I made these tasty treats for an Easter party & want to keep making them every Sunday. Banana bread is one of my favorite foods, but these little muffins are a big twist on the classic. They have fresh blueberries mixed in & an oat streusel topping with crumbled banana chips, yum! 

Blueberry Banana Bread ingredients: 2-3 bananas, 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 6 tablespoons butter, 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

preheat oven to 350. mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt & cinnamon. in another bowl, mix bananas, buttermilk, melted butter & egg. mix the two bowls together & fold in blueberries. for a loaf of bread bake 60min, for muffins bake 15min.

Oatmeal Streusel ingredients: 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup chopped banana chips, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter (chopped), 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

combine all ingredients with fingers & sprinkle ontop of loaf or muffins before baking.

David & I have been having major veggie cravings lately with all the delicious spring produce coming in season. We found this zucchini fritter recipe in Food&Wine magazine & made a little cucumber yogurt dip & side salsa to go with it. Very fresh & very fun to make!

Zucchini Fritters

ingredients: 4 zucchinis, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1/4 cup chopped mint, 1/2 cup feta cheese

shred zucchinis with cheese shredder or a mandolin, sprinkle with salt & let sit for 5 minutes. squeeze out zucchini & mix in large bowl with all other ingredients plus salt & pepper. refrigerate batter for 10 minutes. heat 1/2 inch of veg. oil in saucepan in oven at 350. after oil is heated, set on stove next to a baking sheet covered in papertowels. drop spoonfuls of zucchini batter into the oil a few at a time. turn the fritters over a few times & after 2-3minutes, transfer to baking sheet.

Cucumber Yogurt Dip

ingredients: 1 cucumber, 1 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped mint

peel & chop cucumber then puree in food processor or blender. add to bowl with yogurt & mint + salt & pepper. done! (keep cold, yum!)

Tomato Cucumber Salsa

ingredients: 1 tomato, 1 cucumber, 2 tablespoons olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons chopped mint, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

dice tomato & cucumber, drizzle with olive oil & lemon juice. mix everything together & serve cold.

The trips to San Francisco & the treats we ate there inspired Dave & I to try a homemade version of our favorite San Francisco snack.

We started at our local market where the wide variety of spices are serve-yourself & you pay by weight. We choose our curry & accompanying spices & headed home to make our attempt at an authentic Indian Curry. 

Like most recipes, we started with 1 diced onion & a few cloves of chopped garlic simmering in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Then we added our spice mix. The measurements for the spice mix are completely up to you, if you like spicy or sweet or salty. Ours was an equal 1:1 ratio (tablespoons) for all spices, except curry powder which was 3x more than the rest of the mix.

[Spice Mix:  curry powder, paprika, cinnamon, bay leaf, sugar, salt, & grated fresh ginger root]

optional: add chicken, cut into strips, to spice mix & cook until done (about 5minutes)

In a small bowl, mix: 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 can coconut milk, & 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Add to pan & simmer, covered, for 20minutes.

When the curry smell has filled your kitchen, it’s ready! Remove the bay leaf, add more spice (cayenne pepper) if you’d like & enjoy! We ate ours with bread, but rice or authentic naan bread would be delicious too!

When planning our picnic on the beach, we wanted to pick something fresh, cold & satisfying. My go-to picnic food is chicken salad, & I love creating new versions of the classic. My mom makes a delicious one with cheddar cheese, green grapes & shell pasta. I also love the sweet chicken salad with cranberries & walnuts. David & I decided to merge these favorites into one. We made a big batch so I could pack leftovers for my lunch.

ingredients: 4 chicken breasts, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup green grapes (sliced in half), 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. (grapes & walnuts amounts to taste)

1. boil chicken until cooked, then chop into cubes

2. combine yogurt, mayo, grapes, & walnuts in large bowl

3. mix together, add salt & pepper, & viola! 

Chicken salad is a great way to use up leftover ingredients into a new, yummy dish. You could use berries, nuts, cheeses, herbs, spices, even vegetables!

My new job as a nanny has many, many benefits. One is the mother’s sweet tooth, sweet enough to match mine! She has thousands of dessert recipes & encourages me to bake (&eat) them anytime I want.

While scavenging for a perfect Valentine’s Day cupcake recipe, I stumbled upon a recipe for “baked cheesecakes.” These adorable individual cheesecakes are baked in a cupcake pan so they are perfect size for a mid day treat as well as a late night dessert.

Besides being my all time favorite dessert, these miniature cheesecakes remind me of my mom. She used to make a recipe similar to this, but with nilla waffers as the bottom crust, & pack them with my lunch every day.

ingredients: 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, 5 tablespoons melted butter, 2 cups ricotta cheese, 2 cups cream cheese, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, 3 eggs, & fresh fruit for topping

1. mix cracker crumbs & butter, press into bottom of cups in a cupcake pan (makes 12).

2. beat ricotta cheese until smooth, then add cream cheese, vanilla, & sugar. slowly add in the eggs.

3. bake at 325 for 25minutes, cool completely, top with berries, bon appetit!

Although the winter season has been full of warm days, I find myself still craving winter classics. To me, the homiest of all winter dishes is homemade soup. The local markets in our new town are filled with fresh, locally grown produce. The winter squashes (butternut, acorn, spaghetti, etc.) always seem to catch my eye with their unique shapes & colors. Even better than their looks, is their unique tastes. My personal favorite winter squash is the butternut squash.

To make a homemade soup, its best to not use a specific recipe, & just add what you like! The best part of soup is its comfort & love, which doesn’t come from a recipe.

David created a butternut squash soup for me using ingredients we already had. A simple (& cheap) tasty treat!

