Quest for the Best Banana Bread and a Chopped Challenge

We just wrapped up our Christmas parties yesterday, after a celebration with my family. As is tradition, we had a meal of all appetizers. Every family brings their favorite appetizers to share with everyone else and we spend the entire day just grazing. It’s an understatement to say that I’m full today. So before we get to our quest and our challenge, here are a few other blogger recipes we enjoyed once more.

First up is this delicious (and super easy) Baba Ghanoush recipe from Charles at Five Euro Food. I enjoy this one for lunch quite a bit too.

We also made some Candied Cranberries that we saw over at A Spicy Perspective. Miss A and I really enjoyed these – most of the cranberries were sweet, but every now and then one would give a surprisingly tart burst of flavor. A very fun flavor experience, plus they were just pretty.

Mike and I also whipped up one other cranberry appetizer, but we’ll share that one later this week. Now on to our Quest for the Best Banana Bread. We’re closing in on the final taste test of all the banana bread recipes. In fact, I think we only have one recipe left to go, but before we get there we bring you Sweet Caroline’s Banana Bread.

Miss A was again my sous chef for the event. When I asked her if she wanted to make a banana bread, she went running for the kitchen and said, “We haven’t made one of those since I was like a baby!” I suppose in Miss A time, three weeks equates to three years. ;)

We left the nuts out of the recipe, because with the exception of Kelly’s banana bread, we’ve gone nut free. This recipe also included a few new ingredients including crème fraîche and nutmeg. It also used all white sugar. That said the biggest difference for us this time around was that we used a KitchenAid stand mixer (Santa was good to me this year!). Banana bread seemed like the best way to break the new toy in too. 

As usual Miss A and I had a blast and we were all pleased with our initial taste test. The bread was moist and had a hint of cinnamon to the flavor. We of course saved a piece in the freezer for the big taste test next month and brought the rest to mom’s for Christmas dessert. Thanks for the great recipe Caroline! (To find out how this recipe fared in our final taste test, click here.)

Now on to the Chopped Challenge. We have a special day coming up this week…yes, it’s New Year’s Eve, but it’s also Mike’s birthday that very same day. We’ve done a special recipe for everyone’s birthdays on the blog this year, but Mike came up with a new and fun idea for his big day. He and I are going to have a little Chopped Challenge date night with the help of our blogging friends.

For those of you that may be wondering what exactly Chopped is – it’s a show on the FoodNetwork that pits challengers against one another in an appetizer, main course and dessert round. The contestants are given a basket containing four unique ingredients for each round from which they must come up with creative, tasty and stylish meals using all four ingredients. The ingredients often include rare and sometimes odd items like cough drops, cow tongue or gummy bears. For a clip click here.

So we enlisted the help of some of our longest and most frequent blog commenters to provide us with the basket ingredients. And now we’re asking the help of all our readers to vote on which baskets we’ll be stuck with given. We’ll leave the voting open until Mike’s birthday, December 31st at 10 a.m. CST. Then we’ll have our date night within the next few nights. Thanks for participating – we’re looking forward to our interactive date night (with a good healthy amount of nerves involved too!). Thanks and have fun!

Appetizer Round


The baskets for our appetizer round have been provided by Chicago John From the Bartolini Kitchens, Linda from Savoring Every Bite, A_Boleyn, and Kelly from Inspired Edibles.

Main Course Basket


The main course baskets are provided by Sally at Bewitching Kitchen, Sawsan from Chef in Disguise, Charles from Five Euro Food and Greg from Rufus’ Food & Spirit Guide.

Dessert Basket


The dessert baskets come to us from Kay at Pure Complex, Eva at Kitcheninspirations, Jessica at Kitchen Belleicious and Caroline at Sweet Caroline’s Cooking.

Make sure to select one basket for each category. Happy voting everyone!

39 comments on “Quest for the Best Banana Bread and a Chopped Challenge

  1. Charles says:

    Thanks for the shout-out Kristy – glad you enjoy the dip :) The cranberry picture looks positively wonderful – would just love to pop a load of those in my mouth :D I’ve voted away – looking forward to seeing the winners!

