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Extremely Moist Banana Cake with Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

Don’t you just love when things turn out as they are supposed to?

If you are like me, more often than not, they don’t turn out as they are supposed to, and you deal with it. However, today I got a sweet little surprise! You see these pictures? To my delight and surprise I didn’t have to do much editing at all! 

Usually I don’t do any major editing, I feel if I do that I’m not being genuine and that if I need to seriously Photoshop a picture, then its my crappy photography skills fault, and thus I just ditch the photos all together. That may be a bit harsh (I probably have a good 50 sets of pictures that I have taken but will probably never post because I feel the photography skills sucked), but at the same time I think it’s a good thing. I feel like I’ve grown as a photographer because I keep pushing myself to create photos that are as natural as possible and need limited editing, and thus have learned how to improve. Anyways, I’ll stop bragging about this. It just really made my day :)

Now on to this cake, I made it way back in March for my birthday (on March 6th) and it was very delicious. In my opinion, the best gift a foodie can give themselves on their birthday is a day in the kitchen! This banana cake was very moist; something that I usually find is missing in banana cakes. This has a special little part to it where you have to pop it into the freezer right after you bake it. I personally have never heard of this ‘technique’ and was quite intrigued. I don’t know if it’s the freezing that causes the moistness but either way it was pretty good. I also made a chocolate sour cream frosting to top it off which, as you can imagine, topped off this banana cake quite nicely! This recipe is a keeper folks! :)

Best Ever Banana Cake

    * 1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe
    * 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    * 3 cups flour
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 3/4 cup butter, softened
    * 2 1/8 cups sugar
    * 3 large eggs
    * 2 teaspoons vanilla
    * 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 275°. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
2. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
5. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in banana mixture.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
7. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.

I couldn't make up my mind with how to decorate it...a few royal icing flowers in the middle? cute tiny settled for banana slices and shaved dark chocolate! mmm :)


Secret Recipes and Hummus

We all have our secret recipes. Recipes that we are proud of, that we offer to bring to get togethers, and that everyone adores and coos over. After the party is over the bowl has been scraped clean and everyone is asking - nay begging- for your recipe. Naturally you are flattered that everyone has loved it so much to not only finish it all but to beg for the recipe, and you begin sharing the recipe with everyone.

Except when it is a secret recipe. When it is a secret recipe you hesitate. You know you should share the recipe, I mean, its only the right thing to do. But damn it, sometimes I feel like keeping it all for myself!I've been reflecting back on this lately, and realized I have no idea why I don't like to share. Maybe the 'share with your friends' idea that we were taught as kids didn't quite sink in all the way for me. It's odd for most recipes I would love to share, but for a few, a select few, I don't like to share.

Thousands of dollars funding my education in political science has helped me self-diagnose myself as a 'realist' who believes in 'zero-sum gain', as in they feel like only one person can win while everyone else loses. (See mom?! I AM learning =D ) However, that too is ridiculous since it makes no sense when it comes to sharing recipes for chocolate cupcakes!

So, I have concluded that I am probably insane, and like most insane people I need to rehabilitate back into normal society. To do so I have decided to start sharing my 'secret recipes' with you all, slowly but surely, so that I can get over this disease of mine.

Especially since it seems that when I share my secret recipes everyone else seems to love them as much as I do! (For example my cinnamon bun recipe is one of my 'secret recipes' and is probably in the top 3 most viewed posts in my blog of all time!)

Today I am sharing with you my 'secret' but now not so secret hummus recipe. This is amazing. THIS is how hummus is supposed to taste like. Not that icky liquidy consistency stuff you get packaged at the deli aisle of your grocery store, and the thick stuff canned down the specialty foods aisle. Hummus should have a perfect in between consistency, and a hummus snob like myself can taste the lemon, garlic, and tahini in it! I don't know what the best part about this recipe is, that it is SO easy to make, or that it produces a perfect taste/consistency each time?

Tips: Make sure to follow the recipe to a T and it should be awesome. If you are like me and are daring to experiment, make it as suggested and add extra lemon or olive oil if its a bit stiff for your taste or chickpeas to thicken it up (though its easier to thin than to thicken! so be careful! :) )

**I also prefer mine with a bit more garlic so feel free to add em as you like!

The Best Hummus You Will Ever Eat

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 or 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp ground cumin ( I have never had this on hand and have thus never used it...but it tastes great without so its ok if you don't use it either)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1 1/2 cups of canned chick peas, drained and rinsed


1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Place in bowl, sprinkle with paprika, and serve with pita wedges and chopped veggies.

So tell me foodies, what is YOUR secret recipe? Do you love to share? Or are you more like me? ;)


DIY Rose Cupcake Bouquet and I joined Youtube!

Forget buying your mom flowers for mothers day...(especially if she is a foodie) make her a cupcake bouquet instead! (with step by step pictures and video)

***check out my last post for a free print out and instructions for those cute DIY cupcake toppers!

It’s funny how sometimes we resist change. We go out of our way to resist this change, even though, if we think about it logically, there really is no reason why we should. Case and point. Blogger updated their posting method thingy…you know the place you go to write your blog posts? I just decided that I would prefer to stay with the old one. But today, for whatever reason, I decided to give it a try and boy am I glad I did. See the big pretty pictures? Before it would have taken a long time to format into a bigger size, but now it’s just a matter of clicking a few buttons!

Another form of change we seem to resist, would be better classified as avoiding trying something new, or simply putting it off until ‘later’ – a time that never seems to arrive. Recently I’ve been trying to change this, and this post is 3x the change I need;)

I had seen cupcake bouquets a while back and made a mental note of making them. However, like most seemingly difficult things, I put it off until a ‘later’ time. I finally made myself make these this week and they weren’t as hard as I thought and had very lovely results! So I hope you try these too!
*Please note that this isn’t the only way to do this, but it’s the way I did it. 

I frosted all my cupcakes with a rose, and lined them up so that I could pick the top 7....and some quality control. Just making sure the cupcakes...uh...taste good enough. yup =D

It would be best to have a foam sphere and stick it in, but I didn't have any on hand. I had this brick though!

Now mold it to shape.
and add tissue paper. (It would have been best to stick it on before putting the Styrofoam thingy in, but when i molded it - it wouldn't come out!)
Then take 2 tooth picks. What you want to do is poke them into the Styrofoam to position where you want the flower to go.
Then take the toothpicks out and pop them into the cupcake
and place back into the wholes in the Styrofoam

Continue for the rest! I did 6 on the outside and one in the middle

And here is a pic of a real rose I took...for good reference! ;)
Also! I have started a new youtube channel over at So please subscribe! I want to video more of my desserts and hopefully have some tutorials up as well! This is just a video of the final product. Oh voice sounds so girly! LOL

So my question to you foodies....what have YOU been putting off? (And should really get to! ;) )

Happy Mothers Day!


Mothers Day Cupcakes and Free DIY Cupcake Toppers!

I’ve been feeling a bit down on my luck these past few days. Everything that I’ve had planned hasn’t been going, well, as planned. I’m starting to realize that life can’t always go as you want it to. I mean, that’s quite obvious, but I feel most of us – me especially- never take those words to heart. Life happens. You can’t change things. You just have to make the best of it. 

Thankfully I have wonderful parents who support me and try to push me to be my best, yet remind me that life can’t always go as planned; and since its Mothers Day on Sunday, I thought I would go into detail as to why my mom is so special to me! 

She is always supportive of me and my goals, and pushes me to be my very best and not accept ‘ok’ as a standard. She has sacrificed everything for the well-being of her children, and gave up her opportunity to a wonderful career in order to stay home and raise her children. For this I will always be grateful, and hope to one day be at least half the great mother to my own kids. Happy Mothers Day Mom!!!

To celebrate mothers day I made moist carrot cupcakes with soft cream cheese frosting, topped with cute little mothers day themed cupcake toppers! I’ve got lots of great ideas for this blog, and one of them is to create graphics to go with my recipes! (ex. Food themed calendars, labels for ingredients, and cut out cupcake toppers, to name a few) So, I’ve decided to make these available to everyone for free!

Just click here to get a pdf with 12 of them. Then cut and paste with little toothpicks on the back. I recommend using thicker good quality paper. If you do these, I would love to see pictures! :) Also, I was considering making a cupcake topper store on etsy…would anyone perhaps be interested? Please let me know in the comments.

So tell me foodies, what makes your mom so special?


Martha's Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

look at this. I mean look at it. I DARE you not to make this ;)

I have no idea how this past week has come and gone. I promised myself I would update at least another 2 times during the week, but alas, it is Sunday again. I’ve been so very busy this week running around town going to interviews. I have been quite the mess! I would wake in the morning at the early wee hours (in my case 9 am…the insanity!) and get dressed in my most dressed up blazer and pants I own and run out the door in my heels, always managing to leave a lot later than I anticipated! I now have a pair of feet covered in painful blisters from all that running around in all those heels. *cries*

Perhaps I should back up a little first and explain that I am enrolled in my degree’s coop program. For those of you who don’t know, coop is basically a structured to fit into your program student work program. For example, in first semester of this year I took a course in coop, then a bunch of jobs are posted for us to apply to from different ministries and NGO’s etc, and we apply and get paying jobs in our field, while still studying. This is a perfect opportunity no?!

But of course, this is Zahra’s life we are talking about. And nothing is that easy. The year that I got into coop (this year) the fee has jumped about 10x the original! As well, due to the rough economic times….there has been a decrease in jobs available for students (one coop advisor told me more than half of usual employers aren’t employing!). Thus, I have had no interviews all semester (I’ve been applying since January) and was quite depressed at the fact that I would lose all the money I paid and still be unemployed.

However, this week had turned up more positive, I suddenly had interviews right after another! But unfortunately, it seems that they wont amount to any jobs! :( Anywho, I thought I should just update you guys on why I have been gone and whats going on with me.

Now, what always helps with the unemployment blues are these soft chocolate chip cookies – that is if you end up with cookies at all! (the dough is very yummy) What I particularly enjoyed about these cookies was how soft and cakey they were. I’m used to eating crunchier ones, and these were absolutely delicious! I will definitely be making more of this!

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies


Makes about 2 dozen
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream ( I used yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips ( I only used 1 cup of semisweet chips and I found it was more than enough)
  • 3/4 cup milk-chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with sour cream, and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Cover, and freeze for 10 minutes.
  2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake until centers are set and cookies are pale golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.


Random Fun Stuff

Song of the week: Glee Season 2!!

Watching: Criminal Minds season 6 (man! its mind blowing)

Inspirational Quote:

"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself"

Random Foodie Fact:

"The world's first chocolate candy was produced in 1828 by Dutch chocolate-maker Conrad J. Van Houten."

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