Category Archives: Recipes

I cook food. Sometimes it is delicious. You can try too!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Twilight Saga… What?

So apparently I OMG NEED to blog about this Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread that I made on Saturday night, because I wasn’t going to but then three different people asked me for the recipe so I will (even though I have one sad lonely picture of the empty bread pan. Fail. New Year’s Resolution!)

Banana Bread

But a picture of an empty pan means it was enjoyed and not wasted, so I’m not complaining!

But before the recipe, a brief review of Breaking Dawn Part 2 – the end to the Twilight Saga:

(Spoiler alert – I felt the same way when the book series ended.)

Wow. I just did that. Again. It was worth it. I’m glad it’s over.

Okay but really it was the best of all the Twilight movies, which isn’t really hard to accomplish. The acting was slightly less awkward, and there was an epic fight scene (and a bit of vampire sexy time), so all in all, not a bad flick. But I am not-so-secretly glad I won’t be shelling out $12 a pop for any more of those gems. The time spent with Sabrina though, priceless 🙂

Okay, so, this bread. Of course the original recipe came from my favorite blog How Sweet It Is, but I changed it a little. I actually 1 and a halfed the recipe (not quite doubling it) and it made: One bread loaf, one 8×8 pan of brownie like bread, and one muffin pan (12 muffins). That’s a lot of bread. You probably don’t need to do that, but I have a bad habit of buying bananas, not eating them, and throwing them into the freezer saying, “I’ll make banana bread some time!” and then never making banana bread…

Also, instead of PAM or other spray, I’ve been using a mixture of olive oil and water in a spritzer, and it works just as well and makes me feel better about my ozone contribution. And arteries. Slightly.


What You Need:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 4 large bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

What You Do:

Mash yo bananas.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter until smooth. Add brown sugar, egg and vanilla, mixing well for about 2-3 minutes. Mix in bananas and heavy cream until smooth. Add flour, baking soda and baking powder and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter in a greased loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.

PS Happy Chanukah/Hanukkah/however you choose to spell or celebrate it! I had latkes twice this weekend and I could not be happier!


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Fall Is Here

Fall is here and I could not be happier. It is time for jeans and boots, sweaters and scarves, and all things pumpkin. Pumpkin, and squash, and sweet potato, and… well, I think it’s clear that I love fall for its fashion statements, weather, and food. So let’s get right to it shall we?

Last night, something amazing happened.

You probably can’t tell how amazing, because the lighting in my kitchen sucks so my pictures usually do too.

But trust me. Pumpkin. Macaroni. And. Cheese.

You heard (read?) that right. There aren’t even enough words to describe how happy this made me, so I’ll just say I ate it for dinner, and then lunch, and then lunch the next day, too.

This recipe adapted from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body.

Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese

What You Need:

For the pasta:

  • 16 oz noodles (I used shells, you can really use whatever you want)
  • 15 oz can of pumpkin (If it’s not fall and the cans of pumpkin aren’t in the front of the store, they’re usually found in the baking aisle underneath the pre-made pie crusts with the cherry pie filling.)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 1/2 cups milk (I actually didn’t have enough milk, so I used about 2 cups milk and about a cup of chicken stock I had stored in ice cube form)
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
  • 3-4 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

What You Do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Rinse and drain well.
  2. Heat the milk (or combination of milk and chicken stock) in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Add the mashed pumpkin and cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring. Let cook until it starts to thicken a bit, about 5 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove the pot form the heat, add the cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, brown sugar and spinach.

  1. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish or 2 8Ă—8 inch baking dishes.

  1. Melt the 2 tbsp of butter and combine with the bread crumbs and brown sugar; sprinkle on the top.

  1. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the top is browned.

*Note: You can also freeze this dish before cooking*

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Let’s talk about bandwagons for a minute. Do you jump on them? Stay off? I’m undecided. Some bandwagons are awesome and you should totally climb aboard. (Hunger Games anyone?!) Others, like quinoa, I keep trying to get on board with, and I just can’t. Maybe I’m just not making it right, but every time I try it it’s just… meh. I don’t hate it, but it would never be my first choice.

Blah blah blah healthy grains blah blah blah. I’ll keep trying it, but for now? Not my go-to. Anyway, for those of you who are totally on board with the whole quinoa thing, here’s my turkey bacon and cheese quinoa cups. (I have about 10 left if anyone wants one…)

This recipe originally brought to you by Iowa Girl Eats.

What You Need:

Ingredients (makes 12 cups)

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 seeded and diced jalepeno
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced turkey bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

What You Do

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix to combine.

