Banana Raisin Pecan Bread Recipe

Banana Raisin Pecan Bread

Bananas are one of my favorite healthy snacks (along with these) but I’m kind of picky about eating them if they’re too ripe. Once they get to that point of ...

A week’s worth of easy, healthy dinner recipes

This week’s recipes are all under 500 calories and have been adapted from various sources on the web. I’ve made adjustments to ingredients & cooking techniques to help make these ...

Guinness cookies with Irish whiskey frosting

Naughty and Nice: Guinness cake cookies with Irish whiskey icing

What’s better than chocolate? Chocolate with Guinness in it. And what’s better than buttercream frosting? Buttercream frosting with whiskey in it. For this year’s company holiday cookie bake-off, I adapted ...

Recent recipes and posts

Banana Raisin Pecan Bread

Bananas are one of my favorite healthy snacks (along with these) but I’m kind of picky about eating them if they’re too ripe. Once they get to that point of over-ripeness, they end up sitting in my kitchen and sometimes get thrown out. In the summer, I like to make frozen banana “ice cream” and fruit smoothies in the blender, but in the winter when I’m in the mood for comfort food, banana bread and banana muffins are where it’s at.

In addition to having a couple of close-to-death bananas around, I also had some raisins and pecans leftover from holiday recipes, so I baked the following recipe (based on’s banana raisin base). Hope you try it out and enjoy!

Banana Raisin Pecan Bread Recipe

Banana Raisin Pecan Bread

Banana Raisin Pecan Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar or brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

2. In a separate small bowl, combine the eggs, oil, milk, vanilla, and mashed banana. Add this to the dry ingredients in the larger bowl and mix together with a rubber spatula or spoon, adding the raisins and pecans as you stir.

3. Grease a 9 x 5 or 8 x 4 standard loaf pan and pour the batter in. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the raw sugar or brown sugar.

4. Bake at 350 F for about an hour until golden on top (check done-ness by inserting a wood toothpick in the middle of the loaf; when it comes out clean, your bread is done).

Kitchen Tips on Tumblr

No plans to move – but you can now also find Kitchen Tips on Tumblr. We’ll be using this a a microblog to share quick little posts and links to recipes on other cool blogs. Please follow if you’re a Tumblr user!

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A week’s worth of easy, healthy dinner recipes

This week’s recipes are all under 500 calories and have been adapted from various sources on the web. I’ve made adjustments to ingredients & cooking techniques to help make these dishes as affordable, easy, and tasty as possible. As usual,  you’ll find a shopping list that re-uses several ingredients so you can make smart use of your budget.

These recipes are all super easy and quick with minimal prep. They also include healthy staples like whole grains, leafy greens, lean protein, and fiber.

Since I love pizza and would literally eat it every day if there were no consequences (and am pretty sure that almost everyone else on the planet feels the same way), I’ve included two healthy flatbread-based pizza recipes.

Remember the Pizza Party game?

All of the dinner recipes here serve 1-2 people, so the shopping list has been scaled for this as well. Make sure to scale up if you need more. Happy cooking!

Shopping List

(makes enough for 2 people)

  • Baby spinach, 2 bags (12 oz total)
  • 1 head escarole
  • 1 head Boston lettuce
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Your favorite vegetable-based pizza toppings – suggestions include: chopped red or green peppers, sliced black olives (canned), chopped tomatoes, sliced mushrooms (canned)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 store-cooked garlic or traditional flavor rotisserie chicken
  • Feta cheese with tomato and basil (or plain, reduced fat feta)
  • 1 16 oz jar hot chunky salsa
  • 12 oz low fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 8 oz bag shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar
  • 8 oz reduced fat shredded mozzarella
  • 2 packets taco seasoning of choice (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 small bag of uncooked lentils or 1 can black beans
  • 1 can cream of mushroom condensed soup
  • 1 can low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 7.5 oz can garlic & basil pizza sauce (or buy plain pizza sauce and add your own garlic & basil in small increments while heating in a saucepan til the taste is right for you)
  • Whole wheat flatbread (1 package, usually 4 to a package – and not the crunchy, cracker-like New York flatbread but more like pita or naan bread)

Stuff you probably already have:

  • Jar of minced garlic (in water)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1  egg
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • Parmesan cheese

Ground turkey and salsa lettuce wraps

  • 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated and laid flat
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup chunky hot salsa
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 oz plain lowfat Greek yogurt

1. Wash and separate leaves of Boston lettuce, dry, and lay flat. Try to keep the leaves as whole/intact as possible.

2. In a large skillet, cook ground turkey until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning, 1/2 cup of salsa, and water. Simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Serve by using lettuce leaves as tortillas and top with Greek yogurt & extra salsa if desired. Warning: it can get messy.

Florentine chicken & feta flatbread

[Adapted from Fitness]

  • 2 whole wheat flatbreads
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • About 1/3 of rotisserie chicken dark and white meat, chopped
  • 2 oz tomato & basil or reduced fat feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat.

2. When oven reaches temperature, bake flatbreads for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and top with chicken, spinach mixture, and feta cheese. Put back in oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Incredibly easy salsa chicken served with legumes

  • Remaining 2/3 of rotisserie chicken pieces
  • 1 cup chunky hot salsa
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup (measured uncooked) lentils, cooked according to package directions, or 1 can black beans, heated through

1. In a large skillet, combine chicken, taco seasoning, soup, and salsa. Simmer on medium for 10 minutes or until heated through.

2. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt. Serve over lentils or beans.

Light Italian wedding soup

[Adapted from Everyday Food]

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 head escarole (about 1 lb), trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • salt & pepper

1. To make turkey meatballs: in a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey with garlic, egg white, breadcrumbs, parmesean, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls.

2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and cook until they float (about 5 minutes).

3. Add escarole and cook until wilted and until meatballs are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parmesan to serve.

Personal veggie flatbread pizzas

[Adapted from SparkRecipes]

  • 2 whole wheat flatbreads
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 7.5 oz can garlic & basil pizza sauce
  • 2 oz tomato & basil feta cheese or reduced fat feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced or chopped
  • Your favorite vegetable-based pizza toppings – suggestions include: chopped red or green peppers, sliced black olives (canned), chopped tomatoes, sliced mushrooms (canned)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add all vegetable toppings EXCEPT spinach and tomatoes and saute for 3 minutes. Season with pepper.

2. Add spinach and tomatoes and saute until spinach wilts, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain off any excess liquids.

3. Lightly oil a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Lay flatbreads on sheet and top with pizza sauce, spreading with the back of a spoon to cover the bread evenly. Sprinkle with some of the mozzarella cheese. Top with vegetables. Sprinkle with feta and top with remaining mozzarella.

4. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is crisp. Serve with a light salad.

Naughty and Nice: Guinness cake cookies with Irish whiskey icing

Guinness cookies with Irish whiskey frosting

Naughty and Nice Guinness and Irish Whiskey Cookies

What’s better than chocolate? Chocolate with Guinness in it. And what’s better than buttercream frosting? Buttercream frosting with whiskey in it.

For this year’s company holiday cookie bake-off, I adapted one of my favorite cupcake recipes: the Guinness Gasm by Team Mustache (SF Food Wars).

I’ve always deviated from their frosting recipe by using whiskey instead of Bailey’s Irish Cream, but I made a few other changes to create a more cookie-like option. It’s easier to travel with because you don’t have to worry about squishing your dainty cupcakes and can add the frosting when you reach your holiday destination. Or stay home and stuff your face. Whichever.

Without further ado, here’s my Guinness Gasm holiday tribute recipe. Since I’m no pro, just an enthusiast, I invite anyone to improve on my slight modifications and submit your suggestions in the comments.

Naughty & Nice Guinness Cake Cookies with Irish Whiskey Icing

Makes about 40 cookies


  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

Chocolate coating:

  • About 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, tempered and kept at about 90 F  OR 1 bar Plymouth Pantry Almond Bark* chocolate baking bar, melted (Cooking For Engineers thoroughly explains chocolate tempering)


  • 3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons half and half or milk
  • 2-4 tablespoons Tullamore Dew or Jameson Irish Whiskey

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Cut the butter for the cookies into large chunks and put in a medium saucepan on medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, add the Guinness and stir gently. Bring to a simmer.

3. While the Guinness & butter mixture is heating, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

4. Remove the Guinness & butter from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Allow to cool.

5. While the Guinness & butter is cooling, whisk together 1 egg and the sour cream in a small bowl until smooth. Add this to the Guinness & butter and mix until just combined.

6. Add this Guinness & butter mixture to the flour/baking soda/salt, stirring with a spatula until just combined.

7. Place regular size muffin cups in rows on a flat baking sheet (you’ll probably need two sheets if you plan to use all the batter). Put 1 tablespoon of batter in each cup.

8. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 F. Allow to cool completely after you remove them from the oven.

9. While the cookie-cakes cool, start tempering your chocolate or melting the Almond Bark bar on the stovetop or microwave (to melt in the microwave, break into a few pieces and heat on high for 90 seconds. Stir and heat at 15 second intervals, stirring inbetween, until all the chocolate is melted).

10. Once the cookies-cakes have totally cooled (you can also put them in the fridge or freezer if you’re impatient), remove them from the muffin cups. This part is tricky to explain, but it’s a simple concept: the bottom of what would have been a muffin or cupcake will be the top of your cookie. So you want to dip the rounded “bottom” of each cookie-cake into the melted chocolate, then place it “bottom up” to dry. As you dip each cookie, place them on a sheet of waxed paper to cool. The chocolate will harden on its own.

11. This step isn’t necessary for taste, but once all the chocolate on the cookies was hardened I dipped a butter knife in the remaining melted chocolate and drizzled it on top of the cookies. Just for looks.

Now on to my favorite part: the frosting.

12. Put the room temperature butter into a large bowl preferably with a rounded bottom (some bowls are flatter on the bottom and the butter gets stuck in the crevices). Using an electric mixer, whip the butter until it’s creamy. Then add 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time. Keep mixing until it reaches a fine crumb consistency.

13. Add 2 tablespoons of half and half or milk and mix. Then add 2 tablespoons of whiskey. And another two tablespoons. Hell, add two more. Add as much as you want and liberally taste test if you want. The frosting should be thick but a little airy. If it becomes too liquidy, just add more confectioner’s sugar a little at a time. And if it becomes too thick, just add more whiskey.

14. Decorate the top of your cookies and enjoy!

I find these cookies to be even better the next day as the cake gets a little more moist and the frosting develops a delicate but crisp outer layer as it dries.

*Wal-Mart seems to be the most likely place to find this, depending on where you live. You could also use chocolate candy melts which are sold with the “make your own candy” stuff, though I personally don’t like the flavor of these.

It’s Blintz!

The blintz, close cousin of the French crêpe and second or third cousin to the cannoli, is a flattened dough rolled up and served with filling. “Blintz” and the plural “blini” (or blintzes, of course) are Yiddish, and many European countries have other names for the recipe. They’ve had symbolic meaning among Slavic cultures for centuries, and, oh yeah, they’re delicious.

This post will share an ancient, mystical easy, modern take on the traditional blintz with a cheese filling. It’s great if you, like me,  have a small kitchen without a lot of counter space as it only requires the use of 1 plate, 1 bowl, and a cutting board or other clean, flat surface.

A Mountain of Blintzes, by Anik McGrory

Rather than include a photo of an actual blintz, I decided on this awesome looking children’s book instead.

I could also imagine it being fun to make with kids, because you get to cut up and smush down an entire loaf of bread – and I imagine that’s the kind of thing that kids like to do.

Finally, it’s great to make year-round as you can pack up and freeze the blintzes for later, and it doesn’t require having the oven on for long periods of time. I’d also imagine they taste pretty good if you warm them up in a toaster oven.

I found this creative recipe on, shared by user Michele. I made some modifications to her original recipe, based partially on a review from user “Poohbeck” (hey, I don’t make these names).

Cheese Blintzes

  • 1 (1 pound) loaf white bread (I used Freihofer’s Country White)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 (8 ounce) package regular cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package ‘1/3 less fat’ cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 pint sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, if you plan to bake your blintzes right away, but not if you plan to freeze them. With a nice sharp knife (unless you’re doing this with kids, obviously – a clean pair of safety scissors would be fun), trim off the crust of each slice of bread (you can stack several slices at a time).

2. Using a rolling pin, roll each slice as flat as possible. Really squish them into nice little compact sheets of dough. If they start to stick to whatever surface you’re using, just throw a little flour down.

3. On a large plate, preferably with rimmed sides, combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, use an electric mixture to whip together the softened cream cheese, milk, and vanilla.

5. Pick up a slice of what was once bread, drop on a nice tablespoon-sized dollop of cream cheese mixture, and spread it out to cover the surface. Then roll the dough up. You can roll up all of the pieces now, or go on to step 6 and do them one at a time.

6. Drizzle or dip your rolled dough in melted butter, then roll it around on the cinnamon & sugar plate til it’s good and covered.

7. Once all of the blintzes are cinnamon’d up and ready to go, either pop them in the oven for 15-18 minutes (depending on how crispy you like the outside – speaking from experience, the crispier the better is my vote) on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, or wrap them up for freezing.

Serve with sour cream – not necessary, but quite good.

“A Mountain of Blintzes” by Anik McGrory can be found here.

Supergrain recipe: Zucchini Fra Diavolo with Quinoa Spaghetti

Fra diavolo means “Brother Devil” in Italian, and this mouth-wateringly spicy Italian-American sauce lives up to the name.

This take on traditional fra diavolo (it’s usually served with seafood or just pasta) is low calorie, filling, and packed with stuff that’s good for you. It’s also vegetarian, for those who aren’t into meat or fish. Plus, the pasta is gluten-free. And it’s easy to make with pretty cheap ingredients. Did I mention it tastes good?

Note: If you want to leave out the vinegar, spinach & mushrooms to save a little money, you’ll still be able to make a tasty sauce.

