banana bread, for the win

banana-bread-title

Important update (2/25/17): In using this blog post as a reference when baking this bread today, I discovered that I originally omitted my favorite ingredient: cinnamon.*  Please, do not make this bread without cinnamon! :) 

Out of all the staples in our weekly grocery haul, bananas might be the most versatile.  They’re great on their own when perfectly ripe (I like them best without any green, just some brown freckles), they bring fresh sweetness to a number of breakfast concoctions (think oatmeal, chia pudding, acai bowls), and make a fantastic dessert.  Typically, I end up putting a few ripe ones in the freezer for smoothies and “nice cream” and then every couple of weeks we accidentally let them go past their prime … into the glory of bake-ready bananas.  You know what I mean–too dark to eat raw and not worth freezing.  In other words, perfect for banana bread.

Admittedly, the recipe I’m about to share is the one and only banana bread recipe I’ve ever made in my adult life.  Back when I was on a super-tight budget, I frequented frugal blog guides and obsessed over how they made it work on a minimum grocery budget with kids and mortgages and all the things.  Along the way, I tried a few of the shared recipes including this one, which I’ve been making ever since because it is perfect as-is and crowd-pleasing every time.

You can mix in chocolate chips or nuts if you wish, but it’s fine without them.  I often bake these in a muffin pan.  Either way, it keeps really well in the freezer.

Banana Bread
Adapted from Money Saving Mom’s recipe.  Try it!
(makes one loaf)

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4+ tsp cinnamon*
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs almond milk

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a loaf pan or muffin tin.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and in a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together.
  • Add the wet mixture into the dry and stir just until combined.
  • Do not overmix (that’s what causes dense bread/muffins).
  • Pour mixture into pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.
  • Cool completely and enjoy!

BONUS TIP: We love warming a slice in the toaster oven and then adding a generous helping of almond butter.

I’ve made this for brunch gatherings, sent some to my husband’s work and taken it to potlucks.  Most recently, I gave mini loaves in Christmas treat bags to our local friends.  Everyone loves it, I promise.

banana-bread2TALK BACK:  If you try this recipe, let me know what you think in the comments!

xo, mh

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vegas favorites for a fancy dinner date

fancy-dinner-datesIt’s February, which means it’s time to get fancy.

The foundation for any successful date night is the right dinner.  In Las Vegas, there are so many options in every price range that we often have a hard time deciding where to go for a special meal. (And I can be very indecisive and put a lot of pressure on the ultimate decision, but that’s another post…)

Going out for Valentine’s Day can sound overrated, but I think special date nights are important any time of the year–even on February 14.  With the holiday on a Tuesday this year, I plan to keep with tradition and make lasagna for dinner and something decadent for dessert.  Typically, we still mark the occasion on an off day with that special dinner date.  Any excuse for a fancy meal, right?

In case you’re local and looking for ideas for February 14, the upcoming weekend or any special date, here are some of our favorites for fancy, romantic nights out:

  • Honey Salt.  I’m partial to the lunch menu and go for the chicken sandwich with the best kale caesar salad ever, but the dinner selection is excellent as well.  Great drink menu and atmosphere, too! (On the casual side of fancy.)
  • Echo & Rig.  You simply cannot go wrong here.  Brunch, happy hour or dinner.  On the small plates menu alone, don’t pass on the thick-cut bacon or avocado toast.  I’d also recommend the roasted carrots. Every entrée I’ve had (and I’ve had a few) is memorable, as is the happy hour hot dog.  Seriously.  Service is a win as well.
  • Giada at The Cromwell.  It’s gorgeous and modern, perfect for a rare night out on The Strip.  Walking into the restaurant feels instantly special, so dress for the occasion for the full effect.  The antipasti and charcuterie platters are great here.  I like that classic lemon spaghetti with shrimp and Sean still talks about the lobster ravioli.  Yum.
  • Bouchon at the Venetian.  It’s Thomas Keller’s classic restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip and we’re so happy it’s here.  I go for the mussels and think they’re everything you want in a French bistro.  Just add: gin martini.  Always order dessert.
  • (BONUS: BRUNCH DATE) DW Bistro. We really like the new location in The Gramercy.  Celebrate early this year (or late!) and go for the weekend brunch with bottomless mimosas.  Start with the pastry basket, order chilaquiles and pork hash, and no matter what, get the eggs poached.  You’re welcome!

