Monthly Archives: November 2015

Aunt Grace’s Banana Bread

This time of year has me reminiscing of those who are no longer here with us.  Thinking of those who are gone brings me a deep sadness and yet, the memories make me smile if I’m not laughing out loud.  This Banana Bread recipe comes from my husband’s Aunt Grace.  She was a character.  I met her in her tiny pristine apartment.  The church was her neighbor.  This was very convenient since she was quite religious.  Aunt Grace was born in Italy with 4 of her 6 brothers.  The last two, one of which was my father-in-law, were born in the United States.  Aunt Grace didn’t reached 5 feet but she was strong.  She had to be.  Their mother died when the children were small and Aunt Grace took on the roll of mother.  She was a tough cookie who would change her car oil and oil filter.  She would used a toilet roll for the oil filter.  I guess that wasn’t so unusual back then.  She regularly went to exercise class.  When you talked with her on the phone, she never said goodbye.  When she was done with whatever she had to say, she would simply hang up and leave you hanging.

Aunt Grace loved her family. She didn’t have children but loved all her nieces and nephews and their children.  She could cook up a storm.  We would often go to her apartment for Easter.  She had to put the multiply folding tables end to end from the livingroom diagonally to the hallway.  Once everyone sat down, there was no room to move.  So, we always went to the bathroom before we started the meal.  Limited space never stopped her from inviting everyone.  Easter dinner was cooked in its entirety by her.  We were told that we were eating lamb, spinach, salad, potatoes, and lemon meringue pie.  Some of that was true but the lamb was always goat and the spinach, swiss chard.  This just makes me chuckle.  She was known for her cheesecake (ricotta pie), pie crusts and banana bread.  I don’t know if this recipe is unique or not.  It’s the only one I have ever made.  It doesn’t matter.  It came from love and the family continues to make it with love.  I hope you will, too.


1 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Butter

2 Eggs

3 Bananas, very ripe

1 1/4 cup Flour

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Salt

2/3 cups Nuts (optional, I usually omit them.)


Cream Butter and Sugar together.


In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together with a whisk.


In another bowl, whip the Eggs and Bananas. I try to get the Bananas to dissolve as much as possible and to make the mixture as light as I can.


Add the Egg/Banana mixture to the Butter and Sugar.  Mix well.

IMG_2857Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time. Pour into a 4 by 8 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.


Makes 16 – 1/2 inch slices.  Each slice contains: 213 Calories, 6.5 grams Fat, 37.9 grams Carbs, 2.1 grams Protein.

Music:  Have you listened to Dean Martin lately?  Hmmm….

Thanks, Aunt Grace.

Pecan Pie Cookies

Last week, I made a basket for a raffle.  I put in it some autumnal-looking mugs, a tea towel, tea, organic honey, my kumquat marmalade, crackers and these pecan pie cookies.  I love putting together baskets.  You have to think of a theme.  Then, purchase a few items and plan what goodies to include.  It’s like creating a small menu.  It’s so fun.  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought these cookies would be perfect for the basket and for you.

Pumpkin pie spice seems to be everywhere.  My tradition is to have an apple or pecan pie for dessert.  You see, we never ate pumpkin pie growing up.  My first Thanksgiving was celebrated when I was in fourth grade.  We had just moved and the church gave us all the fixings for dinner.  Mom continued to cook turkey for this holiday but our stuffing and side dishes were not the traditional ones.  We never had pumpkin pie.  You see, pumpkin, in Argentina, is a savory vegetable.  I don’t care for the pie at all.  I would buy a ready made one for my husband but I wouldn’t eat it. The dishes I cook today are a bit modified yet enough to be considered traditional.  So, along side your pumpkin pie, try these Pecan Pie Cookies.  I haven’t met a person who doesn’t like them!


Cookie Bottom

2 1/2 cups Flour

1 cup Butter, cut into small chunks

1/2 cup Sugar

1/2 tsp. Salt


4 Eggs

1 1/2 cups light or dark Corn Syrup

1 1/2 cups Sugar

3 Tbl. melted Butter

1 1/3 tsp. Vanilla

2 1/2 cups Pecans halves or chopped (It doesn’t make a difference in this recipe.)

Start with the Cookie Bottom.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan with cooking spray.


In a large bowl with a mixer, beat Flour, Butter, Sugar and Salt until mixture resembles fine crumbs.


Press with your fingers into the pan.


This is a shortbread recipe.

Bake 20-23 minutes or until golden brown.


While the Cookie Bottom is baking, work on the Topping.  Beat the Eggs, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Butter and Vanilla in a large bowl until well blended.


Stir in pecans.


Pour over hot Cookie Bottom and spread evenly.


Bake for 25 minutes or until filling is firm around the edges and pretty firm in the middle.  Cool completely and cut into bars.


If you cut the bars in 1 1/2 by 2 inches, you will get 48 bars.

Each servings contains:  205 Calories, 9.1grams Fat, 30 grams Carbs, 1.8 grams Protein


Peanut Butter Doggie Treats

It looks like my pup, Cassius, has been making mud pies while I was baking his doggie treats! He loves to bury things in my potted plants, both inside and out.  I find the oddest things that he has stolen dug in to my indoor pots!

