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Jason’s work is bananas. His mornings on the run are bananas. His hours are bananas. The creative muscle of the team is bananas. Jason’s mustache is bananas! (picture of which he won’t let me post here, boo)

Last night was the first in weeks where we were able to sit down at the dining table and enjoy a meal together. There was plenty to enjoy; I made the quickest and the yummiest and the healthiest dish there is in the whole wide world – Grilled Salmon over Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Toasted Pecans, and Roasted Butternut Squash. To finish it off, I christened the plate with a beautiful green dressing – my Mustard Parsley Vinaigrette.

Since my BOO-BOO, my Honey-Poos, my Bubba has been chained to his office with thick and indestructible links of obligation and reliability (that are gazzillion times stronger than steel) for most of his waking hours a day, my motivation to cook has been rather flaccid. I made a pot of scrumptious Ribollita Soup with my homemade bread earlier this week, which lasted for FOUR DAYS (unheard of in this neck of the woods …in other circumstances). I’ve been also forced to finish off whatever leftovers were still stationed in the fridge, since me and waste don’t get along.

For three days I would also walk past a bunch of untouched bananas sitting on the kitchen counter and observing my every move in silence. I had no purpose for the guys, since Jason had been stripped of the time for his morning bowl of cereal with a sliced banana and a handful of blueberries. Each day I would notice the skin on the fruit turning one shade deeper from golden to brown, and the aroma of the bunch would chase me through the house.

BASTA!” I exclaimed on Saturday morning at last. “I’m making a banana bread.” SWOOSH, I opened my laptop, CLICK-CLICK I typed on the keyboard and, HELLO! asked the Internet for the recipe. I liked the one on www.joyofbaking.com and decided to follow the steps. Ok, I would NOT be myself if I didn’t tweak it, just a tad. Below I’m describing in detail how I went from a bunch of ripe and smelly bananas to a FRAGRANT and GOLDEN BROWN luscious BANANA BREAD that is sweet really just a tiny bit and packed with nuts of all kinds. For your reference, here’s the link to the original and my nod of thanks to the author of that recipe.

And here’s Agi’s Way:

Ingredients:

–       1.25 cups of toasted and chopped assorted nuts (walnuts, pecans, pine nuts)

–       1.25 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour

–       0.5 cup of whole wheat flour

–       0.5 dry cup of agave nectar

–       1 tsp of baking powder

–       0.5 tsp of baking soda

–       1 tsp of salt

–       1 tsp of cinnamon

–       0.5 tsp of cardamom

–       1 tsp of vanilla extract

–       2 large organic eggs

–       4 medium very ripe organic bananas

–       0.5 stick of butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350°. Peel and mash your bananas in a bowl, add melted and cooled butter, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and mix it all. In a separate bowl crack open two eggs and beat them with a fork. Add the eggs to the banana mixture and set aside.

Sieve all the dry ingredients into another large bowl. Now gently fold the wet banana mixture into the dry ingredients. Don’t mix, just keep folding it in until all components are combined. You’ll see a chunky and thick batter and that’s what you’re after.

Scoop your forthcoming bread into a 9” x 4” loaf pan, previously greased with either butter or a non-stick spray, level out with your spatula, and put into the oven for about 55 minutes to an hour.

The bread will look like Jennifer Aniston’s post summer bod – golden brown and shiny. It will smell just as well. Be warned that you won’t be able to resist to not only inhale its fragrance, but also touch it tenderly all over its curves, lick it perhaps, slightly nibble on it, definitely kiss it, and inevitably TASTE it.

A slice of the BANANA BREAD toasted on a Sunday morning, then touched with organic butter and a drizzle of blueberry sauce, paired with a cup of freshly brewed coffee…. Oh, dear lord, my angel of prosperity, the spirit of my deceased grandmother who watches over me, I don’t believe I’ve been THAT good to deserve it all.

But if it’s already given… Thank you!

P.S. Mustache update: it’s been trimmed. Boo.

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Don’t be hatin’, but I’m here only for a minute. This pre-Christmas bustle is not a relaxing time, oh no. Not only is there a list of people to be gifted, and consequently a list of gifts to be found, packed, shipped, sneaked and hidden, delivered and stored under that Christmas Tree, but also there are parties to attend, parties to be thrown, delicacies to be baked, Ho Ho Ho’s to be wished, cards to be sent…. Oh, brother!

That’s the closest I’ve ever been to Santa, or His helper. Only when I squeezed myself into that naughty costume did I feel the magic! It’s a photo from a Halloween Party we held a couple of years ago that I dug out for your entertainment today.

Now back to business. In the continued series of light and balanced dinner ideas for the time between all the diet-busting holidays, I propose a fillet of GRILLED SALMON OVER A BED OF SPINACH. Not only is this obviously healthy, but also it’s highly satisfying on multiple levels. It’s a surprisingly filling dinner, that fills your mouth with bliss and – to quote Mick Jagger himself – SATISFACTION!

Grab yourself a bag of baby spinach and empty it into a bowl. Drizzle with a DRESSING of your choice, por exemplo:

– 1 part of red wine vinegar

– 3 parts of walnut oil

– 1 tsp of Dijon mustard

– 1 finely chopped shallot

– 1 tbsp of honey

– big pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Whisk it together, until the mixture is emulsified into a delicious VINAIGRETTE. Drizzle the nectar over the green, now crumble small pieces of goat cheese all over. Feel free to add dried cranberries and chopped and toasted pecans or simply diced beet (previously cooked). Mix the salad together while your fillet of salmon is grilling cheerfully on a hot grilling pan or an outdoor grill (if you’re blessed with one). Remember to season your fish evenly on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. It’s OK to sprinkle some dry herbs over the flesh, like thyme or marjoram for that extra layer of flavor.

When ready, place the salmon over the bed of spinach salad, and wait no longer for the first satisfying bite.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must retire to the kitchen to fix a treat for the  Christmas Tea Party I’m attending this afternoon. Good Day Everybody!

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