Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grace's Banana Bread

Grace's Banana Bread
from Favorites

5 large ripe bananas
4 eggs
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

In mixing bowl, beat eggs; add bananas until smooth.  Add shortening and sugar and mix well.  Add flour, soda, and salt and combine.  Pour into 3 greased (8"x4") loaf pans and bake at 300 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes, or into 2 greased large (9"x5") loaf pans for 75 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

{cooks note}

I love this banana bread recipe.  I like to use my mini loaf pans to bake them in. They make great little treats for neighbors and friends.  My kids love this stuff...especially when I make a simple powdered sugar frosting to drizzle over each piece.  Highly addictive I tell you.  I prefer my banana bread with walnuts, but my kids do not.  I make two with nuts and two without.  Stay tuned over the next few months for a more health conscious recipe that is just as good.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fresh Raspberry Sour-Cream Crumb Cake

Fresh Raspberry Sour-Cream Crumb Cake
from Williams-Sonoma

For the crumb topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 

For the cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar 

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch round springform pan.

To make the crumb topping, in a small bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar and lemon zest. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

To make the cake, in a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until well blended. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the sour cream mixture. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Cover evenly with the raspberries. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the berries.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 38 to 42 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Dust the cake with the confectioners' sugar and serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges. Makes one 10-inch cake.

{cooks note}

I made this a few months ago when I got fresh raspberries at Costco.  I had forgotten about it, and was reminded of it this weekend.  You still have time to make it while the berries are still in season.

Flour a springform pan.  I sometimes add a piece of parchment paper to the bottom.

The batter just before the fresh berries and crumble are added.

Aren't those the most beautiful raspberries ever?  I wish I could say I picked them from my garden, but I can't.

The crumble topping.  I loved how this got nice and crunchy on top.  It gives an added texture to the moist cake.

Dust with powdered sugar.

Whip up some fresh whipped cream (with vanilla bean paste of course) and enjoy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lemon Pepper Tilapia

Lemon Pepper Tilapia

Tilapia fillets
Lemon pepper seasoning
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place foil or parchment paper down on a baking sheet.  Rub a little olive oil over each fillet and sprinkle with lemon pepper (top and bottom).  Bake for 15 minutes.

{cooks note}

Okay, this really isn't a recipe.  More like an idea for an easy summer meal.  I thinly sliced red potatoes and yellow onion and added olive oil, seasoning salt and pepper and tossed in a bowl and then laid them out on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.  We like the tops crispy, so I turn the broiler on last minute and let them get nice and golden for about 5 minutes or so.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

French Pastry Puffs

French Pastry Puffs
from my friend Kiersta

4 1/2 cups flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
3 eggs

In your mixer cream shortening and add sugar and blend well and then add eggs (it is best if you use room temperature eggs, but it will work if you don't) one at a time until blended.

Then alternate adding dry ingredients to creamed mixture with 1 1/2 cups milk (whole is best). Keep alternating between the wet and the dry...ending with milk until all is blended. Grease mini muffin tins well with shortening. Spoon batter into tins. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. These will not get really dark brown on top so use a toothpick to check if done.

Melt in a bowl 1 cup of salted butter. In another bowl mix together 1 1/2 cups sugar and 3 tsp cinnamon. After muffins are out and cooled for a few minutes out of the pans, dip tops in butter and then roll in sugar and cinnamon mixture. This recipe makes 8 doz mini muffins 

{cooks note}

I love summer a lot, but with these high temperatures and not wanting to go outside and melt after 10 seconds, I am SO ready for fall. Too bad we really don't have a fall here.  Either way, I was craving something that reminded me of fall and these are one of the things that came to mind.  They are essentially mini donuts in my eyes.  I like using a mini muffin tin because then you can pop one whole one into your mouth...if you are into that sort of thing. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back To School Lunch Ideas

This will be my first year sending a child off to school all day long.  That means I will be sending him off to school each day with a homemade lunch in tow.  I have been trying to come up with some easy ideas to try and mix it up a bit for him--he would eat peanut butter and honey every day if I let him.  I've also been questioning my seasoned friends who have been doing the school lunch thing for years.  In his lunch I will include a main dish item, a fruit, a vegetable, something crunchy (chips, crackers, etc.) and a little treat.

