Gluten-Free (Flourless) Banana Oatmeal Bread

Gluten-Free (Flourless) Banana Oatmeal Bread.

When you have a bunch of bananas that ripen before you eat them – and you know nobody will eat them – they are perfect for baking.

I have a really yummy banana bread recipe, but it is not the “healthiest.”  I decided I wanted to make something with less (or no) sugar, and maybe no flour either.

I was excited when I found this super-easy and oh so yummy recipe at The Baker Mama.

It’s been very hot here, so I baked this early on a Sunday morning.  I made one loaf for my youngest son and his wife (my son loves banana bread and my daughter-in-law likes to eat healthy and gluten-free if possible) and one loaf for hubby and me.

My son mentioned that if I added some protein powder to the recipe, it would be the perfect breakfast.  I will have to try that next time.

But how simple is this recipe with five healthy, wholesome ingredients?!

Hope you will give it a try.

Gluten Free Banana Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2  eggs
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp baking soda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9×5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and well combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
Garnish the top of the batter with thinly sliced bananas or pecans or walnuts, if desired).

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Do not overbake or bread will be dry tasting.

Let loaf cool completely in pan. Store in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator,

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Old-Fashioned Classic Stuffed Peppers

Old-Fashioned Classic Stuffed Peppers.

People stuff peppers with a lot of different things and prepare them many different ways.

But there is one classic, old-fashioned way I sometimes crave.
The way Grandma used to make them.

Simple.
Hearty.
Lots of tomato sauce.
And served with a side of mashed pototoes.

Last Sunday, I made them for dinner.

Here is my recipe – like Grandma made.

Old-Fashioned Classic Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 4 stuffed peppers
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red or green peppers (best if you use the one with 4 lobes – or bumps – on the bottom as opposed to those with 3, so they stand nicer)
  • 1 lb. “Meatloaf Mix” (a mixture of ground beef, pork, and lamb)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 large can tomato sauce
  • 1 large can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, cooked rice, onion, salt, and pepper.  Combine with your hands until evenly incorporated.

In another large mixing bowl, combine tomato sauce, tomato soup, and water.  Whisk until evenly incorporated.

Add 1 cup of sauce to meat mixture.  Combine well.

Cut tops from peppers and remove seeds.  Stand pepper “cups” in a deep roasting pan.  Stuff peppers with handfuls of meat packed and mounded.  Pour remaining sauce over all.

Cover and roast peppers for 1 – 1 1/2 hours until meat is cooked, sauce reduces, and peppers have softened.

Serve with mashed pototoes and ladle additional sauce over all.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Baking Lady Locks Cookies

Baking Lady Locks Cookies

We’ve talked about it before…. the Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table.

As we say around here, “It’s a ‘Burgh Thing.”

And no respectable wedding cookie table would be without Lady Locks.

As much as I love baking cookies, I have never truly mastered the esteemed Lady Lock.

But one of my best buddies has….

She baked them for my first son’s wedding, and she baked them for my second son’s wedding.  So when I offered to help bake some cookies for my oldest daughter-in-law’s sister’s upcoming wedding, I asked Tracy if I could pay her to bake some Lady Locks.

Her reply…

“How about I teach you?”

When I told my daughter-in-law we were going to make them this past Sunday, she was so excited.  She had been googling the recipe to give them a try, but was a bit hesitant to tackle these, so she wanted to join in the lady lock baking lesson too.

Now my grandma made these every year for Christmas and for special occassions like family weddings.  I tried her cryptic recipe a few times years ago, but they never came out quite right.  At one point in time I had her special lady lock pins, but somehow they are nowhere to be found.  (I likely tossed them out of frustration after trying several times!)

Fortunately, Tracy still has her grandma’s, which were handed down to her mom and then her.  I found a local store in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, In the Kitchen, that carries them and sells them online for anyone interested in purchasing (which I did).  It’s important you get the correct kind.  Expert old-time bakers were able to make these on clothespins (and some people still call them clothespin cookies), but I can’t even imagine!

Baking these are not for the light of heart or spirit.  Though they are made from just a few simple ingredients you likely have in your pantry, these tasty little buggers are a bit tedious to make.  (Especially when you double the recipe and have a 1-1/2 year-old helping!)

Tracy generously allowed me to share her Mom’s recipe here, which was a COMPLETE success!  (Probably because she did most of the hard work….. after all…. my granddaughter did need to take a few breaks to swing and play in the pool and eat lunch and join Pap Pap for a tractor ride during the 5-hour bake-a-thon!).  Colleen, her mommy, was a trooper rolling and tapping and filling the whole time – even while 8 3/4 months pregnant (this girl never ceases to amaze me!).

We filled half of our 200 lady locks with pink-tinted vanilla filling and the other half with white almond-flavored filling.  They both are melt-in-your-mouth divine.

