Rick The Baker’s Banana Bread

We were lucky to grow up in a household that both celebrated and encouraged cooking. Our mom cooked dinner almost every night and on Wednesday’s it was our dad’s turn to cook. Over time, our dad’s repertoire in the kitchen expanded to baking (woohoo!) and he is now baking something almost every week. If you know our family, you know that our dad is famous for his banana bread. If you join us for our Sunday walk or happen to cross paths with him over the weekend, you’ll likely be the proud owner of a banana loaf. He has been altering and tweaking this recipe for a few years and bakes a loaf or two of banana bread each week. After some serious begging and convincing, he finally shared his recipe with us and all of our followers! We have had a lot of fun in the kitchen getting the recipe from his head to paper and can’t wait to see you making it your kitchen as well.

Rick the Baker's Banana Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf
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Our dad’s famous chocolate covered banana bread!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of all-purpose white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of pumpkin spice
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Coat a standard loaf pan with cooking spray
  3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice.
  4. In another bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter, coconut milk, sugar and vanilla.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each.
  6. Add the flour mixture and mix until well incorporated
  7. Add the bananas, mix well.
  8. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes or until the bread is firm.
  9. Let the banana bread cool completely in the pan.
  10. Make the chocolate topping. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips for about one minute. Add the cream and stir until the chocolate and cream are fully mixed. Top the chocolate sauce over the banana bread and let cool completely. The chocolate sauce will harden and slice easily after it has cooled.


Braised Short Rib Stew With Cheesy Grits

We love braised short ribs in the winter; they are rich and hearty and the ultimate cold weather treat. They are not on our weekly menu very often because they take a long time to cook to get the meat fall off the bone tender. This really is a recipe for a cold weekend day when everyone is hanging around the house and you have the time to give this recipe some love. Each time we make short ribs we experiment with a variety of ingredients, but our favorite base recipe is a red wine braised short rib with lots of herbs like rosemary and thyme. We have braised the short ribs for four hours so that they are fall off the bone tender. We then like to shred them into bite sized pieces and add them back into the sauce that they were braised in. The result is a savory beef stew that is pretty much to die for. To make the final dish really over the top, we have served the stew over cheesy cheddar grits.

Braised Short Rib Stew

  • Servings: 4
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Winter comfort food at it’s finest. We love this stew on a cold day served over cheesy cheddar grits for a ‘stick to your ribs’ kind of dinner.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 5 lbs bone in short ribs, patted dry and seasoned well on all sides with salt and pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 whole carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stem fresh rosemary (approx 4 inches)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 14. 5 oz diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs of the olive oil and let it get nice and hot before adding the short ribs to the pot. Sear the short ribs for about 3 minutes per side on all sides, so that the short ribs are nice and brown. Remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tbs of olive oil and the onions, celery, and carrots to the pot. Caramelize for about 4 minutes before adding the garlic. Saute another 2-3 minutes, or until everything is starting to soften and is fragrant.
  3. Add the rosemary, thyme, and tomato paste to the pot. Cook everything for another 3-4 minutes- this helps concentrate the flavor of the tomato paste and give it a nice savory sweetness. Add the diced tomatoes, red wine, and 2 cups of chicken stock to the pot. Season with the salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Add the short ribs back into the pot, thick side down, and make sure that they are mostly submerged in the liquid. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover them, add additional stock until they are covered. Bring the liquid to a slow simmer, cover the pot, and cook the short ribs for 4 hours. You will be tempted to uncover the lid and peek at the short ribs but keep them covered!
  4. After the 4 hours has passed, remove the short ribs from the pot along with the rosemary and thyme sprigs. Tent the short ribs with foil to keep them warm. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and flour to form a roux – an equal mixture of butter and flour that will form a paste. Cook until the roux is a medium brown color. Add a big ladle of the short rib liquid to the roux and continuously stir to thicken the liquid and make sure that the roux is completely blended. Add the mixture to the rest of the short rib liquid and stir well to combine. Bring the liquid to a boil so that the flour cooks through. While the liquid is coming to a boil, shred the meat of the short ribs off their bones. Add the short rib meat back to the pot, stir to combine, and season with any additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot over mashed potatoes or grits.

