I’ve been on a banana bread kick lately, mainly because I keep finding myself with speckled bunches on my counter. Not wanting to leave the fruit to waste, my kitchen’s output of banana bread has been high. Perhaps I’ve subconsciously been buying too much as an excuse to take out my loaf pan, but so far no one has complained.
For my last go-around, I was craving the type of recipe I imagine most grandmothers have handwritten and stowed away in their recipe boxes. Although I love finding ways to gussy up the traditional loaf, I wanted to find a good base recipe — one that’s perfect on its own but would taste fabulous with chocolate too.
Flour Bakery’s Famous Banana Bread is just that. It requires only the most basic of ingredients and is easy to make, as all quick breads should be. Most importantly, you can really taste the banana. The tiniest addition of sour cream balances the sweetness, while the cinnamon and vanilla add comforting warmth to each bite. One piece makes a delightful morning treat, but I find myself sneaking bites at all hours throughout the day.
Tips to consider for your next loaf of banana bread
I used to be indifferent to football. These days, however, you can find me sporting an Eli Manning jersey and checking stats for my Fantasy team. Perhaps dating a diehard Giants fan and living with two guys has influenced my change of heart. But really, I think it’s the food that won me over. There’s an unspoken rule that all food eaten on Sunday should be of the comfort food variety, and I’m OK with that. An excuse to eat nachos, wings and brownies? Count me in.
For a recent Sunday night game, I made cinnamon-sugar soft pretzels. Chewy, with a slight crunch from the buttery sugar coating, they tasted just like the famous ones that tempt you at malls and airports — and they smelled equally amazing. Even after a quarter filled with fumbles and turnovers, my frustrated friends couldn’t help but be giddy while my pretzels baked in the oven.
Although I try a variety of recipes and techniques, my baking repertoire is largely reflective of my unyielding craving for chocolate. I appreciate most types of desserts, but my search for the best chocolate chip cookie and most fudgy brownie tends to dominate my kitchen agenda. Come spring, however, my sweet tooth changes. Instead of dreaming of all things cocoa, I find myself wanting desserts like Rhubarb Pie, Lemon Bars and Strawberry Shortcake.
You can’t go wrong with Strawberry Shortcake. Ruby red strawberries, fluffy whipped cream and straight-from-the-oven cream biscuits are stacked together to create the ultimate springtime treat. Even if you don’t consider yourself a baker, this recipe is a breeze. Effort and time required for measuring and mixing is minimal.
While my friends will never turn down a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, I’m pretty sure this sweet and tart dessert came as a pleasant surprise. There’s a reason strawberry shortcake is so popular at parties and special occasions: It’s downright tasty. But really, any day is a good day for this homey dessert. All you need is good company and you’ve got yourself a reason to head to the store for strawberries.
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You don’t need to prepare a three-course meal to be a good host(ess). You don’t even need to plan far in advance. When gathering friends for a last-minute soiree, snacks are the way to go. So skip the forks and knives, and stick to simple appetizers you can eat with your hands. It’s more fun that way, anyway.
Trisha Yearwood’s Charleston Cheese Dip is a new go-to party snack. Topped with crispy bacon and buttery crackers, it’s an obvious crowd-pleaser. It’s also wallet friendly, so if you don’t already have the ingredients on hand, you won’t break the bank running to the store. Served warm and loaded with three types of cheese, this no-fuss recipe will please even the pickiest of palates.
The next time your place becomes the destination to watch the big game or the newest episode of your favorite show, don’t hide yourself in the kitchen. With Trisha’s decadent cheese dip, you’ll earn yourself the best spot on the couch.
A few things to consider before making this recipe
In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, beer takes the kitchen spotlight each March. Even if you’re not much of a beer drinker, this sudsy ingredient adds a wonderful depth of flavor without overpowering a recipe. I love the idea of adding a splash to Corned Beef or Irish Stew, but this year my mind was set on cupcakes.
I enjoy a light lager on game day or a crisp IPA with my Friday night pizza, but, to me, stout is the ultimate treat. I’ve never been to Ireland, and I am no connoisseur when it comes to how to pour the perfect pint, but I can appreciate its deliciousness all the same. With its smooth chocolate and coffee notes, stout will be your next secret weapon in baking.
Dave Lieberman’s Chocolate Stout Cupcakes are the perfect treats to please a party crowd. The taste of stout beer is subtle but becomes delectably more noticeable with each bite. Even if you can’t distinguish the actual beer flavor, it enhances the chocolate and makes for a rich, not-too-sweet cupcake. Top it off with velvety cream cheese icing and you’ve found your pot of gold.