  • Liberally spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray and spoon mixture to the top of each cup.

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the cups are golden brown. Let cool for at least 5 minutes in the tin before eating. Do not underbake or they won’t come out of the pan. (I did… not pretty).

In true Lara fashion, I didn’t take any pictures of the finished product. Whoops.

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Hello Kitchen, I’ve Missed You

I’ve been in a bit of a slump. Not just a blogging slump, but also a cooking slump. Which probably partially explains the blogging slump. But I’m back, baby!

Enter Shrimp Burgers with Chipotle Cream and Peach Salsa. From where else? One of my favorite blogs, How Sweet Eats. Seriously, if this girl knew how often I re-blogged her recipes she would either (a) hug me or (b) sue me. I can’t decide. I hope she knows I give credit where credit is due – this is all her genius. I’m just a copy cat!

This meal. This meal was so good. And pretty easy. A tiny bit time consuming, but I have a great Sous Chef. (Thanks D!)

Without further ado. Shrimp Burgers with Chipotle Cream and Peach Salsa.

For The Burgers

What You Need:

makes 6 burgers

  • 1 pound raw, peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • 2/3 cup seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I used regular yellow because I didn’t have Dijon)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 6 whole wheat buns, toasted
  • 1 avocado, sliced for topping

For the Chipotle Cream:

  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle sauce
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

What You Do:

Add shrimp to a food processor and pulse until chopped. (Mine kind of got pureed, but it still worked out.) Transfer to a bowl and add egg, panko, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder and basil. Mix until combined, then form shrimp into patties (form tightly with your hands, trying to prevent cracking). Heat a skillet oven medium heat and add half of the olive oil, then cook patties until golden on each side, about 3-4 minutes. Repeat with remaining burgers.

In a bowl, stir together sour cream, chipotle sauce, lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread on top of burgers, then layer with avocado and peach salsa!

For the Coconut Peach Salsa

What You Need:

  • 2 ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • salt + pepper to taste

What You Do:

Stir ingredients together and serves on top of burgers. This originally called for toasted coconut, but Dan hates coconut so I was going to put it just on mine. I ended up forgetting and it was still amazing.

Thanks, Jessica!


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Chicken Tikka Masala

So, my sister and I have this joke that Dan, my boyfriend, doesn’t really have tastebuds. He’ll eat pretty much anything (save a few key veggies like tomatoes or mushrooms), and everything is “okay”, or “fine”.

Except this.

Dan said that this was “really good.” He even took the leftovers for lunch the next day. And texted me to ask what it was called. And then told me it was good again. Success? I think so.

Anyway, I’m glad he liked it. I sure did. This is actually the third time I’ve made this dish, and I’ve cooked the chicken slightly differently each time. Every time it was delicious, if I do say so myself. This time, for the sake of time (and therefore my sanity), I decided to broil the chicken. This is probably how I’ll do it from now on because it (a) took about 6 minutes and (b) was delicious.

So I’ll just get on with it then. This dish was a Pinterest find (aren’t they all?) and originally came from Favorite Family Recipes. As always, I slightly tweaked a few things, but this was a pretty solid recipe. Definitely go check out their site!

What You Need:

For the Marinade

  • 1 cup yogurt (any kind will do – I even accidentally used Vanilla before and it was still delicious. Though I’d stick to plain if you can.)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger. Here I used about a tablespoon of ground ginger instead of fresh
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

For the Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream

What You Do:

  1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in chicken, cover, refrigerate up to 1 hour. I only had time to marinate for about 25 minutes, but I’m sure the longer the better.
  2. While the chicken is marinating, make the sauce: Melt butter in a large skillet. Saute garlic for 1 minute. Season with cumin, paprika and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
  3. About 10 minutes into the simmering, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the chicken under a broiler set to High. They really only need about 7-10 minutes, so check at about 5 and flip if you want some browning on both sides.
  4. Once your chicken is cooked (no pink center), and your sauce has been simmering for 20 minutes, add chicken and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a serving platter and serve over rice.


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How Do I love Sundays?

Let me count the ways.

Hey, okay, I know it’s Thursday. It’s been a busy week.

But Sundays. When you get an honest-to-goodness, real, relaxing Sunday… Well, I just don’t think there’s anything better.

You can see from the picture above that my Sunday was pretty great. I woke up and took Jameson to the Dog Park, where he, my 60 pound mutt, was the smallest dog there! I kid you not. The dog count went something like this:

  • 4 Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • 3 German Shepherds
  • A gaggle of labs and retrievers
  • 1 Great Dane
  • Jameson

It was so awesome. He thought he was one of the big dogs, and insisted on wrestling with the biggest guys there.

