Last week, my daughter’s school had two snow days, or as we called them “ice days.” Ice is never as entertaining as snow, despite the fact that our front concrete pad turned into a skating rink. If my kids were slightly older, I might not fear them cracking their heads open while attempting to skate in snow boots; so we steered clear of the temptation. However, yesterday was a true snow day, and today we are lucky to have another. Yesterday’s snow day consisted of drinking homemade lattes while baking banana walnut bread and making overnight cinnamon rolls for this morning (we anticipated another snow day and thought it would be nice to wake up to the scent of ooey gooey cinnamon rolls-and it was!). If the wind dies down, we hope to make use of today’s snow day with sledding followed by hot chocolate . . . or in my case, another latte.
As I’ve mentioned before, we live 30 minutes from any real shopping centers or coffee shops for that matter. But I still like to treat myself to a latte now and then without making the drive and waiting in line forever. A homemade latte is the ticket to energy and comfort when trying to fulfill my kids’ snow days with plenty of board games, crafts and baking. I don’t own a fancy espresso maker with a built in milk frother. But I’ve make these simple lattes without the fancy gadgets since I was in college. You only need two tools.
- An electric milk frother. Electric Milk Frother – Kuissential Slickfroth 2.0, Cappuccino Maker
- A stovetop espresso maker. The Original Bialetti Moka Express Made in Italy 3-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker with Patented Valve
$42 total. Fancy without the fancy cost! Really when you think about it, it only adds up to about 11 lattes with an expensive price tag at coffee shops.
If you want to get a little more sophisticated and grind your own espresso beans at home, I recently received this Cuisinart coffee grinder for a “Secret Santa” gift exchange this past Christmas. It really ups the aromatics for your at-home latte experience! Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill DBM-8C
The directions are plain and simple with all these tools. These pictures are fairly self-explanatory, as well, so I won’t go too in depth. The only thing I’m going to say is don’t heat your milk too hot and get that weird skin on top of it. I fill my coffee cup 1/2 full of milk and then heat it up in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds depending on the type of microwave being used. Then place the frother head with coils in the bottom of the cup, push the button, froth to desired foaminess, and turn off the frother while coils are still immersed in the milk. Pour one or two shots of espresso in and stir. I don’t always use flavored syrups, but I do like the Torani white chocolate flavored syrup.
Now you can enjoy your latte while making banana walnut bread. Banana bread is nostalgic to my childhood snow days. It’s a good thing my mom made double batches with four kids around devouring them instantly. We’d grab four slices at a time and run downstairs to play monopoly by the fireplace. It’s fun to keep those little traditions alive with my own family now.
I concocted my own banana bread recipe while living with three other girls my sophomore year in college. Recipes were definitely shared before we moved out of our apartment for summer break. They enjoyed my love for baking just as much as my future husband did at the time. Funny thing-he hates bananas, but he tried this banana bread at one time and loved it! He asked the dreaded question that every skeptical eater asks, “What’s in it?” Yes, he still asks this annoying question, but trust me, he’s come a long way in trying new things and eating more vegetables. Regardless of his initial reaction to the banana bread, once he found out there was banana in it, he WOULD NOT eat any more. Unbelievable. But husbands can be just as bad as toddlers when it comes to food preferences. Both my kids and all the guys at the feedlot love this recipe though, so it gets eaten quickly around here.
BANANA WALNUT BREAD
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. If you have the option, use the Cakes and Breads setting on your oven.
Mix wet ingredients: banana, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and eggs. Add sugar and mix. Over top the wet ingredients mixture, add remaining dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and walnuts. Lightly mix together the dry ingredients above the wet mixture before incorporating both wet and dry ingredients together.
Use either butter or cooking spray and lightly flour your loaf pans to prevent sticking. Nothing worse than bread that won’t turn out of your loaf pans! Divide batter evenly between two loaf pans.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out loaf on to cutting board.
Note #1: If making muffins, fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees F for the first 10 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 15-20 more minutes. Switching the temperature midway of the baking process creates a more mounded top on the muffins. I do this with any kind of muffin I make.
Note #2: You could use separate bowls for mixing wet and dry ingredients before adding the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, but I don’t like dirtying up multiple bowls if not absolutely necessary. Now if I was making a cake and wanted to add the dry ingredients little by little to the wet mixture to create a super moist cake, then yes, I would use two bowls for sure!
Note#3: As soon as we run out of bananas in my household, my kids are begging for me to buy more. So I do. But the second batch of bananas never seem to go as fast as the first. So I end up with too many overly ripe bananas. Depending on my schedule or what baked goods we already have around the house, I might not feel like making the banana bread right away. My solution: Freeze the bananas with their peel still on. Simply put the whole banana into the freezer, take them out when you’re ready make banana bread and let thaw to room temperature before baking with them.
Note #4: Again, I’m usually in a hurry and I really hate having to clean up more dirty dishes/tools than necessary, so instead of actually chopping the walnuts I sometimes just put the walnuts into a quart Ziploc bag and smash the walnuts with a rolling pin over a cutting board (so not to damage the countertop).
Note #5: Substitutions are a necessity with me. As much of a planner and organizer that I am, my preparedness is not always 100%. I’m human. Buttermilk is one thing I don’t usually have on hand, but it can be easily substituted with the proportion of 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Let stand for a couple minutes.