Old Fashioned Banana Bread

How can a person ever have too many banana bread recipes?!  This bread is nice and dense and does not require any oil, unlike a lot of other recipes.  This has become one of my go to recipes and would also be wonderful with the addition of nuts.

Old Fashioned Banana Bread

1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs (room temperature)
2 Tbsp Sour Cream
1 Cup Bananas, mashed
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour loaf pan.  Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy - slowly add eggs, 1 at a time.  Add sour cream, bananas, vanilla and mix well.  Then, add all dry ingredients, mixing until combined.  Slowly add buttermilk and pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 50-70 minutes until toothpick in center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan - finish cooling on wire rack.

Yields - 1 Large Loaf


Rolo Turtles

Thanks to pinterest, I came across these beauties and decided I wanted needed to make them!  These are a super easy Christmas treat.  Watch out though, they're dangerously addicting!  My kids also loved helping to make them!


Rolo Turtles

Pretzels (I used the square snaps)
Rolos (to save time, buy the ones by the checkout - you won't have to unwrap them)
Pecan Halves

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pretzels on a cookie sheet (line with parchment paper if desired), leaving a little room between each pretzel.  Place one rolo on each pretzel.  Put in the oven for 5 minutes - chocolate will look shiny, but not completely melted.  Once out of the oven, place a pecan half on each rolo - making sure not to push down too hard and make a mess.  Be careful not to burn yourself on the pan or hot caramel.  Let cool for 10 minutes, then place in the fridge to finish setting.  Once completely cooled, store in an air tight container.  These will keep longer in the refrigerator, but can be kept at room temperature.  If storing in the fridge, pull out 30-60 minutes before serving to soften the caramel.


Ree's Perfect Au Gratin Potatoes

I'm a big fan of The Pioneer Woman and just about all of her recipes call me to them (more like YELLING..."bake me, cook me!")...this one got put into rotation pretty much as soon as I read it.  I love garlic.  I love potatoes.  I love to cook with cream.  I love these au gratin potatoes!!


Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin

4-5 Russet Potatoes
2 Tbsp Butter, softened
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2 Tbsp Flour
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tsp Salt
Ground Pepper, to taste
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Smear softened butter over bottom of baking dish.  Slice potatoes, then cut into fourths.  In separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.

Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the dish - pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes.  Repeat this two more times; ending with the cream mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling.  Add cheddar cheese to top of potatoes and bake for 3-5 more minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Allow to stand a few minutes before serving.


Banana Spice Cake

In another attempt to use up some ripe bananas my monkey's left behind, I threw together this easy cake.  This cake has a wonderful spice undertone and I love how light and fluffy it is.  I simply dusted mine with powdered sugar, but some kind of glaze would taste wonderful too!


Banana Spice Cake

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1 Small (3 3/4 oz) Box Vanilla Instant Pudding
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
4 Eggs
1/3 Cup Oil
1/2 Cup Water
3 Medium Ripe Bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour bundt pan OR 10" tube pan and set aside.  Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl.  Mix on low until combined, then continue mixing on medium speed for 4 minutes.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack to cool completely.


Banana Honey Oatmeal Bread

If a person eats an entire loaf of healthy banana bread, does that mean it's not healthy anymore?!  Because I could eat an entire loaf of this stuff!  I have a house full of monkeys and more often than not, do not have "left-over" bananas to bake with.  Fortunately this week, my monkeys left me a few to work with.  I ended up making this not-your-every-day healthy banana bread.  It is full of texture, flavor, ohh so moist, and not a single pinch of sugar added!


Banana Honey Oatmeal Bread

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Oats
1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana's (approximately 2-3)
2 Eggs
2/3 Cup Honey
1/3 Cup Sour Cream or Yogurt
1/4 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, soda, and salt with whisk, then stir in oats.  In mixing bowl, beat remaining ingredients until well combined.  Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture until just combined.  Pour batter into greased loaf pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean from center.  Cool for 15 minutes in pan before removing, then finish cooling on wire rack.


Peaches 'n Cream Cake

What is better than warm cake with fruit and cream (cheese)?!  I came across this recipe awhile ago here and was finally able to whip it up.  Oh goodness, did we love this cake! From the cake layer, to the warm chunks of peaches, to the smooth cream cheese, and cinnamon/sugar crust on top - this did not disappoint!


Peaches 'n Cream Cake

1 1/2 Cups Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
6 Tbsp Butter, melted

29 oz Canned or 1 Qt (home canned) jar or 3-4 Cups fresh Peaches
16 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
6 Tbsp reserved Peach Juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray/grease 9x13" baking pan and set aside.

In large bowl, sift/whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cornstarch.  Make a well in the center and add wet ingredients.  Whisk together until well combined and pour batter evenly into pan.

Slice peaches into bite-sized pieces and evenly distribute across the top of the batter.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and reserved juice until smooth and creamy.  Dollop cream cheese mixture over the top of the batter and then spread with a spatula  the best you can (perfection is not necessary).  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar generously across the top of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until the edges are puffed and golden.  The cream cheese with be slighly bubbled.  The cake is done when it no longer jiggles in the center.  This cake should be stored in the fridge, but it best eaten warm or room temperature (hope that makes sense).


Chicken Noodle Casserole

This is a super simple casserole that is sure to please everyone in the family.  Use a rotisserie chicken bought from the store, leftover roasted chicken or turkey, or even use a couple cans of chicken.  You can pretty much wing this recipe and change up ingredients to suit what you have in your kitchen.  One of the things I love the most about the ingredients list for this doesn't require "cream of something" soup.  :)


Chicken Noodle Casserole

14-16 oz Pasta (I used bow-tie on this occasion)
1/2 Cup Butter
6 Tbsp Flour
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 Cups Half & Half (or 3/4 cup milk & 3/4 cup cream)
1/2 Tsp Chicken Seasoning
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Garlic Pepper
3-4 Cups Chicken, cut up
1/2 Cup Parmesan, grated
2 Cups Frozen or 1 Can Peas 
3/4 Cup Parmesan, shredded

Cook pasta al-dente per package instructions, drain.  In large sauce pan, heat butter until melted.  Stir in flour and seasonings - stir constantly until smooth and bubbly.  Slowly add in broth, then half and half and bring to a boil, stirring constantly - boil and stir for 1 minute.  In 9x13" pan, stir together noodles, cream mixture, grated parmesan, and peas.  Top with shredded parmesan.  To serve immediately: bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes , until good and bubbly.  To freeze for another day: after topping with parmesan, do not bake.  Cover dish well and freeze.  When ready to use; completely thaw dish in refrigerator and bake according to directions.


the newest taste tester :)

hope this helps explain the crickets around the blog...

introducing: wyatt
born: 7.29.11
weight: 7 lbs 1 oz


Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

I love lemonade, especially strawberry lemonade!  So, when I came across this recipe, I just had to whip up a batch!  Let me tell you, these beauties are INCREDIBLE!!  The cake is so moist and yummy (and delicious right out of the oven warm).  I will NEVER pick up a box mix of strawberry cake mix again!  Then, with the simple lemon frosting topping them off, it's the perfect pairing!


Strawberry Cupcakes

1 White Cake Mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
1 - 3oz Box Strawberry Jello mix
1 Cup Fresh Strawberries, mashed/pureed
1 Cup Oil
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
4 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In mixing bowl, stir together cake mix and jello powder until well combined.  Make well in center and pour in strawberries, oil, buttermilk, and eggs.  Mix on slow speed until just combined, scrap down the sides.  Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes (this is important).  Pour batter (approximately 1/4-1/3 cup) into prepared cupcake pan (I use liners).  Bake for 15-20 minutes - until tooth pick comes out clean.  Put on wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 Cup Crisco Shortening
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1 - 8 oz Brick Cream Cheese
1 Tbsp Clear Vanilla Extract
2 lbs Powdered Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Lemon Curd (this can be made from scratch or purchased in a jar by the jams/jellies)
1-2 Drops Yellow Food Coloring
Milk, as desired

Cream shortening, butter, and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Add vanilla and beat until smooth.  Slowly add powdered sugar and salt (sifted together) to creamed mixture until well combined.  Add lemon juice, curd, and food coloring - mix well!  If frosting is too thick or sweet to your taste, add milk until desired consistency (I added approximately 1/4 cup milk).  Frost cooled cupcakes!


BBQ Grilled Chicken

I think summer is finally here in Minnesota!  It's been a loooooong winter and boy have I missed using the grill!  This is a great simple barbecue sauce for chicken and would work great for pork as well.  If you don't have a grill or it's the middle of winter and you have a craving, this also works wonderfully in the oven.  This recipe is good for approximately four chicken breasts.  Note:  I grill this on tinfoil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.


