Tag Archives: grab-n-go

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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Bagel Day


Making bagels is one of those things people just don’t expect to be so easy. A bit time-consuming, but easy and worth the effort! I have made these bagels many times, and the last time I made them was Memorial Day weekend while my sister was in town. She went for a quick run one morning, (I say “quick”, but it wasn’t. It was 13 miles- a half marathon! She’s AWESOME!) and I thought she’d enjoy some fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels. (And she did.) My niece came by that afternoon also. Just to hang out with my kids and my sister’s foster daughter. They hung out, played some games and she marvelled at me actually making bagels from scratch. She called me an awesome cook. Yeah, my head got a little bigger that day.

On this particular day, I created blueberry bagels (using a bag of dried blueberries) and cheese bagels (using a mixture of asiago and parmesan cheeses). There are still a few sitting in the freezer. I think my kids have forgotten that they are there. But my niece remembered. She was over a few nights ago and asked if she could steal a couple bagels before she left for work. Of course I said yes. Because what good is making the food if I’m not gonna share it, right?

In the past I have made bagels to bring to work, and even sent a few along on a hunting trip for a friend. And do you know what’s funny? I don’t really love bagels all that much. But I really enjoy making them! And sharing them, of course! :)

The bagel recipe follows… it uses a mix (that I also included the recipe for) and someday I’ll post other recipes that use this same mix. Enjoy!

Bagels
· 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast or 1 (1/4-oz.) package
· 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water 110F (45C)
· 5 cups HOT ROLL MIX **
· Cornmeal
· 3 qt. water
· 1 Tablespoon sugar
· 1 egg yolk, beaten
· 1 Tablespoon water
· Poppy seens, sesame seeds or coarse salt
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water. Beat in 4-1/2 cups HOT ROLL MIX. Let rest 2 minutes. Add enough mix to make a very stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface knead dough until smooth, 5-10 minutes. Add more mix to surface as needed. Dough will be quite firm. Lightly butter bowl. Put dough in bowl and turn to butter top. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30-45 minutes.

Punch down dough; knead 4-5 times. Divide in half. Divide each half into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Flatten each ball with palm of hand. Holding a ball with both hands, force one thumb through center. Place bagel on lightly floured surface. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover lightly; let rise in a warm place 2-30 minutes.

Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle with cornmeal; set aside. In a 5-qart pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add sugar. Lower hear to keep water boling gently.

Use slotted spoon to carefully lower bagels, one at a time, into boiling water. Turning often, cook until slightly puffed, about 5 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Drain bagels briefly on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Arrange bagels, not touching, on prepared baking sheets. Combine egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon water. Brush bagels with egg yolk mixture. Leave plain, or sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or coarse salt. Bake 15-20 minutes in oven until browned. Cool on a rack. Makes 16 bagels.

—-Make-A-Mix cookbook

My notes: Add more flavor! You are limited only by your imagination!
· Mix in chives and garlic to the dough. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
· Mix in cinnamon and craisins or raisins
· Mix in dried minced onion and top with additional onion

** Hot Roll Mix
· 5 lb. (20 cups) all-purpose flour
· 1-1/4 cups sugar
· 4 teaspoons salt
· 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Stir together to distribute evenly. Put in a large airtight container. Label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6-8 months. Makes about 22 cups Hot Roll Mix.

Variation
Use 9 cups whole-wheat flour and 8 cups all-purpose flour instead of 20 cups all-purpose flour. Decrease sugar to 1 cup.

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Bagels, Bagels, Bagels


I was talking to a friend about food yesterday. (Is that surprising? Yeah, I didn’t think so…) In this conversation, I commented that I love to make bagels in many different flavors and continued on about something else, while he was interrupting me with “Wait! What? You make bagels? Like you toast them and put cream cheese on them, not like actually make bagels, boiling and all that”…. I laughed, and replied that of course I mean I mix the dough, shape it, boil it, bake it… how silly to assume I meant anything else, right? ;)

So, making bagels has been on my mind for quite awhile now, but always gets set aside. It is time to stop putting that task aside. I have asked my friends what their favorite bagel flavors are and I received several responses. “Blueberry” “Cheese” “Onion” “Garlic” “Dried Cherries with Honey” (let me add my YUM! to that request!!! Sounds great!) “Pumpkin Spice” “Sun Dried Tomato with Italian Spices”

