Sunday, December 12, 2010

Favorite Banana Bread

Sweet quick breads are a great way to make sweet treats for the holidays. They are easily made ahead and frozen. I wrap mine well and keep in the cold garage. When I had a screened in porch I kept them in a cooler out there. I usually cut mine in half at least. I like to put out trays of a variety of flavors when I have guests over for a meal or even when it's just light refreshments. I alternate slices of different colors, usually pumpkin, chocolate and banana.

Banana Bread
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup stick margarine
1 cup brown sugar
2 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, beaten

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in oatmeal. In a large bowl cream margarine and brown sugar. Stir in bananas then eggs until well blended. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until just blended. Pour into a well greased  9X5X3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350F for one hour or until testing done. Poke a toothpick into center of loaf and if it comes out clean or just with just a couple of crumbs sticking to it, the loaf is done. Cool in pan on a wire rack about 30 minutes. Remove from pan to rack to finish cooling before wrapping for storage.

I always use stick margarine for this recipe so the flavor of the bananas is predominant. Butter could be substituted for the margarine.


Prepare your favorite pound cake recipe or use a pound cake mix. Stir in 1 cup of halved red and green candied cherries to the batter before baking. OR use 1 cup chopped candied fruit mix.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Better Beef Stew

I really like using my slow cooker for days I'm pressed for time but want a hot home cooked meal to come home to. Yesterday I did not start my beef stew in time for the slow cooker to do it's thing in time for dinner. I will say I got a very rich tasting stew on the stove top. May not go back to making this particular dish the cook all day way.

1 1/4 lb.s beef cut for stew ( I used organic, very lean)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon each: ground savory, ground pepper, garlic powder and dried thyme
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup dry red wine or water
6 small red or white potatoes, quartered
1 large carrot sliced in 1 inch diagonal slices
2 stalks celery, sliced in 1 inch diagonal slices
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, cut in half if large
1, 14.5 oz. reduced sodium beef broth.

Mix seasoning into flour. Dredge beef cubes in flour. In a heavy skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Brown beef cubes on two sides. Place beef in a 4 quart pot. Deglaze skillet with wine and pour into pot. Add remaining ingredients to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer 90 minutes.
Remove lid. Bring to a boil and boil, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Serves 4.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Easy Cookies

My occupation has become very demanding and I am not finding energy for my usual holiday baking.
Here are a couple of short cut cookies I plan to make. They make small batches. I have a small household and don't want a lot of leftovers after the guests have gone home.

I use 17.5 oz. packages of sugar cookie mix and follow the directions on the package for cut out cookies. I then frost and decorate them. That's the fun part of cut outs and the flavor of the mix is just fine.

I'll make a batch of this easy frosting this weekend. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 months. I'll use a lot for Christmas but have enough for cookies for Super Bowl party and for Valentine's Day cookies.

2 cup shortening
1/2 cup dry non dairy creamer
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
32 oz. confectioner's sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cups water

In a large mixing bowl beat shortening, dry creamer and vanilla. Gradually beat in sugar. Add enough water until frosting has the desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator. Bring the amount needed for your batch of cookies to room temperature. This spreads easier at room temperature. Food coloring can be added to the batch before spreading. Holiday colored sprinkles stick well to this frosting.

I use a 17.5 oz package of sugar cookie mix prepared according to the package directions. At the end I stir in 2 teaspoons lemon extract and 1 cup chopped pecans. I then bake them according to package directions for drop cookies.

These are fun red and green cookies:
3/4 cup butter
1, 4 oz. package pistachio instant pudding mix.
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup shelled pistachios or chopped almonds
Candied red cherries cut in half

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and pudding mix. Stir in flour. Fold in nuts. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Flatten to 1/2 inch with bottom of a greased drinking glass. Press a cherry half in the middle of each. Bake 10 to 13 minutes until lightly browned on the edge. Remove to a wire rack or brown paper sacking to cool. Makes 2 dozen.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pork and Pumpkin Stew Supper

I got one small pumpkin in the last box of my organic farm share. Wanted to cook with it rather than use it as a fall decoration. I came up with this recipe. The grocery stores in my area sell what they call "boneless pork country style ribs". I can generally find them with marked down price the night before the new weekly sales specials go into effect. This cut does need some trimming of fat but the meat is easy to cube for stews and has a satisfying taste. Served this stew with a tossed salad this week, dressing recipe follows. Applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon makes a nice dessert.

Prep time for stew 10 minutes. Cooking time is just over 2 hour so need to plan ahead when you want to make it. There is no stirring while simmering so you are not tied to the stove the whole time. Also gives you enough time to make a batch of savory muffins to serve along with the stew, if you like.

Pork and Pumpkin Stew

2 lbs. boneless pork (shoulder cut is good) cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef broth, canned or homemade*
1, 14.5 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup rinsed barley
pinch of salt and dash of ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground savory
1 bay leaf
2 small turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups chopped greens, ( turnip or collard OR Swiss chard)
2 lb. pumpkin peeled, seeded** cut into 1 inch cubes

In a 4 quart pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add pork in two batches, cook and turn until browned on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, savory, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 1 hour.

Add turnips, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add greens and pumpkin, cover and simmer 30 more minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Serves 6 to 8.

*I used Kitchen Basics (R) Veal Stock in a box for this. Has a little milder flavor than beef stock.

