This banana bread is studded with dark chocolate and baked from dough that includes vanilla pudding mix. That dessert sounds like dessert to me, so I’m calling this start to our year a banana bread bundt cake. You can just call it delicious.
A few years ago I wrote about my previous year before moving forward into the new one, and now I’ve made it a ritual. I’m probably supposed to write this recap before the new year actually begins, but “better late than never” seems to be my constant theme.
Looking back at my life a year ago compared to my life today, in some ways it’s quite different, but in many ways much the same. As if a few misplaced pieces fell into place into 2018, although the puzzle is far from complete.
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, things started off quietly, as I had hoped. 2017 was frenetic. In 2018, I needed calm. That lasted a month.
In February, I started Baking Bootcamp. Put on at a community college, it was Seven Saturdays of baking all day. I’d wanted to do this for years, but the timing had never worked out. It was great.
Watched the winter Olympics!
Took up a new hobby – cross stitch. This is essentially just a way for me to feel productive while I watch TV.
Went home for Easter for the first time in recent memory. It snowed, and that did not please me.
Took a day trip to Divine Llama Vineyards, a winery that doubles as a llama farm. Or perhaps it is a llama farm with a winery on the grounds. I don’t care what you call it – just know that it was a nice spring day and a fun thing to do.
Watched the royal wedding.
Went back home in June to say goodbye to my grandpa for the last time. He built each of his six grandchildren a doll house. Well, his grandson got a fire station because, you know, gender things. He is missed.
Attended two yoga workshops, one beer festival, the ballet, and an intuitive energy session that was really quite interesting. Experienced a best new restaurants party that was fun, but I don’t need to do it again.
Celebrated a friend getting set to welcome a new baby, went to two birthday parties – on the same day, and spent an afternoon sipping wine to have my profile done. I like white wines with light sweetness, no oak, and notes of apricot and honeysuckle.
Started off the spring concert season with Matt Kearney and Anderson East.
Left my new contract job to go full-time at the old job I had to leave because that contract was up. This came out of the blue. I am grateful.
Enjoyed a Sunday night at Pops in the Park – movie tunes. It’s always hot, but we always have wine.
Went bowling – twice! Attended a handful of Charlotte Food Blogger events, one book signing, one farm dinner, and a cheese and cider tasting (highly recommend!).
Won things – twice! (A cookbook and a gift card). Attended a couple of Skillpop classes. Went to a couple of parties. Volunteered a little bit and tried to do some good.
Checked out a handful of new restaurants and two new breweries. So I remember, the fried chicken at Zeppelin was possibly the best thing I ate all year. And checking out Hello, Sailor on a misty, chilly (0nly 70 degrees!) Saturday in July was a fun day.
Vacationed with my family to check out a new Lake House. A highlight: my nephew walked in, walked straight over, gave me a hug.
Tried to see Glass Animals over the summer, but their drummer was involved in a terrible accident that cancelled the tour. Remembered not to take my body for granted.
On a tip from a friend, went on to see *repeat repeat. They played a very small venue, and I felt like I was let in on a secret. Find this band and listen to them. (Don’t forget the *, or you might find some strange EDM instead).
Looked for a place to live. Toured a lot of townhomes. Eventually bought one.
Attempted yoga on a stand-up paddle board, which I’d wanted to do and was sure I would enjoy. I love stand-up paddle boarding. I love yoga. I did NOT love stand-up paddleboarding yoga.
Went on a Feast Food tour one Saturday afternoon with my girls.
Saw the Lion King. Spectacular. Saw The Fray perform – for free!
Had lunch with a friend near the beginning of September and wrote this down in my planner afterwards: “September feels heavy”. Her words. We both agreed. There was just a strange air of sadness all around. The end of summer? September 11? Who knows, but it was there.
Headed out to Salt Lake City for Tastemaker Conference, learned some great things, and met some really nice people. I’m really glad I went. I probably don’t ever need to go back. (To Salt Lake City, I mean. I’m definitely going back to Tastemaker Conference.)
Went to the Piedmont Culinary Guild’s picnic in the park. By far the best food event I attended all year.
Enjoyed a lovely Florence + The Machine show. I hesitated on this one. The first and, before this past year, only time I saw the band perform was at Red Rocks. On a night when there happened to be a full moon. We watched this red fireball rise straight up out of the ground as the band jammed to Dog Days Are Over. I was sure that couldn’t be topped.