Here is the recipe.  The best ever, full-proof success lady locks recipe.  Thanks Tracy!

Lady Locks Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 100
  • Print

Cookie Shell Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 lb butter
  • 1 cup water

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups Crisco
  • 3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned Evaporated Milk
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix flour and butter with pastry blender like when making pie crust to form crumbly mixture.  Stir in water until dough forms.  Shape dough into 2 balls, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the Lady Locks Pins by rubbing your hands with Crisco and then rolling the pins in your hands to grease them.  (You only have to do this for the first batch – they will be greased enough after that from each subsequent baking.)

Roll out dough to 1/8″ thick on floured surface.  Cut dough into 2″ x 1-1/2″ rectangles.  Wrap each rectangle of dough around Lady Locks Pin pinching edges well to seal.  To do this is a bit tricky.  You must pinch the dough together, then roll it in your hands and/or on a lightly flour-dusted counter (or both!) to get them smooth and even. Then take a butter knife and cut through the center of the dough on the pin to create two evenly-sized pieces – pushing  them apart about 1/8″.  (You will get two cookies from each pin).

Fill a cookie tray or baking stone with dough-wrapped pins about 1/4 inch apart.  Bake approximately 10 minutes until just lightly browned.

When they come out of the oven, you can allow them to cool a minute or so, then you need to tap the ends of the pin on the counter to loosen the baked dough and slide off the pin on the narrowest tapered side.  (It’s a bit like playing hot potato, but necessary to remove the shells from the pins.  Tracy says if you leave them cool too long on the pin, the will likely stick to them and break in the process of removing.)

Once you have baked all of your shells, and they have cooled, prepare the filling.

With an electric mixer, beat the Crisco.  Add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, and beat again.  Add 1/4 cup canned milk, and beat again.  Add flour.   Beat again.  Add salt.     Beat again.  Add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.  Beat again.  Add 1/2 cup canned milk.  Beat again.  Add vanilla (or almond extract).  Beat again.  If you are going to tint your filling, add food color, and beat one final time until incorporated.

Using a pastry tube or decorator with small tip, fill shells with filling.

These cookies freeze well, and actually taste phenomenal straight out of the freezer.

Do you have another favorite Lady Locks recipe?  I’d love to hear how you make them.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Berry Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

Berry Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing.

Want to really make a statement and add a kick to your next fruit salad?

Mix strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and red raspberries in a bowl.

Add the zest and juice of one ripe lime and drizzle with 2-3 Tbsp of honey.

Stir berry gently, and enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Sour Cream Pecan Coffee Cake

Sour Cream Pecan Coffee Cake.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for quite some time.  It is my most favorite coffee cake recipe to date.

I can pass on a brownie or a chocolate chip cookie, but put a piece of coffee cake in front of me………. and forget it!  I can’t resist.

This recipe was shared with me from a super sweet guy I used to work with.   His aunt makes it for him every year for his birthday – at his request – and he was always kind enough to bring it to the office to share.

The recipe card Steve copied to share with me is dated March, 1969.  Almost as old as me!

It’s a classic, and it’s definitely a keeper!

The crunchy ribbon of cinnamony pecans that runs through the middle of this buttery, tender cake seals the deal!

Here is the recipe Steve shared with me that I slightly adjusted:

Sour Cream Pecan Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups + 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour 9″ tube pan.

Cream butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Fold in vanilla and sour cream.  Fold in baking powder, salt, and flour.

Combine remaining 4 Tbsp sugar, with chopped pecans and cinnamon.

Place half of batter in tube pan.  Sprinkle with nut mixture.  Top with remaining batter.

Bake 50-60 minutes.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Baked Brie with Candied Bacon

Baked Brie with Candied Bacon.

Need I say more?

Gooey, buttery, melted baked brie smothered with smokey bacon candied with brown sugar and maple syrup and balanced out with tangy rice vinegar, coarse black pepper and a few shakes of hot sauce.

This heavenly appetizer recipe really puts the crack in cracker.

If you are looking for the next must-have appetizer to make or take to a picnic or party, look no further.  I can pretty much guarantee this will be a winner! It sure was with my family this past weekend.

Here is how I made it, adapted from a recipe found here.

Baked Brie with Candied Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz wheel of brie cheese
  • 8 slices thick bacon, diced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 heaping Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4-5 drops Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or your fave)
  • 1 box water crackers (or your fave)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook diced bacon in a hot skillet until just crispy.

While bacon is cooking, stir together brown sugar, maple syrup, rice vinegar, black pepper and hot sauce in a small bowl.

Drain grease from bacon, and add sauce.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes until thick and bubbly.

