Easy Banana Bread

Did I ever tell you about the time I bought a 40 lb. box of bananas? They were only $4.99 so it was a really good deal! My husband thought it was completely ridiculous. It was. And I think I have learned my lesson.

I gave some away, but mostly I just made a crazy amount of banana bread and banana muffins. This recipe is great for banana bread, but I also bake it in muffin form sometimes. They freeze well if you happen to have 40lbs. of bananas or so to use up! I also like freezing muffins so that the kids can get their own breakfast when I am not much of a morning person.

Banana bread recipe- so easy to make!

Another nice feature of this recipe is that everything just gets put in the bowl and then mixed really well. Easy!!!

Banana bread recipe... This is so good!

Since I have scaled back my banana bread baking, I keep an eye out for the little bags of discount bananas that are starting to brown at the grocery store. Yellow bananas never have a chance to turn brown in this house- they don't last long enough!

Easy Banana Bread

3 extra-ripe medium bananas 2 eggs 1/3 cup softened butter 3/4 cup sugar 1 1/3 cup flour 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 tsp. baking powder

Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl in the order given. Mix really well. Pour into greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick in the center and it comes back out clean. For muffins, pour into muffin pans either greased or with paper liners and decrease baking time.

 

Easy banana bread recipe that mixes in one bowl!

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Freezer Pancake Breakfast Sandwiches

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I am not really a morning person.

My husband gets up really, really early for work and knows better than to try to wake me up lets me sleep. In appreciation for this, I try to make sure that he has something that he can grab for breakfast. These pancake breakfast sandwiches are his favorite! It is basically like a McGriddle from McDonald's. Except I know what is in these.

I like to make a big batch of them at once and put them in the freezer so that he can microwave them before he leaves for work. I do a lot of multitasking so it saves on cooking time, too.

Here are some of the things that I do to make this work:

  • Make your pancakes a little thick so that the syrup soaks in and it is a better sandwich size. 
  • Use a cookie scoop to put the batter on the griddle. It keeps them all about the same size.  
  • When they are cooked and cooled slightly, match them in pairs. Place one pancake on a plate. and pour about a tablespoon of maple syrup in the center. Quickly put the other pancake on top and flip the pancakes over so that it runs down into the second pancake, too. It might get a little messy, but you can use the next pair of pair of pancakes to wipe the plate off and soak up any excess syrup.
  • I used ham lunchmeat this time because I got a good deal on it locally. However, bacon or sausage patties would also be delicious. Bacon is, of course, his favorite.
  • Assemble the sandwiches and wrap them in a bit of Glad Press'n'Seal. It is a bit thicker than plastic wrap, so it makes it a little easier for him to eat on the go.
  • Place all of the wrapped sandwiches in a freezer bag so that they aren't getting lost in your freezer. Although, that has happened and it is a nice surprise if I find it in time.
  • To reheat, vent the Press'n'Seal and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Be careful!
These are great because I get to sleep in and he gets a nutritious breakfast. It also saves a lot of money vs. him stopping to get breakfast on his way to work.
Do you have any tips to make breakfast a little easier? I would love to hear about it!
UPDATE! I found a faster and healthier way to make the eggs for these sandwiches! See it HERE!
Link Parties where I sometimes hang out...

Freezer Jalapeno Poppers

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OK. So, I took these pictures last summer. I mean, I DO plan on making jalapeno poppers but not just yet. I am supposed to be taking it easy (which is killing me!) Instead I am just gonna' sit here holding this super cute baby and blog about it.
The ingredients...

24 jalapeno peppers
12 oz. softened cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4-1/2 cup crumbled, cooked bacon or bacon bits
2 cups milk
1 cup flour
2 cups bread crumbs

The directions...
Wash your jalapenos. 

Put on some gloves if you know what is good for you.  Cut off the tops.

Slice 'em down the middle.

Scoop out the seeds.

Look how pretty!

Mix up softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and crumbled bacon or bacon bits.

Fill each pepper half with the cheesy mixture.

Lay them all out on a cookie sheet covered with paper towels.

Now, here is the secret to these... a triple dipping process! It gives them a lovely coating. So... dip in milk...

...then flour.

Here they are all spread out on the cookie sheet to dry a bit.

Dip in milk again...

...then bread crumbs.

This is how they look after one bread crumb coating.

Not good enough. When they are dry, do it again.  Milk, then bread crumbs.

Much better.

Then, just pack them in freezer bags. All done!

Yes, the triple dipping is tedious, but worth it.  When you want to cook them, just throw 'em in the deep fryer until they are golden brown and crispy.  We have tried grilling and baking them, which is OK, but frying works best.

It is so nice to have something quick and easy to make in my freezer (which is not often the case since most of our food is home-grown) and these are much, much, much cheaper than the store bought ones!

One of these days, when I fry some up, I will take a post-cooking picture and update this post.  Right now, I am too busy holding this sweet little baby!

A Big Batch of Filling- Freezer Cooking

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Now I am going to show you what to do with those leftover crusts from the uncrustables sandwiches... 

