{Fresh and Cool} Banana Bars

Some people think of bananas in the spring or summertime, but we eat bananas all the time.  They’re hearty and delicious, and so this recipe works even in the shorter, beautiful fall days.

I love to bake. It doesn’t matter if it’s cookies, muffins, for ourselves or someone else, it’s just fun to take a few simple ingredients and turn them into something that will be both nourishing and tasty.

This recipe comes from my mom. She’s a great baker, and people were always happy to see these bars coming. The bar has a fresh banana taste. It’s not overly sweet, but it’s definitely a fun treat – and the creamy icing is the perfect complement to the muffin-like bar. They’re great for a fun picnic or brunch event, and they’re easy to make, too!

Here’s how to make {Fresh & Cool} Banana Bars:

{Fresh and Cool} Banana Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. softened butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. white-wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c. softened butter
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 4 c. 10x sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Cream 1/2 c. butter and granulated sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs, bananas, and 1 t. vanilla.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, & salt in a separate bowl.
  4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and beat well.
  5. Pour into a greased 15″ x 10″ x 1″ baking pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done.
  7. Cool.
  8. Mix icing
  9. Cream butter & cream cheese.
  10. Gradually add 10x sugar & 2 t. vanilla.
  11. Beat well.
  12. Spread over bars.
  13. Chill.
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How do you like to eat your bananas? 

 

How to Cook a Pumpkin

For the past few years, I’ve roasted pumpkins in the oven to make puree for cakes and breads.

This year, however, I heard of a new, much easier way:  the Crock Pot.

I love this method!  There’s no more guesswork about when it’s done, no more waiting for it to finish, no more heating the house (when here in the South it’s often still pretty warm outside) while the pumpkins bake.

Instead, I just go about my business – even cooking one overnight while I slept – and come back to it when I’m ready.  No rush, no guessing, no waiting, no crazy mess.

To cook your own pumpkin in a Crock Pot, here’s what you do:

First, of course, find a pumpkin.  I’ve always used a pie pumpkin.

Next, you need to break it.  Now, pie pumpkins are not as easily cut into as the ones many people carve around this time of year.  First, My Little Man and I tried these tools:

Surprisingly enough, I couldn’t really smash the pumpkin with the hammer as I hoped, so then I used the massive knive as a chisel and hammered the knife in all the way around.  (I wouldn’t recommend this, but I was in a hurry.  My Little Man got a good laugh out of the whole thing.)

This method works much better – just be sure to wash both the saw and the pumpkin before beginning.  Watch out for those fingers!

The hard part is now over.  Pat yourself on the back!

Scrape out all the pumpkin ‘guts’ and the seeds.  Put them into your slow cooker, making sure that the lid will fit on securely.  Add an inch of water to the bottom and cook the pumpkin for several hours, until completely soft and mushy.

Cook a Pumpkin
 
Place the pumpkins on a cutting board and give them time to cool.  When you can handle them safely, use a serving spoon to scoop out the soft flesh of the fruit.
 

My Little Man absolutely loved this part!  He cleaned out this whole pumpkin by himself, and he did a great job.

Put the pumpkin into a blender or food mill to puree it.

Or, as he likes to do, you could eat a bit of straight up pumpkin.

When you’re done, you’ll have several cups of fresh pumpkin puree, ready to freeze or bake into your favorite pumpkin recipe.

Whole Wheat Strawberry Shortcake

Whole Wheat Strwberry Shortcake

When I was a kid, I always dissected my shortcake.  I could never figure out why anyone would want to ruin perfectly good berries with cake – and vice versa.  Now, however, I love this combination!
 
This shortcake is easier than most, and it’s pretty healthy, too.  The texture is not quite as light as one made with white flour and white sugar, but the flavor is all there.  It works incredibly well with the sweetness of the strawberries.  Whipped cream or ice cream would make a great topping, but my family often ate this in a bowl and just poured milk over the whole thing.  My Big Helper is pretty fond of that version!
 
Whole Wheat Strawberry Shortcake
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3261 calories
519 g
636 g
110 g
61 g
65 g
1118 g
1485 g
224 g
4 g
36 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1118g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 3261
Calories from Fat 970
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 110g
169%
Saturated Fat 65g
325%
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 29g
Cholesterol 636mg
212%
Sodium 1485mg
62%
Total Carbohydrates 519g
173%
Dietary Fiber 11g
44%
Sugars 224g
Protein 61g
Vitamin A
77%
Vitamin C
3%
Calcium
132%
Iron
50%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 c. honey
  2. 1/2 t. salt
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 c. milk
  5. 1/2 c. melted butter
  6. 2 t. vanilla
  7. 3 c. white-wheat flour
  8. 4 t. baking powder
Instructions
  1. Mix well.
  2. Pour into a greased 11 X 13" pan.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.
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calories
3261
fat
110g
protein
61g
carbs
519g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
 
How do you like to eat shortcake?

