Rose’s Banana Bread

banana bread

Quick!  Check out my featured recipe for sangria this week on Hometown Pasadena!  And, FYI: I have space in my “Come to the Table Workshop” tomorrow evening for one more new friend I haven’t met yet…

And so we shall close this week (OK, yes, it’s only Thursday.  Just go with it.) with my favorite recipe for banana bread.

I got this recipe from a friend I made years ago; Rose from MOM’S Club.  Rose had a son older than my then babies and she moved with the self-assured stride of a mother who, even though her son might be screaming bloody murder while clinging to her skirt threatening to disrobe her, was going to get down that frozen food isle no matter what.

Calm.  Cool.  Rose.  I admired her from the first time we met and even though we never became close this recipe is near and dear.

Like its previous owner, this banana bread recipe is straightforward, practical and comforting.  I make it a lot, actually, and put it in my kids’ school lunches.  Who doesn’t like banana bread for heaven’s sake?

I prefer mine with nuts but the kiddos do not, and since I don’t really need to be snarfing down large quantities of this yummy stuff, I make it the way they like it.

Rose’s banana bread

Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 2+ cups over ripe bananas (or whatever you have,) nuts optional

Directions: Mix it and pop it in the oven at 350 for about an hour.  Serve it warm whenever possible…

Tips: I use only 1/2 cup brown sugar and it works fine.  I also use whole wheat flour.  Freezes very well to!


Baked Beans for Labor Day!

baked bean casserole

Shocked as usual, I cannot believe that the unofficial end of summer–also known as Labor Day–is one week from today.  Wow.

My family loves baked beans.  LOVES them.  For a potluck party we attended a few weeks ago I decided to bring a baked bean hotdish (Yes, I’m from Minnesota and we do that.  And we make it in Corning Wear which is featured above.  So there.)

Baked beans are so cool because, although they’re a bit heavy on the “sugary side” of life, they are still a great source of fiber, complement a million different entrees (burgers, brats, BBQ chicken, pasta–no, not pasta!  Just checkin’ to see who’s awake this Monday morn. :)), and are super cheap-ola to make.  That’s a win-win-win in my book.

So, to create this giant pot of yum I Googled Baked Beans and basically pulled bits from a handful of recipes that looked pretty dang tasty.  I grabbed what I already had in the cupboard and fridge and through it all together.  It was the right approach.  The beans ROCKED!

Michelle’s Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Baked Beans


Step one:  1 large onion (I used a Maui which is sweet) diced, 1 diced bell pepper, 1 diced tart apple, 3-5 crushed cloves of garlic, few handfuls of leftover diced ham (recipes called for bacon but I didn’t have that), black pepper, two tbsp. olive oil

Step two: 5 15 oz. cans of baked beans (I used Bush’s, plain), 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup mustard, 1/4 cup brown sugar, many dashes of chili powder, chipotle powder, black pepper, few glugs of Worchestershire, soy sauce, dash of balsamic vinegar, splash of beer (kinda fell in…)

Directions: take your step one ingredients and saute in a pan until the onions and pepper soften (approximately 10 mins) like this:


Then toss it all together with the step two ingredients in a giant pot.  Mix it up and pop’er in the oven at 350 for 60 or so minutes.  I broiled the top so it would get that nice darker crust situation goin’ on.

(Side note for my measuring friends: this is a great example of a time when it’s really best to just wing it.  I mean with a list of ingredients like the one above, how can you go wrong?)

The party guests made quick work of this dish, and I was glad I had made so much.  The leftovers for dinner the next night were even better!

And, if I get invited to a Labor Day celebration, I do plan to make these beans.  Just puttin’ it out there…

P.s.  Quick shout-out to my South Pasadena Mom’s Club peeps who attended “Thinking Outside the Lunchbox” last night!  It was so much fun!!!

Hey–It Worked!

couscous dish

So, OK.  I admit it.  Even I have those days (like during the first week back to school) when I’m scratching my head going “What the heck are we gonna have to dinner!?”

This is my new couscous dish.  It took me 15 minutes to prepare and about five to clean up so there.  And it’s nutritious.  And my family liked it.  Josie was only so-so but the other two asked for seconds.  Two ‘outa three ain’t bad!

Michelle’s Couscous Dinner:

Ingredients: 1 16 ounce box of couscous cooked following directions with chicken broth instead of water, 1 bag of peas (steamed) diced leftover chicken.