The first key to a deliciously homey soup, is to make your own stock. Depending on your ingredients, you could create a chicken stock, beef stock, or vegetable stock. A classic protein stock is made using the bones, a liquid, & any other favorite ingredients you have. A classic vegetable stock is made with carrots, celery & onion.

David made a vegetable stock for the base of our soup using carrots, onion (I don’t like celery, so we left it out), & his favorite comfort spices.

After the stock has simmered for awhile (the longer the better.. hours!) & the flavors have had time to develop, you can add your main ingredients. In our case: the butternut squash.

Don’t let the unique shapes of many squashes scare you from using them. The basic way to cut them is to: peel, seed & cut. Aim for equal size pieces so that they cook equally.

The only other trick is to taste & season as you go until you are happy with your soup! Serve with biscuits, or alone, for a yummy, comforting meal. Leftovers are just as good (or better) as the first bowl.

Try any combination of your favorite ingredients, making the soup is just as special as enjoying it. Our next homemade winter soup: Acorn Squash!

Last summer, David & I (plus two other lovebugs) traveled across the country, via roadtrip. Enjoying cuisine along the way, we saw & tasted many amazing things. Favorite sights: New Orleans, McWay Falls, & San Fransisco. Favorite tastes: Cafe du Monde, Jambalaya, & Postinos. David & I often reminiscence on these memories, which often leads to craving our favorite tastes. Luckily, my family is from Louisiana, so the New Orleans tastes can be recreated in North Carolina. But the delicious Postino menu we enjoyed in Phoenix, had yet to be recreated.. until now.

Postino Winecafe: A small urban restaurant/winecafe, refurbished from an old Post Office, serving a full menu, but specializing in a variety bruschetta menu. Eleven tempting choices are available, you choose four. 

David & I recreated our favorite Postino bruschettas, & added a few new bruschettas, to create a delicious menu with variety.

Menu:

Brie, Apples, Honey & Fig Spread
Pesto, Tomato & Basil Leaf
Avocado & Crab
Artichoke Spread & Spinach Leaf
Roasted Red Peppers & Goat Cheese
Prosciutto wrapped Mango & Mascarpone

A favorite stayathome date of mine, is making desserts together. Although David & I both love desserts, we have different sweetness tastes. I like rich chocolate (fave chocolate ganache recipe coming soon), pastries, fruits&cremes. David likes dark chocolate, more savory than sweet (see pumpkinpie croissant pudding recipe). So, when we “stumbledupon” a recipe for dark chocolate brownies, it was truly serendipitous. A perfect match of dark & milk chocolate, sweet & rich, gooey & fudgy.



ingredients: 1 stick unsalted butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup 100% dark cocoa, ½ teaspoon each of  salt, baking powder & vanilla extract, 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup chocolate chips (you choose richness level: dark, milk, or semi-sweet. we choose semi-sweet)

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350° & lightly grease a 8″ x 8″ pan

Step 2. Melt butter completely, then stir in the sugar. Reheat mixture again briefly

Step 3. Combine eggs, cocoa, salt, baking powder, & vanilla in large bowl

Step 4. Add the butter mixture to the egg mixture

Step 5. Stir in the flour and chocolate chips

Step 6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes

recipe modified from cravingchronicles.com

Pie is classic. Mason jars are classic. & how classy is it to eat your favorite pie straight out of a jar, with none to share, every night? very.

Prepare all your jars (usually come in a set of 12) with a variety of pies & freeze. Enjoy one pie at a time, always fresh from the oven.

ingredients: frozen pie crust, thawed (1 pie crust = about 3 jars),

Step 1. Decide on type of topping: pie crust or oatmeal crumble. For pie crust toppings, use the lid of a jar as a cookie cutter & cut out circle shapes to top your pies.

Step 2. Line the jars with the dough (you don’t even need to grease them!)

Step 3. Add your fillings. Create any delicious combination of pies you’d like, or stick to your favorite classic.

Create a new filling: basic recipe for 4 jars: start with 2 cups of peeled, diced fruit. add about 2 tablespoons sugar & flower. split 1 tablespoon butter between jars. add seasonings (cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, citrus zest)

Step 4. Top with pie crust lid, or add an oatmeal crumble on top. If covering with lid, you must make a slit, or cut out a design, to allow steam to vent.

Oatmeal Crumble: 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons oats, 1/4 tablespoon cinnamon, 3 tablespoons butter

Step 5. Either bake now (375 for 30-40min) or freeze & enjoy your individual pies one day at a time. If baking from frozen, remove jar lid & place jar on cookie sheet. Put cookie sheet in cold oven, then turn oven to 375. Bake for 40-50min. After cooling, enjoy straight out of the jar, or spoon into bowl. Add vanilla ice cream? yesplease.

recipe from ourbestbites.com

These adorable, individual danishes are a perfect way to start your day. The original recipe was a classic cream cheese danish.. but I just love eating, drinking & decorating with mason jars, so I created a little twist. Make a batch & save them until you are ready to eat, one delicious, creamy, flaky danish at a time.

ingredients: mason jars (half pint size), 1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed, cream cheese, sour cream, 1 egg yolk, lemon, sugar, vanilla extract (recipe makes 4)

Step 1. Mix together 4 oz. cream cheese, 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 egg yolk, zest of lemon, 3 tablespoons sugar, & 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Step 2. Refrigerate mixture for 30minutes

Step 3. Lay the puff pastry flat & cut into four pieces

Step 4. Take each piece of puff pastry & line the inside of a mason jar

Step 5. Split the mixture evenly between the jars & spoon into them

Step 6. Put jar (without lid) on a cookie sheet in a cold oven. Turn on oven to 375 and bake for 20min or put in the freezer & save for a yummy breakfast later. If cooking from frozen, bake at 375 for 40min.

After cooled, enjoy straight from the jar, or spoon onto a plate & eat steamy hot & melted.