Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

It feels so, so good to be back in the kitchen and having fun baking & cooking again! I mentioned a couple months ago that one of the things I just had to give up while working to take Stephanie Scholl Events full-time was cooking and baking. I am grateful to be able to work from home now, which means I have (slightly) more time to cook healthier meals – and from scratch – and bake desserts and treats. I love having people over, and hospitality is a passion of mine. And I never like to show up to a dinner party, wine night, or book club empty handed! This recipe for chocolate chip banana bread is one that I’ve used for a few years now, and it’s really simple and really delicious. If you didn’t know already, I like baking that is both simple and tasty! And this recipe doubles really, really easily, so you can share a loaf or two with your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers!

bananabread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

adapted from Rachael Ray

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 bananas, mashed

1 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F  & spray a large loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in the oil, bananas and eggs. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about one hour. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely, right side up.

This recipe makes one large loaf, but this recipe can easily be doubled, like I mentioned! It”s a good way to use up mushy bananas, and you can also sub out the chocolate chips, if you really wanted to.

Recipe | Apple, Sausage, & Onion Pizza

pizza

 

The other evening, I had the overwhelming urge to cook. That might sound like a silly urge to have, but it’s true! With so many back to back to back weekends of traveling and then endless weeknight plans and activities (all of them fun!), I realized that I hadn’t actually cooked a full meal in about a month. And that’s sad! I love to cook and be in the kitchen, but, as trite as it may sound, I just hadn’t had the time lately. I can’t complain about all of the exciting weekend travels and the fun weeknights after work, but I was missing time in the kitchen and time to just be. After a little thought, as I rarely ever cancel plans, I kindly asked my friend if I could take a rain check on Monday night’s happy hour plans. Then I headed home – straight after work! what a novel idea! – to run to the grocery store (since I hadn’t been in way too long), go for a beautiful evening run, and settle into the kitchen for a Fall-inspired meal, made from (mostly) scratch. My September issue of Southern Living had a few dog-eared recipes, and that was just the inspiration I needed to settle on a little dinner menu.

Southern Living’s apple flatbread served as my main inspiration for a pizza/flatbread main dish, but I tweaked it to make it perfect for me – and for leftovers for lunches at work throughout the week. Trader Joe’s frozen naan is often an ideal solution (with four frozen naan), as it serves as the perfect base and is already portioned out. A ricotta base and topping of caramelized onions, sliced apples, and chicken and apple sausage were the perfect accompaniments, and the flavors melded together seamlessly. I also had been craving arugula lately, which is typically one of my least favorite salad greens. I think my mind has been changed, though, after enjoying a simple arugula & shaved parmesan cheese side salad with a delicious homemade vinaigrette I improvised (which is not hard to do, promise!). I topped off my chicken-apple-sausage and apple and caramelized onion pizza and arugula salad with a crisp white wine from Greece that my sweet sister gave me. It was the perfect evening to be in the kitchen, prepare my ingredients, let time pass by slowly, and savor a fantastic meal on a beautiful early Fall evening.

I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, as it was simply marvelous, quite inexpensive, and seriously easy to make. Enjoy!

Apple, Chicken Sausage, & Caramelized Onion Pizza

Ingredients:

four pieces of naan

1 package of chicken and apple sausage, sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 apples, thinly sliced

1 lemon

1 container of ricotta

salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, to taste

Directions:

Thinly slice up the red onion, and caramelize it on the stove. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Juice one lemon, and add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to ricotta cheese, stir. Lightly brown sliced chicken and apple sausage in a separate pan from onions. Thinly slice up apples. Bake naan (plain with no toppings yet) in 400 degree oven for two minutes. Once onions and sausage are cooked, begin assembling your pizza. Top each naan with about two dollops of the ricotta mixture, and spread evenly. Then add your caramelized onion, chicken and apple sausage, and apple slices evenly to each pizza. Once assembled, bake for two minutes and then broil for one minute. Yum!

Recipe | Pad Thai Two Ways

Is anyone else a huge lover of pad thai?! Pad thai is my favorite Thai dish (like many Americans, I know), and sometimes I can’t get enough of it – it’s that addictive. It’s the perfect combination of salty and sweet, has a great tang to it, is loaded with veggies and many of my favorite ingredients, and is so easy to make and recreate. These two recipes below are amazing, delicious, and simple alternatives to pad thai takeout, and I guarantee you’ll love them, too! You also know exactly what is going into your meal by cooking it from scratch, which is nice to know.

 

Pad Thai

[adapted from Brownies for Dinner]

1 box of fettucine noodles (more cost efficient and easier to make than rice noodles – and tastes the same to me!)

4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 squirts  Sriracha
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 green onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts

  1. Boil noodles (according to package) & drain.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and Sriracha.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add most of the scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add eggs and cook, scraping skillet with spatula until eggs are almost set (about 30 seconds). Transfer eggs to a plate.
  5. Add noodles, scallion greens, and sauce to skillet. Cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are soft (about 1 minute). Add egg mixture and toss to coat, breaking eggs up gently.
  6. Serve noodles with lime wedges, topped with plenty of cilantro and peanuts.
  7. Enjoy!

I’ve made this recipe a few times, and it’s really easy to pull together. You can add chicken or shrimp to it, even! And I think the cilantro and chopped peanuts make the dish – and the leftovers are almost just as good, which is a high praise from me!

padthai

Quinoa Pad Thai

[adapted from Iowa Girl Eats, one of my favorite blogs]

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1-3/4 cups chicken broth or water
2 teaspoons oil, divided
1 cup broccoli slaw mix (or coleslaw)
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
3 green onions, chopped
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro

For the Thai Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon peanut butter
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce

Directions:

  1. Bring chicken broth/water to a boil in a saucepan then add rinsed quinoa. Place a lid on top then lower heat and cook until quinoa has absorbed chicken broth, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork then set aside. (Can be done ahead of time.)
  2. Combine all sauce ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl then microwave for 20 seconds. Stir until smooth then set aside. Whisk together egg and sesame oil in a small bowl then set aside.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a wok over high heat. Add broccoli slaw mix, frozen edamame, and green onions. Stir fry until tender, 2-3 minutes, then push to outsides of wok, creating a clear space in the center. Add egg whisked with sesame oil to center of wok then stir fry until soft scrambled.
  4. Add quinoa, sauce, and half the chopped peanuts to wok then toss to combine. Serve with remaining chopped peanuts and plenty of cilantro.
  5. Enjoy!

The minute I saw this recipe, I knew I had to recreate it. And it was SO good – quite possibly better than noodle-based pad thai! It was simple to make and the leftovers were just as good as the original dish. I will definitely be making this again – yum!

How do you feel about pad thai? Will you try either of these recipes? I’d love to hear!