I got my son a really great lunch bag at Costco (of course) that came with an ice pack and a stainless steel water bottle.  All for $9!  I also bought one of these.  He loves tomato soup, so it will work perfectly for that.  Some other ideas for the thermos would be:  

Any kind of soup
Hot Chocolate (special treat)
Milk (we always liked it when my mom would send us a thermos of cold milk and then homemade granola so we could have granola cereal--it was the best)

Since I don't want to send him to school every day with a sandwich I got to thinking of some other ideas that would suit his taste.  My friend told me she sends tortilla wraps with her kids.  I went to the store the next day and bought all the necessary ingredients to do a test run.  It was a success!  Here are a list of possible ingredients:

deli meat ( we like the fresh deli meat from costco--ham, roast beef and the herb roasted turkey)
shredded lettuce
any kind of cream cheese spread that would go well with deli meat (we like the whipped cream cheese and chives)
chopped bacon pieces

peanut butter and jam or honey

The wrap pictured below is one I made for myself, so it has tomatoes in it.  My son does not dig tomatoes in his, but I do.  I use the durum wheat uncooked tortillas from Costco.  I would cook up a bunch and store them in an airtight bag for use throughout the week.  That way you are not cooking one every morning.  Once the wrap is made, roll it up tightly in saran wrap.

Some other main dish items I will send are:

Ham and cheese roll-ups
Peanut butter and jam/honey sandwich (of course)

My son won't like me to mix it up to much on him, so I will stick with 4-5 different items to rotate from.

My friend also showed me these awesome containers found at The Container Store.  They are great for dipping vegetables in ranch dressing or any other use you can think of.  Seriously, what child doesn't like dipping carrots in ranch?  

For the fruit part of his lunch I will stick with his favorites.  Cut up apples slices, unsweetened apple sauce, watermelon, cantalope, grapes, strawberries and mandarin oranges (the fresh ones).  I'll have to work with what is in season, but mostly he loves any kind of fruit.

Now for the crunchy items.  I found these reusable snack bags about 6 months ago and love the idea.  I don't own any yet, but plan on purchasing some soon.  I think they are a great way to eliminate overusing plastic bags.  They are easy to clean and easy for kids to use.  They also come in three sizes--small, medium and large--and many different patterns.  Check out Armommy's site for more awesome products.  

medium snack reusable bags . polk.a.dot patterns

Now for my son's favorite part...the treat.  I plan on freezing cookies and bars whenever I make them.  They are really convenient and most anything will freeze well if stored properly in the freezer.  For the times when I don't have something homemade, I will have a little candy stash to pull from.  It will take great self-control on my part to not sneak any away, but I think I can do it.

Oh, and the drink.  I like my kids to drink as much water as possible, but since I'm so awesome, I'll probably send him off with juice 3 times a week.  I like the 100% fruit juice drinks found at Costco.  I can't remember if they are the Kirkland Signature brand or Hanson's.  

That should wrap it up for me.  I'm sure I'll learn as I go of what works and what doesn't, but for now, this is what I have.  I'd love to hear from you mom's out there who have done this before (even if you aren't a mom yet, I'd love to hear any of your ideas).  What do you send in your children's lunches?  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Pineapple Mango Salsa
from the Pioneer Woman

1 whole Pineapple, Peeled And Diced
1 whole Mango, Diced
½ whole Medium Red Onion, Finely Diced
1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded And Diced
Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
1 whole Lime, Juiced
Dash Kosher Salt
Dash Granulated Sugar (optional)

Preparation Instructions
Combine diced pineapple, mango, red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Squeeze in lime juice and add salt and sugar if needed. Stir to combine. Serve within an hour with tortilla chips or on top of chicken or fish.

{cookes note}

I love mango.  We eat at least one a day at my house.  Pineapple mango salsa is a great alternative to pico de gallo if you want to mix things up on your menu.  I like to serve mine with fish.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Who said you couldn't look good when doing the dishes?
I've never looked better.  :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cooking Bacon: The Easy Way

This is the best way I have found to cook bacon with NO mess.  Let's go through the steps together.

You will need one baking sheet, bacon, heavy duty foil and an oven.

Line your baking sheet with the heavy duty foil. 

Place the bacon on the lined baking sheet.  Put the pan in the oven and turn the oven on to 400 degrees.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Cooking times will vary depending on the oven.

You have a nice pile of greasy bacon when you are done.

Let the bacon cool on a plate lined with paper towels.  

Now do the dishes.  Fold up your foil and throw it away.  I told you there was no mess.  I like to cook my bacon all in one day so I can freeze it for later uses.

**My sister just called and told me she cooks her bacon on a rack and then places the rack on the baking sheet to catch all of the drippings.  Then you get even more fat off of the bacon.  I guess that wouldn't go with my "no mess" policy on this one.  :)