Monday, October 13, 2008

Apple-banana loaf

This is my all-time favorite snack bread! I like it with butter or cream cheese or cream cheese mixed with honey. My son loves to bring this to school with him as a "sweet". It takes about as long to make this from scratch as a box of brownies - really! And it is healthier too (well, except maybe that butter bit). I mix it all up in a big mixing bowl with a wooden spoon - so easy that it isn't even worth getting the mixer out for!

You can make it without the apples by using 2 bananas instead - and it is good. But trust me, it is REALLY good if you use the apples. I am just saying - don't let the lack of apples stop you from making this bread, that's all.

1 3/4 cup flour
2/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 small cooking apples (I like macintosh) or 1 big - peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 ripe banana

Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

In a smaller mixing bowl mash the banana (I use my pastry cutter - a tool I don't use for making pie crusts since I make those in the food processor - but it IS a handy gadget for mashing bananas!). Shoot - you could probably just slice the banana into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients, or mash it up in that bowl - this is just the way I like to do it!

In another small mixing bowl beat the 2 small eggs.

Now combine everything together into your big bowl and stir it up with a wooden spoon.

Put into a greased bread pan and bake at 350 for 40 - 45 minutes.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then flip it out of the pan.

Did I mention that this bread is especially yummy warm?

Oh - and about cutting it - the BEST way to cut this bread is if you have a serrated bread knife.


My favorite summer fruit pie filling

Guess what, I don't have a set recipe. Basically, I use 5 cups of soft fruit per pie. 5 cups will give you a nice thick slice of pie! My favorite is 2 cups blueberries, 2 cups raspberries, 1 cup peaches. Or may I don't have raspberries so I will use more peaches. Sometimes I have blackberries and will use those. Using 1/2 blueberries and 1/2 peaches is very good too! You can used canned peaches if you don't have fresh - I've even used a canned of drained mandarin oranges before with good results. I freeze my berries in the summer - and they are usually all gone by Halloween - so I have no idea exactly how long berries actually keep in the freezer, but in my household - not long!

5 cups soft fruit
1/4 cup flour - plus 2 teaspoons
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon
1/4 cup nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Use your favorite pie crust recipe. Don't have one? The post right before this one has my favorite!
In a large mixing bowl mix the dry ingredients. Mix in your fruits. Put this into your pie crust. Cut the butter into little pieces and evenly sprinkle over the top of the fruits. Put the lemon juice on top - I sort-ov splash mine so it is a bit evenly distributed.
Top with top pie crust. Put the pie in the fridge for 15 minutes. Cut your slits on the top of the pie crust, crimp the edges with a fork. If you are using decorative cut-outs for your crust it is easier to use these before you put the crust on - usually I just cut slits with a knife. Put your hands under running water and gently smooth wet hands over the top of the pie crust. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar - my son likes cinnamon/sugar and I always have that mixed up for toast - so I usually use that instead of plain sugar.
Put the pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Adjust temperature to 425 and bake for another 20 minutes or so - this higher heat will brown the crust so keep an eye on your crust - depending on your oven you might need plus/minus 5 minutes.
I always bake my pies at the lower temperature 1st and then the higher temperature to brown. This way I don't have to be putting foil around my pie crust edges and worrying about it the whole time. I mentioned on my pie crust recipe that I think the reason why people always start with the higher temperature 1st and then adjust to lower is because a long time ago people made pie in the woodstoves - and the fire was hotter at the beginning. There really is no reason why you can't reverse the order so you pie crusts don't get overly browned!
Anyway - I hope you enjoy making fresh fruit pies. Pies are easy to make as long as you allow yourself enough time.

Easy Double Pie Crust

Pie crust is easy - it just takes time... time as in - time to rest in the fridge, etc. So - plan accordingly and do other things around the house/kitchen on the day you make pie crust/pie. Believe me, after spending the day making cookies with my 5 year old son - I have come to appreciate the expression "easy as pie". Because pie truly is easy compared to cookies!
This is a great pie crust for juicy, fruity pies because it holds up to the moisture - the trick is in "waterproofing" the pie crust - I'll get to that in a minute. I have a few crust recipes, but this is the one I use most often.
The other thing - I make my pie crust in the food processor. So fast and easy! Just don't overprocess. Actually, it is just as easy to make 2 batches of pie crust as one - seeing you have all the ingredients, equipment and measuring stuff out anyway! I make 1 batch (1 batch is enough for a double pie crust - 1 top and 1 bottom) and then right away, make a 2nd. Who doesn't love 2 pies! My pie pans are old - a bit bigger than the standard size you most often see in the stores now - so this is good if you have a bigger pie pan or want to make a deep dish pie or if you love to make Mile High Apple Pie - it is enough crust no matter what pie you are making!
You have to go to a different post for my favorite mixed fruit pie recipe... this post is all about the crust. As I make different pies, I will try to add the recipes.

1 1/2 cups flour - give it a little stir before measuring so it is nice and fluffy
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound cold butter - cut into chunks. For people in the US - this is 1 stick of butter
or if you are in Canada and buy the big block - it is 1/4 of a block.
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 egg yolk - save the white for waterproofing
7-9 Tablespoons cold water - this amount varies depending on how big your egg yolk is!


Beat the egg yolk& water in a little bowl and set aside. You can add 1/4 tsp of vanilla to this mixture if you want too.
Put flour, salt and butter in food processor. Quickly pulse on/off several times until the butter is mixed in. Add sugar and quickly pulse (I'm talking about 2 seconds here!). Sometimes I will add 1/4 tsp cinnamon, but most of the time I don't.

Pour in the egg/water mixture. Pulse on/off until the dough is formed. I can "hear" it as soon as it is done - it only takes several pulses! If the dough is too crumbly - add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together. The amount of water needed really depends on how big your egg yolk is.
Break the dough into 2 pieces. Put each piece between 2 sheets of wax paper (you want the sheets to be bigger than your pie plate). Flatten the dough down with your hands (while it is between 2 sheets of wax paper) into a pancake. Put is in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
After the dough has chilled - keeping it sandwiched between the 2 sheets of wax paper - roll 1 at a time out to the correct size to fit into your pie pan - which means it has to be a bit bigger than the top diameter of the pan - I flip the empty pan upside down on the crust to double check for size. It should be about 1/4" thick. Put 1 back into the fridge. Remove the top sheet of wax paper on the 2nd one and flip it into the pie pan. Remove the 2nd sheet of wax paper. There is your bottom pie crust. Now beat the egg white with a fork, pour it into the pie crust, swirl around with your fingers to coat the crust and dump the left-over egg white into the trash. Set it in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill and waterproof.
I know that many people pre-bake their crusts and also do the waterproofing as part of the pre-baking. I don't. And I really don't think it makes a difference for this particular recipe. Hey, I'm all for time-saving tips!
The other thing I do when baking the pie - I start at the lower temperature and then at the end I turn the temperature up to brown the crust. I think that tradition calls for a higher temperature to begin with and then lower because a long time ago people would cook pies in their woodstoves and the fire was always hotter first. If you start with a higher temp 1st, then your have to foil the edges of your pie crust for the remainder cooking time and my oven is a powerful convection oven which just sucks the foil into the fan anyway so that isn't an option for me. So - start with the lower temperature and then switch to higher at the end (keeping a careful eye on it toward the end) to brown the crust.
OK - so now your pie crusts are done - fill the pan with your favorite pie filling, remove the wax paper from the top pie crust and put over the pie, remove the 2nd layer of wax paper, cut your slits with a knife (if you want to use decorative cut-outs it is easier to do before you get the pie crust situated on the top of the pie!), crimp the edges with a fork and put it in the oven on a cookie sheet. About the slits - I usually just use a knife and cut inside slits toward the middle - almost as if you are cutting the pie - go back a bit and then cut a 2nd set of slits set further apart - again - following the shape a slice of pie would be. Mmmm - easy as pie!

Did you all get that the wax paper should NOT be anywhere in your finished pie? LOL!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Orange Onion Salad

I like to make this salad when we eat Mexican/Spanish food.

4 large oranges - peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Kalamata olives, chopped - I use about 3

1 finely minced garlic clove


1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp lemon juice

2 TBS balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix marinade ingredients together and gently mix with the salad. Cover and put in fridge for a few hours to let flavors blend. Serve with a pinch of fresh chives if you want. Mmm.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spicy Pork Kabobs

I made these as part of my birthday dinner this year and boy are they ever good! The recipe is called Pinchitos Morunos and I got it from

I used small wooden skewers which I soaked for a few hours ahead of time. I also threaded my kabobs with green peppers and onions - with help from DH. As much as I really do like kabobs - they always seem to take forever to thread! These kabobs are equally good cold - as I had a few the next days as a snack straight from the fridge!