But, when she played at a venue I walk past five days a week, it was hard not to go. I’m glad I did. She is such a delight. During one little bit, where she wanted us to get to know our concert neighbors, she walked us through a little role play that included these lines: “Please put your phone away. I’m trying to have an experience.” YES
Enjoyed Asheville on a fall weekend. I don’t make it there often enough, especially since I have friends there. They just opened a lovely new winery. If you find yourselves out that way, please go. It is A+.
Spent a sunny November afternoon standing in line at a brewery for an oyster roast. We stood in line for, I don’t know, 2.5 hours? That wait time? No big deal. They delivered beer to the line.
We got the last few oysters, and because they were the last few or maybe because we had waited for so long or perhaps because they folks running the oyster roast had big hearts, they were free.
Plucked just that morning from the ocean, and put on the grill that afternoon. Delicious. All topped off by a trip down the block to Jeni’s. Yes, my city finally has its own Jeni’s. Praise be.
Started feeling a bit too anxious. Like I’m completely hemmed in. Not sure what to make of that yet.
Traveled back home for Thanksgiving for the first time since I left Ohio. Experienced a harrowing flight that encouraged me to take stock of a few things. The biggest thought in my mind as I sat there fairly convinced we were going down is that I wished I had been more kind. We ended up making it, and I’m working on it.
Turned down a ticket to watch my Buckeyes take on their rival because a) I didn’t want to sit in the rain and watch them get beat to a pulp and b) I wanted to hang with my nieces and nephew. My sister and nephew and I cheered on the team from the comfort of her living room.
Cheering your butts off when there’s a toddler sleeping upstairs is quite an interesting experience. Lots of gentle jumping and whisper screaming. Although I could have seen that game in person, I had no regrets cuddled up on a warm couch with a victory beer. I am officially old.
Mom and Dad took me back to North Carolina (planned, but quite welcome after that flight home). They helped me tremendously.
Closed out my fall concert series with Chvrches, The Record Company, and Young The Giant. I also went to my first Sofar in Charlotte. Fun concept. Good music. Not for the impatient.
Read some spectacular books. Spoonbenders! A Man Called Ove! Made for Love! It!
Saw Celeste Barber. Hilarious.
Quit caring about Instagram. Completely forgot about Twitter. But worked diligently on this blog’s Facebook page.
Set a goal to share a blog post once a week. Well…I wrote (and photographed and cooked/baked and cleaned the mess) 31 times. Not close to 52, but better than nothing.
Overall, I failed spectacularly at many things. Succeeded at a handful of others.
Had some friends over. Enjoyed Christmas in my own home for the first time since I left Ohio. It was different, but it felt nice.
Took good care of myself at the end of the year. Celebrated a milestone birthday. I felt good.
Felt my spirit wake up a bit on 12.29 when the sun came out for the first time in recent memory, and on a Saturday no less. “Oh hey”, it reminded me, “you like to go outside and do things.” She promptly went back to sleep the next day when the clouds and rain came back, but at least now I know she’s still there. And just waiting for spring…
Rang in the new year at a quiet dinner with a handful of friends. Just what I needed to get clear on a few things.
And now it’s a new year. I’m trying to go to bed a little earlier, and wake up a little earlier too. To not get caught up in the race or the drama. To be kind.
About this banana bread Bundt cake thing.
This recipe is from that cookbook I won (thanks Goodreads!), and in there it’s called bread. But…
I don’t know that I can get on board with a bread studded with dark chocolate and with a packet of dry pudding mixed in. To me, that’s dessert.
I add pudding mix to my favorite chocolate chip cookies. People rave about those, and I’m always like, “Guys, you can bake these yourselves. The recipe is online.”
This recipe really does result in something that tastes like a delicious banana bread, so it’s definitely not a full-on cake, but definitely not a bread alone. So to me, it’s a banana bread cake.
So, banana bread or cake, you guys decide. Everything is always what we make it. Happy new year.
- 2 cups very ripe mashed bananas (approximately six bananas)
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1, 3.4 ounce package vanilla instant pudding mix
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 3.5 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- In a large bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, eggs, and canola oil.
- In a different bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, and salt.
- Gently stir the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients.
- Fold in the coconut and the chocolate.
- Pour the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 50-60 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will be lightly browned.
- Allow to cool in the Bundt pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a serving platter.
Recipe from Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen
The recipe's author insists on six ripe bananas for this recipe; five is not quite enough for 2 cups of mashed bananas.
I insist you grease and flour your Bundt pan. Taking the time to do this will make turning out the Bundt cake so much easier when baked.
No Bundt pan? No problem. You can also use two, 8 x 4 loaf pans.