Anyway, I know why you guys really come here. Sure maybe the hook of puppy pictures brings you in, but just like the dogs, you come for the food. Which brings me to my second adventure of the day: French Toast Muffins. Thank goodness for (1) Pinterest and (2) A stocked baking cabinet. I woke up hungry, checked my boards and found something I had all the ingredients for, and 30 minutes later, voila! Breakfast!

This recipe originally came from Velvet Lava. I tweaked a few things, and, well, it was awesome. I brought the leftovers to Book Club later that evening and they were a hit. Without further ado:

French Toast Muffins (aka Snickerdoodle Muffins)

What You Need:

For the Muffins

5 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. milk (I used Vanilla Silk)

For the Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F.

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  2. Scoop batter into greased or sprayed muffin tins (I used my awesome olive oil spritzer. You could use olive oil, butter, or Pam).
  3. Divide evenly into your 12 muffin tins. I got 12 small-ish muffins, but you could be more generous and get 8-10 larger ones. (I liked the smaller muffins so I could roll them in the topping mixture).
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they just start to turn a bit golden at the edges.
  5. For the topping, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  6. Place melted butter in another small bowl.
  7. Dip the warm muffins in melted butter (you can dip just the top, but as per the recommendation from Velvet Lava I dipped the whooooole thing!
  8. Dip/roll the muffin in cinnamon sugar.
  9. Devour

Since it is already Thursday, and I’m realistically not going to write a post about my week from Sunday to now, I wanted to also talk about my two book club meetings this week. Yes, two. I’m so popular.

Book club #1 met Sunday night (enter leftover muffins, blue moon, cheese spread, and Puck the kitten.) We discussed “The Fault In Our Stars”, which is a young adult novel about a 16 year old girl with lung cancer. It sounds depressing, but it was actually quite funny, witty, heartbreaking, and fascinating all at once. We all really liked it, and I encourage anyone looking for a quick read (or good audio book, apparently) to give it a try.

Book club #2 met Tuesday night, and there was a FABULOUS spread of food.

And also some fabulous beverage refreshments courtesy of Marie.

Here, we discussed A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This is a timeless novel about a girl who grows up in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. We had a great discussion about some of the main themes, and overall, I think everyone really liked it.

All in all, a good Sunday, good week so far, and a super freaking long post.

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Super Late 4th of July Recap

I know, the 4th of July was more than a week ago. I’m behind the times, okay?

My 4th was pretty sweet. I started out by going on a sweltering hot trail ride with Laura. It was our last ride together, since she’s moving to Newport News next month to go back to school. Ambitious chick! It was an awesome ride, I’m so glad we did it!

After a very hot ride, and a very cold shower… well… I had no plans. I know, what 20-something living in the outskirts of D.C doesn’t have plans for the 4th of July? This one! And you know what? it was awesome.

My best friend, Katie, came over with her parents’ dogs, Brynn and Dozer, and the pups had some play time and naps. Shortly after, she and Patrick (her boyfriend, my room mate. Go figure) left for a cookout at one of his friends houses, so Dan and I took it easy, made dinner, and watched way too much Battlestar Galactica. (We’ve recently finished the series. Bittersweet, and also, WHAT THE WHAT?!)

So, what does a girl who doesn’t eat red meat or pork eat on the 4th of July? Glad you asked. I got this recipe for Double Bean Burgers with Avocado Basil Cream from one of my favorite blogs, How Sweet It Is. I’m usually impressed with her recipes, and this one did not disappoint. Even Dan liked them! (He didn’t try the avocado cream though.) So, here’s the scoop:

What You Need:

For the Burgers:

  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 whole grain buns, toasted if desired

For The Avocado Basil Cream:

  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 10 medium basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of pepper

What You Do:

For the Avocado Basil Cream:

Add basil and avocado to a food processor, blending to combine. Once somewhat smooth, add in sour cream and blend again until combined. Add in salt and pepper, taste, and season more if desired.

For the Burgers:

Mash beans with a potato masher or fork. Add in garlic, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper, mixing to combine. In a smaller bowl, lightly beat eggs and add in 1 tablespoon olive oil and breadcrumbs, stirring to mix. Add the egg mixture to the beans, and mix thoroughly to combine, bringing it together with your hands if needed. Separate the beans into 6 equal sections and form patties.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil (or as much as you need). I used my spiffy olive oil spritzer. It’s awesome. Add burgers and cook on each side until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove and serve with avocado cream on whole wheat buns!

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