Tag Archives: eggs

Best Banana Bread


Over the past few months, I have promised several people that I would share my favorite banana bread recipe. It is not my own recipe, it is just my favorite. I mean, it’s hard to improve on a Betty Crocker recipe (but I think I managed, just because of my own special touches). The original recipe is here, which I found in a magazine-style recipe collection titled “Brunch”. I love brunch. Not because I’m pretentious and like to say things like “Let’s do brunch.” No, it’s because mornings come too early and I don’t like to cook in the early mornings, so if I’m cooking in the morning, it’s more likely to be a late breakfast/early lunch kinda thing, which is typically referred to as “Brunch”. (It’s laziness, not pretentiousness…lol)

Yesterday was a day off from my “day job”, so we had dinner early, which gave me time to make banana bread for dessert. The pictures and recipe, along with my commentary follow below:

Gather your ingredients:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

You’ll see in the picture that I am using the vanilla sugar and vanilla extract I made back in April. I also had the girl child make some butter while I was gathering all my ingredients, and this produced just a bit of buttermilk, so I included that in the recipe so it didn’t go to waste. I love getting all the use out of our food as we possibly can!

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.
Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. 

 

Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

I know you’re “supposed to” mash the bananas before adding them. But I hate taking the extra step and dirtying an extra bowl (that I’ll have to argue with the kids about getting washed. Too much effort…). I use very brown bananas, smash them a little while they’re in the skin, and then you can use either a strong whisk or a potato masher to mix them into the batter.

Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened.

Stir in nuts. Pour into pans.

If it is ever said that I’m an evil mother who doesn’t care what her children like/want, let this serve as proof to the contrary. Banana bread needs walnuts. The girl child doesn’t like them. So, I mix nuts into just half the batter, and divide the batter in the pan so we get a half loaf with and a half loaf without walnuts. Then I sprinkle extra nuts on top for easy identification of which side is which.

Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

If you’re patient, you’ll let it cool completely like the recipe says. But if you’re me (or anything like me), you’ll wait just until it’s cool enough to touch and slice into it so it’s still nice and warm and the freshly made butter melts right into it! YUM!

 

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Filed under Breads & Rolls, Breakfast, Recipes

Crowd Pleasing Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara


I love to cook for people. Have I ever mentioned that before? I recently met some new people to cook for, and at our first meeting, I kinda bragged about being an amazing cook. I even brought some of my Homemade Bagels to share. I think they liked them (either that or they’re great at faking it.lol) So of course, when the invitation came for me to bring my kids out to their house and cook dinner, I was all-too-happy to plan a meal that would be both simple enough to cook while visiting and something my hostess would be able to easily recreate on her own, but also a crowd pleaser and a “wow” kinda meal. I do believe I picked a near-perfect meal to do the trick. I have only 1 picture to share with you, and the credit for that goes to Carri who brought out her phone to snap a picture before we dished up. I was too busy enjoying cooking in a big kitchen and visiting and dancing while doing so to think about taking pictures. (I know, shocking, right?)

Our hosts spent a good amount of time that day showing me and my kids around and introducing us to all their animals, even putting my girl child on a horse to ride around for a bit (the boy child had no interest). They shot a bow and arrow, enjoyed the company of children other than each other, and generally just had a nice, fun, relaxing day/evening. And I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with adults outside of work, something I don’t get to do enough of lately.

I am not a perfect cook, to which I have admitted many times. I do make some really great food, most of the time, but I do have my mishaps… In planning the menu, I decided I wanted to make dessert as well, which I was going to prepare at home and bring along. I decided on my old “signature” dessert of cream puffs…but they didn’t puff, and my work schedule was so hectic there was no way I would have time to re-make them. Seeing my sadness (I was near tears…probably more because of my hectic schedule and trying to do too much and overwhelming myself than having not had success with the puffs, though…) at not having success with this, my girl child (15 years old now, by the way! How did THAT happen?!) offered to give them a try while I was at work. When I saw her facebook status update declaring “I WIN”, I knew she had had success and it was for sure a proud mommy moment.

So, what did we share with this family of new friends? Having bragged about being an amazing cook, it had to be something amazing, of course… Well, the cream puffs, of course, thanks to the girl child. I also made Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara (the recipe is below, but to be honest, I didn’t really follow it too closely, and had only made it once before this night, so threw it together from memory, but it seemed to turn out quite well… also, this recipe is a combination of several I found on the www with my own little twists added to it) and a big green salad with lemon salad dressing. Yeah, that’s it. But it was plenty!

