Guilt-free waffle fries, more counterspace and other things I want for Christmas

 

In no particular order, here is a sampling of what I would like this year for Christmas:

  • For Chick-fil-a to adopt more progressive social views so I won’t have a moral dilemma every time I want some waffle fries.
  • Delivery service from Annie Café. Yes, I live within spitting distance, but sometimes laziness sets in when I get a hankering for ginger chicken.
  • Time to reorganize all the recipes I’ve torn out from magazines.
  • MORE COUNTERSPACE.
  • Nutella in bigger, redesigned jars optimal for dipping pretzels and animal crackers. I’m sick of getting hazelnut spread on my wrists when I near the end of the jar.
  • And speaking of pretzels, a steady supply of chocolate-covered pretzels at my desk would be great. The salty/sweet combo is magical.
  • To receive the same (alleged) multi-million-dollar deal from Weight Watchers that Jessica Simpson will (allegedly) receive after she has a baby. I’m already down with PointsPlus, Weight Watchers. I’ll take the cash.
  • For people to truly like the homemade baked goodies I’m doling out for the holidays.
  • A new lunch bag. Something like this will do.
  • More respect for the tiny carts at Kroger. Quit leaving them out to freeze, Angry Teenage Cart-Gatherer.
  • More coupons for real food — the kind that doesn’t come in cardboard boxes.
  • Cherry Coke Zero at every fountain.
  • The realization of the great app that will be Menu and Hours.
  • More butter for Norway. Those people have suffered enough.
  • To not gain winter weight from all the cookies, doughnuts, cakes and lunch specials I’ve been exposed to in my new office.
  • World peace.

Fancy chefs will make appearances at Pigalle Crepes this summer

Yep, that's bacon, banana and Nutella on a crepe. Photo courtesy of Pigalle Crepes.

Do you know Dana McMahan?

If you don’t, shame on you.

In full disclosure, Dana is my editor at Food and Dining Magazine. But she also is a wonderful food and travel writer, powerlifter and crepe chef.

Dana and her husband, Brian, have opened a crepe stand at the St. Matthews Farmers’ Market called Pigalle Crepes. This summer, the duo will welcome guest chefs from local restaurants to create some crepes for farmers’ market patrons.

Dallas McGarity of Theater Square kicked off the guest chef series June 25.

Bobby Benjamin of The Oakroom is the next scheduled guest chef at Pigalle Crepes and will make his appearance July 9. Benjamin is the creator of Pigalle Crepes’ signature dish, a crepe with Fiedler Farm bacon, banana and Nutella.

Kathy Cary, chef/owner of Lilly’s, will be cooking at Pigalle Crepes July 16.

Pigalle Crepes is open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the St. Matthews Farmers’ Market at Beargrass Christian Church, 4100 Shelbyville Road.

I found the perfect banana bread recipe, and it includes Nutella

I muddled two banana bread loaves before I hit perfection.

I blame the recipes, both ripped from the women’s lifestyle magazines to which my mother and I subscribe (don’t judge me, they’re awesome). Both loaves were dense and dry, more suitable for home insulation than human consumption. I even tried to salvage one loaf by cutting it into pieces and re-baking them as banana nut bread croutons. It was bad. Real bad.

But Twitter handed me a gift one day in the form of Nutella Swirl Banana Bread.

A link to the following recipe appeared in my timeline, and it sounded like perfection. Bananas? My favorite fruit. Nutella? My favorite chocolate-y spread. The option to make banana bread muffins instead of a loaf? Count me in.

The muffins were fantastic. I prefer the muffins to a loaf because of a shorter baking time and the portability of a muffin. The Nutella adds a new flavor to a traditional recipe along with keeping the muffins moist. I recommend eating them slightly warm so the Nutella is still a little gooey.

Nutella swirl banana bread - in muffin form. HECK YES.

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread Muffins

Recipe courtesy of Babble.com 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • One cup all-purpose flour
  • One cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Nutella (or to taste)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray 12 muffin tins with non-stick spray or fill with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until well combined – the mixture will have the consistency of wet sand.
  3. Add the banana, eggs, yogurt and vanilla and beat until well blended. Don’t worry about getting all the lumps of banana out.
  4. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and gently stir with a spatula just until combined. If you are adding nuts or other optional ingredients, throw them in before the batter is completely blended.
  5. Fill each muffin tin about a third full with the batter. Top with a spoonful of Nutella, and cover with a heaping spoonful of batter.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden and springy to the touch.
  7. Enjoy with a glass of milk. Trust me, these muffins and milk belong together.

Building the food writing empire, one blog post and column at a time

The past couple of weeks have been packed full of change.

I just ended my year as an AmeriCorps VISTA (which I will blog about in the next few days).

I was hired full-time at the non-profit organization where I spent my VISTA term.

And I’ve just been hired to write a column for Food and Dining Magazine.

I will adapt the $10 Challenge for the magazine’s next issue, which will come out around Derby time. This won’t be a rehashing of Challenges I’ve already completed. My column will feature a new restaurant, but I’ll still have $10 and a hearty appetite.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for places to conduct $10 Challenges for the magazine and blog. Visit Food and Dining Magazine’s Facebook page and write your suggestion on the wall. Leave a comment below. Or send me a direct message or reply on Twitter.

Thank you for reading this blog and giving me the support to go after more food writing gigs. If I could, I’d buy everyone a jar of Nutella and some pretzels so you could celebrate with me. But really, a sincere and heartfelt thanks, ladies and gentlemen.