I might have to rename this site, “Jamie Makes Banana Bread.” I’ve been making other recipes lately — this weekend I made Cinnamon Sugar Pecans that I thought I’d share with you — unfortunately, they don’t believe in photographs. They tasted pretty awesome though… Just so you know, I don’t only make banana bread… but as I’ve said before, it is a weekly event, so when I’m in need of a recipe to make the blog look like someone cares about it, I just change it up a bit. 😉
This double chocolate banana bread turned out amazing. We had it for dessert as part of a delicious Sunday dinner. Even though it was only in the low 30s, Mike and the kids spent a few hours outside yesterday afternoon working in the yard and running around. We are so desperate for Spring! After they came in we had hamburgers on the grill (Bo ate nearly two!), coleslaw, baked beans, and baked French fries — followed up by generous pieces of this banana bread (Bo also ate two — he must be growing…). Of course the trio loved this — it was banana bread — plus it had chocolate chips. I couldn’t really go wrong.
As with all banana bread, this was quick and easy to throw together. The chocolate make it rich and dessert worthy. Definitely a new keeper to add to our banana bread rotation.
Preheat oven to 350 and spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In the bowl of your mixer, combine the sugar and the eggs. Add the oil and bananas until the bananas are well mashed and combined. Add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour.
Since it has still been snowy and cold here (seriously, I’m over it…), I made a large batch of beef and barley soup in the crockpot this week. This recipe makes a full crockpot so I had plenty leftover to freeze. The best part, it’s healthy — what many would consider “clean eating” and it’s super easy to throw together in the morning, forget about, and have a nice warm dinner ready and waiting in the evening.
I served mine with homemade green bread (recipe coming soon) in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I tried to convince the trio that it was Leprechaun Stew but they weren’t fans. Bo ate two bites, Clara and Anna ate one. Personally, I thought it was delicious.
At our house, banana bread is nearly a weekly occurrence. The trio loves it. It’s easy. And we seem to always have ripe bananas ready for mashing on our counter. I abide by the philosophy that one can never have too many bananas…
Since I make banana bread so often, I’m also often looking for ways to change it up a bit and this banana bread has a delightful cinnamon ribbon in the middle that gives it just a bit of crunch and extra cinnamony goodness. This recipe makes two loaves, but it could easily be halved to only make one.
The trio and I had it for dessert last night and again this morning for breakfast. It was a huge hit — and they appreciated the cinnamon ribbon. Anna thought it tasted like a cookie. Bo exclaimed that it was the best banana bread ever — but he often says that. And Clara licked the plate, which I took as a compliment instead of poor manners.
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two loaf pans by spraying with Baking PAM and place them on a cookie sheet. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a stand mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time and then add the bananas. Mix until the bananas are no longer lumpy. Add the yogurt (you can use any kind you have on hand -- I actually used strawberry with chunks that the kids don't like, but by the time it was baked you couldn't tell there was strawberry yogurt in it). Add the flour mixture until the batter is just combined. In your prepared loaf pans, spread ¼ of the batter into each. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle ½ of the sugar/cinnamon mixture over each half loaf. Spread ¼ of the remaining batter on top of each of the loaves. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown and mostly set.
Dislocated Olneans — this post is for you. Growing up in Olney, Illinois, one of my most favorite places to eat is Joe’s Pizza. The number of memories I have of eating Joe’s Pizza is a bit ridiculous — extra cheese, extra sauce pizza on Jenna’s 16th Birthday, countless orders of breadsticks with Mandy, and Sunday night pizza night at home. Joe’s Pizza is an Olney staple and one of the places that requires a visit each time I return to my hometown.
Now that I live in North-Central Illinois, I’m still shocked that the pizza places here don’t have breadsticks. The “thing” in the Illinois Valley is garlic nuggets — which are okay — but I still crave and miss the traditional breadsticks from Joe’s. Amazingly, I’ve figured out how to make them at home — and they are delicious. Easy to make and oh, so good. Now if I can just figure out Joe’s pizza sauce…
These breadsticks are great served with pizza sauce and cheddar cheese sauce (mixed together — it sounds odd, but trust me) for dipping.
I made these breadsticks twice this week. The kids had friends over on Tuesday so I made a batch to have with our spaghetti dinner — and then I made them again last night — just to be able to eat more of them! So much for that low-carb diet… Last night, Bo came into the kitchen when they were almost done baking and exclaimed, “What is that amazing smell!?!” (Yes, he’s 6…) These breadsticks were a huge hit with the trio.
