Best-Ever Banana Bread

We’re hanging out at Grandma’s this week, so I’m revisiting some of my favorite holiday recipes and sharing them with you.

Every one needs a good banana bread recipe.

Seriously.

Everyone should have one.

It’s not rocket science to bake and it tastes so good.

And, it’s a great, easy to make, gift at holiday time.

My mom and I used to bake thousands (or so it seemed) during the holidays when I was growing up. She’d use these cute little mini-loaf pans and mini-muffin pans and we’d bake banana bread for what seemed like days. And then we’d give it all away.

Because that’s what we Italian women do. We feed people to show them we love them.

It’s how we do things.

Anyway, I had my great-grandma’s recipe that Mom and I had used for years – my whole life, I think – and I never strayed from that.

Then, I found a recipe somewhere browsing on the web that claimed it was the “best banana bread ever” and I thought I should at least give it a shot and see how it compared to Grandma’s recipe.

Well, all I can say is I hope Grandma forgives me.

It really is the best banana bread I’ve eaten. And when I bake it I can’t seem to keep it around long enough to give it away. My family gobbles it up.

So, if you want a really good banana bread recipe to add to your recipe book, here you go.  I’ve altered it just a teeny bit from the original with the addition of some flaxseed meal to make it a little healthier. I like the nuttiness it gives the bread, even if you leave out the nuts the recipe calls for (Big Girl doesn’t like the nuts so this is my compromise)

You can leave that out (the flaxseed) if you want. It doesn’t affect the texture of the bread if you do.

BEST-EVER BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

4 whole, overripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. Put the peeled bananas in a bowl and mash with a wooden spoon or potato masher.
  3. Add melted butter and mix together.
  4. Add sugar, egg, vanilla.
  5. Sprinkle baking soda, salt & cinnamon and mix together with banana mixture.
  6. Add flour and combine.
  7. Finally, add flaxseed and pecans.
  8. Pour into well greased loaf pan. (you can use one 4×8 loaf pan or 3 small loaf pans)
  9. Bake for one hour (the large loaf pan)
  10. Cool on a rack before serving.

(if it lives that long – mine always “mysteriously” has a slice cut out of it (or two or three) before it cools)

Print Friendly and PDF

World’s Best Oatmeal Cookies

I’m visiting Mom this week – so I thought I’d share some of my favorite cookie recipes with you while we’re away.

And this is one of my family’s favorites.

I have it on good authority (as in everyone I’ve ever baked these for) that these are the best oatmeal cookies you will ever eat.

I will also confess and tell you it’s not my original recipe. There is a gal that cooks for the scrapbook retreats that I used to go to and this is a modification of her grandma’s cookie recipe. I tried them there and absolutely fell in love with them. There are no oatmeal cookies to compare.IMG_0168

These are a chewy texture cookie. Not crunchy, but not gooey either.  Just right.

You start the cookies the day before you bake them. I think the overnight soak in the brown sugar and oil is what makes these cookies so chewy and good.

I used the blueberry flavored Craisins in the batch I made this year.  I thought they were particularly good, although I’ve used raisins and plain Craisins in the past and they were good, too.

A couple more tips – you really do have to use the parchment paper that is called for. And you really do  need to let them cool thoroughly before you move them off the paper. If you don’t, the cookies will fall apart. Trust me, I’ve tried it and had disastrous results.

Ok, here’s the recipe.  Do let me know if you try them and what your loved ones think of them.

WORLD’S BEST OATMEAL COOKIES

Ingredients:

4 cups oatmeal (not instant)
2 cups brown sugar (I have successfully substituted 1 cup brown sugar Splenda blend)
1 cup oil (I have used safflower, vegetable, and canola)

Instructions:

Mix these together in a large bowl or zip top bag. Store in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, transfer to a mixing bowl and add:

3 well-beaten eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup craisins
(optional) 1 cup chopped nuts

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheets. They do not spread much so you can fit them relatively closely together.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Slide parchment paper off cookie sheet and transfer to cooling racks. Let cookies cool completely before removing from parchment paper.

Stores for at least a week (if they last that long!) in a sealed container.

Santa’s Surprises

I’m vacationing this week at my Mom’s house – my brother and family are visiting and we’re in full cousin-crazy-playtime here.  I thought I’d share some of my favorite cookie/holiday sweets recipes with you this week while we’re livin’ the good life at Grandma’s house.

Here’s one of my favorite cookies (from my pre-surgery days) –

Santa’s Surprises –

It’s a yummy concoction made of peanut butter, brown sugar and the “surprise” inside:

IMGP1631_edited-1

Now, let’s get baking! (or mixing, as we must do before we can bake!)

