Julia’s Banana Bread

Recently, a friend brought my family a loaf of banana bread. Before the day was out, I was on the phone asking for the recipe. Everyone agreed it was the best banana bread ever!!  Today I tried baking it myself, hoping I could duplicate the wonderful flavor.  It turned out fantastic!

I don’t know where Julia got her original recipe, so I simply named it after her.  This recipe is a bit different from others I’ve found as it has two types of flour…white and whole wheat. I just know it is truly delicious without being too sweet and loaded with banana flavor.

Truly a winner!

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Julia’s Banana Bread

1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup shelled, chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift white flour, baking soda and salt together. Stir in whole wheat flour. Add to creamed mixture, mixing well.

Fold in bananas, vanilla and nuts. Poor into pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes then turn out on rack.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

What goes better with chicken than good old fashioned stuffing? This is pure comfort food.  Wrap it all up in a slice of bacon.  Now you’re talking! The bacon adds its delectable flavor throughout and keeps the chicken wonderfully moist.  This goes together in minutes but tastes like you spent hours. My kind of meal!

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

3 large chicken breasts
1 box Stove Top Stuffing
1 – 14.5 oz. can chicken broth
6 slices bacon
Seasonings as desired

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Make Stove Top Stuffing as directed on package using 1 1/2 cups chicken broth in place of water. With a sharp knife, slice each chicken breast in half, into two wide, slim slices. Pound flat. Scoop stuffing onto center of chicken piece, roll up, then wrap stuffed chicken roll with bacon slice, fasten with toothpick. Place seam side down into 9″ x 9″ baking pan. Repeat with remaining 5 chicken pieces. Spoon any leftover stuffing into pan around chicken rolls. Pour remaining broth over all. Lightly season top with your favorite spices. Bake 45 minutes, uncovered.
Makes 6 servings.

Serve with your favorite gravy.

Icy Navajo Nation Morning

The Navajo Nation is full of beauty. This morning I had only to stand on my front porch to capture a glimpse of this winter wonderland, backlit by the rising sun.  It’s difficult to imagine this is in Arizona.  It’s high desert country at 6,700 feet – a far cry from Phoenix!

The structure on the left is a Navajo hogan, a six or eight sided traditional home with a single doorway that always faces the east.  The sheep corral is on the right.  In the distance on the upper left you can barely see the jagged rocks of the Fort Defiance Plateau.

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Navajo Morning

~ Navajo Prayer ~

May it be beautiful before me.

May it be beautiful behind me.

May it be beautiful above me.

May it be beautiful below me.

May I walk in beauty.

Easy Peasy Smoked Sausage Stew

I came up with a recipe for a mouth watering stew that is perfect for a chilly day and so easy to make I’d feel like I was copping out if it didn’t taste so good. And, like so many other stews, it only tastes better the second time around.  My husband is always happy when he discovers this is on the menu.  When I told him I was going to share the recipe, I asked him what I should call it.  His response?  “Good Stew”

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No pre-cooking or browning.  Just a little dicing and you’re done!

One Pot Easy Peasy Smoked Sausage Stew

1-14 oz. pkg. Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage,          cut in half lengthwise then cut into thick half coins
4-6 gold potatoes diced with skins on
1 large onion, diced
2-14.5 oz. cans cut green beans, undrained
1-14.5 oz. can beef broth
Water to cover (about 5-6 cups)
1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Ground black pepper

Throw everything into a large pot, bring to boil then simmer for 1 hour. That’s it! Easy Peasy!!

The smoked sausage flavors the broth and veggies to delicious perfection.  Some tasty cornbread, biscuits, rolls or bread for dipping will add to the mouth watering experience.

Biscochitos

Biscochitos are the official state cookie of New Mexico. They are also one of my favorites. Finding the right recipe was a challenge for me this year as I baked hundreds of them for gift giving, family consumption and for an event. The following is the result of trial and error, culminating in a delicious, light and flavorful Biscochito.
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With the delicate flavors of anise, orange and cinnamon, this cookie will melt in your mouth.