1 lb lean pork, cut into small cubes

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tsp salt

1 tsp curry

1/2 tsp coriander

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp thyme

Freshly ground pepper

3 TBS olive oil

1 TBS lemon juice

Thread pork on skewers (with peppers, onions, what-ever you like on your kabobs! Next time I am going to try pineapple and tomatos too).

Mix all the other ingredients in a 9X13 baking dish (I use Pyres). Roll your kabobs around in this mixture and let marinate a few hours - turning every once in awhile.

I cooked mine on the griddle, turning every once in awhile until done, but you could also cook on the grill.

Serves 6.

Sour Cream Enchiladas

I got this recipe from and boy is it ever good! Hers is slightly different as I've made my own changes

Mixture 1:

1 pint sour cream

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1/2 can green chilies (she uses 1 1/2 - 2 cans)

Mixture 2:

2 bunches chopped green onions

1 lb grated jack cheese

1 lb grated longhorn cheese

For Mixture 2 I just used a block of cheddar and a block of marble that I had.


Heat maybe 2 TBS of oil in a frying pan and when hot quickly fry both sides of tortillas (8) in the oil. You probably will need to add more oil as you go. Set the tortillas on top of each other as they come out the of pan.

Spray a 9X13 baking dish (I use Pyrex) with cooking spray. Put a thin layer of Mixture #1 in bottom. Fill tortillas with Mixture #2 and roll up. Put in dish on top of Mixture #1. Cover with the remainder of Mixture #1.

Bake at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Now let me just say - I wasn't totally convinced the first time I read this recipe that it would be as yummy as KCQuilter said, but I tried it out and boy is it ever yummy. Makes an especially good left-over - very easy to heat in the microwave!!! Next time around I am going to add some chopped cooked chicken breast!

Refried Beans

WHY buy canned refried beans when you can make your own for a fraction of the cost and it tastes soooo good! This recipe makes a pretty big sized serving bowl. About those pinto beans - my local grocery store does not carry them so I often use those yellow sided beans instead - just as good. You need to think a day in advance for this recipe as you do need to soak the beans overnight.

2 cups dried pinto beans

5 cups water

large chopped onion

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup lard

2 tsp salt

1. Rinse beans well in a strainer. Put in a BIG pan with lots of water. Soak overnight. You need a big pan with lots of water because those beans will swell right up and you want those beans to stay covered with water as they swell.

2. Rinse beans and place them in a big pan with 5 cups of water, onion and oil.

3. Cook over medium high heat until beans are soft - about 40 minutes or so - STIR constantly because they like to BURN. The thicker the bottom of your pan, the better off you are.

4. Add lard and salt and slightly mash with either a masher or a fork.

5. Cook beans on very LOW heat, stirring all the time until done - usually about 10 more minutes.

Lard! Yup - I buy mine by the block - it looks alot like Chrisco. You could also use butter, but I like lard.
***A note about bean - there is not a single pinto bean to be found in my local grocery store! If I don't think ahead and buy pinto beans when I am off to do a big grocery shop, then I use what beans our local store has. The beans in the photo were made with a yellow sided dry bean - can't remember the name of it off-hand, but you don't have to use pinto beans!

Mexican Rice

1 cup jasmine/basmati rice - uncooked

3 TBS vegetable oil

4 cups tomato juice - or 2 cups t. juice plus 2 cups water - that will work fine too.

4 TBS butter

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 chopped green pepper

2 finely chopped garlic cloves

1 1/2 cups chopped onions

2 chopped tomatoes

1. Rinse and drain rice, shaking to remove as much water as possible.

2. Heat the tomato juice in a saucepan.

3. Heat the oil in frying pan. I use a large frying pan with a cover because you are going to also cook the rice in this! Fry the rice on medium heat for about 7 minutes - when it starts to get a bit brown.

4. Add your warm tomato juice

5. Add all the other stuff.

6. Cover frying pan and cook on low heat until rice is done (about 20 minutes).



2 ripe avocados

1 chopped tomato

1/4 minced small onion

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 small can of chopped green chilis

1 TBS lime juice

1 TBS lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

Everyone know how to prep an avocado? Just cut in 1/2 longways, remove the pit and scoop out the avocado with a spoon. If it is still a bit firm - chop it up.

Mix all ingredients together. Put in fridge for a few hours for best flavor. This makes about 2 CUPS of guacamole so you might want to adjust the recipe down if it is just for a few people!
Photo taken after we had a bit of a sampling! MMMmmm mmmm good!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blueberry Cheesecake

My birthday cake for 2008!

You have to make cheesecake the day before so it has time to set in the fridge overnight. I especially like this recipe and the frosting hides any cracks very nicely!
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 TBS melted butter
1 TBS sugar
Mix above ingredients in a small bowl. Spray your cheescake pan with cooking spray (I use a top quality commercial spray from Sysco). Press crumb mixture along the bottom and up the sides of the pan - the mixture won't go all the way to the top - just mush it up as far as you can without getting it too thin.
Bake crust at 350 for 5 minutes. Take out of the oven and now it is time to make the cheesecake part!
Blueberry Cheesecake Filling
3 packages of cream cheese - room temp
1 cup sugar
3 TBS flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 egg whites
Sour cream - 8 oz
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS grated lemon rind
2 cups blueberries (I use frozen)
Beat cream cheese.
Mix sugar, flour and salt in small bowl and then add to cream cheese, mix. Add eggs - 1 at a time and mixing well. Add egg whites. Mix. Add sour cream, vanilla and lemon rind and mix until just blended. FOLD in blueberries. Put entire mixture in your crust.
Bake at 300 for 1 hour 10 minutes - until the center looks sort-ov firm - it won't look completely firm but it shouldn't be jiggly. Turn off oven and crack the door open a bit - keep cheesecake in there for another 30 minutes. Take out of oven and put on cake rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
Cover top with foil or saran wrap and put in the fridge overnight.
Release sides of pan and frost. Keep finished cheesecake in fridge until ready to serve!
1 cup of frozen dessert topping - thawed out - I use Cool-whip
1/4 cup sour cream
Mix together and spread over top of cheesecake. Makes a cool and refreshing frosting!
***A note about using frozen blueberries - I drain the blueberries 1st, but don't bother rinsing/drying them on a paper towel - I don't really care if my entire cheesecake has a lovely purple-ish tinge to it!

Friday, February 22, 2008

My favorite meatloaf

DH asked me to make meatloaf this week... he was reading a German cookbook and read off the ingredients to me... ground beef, egg, ummmm not much else. I laughed and laughed - where was all the other "stuff" that makes meatloaf so yummy. He just kind-ov looked at me blankly. Leave it to me honey, North Americans KNOW how to make meatloaf. So, here is my very favorite recipe for meatloaf - American diner style! DH can stick to making his wonderful Austrian food, but meatloaf - that is my department.
1 1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1 chopped onion
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup ketchup (X2 - you use the 2nd 1/4 cup for the top)
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
A good shake of all purpose seasoning (I like Adobe blend, but just use your fav.)
Mix altogether with your hands in a big mixing bowl. Transfer the entire, slighty goopy mess into a GREASED bread pan. Top with the 2nd portion of 1/4 cup ketchup.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Drain off the fat - we grind our own meat so don't have much of anything to drain.
Bake about 30 minutes more. The top will have little cracks so you will know the inside is done. Keep an eye on it because you don't want to overcook it. My oven is a bit different than other people's so I actually use different temperatures/times. But - these settings should work for a household oven.
This is sooooo sooooo good. Try it. You won't believe it!!!
I have some foil loaf pans and plan on making a couple more batches this week. I am going to just bake for the 1st 1/2 hour, let cool and then freeze. All I will have to do is defrost and finish the baking next time I want meatloaf! Maybe by planning ahead - next time around I will actually have time to make the carrots that I was going to make to go with this too! LOL!

Green Bean Casserole

We had this the other night and it was soooo very yummy! A bit on the salty side, but I prefer such a tiny amount of salt. Next time I won't cook the beans in broth and see if it makes a difference. But really, it was really good just as is - the recipe is from Paula Dean. Meatloaf recipe in a seperate post.
1/3 stick butter (a US stick of butter is 1/4 the size of a Canadian block of butter - just in case you are in Canada!)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup sliced or chopped fresh mushrooms
2 cups green beans (I used frozen beans)
3 cups of chicken broth - don't use that if you are serving vegetarians!
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 2.8 oz can of fried onions - they usually are in the chip section - Durkee and French's are 2 popular brands
1 cup grated cheddar cheese - I used a pre-shredded mix of maybe 3 different cheeses
pinch of black pepper and garlic powder
Saute onions/mushrooms in butter.
Boil beans in broth for 5-7 minutes and drain.
Mix everything together (except the cheese).
Spread into a 8X8 or 9X9 GREASED baking dish
Bake 15-20 minutes at 350
Top with cheddar and bake another 10 minutes

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Chili



oil - about 2 TBS
1 chopped onion
1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 TBS chili powder
2 tsp cumin

2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans - a good sized can, not the small one
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup corn
1 cup beef broth or use beef bouillon mixed with hot water
1/2 can tomato paste
1 TBS brown sugar

Heat a bit of oil in big frying pan. Add onions. Sautee until onions are glossy. Add beef and brown - crumbling into small pieces with your wooden spoon. Spoon off any fat. Add spices and stir.

Transfer mixture into soup pot.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until warmed through. Taste. Adjust seasonings to your own preference.

I like to serve this chili with sour cream and shredded cheese, plus basmati rice on the side and cornbread with honey.

If you have any left over green or red pepper - saute them in with the onions/meat. You can also use pinto beans if you don't have kidney beans.

I use medium salsa because I don't like my chili spicy, but I am sure the hot salsa would be good too!

Sweet Corn Bread

Sweet Corn Bread

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
3 TBS sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup canned cream corn
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, MELTED
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400
In large mixing bowl whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add creamed corn, butter and egg. Stir until just blended. Spoon into BUTTERED 8X8 pan.
Bake about 20 minutes - until edges begin to pull away from pan sides and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Serve with HONEY for dunking.

Cheap Sandwich Filling

My husband brought home this "steak" last week. It's the one on the right - 3 pieces for $4.72. I didn't know that he planned on making Hungarian Goulash with it, so read the directions stuck on the label and proceeded to simmer it (just 1 piece), as directed (in the oven). It was even called a "simmering" steak. It was awful. Yuck. Blah. I told DH to save it because I would do "something" with it. He almost threw it out!!!

The next day he asked me exactly what my plan was. Because this meat just wasn't tasty. Not one bit. But, I had a plan. You see - my Mom used to make sandwich spread when I was little with left-over cooked meat. She would put it in the blender to grind (pre food processor) and then add relish, mayo, maybe some chopped celery - whatever she had on hand. Presto - cheap sandwich filling. A fraction of the cost of cold cuts!

So, this meat went through the meat grinder with 3 cloves of garlic. Maybe it got a shake or two of some seasoning. It was mixed with mayonaisse and a bit of bistro sauce. We had very yummy toasted sandwiches with sliced hard boiled egg and pickles for a few days. Yum!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Best ever baked donuts

You need a donut cutter to make these yummy donuts.
2 packages (1/4 oz each) yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
4 1/2 cups four
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
5 tsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract
In mixing bowl disolve yeast in warm water. Whisk. Add warm milk & shortening - mix for 1 minute. Add sugar, eggs, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and 2 cups of flour - beat on low speed until smooth. Switch to dough hook. Mix in the rest of the flour to form dough - add a bit more flour if necessary. Do not knead the dough! Cover with a dish towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour - it needs to be in a fairly warm spot in order to double in size.
Punch the dough down and gently knead. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness on lightly floured counter. Cut with donut cutter and put on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with butter.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled - about 30 minutes (confession time here - I forgot to do this step in the batch in the photo which is why they look that way - but they are still very yummy, so the batch wasn't ruined, just a bit different.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until light tan.
GLAZE: In a small saucepan melt butter; stir in sugar, water and vanilla. Whisk over LOW heat until smooth. Dip warm donuts in glaze - it helps to have a pair of kitchen tongs to do this and place, glaze size up on a wire rack to cool. You might want to spread newspaper under the rack 1st to speed clean-up. Makes about 2 dozen, plus the donut holes!