Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Loaf

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Loaf

If you’ve ever been labeled “the baker” at work you know that people come to expect baked goods around the holidays. This year my boss ever so sneakily bought a Santa Claus cookie tray to put on my desk and at least two of my other co-workers had left notes asking that something yummy be left on said plate. I finally took the holiday dessert hint when yet another coworker walked by my desk and left 4 browning bananas, mentioning that they looked perfect for a banana bread loaf. Okay, third times the charm. I can take a hint. So I went home and looked through my baking cabinet to see what kind of banana bread extras I had on hand. Normally, I would bake a nutty whiskey filled bread, but since I was bringing this treat into work, I opted for its sweeter friend – the chocolate chip banana bread loaf. Although I’m sure a boozey bread would be just as well received, the ooey gooey chocolate chips coupled with the banana chunks made for a perfect way to get through unread email messages and prepare the morning’s meetings.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Loaf

ingredients:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 tablespoons milk
3 ripened bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 bag chocolate chips, more to decorate the top

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Loaf

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and the butter. Mix by hand until combined. Add eggs and blend. Add milk and the mashed bananas and mix for about 1 minute. Add the flour and the baking soda and mix until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. If desired, decorate with a row of chocolate chips on top.

Spray loaf pan with non-cook spray and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Loaf

Goat Cheese, Apple & Pomegranate Aril Toast

Goat Cheese, Apple & Pomegranate Aril Toast

It’s a couple days before Christmas and you’re checking your list, making sure you’ve got the main course prepped, the sides are ready to be popped in the oven and then you realize you forgot the appetizers. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with an extremely simple recipe that will knock the socks off of anyone at your festivities. The ingredients are easy, but the presentation is where you will really wow them. You can prep them all ahead of time, or just arrange the individual ingredients on a cheese board and let your guests go to town as they get hungry. Feel free to swap in any of your go to cheese plate ingredients and make your own variation of these yummy toasts. Mix it up with some feta cheese and nuts or forget the apple and opt for a pear or some fresh berries; the possibilities are endless.

Goat Cheese, Apple & Pomegranate Aril Toast

ingredients:
Toasts or Thinly Sliced Baguette Bread, I like the brioche toasts from Trader Joe’s
1 package spreadable honey goat cheese
2 small green apples, sliced into thin halves
½ cup pomegranate arils
2 tablespoons honey

Goat Cheese, Apple & Pomegranate Aril Toast

directions:
Spread goat cheese on toasts. Top with apple slices, pomegranate arils, and drizzle with honey, as desired.

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Phyllo Crust

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Phyllo Crust

Around the holiday season, a lot people put the emphasis on the main course or finding the perfect easy, yet satisfying appetizer; whereas, for me it’s all about dessert. The more the merrier, the more complicated, the more impressive, and the better the table photographs… Am I right or am I right? I absolutely love trying something new and exciting for a holiday meal, but it is definitely a little nerve-racking not knowing if your dish is going to turn out well of if that back-up pie in the freezer is going to make an appearance.  This next recipe is the perfect star for your Christmas dessert table.

I made this mousse for Thanksgiving this year and let me tell you it was everything short of a Thanksgiving miracle. First, I bought puff pastry instead of phyllo dough. Heads up, I could only find phyllo dough at Gelson’s which was up bright and early Thanksgiving and basically saved the day. Second, I thought I was being brilliant by using a spring form pan- no need for a parchment paper lift apparatus. Too bad, I let the phyllo dough fall and bake right over the spring form release. Also, half way through the phyllo draping butter process, I ran out of butter and had to stop and melt another stick. Note to readers: buy correct dough, double the butter, use spring form pan, but do a better job “crumpling” the dough above the edge of the pan, try not to let it bake over the edges or else you will have a shorter, crust like mine.