Do you remember that scare a few years back with doggy treats? I remember it was about processed chicken breasts or duck breasts. Dogs were dying. I became much more vigilant on what I purchased for my pets and, eventually, began making them homemade treats. See how easy it is to bake up a batch of goodies.

Sometimes late in the evening, when dinner and dishes are done, I look for a little dessert as I’m winding down the day. I often will reach for an apple and a little peanut butter. I core and slice the apple and then, with about 1 tablespoon of good peanut butter, I settle down in the armchair to marry the two before I slip them into my mouth. Well, my mouth is not the only mouth that is anticipating this treat. I always have Cassius and Mattie, my little dog, sitting there waiting for a bite. I indulge both of them to a slice with some peanut butter on it. They love it. Cassius will often get close to my hand to lick the last trace of peanut butter from my fingers.

I wasn’t raised with peanut butter in the house. It is not a common staple in Argentina but when I was probably in middle school or so, I would shop with mom and would pick some up. My mom became very fond of it but I only recall her taking big globs on a tablespoon and slowly eating it. I don’t think she ever had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or ate anything with it. She just had tablespoons full.

I learned about apples and peanut butter as an adult when I saw my sister-in-law eating it. Both my kids were raised with PB and J’s and like peanut butter with apples, as do both of my dogs.

Here is a healthy treat for pooches but like any treat, don’t give them too many.

Peanut Butter Doggie Treats


2 Tbl. Olive Oil

1/2 cup Peanut Butter

1 cup Water

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2 cups Unbleached Flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir Olive Oil, Peanut Butter, and Water until combined.


Add Whole Wheat and Unbleached Flour one cup at a time.


Don’t loose hope, the flour will blend in.  Keep at it.


Knead the dough to incorporate all the flour.


The dough is stiff.


Roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness and use a cookie cutter to make the biscuits. Put on an ungreased pan and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.


And there you have it.  A Clean and Happy Boy.


Oatmeal Pancakes

Some mornings a blueberry protein shake or yogurt with granola just isn’t enough. I wake up hungry wanting something nourishing and filling. You know what I mean. It’s that cold Sunday morning and your coffee cup is calling for some serious accompaniment. That’s when these oatmeal pancakes fit the bill. I prepare for them the night before and wake up looking forward to eating them. A few but good ingredients make this a healthy dish, except for all the butter I like on them. (But don’t tell on me.)

I found this recipe many years ago when my daughter was a little over two years old. She was found to be very anemic. Sounds strange but I was told that it was because she was allergic to milk and was not consuming any dairy products. We ate, as we do now, lots of protein and vegetables, so, I was surprised to hear this. I came to find out later that my husband’s family suffers from anemia. The pediatrician requested that I feed her lots of eggs, protein of all kinds and vegetables. My little one was put on a daily doses of liquid iron until her stomach couldn’t take it anymore and we stopped. Later the problem became her high cholesterol. Again, I found high cholesterol also runs in my husband’s family. I’m putting all the blame on the in-laws. No, just kidding. The doctor recommended that we follow a cookbook called The New American Diet. At the time, the medical community believed that eggs where large contributors to cholesterol and salt was very bad. The following recipe uses three egg whites, which I continue to use instead of the one whole egg that they replace. It also doesn’t have any salt. I don’t miss it and I don’t think you will either. The recipes in this book became a staple in my cooking. Many of them became a part of our daily meals. This recipe comes from that cookbook. Give it a try. It is one of my favorite breakfasts.



1 1/2 cups Uncooked Oatmeal **I don’t like the texture of stone cut oatmeal in this recipe but it will work.**

2 cups Buttermilk

3 Egg Whites

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2 tsp. Baking Soda

2 Tbl. Brown Sugar


Combine Oatmeal, Buttermilk and Egg Whites and set aside for at least 1 hour or better yet, refrigerate overnight.


It will be lumpy in the morning. If you feel it’s too dry, you can add a little more Buttermilk. This batter is THICK. Add the dry ingredients and stir until they are moistened. IMG_2722

Cook on a lightly oiled 350 degrees griddle. They are thick but look for the bubbles and the dry edges just like on regular pancakes. Then flip.


This recipe makes 12-16 pancakes.


Yup, I ate that whole stack…love them!

I freeze the leftovers. Just stack them with wax paper in between. Place in a plastic bag and in the freezer they go. The wax paper allows you to take out as many pancakes you want at a time. I have an option on my toaster to defrost and to reheat. I use these to heat u my pancakes and I’m good to go.


I almost forgot…the music.  I love to listen to classical music in the mornings.  If it’s a Sunday morning, I will be listening to NPR Classical Station.  For this particular breakfast, I love to listen to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”, especially “Autumn”.  Try it.  Even if you are not much of a classical listener, you will recognize this piece.  It brings me joy as I am cooking.

One 4 inch pancake: 76 Calories, 3.7 grams Protein, 13.6 grams Carbs, 1 gram Fat, 1.8 grams Fiber.