TALK BACK: Have you been to any of these restaurants?  Any other suggestions for a fancy dinner date?

xo, mh

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nothing to prove by jennie allen

fullsizerender-3Let me start by saying that I was fortunate and happened to be signed into my email when I received the invitation to sign up to be a part of the launch team for Jennie Allen’s new book.  I filled out the form and received my uncorrected proof copy in the mail.  Immediately, I wondered how I could get on more book launch teams because the excitement is thrilling and I’m all in on it.

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen is straight out of the author’s heart and hope for our generation.  Anyone who follows along with Jennie’s teaching and leadership of the IF:Gathering and has ever heard her speak or seen her in action on social media will see her same message, in a deeper way, in print.

This book is exactly what you need to make you stop, name your junk and give it up.

I was weeping in the first 60 pages. I say that not to warn you but to illustrate that it is deeply moving; a message that we can all stand to listen to and if you are open to receiving it at just the right moment, it will shift your mind and in turn, your faith.  For me, I’ll say the Holy Spirit was shifting my mind, my will and my emotions as I read those first 60 pages.

tumblr_ok1s6oqp4u1w3j8bao1_1280It’s a book for those who strive.  Strive to have faith, to do good, to prosper, to rise and to do big things.  The point is to stop striving.  Our paths are already made straight, our worth was already bought, paid for on a cross.  As the cover says, we can stop trying so hard.

This is about hope for resting in who God is; who we were each made to be as a part of His Great Story.  Dwell in His grace, look to His understanding and live out your true purpose.

Personally, I’m thankful for Jennie’s work on the pages of this book.  She cares deeply about this generation, about shifting our perspective away from our imperfect selves towards our Perfector.

You can click here to purchase the book today and to learn more.  Consider joining the online book club to dig deeper with a sweet community.

I cannot wait for you to read it and to hear what you think! (And to finally have people to talk to about it!!)

tumblr_ok1qeu0kgp1w3j8bao1_1280*Note: As mentioned, I received a free, unedited proof version of Nothing to Prove.  Other than that, I am not being compensated for this post. Just sharing and celebrating a very exciting book launch.  Enjoy!

xo, mh

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2017 goals

goalsNow that we’re two weeks into the new year, I’ve had some time to think through my goals and what I want out of 2017.  I’m a big fan of the whole idea that a new year means fresh ideas and goals, and do enjoy the process of reflecting (briefly) on the past 12 months and then switching gears to dream about my vision for the next 12.  Starting a new planner, writing steps and long-term task lists on paper, and of course sharing it all with close friends.  There’s so much power in sharing with people who care about you, for encouragement and accountability.

Last week, Courtney and I shared the goals on our hearts in episode #1 of the Style and Grace podcast, so if my list below interests you at all I’d invite you to listen to our conversation here.

Without further ado, these are my goals for 2017:

Things to leave behind: 

  • Food waste.  I want to shop smarter and more often to eliminate tossing produce and leftovers during the week.  It’s all about being thoughtful and feeling good.
  • Crafting.  I like the idea of a great DIY project and yes, I am creative by nature.  That’s a huge part of me – painting, decorating for parties, writing, etc.  But the craft stores and the glue guns and the Pinterest projects are just not my game … and I’m OK with that.

Things to keep doing:

  • Being intentional about my calendar–as in not filling it up. I try to keep room in my schedule for mental health breaks, creativity and doing things I love like cooking slowly and reading.
  • As I’ve written about plenty on the blog, time at the table is super important to me.  I’m always going to strive for more of that and I’m excited for all the opportunities and experiences coming up in 2017.

New things to begin:

  • Journaling with pen and paper.
  • A new fitness practice to add to my barre routine.  I’m thinking pilates, but if you have any suggestions, let me know!

TALK BACK: What are your goals and hopes for 2017?  Let me know in the comments section!

xo, mh

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is this thing on?

isthisthingon_titleHappy New Year!

By the way, my friend Courtney and I have launched a new podcast, Style and Grace!

This is a fun, creative project that we’re excited to share, hoping to bring lots of great conversation into 2017.  Check it out, subscribe on iTunes and join in on the fun here!  Follow us on Instagram @styleandgracepodcast and like our Facebook page here.

Thanks for listening!

xo, mh

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