Orange Rhubarb Bread

March 29, 2011

Cornmeal and rhubarb?  Who knew how great this combination would be?  The color of the bread is great.  The bread is moist and the tart/sweet vibe is delicious.  This is my new favorite rhubarb bread recipe.

Orange Rhubarb Quick Bread
Country Home, March/April 2009

2 ½ cu. flour
¼ c. cornmeal
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ c. sugar
¾ c. butter
3 eggs, beaten
½ c. milk
zest from one medium sized orange
2 tbsp orange juice
2 c. chopped rhubarb

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine dry ingredients except sugar.
Separately combine sugar, butter, eggs, milk, zest and oj.  Pour into dry ingredient mix and stir until moistened.  Mix in rhubarb.

Pour into two greased bread pans.  Bake for 55 minutes.


America’s Test Kitchen Banana Bread

January 11, 2010
America's Test Kitchen Banana Bread

America's Test Kitchen Banana Bread

It’s been a while since Kent or I posted to the blog.  What began as a fun project became a chore.  So we took a break.  But recently, I’ve started baking again for the fun of it and thought I’d try a small post about my recent experience testing a recipe for America’s Test Kitchen.

Kent had signed up to be a recipe tester for America’s Test Kitchen.  Once a month he gets an email about a new recipe to try.  In December, a recipe for banana bread came up.  Kent really enjoys banana bread so he forwarded the email to me to try.  The email contains a link to the recipe (sorry I can’t share the recipe – you’ll have to watch America’s Test Kitchen) and then a link to a survey to complete once you’ve tried the recipe.

Turns out America’s Test Kitchen knows what they’re doing.  The banana bread was excellent.  Kent says it was the best he’s ever eaten.  And it was a pretty simple recipe.  While I can’t share the recipe, I think I can share one tip.  They had me wrap four layers of aluminum foil around the bread pan to keep the outer edges from getting too crispy.

Disaster Averted

May 3, 2009
Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Baking is chemistry.  You read that again and again.  You need certain ratios and must measuring accurately or things fall apart.  My failed rhubarb bread with the missing from a few posts ago is proof of this.  But sometimes you get to baking you don’t have what you thought you had in the cupboard.  Or frig.  I know, I know.  A person should set everything out before beginning to bake so you know you have all the ingredients.  To be honest, I rarely do that.  And I realize that the rhubarb mess wouldn’t have happened if I had done that.  But still, I never learn.

Yesterday I decided to try this recipe I found in Midwest Living.  From the beginning, it seemed doomed.  First, I substituted oil for butter.  The recipe called for 1 c. butter, but I had recently read that you can substitute oil for butter but that you need to watch the moisture level.  So I reduced it to 3/4 c. canola oil.  Next I discovered I didn’t have any eggs.  But a month or so ago, Kent had emailed me a site that gave a list of substitutes for eggs.  One of them was banana.  So in went a banana.  Then I remembered that I had three egg yolks in the refrigerator so they were thrown in.  This should have been a disaster.  But lo and behold, it worked!  These are actually pretty good cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together:
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon

With a hand mixer, mix the dry ingredients with

3/4 c. canola

Then continue mixing and add

1 ripe banana
3 egg yolks

If you can, continue to blend with the hand mixer and add

2 c. flour

Then stir in

2 c. oatmeal
1 c. dried cherries

Drop tablespoon-sized rounds onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes

The Glory of Crisps: The Fruit Dessert for Everyone

April 29, 2009

crispsFinding a good dessert for just the two of us can be a challenge.  Most make just too much for two people.  And what about single people.  When I was single, I had no business baking a whole cake and eating it by myself.  Which is one of the reasons I love crisps.

Crisps are wonderful. You can make a small amount or a big amount.  I usually use a muffin pan.  And you can make it around whatever fruit is in season.  This week I made up several different crisps with whatever fruit looked good at the grocery store – blackberry, apple, pear, cherry and peach.  If you just want to make single servings, you can use a oven-safe custard cup or even a muffin pan.

I used a muffin pan and did a different fruit in each cup.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place fruit into cups.  For pears, apples and peaches, that’s about a half a fruit sliced.

Squeeze lemon juice over fruit.  Top each cup with –

1 t. brown sugar
1 T. oatmeal
1/2 T. chopped nuts (I like walnuts or pecans)
1 thin slice of butter
Pinch of cinnamon

Bake for about 20 minutes  crisps-in-muffin-tin

The Great Shake Experiment Part Deux

April 19, 2009

sour-cherry-shakeNot to be deterred from my failed first shake with no ice cream experiment, I persevere.  The consistency was right on target so I’m keeping the frozen bananas.  The carob was too strong so I’m switching to fruit.  Drat!  I was really looking forward to inventing the next great carob something-or-other.

Fortunately, I have some great frozen cherries (courtesy of my mom – Thanks Mom!).  Unfortunately, we ran out of honey so I turned to raw sugar.  Truth be told I’ve been wanting to play with the raw sugar since Kent brought it home.  This was just the opportunity I’d been looking for–don’t tell Kent.

Experiment 2

Cherry Banana Shake
Take One


2 frozen bananas
1 c. frozen sour cherries
1 c. nonfat dry milk
3 T raw sugar
3/4 c ice water
1/2 t vanilla

Pros:  Great consistency again.  Color was okay.  Not great.  Pink but not a bright pink.  Very filling – one glass filled me up.

Cons:  Very very rich.  Too rich for Kent.  He added skim milk to tone it down.  I drank my straight.

Discussions:  Okay, okay, maybe it’s time to reduce the dry milk.  I don’t want to add more water because that might mess with the consistency which is the only thing these shakes have had right.

Trial Take

Okay, okay.  I guess it’s time to cut the amount of nonfat dry milk.  And the sweetener.


2 frozen bananas
1 c. frozen sour cherries
2/3 c. dry milk
1/2 t vanilla
3/4 c. ice water

Pros:  The good consistency is holding.  Color is much much better.  The sour cherry flavor is stronger and more flavoricious. There is a difference of opinion about the richness.  My sister and I agree that the richness level was good.  It was still a bit much for Kent who added skim milk to it.

Cons:  Grainy.  It’s been grainy all along but I was wanting this to be a simple “just put everything in and blend” kind of thing.  Looks like I’ll need to premix the nonfat milk and water.

Next time:  Fix the graininess.  And do I dare combine the two experiments?  A Cherry Carob Banana Extravaganza?!?!

The Great Shake Experiment

April 9, 2009

pineapple-banana-shakeWhen I was a kid, I dreamed of getting into my mother’s cupboard and conducting experiments with spices and herbs and sugar and flours.  So this week when the first recipe below was so disappointing, I decided it was time to become the food scientist I dreamed of being as a child.

First, let me tell you about my muse, The American Cancer Society’s  Healthy Eating Cookbook. I’ve tried a couple of recipes from this book that I checked out from the library and so far none have really impressed me.  But I acquired some unhealthy nutrition habits over the winter, so finding healthy recipes is part of my plan to get back on track.  When I saw that the ingredients for “Pineapple Banana Shake” did not include ice cream, but used nonfat dry milk, I did a double-take but decided to give it a try.

Basically, you combine the ingredients below, adding the ice cubes slowly through the blending process.

1 c. pineapple chunks
1 banana sliced
1 T. lemon juice
2/3 c. dry milk
1 c. ice water
1/4 t. vanilla
8 ice cubes

This shake smelled great and I couldn’t wait to taste it.  But the flavor was weak and the consistency was thin.  More like a smoothie than a shake.  If I ever try this again, I’ll leave out the 8 ice cubes and reduce the water.  The shake did get me thinking though – could you really make a shake without ice cream?

Banana Carob Shake

Banana Carob Shake

Experiment #1 – Banana Carob Shake

I decided that bananas would be useful for the consistency.  And I tried carob because I’m always looking for a good way to use carob (the reason why is another post).


2 frozen bananas
1 c. dry milk
3/4 c. ice water
1 T honey
1/2 t vanilla
1 T carob powder

Positive results:  The consistency of this concoction was very close to a shake.  The color was perfectly chocolatly.

Cons:  The flavor was strong.  Probably too much carob.

Discussion:  A little carob goes a long way.

Next steps:  What about cherries?

Beet Ice Cream Syrup Experiment

April 3, 2009


In my last post I wrote about gussying up a jar of pickled beets.  One thing that always seems like a waste to me, is throwing out the beautiful red liquid the beets cook in.  When cleaning up the dishes I paused at the beet leavings, dipped a finger, tasted, and immediately thought of ice cream.  So I added about a half tablespoon of sugar and cooked the liquid down to a syrup.  We sat down to, possibly, enjoy our dessert and both decided, “It’s different.”  Really the only thing I didn’t like about it was the taste of salt.  The salt which the jarred beets contained had of course concentrated.  I’ve had salty peanuts on ice cream and that worked, but somehow a salty syrup wasn’t quite as enjoyable.  Other than that the syrup had a nice fruit like flavor, almost a tart cherry.  The mild heat the ginger brought with the syrup was interesting.  Eating cold ice cream while my mouth was pleasantly warmed by spice, was something I hadn’t experienced before.  Hmmm, maybe a pinch of cayenne next time….

By Kenton