Every single time I bake banana bread, I wind up using a new recipe. This time, I only had two bananas, so I added pumpkin in lieu of a third. From there, I made it up as I went along…brown sugar, walnuts and even espresso made it into the batter. The only thing missing was chocolate chips — otherwise, this recipe is definitely a keeper!

  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 shot espresso (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Simply add all the ingredients in the order listed, mix and pour into a loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and ta da! Delicious, moist (yup, I went there) banana bread that’s worth repeating.


Here’s a little Friday lunchtime entertainment for myself…which would you pick?

Coke or Pepsi: Diet Pepsi. My favorite vice.

Lemonade or Fruit Punch:  Lemonade, especially if it’s fresh and more tart than sweet. 

Carmel Apple or Cotton Candy: Caramel apple!

Butterfingers or Snickers: Snickers, no question.

Pudding or Jell-O: Pudding. Again, no question. Although, I couldn’t swallow pills until I was a senior in high school. Up until then, my mom would crush pills and put them in a bit of chocolate pudding for me to take. To this day, pudding tastes a bit medicinal to me. I guess that tells you how little I like Jell-O! 

Ice Cream or Cookies: Ice cream!

Turkey or Chicken: Neither.

American or Provolone Cheese: American. When I was growing up, I only had pre-sliced cheese when visiting our family friend’s house (my mom was an original food purist). I think I was in middle school before learning that American cheese is not really called “Jane cheese.” No joke.

Crackers or Cookies: Cookies, especially homemade chocolate chip.

Pretzels or Chips: Chips.

Chinese Food or Italian Food: Italian

Pie or Cake: Pie, unless it’s ice cream cake. Or flour-less chocolate cake! 

Soda or Juice: Soda. Diet only. I know…aspartame…it’s my vice, remember?

Pasta or Pizza: Pizza. I’m already excited for Friday night pizza night and thinking I’ll do tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil, eggplant and mushrooms on my homemade pie tonight. 

Apples or Bananas: The most difficult choice so far…I guess bananas, since I eat one every single day.

Salad or Soup: Salads, as long as they’re not boring.

Cauliflower or Broccoli: Broccoli.

Onion Rings or French Fries: French fries.

Blizzard or McFlurry: Blizzard. My favorite is chocolate with Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Fried or Poached Eggs: Poached. I love runny yolks! My favorite way to eat eggs is on toast with avocado, salt and pepper. 

Mexican Food or Japanese Food: Oh, tough call. I love guacamole, vegetable burritos, fish tacos and mole sauce. But sushi wins!

Crepes or Pancakes: Pancakes, if they’re made with chocolate chips.

Hash Browns or Roasted Potatoes: Roasted potatoes. I’m not really a hash brown fan. Don’t even get me started on the hash brown puck from McDonald’s!

Chocolate Bars or Chocolate Truffles: Truffles or bars, as long as it’s dark chocolate.

Oatmeal or Cereal: I guess I’d have to say cereal. But I do eat oatmeal more — 5x per week!

Red or White Wine: Red. It tastes more complex to me.

I stayed in the apartment relaxing this weekend. Sure, I still got up at 7:30am on Saturday and started the day by cleaning my kitchen, but as long as I am 1) at home and 2) in sweats, I consider that a lazy morning. I *deserved* a boring weekend after the last one…

Rachel turned 25!

Marissa had her Vegas bachelorette party. There was a scavenger hunt, drinking, group serenades and dancing involved. Until 4am. We had a very giggly, girly fun time together, and I know Marissa had a blast, which is the most important part.

My littlest sister visited LA, and we went to Palm Springs for the day! It was a first for us both — pure 95 degree palm-tree-and-pool perfection.

I did get out of the house Saturday night for Rachel’s performance at the Cirque School LA student showcase. She’s been taking classes for about a year learning aerial silk skills, and she was incredible. I can’t even imagine being able to pull myself up the fabrics, let alone do all the wraps and drops. In case you aren’t familiar with aerial silks, here’s the Wikipedia 101:

Aerial silk is a type of performance in which one or more artists perform aerial acrobatics while hanging from a special fabric. Performers climb the suspended fabric without the use of safety lines, and rely only on their training and skill to ensure safety. They use the fabric to wrap, suspend, fall, swing, and spiral their bodies into and out of various positions. Aerial silks may be used to fly through the air, striking poses and figures while flying.

There was a sexy space bombshell theme, which was weird enough to work. In addition to the silks, we saw trapeze and aerial hoops, along with tumbling and hand balancing. It was so cool watching Cirque de Soleil-type skills being performed by “regular” people like my sister. Here she is in action!

Rachel is a gymnast and has been a little lost since giving up the sport after college. I am so happy that she’s found something new to learn and love. It was seriously impressive!

My exercise for the weekend included a beach walk with Julia, which was lovely as always. I also baked some killer banana bread, polished off a few loads of laundry, …and am not ready for work tomorrow. What else is new?!

The past 24 hours have been all over the place. I left work yesterday on time for once to meet Julia for dinner. We went to M Street Kitchen where I got to enjoy one of my favorite salads. It might not look like much, but the combination of spinach, parmesan, tomatoes, almonds, homemade croutons and herb-avocado vinaigrette is truly delicious.

We also got an appetizer that’s worth repeating: edamame, blistered padrón peppers, and tempura green beans. The blackened peppers were just a bit spicy and so tasty.

M Street Kitchen also has a great bakery, with face-sized cookies. We bought four (stuck one in the car for the boy) and headed just down the street for a post-dinner drinks. We tried a new-to-the-neighborhood spot, Brick & Mortar, where apparently they make their own tequila that soaks for hours in big glass jars filled with peeled mangoes. We didn’t order any…but didn’t say no either. It was a great night!

Then today I took my car for a routine oil change. I hopped on the freeway to head back to work $65 poorer (is it even possible to get an oil change without being talked into more services?) and my tire blew out. Of course, I didn’t realize it was my tire and continued to drive until the shaking and shuddering forced me to pull over. Gulp.

Luckily, the boy is the calm in the eye of my storm and talked me down from hysterics. Despite being sick, he hit the road to help me out but Geico once again came through for me and sent someone to change my tire at no charge, so he didn’t have to drive an hour to meet me. Do you think I bought enough “thank you” chicken soup for his sore throat?

I wish I could say these past 24 hours were more hectic than most, but that would be totally untrue considering that the next 3 days involve 1) my youngest sister visiting from NJ, 2) my middle sister turning 25 and 3) a bachelorette party in Las Vegas. Game faces! Or, cookie faces if you’d prefer. I wasn’t kidding about these beauties!

Saturday night, I stayed up late making Ukrainian Easter bread, paska. I started at 6PM but forgot the bread has to rise three separate times for nearly four hours. Which means I didn’t pull this baby out of the oven until 12:30 in the morning, oops! I also decided that I really need to invest in some smaller baking pans. This 8.5 inch spring-form pan makes an insanely big loaf of paska. I was worried the inside would be under-baked but thankfully it was fine. Last year, I cut into the bread and it was still gooey in the middle!

A nice little group got together for brunch on Sunday; we had the Easter bread with hard boiled eggs, Brussels sprouts and kale salad, pasta salad, chicken sausage and peppers, fresh pineapple and strawberries, and endless mimosas.

Rachel surprised me by bringing another Ukrainian dish – pierogies! I cannot begin to explain how much I love these pasta/potato bites. I can eat dozens in a sitting and have been known to hog them at all family functions. Rachel even stuck a joke kapusta (sauerkraut) one in there…the only kind of pierogi I won’t eat.  Actually, she didn’t have sauerkraut so she used relish instead. Don’t worry, no one ate it!

I also made my Easter-inspiration dessert. I’m always a little nervous trying a new recipe when making only one dessert but this came out perfectly. The cake was so moist thanks to a cream cheese-based filling. I even made my own buttermilk for the recipe! I hate buying a whole container of something for just one use. Did you know you can mix 1 tbsp. lemon juice with 1 cup milk to make buttermilk? So easy and efficient. The cake was delicious and everyone asked for the recipe — win/win in my book! I’m definitely adding this to my repeat list for the future.

After eating, we played Apples to Apples and I lost miserably. Other than that, it was a great Easter. Hope yours was just as delicious!

Easter inspiration in the form of a lemon-raspberry coffee cake. I already went out and bought the ingredients for this one! Hopefully mine turns out just as lovely.


It’s hard going back to work after a really lovely weekend. I checked so many things off my to do list; the apartment is cleaner, my laundry is done, and I *finished* a special surprise for Marissa’s bachelorette in two weeks (more on that later!). The boy and I also went on a little impromptu date to Father’s Office. He loves the burgers there, but since I haven’t been eating meat, the menu seems pretty limited. Almost all the vegetable dishes include ham or bacon! Still, we had some nice wine and capped off the night with Malibu Yogurt, which is a guaranteed good finish. I also cooked a bit this weekend, making pizza for dinner on Friday, tofu brown rice bowls for lunch on Saturday, and half whole wheat oatmeal bread on Sunday (this loaf is already almost gone!).

It’s especially delicious when drizzled with honey! We ate so much bread warm out of the bread maker that I wasn’t hungry for dinner and ended up eating a bowl of Amy’s tomato soup right before 10pm. I would have just gone to bed, but hate waking up in the morning feeling ravenous.

I also bought rosemary and parsley plants this weekend. Our backyard area doesn’t get much light, but herbs still seem to do pretty well with the 3 hour sunshine window. Now all I need is basil, cilantro and mint and I’ll be set for summer. Assuming I can keep these alive of course!

It boggles my mind that fresh herbs cost the same price whether you buy a single package or a whole pot. I just added some parsley to the stuffed shells I’m making for dinner…a nice comforting ending to a long Monday.