…because i just do.

thoughts and things that make me happy

Southwest Shrimp Taco Night

This past weekend we took one of our favorite dinners on the road and set up our shrimp taco fiesta in a lovely Venice backyard.Shrimp Tacos

In an effort to ensure that we get our families together once a month, my friend Christina and I have created a bit of a unique family dinner party.  The interesting aspect is that whoever is hosting the get together doesn’t actually have to do the heavy cooking.  The host obviously provides the home but also appetizers, drinks and dessert while the guest brings the main meal.   Somehow, it seems to lessen the burden of hosting a fully home cooked meal, which often takes an entire day of prep… shopping, cooking and cleaning.  In this way, we’ve managed to keep up our monthly dinners for well over a year.   It also keeps us amused that our unconventional arrangement continues to baffle our husbands.DSC_0651

Below are the recipes I used for our Southwest Shrimp Taco Night.
adapted from Southern Living, August 2008

Southwestern Citrus Shrimp Tacos

The Shrimp

2 pounds peeled, deveined shrimp
10-12 12″ skewers (I prefer metal but if you use wood ones make sure to pre-soak them to avoid burning)
2 tablespoons Southwest Seasonings (I use Emeril’s Southwest Essence)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice

  1. Thread shrimp onto skewers and place in a long shallow dish.
  2. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high). Combine Southwest seasoning, garlic and citrus juice in a bowl.  Whisk together. Pour over skewers.  Cover and chill 10-30 minutes. Remove shrimp from marinade and discard marinade.
  3. Grill shrimp, without grill lid, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. I like to serve the shrimp still on their skewers.DSC_0633

Southwest Cream Sauce

1 (16 oz.) container sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  1. Whisk together sour cream, garlic, red onion, chili powder, cumin, ground red pepper and salt.
  2. Whisk in lime juice until smooth.
  3. Cover and chill until ready to serve.DSC_0635

Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

3 ears fresh corn, in husks
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
2 (15 oz. cans) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Hot Sauce, to taste (I prefer Tapatio)
2 avocados, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat grill to 450° (medium-high).  Pull off top tassel from corn, leaving the rest of the husk in tact.  Submerge and soak corn in water for approximately 1 hour.
  2. Grill corn in husks, covered with grill lid, approximately 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Remove from grill; cool 15 minutes then remove husks and silks.
  3. Hold each grilled cob upright on a cutting board; carefully cut downward, cutting kernels from cob. Discard cobs; place kernels in a large bowl. Gently stir in tomatoes and next 6 ingredients.  Add hot sauce to your desired potency.  Cover and chill until ready to serve, if desired.
  4. If chilled, let corn mixture stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Peel and chop avocados; toss with corn mixture just before serving.

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Serve the Above with the Following:

  • Lime wedges
  • Shredded Radicchio & Iceberg Lettuce
  • Cilantro garnish
  • Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Flour and/or Corn Tortillas
  • Spanish Rice (I like Near East Spanish Rice Pilaf)
  • Mexican Beer & lime (my favorites are Pacifico Clara and Corona)

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Throw in great friends and family and enjoy your own Southwest Shrimp Taco Fiesta!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

(below are some of my favorite images from this year’s holiday of love.)

Homemade Play Dough Valentines for Mack’s classmates.

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An Exterior Wall @Smashbox Studios.

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Sugar Paper at the Brentwood Country Mart with their sweet (free!) photo booth valentines.

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A stash of letterpress cards from Abbot Kinney’s Urbanic.

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Felt Heart mobile from Santa Monica’s Goods.

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Perfect White Chili

Last Friday as New England braced itself against the weekend blizzard I decided that out here on the West Coast we would hunker down in honor of the accumulating snow and our friends back East.  Appropriately, it was a chilly, rainy day in LA so it was a perfect evening to build a fire and satisfy my chili craving.  My brother, Charlie is an amazing cook and has been perfecting this recipe for some time.  I was happy he so readily agreed to share his recipe for White Bean Chicken Chili.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  With the addition of a dark, hoppy beer and smoky chipotle chili powder it will definitely keep you toasty on a wintry day.

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A simmering pot of chili.

Uncle Chuck’s White Bean Chicken Chili

2½ pounds shredded boneless, skinless chicken breasts (poached, see below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 bottle beer (I used New Belgian Brewing “Snow Day”.  Sam Adams Winter Lager or Guinness are good choices too)
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon cumin powder
½ tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
2 11 ounce cans white, shoepeg corn
2 16 ounce cans Great Northern Beans, drained
2 16 ounce cans Butter Beans, drained
¾ bunch of cilantro, chopped

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Dark beer, fresh lime juice and cilantro round out the flavors.

To Cook the Chicken:

I poach the chicken.  Place 2-2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a large stockpot of lightly salted water.  Bring water and chicken to a boil.  Once boiling, cover (leave cover slightly askew) and cook for approximately 20 minutes (until chicken is fully cooked). Once cooked, let the breasts cool for approximately 30 minutes.  Then, using a fork shred the chicken.  (I usually cook the chicken a day in advance and just store it in a GlassLock container in the fridge until needed).

The Chili:

Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in bottom of at least a 5.5 quart stockpot over medium to high heat.  (I prefer using this Cast Iron Oven) Add both chopped onions and garlic and cook until tender (approx. 6-8 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Once the garlic and onions are tender add all ingredients except chicken and cilantro.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Add chicken and taste seasonings.  I always start with the above measurements but usually end up adding another ½ tablespoon of chipotle chili powder, another teaspoon of sriracha and few more shakes of cumin powder and a little extra salt.  If you prefer a spicier chili you may want even more chili powder and sriracha.  Once you have adjusted the spices, let the chili (with chicken added) simmer another hour.

About 30 minutes before serving add chopped cilantro.  Serve hot and with the following toppings: tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded cheese (I usually use a blend of Monterey Jack and Cheddar).

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Soup’s On!

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Friday goodness via Instagram. Click on individual photos for additional info.

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1) Starting the morning off with real, organic, hazelnut flavored half and half with my coffee…

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2) Reading the Winter 2013 Anthology in bed before my 4-year-old wakes up…

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3) A feel-good movie with an ending that rivals “When Harry Met Sally”…

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4) The delivery of a new, cozy (and 50% off) crew neck sweater…

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5) Purple blossoms from the flowering vine behind my house in this little vase…

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6) Ending the day with the Barefoot Contessa’s “Perfect Roast Chicken”…

How to make an Entrance… Part II (A Bench to Build a Dream On)

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Our sweet bench in its new home.

Two days ago I posted an entry about the nitty-gritty and how-to details of creating the entryway of my home.  In truth, there is an entirely other (and much more interesting) story to the evolution of that particular space.

That story begins with a quest.  A quest for a bench.  A bench that needed to be no wider than 40″.  I knew that once I found the proper bench that the rest of the project would come easily.  The bench would serve as the anchor piece, the roots of the area but I had no idea that finding the perfect bench would take me nearly 18 months.

My immediate thought was to purchase the classic Nelson Bench from DWR.  Unfortunately, this little gem doesn’t come any smaller than a 48″ size.  I scoured the internet:  Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate and Barrel, CB2, Room and Board, Restoration Hardware, Serena and Lily, but there just wasn’t anything original or all that interesting about the pieces I was finding in the usual places.  Also, did I mention 40″ is definitely NOT a standard size when it comes to benches.

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Nelson Platform Bench from DWR.

I toyed with putting a single stool next to a larger basket.  This way,  at least one person would be able to sit down and the larger basket could serve as a shoe receptacle.  However, in the long run I realized that a bench is just a more family friendly, warmer, welcoming piece of furniture than a single stool.

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West Elm Curved Storage Basket and Moller Model 80A Stool from DWR .

I went in circles for about 6 months with fruitless internet searches.  Then, one day while standing in my brother-in-law’s kitchen I saw this image…

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…and I fell deeply and madly in love.  Everything about this image appeals to me; beautiful, modern, brightly colored fabrics juxtaposed against the classic lines of a curved-back, antique sofa…it really did take my breath away.  Not to mention the incredibly clever name, Chairloom.  Brilliant.  “What’s up with this?”, I asked my brother-in-law.  He replied that a dear, old friend that both he and my husband had attended high school with had started this re-upholstery company.  Her name was Molly Andrews and she was living in Philadelphia.  I surreptitiously entered the names “Chairloom” and “Molly Andrews” into the Notes section of my iPhone.  Not that I would have ever forgotten them… that image was seared into my brain.