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Phyllo Crust

ingredients:
CRUST
1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cake pan (I doubled this)
8 sheets thawed frozen phyllo dough (each 17 by 12 inches)
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

FILLING
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Chocolate shavings, for serving (optional)

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Phyllo Crust

directions:
CRUST
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-2-inch cake pan (spring form is ideal), then line with two 17-by-2-inch strips of parchment, forming an X in center and leaving a 2-inch overhang. Butter parchment.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a work surface with a long side facing you, keeping remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap. Lightly brush entire surface with melted butter, then sprinkle some of granulated sugar on right half of phyllo. Fold left half over to enclose sugar. Brush top lightly with butter. Press folded phyllo into pan, buttered-side down, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang on one side; gather and crumple dough slightly as you go to make fit and to create a ruffled edge. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets, overlapping to completely cover bottom of pan and create a 1/2-inch overhang on all sides. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.

Brush melted chocolate over bottom and 1 inch up sides of crust. Refrigerate 10 minutes.

FILLING
Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk together yolks, granulated sugar, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in bittersweet chocolate until melted. Remove from heat. Let cool 10 minutes.

Beat 1 cup cream until medium-stiff peaks form. Whisk one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining whipped cream. Pour mixture into cooled crust. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Beat remaining 1 cup cream with confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop onto pie, sprinkle with chocolate shavings, and serve.

Recipe from Martha Stewart.

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Phyllo Crust

Sweet & Spicy Glazed Salmon

Sweet & Spicy Glazed Salmon

I’ve always been kind of afraid to cook new types of fish, mostly for fear of not cooking it enough or over cooking and drying out an expensive fillet. I also don’t want to end up whipping up some disgusting sauce that ruins what could have been a perfectly cooked fish. Luckily for me, I have found a go to salmon recipe, not only does the fish come out perfectly cooked every time, but the sauce is the perfect balance of sweet with a little bit of spice. If I haven’t sold you on the recipe yet, it’s HEALTHY! I normally pair this bad boy with a helping of roasted brussels sprouts and some kale sautéed in coconut oil. After eating this dinner, I always feel full, but not that gross too stuffed to move full. Final elevator pitch: not only is the recipe easy to follow, it takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish, including oven preheating time! If that doesn’t convince you, you must not be a fish person, because there is no other reason not to try this sweet and spicy glazed salmon recipe immediately.

Sweet & Spicy Glazed Salmon

ingredients:
1 lb salmon fillet
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 teaspoons spicy mustard
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Sweet & Spicy Glazed Salmon

directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay salmon on a foil lined pan and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12 minutes.

Combine last four ingredients in a saucepan and let it come to a boil. Once the sauce has boiled, remove from heat and set aside.

Once the salmon is done, remove from the oven and preheat the oven to broil. Drizzle the sauce over the salmon and broil for 3-4 minutes.

Easy Acai Bowl

Easy Acai Bowl

I have been casually obsessed with acai for about three years now. I love adding the sambazon smoothie packets to my ever changing green smoothie recipe. Not only do I feel extra healthy when I add this frozen packets, but the sweet tart berry taste covers pretty much any gross green flavors I add to the smoothie mix. Now that you understand my love for these packets and know that I buy them in bulk at Costco (at least 20 packets a month, don’t judge!), it was only a matter of time until I discovered the next level of acai – THE BOWL! I’ve enjoyed the culinary delights of an acai bowl several times at various southern California cafes, but up until now I hadn’t tried creating a bowl of my own at home. Let me tell you it took me a while to find the perfect ratio for a creamy yet, solid base, do not follow the acai bowl directions on the back of the sambazon bag – you will just end up with a soupy, smoothie mess. Feel free to update your bowl toppings based on your preferences and seasonality, of course! I love everything about this recipe, especially because the combinations are endless.

Easy Acai Bowl

ingredients:
2 acai smoothie packets
1 cup almond milk
2 bananas
2 cups frozen berries
1 fresh banana, sliced
1 cup granola, divided
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup raw almonds
2 Tbsp shredded coconut

Easy Acai Bowl

directions:
Combine the acai smoothie packets, almond milk, 2 bananas and frozen fruit ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth and creamy; the mixture should be thick. Even my vitamix had a difficult time powering through.

Add 1/4 cup of granola to the bottom of each bowl and sprinkle with one Tbsp almonds each. Divide smoothie mixture on top of the granola almond mix in each bowl and top with the remaining toppings.

Enjoy immediately, because no one likes a melty bowl.

Serves 2.

Easy Acai Bowl