Articles Tagged “From The Kitchen”

From The Kitchen: Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I love banana bread, not banana nut bread, just banana bread. In fact I’m from the camp that says you shouldn’t put any nuts into any type of baked goods (the only exception I’ll make is macadamia nut cookies). Back to the subject at hand, I love banana bread. And of all of the banana bread recipes out there, my favorite one is the one my mother-in-law makes. She knows how much I love it and pretty much every time we see them she makes it for me, isn’t that sweet? She also gave me the recipe a long time ago and so I’m going to share it with you!

One of our wedding presents from Jason’s parents was a cookbook filled with our favorite recipes that they make for us. His mom also passed it to my mom and had her write our favorites in it too. I didn’t know it at the time but it has turned out to be one of our favorite gifts we received and it certainly has gotten a lot of use from us.

The very first recipe in the book is the banana bread recipe :) I told you she knows how much I like it!

I asked her where she got the recipe and she said it came from Cook Book of Breads by Sunset. I think it is now out of print but you can see it and find used copies at Amazon, check it out here. Okay, here we go…

First, gather your ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs slightly beaten

3 medium sized bananas (best when they are a bit brown so they are squishy) mashed

1 cup white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soda

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup hot water

Melt the butter and blend in sugar.

Mash your bananas and beat your eggs (separately).

Mix in the eggs and bananas into the sugar/butter mixture. Blend until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients together, white flour, wheat flour, soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the previous mixture, alternating with the hot water. Do not beat batter very long, just enough to thoroughly combine ingredients.

Grease your pans. We like to use one 6″ pan and two 3 3/4″ pans. If you put it all into just one large pan the outside gets done before the inside. Using smaller pans does the trick :)

Pour the batter into the pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. If you do decide to use a 9″x5″ loaf pan, bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

I let mine cool in the pans…

And then I eat it :) This super tasty bread sure doesn’t last long at our house. To make them last a little longer we wrap them in cling wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze the extra loaves. When they thaw out they are just as good. Smother a few slices with butter and it’s even yummier. Writing about this delicious bread makes me want to go have some right now, in fact, I think I might :)


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From The Kitchen: Martha Stewart Everyday Foods

Anyone who knows me knows that cooking is not my favorite thing. I don’t dislike it, there is always just something I would rather do. Because Jason and I are both home, we share the cooking although he cooks more than I do. For the first half of our married life, the meals we cooked were very repetitive and we easily got bored of them but they were the only recipes we had and we didn’t venture very far beyond them. Then, in 2008, the most wonderful thing happened to us. We got a subscription to Martha Stewart’s Everyday Foods.

It was a Christmas present from my sister-in-law (thank you Jodi!!) and it changed the way we cooked. Every month there were new recipes to try. And most of them were easy and a bunch of them were healthy. We started trying new spices and flavors and vegetables and it even became a little fun. Some of our favorite recipes have come from these little magazines and I’m thankful for the way they transformed our once boring menu to something we look forward to.

I have been cooking more lately and so I was thinking about our favorites and I thought I would share some of them with you.

Just this past week we tried this meatloaf recipe for the first time (pictured above). I also made the green beans that were included with the recipe on a different day but for this day I made zucchini with lemon and thyme along with a really simple but really yummy spinach salad.

Yesterday we made carne guisada. It was so good and so flavorful. We actually made it for a potluck at church so if you are looking for a good idea for a potluck, give it a shot. Since we shared it with the group I actually didn’t get to eat very much of it so I’m pretty sure this is going to go back on our menu list soon!

On Saturday I made these ratatouille phyllo wraps. They took a little longer to make simply because you have to make the ratatouille and then the wraps but they were so good and there is a bunch of ratatouille left to use for more meals. I will be honest, I only wanted to try these out because of the name :) Thankfully they were really yummy!

I haven’t made these for a while but they are definitely one of our favorites. Italian pot pies are super easy and we usually have most of the ingredients on hand so we can whip them up quick. A bunch of recipes call for carrots, onions, and celery. When we purchase them, the recipe doesn’t use all of them up and they seemed to go to waste all the time. So we started chopping the whole bag of carrots, onions, or celery and then freezing what was left over to use in a future recipe. It makes the cooking process faster and we save money. I’m sure you can do this with other veggies too but those are the main ones we have tried.

Another favorite, chicken enchiladas. Jason doesn’t like enchiladas that have baked in sour cream yet I love enchiladas. So when we found this recipe, minus the sour cream, we were stoked! I’m pretty sure I will love any Mexican dish that includes shredded chicken :)

Jason and I both love smoothies. Lately I have really been enjoying this banana oat smoothie. It’s super yummy for breakfast but I have also been enjoying it as my lunch. In fact, I just had one today :)

If we’re feeling like Chinese food, I love general tso’s chicken. It’s so good and we love the sauce so much that we make it and keep it in our fridge for stir fry and to use as a marinade. Try it if you like just a hint of spice!

