banana almond bread

banana almond bread

I'm on vacation from work this week. The freedom feels so familiar and comforting. I've been a full time working mom for a little over two months now and it seems to be getting harder rather than easier. I anticipated this phenomenon, knowing that there would be a recognizable honeymoon phase. The first couple of months happened to be our busy season so there was little time to think, which was a huge blessing. I spent a lot of time catching up with all the co-workers I had missed so much and the rest of the time getting re-acclimated to the working world. My son was sick for the first three weeks I was back thanks to all of those super fun kid germs at daycare. He had the flu first, which both Jon and I caught and then he suffered from a cold for a couple of weeks which he passed along to me, but spared Jon the excitement. They say that sharing is caring. It was a rough first month. 

banana almond bread

I love my job. Taking care of people is something that is woven into the fabric of my being. This is probably why I love to feed people so much. Giving keeps me going and makes me feel like myself.

Working outside of the house has some distinct advantages. No one follows me to the bathroom when I have to go. I can get through an entire conversation with another adult without a toddler trying to pull my pants down or yelling for me to push him around in a tiny wooden tray. My lunch hour has an incredible amount of possibilities and I can come and go as I please within that hour. Money is nice. Not depleting our savings is pretty great as is the ability to buy things we want, but in this moment, those all feel a little dim in the light of that almost two year old with whom I'm so smitten. 

banana almond bread

We went to the zoo yesterday and shared a blueberry muffin and a croissant at a favorite cafe in San Francisco. When we had our fill of giraffes and gorillas, we went to visit a friend in our old neighborhood. Oliver played with toys and balloons and I caught up with a dear friend. It was a perfect day. I cried at the end of it when I hugged him in the kitchen as he laughed hysterically at my fake sneezes. I miss him. There's no way around it. I know a lot of women do this and they get through it, even enjoy it. I'm hoping that I'll get there soon. 

banana almond bread

Everyone needs a great banana bread recipe in their repertoire. This one is a little unconventional but pays off in the end. You can store the loaf in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple days but I like to put mine in the fridge because I'm a weirdo and I like cold cake. You'll lose the crispy crunch on top of the cake when you store it, so try to eat as much as you can on the day it's baked. 

banana almond bread

makes one loaf

adapted from this recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 ripe bananas, divided
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • turbinado sugar (also known as raw or coarse sugar)

Preparation: 

  1. Grease a 9x5x4 loaf pan with butter or non-stick spray and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle. 
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl. 
  3. In a medium bowl, using a hand held mixer, beat the eggs and 3/4 cup of the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 1 banana, the yogurt and a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and beat until well combined, with just a few lumps remaining. Add the oil and blend to combine. 
  4. Coarsely mash the remaining two bananas with a fork and fold into the wet ingredients. 
  5. Dump the wet ingredients into the dry ones and toss in the almonds. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined, being careful not to over mix the batter. 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

savory oatmeal

savory oatmeal

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about being home with my family for the past year and a half is our breakfasts together. Our daily schedule has become like muscle memory to us by now, always starting with a little voice in the next room babbling about choo choos or "bubbie buh" which is his word for Bubble Guppies, his favorite cartoon. Jon and I usually roll over at the first peep, hoping it's a false alarm, but when he starts kicking the wall (undoubtedly annoying our new neighbors downstairs), we jump up and rescue him from his crib. A diaper is changed, a milk smoothie is made and the french press is poured while we all settle in on the couch to watch an episode of "bubbie buh". Our apartment doesn't see much morning sun, which creates a gentle environment to ease us into the day ahead, and the coffee gives us the jolt we need to get going. After the cartoons, we switch on the news, Jon hits the shower and Ollie and I make breakfast. Usually eggs, often with greens or squash with cheese, piled on top of buttered sourdough toast. We all sit down together at the table most mornings and Oliver makes our hearts swell when he puts out his hands to remind us to pray. After thanking the Lord for His goodness to us, we eat and we laugh, mostly at Oliver and then daddy leaves for work and Ollie and I go about our day. 

savory oatmeal
savory oatmeal

In just a few short weeks, I'll be returning to work full time. While I have missed the working world and look forward to joining it again, this decision was a hard one to make, with the obvious consideration of my son and the life we have come to enjoy so much. It's overwhelming at times to think about all the changes we will go through and all the adjustments we will have to accommodate. Only knowing life as a stay-at-home mom, I can't quite wrap my head around what our lives will look like in a few short weeks. My hope is that we will adapt with joy and marvel at all the new opportunities we have been given, though I must be honest, today I'm feeling like I'm going to desperately miss my son. 

