Maple Walnut Banana Bread


Hello there– We have a treasure sitting in our fridge– it’s a huge jug of real maple syrup fresh from upstate New York!  Our daughter-in-law’s Dad, Alfie is a warm and wonderful guy.  Every year he taps trees around his town and in the spring is joined by family a friends at in the maple sugar shack to boil down gallons of maple syrup.  Then being the generous guys that he is, he mails big jugs to people far and wide (including lucky us!!).

So this little recipe uses a precious half cup of that lovely syrup and which accounts for it’s rich and wonderful flavor.  Plus while it’s baking in the oven, for kitchen smells like that New York maple sugar shack– maple luscious!

2 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. maple extract (optional)*
3 tab. milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4  cup walnuts, chopped and divided
3 tab. brown sugar

In a large mixing bowl, smash the bananas to a creamy substance.  Then mix in the maple syrup, oil, egg, maple extract and milk until all blended.  Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir it all together.  Finally mix 3/4 cup of the walnuts.

Spoon the mixture into a 5″ by 9″ loaf pan** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Mix together the brown sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts and sprinkle them over the loaf of banana bread.

Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 50 -55 minutes until it’s browned and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.  Delicious warm from the oven– or toasted the next day for breakfast  with a smear of butter!!

*maple extract is optional– it just adds a little more maple flavoring.
** I used 2 half size loaf pans and cooked it about 5 minutes less.

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake


Hello all– Spent last weekend up in the mountains at Big Bear, 18 of us from the young adult group (We’re the old folks involved!), –for a couple days of talking, laughing, planning and praying.  The weather was glorious, snowy and crisp and the cabin was cozy.  A few of us were the cooks, mixing salads and turning breakfast bacon for a crowd.   And this was dessert on Saturday night…

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped to small bits
2 cups sugar
1  1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup walnuts chopped
garnish: caramel sauce* & chopped walnuts



Prepare the apples bits and set aside.

With an electric mixer beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs for 2 or 3 minutes until they are creamy and fluffy.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

With a spoon mix in the chopped apple and cup of walnuts.  The batter will be stiff so mix them in well.

Spoon the batter into a bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and set it into a 350 degree oven for 75 to 80 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan and then remove it to a platter.  When you are ready to eat it, drizzle on the caramel and then sprinkle on the chopped pecans or walnuts.  Pretty and ready to serve!

*You can make your own caramel sauce, but I just picked up Smuckers salted caramel sauce at the market with the ice cream toppings.

Down on Boulder Bay by the lake–sunshine and snow…


Yogurt Banana Muffins


Good morning!  I’m still here in San Francisco with Baby Lois and her dear parents, Ani & Brian.  This morning I grabbed her early and she laid in her rocker in the kitchen and “helped” me make banana muffins for breakfast.  The sun was shining in the windows and she just squirmed and made her little “turkey sounds” while I mixed and stirred.  It was a fine time in the kitchen!

5175kwhmhl-_sy346_These muffins are from one of my very very favorite bloggers– Shannan Martin Writes.  She’s funny and fresh and has so much to say about family and faith and seeing the beautiful in every places.  She occasionally puts a recipe out there–  AND she recently published her first book– well worth reading, Falling Free, Rescued from the Life I’d Always Wanted .

The muffins (back to the real subject here) are tender and spongy and pretty on your plate–with a sweet crunchy coating on top.   A great start to your morning.

2 smashed bananas
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup unflavored yogurt
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (or a bit more if you love nuts like I do!)

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Smash the banana with a fork in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the sugar, yogurt, egg and oil.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nuts just until it’s all blended.

Spoon the thick batter into a muffin tin lined with paper liners.  Makes 12 pretty muffins.  Mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and then sprinkle it over the unbaked muffins.

Pop them into the oven and bake them at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, until they are nicely browned and springy to the touch.  Best warm with mugs of tea and sunshine coming in the windows!

And I just can’t resist putting up a photo of my baking buddy– Baby Lois!  (I’ll really try not to over do it on baby pictures!!)
Here she is sleeping– it’s what she does best!

Roast Sweet Potatoes with Feta, Cilantro & Walnuts



Hello there– Is there anything homier than a piping hot sweet potato?  One winter when we were visiting our son in China, there was a man on the street roasting hot fragrant sweet potatoes– the perfect street food to counter the winter chill.

So this is my not so Chinese version of a hot from the oven sweet potato–salty feta, flavorful cilantro and a little walnut crunch against the sweet flesh of the potato– pretty perfect.  We had them them for dinner with just a salad, but they’d be a nice side dish with ham or even chicken.  Good fall/winter food.

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
drizzle of olive oil

Cut the sweet potatoes horizontally and brush the cut sides and the skin sides all with olive oil.  Set them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Pop them into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes (until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork).

Take the sweet potatoes from the oven and turn them over, cut side up. Scrape the flesh with a fork to expose the interior of the potato.  Salt & pepper the potato.  Top them with the garbanzos, feta & walnuts and return them to the oven for 10 minutes.

Take them out of the oven and transfer the sweet potatoes to a pretty serving dish.  Drizzle with old oil and garnish with the cilantro.  Eat them piping hot from the oven.  Enjoy!!


Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

Good morning friends– It’s about time to make breakfast here and this is what we’re setting on the table!  I’m sure it’s the recipe on this blog that we’ve eaten more than any other.  And I have to confess, I’ve already posted it– back in 2011– back when I had my trusty little silver Kodak point and shoot camera.  The photo is terrible!  I cringe each time I run across it.

So– since the this recipe is truly worth your notice– and I have this pic from when we ate these pancakes with Jodi and her sweet friend from China a couple weeks ago– I’m giving it another go.

I’m off to the kitchen to smash bananas and mix up another batch.  Breakfast this morning is here in San Francisco with Ani Brian and new baby Lois.  I’m wishing I could give little Lois just a couple pancake nibbles, but that will have to wait for quite a while!


2 smashed bananas
3/4 cup unflavored yogurt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
garnish:  bananas, nuts, maple syrup, butter,powdered sugar, jam, berries… (take your pick!)

Smash the bananas in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Then mix in the yogurt, milk, eggs, vanilla and oil until blended.  Next stir in the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and walnuts.

Heat the griddle to medium* and spray with cooking spray (or coat with butter if you feel indulgent!).  Pour the batter in about 1/3 cupfuls onto the grill and flip when browned.  Makes about 14 pancakes.

*I cook the low end of medium, because the pancakes are nice and thick and if you cook them too fast, they brown on the outside, but don’t cook through to the middle!  (if you want thinner pancakes add a splash more milk).


Cinnamon Roll Muffins


Hi friends– It’s September and the oven has been put back to good use around.  I’ve been baking up a storm.  And nothing smells so good coming out of the oven as something laced with cinnamon.  This little muffins are kind of second cousin to cinnamon rolls, lots of the same flavor and the crunchy nuts, but a whole lot less time and effort is involved.

I made them for our lovable group of 20 & 30 something’s who come in on Thursday nights– and the muffins all disappeared!  I love baking for those guys– such an appreciative group of eaters.  And just all around fun to spend an evening with them.


1 cup brown sugar
1 tab. cinnamon
1  1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3 tab. melted butter

2 cups flour
1 tab. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 cup milk

2 oz. cream cheese (1/4 of a block), softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tab. milk
few drops of vanilla


First make the topping.  Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts.  Then completely fold in the melted butter.  Set this aside for later.

For the muffins, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Then mix in the oil, egg and milk.  (The batter will be stiff.)  Take 1/2 cup of the brown sugar topping mixture and stir it into the batter.

Use muffin papers or spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray– then scoop the batter into the muffin tin.  Put of spoonful of the brown sugar topping on top of each muffin, patting it down a bit with the spoon to make it stick well to the batter.

Bake them up at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes until firm to the touch.

While they are baking, make the frosting.  I softened the cream cheese in the microwave for a few seconds.  Then with a whisk, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and the vanilla.  If the frosting seems runny enough to drizzle over the muffins from a spoon, that’s great!  If it is too thick, add the second spoon of milk and blend it completely.

Drizzle that luscious frosting over the muffins, hot from the oven and enjoy that cinnamon smell while you do it!  Scrumptious eaten with friends and mugs of tea.


Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Filling


Hello all– Made this a few weeks ago and even though I read the directions to let the cake cool before before taking it out of the pan, I was in a hurry (impatient!) and said–“hmmm that’s cool enough.”  I inverted the warm cake onto the plate it crumbled into a heap– literally a hot mess!  When I sadly set it out for our Thursday night group, kind Jordan served himself  a slab and declared it delicious, so it did get eaten. (thanks Jordan!)

So this photo is from my second attempt!  I held off until it was cool enough to leave the pan (live and learn).  And it was still pretty delicious with the banana, chocolate and a tunnel of cream cheese filling going through the middle.  Better.


Crumb topping:
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tab. butter (1/2 stick)

Banana Cake:
1 cup smashed banana (2 large bananas)
1  1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tab. vanilla
1  1/4 cup unflavored yogurt
2  1/4 cups flour
2  1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Filling:
1/4 cup reserved cake batter
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 or 2 tab. milk


Start by making the crumb topping.  Stir together the flour and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl.  Then cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 forks until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Then stir in the walnuts.  Set aside.

Next make the banana cake.  Smash the 2 bananas in a large mixing bowl with a fork until the are reduced to a paste.  Then stir in the 1 1/2 cup sugar, canola oil, eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla and the yogurt.  After that, you mix in the 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder and salt until it’s all blended.

Scoop out 1/4 cup of the batter and save it.  Then mix the chocolate chips into the big bowl of batter and set aside.

To make the cream cheese filling.  With an electric mixer, bet together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup reserved cake batter,  1/4 sup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla until it’s smooth.

Now to put it all together — Spray a angel food cake pan with cooking spray.  Scrape all but 1 cup of the batter into the baking pan.  Save that 1 cup to go on top in a minute!

Then drop tablespoons of the cream cheese filling all over the top of the batter in the angle food cake pan, being careful not to let the filling touch the sides of the pan–keep it in the middle of the batter.

Cover the cream cheese filling with the remaining cup of banana cake batter.  And then sprinkle the crumb topping over it all.

Pop the cake into a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes until it is cooked through.  Test it with a tooth pick to see if the cake batter is all baked.  After you take it out of the one leave the cake in the pan until it cools completely (believe me)!

When you are ready to serve it, whisk together the glaze– powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk.  If it seems to thick add the second tablespoon of milk.  Then drizzle it over the cake.  It’s ready to eat!!