b-a-n-a-n-a-s!

As an extension of my last health-kick post, I decided to make this Whole Wheat Banana Bread. During hot summer days, the shelf life of bananas seems to be as short as Snooki’s skirts. I usually only buy them two or three at a time (bananas, not Snooki’s skirts) and even then must eat them immediately. So what to do with some truly sad, overriped bananas?

Turn those ugly duckling bananas…

into a beautiful swan banana bread.

I adjusted this Cooking Light recipe by swapping half of the flour with whole wheat flour and added a bit of cinnamon for a nice aromatic punch. The texture was a bit denser with the addition of the whole wheat but the flavor was delicious. In the future, I may mess around more with this basic recipe maybe with some flax seed meal, different spices, or replacing the butter with oil. either way you make it, banana bread is bound to be YUM!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread
adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • ⅓ cup plain low-fat yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(1)  Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½-inch loaf pan.
(2)  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, stirring with a whisk.
(3)  In a small bowl, combine the banana, yogurt and vanilla; mash together.
(4)  Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute).
(5)  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana/yogurt mixture and blend well.
(6)  Slowly add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Make sure not to overmix the batter, a few specks of flour should still be seen. Spoon batter into the loaf pan.
(7)  Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

on another note, I’d like to say to my friend

Happy Birthday Morgan!

 

Can’t wait to see and celebrate with you (hope you like banana bread!). I hope everyone’s looking forward to the long Labor Day weekend ahead. I’ll be heading to Nashville/Murfreesboro to see some old familiar faces. SO excited!

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kale, it’s what’s for dinner.

the first week i was home, i ate nothing but junk. junk junk. like rice krispy treats and gummy worms and cheesy nachos, junk. it’s hard when you shift from my rather meager pantry to Mama Choo’s overflowing, snack-stocked one to not over-indulge. every time i come home, i open the pantry door and exclaim ‘CORNUCOPIA!’ before devouring such goodies as mentioned above (think charlotte’s web, when templeton goes to the carnival). afterwards, i feel so happy… for about 30 minutes.

then i feel as though someone has just punched me in my stomach’s face and realize i’m getting too old to treat my body this way. so to reprimand for that week of ickiness, i made this dish which incorporates whole grain spaghetti, sautéed kale and cannellini beans. yes, it’s meant to be healthy but it’s also super delicious! if you’re vegan, the recipe can easily be adapted with the omission of the parmesan cheese but i kept it cause, a little indulgence now and then never hurt anybody.

Spaghetti with Braised Kale
adapted from Bon Appétit

  • 1 pound kale (about 2 bunches), large center ribs and stems removed, cut
  • crosswise into ½-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • ½ pound spaghetti (I use whole grain)
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese

(1)  Rinse and drain kale.
(2)  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
(3)  Add sliced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and pinch of salt; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
(4)  Add kale and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Cover pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes.
(5)  Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking liquid.
(6)  Add cooked spaghetti to kale mixture in pan. Add cannellini beans, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry.
(7)  Sprinkle spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Makes 4 servings

do you have a go-to, feel good meal?? share it with me!

athens, GA

sisters can be bossy, selfish, and teasingly cruel. trust me, growing up i was one. i used to lock my sister christine out of her own room, tell her that i was actually part of an alien breed, or confide to her that i was conflicted with a debilitating disease that could only be eased by eating her Starbursts. but that was last year.

sisterly love

now i like to think i’ve grown out of this brat phase and have truly developed that special bond that can only exist between sisters. she knows all my quirks, my expressions, my true self. and vice versa. sadly, we now live far apart (about 846 miles apart to be exact) and i miss her dearly. so i was delighted when during my visit home, i had the chance to see her yesterday in athens, ga where she has just started her sophomore year at the university of georgia.

athens is completely charming. it’s an archetypal college town where everything is imbued with bulldog pride. the campus is beautiful (but quite hilly!) and the many quaint shops and restaurants are sprinkled throughout downtown or the five points. i got a little private tour of north campus via christine where i saw the famous arch (which you only walk under once you’ve graduated UGA), the many historic buildings and even saw a glimpse of the colossal football stadium.

afterwards, we had worked up quite an appetite. one of the best restaurants in athens is five and ten, run by top chef masters alum hugh acheson (aka mr. unibrow). it’s elevated southern food with a focus on good quality, local ingredients. and deliciousness. it must be one of those places that all the locals know a.k.a. there was no obvious sign outside, causing us to drive right past it two, okay maybe three or four times.

i was so happy once we did find it, because the small restaurant is adorably eclectic and the food was top-notch. to start off with, i had the fresh corn soup with sautéed leeks and crispy almonds on top. it was so creamy yet light and really tasted like biting into a fresh corn on the cob. dinner was the wild striped bass with this pea/bean puree that i had to keep myself from licking off the plate it was so good!

and for dessert, of course, we had a buffet of choices. my favorite was the très leches cake with espresso cream– such a brilliant combination of flavors. definitely one of the best dining experiences I’ve had recently. does the South know how to cook or what?!

what a great way to spend the evening with my favorite essy! ILY xo

Five and Ten
1653 South Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA
 

georgia on my mind

from the Big Apple of NYC to Georgia peaches 🙂 it’s good to be home.

it’s even better to have a spacious, fully stocked kitchen (no more using a wine bottle as a rolling pin!). what better way to celebrate coming home than to make a good ole fashioned cobbler. one of our family friends visited our home last weekend and dropped off a bushel of peaches (not quite a bushel, but it’s a LOT!). so making peach cobbler not only became a priority but a necessity.

a fraction of the bushel

cobblers are one of the easiest desserts to put together. there’s no rolling, scooping, or icing involved– just laidback, no frills deliciousness. like a nice southern dessert should be.

ready to be baked in the oven!

