Double Chocolate Banana Pancakes

Chocolate and banana is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Who doesn’t like chocolate dipped bananas, chocolate chip banana bread, or banana cake with chocolate frosting? This breakfast recipe helps satisfy my early morning desire for chocolate and banana! It’s so easy, and simply delectable.

RECIPE: Double Chocolate Banana Pancakes
Makes 4 Servings

Measuring Utensils
Cast iron pan

1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon Melted Margarine
3/4 Cups Milk
Chocolate Chips

IMG_16691) In a bowl, combine your dry ingredients, including flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt.
2) Beat in the eggs, melted margarine, and milk. If you want to be fancy, you can beat the egg whites separately to stir in, but I usually don’t cause its too early for so many steps!
3) Peal and slice a banana into coins.
4) Heat a cast iron pan and make sure it is well greased.
5) Scoop in batter and then sprinkle with banana slices and chocolate chips.
6) When the batter begins to bubble, flip the pancakes. Let cook on the other side for a bit before serving. IMG_1677

7) Top with maple syrup or whip cream. We are very much a maple syrup household. IMG_1681

Diner Onion Rings

I love a good diner meal. After all, I grew up in New Jersey which has plenty of great diners. To mimic the whole experience, we even serve up dinner in baskets. It doesn’t get much more authentic than in our kitchen! To go with this oven baked healthy diner onion rings, we made a not so healthy BBQ cheese burger.

RECIPE: Diner Onion Rings
Makes 2-3 Servings

Cutting Boards
Lined Baking Sheet
Oven set to 450

Large Onion
2 Eggs
Matza Meal
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Jalapeno Powder
Avocado Oil
For the burger:
Ground beef mixture
Arizona Gunslinger BBQ Sauce
Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Whole wheat buns

IMG_16441) Begin by slicing the onion into rings and separating them out.
2) In one bowl, whisk your eggs and in another add flour.
3) In another bowl, combine matza meal, garlic powder, onion powder, jalapeno powder, and salt.
4) Oil up your lined baking sheets.
5) Dip your onion in to the flour, then egg mixture and then into the matza meal mixture before placing on the baking sheet. IMG_1648
6) Bake the onion rings in a 450 degree oven until crispy and beginning to brown. I was constantly monitoring it so I can’t say for sure how long it took. Somewhere between 10-30 minutes is my guess. IMG_1650
7) Send your husband to grill up the burgers while you are sitting in front of the oven watching the onion rings.
8) Serve up in a basket and enjoy!

Beans and Rice

Beans and Rice are the perfect budget dinner. They are two of the least expensive items at the grocery store, and often items that are leftover from other meals. This recipe kicks up the traditional budget meal into a nice thick bean stew served over lime rice. It’s easy, delicious, and cheep!

RECIPE: Beans and Rice
Makes 3-4 Servings

Cast iron pans
Spatula or spoons

Black Beans
Tomato Puree
Chili Pepper
Leftover Rice
Corn Flour

1) Use your spatula or spoon to drain the black beans and then mash them up a bit before adding to a warm cast iron pan.
2) Season the mashed beans with pureed tomato and pickled jalapenos (no juice).
3) In another pan, begin reheating the leftover rice with a bit of water, lime juice, and then drop it the lime halves to cook with them in order to impart extra flavor.

4) Season the beans with Epazote and chili powder.
5) Use a bit of corn flour to thicken the bean mixture into a nice stew consistency.
6) Remove the lime halves, and then serve the rice in a bowl before adding your beans. IMG_1608 This thick stew is definitely rustic looking, but comforting in flavor. If you ever need a simple and cheap to make meal, this one is absolutely delicious!

Shamrock Cookies

Luckily, these cookies work for just about any holiday as long as you switch up the food coloring and cookie cutters! These shortbread style holiday cookies are a crowd pleaser, and so easy to make!

RECIPE: Shamrock Cookies
Makes 3-4 Dozen Depending on Cookie Cutter Size

Measuring Utensils
Wax Paper
Rolling Pin
Cookie Cutters
Baking Sheet
Oven set to 325 degrees
Cooling Rack

1/2 Stick Butter
1 Stick Margarine
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Green Food Coloring
1/2 Cup 10x Sugar
3 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Flour
Flour and 10x Sugar Mixture for rolling

1) In a mixer, cream together the butter, margarine, salt, and food coloring.
2) Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract.
3) Beat in the flour, but don’t over beat.
4) Wrap in wax paper and stick it in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

5) Use a mixture of flour and 10x sugar to roll out the dough.
6) Cut out the cookies and place on a baking sheet.
7) Bake for about 15 minutes or until done.
8) Use a spatula to transfer the baked cookies to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before storing or serving. IMG_1592

I was hoping the cookies would be as green as the dough, but they ended up being a much lighter green. Still very pretty and just as delicious!

Green Omelette

For some reason, my St. Patrick’s Day recipes got stuck in a folder and I never posted them! I know, completely unforgivable. Luckily, this green omelette is not only appropriate for St. Patty’s day, but any day of the year. In fact, despite the very obvious addition of green food coloring, this recipe is actually not very Irish at all. In fact, its a bit more French than Irish (except for the soda bread!)

RECIPE: Green Omelette
Makes 2 Servings

Cutting Boards
Cast iron pan
Sauce pan

2 Cloves Garlic
Mozzarella Cheese
Black Pepper
5 Eggs
Skim Milk
Green Food Dye
3 T Butter
2 Egg Yolks
Chili Powder

1) Begin by chopping up your asparagus and finely mincing your garlic. Add to a warm pan.
2) Season the asparagus with a touch of tarragon, black pepper, and salt.
3) In a bowl, add three whole eggs and 2 egg whites. Add the 2 yolks to a separate bowl.

4) Add the food coloring to the whole eggs and whites, and whisk it with a fork until fluffy.
5) Begin melting the butter in a sauce pan.
6) Remove the cooked asparagus from the pan and fill with the egg mixture. Cover and let cook on low.
7) Whisk the melted butter with the egg yolks, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a sprinkle of chili powder. (I should have cooked mine longer, but decided to do the sauce at the last minute).
8) Uncover the omelette, add back in the asparagus, and layer in the mozzarella.
9) Flip the omelette closed, cut in half, and serve with some of the sauce. IMG_1545IMG_1549

Beef Stew

Beef stew is very much a family recipe. Every time I make it, the smell transports me back to my childhood. I would sit in our kitchen as my mom cooked up a batch of stew. The entire house would smell of it. You would walk in the door and just know that stew was on the stove. If you don’t have a family recipe for beef stew, you can gladly borrow ours.

RECIPE: Beef Stew
Makes 4-6 Servings



The Guinness glass in the picture is filled with beer to be drunk while making the stew

Cutting Boards
Large Cast iron pot
Spatula or Spoon

2 lbs or so Beef
2 tablespoons Crisco
Dry Red Wine
3-4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Onion
2 Bay Leaves
Ground Pepper
3 Carrots
4 Potatoes
Tomato Juice
1 Egg

1) Trim the beef and cut into cubes.
2) Begin browning the beef in the cast iron pan with the shortening.
3) Season with a shake of Worcester sauce and then give a heavy dosing of red wine.
4) Chop up the garlic and onion and add it to the beef, along with the bay leaves.

5) Add water and cover the pot, letting it simmer for a while.
6) Season with the salt, paprika, pepper, and cloves.
7) Add a hot water and let simmer for a while (covered).
8) Cut up the carrots and potatoes.
9) Add the carrots first, and then the potatoes a little while after.

10) Add a cup or so of tomato juice, and let it continue simmering. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
11) In a bowl, combine flour, water, and 1 egg to create a thick batter. You will want to use the fork to combine the ingredients.
12) Drop the batter by the fork full into the stew and then cover for 5-15 minutes (depending on the size of your dumplings) to let the dumplings steam and cook in the stew.
13) Give it another stir and then serve. The stew will freeze nicely, but the dumplings will not hold up to being frozen. IMG_1586

The beef in this stew ends up so tender that it falls apart in your mouth. The carrots and potatoes keep their shape in the bowl, but are perfectly cooked when you take a bite. The gravy of the stew really brings together all the flavors into a single harmonious meal.

The best part is the dumplings, which I simply can’t get enough of. They are made according to my Nana’s recipe, and my absolute favorite part of stew.

When it comes to stew, don’t try to get fancy ingredients. Stew was perfected by people on a budget, so get the meat that’s on sale and find the cheapest drinkable red wine at the store (this one was under 4 bucks). The results are better that way!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie

Who doesn’t love cookies? These cookies will even make you feel healthy because they are made with whole wheat flour! Definitely something worth baking up mid week if you are craving something chocolate.

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 Dozen

Measuring Utensils
Cookie Scoop
Baking Sheets
Silicon Mats
Oven heated to 325
Cooling Rack

1/2 a stick of  Margarine
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 Cups Chocolate Chips

IMG_14801) Soften the margarine and then cream it together with the regular sugar and brown sugar.
2) Slowly stir in the  pinch of salt, egg, and vanilla.
3) Add the flour and baking soda, stirring until a good cookie dough is formed.
4) Stir in the bittersweet chocolate chip cookies. You can adjust based on your desired level of chocolate. 
Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet.

6) Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
7) Remove from sheet, the bottoms should be golden in color, and then transfer to a cooling rack.
8) Store in an airtight container once they have cooled completely. IMG_1495

Focaccia Panini

What did I do with that beautiful rosemary focaccia from the previous post? Well, with my husband’s love of sandwiches, I decided to make a panini! This panini is lighter, with fresh Italian inspired flavors. All it needed was some greens from the garden, but that won’t be until spring actually arrives (seriously, what’s with the snow?)

RECIPE: Focaccia Panini
Makes a 2 Sandwiches 

Cutting Board
Panini Press

Rosemary Focaccia
Half an Onion
Garlic Powder
Tomato Powder
Deli Chicken

1) Cut the focaccia into the desired sandwich size and then slice through the middle to create two slices of bread.
2) Cut the onion into slices, and slice the mozzarella cheese.
3) In a bowl, combine a scoop of mayo, garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, and some dried tomato powder. Stir well.

4) Spread the sauce on the inside of all four pieces of bread. Layer with deli chicken, onions, and then mozzarella cheese.
5) Place into the panini press and let grill until the focaccia is toasted and the mozzarella is melting out the sandwich. IMG_1508 - Copy
6) Serve as is or sliced in half with fruit you canned last summer or whatever fruit looks good at the store. IMG_1509 - CopyFullSizeRender - Copy

I love the freshness that the slices of onion added to this sandwich. It mixed so well with the sauce and melted cheese, that it was literally my favorite part of the sandwich. If you don’t like onion, you can definitely switch it out for sun dried tomatoes or roasted eggplant.

Rosemary Focaccia

Focaccia bread is so versatile. You can enjoy it as a meal within itself. You can use it to make some really great sandwiches. You can easy use to as an appetizer or side when serving an Italian feast. No matter what you do, focaccia is a great bread to do it with. Here is my rosemary focaccia.

RECIPE: Rosemary Focaccia
Makes a Sheet Pan   

Sheet Pan
Oven set to 425 degrees
Cooling Rack

6 ounces Water
2 teaspoons Yeast
12 Ounces Flour
1 lb flour
14 ounces water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 ounce Salt
Avocado Oil

IMG_14641) Add the starter ingredients to a bowl and lightly stir to combine. Let sit in a warm location for 12-24 hours.
2) Using a mixer and a dough hook, add the rest of the flour, water, yeast, and salt to the focaccia. Beat into a dough.
3) Let rise for 30 minutes in a warm oven, around 80 degrees.
4) Press the dough into a well oiled sheet pan, and let rise again until dough in size.
5) Begin preheating the oven.
IMG_14766) You can poke the bread now if you prefer that look to focaccia, but I skipped this step since I also wanted to use it as sandwich bread.
7) Brush the top of the focaccia with avocado oil and then sprinkle liberally with rosemary or your preferred toppings.
8) Bake until golden brown, and then remove and let cool on a rack.
9) This bread reheats well so if you don’t need a full sheet pan, slice when cool, wrap well in plastic wrap, and then in either foil or a freezer bag, and freeze until needed. Defrost and reheat in a 350 degree oven.


Work Night Bolognese-esque Sauce

I like to make traditional bolognese sauce on the weekends. When you have plenty of hours to simmer your sauce for as long as you want for optimal flavor. However, sometimes you want bolognese tasting sauce on a worknight, and no one wants to eat dinner after 9 pm. That’s not even an option in my house because my husband works an early shift and would already be in bed. So here is my variation of bolognese for a work night dinner!

RECIPE: Work Night Bolognese-esque Sauce
Makes enough for 5 servings   

Food Processor
Cast iron pan
Wooden Spoon

4-6 Cloves Garlic
Half an Onion
2-3 Carrots
3-4 stalks Celery
Canned Tomatoes
Homemade Fettuccine
Parmesan Cheese

1) Peal the cloves of garlic and place them in the food processor.
2) Remove the undesirable bits of onion, carrots, and celery. Break into pieces and add to the food processor.

3) Putting everything through the food process is just a very very quick way to chop up IMG_1461all the vegetables quickly and finely to add to the cast iron pan.
4) Begin cooking the vegetables in the cast iron pan, letting them begin to sweat before adding the meat.
5) When the meat is most of the way cooked, stir in the pureed tomatoes.
6) Let simmer for a while, and flavor with basil and oregano.
7) Bring a pot of salt water to a boil and cook the fettuccine noodles.
8) Drain the noodles and serve topped with sauce and Parmesan cheese.


The sauce definitely isn’t as good as the several hour weekend variety, but this was comparatively quick and let us enjoy the bolognese flavor on a very busy work night.