Mama's Best Banana Bread, sliced.

Mama’s Best Banana Bread

Whenever bananas start to get a little brown in our house, my husband always says, “Looks like we need to make banana bread.” Which means, I need to make banana bread. My Mom used to make fantastic banana bread but she always made it by hand which was kind of an ordeal – all that banana mashing and mixing. I found an easier way to make it, putting my own spin on it. My family loved it so we dubbed it Mama’s Best Banana Bread.

Mama’s Best Banana Bread slices beautifully. It’s also great toasted and spread with butter.

Mama’s Best Banana Bread

Makes two loaves (halve recipe if you only have 3 ripe bananas)

Ingredients:

6 ripe bananas (brown spotted on the peel and soft on the inside but still edible)*
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup safflower oil or coconut oil
4 eggs
Pinch of salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) or you can sub chocolate chips or do half walnuts and half chips

*If you don’t want to have to hop to it and make banana bread every time a few start to go brown, you can freeze them in a plastic zipper bag in sets of three (to make one loaf, cutting this recipe in half). But the trick is to freeze them when they are still rather firm. Go too far into overripeness and, when you go to thaw them, they turn to brown goo in the bag. So. Gross. There’s a fine line between perfect to freeze and too old so try to catch them at the point at which you’d still eat them.

Method:
1. Put the bananas in a Cuisineart and blend them until they are mush.

2. Add all of the other in order. You can pour all but the two flours through the feed tube, keeping the machine running.

3. Take the lid off to pour in the flours. The only reason I don’t pour them through the feed tube is that they tend to overflow the small cylinder. But if you’re more talented than I am and can make it happen, go for it!

4. Keep the motor running until everything is blended, stopping to scrape down the edges if you need to, with a spatula.

5. Also using the spatula, add the nuts and/or chocolate chips at this point just to mix them in. The Cuisineart might chop them up which you don’t want.

6. Pour the batter into two bread loaf pans that you’ve sprayed with nonstick spray.

7. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Then rotate the pans around and bake for another 30 minutes. Check for doneness by sticking a table knife in the center and pulling it out. If it comes out clean, you’re done! If it comes out with batter on it, cook it two minutes more and check again. It will continue baking a little more for a few minutes after taking it out.

8. Remove the baking pans from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then turn them over and shake them a little. The loaves should come right out. Turn them right side up and let them cool completely before cutting into them. But when you do, use a serrated bread knife which will result in tidy slices that aren’t falling apart.

9. If you can resist the urge, the banana bread will taste even better the next day.

Be sure to let the bread cool completely before slicing into with a serrated bread knife. I’m not sure why one loaf split like that. Do you? Let me know. Of course, it didn’t effect the flavor at all. It just looks a little weird. But that’s par for the course when I’m cooking – because I’m a real person cooking real food in a real kitchen, just like you.

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Have a cold glass of milk with your Mayan Mystery Cookies

Mayan Mystery Cookies

Chocolate. Cookies. Need I say more? Okay, how about allspice, cinnamon and black pepper? These three ingredients intensify the chocolate of these delicious cookies, lending some sophisitication and mega chocolatey goodness! 

Have a cold glass of milk with your Mayan Mystery Cookies

Perfect little 2-bite chocolatey cookies with just the right hint of heat.

Mayan Mystery Cookies ingredients

You probably have these ingredients in your pantry already!

Ingredients:

¾ c. butter

¾ c. sugar

1 ½ c. all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. finely ground black pepper

¼ tsp. ground allspice

The dough for Mayan Mystery Cookies will be crumbly, which is normal.

The dough will be crumbly and a little dry. This is normal! It will come together in the next step.

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

¾ c. cocoa powder

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Semi-sweet chocolate morsels

 
Instructions:

Roll up the dough into balls and get ready to bake the Mayan Mystery Cookies.

Roll the cookies into little balls. Fortunately, they won’t spread a lot so you can fit more onto one cookie sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together.

Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and cocoa and add to the butter mixture.