**Save the seeds to roast and salt for snacks

Yogurt Feta Salad Dressing

1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Combine all ingredients in a small container. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sirloin Steak Roll Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes

Sirloin Steak Roll 
  • 4 Servings
  • Prep: 20 min. Cook: 40 min.


  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless sirloin steak about 1 inch thick
  • 8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil divided
  • 1 teapsoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground savory
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (9-oz.) package frozen creamed spinach


  • Butterfly steak with a sharp knife and open to lay flat. Combine mushrooms, onions, garlic and 1 tablespoon in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on hight for 1 to 2 minutes, until onions are soft. Spread over steak. Roll up steak, jelly roll style. Place seam side down in a greased open baking pan. ( 9 X 13 inch) Rub combined pepper, paprika and savory over surface of meat. Bake, uncovered at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Bakse with combined Worcestershire sauce, win and remaining tablespoon of oil. Bake 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Prepare creamed spinach according to package directions. Spread spinach over warm serving platter. Cut sirloin into 8 slices and serve atop spinach. Yield: serves 4

Pair this special presentation of steak with two baked side vegetables. Bake 6 to 8 oz. russet potatoes along with steak. Be sure to prick holes in the potatoe skin to let steam escape. Serve with your favorite potatoe toppings such as butter and sour cream. Cut 2 acorn squash in half. Remove seeds. Place cut side down on greased cookie sheet. Bake for first 20 minutes with steak. Turn over and place a pat of butter in each cavity and may sprinkle each with pumpkin pie spice if desired. Bake an additional 20 minutes before serving.

The above is a dinner special enough for guests or a holiday. 4 servings. Easily mutiplied for additional servings.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Last Burger of the Season

Came up with this "gourmet" burger for the grill last week. We don't grill outside after the time change so I wanted to do it up big.

1 1/4 lb. ground round
1/4 cup sliced green pitted olives
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix
2 tablespoons red wine

Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Form into 4 patties. I made these thin patties by spreading and pressing to about 6 inches in diameter on a salad plate. I'm finding that making thick burgers for the grill makes them burned on the edges and almost raw in the middle. They also shrink to where they don't fill the bun.

Grill over hot fire for about 3 minutes a side.

I served on whole grain sandwich rolls with sliced tomato, onion and lettuce. Only condiment was Dijon mustard. My husband melted a provolone cheese slice on his. 4 servings.

Served the burgers with our favorite canned baked beans and this oil and vinegar cole slaw.

6 cups shredded green cabbage
1 green or red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

Toss vegetables in nonreactive bowl.

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Whisk the above in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Pour over vegetables. Chill several hours or overnight before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Clean out the pantry, frig, and freezer casserole

Threw this together after work. On the table in about 1 hour. Had a side salad. Honey Crisp Apples for dessert.

6 oz. (1/2 package) no yolk broad egg noodles
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 banana pepper, diced
1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1, 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash (registered trademark) table blend
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. shredded white cheddar cheese.

Boil noodles according to package directions until tender, drain and keep warm. Meanwhile, brown ground beef in deep skillet. Drain. Add onion, celery, carrot, peppers, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and Mrs. Dash to skillet. Bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in noodles and Parmesan. Pour into greased 3 quart casserole dish. Bake in 350 F oven for 30 minutes. Top with cheddar cheese to serve. Serves 8.

We cook low sodium so we salted this at the table. You could season it with 1 teaspoon salt OR 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce OR 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Week night dinner

I'm getting so many delicious vegetables from my farm share, they take center stage for most of my dinners these days. This was Monday night's dinner.

Plan ahead part: 4 extra chicken breasts cooked ahead on the weekend. Need the whole grill for vegetable side dish.

Purchase one bunch each green and red leaf lettuce. Wash and spin dry. Store in plastic bag with folded up paper towel. Shred  two carrots and thinly slice two stalks of celery and store in covered in refrigerator. You now have at least 8 servings of side salad ready for dinners during the week. Much more economical and safer the bagged premade salad. Should last about 5 days.

Have grill heated and ready by 20 minutes before dinner time. Prepare salads first, topping with fresh tomato and cucumber is desired. Pass salad dressing of choice. Reheat chicken and prepare squash as below.

Squash Steak

1/2 half cup sliced onion

2 teaspoon butter
1 large 10 to 12 inch summer squash
1/4 cup bottled or home made vinaigrette salad dressing
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried

Heat butter in skillet over medium high heat. Saute onions until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Keep covered and warm. Cut squash, lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Brush each side with vinaigrette. Grill 4 to 5 minutes a side. Place on serving platter. Top with onions and sprinkle with basil. Serves 4.

You could certainly add potato or other starch of your choice if you need extra food at the meal.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Love to share

Trying my hand at blogging about home cooking once again. I had a hobby website that I posted random recipes everyday. My occupation (as in day job) made it difficult to plan and post so often. The cost also started to be burden. In this blog I will try to post ,every few days, a full meal menu with recipes. These will be actual menus from my home kitchen. If you want to eat the best tasting food, cook at home. You have control over the quality and quantity of ingredients. You control the fat and salt content. You also really keep the cost of eating down. Cooking mostly from scratch (I'll suggest worth while convenience foods) will always be more economical than carry out or restaurant food. You also control the safety and sanitation of the meals you consume at home when you are in charge of the kitchen. Think about these things. Be mentally prepared to cook most of your own meals. Check back here for ideas on great home cooking.