Another great chicken dish is Pecorino-crusted chicken. If you make it, you also must make the spaghetti with Pecorino as well. I love them both so much and I haven’t eaten them for a while so I really should add that to my menu!

Want some breakfast food? Jason loves this baked french toast recipe. I’m not a big french toast fan but even I think it has potential :)

We also love seafood. A couple of good seafood recipes to try are shrimp with scallions and crispy potatoes and herb-crusted salmon. Seafood is probably my favorite type of food. Especially fish.

And one last recipe to try. I haven’t even touched on desserts and since they are my favorite food group I will just list one since I could go on forever :) We both love the phyllo cups with cappuccino cream. I also made these yesterday for the potluck and normally you make a batch of 6 but we just cut the phyllo into smaller squares and used our mini muffin pan to make them instead of our regular muffin pan. It made for a really cute, bite-sized treat. They are very light and perfect for after a large meal. Try them!

Well, if you’ve made it this far with me, I’m impressed! I even had to pick and choose which ones I would post about since I love so many of them. Just looking through the little magazines makes me excited about dinner and I think I’m going to plan a menu soon! If you try any of these recipes, let me know what you think and which ones you made. Or, if you have any recipe suggestions, I want to know!!

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From The Kitchen: Whoopie Pies

I don’t normally post recipes on my blog mostly because I don’t make things that are very original but sometimes I think it’s worth it to share a recipe that completely satisfies my taste buds. Now is such a time.

Last week I made whoopie pies. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the idea of a soft oreo cookie. The chocolate part is like cake and the white part is like frosting. Jason and I grew up together and attended the same church and they were a hot item there at potlucks and festivals. Whoopie pies were such a special treat for us growing up because they weren’t usually in our families collection of recipes and we only had them when they made an appearance at a church function.

whoopie 5

On the day that we were moving out here, Jason’s Mom lovingly presented a batch of whoopie pies to consume on the long trip from Oregon to Tennessee knowing how much we love them. What a delight! And, since we didn’t have the recipe ourselves (at the time), we haven’t had them since (that was 4 years ago). As I said earlier, last week I set out to change that.

I had always assumed that they were difficult to make judging by the frequency of times we had them but I came to find out that they aren’t. Imagine my joy! Now I can make whoopie pies whenever I want :) I made this batch with ease and they turned out great the first time. I love it when that happens! Here is the recipe:


The Chocolate Cake Part:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt

whoopie batter

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg, milk, water, and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients and beat well. Drop one spoonful per pie onto cookie sheet (this recipe should make 24 halves or 12 complete pies). Bake 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees (8 minutes was perfect for us in our convection oven). Once they come out of the oven, take them off the cookie sheet and place them on parchment paper to let them cool.

whoopie choc

The Frosting:
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 – 3/4 cup shortening

whoopie frosting

Cream egg white, vanilla, flour and milk. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat well. Add shortening and the rest of the sugar and beat.

Once the cake part comes out of the oven, let cool and then frost. Apply the frosting liberally and use it all (trust me, you will thank me!). Put two together and you have a completed whoopie pie. Again, this recipe should make 12 completed pies. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge. I’m not sure how long you can store them, they don’t last very long in our house :) You can also freeze them if you want to keep them around for a while. We actually tripled the recipe when we made them for church so if you need more than 12, go ahead and triple it!

whoopie 4


When I made them last week, we actually took them to church to share with others (for v-day) and so Jason and I didn’t consume nearly as many as we would have liked. So today, Jason made another batch merely for the purposes of not letting the buttermilk go to waste :) And they are just as wonderful!

If you make whoopie pies with this recipe, let me know what you think! Have you ever had them before? I also have heard from others that they call a different dessert (something you make over a camp fire) whoopie pies. Whatever you call them, they are a yummy treat to make! Enjoy!

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I Love Valentine Cookies

There is something about making Valentine crafts and treats that is so girly. And I love it! It’s the one day of the year that it is okay for everything to be pink. Isn’t pink wonderful?!

cookies 3

Today, Heather and Alana came over for our girl time and we made the prettiest Valentine cookies. We had plans to frost them in different colors and add sprinkles but when it came down to it, we decided to stick with all pink and keep them plain. I’m glad we did. They turned out so sweet, in looks and in taste!