Add egg and vanilla and mix.

Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and spoon the dough, which will be crumbly, onto the plastic. With the help of the plastic wrap, gather the dough together, pressing it into a log. Wrap the log in the plastic to keep it together and chill the dough log for one hour.  

Form the dough into balls about the size of a ping pong ball, tucking 4-5 chocolate morsels into each as you mold it.

Bake 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sunday Baked Chicken Supper

Sunday Roast Chicken - served

Hearty, delicious and homey – Sunday Baked Chicken Supper

When I was a child, nearly every Sunday, my Grandma made a baked chicken. It just wasn’t Sunday without those delicious smells coming from the kitchen and that pageantry of presenting that big meal. As an adult, Sundays felt a little incomplete, or not really official, if I didn’t make a baked chicken. With four children, the craziness of the weekend and just inadequate planning on my part (you do have to plan for making a baked chicken), that tradition fell by the wayside. But on a chilly weekend recently, I just had a hankering and had to make a nice chicken dinner for the family. Drawing on a variety of recipes and methods I’ve collected over the years, I came up with an easy, straightforward recipe I think you’ll love.

Sunday Roast Chicken - herbs and garlic

Herbs, garlic cloves and some lemon, inside the cavity of the chicken, will lend flavor as it bakes.

Sunday Baked Chicken Supper
Serves 6 or 4 with leftovers

Ingredients:
1 5-7 pound chicken, whole
1 onion, sliced
The cloves of one head of garlic, peeled
Roasting veggies of your choice including potatoes, carrots, beats, turnips, parsnips, celery cut into big chunks
Fresh herbs of choice but thyme and rosemary were used in this recipe
1/2 a lemon, cut in half
1 TBS butter, melted
Olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1-2 TBS flour
Salt & Pepper

Sunday Roast Chicken - raw veggies

We used turnips, beats, carrots, onion and garlic here. But you could use other root veggies of your choice like potatoes, parsnips and rutabagas. See below for why I did not cook the vegetables in the same pan as the chicken (besides space).

Method:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

1. Make sure you’ve taken out the bag of gizzards and whatnot (I call it the “bag of yuck”) from inside the chicken. Not every chicken comes this way but I didn’t check once and accidentally baked the bag right in. Don’t make that mistake!

2. Place 1/2 of the sliced onion on the bottom of your roasting pan to create a bit of a bed for the chicken. Place the other 1/2 of the onion in a separate roasting pan that will hold the vegetables (more on that in a moment).

3. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Place the fresh herbs and lemon pieces inside the bird. Brush the melted butter over the chicken, then salt and pepper the bird.

4. Place your veggies of choice in the second roasting pan. I keep the veggies separate from the chicken so that they don’t come in contact with the juices of the chicken. While the chicken and the vegetables can definitely benefit from the flavor the other yields, I like to make extra vegetables and then use them with other dishes later in the week. Because they didn’t touch the chicken, they have a longer “shelf-life” and will also go better with other dishes, like beef or pork. The only time I absolutely cook chicken and veggies together is in my Go-To One Pot Chicken and Peppers recipe  which you’ve got to try on a busy night!

5. Drizzle a little olive oil over the veggies and toss them around.

6. Put both pans in the oven, side-by-side, and put on the timer for 45 minutes. At that point, switch the pans around so they are on the other side and rotated to ensure even baking. Stick a fork in the veggies to see if they are done. If so, remove them at this point. If they are not, stir them around and put a lid, or aluminum foil over them to prevent them from drying out and to create a little steaming to hurry along the baking.

7. Depending on the size of the chicken, it will need another 45 minutes, for a total of 1 1/2 hours (maybe more). A meat thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh should read 165 degrees when it is done.

8. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let it sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy.

9. Pour the drippings into a small pot and add the chicken broth. Add some herbs like dried basil, rosemary and thyme plus salt and pepper to taste. Make a slurry of the flour and a little cold water in a small bowl and whisk it in to the gravy, boiling the mixture until it thickens a little. Making the gravy is totally optional!

10. Slice the chicken and serve it with the roasted veggies and a drizzle of gravy if desired.

Enjoy!

 

Sunday Roast Chicken - roast chicken

Mmmm, golden brown! You can’t believe how delicious the house smells! Well, you’ll see when you make it!

Sunday Roast Chicken - roasted veggies

Roasting brings out entirely different flavors of vegetables. Onion and garlic tie all of the flavors together.

Bacon Tomato Tart – A Guest Blog

Lynne Cobb - tomatoes and basil - bacon tomato tarte - meTo me, the best parts of a BLT sandwich are the bacon, tomato and bread. Sorry, lettuce, you just don’t thrill me. So when a fellow blogger, Lynne Cobb, shared her recipe for “My Super-Awesome Bacon Tart,” which combines those three perfect ingredients, I asked her if I could share the recipe with my E.A.T. readers. 

Lynne took advantage of the best of her garden’s tomatoes, basil and oregano when developing this recipe. If it’s too early in the season for a great harvest, try to find the best tomatoes and herbs you can from the market to make this recipe really shine. 

Lynne’s recipe calls for easy-to-find ingredients: 

(Preheat oven to 350 degrees.)

1 unbaked pie crust shell (homemade or purchased)

12 oz of bacon – cooked until crisp. (Reserve a few tablespoons of bacon drippings).

1/2 cup of chopped onion – saute in bacon drippings

6-8 oz of soft mozzarella, shredded or cubed

1 large tomato, sliced thin (Note, I didn’t have large, beautiful tomatoes from the garden so I used cherry tomatoes which worked fine)

A few leaves of basil, cut into thin strips

Crumble the bacon into pie shell. Layer it with the onions and mozzarella; add tomato and basil.

Mix together:

1 cup of milk, 4 eggs, salt, pepper and a few teaspoons of freshly chopped oregano. Pour over ingredients in pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then slice and enjoy. 

 

Tomato Bacon Tart - Mine - Lynne Cobb

 

 

Thank you Lynne, for sharing your recipe! My family loved it. It was the perfect meal with a nice salad on the side. The leftovers were great for breakfast too! 

 

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Croissant Rolls

Chocolate that you’re supposed to spread as freely and as frequently as you would peanut butter and jam! Does it get any better? Uh, yes, when you make it a spreadable chocolate-hazelnut spread called Nocciolata!

nocciolata-toastMy daughter and I sampled Nocciolata from Rigoni di Asiago, a family-owned and operated business based in the Altopiano di Asiago, a mountain plateau in Northern Italy. Using certified organic ingredients free of GMO’s, preservatives, colors, additives, or artificial sweeteners, Nocciolata combines hazelnuts, cocoa and cocoa butter, natural vanilla extract and raw cane sugar. They also have a certified vegan, dairy free version, Nocciolata Dairy Free.

To give the spread an earnest try, we started and ended the day with Nocciolata because, well, any day is better that starts and ends with chocolate. In the morning, we spread it over whole grain toast. It went so well with a cup of coffee! Then, for dessert that night, my daughter asked if she could make her own creation, a take on a chocolate croissant. This is what she came up with:
Nocciolata Chocolate Hazelnut Croissant Rolls
Serves 8-10

1 can croissant/crescent rolls
Approximately ¼ cup Nocciolata chocolate hazelnut spread (Don’t use too much or it will be a gooey, yet delicious, mess.)

  1. Preheat the oven per the directions on the can. Spread the dough out on a cutting board. You won’t be cutting the dough along the pre-cut lines so press along those lines to smoosh them together a bit.
  2. Spread the Nocciolata evenly over the dough leaving about ½ an inch uncovered around all edges.
  3. Roll up the dough, tucking in the sides as you go and sealing the ends.
  4. Pick up the roll and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.
  5. Bake according to croissant directions.
  6. Cut the rolls into slices and serve on their own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
    nocciolata-rolling-new
    nocciolata-baked-roll-newnocciolata-finished-new