The Best Dang Banana Bread

This banana bread recipe is a staple in my family. It's my Aunt's recipe and the only one we use - no other even comes close to competing with it! It's the best darn banana bread I've ever eaten - and you can add nuts, chocolate chips, whatever your heart desires and it will still turn out great. It never lasts longer than a day or two around the house.

I made two loaves while back at home Sunday and we're already one down.

Dare I say it's... moist? I'm actually not one of those people that despises that word and it technically is in the name on the original recipe card but I'll spare you all and just call it " The Best Darn Banana Bread" because I'm certain that suits it well!

The Best Darn Banana Bread

1 cup milk
1 tbsp. vinegar
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup ripe bananas
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In small bowl, mix 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp. vinegar. Set aside (this makes a buttermilk)

In large mixing bowl, beat 3 eggs until fluffy. Slowly add sugar. Add salt, oil, and vanilla - mix well.

Add ripe bananas and baking soda. Mix well.

Add flour and combine until smooth. Batter will be thin!

Pour batter into 2 large or 3 small loaf pans, and bake for about an hour or until toothpick comes out clean.


Five on Friday

ONE // On Wednesday we went to try on Bridesmaid dresses for my best friend's wedding and we had a blast! I love trying on cute dresses and they had soo many to choose from. She ended up deciding on one and I am in love! I already can't wait to wear it this September. the best part about it is that it is a dress I could wear to another wedding or formal event, and this makes it even more worth the price.

TWO // Victoria's Secret has a new line of matte lipsticks and I had a $10 off coupon to use there (birthday perks!) so I snatched one up and am really loving the color. Okay to be real here, I've been secretly boycotting VS because first they got rid of their swimsuits, then they stopped sending free underwear coupons in the mail, and then I bought some stuff at Aerie and realized how bad of quality VS's stuff actually is! But this lipstick.. might make me a fan again (I said might).

I have the second one from the right and it's the perfect nude tone - not vibrant but gives me a little something extra

THREE // We're having a Super Bowl get-together next weekend and I'm trying to think of some good appetizers to make.. ideas so far:

Okay but seriously those philly cheesesteak sliders have my mouth watering already...

And these cookies look adorable and super simple!

To be real here.. I mainly watch the commercials and get shushed the whole game while I try to chit chat.. whoops :) thankfully I'll have some girlfriends there this year!

FOUR // The strangest thing happened last night.. it scared me a little because it's never happened before. 

Guys - I walked around Target for an hour and a half and didn't find anything that interested me! Clothes, shoes, household items, dollar section... nothing! This is so out of the ordinary and maybe it's because the weird in-between feeling of seasons. Not sure because this is almost always me: 

But it wasn't completely unsuccessful because I did walk out with a new portfolio for work and a box of Annie's mac and cheese.. 

FIVE // I've said it before but Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays.. it is so simple and I feel like you can put a lot of meaning behind the gifts.

Andy if you're reading this then do not scroll down. You can close out of this page now :)


So I found this and it screamed Andy right away. I am so excited to get them in the mail. Also thinking of getting him this to go with it. Simple yet perfect.  

Not sure what exactly will be on the agenda this weekend, but I'm sure it will be a good one! Happy Friday everyone!


What's Up Wednesday | January

Linking up with Shay for What's Up Wednesday today! So let's get started..

What We're Eating This Week...

We've been meal planning away over here. More to come about that in a future post! On Sunday we made baked chicken, broccoli, & green beans for lunches, and last night we (as in Andy) made steak, carrots, & broccoli for the next few days. Each time we meal plan we make about 5-6 meals, so this helps tremendously with lunch! 

We met some of Andy's friends and their wives for dinner on Monday, and last night we had some fabulous pork chops with a creamy onion topping (see above!). The next two nights are just leftovers/on our own. I'm planning on making a big bowl of tomato soup (my favorite when the weather is bad! Trader Joe's has the best creamy tomato soup!)

