The Shared Banana Bread by Amy Cantu

The rain gods have blessed us with water falling from the sky, but with it comes the damp coldness and gray. The kids were bouncing around the house aimlessly, so I knew we needed to get our wits about us and come up with a rainy day project. Behold the four darkly spotted bananas sitting on the counter: It's time to fix this dark, dreary day with some homemade banana bread. My five-year-old did a happy dance around the kitchen, and my two-year-old immediately dunked his hands into the flour and flung it into the air yelling, "It rain! It rain!" Let the baking (and mess) begin! After mashing the bananas, (a.k.a. squishing banana pulp between tiny fingers,) the next best thing about making banana bread in our house is that everyone gets to pick a mix-in. The eldest begged for chocolate chips, but alas, we were out, so he grudgingly settled on shredded coconut. The younger one was adamant about "nuts! more and more and more nuts!" And me? A splash of bourbon please, because that's how I roll. The end result was a glorious, golden loaf of banana bread, generously studded with chopped walnuts and toasted coconut, with a whiff of bourbon, and warm, cozy house to fight off the cold day. We were all quite pleased with ourselves.

Follow us to the recipe:

Coconut Bourbon Banana Bread

The Shared Dessert Bars by Cynthia Raub

Have you ever laid in bed, unable to sleep, because you were thinking about rhubarb? It has only happened to me once, and while my husband blissfully dozed into dreamland, I tossed and turned wondering when I was going to be able to eat it. Like many of my mom-stress-fueled restless nights, I reached out to Amy to see if she was awake and thinking about rhubarb, too. Turns out she wasn't thinking about rhubarb, but when I mentioned it, she (like the recipe encyclopedia that she is) recommended I make Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp bars. The recipe was simple, straight forward and not heinously gluttonous. Perfect! Once we started chatting about dessert bar cravings, Amy came strong with multiple recipes she has been meaning to try including her Coconut Bars and Lime Bars with Pistachio Crust.

I am always weary about making whole servings of desserts because I always seem to eat everything in the pan in a matter of 24 hours. I avoid baking unless I am giving the goods away because of the magical disappearing act baked goods do in my presence. Now you see them on a platter! Now you don't. (Because they're ALL in my gut, and in the back of my mind, and on my conscience as another loss of self control.) But like the good friend that she is, Amy suggested that we swap bars! It was a great idea in theory (sharing, variety, smaller portions), until I did the math: three scrumptious pans of bars for two households. Isn't that more than the one pan in my house that I was fearful of? No time to overthink the math. We were committed. No regrets.

Follow us to the recipes:

Lime Bars with Pistachio Crust

Coconut Bars (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars

In the Kitchen Now - Mango and Coconut Sticky Rice by Amy Cantu

mango and coconut sticky rice

There's nothing quite like watching a class of enthusiastic preschoolers gobbling up mango and sticky rice, which is exactly what happened today when Grandpa Audy made an appearance at school. I don't know why I was surprised - what's not to like about sweet and tangy mango with coconut-infused sweet rice? My 4-year-old is learning about Asia this month in school, so his teachers asked if we could bring something to share with the class. Grandpa Audy whipped up a batch of his Thai Mango and Coconut Sticky Rice and brought a picture book about fruits found in Thailand to share with the class! Lucky kids (and lucky me left with the extras)!

Follow us to the recipe!

Mango and Coconut Sticky Rice