recipes

Banana Bread + Sweet Peach Palette

Mostly I did two things last weekend– made Smitten Kitchen’s double chocolate banana bread recipe & purchased/tried out Too Faced’s limited edition Sweet Peach Palette.  I was super happy with both.  There was also running shoe-buying and Pokémon shirt-wearing.  Check it out!

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MasterChef Junior: Devil’s in the Details

Happy Monday, folks!  Now that post-holiday TV schedules are normalizing, so should the blog… err, kinda.  With two new MasterChef Junior episodes last week, you’ll get one recap now and another later this week!  Before the new episode, of course.

The first new episode, “Hatching a Plan,” featured Graham Elliot in a chicken costume to highlight the challenge ingredient: eggs!  It’s a deviled egg challenge, and deviled eggs are one of my absolute favorite things.  Only four of the top 10 get to play, though, and they determine who that is by cracking the eggs in Graham’s basket over his head– two eggs are red (Zac & Kamilly) and two are blue (Kya & Amaya) and their recipients make up the competing teams.

There’s a third team, though, a yellow team of Gordon and Graham.  All teams must make as many deviled eggs as possible.  Gordon and Graham, in their tiny aprons, get half the amount of time as the junior home cooks, though.  If they win, all the cooks must compete in the elimination.  Christina judges and Yellow only gets three perfect eggs!  The winners are Zac & Kamilly with ten, thus they get to sit the challenge out and await the top 8.

The elimination challenge is introduced by Graham, who talks about his first ever cookbook.  The kids have been asked to prepare their cookbooks as well.

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Kya, you little achiever… you are the cutest thing!

The challenge is to cook their signature dish from their future cookbooks.  Here’s what the kids create:

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  • Avery’s étouffée blows the judges away.  She herself is surprised how much it tastes like her dad’s.
  • Kya is a mad genius.  She is firmly of the mindset that French cuisine is the finest in the world and prepares an expert canard a l’orange as proof.
  • Kaitlyn’s black forest cupcake just doesn’t hold a candle to the scale of her competitors’ dishes.
  • Amaya’s shrimp asopao delivers amazing depths of flavor and impresses the judges!
  • JJ’s fettuccine goes over well, but the judges wonder if it’s really him on a plate.
  • Sam’s bacon-wrapped chicken delivers as the young Boston home cook on a plate!
  • Addison over-whipped her first whip cream and, seemingly, under-whipped her second.  Her danish was visually underwhelming.
  • Corey’s jerk chicken looked so good, but it was shockingly raw inside.

Avery & Amaya were at the top of the pack for this challenge!

Kaitlyn, Addison, and Corey found themselves ranking in the bottom.  Addison is typically so impressive, so I’m glad that she got another chance.  Sadly, Kaitlyn and Corey went home.

Stay tuned for the next episode recap later this week!

Blogger Holiday at Cambridgeside

I am no stranger to Cambridgeside Galleria.  In fact, I frequent this mall and probably have been at least once a week all year long.  No shame, guys, I’m a mall person and this is a big, beautiful mall!

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a Blogger Holiday Glamour Swap at Cambridgeside!

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We got some fabulous ideas for gifts, amazing outfit inspiration, and of course, enjoys some sweet sips and delicious bites via California Pizza Kitchen.

photo via CPK because I ate mine!

photo via CPK because I ate mine!

Let’s take a moment to talk about this salted caramel pudding I ate.  I love CPK and have had dessert there many times, but this was an item I haven’t seen on the menu… perhaps due to my efforts to cook more and eat out less!  Clearly, I was missing out on this pudding, though.  I may have even taken a second helping… they were mini!

I guess I’m not the only one who found love in this pudding, because blogger Fran’s Favs has even devised a recipe for it!

 

The Yankee Swap gifts were donated by several stores throughout the mall and each gave me wonderful ideas for gifts for others, and maybe even for myself.  My Wish List this Wednesday is all things jeweled & warm!

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One | Ann Taylor $49.50 – black, gray, ivory, or blush
Two | Ann Taylor $59.50 – black, gray, ivory, or blush
Three | Club Monaco $69.50 – perfect in heather gray

We also got big swag bags with tons of samples & coupons!  OtterBox gave us the opportunity to get Resurgence battery cases… mine’s in the mail right now, so I’ll update you on the product review!  We headed over to Plammie Activewear afterward and were treated to a free panty.  Gosh, that store is so cute that it inspires me to workout more!  Sephora gave us all sorts of goodies too, including $10 gift cards.  You know your girl already spent hers.

 

Thank you, Cambridgeside for a wonderful night of sipping, shopping, eating, and repeating!  Aaaand I’ll probably see you tomorrow.

What do you think of these wish list picks?  For presents, or for yourself?

Cooking for Lazy People: Smoothie Edition

Welcome to another edition of Cooking for Lazy People.  This time, it’s Ninja Adventures!  And by that, I mean my blender with which I made this delicious peanut butter banana smoothie!

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I got my Ninja blender for Christmas last year.  Kitchen gadgets are adult toys, so this makes sense, yeah?  After assembly, I was slightly afraid of the behemoth blender.  I’d dabbled in milkshakes, but never really knew how to construct a smoothie.  A couple of weeks back, with two mushy bananas on my counter, I decided it was time to face my fears.

I felt a bit like iJustine, who does ton of Ninja “cooking,” very much in the way I made this smoothie: throw things in there and hope for the best.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tray of ice cubes (12)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter
  • honey, to taste

Here’s what you do:

Just throw it in there and blend it all up!  I keep my finger on the pulse button until things look smooth.  Then I give it another few quick pulses for good luck.

This makes three drinking glass sized portions– too much for one sitting, if you ask me.  I usually have one to drink, then refrigerate the rest in a big tumbler for breakfast the next day.  Things separate a big over night, but a good shake takes care of that!

This is delicious (akin to the Jimmy Carter at Boloco, if you’re familiar) and comes with minimal guilt!

I’m looking for more smoothie recipes to try out, so leave me some good ones in the comments!

Cooking for Lazy People: Coconut Cupcakes

Welcome to Cooking for Lazy People, a new feature on my blog with almost coherent recipes that are almost certainly stolen from people I know.  Basically, I make things that look impressive but are quite easy to make.  Today: coconut cupcakes!

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My friend/coworker and I made these for another coworker’s late August birthday.  Birthday girl loves coconut, so we doubled-down for this “recipe.”  All the credit goes to formerly mentioned friend, as she is the true Betty Crocker.  I stood by and watched for most of this, mixed a little and jumped in to frost at the end.

Here’s what you need:

  • Boxed white cake mix – we used Duncan Hines which required the following three ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Canned white frosting
  • Coconut extract
  • Tender flake shredded coconut

 

Here’s what you do:

Follow the directions on the box.  Add 2 teaspoons of coconut extract to the batter and 1 cup of shredded coconut.  I know, this seems weird.  Is the consistency going to be all weird?  No. No, it’s not.  We used a hand mixer to get the consistency we wanted.  It is going to be slightly lumpy looking because of the flakes of coconut, though.

Bake as directed.

Prepare the icing as they cool.  We mixed a couple drops of the coconut extract into the icing, to taste.  Since the cakes were so coconut and the frosting already so sweet, we wanted a little bit of contrast.

Spread remaining shredded coconut flakes on a plate– not spread out finely, but piled.  Ice cupcakes and dip upside down into coconut flakes so the frosting picks up the flakes.

These cupcakes look super professional, taste absolutely delicious, and were ridiculously easy to make!  They were a big hit at the office, especially with the birthday girl!