Place brie in small stoneware casserole or baking pan.  Top with candied bacon.  Bake 10 minutes or until brie is warm and gooey inside.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes or so.  Serve with water crackers or your favorite cracker.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Roasted Turkey, Bacon, & Avocado Club Sammie

Roasted Turkey, Bacon, & Avocado Sammie.

Warmer weather means lighter meals and sometimes even sandwiches for dinner.

Here is a yummy fave I made this past Sunday.

Often times on Sundays, we have a bigger, late breakfast, skip lunch, and have an early dinner.

After enjoying hearty breakfast omelets hubby made with our leftover prime rib from dinner out the night before, we made a light sandwich supper.

On a sweet onion bun thickly slathered with mayonnaise, we sliced some roasted turkey, topped it with crispy, smokey bacon, creamy avocado slices, juicy ripe tomatoes and peppery arugula and spinach.  It was yum on a bun.

Do you enjoy sandwiches for warm weather suppers?  What is your fave?

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Lightened Up Vinaigrette Broccoli Salad

Lightened Up Vinaigrette Broccoli Salad.

I love broccoli  – cooked or raw.
And I love broccoli salad.

The traditional version has a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing, and it is delicious!

But I was looking for a way to “lighten it up” a bit when making dinner one day this week, so I tried it with a vinaigrette dressing instead.

And it is DELISH too!

It is lighter and fresher tasting, and it is about half the calories of the traditional version!

This really is a nice twist on a classic that is healthier and just as yummy.

Here is how I made it.

Lightened Up Vinaigrette Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh fresh broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 thinly sliced, chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 large sweet red pepper, thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup raw sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 slices bacon, diced and cooked
  • Vinaigrette:
    • 2 Tbsp apple cider (or your favorite – red wine, white, etc.) vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 Tbsp freshly ground pepper

Directions:  Combine first seven ingredients in large bowl.  Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour over salad and toss to coat well.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Lemon Lavender Loaf

Lemon Lavender Loaf.

Fresh, bright, tart lemon zest and juice mixed with sweet, flowery, fragrant dried lavender buds in a beautifully glazed loaf.

I couldn’t decide if this should be considered a bread or a cake, so I am simply calling it loaf.     Plus I love the alliteration of a name where all the words start with the same Lovely Letter!

A dear friend gifted me a bag of dried lavender recently, and I have been dying to use it.  I finally found some time early Sunday morning to bake this beautiful loaf to enjoy on a beautiful Spring day.

It is light and soft and such a perfect Springtime treat.

Here is how I made it.

Lemon Lavender Loaf*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk with 1 Tbsp white vinegar let set 5 min)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tbsp dried lavender buds
  • Glaze:
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 Tbsp milk
    • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
    • 1/2 tsp dried lavender buds

Directions:

Prepare two loaf pans with shortening and flour.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, and continue mixing until mixture looks like buttercream frosting.

Gently mix in salt and baking soda.

Add lemon zest and juice to buttermilk, and set aside.

To batter, alternate adding flour and lemon buttermilk in three additions, and mix just until incorporated.  Stir in lavender.

Pour into prepared pans and bake approximately 45 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool loaves 10 minutes in pans.  Remove and cool completely.

Once cool, prepare glaze by mixing powdered sugar, milk, lemon zest and juice, and lavender.  Pour over loaves.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Original recipe slightly adapted from FudgeRipple

Extreme Chocolate Cake

Extreme Chocolate Cake.

For those times….
you know them…
when you just need chocolate cake.

I recently saw a question that made me think.

If you had to live without one of the following for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

  • Coffee
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Wine

For me, it would be chocolate.  Though I adore baking and enjoy chocolate (and even crave it sometimes), if I had to give up one of these four, it would be the chocolate.

I can’t imagine not having coffee in the morning.  A world without cheese?!  I’m just not sure that is a world worth living in.  And oh how I enjoy my glass or two of red wine in the evening.

How about you?

Now even though I would choose chocolate if I HAD to make the choice…. THANKFULLY I do not!

So here’s a chocolate cake I made recently (which is slightly adapted from this one I found at AllRecipes) – just because…

Because sometimes life is worth celebrating with chocolate cake!

Extreme Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Frosting
    • 1 cup softened butter
    • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 6 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour three 8-9″ round cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Mix for 3 minutes with electric mixer.  Slowly stir in boiling water by hand with wooden spoon until fully incorporated.  Pour batter evenly into the three prepared pans.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes in pans, then remove to cooling rack to cool complete.

Prepare frosting by beating butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Stir in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar, then milk and vanilla.  Beat until fluffy and spreading consistency.

Spread frosting on each layer of cake stacked on top of each other and decorate as desired.

I shaved dark chocolate on top using a vegetable peeler from a large bar of Trader Joe’s 72% Cocoa Dark Chocolate and placed halved strawberries around the perimeter of the top.  

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi