A New Favorite – Banana Bread with Streusel Topping

Posted by casey on September 16, 2011 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides, Sweet Treats

Over the years I have tried and experimented with many banana bread recipes.  Some are too dry, flavorless, too mushy or involve strange ingredients that I think defeat the purpose of using your bananas you forgot to eat to make banana bread.  Then this weekend during my freezer meal frenzy in association with the nesting craze, my banana bread life changed with a concept I didn’t think of myself…topping.  Unnessecary? Absolutely. Delicious? For sure.  The recipe I found on Tasty Kitchen is just wonderful.  The bread itself is one of the most moist and flavorful I have had making it perfect without going the extra mile.

Bread Ingredients
- 3 whole Bananas (don’t have to be over-ripe)
– 1 cup Sugar
– 8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
– 2  Eggs
– 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
– ⅛ teaspoons To 1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Grated Nutmeg
– 1 Tablespoon Whole Milk
– 2 cups All-purpose Flour
– 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
– 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
– 1 teaspoon Salt

Topping Ingredients
- 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Cold
– ⅓ cups All-purpose Flour
– ¼ teaspoons Cinnamon
– ⅓ cups Dark Brown Sugar
– 1 pinch Salt
– ⅓ cups (heaping) Walnuts, Chopped (Or Pecans…Or No Nuts – Your Choice)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease and flour a loaf pan.

2. Yes…this step seems over the top, but it is worth it. Place bananas (peel left on) onto a baking sheet. Roast your bananas in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. The peels will turn very dark (blackish even) but don’t worry. Remove from the oven and set aside.

(If you are like me and you like to continue to work while a step is baking, you can skip down to #4 and start creaming the other ingredients and #6 while the bananas bake. Don’t forget to come back to #3 though) 

3. Once the bananas are out reduce the temperature of the oven to 325 degrees.

4. Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

5. Find yourself a bowl you prefer, mash the bananas, cinnamon and nutmeg with a fork. (I cut off the end of the peel and made one long slice down the side of the peel to get the hot, roasted banana out without burning my fingers off.  Just a tip.) Mix in the milk. 

6. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

7. To get it all together, add the banana mixture to the creamed butter/sugar mixture and stir until combined. Then, dump in the dry ingredients and mix just until flour disappears. 

8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes. 

 While baking, make the streusel topping by combining the butter, flour, cinnamon and dark brown sugar in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter, blend the ingredients. Add a small pinch of salt, and the chopped walnuts and toss. 

( I was out of walnuts/pecans anything nutty.  So I lef t it out and the result was a scrumptious cinnamon topping. Your choice)

After the 40 minutes of bread baking time, remove loaf and sprinkle on topping evenly and bake for 20-25 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes. 

Would you believe me if I told you I only made this because bananas make my middle of the night pregnant calf & foot cramps go away so surely banana bread would do the same?
I don’t blame you.  I wouldn’t believe me either.

(Also, don’t be afraid to freeze this…or any bread for that matter.  They thaw simply and still taste wonderful.)


Cheap and Easy – Chicken Wraps

Posted by casey on August 29, 2011 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides, The Main Show

I’m talking about food here people, not anything inappropriate – a cheap and easy dinner my friends.  I posted this recipe once before, but since it is still scorching hot out and our water line broke leaving us broke and me needing an easy meal/snack to fix I thought I would hsare it again in case you missed it.

Chicken Tarragon Wraps
2 Cups Diced Chicken (If you’re in a hurry snag a cooked rotisserie chicken from your store.  If not, I suggest grilled or pan seared chicken breasts)
1 Lemon
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Tablespoon Dried Tarragon or 2 Tablespoons Fresh
1 Avocado Cubed
Chopped Romaine
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Pitas, Tortillas or Flatbread
Grated Parmesan

1. Squeeze 1 1/2 Tablespoons of lemon juice into a bowl.  Add the mayonnaise and tarragon and stir to combine.  Set aside in the fridge while you assemble the rest.

2. Once your chicken is cooked whether you cooked it yourself or bought it that way chop it into cubes and toss the chicken and the cubed avocados with the dressing.  Season to taste with salt and pepper to your liking.  You can make the dressing ahead of time and even toss the chicken with it in advance but do not cut and add the avocado until you are ready to assemble the wraps.

3. Chop up your romaine into thin slices. 

4. Personally I think that pitas or flatbread work the best for a dish like this, and I really love “Flatout Healthy Grain Flatbread”.  In most groceries they carry these or similar types near the deli meat counter not in the bakery or bread aisle.

See? Cheap and Easy.
Not to Mention Delicious
Complete With Minimum Dishes to Clean in My Waterless Home

Original Recipe From Williams Sonoma “Simple Suppers” Cookbook



Authentic Celebration

Posted by casey on May 5, 2011 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides

In honor of good old Cinco de Mayo we are having a festive feast this evening.  Some taquitos for appetizeros, beef fajita salad for dinner-o and a good old portion of seven layer dip-o.  Offended yet?  My sister in law is Mexican.  No, I’m not being offensive.  She is actually genually Mexican.   Has family in Mexico and is Caden’s only hope for learning Spanish other than what we all got in high-school.

I bring this up because if you have seen my husband you know that he is not Mexican. Therefore, by default, neither is my brother in law.  So, the offensive “appetizeros, dinner-o and dip-o” is really for my brother in law who loves to add “o” or “los” to anything to drive his wife bonkers.  His favorite?  Los chips anyone?

You may be thinking that I got my whole feast documented for you. HA!  That would mean that I would of had to have planned what we were having today before well, today.  No such luck.  So, to hold you over I do have for you my sister in law’s recipe for Mexican rice.  It is fresh and delicious and the perfect side to any Mexican inspired meal. Enjoy!

Mexican Rice

2-3 Tablespoons olve oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (you can use a can of dice if you must but it is the best with fresh tomatoes)
2 cups Chicken broth
1 Cup long grain rice
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
2 garlic cloves minced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat your olive oil in a large frying pan.

2. Add the rice and onion to the pan and place over medium heat.

3. Stir until your onions are soft and translucent and the rice has started to brown slightly. (If your rice seems to be getting brown quickly & the onion isn’t ready, your heat is too high)

4. Add your tomatoes and bell pepper.  Stir for one minute.

5. Pour in your chicken broth.  Add in your seasoning (cumin, garlic, S&P) .

6. When it begins to boil, turn your heat to low, cover the pot for approx 20-25 min until the liquid is gone. (I check it and stir from time to time to make sure it isn’t sticking or soaking up the water quicker than my timer)

Happy Cinco de Mayo!


Snack Time! – Family Chex Mix

Posted by casey on April 1, 2011 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides

In the past couple months, I have been cooking and cooking and cooking but I have not been posting and posting and posting.  There has been oven fried chicken, twice baked potatoes, baked chicken & spinach rissoto, chocolate kahlua cake, italian wedding soup, tomato basil soup and the list goes on.  What do I have in pictures and evidence for you? About zippo.  You can scold me now, I can take it.

One of the many treats we had at Caden’s birthday that is always a favorite for snacks, parties or road trips is our family Chex Mix.  Its simple, tasty, crisp and keeps well.  So in case you are hitting the road this weekend I thought the least I could do is share this delight with you and your family. Enjoy!

Orr Family Chex Mix
* 1 Large Disposable Tin Baking Pan
* 2 2/3 cups Crispix (I leave it at one regular sized box – not family size and call it good)
* 2 2/3 cups Rice Chex
* 1 cup salted mixed nuts (feel free to add more, and choose whatever mixture you like)
* Pretzels (goldfish pretzels, pretzel sticks, pretzel twists..it doesn’t matter)

* 1/2 cup butter
* 1 1/4 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoning salt
* 4 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire

1. Assemble your ingredients.  Remember choose the nuts that you like and the pretzels are optional.

2. Pour both chex cereals, the nuts and the pretzels into a large disposable tin baking pan.  Mix with your hands until well combined.

*  Yes it is a ridiculous amount of butter but we actually like to double the last three ingredients (butter & seasonings) which make up the sauce.  I did not provide the doubled amounts because I wanted to leave that up to you.  I think it bakes crisper and more flavorful.*

3. Melt the butter. Stir in the Worcestershire and seasoning salt into the melted butter.

4. Gradually/Slowly pour this over your cereal mixture and carefully stir to evenly coat.

Bake at 250 degrees for one hour.

(It is important to set your timer for 15 min and continue stirring rotating the chexk so that it bakes evenly and the sauce doesn’t sit in the bottom)


12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats Day 5 – Cinnamon Corn Casserole

Posted by casey on December 17, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides

On the fifth day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

I know what you are thinking already. Cinnamon and…and…and….corn?  In a casserole?  There must be a typo.

