Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Double Chocolate Banana Bread




Sixty four cents for a bag of ripe bananas, "yes, please!"

The best way I know of to use ripe bananas is to whip up a batch of yummy banana bread.  But instead of the typical banana bread, I wanted to try adding chocolate.  I was dreaming of a full blown deliciously moist chocolate and chocolate chip banana bread.  mmmm, mmmm.

This is one of those rare recipes that came together on the first try, and oh, is it soooo good.  So easy, and so chocolatey you will want to run to the produce department for marked down bananas :)

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 x 5 bread pan with butter flavored cooking spray. 

Mix the following until blended:
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
2 eggs
2 1/3 cup mashed bananas
1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda
1/8 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 tsp salt
Add:
1 1/2 cup flour
Fold in:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a cake tester or knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Yay! :: Boo! Crockpot Labeling...and Crockpot Fail

One of those grab and go genius moments.

I was thinking of a way to label my crockpot with the kind of soup I was making for our church potluck.  It was time to leave and still no label, so I grabbed a dry erase marker and wrote on my crockpot lid. Yay!  The label stayed put all through our potluck lunch, and wiped off easily once I got home.

 

And for the Boo! part, well, lets just say my crockpot's plastic handle did not like my barbeque too much.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mother-in-Law's Coming to Dinner Chicken



Don't you just love the name of this recipe? I've been putting off posting this recipe until I got a good photo, but this chicken always disappears way to fast...and this recipe is too good not to share!

One of my most asked for recipes is not mine, it's from my friend Sharon Morgan, who got it from her friend Loretta Trafton.  So glad this generous lady shared her recipe.  I use it when I'm making lots of food for company, to take to a sick friend or when my family requests it.  For three pounds of chicken tenders, this recipe takes me about 1 hour to prepare and 1 hour to bake, but it always turns out soooo gooood.  A no fail family favorite :)

Mother-in-Law's Coming to Dinner Chicken

2 eggs and 1 cup milk, beat with a fork
Italian seasoned bread crumbs (about 2-3 cups)
Japanese style seasoned Panko (optional, about 1 cup)
2 cups of chicken broth
grated Parmesan cheese (not the kind that is powdered)
vegetable oil for pan frying (I sometimes use 2 pans or change the oil halfway)
3 lbs of chicken tenders

preheat vegetable oil, enough to cover the bottom of your pan to about 1/2 inch.

  • Fry chicken breast strips that have been dipped in egg/milk mixture and coated in seasoned bread crumbs.
  • Brown lightly on both sides. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel, then line them up in a baking dish.
  • Pour chicken broth over them until broth is about 1/2 to 3/4 way to the top of the chicken.
  • Heavily sprinkle parmesan cheese over chicken.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.

Allow to rest 10-15 minutes, the chicken will absorb the chicken broth.

Here are few more pictures to show you how I prepare Mother-in-Law's Coming to Dinner Chicken.

egg milk mixture on left, breaded chicken on right
preheat oil, cook chicken on both sides then drain on paper towels

ready for the over  :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Easy Light Baked Potato Soup


 




Middle of a winter snow storm, baked potato soup was the request for dinner but I didn't have any of my go to ingredients like bacon.  So I tried making the soup anyway, minus the bacon, and minus the onion, and realized my baked potato soup didn't have any flavor.  (Insert lightbulb going off).. so I added a jar of Bertolli Light Alfredo Sauce, and my soup came together effortlessly. 


Wow!  everyone liked my soup, and it's lower in fat than my loaded bake potato soup. This recipe is so quick and easy we may never eat the full fat version again.

This recipe makes a very thick soup, about 5 servings. Add a bit more milk if you want it thinner. 

Souper  Easy Baked Potato Soup
8 medium potatoes
3 cups skim milk
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup flour plus 2 Tablespoons
1 jar Bertolli Light Alfredo Sauce
Cheddar cheese for garnish
season to taste with:
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Optional: onion, bacon
Note: you can substitute instant potatoes for some of the flour to help thicken the soup.

Rinse the potatoes and poke with a fork or knife then cook in microwave until done.  I like to cook the potatoes in 2 batches, so about 8 minutes on high power to cook 4 potatoes.  Allow potatoes to cool, remove skins and rough chop into 3/4 inch pieces.

To a large saucepan add butter, flour and milk and stir with a spoon.  Add potatoes, alfredo sauce, and season to taste with garlic and black pepper.

