Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins!

The name might be a mouthful but I can promise you that these muffins are even better. Perfect for a special sweet treat in the morning or dessert at night. These are multi-functional muffins people! Get em while they’re hot!

I got this recipe from the Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang. I can personally attest to this recipe after having worked for Joanne for the past year. I did change just a few little things however, to make it my own! So here you have it!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
makes about 24 muffins

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
4 T flax seed
1/2 c packed. brown sugar
1/2 c plus 2 T sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c canola oil3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 T creme fraiche or sour cream
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 bag peanut butter/chocolate chips

**For this recipe, I added flax seed, used half brown sugar half white and added chips! Without these, you can easily make plain banana bread!

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flax seed. I used a fork to “fluff” the ingredients if you don’t have a sifter at home!

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3.Using a stand mixer, whip the sugar and eggs on medium speed until they become light and fluffy.

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4. On low speed, drizzle in the oil so it has time to incorporate itself into the egg mixture.

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5. Add the bananas, creme fraiche/sour cream and vanilla and mix until the banana is broken down into fairly small pieces. This should only take about a minute or less.

6. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture by hand.

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Right before all of the flour is completely incorporated, add 1/2 bag of chips and mix only until combined as to not overmix.

7067. Only mix just until there aren’t any flour streaks left.

8. Portion the muffins about 3/4 full and bake until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). You can also bake this full batch in a loaf pan but it will take much longer to bake in the oven!

7059. Wait until the muffins cool and VOILA! A delicious treat for any time of day.

704Let me know if you try this at home! Does anyone have any recipes they want to share or would like me to share? Have a good weekend and enjoy your muffins! Be sure to return on Tuesday for another blog post!

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Restaurant Review: Deuxave!

There is just SO much I love about being in this industry, but I think what I love the most is the community. I’ve been finding that the world in general is a small place, but the culinary/food service world is even smaller.

When I started working at the Taj, we all I know I experienced the “its a small world” feeling with my awkward tinder moment (you can catch up by clicking here!)… But I also have connections with each of my co-workers! One of them used to work with my old Flour co-worker and the rest went to Johnson & Wales where our worlds somehow crossed from time to time.

I ended up going to Deuxave with two of my Taj co-workers to try the dessert menu by pastry chef Jamie Davis Schick (check out her instagram here!) before she moved on to the next step in her career. My friend April used to work for Jamie at No. 9 Park so we were treated as extra special guests at an extra fancy restaurant!

692Deuxave is located at 371 Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay area. It’s easily accessible by the T; its just a few minutes walk from the Hynes Convention Center on the green line. They also do valet parking for a pricy $18 or if you’re the luckiest person on the planet, you might find a free metered spot along Massachusetts Avenue. Deuxave is open for dinner 5 to 10pm on the weekdays and until 11pm on Friday and Saturday.

This restaurant is beautiful and definitely high end. Save your pretty pennies and dress up for a fancy night out! April and I waited at the bar for our friend Sarah and chatted with Jamie for a few minutes! I was definitely excited to try her menu and it was also really great to get to know her a little bit.

700After being seated, we were sent 3 glasses of champagne! We took a couple silly pictures, toasted and then reminded ourselves that we needed to behave in such a nice place. We perused the menu and picked one dessert for each of us to order with the intention to share.

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Also unexpectedly, we were sent an intermezzo. I’ts basically a pre-course to set the precedence for the rest of the meal. We were sent a fennel celery sorbet with compressed yuzu and tarragon. It was a really interesting mix of sweet and savory. The sorbet reminded me of chicken noodle soup- almost a little buttery!

696Our individual courses came out and they were absolutely beautiful. They were well executed with specific attention to detail. I’ll go through our courses one by one:

Local Peaches and Corn

691Corn panna cotta, hazelnut polenta financier, bourbon compressed peaches, peach sorbet and candied hazelnuts

Summer Berry “Trellis”

689White Chocolate Cheesecake, Summer Berries, Pistachio Pain de Genes, Blueberry Sorbet, Caramelized Puff Pastry, Pistachio Puree, Aged Balsalmic Glaze

Milk Chocolate Silk Ribbon

690Red Velvet Cake, Fresh Raspberries, Raspberry Sorbet, Cocoa Nibs, Malted Meringue

And again, we were sent EVEN MORE stuff! Jamie sent us the creme brulee with meyer lemon sorbet. The creme brulee was so creamy and rich and the sorbet was a nice change of pace from the fatty creme brulee. The sorbet wasn’t super tart because meyer lemons are small and sweet. YUMMM.

Jamie also sent us a new dessert in the testing phase!  It was yogurt panna cotta with a green apple gelee, chartreuse and apple sorbet, olive oil cake and green apple glass. The yogurt panna cotta was super super tart but I’m also not the biggest fan of yogurt. My friends were gobbling it up though! I really enjoyed the olive oil cake and green apple/chartreuse sorbet.

702Fat and happy, we were ready for our bill. We were sent little mignardise on the way out which are small bites (almost like mints that go with a bill). We each got a vanilla caramel, coconut macaroon and coffee bonbon. I WAS SO FULL AND HAPPY.

695They only charged us for the three plated desserts and our water (first time I’ve had that happen…) so our bill only came to $55 with tax. We each paid $25, leaving a healthy tip for our waiter and waitstaff who took such good care of us. I had an excellent time at Deuxave and was so happy to be able to experience someone else’s menu!

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On Tuesday, I divulge how to deal with crazy landlords and still walk away with a win! As stressful as adulting can be, it certainly isn’t boring. Have a great weekend eveyrone!

M

Restaurant Review: Sofra Bakery!

I have a small history with this bakery! When I was finishing up my internship before graduation, I sent resume after resume to any place in Boston I was vaguely interested in. I had heard from a co-worker about this cool bakery called Sofra that focuses on using a middle eastern influence!

Ultimately, I ended up interviewing there and loving every moment of it but took an offer at Flour when it presented itself. All in all, I still had a great impression of Sofra and eventually wanted to go back as a customer. Maaaaybe it took me a little too long to go back (almost two years… oops), I finally managed to go!

616Sofra Bakery is located at 1 Belmont Street in Cambridge, MA. Right off of Mount Auburn street, it’s definitely accessible off of the 71 bus, and probably numerous others I’m unaware of. The bakery has a teeny tiny shared parking lot with just barely enough space for 8 cars but the surrounding streets are available for 2 hour parking.

Created by Chef Ana Sortun and Pastry Chef Maura Kilpatrick, the bakery is owned by Oleana Restaurant Group and works in conjunction with Oleana (the restaurant) and Siena Farms (where they source local products!). A store front selling Siena Farms products is located in the South End and I’m dying to go try out Oleana at some point! They’re also starting to do cooking classes in the fall!

617The bakery has a cute little porch for outdoor seating and a few tight tables inside accentuated by adorable middle eastern cushions and decorations. On the far wall in the back is an entire selection of retail products for sale as well as a cold case filled with grab and go items.

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My roommate and I wanted to share everything (as usual) so we went for their egg sandwich, semolina pancakes, cheese danish and orange blossom morning bun!

624We started with the semolina pancakes topped with seasonal fruit. To be honest, the fruit was so sweet that I had trouble telling if they were peaches or apricots… (peaches, I think?). The fruit was cooked down into a syrup which replaced the typical maple syrup. The pancakes were the texture of a crepe except thicker. I was hoping that they might be a bit crunchier or offer a change in texture but they were still pretty tasty! A decent deal for $5!

621 619Next. we tackled the egg sandwich made with halumi, feta butter and bacon. Pretty sure it was the feta butter that sold us so easily- YUUUUUM. The bun was toasted and seasoned with black sesame seeds. The halumi and feta butter were SO good and I want them to be on every sandwich I ever eat for the rest of my life.

623The cheese danish was not a normal cheese danish… This one was made with raspberry, figs and sprinkled with pearl sugar. Which cheese danishes aren’t my favorite, my roommate really enjoyed this! And I thought it photographed the best of our spread, so I guess I can’t hate on it too much!

615I saved the best for last- the orange blossom morning bun. If you don’t know what a morning bun is, it’s basically chopped up pieces of brioche mixed together with cinnamon and sugar that, when cooked, becomes caramelized and gooey and delicious. THEN ADD ORANGE BLOSSOM ICING ON TOP!? Boom, delicious. All flavors I love. GET IN MY BELLY.

618625All in all, my roommate and I each only spent under 10 dollars and I left feeling full and satisfied. 10/10 would recommend. I’ll be back Sofra! Thanks for having us! As usual, I’ll be posting again on Tuesday, so be sure to come back! Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Treats and Snoozin’

I really do love brunch. It might be my favorite meal of the day. I think I’m the female version of Ron Swanson when it comes to breakfast. Gimme all the eggs, toast. bacon, sausage, cereal, pastries, grits, biscuits, fruit, etc etc etc you name it. GET. IN. MY. BELLY.

I don’t get to brunch very often, since I typically work on the days where brunch is conventionally served, but that doesn’t really stop me from seeking out some of the best brunch places near me. If you’re on the outskirts of Boston, get ready for my compiled list of best brunch places I’ve found (or am dying to try)!

Newton:

The Village Cafe–  We live fairly close to this cafe and it’s one of our favorite spots to hit up! It’s paaaacked with locals on Sundays but everything is homemade and cheap! You can get the “Village Special” or the “Hungry Man” which gets you a selection of a little of everything- my favorite!

Brighton:

Cafe NationThis place has a really cool and low-key vibe. It’s a great place to just sit and get some work done with a coffee and breakfast sandwich! It’s immediately off of the 57 bus line with plenty of shops around it for people watching!

Dash CafeI’d recommend this place if you wake up late enough to want a sandwich instead of more breakfast-y type foods. They have a killer lox bagel with cream cheese, lox, bean sprouts and more which more than fills you up!

Moogy’sThis was the first place my roommate and I went to when we moved into our apartment. The food is super cheap and the place is pretty informal where you have to sit yourself and order your food at a window. There are plenty of creative brunch options to choose from!

FuelI just discovered this place today! It is right next to Moogy’s very close to Brighton Center. They have tons of tables and different seating arrangements for casual dining, catching up with friends or even tables to get work done! Their wifi is free and easy to connect to so it made a really great place to work and write a blog post! They had some really excellent homemade pastries: muffins, scones, cookies, etc as well as a fun menu for different drinks and sandwiches. I tried the Hazelnut Nutella muffin- yum!

609Allston:

The Breakfast Club: I haven’t been here yet, although I see a long line wrapped around the store every weekend on my drive to/from work! It’s right near the end of Harvard stadium and seems to be a Harvard favorite! Can’t wait to give it a go!

Bruegger’s Bagels: yes yes, I know this is a chain. But I really enjoyed a salt bagel from this location and will definitely be stopping back here to buy half a dozen to freeze for the future!

Fenway:

Eastern Standard: I haven’t technically been here for brunch yet, but I was there for drinks and appetizers. This place is really classy and right next to Fenway so it’s always packed, day or night. This seems like an excellent place for a girls fancy dress-up brunch or a place to bring parents/in-laws!

Coolidge Corner area:

RibelleI wrote a review on brunch at Ribelle that you can check out by clicking here! I can’t wait to go back for brunch another day- SO delicious.

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Cambridge:

The Friendly Toast: Vegan/allergy friendly brunch place that is FULL of character. It has some very interesting menu choices and combinations but the decor almost gives you even more to talk about! In the summer, they also have a small area of outdoor seating!

607Flour Bakery + Cafe: Maybe I’m biased because I worked here for over a year making all of the pastries and bread, but Flour is hands-down one of the best brunch/lunch places I’ve ever been to. Everything is made in-house, fresh daily by people who are passionate and hardworking. Recommendations include: the french toast, an egg bacon sandwich, sticky buns, banana bread, breakfast pizzas, cinnamon creams, blueberry muffins and butter bretons. CALORIES DON’T COUNT IF YOU WISH HARD ENOUGH!

Downtown:

The Taj Hotel: Also perhaps another biased opinion since I work there currently, but Sunday brunch is well thought out and executed. All of the pastries are changed from week to week by the discretion of the pastry team but there’s also a hot line, a raw bar and other little samplings. Brunch is held on top of the 16th floor overlooking some of the most breath-taking views of the city. This is a perfect place to celebrate something: an engagement, graduation, baby announcement, etc. However, it does come at a price ($80 a person, eek)! Reservations need to be made in advance but it’s well worth it for a big life event.

470The Thinking Cup: I haven’t been here yet but I’ve heard nothing but good things! I can’t wait to spend a rainy morning before work here!

Any other suggestions out there?? I’m on a never-ending journey to find the best brunch in the city! Let me know what you think; I want to hear from you! Check back on Tuesday where I show you how I made a DIY succulent wall!! Eeeeeep who doesn’t like little baby succulents!? Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a great weekend!

