Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread

apricot nut bread

It’s not officially Christmas baking time until I make Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread.

apricot nut bread mini

And that is exactly what I did this past Sunday.

Unlike most of the things I bake, this recipe is for me.

Measuring the flour with my favorite antique tin measuring cup from Grandma,

snipping the apricots just like she did with kitchen shears,

mixing with old-time Christmas music playing like we did when I helped her as a child…

Remembering how she smelled, remembering how her hands looked and felt, remembering her voice, remembering her love.

Baking this bread every year at this time just takes me back – makes me smile – allows me to remember – fills me with love.

apricot nut bread slice

The smell of this bread baking is one of my very favorite smells in the entire universe.  (In fact, sometimes I go outside for a couple of minutes, so that I can come back in and be HIT by the smell!)

The taste of this bread…

not too sweet – a bit dry – densely filled with bursts of tart apricot chunks and crunchy walnuts….

For me – this bread is love – it is memories of childhood – memories of a grandma’s heart.

Do you have a recipe that does this to you?

I wonder if Grandma is why I often express my love for people by baking?

Thanks for the memories, Grandma.  Thanks for the love.  You are my Stella Star!

You can  find the recipe for my all-time favorite thing to bake here – Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread where I shared it last year.

Hope you are enjoying the season.  I’m going to go have a slice and a cuppa!

Cheers & Hugs,


Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread

One of my favorite things to bake (and eat) for the holidays is my Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread Cover

For me, it is like spending a little time with Grandma – even though she’s been gone for 20 years now.  The smells that fill the house… using her recipe card – complete with stains from baking episodes past… using her old tin measuring cup, snipping apricots, chopping nuts…  To me, the holidays aren’t truly here until I make Grandma’s Apricot Nut Bread and spend a little time with her through this ritual.

When I was young, I spent Christmas vacations (and every other moment I could) with Grandma.  We spent a lot of our time together in the kitchen.  While we were cooking or baking, Grandma would tell me stories about her childhood.  It was sadly a pretty short one, because she had to become Mama to her baby brothers at only 9 years old when her mom died at a devastatingly early age.  We would talk about her early married life with outhouses, coal furnaces, and washboards.  And some of my favorite stories, especially when I was young, were the ones she would tell about me when I was a baby and how she danced in the hospital hallway with the doctor after I was born and how she fed me her homemade chicken soup on my first day home.

We laughed while we worked, and I never felt so loved.

One of the things Grandma made every year was Apricot Nut Bread.  Growing up, it really wasn’t my favorite.  I much preferred the lady locks or nut horns or nut roll – even the chocolate chip cookies.  This bread is not overly sweet.  It is not overly moist.  But as an adult, it has become my absolute favorite.  A slice with a swirl of creamy salted butter or a schmear of rich cream cheese and a cup of coffee might just be my favorite way to start the day.

This weekend, I made my annual batch of Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread.

I started with some dried apricots, which I snipped with scissors into large chunks.  (I cut most of the apricots into fourths.)  Sharp kitchen shears work much better than a knife given the stickiness of the apricots while cutting.  And – it’s how Grandma did it…

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 1After the apricots are coarsely snipped, they are placed in a bowl of hot water to further plump and soften.  Equal parts of apricots and water are used.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 2The dry ingredients are mixed together next in a separate bowl:  flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 3In a third bowl, eggs are beaten, and sugar is added.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 4Next is time to coarsely chop some walnuts – 1 cup per batch (unless you are my son, Nick – then no nuts are added!)

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 5To combine everything, alternately add the apricots with water and egg/sugar mixture to the dry ingredient bowl.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 6At this point, you could place the batter in your greased and floured bread pans if you are not adding nuts.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 7Or gently fold in the nuts.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 8It is important to thoroughly grease and flour your bread pans.  I use a paper towel to generously smear Crisco into every corner and crevice of the pan and then dust thoroughly with four.  If done well, the bread will roll right out when you tip the pans once out of the oven.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 9You can use a number of small bread pans or one large bread pan for a single recipe.  I tripled the recipe this weekend and made eight smaller loaves.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 10I fill them about 3/4 full to get a nicely risen loaf.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 11Baking time varies depending on the size of the loaf, so watch carefully and check with a toothpick.  If you insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean, the bread is done.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread 12I immediately pop them out out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.  These loaves freeze beautifully if wrapped in saran wrap and foil or in freezer Ziploc bags.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread LastSlice and serve warm or cold and with or without butter or cream cheese.  In my opinion, this is best served as breakfast or brunch fare with a steaming cup of coffee (with Italian Sweet Cream of course!).  Sometimes we even toast a slice of it, and then the edges are crisp and the center is warm and gooey and the butter just melts into it.

