Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I’m not a sports person at all. In fact, the only sports players I know are those that used to or are married/dating celebrities, for example: Lamar Odom, Reggie Bush, Kris Humphries, Tony Parker, etc. But the one thing that excites me about the Super Bowl is the opportunity to bake.

This year I made chocolate chip banana bread. I followed this recipe with some modifications:  using wheat flour instead of all purpose, egg whites instead of eggs, and throwing in some chocolate chips for good measure. The end result was delicious.

Tip: Warm up the bread so that the chocolate chips are slightly melting and pair with a hot cup of coffee/hot cocoa! Bliss.

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Holiday Host Gifts

Now that it is officially December 1st, it feels like an appropriate time to talk about all things Christmas related. I was so surprised to see how many stores were decorated for Christmas…in October! But now with a swift change of the calendar, I have fully embraced the holiday spirit.

Many bloggers are posting great gift ideas for family and friends. However, around this time of year come many holiday parties. It always nice to bring something for the host and hostess who have generously invited you over.

I love to bake and make homemade gifts. With these thoughts in mind, here are my ideas for affordable and homemade host gifts for the holidays, with a personal touch:

With every passing Christmas, my love for peppermint grows exponentially. Here is a great recipe that I plan on trying out myself this holiday season! Place the bark in a decorative bag or tin, either of which can be found at Etsy or Target.

Last Christmas, I made holiday cookies and found the holiday cookie cutters in the dollar aisle at Target. If you have a child, or a niece/nephew, have them help you with the decorating. They will love it! Be sure to make a little extra, because after carefully decorating I am sure they will want to eat a few. 🙂 Since the cookies are pretty in itself, they don’t need help in the presentation department. Simply wrap the cookies in some cellophane, tie it with a ribbon, and you are good to go.

Is there a more perfect winter drink than hot chocolate? I think not. Provide your host with all the essentials to make an amazing mug of hot chocolate. You can even cater to your host’s preferences, if you know them well enough. For instance, include pieces of shaved Andes mints for someone who loves mint. (Hint hint :)) Put all the items in a cute jar, add a pretty label, perhaps even a ribbon and hand it over to the host to enjoy!

For those of you that don’t like baking, this is the item for you. All it requires is some assembly but it is still just as thoughtful!

What is your go-to gifts for hosts during the holidays?

(All images courtesy of Pinterest.)

City by the Bay

The 4 day long weekend was a great one. It was a perfect balance of relaxation and activity. I took naps and finished the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy and am on the second, Catching Fire. One day was spent in one of my favorite cities, San Francisco.

We went to Union Square to catch the tree lighting and then ventured to the Hayes Valley neighborhood where we ate at Patxi’s Chicago Pizza. I love deep dish pizza and was happy to find a place in the Bay Area that comes close to the amazing pizza you get in Chicago.

The next stop was Smitten Ice Cream. This small ice cream shop features only a few flavors a day but they make their ice cream right in front of you. Using only fresh, local ingredients the ice cream is made in 60 seconds with the help of liquid nitrogen-run ice cream maker. The ice cream was full of flavor and creamy.

I had the TCHO chocolate (made in San Francisco) ice cream with cocoa bits.

Also, their cash register is an iPad and if you pay by credit card you have the option to have your receipt texted or emailed to you. Pretty cool! I can’t wait to go back when it’s warmer.

It was so fun to play visitor to a city where I’ve lived my whole life, exploring new neighborhoods and places to eat.

Friday Favorites

This week has flown by pretty fast. While I’m excited that most of my shows are back on the air, it makes me wonder where exactly summer went. Even more, I can’t believe we’re already halfway through September!

Here are some picture highlights of the week:

I saw this while I was driving through town and had to take a picture.

Enjoying a white chocolate mocha and a warm chocolate chip cookie at Tart by Tart bakery in San Francisco.

A look at one of the sari blouses I’m wearing during my brother’s wedding events.

The menu for a dessert truck at a local food truck gathering. I took home red velvet, salted caramel, and chocolate coconut cupcakes.

I hope you have a great weekend!

$1 million from baking? Not bad.

Baking is one of my favorite things to do.  Whenever I have people over, I love to bake something for them. Whether it’s cookies, cupcakes, or a cake..I enjoy it! (Red velvet is my favorite, just so you know :-))

A good friend and I never pass up an opportunity to bake.  We’re always on the lookout for new, fun baked goods to experiment with.  Lucky for us, I came across exactly that today!

I caught the end of Oprah’s show, where she announced the winner of Pillsbury’s Bake Off. The grand prize being one million dollars. Can you imagine? That is pretty amazing. Who knew that my insatiable cravings for baked goods is worthy of a million dollar prize?

Anyways, the winner was a woman from New Jersey whose item was Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups. They look amazing and not to mention delicious! It also looks pretty simple, with room for your own creativity.

I’m excited to try them soon..perhaps at the next party/get together? (Hint, hint friends! ;-))

Thanks, Oprah!

Here is the recipe:

Servings: Makes 24 tartlets

Ingredients:

Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Pillsbury® Ready to Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies (24 cookies)
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped Fisher® Chef’s Naturals® chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s® semisweet chocolate baking chips
  • 1/4 cup Smucker’s® Seedless red raspberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla bean ice cream , softened
  • 24 fresh raspberries

Directions:

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Start to Finish: 45 minutes

Heat oven to 350°. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Place 1 cookie dough round in each muffin cup. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Place 2 teaspoons of the sugar in small bowl. Dip end of wooden spoon handle in sugar; carefully press into center of each cookie to make 1-inch-wide indentation. Cool completely in pan, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix walnuts and remaining 2 teaspoons sugar; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds, until smooth.

Run knife around edges of cups to loosen; gently remove from pan. Dip rim of each cup into melted chocolate, then into walnut mixture. Place walnut side up on cookie sheet with sides.

In another small microwavable bowl, microwave jam uncovered on high about 15 seconds until melted. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon jam into each cup. Freeze cups about 5 minutes or until chocolate is set.

Spoon ice cream into cups, using small cookie scoop or measuring tablespoon. Top each cup with fresh raspberry. Store in freezer; let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving.