Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's For Breakfast: Banana Bread French Toast

The other night, I made 2 different banana bread recipes.  One was my usual Betty recipe; the other was a recipe I found on, which you know I love.  Both ended up being great.  The Betty recipe is fantastic--it's moist (not my favorite word, but how else do I say it?!) and easy to make.  The other recipe, called Banana Banana Bread is really, really good.  Very banana-y (as you would imagine), dense (in a good way), and overall delicious!  I wanted to know which was the better recipe.  I can't decide.  I think I prefer the Banana Banana Bread if I'm just eating it plain, but if I wanted to (for instance . . . ) make French Toast, then Betty wins.

Last summer, we went to a restaurant in Portland that served banana blueberry bread french toast.  It was so brilliant!!  Why hadn't I thought of this before?  I decided to try making it this morning.  I used my banana bread, but put blueberry compote on top, making for a gourmet breakfast (minus the bacon and fried potatoes.) 

Here's what to do:

1.  Make your favorite Banana Bread recipe.  (I've listed 1 I used below)
2.  Heat griddle to medium heat.
3.  Make Blueberry Compote (see below)
4.  Make French Toast Batter
      -1 egg
      -2 Tbsp. milk
      -1/2 t. vanilla
5.  After slicing bread into 3/4" slices, dip both sides of bread in batter and place on griddle. 
6.  After French Toast is done, place on plate, add some Blueberry Compote, and sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar to make it pretty!

Blueberry Compote
-Put 3/4 qt. blueberries  in saucepan over medium heat and cook until soft
-Stir in sugar as needed.  My blueberries were really tart, so I used about 1/4 c. sugar
-Add about 1 Tbsp. Lemon or Lime Juice
-To thicken, mix 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch in cold water until dissolved, then stir into blueberries. 
-Bring to a boil, then serve.

Banana Banana Bread from
. . . with a few changes I made!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 5-6 bananas)

Optional topping:
1/8 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla.  Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.  Add optional topping, if desired
Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Autumn Sugar Cookies

Sometimes I feel the need to make shaped cookies.  This time, I think that I believed that my daughters would be able to take a role in using the cookie cutters and we would have a fabulous time.  I sometimes forget that they are 18 months and 3 years.  Of course they will take a role in that!  It just may not be the role I had imagined.

[Please note messy kitchen in background.  This is normal.]

 I called Justin because I needed pumpkin or leaf cookie cutters.  He gave into my whim and raided the Party City near his work to find these Wilton cookie cutters for $3.99.

I will shamelessly admit to you that Betty & I are close.  When I need a good, basic recipe, I look to her years of experience and am rarely disappointed.  A few of the recipes that I treasure cannot be found in the recent cookbooks, so I have copied them from my mom's old Crocker cookbook.  This recipe is from this old cookbook and they are the sugar cookies I grew up eating at Christmas time.  They aren't your super soft sugar cookies.  They are a little cripsy and I kind of like it when I over cook them just a touch!  Of course you can frost them easily, but I love the flavor so much that I just use sprinkles.  For the cookies we made, we used "Autumn Sprinkles" and chocolate sprinkles.

[As you can tell, Bee had a heavy hand on the chocolate sprinkles!]

For the record, they were delicious.  Just ask Bug!

Okay, here's the recipe since you can't find it in the new cook books!

Deluxe Sugar Cookies (Betty Crocker)

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract

{Mix these ingredients together, then add:}

2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. soda
1 t. cream of tarter

*Chill for 2-3 hours (if you don't, you won't be able to roll the dough out.)
*Preheat oven for 375 degrees.
*Roll out dough and use cookie cutters to form cookies.
*Place on baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes.


Monday, October 25, 2010


Last week, we got to go to Sunriver (an Oregon resort town) for Justin's staff retreat.  It was fabulous to get away sans kiddos and enjoy the last of the sunny, dry October days.  Justin wouldn't touch a horse with a 10-ft. pole, but I got to ride horses with a couple friends.  You know that song, "Save a horse; ride a cowboy"?!  My horse's name was Cowboy, so . . . yeah.  Anyway.  That's your random little side note for the day.