A quick google search found Chairloom‘s website and then a little digging on Facebook revealed a Chairloom fan page.  I discovered the following statement on the their website, “Once was lost, now is found.  At Chairloom, there are two guiding principles behind our work.  One: The value of being found.  We cherish the good bones beneath torn, faded or otherwise timeworn fabric.  Two: The importance of second chances.  Life is all about second chances and there is always the hope of being found when we are lost.”  Now I was not only drawn to that initial image, I was moved by their mission.  I learned the exact services that Chairloom was offering: fabric consultations, full service re-upholstery, vintage and antique furniture sales and refinishing, customization and repair.  Combine all of those together and you get a vintage or antique piece of furniture, repaired, refinished and reupholstered in a fabulous, current fabric.  Yes!  This would take care of the originality I was looking for and the customization that I needed.

One day while visiting the Chairloom website (something I did with ridiculous frequency), I discovered a link to something called the “magalogue”.  Intrigued, I clicked through and was viewing a gorgeous spread of before and after photos of refinished and reupholstered furniture, gift guides, amazing photos of fabric samples and a few pieces of vintage furniture for sale.  I also learned that Molly had teamed up with Tracy Jenkins of Super Rural to form a new entity known as Co-Lab.

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Cover of the first Co-Lab. magalogue… Photo by Steve Belkowitz. Click on photo to view all 3 Co-Lab. magalogues.

It was within that first Co-Lab magalogue that I came across the following photo:

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Rosewood Bench… photo by Steve Belkowitz. Taken from Co-Lab. magalogue, Holiday 2011 (page 35)

The description next to the photo told me it was a 39″ wide bench.  It would fit!  Immediately, I thought I had found my bench.  I composed an email to Molly, introducing myself and inquiring about purchasing that bench.  I mentioned that I was looking for a piece for an entryway and that it needed to have space underneath for shoe storage.  Molly wrote back the next day to tell me the bench was available and she was happy to set it aside for me but that she might have something she was working on that would be a better fit.

My mind continually drifted back to that rosewood bench pictured above but something about it didn’t feel exactly right.  It just seemed a bit too “heavy” for our small space.  A few weeks later I had an email from Molly with details about a new, custom bench she and her partner Tracy were creating through their collaborative project, Co-Lab.  The bench was being called a “This Century Modern Bench” and was completely customizable.  Again…YES!

I was thrilled. I sent Molly a few pictures of our living room, including photos of the other upholstered pieces in the room and she emailed me links to fabric websites for me to check out.  I lingered on the websites of Caitlin Wilson, Studio Bon, Michael Devine and Katherine Rally.  However,  I kept thinking back to the very first time I visited the Chairloom website.   The first fully reupholstered piece I came across on the site was done in a Hable Construction fabric called “Checker”.  It stuck with me and even as I swooned over all the other fabric choices,  I kept coming back to Hable.  I narrowed down my choices, then Molly sent swatches to me out in California.  The minute I saw the Hable Construction “Chocolate Checker” fabric, I knew we had a winner.

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Hable Construction Chocolate Checker fabric.

The rest, as they say is history and we became the first owners of the Co-Lab. Custom This Century Modern bench.

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Photos of our bench in the Chairloom showroom in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. (photos taken from the Chairloom website) Please note the amazing stenciled floor in their showroom.

The final dimensions for our bench were 40″W x 19″H x 18″D.  We used cherry legs and Hable Construction Chocolate Checker fabric.  It was easily transported from Pennsylvania to California since the legs simply unscrew making for a flat and easy-to-ship package.

Simple. Custom. Original. Perfect.

Check out all the other offerings from Co-Lab. Custom.

Whatever the weather.

As I gazed out my front door yesterday, I couldn’t help grabbing my camera to snap a few shots of these beautiful blossoms on one of our Manzanita bushes.  The bees were feeding on the tiny bell-shaped flowers and it felt like spring was just around the corner.

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Blooming Manzanita.

And then, last night I was lulled to sleep by the gentle pitter-patter of raindrops on my roof and awoke to an equally lovely image out my front door.

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I love when my neighbor’s vintage, orange VW Thing is parked in front of our house.

How to make an Entrance… (Part I)

I thought I’d share my latest home improvement project that has definitely been putting a smile on my face; our new and improved “entryway”.  In reality, there is no entryway to my home.  There is; however, a 3’6″ square area that I knew could serve as a more useful space than simply housing this bookshelf.

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Before.

Below, are the steps I took to transform a dysfunctional corner into a more practical and usable space for my family.

