Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

If you buy bananas and don’t like throwing away food, then you need to learn how to make banana bread. Bananas can go from green and hard to black and mushy in the blink of an eye so no matter how many bananas you eat you will always end up with some overripe bananas in the back of your cupboard at which point you will have to ask yourself if you are the type of person who wastes food and fills up garbage dumps or if you are a person who makes banana bread.

Fortunately, banana bread is much quicker and easier to make than regular bread and you don’t need any mixing equipment, just a few bowls, a spoon, and a fork. You don’t even need overripe bananas; anything that is fully ripened will do. The only way you can mess it up is if you don’t properly oil the pan or don’t use enough chocolate chips.


  • Two mixing bowls
  • Wooden spoon
  • Fork
  • Whisk


  • 3 ripe or overripe bananas
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon coffee cream (use heavy cream if you have it, but no need to buy a carton for a recipe that only needs one tsp)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Couple dashes of nutmeg
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (get the smaller ones if you can find them)


Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together with a spatula. As long as the butter is nice and soft there won’t be any need for a mixture as it should only take you a minute or so of mushing with the spatula for the sugar and butter to be fully combined with no chunks of butter or sugar. Once the butter and sugar have been combined, mash in the bananas with a fork and then whisk in the eggs, vanilla, nutmeg, cream, and salt. Many recipes will tell you to whisk the salt with the dry ingredients, but if you want the salt to be evenly dispersed it makes much more sense to dissolve it in the wet ingredients. Once everything is combined in a mushy looking mixture dump in the dry ingredients along with the chocolate chips and stir until there no dry bits of flour. Lightly coat a non-stick baking pan with olive oil and dump in the mixture. Bake in a pre-heated, 325 degree oven for an hour and ten minutes. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Why You Should Try Making Vegetable Broth

The vegetable stock you buy in the grocery store is pretty good, so do you really need to make your own from scratch? Generally speaking, the answer to that question is a resounding no. However, you will often find that you have some leftover carrots and celery in your fridge that are getting past their prime and you don’t really need and/or want to use them in any dish you are planning to make in the next few days so they are probably going to end up in the garbage. In that case, you are no longer choosing between homemade and store bought vegetable broth but between throwing vegetables in the garbage or using them to make about two months’ worth of vegetable broth. When you look at it that way, you may find yourself making homemade vegetable broth. You aren’t making a broth from scratch so much as you are cleaning out your fridge and cupboard.

When making your own broth you can use almost any vegetable you have lying around, but the ones that are best suited and should form the base of all your broths are onions, garlic, celery, and carrot. These happen to be among the most frequently used aromatic vegetables and the ones most likely to be lying around somewhere in your kitchen. There are other vegetables that make good additions, such as bell peppers or leeks. There are other vegetables that just don’t belong in broth, particularly starchy and a lot of leafy vegetables. Don’t ever put potatoes, chard, or kale in a broth; if you really don’t want to throw them in the garbage after they are past their prime, start a compost or give them to someone who owns a horse.


  • 2 pots (one to make the broth and one to sterilize the mason jars)
  • A couple of half litre mason jars for bottling
  • 1 knife (technically even this is optional as no fine cutting is required. If life has been unkind to you it is possible to simple smash and snap the vegetables with your hands, although I would not recommend it).
  • Tongs


  • 8 cups of potable water
  • 3 or 4 carrots
  • Couple cloves garlic
  • 2 or 3 onions
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • Whatever celery you have left over in your fridge
  • Any leftover Sage or Thyme (but no other herb, except maybe parsley)
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp salt


Chop up all of the ingredients and throw them in a pot with the water and simmer for a few hours. Taste at some point to see if it has enough salt. When you are finished simmering the broth, pour it through a strainer into another pot, then rinse and fill with water and bring to a boil. Continue simmering the strained vegetable broth as the water in the second pot comes to a boil. Boil the jars and lids for minute or two in the boiling water, and then carefully lift out the jars and dump out the boiling water. Fill with the vegetable broth and then use the tongs to place the lids on top of the jars. Use a dish towel to tighten the lids. After the liquid cools check to make the lids are tightly sealed. The lid should have snapped down as the air inside the jar contracted.