More Of Our Favorite Comfort Foods

Loaded Bahn Mi Fries

Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese

Skillet Lemon Chicken


Cheesy Stone Ground Grits

Does anyone else love the grits from Waffle House as much as we do? How could you not! Based on the amount of road trips we have taken in our lifetime, we know that there is just something so satisfying about grits at a pit stop on an early morning drive. When the weather is cold and we are stuck indoors, cheesy, creamy grits are the ultimate side dish to just about any entrée – breakfast, lunch or dinner. Our version of grits takes about 30 minutes to make, but we think that they are well worth the effort. Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting some of our favorite dishes that pair perfectly with this classic side dish.

Cheesy Stone Ground Grits

  • Servings: 4
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Our ultimate, guilty-pleasure side dish that pairs well with just about everything!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken stock (you can substitute water if you want this vegetarian)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 cup stone ground grits
  • 2 cups 2% milk, warmed in the microwave
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated and separated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring the chicken stock and butter to a boil in a medium sauce pot. Add the grits, stir well, and reduce to a low heat so that the grits are on a slow simmer. Cover the grits and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the grits do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. After 15 minutes, add the milk and 3/4 cup of the cheddar cheese to the grits. Stir well and again, keep covered on a low simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the grits do not stick to the bottom of the pan and they cook evenly.
  3. When the grits have finished cooking, give them a really good stir so that all of the liquid is absorbed. Season the grits to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese over top.

More Favorite Comfort Food Side Dishes


Shrimp Taco Salad

We love mixing up our protein options by incorporating fish and seafood into our menu planning. This salad is the perfect way to bring shrimp to your lunch table in under 30 minutes. Tajin is a Mexican seasoning blend of chili powder, lime and salt. We eat it on just about anything – fruit included! Using the tajin gives the salad a citrusy punch that is complimented by the yogurt and avocado crema salad dressing. We have intentionally made this salad to be on the lighter side, but if a salad just won’t cut it for your appetite, this recipe can easily be put in taco shells or tortillas and topped with cheddar or cotija cheese to bulk it up. For us, this is a perfect weekday lunch to have while working from home.

Shrimp Taco Salad

  • Servings: 2 lunch servings
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A lunch salad that is filled with flavor and comes together in under 30 minutes; a great recipe for a weekday lunch while working from home.

Shrimp Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbs tajin

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 package (8 oz) coleslaw mix
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 single serving package (5.3oz) non-fat Greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Season and cook the shrimp. Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and tajin. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and cook the shrimp fully through (about 3 minutes per side). Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and 1/2 avocado and mix until the avocado is fully blended with the yogurt. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, tomatoes, beans and cooked shrimp. Toss with the yogurt/avocado dressing.
  4. Optional – if you want to make this dish more hearty, you can put the salad mix in a tortilla to make a wrap or serve as individual tacos.


Cauliflower & Chickpea Enchiladas

We have seen a lot of New Year’s resolution posts on our social media accounts, and one of the most common food goals people are talking about is the desire to eat more plant based. Eating plant based has a number of benefits for our bodies and the environment; including a reduced carbon footprint and greenhouse emissions. Our mom eats mostly plant based and we will never forget when she ordered the surprise vegetarian dinner at a steak house only to have a bowl of pasta served to her. We view cooking plant based meals as a fun challenge; we like to experiment with new ingredients and flavors and not just replace meat with pasta or other empty carbs. When we have a successful dish like these enchiladas, we don’t even miss the meat.

Cauliflower & Chickpea Enchiladas

  • Servings: 4
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A plant based recipe that everyone will love. These enchiladas are so delicious we promise you won’t be distracted they are vegetarian.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, stem removed and florets chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4 tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed (we love Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large burrito-sized torillas
  • enchilada sauce (anywhere from 10 – 16 oz)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • chopped green onions, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drizzle the cauliflower with 2 tbs olive and season well with salt and pepper. Lay the cauliflower in an even layer and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is roasted and fork tender. Leave the oven on and reduce the head to 350 degrees, as you will need to bake the enchiladas after they are assembled.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining olive oil and onion to the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the onion starts to caramelize. Add the chipotles in adobo, cumin, coriander to the pan; mix to combine and let the spices toast on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the chickpeas, sour cream, and water to the pan. Stir to combine and cover. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes to soften the chickpeas. Remove the lid and mash half the chickpeas with a potato masher or a large fork. Add the corn and gently fold in the with a spatula to combine. If the cauliflower has not finished cooking by this point, remove the pan from the heat until the cauliflower is cooked. When the cauliflower is roasted and tender, to the pan and mix everything well to combine.
  5. Lay the four tortillas onto your counter top or cooking space. Divide the cauliflower mix amongst the four tortillas. Do the best you can to roll them into burritos.
  6. Spray a pyrex baking dish with cooking spray. Use a spoon to layer about 1/3 cup of the enchilada sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish. Add the four burritos to the pan in an even layer. Top the burritos with the remaining enchilada sauce and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, the first 15 minutes covered in foil and the last 5 minutes uncovered to let the cheese get melty and bubbly. Top with green onions, cilantro, or avocado if you wish and serve immediately.


Tortellini Minestrone

This recipe for minestrone soup has been in our winter rotation for almost a decade. Minestrone is something that we usually wouldn’t order at a restaurant because quite frankly, we are busy eating pasta and other Italian dishes we crave. We love to make this soup at home because we can pack it with vegetables and rich herby flavors. If we are watching our food choices, we usually make this soup with butternut squash. But to make it a little more kid friendly (and frankly more crowd pleasing for everyone) we have chosen to add tortellini. Who can say no to cheesy pasta being added to everything? The tortellini adds richness and decadence to the soup and makes it a favorite for everyone in the family.

Tortellini Minestrone

  • Servings: 4-6
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Our favorite recipe for minestrone, made kid friendly with cheesy tortellini!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, small dice
  • 2 stalks celery, small dice
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 24 oz chicken stock
  • 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 package pre-made cheese tortellini (about 16 oz)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • sliced basil, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven soup pot over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic to the pot; saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions become translucent and fragrant. Add the rosemary, thyme, and cannellini beans; sauté another 3-4 minutes or until the rosemary and thyme are fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock to the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the tortellini. Cover and bring to a low simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the tortellini is cooked through. Uncover and add the spinach to the pot. Stir it around and cook a few minutes for it to wilt.
  3. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in large bowls with a bit of grated parmesan cheese and some fresh basil.


Larb Lettuce Wraps & Bowls

Larb is a traditional meat salad found in Laos and Thailand. It is one of our favorite dishes to order on a Thai menu when we are trying to eat healthy because it’s light and really refreshing. What makes this dish bright are the many herbs and spices mixed into the meat mixture. It is usually served with sliced cucumber and sliced jalapenos for some kick. With everyone having different goals this time of the year in regards to their eating habits, we’ve made this recipe a little bit of a choose your own adventure story. Watching the calories? Serve the larb in lettuce wraps with lots of added vegetables. Needing a bit more? Serve the larb over a bed of white rice. This is a great weeknight dinner and made extra fun when everyone gets to make their own version!

Larb Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 8 lettuce wraps
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Our quick and easy variation of larb – a delicious, healthy and herby salad found in Laos and Thailand.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sambal oelek or your favorite chili paste
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of one lime
  • bib lettuce – divided into 8 cups
  • 1 english cucumber, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • jalapeno, sliced for garnish (optional)
  • cooked white rice, if you plan to make rice bowls

Directions

  1. Prepare the vegetables. Mince the garlic, ginger and shallot and set aside. Thinly slice the red onion and set aside in the same bowl as the garlic mix.
  2. In a large sauté pan, sauté the pork over medium heat. You do not need to add any oil to the pan, the fat from the pork will start to render as it is heated. Use a spatula to break up the ground pork into bite sized pieces.
  3. Sauté for five minutes and add the garlic, ginger, shallot and onion to the pan and continue to stir and sauté for another 5 minutes. The onion should start to soften and the pork will be completely cooked through.
  4. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and sambal oelek. Stir completely so that all of the ingredients are combined. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the sauce is mostly soaked up by the pork. Remove the larb from the heat, set aside, and add the lime juice.
  5. Lettuce Cup Preparation: Place a 1/4 – 1/2 cup serving of larb into each lettuce cup. Top with sliced cucumbers, cilantro, and jalapeno.
  6. Rice Bowl Preparation: Place 1/2 – 1 cup cooked rice on the bottom of a bowl. Layer with a 1/2 cup of larb and top with sliced cucumbers, cilantro, and jalepeno.


