Tag Archives: cooking

Banana Bread French Toast

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Last time we were in Bakersfield, we were at our favorite breakfast place and I was trying to figure out what to order the kids that they would eat. They were hopped up on treats from Grandma and being extra picky. I saw Banana Bread French Toast on the menu and decided that would probably work.

The kids ate every bite. This was of course because it wasn’t really French Toast. Big cubes of warm banana bread drizzled with syrup and dusted with powdered sugar would probably get any kid to eat. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.

But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the concept since.

So last night I made the banana bread and this morning I turned it into bona fide egg-dipped French toast. And the kids still ate this version too.

For the Banana Bread
•3 mashed bananas
•3/4 cup sugar
•1 1/2 cup flour
•2 tsp baking powder
•1/4 tsp salt
•4oz cream cheese, softened
•1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
•1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine ingredients. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 55-60 min.

Let cool, slice.

For the French Toast
•3 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
•Banana Bread slices
•butter for frying
•sliced almonds and powdered sugar to garnish, optional

Dip the slices in the egg mixture quickly and transfer to hot pan or griddle prepared with butter. Fry on each side until golden. Remove from pan, garnish with almonds and/or powdered sugar and serve.

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Fig and prosciutto three cheese pizza

If you are feeling a little adventurous, I highly recommend this pizza. It might seem a little bit of a strange combination, but it is totally delicious.

My inspiration actually came from a conversation I heard between two checkers at Whole Foods the other day. One said someone checked out in his line with a fig pizza and he thought it was weird. At first I did too.

Then I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. So I started trying to think of what a fig pizza would likely have on it and what tastes good with figs.

When I think of figs I think of fancy cheese platters and prosciutto. So I built on that for my pizza.

Ingredients:
-prosciutto
-grated asiago cheese
-grated Parmesan cheese
-marinated mozzarella, sliced
-figs, sliced
-favorite pizza dough
-favorite pizza base (I actually used some tomato soup because I just made it the night before and couldn’t find pizza sauce at the grocery store, an olive oil garlic herb rub would also be good I think)

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Shape dough, apply base. Place sliced mozzarella over surface of dough. Next, layer fig slices and shreds of prosciutto. Sprinkle grated cheeses over the top. Bake as you would a typical pizza or according to your dough’s instructions.

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Enjoy!

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Apple pancakes

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I was trying to make this apple stuffed pancake recipe that was described on a couple different blogs I found, but when the technique proved too difficult for me, I decided to go another direction.

These are kind of a cross between traditional pancakes and hash browns. I don’t really have a recipe for them to share, but I can describe what I did.

I started out with a basic pancake batter recipe. In my case, I used Jamie Oliver’s one cup pancakes. Then I added grated apples, rolled oats, very thinly sliced almonds and sunflower seeds until the batter was just holding everything together. I spooned it out on the heated pan prepared with butter and flattened with the back of the spoon into a pancake shape. Once browned on one side I flipped it and browned the other side.

They’re pretty hearty with some crunch and lots of texture.

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Edited to add: I guess I was in a bit of a rush to share this recipe. I’ve made these enough times now that I’ve perfected the ingredient amounts. Hope this helps and is a little more specific than my vague instructions above.

-1 cup flour (I am currently using a multigrain mix of whole wheat and leftovers from our gluten-free days, use whatever you have)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 egg
-3/4 cup milk
-2 tbsp maple syrup
-couple dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
-1 or 2 (depends on the size) firm apples or Asian pears
-1/4 cup sunflower seeds
-1/4 cup thinly sliced almonds

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Fun times

Wednesday was my 28th birthday. First thing I thought when I woke up? I have to call Andrea and see what she’s doing. She had hinted at going to an aquarium a few days before and that sounded like fun to me.

I found out she was indeed headed to The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach that morning with her boy, so I asked if we could crash her party. So much fun! This was a really great aquarium and the admission price can’t be beat.

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Our kids were glued to these tanks. So much to see!

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Sea horses!

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Bean is shaking her buns at the shark tank and singing, “Come and bite me, come and bite me, come and bite me now!” I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff.

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The jellies are always fun to look at.

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A King Crab. Bean kept calling all the crabs sea spiders.

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The kids didn’t really like the idea of being stuck in their strollers.

Our weekend also wound up being pretty packed. Started off with some morning snuggles for Bean and Sparrow which is part of our morning routine most days.

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Then our older kids had haircuts with our favorite stylist.

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And then I made sauce. My grandma’s recipe, but totally from scratch (all raw and fresh, organic ingredients) and I left out all the meat.

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The next day we decided to be a little spontaneous after church. So we drove north on the 101. We stopped off in Santa Maria first so that the newest cousins could meet.

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Just a couple months apart, we are sure these boys are going to have many adventures and times of mischief together when the family gathers, just like Stephen and Jon (his dad) did growing up.

And here are five of the seven Wuertz great grandchildren:

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After our visit we headed just a little further north to partake in our favorite clam chowder as a belated celebration for my birthday.

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And a short walk around town before heading back home.

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And we’ll just end there on a positive note because the five hour epic car torture session does not need to be relived.

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I like Jamie

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“Ok, well I have my menu all planned out for the week, so we need to go upstairs and get ready for preschool.”

“I want to make my menu too.”

“What do you want on your menu?”

Pointing to Jamie Oliver: “A guy.”

“A guy?”

“Yeah, who is making this dinner, Mama?”

“His name is Jamie Oliver.”

“Yeah, I like Jamie.”