  2. I just can’t wait for the challenge and to see what you two creative geniuses come up with!

  3. Hi Kristy and Mike! This is a fabulous date night idea! Love it! If only my honey cooked. We don’t let him touch much in the kitchen besides a good dose of dishes and sponges. He is a great barbecue-er though. :) He has caught Poptarts on fire in the toaster. Honestly. Fire. Had to put it out with an extinguisher.

    • ChefDad says:

      We really have no place to talk about kitchen fires…so I just won’t. I’ll leave it to Kristy if she wants to. (at least it wasn’t pop tarts I guess.)

  4. Karen says:

    I’m really looking forward to the results from your Chopped episode. What a fun thing to do.

  5. This was fun! Can’t wait to see what the results are! :-) Mandy

  6. YAY.. I can’t wait for the Chopped episode to begin :). I just love this idea as you know. And there are some amazing choices. Whatever dishes are chosen.. I know this will be an amazing event/birthday :). And you know how I feel about bread.. but this bread definitely looks delish@! And Santa was good to you and my mom because she got a KitchenAid mixer as well :)

  7. ChgoJohn says:

    Looks like it will be a fun birthday for ChefDad! Thanks for giving me a chance to participate. Is it too late to pay for a “Vote for Bartolini” widget on your page? A little campaigning never hurts.

  8. Dawn says:

    Looks like a great banana bread recipe, although I am still partial to my mother’s :). Happy New Year, and have fun with the challenge!!

  9. spicegirlfla says:

    I get so hungry every time I visit your blog! Especially when you showcase so many wonderful photos!! I can’t wait to see how your challenge turns out! John really provided you with an interesting appetizer basket to say the least!!

    • ChefDad says:

      I hope the challenge photos turn out as well as some of the others…I’m tempted to try and make things that look nice, and the heck with what they taste like. Harder to fake the pictures than the descriptions. ;)

  10. Caroline says:

    You made the banana bread!! I’m so glad you tried the recipe, and that you all approved. Congrats on the new stand mixer…Santa was very good to you!! You’re going to want to bake something every day now. I still treat mine like a precious newborn haha. I cast all of my votes…can’t wait to hear about the final picks! :)

  11. rsmacaalay says:

    I like that candied cranberries, simple and very festive

  12. I really can’t wait for your final banana quest post..I really want to know which one you like best..
    and now I have your chopped challenge to look forward to

    Happy new year to you and your loved ones

  13. A_Boleyn says:

    I like the look of this banana and am awaiting the great decide with bated breath.

    As to your Chopped baskets, I was torn between picking the most unusual baskets to challenge you both or the one that would make the most appetizing sounding recipes. I picked a combination of them though didn’t choose MY appetizer basket suggestion as one of the others was so intriguing. I look forward to the final results of the voting and your execution.

    Happy New Year

  14. Deborah says:

    Your chopped challenge sounds like SO much fun! CAn’t wait to see what the votes come in for!

  15. Thanks for the shout out, Kristy. I can hardly wait to read about your adventure. Hope Mike has an amazing birthday celebration!
    The Baba Ghanoush looks very tasty, I haven’t yet found one I like so I’ll have to give it a try. The cranberries look gorgeous, such a festive colour!

  16. Oh no, this is hard. Thinking, thinking. Is it OK to vote for yourself. Argh. I do know this that bread is a winner!

  17. my votes have been cast!! back later for a proper comment… :)

    • me again! did you say crème fraîche in the banana bread?! That must have been crazy delicious…Caroline has such gorgeous dessert recipes… looking forward to the big reveal later this month :). What a fun way to celebrate with appetizers – we did something similar last night – love the idea of nibbling here and there on what you please. The Chopped Challenge sounds amazing and you have so many great basket options in front of you (had trouble choosing…) – can’t wait to see how it all turns out! (and who gets chopped ;)) A very Happy Birthday to Mike for tomorrow – I hope you have a great day birthday boy!

  18. Lisa says:

    Love to see another banana nut bread recipe! Looking forward to your Chopped challenge. I placed my votes! Can’t wait to read about your interactive date night!

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