Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I find that the more that I bake the more comfortable I have become in adjusting recipes to my tastes. I found a recipe on Pinterest for Peanut Butter Banana Bread, but was not crazy for her recipe, so I decided to make my own. It is so good! I am going to make this one again, for sure. Make it, it will not disappoint you, even if you do not get everything you listed in your letter to Santa Claus.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

2 C. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 C. butter

2 Tbs. sour cream

1/3 C. creamy peanut butter

1 C. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 ripe bananas, mushed, aprox. 1 1/2 C.

1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  • Cream the butter, sour cream, and peanut butter. Add in the sugar and cream until fluffy, followed by the eggs and vanilla.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together. Add into the mixer, alternating with the bananas, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  • Once everything is incorporated mix in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans, or 1 loaf pan and some muffins. The batter should reach halfway up the pan. I found that it fully cooks the inside and does not brown too much on the outside when they are not as full. Muffins would be another great way to use this batter.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Delicious Breadsticks

Now here is a fantastic recipe for breadsticks. My husband and I have decided that the dough used for pizza is not good for breadsticks. Why they are usually in the same category we are not sure because the dough for pizza is all wrong for good, fluffy breadsticks. I found the blog Cooking Classy through, what else, Pinterest and this recipe tastes just as good as it looks. We had a basic dinner of spaghetti, sauce, and spinach as a salad, when my husband suggested making breadsticks to round out the meal. I jumped at the chance to try out this recipe and it turned an okay dinner into a great one. 

Delicious Breadsticks

1 C. + 2 Tbs. hot water (110-115°)

1 1/4 tsp. dry active yeast

1/2 tsp. sugar

3 1/4 C. all-purpose flour

1 3/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbs. canola oil

Topping

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • In the bowl of your mixer put in the water, yeast, and sugar. Mix with a whisk attachment until both sugar and yeast are dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam.
  • Sift 1 1/2 C. flour and salt. 
  • Switch to the dough hook and mix the flour and canola oil into the yeast mixture. Add the rest of the flour. The dough should be slightly sticky. Put the dough into a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise for 1- 1 1/2 hours in a warm place. I let my dough rise in the oven after turning it on to warm slightly. The dough will take longer to rise if it is not warm enough.
  • Once the dough has doubled turn it onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into 12 pieces (aprox. 2 oz. a piece), and roll into 9″ breadsticks. Keep the dough and the formed breadsticks covered while finishing. Place the finished breadsticks onto a cookie sheet on top of parchment paper. 
  • Let the breadsticks rise for 45 minutes to an hour, turning on the oven to 425° for the last 20 minutes of the rise. 
  • Once the breadsticks have risen the desired amount bake them for 13-15 minutes. 
  • As soon as they come out of the oven brush them with butter and sprinkle with the mixture of salt and garlic powder. 

Barely adapted from Cooking Classy’s Olive Garden Breadsticks Copycat Recipe. 

Cheese & Broccoli Soup

Autumn is the perfect time to start making yummy soups, and this has always been one of my favorites, though in the past the best I could do was open a can of it in condensed form, which is never very satisfactory. I modified the liquid in this recipe, since I find that too much milk in this soup make it taste funny; the more broth the better. So I amped up the broth, toned down the milk, and increased the cheese. Honestly I could have added cream cheese, but this is at least a start to having a recipe for this soup that I want to make more than one time. My baby boy adored it and ate it in large quantities, which is good since neither my husband or daughter liked it.

Cheese and Broccoli Soup

2 3/4 C. chicken broth

1 onion, diced small

1/4 C. butter

1/3 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 1/3 C. milk, warmed 1 min. in microwave

2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

3 C. chopped broccoli, steamed until tender

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

  • In a large pot or dutch oven bring the chicken broth to a boil with the onions in it. Turn the temperature down to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the onion is soft.
  • Meanwhile steam the broccoli and set aside.
  • In a small pot melt the butter. Add in the flour and next 2 ingredients and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes until smooth. Whisk in the heated milk and stir until smooth and thickened. Pour this mixture into the chicken broth and onions and combine. Add in the cheese, stirring until the cheese is completely melted in, and the broccoli.
  • Process the hot soup mixture, being super careful not to overfill in the blender, blending until smooth. Return to the pot and mix in the softened cream cheese. Serve warm with more shredded cheese on top, if desired.

Adapted from Melskichencafe.com’s recipe for Broccoli Cheese soup.  

What to do with a Cold Baked Potato

Have you ever wondered what to do with a cold baked potato? There are almost always some left over from a dinner involving baked potatoes hot from the oven that get stuck in the refrigerator afterwards, but do you ever use them? I love having leftover cold potatoes because it means that I can make hot country-style hash browns for lunch the next day. I take the potato, skin and all, and slice them in half. Then I turn the halves over, flat side on the cutting board, cut them in half and each of the halves into half. Then I start at one end and slice them up into fairly small pieces, cutting down any piece that might be too large, depending on the thickness of the potato. I leave on some of the skin, while taking out pieces of skin that have already fallen off of the potato. I also dice up an onion, usually red, and get about 3 Tbs. butter melting in a skillet over medium/med.high heat. Once the butter is melted I add the onion and start that cooking for a couple minutes, and then add in my potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get a good crust, flipping often enough to brown the potatoes and get a nice crust, while not burning the hash. I love the ease of making and the yumminess of this hash served with eggs over medium. What do you do with a cold baked potato?

Easy Skillet Baked Apples

Pancakes for dinner is one of our favorite meals, and so easy. It is normally our Sunday evening after church meal, though yesterday my husband made a fabulous crock pot roast, so we decided that since we have been cooking a few heavier meals lately we would go light tonight. I pulled this apple topping idea from a Tyler Florence recipe on foodnetwork.com, and it was amazing on top of our blueberry pancakes. I was just lucky enough to have freshly picked apples from a nearby farm to use. 

Easy Skillet Baked Apples

4 Golden Delicious Apples

1/3 C. maple syrup (the real stuff!)

1/4 C. butter

  • Preheat the oven to 400°.
  • Peel the apples, cut them into thirds or fourths, take out the core and seeds, and slice. With the apple cut in thirds I was able to get 4-5 slices per piece.
  • Melt the butter and mix in the maple syrup. Add the apples and combine. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are super soft and starting to caramelize. 

Barely adapted from Tyler Florence’s Roasted Golden Delicious apples. 

Butterscotch Banana Zucchini Bread

Here is a relatively simple, 1-bowl, banana bread. You could certainly use a mixer if you wanted to, but you need to make sure not to over mix the batter, especially once the flour has been added. Every so often it’s nice to mix by hand- reminds me of the real olden days when there was no Kitchen Aid mixer- no electricity for that matter. It makes me want to give the Kitchen Aid a nice big hug- but I restrain myself. What if someone came into the kitchen while I was hugging the mixer. Don’t worry about it, you’ll say, I’m just showing it how much I appreciate all the work it does around this place. 

Butterscotch Banana Zucchini Bread

1/4 C. butter, melted

3/4 C. granulated sugar

1/4 C. dark brown sugar

1/2 C. sour cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/2 C. shredded zucchini

3-4 ripe bananas, mashed

3.4 oz box of butterscotch instant pudding

2 C. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

  • Preheat the oven to 325°.
  • In a microwaveable bowl melt the butter. To the melted butter mix in the sugars, sour cream, egg, and vanilla and whisk to incorporate. Make sure to add the sugar into the melted butter before the egg, so that you do not get scrambled egg banana bread. Add in the zucchini and bananas, followed by the dry pudding mix.
  • Sift together the flour, salt and soda. Stir flour mix into the batter, mixing only until incorporated.
  • Divide the batter between the 4 mini loaf pans evenly, and bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

You could probably use 1 full-size loaf pan for this bread, but I seem to have problems with my bread cooking all the way through without over-browning on the outside, and I really liked the mini loaf pans that I used to cook this bread in. I used 3, however they bubbled and ballooned out over the top and onto the pizza stone they were baking on, so I would suggest using 4 mini loaf pans. If you really wanted to you could cook the batter into muffins. 

Optional: Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, microwaved until soft

1/4 C. butter, softened

1 1/2 C. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

heavy cream to consistency

  • Beat the butter and cream cheese together in mixing bowl. Add in the vanilla. Sift the powdered sugar and add that to the butter mixture, drizzling in the cream to consistency. It should be creamy, smooth, yet slightly runny. It’s more of a glaze than a frosting. Frost the top of the loaves or have everyone use and knife and add their own frosting. My daughter wanted to just eat it straight out of the bowl with no bread. Maybe for her birthday I shouldn’t even bother with making a cake; I’ll just make her frosting. 

Adapted from Averie Cook’s Zucchini Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting. 

 

Red Onion and Rosemary Focaccia

We have been enjoying Jamie Deen’s new show in the Food Network, and I have begun trying out his recipes. We love focaccia and have a delicious, artisan pizza dough that we knew would perfectly compliment the toppings of a focaccia. Initially we tried baking it in the cast-iron skillet, however my husband did not like the lip of thick dough that happened when we cooked ours. I might try it again in the skillet, using a smaller piece of dough. I know that my husband just loves our pizza stone and that is good enough for me. Coming up next: Caramelized Onion and Pecan Focaccia. 

Red Onion and Rosemary Focaccia

pizza dough

all purpose flour

extra virgin olive oil

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped

1/4 C. parmesan cheese, finely grated

  • Preheat the pizza stone in the oven at 400°.
  • Dust the baking peel with flour.
  • Roll out the pizza dough to desired thickness; It should not be paper thin, nor too thick. Press fingertips into dough creating many craters spread evenly over the whole disc of raw dough. 
  • Lightly brush olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle on the rosemary. Place the slices of red onion, and finish by sprinkling on the parmesan cheese. 
  • Slide focaccia onto hot pizza stone and bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and golden brown. 

Slightly Adapted from Jamie Deen’s Cast-Iron Skillet Focaccia.

Easy Hash Browns

I have some great recipes on the way, but I’ll start off with this basic recipe for delicious homemade hash browns. In the past my husband and I have had no clue how to make hash browns. We would boil the potatoes part of the way and then try to grate them, but the outside of the potato was always too cooked and the inside was raw. Practice makes perfect, and I am glad we are really perfecting the basics. Next I want to try to make smothered hash browns, just like I used to have late night at the Waffle House in Virginia during my college days. 

Easy Homemade Hash Browns

4 Russet potatoes

salt

pepper

garlic powder

cayenne pepper (optional)

butter

  • Peel the potatoes. After rinsing them off, finely grate them. A box grater would work fine, though give your muscles more of a workout, while we have been using the food processor with the grater attachment. It’s wonderful!
  • Put all the grated potato into ice cold water and let them sit for a short time. I usually stir them around with my finger a few times, and let them sit for around 15 minutes.
  • Dry them thoroughly while the pan is getting hot on the stovetop.
  • Put plenty, I mean a few tablespoons, of butter into the pan to melt. Add in the potatoes, probably not all at once, making sure they are a nice, even layer, not too thick. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and any other seasonings.
  • Press them down onto the hot pan, and let them cook without touching them for at least a few minutes, until a golden brown crust is formed. Do the same with the other side, and cook until they are completely cooked.

The Best Way to Cook Corn on the Cob

Thanks to Tyler Florence on foodnetwork.com for providing me with the best way to cook corn on the cob. I have always had problems with boiling corn on the cob, and now I will not have problems with it any longer. No husking beforehand, no waiting for an hour for a big pot of water to boil, no splashing, or worrying about how long exactly to cook the corn. Now, I take the corn, in the husk, place it in a preheated oven set to 350° right onto the rack, and roast for 30 minutes. What comes out of the oven is wonderful, delicious, roasted corn! Each person can shuck their own corn, prepare it the way they want to eat it, and all can enjoy this delightful, yellow summer harvest. 

Larger French Fries

In the last post of Matchstick Fries (Homemade French Fries) I mentioned that I wanted to try making them larger. Well, I did and they were terrific, but I think using the Pioneer Woman’s Perfect French Fries recipe as the guideline was better for the larger fries. I cut these fries larger, then soaked them in the ice water for almost 2 hours. Then I dried them on paper towels while the oil was heating to 300°. The problem I found is that heating the oil on the stovetop makes it difficult to get the temperature just right, and then once you add the potatoes the temp. drops crazy low and it takes a while to get it back up. I just kept upping the temp. to get them softened in the 4-5 minute time period the first cooking is supposed to take.

So the small fries I cooked in the hot oil with no pre-cooking and they browned up nicely and were done. These larger fries I pre-fried to soften them in the lower temperature oil. I drained them all, working in batches, and then turned up the temp. once I had cooked all 3 batches (I made 4 russet potatoes). In the hot oil I cooked them the 2nd time until they were a beautiful golden brown (ere on the darker side for a tastier fry), salting them as soon as they came out of the hot oil. The next time, because I am working in batches, I will heat the oven and keep them warm while I am cooking the remaining potatoes. 

Here is the link for the Pioneer Woman’s version of all this french fried goodness.