Old Fashioned Date Nut Bread

So I have a plan….. not an evil plan, mind you, just a plan.

Over the past few days, I have been toying with the idea of making a family cookbook with all of our favorite recipes, and giving copies to the posse when they leave home.  Which, given the mental state Sabrina has been in lately, I hope will be soon.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding – call off the firing squad please….

Seriously though, she has been so moody, ultra sarcastic, and the constant complaining about every.little.thing is starting to wear me down. Right about now, I can hear my mother saying, “Patience and strength, my dear, for you still have to get through Alexander’s mid-teen years….”

Oh lord. 

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Anyway, I thought it would be kind of neat and very special to have an actual printed book of our family faves (complete with good pictures!), because even though the information is readily available on the blog, there’s nothing like the feel of a real book.

And besides, maybe it would inspire the kids to participate a little more in the kitchen. One can only hope……

Old Fashioned Date Nut Bread – adapted from King Arthur Flour

This bread is an absolute dead ringer for the date/nut bread of my youth. I can’t wait for Mom and Dad to try it when they come for a visit.

  • 2 cups chopped dates
  • 4 tbs. softened butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs. brandy
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

     Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. Place the dates, butter, baking soda, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Pour the hot coffee into the bowl, stirring to combine. Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.

    Add the egg, vanilla, brandy, baking powder, and flour, beating gently until smooth. Stir in the pecans. Pour the batter into the pan, gently tapping the pan on the counter to settle the batter.

    Bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes, tenting the loaf gently with foil after 30 minutes, to prevent over-browning. Remove the bread from the oven; a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. After 10 minutes, gently turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage

Award Winning Zucchini Bread

First things first: I did not win an award for this bread.

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However, I did win an award for being the biggest idiot on the planet this morning. I am the proud owner of 5 stitches in my left hand from being careless with our brand new knives. I was slicing a roll for Alexander’s lunch, and instead of putting the roll on the counter, I held it in my hand. Just as I was saying to myself, “This probably isn’t a good idea”, I felt the knife go right through my ring finger. I immediately pulled off my engagement ring, took a close look, and knew where I’d be spending the morning.

At the brand new ER down the road. 

Can’t wait to see the bill for this little adventure.

Award Winning Zucchini Bread – adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Handful oatmeal, for sprinkling on the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×5 (or 8×4) loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, zucchini, and vanilla until evenly combined. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined. Avoid overmixing.Spread batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with oatmeal and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.

Banana Pecan Bread

My father thinks knows is completely sure I’ve lost my mind.

Just so we are clear, this isn’t the first time he’s had that thought. And it won’t be the last, I assure you. 

Here’s the deal: I set a goal for myself last month to get back into my fitness groove – which means a lot of walking and riding. And get this – since October 23, I’ve ridden 167 miles and walked 64.8 miles.

Wow – that’s more than I thought. No wonder my shoes are so worn….

Anyway, I received a text from Dad yesterday that said, “Are you training for a marathon?”

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Nope – just enjoying the side benefits to all that activity – which means I have a slice of this bread smothered in peanut butter every morning after my workout. Plus, I have more energy and feel more clear headed, as I do my best thinking while exercising.

I’ve had a lot to think about lately…… like the fact that Christmas is around the corner. 

Commence online shopping!

Banana Pecan Bread – adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

This recipe is touted as “the best” banana bread. And while I’m not qualified to say whether it is or isn’t, I will say it is very good – it has a really nice texture and isn’t overly sweet.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed, about 3 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yogurt, mashed bananas and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon together until combined. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients and pecans into the wet ingredients.Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 60-65 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf will come out clean when the bread is done. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

 

Zucchini Spice Bread

Last week was quite the week.

no joke.

Let’s kick this story off with the best part first. Having my parents here for TWO whole weeks was simply spectacular. There are no words to describe having the family all together in the same house, even though that statement probably makes me sound like a typical mother (although I’m anything but typical). Even though Dad wanted to send a letter to upper management (i.e. me) about the absence of a TV in their room, the lack of a private bathroom, and the close living quarters, I think know they enjoyed being with us.

Imagine my disappointment when they tell me they’re never coming back.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding – call off the execution squad, please….

Let’s see…. what else happened….. at the top of the list, both dogs came down with a raging case of skin crawling bugs, which translated into, “Welcome to Texas, ma’am, your dogs have fleas…..”

Ugh.

That tidbit of news set off a sequence of events which necessitated a trip not only to the vet for once-a-month anti-flea medicine, but also to Petsmart for flea shampoo and carpet/furniture spray – then washing just about everything washable in the house, bathing both dogs repeatedly to remove the offending bugs, and treating the inside of the house twice to get rid of everything.

It was lovely, really…..

However, before that happened, my darling Sabrina, after visiting the doctor for her monthly checkup, was informed that her triglycerides are at three times their normal level, which meant going off her Accutane and onto a strict low-carb diet for two weeks.

