Banana Bread & Babies

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I had a few bananas on the verge of death and so I decided to make banana bread. I’ve been recovering from a medical procedure and I needed some comfort food! I love banana bread and so I pulled out an old stand-by recipe. It made me nostalgic and so I decided I’d share it with you.

For some reason when I think of Banana Bread I remember my babies, Joel and Katie. I think it’s because the recipe for Banana Bread that I always use is found in my old, ragged, well-loved cookbook, “Whole Foods For The Whole Family.” I got the cookbook when I was was pregnant with my first child, Joel, and working at a health food store. It was first published in 1981 by La Leche League International. It’s an organization that promotes breastfeeding.

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It’s funny, but breastfeeding back in the 1980s was considered a little radical. It was a groovy, tree-hugger, earth mother sort of activity. It’s funny to me because the 80s doesn’t seem that long but I’ve lived through huge changes in childbirth trends since those days. Even the 3 years between my son and my daughter’s birth saw huge changes. Those two births were totally different. With my son, I was in a hospital “surgery-type” room, all sterile and cold, bright lights and scrubs. With my daughter, I was in a birthing center, in a bed with lamps and anyone was free to come and go. So different! This is me and my 1st, my son, leaving the hospital. 

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I remember getting ready for my first child and I thought making and freezing food would be helpful, and it was! I did it again with #2. This banana bread recipe freezes great and was such a comfort. It would be great to make some, freeze them and give them to a new mom.

Let me warn you, it’s a “healthy” recipe which translates to “not very sweet” haha! You can bump up the sugar if you want something that’s sweeter.  This photo is of me pregnant with #2, my daughter. 

I don’t think the awesome cookbook is being printed anymore, but there are a few used

copies on sale on Amazon, here’s a link.

Whole foods for the whole family: LaLeche League International Cookbook

Enough nostalgia, here’s the recipe for

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

1 cup mashed bananas

1/3 cup oil or melted butter

1/2 cup honey or brown sugar (add more if you want it sweeter!)

2 eggs, beaten

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I substituted all-purpose and it’s fine)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup hot water

(You can add 1/2 cup chopped nuts if you want to. The original recipe calls for it. I just don’t like nuts in my banana bread.)

Beat oil and honey together. Add eggs, mix well. Stir in bananas. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with hot water; mix until smooth.

Bake in greased 9 x 5 x 3″ loaf pan at 325 degrees for 55 -60 minutes or until center tests done. Cool on wire rack for 1/2 hour before slicing. Freezes well.

Enjoy!

Cowboy Caviar Recipe Just For Y’all!

Cowboy caviar recipe

My stepmother rolled out a bowl of Cowboy Caviar years ago and I loved it! It became one of my and my daughter’s favorites. We’ve adapted it to our taste. I’ve seen many versions of this recipe and so feel free to add or take out ingredients to suit your particular taste. I just recently saw a version in a new cookbook I bought and it was called “Texas Caviar” of course Texas would claim it, haha!

It’s really easy, quick and healthy! Double it to feed a crowd! It is a real hit at parties! It’s awesome!

Ingredients and Directions: 

Open and drain: 1 can each of black beans, black-eyed peas, and corn

Chop equal amounts: tomato, green onion, cilantro

Mix everything together and add bottled Italian dressing to coat but not drowning ingredients. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes, longer if possible. If it seems dry, add more Italian dressing. Serve with corn chips.

Enjoy!

Optional ingredients: 

We’ve used these ingredients to change it up: chopped jalapeno, green and red bell pepper, parsley, avocado.

 

Washable Rugs & Compact Diaper Bags? Yes, Please!

I just have to bring up these 2 items because I think they are really awesome. And while they would be perfect for parents, I think grandparents could benefit from them, too! Because when we babysit, these would help SO much!

Bluesnail Compact Diaper Bag

I saw a more expensive one on storq.com ($48) but then I searched on Amazon and found this one that seems comparable in function for $15.45! It has everything you need for a quick change! Just click on the image to be taken to amazon.com

When are we going to start having Baby Showers for Grandparents? Huh?

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Washable Rugs! 

The second really cool item my nieces told me about. They both bought washable rugs at Rugs USA   and they love them! 

The company has different sizes and prices starting at $79.99!

There are also washable rugs at Ruggable.com and the Business Insider review gives you a great description of how they work in case you’re curious. They also say they are brilliant!

Kids and pets and poop and puke! How great to be able to take the interchangeable cover off and throw it in the washer!

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And you know me and Amazon – they have Ruggable Rugs for sale there, too! Just click on this rug to be taken to Amazon so you can compare prices

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Where was this stuff when my kids were little?

Free St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt for Toddlers!

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I am going crazy making printables for my grandboys! Today I have a St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt for you!

Print out all 3 pages. Cut out the larger pictures and place them around the house so your toddler can search for them. Make it a challenge, but not too hard so they don’t get frustrated.

Then give them the hunt sheet, the one with all the pictures, and a crayon. Tell them to look for the pictures on the sheet. When they find a picture, they match it to the one on the hunt sheet and cross it off. When they find all the pictures, give them a prize!

Here is the pdf. St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt

Enjoy!

 

For The Love of Irish Soda Bread

I have no memories of my mother. I never knew my grandparents. My older father was as silent as a rock. All the history of my family was in the grave or locked in people who were silent or was locked inside kin I didn’t know. So it’s no wonder that in my adult years I yearned, clamored and even demanded to know my heritage. With the help of  ancestry.com, a hired genealogist and scraps of clues the first ship from Ireland emerged from the mist.

Photos of the Emerald Isle and recipes in various cookbooks were my first contact with my origins, my homeland. In 1990 Jeff Smith’s cookbook, “The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors” was the first to introduce me to Irish Soda Bread.

Like a first kiss and a first child, Irish Soda Bread introduced me to the world of food as history and heritage.

Jeff Smith’s recipe has been followed and cherished in my family for 29 years now. My daughter now makes it for her family on St. Patrick’s Day which has become one of our family’s favorite holidays.

So, even though this article by Chowhound, “What Is Soda Bread And Is It Really Irish?” denounces that the origin of soda bread is actually Irish, it does state that the Irish have claimed it as their own! By virtue that there is a Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread I think that even if history doesn’t prove it out, we can give Soda Bread to the Irish!

This is Jeff Smith’s Irish Soda Bread recipe that we’ve used every year. I’m putting it here because I think his cookbook is out of print, although, you can get it used pretty cheap on Amazon.

Jeff Smith’s Irish Soda Bread

Makes 2 Loaves

6 cups all-purpose flour     

2 teaspoons baking soda                                                                                                                       

2 teaspoons baking powder                                                                                                                 

3 tablespoons cornstarch                                                                                                                     

2 teaspoons sugar                                                                                                                                 

1 teaspoon salt 

2 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well. Pour all of the buttermilk into the bowl at once and stir, using a wooden spoon, just until a soft dough is formed. Do not try to make it smooth at this point. Pour the contents of the bowl out onto a plastic counter and knead for a minute or so until everything comes together.

Divide the loaf into two portions and shape each into a round loaf, pressing the top down a bit to just barely flatten it. Place the loaves on a large ungreased baking sheet. (I like to use the nonstick kind.) Sprinkle some additional flour on the top of each loaf and, using a sharp paring knife, make the sign of the Cross in slashes on the top of each.

Allow the loaves to rest for 10 minutes and then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and done to taste.

Cool on racks.

New Year, New Recipe!

Even though I am grateful for Jeff’s recipe that has kept me for years, I decided to take a chance and try the SPISB’s recipe that they have online. The recipe intrigued me in its simplicity. I liked that it had no sugar, too.

So, I made it! I mixed up the 4 ingredients and in the time it took the oven to preheat, I had it mixed and shaped.

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(That little gadget is a dough scoring tool I bought. You can use a sharp knife, but I love gadgets, haha! You can buy one here. )Risingbreadtool Bread Lame Dough Scoring Tool with Fixed Blade and Cover - Baking Baguettes, Sourdough and French Bread Quick and Easy

 

 

 

I deviated from the recipe in that it calls for you to cook the bread in a covered cake pan. I decided to use my cast iron dutch oven instead.

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It worked amazingly well! It looks, smells and tastes delicious! The crust is delightfully crunchy and the center is moist and hearty! I slathered the hot bread with real butter and it was “slap-your-mama” good! I hate to say it but it’s better than Jeff’s! I can’t believe I said that!

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(That beautiful end-grain cutting board was made by my woodworker friend, Pete, at PMG Woodworks in Georgia. Look him up on Facebook!)

I’ve included the link to the recipe but here’s the recipe straight from the SPISB’s site:

White Soda Bread (reminder: 4oz by weight is a dry “cup”)

  • 4 cups (16 oz) of all-purpose flour.
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 14 oz of buttermilk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.

In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough.  Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible  (I think they mean like a dutch oven) pot).  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done.

Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

 

I wonder if my Irish grandmother, Mano Kennedy, every made Soda Bread?

mama mano kennedy hay

 

Enjoy!

irish flag

Erin Go Bragh!

Free St. Patrick’s Day Printables For You!

Hi Everyone! It’s getting close to St. Patrick’s Day so I thought I’d create a few coloring pages and games for Stella’s Boys and I thought I’d share them with you! (The links to download will be in pink text.)

Here are 3 coloring pages…

Happy Shark Patrick’s Day is for Gideon Ben since he loves sharks!

Happy Shark Patrick's Day

Happy St. Pat-trex day! is for Manny the Man since he loves dinosaurs!

Happy St. Pat-trex day!

And here’s a classic St. Patrick’s Coloring page just for fun!

Happy saint patrick’s day

Happy saint patrick's day

 

Then, I also made a few learning games for TODDLERS. These are just super easy games to help them learn to identify their colors, shapes and numbers. You can just print out the pages on plain white paper and then find some game markers or you can use small toys or Goldfish crackers, raisins or candies. Then when you’re trying to cook dinner and they’re pulling on your pants leg, pull out a game, sit them at the table, give them some game pieces and call out shapes, colors and numbers for them to identify. It might keep them busy for 5 minutes, haha! Really, Gideon Ben and I played for about 30 minutes!

