Summer Salad Roundup

Summer Salad Roundup

Treasure Box Tuesday 21

Welcome to Treasure Box Tuesday!

Best Banana Bread

There are lots of recipes out there for dressed up or added-to banana bread (chocolate chips, caramel, strawberries, etc.), and there's nothing wrong with that. But sometimes you just want a slice of good, old-fashioned banana bread. There are also lots of great banana breads out there....this one is my best. 

Sweet, moist, and fragrant, this deeply-flavored banana bread will win a place in your recipe box.

My Best Banana Bread  Print Recipe

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups very ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9 X 5 loaf pan (or two 8 X 4 pans).

2. In a large bowl, mix sugars and butter with an electric mixer on low until smooth. Add eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat on medium until well combined.
3. Combine flour, soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Stir in nuts.

4. Pour flour mixture into banana mixture and fold in by hand, just until moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for about 1 hour and 10 to 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean (a few moist crumbs are OK). Times are for 9 X 5 loaf. You may have to adjust time for 2 smaller loaves.
5. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a thin knife, loosen sides of bread from pan and remove loaf from pan onto cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing. Store tightly covered. May be even better the next day. Keeps well for about 4 days.

Fresh out of the oven

This was adapted from an old Gold Medal Flour recipe that my mom has made ever since I can remember. I tweaked it slightly, replacing part of the granulated sugar with brown sugar, and using syrupy frozen bananas. It can be made with regular ripe bananas, of course.

Cook's Notes: I used 3 large bananas that had been frozen (whole and unpeeled) and then thawed. To do: put very ripe, unpeeled bananas into a zip lock freezer bag, press out all the air, and freeze. Bananas will turn completely black, but they're fine- it's just the peels. When ready to use, leave bananas in bag and thaw on counter or in fridge overnight. Don't peel until ready to use. Thawed bananas will be soft and liquidy, and you'll think, "eeuuww". Peel bananas over a bowl and use all of the banana pulp and juices. They are a little darker than fresh, but the sweet banana taste is perfectly intact.  

About 55 minutes into baking, the loaf had browned enough, so I rotated it and turned the heat down to 325 degrees for the rest of the baking time. 

My Best Banana Bread may have been taken to some of these fun parties!

You may also enjoy Homemade Pie Crust:

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Treasure Box Tuesday 20

Welcome to Treasure Box Tuesday!

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

A BBQ party isn't complete without the sides. Put your slow cooker to work to make these sweet and smoky baked beans.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans  Print Recipe
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 large can (28 oz) pork and beans, well drained but not rinsed
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup each ketchup, brown sugar, molasses
1 teaspoon adobo sauce or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Combine all ingredients in a 4 quart slow cooker. Cook on high for 1.5 hours or low for 3 hours, or until hot and bubbling throughout. 

Slow Cooker Baked Beans may have been taken to some of these fun parties!

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Starbucks Lemon Loaf

I love lemon desserts, but I have to admit, I had never had Starbucks Lemon Loaf. So the first thing I did before I baked this cake was to go to Starbucks and get a slice of that famous lemon loaf of theirs! It was very good. And this recipe is better.

This lemon loaf is very moist, and has a wonderfully sweet lemon tang. It keeps beautifully. The day I made it, we enjoyed a few slices, then I put it in a cake keeper on the counter. We went out of town for a few days. When we got back, I remembered the lemon loaf, and thought it would probably be old and dry. Nope, it was as good as the day I made it, possibly even better.

Starbucks Lemon Loaf  Print Recipe

For the cake:
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup canola oil
zest of one lemon

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk (I was out of milk, so I used half and half)
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I used 325 degrees). Grease and flour a 9 X 5 loaf pan (I used glass Pyrex).
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
3. In a mixer bowl, combine eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract. Mix on low until combined. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the lemon extract and lemon juice (the lemon extract and lemon juice can curdle the eggs, so we want the mixer running to combine quickly).
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. You can do this by hand. Stir the oil and zest into the batter until completely mixed.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached (about 45 min at 350 degrees; about 57 minutes at 325 degrees). Remove from oven onto a wire cooling rack. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the glaze (whisk glaze ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and well-combined). Pour glaze over warm cake and let cool completely in pan. Store tightly covered. Keeps well for several days.

Cooks notes: On some of the recipe sites, there were mentions of the loaf falling. Mine did not. I don't know what might make it fall. Just be warned that it may have a bit of a reputation to fall. The original recipe said to bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I baked mine at 325 degrees for 56 minutes in a glass pan. I thought a little lower temp might prevent the loaf from rising too quickly and then falling. Who knows. But mine was fine.

This recipe has been everywhere. As far as I can tell, the original recipe comes from

Starbucks Lemon Loaf may have been taken to some of these fun parties!

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Treasure Box Tuesday 19

Welcome to Treasure Box Tuesday!


Homemade Pie Crust

There are many different recipes and methods to make pie crust, but this one's my favorite! It's the perfect all-purpose crust recipe to have on hand for pies, quiches, and cobblers.

Homemade Pie Crust  Print Recipe

Makes single crust for 9" pie

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
4 tablespoons 
shortening or coconut oil, very cold
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon (heaping) table salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Measure butter and shortening (or oil) and refrigerate until cold (you can pop it into the freezer for a few minutes). Place flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Dice the cold butter and and shortening (or coconut oil) and add to food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until the butter and shortening are about the size of peas. With the machine running, slowly pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse until dough begins to form a ball (you may not use all 4 tablespoons). Empty dough out onto a floured surface, roll lightly into a ball, gently flatten dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for half an hour (or up to 24 hours).

When ready to use dough, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, transfer to pie plate, flute as desired, prick all over with fork, and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (if preparing for prebaked shell; or follow recipe instructions if using for a baked filling).

*I have made this crust using all butter: 8 tablespoons total,  no other shortening or oil. It's delicious, but it's a little more of a fragile dough to work with. Keep it cold! :)

*I have made this crust using all coconut oil, no butter or shortening, 8 tablespoons total. See this post for more information on making an all-coconut oil pie crust.

Cook's notes: To keep dough from "melting" (slumping) down into the pie plate while baking for prebaked shell, place dough into pie plate and flute as desired. Gently place a sheet of parchment paper on top of dough (use a sheet large enough to come up the sides), then fill with dried beans (maybe a cup or so) or pie weights. Bake until set; remove paper and beans, and bake for a few more minutes to brown.

Homemade Pie Crust may have been taken to some of these fun parties!

You might also enjoy:

Homemade Apple Pie

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Peanut Butter Cookies (Cake Mix)

It's time to bake cookies with the Fill the Cookie Jar Baking Group! This month's theme is "Mother's Day". I thought a fast and easy recipe would be exactly what some busy moms might like to have on hand for a fast batch of cookies.

These cookies, made from a cake mix, are described as "the easiest, most delicious peanut butter cookies ever." They are one of the easiest, although I wouldn't go so far as to say they're the most delicious. They're very good, though, and the kids will enjoy helping.

Busy Day Peanut Butter Cookies  Printable Recipe
Makes about 32 cookies

1 box yellow cake mix (I used one without pudding, just because it's what I had on hand)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Empty cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, stir eggs, oil, and peanut butter until smooth and well-combined.

3. Stir peanut butter mixture into cake mix until completely mixed. Drop by tablespoon-fulls onto prepared cookie sheets. Make cross-hatch designs into the top of each cookie with a lightly floured fork, pressing to flatten cookie.

4. Bake for about 10 minutes or until just very slightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Cook's Notes: These cookies have a shortbread-type texture. Bake 9 to 10 minutes for a softer cookie, 10 to 11 minutes for a crisper cookie.

Recipe from

Peanut Butter Cookies may have been taken to some of these fun parties!

Last month, I filled the cookie jar with Lemon Tassies:

If you'd like to bake with the Fill The Cookie Jar group, please contact our fearless leader, 

Cynthia at Feeding Big:

Here's what the rest of the group baked!

Grow Your Own Sprouts

I love the fresh, crunchy taste that sprouts give to salads and sandwiches.

Lots of different kinds of seeds can be sprouted and eaten. Some favorites are alfalfa, radish, broccoli, and lentils. 

Although you can buy special containers to grow your own sprouts, all you really need is a clean jar and some cheesecloth. 

1. Put about a tablespoon of seeds in a clean jar, and put cheesecloth over the top of the jar. I used a canning ring to hold the cloth on. You could use a rubber band. Rinse the seeds very well, 2 or 3 times, and allow to drain. Set the jar away on its side. It does not have to be in sunlight- in fact, some sources say to place the jar in a dark area. I set mine on the kitchen counter.

2. Every morning and every night, rinse the seeds very well by filling, swishing, and draining the jar. Leave the cheesecloth on and let the water drain out. Drain off as much water as you can.

3. Keep rinsing and draining the sprouts twice a day until the sprouts are the size you want- usually 3 to 5 days, depending on what kinds of seeds you are using.

4. The last day, you can leave them in a sunny window for a few hours to green up a little, if you'd like.

5. They are now ready to enjoy. Refrigerate leftovers, tightly covered (remove the cheesecloth and cover the jar well, or transfer to another tightly covered container to refrigerate). Sprouts will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Day 2

Day 3

Ready to eat!

Where to get seeds for sprouting: Seeds intended for the garden may have been treated with chemicals, and probably are not intended for direct consumption. Some health food stores and supermarkets carry seeds for sprouting- Whole Foods does, I think. I live in a smaller town, so I order mine from Just put in a search for "seeds for sprouting" or "sprouts" and you'll get all kinds of results.

Although I have been growing and eating sprouts for many years with no problems, you should be aware of this important information: states, "Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of foodborne illness such as salmonella or E coli." Visit the site for more information.

Parties we love

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