Using a bread machine, combine all ingredients in the order listed. Turn the machine on the dough cycle setting. When the dough cycle is complete, roll out the dough and cut into 20ish slices and place on baking sheets lined with parchment. Let rise for at least an hour (I let mine rise for nearly 2 hours as it was pretty chilly in my kitchen).
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes until just beginning to brown. They are great plain or you can brush with a bit of butter for some extra flavor. Serve with pizza sauce and cheese sauce for dipping.
*If you don't have a bread machine, I think you could use the dough hook on a mixer to make the dough -- just make sure you let the dough rise twice -- once before cutting into breadsticks and again after*
On Christmas Eve, Mike made bolognese sauce. This recipe is originally from Mike’s dad, Jim, but has become one of Mike’s speciality recipes when he has a hankering to cook. We had this for lunch on Christmas Eve and everyone enjoyed it. Bo has deemed it the best sauce ever. I think it helped that Daddy made it!
If you’re looking for a special pasta sauce with lots of flavor, this one is perfect. I served it with Pioneer Woman’s Garlic Cheese Bread Sticks. Bo and I enjoy watching Pioneer Woman’s show on Food Network and she made these in one of the episodes we watched the day before. They were a great accompaniment!
Saute ground beef in a heavy skillet or dutch oven until color is no longer red. Remove meat, set aside, and drain fat. Saute the onion, celery, and carrot in butter and olive oil until softened (if you prefer to have minimal chunks in your sauce like my family, then puree these ingredients -- if you don't mind chunks, finely chopped is fine). Add Italian sausage, pancetta, and garlic and cook until color of the meat is no longer red. Be sure to chop up the meat as it cooks.
Return beef to the pan and add white wine. Turn up the heat to high and cook until wine is cooked off. Add whole milk and continue cooking. Add chopped tomatoes, dash of cloves, black pepper, and tomatoes sauce. Slow simmer for a minimum of 2 hours.
Just before serving, add heavy cream. Add salt if needed.
Things have been crazy here at the Five Wooden Spoons house — you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted a recipe in eons. Well — this is due to a lot of factors — too much work, three kiddos with school and activities, and I’ve just felt uninspired to photograph food lately. I’m still cooking — we have to eat — but I just never love the photos I take, so then I stop taking them.
Ultimately, no one cares (but me…) if my photos are perfect. So I just need to get over it. Hence, another imperfect photo.
I’ve also been busy being social. We constantly have something going on with friends these days – which is definitely a good thing! Last Friday, I hosted a “Mom’s Night Sleepover” at my house. I invited a big group of moms to my house in their pjs or yoga pants to eat, relax, and chat. We had good intentions of playing a game, but that never happened. Three of us – Jamie, Jocelyn, and myself — somehow stayed awake the entire night. I was awake and going for just over 31 hours before I convinced Bo to take a nap with me. Crazy.
But anyway, for the sleepover, I made these pumpkin mini-chocolate chip bars and they were delicious. Bo and I cut them into squares and ate all of the edges before the moms arrived. These are perfect for fall and were perfect for a gathering.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with Baking Pam. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Reduce speed and add dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the mini-chips. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Last night, I attended our monthly “Mom’s Night Out” and this month we tried Ron’s Cajun Connection in Utica, Illinois. I had been to Cajun Connection once before with Mike a few years ago for a date night and having only ordered fried catfish (being from Southern Illinois I’m picky about my fried catfish!) I wasn’t super impressed and had not been back. However, my friend Jocelyn really wanted to go to Cajun Connection and kept talking about etoufee — which I’d never heard of — so we decided to give it a whirl.
The owner, Ron, drives to Louisiana each week and brings back fresh seafood from the gulf. Cajun Connection is widely acclaimed around our area and will be featured on WGN-TV’s Chicago’s Best soon!
I went into the evening deciding to order whatever Jocelyn ordered and to push myself outside of my comfort zone. There really aren’t many foods I won’t eat (bugs, hazelnuts…) so I figured I’d be okay no matter what I tried. I ordered the pick two combo with shrimp etoufee and blackened catfish, gumbo as my appetizer, and (not pictured) key lime pie for dessert. It was delicious! The gumbo was rich and flavorful, the etoufee was amazing (I have no idea what was in it, but it was delicious) and the catfish was really tasty as well. The food surpassed my expectations.
