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Lying in bed Sunday morning, I nursed my too-many-whiskey-gingers induced hangover with three pints of water, a french press of stumptown and an hour long phone call with mi mejor amiga in New York. She was telling me about her Saturday night, which involved friends, beer, and a karaoke birthday party complete with the most delicious banana cupcakes she had ever had in her life. Banana cupcakes? Of course! Why have I never attempted these at home?!

I did a little sneaking around the internet and found this recipe on Martha Stewart dot com. Honey cinnamon icing does sound interesting, but I think vanilla buttercream sounds a little bit better with banana cake. I’m curious to see if banana cupcakes are no different from banana bread? Perhaps a little lighter and sweeter? As soon as the bananas on my counter turn from canary yellow to soft and spotted, I’ll give it a go and report back!

the recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture taking care not to overmix. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Frost generously.

Applying for grad school sucked up so much of my time and energy that I seemed to have settled into a rut eating out while I am at work, and giving in to sugary sweets in the afternoon. Gross. Now that the process is almost completely behind me, I’m committing to getting back on the wagon – making salads to bring for my lunches, going to yoga several times a week, and running (a lot or a little). Summer is on the horizon, and there is no room for winter layers in my wardrobe.

This amazing salad is based on the Emerald City Salad from the PCC deli ( a co-op in the Seattle area). I used to work near a PCC and eat it several times a week for lunch. I quickly learned that it was much more affordable to make it myself…

You will need:

Kale
Chard (I like to use rainbow)
Parsley
A fennel bulb
Red Bell Pepper
Yellow Bell Pepper
About 1 C wild rice

Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

To Assemble:

Bring 2 C. water to a boil and add the wild rice. Bring to a boil again, lower the heat, cover, and allow to simmer for about an hour or until all of the water has been absorbed.

Finely chop the kale, parsley and chard into a large bowl. Chop the peppers and fennel and set aside.

Make a dressing using the minced garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.

I like to allow my rice to cool a bit, but not completely so that it wilts the greens a tiny bit. Then add the peppers, fennel and dress. Add salt, pepper and more lemon juice if necessary to taste.

Until Monday, when we were graced with fleeting snow flurries, Seattle was experiencing some lovely Spring weather. Sunny, with highs of 60 degrees and cherry blossoms in full bloom. 

Saturday morning was no exception, and I celebrated the perfect Spring weather over an outdoor brunch with friends at Volunteer Park Cafe. Stumptown coffee, delicious baked goods, sunny sidewalk tables and friendly servers = cafe perfection.

The three of us shared the caramelized banana brioche french toast, brie, apple & lavender honey panini and the spinach & goat cheese quiche. All three were divine – the quiche coming in last because the thin, too crispy crust was difficult to eat, and left something to be desired. The atmosphere was perfect for sitting on the sidewalk, sipping iced americanos and chatting. Had there not been a line,  I could have sat their all day enjoying the sunshine and atmosphere. I am amazed I’ve been living in Seattle for almost ten years and have just now discovered this gem.