Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Anyone else struggling to find their calm in the midst of this tumultuous time? My catering business has been anything but stable and reliable lately. In all honesty, it's not unusual for my business to go through periods where orders trickle in slowly and times when I can barely keep up with customer requests. I've owned my business long enough that I learned to anticipate the natural flow of the business. To enjoy the rest in the quiet times and the thrill of being up to my ears in orders during my busiest weeks.
I've had to deal with some very unusual circumstances in my business this year. More than just the natural ebb and flow of the catering world. Maybe this is the reason that I find myself having a much harder time "rolling with it" lately. The reason that I seem to get more flustered when a curve ball gets thrown into my plans. Or maybe it doesn't have anything at all to do with my inner peace. Perhaps my lack of centered-ness is the result of the heightened emotions that everyone is experiencing during this pandemic.
By definition, I am most definitely not a yogi. 🧘🏻♀️ Even though I enjoyed taking yoga classes, I attended a only handful classes every year for the past several years. But with my emotions so all over the place this past month, I've taken quite a few classes and found more comfort in it than ever before. Unfortunately, the yoga studio that I was attending, is closing its doors at the end of the month. 😢 So I will try take the calming principles that I learned in yoga and apply them. 😬
Since I don't have yoga classes to go to for relaxation anymore - I guess I'll just be a stress baker. (Why couldn't I have been a stress cleaner?😂 That would've been much easier on my waistline.) I've always found peace and comfort in my kitchen. I don't know why I find so much pleasure in the aroma of something sweet in the oven but for some reason, it soothes my soul. 🍞💁🏻♀️ So right now, we have a record number of loaves of banana bread in the freezer. 😅 It's probably not the best way for me to deal with my anxiety but it works for me. 🍌
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
4 bananas, mashed
1 cup brown sugar
10 Tablespoons butter
4 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons sugar
Remove from pan and slice.
I'm so thankful that I have my faith in God to rely on when things start spinning out of control. I can only imagine what kind of crazy person I would be if I didn't have that grounding force in my life. 🤣 I'm so grateful for the peace that He's put in my heart - despite my circumstances.
Where are my work from home peeps? I've had a home based business for the last 11 years and although 2020 has had its own set of unique challenges, my work environment changed only minimally. I'm fortunate that I was able to continue to accept and fulfill catering orders throughout this difficult and most unusual time.
I recognize that my situation was somewhat unusual. Most people have experienced a much more drastic change in their work life in the last 6 months. Some people had to risk their own lives and take extreme precautions just to able to go to work. Other people had to figure out how to do their job remotely without interacting with anyone face to face. Not to mention the fact that some of these people had to juggle doing their jobs at home while parenting young children at the same time. 👶🏻And a certain percentage of people lost their jobs altogether as a result of this terrible virus. Watching people adjust and adapt to these new challenges has given me hope that we are all more flexible and resilient than I ever believed.
I've noticed that more businesses are starting to reopen and people are slowly starting to go back to work in my neighborhood but there still is a large percentage of people that continue to work from home. My husband is one of those people who is doing some of his work remotely from home. And even though he will deny it ... I'm convinced that he schedules his work from home days in conjunction with my baking days. (He's all about the scraps.) 😅🧁 We're both adjusting to the fact that there are two of us now sharing the kitchen during the day. (aka my workspace between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm) 😂
I'm not in the habit of stopping to eat lunch everyday at noon. I've been known to nibble on cake scraps or snack on a bag of baby carrots when I get hungry but I certainly don't interrupt my cooking to stop and prepare lunch for myself. 🥕 Apparently, a bag of carrots doesn't qualify as "lunch" for my work from home husband. 🤷🏻♀️ I'm still working on trying to schedule in time to make and eat lunch with my favorite guy on the days that he works from home.
It's not always easy to come up with lunch ideas. I don't pack lunch boxes anymore so I don't keep those kinds of foods in the house. 🥪 Heating leftovers is always my first option for a quick lunch but if we're out of leftovers - I draw a blank. The struggle to come up with healthy lunch options is real. Hello, tuna. 🐟My dear, delicious, and always in my pantry, fishy friend. I'm kind of obsessed with these Tuna Melts because they're quick and easy and most importantly - hubby approved.
5 ounce can solid white tuna in water
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon chopped onion
2 Tablespoons bread and butter pickles, chopped
1 stalk celery, minced
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 slices white sandwich bread
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 slices deli sharp cheddar cheese
2 slices American cheese
Cut in half and serve.
I want to hear from my work from home readers. What are you eating for lunch? I want to hear from parents of virtual learners? What are you feeding your kids for lunch? Help a girl out. I need more lunch ideas.
Fish recipes. Why is it so hard to convince ourselves that fish recipes are the perfect choice for quick and easy weeknight meals? For some reason, cooking fish just seems like a daunting task. Chicken - we know what to do with that. Ground beef - easy peasy. But we tend to get a little freaked out about fish recipes and it's easy to talk ourselves out it and grab a package of ground beef instead. This is what runs through my head when I plan to cook a fish recipe: How do I even cook fish? How will I know when it's done? Will anyone even like it?
I get it. I'm with you on the uncertain feelings that come with fish recipes - and I cook fish at least once a week. It's still hard for me even to look at a fish in the seafood counter and envision myself cooking it up for dinner. 🐟 The weird thing is that I LOVE fish - all seafood for that matter - so I don't know why I get anxious about cooking it.
Some fish recipes just seem too good to be true. Can I really just sprinkle my fish with a little salt and pepper, drizzle it with lemon and stick it in the oven to bake? My brain tries to tell me that a good fish recipe really can't be that simplistic and that I need to put more effort into it to make it taste good. The reality is that the less I do to my fish - the better it turns out. (The less is more strategy works for most of my recipes, really.) 💁🏻♀️
Halibut is one of my very favorite types of fish to cook. It's a flaky white fish but it still has some "beef" to it. I feel like I've eaten a meal when I finish a halibut filet. 😅 This Halibut Puttanesca is one of the easiest ways to cook it. It's simple, it's quick and it's super delicious.
4 halibut filets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, minced
5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 Tablespoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Transfer skillet to 375 degree oven and bake 13-16 minutes.
Transfer halibut to plates. Spoon sauce over fish and sprinkle with parsley.
A simple green salad and a slice of whole wheat bread was all that I served with this delicious halibut. (The bread was super handy to soak up all the extra delicious sauce that I didn't want to go to waste.) 😉
Spanish Style Green Beans
It’s no secret that most Americans don’t incorporate enough vegetables into their diets. When I feel like I need to eat more veggies, my go-to favorites are broccoli, corn and green beans. They're easy to find all year long and they're relatively simple to prepare. Oh, and my family is much more likely to eat them than beets or squash or kohlrabi. 🥦
If I had to choose a favorite vegetable, it would be green beans. They’re high in fiber, low in sodium, and a good source of folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and other essential nutrients. I grew up on canned green beans and because of that, there's a special place in my heart for salty canned beans. But my absolute favorites are fresh green beans in overflowing bins at the grocery stores and the farmers markets. I'm the girl who patiently stands in front of the bin of beans at the grocery store and carefully and purposefully inspects each and every bean before adding it to my bag. (#sorrynotsorry)
I've made ultra fancy green bean dishes to elevate the flavor, but frankly, green beans are just as delicious with a sprinkle of salt and a little bit of butter. I've steamed them, roasted them, blanched them, and tossed them into a salad. I've also been known to made a meal out of a heaping mound of perfectly seasoned and slightly crunchy green beans.
Like I said earlier, it really doesn't take much to make a fresh green bean really exceptional. A few simple ingredients and a handful of slivered almonds is all it takes for this girl to devour some green beans. I adapted this recipe from America's Test Kitchen and I'm not exactly sure what makes them uniquely "Spanish" but I decided to stay true to the recipe and keep the name. If you've got some inside information on the origin of Spanish Style Green Beans - please share it with me.
Spanish Style Green Beans
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 ounce prosciutto, sliced into 1/4" ribbons
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving dish.
Drizzle sauce over beans and serve.
Since summer is coming to an end, it's getting harder and harder to find fresh green beans in my local supermarket. That's usually my clue that it's time to transition back to canned or frozen green beans. If you've got a favorite recipe using frozen or canned beans - send it to me. I would love to see it. I definitely need to spice up my winter vegetable repertoire.
Fish en Papillote
This classic cookbook always maintained a permanent spot on my cookbook shelf and every once in a while, I get it down to dust it but it's been a loooooong time since I've opened up this old friend and flipped through its pages.
I'm not sure what possessed me to grab this book off the shelf last week, maybe it was nostalgia, but I had this sudden urge to look through the cookbook that I used to depend on so faithfully. I will admit that I was really surprised when I opened it. I guess I expected the recipes to be outdated and somewhat old fashioned. What I found was quite the opposite. There were recipes for homemade fondant and brioche, crepes suzette and bloody marys!! 🍹
The fish recipes were the ones that really stood out to me though. Wild rice stuffed fish, grilled halibut with sherry sauce and fish en papillote. (which means "Fish in paper.") 🐟 Why have I never made these amazing delicious sounding recipes before? My only explanation is that when I first started cooking, I steered clear of anything that sounded remotely fancy or complicated. Tuna casseroles and oven baked salmon were more in my comfort zone in the early 90s.
After a 20 year hiatus from my Better Homes and Garden Cook Book, I feel like I'm looking at with a new perspective now. A few more years of cooking experience under my belt has made me less apprehensive about messing up a recipe. (#theresalwayspizza) I'm also more comfortable with putting my own twist on a recipe by swapping out ingredients than I was when I first started cooking.
Fish en Papillote is one of the first recipes that caught my eye. It's a simple way to prepare fish but it's an elegant way to serve it. I love all of the flavors in the sauce too. You can make it rich and creamy by using whole milk or lighter and thinner by substituting lemon juice and white wine. Fresh herbs are a nice addition to this little flavor packet too. 🌿😉
Fish en Papillote
4 fish filets
1 cup water
2 lemon slices
1 bay leaf
1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules)
1 carrot, sliced thin
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup milk
To serve, transfer a fish packet to each plate. Cut an x in the top and peel back the paper. Viola - deliciously simple and elegant fish dinner!
Now I feel like I have a new whole new collection of recipes to explore and I couldn't be more excited. If you happen to have one of these cookbooks that's been sitting on your shelf for quite a while, I highly recommend dusting it off and flipping through it. And if you use this cookbook regularly - I want to know which recipes you love.
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