Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Favorite Banana Bread Recipe

This was from an old Crye-Leike realtors cookbook I was given years ago.  Can't find the cookbook, but the banana bread recipe is my one and only go-to after all these years.  It always turns out well for me, unless I stay on the computer until the smoke detector goes!

Banana Bread


6 lg. very ripe bananas
1 cup oil (any cooking oil, I usually use light olive oil, the clear kind)
1 1/2- 2 cups sugar  (I like a little less than the 1 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 -2 tablespoons vanilla

@1cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2-3 bread loaf pans and set aside. (I use two smaller and one larger pan)

Mash bananas till creamy.  (I use a potato masher by hand).  Add eggs, oil, soda and salt and vanilla, and mix well.  Mix in flour a little at a time.  If you want nuts, add most of them now and stir in. 
Pour into bread pans till half full of batter.  If you are using nuts, sprinkle remaining chopped nuts on top last.

Bake 40-45 minutes, less or more, till golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Do not overcook!  When done, set pans aside to cool.  When completely cool, slide knife around edges of loaves to loosen and turn them out.  When no longer warm, wrap them till airtight to keep them moist.  They freeze well if wrapped in freezer paper and airless plastic bags.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Heirloom Pumpkin Cake

From my former MIL, Mrs. C

This is one of our most-requested favorites.  Addition of ginger is my own, and I include plenty of pumpkin pie spice till wonderfully fragrant.  Do not overcook.  Is best the next day, keep sealed in airtight container after fully cooled.  Enjoy!

Family Favorite Pumpkin Cake

3 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
2 cups cooked pumpkin (pulp well drained, or 1 Libby’s can of pumpkin)
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla (I use 2)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I use 1-2 Tablespoons, to taste)
1 scant teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (300 if your oven runs hot). In large heavy bowl, cream butter and sugar; add eggs. Mixing with mixer, add other dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin. Add vanilla. Batter will be very thick. Butter and flour a Bundt pan, and pour in batter. Tap filled pan lightly on counter a couple times to settle any air pockets. Bake for @ 1 hour 25 minutes, or till straw inserted near center comes out clean. Be sure not to overbake. Allow to cool completely, then store in sealed plastic container or wrapped. Best after first day, if it lasts that long

:)  Watch it disappear!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Polish Apple (Szarlotka) Our Favorite Apple Cake

Tried this to serve at a get-together, and it got eaten down to the crumbs.  It's sweet but not icky sweet, so is really good with coffee.

It's definately a keeper!

I ran across the recipe on Alla's blog Cooking with Yiddishe Mama, which is originally from Jewish Cooking by Marlena Spieler.

Here was the blog hook I couldn't resist:

"It's one of the best recipes. Always successful! You will stick with this recipe FOREVER!!!"

Yeah, well, it's really that good.

Here's the recipe. If I can make it, you can, too!

Polish Apple Cake (Szarlotka)

3 large apples, unpeeled, cored and sliced into thin slices (I used Fujis, DONT use regular red delicious)

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 c. sugar

4 lg. eggs

1 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. orange juice (I squeezed up some fresh)

1 t. vanilla

3 c. all purpose flour

3 t. baking powder (fresh!)

1/2 t. salt

Grease 9x11 inch pan and dust with flour, shaking out excess.

Place apples in large bowl and mix with cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the sugar.

In separate bowl, beat eggs and gradually add remaining sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine with egg mixture and mix until blended.

Pour 2/3 of the batter into prepared pan.

Layer with the apples.

Pour the rest of the dough over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees 45-50 minues until golden on top.

Let stand a few minutes and then unmold onto rack.

Cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  I don't bother.

I heeded the advice of Susan , and went and bought FRESH baking powder, since learning that this makes a big difference in the end product. Also, I followed the recipe exactly, which is something I rarely am disciplined enough to do. I cut my apple slices paper thin when preparing the ingredients, and those came out very well.