On Medium high heat, stir until hot and thickened.  You must stir this soup constantly or the bottom will scorch.

The star of this recipe, Bertolli Light Alfredo Sauce


Monday, January 6, 2014

Our Eccentric Projects - Making Hats for Chemotherapy Patients and My New Sewing Addiction

My niece Michelle from Africa was visiting this summer and shared with us her love for knitting and crocheting.  She knits squares for a charity called Knit-a-Square where knit or crocheted squares are used to make blankets for abandoned babies, children, and AIDS orphans in Southern Africa. She got my Mom and Aunt "hooked" and they are all making loads and loads of squares.  It warms my heart knowing their blankets are helping to keep babies warm.  Yes, it gets cold in Africa.

Over Christmas break my neighbor Juanita shared with me some pictures of hats she is making for chemotherapy patients.  Her hats are being snapped up at Hope Boutique in Columbus, Ohio, because they are comfortable, colorful, soft and beautiful.

All of these women inspired me to get busy, so I dusted off my crochet needles, bought lots of yarn and jumped in making chemotherapy hats.

The Cancer Research Center in Lancaster, Ohio, where I dropped off my first batch of hats, had lots of crocheted hats but they desperately need headbands and sewn hats.

With my first check from this blog ($85) and a few extra bucks thrown in, I was able to purchase a sewing machine online at a reasonable price.  I am supposed to receive it tomorrow.  I hope it works, because I purchased a lot of material to sew hats and headbands.

Quick Update: I love my new sewing machine, and I have been sewing up quite a few hats. I'll have to write more later.  I gave my neighbor some hats for Hope Boutique and the report back was that every single hat was gone almost as soon as they were put out.  Wow!  Here is a picture of my favorite of the sewn hats so far, a pink camo hat that is super soft and comfy.

My fav hat so far, pink camo hat


I lost track of how many hats and headbands I've donated or given away, somewhere around 75. So, to supplement my new sewing addiction I've started selling hats in my Etsy store, AllThingsBlooming.


Here are my crocheted hats.  I am sharing my pattern for the easy flapper hat inspired by Downtown Abbey with you and a quick and easy headband (below).  The other hats were made from free patterns available online.
Downtown Abbey inspired Hats, pattern below


First batch of crochet hats dropped off at the Cancer Research Center in Lancaster, Ohio






Headbands


Child sized Polar bear hat pattern from Repeat Crafter Me




Downtown Abbey Inspired Flapper Hat Pattern with Bow

DC = Double Crochet
Gauge: 2" width = 6 stitches,  2" height = 3 rows
Crochet hook = I-9, 5.5

Notes: Increase rows 1-8 only.  First 10 rows main color, 3 rows accent color (stitch in back loop if you want a decorative line in your crochet, as shown above), Rows 15-16 1 row main color and 1 row single crochet main color to finish.



Row 1,  Magic ring, 11 DC, join, chain 2
Row 2,  2 DC each, join, chain 2 (22 DC)
Row 3,  2 DC, 1 DC, repeat, join, chain 2 (33 DC)
Row 4,  2 DC, 1 DC, 1 DC, repeat, join, chain 2 (44 DC)
Row 5,  2 DC, 10 DC, repeat, join, chain 2 (48 DC)
Row 6,  2 DC, 11 DC, repeat, join, chain 2 (52 DC)
Row 7,  2 DC, 12 DC, repeat, join, chain 2 (56 DC)
Row 8,  2 DC, 13 DC, repeat, join, chain 2 (60 DC)
Rows 9-15 DC, join, chain 2 (60 DC)
Row 16 single crochet each, join, fasten off

For bow:
Notes: Make a rectangle then wrap yarn around the center to make a bow

Row 1:  single chain 14, turn
Row 2:  Double chain 12, turn, chain 2
Row 3:  Double chain 12, turn, chain 2
Row 4:  Single crochet all around entire rectangle to give it a finished edge

Weave yarn to center edge and pinch rectangle to make a bow.  Wind yarn around several times to keep bow pinched then with a darning needle, sew bow to hat around center adding more yarn to center.  Sew corners to hat if desired, fasten off.



Here's a quick and easy crocheted headband I made this morning while waiting for everyone to wake up.

