Banana Bread

I have never claimed to be a baker. Baking is science. Despite my degree in Biology, I am not as scientific in the kitchen. I am an artist in my cooking. A very sloppy one at best.

Always give credit where credit is due, so this recipe is a small modification from Emeril Lagasse.

Warning, there is no way this is healthy by the amount of butter it contains, but it sure is tasty.



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan and cover pan with cooking spray.

Puree the bananas, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla in a food processor or with an immersion stick.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a KitchenAid with a whisk attachment. Add the remaining 10 tablespoons of butter and mix on medium-low speed until blended; about 30 seconds. Add the banana mixture in 3 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips

Pour into the loaf pan. Bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back to the touch; about 50-65 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Arroz Con Pollo

This is a great one pot dinner with limited preparation. Below is the original link from Food and Wine Magazine, but given we don’t eat ham and we are only two adults, I have made some modifications to the original.

Arroz con Pollo Recipe – Quick From Scratch Chicken | Food & Wine (

I have made this a few times and the one thing I would recommend is not cooking beyond the recommended cook time. It will get soggy.

I am sure I am violating some cultural norms with how to serve, but I like to layer with avocado slices and add fresh jalapeno slices. Serve with tortilla chips for added scoops.

Once again, I enjoy making this dish in my Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, 7 1/4-Qt.

Happy Cooking!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (margarine for Pareve)
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 can of Mexican diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup rice, preferably long-grain
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


Instructions Checklist

  • In a large, Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, turning, until well browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.
  • Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion, and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, about 2 minutes longer.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the rice and add the chicken in an even layer. Simmer, partially covered, over moderately low heat until the chicken and rice are just done, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro

Pesto Salmon

One of my pandemic purchases was an Aerogarden, so I could grow a few of my own herbs that I use frequently from time to time. If only it included cilantro..a girl can dream. The Aerogarden grows enormous amounts of basil, so I have been experimenting with homemade pesto. Harvest – Indoor Garden w/ LED Grow Light – AeroGarden

Last night, I didn’t have a full two-cup growth of basil, but it was enough to make for a salmon recipe. I halved the recipe below for pesto.

I served Salmon over a bed of Near East Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous Garlic & Olive Oil |


  • 4-5 Salmon Fillets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 to 1 cup pesto (see homemade recipe below)
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cracked Pepper


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese ( I used Kraft)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. To prepare pesto. If using pre-prepared, skip step. Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend to a smooth paste. Set aside
  2. Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Place each salmon fillet in the baking pan and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Gently spread pesto sauce over each fillet.
  5. Place tomatoes slices on each fillet
  6. Bake prepared salmon fillets in a 350 oven for approximately 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.
  7. Crack fresh pepper and kosher salt over cooked tomatoes to taste

Salmon Patties

We keep modified kosher in our home and lifestyle, so we don’t eat shellfish. I have modified this Maryland Crab Cake recipe to accommodate canned salmon, but am sharing the link to the original recipe which I am sure is delicious. Classic Maryland Crab Cakes Recipe – Recipe – FineCooking

Highly recommend those of you in Dallas purchase one of the tarter or aioli sauces from TJ’s Fish Market as a dipping sauce for these. TJ’s Seafood Market – Fresh Seafood Market and Restaurant in Dallas, TX

I always serve these with a side of rice and a green veggie.


  • Two (2) 14.75 ounce canned Salmon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried chopped onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (panko for gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Drain the salmon if necessary, and pick through it for bones ( if you get the brand that is all natural. Some cans come deboned). Put the salmon in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, spices, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Scrape the mixture over the salmon and mix gently until well combined. Gently break up the lumps with your fingers but do not overmix.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the parsley over the mixture, and mix them in thoroughly but gently; try not to turn the mixture into a mash—it should still be somewhat loose
  • Shape the salmon mixture into 8-12 cakes about 1 to 1.5 inches thick. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cakes to the pan (6 should fit comfortably). Cook until dark golden brown on the underside, about 4 minutes. Flip the cakes, reduce the heat to medium low, and continue cooking until the other side is well browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Serve with garlic aioli or tarter sauce


I have two versions of this recipe using the breadmaker and manual labor. This posting will be for manual labor. This recipe makes about two (2) 2-lb challahs. Use one for Shabbat and one for french toast the next morning.

For the past 10 years, I have been making challah with my breadmaker. With the pandemic and all the new at-home challah bakers, I wanted to try my hand at “by hand” challah. Yes it is messier and yes I get covered in flour, but I control the process, so I can only be mad at myself instead of the breadmaker. I converted my recipe into a step-by-step by hand process adding in some tricks I had learned from Jamie Geller and Tori Avey.

I highly recommend these videos for learning the techinque for the 4-Braid and the 6-Braid. Those are my go two braids.