Zucchini Fra Diavolo with Quinoa Spaghetti

Makes 2-3 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes with liquid
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 ½ cups of 1” chunks of zucchini* (see note below)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 /2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • ½ box (4 oz) quinoa pasta (I used Ancient Harvest quinoa spaghetti)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan, for topping
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh parsley, for topping
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic is sizzling, then add the tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. While sauce is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Prepare the quinoa pasta according to package directions (7-9 minutes should produce al dente pasta).
  3. In a medium frying pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1-2 cloves of garlic until the garlic begins to sizzle. Add the zucchini cubes and cook at medium to high heat, until zucchini is lightly browned.
  4. Stir cooked zucchini into sauce mixture. Add chopped spinach and mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve over or to side of quinoa spaghetti and top with parsley & a sprinkle parmesan.

*Zucchini and green squash are the same thing, and are usually called courgettes in the UK and Europe. We typically wind up with pretty large zucchini from our gardens here in the Northeast US, however, the supermarkets in my area only sell smaller versions labeled as “green squash”. These are about the size and shape of cucumbers with a slightly different texture. I never peel my zucchini – the skin tastes good, and it’s where a lot of the vitamins are – but you can if you prefer.

Adapted from this recipe for shrimp fra diavolo.


Kitchen Tips is Back – With 100 Calorie Hot Chocolate!

In my last pre-wedding-hiatus post, I said it was super hot in the Northeast. Well, now it’s November and we’ve gone from oppressive heat and humidity to crisp & blustery. That means it’s time for hot chocolate.

Here’s a little recipe we came up with for easy 100 calorie hot chocolate that kicks the pre-made powder mixes up a notch.

Easy Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

Makes 1 serving


  • 2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup “no sugar added” hot cocoa mix (we used Swiss Miss Sensible Solutions)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon, plus a sprinkle or two
  • about 1 cup hot water, depending on the size of your favorite mug
  • 1 tbsp vanilla flavored, no sugar added or fat free coffee creamer
  • 1-2 tbsp light whipped cream

Boil the water. Put the hot cocoa mix in each cup and then add the 1/8 tsp cinnamon. Once the water has boiled, slowly pour it into the cup while stirring (this allows for max dissolving of the powder). Add the coffee creamer (or a little bit of vanilla extract and some skim milk), top with whipped cream, and sprinkle on a little more cinnamon. Light a fire and impress your significant other.

Too Hot to Cook?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the weather in the Northeast US has been oppressively hot for the past several days and doesn’t look like it plans to let up much anytime soon. Inspired by a Reddit post in r/food, I give you the best dishes to cook/prepare when it’s just too damn hot.


This Spanish (or possibly Peruvian, or Polynesian) dish is typically made up of fish or shellfish marinated in a citrusy concoction. For more on the origins and styles of ceviche, check out this article.

Flavored ice cubes & ice pops:

I really liked the simple idea of making ice cubes from fruit juices and other “good things” in a recent issue of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food . You can also use the same concept to make ice pops, adding in some pureed fruit and yogurt, and many dollar stores and supermarkets sell popsicle making sets. The ice cubes are also perfect for putting in cocktails and sangrias to keep them cold without watering down the booze.

Pretty much any liquid and fruit combo will do, but here are some ideas to get started:

A simple Greek salad:

I’ve thrown this together before, but was reminded by this Metafilter thread of this great twist on the traditional garden salad. Just toss together some lettuce, feta cheese (reduced fat is fine), sliced black olives, chopped roma tomatoes, a dash of lemon, oregano and basil, and your choice of dressing (olive oil and a little vinegar is my favorite).


Summer heat waves are no match for a bag of tortilla chips, a bowl of good guacamole, and an ice cold beer (try Sol). When choosing your avocados, try to pick out ones that feel softer and squishy (but not mushy). They should yield to your touch but not dent. I find that the darker the outer peel, the more ripe they are when it comes to the hass variety.

My friend Jess makes the best guacamole, but since her recipe is tucked away in her secret vault, here’s the next best I’ve found: Guacamole.


If you still want something warm to eat with minimal time spent toiling over a hot stove, give Nif’s Garlic and Bread Crumb Spaghetti a whirl.

New recipe site

Check out this new recipe site:

It searches all of the major recipe sources (AllRecipes, Food Network, Epicurious, et al) and offers recommended recipes based on your preferences. I’m trying it out today!

New post coming soon

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who subscribes to the blog or has bookmarked it. Things have been crazy in my personal life – I’m getting married in 3 months, I’m moving, and I’m starting a new job. BUT – I haven’t forgotten about the blog. I have lots of ideas, and I’m still trying out new recipes every week. A new post is definitely coming soon. Watch this space, and thanks again!