What I'm Reminiscing About...

Nothing really because we have so many fun things coming up that I am more excited about that! Looking forward to our spring!

What I'm Loving...

Well, I had planned to say the beautiful weather we've been having but I woke up today to buckets of SNOW on my car. I knew I spoke to soon in my last post..

So I would have to say I'm loving alllll of the cute Valentine's day decor! This holiday is one of my favorites - easy and versatile :)

What We've Been Up To...

We booked a little weekend getaway to Chicago last night with our friends for St. Patrick's Day. Excited about this, as we got a really great deal! Last time I was in Chicago it was so cold we could barely walk from our hotel to the subway station.. so I'm hoping their March weather will be much more pleasant. 

What I'm Dreading...

Cleaning off my car after work.. and writing a paper that's due tomorrow.. ugh.

What I'm Working On...

Finishing up my last week of my second round of the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide! It's been rough getting it done this winter and while I may not always hit up 3 days a week, I try my best and that makes me feel good!

What I'm Excited About...

Our trip to San Francisco in three weeks! Woohoo!

What I'm Watching...

This is Us. It is my faaaavorite TV show and every episode never fails to make me cry, but in a good way! :)

What I'm Listening To...

My typical workout stations - and talk radio on my way to/from work. Nothing too exciting on this end!

What I'm Wearing...

This afternoon I'll be trying on Bridesmaid dresses for my best friend's wedding with the other girls  - so excited about this! I love love love dressing up and it will be fun to try on a few styles!

What I'm Doing This Weekend...

Dog sitting for my parent's while they are on a little getaway with their friends! This also means spending time with my brother and grandma, baking, relaxing, and possibly making a little trip over to the outlet mall for some new trip clothes.. is it just me or is buying new clothes for a trip one of the most fun parts?!

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month...

San Francisco, planning our Chicago trip, Valentine's Day, Organizing my friend's baby shower... all fun stuff!


Cucumber Avocado Salsa

I've blogged about this recipe before but only as an accompaniment to our chili rubbed steak tacos we make. But it is so good alone as salsa that I had to dedicate a whole post to it's deliciousness.

Cucumber Avocado Salsa

1/2 red onion
1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded
2 jalapeno peppers, without membrane or seeds & chopped
2 avocados cut into chunks
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 limes, juiced
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients. Serve with chips or over tacos!


A Warm January Weekend

Okay this year's weather has officially thrown me for a loop. First, it takes fall weather forrrevvvver to get here. I think I was able to sport my booties for like 2 weeks top.. then as soon as November hits it goes into the negative temps and by December it's freezing and we keep getting buckets of snow. Now, January (aka the coldest month of the year) it's raining and in the 40's.. what?

No complaints here though because the earlier the spring - the better!

We started off our weekend with a workout & one huge Giordano's deep dish pizza. We also watched The Accountant - which was super good. Definitely a movie that "makes you think" and while I love these kinds of movies, I'm not good at following along. Nothing that pulling up the wiki page can't help!

Saturday we met my parents at 3 Squares Restaurant for brunch. Everyone loved their meals, and there was enough cheese on mine to smother everyone else's plates. But that's what Friday's workout was for, right?!

During the day we checked out a new distillery with fancy drinks. I ordered one with rum, blueberries, cucumber, & thyme. A little out of my comfort zone but it was to die for.

We then drove over to our college campus for a nice walk to an old favorite - Annie's Parlour. This little joint has the best malts around so naturally we had to devour one. Andy and I always had this little tradition where we would both pick a flavor, point to it on the menu at the same time, and that would be the combination we would go with. End result: Oreo-butterscotch. Yeah it was every bit of amazing as that sounds.

Saturday night we had a group of friends over for a game night. We had so much fun, maybe even a little too much fun. We finally all passed out around 2am so I think that's an indicator that game night was successful!