1 (1) <—–(That’s the pdf )  The Nutty Numbers Game will give your toddlers practice on identifying numbers and colors. They can put a marker on the number or the color that you call out or you can call out a number and they have to put that number of game pieces on the number. Like 3 Goldfish crackers on number 3. Does that make sense?

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Jump up and down. or what I call Shape Shenanigans! Call out a shape and/or color and your toddler has to follow the instructions!

Jump up and down.

 

Shamrock Color Game is a simple game where you call out a color and your toddler puts a game piece on the correct color shamrock. Fill up the whole page and win! (It might be fun to give them a small prize for winning OR let them eat the candy game pieces!)

Shamrock Color Game

Have fun!

 

Hard Eight’s Cornbread Salad Recipe

There’s a BBQ restaurant in Roanoke, TX that is AWESOME! One of my favorite side dishes is the Cornbread salad. It’s like some kind of addictive crack salad! I went on an online search for the recipe and this is the best one I could find. The blogger claims she got it from the manager. I made it and it’s pretty darn good.

Hard Eight’s Cornbread Salad is a little on the dry side and that’s why you have to eat it with their pinto beans and jalapeno sweet corn – my oh my!

It’s easy as pie! Just make two boxes of cornbread mix

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Chop up a few fresh ingredients and BACON and CHEESE!

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Mix in a little Miracle Whip and voila! Delish!

Here’s the recipe from www. whatwearecookingnow.blogspot.com

The author writes:

One of my fav. BBQ placed in DFW serves this dish and its great. Well, last time I was in talked to the manager and he gave me the recipe so figured I would share. Its really good stuff. 

Hard 8 BBQ Cornbread Salad. 

2 pkgs sweet cornbread mix, prepared and crumbled
1 lg. tomato, seeded and diced
4 – 6 slices crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 c minced red onion
1/4 c sliced green onion
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Approximately 2T Miracle Whip (I like a little more, but just do it to taste)

Combine first 6 ingredients. Add mayo sparingly. Cornbread should be crumbly, not stuck together! Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate before serving.

Enjoy!!!

St. Patrick’s Day Gifts & Stuff!

My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve

I know it’s a little early but as distance grandparents, we’ve got to think ahead! We have to have time to get gifts and cards in the mail.

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my family’s favorite holidays! We are part Irish and we love to celebrate our heritage as well as that famous Saint, Patrick.

We have some things that we did every year when the kids were younger and they have continued some of them with their own families. One thing was I always cooked some classic Irish dishes like Shepherd’s Pie and Soda Bread and we’d watch one of our favorite Irish movies! Darby O'Gill And The Little People

 

The Quiet Man

 

Here are a few fun things you can order for your kids and grandkids on Amazon.com to remind them to be proud of their Irish heritage or just to have fun! Order them now and have them shipped before the Day Of Green arrives. And don’t forget to add a box of Lucky Charms cereal or treat bars for more fun!

Just click on the photo to be taken to Amazon!

 

Tee Luv Lucky Charms Raglan Jersey - Lucky The Leprechaun 3/4 Sleeve Shirt

Lucky Charms Gluten Free, Breakfast Cereal, Large Size, 14.9 Oz

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

 

 Intimate Boutique Women's St Patrick's Day Irish Long Sleeve Shirt         

DII Cotton Holiday Dish Towels, 18x28" Set of 3, Decorative Oversized Embroidered Kitchen Towels, Perfect Home and Kitchen Gift-St Patrick's Day

Pete the Cat: The Great Leprechaun Chase: Includes 12 St. Patrick's Day Cards, Fold-Out Poster, and Stickers!

 

FIBEROMANCE St Patricks Day Pillow Cover 18x18 Green Clover Farmhouse Happy St Patricks Day Decorations Lucky Decorative Cushion Cover Pillow Case for Sofa Couch Spring Home Decor F108

 

Threadrock Distressed Green Shamrock Unisex Raglan T-Shirt

         

KWUNCCI Celtic Hold Moon Dangle Drop Earrings with Sterling Silver plated Fashion Jewelry for Women/Girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.925 Sterling Silver Traditional Claddagh Celtic Ring

Whaline St. Patrick Costume Set Include Sequin and Shamrock Suspenders, Bowtie and Necktie, Adjustable X Back Elastic Suspenders St. Patrick's Day Party Accessory    The Little Celtic Knot Coloring Book: Ireland, Irish Pride & St. Patrick's Day coloring for ages 8+                                7 ate 9 Apparel Boy's St. Patrick's Day Vintage Baseball Tee

 

BANBERRY DESIGNS Shamrock Candle Holder with a LED Candle - Stained Glass Shamrocks and a Flameless Candle - Irish Candle Holder

 

The Farmette Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm

 

Roman Petite Standing Cross Celtic Irish Blessing

St. Patrick's Day Activity Book: A Magical Workbook Full of Lucky Leprechaun Coloring Pages, Dot to Dot, Mazes, Word Search Puzzles and More