Thursday, April 26, 2018


I am so glad that it is finally warming up this week. I wasn't sure it was going to happen. Our dogwood trees still have not bloomed, but the pear tree is and also our young peach tree. For the first time, a couple of redbuds are also blooming this year. The trees - not so much. We mainly have maples (red and one huge silver), a few locust trees in the ditch behind our house, one magnolia tree, and an ash in addition to three dogwoods, a peach, and an apple tree. Not sure if the young apple tree is going to bloom this year or not. So far, it hasn't. Most of these trees still look like winter unless you look closely and you can see the leaves started to bud out.

Some might think this Peanut Butter Banana Bread sounds like something you would bake in the winter. I do admit I probably do have some ingredients (the first one that comes to my mind is pumpkin) that I do seem to use in a particular time in the year. This recipe made two loaves which turned out nice because I made a dessert on Monday for our Farkle friends that didn't turn out great so I took a loaf of this bread along just in case. They really loved it and Friend Carol especially liked using the miniature chocolate chips as they spread out nicely in the bread.

Because I was making the recipe primarily for my husband and me, I used stevia for the sugar and also substituted one cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of the all-purpose flour. I also used nonfat plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream that the recipe called for.



3/4       cup creamy peanut butter
1/4       cup butter
2          cup sugar (I used stevia)
4          eggs
3          cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 2 cups all-purpose flour.)
2         teaspoons baking soda
1/4      teaspoon salt
1/2      cup Greek plain non-fat yogurt or sour cream
2         cups mashed bananas
1         cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2         teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease bottoms only of two 8 x 4 - inch loaf pans.

Place peanut butter and butter in a microwaveable bowl and heat on High for 30 - 45 minutes or until butter is melted.
(If butter is almost melted, it will finish melting as you
stir it smooth.)

Beat sugar and eggs on medium speed for 1 minutes
or til blended.

On low speed, add the melted peanut butter/butter mixture;
beat well.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Add flour mixture alternately
with the yogurt beating on low til blended. (Start and end with flour.)

Stir in bananas, mini chips, and vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter between the two pans. 
Bake 70 to 75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the bread.

Cool 10 minutes on wire rack.
Remove loaves from the pans and finish cooling on wire rack.

Wrap in foil to keep moist.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Our Quilters' Canasta group was treated to these delicious Lemon-Date Squares last week when we gathered for another fun afternoon of canasta at Friend Dorothy's house. She has had this recipe for a long time, but misplaced it. She was so excited when she recently found it. We were delighted that she did.

(She had cut the recipe from a magazine. I don't  know what magazine it was, but I do know it was the April issue from 1960.)



1/2       cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/4       cup powdered sugar
1          cup sifted flour (for crust)
1          teaspoon grated lemon rind
2          eggs
1          cup sugar
2          tablespoons flour (for topping)
1/2       teaspoon baking powder
1/2       teaspoon salt
1          cup flaked coconut
1/2       cup chopped pitted dates
1          tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8 x 2 - inch pan.

Cream butter with powdered sugar until light and fluffy in medium-size bowl; blend in 1 cup flour and lemon rind; pat into bottom of pan.

Bake for 20 minutes; remove from oven, but leave heat on.

While crust is baking, beat eggs until foamy in a medium-size bowl; add sugar gradually and beat until thick and lemon-colored; blend in 2 tablespoons flour, baking powder, salt, coconut, dates, and lemon juice; spoon over partly baked crust.

Bake 25 more minutes, or until top is firm and brown; cool on wire cake racks; cut into squares.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


If this recipe were ever entered into a bake-off contest, it would surely win the Grand Prize!  The recipe from Stan and Lori Stalter was in my new Hochstedler Family Cookbook (A Collection of Edible Treasures from the family of Emanuel and Mattie Hochstedler). I saw it and seeing it was made in a 9 x 13 - inch pan, I knew I would have to make it to take to share with the other volunteers at Hillcrest Thrift Shop.

I took it to the community room and then started on my morning walk inside the shop. (This is working out so well. I can easily get in a 30 to 45 minute walk before the shop opens since it doesn't open until 10. Jim, the manager, told me I could come as early as 8 o'clock since he gets there that early. That is so much better on the days I don't volunteer.) Anyway, last Tuesday when I took it, Volunteer Bob from the Sporting Goods department, saw me (walking) and told me the dessert I brought was the best thing he had ever eaten. 

