Thursday, September 24, 2015

Banana Bread

Hello everyone!  Glad to see you again!  Now that the school year is finally under way and the first day of fall is behind us, it is time to start up with blogging again!  One of my most favorite things of fall is that the weather is once again perfect for baking!  Don't get me wrong, I still bake even in the midst of 90+ degree weather when the mood strikes, I'm just not super motivated to take photos or write about it...I'm most motivated to eat it! 

To ease us all back into our baking routines, I decided to start off with banana bread...perfect for before school breakfasts on the go or a post soccer game snack.  I LOVE banana bread in all its forms...with nuts...with bundt form...but most of all I just love the typical banana bread loaf!  Nothing beats that basic loaf!  I love to warm it up and slather on the butter too...though that is not ideal for shoving in your face on your way out the door to work! :)

Whisk together your dry ingredients and set aside for now.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Mix in eggs one at a time until completely incorporated.  Add in the vanilla.

Add in the lightly mashed bananas.

Beat on Medium speed until the bananas are completely mixed in.

Add in the dry ingredients about half at a time and mix until until combined.

Pour into a non-stick spray coated loaf pan.

Bake for 50-55 minutes at 350F.

...try not to eat it all! 

Banana Bread
based on this recipe on

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2-3 over ripe bananas

Preheat the oven to 350.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together sugar and butter until fluffy and light.  In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Once the butter mixture is fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated, then add in the vanilla.  Lightly mash the bananas and then add to the butter mixture.  In a couple of batches, add in the flour mixture being sure not to overmix. Pour the batter into a loaf pan coated with non-stick spray.  Bake for 50-55 minutes.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Puppy Chow

This week we will all celebrate that most romantic of holidays...Valentine's Day!  Actually, come to think of it my husband and I have been married for over a decade so we usually don't do a whole lot for Valentine's Day...actually we do nothing...we are boring and old I guess.  The only one that really celebrates Valentine's Day on any level in our house is my daughter - who is 8.  Anyone out there who has a school aged child knows that it where the true Valentine's pressure the hearts and stomachs of 5-10 year olds!  Of course this week the kiddo came home with her traditional Valentine's note containing details about the party and the all important list of students for whom we are now obligated to provide a suitable character card.  Goodness knows the world will end if she can't find a box of puppy cards for the girls and Minecraft for the boys (I feel I should specify my kid has not played Minecraft...doesn't even know anything about it but it is cool so we must buy).

Every year I swear I will be good - I will buy the cool stuff right away before it is gone and every year we are swinging by Walmart on Monday night the week of Valentine's Day after Girl Scouts because if we don't - I will forget and the world will END!  No worries this year though!  It doesn't even matter if we end up with a box of last year's reject cards because I made this stuff!  What's not to love?! Chex cereal? Check. (See what I did there?)  Chocolate chips melted with peanut butter drizzled over said cereal?  Double check!  Top that off will powdered sugar?!  Super sugary check! And THEN I added M&M's...yup, I know, I rock!   There you go folks - screwed up the "must have" Valentine's again?  No worries!  Send this to school and all is forgiven - after all who really needs the 15 step home made from all natural doilies card that Beth's mom saw on pinterest when you have puppy chow with Valentine's M&M's?!

Measure out 9 cups of Chex cereal.

Put the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a microwave safe bowl.

Microwave 1 minute and then stir until everything is all melted together.

Add in the vanilla and stir up, then pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal.

Stir until all the cereal is well coated.

Place into a ziploc bag large enough to hold everything comfortably.

Add in the powdered sugar.  

Seal the bag and shake until everything is evenly coated with sugar.

Toss in some seasonal M&M"s and give it another good shake!

Enjoy!  Yum!

Valentine's Puppy Chow
Original recipe found here

9 cups Chex cereal
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups seasonal M&M's
1-2 gallon ziploc bags.

Measure out the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.  Place the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute.  Remove and stir until completely melted.  Stir in the vanilla and then pour over the cereal.  Stir gently but thoroughly until all the cereal is evenly coated with chocolate.  Pour the cereal into a ziploc bag - either use a 2 gallon one or two one gallon ones as you need to leave enough room to be able to shake up the mixture with the sugar.  Add in the powdered sugar and shake until everything is evenly coated.  Pour in the M&M's and give the mixture another quick shake to mix them in.  Eat right away or store in the refrigerator until you are ready for them.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Samoas Toffee and a Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest!

Good morning!  Today, we are going to learn to make toffee...real toffee...with a candy thermometer and everything!  Now wait, before you all run and hide - I swear, this will be easy and delicious!  It is even more worth it because we are going to be using the best ingredient EVER - Girl Scout cookies...Samoas to be more precise!

