Banana Pecan Raspberry-Swirl Crumb Cake

Let’s take a moment to discuss our options. Each morning we get up—slip out of our comfy beds and our warm sheets and our loved one’s arms—with big stretches and yawns and growls that mimic those of a lazy lion in the zoo. A quick glance in the mirror only confirms this. Our hair, wild and crazy, going in all sorts of directions. Untamable, however, we proceed unfazed and without a thought in our heads, other than wanting desperately to get back into bed. Half asleep and unwilling to compromise, we find ourselves at a fork in the road. Having to make choices so early in the morning should be illegal. We can grab that boring box of cereal. The one that’s been sitting on top of our fridge for weeks getting good and stale on us, because someone left it partially opened. We can reach into that refrigerator and grab the just about expired milk—regular, soy or almond or maybe even settle for a yogurt—plain or greek infused with fruit. Perhaps we don’t have the luxury of time because we woke up late or decided to spend all our time getting ready (we have our lion selves to thank for that) knowing that our allotted breakfast eating time would suffer and diminish. So because we’re running late we proceed to reach into a box of granola bars. We fool ourselves into believing it’ll be a good enough morning meal. We get a hold of the box, grasping inside, only to come up empty handed. We make a mental note to reprimand the person who took the last bar and left the empty box in the cabinet, reminding us of yet another thing we can’t have. Spontaneity and unpredictability aren’t traits we posses this early in the morning nor do we want to, so what next?

If only we had some sort of morning pastry to cut, grab and go. Something tasty that would fit the breakfast bill. A delicious treat to eat alongside our coffee, tea or juice on our drive to work or school or whatever other activity that doesn’t occur to me at the moment. What we really need is a banana bread kind of a thing. A banana bread meets coffee cake. And if said cake happened to have a raspberry-swirl filling in the middle and a pecan crumb topping, well then, we wouldn’t be angry about that. Who are we to complain about such things? Yes, a hybrid breakfast cake slash dessert meets decadent treat is just what we need in the morning to lift our spirits up, but where do we get such a delight? Where do we come across such a marvel?

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Cranberry Date Pecan Bars

Crisp. Windy. Cold. You walk around the city, in the chilly breeze. Teeth chattering. Nose running. Anxiously looking for any sign of relief from the blizzard that is outside. You start to speed up your pace, with no destination in mind, hoping that this sudden spurge of fast movement will get you warmer, you walk and walk.  Your mind is traveling at a hundred miles a minute and you can’t seem to concentrate on the rest of your day or the tasks that lie ahead. You need a break from the freezing temperatures.  Perhaps a hot cocoa, and a tasty treat from a cozy and warm coffee shop is just what the doctor ordered. You look around for any friendly coffee shop, cafe or bistro. Suddenly you spot it, the coziest of coziest coffee shops. A small ma’ and pa’ shop, typically found in movies. Your heart jumps and your feet seem to travel faster than the rest of your body, which can’t catch up. You reach for the freezing handle and give it a pull. It wont budge. You keep pulling with all your might, but nothing. You desperately curse the air and the cold. Then out of the corner of your eye, you notice the tiny sign on the door, “Push.” You laugh to yourself and quickly look around to see if anyone has noticed your silly mistake. You give it a gentle push, as if you knew all along, and are instantly taken aback by the warmth and aroma of all things heavenly inside. You walk in.

You look at the board and scan it rather intently, although you are already fully aware of what you’re going to order. You wait in line as a little old lady gives the cashier the “exact” change in pennies, nickels and dimes. The next customer is asking what’s in everything, and you can’t seem to get there fast enough. Finally your turn arrives and you ask for their large, boat-sized, hot cocoa. “Whip cream?” the barista asks you with the friendliest of smiles. “Sure, why not?” you respond. Looking at the case full of home-made goodies, you ask what is good. “You have to try our cranberry pecan date bars! They’re the customer favorite.” You contemplate this choice to yourself. Now you’re the one holding up the line. But who cares? You think, “Hmmm, cranberry pecan date bars. Huh? Interesting.” You make up your mind on the spot, and yell out, “Okay, I’ll give it a try!” Just then you realize that you’re screaming for no reason in particular. He hands you your bar and you grab your hot cocoa, douse it with cinnamon and find a comfy couch by the fire. You take a sip of your cocoa, and it hits the spot. Warming up the rest of your body, instantly. You take a moment and stare at the bar, inspecting it. You take your first bite. Suddenly, your whole world is spinning, you wonder just what’s in this bar of yours. Of course, nothing other than dates, pecans and cranberries. You finish the whole thing, and don’t even realize you have. You get up and order another, he already had one waiting for you. “Happens all the time.” You smile, and sit back down. This time enjoying and savoring every bite, not wanting it to finish.

You bundle up and brave the cold air once again, only this time you don’t realize just how cold it is. You walk and walk, yourself back home, not fully conscious. You get to your house, although you have no idea how you just got there, what streets you turned on or if you’ve followed any of the pedestrian signals. For the rest of the day, and week for that matter, you can’t seem to get those delicious bars out of your mind. You crave them in your sleep, dreaming about their deliciousness. Finally, you come to the realization that the only way you can continue to live your life, is to make them yourself. Hope fills your body with the sense of excitement. But you think aloud, “Where do I begin? I don’t even know how to make them!” Well look no further, my worried friend, because I’m here to help you. Put your faith in uncle Jon, because he’s got your back.

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