Banana Bread with Sugar Crust

One of my favorite comfort foods is Banana Bread.  I cannot resist picking one up when I go to  the Farmer’s Market or try a new bakery.  Of all the banana bread that I have tried, this recipe has to be my absolute favorite.  It is a moist, dense, buttery cake and the white sugar crust is a welcome surprise with each bite.  Enjoy!


Banana Bread Recipe:

1 stick Butter

1½cups White Sugar

2 Eggs

2-3 Medium Bananas (very ripe)

1t. Vanilla

2 cups of Flour

1t Baking Soda

½t. Baking Powder

½ t. Salt

1½t. Cinnamon

1cup chopped pecans (optional)

Extra White Sugar for over the top.

To Make:

In large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs, bananas and vanilla.

In smaller bowl, sift and mix the dry ingredients.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until incorporated.

Pour into a large greased bread pan or into a muffin tin.  Sprinkle the top of the mix with extra white sugar.

Cook at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour or until cooked through.



TGIF – The Baasen Bootleg Recipe




The Bootleg is our new favorite summer sipper.  We can’t imagine any drink being more refreshing on a hot summer day!  In fact, we had the pleasure of being introduced to this drink this past 4th of July by our friends, Robin and Andrew Baasen of Lake Bluff.  It is thought that this citrus, minty drink originated at a country club in Minnesota, however, it is still unclear which one.  One thing is clear, however, we think that our friends recipe for this drink is the best!   How cute to serve it out of Jam Jars or these.  Enjoy!

Bootleg Mix:
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 can frozen limeade concentrate
Between 1 to 1.5 cups of finely chopped fresh mint
Blend all ingredients in blender or w/ hand blender

In a lowball glass over ice add vodka or gin, one shot of bootleg mix, top off w/ soda & wedge of lime.

(image taken from here)


Summer Must Haves


Here are some more  “must haves” for a casual summer dinner from Anthropologie.  What to serve?  See below!


Asparagus Panzanella


  • 1 pound medium asparagus
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 small tomatoes, such as red, Green Zebra, or yellow, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
  • 3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 6 one-half-inch-thick slices country-style bread, crust on, torn into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Snap off and discard the tough ends of asparagus. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil; prepare an ice bath. Cook asparagus until bright green and just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer immediately to ice bath. Drain; place on a clean kitchen towel.
  2. In a large bowl, combine asparagus, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, olives, capers, and bread; toss to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together red-wine vinegar and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Pour vinaigrette over asparagus mixture, and toss until well coated. Let sit until bread absorbs juices, and serve.
(recipe and images can be found here)

Pomodoro Al Forno


This dish is so easy and so delicious.  What’s so special about pasta with tomato sauce and cheese, you ask?  Try it and see.  You won’t be disappointed. Serve with a salad and crusty bread… maybe a side of meatballs or sausage and you’ll have a meal the entire family will love. We promise.

P.S. Invite some friends to share because there will be plenty.

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Pomodoro al Forno

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• extra virgin olive oil
• 1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced (I omit the garlic)
• 1 or 2 dried red chilies, crumbled (I didn’t have any, so I used 1/3 teaspoon of dried cayenne)
• 3 ½ lb• ripe tomatoes or 3 14-oz• cans of good-quality plum tomatoes
• a large handful of fresh basil leaves (I didn’t have any, so I used 1 – 1.5 teaspoons basil)
• optional: 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 14 oz• dried orecchiette ( I used 2 boxes of penne)
• 4 big handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 3 5-oz balls of mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 400ºF and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Heat a couple of lugs of extra virgin olive oil in an appropriately sized pan. Add your onion, garlic and chili and slowly fry for about 10 minutes on a medium to low heat until softened but without any color. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, remove the core with the tip of a small knife, plunge them into the boiling water for about 40 seconds until their skin starts to come away, then remove with a slotted spoon or sieve and remove the pan from the heat.

Put the tomatoes into a bowl and run cold water over them, then slide the skins off, squeeze out the seeds, and roughly chop. Add your fresh or canned tomatoes to the onion and garlic, with a small glass of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes. Now put them through a food processor or blender to make a loose sauce. Tear your basil leaves into the sauce and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper and a little swig of red wine vinegar.

When the sauce tastes perfect, bring the water back to the boil. Add the orecchiette to the water and cook according to the packet instructions, then drain and toss with half of the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmesan. Get yourself an appropriately sized baking pan or earthenware dish and rub it with a little olive oil. Layer a little pasta in the pan, followed by some tomato sauce, a handful of grated Parmesan and 1 sliced-up mozzarella ball, then repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients, ending with a good layer of cheese on top. Pop it into the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden, crisp and bubbling.



