipe):

1 cup butter (salted), room temperature

2 cups sugar

1 cup sour cream

3 eggs

5 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla (be generous)

Cream butter and sugar. Mix sour cream and eggs in a separate bowl, then add to butter and sugar. Add flour one cup at a time, with the other dry ingredients at the same time as the first cup. Add vanilla once all the flour is incorporated. Wrap in plastic and chill, overnight if possible (if not, 3-4 hours will work). Roll out to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. *Tip: less detailed cut-outs work best for this dough, like trees or candy canes, since the dough really puffs up while baking. Bake at 375°F for 7-10 minutes, until the edges start to color.  Cool completely before decorating. I used vanilla buttercream and Christmas-themed sprinkles.