Alas, there is no typo and I once again, am asking for your trust.  Want to know a little secret?  I had the EXACT same reaction.  It was about twelve years ago and we were sitting at my Aunt’s dining room table for the first Christmas Eve dinner she had ever cooked for us.  You may not think that is strange, but we loved this Aunt because at the time her specialties included taking us to Dave & Busters and microwaving turkey bacon.  So when she wanted to cook us a Christmas Eve dinner she was as nervous as us and then there it was…cinnamon corn casserole.  We thought she had mixed up her dessert and side dish recipe. Nope!  This sweet side has become a staple at our holiday meals ever since as has her masterfully cooking a huge Christmas Eve feast every year.  She may be far from her microwaving turkey bacon days and has become quite the Martha Stewart, this recipe though has stuck around and is always a pleasant surprise to newcomers at the table.

Cinnamon Corn Casserole

2 cans whole kernel corn, drained well
1 stick butter
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon and ½ teaspoon flour
½ cup evaporated milk
2 eggs well beaten
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder 

 1. Heat your butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until melted.

 2. Stir in flour and whisk until blended.

 3. Remove the pan from heat, stir in evaporated milk, add eggs, baking powder and blend. (Make sure you do the evaporated milk first so you cool the mixture and don’t end up cooking the eggs!)

 4. Stir in corn.

 5. Pour into greased 13 X 9 dish.

 6. Sprinkle the top thoroughly with cinnamon sugar.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour

A few tips: This is best served fresh and hot and remember, the top isn’t burnt, that is the cinnamon sugar!


A Side of Fries

Posted by casey on August 4, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides

Not being a huge fan of deep fryers, or that soaked in oil taste, I knew this Real Simple recipe would be just up my alley.  The next time you are grilling burgers or had a rough day and are making dinner out of chocolate cake, why don’t you throw in a side of these fries and call it a game.  Mmmmm mmmm good.

Garlic Oven Fries

2 Lbs Russet Potatoes (approx 4 spuds)
4 Smashed Garlic Cloves (or a few more if you want it coming out of your pores)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (We in this household like things peppery and triple that.)

1. Scrub the heck out of your potatoes under water.  Cinderella style.  Really get in there and get that “just pulled out of the mud” grime off the skin.
2. Now line a baking sheet with foil and preheat your oven to 425 Degrees.
3. Slice your potatoes into 1/2 inch matchsticks.  I found it easiest to cut the potato into half lengthwise first, cut those into your skinny strips.  Then, cut those into shorter sticks.  Throw these onto your lined baking sheet.

4. In a small bowl combine your minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. 
5. Drizzle the olive oil concoction over your potato matchsticks while whisking it.  Toss the potatoes around to make sure that they are good and coated.

6. Bake in the oven for 35 – 45 minutes until golden and crisp!


Grab Some Greens

Posted by casey on July 12, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides

It seems that it is difficult for many to find fresh and easy side dishes to make for dinner that aren’t time consuming and happen to be healthy.  Add that side dish being a veggie to the mix and most throw it out the window completely.  Here for you is a simple, cheap, fresh and delicious cure that you get to choose the amount you make.  I don’t see one reason in that last sentence for you not to add these to your next meal!

Crisp Green Beans

Fresh Green Beans (as many as you need for your family…I for example need two handfuls – very technical)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
crumbled bacon (or “Real Bacon Bits” if you must)
Salt & Pepper

1. Wash your green beans.  Not rinse people, wash.  That means rub them with your hands nice and rough under the water to get all that gunk off them.  That is the first health tip in these veggies. Wash them.

2. Trim off the ends.  I like the ends barely snipped off.  Some people like to leave them on, and some like to snap them off with their fingers but I find that this takes too much of the bean off altogether.

3. Throw your green beans into a shallow pan.

4. Add to the pan, your chopped onion, garlic, bacon and salt and pepper to taste.  The best part about this is you get to add more of what you like and season them to taste.  Even if you have lots of green beans you shouldn’t need more onion then 1/4 cup though!

4. Now, pour in just enough water into the pan so that the entire bottom of the pan has water on it (no dry spots) but don’t completely submerge your green beans.

6. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 -15 minutes until cooked to your desire.
Always check them at ten.  If you like them really crisp you can stop or keep on cooking!  I always snag one out for a taste test of course.  Don’t forget that your time will increase with the amount of beans you add.

Now go be a good adult and add some veggies to your supper!


