Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Best, Basic Banana Bread

This is the first banana bread recipe I tried, and despite the others that I have made I always come back to this one. This is my Mom's recipe. I'm not sure where or who she got it from, but it is the one she always made and the one I feel in love with. Sure you can add chocolate chips or nuts to it, but I like it without any distractions. Make sure you have all of your ingredients at room temperature, before mixing.This recipe is easily doubled, and I frequently do just that. Freeze the extra loaf or give it away to a friend, she'll thank you for it.
Banana Bread
3/4 cup butter (nothing else will do)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk or *sour milk
Heat the oven to 350. Combine the butter and sugar mix well. Blend in the bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Sift together the flour soda, and salt. Add alternating to the creamed mixture with the buttermilk. Blend until well combined. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 50-70 minutes depending on how large your pan is and how hot your oven runs. Check with a skewer, and it should come clean. I usually tent my pan with foil about half way to keep it from getting too brown.
*sour milk: In a measure cup put 1 tbsp. vinegar and a little less than a 1 tsp. vanilla fill with milk to 1/2 cup.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


When Katie was a baby one of the nicknames that Brian had for her was Katiebaby. We were reminiscing this afternoon about what a sweet baby she was. She was pretty much always happy. Laughing and giggling. The child slept through the night at 4 weeks. She has pretty much always had a sweet disposition. Her brother was a whole different story. Brian says he was the best birth control. Needless to say he has since stolen our hearts. The reason the discussion took place this afternoon was because Katie and I registered her for Jr. High classes today. We can hardly believe our katiebaby is going to Jr. High in the fall! So here is what she signed up for:

Accelerated English
Accelerated Science
Accelerated American History (taught in French)
Immersion French

Wowza! She has got a full plate, but I think she can handle it. She and I are both concerned about math, which is her weakest subject. This is why I suggested the basic math class. We will be doing quite a bit of prep this summer to help her be ready for this new change. As expected she is a bit anxious about the whole experience. For example "How am I going to get from the third floor to the first floor in five minutes?" I assure her she will be fine and get used to the change. She has always had a good head on her shoulders.
Oh, and if you are wondering we haven't called her katiebaby in years...she would be horrified. Which probably means her Dad will have to bring it back.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

So I'm kind of on a breakfast kick here...kind of. Actually I'm really behind on blogging. As my sister Susie said "You have been a lazy blogger!" I know I just posted a breakfast recipe yesterday, but this one is sooo good you must try it. All four of us devoured these. Even Katie who does not like cinnamon, at all!! I found this recipe on David Lebovitz's site. Needless to say, the man is amazing! He is a pastry chef, and the creations that come out of his kitchen are incredible. His photography is equally stunning. The only thing I changed was using less butter to coat the puffs and I used cinnamon sugar that I had on hand. Trust me...your going to flip!

Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

2 tbs butter, melted

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup milk (I used skim)

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsps. sugar

1 c. flour

For the sugar coating:

Cinnamon sugar

Melted butter

Softened butter for greasing the muffin tins

Preheat the oven to 400. Grease a muffin tin (1/2 cup indentations) or popover pan if

you have it with butter. Put the 2 tbs. butter, eggs, milk, salt, and sugar and blend for a few seconds. Add the flour and blend for about 10 seconds or until smooth. Divide the batter among 9 greased molds. Fill each one 1/2 to 2/3rds full. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the puffs are deep brown. Remove from the oven, wait a few minutes until cool enough to handle, then remove the puffs from the pans and set them on a cooling rack. They may be difficult to release. If this is the case use a small knife and gently remove them. Place the cinnamon sugar in a bowl large enough to hold one puff. Brush each puff with melted butter. Place in the bowl with the cinnamon sugar and coat thoroughly.



Monday, April 26, 2010

Swedish Coffee Cake

A few weeks ago Brian and I went to Penzey's to replenish our spices. They always have interesting recipe cards placed throughout the store. This one caught my eye and I thought I would make it for breakfast on a Saturday morning. I made a few slight changes. Brian and I really liked it. The kids didn't. Katie did have a friend over and she had two slices, so I think it is just our kiddos. I toasted some pecans that came from a tree in a relatives backyard in Atlanta. Serve this with some fresh fruit and you have a delicious breakfast. I think it would be nice for company too.

Swedish Coffee Cake


1 cup water

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup flour

3 eggs

1 tsp. almond extract


1 cup flour

1/2 cup shortening

1 TB water


1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. almond extract

skim milk

Preheat oven to 400. Top: Make this first, because it has to cool. Bring the water and shortening to a boil. Add the flour and mix well. Let this mixture cool, while preparing the bottom.

Bottom: Mix the flour and shortening (I cubed mine) in a food processor. Add the water and mix on low until you can roll between your hands like a rope. Lay on a greased cookie sheet in the shape of an "S". Spread it about 4 inches wide by pressing with your fingers (I think I got mine to about 3).

Top: Add the eggs, one at a time to the cooled top mixture and mix well after each one. Add the almond extract and mix. Spread over the bottom all the way to the edges. Bake for 30 minutes, do not open the oven.

Mix together the butter, powdered sugar and extract until creamy. Add milk to the consistency you would like, either for a frosting or icing. Turn the oven off and let the cake cool in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool on a wire rack. When it is cool add the frosting and sprinkle with nuts if desired.




Monday, April 19, 2010

Before and after


We have been meaning to change this light fixture out pretty much for as long as we have lived in our home. We finally got around to it. Brian loves it! To say he disliked the previous chadlier would be an major understatement. What do you think?

Monday, April 12, 2010


I have been contemplating whether to write this post. Should I put something like this out there? Do I want to be this vulnerable? Will someone get offended?

Well, I have decided to go ahead and write about this new journey that we have decided to take. For some time now Brian and I have felt a tug in our hearts to visit other churches. Now, I'm not going to go into all of the nitty gritty of the why. It's just not my style to say a lot of hurtful words. We are at a place though were we feel and think that we need to make a change. We have been attending our current church for almost 13 years. Both of our children have been dedicated at this church. This is the only church they know. There have been tears and saddness about this decision. In the end nothing might change. We still might stay. We just need to try. I told the children that we could still attend youth group/ and kids club. We would just like to see if there are some other options that would be good for our family.

So yesterday we took the plunge. There is a new church about 5 minutes from our house that we attended yesterday. They actually meet in the afternoon, that was different but kind of nice too! I'm not sure how I feel about it. I mean it was really nice, the worship was sweet, and the sermon refreshing. It's just different being new and being a visitor. We will visit again.

This whole experience is exciting and scary all wrapped up in one. If you think about please pray for us as a family. This is a very big decision for us and we really need God's wisdom. Thanks so much!



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rhubarb Crumble

Before I share this favorite recipe with you, I wanted to pass along this tip that I learned a few weeks ago. After you finish using a stick of butter don't throw the wrapper away. Put it in a freezer bag, and place it in your freezer. When you need to grease a pan, take out a wrapper and rub it over your pan. I have used this method twice now, and it works like a charm! My hands don't get greasy and I don't have to use a paper towel and oil or butter. Try it you might like it.

I love rhubarb, do you? Thankfully both our parents have patches so we usually get some of their bounty. I really should grow my own plant, but I just can't seem to find a spot for it. I know we should also get some from our CSA this year as well. I actually had some in the freezer, so I thought I would make a crumble. Brian is not a big dessert guy, but he does like fruit desserts. This is a recipe I have been making for years, and it is my favorite. I hope you enjoy it!
Rhubarb Crumble
3 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tbs. butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup quick-cooking oats
Place the rhubarb into a greased baking dish. Combine the sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle it over the rhubarb. Set it aside. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in brown sugar and oats. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ham Hock and Beans

When we first got married my darling husband would sing the praises of ham hock and beans. I had my doubts, seriously what is so great about some beans and pieces of ham. Some years later he asked his Mom after a holiday dinner if he could have the bone, so he could make this wonderful dish for me. Now, you know how I feel about my husband's cooking, but this dish...sorry babe! He kept insisting though that it really is good and he must have done something wrong. I relented and encouraged him to try, try again. This past winter he went to the Polish deli and purchased a ham hock just for this dish. He came home quite excited about this creation he was going to make me. I of course, had my doubts after the last time. As he was preparing this dish something certainly seemed different. The aroma that filled the house was wonderful a smoky kind of scent. I actually was kind of interested in trying this creation. I certainly am glad I did. The beans are so creamy and the onion just melts into the dish, the ham pieces add just the right amount of smoky flavor.
We had a little "Easter" dinner just the four of us on Saturday. I made it a point to request that Brian make us this dish for us this week, and he was more than happy to. Unfortunately his schedule did not lend itself to making dinner tonight, so I thought I would give it a shot. Wow, talk about cheap, easy, and delicious. The next time you make a ham, I strongly suggest you save the bone and make this dish. It's a great way to get another meal out of your ham, besides the usual leftovers. Not to mention that it is very inexpensive.

Ham Hock and Beans
lightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse
1 Tbs. Olive oil
1 large ham hock
1 large onion
1 pound dried northern beans
fresh ground pepper
1-2 bay leaves
10 cups of water
Salt to taste
The night before fill a large stock pot with water and add the beans soak overnight and drain before using. The original recipe does not mention soaking the beans, but I'm not sure if it would work without soaking.
In a medium dutch oven add the oil and heat over medium heat. Once it is hot sear the ham hock on all sides about 6-8 minutes. Remove the ham hock to a plate and set aside. Add the onions season with pepper and saute for about two minutes. Add the beans and bay leaves, add a bit more pepper and saute for another minute. Add the ham hock and the water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for two hours. I increased the heat to medium/ medium high for about the last 45 minutes. The meat should be falling off the bone and the beans should be creamy. Remove the bay leaves and season.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

He Is Risen!!!
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