Since moving in, I’ve spent countless hours cooking or meal prepping in the kitchen with Jacob playing just steps away in our living room or coloring in our dining nook. When we were looking at new homes, the open kitchen in this house is really what drew us in. More recently, Jacob’s taken an interest in cooking, which means that I’ve had the honor of adding a sous-chef in the form of a three-and-a-half-year-old boy to our kitchen — which is entertaining, fun, exhausting, and of course incredibly messy.
If you know me, you know I’m all about a bright white kitchen, which a toddler and an infant (not to mention a large dog and a husband) can really take a toll on. So I spent more time than I’d like to admit looking into counter stools of varying styles and materials before finally coming back to one of my absolute favorites: The Riviera Counter stool. Serena & Lily is well-known for it's fresh take on casual dining and these stools are just that: cool and sophisticated in a timeless style that I’ll never tire of.
But perhaps the best feature of the stools is how kid-friendly they are. We bake and cook daily, which means that Jacob is up on the stools mixing (and eating and dripping) cookie dough or pancake batter all over the countertop, floor, and stools, and you know what? They wipe clean and look good as new each and every time! Plus, they’re sturdy, which means he’s able to climb up onto them all by himself without them toppling over.
Now that the weather is cooling down and school is back in session, we’re in the kitchen almost more than ever whipping up some of our favorite fall recipes like apple cake or chocolate banana bread. Yesterday, Jacob asked if we could bake chocolate chip cookies AND apple cake after school so that’s exactly what we did because, well, you only live once!
While the cookies were in the oven, we set the counter with two place settings (which included these beautiful Brela Napkins) so we were ready to enjoy the treats as soon as they came out of the oven.
We have a little dining nook to the side of our kitchen, but the countertop is really where we end up eating a lot of our meals. And if I’m cooking or meal prepping, Jacob often likes to sit up here and watch. These counter stools are so beautiful and kid-friendly that I plan to hopefully add a set of the matching side chairs to our dining nook in the near future because I’m so obsessed with them!
If you’ve been considering these stools, I’d totally recommend heading to your local Serena & Lily design shop to see them in person. I promise you’ll be amazed at how comfortable and beautiful they are. Below, I’ve included links to the stools as well as a few other favorite dining and entertaining pieces from Serena & Lily. Happy Friday!
And, as promised, scroll below for my recipes for cinnamon apple cake and chocolate banana bread, both of which we make regularly this time of year!!
CINNAMON APPLE CAKE
5-6 apples (peeled and sliced)
2 cups flour
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, peel, core, and slice all of the apples into small pieces. I like to use a mix of different apples (usually half Granny Smith and half Red Delicious or McIntosh, but you can use any of your favorites). Once all apples are peeled and sliced, set them aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the two eggs with the oil. Then add all remaining ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, salt). Next, gently fold in the apples that you prepped earlier. Note that the batter will seem a little dry before adding the apples. Once the apple slices are added in, their juice will moisten the batter significantly and will make it easy to mix.
Grease a baking dish and pour the batter into the dish. If you have a few leftover apple spices, you can place them across the top of the cake as a pretty garnish and to remind people what they're eating (if you don't have any extras, don't worry about it). Bake in the oven for 50-55 min and let cool for a few min before serving.
CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD
4-6 bananas (I usually toss them in the freezer at the first sign of a brown spot so I always have ripe ones for this recipe; unthawing only takes 15 min.)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 cups flour (I usually use all-purpose but it can be done with whole-wheat flour as well)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (milk chocolate or dark)
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan
In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas (I like to use a potato masher) and then add the stick of softened butter, mixing together. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and then pour the mixture into your bowl with the bananas. Mix together with a spatula.
In a separate bowl, prepare your dry ingredients. Mix the light brown sugar with the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda, ensuring that all ingredients are distributed evenly. Then, fold the dry ingredients in with the banana mixture. Mix everything well and then add the chocolate chips (if you like your bread super chocolatey, just add more chips; you can't really go wrong with more chocolate IMO...)
Once everything is mixed, pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and bake for 60-70 min. When the top of the bread is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, it's ready. Let the bread cool on top of the stove for 10 min before cutting into it.