Category Archives: Bread

Brunch: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

On Saturday a group of us ran the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon here in DC.  Post-race festivities were definitely needed, and our friend Stephanie hosted a brunch.  The weather couldn’t be more perfect: sunny, warm, with a light breeze.  All of us contributed to a little something, from champagne and croissants to egg dishes and french toast.  Runners and non-runners enjoyed the beautiful day and the company.

One of the things we brought over was some banana bread.  Sam had put it into his backpack, and carried it to the cheering locations and the finish line of the race.  It survived all in once piece, and I couldn’t wait to try a bite- a great motivation when running 13.1 miles!

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing through a bookstore and recognized Homemade Life Stories, a book written by Molly Wizenberg.  Her blog, Orangette, is one of the first that I had started reading about 3 years ago.  I was bored during my lunch hours at work, and started browsing different blogs for new recipes, new restaurants in DC or some fashion advice (if you need some blog links check out my list of Blogs, Books & Magazines).

I was really excited about this book, and finished it rather quickly.  The exciting part was that there were recipes after each chapter, which I couldn’t wait to try.  Molly has a great way to pulling you into her life, explaining how each recipe ties in.



Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Adapted from: Homemade Life Stories by Molly Wizenberg

Molly notes that this banana bread freezes wonderfully, once it has fully cooled.  Her original recipe called for crystallized ginger, I chose not to add this (I will next time) just so everyone could enjoy the bread during brunch- just in case we had any picky eaters.  I did add more chocolate chips- who doesn’t enjoy those?


6 tbsp salted butter
3 bananas, frozen or fresh
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, microwave the butter until it has melted.  On a plate, microwave the bananas for 2 minutes.  Peel the bananas and mash them.  Alternatively, if yours aren’t frozen, then just mash them.

In a large bowl, mix together: flour, sugar and baking soda until they are well combined.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add in the mashed bananas, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla.  Stir the mixture until everything is mixed well.  Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture, stir gently until the flour is well incorporated.  The batter will be think and slightly lumpy.  Then, add in the chocolate chips and stir a couple more times.

Grease a 9×5 inch bread pan with cooking spray or butter.  Pour the batter into the bread pan, smooth the top.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Once the oven is hot, bake the bread for 50 minutes.  At this point, start checking if it has cooked.  If the toothpick comes out clean, you can take it out of the oven.  Ours didn’t, and the top was getting darker so I covered the top with aluminum foil.  I baked it for another 20 minutes, checking on the bread every 5 minutes (this will depend on your oven).  Let it cool before cutting it into slices.

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Whole-Wheat Pitas

Just like hummus, I have always bought pitas at the grocery store.  I had found that Trader Joe’s carries fresh and fluffy pitas.  The kind you can’t wait to rip open and sit with a giant tub of hummus and eat away.  I stay away from all others.  Why?  Too many times I have picked up a bag of really thin, limp and not fresh pitas from all grocery stores, definitely not an enjoyable snack.

So when hummus  was chosen for the latest Food Matters Project, I started thinking about getting a little crazy in the kitchen and trying out pitas.  Lately, I’ve had some extra time on my hands, so why not try something new?

As I read over the recipe, I saw that the ingredients included bread flour and whole-wheat flour.  I had neither.  For about 2 seconds I contemplated of not adding those 2 items to my grocery list, but I did.  I’m very glad I did.

When I had made the dough, I had this terrible feeling that it wouldn’t rise (which is why I bought extra packets of yeast).  But I wanted to try it until I succeed (I think the chickpeas got me in a groove).  To my surprise the dough rose, beautifully!

Then came the next part- baking.  It all went fairly smoothly.  I rolled out the dough, sprayed the baking pan, and turned on the heat in our oven.  Of course I couldn’t have picked a better day- it was 70 degrees outside, and even hotter in our condo.  In went the pita, and about 8 minutes later when I pulled it out it looked perfect.  Of course, before I could jump for joy our fire alarm sounded- ooops!  I think a chunk burned on the baking pan.

The recipe makes 8 pitas, and we can’t eat them all in one sitting (although I’d like to!).  So the dough pieces which we didn’t heat up, I divided into sandwich bags and froze them.  So the next time we bring home (or make) some more hummus, or want a fresh and fluffy pita, all I have to do is defrost and bake.  I cannot wait!

And I don’t think I’ll be buying any grocery store pitas ever again!

Whole-wheat Pita
Adapted from: Cooking Light (March 2009)

1 tbsp sugar
1 package dry yeast
1 cup & 2 tbsp warm water
10 oz bread flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
4.75 oz whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
2 tbsp plain Greek-style yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in the 1 cup & 2 tbsp of water water.  Stir it around until all of the granules have dissolved.  Allow it to stand for about 5 minutes.

I had used our stand mixer with the dough attachment (looks like a hook), but you can do this using your hands.  Into the sugar-yeast liquid, slowly add all of the bread flour, about 3 oz of the whole-wheat flour (3/4 cup), yogurt, oil and salt.  Keep mixing the ingredients until the dough is smooth.  If you did this in a stand mixer, take out the dough and knead it until the dough is elastic (about 5-10 minutes).  As your kneading it, keep adding the rest of the whole-wheat flour, a little at a time (until the dough stops being sticky).

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, and drop the dough ball inside.  Flip the dough around, so all of the sides are coated with the cooking spray.  Cover the bowl and allow it to rise in a warm place.  Leave it out until it has doubled in size, for at least an hour (I left mine out for about 3 hours).

Once the dough has risen, divide it into 8 pieces.  Preheat the oven to 500ºF, and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Take each portion one at a time and roll it out into about a 5-inch circle.  If the dough is sticky, use some flour on the rolling pin, your hands and the surface you’re working on.  Place the dough circle on the baking sheet, and into the oven on the lowest rack.  Bake the pita for about 8-10 minutes, until it has puffed up.  Take it out and let it cool before cutting into it.  Enjoy it with some hummus.

Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Panzanella Salad

I think I went a little pomegranate crazy this last week.  I guess that it’s better (and healthier) than too many cookies at this time of the year, right?  The short days and long dark nights demand for some comfort food.  But I still would like to find meals that are healthy and full of flavor.  The kind of dishes that will keep us warm and toasty during the cooler weather.

I try to find salads that have lots of flavor (which this one definitely does) and use a variety of vegetables.  And I love roasted butternut squash, something I look forward to every fall- it smells and tastes so good.

This salad had softly roasted squash and the crunchy pomegranate seeds.  I love dishes that have a variety of textures and tastes.  The tangy-sweet pomegranate seeds in contrast with the earthiness of the arugula and sweet squash.

Since there are roasted veggies, the salad can get a little soggy.  So make this right before you’re about to eat, it’s not one that will survive more than one day.

Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Panzanella Salad
Adapted from: How Sweet It Is

1 butternut squash, peeled & cubed
1/4 cup & 3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 crisp apples, core removed & cubed
1/2 loaf of bread (we used some that was a couple days old), cubed
4 cups of arugula (1 of the plastic boxes)
seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Pom (or 1/4 cup pomegranate juice)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spread butternut squash pieces over a baking sheet.  Drizzle of 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle: salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.  With your hands, mix the oil, spices and squash.  Try to coat all of the squash pieces.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, try flipping the pieces during baking.

Then, take out the baking sheet, and add the apple pieces to the butternut squash mixture.  Return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes.

On another baking sheet, spread the bread cubes.  Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Bake the bread pieces for 20 minutes, at the same time as the apple-butternut squash mixture is in the oven.

In a large salad bowl mix together: arugula, roasted apples, roasted butternut squash, baked bread pieces and pomegranate.  Toss gently to mix well.

In a small bowl mix: dijon mustard, honey, pomegranate juice, apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Whisk the ingredients together.  When serving the salad, drizzle over the salad.

Tuna & Veggie Sandwich

So I’ve actually noticed the recipe for this sandwich over a year ago, but haven’t had a chance to make it.  I like tuna, but not very frequently.  But when a craving hits me, I have to have it now.

The original recipe is titled Pan Bagnat.  Which is a French sandwich, made out of white bread, which has raw vegetables, hard boiled eggs, anchovies, and tuna.  And the recipe, which I found here playing off of the Pan Bagnat, instructs you to put the whole sandwich together to be eaten the next day.

Although it’s a great idea to think about tomorrow’s lunch, I wanted the tuna today.  So a little spin, and some additional veggies had to be added!  This is very filling, so a great light dinner (and fast to make) or a bigger lunch.

Tuna and Veggie Sandwich
Inspired by: Waverly at Food 52

3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz of tuna, drained
1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
6 oz artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 ciabatta square buns, halved lengthwise

In a large bowl, toss together: garlic, tuna, Kalamata olives, black olives, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red onion, parsley, artichoke hearts and basil.  Stir well so all of the ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl whisk together: lemon juice, olive oil and pepper flakes.  Once combined, pour over the tuna and vegetable mixture.  Add the salt and pepper, and then stir to combine all of the ingredients.

Finally, add the tuna and veggie mixture into each ciabatta bun.

Corn & Black Bean Burger with a Fresh Carrot Salad

As I’ve mentioned (probably numerous times) we don’t have a grill here.  I like burgers.  There is something amazing about a fresh bun, tomato and an onion.  Although it’s unfortunate that we don’t have a grill, it is fantastic that it forces us to make different kinds of burgers.  There are so many to choose from, and there are different variations.  Some might not be very pretty to look at, but they are all full of flavor.

Now, when you think of a burger, the side that goes with it is usually fries.  Trying to be healthy, and take advantage of all of the fresh vegetables that are around, I try to find other options.  This was very colorful and light carrot salad, so perfect to go with a filling burger!

And remember, this is great for any friends that are vegetarians!

Corn & Black Bean Burger
Adapted from: Eat, Live, Run

1-2 jalapeños, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans of black beans, rinsed & drained
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp flaxseeds
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 cup of frozen corn, defrosted
2 tbsp olive oil
4-6 burger buns
4-6 slices of onion
4-6 tomato slices
1 avocado, sliced
burger condiments of your choice

Add the jalapeños and garlic to a food processor and mince finely.  Add 1 can of beans, cumin, salt, chili powder and ground pepper, pulse the processor some more until the mixture looks like a bean dip.

Transfer the bean mixture to a bowl, then add: flaxseeds, Panko breadcrumbs, tomato sauce, corn and the second can of beans.  Stir everything until it is well blended.  Make patties out of the mixture, we made 4 (very) large one’s.  I think 6 is actually the more appropriate size.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the burgers (we had 2 at a time) and fry for about 5 minutes on each side.

We served the burgers on a fresh bun, with onion slices, tomato slices avocado slices.  Feel free to add ketchup, mustard or other condiments.

Fresh Carrot Salad
Adapted from: So Good and Tasty

4-6 carrots, peeled and shaved
3 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cilantro, minced
3 tbsp parsley, minced
1 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all of the ingredients, but the carrots.  Whisk together.  Then pour over the shaved carrots.  Toss well, and then put into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Enjoy when chilled.