Here is Grandma’s well-loved and stained recipe card:

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread Recipe Card 1jpgI remember typing these on index cards for Grandma as a young girl.  I wish I had more of her handwritten copies, but they are long gone…

Grandmas Old Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread Recipe Card 2

Some beloved people and possessions in our lives may no longer be around, but memories can never be erased or replaced.

May cherished memories of your loved ones and holidays past fill you with warmth and happiness.

Here is the recipe for you to try:

Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread

Mix together 1 cup chopped apricots and 1 cup boiling water.  Let stand until the rest of the ingredients are ready.

In another bowl, beat two eggs and gradually add 1 cup of sugar.

In a third large bowl, stir together:

2-3/4 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Add the first two mixtures to the dry ingredients – alternating as you incorporate.  Fold in chopped nuts.

Bake one large loaf at 375 degrees F for approximately 50 minutes, then 350 degrees F for 25 additional minutes.

For smaller loaves, bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

I hope you enjoy.

Cheers & Nostalgic Hugs,


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookies

There are certain foods that just love each other…
peanut butter & jelly… bacon & eggs…. macaroni & cheese…
and bananas & chocolate!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookies – photo by Nick

So when I saw a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies on Rantings of an Amateur Chef’s Maggie Monday yesterday, I knew I had to try them.

And I had some perfectly over-ripe bananas on the counter just waiting to be used.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookies – photo by Nick

I hesitated a bit messing with chocolate chip cookies, but when I read that these were more like muffin tops in their taste and texture, I was sold.

Be warned, these are not your normal chocolate chip cookie, and they taste nothing like my “almost famous” chocolate chips cookies, but they are a surprisingly delightful treat.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookies

Even Nick, who was skeptical with me messin’ with chocolate chip cookies, gave them a big thumbs up (and shared some of his photography talent by taking some of the photos I’m sharing today).

If you are looking for something different, and you love banana bread, muffins, and chocolate chips cookies, these are a must try.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Top Cookie & Milk – Photo by Nick

Here is the recipe as posted yesterday on Rantings of an Amateur Chef:

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
2 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, vanilla and bananas. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually add this to the creamed mixture and blend well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill dough for at least one hour. Drop by tablespoonfuls about 2” apart on baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 9-11 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.


Cheers & Hugs,



Homemade Dill Bread

Dill Bread

One Christmas holiday season about 15 years ago, some dear friends, Jan and Mike, showed up at our front door on a snowy, blustery day with a warm loaf of this amazing Dill Bread.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

After sharing with my family devouring this luscious loaf, I quickly begged for the recipe.  Jan sweetly obliged, and I have been making this bread at least once a year ever since.

This bread is so right up my alley of flavor fiestas!   Sauteed buttery onion flakes and dill seed baked into this dense, no-knead bread and topped with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.  A cup of cottage cheese in the dough makes it moist and dense.

Yesterday was a bit windy and rainy and seemed a perfect day to let an easy loaf of bread raise and bake for dinner to accompany a beef pot roast and caramelized butternut squash.  A perfect Fall feast.

Here’s the recipe for “Jan’s Dill Bread”

1 pkg dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 c olive oil
2 Tbsp minced onion flakes
2 Tbsp butter
1 c cottage cheese
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
2 Tbsp dill seed
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 c flour

Soften onion in butter over low heat and let cool.

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add all ingredients except flour, and mix well. Then stir in flour to make stiff dough.

Let rise until doubled (an hour or so). Punch down and place in greased 2 qt casserole or baking stone. Let rise 40 min. Bake for approx. 30 minutes at 350 degrees F until well browned.

Brush top with butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

ENJOY! (and thanks Jan!)

Cheers & Hugs

Going Ape over Cinnamon Monkey Bread

cinnamon bubble bread

Cinnamon Bubble Bread…

Monkey Bread…

You say tomayto – I say tomahto.

An oldie, but goodie.

cinnamon bubble bread 2

2 loaves thawed frozen bread dough broken into 24 pieces.
1 stick of melted butter.
Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture (white and brown sugar and cinnamon)

Rolls pieces of dough in butter, then cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Drop into greased Bundt pan, and let rise until doubled.
Bake 30 min. at 350 degrees.

Go ape over this buttery, cinnamony, monkey bread yumminess!

Cheers & Hugs,


Homemade Rustic Crusty Bread

br 3

Do you think computers, iPads, smartphones will ever have scratch ‘n sniff available?  Perhaps “smell-a-vision,” “smell-a-phone,” “smell-a-computer?”

Oh how I wish you could SMELL this homemade rustic crusty bread!

And you know what is even better?!?!?!  It is SOOOO simple!


I have been having bread-making envy from a couple of folks I know (ahem – Oh Rob and Nancy), who have been talking so much about baking bread, I couldn’t take it anymore – I HAD TO BAKE SOME BREAD!