How To Make a 6 Braided Challah – Jamie Geller

How To Make a 4-Braided Challah | Challah Workshop Part 5 – YouTube

Also, for those of you into mindfulness and reading, I also recommend the book Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs. This book explains every ingredient in the challah and their place in the recipe.

Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs: Ricanati MD, Beth: 9781631524417: Books

Happy Baking and Shabbat Shalom


  • 1 ¼ cups warm water (110 degrees)
  • ½  cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar + 1 tsp for proofing
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour ( I use Gold Medal or Generic)
  • 1 teaspoon iodized salt
  • 3 teaspoons yeast (if you have a jar) or 1 packet fast rise bread machine yeast
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Prepping the Yeast

1. Pour ¼ cup of the lukewarm water (about 110 degrees) into a large mixing bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of active dry yeast ( or 1 packet of active dry yeast) and 1 tsp of sugar to the bowl, stir to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes. The yeast should have activated, meaning it will look expanded and foamy. No need to wait for proofing.

Prepping the Dough

1. Once your yeast has activated, add remaining 1 cup lukewarm water to the bowl along with the egg, sugar, oil, and salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly blend the ingredients together. I used my KitchenAid with the bread hook.

2. Begin adding the flour to the bowl by half-cupfuls, stirring with a large spoon each time flour is added. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead.

3. To knead, place sill pat on the counter and lightly dust with flour. Pour ball of dough on counter and knead for 2-3 minutes. For me, this is 100 kneads of the dough

4. Lightly oil the inside of a large bowl and push down back into the bottom of the bowl, then flip it over so that both side are moistened by the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Wait until step 5 is complete before putting into the oven.

5. Place a saucepan full of water on the stove to boil.

6. Place the bowl of dough on the middle rack of your oven. Take the saucepan full of boiling water and place it below the rack where your dough sits. Close the oven, but do not turn it on. The pan of hot water will create a warm, moist environment for your dough to rise. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size. This may take longer depending on a number of things like where you live, temperature in the oven, the house etc. Don’t punch too early.

Braiding the Dough

7. Take the dough bowl out and punch it down several times to remove air pockets.

8. Place it back inside the oven and let it rise for 1 hour longer, or until the dough doubles in size.

9. In prep for braiding, lay out your sill pat (or counter) and lightly dust with flour

10. Take the dough out of the oven. Punch the dough down into the bowl a few times, then turn the dough out onto the floured surface.

12. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

12. Knead for a few minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from feeling sticky

13. Braid or see step 14

14. If you want to be very scientific like me, use a food scale to weigh each ball of dough for similar weights. Watch the two videos posted to see two different braiding techniques.

Baking Challah

15. In a small bowl, beat a large egg for your egg wash. Wash all around the challah with a silicone brush.

16. Bake for 30-35 minutes. You want a golden brown top. Sometimes I will turn the pan around in the last 5 minutes for even cooking
17. Remove immediately and cover in foil for another 10-15 minutes to allow for the challah to do the final cook and create the whole challah brown look.

Chicken Cacciatore

I like to cook on the stovetop with my Le Creuset cookware. I find that chicken and beef dishes come out extremely moist when slow cooked on the stovetop immersed in delicious juices. Original recipe by Ree Drummond with my small modifications to my cooking preferences and adjustments made for two (2) adult eaters.

Recommended sides: Roasted Asparagus

Wine Pairing: Anything Red


4-5 whole chicken thighs with skin

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

1/4 cup olive oil 

2 tablespoons butter or margarine (for pareve)

2 green bell peppers, sliced

2 red bell peppers, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tray white mushrooms sliced 

1/2 teaspoon ground thyme 

1/4 teaspoon turmeric 

3/4 cup dry white wine 

One 28-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained

1 package pasta of choice (I like linguini)

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil, for sprinkling  (photo features basil)


  1. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Dredge the chicken in the flour.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place the chicken skin-side down in the skillet. Brown on both sides, then remove to a clean plate. Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of oil/fat mixture
  3. Add the sliced bell peppers and onions to the skillet, as well as the garlic. Stir around for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and stir around for 1 minute. Add the thyme, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir, then pour in the wine and allow to bubble.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes and stir to combine. Return the chicken to the Dutch Over by layering chicken, skin-side up, over vegetable mixture, without submerging it. Cover and reduce heat on stovetop to low. Cook for 45-50 minutes.
  5. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Prior to draining reserve 1/2 a cup of liquid. Drain pasta and pour in serving bowl and mix with 1/2 a cup of reserved liquid (I always do this with my pasta).
  6. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate, followed by the vegetables. Return the Dutch oven to the burner and turn the heat to medium high. Cook and reduce the sauce for a couple of minutes.
  7. Pour the noodles onto a large platter or into a big serving bowl. Add the vegetables all over the top, then place the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables. Spoon the juices from the skillet over the chicken and noodles.
  8. Prior to serving, garnish with chopped parsley (optional)