savory oatmeal

I'm hoping our breakfasts will still be a part of our morning, even if they're slightly abbreviated. These savory oats definitely could be on the menu, especially if I make a big batch on Monday morning and just reheat them the rest of the week, only needing to cook a quick egg. I love that these take a savory turn as too much sugar in the morning generally doesn't do me any favors. They're a good way to start your day and could easily carry you through to lunch. 


savory oatmeal with a poached egg

serves four

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking steel cut oats (I love Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • sprinkle of freshly ground pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cilantro, chopped

Preparation: 

  1. Bring water and salt to a boil and add the oats. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for two minutes. Transfer the oats to medium bowl and add the hot sauce, cumin, smoked paprika, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir to combine and cover with foil. 
  2. In a clean sauce pan, bowl 4 cups of water and then reduce to a gentle simmer (you should see small bubbles coming up from the bottom, but nothing more aggressive than that). Crack an egg into a small bowl or cup. Swirl the water with a wooden spoon and slide the egg into the middle of the swirl. This allows the whites to wrap around the yolk in a little package. It may still look a little messy, but thats ok. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Remove the egg from the water with either a slotted spoon or a spider strainer. Transfer to a plate. Trim and wild bits of egg white. Repeat with remaining eggs. 
  3. To plate, divide the oats among four bowls and top with an egg, onion, cilantro and a splash of hot sauce. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper. 

cherry, chocolate + almond scones

cherry, chocolate + almond scones

We are a bit spoiled living so close to San Francisco. We could eat every meal of every day at a new place and never reach the last restaurant. There are iconic steakhouses, out of this world oysters harvested right out of the bay and arguably the best bakeries in the state. The Mission, an uber hip neighborhood in the sunny part of the city, is home to a whole bunch of the best eateries in the city. Our church is located in the Mission which could be a coincidence, but it's entirely possible we chose the church we attend based on the quality and quantity of food options for after church brunching. Not really, it's an amazing community of the best people (but really though, the foooooood).

About a block from the front steps of our church is a little bakery called Tartine. It's a San Francisco staple. People line up 45 minutes before they even open the doors in hopes of getting a piping hot ham and cheese croissant and to snag a tiny table on which to enjoy said croissant with a cup of strong coffee. It's a small place but what they lack in space they make up in sugary carbs or flaky carbs with cheese or just straight carbs in the form of a loaf of bread that weighs more than a newborn human baby. The place is magical really. 

cherry, chocolate + almond scones

I try to hold myself back from going there every single Sunday. That takes a lot of self discipline, of which I am seriously deficient. The last time we went I had one of their buttermilk scones with currants. I already had eaten my ham and cheese croissant, but what could a little bit of scone hurt? Well, it was absolutely delicious, which caught me off guard because I was thinking I would just give it a taste, expecting just a normal, mostly boring scone. I mean, I'm comparing this to a ham and cheese croissant, a scone can't compare, right? Really wrong. The scone was awesome and we at the whole thing. AFTER we both ate a ham and cheese croissant. See why I can't go there every Sunday? 

cherry, chocolate + almond scones

If I thought that going to Tartine every Sunday was a bad idea, baking an entire batch of scones probably isn't the most brilliant idea either. Sure, I threw some whole wheat flour in there, but there's also butter and chocolate and they're drenched in a sugar and butter coating. Yep. Good thing my husband doesn't mind taking these types of things to work with him. 

I like this riff on Tartine's currant scones. The chocolate makes these a real treat and the tartness of the cherry balances things out. They aren't as airy as the original version on account of the whole wheat flour, but I like that they feel substantial. I cut these into wedges and after the fact, I really wished I had just cut them into squares or rectangles with a sharp knife. Feel free to do that if you'd like, I think it would be easier to get even sized scones. I'll do that next time. 


cherry, chocolate + almond scones

makes 12

adapted from Tartine

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, cold
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate pieces (or chips)
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

Preparation: 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if mixing by hand), sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Attach the paddle to the mixer and spread the butter over the flour mixture. Turn the mixer onto low and break down the butter until it is the size of peas and the mixture looks more like wet sand. If you're mixing by hand, use a pastry blender or your fingers to break up the butter, working quickly to keep from heating the butter too much. 
  3. Add the orange zest, buttermilk, dried cherries, chocolate and almonds all at once. Mix until just combined. The mixture will be moist. 
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a rectangle that is 18" by 5" and about 1 1/2" thick. Cut into 12 triangles. Brush with melted butter and top with a generous amount of sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately. 

