Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread

Hi there– Well, if you love banana bread and also are fond of cherry bread and, of course, it’s a given you probably are crazy about chocolate chip bread, then here you go!!  All three breads rolled into one!

Made this for friends on a Sunday morning and there wasn’t a crumb left.  I thought you might like a Sunday morning treat too.

1 cup dried cherries*
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unflavored yogurt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tab. amaretto (or 1 tsp. vanilla)**
1  1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pour the dried cherries in a heat proof bowl and covered them with hot water for 5 minutes.  Drain in a strainer and set aside.

In a mixing bowl mash the bananas until they are a creamy pulp.  Then sit-in the oil, yogurt, brown sugar, egg and amaretto until it’s all blended.  Next mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally stir in the chocolate chips and drained cherries.

Spoon the batter into a standard 9″x 5″ bread pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray (I used two half size pans for 2 loaves).

Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.  Let it cool for 30 minutes or more before you slice it.  Enjoy!

*I used cherry flavored dried cranberries, because I had them sitting in the cupboard.
** Use amaretto in place of almond extract because you can find a large bottle that will last forever for less than a tiny bottle of almond extract.


Chocolate Cherry Cake

Hi friends– Last weekend was a cake-o-rama around here.  My sis and I made cakes for a big family baby shower– anticipating baby Wyatt’s coming to the big wide world soon!  And our dear younger friends Travis & Bekah were married in this most hopeful happy wedding– simply beautiful.  More cake baking!

So here’s my favorite of the bunch.  Fresh cherries in the cake and in the frosting– with rich ganache and cherries on top!


1 dark chocolate cake mix
canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted & chopped
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. butter (1 1/3 stick)
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)
2/3 cup cherries, pitted & chopped very fine

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tab. butter
1 cup chocolate chips

stemmed fresh cherries

Make the cake according to the directions on the box–mine used 1 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs.  Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer.  Then fold in the cherries and chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into 3 –9″ cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes–until they are firm to the touch.  Let them cool completely before adding the frosting!

To make the chocolate ganache, bring the cream and 2 tab. butter to a low simmer in a pan on the stove top.  Take it off the heat and beat in the chocolate chips for 2 or 3 minutes until they are melted and the ganache is glossy.  Let this cool completely before your pour it over the frosting (so you won’t melt the frosting!!)

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and amaretto (start on the lowest setting so you won’t have powdered sugar flying out of the mixing bowl!).  When that is blended, stir in the cherries with a wooden spoon until they are thoroughly mixed in and the frosting is colored a light pink from the cherries.

Frost the 3 layers of the cooled cake, stacking as you go.  When the ganache is thoroughly cooled drizzle it over the cake letting little streams pour down the sides.  Top with a mound of fresh cherries– Done! and so pretty!

Cherry Pecan Scones


Hello friends– The last few weeks my sis-in-law has been helping Larry’s parents clean out cupboards and drawers all over the house.  It’s been fun to drop in and help turn up ancient family photos and beautiful old dishes and Christmas ornaments from the 1940’s.

So last week I baked up these scones for some snacking while we worked.  Bright fresh cherries and that sweet little crunch of the pecans. With a dab of whipped cream & cherry jam, all the better.  Delish!

1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and cut in quarters
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tab. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 eggs
1/2 cup half & half (or whole milk)

Pit & cut up the cherries. Chop the pecans. Set aside

In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender (or two forks) cut in the butter.  In a separate bowl beat together the eggs and half & half until it’s blended and then mix the liquid into the four mixture until it’s all combined.

Gently fold in the cherries and pecans. (Don’t over mix them of the cherries will turn the dough pink!)

On a floured counter, turn out the dough and flatten it to disc about an 1 1/2″ thick.  Cut out the scones with a round cookie cutter and set them on a baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake them up at 400 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes until they are golden brown around the edges.  Best eaten hot from the oven with a mug of tea.

Triple Chocolate Black Forest Cake

Hello all– Chocolate cake, chocolate chips, chocolate sauce with fresh cherries and cream.  That about sums it up.  Loved this rich and creamy cake and I’m hoping you will too, while cherries are at the market bright and juicy.