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Banana Nut Oatmeal

When I was growing up, as a quick breakfast for us girls, my parents often bought the instant oatmeal flavor variety pack. Cinnamon raisin and brown sugar were usually the first flavors gone followed by plain which we would doctor up with a ton of additions and then the banana nut/banana bread (depending on which company you bought it from), would sit and sit and sit. Nobody liked that flavor. I don’t know about my sisters, but for me it was the fake banana taste. I still hate that taste. I used to think I hated bananas because I hated banana flavor.

Anyway, the last few times I’ve had some overripe bananas I’ve made this much more natural (and way better tasting) version of those instant oatmeal flavor packs.

Ingredients:
-1 over-ripe banana
-1 cup rolled oats
-2 cups water
-1 or two handfuls chopped nuts (I used almonds and hazelnuts)
-1 handful of raisins or dried fruit (optional, I like the golden raisin and berry blend from TJs)
-couple large spoonfuls of yogurt
-couple dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
-1 tsp brown sugar
-squirt of honey

Place oats, nuts, honey, cinnamon, sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium low, stirring occasionally until water is absorbed into oats.

Meanwhile mash your banana in a medium bowl. Add in the yogurt and dried fruit. When the oatmeal mixture is ready stir that in too.

Top with fresh fruit, if desired.

Enjoy.

If you really want to splurge and make it sinful, add in a spoonful of Nutella. Just do it when the kids aren’t looking.

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Food journey and values update

A little over a year ago, I did a three part series here on the blog about the role food played in my life growing up and the changes I had made over the years to the way we ate based on books and research I had read.

Part 1: Childhood

Part 2: Teens and Young-Adulthood

Part 3: Up to the then present

I think I felt kind of confident at the time that where we were at was a good place and I didn’t foresee any more major changes in the future. I felt pretty educated about the subject. I was also just kind of “done” on the subject of food research. It can be exhausting looking into all of the information and following rabbit trails. I knew what I knew and I was good with what I knew. I trusted some places and brands over others. I felt I was doing my best with the knowledge, budget, family support, etc. that I had.

Well, a year makes a difference. News stories are written. New books are recommended and written. Things get more complicated. Husbands read books of their own. And blissful ignorance isn’t good enough anymore at some point.

So I sort of feel like now this will be an ever changing and expanding storyline in my life. As I find out more things my values are going to change. There is a Maya Angelou quote, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

So, enough changes have taken place recently in our diet and lives that I have more to share.

The biggest impact on our lives was that Stephen read The Omnivore’s Dilema by Michael Pollan and I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffron Foer.

There have also been numerous articles in various publications over the last year about the FDA, USDA, our country’s food system, farming, pesticides, conglomerates like Monsanto, etc. that have caught our attention and made us think.

In some ways, writing about this seems especially hard because we still don’t have it all figured out. I also don’t want to offend people or make them think that what they are doing isn’t good enough because it is a subject I can get pretty fired up about. Nor do I want to offend those we eat with in our circle of friends and family that may not either share our same values or for whatever reason can’t make the changes that we have made due to their budget or dietary needs, etc. So forgive me if I ramble or don’t seem to have it all together quite yet.

So a year ago we got our dairy, meat and eggs from Trader Joe’s. We joined back up with the CSA Abundant Harvest for our produce. We still ate out at places that were above McDonald’s, but didn’t claim to source their ingredients from organic farms or even any place different than where ever it is that McDonald’s sources their ingredients from. We ate processed food from time to time (snacks mostly), but I did try/have to make a lot of things from scratch due to the kids’ food allergies. We avoided soy (except occasionally in the fermented form of soy sauce) due to things I’d read about phytoestrogens in soy products. We avoided non-traditional fats/oils and instead used mostly real butter and olive oil. We sometimes splurged for grass fed beef, but I had a hard time learning how to cook it and it was expensive so we mostly just got whatever was on sale and marked “organic” at Trader Joe’s. We trusted Trader Joe’s. We trusted labels like “organic” and “free range.” We made little effort beyond the more “superior” grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to find out where our food came from.

And that last line is where all the change comes into our lives. After reading the books we did, neither of us could be comfortable ever again just walking into a grocery store and blindly trusting. We wanted to know.

Google searches led to reports and news articles and farm websites that told us (or went to great efforts to keep secret) where our food was coming from and we didn’t like everything that we found out.

Labels like organic now mean nothing to us if the cows/chickens/hogs are fed the same “organic” non-traditional diet (in other words “organic” corn and soy) as their non-organic counterparts. Or if they are kept in identical claustrophobic factory conditions with a small door where they are allowed to access outdoors, but don’t because they are too sick/obese/etc to be able to do so.

We started eating way less meat/eggs/dairy. We only get meat/eggs/dairy from places that we can find more about and trust that the animals are treated decently, given food they are traditionally supposed to eat and space/lifestyle/habitat/etc. that they are traditionally supposed to be in. Mostly that means we source these things either through our CSA via add-ons to our weekly box (I just discovered they have a whole series of videos about each of the farms), our local farmer’s markets and sometimes Whole Foods carries “local” stuff (an example is that I discovered the chicken our CSA sells from a family farm in Sanger, CA is available at Whole Foods and about $2-3 cheaper).

We have like three places we feel OK about eating out at. We are trying to figure how to eat when we are in social situations with people that don’t eat like us and for whom this is of no concern. It’s daunting sometimes. But I think it’s worth it. I think the changes we are making send a message and have an impact even if it is a fairly small one.

If you want to know more, feel free to comment and ask questions.

And one more thing… Chicken, people… Just Google “chicken fecal soup” and tell me you can be comfortable walking into any grocery store and buying a package of “organic” chicken again (hint, make sure your chicken package says 0% additional moisture, you are welcome).

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