Step 1 (create a blank canvas):

Unwilling to go through the process of precisely matching the wall paint in the room, I decided to paint the back wall a shade lighter. I took a trip to the local paint store (if you are in the Santa Monica or Culver City area I highly recommend Cox Paint) and grabbed a handful of paint swatches.  Very simply, I taped them to the wall and would look at them as the light changed throughout the next couple of days.  I finally settled on a color that was just a touch lighter than the original wall paint.  Very carefully, I taped out the edges of the wall.  After 2 coats of primer (the paint store recommended I use a primer tinted the same color as the paint I had chosen) and then 2 more coats of the actual paint, I had a cleanly painted wall.

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The Blank Canvas.

Step 2 (stripe preparation):

I waited 4 days until I could proceed to step 2… taping out the area for the center stripe.  I read this blog entry about painting stripes and I followed her advice and used FrogTape to create the boundaries for the stripe.  I measured and re-measured the width of the wall and finally decided on a width of stripe that wouldn’t be too narrow but that would also allow for the color to be seen once coats were hung over it.  As a side note, my wall is 46″ wide.  I decided on a 16″ stripe which meant I would have 15″ of the base paint on either side.  I borrowed a friend’s inexpensive laser level to tape out the edges of the stripe.  The area is so small and would be seen close up so it was important that I create a crisp and perfectly perpendicular stripe.  A laser level is incredibly simple to use…. I measured 15″ from the left side of the wall, pinned the level to the bottom edge and shot a perfectly straight laser light up the back wall.  Meticulously, I taped a straight line of Frog Tape along the edge of the laser light beam and then repeated the process on the other side.  After I laid the tape down, I went over the edges with the side of a credit card to ensure a very tight seal.  Next, using the base wall paint I further sealed the inside edges of tape.  This step is the key… if any of this paint happens to bleed under the tape, it doesn’t matter because it matches your wall color.  Brilliant!  So, using a narrow brush I painted 2 coats of the base paint “sealant” over the inside edges of the tape.  Then I waited another day to let it dry.

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FrogTaped and sealed stripe.

Step 3 (color):

This was the fun part.  Grabbing a small roller I painted the red paint in between and slightly over the edges of the tape…it ended up taking nearly 4 coats to get the deep color I desired.  Then, I waited again about 2 hours before removing the tape.  Truth be told, we were all a bit freaked out by the giant red stripe.

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Color!

Step 4 (hooks):

I had originally planned to use reclaimed wood boards with coat hooks attached to create the part of the wall that needed to provide the hanging area for coats, scarfs, hats, bags etc…  I even went as far as ordering 2 beautiful boards from an Etsy seller but once I received the boards I realized it was going to be too much to have 2 chunky boards intersecting the stripe, so I decided to just hang the hooks directly on the wall.  I needed 2 rows of hooks, a top row to accommodate my husband and myself and then a lower row where Mack (age 4) could easily hang up his own stuff.   Spending time figuring out the height and spacing of the hooks was a bit nerve-wracking.  I made each family practice hanging coats before I drilled into the wall to determine the proper height.  The bottom row of hooks had to be high enough that Mack’s coats for the next couple of years wouldn’t spill onto the bench and yet low enough for him to reach them.  Raincoats and winter coats tend to be bulky so I had to be careful not to hang the hooks too close together.  I ended up with 4 double hooks along the top row and then offset 3 single hooks along the bottom.   Lots to think about before I started drilling holes but the last thing I wanted was to have to repatch and repaint the wall because I hadn’t thoroughly thought through the placement of each piece.  I took my hooks to a local hardware store where they helped me pick out the proper wall anchors (our wall is drywall and anchors are a necessity).  Again I used the trusty laser level.  This time I used it to create a horizontal line for the bottom row of hooks and then again for the top row.  Using a pencil I lightly drew over the laser line and then I knew my hooks would all line up properly.  I used a yard stick to measure out the predetermined, proper horizontal spacing for each row.  Then using a power drill (outfitted with the correct drill bit, also purchased at my local hardware store) I drilled the holes and installed each of the anchors and hooks.

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Hooked up.

Step 5 (photo ledge):

The beauty of the wall that I used for this project is its 9′ height.  I think I began to dislike the pre-existing bookcase in this particular spot because it only went about 2/3 of the way up the wall.  The stripe really highlighted the height of the wall and then adding a picture ledge made great use of the space above the hooks.  I found a photo ledge that matched the brushed aluminum finishing on the hooks so it seemed like a natural fit.  Following the pre-made template inside of the photo ledge was simple and only involved drilling a few holes, inserting anchors and then “hanging” the ledge.

