Category Archives: Tasty's

Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Honey Whipped Salted Walnut Butter

So I don’t know about you but I like my sweet bread to taste just slightly less sweet than dessert.

I have been on a mission to convert all my classic white flour, white sugar recipes to wholesome ingredients.  I think I have cracked the code.  This banana bread was a hit, even to my non-banana-bread-loving husband.  I served it with a homemade honey whipped salted walnut butter.  Sooooo yummy.

Here’s the recipe:

Robinson’s Banana Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour (2 1/2 cups hard white and 1/2 cup spelt or soft whole wheat flour for the lighter fluffy texture that  you want for sweet breads and muffins)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1 cup sucanat

1/2 cup melted butter

1/4 coconut oil

1/4 unsweetened apple sauce

1 1/2 banana puree (4-5 ripe bananas, blended up)

4 eggs

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a blender or food processor blend up bananas until smooth. This makes the bread texture so different and light and wonderful instead of having larger chunks of over ripe banana. In another bowl mix puree, sucanat, apple sauce, eggs, butter, and oil.  Fold dry ingredients into wet.  Baked in two oiled loaf pans for 25-30 min. at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean.  This bread freezes very well and could also be made into muffins.

For the Honey Whipped Salted Walnut Butter:

1 stick salted butter, softened (NOT melted)

1/4-1/3 cup chopped walnuts (use as much as you like)

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp.-1/4 cup honey (depending on how sweet you’d like it)

If using a stand mixer, in a mixing bowl combine all ingredients minus the walnuts.  Turn mixer on high with the whipping attachment and whip until butter is light and fluffy.  Taste and adjust sweetness.  Fold in walnuts.  You can also use a hand held mixer and a mixing bowl, just make sure to scrap the sides down every min. or so.  Can be stored at room temperature for 2-3 days or in fridge for up to a month or more.  (could also freeze).

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How to make Haciendas Salsa

There is a Mexican restaurant where I grew up in St. Louis called Haciendas. It has the most incredible food and all you can eat in-house-made chips and salsa. Their salsa is to die for. Seriously, it is addictive and unlike any other salsa I have ever had. I finally sought out to replicate the recipe in my own kitchen and boy did we have success. Here’s the recipe:

Haciendas Salsa

1- 29oz. can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1/2 cup pickled jalapeno juice (the juice from the jar of jalapenos)
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. salt

A couple shakes of dried oregano

Blend all above ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Then add 6 Tbsp. sliced pickled jalapenos and pulse the blender until the jalapenos are roughly chopped. You don’t want to blend them in.

Sometimes I blend in one bunch of cilantro leaves (remove the stems).  I personally like the flavor of the salsa with this but it does make it different than traditional Haciendas.

Chill for 24 hours for optimal flavor…or just eat right away because its so stinkin’ delicious.

We eat this on everything from scrambled eggs to chips and burritos, taco salad, ice cream…just kidding about that last one 🙂


Why are you still sitting here listening to me ramble on…go make some already!


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Homemamde Ranch Dressing Mix

Our family loves this stuff. We use it to dip veggies in and pour it over nice big green salads all summer long. The dry mix itself is really great for taco soups that call for a packet of ranch seasoning (just mix a few tbsp. into some sour cream and broth from the soup and whisk into the soup!)

Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix
1 rounded tbsp. parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dill
1/4 tsp. red pepper

Mix all ingredients and store in an air tight container.

I usually quadruple this recipe and keep it in a glass jar in my spice cabinet to be used whenever I need it.

For a yummy Ranch Dressing:

Mix 2 tsp. ranch seasoning mixture with 1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt (could sub sour cream if needed) and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. Store in refrigerator. Best if allowed to ‘marinate’ in the fridge overnight to let the flavor mesh 🙂

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Poblano Chili ‘Fries’

(Photo Credit)

So I saw these little beauties a long long time ago on the Rachel Ray Show.  I used to LOVE watching her 30 min. meals back in the day.  We went to a little game day party at our friend recently and I decided to give them a try…oh…my…goodness.  They are SO yummy.  I served them with my Homemade Ranch Dip. So so yummy you guys.

