Monday, November 23, 2009

Banana Bread and Cranberry Sauce Night!

And the cooking marathon continued tonight!  I managed to get the banana bread baked and the cranberry sauce cooked after squeezing in a Vet appointment for my little senior girl, Sarie.  She's estimated to be 19 years old and has been my heart since the first day I saw her five and a half years ago!  She's been sneezing and coughing for the last few days so I was concerned.  The good news is her Vet thinks it is just allergies!  Phew!  So home I came to get busy with Turkey Day preparations!

I started with the banana bread so that it would have time to cool before I went to bed.  I used a different recipe than I've used for the last gazillion years!  On top of that I used some bananas that I had put in the freezer when they were overripe.  So tomorrow a taste test is definitely in order.  To late at this point to find overripe bananas so I sure hope its okay!

Banana Bread

Recipe Adapted From Betty Crocker
Rich buttermilk, crunchy nuts and flavorful, ripe bananas make this banana bread tops.
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Total Time:3 hours 25 min
  • Makes 2 loaves (24 slices each)


    • 1 ¼ cups sugar
    • ½ cup butter or margarine, softened
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 ½ cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
    • ½ cup buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 ½ cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired


    Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.

    Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans.

    Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

    Make the Most of This Recipe With Tips From The Betty Crocker® Kitchens

    Variation Mini Banana Breads make great gifts! To make, grease bottoms only of 10 miniature loaf pans, 4 1/2x2 3/4x1 1/4 inches. Divide batter among pans (about 1/2 cup each). Bake 30 to 35 minutes.

    Stir 1/2 cup chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips into the batter for mouthwatering flavor combinations.

    Rise to the occasion! If using self-rising flour, there is no need to add baking soda and salt.

    No buttermilk on hand? In an emergency, you can mix 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice or white vinegar and enough milk to make 1/2 cup. Or substitute 1/2 cup plain yogurt.

    Banana Bread

    See Banana Bread on Key Ingredient.

    And then I moved on to the cranberry sauce. 

    After much searching for a cranberry sauce recipe I settled on this one from the Food Network.  I wanted to have orange zest in the sauce but I wasn't sure about the other ingredients as I didn't want to spoil the dish for my oldest son.  He loves cranberry sauce!

    I didn't add everything the recipe called for and I modified the parts that I did use.  I just needed it for some ideas and for the proportions for the sugar and water.

    I ended up zesting the orange and then peeling the orange as you would for a fruit cup.  Then I chopped up the juicy remains and put that in towards the end of cooking.  I did not add the pineapple or the nuts.  I may add the nuts before serving time after I consult with my son.  He will be coming by Wednesday night to help me so if he doesn't care for this dish I have two more bags of cranberries in the fridge for another recipe!  Once Turkey Day is safely behind me those bags will find a new home in the freezer for the winter!

    Cranberry Sauce

    Recipe courtesy Norma Jean Harden
    Spoonbread Catering

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Inactive Prep Time:1 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Level: Easy
  • Serves: Approximately 2 pints


    • 1 pound (4 cups) fresh cranberries
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 whole orange, unpeeled, seeds removed, and chopped fine
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    • Sprinkle ground cinnamon


    Wash cranberries and set aside.
    Bring sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries, oranges, and cloves. Simmer over a high flame, stirring frequently, until berries pop open. Add crushed pineapple, walnuts, and cinnamon, and blend. Cool and serve.

    Cranberry Sauce

    See Cranberry Sauce on Key Ingredient.

    Tuesday night's adventures will include Sweet Potato Casserole, Sage Stuffing, the beginnings of my gravy creation, and maybe a test Pumpkin Pie!  I am considering switching to a butter crust or a partial butter crust to get away from the hydrogenated fat in shortening.  Let's see how much I get done when I drag my bones home from work tonight!  I may be a bit too ambitious...

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    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    Thanksgiving Cooking Has Begun!

    I finalized my menu and did my shopping over the weekend!  So tonight I made pumpkin quick bread.  Tomorrow I will make the banana quick bread and the cranberry sauce.  This year I am going to try to do a little bit each night so that the night before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving day will not be so hectic!

    I had an abundance of Libby's Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix this year so I found a Pumpkin bread recipe that used that instead of the plain pumpkin.  I always have the pie mix because my boys like that better for pies.  I add extra spice to it so it ends up being a very dark and flavorful pie.  I noticed a few years ago that one of the major frozen brands sells a heavy spiced one now too.  One year I made pies from both the mix and from the plain pumpkin and the boys preferred the mix. 

    Anyway You Like It Pumpkin Breads
    (Adapted From a Libby's Recipe)

    Estimated Times:
    Preparation - 15 min | Cooking - 50 min | Cooling Time - 30 min cooling
    Yields - 10 slices per loaf
    (Makes two loaves)

    Be creative and add in your favorite fruit like dried cranberries or dates to make this moist and delectable pumpkin bread that is perfect for a snack or breakfast treat.

    3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup Stir Ins (raisins, sweetened dried cranberries or chopped dates)
    1 can (30 oz.) LIBBY'S® Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/2 cup orange juice, apple juice or water
    2 large eggs
    2 to 3 tablespoons Sprinkle Ons (chopped nuts, cinnamon sugar, seeds such as: poppy, sesame or sunflower, optional)

    PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans.
    COMBINE flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine pumpkin pie mix, oil, orange juice and eggs in another large bowl. Pour pumpkin mixture into flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in Stir Ins. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle with your choice of Sprinkle Ons.

    BAKE for 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

    PREPARE as above. Bake for 38 to 42 minutes.
    PREHEAT oven to 400° F. Prepare as above. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes.

    Update 1 day later...

    I never cut into quick bread until the next day.  I think it needs that time for the moistness to permeate the loaf an the flavors to develop!  I was nervous about this new recipe but it is very good!  A good way to use up the Libby's Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix if you have some!

    Today I came home from work early for an appointment and had a slice with a cup of coffee for lunch.  I guess I will be making many unhealthy tradeoffs this week in my food selections!  But I don't mind or feel one bit guilty.  I am down 21.4 pounds since 5 September 2009.  I have 3.6 pounds to go.  This week my goal is to just maintain!

    I didn't mention it in my original post but I doubled the recipe and then put it in three 8X4 pans. I do that a lot with quick breads depending on the size pan they call for.

    Here's a photo of the cut loaf!

    Anyway You Like It Pumpkin Breads

    See Anyway You Like It Pumpkin Breads on Key Ingredient.

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    Monday, November 16, 2009

    HBinFive Pumpkin Pie Brioche!!

    I am taking part in a blogging bread braid organized by Michelle at!

    Not sure what the roots of the group name are but I am here with bells on my toes ready to bake my way through Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

    You can find the authors, Dr. Jeff and Chef Zoe at their blog, Their story is an interesting one but I will leave it for them to tell!

    The HBinFive Bread Braid doesn't officially start until January but we are cooking up a dough in November and one in December to get us revved up! November's is one from Dr. Jeff and Chef Zoe's new book called Pumpkin Pie Brioche! I made it today and had three slices for dinner!!!!

    Wow... I was in slow motion when I pulled this together today! I stopped baking a few years ago when my children grew and had their own lives. I retired my stand mixer to the overhead in the garage and started eating out a lot. I put on 25 lbs from this silly behavior!

    Today I pulled down my mixer and gave it a good cleaning! Then I gathered my ingredients and whipped up my first batch of dough!

    Here's the dough after rising for about an hour and a half. Almost ready to put in the fridge!

    While the dough was resting in the fridge I got busy getting some other things done around the house... Truth is I don't know what to make with it yet.

    Many of the other group members have been so creative. They did this dough up with honors! So I had to put my thinking cap on to figure out my path!

    After much brain straining I decided to keep it simple! A loaf was all I wanted to attempt for my return debut. I froze two pounds of the dough for Thanksgiving week and I have another pound of it in the fridge for later this week! Maybe by then I will do a special roll with the remaining dough.

    This is the dough right after I fought with it fresh from the fridge! All I can say is flour your hands and then flour them again! And then throw flour at the dough!!!!

    Here is the tamed beast in all its beautiful glory! It is ready for the egg wash and sugar...

    Well I don't have any eggs because I only eat Eggbeaters! I made the dough with Eggbeaters so I gave it a wash with the Eggbeaters too! And piled the sugar on top!

    And here is the beautiful loaf fresh from the oven. Though I don't think the Eggbeaters made a good wash it sure does smell good.

    I knew when I started this dough I wouldn't be able to wait until it had cooled to cut it open! And sure enough I was hungry and hadn't eaten dinner so my dinner was three slices of warm Pumpkin Pie Brioche spread with a bit of Smart Beat! After all this bread has protein, vegetable, and grain! Just about a perfect food! My snack later will be some of my homemade yogurt so how's that for a balanced meal!

    And... I stayed within my Weight Watcher's Points today even with this wonderful treat!

    I followed the recipe as written with a couple of exceptions. I didn't have white whole wheat flour so I used King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour and I used Eggbeaters instead of eggs!

    Update 18 November 2009- Weight Watcher Points

    I calculated the number of points in the entire recipe using Egg Beaters. The dough made 76 ounces of dough for me and that was equal to 125 points. That would make the two-pound loaf I made 52.5 points. I estimated 16 slices in that loaf. Each slice would be 3 points. I will refine this on the next one by weighing the cooked loaf. Then I can adjust my points based on the size of my slice!!!

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