the best banana nut bread recipe

I’m a big foodie. I love good food, and boy do I love to eat! It’s the main reason I run so much – to make up for the things I over eat love to eat.  If we’re playing the desert island game, I couldn’t live without bread and cheese.  A loaf of crunchy Italian batard and a big thick wedge of Humbolt Fog, if we’re being specific. Mmmmm…

You’d think since I love to DIY and love to eat, that I’d be a killer cook in the kitchen.  Well, let me prove you wrong by saying I’m a poor cook, my patience runs out quickly, and anything that takes longer than 30 minutes to whip up is not a dish that will make it into my kitchen.  It’s sad, but it’s true.

Apart from bread and cheese, I luuurrrrve baked goods.  I have this banana bread recipe that just so happens to be a hit among many, which I thought I would share with you today! AND guess what –  this recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prep!

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 stick of butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 medium sized, overly ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

1) Mix all the dry ingredients together: Sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon

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2) Add wet ingredients: egg, egg whites, butter, buttermilk

3) Smash bananas in a separate bowl

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4) mix in the bananas & walnuts

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5) Pour the batter into a greased bread loaf pan or cupcake tin.  Bake @ 350-degrees for 50-60 minutes (bread loaf pan) or 45 minutes (cupcake pan)

 

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ENJOY! And I dare you to only eat one…

LoveB

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Homemade peppermint bark recipe

Peppermint-Bark-4

Sugar cookies, baked goods, and seasonal sweets are a few of my favorite things about the holidays.  Although there are many things I love about winter and the holidays, I’d’ have to say there are two things that I love to do most this time of year.  The first is to just sit in front of our family’s fireplace (not ours sadly, we have none!), cuddle with my man or my pups, sip a big cup of hot chocolate or spiced cider, and just relax.  The second? Making peppermint bark.

Now, before I go on taking all the credit for this recipe, I must first ‘site my source’ and admit this recipe evolved from my best friend‘s recipe.  I wouldn’t know my way around peppermint bark if it weren’t for her!

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the bakery is open!

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We celebrated the grand opening of Emi’s Biscotteria this last weekend! It was a major success.  Italian cookie lovers from all over town came to celebrate Emi’s big day.  Emi offered free samples, coffee, and stories of how her cookie journey began.  The wonderful ladies in Emi’s family (my soon to be in-laws!) have baked these very same cookies from recipes they carried over from Italy.  Italian women keep these recipes under lock and key, and only trusted daughters are handed these recipes as generations pass.  Emi wed her entrepreneurial spirit with her love of baking and this amazing biscotteria was born!

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photography + food, and a bakery

Emi's biscotteria

Hello! I wanted to share with you an exciting side project I’ve been working on.  My soon-to-be sister-in-law is in the process of opening up her first store, and I’m helping her with the interior design!  She envisioned a rustic Italian cafe – mis-matched woods against white walls, a stark contrast of chalkboards and gilded frames… totally up my ally.  She knew I could help execute her vision.

While we’ve worked a lot on the interior, it’s not yet complete.  I will definitely share with you the grand reveal once the store is ready.  In the mean time, I wanted to share with you a yummy photography session I had with Emi’s cookies!

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can I kishu?

"Can I kichu?" I asked this very question to my BF last night, my mouth stuffed full of kishu mandarins – my new favorite citrus fruit, yummy!  I thought I was being quite clever! He, on the other hand, thought I was being a nerd.

 

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Have you ever tasted a kishu mandarin? Oh. My. Goodness. They are so sweet, they taste like candy.  The skin is thin and peels right off.  Each kishu is roughly the size of a ping pong ball.

 

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I have to thank my coworkers for introducing me to these remarkable mini oranges.  I haven't been able to get them off my mind.  I need to restock before they're gone!

 

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Chances are you won't find them in a chain grocery store.  I buy my kishus at a local, independently owned grocery store called Berkeley Bowl.  Apparently I have been living under a rock for the last two years, everyone who lives or works in the Berkeley area shops at Berkeley Bowl. I'm embarrassed to say, my first time in the store was two weeks ago. 

I was living quite comfortably under the Trader Joe's bubble.  Now, my eyes have been opened to exceptional grocery store awesomesauce!  If you need any suggestions, try their fresh kale salad for lunch, pumpkin & white cheddar tamales and fresh pozole for dinner. Mmmmmm, I'm drooling…

Xoxobrittanymakes_2

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a berry Valentine’s Day dessert

Happy Valentine's day everybody! I hope you all have special plans tonight, whether it be with your family, friends, special someone, or just kickin' it solo.  I plan to cook up an all American man's meal tonight – steak & potatoes! Super original, right?  Well, we actually never cook steak, so it is a treat for us. I might even wrap the steak in bacon! Droool.

If dinner wasn't already fat-kid enough, I'm still deciding on what to make for dessert… to help me decide, I gathered a list of my favorites.  Here are 5 no-fail, incredibly easy and delicious desserts:

 

#1 The Brownie & Berry Trifle

via

Trifle

I have a box of brownie mix at home, I could whip this up so easy! Make the easy version by grabbing whipped cream, fresh berries, and brownie mix.  Crumble up the brownies and layer in a cup with the berries and whipped cream.  Delish! Not a fan of brownies? Substitute with angel food cake and turn it into a strawberry shortcake.  This is a classic favorite.

 

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a taste of Italy weekend

Paging all fellow Californians! Can you believe the weather this winter? It was so hot, I was out jogging yesterday wearing a tank top and shorts! Trust me, I need to soak up as much vitamin D as possible.  If it makes you feel any better, I was wishing all you folks were able to enjoy your January Sunday in sunshine. 

We had a fantastic weekend.  My boyfriend's family came up to visit, and we had what I like to call 'a taste of Italy' weekend.  My BF's family are straight from Italy.  His Dad's from Venice, his Mom's from Sicily… let's just say they know their stuff when it comes to Italian food. 

source

Penne-meat-sauce

We spent all day saturday in San Francisco, walking the Embarcadero, and eating at Caesar's, arguably  the most authentic Italian restaurant in the Bay Area.  We also picked up some sweets at Victoria's Italian Bakery.  Our favorite is the crostata, it tastes like a giant jam filled cookie and looks like a pie.  We all bit into it before I could snap a photo…

 

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The next must-have Italian snack is the focaccia at Liguria's Bakery in North Beach.  The focaccia is to die for.  People line up first thing in the morning to buy sheets of focaccia, and they sell out by 10am every day. Throw a piece in the oven for a couple minutes, best appetizer ever.

 

Pizza

 

My BF's sister owns an Italian cookie company in Monterey, CA.  We woke up Sunday morning to her making everyone some fresh pizzelles. 

 

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Have you ever had pizzelles? They're so easy to make, butter, eggs, flour, sugar… you just need to get a pizzelle press.  So crunchy and delish!

 

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I'm a very lucky gal to be welcomed into my boyfriend's big loving family.  They are wonderful and so caring, and we love it when they come to visit.  If you get the chance to dine at Caesar's, be sure to order the warm zabaione for dessert.  You won't find anything like it anywhere else!

Xoxobrittanymakes

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Toasty Broccoli and Extra Sharp Cheddar Soup

Hey friends! Sorry it's been a couple days, I've had a bad cold since Sunday and it has completely wiped out all my energy. I did, however work on a big new project this weekend, but I wasn't able to finish it in one day, unfortunately. I'm really excited about it, and I planning to complete it by this weekend so I can share it with you.  Today, however, I'm going to share with you a meal I made last night that was SOOO amazingly delicious and simple, I just can't keep it to myself.  I wasn't even planning to share it with you, so I didn't take any photos, grr! To be honest, I've been hesitant to share any recipes and I wasn't sure if I wanted to add recipes to my blog, but this soup has changed my mind.

It's finally cold and chilly where I live. I know, I know, I can't complain. I still live in California, but I did have to scrape ice off my window the last couple mornings! Cold weather gets me in the mood for cozy, fat-kid, comfort food Last night I really wanted to make some soup and grilled cheese, something warm and cozy to help with my cold.

I love to cook, and I think I'm fairly good at it, but I usually need inspiration from a recipe or the Food Network to make new meals outside of 'the usual'.  Also, I do 90% of my shopping at Trader Joes, which is a fabulous place to shop, however I think because of it I tend to get stuck in a cooking routine. 

 

image borrowed from Google

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Ingredients you need:

2 tbs Olive oil

2 medium onions, yellow or white, diced

16 oz broccoli (I used 2 – 8 oz bags of broccoli from Trader Joe's)

5-6 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 cups heavy cream (1 pint)

2 tsp salt, to taste

fresh ground pepper, to taste

8 oz extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese (I used Trader Joe's extra extra sharp New York cheddar, it's deliciously crumbly), shredded

toasted crusty bread for serving or dipping

 

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven (I used my Le Creuset), warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the broccoli and sauté for about another 5 minutes, or until golden brown (and lightly crispy).  Add the cream, broth, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a low simmer for about 10 minutes, until the broccoli is tender and easily pierced with a fork.

Next, with an immersion blender or a standard blender, blend the soup into a puree.  I don't own an immersion blender, so I scooped and poured the soup into a standard blender, pulsed it for 10 seconds, poured it back into the pot, and repeated until nearly completely pureed.  I like a few chunks of broccoli in my soup, but you can also puree it completely.

Finally, once the soup is pureed to your liking, add the shredded sharp cheddar and stir until melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup immediately with toasted bread.  Add a little cheese on top for garnish. There's no such thing as too much cheese!

This recipe serves 6 to 8, depending on how healthy of a serving you're getting :)

 

 

I have some left overs for lunch, I'm so excited!

Enjoy!

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Super Simple French Lavender Lemonade

Hey readers! It's summer where you are, right? Well, today it's a little overcast here in the bay area.  I've spent all day fantasizing what it was like last week, when summer was actually alive and I didn't have to wear socks with my shoes.  All day I've been thinking of my favorite things about summer: ponytails, tank-tops, sandals, BBQ's, froyo, bike rides, tanned skin, fireworks… the list goes on! I also thought of my favorite beverage of summer: an icy glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. 

I lucked out. Our neighbors with the giant lemon tree in their front yard just moved out! Score! My BF and I ran over and stealthily picked all the ginormous ripe lemons off the tree, then ran home.  Look how big they are!

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They smell soooo good too! The lemons from the grocery store never smell this good! Can you smell them? I'm wafting their fragrance over to you right now :P These lemons only had one calling – to quench my thirst for some icy-cold summery lemonade!

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