The place itself is a bit strange — very old and eclectically decorated. The waitstaff is subpar, at best. We were waiting over 30 minutes to be seated as a party of 5 (and there were tables available, they just had to put them together) and they didn’t want to seat us until everyone was there. We also waited forever to receive our drinks.
As for kid-friendly, I’m sure my kids would be intrigued and they have more typical kid-fare like chicken tenders and fries. I wouldn’t shy away from taking them there and there were several families there when we were.
Overall, it earns 3 1/2 Wooden Spoons. The food itself is wonderful (branch out and don’t order the fried food) — the atmosphere was strange and the service was lacking. Thanks to Jocelyn for making me break out of my comfort zone and discover some tasty new-to-me flavors! Of course, the highlight of the night wasn’t even the food — it was chatting and laughing with other moms! 🙂
School is officially in full-swing and that means my schedule of weekly breakfast dates with a few of my favorite people is also revamping. Laura and I are meeting up on Wednesday mornings for breakfast and conversation before I work and she heads to the library with her youngest, Cara, who isn’t in school yet.
After talking about it for weeks, I finally made this delicious cinnamon crumb cake this week for our breakfast. Bo and I were both up at 6 and he helped me make it. My first attempt I was still asleep and used powdered sugar instead of flour — needless to say by the time it was ready for the oven I realized something wasn’t quite right! We started over and still had delicious crumb cake for the trio to eat for breakfast and then to share with Laura and Cara after school drop-off. And yes, I finally bought labels for my pantry staples this week — nothing like a complete disaster to finally motivate that purchase!
This cinnamon crumb cake is very easy to pull together — even for a weekday morning breakfast. It tastes amazing — and extra special! It’s perfect with coffee. Or Coca-Cola if you ask Laura. 😉
This recipe received rave reviews from all who tried it! Five Wooden Spoons for this one!
Additions to the Batter Base after removing one cup for the topping:
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 Tbsp. white vinegar)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Additions to the topping:
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. Flour
2 Tbsp. Sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with PAM baking spray. In a large bowl, combine oil, brown sugar, sugar, flour, and salt. Mix well. Remove one cup of mixture into another smaller bowl before adding buttermilk, egg, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan.
Add cinnamon, flour, and sugar to the remaining mixture and combine until crumbly. If necessary, add more flour and sugar until it reaches the desired consistency. Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
While baking, combine powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle with glaze after the cake is removed from the oven.
No dessert takes me back to the good ole days like no-bake cookies. They don’t photograph well, but they taste delicious!
I always think about no-bake cookies at the beginning of the school year. I was a teacher at my hometown high school for 5 years and had the honor of teaching with my best friend, Mandy, for 3 1/2 of those years. We had so much fun and our crazy lunches, signs in windows, and yearbook sleepovers together are some of my fondest memories.
School started this week for Mandy and it made me think about the cafeteria’s delicious no-bake cookies. Often, Mandy and I would head to the lunch room praying that it was no-bake cookie day. Our favorite lunch? Noodles and no-bakes. It doesn’t get much better!
These would be a great after-school snack or dessert for all of the littles who are going back to school over the next few weeks! Bo starts Kindergarten on Monday and Clara and Anna start their second year of Pre-K on the 26th. I have a feeling more of these cookies are in our near future…
We just returned from spending a week with our favorite family — The Kilmartin’s — on a week-long vacation in Michigan. We rented a house a block from Lake Michigan and enjoyed hours at the beach.
One of our adventures was cherry picking. We went to Jollay Orchards by St. Joseph, Michigan and rode on a hay ride back to the sour cherry trees to pick. None of us had ever been cherry picking before and we — including the kids — quickly filled two buckets with fresh cherries. Even the Kilmartin’s youngest, Cara, was in on the action.
Luckily, the orchard had a pitting machine so we had the cherries pitted and then took them back to our house and I threw together a cherry pie. I had to substitute a bit from a traditional recipe because we didn’t have lemon juice, but the pie turned out to be delicious.
Since we were on vacation, I didn’t make the crust from scratch — opting to cheat and use the packaged crusts. But if I would have been home, with all of my flour, baking soda, and the like I would have made Dorie Greenspan’s pie crust. It’s the only one I’ve ever made successfully!