Before the frosting was applied. The colors looked so pretty sitting together I had to snap a picture!

frosting cookies

cookies 1
Heather had some awesome heart shaped cookie cutters that came in 6 sizes that all nested inside each other.

cookies 4
The baby bite size cookies were my favorite

cookies 2
Just how many pictures of cookies can we take? You would be surprised!

heather taking pics 2
We also take pictures of us taking pictures of cookies!

heather taking cookie pics

alana cookie
But the cutest part of the day was this little thing in her apron. This morning before they came over, I decided Alana needed an apron (mostly for the pictures) so I made it before they arrived. Then I took Alana upstairs and put it on her and sent her down to see Heather. Heather’s reaction to Alana in the apron was so cute I wish I had a picture or two!

alana apron

And an image of the two bakers:

heather and kellie

Another wonderful day :) Now go make some Valentine’s cookies, it’s so fun!!

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The Best Ever

I can’t do it! Oh, but I’m gonna… yep, I’m going to do it! Whew! Now that I’ve got that settled, I will tell you what I’m going to do…

I’m going to share my chocolate chip cookie recipe with you. That’s right, THE chocolate chip cookie recipe! Also otherwise known as breakfast bars. Somewhere along the road the name of these cookies changed to Breakfast Bars. The reason? So we can eat them for breakfast without feeling guilty (that, of course, was Jason’s idea!).

Now I know everyone has their own cookie recipe that is the “best”. Everyone thinks their mom’s recipe is better than any other. Jason and I even had this argument when we got married. He thought his mom’s was the best and naturally I thought my mom’s was the best. Well, that was before we combined our powers and made ours the best ever!

cookie 1

You may not believe me but this recipe is so well known by our friends here in Tennessee that in some instances we aren’t even invited on outings unless we bring the cookies. And, if we make them for ourselves and anyone else hears about it, we quickly don’t have any left. I’m telling you, these are that good! It’s at least worth a shot to see if you like them as much as we do.

The origin of this recipe is somewhat unknown to me. I know that my Grandma found it somewhere and then it was, of course, passed down to my Mom. The beauty of it is the women in my family cook without measuring. So, when my Grandma makes them (the “same” recipe mind you) they taste different than when my Mom makes them and different yet again when I make them. Actually, they taste different every time anyone makes them because there is no accurate measurements involved.

cookie 2

When I got married, my Mom bestowed the recipe to me. Since the recipe isn’t very accurate, I quickly found out that I would need to do some of my own tweaking to make them taste how I remembered and thus the trial and error began. Although there was some experimenting involved, I decided to be the first to actually write down my findings and it is now a recipe that can be followed by anyone! Then with a few expert modifications made by Jason, we now have a brilliant chocolate chip cookie recipe that I find myself dreaming about.

Here you go you lucky readers:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (a.k.a Breakfast Bars)

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 package semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 package milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven first! 375 degrees
2. Mix together first four ingredients
3. Add eggs, beat well
4. Add flour (a cup at a time mixing each time), baking soda and salt, mix well
5. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips, mix well
6. Separate dough into the size of a golf ball and place on the cookie sheet
7. Bake 8-8 1/2 minutes (9 minutes if the dough has been refrigerated)

cookie 3

A few hints and reasons for some of the instructions: under bake the cookies! I prefer soft cookies and if you take them out when the center is underdone they will stay soft and oh-so-good! One of the biggest mistakes we make is we let them go too long because they don’t look done. Just trust me on this one, they will firm up as they grow colder. The instructions for timing are based on our oven which is a convection oven, you may have to adjust your timing (but not temperature) for your oven.

They are best when baked at the same time as they are made but often (I should say almost every time) we refrigerate the dough and bake them later. The reason is because we LOVE cookie dough almost as much as the baked cookies. So we snack for a bit and then bake them. I know, I know, raw eggs and all that. But we don’t care. We love our dough!

The other thing is the chocolate chips. This was all Jason’s doing and added such an important taste factor. We realized that all semi sweet was too bitter and all milk chocolate was too sweet. When they are mixed together, you don’t even realize you have some of each because the flavors just blend perfectly. So make sure you use 1/2 semi and 1/2 milk!

So, there you have it! Now go make some chocolate chip cookies. And shame on you who make cookies from pre-made dough. These literally take 15 minutes to whip up not including bake time. And they are worth it :) Now that you are in on the secret, enjoy!

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Hello, and welcome to my little blog! What started out as a blog to show some of my scrapbook pages ended up being a blog that shows all of my projects, ranging from scrapbooking to decorating to sewing to photography. I also run a little online shop called every jot & tittle where I sell handmade paper products. Take a look and leave me a comment to say hi! (Photo by Heather Smith.)

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