 (Picture from Sunriver's horseback riding site.  Sadly, this is not really me.  Or Cowboy.)

After 2 nights in my own bed, we headed up to Black Lake in Washington to lead worship music at a middle school camp.  We had a fantastic time, despite rain.  The "real bummer" (in 55 degree weather) was the fact that we couldn't go in the lake (whah!) because it had some poisonous algae thing going on.  Yeah, I know.  Right?  WE COULDN'T GO IN THE LAKE!!  IN OCTOBER!!  What is the world coming to?  Major bummer (for crazy mid school kids who swim in the freezing Pacific.)  Anyway.  That's your second random side note for the day.

And in case you are still reading:  I'll post Autumn Sugar Cookies (or at least a recipe and photos) tonight. You will want some.

I missed you and have the ridiculous notion that maybe you missed me too, so I had to at least post and let you know I was still alive.  I was just re:treat-ing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins [+ cream cheese] or [+ chocolate chips]

As promised, a pumpkin muffin recipe that is well worth the calories. This recipe is one that I embellished on and customized off of All Recipes, a website I love so much that I'm a "supporting member," which allows me to save all the customizations that I make to recipes I find.  Awesome, awesome feature.  Okay, I know this sounds like an ad, but it's not.  I'm just sayin . . .

Again, my trusty helpers assisted me!  Oh, and no picture of the finished products--they were gone before I remember to take a photo!

Pumpkin Muffins 
Yields 2 Dozen 
(because, really, what's the point of making only 12?)

  • 1 1/2 cups white OR packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil OR melted butter
  •  4 eggs
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup water
  •  3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • opt. (1 tsp. Pumpkin Spice--it's really a mixture of all of the stuff you just put in, but just a touch more!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
  2. Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture.
  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Delicious Variations:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins:  Add 1-2 cups semi-swettchocolate chips

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins:
Mix 1 8oz. pkg. Cream Cheese and 1/2 c. Powdered Sugar.  Blend well.  Taste and add more sugar, if desired.
Fill muffin cups 1/3 full of batter, then dollop cream cheese mixture over the top.  Put another dollop of the batter on top of the cream cheese.  Bake as directed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Fright Light"

Yesterday, on, one of the contributing posters, Anitra, posted how to make this "fright light."

Normally, I'm not a huge into decorating for Halloween, but I really like the idea of the window mesh wrapped around this jar.  It gives a very cool effect and I think I'll make a couple, (minus the spider, which I can do without!)

Post on how to make irresistibly amazing pumpkin cream cheese muffins is coming this weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Seeds!

I remember my dad scraping the pumpkin out as we kids waited anxiously for him to let us help make the Jack-O-Lantern face.  Personally, I never wanted the scary faces--only the happy ones!  I particularly like the ones with one one tooth because it makes them look friendlier.

Anywho, (BTW, yes, I'm aware that's not a word--I enjoy making you English people cringe.  No red pen for this blog.  Ah ha ha!!), another memory I have from carving pumpkins is baking the seeds.  Yesterday, after carving out a pumpkin, I separated out the seeds and baked some of my own, which I hadn't done in a few years.  This time, I had little helpers!  Don't worry.  Of course they have food handling permits, as evidenced by their very clean clothing and tidy hair.

I realize there a varying seasonings that you can add to the seeds to make them a tasty snack, but I went plain and simple:  olive oil and kosher salt.

Here's how:

1.  Separate & clean your seeds.  Blot dry with a towel and put them in a bowl.

2.  Toss in some Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  As Bug demonstrates on the left, it's always good to smell your olive oil to make sure it isn't rancid.  (!?)

3.  Toss in the Kosher Salt.  Make 'em good and salty so they taste like popcorn! 

4.Spread your seeds on a baking sheet.  This is not a good time to taste-test your seeds like Bug is doing.  Wait until they are baked @ 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  If you're a bit of a perfectionist, it wouldn't be a bad idea to turn them over once or twice.

5.  Enjoy in your pajamas as a delicious bed time snack.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Staging Autumn

 I love autumn.  I love the colors and the cold, crisp air.  I love volleyball season and the excitement of college football.  I love the hot beverages and the pumpkin treats.  I love the candles and the fires.  I love fall!

