Monday, October 29, 2012

in the kitchen: (my favorite) banana bread

For as long as I can remember my mom has been using Martha Stewart's recipe for banana bread and I have to stand by it as one of my all-time favorite versions. I think the secret is using the sour cream to make sure the final product isn't too dry. Of course, you can opt for a healthier version and try a recipe that uses apple sauce to accomplish the same thing...but hey, I like what I like!  My favorite way to enjoy banana bread is toasting a slice and having it with a little butter or peanut butter. If you want to keep heading down the "unhealthy" route, feel free to add in chocolate or carob chips to satisfy your chocolate craving. Whichever way you like it, you should definitely give this recipe a try!

Banana Bread from Martha Stewart
makes 1 loaf

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in nuts, and pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes** Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
    **Cooking time varies-I typically check it at 45 minutes and then determine how much longer to cook it from there so it doesn't get over-cooked!
    Bon appetit! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

in the kitchen: southeast asian squash curry

a few weeks ago, Ryan's mom made some killer squash curry and I knew that I would have to try to replicate it. Lucky for me, she saved the recipe! Everything about it was SO delicious and with butternut squash as the main ingredient-it's another great fall dish. Even my dad, who seemed a little hesistant, really liked it! Success!

Southeast Asian Squash Curry via Epicurious
serves 4-5


  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (I did not have cumin seeds, so substituted just powdered cumin)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (do not stir), divided
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen red curry paste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 (2- to 3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (5 cups packed)
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup salted roasted cashews, chopped
  • Basmati rice

-Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Sauté squash with cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
-Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to skillet and cook onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup coconut milk from top of can and cook, stirring, until fat starts to separate and look glossy, about 2 minutes. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
-Add squash, water, cinnamon, cloves, and remaining coconut milk and simmer, covered, until squash is tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook, covered, until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in fish sauce. Sprinkle with cashews.
Serve on top of basmati (or jasmine) rice!
Bon appetit!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

weekend trip to indy

this past weekend I tagged along with my parents to go visit my sister in Bloomington, Indiana...she is in her last year there (crazy!) and I haven't been able to visit nearly as much as I would have liked, so this was the perfect opportunity to go. We had a really great time-checked out a nearby town, Nashville, that was packed to the brim with tourists and cute shops...saw some interesting "local life"....sipped on a martini...munched on some amazing gnocchi...explored the beautiful campus (still in full fall color mode!).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

in the kitchen: let the pumpkin love continue

the oh so clever and inspired folks at Spoon Fork Bacon shared a dish that most definitely can be added to your "fall-inspired" meals and once again fills that pumpkin craving: 

photo by Spoon Fork Bacon
Life has been a little too hectic lately, but as soon as I can spend a little time in the kitchen I would love to try this one out! Have any of you tried it before? I'm sure it's a great addition to the already long list of delicious fall treats! 
For another awesome looking pumpkin dish from Spoon Fork Bacon (and if you have a little more time to spare) you should check out the Pumpkin Risotto with Scallops!

if you have good thoughts...

...Here's to having good thoughts and looking lovely on this fine Wednesday...

Monday, October 15, 2012

desk dining

I don't know about you, but I get stuck eating lunch at my desk way too often and with the chillier weather, stepping outside to chow down isn't quite as appealing anymore. I also don't exactly have a lunch/break room...unless I want to hang out in the tiny nook that houses our microwave and refrigerator that is definitely from the 70's. Anyways, I came across some smart tips about how to make eating your lunch at your desk "cool" from the lovely people at Refinery29.

1. Take the time to plate your lunch...don't use your sad ziplock container, break out a real plate/bowl/utensils and enjoy the food you have! Don't have these available at work, look into getting something affordable to keep at work like these from Target.
2. No crumbs! If you have to be right at your computer over the lunch hour, then try to keep the crumbs confined to your plate or lay out a napkin to catch any runaways. 
3. Keep a stock of your favorite add-on's in the fridge or maybe in an extra drawer so you can eat the way you want to-salt, pepper, hot sauce, your favorite salad dressing...have a stash!
4. If you're allowed to view some of your favorite Youtube/music/news clips or videos then take a minute for yourself to check out from work and get a quick fix before you have to head back to the daily grind.
5. Last, but probably the most important....clean up! Even if you never eat at your desk, that space can get pretty dirty whether you realize it or not, so take the time to grab a wipe or paper towel and give your work space a good clean!

There ya have're fully prepared for desk dining....ultimately, if you are able to step away and hang out in your break room or work cafeteria-do it! We spend far too much time at our desks as it is-have a great Monday! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

a working weekend (for a good cause!)

this weekend is definitely a bit more about work than play. The organization I work for has their big annual Gala tonight and it'll be my first black tie event...too bad I'll be running around all night and not exactly "enjoying" it! Oh well, I am still looking forward to seeing everyone's hard work come together and hope that all the guests really enjoy some of the new things we have for them (photo booths, raw food bar, tasty party favors-no is ever too old for party favors!).

Before the gala madness begins, I am volunteering for the first time for one of our local (and my favorite) radio station, 88.9 Radio Milwaukee for the fall fund drive! This station always has great music AND they are really focused on being a part of the Milwaukee community and recognizing the different organizations that work to make a difference throughout it. If you are a local and have also enjoyed the awesome tunes of Radio Milwaukee, I highly encourage you to make a donation during the fall fund drive or look into volunteering for them (I'll also be helping out at the Brandi Carlile show next week-yay!)'s how they make great music, programs, events, and everything else in between happen! 

p.s. if it's a ridiculously rainy day like it is here, I definitely recommend checking out the movie Argo-saw it last night...was thoroughly entertained, stressed out and impressed! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

pinterest finds

because you can never have too much pinterest-inspiration in your life! 

feel free to check out more pins here...happy thursday! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

in the kitchen: sweet potato & black bean enchilada bake

Last night I decided to chef it up and make sweet potato and black bean enchiladas using the left over corn tortillas that my brother had from his (excellent!) Mexican night. Sadly, the tortillas were not behaving when I tried rolling them to make the enchiladas, so I quickly changed the plan and decided to make an enchilada bake...or casserole if you will. I think the results weren't too bad at all and actually a lot easier than the doing the whole enchilada process....a win-win! So if you are looking for a Tuesday night dinner idea or feel like planning ahead for tomorrow, you should try this one out!

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchilada Bake
serves 4-5 (depending on how hungry you are!)


2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
1 medium red onion
2 cans black beans, washed & drained
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can adobo chipotle peppers
2 cans red enchilada sauce
15-18 small corn tortillas

-9x13 pan

Optional: 1 cup sour cream + ½ creamed corn + cilantro, blend for a fresh crema sauce topping!

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop sweet potatoes. Once the oven reaches 400, place sweet potatoes on a pan and bake for 30 mins the oven.
  2. Chop red onion. Mix 1 cup shredded cheese, red onion, black beans in a large mixing bowl. Add sweet potatoes to this mixture once they are cooked.
  3. In separate mixing bowl, mix enchilada sauce with 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the adobo chipotle peppers. Feel free to cut up a few of these peppers and put them into the sweet potato, black bean and red onion mix for even more of a smoky flavoring!
  4. Pour some enchilada sauce to coat the bottom your pan. Put one layer of corn tortillas on top, then add first layer of sweet potato mixture.
  5. Add next layer of tortillas and lightly coat with enchilada mix; add sweet potato mixture. Repeat this until you have filled your pan, finishing with a tortilla layer on top.
  6. Spread generous amount of enchilada sauce on your final layer of tortillas and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes…top with crema sauce if you’d like or just dig in!
Bon appetit!

Friday, October 5, 2012

this week: a baseball game & MKE film fest!

This week has just flown by, seriously! Not only is work life busy, but I feel like it's been busy with the "extracurriculars" too (never a bad thing!). Ry and I decided to go check out the Brewer's game on Tuesday night and it was so much fun! Thanks to some work perks, we were able to get some pretty great seats, especially since we bought them 30 minutes before the game, AND we were able to bike to the game from his parent's between the great seats, fun bike ride, way too many peanuts and a few beers...we made out pretty well for a Tuesday night!
Wednesday night was full of debate watching and simultaneously watching my twitter feed explode with commentary-it was interesting/entertaining...the few glasses of wine weren't too bad either.
On top of the baseball and debate action, my mom and I decided to check out the Milwaukee Film Festival last night which has been going on since last week. We chose the "Milwaukee Show", a screening of about 10 short films all created by local filmmakers of the Cream City Cinema group. My mom and I were really impressed with the amount of people who came out for the screening and though the whole evening was fun and clearly well-organized! An added bonus for this screening was getting to hear from the directors and producers live after we watched their film, which allowed for some candid moments and added commentary on the creation of their work. One of my favorites from the night was "So I could Fly Away", which follows the director's (Blyth Renate Meier) father on his family's farm in North Dakota as he reminsces about his past. There was something very poignant about the way it was filmed and the stories he told that really struck a chord with me. If you're in the Milwaukee area, the film festival continues through October 11th and I highly recommend getting out and seeing a film or two!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

fall days

On Sunday we nearly missed out on a this beautiful fall day to running errands...thank goodness we decided to stay outdoors because it really was a great day! Ry and I grabbed Reef and headed to a nearby nature reserve, Lion's Den Gorge to do some exploring. Apparently everyone had the same idea as us, so it was pretty packed, but we decided to go off the beaten path and check out the "grasslands" view of the reserve. The colors really have started to change and we had some great views of that and Reef had a great time running around and of course, running straight into the mud (forgot to take a pic of her as a muddy mess!).
After hiking around the reserve, we headed back to my parents for an AHmazing Mexican feast prepared by my brother and his girlfriend-pork & pulled chicken tacos, Mexican coleslaw (a new invention), beans, and to continue with the fall theme, an apple crisp for dessert! Not too shabby!