Thanks again for letting me come out to your house and mess up your kitchen!

 

Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara

This is a dish that can be complete in less than 20 minutes if you gather all your ingredients before you start. It’s simple, with simple ingredients, and a crowd-pleaser!

When I told my kids one night that we were having Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner, they both cried out “YUM!!!!” But they had no idea what it was. They just liked the sound of the name. When I told them it had bacon in it, I thought they would both faint from excitement. I love these simple meals that impress. :)


Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3/4 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, divided
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 lemon
    Here’s What to do:

    1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Smash about 8 cloves of garlic (or more) and add them to the water (I do this instead of salt) along with the pasta. Cook to al dente, according to package directions.

    2. Meanwhile, heat the largest skillet you have over medium to medium-high heat. Add bacon to pan and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Chop the remaining garlic cloves, and slice the green onion (green and white parts), reserving a bit for garnish. Add these to the bacon and grease in the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Chop tomato into cubes and cut lemon in half during this cooking time.

    3. In a bowl, beat yolks and add 1/2 cup of the water from the pasta. This keeps the eggs from scrambling when added to the pasta.

    4. Drain pasta and add it directly to the skillet with the bacon mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Working quickly, toss to coat the pasta, adding more water to make a creamy texture, maybe a ladel or 2 full. Remove from heat and add a large handful of cheese, about 1/2 cup or so, and chopped tomatoes. Continue to toss the pasta until it thickens. Garnish with reserved green onion and extra grated Parmesan.

    5. Serve in pasta bowls or on plates with large sides to hold the yummy goodness in!

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Filed under Entertainment, Main Dishes, Pasta, Pork, Recipes

Traditionally Non-Traditional


Have I ever mentioned how much I love my kids? They are fun and quirky, just like their Mama, but in their own unique ways. We all embrace each other’s individuality, bringing out the best in each other, making every day life fantastically fun together. Part of our fun is that we love tradition, but we also love to break tradition!

Color Me Happy

It’s Easter. So we obviously had to color some eggs. We even made some tea eggs after seeing my sister’s post about making them. Coloring eggs is one of my favorite things. I don’t know why. I don’t even really enjoy hard boiled eggs all that much. But there’s just something about the fun, bright colors of Easter Eggs that bring a smile to my face. I’ll be coloring eggs long after my kids have grown up and moved away from home. It’s a Holiday tradition I enjoy very much.

Baskets o' Plenty

Let’s not forget the candy, of course. Our baskets were left in front of the fireplace for the Easter Bunny last night. This year, we all have “proper” baskets. I have struggled every year with the fact that my kids don’t have nice baskets that they will enjoy bringing out year after year, even as adults, like I have. I’ve just never found nice ones that we liked. Some years we didn’t even have a basket, so the Easter Bunny would leave their treats in new lunch boxes or new baseball caps. Always fun, but this year when we looked, the kids decided they both really liked the plain wood ones. They are sturdy enough that I think they will last a long time for them! And we awoke to our baskets filled with candy, candy, and more candy, plus some notebooks, coasters, books, and even new toothbrushes for the kids (their Dentist will surely be happy to hear that! lol)

Traditionally Non-Traditional Easter Dinner

So, what does a silly family like ours have for dinner on Easter? I’m so glad you asked. Cheeseburgers, of course. I was asked by someone today if I would be having a big ham dinner. He seemed a bit taken aback when I said “No, we’ll be having cheeseburgers for our Easter dinner tonight.” He asked me if that was a family tradition. It was then that I realized our “tradition” is that we like to be “non-traditional”. He seemed pleased with my response, and thought it was a pretty cool way to enjoy Holidays. [By making a tradition of breaking traditions.]

Our Easter dinner, 2012: Cheeseburgers, piled high with plenty of melted sharp cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and some thinly sliced red onion. Paired with artichokes [with lemon butter for dipping!] and sweet potatoes, and of course some deviled eggs (gotta use those colored eggs somehow, right?)

And the weather for this day? PERFECT! We made great use of our deck for the first time since we moved in here, and enjoyed our fantastically fun dinner outside, giggling about our silliness and enjoying each other’s company and laughter.