Poblano Chili ‘Fries’


• 1 1/2 poblano peppers, de-seeded and cut into sticks

• 1 cup flour, divided

• 2 eggs, lightly beaten

• 2 tablespoons mustard, whatever variety you like (I used spicy mustard)

• 1 cup breadcrumbs

• 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

• Salt and ground black pepper


• Preheat oven to 400ºF. Set up 3 plates on the counter; in one spread the flour, in the second beat the eggs with the mustard and about 2 tablespoons of flour, in the third combine the breadcrumbs, cheese and some salt and pepper.

• Coat the peppers in the flour, then in egg and finally in the breadcrumbs, pressing to make sure coating sticks. Roast peppers in the oven, turning halfway through baking until golden brown and crispy, about 18 minutes.

• Serve immediately.

Notes: I ended up tripling the amount of ingredients I needed for the dredging process. I’m not sure why I needed so much more than the original recipe called for. But they turned out yummy nonetheless!  Also I lined the baking pans with parchment paper. It really helped to get the ‘fries’ extra crispy.


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Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Maple Butter Cream Icing

Okay do I really need to even try to convince you that this is amazing and you must go make it right now? Seriously? Okay…

Now what?!? Go make it for goodness sake.

The perfect fall dessert. Moist, spicy cake with a creamy sweet maple topping. Mmmm.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Maple Butter Cream Icing
Makes two 8 inch round cakes or one 9×13 sheet cake

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted (you could sub whole wheat pastry flour)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup buttermilk (I used a cup of milk mixed with 1 tbsp. lemon juice. let it sit for 30 min. at room temp.)
2 sticks butter, softened (NOT melted)
1 cup sucanat (could use brown sugar)
1 cup white sugar (could use all sucanat for a whole foods version)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Line the bottoms of 2 round 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the parchment, as well as the sides of the pans. Preheat the oven to 325°. Center a rack in the oven.

To make the cake, combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin puree and buttermilk and mix until smooth. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase to high speed and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and scraping down the bowl between additions. Add the vanilla extract and beat on high for 30 seconds. With the mixer running on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter, until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Immediately divide the batter between the prepared cake pans, spreading evenly. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

(Original cake recipe that I changed a bit found here)

Maple Butter Cream Icing

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened

2-3 cups of powdered sugar

1 1/2  tsp. maple extract

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2-3/4 tsp. salt (This may seem like a lot for an icing recipe, but it gives it such a good flavor, like a salted caramel mocha)

2-3  tbsp. half and half or milk

(If you have a standing mixer, you’ll want to use it for the buttercream.)

In a large bowl or 5-qrt standing mixer cream butter & maple extract until smooth.  Add powdered sugar 2 cups at a time, blending well after cup. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Once all the sugar is added, beat on medium speed for 5-7 minutes. Around minute 4 or 5 you’ll notice your buttercream getting very fluffy which means you’re almost there. Add 1-2 tbsp cream or milk if your frosting is too thick. The icing shouldn’t be too stiff. To determine, pull the beater out of the buttercream. It needs to slightly shift or slowly fall off the beater. If it barely moves you’ll need to add some liquid & beat for another minute.

Are you still sitting here?  GO!  Make the cake!

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Whole Chicken and Chicken Stock in the Crockpot

I get asked about this recipe quite often.  It was handed down to me from a friend when Hubby and I first got married and were strapped for cash and really needing to make the most of every dollar in our grocery budget.

It is simple.  It is fairly inexpensive.  It is oh so tasty.

Pretty much right up my ally.

You will need a large crock pot for this recipe.

