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Entries in banana (21)

Tuesday
Nov292011

Banana Cocoa Smoothie

Banana Cocoa Smoothie

A year ago today marks the day I changed my life.

A year ago today I stepped into my grad school advisor's office and told him I had enough—I quit. After a disappointed nod of his head, I left the room and cleaned out my desk. I packed up my apartment, my life, and left the beautiful city of Montreal to move back home. I switched from a career in physics and research to pursue a life filled with butter and sugar.

I wondered if I would regret my decision. I wondered if it was silly or irresponsible to pursue baking, especially since I had discovered my oven not more than a year earlier. I wondered if baking was simply an escape from physics and nothing more. I wondered how I was going to explain to people that I had given up on my goals to become a smart and successful scientist so I could make cookies. I wondered all of these things and so much more.

Yet, a decision had been made. I was changing my life path. I crossed my fingers, took a deep breath, and leaped. I jumped off the proverbial cliff and it would take time to see where I would land.

Banana Cocoa Smoothie Banana Cocoa Smoothie

A year later, it feels strange to reflect back on my decision and my uncertainty. All the drama and change feels so much longer than a year ago (and so far away from me today). I almost wish future-me could have visited past-me, if only to whisper everything is going to turn out okay.

It took a couple months, but I eventually found my footing. I'm currently working in a small bakery, mixing up everything from breakfast pastries to cakes and cookies. I fill cases with colorful, decadent desserts and pretend that calories don't exist (and, while I can convince myself, I haven't quite figured out how to convince my waistline). After my job at the bakery, I tutor students of all ages in math and science. It turns out I couldn't turn away from my physics background completely—I simply found a new way to enjoy it.

Life is full of unexpected twists. You can take the physics out of the lifestyle, but it seems you can't take the physics out of the girl. Who knew?

Banana Cocoa Smoothie

I don't regret the decisions I have made that lead me to today. In fact, knowing what I know now, dropping out of grad school may have been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I took a miserable existence and turned it into happiness—no small feat. The concerns that so plagued me just a year ago are miles away from me today. If I had never jumped ship into a sea of butter and cream, I would have spent the rest of my life wondering what if.

I'm not sure where my life is going to take me, or what I'll be doing a year or even five years from now, but I've learned that it's okay not to have a plan. I've learned that I can trust myself. I can (and will) figure it out when I have the experience to know what's right for me. Life is about the journey. It's about trying something new despite the threat of failure. It's about being brave, strong, and having confidence in yourself.

As Bob Moawad so beautifully phrased it, "The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours—it is an amazing journey—and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins."

You and I, we'll find our place in this mad, mad world. One day we'll wake up and realize exactly where we belong. Maybe we're already exactly where we need to be. But if you haven't reached that special place, you can't be afraid to pursue your wild and crazy dreams, whatever they may be. This is your life and you deserve to do what you love every single day. It's true. You do.

Banana Cocoa Smoothie Banana Cocoa Smoothie

This Banana Cocoa Smoothie is sweet and refreshing. Though it uses tofu as a base, do not let this deter you. Tofu lends a thick creaminess to the smoothie without any flavor (plus tons of protein!). All the sweetness in the drink comes from the banana, with no added sugar. I added a tablespoon of cocoa powder for a chocolaty twist, since chocolate is always a good decision to make. The combination of chocolate and banana is truly decadent, which makes the fact that this smoothie is healthy so much more sinful.

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Friday
Nov112011

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate makes the world go 'round. Well, at least it makes my world go 'round. I savor simple chocolates like a good book I've read a thousand times—slowly, reveling in the familiarity, letting the flavors (and words) linger on my tongue. I've always found something sensual about chocolate. The way warmed chocolate falls off a spoon or the glean and glisten on a pot of melted chocolate make my mouth begin to water. I love the way chocolate pairs with a heady glass of red wine, fashioning a rich ending to a heavy meal.

I'm certain if we gave it a chance, chocolate alone could bring about world peace.

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate always finds a way to sneak into my day. In the morning, I love a hint of cocoa in my hot cereal. At lunch, I always sneak a sweet treat for dessert, nibbling on bits of chocolate cake or swiping my finger through a tub of chocolate buttercream. In the evening, I grab a few chocolate chips to preempt my inevitable nighttime cravings.

I'm a monster.

Some days I'm certain chocolate runs through my veins.

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Because of my fervent fondness for the cocoa bean, I've been adventurous with my chocolate flavor combinations. Certainly the standard combinations have been done: chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate and raspberry, chocolate and pear. But it's the more unique combinations that bring me greater excitement—chocolate and lemon, chocolate and figs, and chocolate and beets.

Chocolate and pickles, however, is a little too "unique." Let's just say that was never a very good idea.

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

These Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins are decadent, addictive muffins that are everything a muffin should be—moist and dense. Imagine a loaf of banana bread in bite-sized form; these are it. The flavors of banana and chocolate blend together easily, but the espresso powder adds a slight twist. Though the espresso flavor is very subtle (in fact, I couldn't find it unless I was really looking), it adds so much flavor depth. The chocolate tones are richer and deeper. The banana flavor is bold and beautiful. Just a hint of something new, creates a different muffin entirely—a muffin you are sure to love.

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Wednesday
Aug032011

Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Banana cake is as unpretentious as bread and butter or toast spread with strawberry jam. Banana cake doesn't set out to dazzle your eyes (though it may very well dazzle your taste buds). It's not trying to re-create the (cake) wheel, by any means. Banana cake is as old and wise as the simple chocolate cake. I doubt you'd ever find this cake listed on the dessert menu in a fancy restaurant.

However, that doesn't mean this banana cake isn't something to talk about.

Banana cake has been a summer tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. Though bananas are available year round and this cake can (and should!) be made in every season, I only remember my mother making this cake during the height of summer. My sister and I looked forward to eating this cake with more excitement and anticipation than our birthday cakes. This banana cake could turn an ordinary Tuesday into something extraordinary.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze

While the cake bakes up in the oven, wonderful, sinful smells waft about the house. Like moths to a flame, we'd gather to the kitchen. When the glaze was fresh from the stove, we'd always swipe a finger or two through the still warm chocolate. My dad, to this day, requests to lick the spatula and bowl clean. I like to joke that we don't need a dishwasher anymore, though my dad does not find this terribly amusing.

Nevertheless, my family is still in debate about the best way to eat this cake. My dad and I love to eat this cake chilled. It brings a dense, moist heaviness to the cake and the chocolate glaze becomes stiff making it literally melt in your mouth. My sister, on the other hand, prefers the cake warm, which yields a lighter feel to the cake and turns the chocolate glaze divinely smooth. Though our debate may never be settled, the truth is that this cake is delicious any way you choose to serve it.

Do yourself a favor and create a little weekday magic by making yourself this simple, but charming cake.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze

This Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze is a classic cake with a lot of character. The cake layers are rich and moist with banana, while a touch of cinnamon brings out a greater depth of flavor. The chocolate glaze is very simple to make, melting together only chocolate and butter, but I could eat it by the spoonful (and I usually do). The glaze spreads smooth when slightly warm and holds its shape like a dream. This cake is quick to throw together and will disappear before you are ready to see it go.

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