I hope you enjoyed your Holiday as much as we did.

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Filed under Entertainment, Life in General

Fabulous Friday


Today is not just Good Friday, it is Fabulous Friday! The perfect ending to a perfect week. It was like shipment central around my place all week, with packages arriving from all kinds of places, including one I have been waiting on for many years. Ok, so not the package itself, but the item. I finally purchased something I have been wanting for many, many years. It’s a French Butter Dish (you may have heard it called a Butter Bell). The husband of one of my friends makes handmade pottery and he does an amazing job. I was so happy to get my much-anticipated new piece of pottery for my kitchen, and getting to support a friend’s business just sweetened the deal!

So, what else makes this a Fabulous Friday? Well, it’s FRIDAY! Need I say more? And I got to run the bar at work today, steaming milk to a perfectly creamy, frothy texture with all it’s sweetness, pouring it over caramelly shots of espresso, chatting with customers and wishing them a Fabulous Friday…what’s not amazing about bringing a smile to everyone’s face?

And in case I hadn’t been given enough reasons to smile throughout the week, I did get some good news via email several times this week. Some relating to my kids and school, an email from an old friend I hadn’t heard from in awhile, and then an email from someone who is planning to make my Garlicky Buttery Shrimp Pasta for some family. I am excited to hear how everyone enjoyed it!

Now I get to enjoy the day tomorrow with my favorite kiddos… picking up our produce basket from Bountiful Baskets, dying Easter Eggs, eating candy, and probably planning more menus!

Excitement abounds. New beginnings emerge. What kind of amazingness are you up to this weekend?

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Filed under Cooking With Love

Confession


I have a confession to make. This may come as a shock to many of you, but to those closest to me, they will just laugh with me about my inability to complete such a seemingly simple kitchen task.

Here goes: I can’t make over-easy eggs. Nope. Can’t do it. I’ve tried. And it is not important enough to me to learn how to do that whole flipping thing without breaking the yolk.

I have two tricks for when I am craving over-easy eggs:

  1. I ask my kids to make them for me. (Yes, my kids can make over easy eggs [perfectly, by the way], and I can not.)
  2. I go for a “poached” kinda effect. This means that I crack the egg into the pan as if I were making an over-easy egg, let it sizzle just long enough for me to crack a little pepper over the top and pour some water into the pan. Then I cover the pan with a lid and watch it until the whites are set up. And VOILA! Whites that are cooked and a yolk that is runny, perfect for dipping my toast or mixing with my hashbrowns*.

So, what are your true kitchen confessions? I’m sure I’ll have more to share as we go along.

*I cheat with my hashbrowns, too. When we have baked potatoes, I make extra and then I cut them up and fry them with onion and/or garlic to make my hashbrowns. Much easier and quicker than shredding fresh potatoes and cooking them up.

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I’m a Flake


Yes, you read that right. I’m a flake! Finally, after years of practice and being taught many times by self-proclaimed “flake experts”, I have finally, yes, FINALLY made a perfectly flaky pie crust!

Yup, 45% of you voters got it right! My surprising kitchen success was a flaky pie crust. Many people are often surprised to learn that I use “cheater” pie crust most of the time, simply because the frustration of pie crust was too much for me and since I didn’t enjoy making it, it just was never worth the frustration.

So, why the change of heart? Why make my own pie crust after deciding to give up on it years ago (with a few failed attempts after making that decision, helping me stick by that choice!)? Funny story.

I have a friend, I’ll call him Dean, who in a matter of just a few weeks heard me talk excitedly about cooking. Everything from homemade bagels (for which I’ve just realized I still owe you a recipe and pictures! Must see what I can do about that soon, huh?) to roasts, cookies and basic dinners (yes, even my corn dog dinner and kitchen “mishaps”!). Well, one night in December, he invited me and my kids over for a game night and dinner with his daughter. Upon our arrival, he proudly announced that I was going to make pie crust. This was, obviously, laughable to me. But he insisted that it is easy and that I could do it. He patiently talked me through every step (though he really did much more of the work than I did!) and there it was… perfect pie crust. (Which I secretly decided I would probably never make, but was glad at his attempt to teach me.)