You Should Cook More Lasagna

Lasagna is one of the most useful dishes to keep in your regular meal rotations. You can feed a small army with it or freeze the leftovers for later. Much like chilli, it’s also perfect for cleaning out your fridge and freezer. Anytime you have some leftover mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers in the fridge is the perfect time to make lasagna. Have a couple of frozen sausages at the bottom of your freezer and you can’t remember where they came from? In they go. And lasagna is one of those dishes where you can cut corners without sacrificing taste. For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t buy the oven ready lasagna noodles. There is absolutely no difference in taste and if you are in a rush you don’t need to reduce your meat sauce because the dry oven-ready noodles will absorb the excess liquid as it bakes. You also don’t need to mess around with some kind of fancy, time consuming cheese sauce for the filling; just mix up a tub of ricotta cheese with some spinach and some fresh basil.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 Italian sausages (casings removed)
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 container Ricotta cheese
  • Half dozen or so fresh basil leaves
  • Teaspoon black pepper
  • Package? Mozzarella
  • 1 red pepper (or whatever you have left over)
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic


  • 1 large lasagna or rectangular casserole dish
  • 1 large pot or Dutch oven
  • Some toothpicks or short skewers



Add the ground beef and sausage to the pot on medium heat and dice the onion. Be sure to break up the sausages with your mixing spoon right away while the meat is still soft. Once some of the fat starts to render out, strain out most of it and then add the onion. When the meat is cooked through, dump in all of the rest of the meat sauce ingredients. You can crush the canned whole tomatoes with your hands, but you don’t really need to; you can smash them up very easily with your spoon once they simmer for a bit in the pot. While the sauce is simmering, mix together the spinach, ricotta, chopped basil leaves, and a generous dusting of grated parmesan. After the sauce has simmered for about 15 minutes or so, spread a thin layer on the bottom of the baking dish, then a layer of noodles, then a thicker layer or sauce, another layer of noodles, then the cheese sauce with a thin layer of meat sauce, then more noodles, and then spread the rest of the meat sauce on top. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and scatter them over the top of the pizza (or grate it, depending on how hard or soft it is) along with a dusting of grated parmesan. Place some skewers in between the noodles to keep the tinfoil away from the cheese and bake covered in the foil for 30 minutes at 350 degrees and then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes uncovered or until the cheese starts to turn a golden brown in places. Allow to cool for 15 or 20 minutes before serving with a generous glass of red wine.

00 Flour Pizza Recipe

Everyone likes pizza, but despite being relatively easy to make, it is rarely made at home, perhaps because there are so many pizza places who will not only cook it for you, but deliver it right to your door. There is nothing wrong with takeout pizza, but making your own pizza allows you to customize it exactly the way you like it and you don’t have to worry about the personal hygiene habits of the 17 year old who topped your pizza for you. For me, making your own pizza is not just about the right combination and amounts of ingredients, but also about the dough. It is very difficult to get an authentic Italian style thin, chewy crust at a takeout, which too frequently offer an inch thick, bready crust. If you want an Italian style pizza, make sure you get yourself a pizza stone or, better yet, a cast iron pizza pan. Using 00 flour works best but if you only have regular all-purpose it will still turn out fine.  The sauce is the easiest part of a pizza recipe and it is even easier if you have an immersion blender puree everything right in the pot.

One final note on pizza. If like me, you’ve done some research online about the best way to make pizza, you will probably have noticed that celebrity chefs almost universally caution home cooks to not to use too much cheese on their pizza. This is nonsense. If you like cheese, then use it generously; the more the better. Unless you are having a celebrity chefs over for dinner, your guests will never complain about too much cheese on their pizza. Celebrity chefs tell you not to use too much cheese for the same reason that they tell you to always serve meat rare, tuna uncooked in the middle, and to use a whole head of garlic instead of a clove; they are doing it to differentiate themselves from unsophisticated home cooks. Do yourself a favour, be unsophisticated and go crazy with the cheese and while you’re at it, go easy on the garlic.


  • Heavy cast iron pizza pan
  • Small to medium sized pot
  • Immersion blender


For the sauce:

  • 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 small diced onion (or 1 tsp onion powder if you are in a hurry)
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic (or half teaspoon garlic powder if you are in a hurry)
  • Small can of tomato paste

For the dough:

  • 1 and ¼ cup 00 flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 electric mixer


  • Lots of whatever you like on pizza


Stir the yeast into one cup of warm water and set aside for 10 minutes while the yeast proofs. Mix together the salt and 1 cup of each flour. When the yeast and water mixture starts to foam, pour it and a tablespoon of olive oil into the flour and salt mixture and mix with the dough hook attachment for about three minutes. Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes and then mix again for a couple of minutes. Add the quarter cup of 00 flour onto a work surface and then knead the dough by hand until all of the flour has been absorbed. Then form into a ball and place in a bowl that has been coated with olive oil. Turn the dough ball around until it has been coated in the oil. Cover with a moist cup towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 3 or 4 hours in a warm location. If you are doing this on a weeknight, allow to rise in the fridge overnight.

About a half hour before you are ready to make the pizza, place the cast iron pizza pan in the oven and set it to 500 degrees or has high as your oven will go. Dump all of the ingredients for the tomato sauce in a pot and simmer. After 10 or 15 minutes when everything has softened, blend with the immersion blender and then simmer on low until ready.

When the dough is finished rising, sprinkle some flour on your work surface and dump the dough on it. Cut it and half and make two dough balls, then form them into thick discs with your hand. You can use a roller to stretch out the dough but it actually works best if you spin the dough in the air just like you see it done on TV. The dough will be strong enough that it shouldn’t tear. Once it is strong enough, place it back on the work surface and use your fingers to raise up the edges. Take the cast iron pan out of the oven and give it a generous sprinkle of olive oil (be very careful with the pan as it will be extremely hot). In order not to stretch the pizza out of shape, fold it in half, then fold it in half again by folding one corner over the other (see picture), then lay it on the tray and unfold it (again, careful with the pan). Use a BBQ brush to give the dough a light coating of olive oil to prevent the sauce from making the dough soggy, then place the sauce, pepperoni, cheese, and whatever else you want on it and place it in the oven for about 9 or 10 minutes or until the cheese starts to form nice golden brown patches. You can make the crust a little crispier by letting the pizza rest on the hot pan outside the oven for a few minutes.

Why Didn’t Burger King Start Selling Hot Dogs Years Ago?

Major news broke this week with the announcement by Burger King that it would start selling hot dogs in its restaurants, but I can’t help but think that what is really newsworthy is that Burger King hasn’t always sold hot dogs. They already cook their burgers on a flame grill that can cook hot dogs just as easily without any modification, and the segment of society that eats fast food hamburgers is pretty much the same segment of society that eats hot dogs, yet for some reason many in the media are calling this a bold move. A bold move would be if a sushi bar had introduced hot dogs; this is a long overdue move.

Outside of the large scale chains like McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Burger King, most of the small, independent burger joints across North America have always served hot dogs. When people invite friends over for a backyard BBQ they generally throw burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Surely some Burger King executives must have been invited a BBQ at some point their lives?

Some have questioned whether this is the right move considering the trend toward healthier eating, but that trend may not be quite so pronounced amount the Burger King target market. If their customers have no problem with the Triple Whopper or burgers with onion rings instead of onions, I’m sure they won’t be too troubled with the addition of hot dogs to the menu.

Pictures of Six Year Old McDonald’s Mean Nothing

Every so often a picture shows up on social media of some McDonald’s food that has been left out for months or years without going mouldy or rotting and people use it as some sort of proof that there is some highly toxic preservatives that prevent any mold or bacteria from growing. There are plenty of reasons why you should not eat too frequently at fast food places like McDonald’s, but a picture of a preserved six year old Happy Meal is not one of them.

If you were to take an organic potato, peel it, cut it into little batonettes the size of McDonald’s French fries, deep fry them in the purest, most organic oil you can find, then sprinkle some kosher salt on them and leave them in a relatively dry place for six years they would look just like the fries you see in all those Facebook photos you’ve seen. Once something is dry it isn’t going to grow mold, and if you drop it in scalding hot oil, you will kill off any bacteria and mold spores which will prevent any growths from starting in the short time it takes for the food to dry out.

Why aren’t there any viral Facebook pictures of dried cranberries that don’t deteriorate after several years? Why don’t people send around pictures of a bowl of rice that looks exactly the same as it did 50 years ago? Why would anyone expect a dried piece of potato to be any different than a dried piece of rice? Nobody is appalled by homemade beef jerky will last for years in your office just like McNuggets, but it is much the same thing; it’s dried meat with.

I actually care about preparing healthy food for myself and for my two young children. I think that everyone should try to eat a little healthier and make sure their children are eating healthier food, but the way to do that is by disseminating objective facts and data, not by scaring people with misleading, attention grabbing pictures.

You Don’t Need a Big Deep Freezer

The worst thing that any home cook can do is to buy a great big deep freeze. Deep freezes are like garages; no matter how big it is it will always end up full of stuff, and unfortunately, that prime rib roast is not going to age nearly as well in your freezer as the skis and bike in your garage. I lived most of my adult life without a deep freeze, though now that I have kids I’m glad that I eventually bought a small one.

Around Christmas I will usually have turkey and a few appetizers in there and in the summer I will have a few boxes of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches. Ice cream and popsicles keep really well in a freezer for long periods of time, but if you were to look inside the typical deep freeze you will see that it’s full of steaks, roasts, and fish. Meat and fish do not handle being frozen for extended periods of time nearly as well as ice cream.

I have stored some roasts in the freezer myself. I would see a fantastic special at the grocery store and pick up two roasts; one to cook right away and the other to freeze for another time. What I found was that before I got around to using the roast in my freezer there would be another sale so rather than thawing the frozen roast I would just buy another fresh one. It turns out grocery stores have sales on different cuts of beef quite frequently.

The only reason you should have a giant freezer full of meat is if you are in the business of breaking into butcher shops. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of steaks and some leftover chilli in a freezer, but it makes no sense to stock up on frozen meat. There will always be some sort of sale at the grocery store for some sort of dead animal, so why have a month’s worth of frozen meat piled up in your basement freezer?

Even if you love good deals and think meat tastes better after it has been frozen for a couple of years, you need to keep in mind that a single power outage can turn your treasure trove of hoarded frozen meat into a rotting pile of garbage. If you like stockpiling food, you are better off having a bigger pantry than deepfreeze. Rather than stocking up on steaks, you should keep an eye out for sales on things like sugar, flour, rice and canned tomatoes. Those things go on sale too and they generally have a longer expiry date than the person buying them.

Cooking for Picky Eaters

There’s nothing more frustrating for an enthusiastic home cook than cooking for picky eaters. And when I talk about picky eaters, I’m not defining them in the way that an extreme foody like Anthony Bourdain would, who looks with disdain on anyone who wouldn’t try pickled feral cat noses. I am talking about hard core picky eaters, the type who views any spice other than salt or pepper with deep suspicion, who eats only white bread, drinks only light beer, and has only ever ordered the steak at any fancy restaurant he or she has ever visited.

The fact is, these people make up about half of the population, so unless your family and social circle consists entirely of foodies and professional chefs, you will have to cook for these people on a regular basis. You could just say to hell with it and serve shake and back chicken breasts with plain baked or mashed potatoes, or you could find a compromise that will allow both you and your guests to have a satisfying meal.

Rather than talking about what you should cook, it is best to start with what you can’t; nothing too spicy, nothing undercooked or raw, nothing with its head still attached, nothing overly trendy, and nothing foreign other than Italian or Mexican. You are going to have to work off of a base of some of the most commonly used ingredients in your local grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative; if anything it forces you to be more creative.

Throwing a pile of painfully hot or exotic ingredients into a pot does not make you creative. You can actually be just as creative with everyday ingredients as you can with fish sauce and habanero peppers. In any case, many of the finest restaurants in North America serve dishes made almost entirely of local ingredients, so there is no shame in just trying to add a little twist to a traditional meat and potatoes dish.

Your strategy should be to start with safe ingredients, add more flavour than your guests might be used to but not so much that it overwhelms them. If you want to be a good dinner party host than you have to remember you should be focused more on the enjoyment that your guests get from eating the food than the enjoyment you get from preparing it. The ingredients and taste are only one part of the equation; you also need to put some thought on the presentation. You can serve your guests something they’ve eaten a hundred times before but if serve it in a new and visually impressive way it will feel like something new.

If you have the budget for it, beef wellington is perhaps the quintessential fancy dish for picky eaters. It takes some work to prepare but it essentially is just roast beef with mushrooms and puff pastry, so anyone who doesn’t like it doesn’t really belong on anyone’s guest list. You don’t necessarily need to reward every picky eater you invite over with a beef wellington, you should just look at serving something that visually impressive and appealing to the non-foodie.

Cooking for Hipsters

At some point in your life you will likely find yourself in the awkward position of having to entertain hipsters at your house. If you have enough friends, family, and co-workers, the statistics suggest that there will be several hipsters within your network, and at some point a spouse or close friend is going to invite them over to your house for a dinner party. Though you may be tempted to make that person’s stay as unpleasant as possible in order to reduce the likelihood of them returning, most people will feel compelled to provide their guests with an enjoyable evening, if only to avoid having them bad mouthing your cooking skills to all their friends.

The thing to remember about hipsters is that they feel they are better than the common person and so they cannot like, or more accurately, acknowledge that they like, the food and drink of the common man. The problem is that, unless you did some truly heinous things in a prior life, all of your dinner party guests will not be hipsters, so you will have to strike a delicate balance to satisfy your hipster guests without alienating your less pretentious friends.

Lest you feel it too daunting a challenge to attempt to satisfy such seemingly different tastes, you should remember that hipsters don’t actually have radically different tastes than the average person, they just like to be perceived as such. Rather than taking a negative view and looking at them as a group with exotic tastes, take a more positive view and look at them as not being picky eaters. As annoying as hipsters can be, overly picky eaters are even worse.

Though alcoholic beverages are becoming ground zero for hipsters, with wine snobbery having given rise to both liquor and beer snobbery, it is still quite easy to satisfy a diverse group with drinks than it is with food. You can easily provide multiple types of wine and beer, but you can’t do the same with entrées unless you are a third world dictator. For beer, all you need is something hoppy, amber coloured, and not too popular. Even if you don’t happen to strike on their favourite beer you will still greatly exceed their expectations. With wine, you need to ask someone at your liquor store for something that has only recently come on the market and is not that big a seller, preferably a Zinfandel, Cabernet, or a Malbec. Very few wine drinkers can accurately identify a wine’s grape variety or region, so all you are doing is making sure that you have a wine that does not look too mainstream. If you can start of the evening by providing your guests with enjoyable alcoholic beverages you will buy yourself a greatly increased margin of error when it comes to the food.

Hipsters, to their credit, eat a wide variety of foods, so you have some flexibility in planning your meal. One helpful thing to keep in mind is that eating locally is one of the core beliefs of all hipsters, so you don’t need to procure a list of obscure ingredients. This is helpful because it means that you can serve things that are recognizable to some of your non-hipster guests. Aside from having some local ingredients, if you have anything that is considered artisan or comes in a mason jar, be sure to work that into dinner. You will also get bonus points for working in kale and/or Brussel sprouts.

If you are looking to truly maximize the enjoyment of both your hipster and non-hipster guests, you should consider serving fish, both fillets and whole fish. Unlike commoners who like to eat fish fillets, hipsters prefer when you serve a whole fish, with the eyes staring at you and the mouth hanging open in a permanent deathly gasp. You can easily cook some whole fish and fish fillets in the same oven so it wouldn’t be much extra work, except you may have to scale the whole fish. Unless you are having hipster black bears over to your house, you won’t be able to serve a whole salmon or codfish to a single guest, so you should pick up something like a red snapper or a bass if it is available. For the rest of your guests you could just pick up some reliable cod fillets. You can find plenty of flavour combinations that will work for both types of fish. Aside from allowing you to provide all of your guests with a satisfying meal, allowing your hipster guests to demonstrate to others their superior sophistication will further enhance their experience.

For the after dinner coffee, you would ideally have a French press or espresso machine, but barring that, you should at least hide your Keurig and put some dark roast organic coffee bought from a local indie coffee shop into your old drip coffee maker. For the desert you should serve something with dragon fruit, perhaps sliced with some whipped cream and berries. Dragon fruit looks exotic and frightening, but it has a surprisingly mild taste so all of your guests should be able to enjoy it.

No Need to Knead Bread

Most people, even those who do their fair share of cooking, never bake their own bread, not because they don’t like the taste of fresh, hot out of the oven bread, but because it is just so much work and makes such a mess. When people think of making homemade bread, they typically have visions of a mother or grandmother laboriously kneading bread in kitchen completely covered in a layer of flour, but thanks to a brilliantly simple breakthrough, you can now make your own bread without any kneading at all.

When I say that you can make bread without kneading it, I’m not talking about buying a bread machine or some fancy mixer; I mean that you can make great bread with just flour, water, salt, and a small bit of yeast with about 2 minutes’ worth of active preparation time. All you need to do is mix the flour and salt in a bowl with a larger than usual amount of water and a lower than usual amount of yeast.

Though the active cooking time is minimal, the process does take much longer as you will need to allow the mixture to rise overnight, so if you have people coming over on short notice you will have to pick up a loaf at the grocery store. Once you let the bread make its initial rise over 12-18 hours, then knock it down, put it in a well-oiled loaf pan and let it rise again for 2-3 hours, at which point you pop it in the oven and bake it as you would with any other bread. This works with virtually any kind of bread you want to make, from classic white French bread to any kind of whole grain you’re into.

This is how all bread should be baked from now on. Normally when you find a way to cut down on the work involved in the kitchen there is some sacrifice of quality or taste, but that is not the case with the no knead method. In fact, most bakers will tell you that the prolonged rising period helps to build more flavour. The reality is that you probably wouldn’t be able to detect the difference between a slow rise, no knead bread and a quick rise, kneaded bread, but that’s not the point; the reason for using the no knead method is that it allows you to make a loaf of bread that tastes as least as good as the traditional method but is only a fraction of the effort and mess.