Directions: cook couscous according to what the box says.  I always prefer mine with chicken or veg. stock instead of water but you do what you gotta do.  When done mix in peas and chopped up chicken.

What I love about this meal (besides the fact that it’s east-tasty-healthy, that is): It may be the Midwesterner in me but I find it very satisfying to provide a complete meal in one bowl.  On these still warm school nights when my kiddos can’t wait to wolf down their dinner so they can run back outside and play, this type of meal is perfecto.  Then you do the math: one pot for dinner (OK two if you count the peas) and a bowl for each family member… garlic toast was served on the side so one more plate…

Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, Grasshopper.

If you’re shaking your head and thinking: “Oh yeah?  Great.  But my kids will never eat that.” I can only shamelessly promote myself so many times on my own blog: contact me and sign up for “Come to the Table” like Karen, Ana, and Cat did for next week…

p.s. a bloggy thanks to Kimber, Anamaria and Lydia for attending “Meal Planning 101” this week.  We had so much fun!!!  🙂

After School Snacks

veggies after school

Yes, you read that title correctly:  It is the 16th of August and I’m writing about after school snacks.

Here in Pasadena, CA our school district has decided to start our school calendar so that it coincides with the absolute-most-unbearably-and-ridiculously hot time of the year, also called mid-August.

Apparently the justification for this has something to do with finishing the first trimester at winter break (which, OK, yes, makes sense) but people, if you’re so smart then tell me this: How are we supposed to go to the beach when school is in session?  Where are your priorities school board!?  Honestly!

But I digress.

I’m teaching three workshops to some super fun (haven’t met them all yet but I just know it’s true) mamas in the next couple of weeks.  I AM STOKED!  Love chatting/chillin’/coaching/supporting parents with their kitchen and table woes.

Here’s a freebie tip and you didn’t even have to pay me.  Isn’t this your lucky day?

A great time for veggies is right after school.  In our neck of the woods ’round this time of year it so dang hot that some cool, fresh snacks are soundin’ pretty tasty after a hard day of addition and capitalizing proper nouns.  Plus, if your kiddos are anything like mine, they are famished when that final bell rings and would eat a cardboard box if it was their only option.

Luckily, my kids do have an option, and it’s called “steamed broccoli, fresh carrots and tomatoes.”

That’s not what you’re hungry for child’o-mine?  Hmmm… get started on that mountain of veggies and then we’ll see what else I might have for you.

What’s that?  Your kids still won’t eat vegetables?  Your day just got luckier: I offer a workshop called “Come to the Table ” which is focused entirely on how to get the food you want into the people you love–without driving you crazy in the process.

If you want to watch your kids eat stuff like what’s in the photo above, let me know.  But that one ain’t a freebie.  😉



I Swear I’m Not Lame!

balsamic glaze

This is not new, but for whatever reason I just met balsamic glaze.  Where have I been?

Balsamic glaze is basically a reduced balsamic vinegar which you can even prepare yourself if you’re feeling Italiana.  It has a malty, rich taste and a syrupy texture that really turns my dial.

And just so you know, I’m not only worried about being labeled “lame” because I’m late to the balsamic glaze party.  The recipe I’m about to share is verbatim a Trader Joe’s sample that I walked by and ate the other day.  What can I say?  Some things you can’t improve and that’s that.

There are two details I would like to point out before I list the recipe.  First of all, you can get balsamic glaze at many markets (aka: this is not a plug for TJ’s!)  Secondly, I’m sure you can make a ton of tasty treats with balsamic glaze, but as fresh ripe summer tomatoes and basil are my best warm weather friends, I haven’t actually experimented with other glazey combos yet.  I just keep making this and we keep shoveling it in and now I’ll tell you how to do it too.

Glazed Caprese Salad (shown here on a summer’s night candle lit table where I ate and drank with some girlfriends who were like recommended bonus ingredients to the whole experience.)

caprese salad

Ingredients: buffalo mozzarella cheese, fresh chopped tomatoes, fresh chopped basil, balsamic glaze, dash of salt

Directions: chop, mix, pour, eat, smile, eat more.

Tips: you may notice that I didn’t list quantities of the ingredients.  It really doesn’t matter and anyway I say grab as much of each item as you can so you’ll have a ton of salad in front of you when you’re finished!  Just drizzle the balsamic glaze a little at a time and stir/taste along the way.  It will mix and dilute with the tomato juices so you’ll need less than you might think.

p.s. I’m back Lisa!