Yeah you read that correctly - chocolate chip cookie ale! It was out of this world!

Sunday was spent eating a quick breakfast at Target's Starbucks, grocery shopping, washing the car, taking a long walk in our dream development (fingers crossed they have something available in the late summer), meal prepping, and catching up on our favorite shows.

and that's a wrap!

Five on Friday!

This week was a short one because of the holiday but the days seemed to draaag. Is it just me or does a short work day or week feel actually even longer than normal? I don't understand the logic behind this but it gets me every time.

ONE // Guys - Halo. Ice Cream. This stuff is a heaven-sent gift! For only 240 calories I can eat a whole pint of mint-chocolate chip ice cream, or I can "splurge" and have a whole pint of birthday cake for 280 calories. I didn't actually believe this at first but once I tried it I was hooked. The resemblance to normal ice cream is spot on.. put this in a dish and I wouldn't even know the difference (but actually you should just eat it out of the packaging because what's more satisfying than eating a whole pint of ice cream right out of the container?! Plus they're super cute). 

My parent's cat was curious about it as well

TWO // Okay so my new Young Living essential oils really warrant an entire post dedicated fully to my undying love to them. I am so excited to get really started with them. I need to purchase some roller balls/mixer containers and some coconut oil still to really experiment with them. Once I get the hang on them I will post an honest review.

THREE // Andy got a new tattoo last weekend at the Minneapolis tattoo convention and to be honest, the thought of him tattooing his forearm made me kinda nervous at first - but it ended up being my favorite tattoo of his ever. It's the lighthouse from his hometown, and the details in it are just amazing. Also it won first place in the contest at the convention!! 10 hours of tattooing paid off!

FOUR // It was my friend Emily's birthday last weekend so her, myself, and our other trio member Chelsea met up for a celebration dinner at Granite City on Monday night. Gosh we're getting old - where is the time going?? Weren't we just playing with dolls and prank calling the local walmart yesterday? Anyway I think GC might just be my favorite chain restaurant ever. I've never had a bad meal there!

FIVE // I've come to the conclusion that I simply am not a morning person, no matter what trick or strategy I try. Rolling out of bed every morning is a struggle. Oh how I wish I could be one of those people that spring out of bed 2 hours before they have to leave! Once I am up, I am fine - but the whole process to get my feet on the ground and my body into the bathroom feels impossible some days. Because of this I am thinking of getting one of those "Wake Up Lights" that stimulates the sunrise so that I can wake up gently and slowly. Honestly the worst part of the morning is turning on my light in my dark room - so I'm hoping this could help with that. I'm looking at this one here but if you have any suggestions - send them my way!

However - if this was how I woke up every morning than I think it would be possible for me to become a morning person ;)

The only thing getting me through work is knowing I have a workout, an extra large pizza, and a movie waiting for me - oh Friday you are wonderful.


Braised Balsamic Chicken

After all of the treats from Thanksgiving - to Christmas - and then to my birthday, we were really craving a healthy, fresh dinner. But to be 100% real here, Tuesdays are our "dessert" night so in order to make it to some cookies & icecream, we needed something that was virtually guilt-free.

This Braised Balsamic Chicken really hit the spot! Easy, healthy, and satisfying. We served with a side of green beans & mushrooms sauted in our whiskey cream sauce.

Braised Balsamic Chicken

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp garlic salt
Ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Season both sides of chicken breasts with garlic salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat; cook seasoned chicken breasts until chicken is browned. about 3-4 min per side. Add onion, cook and stir until onion is slightly browned, 3-4 min.

Pour diced tomatoes and balsamic vinegar over chicken, season with basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, about 15 min.



100 Posts Plus PUPPY CHOW

Today is my ONE HUNDREDTH post! You guys, this blog has been such a fun place to share the numerous thoughts that come across my mind throughout the week. I'm so glad that I finally decided to make this little space back in May. More importantly, thank you to all of you who stop by and read. Whether it's every day, every week, or when I post a link on social media - thank you!