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Almost finished.

Step 6 (adding the details):

To finish off the area, I added a framed photo and a couple of pieces of artwork to the photo ledge, a custom bench (stay tuned for Part II- “A Bench to Build a Dream On”) and I threw in a basket under the bench for shoe storage.

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Entryway Details.

Completion:

Once everything was up and the coats were hung the stripe didn’t appear so ever-present in the room.  I’ve been thrilled with how this simple update has totally altered and improved our living space.  What do you think?

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After.

Sources:
Base Paint for Back Wall: Benjamin Moore, Windswept
Stripe Paint: Benjamin Moore, Vermilion
Small Single Hooks: Rejuvenation: Classic Single Coat Hook in Brushed Nickel
Double Hooks: Rejuvenation: Classic Double Coat Hook in Brushed Nickel
Photo Ledge: West Elm: 3′ Metal Picture Ledge
Bench: Co-Lab.Custom: This Century Modern Bench
Basket: Pottery Barn: Savannah Large Utility Basket

An apple a day…

Hands down the Honeycrisp apple is the best out-of-hand eating apple.  I am not a huge fan of just chomping away on just any raw apple.  However, when I am able to have a stash of these apples at home I find myself reaching for one nearly every day.

First, a little history of this amazing apple.  The Honeycrisp was cultivated at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station’s Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  It was produced in 1960 from a cross of the Macoun and Honeygold apples.  They were introduced to the public in 1991 but I had never heard of them until last year.

I can find them locally at Whole Foods in Venice, CA but apparently the apples grow best up in Minnesota and Wisconsin and peak in ripeness from September 15-October 10.  Seriously, find these apples.  They are amazing… the perfect texture and crispness when you bite into one and a great combination of tartness and sweetness.  Also,  they make a great baking apple.  Undoubtedly, these little gems are my  favorite fall fruit… but hurry, as quickly as they appear, they will disappear and you will have to wait another year to try this delicious apple!

Rows of Honeycrisps at Whole Foods. Venice, CA.

If you can’t find Honeycrisps in a local store or Farmer’s market, below are 2 orchards that will ship them to you:

Wood Orchard:  http://www.woodorchard.com/hc_order.htm
Aamodts Apple Farm:  http://www.aamodtsapplefarm.com/shop-online/honeycrisp-apples/

**double-check that the orchard is able to ship to your specific state.  Wood Orchard is unable to ship to California.

You can find more information about the Honeycrisp here.

 

The Best Banana Bread

A great way to start the weekend.

I made the mistake of asking my son what he would like for dinner last night.  He glanced around the kitchen and his eyes came to rest on a bunch of bananas.   Immediately, he commanded, “make me Banana Bread.”  Well, I may not be one for letting my son eat Banana Bread for dinner but I do often make this delicious bread as a snack and treat for my family.  This bread is also my go-to recipe for picnics and school events and has always gotten rave reviews.  It is a family favorite recipe from Mom and because of the cinnamon and nutmeg it reminds me of fall so I thought I’d share.  Also, it is a fantastic breakfast bread and is a perfect way to start a day when paired with a cup of coffee.

Banana Bread

½ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas (very ripe and diced)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat Oven to 350°.

Cream together butter and sugar with a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid® stand-mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment).  Add eggs until mixed.  Add buttermilk* and mix.

In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients together and sift*.  Add this to the butter mixture and mix until just blended (do not over-mix).

Fold* in the vanilla and bananas until combined.  Pour batter into a greased 1 lb. loaf pan.

Bake at 1 hour.  When the bread starts to pull away from the sides of the loaf pan or when a toothpick inserted comes out clean the bread is finished.  Let bread cool 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire cooling rack to continue to cool completely.

*see notes below for more information…

*Some Notes on This Recipe

  • While there is no substitute for real buttermilk, I have been known to simply add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the milk before adding it.  It isn’t a perfect substitute but for this quick bread I think it works well.
  • A quick note on sifting…since there is salt in this recipe I simply place all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and using a whisk, mix them for about 30 seconds.  The salt will act as an abrasive agent which means you don’t need to spend time breaking out your sifter, especially when just making a quick bread.
  • Feel free to add a ½ cup of chopped nuts to the dough (I like to use pecans)… fold them into the batter at the same time you add the vanilla and bananas.
  • Recently, I have been making this bread using 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour and it has turned out PERFECT.