Whole Chicken in a Crockpot


1 3-5 lb. whole chicken fryer

any herbs and spices you’d like

1 cup of water


At night before going to bed (Or early morning after you wake up), take chicken out of plastic wrap and place into crock pot.  Pour 1 cup of water into crockpot with chicken.  Sprinkle any herbs or spices you’d like over the top and into water.  (I usually use a combo of black pepper, oregano,  majorum, basil, parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder.) Turn crockpot on Low setting and let cook for 10-12 hours.

Thats it!  You will have a whole chicken cooked by morning.  The following is how I usually handle the chicken after it is cooked, but you could start this at 7am and use it for dinner at 5pm, but I prefer to use the meat diced up in soups and casseroles, etc.

In the morning, after 10-12 hours cooking time on low, turn crock pot off and take lid off, allowing to cool.  Take half the chicken out and place on a large plate or dish and separate the meat from the bones and skin.  Place the leftover bones and skin in a dish because you will use these to make another batch of chicken stock.  Repeat with the second half of chicken.  Place the meat on a cutting board and dice up to be used in casseroles, soups, stir fry, chicken salads, etc.  I usually freeze in small plastic baggies in one cup portions.

In a bowl place a strainer and pour the liquid from the crockpot into the bowl, straining out the leftover pieces of chicken.  Place the liquid which is now chicken stock, into the refrigerator. (keep reading for further instruction)

To make the second batch of chicken stock:

Place the leftover bones and skin back into the crockpot and cover with fresh water.  Add 1 tbps. vinegar and any more herbs or spices you’d like.  Cook for 24 hrs. on low.  Repeat the straining and cooling process.

Once the broth is cooled the fat will rise to the top and you can scrap it off with a spoon and store it in an air tight container for up to two weeks (or longer in the freezer) to be used for sauteing veggies or as a base for soups (It works GREAT as a substitute for chicken bullion, since it has such a condensed chicken flavor.) Also you will notice that once cooled, the stock will become some what gelatinous…or like jello.  This is normal and actually means its REALLY good for you so do not be nervous.

The stock can be frozen in 1 cup portions to be used in recipes.  I freeze it in two cup portions in glass jars, leaving a good 1-2 inches freezing room at the top.

And there you have it.  This is about as frugal as it gets friend!


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My Minestrone

When I was pregnant with Little Man, I remember craving Olive Garden’s minestrone soup the whole winter. So I came up with this recipe that would curb my craving for so much less than $7.00 a bowl! I forgot about the recipe until yesterday. The craving was back! So we made it for lunch today…soooo yummy. Here it is for your enjoyment:

My Minestrone Soup Recipe

1 tbsp. fat (I use rendered chicken fat from my homemade chicken broth and it gives the soup so much flavor. Like boulion without the MSG. You could use butter or any oil as well.)
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
1- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked diced or shredded chicken
2 cups cooked red beans (can also use white beans)
1/2 tsp.: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
3-4 tsp. salt (this sounds like a lot but for us it flavors it just right. You may put in two and taste it, then salt to your preference)
2 cups uncooked noodles
1 handful of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, optional

In a large soup pot, saute onions in fat until semi translucent over med. heat. Add celery and carrots and saute another 2-3 min. Add garlic and cook another 2 min. stirring periodically. Add in herbs, 2 tsp. salt, red pepper, tomatoes, bay leaf, water and broth. Stir and bring to a low boil. Turn heat down to med. low, cover pot, and simmer 15 min. Add uncooked noodles, beans, and chicken, bring back up to a low boil and cook the additional amount of time for the noodles to be just al dente (it will depend on the type of noodles you choose. We used Barilla Plus penne noodles so I cooked for an additional 10 min.) When noodles have reached al dente, removed pot from heat. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle several tbsp. of chopped spinach over each bowl and sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over that. You can also stir the spinach into the pot of soup at the very end if you want to disguise the greens a bit for picky eaters 🙂

Such a wonderful warm, broth-y soup to enjoy of a cool Fall day!

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Most Delicious Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffin Recipe…Ever

I have been trying to find the perfect pumpkin muffin recipe for at least 3 years. I finally found it. And I am here to share it with YOU! This recipe is an adaptation of an already yummy recipe found here at Passionate Homemaking.