On the positive side, she feels better and has lost quite a few pounds. On the negative side, she’s ready to take a hostage for a piece of bread or a cookie…..

Anyway, Mom and Dad left Saturday, and I still can’t figure out how they were able to escape – since I was holding on to both of their legs as they attempted to leave. I’m suffering from post-visitor-departure-syndrome (yes I made that up thankyouverymuch) and although they claim they’ll be back in a few weeks, I have my doubts.

Serious doubts.

May have to call in the big guns (i.e. Sabrina and Alexander) for help.

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Zucchini Spice Bread – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup blueberries (optional, I just happened to have a small bag in the freezer)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater (to yield 1 3/4 cups); set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, oil, vanilla, and eggs.

Into a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, and stir to combine well. Stir in grated zucchini.

 

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack, then reinvert, top side up. Cool completely before slicing.

 

Banana Blueberry Crumb Muffins

It always makes me so happy when a food related experiment turns out successful, because lately, I’ve had quite a few “mishaps” in the kitchen.

Mishaps sounds so much nicer than incidents or accidents. 

But we really don’t need to bring those out into the open, do we? Well, probably not…….. however, since there are no secrets here, I will tell you that in the last 4 days, I’ve made two dinners that didn’t turn out well at all (i.e. almost inedible), burned out the motor on the drinker mixer, broke one of the good drinking glasses, and cracked a plastic serving bowl in half.

The last mishap (there’s that word again!) resulted in a large quantity of potato chips flying across the kitchen floor, which then resulted in two dogs desperately racing around, trying to eat as many as they could before I was able clean up the mess.

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Now, of course, the pups have taken to staring at the top of the refrigerator where the chips are stored, in the hopes that one of the bags will take an unfortunate tumble to the floor. I’m half expecting to see these two jokesters appropriate a kitchen chair to climb up and help themselves.

I think it might be time to install a camera in the kitchen……

Banana Blueberry Crumb Muffins – adapted from various online sources

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of ripe, mashed banana
1 cup fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping:

  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¾ cups flour

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, cinnamon, and flour. Pour the butter over top and using a spatula, mix until large crumbs form.

To make the muffins:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 6 jumbo size muffin cups with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and bananas until blended. Add the dry ingredients and blueberries, and gently stir just until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle on the crumb topping. Bake until a tester inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.

Yield: 6 large muffins

Hatch Chile Cheese Beer Bread

In case you live under a rock here in Texas, (and hey, you could…) August 6-19 is the Hatch Chile Festival at Central Market.

Which, in layman’s terms, means that chiles are everywhere. Enormous bins of fresh whole chiles, hundreds of containers of roasted chiles, chile salsa, chile bread, chile tortilla chips – the variety and creativity of products is almost overwhelming.

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Resisting the urge to pick up one of everything (and that wasn’t easy, believe me), I picked up a container of roasted “hot” chiles, and bag of fresh “mild” chiles. The hot ones were used to prepare this bread, and the mild ones were roasted and turned into chile rellenos.

I toasted a slice of this bread and packed it for Sabrina to take to work with her this morning, and for a completely unbiased opinion on how it tastes, this is her direct quote:

Chile Cheese Beer Bread is the bomb“.

Hatch Chile Cheese Beer Bread – adapted from Austin Food Lovers’ Companion

Note: Like most quick breads, this is versatile and changeable…. you could use canned chiles in place of the fresh, mild instead of hot, and any kind of cheese you prefer.

  • 1/ 2 cup chopped hot Hatch chilies, chopped
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ c. diced onion
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¾ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded Jalapeño Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese
  • 12 oz. Mexican beer

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, or until tender but not brown. Add the honey and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Combine the black pepper, cumin, flour, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in the cheeses, then the onions and chopped chiles. Add the beer and fold just until the ingredients are combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for just about an hour, or until a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes then remove it from the pan and cool completely on the rack.

Fresh Strawberry Bread

One thing I’ve noticed since our move to Austin is the lack of “stuff” in the freezer. At this very moment, there are a few containers of ice cream (Alexander’s favorite), a few quick breads (that’s a given), and ice.

seriously.

So imagine my complete and total surprise when I discovered a container of sliced strawberries in there the other day. I mean, where did they come from? I have no recollection whatsoever of procuring said container. Strange. Yet…. there they were.

I did the only thing I could think of (aside from turning them into a smoothie), which was to make this bread.

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And may I say, that was an excellent move on my part.

Fresh Strawberry Bread – adapted from saveur

3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1¼ cups canola oil
4 eggs
4 cups roughly chopped strawberries

Heat oven to 350°.  Grease a 12 cup bundt pan with baking spray and set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl; set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, oil, and eggs. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Stir in strawberries and pour batter into prepared pans. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 hour. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.