In a large mixing bowl you will combine 2 sticks of butter (I used one salted, one unsalted), 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, and 1 cup of light brown sugar (sounds good already, doesn’t it?)

IMGP1634_edited-1

Next, add in 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Mix and add 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

IMGP1636_edited-1

You will end up with a nice dough like this:

IMGP1638_edited-1

Then, cover your dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.

After it’s chilled thoroughly, take the dough by teaspoon-sized pieces and flatten into round circles.

Place one Snickers mini on top of the dough circle and shape the dough around the candy. (your hands will smell so yummy when you are done!)

IMGP1643_edited-1

Place each ball of dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 F for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on a cooling rack. 

Note: you will want to let them cool before you handle them too much. I put them on parchment paper on the cookie sheet and I slide the entire sheet of parchment paper onto the cooling rack.  This allows the “gooey” insides to cool and set. If you pick them up too soon, they break open – and, then, well, you have to eat the evidence!

IF you want to go all-out, drizzle them with some melted chocolate. They never last long enough at my house for me to do this, though!

IMGP1644_edited-1

I hope you enjoy!

And, here’s the complete recipe, without my commentary and photography:

Santa’s Surprises

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag Snickers Miniatures

Instructions:

  1. Cream butter, peanut butter, brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly, add eggs and vanilla (mixer should be on low)
  3. Add flour, baking soda & salt.
  4. Cover and chill dough 2-3 hours.
  5. Divide dough into teaspoon-sized balls. Flatten into circles.
  6. Wrap dough ball around Snickers mini.
  7. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325F for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Cool on wire rack.
  9. Drizzle with melted chocolate (optional).

Oh, and here is a BONUS RECIPE

Oreo Ice Dream

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1 large tub of Cool Whip whipped cream (I never said it was low fat!)
1 package of Oreo Cookies, crushed

Mix all three ingredients in a LARGE bowl.  Place in freezer to set.

ENJOY.  (and you WILL enjoy.  it is “awesome,” according to the pre-teens in the house)

Baking day

I haven’t been in the mood to cook all week. We’ve been eating on leftovers and sandwiches for dinner most nights. My best intentions from Monday’s menu planning have been for naught.  Today, however, I feel a little different – thinking about what to cook for dinner and I’ve tossed out the “plan” from Monday and moving on to cooking something that inspires me.

So, today I am baking.

First up was the baked oatmeal I love and that I make WLS-friendly so I can have it for breakfast. That’s cooling on the counter now. (minus a square I’ve already nibbled for my breakfast)

Next up is my beef with egg noodles & gravy. That will be supper. I’ll be getting it into the crock pot soon.

I’m also going to bake some bread.Bread photo from Delicious! Delicious!

Trying to decide between my recipe for Portuguese Sweet Bread or a new recipe I found for Oatmeal Bread. The Portuguese Sweet Bread never survives for more than a few minutes after it comes out of the oven. The kids and SuperMan LOVE it.  The Oatmeal bread sounds yummy (and healthy) so I’m not sure which one I will make.

Do you make homemade bread?  I love doing it and it’s one of my favorite fall traditions.  It’s so easy if you have a bread machine – and so much better for you than the store-bought breads with all their preservatives and additives.

And, it makes the house smell so good. Add that smell to the crock-pot smells, and who WOULDN’T want to come home for supper?

I’m off to channel my inner Betty Crocker…

Enhanced by Zemanta

You should bake this

I have it on good authority (my mom) that this is one of the best cakes you will ever bake.  She has just baked it and called me to tell me to bake it right away.  I have one in the oven, because, as we all know, I’m a very obedient daughter.  Of course I hung up the phone and started mixing! Mama said to!

I’m baking 2 small loaf cakes because I’m taking one to a friend who just had surgery. Everyone knows cake is the best medicine when you are recovering from surgery.  That, and my great-grandma’s sausage-rice casserole.  That’ll cure anything that’s wrong with you.

Brown sugar cake

Now that I've baked the cake and had a teensy-tiny sample, I can tell you it is soooo good. There's a rich, buttery taste to it.  I am thinking it would be great served on a cool fall morning with some tea or coffee.

Next time I make it I may add some diced apple and/or cinnamon.

But it is definitely worth a try.

Brown Sugar Cake

  • 1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
  • 1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2/3 cup  BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup  Oil
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup  chopped PLANTERS Pecans
  • 2 tsp. Powdered sugar
  1.  HEAT oven to 350ºF.
  2. BEAT first 6 ingredients with mixer 3 min. or until well blended. Add brown sugar and nuts; mix well.
  3. POUR into 12-cup fluted tube pan or 10-inch tube pan sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. BAKE 1 hour or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan 15 min. Loosen cake from sides of pan; invert onto wire rack. Remove pan; cool cake completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

I also added about 2-3 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar to the cake pan after I’d sprayed it with non-stick spray and before I poured the cake in. Next time, I may get crazy and add some to the cake, too.

