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Banana Bread Muffins

March 12, 2013

Homemade banana bread is one of those things that I can never get enough of. I love making it and almost all the bananas that enter my house get baked into a batch. There are a lot of great banana bread recipes out there, but my current favorite is this recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen, which I like to make with half the amount of bananas.


The original recipe calls for a whole quart of mashed bananas, but I cut it down to 2 cups. My version proves that less can be more. By adding fewer bananas, the resulting banana bread is lighter both in color and texture. The bread is golden and almost cake-like instead of being the dark and dense treat that I normally associate with banana bread.

I usually bake this banana bread in mini-loaf pans (you can get 5 mini-loaves from this recipe), but I wanted to try making parchment paper muffin liners so I made this batch into muffins instead. The DIY liners (instructions are included below) turned out so charming that I don’t think I’ll ever want to use store-bought ones again. The muffins are also perfectly portioned, so if you are anything like me, it will keep you from polishing off a whole batch of banana bread in one sitting.

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Brownie Pie

February 14, 2013

I can’t believe that my last blog post was back in November. How time flies! I had big plans to bake and share a whole host of Christmas recipes in December and healthy recipes in January, but none of that happened.

Shortly after my last post in November, Andrew and I bought our first house—an old 1920s bungalow so cute and charming that it was truly love at first sight. Between the move, visiting family over Christmas, working on the house, and a couple of weekend getaways, my time in the kitchen has been limited. It also hasn’t helped that my usual obsession with making food has been overtaken by my instinct to nest.


Thanks to a lot of good old-fashioned elbow grease and what is hopefully an artful eye, the place is coming together quite nicely. Even with tools and paint cans scattered about, belongings without a place yet, and tentative plans for bathroom and kitchen renovations, the house feels like a home now and my little family feels settled.

With things calming down, I’m finally getting back into the kitchen and back into a baking routine. To Andrew’s delight, so far all I’ve wanted to bake are cookies and brownies.


This brownie pie is basically a batch of classic brownies baked in a pie plate. The recipe is simple, but it may take a second batch to nail down the baking time in your oven. Under-bake the brownies and you’ll get an amazing fudgy mess. Over-bake the brownies and they will remind you more of chocolate cake. Somewhere in the middle are the perfect brownies and a chocolate lover’s dream come true.

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Apple Cranberry Crisp

November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving is almost here and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve got cranberry sauce, cornbread, and a pie to make today. Then tomorrow, the real cooking marathon begins. Luckily, my parents are getting into town early tomorrow morning, so I’ll have my mom here to lend a helping hand.

Thanksgiving for me growing up was always a large potluck affair with lots of people and lots of dishes. I miss those days, but I have to say that I have really enjoyed the smaller Thanksgivings of my adult life. Having the opportunity to cook Thanksgiving over the last 5 years or so has definitely made me a better and more experienced cook.

I think the hardest part about cooking Thanksgiving now is just figuring out what to make. There are too many options and too many good recipes. I had originally planned to make this Apple Cranberry Crisp as part of our Thanksgiving feast, but decided not to after all. So I made the crisp yesterday instead as a pre-Thanksgiving treat.

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Thanksgiving Recipes and Tips

November 16, 2012

Last Thanksgiving, I prepared a nice dinner for four. It was just my parents, Andrew, and I, and it was really wonderful (pictured above). I remember feeling a little stressed leading up to the day, as it was my first time hosting Thanksgiving for my parents, but everything went fine. The food was delicious, the table looked beautiful, and the four of us had a fun evening.

This year, we are planning on another Thanksgiving for four and I’m excited to be cooking for my parents again. Right now, I’m getting together my plans for our Thanksgiving feast. I’m making some lists, looking at recipes, and trying to get a game plan together. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one doing this, so I thought I would share a round up of Thanksgiving recipes and tips that may help you with your planning too.
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Pumpkin Bundt Cake

November 9, 2012

Not tired of pumpkins desserts yet? Neither am I. I have more pumpkin-y treats on my “to make” list than humanly possible to make and eat in a season. That won’t stop me from trying to get down the list, though. With a little fresh pumpkin puree at my disposal, I decided to tackle a pumpkin bundt cake. This cake is a wonderful fall dessert that also gave me an excuse to break out a pan that rarely sees the light of day.


After finding my bundt pan in the depths of my kitchen cabinets, I asked myself why I don’t bake with it more often. It’s a gorgeous pan that yields just as gorgeous results. The edges are sharp and modern, and I love how it makes anything you bake in it look like a super sized French crueler doughnut.