Simply Delicious Blueberry Pie

Simply Delicious Blueberry Pie

A few years ago, while visiting some of my husband’s family, we were served blueberry pie for dessert.  Having never had blueberry pie before – or even a fresh blueberry – I wasn’t sure what to expect from this fruit-filled pie.

I was happily surprised, however, to find that it was really good.  It’s sweet and tastes like blueberries (which I now love) but it also has a creamy component that blends the flavors really well.  It’s fabulous with whipped cream or ice cream on top, but it’s just as good plain.  I baked it in our toaster oven this time (it’s too hot to turn the oven on!) and the cool sweetness is great in the midst of our current heat wave.

It’s also really easy to make.  Dump the berries into the pie shell, mix the creamy topping, and pour it over the top.  Bake and it’s done!

Simply Delicious Blueberry Pie
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2425 calories
338 g
183 g
115 g
25 g
48 g
1179 g
1221 g
197 g
0 g
62 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1179g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2425
Calories from Fat 1027
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 115g
178%
Saturated Fat 48g
238%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 19g
Monounsaturated Fat 43g
Cholesterol 183mg
61%
Sodium 1221mg
51%
Total Carbohydrates 338g
113%
Dietary Fiber 19g
75%
Sugars 197g
Protein 25g
Vitamin A
42%
Vitamin C
98%
Calcium
28%
Iron
41%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. one prepared pie shell
  2. 4 c. blueberries, washed and drained
  3. 2/3 c. sugar
  4. 1/4 c. all-purpose flour (I used white-wheat flour in the pie above, and it doesn't affect the flavor a bit - but it does make the top look a bit different. Just so you know.)
  5. 1/2 t. cinnamon
  6. pinch of salt
  7. 1/3 c. milk
  8. 2/3 c. cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare your pie shell.
  3. Place the blueberries into the shell.
  4. Combine all other ingredients and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour cream mixture over the blueberries in the pie shell.
  6. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until pie is set. The crust may need to be covered with foil before the center is finished baking.
  7. Let cool on wire rack, then store in the refrigerator.
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calories
2425
fat
115g
protein
25g
carbs
338g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
What’s your favorite kind of pie?

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing

My mom makes this really amazing pumpkin cake.  It’s thick, moist, and rich, and it gets rave reviews everywhere.  I generally dislike icing, too, but this cream cheese variety is yummy.  It’s the only type of icing I want more of.

But, like all tasty things, cake isn’t exactly good for you (though this one is full of vitamin-rich pumpkin), so I set out to see if I could make it a bit healthier without losing that ‘wow’ factor.  It was either that or buy bigger pants.  

I think it worked.  The recipe swapping, not the pants-buying.

The changes are super small, but they help, and the cake is still rich, moist, and full of happy pumpkin flavor.

If you’re looking for a great dessert that just screams “fall is here!” you should definitely try this one.

Here’s how to make your own Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing:

My Big Helper refused to go to bed until she had helped with the icing.  🙂
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 c. white-wheat flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 c. pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • Icing Ingredients:
  • 1/2 stick softened butter
  • 3 c. 10X sugar
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, first the dry, then the wet.
  2. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Pour into a 15″ x 10″ jelly roll pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Blend all ingredients with a mixer.
  6. Spread on the cooled cake.
  7. Top with chopped nuts.
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http://anestintherocks.com/pumpkin-bars-with-cream-cheese-icing/

I might have to make another one of these soon.  I love this cake!  What’s your favorite fall dessert?

Grandma’s Peach Pudding

We often visited my great-grandparents on the family farm on Saturday mornings when I was a kid, and if Grandma had her way, she’d ‘twist our arms’ into staying for lunch.  It was much more of a hardship on her part than ours as she was a fantastic cook.

Grandma always had something to offer for dessert, but I remember being very confused when she said we were having peach pudding.  I could only picture the vanilla or chocolate variety that came from a boxed mix, so when she served this fruit-and-cake concoction, I was hooked!

Grandma served her pudding with ice cream or farm-fresh milk poured over top, with maybe a sprinkle of extra sugar.  Either way, this is a delicious and different use for summer peaches!

We had to make some last night …

the kids were so excited that they even ate the peelings from the peaches!

To make the real thing, here’s what you need:

Ingredients:
1 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 egg
1/3 c. milk
1 t. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. shortening

Cover the bottom of a baking dish 1″-2″ deep with sliced peaches (in the above small dish, I used four large peaches).  Sprinkle with sugar and drizzle a bit of water over the top.  Then mix all above ingredients to make a batter and pour over the top of the peaches.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Serve with ice-cold milk or a scoop of ice cream.  🙂

Peach Pudding
 
Yum!
 
Grandma eventually showed me how to make it, and I remember watching her hands as she showed me how it was done.  Last night my Big Helper and I made this together.  I hope that someday she can show her own little ones!

Grandma’s Amazing Apple Pie

 
Few things are as classically American as apple pie, and so is how I learned to make it.  While spending the afternoon with my great-grandmother on the family dairy farm one afternoon, she decided to make a pie – only she stood beside me and coached me through the process.  Together we made an apple pie, crimping the edges together and drawing her special pattern in the top crust, and that is now one of my most special memories of her.  
 
Grandma was an amazing baker, and everyone loved when she “twisted your arm” and made you stay for lunch, especially if she had cookies or a pie waiting beside the fridge.  Her apple pie was no exception.
 

So if you like those old-fashioned desserts that put you in mind of your own grandma’s kitchen, don’t miss  Grandma’s Amazing Apple Pie.

Grandma's Amazing Apple Pie
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2898 calories
459 g
31 g
118 g
22 g
33 g
1502 g
1201 g
279 g
14 g
76 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1502g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2898
Calories from Fat 1037
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 118g
181%
Saturated Fat 33g
167%
Trans Fat 14g
Polyunsaturated Fat 31g
Monounsaturated Fat 45g
Cholesterol 31mg
10%
Sodium 1201mg
50%
Total Carbohydrates 459g
153%
Dietary Fiber 31g
125%
Sugars 279g
Protein 22g
Vitamin A
18%
Vitamin C
77%
Calcium
13%
Iron
22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 c. flour (white works best)
  2. 1/2 c. shortening
  3. 1/2 t. salt
  4. 3 T. ice-cold water
  5. 5-6 apples
  6. 3/4 - 1 c. sugar
  7. 1-2 t. cinnamon
  8. butter for dotting
Instructions
  1. Wash and peel the apples.
  2. Slice them to a uniform thickness.
  3. Stir together flour and salt.
  4. Cut in shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Add cold water and form into a ball with your hands.
  6. Divide in half.
  7. Roll out the first ball on a well-floured board.
  8. Put the first crust into your pie pan.
  9. With a fork, poke holes randomly around the crust.
  10. Layer the apples into the crust. Be sure that they fill the pan up well past the top edges because they will cook down while baking.
  11. Add sugar to the top of the apples. The pie should look like snowy white mountain peaks. This is apple pie we're talking about - while I love being healthy, this is no time to skimp on the sugar.
  12. Sprinkle on the cinnamon and dot with butter.
  13. Roll out the top crust.
  14. Cut steam vents into the crust and place it on top of the pie.
  15. Fold the edges of the top crust under the edges of the bottom crust. Crimp to seal.
  16. Poke again with a fork to create more steam holes.
  17. Sprinkle a bit of water onto the top crust with your fingers. Sprinkle some sugar on top to stick.
  18. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes at 350 or until apples are cooked through. You may need to cover the pie with foil after about 30 minutes.
  19. Serve hot or cold. Personally, I like my pie ice cold, so Grandma would run an inch of water or so into the sink, place the pie carefully into the cold water, and add a few ice cubes. By the time that lunch was ready, our pie was ready to eat!
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calories
2898
fat
118g
protein
22g
carbs
459g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
How do you like your pie?

Chocolate-drizzled Strawberry Crepes

Strawberry crepes with chocolate saucee and whipped cream

It’s been a while since we ate crepes, and with an abundance of strawberries and a reader’s suggestion, we made them for dinner the other night.  Now, we do not normally serve chocolate as part of our main course; we rarely even eat dessert, but with ganache in the fridge, this meal just screamed out for it.

Because my husband was away and a batch of crepe batter makes oodles of crepes, I made only half a batch, and that was barely enough.  I think my Big Helper would’ve happily eaten a few more.


“Mommy, these are DELICIOUS!”  she kept shouting.  “I need another one!”


So, with reviews like that, we might just have to have these a bit more often.


Here’s how to pull together your own Chocolate-drizzled Strawberry Crepes.


You’ll need fresh strawberries, washed and sliced; chocolate ganache, crepes, and whipped cream.


For the chocolate ganache, simply measure out equal parts of chocolate chips and heavy cream.  Put the chips in a heat-safe bowl and heat the cream on the stove until bubbles just begin to form – do not boil!  Whisk the cream into the chips into smooth.  Cool.