Biscochitos

6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. lard
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 tsp. ground anise (Penzeys.com)
1 Tbs. dried orange peel, rehydrated with 3 Tbs. water (Penzeys.com)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

Sift together flour, baking powder, ground anise and salt.

In bowl of mixer, cream sugar and lard until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, vanilla, rehydrated orange peel. Gradually add flour mix.

Cover bowl of cookie dough and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Divide dough into four balls. With parchment paper on bottom and waxed paper on top, roll one ball of cookie dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut rolled out dough with round cookie cutter. Keep remaining dough in refrigerator between making batches. Place cookies on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, bake 8 – 10 minutes, or until bottom is lightly browned. Cool slightly then place warm cookies, top side down, in cinnamon sugar mixture. Finish cooling on rack. Makes approximately 90 – 2″ cookies.

Note:  I couldn’t find the size and shape I wanted for a cookie cutter so I used an empty, clean small tomato paste can. Perfect!  I removed both ends and paper wrap.  The size was perfect and the can was easy to hold.

If you enjoy cooking but have yet to discover Penzeys Spices, I highly recommend them.  They have stores throughout the United States and can also be found online at Penzeys.com.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

Prior to Christmas, I busied myself with baking dozens and dozens of various types of cookies.  I bought lovely Christmas tin boxes with see thru tops to pack full of cookie assortments for sharing with friends and relatives.

Now it’s time to resume life. I spend much time on Pinterest, exploring recipe ideas, creating a collection of favorites, trying new concoctions on my family. The other day I was in the mood for soup.  Not just any soup, but a hamburger soup.  I searched for ideas.  There wasn’t a single one that grabbed me, but parts of several that spurred my imagination.  I was also limited by what I had on hand as I’m about 30 miles from town.

I began gathering ingredients and then proceeded to create.  The result was something I had to record so it wouldn’t be forgotten.  It’s so delicious and addicting that I had to heat a bowl for breakfast the next morning.

I hope you enjoy as well!

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Hamburger Vegetable Soup

1 lb. ground beef (brown in 1 Tbsp. Olive oil)

Add to browned ground beef and cook ’til tender:
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can mushrooms stems & pieces, drained

Add 8 cups water with
1 1/2 Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon, beef
3 peeled and diced gold potatoes
1 pkg. fresh peeled baby carrots, chopped (I actually used about 2/3 pkg.)

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes, covered.

Add:
1 can drained cut green beans
1 can, drained and rinsed, pinto beans
1 can, undrained, diced tomatoes
1 can V-8 Juice
1 pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for at least 1 hour. Remove bay leaves before serving.

 

Are We Losing Humanity?

Road rage.  It has become a serious concern, sometimes resulting in death.  Recently in Albuquerque, NM a four year old little girl was shot and killed when an angered driver pulled alongside a truck driven by a father taking his kids home from school.  The angered driver fired into the truck.  The child was struck in the head.

Internet bullying.  Too many people hide behind the safety of their computers, tablets and cell phones and throw out hurtful messages unconcerned with consequences.

When people are able to detach themselves from a situation and depersonalize it, often they show their ugliest side.  Where does their humanity go?  What happened to manners?

I find it very interesting to note the difference in one’s behavior when face to face.  For instance:  Grocery shopping.  Even in a crowded store, I’ve never encountered road rage with my cart.  People smile, say “Excuse me”, “Good morning”, ” Can I help you with that?”, and other pleasantries.  Why can’t we take the same courtesy to the rode?  I’ve been with drivers who throw out every swear word imaginable. Why?   Does it make you feel superior?   We ALL make mistakes.  Getting upset over someone else’s only raises our blood pressure and ruins our day.  Showing patience and kindness not only makes us feel better but helps create a better society.