A few things to consider before making this recipe
Every morning I wake up to my stomach growling. So when planning for the weekend, the first thing I account for is my breakfast lineup. While cereal and toast suffice Monday through Friday, my appetite is slightly more indulgent and demanding on Saturdays and Sundays. The biggest question becomes sweet or savory?
Although I usually opt for recipes involving bacon or eggs, every now and again I need my maple syrup fix. Pancakes and waffles are easy enough to whip together to satiate my a.m. sweet tooth. But for an extra special treat, I like the Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Baked French Toast.
Why ditch the skillet and change up a classic? You can do all the work the night before. For a relaxing, mess-free morning, Ree transforms the original into a make-ahead breakfast casserole. After popping the dish into the oven, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg fill the air and the hardest part becomes waiting.
Consider these few things before making this recipe
While I’m not technically a rookie anymore, I often still feel like one. Don’t get me wrong — my culinary skill set improved significantly in 2012. The many hours spent whisking away in the kitchen more often than not resulted in satisfied taste-testers (luckily, my friends happily oblige to free food). But with so many techniques still to master and trendy ingredients out there to try, it’s hard not to feel a step behind.
To shake these self doubts, I go back to the basics. A challenge is good, but cooking should remain, for the most part, fun. And sometimes there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as simple comfort food.
Ina’s Easy Tomato Soup from Food Network Magazine is just as the Barefoot Contessa promises: fool-proof. It’s a recipe that I am confident in getting right each time. Prep work is minimal and cleanup is a cinch, so the whole process is relaxing. As I let everything simmer together, I could almost hear her cheery voice encouraging, “How easy is that?”
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This grilling season, classic cookout fare is getting revamped. Think Bruschetta Dogs and grilled desserts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still perfectly content with a good old burger. But with all the buzz around new foods that look great with char lines, I had to join in on the fun. Toss a pizza on the grill? I’m on it.
Pizza has become a go-to meal for my beau and me. It’s a no-fuss dinner that tends to be forgiving to newbies like us. Add too much cheese? No such thing. Trouble rolling the dough? Call it art. We’ve even taken off the training wheels and come up with our own topping combos and techniques, without relying on recipes. However, when the decision came down to grilling the pie for our next date night, I wanted the guidance of an expert. And who better than the grill master himself, Bobby Flay?
This Grilled Pizza With Hot Sausage, Grilled Peppers, Onions and Oregano Ricotta is a mouthful to say, and a mouthful to enjoy. Though it takes a hefty dose of prepping, don’t let that scare you away. It’s well worth the effort. Serve it on a night when you’re looking for a major ego boost, as each of its elements is sure to impress.
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When paired with a balanced diet, I believe that everyone is entitled to a food splurge every once in a while. I would be quite a grumpy person if I had to rid myself of treats forever. But I recently came to a rude realization that these eating sprees have become part of my everyday routine.
Working in an office full of food enthusiasts, it’s not surprising to find myself eating cake at 2 p.m. on a weekday. My love for burgers has me taste-testing my way through New York City in search of the best. And I add bacon to pretty much everything, cookies included. I decided that I need to make these indulgences more of what they’re meant to be, guilty pleasures to be enjoyed on occasion.
When I had this epiphany, I was determined to have a veggie-packed dinner right away. I was craving something hearty and didn’t want to feel like I was sacrificing a delicious dinner just to be healthy. Ellie always seems to have a solution for that and her Tuscan Vegetable Soup really is comfort food at its finest. Generally for me, that category entails something like a big bowl of mac and cheese, but this soup really fit the bill for a satisfying and feel-good meal.
Here are few things to consider before making this recipe
While guacamole is an obvious choice for Cinco de Mayo, it’s also a tasty one. It’s simple to prepare, fresh in flavor and loved by all. Sure, it’s the safe choice, but ultimately you want to make something that your guests will enjoy, not fear.
I’m a minimalist when it comes to guacamole — because avocados are naturally creamy and indulgent, simpler is better in my book. Bobby’s recipe is foolproof and includes only four extra ingredients: red onion, fresh jalapeño, lime and cilantro. Just chop, mash, squeeze and in 10 minutes, you’ve got the perfect party dip. The diced onion adds texture to the velvety avocado and the jalapeño brings a touch of heat and warmth. The MVI (Most Valuable Ingredient) of the dish, however, is the lime. It makes each bite refreshing and bright and will keep your guests digging in for more.
Tips to consider before making these recipes: