Meme’s Banana Cake

July 1, 2022

Meme’s Banana Cake is legendary in our house. Whenever my mom offers the kids to make their birthday cake or a special treat, they always ask for this. It’s moist and rich, but also light and flavorful. My mom always uses fresh whipped cream for frosting, and so when I went to go make my son’s 16th Birthday Cake, and he asked for this, I made it just like she does.  She actually keeps the cooked cake rounds in her freezer to assemble whenever we have a get together – genius! All you have to do is whip up some whipped cream and slice some bananas and voila, you have a special dessert.

This cake would be super easy to make for the 4th of July as well – you can pour the batter into one 9 x 12 cake pan instead of the cake rounds, and decorate with strawberries and blueberries.

This recipe is a lot like banana bread, but the added buttermilk makes it light and fluffy. I love that it is so easy to make, and it comes together quickly.

I also love that this is a great way to use up ripe bananas – you can peel them and freeze them until your ready to use them.

This recipe is perfect for 2 round cake pans.

Assembly is super simple – whip up some cream with a little sugar and vanilla (taste it to be sure it is your desired level of sweetness!) and frost the first layer: 

 

 

Then add a layer of sliced bananas….

 

Then repeat on top and serve immediately – the bananas do brown so only slice and assemble this cake right before you are going to serve it.  Then bite into it and let your eyes close because it is SO good.

Hope you get to try this deliciousness soon! Happy 4th of July – hope it is filled with lots of wonderful things to eat!  xoxo Katie

Meme’s Banana Cake

Ingredients

3 large ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed) + 4 yellow bananas for slicing (can’t be too brown or mushy)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

Whipped Cream 

4 Tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease two round cake pans.
  2. Make the cake: Mash the bananas and set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps is OK.
  5. Spread batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  7. Make the whipped cream: Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Store any unused portion in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. When ready to use, rewhisk for 10 to 15 seconds.
  8. Assemble the cake: Turn out cooked, cooled cakes on a clean service. Put one layer on serving plate or cake stand. Frost the top with a layer of whipped cream, then slice 2 bananas and arrange on top. Put second cake on top, repeat layers of whipped cream and additionally 2 sliced bananas. Serve immediately or keep chilled until serving.

 

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad with Radishes and Arugula

June 1, 2022

 

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As we welcomed summer this weekend, my thoughts immediately turned to this salad that I have made in the past but am craving once more. This salad is AH-mazing. It is a flavor blast of lemon, garlic, and feta along with a texture explosion of crunchy radishes and nuts, creamy avocado, and meaty shrimp. You can make this for a party, or you can make it for yourself and halve the recipe. Either way, you’re going to wanna make it. Because it’s change-your-life good.

I think I was laying by a pool while my kids swam when I dreamed it up. Most likely it was the lingering effects of Tamara Adler and her urge that a salad have something crunchy, creamy, acidic, and oily. Plus I totally crave shrimp in the summer for some reason – it cooks so fast so the kitchen doesn’t get hot and the lighter protein is my jam.  If your people don’t love shrimp you can totally substitute two cubed chicken breasts. 

I was having lunch with my mom and sister the next day, and had a bottle of my favorite Sancerre and wanted to bring something to go with it. The garlick-y lemony dressing, the crunchy salty combo, not to mention how pretty this salad is, all converged and made us so happy.

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I used some of the flavors from the dressing to marinate the shrimp. (A garlic spicy kick on shrimp makes me swoon). I made a marinade from the juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. I put the raw shrimp in a zip lock bag with this and let it sit for a half hour. (You can do longer).

I started the dressing right after since it is very similar, and the longer the garlic hangs out with the lemon the more flavorful it will be so you want to give it some time to mingle. Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced shallot, 1 small grated (or minced) garlic clove. Let it hang. Go listen to some music. 

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When you are ready to start the salad, put some sliced almonds (or whole almonds or another favorite nut) in a pan and toast them. For some reason, I feel compelled to toast nuts in my cast iron skillet. It heats them so evenly.