Fast forward a few months. It’s Mother’s Day weekend and I have decided that for my Mother’s Day dinner (that I would be cooking for myself) I wanted to have a Quiche, made with goose eggs from Triton’s Farm. So I contacted them and arranged for delivery of 3 goose eggs, along with a dozen duck eggs (for my breakfast that my awesome kiddos would serve me in bed. ;) ). And then my kids asked me if I remembered how to make the pie crust like D taught me. Um, maybe? Kinda? I think? I’ll give it a shot! With the boy reminding me to add salt (I rarely add it to anything, so I know I would have forgotten!) and the girl asking me if I remembered the measurements, and both by my side, anxious to see if it would flake or flop, I got to work and was pleased to end up with an amazingly flaky, buttery pie crust for my Quiche. Below is the measurements, kinda… but I can’t explain the technique… so I hope you know what you’re doing! :)

PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • salt (1 tsp?)
  • 1 cup butter (put in freezer to make sure it’s super cold)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ice water (this is a technique thing… I don’t know how much, several tablespoons, I guess?)

The egg yolk I think was the trick! Oh, and NOT working the dough too much! And keeping it cold. Sorry I’m not more helpful on how to actually make it, but, as you know, I’m a FLAKE! (Who can now make flaky pie crust! THANKS D!!!)

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Filed under Cooking With Love, Recipes

Journal. 8.11.2010


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It was hot today as I ventured into the garden to see what would await the dinner table. I found:

  • tomato plants heavy with fruit which has yet to ripen
  •  eggplants that I am beginning to wonder if they will produce any fruit at all (though the leaves are a gorgeous deep purple now, making me smile)
  • corn stalks that I am proud to say we started from seed and are now growing nearly as tall as my 13-year-old girl child
  • potatoes, oh so many potato plants (I will definitely be sharing those crops!)
  • and there… at the back of the garden is where I find the night’s treasure

The zucchini has been slow to start, but I am so proud to report that we snipped 2 zucchini from the vines, each about 4 inches long. We also snipped several blossoms, including the still-young zucchini they were attached to. And oh my. The flavor! Intense, bright flavor! I experienced tonight a flavor explosion so great that I may never buy zucchini from a store again (ok, that’s probably not true, since we don’t have a long growing season… but it will never be the same).

—————————————————————————-

Well, that was fun… but I haven’t kept a journal in many years, and don’t expect I’ll be starting again now. So, what triggered that journal posting? Simple… I shared my productive day with friends & family via a Facebook Status Update that read:

WOW! Productive day! After work I set the raw milk out with yogurt culture (yes, making my own yogurt! Go Me!), clipped the first of the zucchini (2 of them) off the vines, along with a few of the blossoms & snipped some chives. Put together a quiche with our fresh veggies, then used the remaining chives and some leftover buttermilk to make a fresh ranch dressing…..

Two of the replies that followed:

Patty said: Little House on the Prairie!!

Daniel said: I feel like you should be on one of those survival TV shows…. where they are left out in the middle of a forest on a deserted island…. you’d probably whip up some German Chocolate Pound Cake from roots, bugs, and moss… idk how, but I’m sure you’d find a way lol

Those replies made me wonder what it would have been like to live “On the Prairie” (which, by the way, I don’t remember ever watching the show… but perhaps I should…) or try to survive on a deserted island. I would surely keep a journal then, right? Well, this blog from That Cook Girl is as close as you’ll find me to journaling. So, enjoy… and check back soon because I’ll be sharing my experience with making yogurt (which I will then turn some of that into cream cheese)… and I’ve got some amazingly wonderful ideas for using up an over abundance of eggs (no, I don’t have chickens, but many of my friends do… so I get eggs. I’ll share my garden crops with them).

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Filed under Cooking With Love, Garden, Journal

Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing


2 cups fresh spinach, cleaned and dried
4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 green onion top, sliced
3 hard boiled eggs
1 avocado
Bacon Dressing (recipe follows)
 
Toss first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl with Bacon dressing, immediately before serving. Top with sliced eggs and avocado. Enjoy!
 
Bacon Dressing:
2 Tbl bacon drippings
3 Tbl vinegar
1/4 C. heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp sugar
 
Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer, stirring constantly. Simmer about 2 minutes. (Dressing will still be thin) Cool slightly before tossing with salad. (Mix in bacon pieces and chopped egg, if desired)

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Filed under Recipes, Salads, Sauces/Dressings