America’s Test Kitchen!

My first job out of college was with a company called America’s Test Kitchen! ATK is an amazingly huge conglomerate of all sorts of food media- a couple magazine publications, two TV shows on PBS, TONS of published cookbooks and even an online cooking school. ATK is a test kitchen dedicated to finding recipes that work to share with the home cook and also explain WHY they work. It’s a company focused on the fun and education behind food.

I was a total PBS kid growing up since I didn’t have cable. SHOCKER I KNOW. Given that we had 8 channels to choose from, I would watch so many shows on PBS. Throwbacks to Arthur or Zoom anyone? I can even remember memorizing the address for the show Zoom- BOSTON MASS 0-21-34! Send it to Zoom! Totally ironic now that I live here now.

I would spend day and night watching PBS and would watch all the cooking shows with my mom on the weekends which is probably where my interest for food began. DAMN YOU EDUCATIONAL SHOWS! Julia Child and Jacques Pepin were my favorite people to watch and of course America’s Test Kitchen. ATK showed you not only recipes, but they talked food science, kitchen gadgets and product reviews. I LOVE knowing how things work so I was hooked.

I jumped at the chance to work for them so when I saw the internship posting, I knew I HAD to apply even though it was supposed to be a culinary internship. After phone interviews and giving my references, I was one of four interns who landed the job for the spring term.

Photo team!

Photo team!

Part of the kitchen before renovations began!

Part of the kitchen before renovations began!

I was place on the photo team and it was my job to help prep and execute all finalized recipes for the magazines, cookbooks and online cooking school. It was a super cool job! Occasionally, I’d spend a whole day outside manning the grills in sub-zero temps since we tested recipes about 6 months in advance. Other days, I would be able to stand in on the photo shoots and watch the food photographers and stylists works their magic! (Don’t be fooled, their hands touch EVERYTHING!) I occasionally got to switch teams when they needed help and mise/test recipes for Cooks Country, Cooks Country or the Books team.

My little mise station!

My little mise station!

Grill dayyyyyy

Grill dayyyyyy

The coolest part of my internship however, came in May when they filmed the 15th season of America’s Test Kitchen for PBS. They filmed right on our facilities (you’d never know the kitchen was even there from the outside) and set up camp. Our storage room turned into the tech room where the director sat watching and giving feedback during filming. Half of the kitchen was filled with camera and audio equipment as well as craft services which is a fancy way to say FREE FOOD/SNACKS. Our dry goods room turned into the runners area with a live feed tv set up in it so we’d always know what was happening.

Setting up for TV!

Setting up for TV!

The back kitchen was used for prep of the recipes! You know the magic of television, when they pull out a perfectly golden turkey out of the oven after about 3 seconds of cooking? Well, we’d be in the back pushing out these recipes so everything would be ready when they finished filming the talking segment beforehand. We’d have to prep recipes upwards of 15 times- on set, on set back-ups, back kitchen, flash forwards, flash backs, food props, half prepared foods, etc. You could only walk on and off-set when the camera’s weren’t rolling and you could NEVER look directly at the cameras. All the cooks in the background usually were testing their own recipes and actually getting real work done, but sometimes I’d get to stand in and chop some carrots to look busy while the other cooks were doing a tasting or prepping their own recipes.

Prepping for tv... I always wondered what a whole box of lemons zested looked like

Prepping for tv… I always wondered what a whole box of lemons zested looked like

Trying to look busy on set...

Trying to look busy on set…

Waiting off set but still watching the live feed!

Waiting off set but still watching the live feed!

At the end of TV filming, the whole crew gets together to do a rice krispy treat competition! We would split into teams and work together to create the best rice krispies. It was all VERY competitive. Then the filming crew would be the judges in the end. Of course, team intern bonded together (WILL WORK FOR FOOD PROPS) and made a lemon meringue RKT. Sadly, we didn’t win but it was a lot of fun!

286I really loved working there and made some pretty great friends there as well. Most of the work was culinary based so I knew I had to move towards something more in my field but it was definitely an experience I won’t forget! Check out an episode below where I might actually be seen walking around in the background and my name is in the credits! I’M FAMOUS!

ATK Family!

ATK Family!

Bon Appetit and see you all on Tuesday for another post!

Click here to see me in the background in the first couple minutes!