Banana Chocolate Chip Cake


My little sister celebrated her 26th birthday (26th!!!) last Friday and I wish I could’ve been there with her in Virginia, where she’s currently attending med school. But not so much because I wanted to spend time with her…mostly because I wanted to devour the Banana Chocolate Chip Cake she made from The Baker Chick. :P

True to form, my baking-obsessed sister—she used to intern at Sweet & Saucy Shop, the amazing Orange County bakery with hands down the best cupcakes, in my humble opinion—made her own birthday cake. And it also has a peanut butter frosting! (She texted me photos of her creation just to torture me, of course.)

“The cake was really moist and a perfect combination of all three flavors—the bananas tasted delicious and the chocolate and peanut butter complemented it perfectly without being too overpowering,” she said about the recipe. “The mini chocolate chips were also super cute and anything with buttermilk is bound to be amazing.”

Did I mention she also made Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding without me? She gets a birthday pass, but just this once…happy 26th to my sis!!! :)

UPDATE: My sister says this recipe for Magnolia’s pudding is even better!

{photo via The Baker Chick}

Magical Butter Sauce


My friend Jessica—a major foodie and cooking queen—swears by this magical butter sauce to pour over any protein. Just melt some butter with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and your choice of fruit preserve such as apricot or blackberry (her secret weapon is Mick’s Hot Raspberry Pepper Jelly straight from Seattle) and you’re golden. She particularly loves it with salmon, roasted chicken drumsticks, or roasted chicken thighs. Microwave it in 30-second intervals and if it’s too sweet, just add a little more balsamic vinegar, she says. I’m actually planning to bake some chicken tomorrow night for dinner so this sauce is exactly what I’ll finish it off with!

Do you guys have any staple sauces you always turn to? As I’m starting to cook more, I’m really learning how valuable and life-saving a quick, delicious sauce can be!

{via Tasty Kitchen}


A Favorite Weeknight Pasta


The cooking adventures continue! I made this tuna pasta dish a few weeks ago in an effort to use up some parsley and half and half that were about to go bad…and luckily because I always have canned tuna on hand, too…and also because I was feeling lazy and impatient as usual and wanted food in less than 30 minutes…but I actually first made it in 2009. I still remember it well; after my first successful attempt at it, I fell in love with the recipe and made it for five days straight and pretty much ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s such an easy recipe and it’s all thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, NieNie, and her spin-off cooking blog, CuisineNie (which, sadly, hasn’t been updated since 2011 but there’s still a solid 40+ recipes on there if you want to check it out).

Anyway, this makes for a really quick, satisfying dinner, so just wanted to share. It has a creamy sauce that’s not too rich, so it’s still on the light side, and the parsley makes it so refreshing. It’s kind of like a warm pasta salad. In the yummiest way possible. The original recipe calls for penne but I’m not a penne lover, so I’ve made it with farfalle in the past and rigatoni (above) and they both tasted great and were an awesome texture (raise your hand if pasta texture is also kind of a big deal to you!). Next time I’d like to try adding some diced tomato and avocado to top things off.

p.s. I’ll try to share a few more snippets of what recipes I’m cooking up down the line…and then, who knows, maybe some original dishes in the future once I get a hang of things?! One can hope…

Tuna & Tomato Frittata

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I’m turning into a bit of a cooking fanatic lately.

For the past few months, I’ve been trying to get in the kitchen more, feebly attempting a few simple dishes such as pork tostadas and baked tilapia. I even bought my own Cuisinart mini food processor! From Sur la Table! Not Target! Not that there’s anything wrong with Target because we all know it’s the best place ever, but I did get to feel like an extra-fancy-pants-grown-up for a moment there.

Anyway, I managed to make a frittata for the first time a couple of nights ago thanks to Giada De Laurentiis, one of my favorite chefs. (Whenever her cooking show comes on the Food Network, I happily drop everything I’m doing and sit down to watch it. I am mesmerized by all of her perfection.)

So when I finally got her new cookbook Feel Good Food a couple of weeks ago, I decided her Frittata with Tuna and Tomatoes would be the first recipe I’d whip up (based solely on how many ingredients I already recognized; that’s usually the clincher for me). It came out looking surprisingly gourmet, but was so easy to make and delicious that I thought I’d share it with you guys in case you’re looking for something quick to pull together this week. Plus, it’s perfect to make ahead for lunch at work because it stays fresh and heats up nicely in the microwave–I made one frittata and had lunch for three days after that!

Here’s my attempt at some cooking photos:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLoved that I only had two ingredients to chop up: parsley and a tomato! I can handle that.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAll the eggs plus the parsley, milk, salt, pepper, and anchovy paste that the recipe calls for—which was one ingredient I didn’t recognize and thought about skipping, but so glad I didn’t. It makes such a difference to the dish. I was sure that searching for it at the grocery store would be a pain, but I found it right next to the canned tuna at Ralph’s. Then whisk, whisk, whisk and fold in the tuna after.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOn the stove and topped with tomatoes for a few minutes, then into the oven for a few minutes after that…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAnd voila! It really was so easy and tasty, and I have failed at many first-time attempts at recipes before. So this is a good one, trust me. :) Get the recipe here.

P.S. I made Giada’s Chicken Carbonara a few years ago and it’s still the best pasta dish I’ve ever made. Definitely recommend that one, too!

A Hearty Bowl of Zuppa Toscana



I’ve been on a soup kick lately, and with one soup in particular on the brain: Zuppa Toscana. Tell me that’s not the only soup anyone should ever order at Olive Garden. ;) It’s hearty and milky, with chunks of meat and bits of potatoes—and it’s probably one of my favorite ways to enjoy a little kale, too. Baking Chic‘s Zuppa Toscana with Adobo Sauce looks so comforting and gourmet that I’m bookmarking it for an upcoming weekend. And for you loyalists out there, there’s also an Olive Garden copycat recipe here.

{via Baking Chic}