Love letter #5, lots of loaves

I have to admit, unlike my past and future posts, this letter is not inspired by Alex. It’s inspired from my time when I was in high school working at Starbucks with some of my best friends. Though at the time I hated working evenings and weekends (who wouldn’t?), I can look back on that time fondly. This post is an homage to them and that time of my life.

Though not baked in-house, there is something so nostalgic to me about the various pastries that Starbucks sells. Almost a decade later and every time I walk into a café it reminds me of high school. The smell of the coffee, the roar of the blenders, and the rhythmic noise of the iced teas being shaken flood me with memories.

My tastes have matured as I’ve gotten older, so I don’t order the pastries or sweets from Starbucks anymore. However, I do enjoy baking the pastries I used to love so much at home. My favorites in particular were the loaves—lemon, banana walnut, and pumpkin. Anytime I make any of these breads I am reminded of that first job and sneaking a pastry to eat on my break.

Adding parchment paper to the loaf pan is an easy way to get your bread out when it’s finished. 
These recipes fall into the “quick-bread” category. There’s no rising, the steps are simple, and the end result is relatively foolproof.


It’s very important for all your ingredients to be room temperature.

You can use a hand mixer, but the butter and sugar needs to be creamed together, so it is slightly tedious.

Always zest your lemons before you juice them.
Most glazes are simply powdered sugar with some type of liquid or butter, or both. In this case, it’s with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Like I’ve said in prior posts, always use freshly squeezed lemon juice. You already need the zest, don’t skimp and use the store-bought juice.

It’s very important to let the loaf cool almost completely before you add the glaze. You want the glaze to stick to the top, not slide completely down the sides.

Make sure your bananas are very ripe. Often times this means buying bananas and waiting for them to turn brown. If you go to the grocery store the day you are planning on making the bread, you may find yourself with non-ripe bananas.

Bananas both flavor the bread and sweeten it, and the walnuts add a satisfying crunch.

Sifting ensures no lumps in the batter and that the dry ingredients are mixed well together.
Pumpkin loaf is a favorite fall treat of mine. I like to make it in the summer to remind myself that autumn is not so far away.

I like to use purée real pumpkin when they are in season. When they are not, canned works just fine.


“Pumpkin spice” generally refers to a blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and all-spice.

The flavor is much better from freshly ground nutmeg than what you would find in the spice aisle.

Lemon loaf

Banana walnut bread

Pumpkin loaf
There are some pastries that are just better bought at a bakery or pastry store. But these loaves are not one of them. They are simple, fresh, and taste better homemade. I love lemon loaf in the summer because of the bright, citrus notes. Pumpkin loaf in the fall because of those traditional flavors. And banana nut loaf in the winter, warmed with butter. I love seasonal dishes, but pastries especially. There’s something magical about seasonal pastries, making them yourself, and letting those you care about reminisce about old times while sharing a cup of coffee or glass of wine. I hope this inspires you to bake a nostalgic treat.


A slice of cold lemon loaf with a sweet glaze is the perfect summertime treat. Pair with strawberries, a glass of rosé, and eat it outside on a warm evening after dinner.


A slice of warm banana nut bread with a pat of butter and a black cup of coffee is a perfect way to start your weekend.

When it comes to baking, I like to use classic recipes. Why change what is already perfect? The spice ratio on the pumpkin loaf I did change slightly. I like a spicier bread, so I add more nutmeg and ginger, and a touch less brown sugar.

Lemon loaf

Banana walnut bread

Pumpkin loaf

Love letter #4, tex-mex

Besides the fresh produce and herbs that are available at Farmer’s Markets this time of year, I am not fond of summer. I love snow and the crispness of the later months of the year. That being said, a Tex-Mex inspired meal can make even winter girls appreciate the season.

My favorite part of Tex-Mex is the freshness. Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, avocados, limes…everything is so gorgeous and full of flavor. There’s so many ingredients that add a “wow” factor. In addition to that, the gorgeous deep red, purple, and green colors of the fresh produce make me question just why I don’t do a southwestern inspired meal more often.