But, alas, I am not a bread baker, so I searched for the simplest rustic crusty bread to start with – thinking – is there such a thing?!??

THERE IS!  Thank you Mel – from Mel’s Kitchen Café for this amazing recipe that was apparently adapted from a New York Times article  about “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007).


There are THREE ingredients.  That’s it!  Well – ok – four – if you count tap water.

It is simply:


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast (equivalent of 2 envelopes)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

Talk about easy – talk about cheap!

This recipe does NOT require a mixer, does NOT require a bread machine, does NOT even required kneading.  I was skeptical, but thought it was worth a try.  I had time while I was doing other things to let it sit, so what the heck!

br 2

Here are the instructions I adapted from Mel:


  1. In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel but don’t seal the bowl airtight. Let the dough rise at room temperature 2-5 hours until doubled.
  2. Divide the dough in half to form two loaves (or you can make 3-4 smaller round loaves if you prefer).  Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put the dough on floured baking stone, and let it rest for another 40 minutes at room temperature.
  3. After the dough has rested and is ready to bake, dust the dough lightly with flour, slash the top with serrated or very sharp knife three times, and sprinkle with a little bit of coarse sea salt if desired.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven.  Pour one cup of hot water into the pan and shut the oven quickly to trap the steam.
  5. Bake the bread until well browned and it sounds a bit “hollow” when you knock on it –  about 20-28 minutes depending on your oven.  (Mine is an electric convection oven and only took about 20 minutes.)
  6. Slice when cooled and ENJOY!

br w pepWe enjoyed ours for Sunday dinner with spicy sausage stuffed banana peppers from my garden.  It was perfect for cutting the heat and soaking up the juice.

I think I’ll be baking some more of this soon, and maybe branching out to try some others.

br 3

Homemade bread that is easy and inexpensive, has no preservatives, and tastes OUT OF THIS WORLD!

You are going to want to try this!

Cheers & Hugs,



The BEST Ever Banana Bread

bbcoverI used to have the best banana bread recipe years ago from Aunt Francie.  (Aunt Francie is Marty’s 91 year old Aunt – who happens to be engaged and living with her 92 year old boyfriend – a random, but oh so cute piece of information 🙂 )

Somehow I seemed to have lost it, so I’ve been trying various banana bread recipes on the web every time I have a few over-ripe bananas to spare.


Sadly – none have even come close to comparing…


O… M… G…

I found a recipe for Extreme Banana Nut Bread and read the various comments and reviews.  Seemed everyone LOVED it, but tweaked it this way or that.


So I set out to put this extreme banana bread recipe to the test with my own little touches, and I have to say…  THIS IS IT!

Dare I say even better than Aunt Francie’s?!

I made it three different ways for my first experiment.


I divided the recipe into three separate batches.  I added pecans to one batch, cinnamon chips to another batch, and kept the last batch plain.  Then I made some loaves and some muffins.


This bread is dense and sweet with crispy edges and a buttery, rich banana taste like no other.


One of the new tricks I tried that made it even EXTRA AMAZING was  greasing the pans with shortening and then coating with cinnamon sugar instead of the usual flour dusting.

WOWSERS!  On top of the banany goodness, imagine a crust that taste like the cinnamon toast of our childhood days. OUTRAGEOUS!!

This bread doesn’t raise very high, and it isn’t fluffy or light in any way, shape or form.  It is more rustic looking as it stays dense and ooeey gooeey.  Some of mine ran over the edges and got extra crusty, but it only added to the awesomeness.


Not the most perfect loaves of bread to look at, but I dare you to try it and tell me if you’ve ever tasted better.

This is my new GO TO recipe for Banana Bread.

It is truly Extreme.


Best Ever Banana Bread Recipe:


1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
4 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups mashed over-ripe bananas
Optional: Pecans or Walnuts or Cinnamon Chips
Sugar and Cinnamon Mixture for coating pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and cinnamon sugar coat pans (do the same way as you would with flour).

In mixer, beat together sugars and butter until creamy. Add beaten eggs and vanilla, and continue creaming until well beaten.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together, then add to creamed wet mixture, beating well with electric mixer.

Once that is all well combined, beat in the mashed bananas.

If using nuts or cinnamon chips, fold those gently in last.

Fill pans 3/4 full. Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let loaves cool in pan for about 5 mins, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.

Once cool, place in large Ziploc bag or wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate.

BEST served if refrigerated for at least 2 hours first.

Large loaf pan needs to bake about an hour.
Mini loaf pans approximately 30 minutes.
Muffins approximately 20 mins.

WARNING             WARNING                 WARNING
This recipe is NOT low-fat and may become HABIT FORMING!


Cheers and Hugs,