TGIF – What’s Better Than Confetti…


Confetti Glasses!  Just as you cannot have enough serve ware during the summer, you can never have enough glasses.  We love these confetti glasses from Anthropologie.   They would be perfect paired with your favorite margarita recipe.  Or, try one of our favorites –   the Watermelon Margarita.

3 cups fresh seedless watermelon pulp
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups simple syrup
1 1/2 cups premium silver tequila
1/2 cup triple sec
3 cups ice

Place watermelon in a bowl and use a potato masher to extract as much juice as possible. Transfer pulp and juice to a pitcher and add lime juice, simple syrup, triple sec and tequila. Stir. Add 3 cups of ice and refrigerate
for 30 minutes. Stir and serve over ice.
(image and recipe from anthropologie.com)

Tomato Pie.

I love these pie dishes from Emile Henry especially this Artisian Ruffled version.  Each pie dish is made on France and shaped from Burgundian clay, which absorbs, distributes and retains heat evenly, to help ensure pies bake and brown to perfection. It is also microwave, oven, dishwasher, freezer and broiler safe.  This version of the Emile Henry pie dish can only be found at Williams-Sonoma.  The perfect recipe to pair with this beautiful dish and one of my favorite recipes, is a Tomato Pie.  Recipe below.  Enjoy.


  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 (9-inch) prebaked deep dish pie shell
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.

Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

To serve, cut into slices and serve warm.


Pass the Quinoa!

You never can have enough serveware – especially in the summer with all of the outdoor picnics and parties.   This liquid round yellow bowl from cb2 is perfect for serving any side dish and it is on sale now for $29.95.  We have also included one of our favorite “sides” for the summer.  If you are looking to make it a main dish, just add some grilled meat, chicken or shrimp.  Oh, and  definitely pour yourself a Chelada or two.  Enjoy!

Tex Mex Quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa (preferably red)

1 cup water

Juice and zest of one lime, about 1.5-2 oz. juice, and 1-2 teaspoons zest

Kosher or sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 scallions chopped

1 cup roasted red/yellow bell peppers, chopped

1.5 to 2 cups cups black beans

1/4 cup chopped red onion (optional)

1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped cucumber (optional)

1 cup corn (optional)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped

  1. Make quinoa according to directions on the package.
  2. In a large serving bowl, whisk the lime juice with the zest, a pinch or two of salt, the chili powder, chipotle powder, and the cumin. Add the olive oil and whisk until the dressing comes together.
  3. Add the quinoa to the dressing and toss. Add the scallions, red peppers, black beans, and cilantro and toss well to combine. Garnish with additional cilantro and lime zest, if desired.  Add more salt and pepper to taste, as desired.

(Recipe adapted from Food 52.  Image from cb2)



It’s Chelada time!  For those of you that aren’t familiar with a Chelada, simply, it is a doctored Mexican beer.  I had a taste last weekend and thought, “why don’t I drink these all the time”?  There is no “right” way to make one – tap into your inner mixologist and make it to suit your taste.  Enjoy!  Recipe for Chelada below.

  • Coarse salt
  • Ice
  • Juice from one large lime (or as many as you like)
  • 1 12 oz. bottle light lager (preferably a Mexican beer, but not required)
  • Lime wedge for garnish
Salt the rim of a large, tall glass. Fill with ice and add the lime juice. Top up with the beer. Garnish with the lime wedge. Drink.
(image from beer.about.com)


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Thai One On



2 t Canola oil or Olive Oil
1.5 cup sliced mushrooms (if you like mushrooms add more)
1 cup chopped bell pepper (red, yellow, green or orange)
4t minced peeled fresh ginger (if you don’t have any fresh ginger use 2t dried ginger)
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 (3-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved lengthwise (optional)
2t sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
4 cups Chicken Broth
1 and 1/4 cup light coconut milk (If you only have regular use 2/3 of the can)
4t fish sauce
1T sugar
2cups shredded cooked chicken breast (I used a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup green onion strips
3T chopped fresh cilantro
2T fresh lime juice

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms and the next 4 ingredients (through lemongrass); cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chile paste; cook 1 minute. Add Chicken Stock/Chicken Broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken to pan; cook 1 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Discard lemongrass. Top with onions, cilantro, and juice.

*** If you want, you could omit chicken and just double up on veggies and I think it would still be delicious! Or, add shrimp instead of chicken. Enjoy!

(image from Cooking Lights.  Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)