Peach Cobbler
adapted from Martha Stewart (I halved the following recipe)

  • 15 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (about 2.5 quarts)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅔ cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(1)  Preheat oven to 350° F.
(2)  Place peaches, cornstarch, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss until well combined. Pour mixture into an 8 ½ x 11 ½ inch baking dish or 10-inch cast iron skillet when halved.
(3)  In a large bowl, combine flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a fork, two knives, or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
(4)  Whisk together egg, heavy cream and vanilla in a liquid-measuring cup. Slowly add this mixture to dry ingredients; mix with a fork until dough just comes together.
(5) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board, and roughly shape into a 12-inch log. Using a bench scraper, cut log into twelve equal portions. Place rough balls of dough on top of peach mixture.  Now I love Martha, but I think her Yankee roots are showing here. I just dolloped spoonfuls of the dough over the peaches. It creates for a more traditional, cobbler-y top.
(6)  Sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 40-45 minutes.
(7)  Transfer pan to a rack, and let cool slightly. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
 

Makes 10-12 servings

guacamole

when you think about it, it’s kinda freaky how our tastebuds change so much from childhood. i would say 90% of the foods i eat today would have been utterly deplorable to my 6 year-old tastebuds. some of the foods on this hit-list would have been: any kind of leafy green, beans, whole wheat and most definitely avocados. which is a shame cause you can’t make a guacamole without good avocados.

well i must be grown up now cause i’ve been making and eating this homemade guacamole morning, noon, and night. GUACAMOLE for DINNER?! yes. and if you haven’t done so, your tastebuds obviously haven’t lived.

Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 lime
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (optional)

(1) Cut each avocado in half and remove the pits. Score each half a couple times horizontally and vertically then scoop the flesh into a medium bowl using a spoon.
(2) Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over the avocado chunks then toss gently with a spoon, making sure the lime juice evenly coats all the avocado.
(3) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Chill for at least an hour before serving with tortilla chips, pita chips, tacos, on a shoe…

Makes 4 servings

my swan song

here are some pictures from my final tour at the Met (Art through the Five Senses). my supervisor and one of the associates i work with came along and were busy snapping away photos like the proud Met parents they are. how embarrassing.

not to sound all sappy, but this summer’s been pretty great. having an experience such as this internship has not only motivated me professionally but personally as i have realized how much of a blessing my friends and family have truly been. being so far away from all that is familiar, it makes such a difference to know that you are loved and cared for. i also feel so lucky to have been part of such a remarkable group of interns, most of whom have challenged and inspired me more than they will ever know.

as the last week of my internship comes to a close, i’m excited to take a 3 week vacation back home to georgia where i plan to veg-out and visit my peeps in the boro/nashville. but i’m also anticipating my return to nyc, to see the Met change under fall colors and to find out all that my new role at the museum entails…

what a difference two weeks makes…

(somewhat) controlled chaos. that is how i would describe my life these days.

to begin with, last weekend, my family (aka the Choo clan) finally came to visit me in the Big City! in a span of about 3 days, we crammed together so many sites and of course, delicious food! here are some photos of our weekend:

Serendipity 3!

American Museum of Natural History

so happy to be eating chocolate bread @ Balthazar

best desserts i've had in NYC: otto pizzeria

secondly, most of my chaos can be boiled down to two words. Alexander. McQueen. if the Met was giving out free crack, i think we would have had less people than we did this past week. a 2 hr. long wait outside just to get into the museum, 3-4 hr. long lines to see the McQueen exhibition causing us to reach full capacity and close the museum for 20 min on friday, i understand why people have been… perturbed. but to burst into hysterical tears and tell me i ‘need to get my sh*t together!’ uncalled for LADY. needless to say, unless you are planning on getting me a present, don’t mention the words ALEXANDER or MCQUEEN in the same sentence for a while 🙂

for some good news, about two weeks ago, my supervisor asked me if i wanted to stay on at the Met after the internship! my answer: HECK YES! i feel so lucky to be a part of such a world-class institution with so many incredibly passionate people. and now that i’ve found a place to live after a week of apartment hunting, i’m officially going on cruise control…

whether you like it or not Manhattan, i’m here to stay!

Balthazar
80 Spring Street, NY NY
 
Otto Pizzeria
1 Fifth Avenue, NY NY
 
Staten Island Ferry
departs from Manhattan at Whitehall Terminal (South Ferry stop on the 1)
 
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street, NY NY
 
WICKED
Gershwin Theatre, 222 W 51st Street, NY NY