I can tell you (as I have before) that I am not a very good decorator, not that I don't try.  I know what I like, but have a hard time making it happen.  (Budget?!  What?!)  Anyway, I love turning my decorations for new seasons.  Here are a few inexpensive ways I've made my home a little more "fall-ish."

Pumpkins (the obvious fall choice):  $1.99 each @ Safeway, although I prefer to go to the Pumpkin Patch 
(plans for that later this month!)

Jar candles:  Pumpkin Nutmeg $7.99 for 2 @ Target
Orange Mum:  $5.99 @ Target

Scented Oil burner:  The Body Shop--scent:  Pumpkin Nectarine and Vanilla Spice

Colored tea lights:  $5.99 @ Target

Changed the ribbon on the frame!

What are doing to dress up your house?  [so I can steal your ideas!]

[P.S.--check out my super simple tutorial on on how to make a no-sew tutu.  Perfect for a Halloween costume or any 3 year old's daily attire!]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Daughter Rejoicing: A B Birthday

A Daughter Rejoicing: A B Birthday

Because I am pretty much lame, I have not posted pics from my daughter's 3rd bday. BUT my sister has!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Birthday Post From a Friend

My friend Rebekah posted about my today since it's my birthday.  Click HERE to read it.  Thanks so much, Rebekah.  Our friendship is unlike any other and I'm grateful everyday for it!  More pics from our friendship is HERE.


Congratulations!! We have winners!

I always wonder how exactly people do giveaways on their blogs.  Do they truly randomly select someone?  Do they judge by comments?  (Do they READ the comments?)  How did I select?

I decided to give away not 1, but 2 necklaces.  The first one is to someone who commented, followed, or Facebooked.  The second is to someone who was already following my blog before.  It only seemed fair!  So for the first prize, I listed every name that commented, followed or FB'ed, called my husband and asked him to pick a number between 1 and ___.  He chose #13, who happened to be:

Leslie D!!!! 

For the second prize, I did the same thing.  Listed every previous follower, had Justin pick a # and he picked # 27, who happened to be:

Calista M!!!!

Calista has a blog with adorable, fun blog that features her beautiful daughter, as well as things that she creates!  You can link to her blog by clicking HERE.  Check it out!

Each person will receive a necklace of their color/motif choice!  Hooray for winning!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Last Chance to Win!

Tomorrow I'm randomly selecting a "winner" who will receive a Scrabble Tile necklace.  Okay, okay, so I wish I could give away an awesome embroidery machine or a Project Runway Dress Form or a bizillion dollar gift card to the best fabric store nearest you.  However, I don't have any of those things, so you'll have to settle for a Scrabble tile, albeit cute.

Don't miss out!  There are different ways to enter.  Just check out this post and check back tomorrow!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Random: Great Groceries @ Great Prices

You know when you find things are great deals and you want everyone to know?!  Well, I do and I do!

My top grocery deal picks for this week:

1.  5 lb. Grated Tillamook Cheddar Cheese:  Costco $9.99

I don't think that Costco always has the best deals, but grab this bag because it's under $2/lb. and it's already grated!  I love buying grated cheese, especially when it's less expensive than buying the brick.  It's so easy to use this for tacos, quesadillas, soups, casseroles . . . you get the picture.

2.  2 lb. Bag Kirkland Espresso Beans Roasted by Starbucks: Costco $9.99

Justin and I have been drinking this stuff for a few years now and at 5 bucks a pound you can't beat it.  While we brew ours in our practically antique "Barista" machine, these beans will make you a wonderful regular pot of coffee.

3.  "This Blueberry (or Apple . . . Fig . . . Strawberry . . . ) Walked into a Bar" Cereal Bars: Trader Joe's $1.79

Let's be honest:  you're in a hurry and your kids are hungry.  Do you want to stuff their faces with snacks loaded with high fructose corn syrup?  Of course not.  These bars taste good, kids love them, and there is no corn syrup involved.  

I have a ton more, but I'll let out my secrets slowly!  Just kidding.  I only have so much time to blog!

How about you?  Any great grocery deals you can share?