The cake is delicious, and if you can wait long enough for it to cool to sample it, you'll find it comes out with a slightly crisp top and cakey soft moistness beneath, with just the right sort of sweetness. I sliced the cake into squares, arranged the slices on a platter, and covered the whole thing tightly with foil overnight. The next day, they were moister and there was no longer a crispness to the top.

This one's going into the permanent file, for sure.

1 Hour French Bread

Even though I don't make it as often as I did a couple years ago, I love to make homemade bread. I ran across a recipe for 1 hour french bread a while back (at this post), and it looked really good. Best of all, it said the entire process from start to hot-from-the-oven could be accomplished in an hour.

So I made two last night, and voila...they were great!

They can be made into an oblong loaf, or smaller baguettes or breadsticks. I went with the oblong loaves this time. One recipe makes one loaf. And aside from water, there are only four ingredients.
NO mixer.
NO difficult instructions.
And easy for anyone who is a little standoffish about kneading...the instructions don't call for it, though when I formed the loaf I gave it 4 or five good turns to get it to hold its shape better. The 20 minute rise is all part of the One Hour.

Aside from raw milk, is there anything more delicious than crisp cold salad greens and crusty, hot homemade bread...or the bread itself, with butter and honey?

Or slices toasted with grated mixed cheeses atop?

I'm going to have to hide this recipe, for the sake of my waist. After one more slice, perhaps :)

Here's Sadge's (at Fireside Farm blog) recipe:

One-Hour French Bread
1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
3 - 4 cups flour (any combination of white and whole wheat)

Preheat oven 450ยบ. Combine water, salt, honey, and yeast in a medium bowl. Let sit 5 - 10 minutes, until bubbling. Add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, until dough is no longer sticky (I'll sometimes dump the dough out onto the cutting board with what flour is in the bowl and roll it around,adding a bit more flour, until it's not sticky). Roll dough into a 12 - 14" roll (or you can divide it in half and roll it into two long skinny baguettes). Place dough roll(s) on a cookie sheet (this won't work in a bread pan), greased or sprayed with non-stick spray, cover, and let sit 20 minutes. Make diagonal slits, 1/2" deep, on top with a razor blade. (Optional: spray with salt water). Bake 20 minutes.

Devour  :)

My Meatloaf and Stuffed Peppers

For Rachel:

No proportions have been measured.  It's mostly guesswork, but here are the ingredients:


Ground beef
Very finely chopped onion
Worchestershire sauce
Dijon mustard (or whatever mustard is on hand)
Bread crumbs or cracker crumbs, finely crumbled
Uncooked oatmeal
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
1 or 2 eggs, beaten with fork a few times
Little BBQ sauce (optional)

This can really stretch some ground beef to feed a lot more people.  Mix everything together by hand, adding enough of the wetter ingredients to make it kneadable.  Get your hands in there and squish it all together really well till well incorporated, and form it into a loaf or loaves.  Or form one loaf and set aside the remaining portion as the filling for stuffed green bell peppers.  Bake meatloaf in loaf pan or oval casserole 350 F till middle is firm and top is nicely browned.  I put tin foil over mine while baking and then take it off as it gets done and let it brown up the last 10 minutes or so.

If you want a topping, it can be ketchup or ketchup mixed with a bit of brown sugar and pepper and spread over top before cooking.

You can throw about anything into a meatloaf, even diced leftover veggies as long as you have a good proportion of meat and bread crumbs/oatmeal and spices in there, and the egg(s) as a binder to keep it from falling apart.

Stuffed Peppers

For stuffed green peppers, clean, de-seed, and cut in half 2 or 3 bell peppers (any color) and fill each with a portion of the meatloaf mix. 
NOTE:  if you want to make stuffed peppers and NOT separate meatloaf, you CAN substitute cooked rice for the oatmeal and some of the breadcrumbs.  But no worries if you don't have it on hand.

Place in a casserole, cover with tin foil, and bake 350 till done through.  You might want to take the foil off the last few minutes to let the tops brown up nicely.