Potato and Leek Soup

We love soup pretty much all year round, but right after the holidays we have them on our menu regularly. Soup is great on a cold day, easy to make, and an ideal option for a healthy meal when we have our hearts set on January resolutions. The crunchiness of the leeks combined with the creaminess of the potato makes this soup taste indulgent without adding any dairy. You can have this soup as a full meal or pair it with a side salad or sandwich for a delicious lunch option during your workweek.

Potato and Leek Soup

  • Servings: 4 entree servings
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A healthy soup recipe to kick off January resolutions with easy substitutes for vegan and vegetarian food preferences.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 5 leeks, chopped – whites and greens separated
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock (option to use vegan stock)
  • shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, shallot and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the whites of the leeks and sauté an additional 5-10 minutes or until the leeks start to soften.
  3. Add the potatoes, greens of the leeks, and 4 cups of the bouillon to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer with the soup covered for 15-20 minutes or until you are able to easily poke a fork through the potatoes.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to your desired consistency. We like to have about 1/4 of the mixture remain whole and blend the remaining. The different textures of the whole potatoes and leeks bring a nice crunchiness to the soup. Once the soup is blended, add additional stock if you prefer your soup a little thinner. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve the soup hot and top with cheddar cheese (if desired).


Maple Dijon Salmon

This is the recipe that converted Tuck’s dad from straight up refusing to eat salmon to requesting it on the menu once a week. If you are looking to bring some of your picky eaters out of the dark and into the light when it comes to fish, this is your recipe. We love this Maple Dijon Salmon because it tastes out of this world and is made from just a few, simple ingredients. Less is always more in the kitchen, and that is especially true when you use high quality products. We prefer to use whole grain Dijon mustard if you can find it, but any nice Dijon will work just fine. The same goes for the maple syrup: a finer quality means that you only need a few tablespoons for the sweet and piney taste that is the signature to this dish. 

Maple Dijon Salmon

  • Servings: 4
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Our tried and true salmon dish that will convert the pickiest eaters in your family!

Ingredients

  • 4, 6 oz filets of salmon
  • 3 tbs whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 385 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper and place the pieces of salmon skin side down on the sheet. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the pieces and season each with the paprika, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, maple syrup, olive oil, and minced garlic. We suggest starting with 2 tbs maple syrup and tasting the sauce before adding the third. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  4. Use a spoon to generously top the salmon pieces with the maple dijon sauce.
  5. Bake the salmon for 12-13 minutes for medium, 15-16 minutes for well done. Use a knife to peel the salmon away from the skin and serve.


Butternut Squash Bisque

We are the first to raise our hands and admit that packing in the veggies in the wintertime isn’t easy. Salads in the snow are a tough sell. Soup, however, is on the menu many days of the week. This recipe for Butternut Squash Bisque is one of our favorite healthy recipes that we make over and over again. Unlike most butternut squash soups, this recipe drifts more towards the savory side than the sweet side. We love how the licorice flavors from the fennel brighten up the squash; honey crisp apples adds a touch of sweetness and ras el hanout packs a savory curry punch. For those unfamiliar, ras el hanout is a North African spice blend that can be found at most mainstream groceries or linked here for online ordering. The result is a rich soup loaded with flavor, but not loaded with calories. It’s very simple, clean, and healthy; a great recipe to start the new year.

Butternut Squash Bisque

  • Servings: 4 entree servings
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A simple, healthy soup to make clean eating easy as we start the new year.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 bulb fennel, stem removed and sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 32 oz butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed
  • 2 honey crisp apples, core removed and sliced
  • 1 tbs ras el hanout + more for garnish (optional)
  • 32 oz chicken stock (you can sub vegetable stock to make this dish vegetarian)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and fennel to the pot. Saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are starting to become translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, butternut squash, apples, and ras al hanout to the pot. Saute for another 10 minutes, or until the butternut squash starts to brown. Brown = flavor, don’t skip out too early or you will lose the best part of this soup!
  3. Add the chicken stock to the pot. Give everything a good stir, season with salt and pepper, cover, and let the soup cook for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is pureed and an even consistency. We like our soup on the thicker side, but if it is too thick for your liking you can thin it down with water, milk, or cream. Taste and season again with salt and pepper as necessary.
  4. Serve the soup in large bowls with an additional sliced apple and sprinkle of ras al hanout, if desired. A loaf of crusty bread will go a long way with this soup as well.