Farewell Summer…

I have been a lazy blogger as of late but it has been a conscious decision. After we got back from Kentucky at the beginning of August, we had exactly one month before today (the first day of Mack’s second year of pre-school). During the past four weeks I have discovered a new addiction, battled tiny bugs, explored an island, played in a creek bed and enjoyed tried and true SoCal summer fun. Below are some of the things that have prevented me from blogging this past month…

26 Miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me…

I’m embarrassed to say that I have lived in SoCal for the last 16 years and have never been to Catalina island. It’s always been there…a looming mass of land amid a deep blue sea that I can see on clear days from our local beach. Still, I never took the hour and a quarter ferry ride across the Pacific to this amazing destination and neither had my husband nor my son. Mack usually refers to these sorts of trips as “adventures” and since none of us had ever been it was truly a very special family adventure.

We started our journey at the Port of San Pedro (which has a beautiful new ferry terminal) and boarded the Catalina Express.  As we cruised out of San Pedro our boat was met with an enormous pod of dolphins splashing and playing alongside the boat.  It was a good omen.  A brief hour and 15 minutes later we were docking at Avalon and it felt like we were stepping into another world.  The island is 76 square miles and most of it is completely uninhabited.  We spent our 3 days playing a lot of mini-golf, renting a golf cart to explore the town of Avalon and its surroundings, riding in a glass bottom boat and a submarine and swimming and enjoying island life.  We stayed in the lovely Pavilion Hotel and are already planning our next trip back to the other end of the island where the only other inhabited city of Twin Harbors rests.

Strolls to the Casino along Via Casino Way, golf cart rides and of course the Avalon Fire Department.

Mini golf, ferry boats and submarines.

Might as well face it, you’re addicted…

I also found a new addiction this past month.  I’m totally late to the party on this one but recently my evening activity has revolved around plopping myself in bed, donning my husbands Bose Noise Cancelling headphones and escaping into the medieval fantasy land that is Game of Thrones.  Being a non-cable family we don’t often indulge in too many television shows but after my best friend shared her HBO Go password with me, my iPad has become my gateway to addiction.  I could do an entire post about all the reasons I adore this show.  For now I’ll just say it’s a good thing I’m only 2 episodes from the end of Season 2 or my son might be showing up lunchless at school.  I will have to patiently wait until April, 2013 to satiate my appetite for more fun with the Stark, Baratheon, Targaryen and Lannister families.

Arya Stark, my favorite character on Game of Thrones.

Flea, Fly, Flo

As the families in Game of Thrones continue their fighting,  I waged my own war with some tiny little bugs called fleas.  Yes, my strictly indoor cat became flea-ridden and his favorite spot for sleeping is in my son’s room.  It has literally taken me an entire month to rid the carpet from these pesky little hoppers.  Shubert the cat is now on a strict regimen of monthly Advantage treatments and after vacuuming Mack’s carpet 4 times a day for 4 weeks, it seems I have won my battle.  For those of you who don’t know… apparently August is prime flea time here in SoCal… I recommend treating your pets year-round, even if they are indoor only.

My chosen weapon for battle against the fleas.

I am a Child, I’ll last a while…

We also spent a great day at an amazing children’s museum called Kidspace in Pasadena.  I’d been to this little gem before but it seems now that Mack will be four in a couple of months he really can enjoy everything this place has to offer.  He and his friend Bennett hit the ground running and spent the day racing tricycles, crawling through ant holes, spraying water guns, exploring a creek, climbing the 40′ Raindrop Climber and shooting ping pong balls from an air cannon in the newly opened Galvin Physics Forest .  I’m pretty sure I had just as much fun and was just as exhausted simply from watching Mack and Bennett be their rambunctious selves.  Nestled between the Rose Bowl and the Rose Bowl Aquatics center, it may be a trek from the westside but it is well worth the drive.  We can’t wait for their Pumpkin Festival during the last weekend in October!

Bennett and Mack explore Kidspace.

Another Day in the Park…

And then there were just so many gorgeous days of playing at the beach and the parks near our home.  We are so lucky to be able to walk to the ocean or to one of the five nearby parks in our neighborhood.  We had barbecues with friends and picnics in beautiful Will Rogers State Park.  And so…farewell Summer of 2012, and thank you for an abundance of magical memories.

A beautiful end of summer sky over Will Rogers State Park on Labor Day.