*Click on the cake name to get a printable copy of the recipe. 🙂

Oh, and I'll be sitting over there in the corner in a diabetic coma after my little taste. If you need me, just nudge me.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What do monkeys eat for breakfast?

Have you ever wondered what monkeys eat for breakfast?

I don’t mean the monkeys you’ll find at the zoo.

I mean the monkeys you’ll find if you visit my house!

Curious?

Well, most, days, the monkeys have exciting things like Carnation Instant Breakfast served with side of toast or pop tarts.

But on Fridays, we mix things up a bit. SuperMan is off on Fridays, so I have a little more time in the mornings. Less rush-rush-rush and more nurture-the-family time.

So, I make things like this

imgp3113

Yep, you guessed it!

Monkey Bread!

The kids were not sure they were going to like it – Little Bit was afraid there were monkeys in the bread. Big Girl said it didn’t sound good.

But they LOVED it.

And SuperMan (after telling me I was ruining his diet) ate some, too.

Even Mr. Droopy-Pants had a taste.

imgp3114

And I sent them all away for the day, full of sugar and carbs and bouncing off the walls.

I’m sure their teachers appreciated it.

I’m such a good mom.

If you’d like to indulge in a little sugary goodness one morning, here’s the recipe.  I am most definitely not a morning person and this wasn’t painful to make, even though it was five-stinkin’-thirty in the morning.  I’ll do it again for sure. It was worth the effort.

Monkey Bread

It’s what monkeys eat for breakfast!

2 packages Pillsbury Grands Biscuits
1 cup sugar (I used 1/4 c Splenda 1/2 c sugar)
2 tbs ground cinnamon (I just dump a bunch in)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup, packed, brown sugar (I used 1/2 c Splenda/brown sugar blend)
1 tsp vanilla

OPTIONAL:
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c raisins
(the monkeys at my house don’t like raisins or walnuts)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease 9 or 10 inch tube/Bundt pan.
    Note: if you use a tube pan with a removable bottom, put a cookie sheet on the oven rack below it to catch any drips of the caramel sauce that may seep through and be careful when you dump the bread from the pan.
  3. In a gallon zip lock bag, mix the sugar & cinnamon.
  4. Cut the biscuits into quarters and drop them into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
    (I cut mine into sixths because the Grands are such big biscuits)
  5. Shake to coat and then drop the coated biscuit pieces into the tube pan.
  6. Continue until all biscuits are coated and placed in the pan.
    If you are using nuts/raisins, don’t forget to sprinkle them in as you are adding the biscuits to the pan.
  7. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together.
  8. Add the vanilla.
  9. Let it simmer for about a minute.
  10. Pour over the biscuits.
  11. Bake at 350 for 35 – 40 minutes.
  12. When you take the bread out of the pan, let is sit for a few minutes to allow the caramel to set.
  13. Turn out onto a large plate and let your hungry monkeys pull it apart (carefully) and enjoy!

Print the recipe here

Quick and Easy Dessert

I wanted to share a super-quick and super-yummy dessert idea with you.

My friend Cindy is quickly becoming famous amongst our newest circle of friends for her amazing recipes – all of which are so simple and easy to make that it is amazing how good they are. Something that easy can’t be that good!

But, Cindy is the master of quick, easy and yummy recipes. I think it is because she is a mom to three big, strapping boys and has had to be very creative with her food budget and cooking to feed those growing boys. (and they are BIG boys… football, weight-lifters, etc.)

Cindy prepared this for us for dessert one night when she hosted dinner at her house. It was gobbled up quickly and we were all begging for more – and the recipe!

I haven’t tried to make this sugar-free or WLS friendly, but I think I am going to try this weekend. Maybe substitute the “real” ingredients for sugar-free varieties. I will let you know how it turns out. 

This version, though, is to die for.

Oreo Cookie Ice Cream

  • 1 (large) tub of Cool Whip whipped topping
  • 1 1/2 gallon container of vanilla ice cream (slightly melted)
  • 1 package Oreo cookies

  1. Crush Oreos in a food processor (or put them in a ziplock bag and let your kids whack them with a mallet to crush them)
  2. In a LARGE bowl, mix the crushed Oreos, ice cream, and cool whip.
  3. Freeze 4-5 hours
  4. Serve

Print the recipe

This is a great treat to share with friends – and if you do there won’t be any left!

Enhanced by Zemanta