Well, that’s a lot of flavors! And I am not ambitious enough to try to do them all in one bagel making session, but I will make bagels this weekend! (Please, would someone remind me to pick up some more flour, cheese, onion, garlic and I guess some blueberries…) I will mix, shape, boil and bake… and then I will wrap and freeze for easy breakfasts and snacks. And yes, I will share! Of course I will share. It’s what I do. :)

You can find my recipe HERE! Happy boiling. :)

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Breakfast Burritos


  • Large Flour Tortillas (I bought 2 packs of 16 each, but did not use them all)
  • Breakfast Sausage
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 2 cans black beans (you can use dried beans if you prefer, you just need to cook them up, of course)
  • Salsa
  • Colby-Jack cheese
  • Plastic Wrap

Gather all ingredients in one place

Brown sausage in a large skillet (mine is 12″)

While the sausage is cooking, grate cheese (or set the kids to work on grating the cheese, which is what I always do…) and drain & rinse the black beans

Set browned sausage aside. Scramble eggs in a large bowl. Heat the same skillet used for the sausage and pour the eggs in. Cook and stir until cooked/scrambled.

Pour the beans and sausage on top of the eggs in the skillet and mix well. (Why bother dirtying another bowl for mixing, right?)

Warm tortillas so they fold easily (You’ll want to warm just a few at a time so they don’t cool before you’re ready for them). Lay 1 tortilla out on your counter, and scoop about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture onto one side (don’t use anymore than that, or they won’t roll very well, but you could do a little less and get more burritos out of the mix, if you wanted to)
 
 
Top with a little salsa and shredded cheese. Then fold, starting at the end with the “stuff” on it, then folding in the sides and roll until it looks like a burrito. Once it’s all rolled/folded up, wrap in plastic wrap.
 
 
Continue until all the mixture is gone, or until you run out of tortillas, whichever comes first. You can, of course, personalize these to suit your family’s tastes. Leave out the salsa, leave out the sausage, add veggies, add shredded potatoes… you are limited only by your imagination!
  
Once you’ve finished all the rolling, place the wrapped burritos into a large freezer-safe container or freezer bag. When ready to eat, just unwrap, and wrap in a microwave-safe paper towel. Microwave on high 1-3 minutes (You’ll have to test it, and it will depend on how much or how little stuffing you put in, and on your microwave, too….)
  
Enjoy for breakfast, after-school snacks, or late-night snacks!
 
This is a perfect recipe to have on your “Power Cooking” rotation, and is very budget friendly!!!

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Hearty Breakfast Cookies


It’s time for Back-to-School! With Back-to-School comes the recreational soccer league for my kiddos. To me, this means getting the freezer stocked up with easy to grab-no-go snacks, breakfasts and lunch items. I planned on doing some of that this past weekend, however, when I went to make my baked goods, I discovered I was out of flour (by out, I mean I only had a few cups left… plus lots of whole wheat flour…), so my baking endeavor has been postponed until Labor Day Weekend (a fitting weekend for laboring in the kitchen, wouldn’t you agree?).

I have been asked many times for the breakfast cookie that I use. Since I have not posted it on this blog yet, I will do that today so that you can all join me in making these cookies for yourself and your families next weekend. I generally double the recipe and then I wrap each cookie in wrap and bag them all up for the freezer. Wrapping them individually allows you to grab 1 and not have to thaw the whole bunch of them. They thaw quickly, but you can also pop them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (1 or 2 cookies at a time, just what you need for the day). These are a favorite for the kiddos for breakfast, lunch and after school snacks. I like to grab one for a late-afternoon pick-me-up at the office.

Enjoy! (This recipe was originally posted at AllRecipes.com and when I printed it for my recipe box, it called for buttermilk instead of water. I suggest using buttermilk!)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs and water.
  2. Mix together flours, oats, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix into peanut butter mixture. Stir in raisins. Drop by ice cream scoopfuls 2 1/2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 18 – 20 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks. Store in an airtight container.

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