BBQ Grilled Chicken

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Dried Thyme
1 Tsp Garlic Salt
1 Tsp Garlic Pepper

Mix all ingredients and coat your chicken.  Use left over to baste as you cook.


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Ever remember at 10 pm that you needed to make a pan of bars for the next day?  Maybe for your child's class or a potluck?  Yeah, me either! ;)

This is more a "tip" than a recipe, but if you keep these 2 simple things in your pantry - you'll be ready the next time hectic schedules and life get the best of your memory.  Heck your 10-year-old  or husband could probably whip these up for you too!

So, what do you need in your cupboard...2 Betty Crocker cookie mixes (peanut butter and oatmeal) and some chocolate chips, M&M's, nuts, or whatever your heart pleases.

(And yes, you are seeing empty packaging...I may or may not have had to whip up a batch before I could take a picture of them new.)

And then you end up with these yummy, chewy, EASY bars!!


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

1 Pkg Peanut Butter Cookie Mix
1 Pkg Oatmeal Cookie Mix
2 Cups Chips, M&M's, etc
1/3 Cup + 1 Tbsp Oil
3 Tbsp Water
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together all ingredients until well combined, stir in chips.  Spread mixture evenly into ungreased 9"x13" pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.  Let cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting.


Alice's Sugar Cookies

When I was young, I would go to my grandparent's to stay for a few weeks in the summer.  My grandma was an incredible cook, as were all of her sisters.  During my stay, we always went here and there for coffee and visits with people.  Where ever we wound up for a visit, usually had some sort of treat on the table.  You can't serve coffee alone - did you know that?!  At least you can't around these parts.  We went to my grandma's sister's house quite often - Alice always had the yummiest cookies (they ranked right up there with my grandma's).  These sugar cookies happened to be one of my favorites - I remember sneaking as many as I could off the plate because she would always fill the plate back up for us! :)  These literally melt in your mouth and will bring you right back to grandma's house!


Alice's Sugar Cookies

1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Shortening
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Cream of Tarter
2 Cups Flour (may need more depending on stickiness of dough)
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until good and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla, beat well.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until well combined.  Roll dough into 1" balls and roll in white sugar.  Place on pan and gently flatten with fork, bottom of a glass, meat tenderizer, or whatever you can find.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are starting brown.  Let cool on pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on rack.


Tuscan Garlic Chicken

I decided I need to get over here this morning and give you all some food love.  :)  Sorry things have been so quiet - I am currently expecting our third child and have been slacking in the kitchen.  My poor family is probably tired of seeing the same 'ol, same 'ol every week.

This adapted recipe is another no-fail from MKC's I made a few weeks ago for a lovely group of ladies.  As usual, the dish did not disappoint - we were all left wanting to lick our plates! :)  Also, this is supposedly a knock-off Olive Garden dish.  I have never had it there so I can't confirm, but the ladies who devoured it said this recipe actually outdid Olive Garden's version.  :)


Tuscan Garlic Chicken

Note: I butterflied my chicken breasts for a thinner cut - seems like they all come ridiculously thick these days.  (Sorry you can't see the actual chicken on my picture above, I really liked the sauce when I plated it up apparently).

3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tbsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1/2 Tsp Dried Basil
1/2 Tsp Dried Oregano
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
7 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
2 Tbsp Garlic, finely minced (about 5-8 cloves)
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Cup Chicken Broth (low sodium)
6 oz Fresh Spinach
1 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Tsp Cornstarch
2 Cup Milk
2 Cups Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
1 lb Fettuccine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Dip each chicken piece in the flour mixture until both sides are well coated (cover them with the flour then press).

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until the oil is hot and shimmering. Carefully place the chicken breasts in the pan, cooking them for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are golden and browned but not cooked all the way through (they’ll finish up in the oven). Don’t scoot the chicken around once you lay it in the hot oil - you want to sear the crust on the chicken. If you try flipping too early and/or moving the chicken around the pan, the breading is likely to fall off. Gently remove the chicken to a foil-lined, lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside and tent with foil until ready to use.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles, cooking until al dente.