I save them to make filling!  I get a lot of compliments on my filling and it is so moist!  It is really simple to make, too.  Here is what you need:

6-7 loaves of white bread
3-4 medium onions
3-4 stalks celery
8 sticks margerine

I know!  That is a lot, right?  I like to make my filling in my electric roaster in a HUGE batch so that I have some to freeze for later. When I have some stocked in my freezer, it makes a quick side dish that is way cheaper and so much tastier than that boxed stuff (not to mention I can pronounce all of the ingredients!) So, I go to our local discount bread store and grab a lot of bread.  

I get to work (and put the kids to work) cutting the bread into cubes - it does not always fit in the roaster.  I let it sit out for awhile so that the cubes are not so soft.  If I am making a large noon meal, I will cut it in the evening and let it sit out overnight with the lid cracked a bit to let some air into the roaster.  You can cut up those leftover crusts, too!

Then I cry my eyes out and peel the onions.  I cut the onions and celery into big chunks...

...and my trusty, old food processor chops it all up for me!

This is probably how a normal person would chop them.

I don't like onions.  Or celery.  So I practically puree it to disguise them.

In my big skillet, I melt 8 sticks of margarine 

I mix in my veggies and let them simmer for a few minutes.

I also dump some parsley in there to give it some color.
Then I pour it all over the bread cubes.

I give it a good stir.  It doesn't seem like it coats every bread cube, but it works out just fine.  I cook it at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Do NOT crank that temperature up.  Trust me.  It burns.

It cooks down quite a bit, so you should be able to add any extra bread that didn't fit in no time.  All of the bread in that first picture cooked down to this:

Oh, it is so yummy and delicious!  You can eat it right away...

...or freeze it for later.  It is a quick side dish- just pull it out of the freezer and warm it up!  I like to use the microwave to get it thawed and then I pop it in the oven in a baking dish at 350 for 10-15 minutes just to make the edges a little crispy (but if you leave it in the oven too long it will dry out and you'll need lots of gravy).  I have also squished it into filling balls to freeze.  This would be great to pull out just a few at a time for smaller households.

I am hoping that my little cooking tips can help someone save a little $ while feeding their family healthier foods!  I would love to know if anyone makes this, so just leave a comment to let me know if you do!

Make Your Own Uncrustables

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Have you ever seen those "uncrustables" sandwiches that you can buy in the freezer section of your grocery store?  In my opinion, they are pricey and not worth it at all.  I guess you are paying for convenience.  My kids had some free samples at thee grocery store once (thanks a lot, lady!) and really liked them.  So, I decided to make my own... for cheap!
I get bread at a local place called "Budget Bakery" for cheap.  It is hit or miss, depending on what the truck has brought that day, but I can get a loaf of white bread for around 65 cents.  This stuff is not expired, either- so don't think we are eating moldy bread or anything.  I don't go there all the time, but if I need a lot of bread or buns it is worth it.
I figure that you can handle making a good ol' PB&J, but don't get too close to the edges, because those crusts are still good for something... I will post about that later.  Just trust me and save them.

I got this handy little tool at Walmart on an end cap for $1.97 and it seals the sandwich and trims off the crusts all in one push.
I put them on a cookie sheet and "flash freeze" them for a few minutes...

Then I wrap them up in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer.  It makes a nice snack or saves the day in frantic last-minute lunch packing.

Eggplant Parmesan (Freezer Cooking)

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One of the best ways to save money (and have better food) is to preserve fresh vegetables when they are in season.  I love to have eggplant already breaded and frozen for a fast, easy meal in the winter.  If you don't have a garden giving you lots of lovely, purple eggplants you can pick some up for cheap while they are in season at a local farmer's market.  Out of two very large eggplants, I got enough for four meals! 

Start out with a fresh eggplant, peel it, and chop the very ends off (that is the most bitter part).
Then slice it about 3/8" thick- yes, I know that seems awfully precise, but 1/2" is too thick and 1/4" is too thin.

Sprinkle both sides with a little salt- the seeds will turn brown very quickly- this is normal and you do not have a rotten or mutant eggplant.

Pour a little oil in a frying pan- just enough to evenly coat the bottom of the pan- and turn it on med-low heat.
Get everything else ready while the oil is heating.  You will need a bowl for eggs- I beat two of them thoroughly- and a bowl for bread crumbs.

Coat the slices evenly by dipping first in the eggs (that picture was blurry and I figure that you are smart enough to figure that out) and then in bread crumbs.

 Fry in oil until golden brown, flipping them to cook each side, of course.  The oil will get all yucky and bubbly after a few batches, so you might need to add/change oil partway through cooking.

Place the cooked slices on a paper towel covered plate to absorb the grease.

When they cool off, you can lay the fried eggplant slices flat in a freezer bag and save them for later.  When I cook them, I place the frozen eggplant in a baking dish that has a little tomato sauce spread on the bottom and spread a little more on top of the eggplant.  I bake it at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until it is thoroughly cooked and soft (if you don't cook it long enough it will be bitter).  I sprinkle mozzarella on top for about the last 10 minutes and serve it with spaghetti.

Here is how I prepared it fresh, though!  I took a tomato from our garden and put thick slices on top of the eggplant, topped with a little oregano (I just used sauce on half of them for those of us who are a little bit picky).

I baked it for a half hour and then added mozzarella.

  Here was the final result...

Doesn't it look pretty?

I know a lot of people that say they have never eaten eggplant- to be honest I was intimidated by it at first, too.  If you are brave enough to give this a try, let me know how it turns out!