And what better way to "celebrate" 100 posts by sharing a new recipe - Birthday Cake Puppy Chow. You guys, this is good.

Birthday Cake Puppy Chow

4 and 1/2 cups rice chex cereal
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 slices
8 oz white candy melts**
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sprinkles
1 cup powdered sugar

** do not just use white chocolate chips. These will seizure up and get stiff when mixed with the extract. Stick with candy melts.

Put the cereal into a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter, white candies, almond extract, and vanilla extract - stirring consistently. 

Remove from heat as soon as it is melted together and immediately pour over cereal. Gently mix cereal and melted mix until it is coated.

Put cereal mixture into a brown paper bag and add sprinkles, close bag and shake to coat. Add in powdered sugar and shake to coat again.



Five on Friday (the thirteenth)

Friday has come once again and you know what that means!

Also, it's Friday the 13th... hmm...

ONE // Is it too early to decorate for Valentine's Day? I just love this holiday because the colors are so cheery and girly, and you can really go as full out/simple as you want. And I do not believe this holiday is just for couples - a few years ago I went out to a hibachi dinner with a few of my girlfriends and we had a blast stuffing our faces with chinese food and sipping on some fancy drinks. This holiday should really be about just giving a little extra love to the special people in your life, whether that be your best friends, your coworkers, your children, your parents, your mailman...

Anyway, I did fall for the dollar section at Target once again...

TWO // Has anyone ever tried the Clinique Chubby Sticks? I bought one last night and am loving it! I treated myself to a more "fun" color and went with the Roomiest Rose color which is a deep pink. I'm really falling for this color because it is so different and goes well with my blush/eye color. So far today it has stayed through my breakfast and a grande coffee so I call it a win :)

THREE // Speaking of coffee.. I have $30 in Starbucks giftcards from Christmas and since it was Friday - there was no reason not to treat myself today!

FOUR // Just a little shout out to Andy for being so amazing.. seriously, everyday I find new reasons to fall deeper in love with him. He's been really shining at his job lately and to say I am proud would be an understatement. There are big plans in store for this guy and I can't wait to see where life takes him/us together.

Side note: he also ran out to my car in the frigid temps yesterday morning to start my car for me so I would be warm on my way to work.. it's the little things too that make me thankful life brought me to him :)

FIVE // It's a whopping negative 6 degrees in Minnesnowta today so if you need me, I'll be hiding under 6 layers of sweaters and dreaming of summer. Winter can be over any time now! These made me laugh today... and then kind of cry too because of how much I relate



Shows to Binge

I've been scratching my head all week about what to blog about.. we haven't tried any new recipes, it's been an average week with little to no excitement (other than me falling up the stairs at work yesterday and bending two of my nails backwards - ouch!) and all in all it's just been quiet. No complaints though because after last weekend, a little breather is what I needed.

So today I'm here to talk about what I've been doing the past two nights - and that involves a lot of TV. Now anyone who knows me understands that I have the hardest time getting into TV shows. I've tried Pretty Little Liars, Grey's Anatomy, Shameless, How I Met Your Mother, Stranger Things.. and that's just the start of it! So know when I say a show is good.. I really do think it is that good!

But lately we've been finding such good shows and I've just gotten so into them.. like I may have even "netflix binged" this week (by the way, what even counts as "binging"? two shows? ten shows? the whole season?! Answers I would like to know.)

I am here to share my new shows though :)

ONE // This Is Us.

Oh my gosh - I know I am jumping on this train a little late but could this show be any better?!? Immediately I was immersed in this drama and the first episode had me laughing, crying, and really thinking. Andy totally thought this was a girl show before we watched the first episode and he fell in love with it too! The characters are so deep and I feel like most people could connect with at least one of them.

TWO // Workaholics 

Another show that I am just getting to late in the game but I watched three episodes and was laughing through them all! Adam DeVine is so flippin funny. Plus the episodes are short which makes them easy to fit in before bed.

