Handmade Wooden Spoons, for the kitchen - Nicole Lee Phoenix Food Photographer

This winter I was commissioned to take on photographing and styling a small business who specializes in handmade Wood spoons, cutting boards and all sorts of other goodies! They are simply awesome. They are still in the process of setting up their shop but they go by a little name called Bo Woods! 

Below are my favorites from the project. Happy Thursday Friends! 

Cheers!  -N

handmade wood spoons

Stella Bakes, Nicole Rambles, - Personal Post

girl portrait

As I stumble over myself trying to come up with the perfect words for this blog post I cant help but become more frozen. The pressure of curating images, and meaningful words seems to have gotten the best of me.

Heavy thoughts cloud my mind, all of life’s goodness and troubles compounding my heart. Seemingly all at once, I tend to fight the waking moments, finding myself in a battle once again over staying underneath the covers hidden when it gets hard. This time the battle hasn’t one; I have the many tools to not covert back to old habits that once destroyed me. Even if it’s the constant reminders of the three brave souls that came from me, the children are always all right; it’s the parents you have to watch out for.

You probably have no idea what I’m talking about; I guess that’s okay. Maybe you get it. Maybe not. Anxiety and depression is a bitch. They are just symptoms of habits you teach yourself to try to stay afloat in the scary world. The thing is since they are just symptoms I can tell them to go away now, and they aren’t needed anymore. Clearly it’s a battle, but more importantly, a battle I can come out on top of. The problem with a lifetime of experiencing trauma is sometimes it does come up. So I chose to meet it, share it instead of tucking it away in a tiny package and pretend it didn’t happen this week. Its not like I fell off the wagon, I guess what I’m trying to say is its just where I was at, that my friends is the truth. I won’t get into the details because it’s not about the details. It isn’t the time or place and I’m not paying you to listen to those boring stories of my traumatic childhood. My goal was to give you a lovely story, a handful of images and a recipe. That is the purpose of this blog right? See, what I mean is things aren’t always, as they seem. Sometimes we even choose to see what we want, that could make our real lives much easier to handle. Or the social media easier to handle. What do you think?

Now where I am today, not yesterday. Today, I feel clear, I am remembering all the new things I taught myself and realized that my shield can go back into the closet until I need to use it again. The world isn’t a scary place and the 4-year-old girl instead me, well she will be okay to. Ramble over.

No recipes to share, but below are some images of my 3-year-old Stella Baking her little heart out.




Ultimate Banana Bread Recipe; America’s test Kitchen 100 recipe cookbook

Have you heard of Cooks illustrated or America’s test kitchen? First if not you should! And I am a huge fan, so when they contacted me and sent me their new cookbook I thought how cool! I screamed with excitement, maybe multiple times over ha. The thing is I just love their approach, concepts and core values. They say “repetition and good practice are keys to success in the kitchen” as well as “A good cook will learn from his her mistakes and make a better dish next time”. Hello that is huge! I mean if you can take on those mantras it will change the way you approach cooking, or photography, or really any skill you may be learning. It helps us keep pressing through and even laugh at ourselves.

The other thing about their new cookbook 100 recipes is that it is a compilation of essential basic and staple recipes. In my opinion it’s those simple recipes that are the key to cooking, and becoming a cook. Once you learn these skills you can truly become and expert and then break the rules, and come up with your own recipes. They are the foundation and building blocks to the kitchen. Now the only thing I would say for someone who has food allergies such as myself, many of the recipes are adaptable. But you will have to put some work in to get it just right if you have never done that type of thing before.

Usually during the fall I make pumpkin bread, this year I wanted to switch it up and chose the banana bread recipe from America’s test kitchen 100 recipes cookbook. I am going to be a stickler, with baking itself you really need to follow word for word the recipe. Down to each minute detail to get it right. Unfortunately, I had to change the butter out for olive oil, as well as the flour for gluten free flour. But when I switched out those to things and followed their recipe through and through it really worked! I would say their method was spot on and would totally recommend anyone just learning to give it a go. The banana bread was moist and yummy and lasted 24 hours in my house because everyone loved it so much.

Now for the recipe, this is from the 100 recipes cookbook; I did not come up with this on my own, as well as in the margins I will give you substitutions.

Also A big thank you to America’s Test kitchen for sending me their lovely book and giving cooks around the country the confidence to venture into the culinary world! 


Ultimate Banana bread

Makes 1 loaf

Note: Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas for this recipe. The texture is best when the loaf is eaten fresh, but once cooled completely, it can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored for up to three days.


1 ¼ cups (8 ¾ ounces) all-purpose flour (or one to one gluten free mix)

1-teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

6 very ripe bananas (2 ¼ pounds), peeled

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (or olive oil if allergic)

2 large eggs

¾ cup packed (5 ¼ ounces) light brown sugar

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

½ cup walnuts, chocolate chips chopped (optional)



1.Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 ½ by 4-½ inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

2.Place 5 bananas in separate bowl, cover and microwave until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine- mesh strainer over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, for 15 min (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).

3. Transfer to medium saucepan and cook over medium – high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Return drained bananas to bowl. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until mostly smooth. Whisk in melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.

4. Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined, with some strokes of flour remaining. Gently fold walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Shingle banana slices on top of the loaf in 2 rows, leaving 1 ½ inch –wide space down center to ensure even rise, Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

5. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center of loaf comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1-¼ hours, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving


Sources and notes: 

This is or was not a sponsored post. All recipes were written and developed by Americas test kitchen, they are not property of Nicole Lee or Hey Dear. All rights Reserved. 

America's Test Kitchen : https://www.americastestkitchen.com

100 recipes cookbook : http://americastestkitchen.buysub.com/homepage/100-recipes-the-absolute-best-way-to-make-the-true-essentials.html