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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

How about some good old-fashioned chocolate chips? And bananas, of course.

Today is a celebration of two of the best paired foods. To give you a taste, I will give you the sweet, scrumptious recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Squares.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 6 ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 chopped walnuts (optional, but recommended)

Step one: Grease a square or rectangular baking pan and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter or margarine, along with the sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined.

Step two: Add egg, bananas, and vanilla until combined. Then add the flour. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. You can do all this with an electric mixer or by hand. Either one will work.

Step three: Spread in baking pan. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes (or until golden brown) at 350 degrees. Cool on a wire rack, then cut into squares. Makes 36 squares.

The last time I made these little bite sized wonders, everyone had them eaten in about 10 minutes! They’re a huge hit for small get-togethers and family gatherings. And it’s a sweet treat to cure any chocolate craving.

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Mine is the anti-tomato version. It's still delicious! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Mine is the anti-tomato version. It's still delicious! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

As some of you may know, family gatherings are a great opportunity to bring different kinds of foods for everyone to enjoy. Well, as luck would have it, I recently had one of those kinds of family gatherings, at which I tasted the best pasta salad I’ve ever had.

I would like to introduce you to Mediterranean Pasta Salad, courtesy of Norma. In a span of about two hours, the huge bowl she had made completely disappeared, and the reserve stock in the fridge was eaten later that night!

The greatest thing about this dish is its versatility. As Norma herself said it, she never follows a recipe and she always puts her spin on it. That, my food loving friends, is highly recommended with this pasta salad. You can throw in new veggies, take out what you don’t want, or even include some other form of dressing other than the oil and vinegar suggested.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package of spiral or curly noodles, cooked and drained
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, diced into 1/2 or 3/4 inch pieces
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium sized cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved and thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, halved
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 tbsp finely sliced red onions, optional
  • 2 tsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently until well mixed.

Step 2: Refrigerate several hours before serving. That’s it!

If I were you, I’d double the recipe. It makes a smaller amount, so if you like to keep eating leftover pasta salad all week like me, doubling is the way to go. This stuff goes great with a sandwich and transports easily for lunches on the go!

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