Here is where you can choose your own adventure: I kept feeling like couscous would be a great texture to this salad. But when I assembled it, it looked too pretty to add it! So I served it in a bowl with a bed of couscous underneath and it was amazing. So experiment! Maybe put it under the arugula in a big bowl if you were taking it to a party. Or leave it out. The couscous does such a great job of soaking up the yummy dressing so it is a thumbs up, but the salad is great on its own too.

While everything is marinating and toasting and couscous is (optionally) fluffing up, start slicing your radishes. I can’t get enough radishes these days, so in they went. And I wanted a creamy element, so in went avocados too.
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This dish comes together fast, because although there are a lot of steps you can do them at the same time. The only thing that this salad requires one you get past cooking the shrimp is assembly. Yay for some easiness.

Whether you are headed to a big BBQ, or some relaxed get togethers with friends and family, delight everyone and make this. (But even if you eat it at home with Netflix, it’s still pretty great.)

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You will thank me when you make this! I promise.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad with Radishes and Arugula (Printer Version Here):

For the Marinaded Shrimp:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ lb. raw shrimp, peeled

For the Salad:

2 cups arugula, thinly sliced

1 avocado, sliced lengthwise

1 cup radishes, sliced

½ cup toasted almonds

½ cup crumbled feta (I used low fat)

For the Dressing:

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

2 teaspoons chopped parsely

½ teaspoon salt, pinch of black ground pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

If shrimp is frozen, soak in warm water until it is thawed (about 5-10 minutes.) Peel and removed tails. Mix marinade ingredients together, then pour over peeled raw shrimp in a ziplock bag. Let sit in fridge for 30 minutes-4 hours.

Start the dressing by mixing all the ingredients except the olive oil. Let sit to allow flavors to blend.

If serving with couscous, prepare according to package directions.

Toast almonds by pouring into skillet or pan, shaking to evenly distribute in one even layer in pan so they toast evenly. Checking for doneness every few minutes (set a timer if needed) shaking pan to toss and redistribute nuts. Repeat as necessary until toasted. (Note: you can tell when they are done by noticing when there is a toasted nut smell, but the timer is more reliable, which is helpful since they burn easily). Remove from heat when done and let rest until use.

When shrimp is done marinating, heat large pan on medium-high heat. Pour shrimp in pan, give one small sprinkle of salt and pepper, turning after cooking 1-2 minutes or when pink. Let cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, then transfer to a plate to cool.

Meanwhile, place arugula in large bowl. Slice radishes and scatter around the top. Slice avocado, squeezing with lemon juice to prevent browning, then lay on top of salad. Scatter evenly the feta, nuts, and shrimp around top.

When read to eat, pour dressing evenly over top. Serve immediately.

Easy + Delicious Bruschetta Chicken

May 20, 2022

There is nothing my husband and son love more then a chicken breast slathered in flavor + cheese for dinner. So when I eyed all of the tomatoes and basil I saw in the produce section, I thought what if what I love slathered on bread they would love on a chicken breast?

Turns out I love it too.

This dinner gets bonus points for being totally easy + doable on a busy sports night. You can easily chop up the shallots, garlic and tomatoes earlier in the day, and then prep is a snap.

Turn on a 350 oven, pour the marinade over the chicken breasts for 10 min.

Toss the tomatoes with a duplicate version of the marinade plus some julienned basil, and voila, your prep is done.

Add some mozzarella cheese and the tomatoes to the chicken and let it cook while you do any of the million tasks you have to do in your house before you leave to go pick up someone from some field.

It also reheats beautifully for anyone who has to eat later or for lunch the next day (yum! flavors just get better).

What is amazing about this dish is how the sweetness of the tomatoes combines with the acidity of the balsamic, plus those lovely aromatics of shallots and garlic, to become one of the most flavorful bites of food you will ever have. The 10 minute marinade infuses the chicken with that flavor so well. And the gooey cheese is the perfect textural combination.

I had mine with spaghetti squash but the others had it over pasta. And those tomatoes look like a lot but they are the perfect amount to create the perfect tomato/chicken/pasta ratio with every bite.