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe (makes 20-24 muffins)

2 cups pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling)

2 cups sucanat

1/2 cup salted butter, melted (1 stick)

1/4 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil)

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

4 eggs

3 cups whole wheat flour (I used 2 1/2 cups hard red wheat flour and 1/2 cup soft white wheat…it made the PERFECT consistency.  You could also sub in spelt flour for the soft white wheat flour)

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large mixing bowl combine pumpkin puree, oil, butter, applesauce, eggs, and sucanat.  Mix well.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  Gently fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture using a rubber spatula and no more than 5-10 very light folds. (I think this is KEY to getting light fluffy, crumbly muffins.  Keeping the mixing to a minimum keeps the gluten from developing, which is important in a muffin recipe) Grease a muffin pan and fill muffin cups nearly full of batter.  Bake  at 350 for 20-25 min. or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin in the center of the pan comes out clean.

Enjoy!  I am telling you these things are DANGEROUSLY good, especially hot out of the oven with a little butter or coconut oil…mmmm.

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Bulk Strawberries, Freezing and Jam making

This post is a little sad for me to write up…because during the Great Power Outage of 2011, all my frozen strawberries…thawed. And I may have wanted to cry a little. But didn’t.

None the less, this is a good thing for our family to do yearly, given that we do not have a massive almost week long power outage immediately following the completion of sed work 🙂

To freeze a bulk amount of strawberries, we picked a large amount of fresh ripe strawberries.

Make sure to complete the following steps within 24-48 hours after picking because fresh strawberries turn fast!

Wash all strawberries.

Or forget about child labor laws and have your toddler do it 🙂

Cut the tops off the strawberries and place on a lined freezer safe baking sheet.  I used a cookie sheet.

Place in freezer and freeze solid over night.  Remove from freezer and place individually frozen strawberries in freezer safe plastic bags.  Label and date bags.  The step of freezing on trays keeps them from freezing into one massive blob of strawberry-ness. Then you can pull out a few for a smoothie or a few cups for a dessert, etc.

Little Man also helped me make Freezer Jam.  I love this recipe because it doesn’t require that you cook the berries at all so you keep all their nutrients!  Yummy!

Also, don’t forget to make a few delicious desserts right away.  Those strawberries are begging to be enjoyed with sugar okay?

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Delicious Healthy Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

I know its February and far from those first crisp fall days…but we have a lot of frozen pumpkin puree that I am still playing with…so here’s a recently perfected recipe for you!

I have been tweaking an all ready very tasty pumpkin bread recipe to substitute all whole wheat flour for the all-purpose white flour and some form of less processed sweetener instead of white sugar. After several attempts, I think I am finally happy with the results.

Actually we may be a little bit addicted to the results, since we ate an entire loaf and then some, in 4 days…

I found that using part soft white wheat flour (pastry flour) and increasing the leavening agent (baking powder) by almost three times what the original recipe called for, it made the perfect consistency for what you would expect from pumpkin bread.

I think increasing the leavening agent in almost any recipe you are trying to convert to whole wheat by at least double is a good idea, as whole wheat tends to produce a more dense product.

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups sucanat

2 cups hard white wheat flour

1 1/2 cup soft white wheat (you could use all hard white whole wheat flours if you don’t have access to soft white wheat or whole wheat ‘pastry’ flour)

3 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. nutmeg

2/3 cup water

4 eggs (room temperature)

2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie mix)

1/2 cup coconut oil (can use another oil if unavailable)

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Mix dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl mix the liquid ingredients.   Pour wet into dry and mix.  Divide in half by pouring equal parts into two greased loaf pans (I use olive oil to grease my pans.)  Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean.

Makes 2 9×13 loaves

This bread freezes very well!

I have also made these in my mini loaf pan and bakes for just under an hour (45 min. or so) and gave them away as Christmas gifts to our neighbors.   It could also work in muffin tins.

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