THREE // Channel Zero

Now this is a Syfy show (brings out the nerd in me) but is actually very scary. I had to even cover my eyes a few times! It's basically about this child psychologist who is investigating this creepy legend TV show (Candle Cove - look it up! freaky) and then as the show goes on you find more and more out about this guy's past. It really is so good!

I would say any recommendations, send them my way but I have enough to keep me occupied for awhile. Plus Teen Mom (my guilty pleasure) Are You The One (typical trashy reality game show - but I love it), AND the Bachelor are all on so I'm a little in over my head ;) But maybe some ideas of what to watch in another 3 months would be appreciated!

Happy Thursday!


Birthday Weekend

I am thoroughly struggling to be back in my office today because I just had the best weekend I could have ever asked for!

My coworkers brought in some treats to celebrate on Friday and man oh man - were they good! Ben & Jerry's Half Baked holds a special key to my heart!

I dipped out of work two hours early so I could head over to West End for a little shopping and a massage. Oh it was so incredible. The staff at Hand and Stone Massage sure know how to make a girl feel pampered! I felt so relaxed and ready to take on all the birthday festivities.

After the massage, I took the longest shower (no shame) and poured a glass of my favorite wine (Risata's Sweet Red) and got ready. Myself, Andy, and some of my close friends checked out a new restaurant/bar/arcade place in town - Punch Bowl Social. It was crazy busy which made me a little nervous about getting a spot because we were all starving - but it worked out because we found a small table and ordered drinks/appetizers while we waited for a larger one to become available. Their drinks are truly one of a kind and my favorites ended up being their Mason Mule (Traditional Moscow Mule served in a mason jar) and their punch which included a moscato vodka (gasp), red wine, watermelon.. that sure went down smooth!

Their food was every bit amazing too and if you find yourself at a Punch Bowl Social (they have locations throughout the US), I would highly recommend their street tacos and their chicken sandwich.

After dinner and drinks we headed back for a round of Crabs Adjust Humidity - a raunchier version (if that's possible) of Cards Against Humanity.

Saturday morning Andy and I were up and at 'em extra early to get ready for our "staycation" in Stillwater, MN. Once we got there we enjoyed breakfast at Oasis Cafe - an adorable little breakfast joint practically carved into the bluffs.

We stayed at WaterStreet Inn - smack dab in the middle of downtown Stillwater. Although we weren't scheduled to check in until 3pm - they brought us right up to our adorable room at 11am! The decor and atmosphere was so cozy and vintage.. we were feeling so fancy :)

(That is a thumbs up - not a middle finger! ha!)

We spent the afternoon checking out Lift Bridge Brewery and Northern Vineyards Winery. To say we were spoiled at the winery is an understatement. First we were given a free tasting where we both found a wine we enjoyed. Then we were given free glasses of each and told we could head up to their "special event" seating in the loft upstairs. We were the only ones up there - despite there being a huge bachelorette party downstairs in the main room!

And the impeccable service didn't stop there.. we were then given a FREE whole bottle of wine plus a fancy bottle opener and a discount on our second glasses! We walked out of there spending a small $13. We were blown away.

We checked in at a nice restaurant downtown for dinner, but were told we would have about an hour and a half wait. So we headed back to our hotel room to relax until dinner, and then we (we as in I) decided that pizza sounded a million times better. So we opted for pizza delivery from Carbones  and I have no regrets because that pizza was so good.

We headed down to get some hot drinks in the hotel's Irish bar and then called it a night :)

Sunday slept in a little and checked out. We got some Dunkin Donuts (ah-ma-zing) and later met my family for lunch at Red Cow in downtown Minneapolis. It was so delicious and seeing them all really made my birthday weekend complete!

It was a perfect, perfect weekend and goes down in the books as one of my favorites.

Cheers to 24!
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