biscuit sandwiches with bacon, egg + tomato

biscuit sandwich with bacon, egg + tomato

I used to go through a major crisis when we went out for brunch. The decision to go sweet or savory was so hard for me, you'd think I was making a life and death decision. Nearly every time, I go the savory route, mostly because so much sweet so early isn't usually my jam but a little something sweet is nice. We finally figured out that if we ordered a pancake for the table, our problem (my problem) was solved. This made all my brunch decisions easy, breakfast sandwich please, with a side of pancake to share.  

If there is a breakfast sandwich on the menu, I want it. If said breakfast sandwich is made with a biscuit, definitely get that in front of my face as soon as possible. My love for biscuit sandwiches probably stems from many childhood mornings at McDonald's. Just a biscuit with sausage, maybe some cheese. No egg (was it even really egg back then?) and definitely NOT on an english muffin. 

buttermilk biscuits

Now that most of our brunches happen at home (have you ever tried to have a civilized meal in public with a toddler?), I've been on the hunt for the perfect biscuit recipe. There isn't a huge amount of variation in the method, except for the additional step of folding the dough to create some extra beautiful layers. Of course, the ingredients or add ins vary, like these gorgeous sweet potato biscuits or these with honey and rosemary, which are both on my to-do list, but for the most part, the magic is in a few basic rules of biscuit making: work with cold ingredients, mix it all quickly and don't overwork the dough. Those luscious layers don't happen by accident, that's the cold butter working to create steam, pushing the dough into sheets of flaky nirvana. The fat in the butter works to tenderize the dough, making it soft AND flaky . YES. That's what we want! Bake them in a hot oven, top them with some salty bacon, a fried egg, a big hunk of tomato and a dollop of mayonnaise and then call me, because I'm coming over. 

biscuit sandwiches with bacon, egg + tomato

When you've got a lazy weekend morning, make a batch of these biscuits. Go wild and double the recipe if you can and freeze half of the biscuits to make weekday biscuits a thing. They could be a thing, you know. I mean, any weekday that starts out with biscuits is all right by me. These biscuits are quite good, too. They're soft, buttery and are the perfect vehicle for all kinds of breakfast sandwich fare. Next time I'll remember the "L" in B.L.T. and add a little spicy arugula for a fresh kick. 


biscuit sandwiches with bacon, egg + tomato

serves 6

find the original biscuit recipe (and much prettier ones at that!) here

Ingredients: 

  • 9 oz all purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk, plus more for the top of the biscuits
  • 6 eggs
  • 12 slices of bacon (you should probably throw a couple extra on in case someone wants a sample)
  • mayonnaise
  • 1 large tomato, cut into thick slices

Preparation: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter cubes, and use a pastry cutter or a couple of forks to mix the butter into the flour mixture. The pieces of butter should not be smaller than the size of peas and the mixture will start to look like course meal or wet sand. Stick the bowl in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to chill.

  3. Add the cold buttermilk to the flour and butter mixture and mix it quickly with a fork until it's moist. There may still be some dry bits of flour, that's okay. They'll get mixed in in a minute.

  4. Dump the dough (and any extra flour) onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently about 3-4 times until you have a mostly cohesive mass. The dough might still be a little shaggy, but we'll work that out right now. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 9'' by 5". Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, folding the long sides in toward the middle, overlapping one another. Roll out the dough again into a 9" by 5" rectangle. Fold it up again like a letter. Roll it out again into a 9" by 5" rectangle. Repeat the letter folding one more time, and then roll it out to about 3/4 inch thick. With a large knife, cut the dough into six equal pieces. Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet and brush the top of each biscuit with a little buttermilk. Sprinkle with kosher salt. 

  5. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until the biscuits have puffed and are golden brown around the edges. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool slightly. 

  6. While the biscuits are in the oven, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Let them drain on some paper towels.

  7. Wipe out the bacon skillet and cook the eggs over easy, until the whites are set, but the yolk is still runny. 

  8. Now that the biscuits are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and spread a good dollop of mayonnaise on the bottom of each biscuit. Place a tomato slice on top of that, and then put an egg on it. Give it a light sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper and top with two slices of bacon. Place the top half of the biscuit on, well, the top and take a giant bite. Let the egg and tomato drip down your elbows. "Mmmm" and "Yumm" loudly.