Classic fall spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg flavor the cake. For topping the cake, I initially planned on making a cream cheese glaze (like the one I did for this cake), but I decided on a dusting of powdered sugar instead so that none of the pretty edges of the cake would be compromised.
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Instead of overindulging in store-bought candy this year (Reese’s and Snickers are my weaknesses), I made a batch of these Chocolate Covered Almond Pralines to satisfy my sweet tooth. This is a Halloween treat for grown ups to say the least. Almonds coated in caramelized sugar, covered in chocolate, and dusted with cocoa powder are ridiculously good.

This is the type of treat that you would normally find in a nice chocolate shop, but I’m happy to report that they are easy to make at home. If we had trick-or-treating in our building, I would be tempted to hand out bags of these almonds to accompanying adults. Likewise, wrapping these up for holiday gift giving wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

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Fresh Pumpkin Puree

October 25, 2012

After unsuccessfully trying to find a place to go apple picking last weekend, I decided that pumpkin picking was the next best thing. When we got to the farm, the farm stand was full of pumpkins and the orchard’s trees were filled with persimmons and unripe citrus. It was a beautiful overcast afternoon and even though Andrew and I were the only people there without kids (seriously, everyone there had kids!), we had a great time just the two of us.


After walking through the grounds and chatting with the guy at the farm stand, I learned that not only was there no actual pumpkin patch at the farm, but all the pumpkins at the stand were from the Northeast. Apparently people don’t grow pumpkins in Texas—how was I supposed to know? Despite being a little disappointed about the imported pumpkins, we still went home with a pumpkin for carving and 2 sugar pie pumpkins for cooking.
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Baked Quinoa Patties

October 20, 2012

I wasn’t planning on sharing this recipe, but after eating these little gems (happily) three days in a row for lunch, I figured they were worth writing a post about. As much as I like quinoa and for all the talk surrounding how healthy and wonderful quinoa is, I don’t actually cook it that often. When I do cook quinoa though, I always seem to have leftovers, and those leftovers always get turned into quinoa patties.


I first discovered quinoa patties from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day and I loved them right away. Leftover quinoa, a few fresh ingredients, and a little effort go a long way! The patties in the book are browned and cooked on the stove and I always wondered if I could bake them in the oven instead. Lo and behold, I found instructions for baking quinoa patties on Heidi’s blog. With a few tweaks to her recipe, I’ve been baking up (instead of frying up) quinoa patties all week.


In addition to being a great way to use up leftover quinoa, it’s a great way to use up any leftover veggies, herbs, and cheeses that you may have. These quinoa patties are filled with sautéed onions and garlic, a bit of smoky cumin, and fresh kale, chives, and parsley. Parmesan cheese, whole grain bread crumbs, and eggs help hold everything together.

For a well-rounded meal, I like eating these with a salad, but they are good on their own if you can’t be bothered with one. Also, you don’t have to bake off all 12 patties at the same time. The mixture keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so you can bake off however many you want as you need them.
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When Andrew and I first got engaged, we thought about having a destination wedding. Then we thought about eloping. Then we thought about having a wedding in New York City, where we lived at the time and also where we met and dated. New York won out in the end and after about a year of planning, we exchanged our vows in front of 60 close friends and family, under blue skies and surrounded by amazing views of the city. That was 2 years ago on October 10th.

Having just returned from a physically exhausting vacation full of early mornings and hiking, the day of our anniversary was more about recuperating than celebrating. We made proper dinner reservations for this weekend, so on the day itself we simply enjoyed a home-cooked meal and I made a batch of pumpkin whoopie pies, which were one of the many sweets that we had at our wedding reception.
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Homemade Apple Cider

October 9, 2012

The bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, and the pictures from our cameras have been uploaded to our computers. Vacation is officially over. Andrew and I have spent the last 10 days seeing as much of Peru as we could fit in. The trip was a great adventure and I can’t wait to share more details in a later post (pictures and hopefully a Peruvian recipe to come).

For now, I have a recipe for Homemade Apple Cider to share. Before we left for Peru, I made my first batch of apple cider ever and couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. If you have a bunch of apples and a bit of time, it’s a great treat for this time of year.


The cider is made by throwing quartered apples (skins, seeds, and all) into a big pot with sugar, a couple of cinnamon sticks, and just enough water to cover. After boiling the mixture for an hour, simmering it for another 2 hours, and straining the mixture a couple of times, you have apple cider. It’s a simple and straightforward process that really brings out and concentrates the flavor of the apples that you use.


I chose to infuse mine with just a bit of cinnamon, but other fall spices like allspice or cloves would be welcomed additions if you prefer a more heavily spiced version. I’m looking forward to testing this recipe out with different spices and varieties of apples. Hopefully, I can track down a nearby apple orchard and get some apple picking in before the season is over. If anyone knows a good place to go near Houston, let me know!
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