Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips & Pecans

Just so everyone knows, I've been a really good girl over the last few weeks.  I've been watching my calorie intake and exercising bunches.  On days when the weather's been pleasant, I've been getting out for long walks and jogs.  I even busted out the Zumba dvd set that's been collecting dust on my bookshelf since last June and did a little salsa dancing!

My son is an avid swimmer who dreams of being on a swim team and my two-year old has shown the indisputable signs of being a water-loving, little fishy too.  This means that whether I like it or not, swimsuit season is looming for me.  I have to be ready to look decent while panicking and chasing a wild toddler around the pool in just a couple of months!

Gnocchi With Sausage, Butternut Squash & Spinach

Okay friends, you'll soon notice that I have a very intense love of squash!  I often cook with a few varieties, namely zucchini, yellow summer, butternut and spaghetti squashes.  And maybe it's because of a long-standing mental association, but because of their summer/winter classifications I do tend to use them in noticeably different ways.  

Zucchini and yellow squash are summer varieties and I typically treat them as such.  I usually pair them up with light, delicate ingredients and sauces. Spaghetti squash is classified as a winter squash, but for my taste it's a very mild, mellow ingredient and I love to make light summer meals with it. A favorite simple dinner of mine is skillet casserole with roasted, shredded spaghetti squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and lots of cheese, but that is for another post! 


The Last Valentine's Day Dozen of 2015

Yesterday, the last of my Valentine's day cookie orders left the building!  These pictures are of the last dozen to go and in some ways I think the some of best cookies were saved for last.  You could say I went all out with my girly side and just had some fun!  I used lots of pink, frills, roses, and hearts.  By the way, creating tiny pennants on cookies is one of my new favorite things, so everyone should expect to see many more bitsy banners in the future! 


Jared's 8th Birthday Party!

This is a primarily a photo post with pictures of my son's birthday party last weekend. 

He turned 8!   I had already "pinned" inspiration for soccer, Minecraft, and penguin theme cakes in anticipation of his choice.  Those are three things I know he loves.  But, he definitely has a mind of his own and is full of surprises and without any prompting from me, he chose a "Ghostbusters" theme for his party and cake. I was super surprised by his choice considering we have only seen the movie as a rerun on some channel last summer once!  But, in fairness the ghost character "Slimer" and the evil Stay Puft Marshmallow Man do leave lasting impressions!  

We held the party at a local restaurant called Momak's Backyard Burgers & Malts.  This place has great kid-friendly food, lots of outdoor activities for kids and tons of seating for the grown-ups.  It was by far the most relaxed birthday party we have ever hosted and a good time was had by all.  Parents were sitting and chatting and kids were running and playing!  The weather was gorgeous and my baby was celebrated while surrounded by his family and his closest friends. Other than missing a few faces that we love, it was a great and perfect day!


Fudgy Nutella Brownies

Fudgy Nutella Brownies. Cooled for 25 minutes and still a bit warm.

I live in a house with an entire family of self-professed Nutella addicts. And, yes, this description includes me.  We love to eat it on bread, toast, crackers, apples, waffles and the list just goes on and on!  Our addiction is a pretty big deal and we don't ever leave the grocery store without a new jar. 

For the first time last year I began incorporating this heavenly product into my baking.  Last summer, I made a few cakes using Nutella as a swirl filling.  Well, in 2015 my use of this chocolate-spread of-the-gods has evolved and in this recipe I used it as a base! (I'm pretty sure I saw fireworks go off in the distance as I typed that last sentence!)

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