Jul 25, 2014

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

Am always delighted to have left-over bananas as these yummy fruits provide us an excuse to make one of our staple quick bread recipes - Banana Nut Bread. My kids, however, are not always keen with the "bread with nuts" version so to accommodate them, I often make another version loaded with chocolate chips or chunks. However, since we are huge dark chocolate fans, we almost always use the 70% chocolate bar or the bittersweet chocolate for our baking, banana bread included. That way, it doesn't become overly sugary in taste but provides a nice yummy contrast to the sweet bananas.

Feel free to use either choco chips or chunks. But one tip I highly recommend to make anything you bake with chocolate yummy - make sure you use a good quality chocolate - preferably one that you actually eat, not the baking kind. With this you can be assured that your sweet creation is totally scrumptious and full of yummy chocolate goodness! Hope you enjoy this moist and delectable Dark Chocolate Banana Bread!


1 ½ cups flour
teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Butter, softened*  

3/4 cup Sugar 
3 very ripe Bananas

2 Eggs, room temperature
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed Orange/Lemon juice 

Grated zest of one Orange or Lemon (optional but great for extra tang and flavor!)

8 oz (1 cup) 70% Dark Chocolate chunks or Chocolate chips 

*To soften the butter, take it out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature about an hour before you need it.  In case that's not possible here's a good  link on how to soften a butter quickly.


Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan or  you can use parchment paper to line your loaf pan, too. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat the softened butter and sugar until whipped-creamy roughly 5-6 minutes. A stand mixer would be quite handy with this.

Peel and mash the bananas. If you wish you can put the bananas in a food processor to hasten the process and make sure it's smooth. Do this while the mixer is beating the butter and sugar.

Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time. Add the mashed bananas and continue to beat until smooth and no more lumps appear. Pour in the lemon or orange juice and the grated zest. Beat just until combined.

Fold in the dry ingredients (flour mixture). Gently fold in the chocolate chips or chunks. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Enjoy!

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Jul 22, 2014


Organic Blueberries were on sale last week so I loaded up on them as that doesn't often happen. I decided to make some Blueberry Ice Cream as I made an egg-free version last year which the  whole family enjoyed. I think summer was already over when I made it then, hence, I didn't immediately post the recipe but thought I would wait for the appropriate season.

Finally, summer is here and Blueberry season is at its peak! Since we are relocating to Connecticut pretty soon, I doubt if we'll get the chance to do some blueberry picking. I feel sad as Michigan blueberries at their prime are simply the best. The blueberries are plump, juicy and simply scrumptious! Oh well, I may not be able to pick them straight from the tree but at least I can simply find them easily and so cheaply at the grocery stores. So, this summer don't miss the chance to load up on this super-food! I know ice cream is a dessert but at least you have an excuse as you are also eating perhaps the healthiest fruit on earth! So, it's somewhat guilt-free, right? :)


1 1/2 cup Blueberry Puree (from fresh or frozen blueberries)
3/4 cup Half and half (or whole Milk)
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
2/3 cup granulated Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract


Puree the blueberries. Strain. Measure about 1 1/2 cups.

Combine the half and half, heavy cream, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix using a wire whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the pureed blueberries and vanilla.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instruction. I usually churn it for about 20 minutes on mine.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a freezer-safe bowl and cover. I use a metallic mixing bowl and cover it with foil. Place in the freezer. Take the bowl out every 30 minutes thereafter (for at least 3 hours) and stir the ice cream using either a whisk or a handheld blender or beater. It is necessary to do this to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze the ice cream overnight or until hard. 

Enjoy this egg-free and truly creamy-licious ice cream!

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Jul 19, 2014

Sweet-and-Spicy Chicken and Steak Taco Bar

My husband and I love spicy food! We prefer food that has complex flavor, full of yummy spices that delight the taste buds. When we came to the USA, over ten years ago, one of the first things we looked for was a good Indian restaurant as we love Indian food. Unfortunately, at that time, there wasn't any reasonably good Indian restaurant where we resided so we were quite sad and thought we may no longer have our favorite food for a long time (unless we visited another city). Thankfully, the situation all worked out well as that motivated me to learn how to cook. If spicy food won't be readily available, then I must do something about it. I am glad that because of this I learned how to cook curry and other Indian and even Thai specialties. Necessity is indeed a good motivator!

Jul 17, 2014

Blueberry Pecan Coffee Cake

With juicy blueberries for extra sweetness and pecans for added crunch and flavor this is our ultimate breakfast and coffee cake. | manilaspoon.com

I got so excited the other day when I saw some Michigan Blueberries being sold at a nearby deli shop. It was a little more expensive than when you buy it in Holland (my former Michigan hometown) but I was desperately missing these yummy berries, I thought I'd indulge. Oh, they were so juicy and sweet! It's a shame that we were not able to go blueberry picking before we left for Connecticut. I heard that there are also some farms here where you can pick some berries but somebody told me it's so much cheaper to buy them from Aldi's instead of going through all the trouble of picking them yourself. Thankfully, Michigan blueberries were also on sale at Aldi's (and same price as the ones in MI) so I got myelf what is the equivalent of at least 2 buckets - perhaps even 3 so now I have some blueberries to enjoy for fall and winter!

Jul 16, 2014

Nanaimo Bars

About two weeks ago, we went to Connecticut where we are to relocate pretty soon. We went there to register our kids for the coming school year. It was a long journey from Michigan to New Haven. We knew it would take us two days to do so especially since we were travelling with our kids which necessitated frequent stop-overs. So it wouldn't be such a laborious trek, we decided to go via Canada instead of through Ohio and Pennsylvania. We thought it might be a more interesting and enjoyable to see something different along the way.

Jul 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Three Berry Cobbler

With the abundant supply of fruits, particularly berries,  during summer I have been inspired to do fruit-based desserts. For me nothing describes summer more than fruit cobblers and crumbles. The lovely colors of reds and blues combined and the tartness they impart to an otherwise one-dimensional dessert make them my summer fave.

This cobbler is particularly lovely because you don't need to use the oven for it. It's cooked in the slow cooker which makes it so much easier; no need to preheat anything and most of all you don't need to sweat while doing it (no warm oven, right?). Also, it doesn't take that long to cook it, only about 2 hours or so which for slow cooking is rather fast!

This cobbler is great to eat on its own but if that's not enough, you may add your vanilla ice cream on top. We always do! Enjoy the rest of the summer with this yummy Three Berry Cobbler.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt   
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
a pinch of ground cloves, optional
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons, half and half or milk
2 tablespoons, vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup each fresh or frozen berries  (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries)
3/4 cup water
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for topping, optional

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and ground cloves (if using).


Combine the eggs, milk and oil then stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Spread the batter evenly onto the bottom of a greased slow cooker.

    In a large saucepan, combine the berries, water, and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil.

Once it has boiled, remove from the heat and immediately, pour over batter. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean.  

Turn the slow cooker off. Uncover and let stand for 30 minutes before serving. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!

If you wish to print the recipe, there's a print-friendly icon below the post. Click on the "remove images" box for easy and convenient printing.

Adapted from Taste of Home's - Black and Blue Cobbler. 

Jul 12, 2014

Cornell Chicken Barbecue (Cornell Formula Sauce)

Last year, one of our friends from church invited as over for dinner. I watched as she masterfully grilled the chicken which we would have for dinner. I knew it would be a wonderful dish as the aroma coming from the grill smelled wonderful. It was amazing - the most tender, juicy and flavorful grilled chicken we have had in a long time. I am sure, I ate quite a few pieces.

Jul 11, 2014

Chocolate Dreams (Part 1)

Please note: To find the recipe, find the photo of the yummy sweet treat you are looking for and then click on the link underneath. That should lead you to the recipe. This is a collection of recipes from our blog and other amazing food bloggers. 

By this time, if you are a regular follower of this blog, it has become obvious that we are addicted to chocolate. I am not much of a sweets person (hence there are more savory recipes than sweets here) but I make an exception when it comes to chocolate. Actually, it is my hubby who turned me into a chocoholic. He just loves chocolate especially the bittersweet variety. 

Jul 5, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Before I converted my hubby to become a pork and beef lover (particularly ribs), he pretty much ate only chicken. Let me correct that, he ate pork but only in the form of breakfast sausages and particularly the British variety as he believes they make the best sausages in the world - I must say, I do agree. At any rate, he still prefers to have chicken over red meat as he is quite health conscious (I am obviously not as good as him as I love pork too much!).
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