My goal for this blog is always to give great dinner rotation ideas – almost everyone likes them, they are super doable, but they also could make you happy if you ordered it in a restaurant. This one is a winner on all counts. Hope you get to try it soon!

Happy Eating,

xoxo Katie

Bruschetta Chicken

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

For the tomatoes:

  • 2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

Combine all ingredients for the marinade: shallots, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken breasts in a cooking dish and pour marinade over them for 10 min.

While it marinates, combine a second marinade for the tomatoes (minus the Italian seasoning). Toss tomatoes, marinade, and basil together and taste. Add more salt, vinegar or oil if necessary.

When 10 minutes are up, add 1/4 cup mozzarella to the top of each chicken breasts (feel free to add more if you like of course), the spread tomatoes over all of the chicken breasts and cook in the oven for 30-35 min. or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash.

Risotto Primavera

May 6, 2022

 

Spring has sprung here in New Hampshire finally! The lacy tree blossoms, the tulip-and-daffodil studded yards, and warmer temps all beckon us to linger outside every chance we get. The trampoline is in full use, and flip flops and Birks are finding their way onto our happy feet.

I love seeing how the change of seasons affects our appetites. We go from craving warm bowls of comfort food to wanting fresh veggies and salads. This Risotto Primavera is a sort of in-between, with all the stick to your ribs comfort from cheesy, warm risotto and all of the feel good bites of lots of green veggies.

This is the perfect side dish when you break out your grill and cook some chicken or steak, or our favorite, swordfish. It feels indulgent, but also healthy.

There is something so relaxing about cooking risotto. The adventure of stirring and ladeling in more broth and stirring some more (sipping a glass of wine somehow adds to the relaxation right?) until you are left with a creamy, cheesy flavor bomb of a side dish. The wine and the parm make this irresistible.

I love artichokes with risotto – I often make artichoke risotto up north at our camp when we cook steak on an open fire, since we can keep all the makings for it in the pantry. But the addition of fresh asparagus and peas were so springlike and welcome.

Feel free to play around with your veggies though. Mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and butternut squash are all also delicious veggies with risotto.

Though it is delicious hot, this dish can be served at room temperature, so feel free to bring it to a potluck or picnic. It will brighten up any meal. Cheers to spring friends!

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Risotto Primavera

Serves 4 (I doubled this recipe).

  • 1 cup Aborio rice.
  • 1/2 cup onion or shallot (finely diced)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tablespoon butter (preferably unsalted)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (we use Pinot Grigio)
  • 3 cups chicken stock (have more on hand)
  • 1/2 cup chopped artichokes (I like canned but frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 cup peas (if frozen, let soak in warm water to thaw)
  • 1/2 cup chopped blanched asparagus (see directions)

Directions:

  • Put chicken stock in small pan over medium heat to warm it.
  • Blanch Asparagus: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  When boiling, add asparagus and cook for 5-7 minutes until tender. Get bowl of cold water + ice cubes ready, and drain asparagus then add to the ice bath to lock in their green color.
  • Add the olive oil to a large skillet or frying pan and bring to medium high heat, add onions and cook until translucent (about 2-3 minutes). Add butter and Arborio rice, stir to coat rice.
  • Increase heat to high, add white wine.  Let rice absorb the wine while the wine cooks off (2-4 minutes). Reduce heat back to med high.
  • Add the warm chicken stock, one cup at a time.  As the rice absorbs the stock continue adding stock gradually. Stir constantly.
  • Continue cooking until the rice is almost all the way cooked through, it should be al dente with a firm center (approx 15-20 min).
  • When rice is cooked, reduce heat to low. Add ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, the Parmesan cheese and stir. Then add the vegetables. Taste to see if more salt or pepper is needed. Add more Parm on top for serving.

Baked Artichoke Crostini with Havarti Dill

April 8, 2022

If your looking for a new, easy appetizer for Easter, this recipe is for you.

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you all – I have been dreaming of re-creating this dish here on the blog. We always visit one of our favorite restaurants, Giuseppe’s, in Meredith, NH whenever we go visit my in-laws. My husband grew up near Lake Winniepesaukee and Meredith is the beautiful lake-side town next door. Giuseppe’s is located in an old mill building that is beautifully renovated, and between the scenery and the food it is so special.