Wipe out the skillet with a couple paper towels and return it to medium heat, adding the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and bell pepper, sauteing for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in two tablespoons flour and stir constantly while cooking for another minute. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. In a small liquid measure, whisk together the cornstarch and cream. Add the spinach, milk and cream mixture to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

When the pasta has finished cooking, drain and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with about half of the cheese sauce (you'll probably have more than enough). Place some of the coated pasta on each plate. Top with a breaded chicken breast and spoon some of the sauce over the top of the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.

Serves approximately 4-6 depending on how you do your chicken breasts.


Pineapple Sweet 'N Sour Meatballs

Saying my kids love these would be an understatement.  Saying they're time consuming would be a lie.  Not trying them yourself would truly be a shame.  That all said, these really come together quick OR you can throw them in the crock pot and have 'em ready when you get home.  I use frozen meatballs, but you could make your own as well.  Throwing the sauce together and simmer time take about the same time as boiling up the long-grain white rice I serve this over.  If you have a busy night coming - make these ahead, freeze and then cook up some minute rice while you're reheating.


Pineapple Sweet 'N Sour Meatballs

1 - 2lb Bag Frozen Pre-Cooked Homestyle Meatballs
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Ketchup
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 - 20 oz Can Pineapple Tidbits

In medium bowl, whisk together water, vinegar, ketchup, cornstarch, brown sugar, soy sauce, and juice from pineapple.  Pour sauce and pineapple pieces over frozen meatballs in large saucepan - bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20+ minutes.  Serve over rice.


{healthy} Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

It seems like when you're pregnant, you either want to run from every plate of food OR anytime you hear someone making something or watch the Food Channel for just a little too long, you're left CRAVING it!  My friend was telling me how she was making these muffins the other morning - just the thought of peanut butter and banana in a muffin left me drooling!  So, I combined a few recipes and changed up a few things to make this healthy version this morning.  My kids gobbled 'em right up with some strawberry jam (and well, maybe I did too)!


Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Applesauce
2 Bananas, mashed
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Oatmeal
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffins or use paper liners.  Combine eggs, honey, applesauce, bananas, vanilla, and peanut butter - mix well with mixer.  Add in dry ingredients, mixing until just combined (don't over do it - mix by hand if you think you might).  Spoon batter into muffin tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until toothpick comes out dry from center.  Let cool a few minutes before removing from pan.

Note: Using my large Pampered Chef scoop, yielded 17 muffins.  This recipe can easily be altered to meet what you have in your pantry.  Replace honey with white or brown sugar, applesauce can be replaced with oil, and the whole wheat flour can be replaced with all-purpose flour.


'Touch of Lemon' Cupcakes!

I'm a chocolate girl ALL.the.way.  Sometimes though, I don't feel like something so rich - I want something light and yummy!  Which leads me to this creation!  They are SO yummy and a nice refreshing hint of summer during these long days of winter.


Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 Small Box Lemon Instant Pudding Mix
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
4 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients above thoroughly with mixer - approximately 3-5 minutes on medium speed, making sure to scrape down sides every few minutes.  Measure out into paper lined muffin tin.  Bake for 25-28 minutes until toothpick in center comes out clean.  Let cool before frosting.

1 - 8 oz Brick Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1 Tsp Vanilla
3 Cups Powdered Sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy.  Slowly add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Once all powdered sugar is added, beat on high for several minutes until smooth and fluffy.


S'mores Bars

Mmmmm...who doesn't love an ooey gooey s'more from the campfire on a beautiful summer night?!  But what happens when it's the dead of winter in the frozen tundra and you have a hankering?  S'mores bars to the rescue!!


S'mores Bars

8 Cups Golden Graham Cereal
5 Cups Miniature Marshmallows (we like things gooey, so we just used the entire bag)
1 1/2 Cups Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
5 Tbsp Butter
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Miniature Marshmallows - if desired

In large bowl, measure cereal.  Butter/grease 9x13" pan.  In large microwaveable bowl, microwave marshmallows, chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter uncovered on high 2 to 3 1/2 minutes - stopping and stirring every minute until melted and smooth.  Then stir in vanilla.  Pour marshmallow mixture over cereal, quickly tossing until coated - stir in additional marshmallows if desired.  Press mixture evenly into pan (trick: take a sandwich baggie and put your hand in it, butter the side you're going to press with.  press cereal with baggie and "walah" smooth bars and no sticky fingers/spoon!).  Let stand for about a hour before cutting and serving (speed up the process by putting bars in refrigerator).