Fall Deliciousness Begins – Pumpkin Bread

Posted by casey on October 2, 2009 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides, Sweet Treats

The food of Fall is what I wait for all year.  Forget Thanksgiving and Christmas, the feasting for me begins in October when it starts to get cooler and I can paint the house in browns, deep yellows and orange.  All the spices from cinnamon to ginger put me in a food coma next to a heaping pile of mashed potatoes.  I swear, it isn’t the pregnancy talking, it is fall.

I have been waiting for it to hit October to share my favorite secret fall recipe with you.  Yes, the one you have been hounding me about because I make it for you from now until Christmas constantly.  To make it more fun, I haven’t decided if I am going to leave this post up permanently or make you scramble and write it down before removing it in a few days so that it still remains somewhat of an elusive treat.  Either way, you should make this pumpkin bread today.  I promise it is way better than the pumpkin bread at Starbucks you bought this morning and it too makes a scrumptious snack, breakfast or even dessert (dollop of whipped cream). This recipe makes two full loaves and they freeze very well too in case you wanted to save one for later!

Pumpkin Bread

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees



3 cups of canned pumpkin puree

1 ½ cups vegetable oil

4 cups white sugar

6 eggs

4 ¾ cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg


(On the three spices above, I like to go on the heavier side.  You can even add more to your taste or keep it light if you don’t prefer it.)



 Grease and flour two loaf pans

Mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar and eggs

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Stir into the pumpkin mixture until well-blended

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans

Bake in preheated oven, Cool on a rack when done.



Bake at 350 Degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour

(Use a Knife to See if It Comes Out Clean)
If you bake both loaves at the same time it will increase your baking time and you will have to continue to check them in 5 min increments.


A Creamy Classic – Home Made Mac

Posted by casey on September 16, 2009 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides

So far I haven’t had many “cravings” per say…okay well I definitely know what I want when I want it but I mean, that is just being decisive right?  I can say this, the one thing that I have wanted almost constantly and have been able to eat at practically any time is mac and cheese.  Kraft, microwave, restaurant – it doesn’t matter it always settles nicely and is just so darn delicious.  So today, since it is raining for the 8th day in a row I needed something comforting. You guessed it, mac and cheese.  This time though, I decided to steer clear from the cheese powder packet you find in the box and use my Grandma’s cooking talents with her recipe.  That being said, you have to be patient with the recipe because it is one of those that goes a little of this, a few of that.  Just look at the picture though, how can you resist?

Grandma’s Mac and Cheese

maccheese1 bag of large elbow macaroni
1 block Longhorn Cheddar (not regular cheddarn, longhorn)
1 block of milk cheddar
Velveeta (I’m sorry, it is true)
1 Tablespoon butter (or more if you love butter like Colter)
1/2 – 3/4 cup milk

– Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
– Cook the macaroni (as much as you want) until tender. Drain and rinse.
– While the macaroni is cooking start slicing the cheese into thin slices. How much you ask? No idea…slice about 5-6 thin slices of each and then we will go from there
– Place one layer of macaroni in the bottom of a casserole dish. (We will repeat this, so don’t use it all)
– Slice up 1/2 tablespoon of butter and place the squares on top of the macaroni.
– Cover with slices of all of the cheeses, one layer thick covering all.
– Repeat with another layer of macaroni, butter and cheese.

I know Velveeta is so questionable and well, who really wants to know what it is actually processed out of but frankly it was made to melt folks so you need todsc_0418_edited-1 put a bit in there.  I try to not put a lot of Velveeta on the top layer (that is exposed) because it turns an ugly brown when baked looking burnt if it is on top.  Okay, here is the tricky part….the milk. 

When Grandma taught me this recipe oh, a decade ago (geesh…I don’t like being able to say that)this was the ultimate estimate.  “Just pour the milk in until you can see it.”  Wait what? See it where?  How am I supposed to see it with all this pasta and cheese in the way? “Look down the sides, you will start to see it.” Ummmmm oky doky.  So excuse my language, this is the crapshoot part of the recipe.  In all honesty if you put too much in, it doesn’t matter, it will drain off.  But, there you go, pour the milk in ( I estimated the amount up top but it depends with how big you are making it) until you can see it pooling.

Bake at 350 Degrees for 30 Minutes (or so)

Don’t worry, you can play with it and regardless it is always good.  If there is extra milk when you dig in just drain it off, have no fear.  I promise, even with the “a little of this and a dash of that” recipe that I don’t do to you often you won’t be disappointed.  Homemade mac and cheese really is the best, even if you aren’t pregnant.

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