This meal was a large one for the two of us, but sometimes that’s just what you need. A little bit of everything, not a lot of one thing. Good for the soul. A folded burrito, black bean soup, fresh roasted tomatillo salsa, guacamole, and chicken tacos with sautéed onions and peppers make a meal that is both inspired and practical. It’s comfortable. We all know and love the warm flavors of cumin, the spiciness of chili powder, the bite of of a jalapeño, but making almost everything from scratch ups the elegant factor. This isn’t a fast food restaurant, this is your home and a meal you made that you are providing for your loved ones.

Traditional “taco” seasoning that you buy at the store is just ingredients that you already have in your spice drawer. Cumin, chili powder, red pepper powder, garlic powder, salt, and onion flakes. The benefit of making your own spice mixes at home is that you control what go into them. I prefer much spicier than what is store-bought, so I can add extra chili and red pepper powder. Like pre-shredded cheese, spice mixes also come with extra add-ins to prevent clumping. Making your own at home doesn’t need any unnecessary products.

I never buy pre-shredded cheese. It doesn’t taste as good. Use a food processor to shred your cheese using the shred blade, and save your arm strength from grating.

Onions are my favorite food. They are so versatile. I used them in each dish I made today. From sautéing peppers with onions, to soup, to guacamole, to salsa verde, to the garnish for tacos, or in my burrito wrap. Nothing can replace the flavor of an onion.

My black bean soup starts with a traditional mirepoix–carrots, celery, and onion. After that I add garlic, black beans, chicken stock, some white wine, cumin, chili powder, and salt. It’s simple, but absolutely divine. Add a lime wedge, avocado, sour cream, and some cilantro to top it all off. Use an immersion blender to blend 1/3 of the soup to add a creamy texture.

I love the bright citrus notes in fresh Tex-Mex. Add lime juice, lime zest, orange juice, orange zest, and beer to your shredded chicken with Anaheim peppers.


Garnish with onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.

My favorite salsa is salsa verde, or tomatillo salsa. Broiling the ingredients before pureeing them together gives them a charred, yet slightly sweet flavor. Of course, your food processor is your best friend for this recipe.


For guacamole, I like it simple. Avocado, red onion, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Use a fork to keep a chunkier texture.


Though unusual for Alex and I, we both agree that our favorite part of this meal was the more processed one of all of them (!!). A burrito wrap with both jarred cheese sauce and taco sauce. Not something I tend to keep at home, I did have to go out of my way at the grocery store to pick up some of these items.

Start with your favorite cheese sauce and let it act as a glue between the tostada and burrito. IMG_5207

Next, add your beans and meat. Then your favorite hot sauce. With the recipe we like the Taco Bell brand. IMG_5214

Add your extra toppings.


Then fold as if it were a galette. IMG_5219IMG_5221

Fry in pan then enjoy.

I’m always craving grapefruit in the summertime, so a grapefruit spiked seltzer water hit the spot. Though there is much added heat in all of the dishes, the addition of cilantro, lime juice, and avocado keeps you cool for the summer. We’ll be eating these dishes over the next couple of days and they are just as good reheated as they are from when they are first served.

I hope this post inspires those winter girls who prefer a chill over the heat. By bringing together the warm flavors of the various spices I used, it’s comfortable, it’s simple and fresh, and it’s inviting. Make this for your boyfriend, your children, or your friends, and they’ll know you love them without so many words.

Taco Seasoning

  • 2 tsps chili powder
  • 2 tsps cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsps garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1 tsp red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Mix well.

Shredded chicken for tacos

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 limes, juice and zest
  • 1/2 orange, juice and zest
  • 1/2 can light beer
  • 3 Anaheim peppers
  • Taco Seasoning
  • 3 tbsp refined avocado oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub spice mix over chicken breasts until thoroughly seasoned. Brush avocado oil on breasts. Cook for 30 minutes or until chicken registers 150 degrees on a meat thermometer. Let cool. Shred chicken with fork, hands, or a food processor.

Heat oil in sauté pan over medium high heat. Add peppers. Cook until tender. Add chicken, lime juice and zest, orange juice and zest, and beer. Add more seasoning to taste. Let simmer over low heat.

Black bean soup

  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cans of black beans
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
  • Cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Heat olive oil in medium dutch oven. Fry spices. Add carrots, celery, onion, and bell pepper and sauté  until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and stir for one minute, until fragrant. Add drained black beans, chicken broth, and wine. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste. Take off heat and with an immersion blender blend about 1/3 of soup. Simmer another ten minutes. Serve with lime wedge, cilantro, sour cream, and avocado.


  • 3 avocados
  • 1/3 red onion, diced finely
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mash with fork.

Salsa verde

  • 4 tomatillos
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 jalepeños
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 1 Anaheim pepper
  • 3 garlic gloves
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • Salt

Add all ingredients except cilantro to a sheet pan. Broil each side for 5 minutes, until charred. Add all ingredients to food processor. Season to taste.

Burrito wraps

Each individual wrap contains:

  • 1 large flour tortilla
  • 1 tostada
  • Nacho cheese
  • Refried beans
  • Taco seasoned ground beef
  • Hot sauce
  • Shredded lettuce
  • White onion, diced
  • Shredded cheese

See above pictures.




Love letter #3, rib-eyes

There is nothing better than a perfectly cooked steak for dinner, but everyone has his or her own methods of how to cook one. I found that most of my attempts would turn out okay, but never matched the quality that I could get in a steakhouse. Steakhouses are a nice date, but I wanted to find a way that I could cook steak at home and match the quality of a restaurant. Good steaks are expensive so I needed to make sure that I had a foolproof way of cooking them. Alex works hard, so I try to make a steak dinner for him at least twice a month.

Cooking steak takes a loss less time and effort than one might think. It’s a simple yet comforting way to splurge during the week. Steak is cost-effective and a hearty meal when you’re cooking for one and there won’t be any leftovers with this recipe. Drinking a heavy and bold cabernet sauvignon will totally up the comfort factor.

There are two ways that I cook steak and they both involve searing and cooking in the oven, just at different times. With filet mignon, I like to sear every side for about a minute in a hot pan, and then stick it in a hot oven for 9 minutes with a pat of butter. Comes out perfect every time.


But when it comes to a fattier piece of meat, I found that my old tried and true filet style of cooking didn’t translate well. After some research, I discovered the concept of “reverse searing” and I have never looked back.

You can read all about the science behind the reverse sear at one of my favorite and informative websites, “Serious Eats”. Click here for the science behind it.

Though most people look to the filet as the top choice in steaks, Alex and I have always preferred the ribeye. Filet is very tender, yes, but also very lean. I find the added fat and extra marbleization in the ribeye makes for a more hearty and satisfying dinner.


You always want to liberally season your steaks with salt and pepper. Generally steaks don’t need any more than that. An exception being to flank, hanger, or skirt steak that you might marinate.

For reverse searing, set your oven temperature as low as possible. Most ovens can’t accurately hold low temps, so I set mine for 250 degrees. An oven thermometer is a cheap and effective way of knowing if it’s heating properly.


Heat a pan (preferably cast iron, enameled cast iron, or stainless steel, no nonstick) over high heat for 5-7 minutes. Add a tablespoon of oil with a high smoke point. I use refined avocado oil, but you can use vegetable or canola oil, among others. This is not the time to break out your extra virgin olive oil. Avocado oil has a higher price point, but has health benefits the same way that olive oil does and vegetable oils do not.

Add the rib-eyes to the pan after reaching desired temperature in the oven (115-118 for medium rare) along with a tablespoon of butter. Sear each side for 45 seconds.

Your fire alarm will most likely go off during the searing. Open your windows and doors and turn on your fans.

Perfectly cooked rare to medium-rare with no gray edges and a crispy crust

Pair with anything you like. We had it over arugula with pan sauce and mashed cauliflower. To make it more steakhouse-esque, caramelize onions and mushrooms and eat with potato wedges and steamed broccoli on the side. Serving it over a light salad of arugula with parmesan and a lemon vinaigrette (recipe here) is a way to turn a heavy steak into summer fare.

Pan sauces are a quick and easy way to round out your meal. In the same pan you cooked the steaks in, add some wine, chicken broth, Dijon mustard, thyme, garlic, butter, a few springs of thyme or chopped parsley, and some onion or shallot. Cook until reduced. Add some heavy cream off the heat if you prefer a slightly thicker sauce.


Mashed cauliflower is a lighter alternative to its potato counterpart, and Alex requests and prefers it to the starchy, heaviness of a mashed potato. The recipe could not be simpler.

Chop a head of cauliflower and boil it until fork tender, then use an immersion blender to puree until desired consistency.

Sour cream adds a tang to the vegetables, while parmesan adds a salty nuttiness. Season with salt and pepper. Add chopped chives, parsley or dill if you so desire.

Served over arugula with pan sauce and mashed cauliflower
Arugula salad with parmesan and lemon vinaigrette. Paired with roasted asparagus and crusty bread

Steak night is always a happy night at our house. You feel like you should be in heels at St. Elmo’s downtown, but really you’re in your comfiest clothes ready to dig in at the dining room table. Steak is easy and mashed cauliflower is an elegant twist to a classic comfort food. It’s great for an early evening summer meal, but we like it best on cozy, rainy evenings. Enjoy.

Reverse seared rib-eyes

  • 2 thick cut rib-eyes
  • Avocado oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Let steaks come to room temperature, 30 minutes or so. Liberally season steaks with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put steaks on cooking rack over baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake until 115-120 degrees for medium-rare, about 30 minutes (though depending on each oven, starting checking temps around the 15 minute mark).

While steaks are in the oven, heat a cast iron pan on the stove over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes. Add a tbsp of avocado oil. Add steaks and tbsp of butter to pan and sear each side for 45 to 60 seconds. Serve immediately.

Mashed cauliflower

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan reggiano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional chopped chives, dill or parsley

Boil cauliflower with salt until fork tender. Drain water. Use an immersion blender to blend until desired consistency. Add sour cream and parmesan and stir. Season with salt and pepper and fresh herbs.



Love Letter #2, vegetable quiche

What is it about breakfast for dinner that is so special? Maybe it’s because in the morning we are rushing to get out the door and don’t think twice about what we are eating. Or, maybe, it’s because for some reason it takes us back to our childhood. How many of us growing up had pancakes for dinner on a rare occasion? It was such a special treat. When you have breakfast for dinner you can sit down and enjoy those traditional flavors without needing to be somewhere in twenty minutes. It’s a laid back Sunday around here and to go with the theme of relaxation, I decided to do quiche for dinner. With this love letter, we can pretend like it’s the weekend just a little longer.

Besides pastries, my favorite traditional breakfast dish is quiche. Quiche is so versatile, you can put almost anything into them. Baked with an all-butter pie crust, my vegetable quiche is a letter that Alex requests often.

My quiche uses onions, bell peppers, and zucchini. Any vegetable will work in a quiche, such as broccoli, spinach, or asparagus. I find though that having some kind of squash (whether it’s zucchini, eggplant, or butternut) gives a needed hearty texture to the tenderness of the baked eggs. There needs to be some kind of vegetable to offset the creaminess of the dish. With red peppers and squash, there is a pleasant added crunch. Combine that with lots of grated parmesan reggiano, and it’s a meal fit for any time of the day.


Making pie crust can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to pie crust is making sure everything is chilled and to be conscious of the time. I put both the ice water and diced butter in the freezer for five minutes to get it nice and cold. I also put the bowl of my food processor in the fridge, just to help with temperature control. Once you get the hang of this crust, you’ll make it every time you need a pie crust. Forget Pillsbury. It freezes well, so I like to make two batches at a time and save one for another meal.


While I love using Ina’s Perfect Pie Crust recipe, I tend to prefer an all-butter crust. It makes for a flaky and golden final product. Using a food processor is a fast way to get the desired consistency. I prefer this over a handheld pastry cutter. It’s faster and works just as well. Can’t beat that.

An easy way to transfer the dough into the pie pan is by rolling it almost halfway onto the rolling pin, then laying it over the pan.


While I love decorative pie crusts, a simple border you make with your fork is perfect for quiche. Once the dough is in the pan, put it in the fridge to chill.

Before you start the cooking process, it’s always a good idea to have all your ingredients out, chopped, and measured. This makes everything go much smoother and you don’t have to worry about chopping an onion while making sure something on the stove doesn’t burn.


I slice the onions paper thin so that they cook fast, and a small dice to the red and orange bell peppers. Put them in a sauté pan with olive oil over medium high heat until they start to brown. Add zucchini then garlic. Almost always you should add garlic last. It burns easily and turns bitter. Just cook until fragrant–that’s how you know it’s ready.


Whisk the eggs, parmesan, and half and half together. Add a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Add in fresh dill, chives, and parsley.


Recipes that aren’t improved by fresh herbs are few and far between. They add a freshness to food that can’t be imitated. Even desserts taste better with fresh basil or mint! In the summertime, I like to grow my fresh herbs outside in small pots, but during the winter you can take them inside and store in a sunny place. Thankfully herbs are very easy to grow and maintain.

Once slightly cooled, you can add the onion, pepper, and zucchini mixture into the egg mixture. It needs to be somewhat cool so that the heat from the vegetables doesn’t scramble the eggs. You definitely don’t want that!

Add the quiche ingredients to your pie crust. Place onto a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Cook for one hour. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with in-season heirloom tomatoes and spinach.



IMG_4381 (1)
For lunch the next day with caprese salad and avocado

Quiche is perfect for so many occasions–birthdays, bridal or baby showers, brunch, etc. But I like it best when it’s for dinner. It’s perfect with a grapefruit vodka cocktail and fresh fruit. Having this for dinner on Sunday evening helps ease you into your work week. It’s elegant comfort to the max.

Vegetable Quiche

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 zucchinis, chopped and quartered
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan reggiano
  • 1 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Sauté peppers and onions with olive oil over medium high heat until almost browned. Add zucchini and cook for two minutes, add garlic and cook for one minute. Whisk eggs, half and half, parmesan, and fresh herbs together. Once cooled, and vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper. Add to pie crust. Put pie crust onto baking sheet and cook for one hour at 400 degrees. Let set for ten minutes before serving.

All Butter Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 stick of cold butter, diced
  • 5 tbsp ice water
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Add flour and salt to food processor. Pulse once. Add cold butter and process until butter is the size of peas. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time. Note: you may need more or less water depending on the flour, humidity levels, etc. After the right amount of water is added, dough will form after five seconds or so. Shape dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll dough out and use rolling pin to drape over pie pan. Cut off extra dough and use a fork to go around the sides.



Hello, my name is Hannah and I’m a home cook.

When I cook for people, I tend to think of each dish as a love letter. It’s a way of telling someone I care for them without so many words.

The inspiration for “Tuesday Night Love Letters” derives from when my boyfriend, Alex, and I were long-distance, and I would make the drive every Tuesday to cook him a nice, homemade meal. Now that we live together, every homemade meal is a love letter to him.

No matter who I’m cooking for, each meal is carefully and thoughtfully put together. I hope you find inspiration on my site to create your own love letters.

My style of cooking is elegant and comforting. Fancy, but not try-hard. Inviting, but not intimidating. Elegant comfort is my mantra in all aspects of my life. Come join me.