If you like you can pour spaghetti sauce over all the stuffed peppers before baking, and top with cheese and let it melt on top of them just before finished.  Or dab a little tomato sauce and some garlic powder on each before baking.

Easy Pimiento Cheese

Rachel wants some of my easy recipes, so this is about as easy as they come :)

1.  Take your favorite basic cheese (I like colby-jack, but cheddar, colby, monterrey jack, etc are good),

2.  grate it,

3.  add some canned pimientos (from glass jars only)...dice them first if they're not already diced,

4.  and mix it together with some Hellman's or homemade mayo, till a creamy consistency. 

5.  Serve on really good bread, open faced or closed, or serve on toast.   Great as a side with soup or salad.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

(King Arthur Flour) Classic Whole Wheat Bread

Recipe...straight from the King Arthur Flour sack.

I'm still trying basic bread recipes before I begin experimenting further with grains with which I'm less familiar...milo, millet, teff, rice flour, ground garbanzo beans, clover flour, etc...

I wasn't going to use this whole wheat flour to make whole wheat bread, originally. It was bought with the intention of easing some whole wheat into those all-purpose flour recipes, a little at a time, to play with consistencies. My past trials with making whole-wheat bread rendered magnificent little masterpieces of bread-shaped doorstops so compacted and heavy they could be used in self-defense as instruments of blunt trauma. I had no wish to repeat those experiences...

Then I happened to read the blurb printed on the top of the flour sack, which goes something like this:

I just finished making my second loaf of 100% whole wheat bread from your recipe on the package. This is the best whole wheat bread I have ever tasted, and you are right when you say whole wheat doesn't have to be dry and tasteless. You are going to make me famous!
J.E. Newport Beach, CA

Well, who doesn't love a testimonial? Who can resist the promise that this recipe will produce real bread rather than wheat bricks? I examined the recipe printed on the back, and the ingredients were blessedly straightforward...the only ingredient I usually don't use was the dry powdered non-fat milk. But in a strange alignment of Breadmaking Fate circumstances, my Be Prepared hubby just happened to have a nondescript stash of powdered milk packets...and all the other ingredients were one I had.

The challenge was on!...

Here's the recipe, and if I can make this, anyone can. It yielded a fine-grained, moist loaf that was so irresistably fragrant fresh out of the oven that I couldn't wait till it cooled to slice into it...and slather a slice with butter...mmmm!!

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread (from King Arthur Flour package)

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup (I used honey)
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (the King Arthur I used is hard red wheat flour)
1/4 cups nonfat dried milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Mixing: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a ligtly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for "dough" or "manual.") Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. (note from me: I had to add a tad more flour, and did all the kneading by hand. The second time I made this, I tried sticking to adding the least flour possible beyond the measurements already given, and did my kneading right in the big bowl I mixed everything in. There was less chance of it sticking to the countertop, as the dough is slightly sticky.)

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 30 to 60 minutes, or until it's crowned about 1 inch above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly. (note from me: after shaping the loaf and putting it into the greased pan, I took scissors and snipped three small slashes across the top to allow for expansion during the final rise. Instead of using plastic wrap, I rubbed a little oil over the top of the loaf and then put a couple of clean lint-free dish towels to cover it for the rise.)

Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (should register 190 F at center of loaf.) Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out of the pan, and cool it on a rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature after fully cooled. Yield: 1 loaf

(note from me: I tested it for doneness with the Thump test. It cooked in exactly the 40 minutes stated in the recipe. Whether it was done then or not, the final doneness test was performed by slicing the end of the loaf off and slathering it with real butter. Cooling it on a rack?? It was only cooled long enough to withstand all the slicing action needed to give rations to my ravenous family...yep, it was goooood!)

I was so happy this turned out well, and I immediately stirred up another loaf. The ingredients and quantities are so manageable it's not a big project to's just about a mix, with just a tad of kneading thrown in, and no real know-how necessary. If you want a hearty, fine-crumb whole wheat loaf that's not dry and clunky, this is a good recipe...especially as a vehicle for sandwiches, or melting butter and raw honey!