I brought five pieces in another container for some of the volunteers who were already at work sorting and might miss out on the dessert because other volunteers would get it first in the Community Room. When I saw two of them at lunch when my shift was over and I had gone to get my pan, I asked them if they had given the extra two pieces to someone else in the back. Betty and Vali immediately laughed and said no that they (along with Karen who works in Vintage with them) had eaten all five pieces because it was too good to share. I couldn't believe it and joked along with them giving them a really hard time.

As soon as I got home before I even ate any lunch, I ate my piece that I had left at home before going to the shop. The next day when I was taking my walk and saw Betty, I stopped and told her I was sorry I had given them a hard time. After eating my piece, I totally understood. We had a good laugh together.

I only had one question about the recipe as I was getting ready to make it. The recipe called for "1 can red sour cherry pie filling". I called Friend Janice asking what she thought it meant and we agreed that I should use a cherry pie filling even though it isn't "red sour". Neither of us have ever seen this and since it said "pie filling", we thought I should use my pie filling and not a can of tart cherries. If you have seen "red sour cherry pie filling", please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks.

As usual I made this the day before and covered it and stored it in the refrigerator. It was very moist the next morning when I cut it and took it to the thrift shop.



3/4      cup oil
1-1/2   cups sugar
1         teaspoon vanilla
1/3      cup orange juice
3         eggs
3         cups flour
3         teaspoon baking powder
1         can cherry pie filling
1         teaspoon almond flavoring
1/4      cup sugar
1         teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13 - inch baking pan.

Blend oil and 1-1/2 cups sugar together.
Add vanilla and orange juice.
Add eggs, one at a time.
Mix together flour and baking powder.
Fold into egg mixture.
Mix together cherry pie filling and almond flavoring.
Pour 1/2 batter (about 2 cups) into pan.
Spoon cherries over. 

Pour remaining batter over cherries. (My mixture was too thick to pour so I spooned it over the cherries.)

Mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
Sprinkle over top of cake.
Bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. and bake 35 more minutes.

Cool in pan on wire rack. (I baked this the day before. When completely cool, I covered with foil and stored it in the refrigerator overnight.)

To serve, cut into squares. (I didn't do as good a job as I have been doing lately, cutting it evenly. Betty and Vali had two of the big pieces on the left and three more of the smaller ones in the next row.)

Monday, April 23, 2018


How often do you mix up a recipe and the recipe indicates the butter should be softened? Not melted. Softened. 

I usually try to set the stick out a while before I plan to make the recipe so that the butter can come to room temperature. That is if I am organized. And sometimes I decide on a recipe at the last minute and I don't have time to allow it to come to room temperature.

It really does matter as far as the outcome of your recipe goes, to follow the recipe directions as to the condition of butter that you are using in recipes. (You can read more about this HERE at Southern Living.) Butter should only be melted if the recipe says it should be melted. You might end up with a flop on your hands if you melt the butter when it is supposed to be softened or cold. You probably wouldn't melt it if the recipe calls for it to be cold, but often when trying to soften butter, you might end up actually melting it.

My friend Ellen shared a tip about how to soften butter on Facebook. I must admit I didn't take the time to read closely the whole tip and so when I decided to give it a try a few days later, I only remembered the basic information, but that didn't keep me from experimenting with it myself.

Well, it really is easy and works and it takes less than 20 minutes. You can be getting all of your other ingredients together for the recipe during the "wait time". 

The time you will spend doing this depends on whether you heat the water to boiling using the microwave or heat it on the stove. You do want the water boiling.

You also need a glass that is deep enough to fit a stick of butter in it.

While the water, enough to completely fill the glass, is coming to a boil (either in the microwave or on the stove), gather a ceramic bowl, a stick of butter, and the glass together.

Fill the glass to the top with the boiling water. 

Remove the wrapper from the stick of butter 

and stand it up on one end in the bowl.

Be careful when picking up the glass so that you don't burn your hand.

Pour the water out of the glass and invert the glass over the stick of butter.

Leave it alone for 15 minutes. My glass was only a little warm by this time.

Remove the glass

and the butter is ready to use in your recipe for softened butter.

For purposes of this demonstration, I laid the stick down in the bowl to show you it had softened.

This tip ranks right up there with my all-time-favorite tip I have ever discovered (and yes, I shared it with you HERE) for keeping bananas from ripening so quickly when you buy them. If you don't know this tip, you absolutely have to check out this POST.