1 chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup canola oil
1  1/4 cup water
3 eggs
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate ice cream topping*
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted, chopped
2 tab. almond kirsch or amaretto
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tab. powdered sugar
2 tab. vanilla instant pudding powder**
garnish: fresh stemmed cherries

With an electric mixer, make the cake according to the directions on the box (mine called for 1/2 cup oil, 1 1/4 cup water & 3 eggs).  Spoon the batter into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish or a 10″ spring form cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the cake according the directions on the box.  Out of the oven let the cake cool completely.  Then poke holes into the cake with the handle end of a wooden spoon.  Drizzle the ice cream topping over the cake and into the holes.  (If the topping is too thick to drizzle, put it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds).

Chop the pitted cherries and mix them in a bowl with the kirsch or amaretto.  Then spoon them evenly over the top of the cake.

Whip the cream with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer until it is well set.  Beat in the powdered sugar and pudding mix.  Then spoon the thickened cream over the cake and set it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more to make sure the cream is firm.

Garnish with the stemmed cherries and then serve it up to friends…

*I used Smuckers Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Topping
**The pudding mix thickens and stabilizes the cream.

Cherry Citrus Salad


Hello friends– Have cherries turned up at your market yet??  I walked over to the Farmers Market in San Francisco last week with little Lois and there were cherries galore!  So dark and sweet– we bought a bagful for a treat.

And back home there are piles of Cherries at the market too– So when Jenni invited us over for a bar-b-que, we arrived with this salad in hand.  Bright and sweet and hearty.  Just right for a summer night eating grilled chicken & sausages with a table of friends.

8 cups mixed salad greens
14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
2 avocados, cut into chunks
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
2 oranges, peeled and cut into sections

1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. Champagne orange vinegar*
1 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Spread the greens into a large salad bowl.  On top, layer the beans, avocados, cherries and oranges.

Shake the dressing ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid until they are thoroughly blended. Drizzle the dressing over the salad when you are ready to serve it.  Enjoy!

*They have this luscious Orange Vinegar at Trader Joe’s– but I’ve seen it other places too.

A couple pics from our trek to the SF Farmer’s Market  (San Francisco City Hall in the background)–

Cherry Bit Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Hello all– We lived in Texas the first 4 years we were married. Larry was in seminary and I taught science all week.  So every Saturday it was the same routine.  He’d study– while I cleaned our student apartment (so tiny, it didn’t take long!) went with 3 friends to grocery shop together, did laundry and then made cookies. So many cookies!  Now days we don’t need weekly cookies…

But for some young friends coming in last Thursday, I pulled out this old recipe.  Homey and sweet and best hot from the oven!

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1  1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1  1/2 cups oats
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries, minced*

With an electric mixer beat the butter, 2 sugars and eggs until they’re creamy.  Then beat in the flour, salt, baking powder and oats.  Finally, use the mixer to blend in the walnuts, chocolate chips and cherries.

Drop the batter by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Flatten the cookies a bit with the bottom of a heavy glass.

Bake them up at 350 degrees for 11 or 12 minutes.  Be sure to eat at least one hot from the oven!!

*Whole dried cherries are too gummy for me.  I mince them to bits, for their cherry sweetness, but no gummy bites!

Cherry Cream Tart

Hey there– Sad to say summer is closing down on us here.  The kids on the next block over started to back to school yesterday.  And I’m collecting supplies and trundling them over to my classroom getting ready for some 3rd & 4th graders myself. But there’s a few days left of lunch with friends, and long morning walks, a lazy afternoons ready and I’m trying to make the most of them.

And there are still summer fruit at the market– so many cherries this summer!  So here’s a luscious way to celebrate the end of summer– creamy and sweet.  Savoring summer for these last few days…


1 cup flour
3 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted & cooled a bit
1 egg yolk, beaten

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. whipped cream
1 tsp. vanilla instant pudding powder*
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half
1/3 cup cherry (or raspberry) jam**

To make the crust, stir together the flour, 3 tab. sugar and salt.  Then mix in the butter and the egg yolk.

Press the dough with your fingers into a 9″ tart or pie pan.  Put it into the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, so that the crust comes out browned around the edges and cooked through.  Let it cool before you add the filling.

With an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.

Then with the mixer, in a second bowl, whip the cream with the instant vanilla pudding powder until it is stiff.  Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture with a wooden spoon.

And it yet another bowl, stir together the cherries and the jam.

Then spoon the whipped cream/cream cheese mixture into the cooled crust.  Layer the cherries on top.

If you are not eating it right away, set it in the fridge to keep cool.  Hope you like it!!

* The instant pudding acts as a stabilizer for the whipped cream and keeps the filling firm, even after it sits out for a while.
**I didn’t have cherry jam in the fridge, so I used raspberry and it was just fine.


Cherry Cheesecake

IMG_1066Hello– This cheese cake uses my sis’s world’s best cheesecake recipe as a starting point– with just a few cherries thrown in.  Thanks Lulu!  She’s the best cook ever and I’ve learned so much from her– no one I’d rather share a kitchen with!!


1/3 cup melted butter
2 tab. sugar
1  1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 -8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1  1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup of cherries, pitted and cut to small bits

3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
2 tab. water
2 tab cornstarch
2 tab. sugar

This is my handy-dandy olive pitter from years ago when we lived in Spain.  Works for cherries too!

Mix together the melted butter, 2 tab. sugar and graham cracker crumbs and then press them into the bottom of a 9″ to 10″ springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar until blended.  Then beat in the eggs and sour cream.  Finally, gently fold in the cherries and then spoon he mixture in over the crust.

Put it into a 350 degree oven for 60 to 70 minutes.  It will still be a little “jiggly,” but will firm as it cools.

For the topping, pit the cherries.  Then in a heavy saucepan, stir together the 2 tab. sugar and cornstarch until there are no lumps.  Add the water the stir over medium heat until it simmers and thickens, just about a minute.  Then drop in the cherries and cook a minute more.

Remove from the heat and let the cherry topping cool completely before you spoon onto the top of the cake.  Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it up.  Bon Apetit!


Kale Salad with Cherries, Almonds and Goat Cheese

IMG_3424Hi all– Do you ever get stuck on a salad and keep making it over and over?  This one has been around our kitchen several times lately.  I call it my Trader Joe’s salad– most of the ingredients come from there– the cherries, sliced almonds, goat cheese crumbles and orange vinegar.  It’s a sturdy bright fruity in the middle of winter.  Just about right.


3 cups kale leaves, chopped to bits
1 cup dark Morello cherries*
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. orange moscat vinegar
1 tab. cherry juice (from the jar)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Just layer the chopped kale, cherries, almonds and goat cheese crumbles on a pretty plate.

In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, cherry juice, salt and pepper until it’s thoroughly blended.  Douse the salad with the dressing just before setting it on the table.  Delish!

Cherry Nut Muffins

IMG_0988Hi all–  A few years back we were dropping off our son for college in Michigan– drove along the lake (amazing!) and popped into a farm stand with tables of beautiful fruit–oh the cherries!  Well, it seems a lot of those cherries have made their way down our way this summer.  We’ve had cherries galore–glossy and dark, sweet and juicy.  Lots of cherry snacking and cherries in salads.  And these cherry nut muffins.

1  1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 full cup cherries, pitted & cut in half
1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped*
2 tab. sugar

Stir together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then blend in the egg, milk, oil and vanilla.  And last, fold in the cherries and walnuts.

Spoon the batter into a 12 muffin pan– lined with paper liners.  Sprinkle the 2 tab. of sugar lightly over the tops.

Pop the muffins into a 350 degree oven and bake them for 20 to 22 minutes until they are golden and firm to the touch.

Delicious warm– no need for jam with all those sweet cherries!

*Pecans or hazelnuts would work well too– and I always cheat and add extra nuts, love all the nutty crunch.


Cherry Pecan Scones

IMG_9833Hello all– My dear buddy Debbie has a daughter getting married soon.  So last Friday we spent the morning making jars of blackberry jam to give all the friends who come celebrate together at the wedding.  The kitchen was awash in crushed berries and and sterilizing jars…  After a bit, we got into the rhythm of bubbling up that jam and filling those jars and we had a table full by the end of the morning.

So when I showed up at her door that morning for the jam-fest, I thought it was important to have a plate of scones to pair with a sampling of that luscious jam!  A little taste test…

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1  1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs*
2/3 cup fresh cherries, pitted & quartered
1/2 cup pecan, chopped fine

IMG_9829In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour sugar, baking powder and salt.

Then with a pastry blender cut in the butter (if the butter is cold from the fridge, microwave it just a few seconds to soften a bit).

Stir in the eggs and milk.  And finally fold in the cherries and pecans.

Cut the dough in half.  Then drop half the dough on to a well floured counter.  Shape it into a circle and cut into 6 pie shaped scones.  Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Put them at least 1 inch apart (they do spread!) on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 375 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.  Until they are golden and firm to the touch.

Serve them hot with butter or whipped cream–and pots of your best jam.  Perfect.

* I know– it’s weird to put eggs in scones!  But I got this recipe (with slight variations) from the Empress Hotel in British Columbia– famous for their scones. Trust me.

Cherry Cake

IMG_9566Hello everyone– I’m usually a stack it tall layer cake kind of baker.  But when summer comes around and all those berries and cherries are just waiting at the market, a simple fruity cake is perfect-  sweet but not too heavy.  And, of course, accompanied by ice cream, the official summer food.

3 cups cherries, pitted & cut in half (a little more than a pound)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. amaretto
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
sugar to sprinkle on top

Here’s my trusty rusty olive pitter, a friend gave me back when we lived in Spain– works like a cherry pitter who can get around here…  (or just use a knife).

Prepare the cherries by pitting them and cutting them in half.

In a mixing bowl stir up the sugar, oil, vanilla, amaretto and egg.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and milk.  Finally fold in the cherries.

Spoon the batter into a tart pan (or a 9″ cake pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the top liberally with white sugar.

Pop it into a 375 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes (depending on which type of pan you use)– and cook until it’s golden on top and firm to the touch.

It’s lovely warm for breakfast or dessert– and, of course, best with whipped cream or ice cream on the plate!


Cherry & Chocolate Chip Blondies

IMG_2576Hey there– You know why I love to make blondies?  –well, besides that they taste caramel-ly delicious?  It’s because they are so easy to make!  The hardest bit in this recipe is melting the butter in the microwave.  These little guys are especially yummy due to the juicy summer cherries baked inside.  And of course, the chocolate.  So you ought to give them a try– while those dark sweet cherries are still  in the market.

1 cup cherries, pitted and cut in half
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), melted
1 cup of brown sugar, packed in
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

IMG_2571Prepare the cherries while the butter is melting away in the microwave.  Set them aside.  Into the bowl with the melted butter, mix the brown sugar and vanilla.  Quickly stir in the egg so it isn’t “cooked” by the warm butter.  Then mix in the flour and salt.  Finally, fold in the chocolate chips and cherries.

IMG_2583Spoon the batter into a 9″ square pan (my friend Betty calls this a “brownie pan”–that makes sense) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes just until it feels firm.  Let it cool a bit and then cut it into luscious, sweet squares.  I think you’ll like these things!

Brie & Cherry Salad


Hello there–   Every year in 3rd grade I read the story of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree and finally, regretfully confessing to his father.  It’s the kids’s favorite “history lesson.”  (Is it even factual?)  But this a happier encounter with cherries, summer ripe and sweet, piled on a salad–with a tarragon dressing, a little almond crunch and the brie on toast.  Lovely.

salad greens
2 cups cherries, pitted
1/2 small wheel of brie
1/4 cup toasted almonds
small slices of toasted bread
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar
1 tsp. sugar or honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

IMG_2408Cut the brie into small wedges and slice and toast some nice crusty bread.  Spread the greens on a platter.  Top this with the cherries, almonds cheese and bread.  In a container with a tight lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, sugar, a couple shakes of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.  Put the dressing on the salad, just before setting it on the table.  Fresh as summer!

P.S. — I got this “olive pitter” when we lived in Spain, but they are available here too.  Works just fine for cherries.