Monday, November 25, 2013


I know what you are thinking.....what?  carrots and bananas? Are you kidding me?

I have to admit the combination cought my attention when I was looking through my The Best of Country Cooking 2002 cookbook. I have found so many recipes to try from this cookbook.  The recipe was submitted by Beulah Starkweather from Englewood, FL.  She said she had received the recipe from her mil and it had become her favorite banana bread recipe.  "The carrots add a special touch." And she is so right.  I love the combination of the two flavors.  

I made two mini loaves using my blue pyrex loaf pans instead of the large 9 x 5 -in loaf.  I have three of these loaf pans.  They are a little bigger than the small mini loaf pans.  I bought one at a rummage sale that our church in Ventura, CA had.  The other two I have gotten at estate sales here in the Kansas City area. Before I would have made 3 mini loaves but I like the two generous "mini loaves" I get with these pyrex loaf pans.  I gave one of the loaves I made to my friend Linda who takes such good care of our cat, Miss Sara, when we travel.  I am enjoying the second one.  It won't be long before I will be making this recipe again.

This is a perfect recipe to make and give to your friends for the holidays.


1/3     cup canola oil
1        cup sugar
2        eggs
2        cups flour
1        teaspoon baking soda
1/2     teaspoon salt
1/2     teaspoon ground cinnamon
1        cup mashed ripe bananas (2 - 3 medium)
1        cup grated carrots
1/2     cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray one 9 x 5 - inch loaf pan or two mini loaf pans with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, combine oil and sugar.

Add eggs and mix well.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon with a whisk. (I sifted mine)

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the bananas (Start and end with the flour mixture. I do it three times.)

Stir in carrots and nuts.

Pour into prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 55 - 65 minutes for the large loaf or 45 minutes for the mini loaves.  Check doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf.  It should come out clean.

Cool 10 minute or so on wire rack.  I cooled my mini loaves 20 minutes and then ran a knife around the edges to loosen the bread.

Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have been making this pumpkin cheese bread for over 20 years. 

When I made it this afternoon, I really tried to use the 2-1/2 cups of sugar, but I just couldn't. My eating habits have changed considerably in the last 20 years.  I couldn't even use that much stevia either.  So I used sugar/stevia blend since you only use half what the recipe calls for when you use it.  

I also used my fat free cream cheese.  I try to use it as much as I can in recipe.  It usually works fine except in recipes like pies that you want the filling to "set up".  Then I use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese. 

I also use a lighter margarine too.

I had forgotten how good it was though since the last time I made it. Since I make it in the smaller loaves, I can sneak a couple of thin slices during the day and I don't feel like I am eating a lot.  


2-1/2     cups sugar (I used 1-1/4 cups sugar/stevia blend)
1            8-oz package cream cheese (fat free works great)
1/2         cup margarine (light margarine works)
4            eggs
1            15-oz can pumpkin
3-1/2      cups flour
2            teaspoons baking soda
1            teaspoons salt
1            teaspoons cinnamon
1/2         teaspoon baking powder
1/4         teaspoon ground cloves
1            cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 4 - mini loaf pans or one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Combine sugar, cream cheese and margarine mixing at medium speed on an electric mixer until well blended.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Blend in pumpkin.

Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl.  (I sifted the ingredients.)

Add the dry ingredients to wet mixture just until moistened.

Fold in nuts if you are using them.

Pour into pans.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes for mini loaves or 1 hour for large loaf. Check doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center.

Cool 5 minutes and then remove loaves from pans and continue cooling on wire rack. 

Friday, November 22, 2013


If my husband is being chef (aka "fending for himself"), he will usually steam his favorite vegetables.  I love the "steamer" that came with my cookware.  

My cookware has an interesting story. It is about 44 years old. It was the first real gift I bought for my mother after I started teaching school and bringing a paycheck home. I bought it from a door-to-door salesman. (It was (is) that waterless cookware that has a lifetime warranty that was becoming popular.) I think I paid a couple of hundred dollars for it....a lot under the circumstances. My mother thought it was so nice that she wouldn't use it. I don't really remember when she gave it to us exactly, but I think it was not too long after we married....and we have used it ever since. The steamer and double boiler pieces are just that. They work with the larger pot by fitting on top of it. I still have the electric skillet that I bought as an extra but haven't used it recently. It features even cooking due to the fact that it has a cavity in the walls of the skillet (even up the sides) that contains oil that heats up as the skillet heats.

I found this recipe in Recipes We Grew Up With from Taste of Home Books.  The original recipe was contributed by Iona Redemer from Calumet, Oklahoma.  She said, "The sweet taste of the brown sugar glaze enhances these tender carrots.  Another great thing about this vegetable dish is that it adds a nice colorful touch to the table and complements any main course."  Well said, Iona.  

I did make a couple of changes from Iona's recipe by using baby carrots instead of whole carrots and I also steamed them instead of boiling them.  I also reduced the recipe in half as I only wanted to make enough for my husband and me.  

Baby carrots   (a little over 1 cup or enough for 2 servings)
2      tablespoons margarine
1/2   tablespoon lemon juice
1      tablespoon brown sugar

Steam carrots for 10 minutes or til tender. See below if you want to prepare more. (I prefer to steam the carrots instead of boiling them because you don't lose the nutrients.  If you don't want to steam the carrots, boil them in salted water until tender.)

Didn't take a picture but cover the pot with lid to steam the carrots.

Meanwhile, melt the margarine in a heavy skillet over medium heat.

Add the lemon juice and brown sugar and stir.

Bring mixture to a boil and let thicken, stirring

Add steamed carrots and stir to coat.

Continue cooking til carrots are well glazed and heated through.

If you want to prepare more carrots, simply double the recipe for the glaze.  It will probably take longer than 10 minutes to steam the carrots, also.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


After getting the lab results and having the doctor's suspicions confirmed (What has caused my intestinal issues for three weeks was the antibiotic that I was given for an infected cyst on my face back on October 11.), I decided to celebrate in the kitchen.  (I do have to take a powerful antibiotic for 10 days, 4 times a day, but hopefully that will do the trick.  Spoiling a week's stay at the Wyndham Smoky Mountains Resort in Sevierville, TN because of it, I am more than ready to feel 100% again.  Good news....I lost the weight I have been wanting to lose....just not the way I wanted to lose it.)

But enough of that.

This recipe for Cranberry-Nut Loaf is one I wanted to make before we left for TN, but I didn't have the whole berry cranberry sauce and then when I got it, I just didn't feel like cooking.  I had torn it out of the Dash magazine that comes in our Sunday newspaper a year ago.  I have several cranberry bread recipes, but this is the first one I have seen that used the canned whole berry cranberry sauce.  Another plus for it is you don't have to use your electric mixer.  A whisk will do just fine.


3        cups flour
1        tablespoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1        teaspoon salt
2        eggs
1        cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar/stevia blend)
1        can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2     cup milk (skim )
1/2     cup canola oil (or use 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup applesauce)
1/2     cup coarsely chopped pecans 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 2 (8 x 4-inch loaf pans) or 3 (6-1/2 x 4-inch mini loaf pans) with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  (I sifted them together.)

In a medium bowl, beat eggs, sugar, cranberry sauce, milk, and oil until smooth (with a whisk).

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined.

Stir in the pecans.

Transfer batter evenly to pans.

Bake for 45 minutes (35 minutes for mini loaves) or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool loaves in pans for 5 minutes on wire racks.

Turn out on rack to finish cooling.


Monday, November 18, 2013


We love fresh pineapple!  If the price is right in the stores, my husband will put one in the grocery cart every time.  I am always a little hesitant though because I never know how to tell if the pineapple is ripe.  I say, never, but now I know how, but I'm getting a little ahead of my story.

When we went to Hawaii and visited a pineapple plantation, we were told that pineapples didn't continue to ripen after they were picked and won't ripen anymore afterwards.  This may be true but I know that I have bought pineapples that weren't very ripe and they did ripen more (too much) before we cut it.

One day several months ago, I was in Aldi's and had to wait while the pineapples were being replenished on the shelf.  I decided to ask the girl how you knew if the pineapple was ripe yet.  That is how I learned this little trick.

Here is the pineapple that my husband chose the last time we went to the store. See how green it looks.

To decide if the pineapple is ripe, chose one of the "leaves" and give it a tug. Please read the comment Reader Brenda left below. She says to pull a central leaf. She also says the pineapple should have a pineapple smell.

If it comes out when you tug on it, the pineapple is ripe.

That simple.  We haven't bought one since we learned this trick that wasn't ready to cut when we got home.

My husband doesn't cut up the pineapple the way illustrated in books (I think he wants to be more careful with the knife and dealing with one slice at a time is easier than the whole pineapple.)  He cuts off the top and then individually slices the pineapple one at a time as wide as he wants the chunks to be.  He then can easily cut off the edge and then proceed to the next slice he will cut.

When he is finished, he has a bowlful of fresh pineapple chunks ready to enjoy.

Friday, November 15, 2013


My sil Sondra posted this recipe for roasted sweet potatoes on Facebook and said she was going to have to try it.  I have made a similar recipe but they were baked on a cookie sheet and the ingredients were different.  Since we bought 40 lbs of sweet potatoes on the way home from our Myrtle Beach trip earlier this month, I am always looking for different ways to prepare them. 

I tried to find a source for the recipe to give credit to, but couldn't.

Each time that I stirred the mixture in the oven, I sprinkled the top with sea salt.  My husband thought they needed more salt after tasting a bite and I passed him the sea salt. I also sprinkled more on mine.  I was sorry I did.  They tasted fine to me the original way.  They tasted too salty after I added the extra salt.  I liked the sweeter way that they had tasted.  (I should say I hardly ever --my mother told me to never say never-- add salt to anything at the table and cook sparingly with it.  I am used to his grabbing the extra seasoning even before he takes a bite.)


3     sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces (I had about 4 cups)
1     tablespoon butter or margarine
2     teaspoons olive oil
1     tablespoon brown sugar
1     teaspoon cinnamon
1/4  teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of ginger
sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a small to medium size baking dish with cooking spray.

Dump the cut up potatoes in the baking dish.

Melt the butter in the microwave and combine with the olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a small bowl.  (mixture may be thick)

Pour/drop the mixture over the potatoes and stir.

Cover and bake for 60 minutes, stirring twice during baking and sprinkling the top with sea salt. 

Helpful hint----set the timer for 20 minutes, stir and sprinkle with the sea salt.  Return to oven and set the timer for 20 minutes again.  

Stir and sprinkle with the sea salt and return to oven.  Set the timer for 20 minutes again for the last time. This way you don't forget.  The mixture does cook in the bottom of the dish so stirring helps to keep the coating on the potatoes. 

Serve warm.  Made 3 generous serving. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


The day that the quilting group (Kay, Dorothy, Ellen, Sharon, Janice, and me -- Fran had just gotten back from her trip to Europe and was probably sleeping) got together to go buy the fabric to use for the backing of our quilt of valour, we went to Dorothy's house to have a fun afternoon playing canasta. Since Kay wasn't feeling well, she didn't join us for lunch and cards. Dorothy asked her friend Darlene to play in Kay's place.  

It was a fun afternoon although we (Janice, Sharon, and I) accused Darlene of being a "ringer". (We weren't being poor sports -- really -- you would have felt the same way if you had been annihilated like we were.) 

For dessert, Dorothy served her pumpkin pie squares.  She "goofed" (slightly) and didn't bake it in two parts.  It tasted perfect to us.  It helped to soften the agony of our defeat.


1       cup flour
1/2    cup quick oats
1/2    cup brown sugar
1/2    cup butter (oleo)
1       (1- lb) can pumpkin (2 cups)
1       (13-1/2 oz) can evaporated milk
2       eggs
3/4    cup sugar
1/2    teaspoon salt
1       teaspoon cinnamon*
1/2    teaspoon ginger*
1/4    teaspoon cloves*
1/2    cup chopped pecans
2       tablespoons butter (oleo)
1/2    cup brown sugar

*  1     tablespoon pumpkin pie spice can be substituted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter in bowl and mix on low until crumbly.  Press into ungreased 9 x 13 - inch pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.  

Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, salt and spices in bowl, beat well.

Pour over crust and bake for 20 minutes.**

Combine pecans, brown sugar, and butter; sprinkle over filling.  Bake 15 - 20 minutes until filling is set**. 

Cool in pan.

** This also works to sprinkle topping over filling and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. Topping will cook more into filling. (Dorothy forgot and did it this way.)