It is that time of know the one.  The one where girls begin to knock on your doors asking you in that adorable voice if you'd like to buy some Girl Scout cookies.  I was one of those girls once and I remember just how great it felt to set goals and meet them; to gain confidence that I could get over my shyness and gather my courage to ask someone I didn't know to support Girl Scouts.  It is still one of my favorite times of year but now I am the one behind the girl on the door step watching her grow in confidence and salesmanship.  Plus I'm the cookie mom...I get to play with all the cookies!  Good thing I love inventorying...

Anyway, back to the Samoas...and the celebration of Girl Scout cookie season Girl Scouts of Western Washington is once again holding a Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest.  You may remember my entry last year, Trefoil Raspberry Streusel Bars.  Last year I was selected as a finalist but sadly did not place.  Let's hope I can go further this year!  Details about the contest can be found here and don't forget to support Girl Scouts by buying cookies once booth sales kick off in our area February 27th through March 15th!  You can find locations near you by using the cookie locator, which is also available as an app in case you need to find cookies on the go!

Start by setting up your pan, candy thermometer

and parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Add your butter, sugar and water to your saucepan

Cook at medium heat,

stirring constantly,

until the mixture looks like this and 

it reaches 300F.

Remove from heat and pour onto the parchment paper.  Spread until 1/4" thick or so.

Immediately sprinkle on Samoas crumbs.

Allow to cool at room temperature for about an hour.

Once the toffee is completely cool, insert a knife to break it into bite size pieces.

Ummm....yum...enough said!

Samoas Toffee

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 box Samoas, broken into small pieces 

Start by placing a 3 qt. saucepan over medium heat and lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pan, careful not to let it touch the bottom but placed low enough that the end will be fully submerged in the toffee.  There are ways to make candy without a thermometer but honestly they make it much easier and for just a few dollars at any grocery or discount department store it is worth taking the guessing out!  Add your butter, sugar and water to the saucepan and heat until 300 F, stirring constantly so that it does not burn.  Be careful not to stir too aggressively because you don't want it to splatter on you.  Once the mixture reaches 300 F, remove it from heat and pour the toffee on to our prepared parchment paper.  Spread if necessary with an offset spatula or by carefully tilting the pan until it is 1/4" thick or so.  Top immediately with the crushed up Samoas and allow to cool at room temperature until completely cool - about an hour.  Using the tip of a knife, break up the toffee into bite size pieces.  Now, try not to eat the whole thing - or at least make sure you have extra Girl Scout cookies on hand to serve more to your friends! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pesto Bread

Back before Thanksgiving many versions of this recipe were making their rounds on Facebook and Pinterest and I just couldn't wait to try it.  I just keep forgetting to buy or save up enough basil to make the pesto.  As luck would have it, my basil plants were getting a little tall and needing a trim right about the time that I stumbled across yet another re-pin of this idea.  I did some recipe shopping and was having a hard time finding good reviews on some of the recipes I could find so I decided to just use the idea and make my own version.  I dug out one of my sandwich bread recipes and looked up the ratios of a basic pesto recipe and got to work!  I have to say, while my bread here is not perfect as I had some company over and I accidentally let it rise to long which made a fairly large hole in the loaf, it is by far the yummiest idea ever.  Seriously, thanks to whoever got that whole pesto bread trend started!

Start by placing 1-2 cups of basil in the food processor.

Then peel your garlic - I like to use this handy garlic peeler - pretty inexpensive and a huge time saver!

You just put the cloves of garlic inside and roll it around to remove all of the peel!

Add your garlic and pine nuts to the food processor as well and then blend to a paste.  Add in parmesan cheese and drizzle in olive oil until a smooth pesto is formed.

Now we will start on our dough!

Add a little bit of the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter and water in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes and then add 1 Tbsp. of pesto and the rest of the flour.

Mix on medium speed using the dough hook for 6-8 minutes until a smooth ball of dough forms.

Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 10"x15".  Spread the pesto evenly over the dough and then starting on one of the short ends tightly roll up the dough.

Be sure to pinch the seam closed to ensure the dough forms into a nice loaf.

Place in a lightly greased bread loaf pan.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

I lost track of time and let mine rise a little long...

Bake at 375F for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Allow to cool completely and then slice and serve with or without butter.

Makes 3/4-1 cup of pesto

1-2 cups basil
1 Tbsp. pine nuts
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic

Place basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and run until a paste forms.  Add in Parmesan and drizzle in olive oil.  Run until everything is incorporated.  Set aside until later.

Pesto Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. pesto

In a stand mixer, combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar, salt and warm water and butter.  Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Add in 1 Tbsp. of pesto and then mix in the remaining flour.  Using the dough hook, mix for 6-8 minutes on medium speed until a smooth ball of dough is formed.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Next, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 10"x15".  Spread 1/2 cup of pesto evenly over dough and roll from the short side tightly across and pinch seams to seal dough.  Place in a greased 9"x5" bread pan and let rise until double in size; about an hour.  Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes and allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely on a wire rack.  Serve warm with or without butter or use for sandwiches.  Enjoy!