It also might be this artichoke dish on their menu that calls us there.

I was surprised that my first time trying to re-create it tasted exactly like the restaurant version, which is probably because it uses only a few good ingredients. This dish is a study in simplicity, and brings out the flavor of the artichokes. The creamy havarti with the notes of dill perfectly compliment the garlic, wine and artichokes.

I recently made it for our cooking club, and everyone was crazy about this dish. ‘That’s lovely’, ‘what is this deliciousness’ and ‘wow’ were some of the comments. Pretty much a home run for a pot luck dish. (I think it’s still delicious at room temperature).

This would make a great appetizer for Easter or any party. The whole artichokes get soft baking in the oven and it is so fun to let them spread out on the crostini. Taking a bite is such a wonderful textural combination – crunchy, buttery crostini, soft, warm artichokes dripping in a wine and garlic infused liquid, and creamy cheese with dill to top it off. Perfection.

You will want to double the recipe if you have more than 3 people (I need at least 2 when I have this).

Hope you get to try this one soon, it is such a crowd pleaser and super simple to make. Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Baked Artichoke Crostini with Havarti Dill

Ingredients: 

10 slices of a baguette or French bread

3 T. olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can whole artichokes, 5-7 count

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

4 oz. havarti dill, sliced into 4-5 slices

salt & pepper

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Arrange slices of baguette on cookie sheet. Drizzle with 2 T. olive oil, and season with a pinch of salt & pepper.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly golden. Set aside.

In a cast iron skillet or small pan, heat remaining tablespoon of oil. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring carefully. Add wine to skillet, then add artichokes and let them cook in the wine garlic mixture for 3-5 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and lay sliced havarti dill on top of artichoke hearts. Cover with foil or lid and place into a 350 degree oven. Let cook for 10-12 minutes.

Remove, and serve immediately with crostini.

Zuppa Tuscana

March 29, 2022

A few weeks ago I was sitting at a restaurant off of one of our favorite ski trails (Lalapalooza at Sunday River, IYKYK). It was snowing, I was super chilly, and when I saw Zuppa Toscana on the menu it was all I wanted. When they put down a piping hot bowl of it in front of me, I was one happy girl.

It was so good I was craving it afterwards. So when my husband let me sneak off to our house to write the next weekend alone (I finally finished the ending to my novel! More on that later…), I cooked up a big pot of this Zuppa Toscana and sipped and slurped while I typed away the whole weekend. Toasted buttered bread for dunking was very necessary of course.

I love making classic dishes and falling in love with them, and being reminded that they are classic for a reason. The creamy broth still feels light and healthy with lots of garlic, and the potatoes and sausage are such a comfort combo. The kale absorbs all the flavor of the bacon and garlic and makes you feel so good. It has been so cold this week, and this soup is perfect for chilly spring nights.

I have to say I much prefer the hot, full fat sausage here. You can use sweet full fat sausage if your cooking for little people who don’t like spice but when I made a version with turkey sausage it was definitely missing something.

Also whenever I make soup, I always tend to use up the chicken broth container, so if you don’t love broth you can use 6 cups but if you don’t mind extra just use 8 cups or 2 containers. It’s so yummy to sip away on. This soup is one pot, under 30 minutes, and leftovers just get better each day.

I hope you try this to see how easy it is to feel like you’re in an Italian kitchen on a chilly spring night. It’s the perfect way to send off winter, and say hello to spring.  Happy eating, xoxo Katie

Zuppa Toscana

Ingredients

4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound sweet (or hot if preferred) Italian sausage, casings removed

4 to 5 large russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 large white onion, diced

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6-8 cups chicken broth

6 cups curly kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon; set aside to drain. Add the Italian sausage to the drippings and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned and no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  2. Add the potatoes, garlic and onion to the drippings and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with the crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add the kale, heavy cream, bacon and sausage and cook over medium heat until the kale is tender, another 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar just before serving.