Easy Crochet Headband Pattern

DC = Double Crochet
SC = Single Crochet
Gauge: 2" width = 6 stitches,  2" height = 3 rows
Crochet hook = I-9, 5.5 

Main color yarn: Vanna's Choice Oatmeal
Accent color yarn: Black, Soft Red Heart

Row 1:  Single chain 66 (measure your head to see if it fits, will stretch a bit), join
Row 2:  SC each, join, chain 2 (65 SC)
Row 3:  DC each, join, chain 2 (65 SC)
Row 4:  DC each, join, chain 2 (65 SC)
Row 5:  DC each, join, chain 2 (65 SC)
Row 6:  DC each, join, chain 2 (65 SC)
Row 7:  DC each, join, chain 1 (65 SC)
Row 8: half double crochet each to finish, fasten off.  


And just for fun...my hat when I work son's Happy Puppy food cart.


Dear son and hubby said they wouldn't wear one, lol.
 Pattern from Repeat Crafter Me, see link for polar bear hat above

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Speculoos Cookie Butter Recipe


Speculoos from Trader Joe's

Apple Swan and Homemade Cookie Butter


This morning...New Year's Day on Facebook, my friend Sandy shared a YouTube video of how to make a swan from an apple.  Since I was waiting for everyone to wake up, and bored, I watched the video and decided to give it a try.  Fearful that my swan would be a total mess, I started with an old apple, a bit squishy and a bit past it's prime.  After I hacked the apple, my swan looked more like a turtle.  For the second attempt I used a firmer, fresher apple with much better results, pictured above.   

About 3 weeks ago we discovered Speculoos at Trader Joe's.  When I asked the sales clerk what Speculoos was and if she liked it, her reply was, "OMG, that stuff is get out of town good". She was absolutely right and when a cookie butter recipe magically appeared the next day in the December 2013 Food Network Magazine, we knew we were going to try it asap.

The cookie butter recipe is delish!  I saved my Speculoos jar from Trader Joe's and the Cookie Butter recipe from Food Network makes just enough to fit perfectly in the recycled jar.  I added a date label, since the cookie butter lasts 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

What a fun surprise for my family to see an apple swan on the table this morning with a yummy snack. 

We like the cookie butter with apples, but you can also use it as a dip with celery, pretzels, and other fruits.  Or drizzle on pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, and ice cream.

Happy New Year, 2014!  

Cookie Butter Recipe
Food Network Magazine, December, 2013

12 gingersnaps
6 whole graham crackers
5 shortbread cookies
3 Tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut milk


Roughly crush, then pulse in a food processor until finely ground:
12 gingersnaps
6 whole graham crackers
5 shortbread cookies

Add 3 Tablespoons cold water and pulse until combined, then let sit 10 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
and a pinch of cinnamon

With the processor running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup coconut milk and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Update:  We are on our 3rd batch of this stuff, so what to do with the extra cocconut milk?  Make chocolate speculoos of course, lol.
Use Special Dark Cocoa to make Chocolate Cookie Butter


 Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Cookie Butter Recipe
my slightly modified Food Network recipe

12 gingersnaps
6 whole graham crackers
5 shortbread cookies
3 Tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of cinnamon
4 Tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Cocoa, pictured above (do not use regular cocoa, it will taste like milk chocolate).
1/2 cup coconut milk


Roughly crush, then pulse in a food processor until finely ground:
12 gingersnaps
6 whole graham crackers
5 shortbread cookies

Add 3 Tablespoons cold water and pulse until combined, then let sit 10 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
and a pinch of cinnamon

With the processor running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup coconut milk and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Swirl with the non chocolate Speculoos for a flavorful butter.  Or, just argue over which is better, lol.


My son really likes this stuff, so this morning I cut a groove in a banana and filled it with cookie butter...he loved it!  I used to do this with peanut butter and called them banana boats :)

Here is the video on how to make an apple swan, from Grant Thompson's YouTube channel "King of Random". 



Friday, December 6, 2013

Our Eccentric Projects - Hobbes






My son is a Calvin and Hobbes fan so when dear hubby found a pattern on Instructables to make a stuffed animal Hobbes I was smitten and decided to make one.

The Hobbes took me a while to make since I hand stitched most of it, but I like the way it turned out, and I think my son did too. 

The pattern and instructions created by Seamster are very easy to follow, here is the link:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Stuffed-Hobbes-with-pattern/

If you check out the site, there are also accessories you can make...I'm thinking my son's Hobbes would like a new cape.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson