Double Chocolate Banana Bread

This is another recipe from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite online recipe sources. We love banana bread in my house – it’s a great before-bed snack for Hudson to squeeze in a few more calories. Add chocolate, and you have a total winner. I’m shortening the cooking time – I’d start checking it at 45 minutes instead of her recommended 55. Can’t have a dried-out banana bread!

3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, melted
3/4 cup (145 grams) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup (about 6 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips

Heat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a nonstick baking spray.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. (You’ll have a little over 1 cup mashed banana total.) Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), flour and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks or chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 45 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. (A melted chocolate chip smear is expected, however.) Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The banana bread will keep for up to 4 days covered at room temperature.

Baked French Toast

I’ve made Overnight French Toast (also on this site) for years, but I’d heard about this recipe, and it sounded so good. I love the topping element of this one, and I will say it’s a great use of a stick of butter. I made it for my family when they came to our house for Christmas 2016, and it was a hit. 

Serves 8

FRENCH TOAST
1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread
8 whole eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. vanilla

Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 stick cold butter, cut Into pieces
Warm syrup
1 cup fresh blueberries

For the French toast: Grease the baking pan with cooking spray. Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Crack the eggs in a big bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store in the fridge until needed (overnight preferably). Or you can make it and bake it right away—delicious no matter what!

For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and some nutmeg in a separate bowl. Stir together using a fork. Add the butter and with a pastry cutter, and mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour-plus or more for a firmer, crisper texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with warm pancake syrup and sprinkle with blueberries.

Cinnamon and Sugar Sweet Rolls

overnight-cinnamon-twist5I admit it.  Baking with yeast takes it up a notch.  The Easter Bunny prepared this yummy treat for our family.  When a recipe can be started the night before, I am all in.   Cinnamon and sugar is a win win.  Add a serving of bacon or sausage, done and done. High Five!  These were made with love for my boys.   I can only hope that sharing this recipe brings sweetness to your life.

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Dutch Baby Pancakes

dutch baby

Need a special treat for a weekend breakfast?  Get out your favorite seasoned iron skillet or purchase one and start a whole new world of cooking.   I felt super special recently when a friend made these for my son (age 12) and I.  Chris served these pancakes (cooked in the oven, but more like thicker version of crepes) with blueberry syrup, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and a wedge of lemon.   A side of sausage and bacon was the perfect touch.  Hospitality at its best. Thanks Chris and Darci, you know how to make your house guests feel extra special.

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Yummy Waffles

We have a brand new kindergartner starting school tomorrow, and so we started a new tradition in our house. We had breakfast for dinner. My college used to do this the night before finals, and everybody loved it. I make pancakes often, so we decided to kick it up a notch with some homemade waffles. I made some tweaks to the recipe I found online, and they were delicious!

2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 T. white sugar
4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
In a blender, blend the egg whites until they are frothy. Then on low speed, add the oil, milk and vanilla, mixing briefly. Mix the dry ingredients separately, then mix again on low in the blender. (The point is to mix the egg whites on high, then mix the rest as little as possible so they stay fluffy.) Pour onto waffle iron, serving with whatever fixin’s you like! Enjoy!

Everyday Granola

We have a foreign exchange student Marie who ate boxed cereal every day, until she one day tried this granola. Then she never ate boxed cereal again. It is her specialty, and we’ve adapted it from the (awesome) Smitten Kitchen cookbook. We almost always double this recipe and make it on two foiled cookie sheets.

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened (oops, we use sweetened) flaked coconut
1 cup walnuts, coursely chopped (sometimes we chop slivered almonds for variety)
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 large egg white
1 1/2 cup dried cherries (we don’t measure)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients but the egg white and dried cherries. Whisk the egg white in small bowl until frothy and stir into granola. Spread in a single layer on cookie sheet lined with either Pammed foil or parchment paper. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown. Once cool, sprinkle on dried fruit and put in airtight container for up to two weeks or in the freezer for longer.