For the whipped cream, I put 1 c. of heavy cream into my KitchenAid with the whisk attachment and let it go to town.  It took less than 5 minutes to get seriously fluffy whipped cream – and the machine did all the work.


For the crepes, we made 1/2 batch of our Creative Crepe batter.  Just whisk the following together:

  • 1/2 c. flour
  • a few grains of Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 t. honey
  • 1 c. + 2 T. milk (I just eyeballed the tablespoon part.)
  • 1 T. melted butter
  • 1 egg
Over medium heat, butter a small non-stick frying pan and let it get hot.  Add a few tablespoons of the batter and rotate the pan until covered.  Pour the rest back into the bowl and let it cook until the top appears dry.  Flip with a rubber spatula.  The second side will cook in seconds.  Slide out of the pan and repeat until batter is gone.
 
 
To assemble the crepes, lay a crepe flat on a plate.  Spoon strawberries down the middle, fold the ends over, and top with ganache and whipped cream.  Or, as my French friend says is often done in France, simply fold the crepe into quarters and pile everything on top.  Either way, you can’t go wrong with chocolate and strawberries.
 
 
See?  He liked it so much he dove right in.  😉
 
Shared at:  Home to 4 Kiddos

Apple Pie Enchiladas

Apple Pie Enchiladas

A few days ago I was thinking about all the things I’d like to do with a few bushels of apples – but I only had two Granny Smiths in the fridge.  After thinking over my options and our need for a quick, yummy breakfast, I came up with this dish.

The kids and I loved the cinnamon sugar snowflakes we made out of tortillas last winter, and crepes stuffed with cinnamon apples make a great treat, so I combined the two to get these breakfast enchiladas.  They’re quick and healthy but “fancy” enough for company, too.

Apple Pie Enchiladas
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734 calories
134 g
31 g
20 g
11 g
9 g
574 g
552 g
56 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
574g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 734
Calories from Fat 178
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20g
31%
Saturated Fat 9g
47%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 31mg
10%
Sodium 552mg
23%
Total Carbohydrates 134g
45%
Dietary Fiber 14g
56%
Sugars 56g
Protein 11g
Vitamin A
11%
Vitamin C
28%
Calcium
10%
Iron
25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 Granny Smith apples
  2. 2 T. honey
  3. 1/4 c. water
  4. 3 T. butter, softened & divided
  5. 1 1/2 t. cinnamon-sugar mixture
  6. 2 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
  7. 1 t. cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Peel and slice your apples into thin pieces.
  2. Place them in a small frying pan with the cinnamon, honey, and half of the butter.
  3. Saute the apples over medium heat until they are caramelized and cooked through.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the remaining butter over the tortillas.
  5. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the tortillas. I keep a shaker of this in my cupboard, and I don't measure how to make it. Just mix a few teaspoons of cinnamon with a few tablespoons of sugar until it's a happy soft brown color.
  6. Place half the apples into a tortilla. Roll the tortilla up and place it in a baking dish. Repeat with the second tortilla.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until tortilla begins to get crispy. Watch carefully - you don't want it to burn!
  8. Enjoy plain or with whipped cream.
Notes
  1. This would be a super fun dessert with ice cream, too, and lots simpler than making an apple pie - though those are fun, too.
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calories
734
fat
20g
protein
11g
carbs
134g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
What’s your favorite way to eat an apple?

Strawberry Mango Salsa

Strawberry Mango Salsa

Salsa is a totally fun food to me.  You can do so many things with it – as a dip, as a topping for meat, as a fun addition to a wrap or sandwich – and fruity, spicy ones are my favorite kinds.  When I heard about a strawberry-mango combination last week, I decided to try it.

The kids and I mixed this up last night.  It’s super simple and has a great fresh, summery taste.  We ate it in grilled haddock wraps, and we’re planning to scoop some up with cinnamon-sugar tortilla points next, and then on grilled jerk chicken after that.  I think it would be great in a salad, too!

Strawberry Mango Salsa
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176 calories
43 g
0 g
1 g
3 g
0 g
395 g
163 g
33 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
395g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 176
Calories from Fat 10
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
2%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 163mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 43g
14%
Dietary Fiber 7g
28%
Sugars 33g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
36%
Vitamin C
274%
Calcium
6%
Iron
6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 c. diced mango (about 1 whole)
  2. 1 c. diced strawberries
  3. 2 T. lemon juice
  4. 1/3 c. diced red onion
  5. dash of freshly ground salt
  6. dash of freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Dice and combine all ingredients.
  2. Allow flavors to meld in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
beta
calories
176
fat
1g
protein
3g
carbs
43g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
Have you ever made salsa?

This post has been linked up at: Home to 4 Kiddos.