Escape to Hawaii on a Thursday Night

Last night, I decided to make some banana bread to use up a bunch of overripe bananas.  While it was baking Michael ran to the store to pick up a video for us and a few grocery items.

The video he chose was Soul Surfer, based on the true story of a teenaged girl in Hawaii who was attacked by a shark while surfing and lived to tell about it.  It was a pretty enjoyable and inspiring story and movie.

He also picked us up some dark chocolate macadamia nuts (from Hawaii) as a treat to go with the movie.

And the banana bread that I made was a recipe called Hawaiian Banana Bread.

After the movie, we went to bed in our palm tree (Hawaiin themed set) sheets to the sweet sounds of a ukulele playing gently in the background (ok, I made up that part).

So not even planning to, we got to escape to Hawaii on a Thursday night.  Perhaps making up for the fact that we didn't get there for our 10 year anniversary as we had originally planned.

And for those of you that want to try a delicious treat from the islands, here is the recipe for my moist banana bread!  I made some changes this time which I will also include.

Hawaiian Banana Bread (or Pina Colada Bread)

  1. 2 cups sugar (half brown) (I used Turbinado or sugar in the raw instead of white)
  2. 1 1/4 cup oil (I used applesauce instead).
  3. 3 beaten eggs
  4. 2 cups mashed banana (5 medium)
Blend these first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix together the following:
  1. 3 cups flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 all purpose)
  2. 1 tsp. soda
  3. 1 tsp. salt
  4. 1 tsp. cinnamon
 And the dry mixture gradually to the above.

Fold in a drained 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple and 3/4 cup of shredded coconut (this was a new addition and is optional).

Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until tester toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean/dry.

Aloha and enjoy!


A Little "Healthish" Comfort Food for Fall

With a new month starting tomorrow, the air becoming crisper in the morning and at night and school being back in full swing, I can't help but get excited about our upcoming season.  One of my very favorites...Fall.  It is quite a welcome and refreshing break after such a long and sweltering summer.

I really appreciate living in a place now where I experience an actual change of seasons.  It's really gorgeous to see the leaves change colors and fall to the ground in their crunchy glory.  I love the smells of my favorite Amish Pumpkin bread and Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins baking in the oven, the warmth of hot coffee and the kid's cocoa in the morning, and the feel of the chill in the air.

At Lucas' request and to celebrate the coming of Fall, I made an easy, new and tasty recipe the other night.  And because I am a nice person, I am going to share it with you now.

Quick & Easy Italian Meatball Soup

Start to Finish: 25 minutes  Makes: 4 servings

  1. 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic, undrained
  2. 1 14 oz. can reduced-sodium beef broth or 1 3/4 cups homemade beef broth
  3. 1 1/2 cups water
  4. 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  5. 1/2 of a 16 oz. package of Italian-style frozen cooked meatballs
  6. 1 cup of frozen loose-pack mixed veggies (I probably doubled this and used three different kinds that included broccoli, peppers, corn, peas, zucchini, carrot coins, etc.).  Next time, I plan to add some fresh spinach at the end, too.
  7. 1/2 cup of small dried pasta (such as ditalini, macaroni, or orzo)
  8. 1 Tbsp, shredded or grated Parmesan (optional)
  9. Fresh basil to taste (optional)
In a large saucepan, combine undrained tomatoes, broth, water and Italian seasoning.  Bring to a boil.  Add meatballs, frozen veggies and pasta.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes or until veggies and pasta are tender.  If desired, sprinkle each serving with Parmesan.

My whole family loved it which says a lot, as kids can often be hard to please.  Even picky Emily was telling me that I am the best cook in the world.

Next time, I will try to take a photo to include in the post.  The pasta sucked up all of the broth, so it looks kind of scary and unappetizing in the fridge now.  I suggest draining the broth out and storing it separately in your leftovers (if you have any).

Enjoy and happy almost Fall!!


It's Seriously Time for a Post

So, having taken more than 6 months off of blogging, I suppose that I should post something before my blog goes inactive and is shut down.  Would they actually do this I wonder?  Probably not, but as a rule follower, I am not going to take any chances.

What's new with me?  Well, I'll tell you...
  • We had a seriously great summer which included 5 trips for me (Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada City, Pollock Pines, and San Francisco). 3 were me alone with family or friends, 1 was Michael and I and 1 was with the kids.  Last summer stunk.  I worked mostly full time and didn't have much fun.  This year more than made up for it.
  • Michael turned 40!  And he is still cool and doesn't seem like an old dude yet, which is a relief since I am much, much younger;-). 
  • We just celebrated 11 years of wedded bliss.  Ok, so it hasn't all been bliss, but it's been a pretty great but, wild ride.  In 11 years, we've "owned" 3 homes, lived in 2 states, lost a job and obtained a masters degree (him), and had 3 children (me).  We even trained for and ran a marathon together pre-kids.  This is what I accredit to giving me arthritis (knees), but was entirely worth it.
  • I have 2 kids in school now.  Lucas started 1st grade and Emily started Kindergarten.  They are loving it, but tired as they adjust to the new schedule.  Emily especially as she was accustomed to napping everyday and is in school now at nap time.  The other day, I told her that it was an early school day and we were going to come home and nap.  I expected that she would fight that, but instead said, "Good!  I've been so tired." 
  • I am about to officially become a "soccer mom."  I signed Lucas up for a city "Kidz Love Soccer" program.  It is more of a class to teach them drills and how to play than an actual team.  It will let us test the waters of the sport before we commit to spending several days a week on it.  So really I will be more of a poser soccer mom than an actual one, but maybe someday...
  • I still do childcare part-time and work part-time at our church.  I'm also trying to figure out a way that I can volunteer in both kid's classrooms (but need to find a solution for what to do with Clara).
  • I am eager for the weather to cool off and fall to begin.  I can't wait to see the leaves change, eat all things pumpkin and wear long sleeves again.
  • I started up a women's group this Spring.  It's a group of women whose husbands are all in a men's group together.  It has been fun to have this social outlet and time out with girls!  Looking forward to starting up again in the fall.  With the busy summer, we had taken time off.
  • I am starting up a new exercise regime.  Mike and I are doing some kind of workout together a couple/few days a week and I am starting to run in the morning with a friend one morning and walk one evening per week.
I am sure that there is more, but my husband is ready to have a wine on the porch date with me.  No, not whine on the porch.

Here's to hoping that I won't let 6+ months slip away without another blog.  I need to practice if I ever want to write that book with "pages that sparkle."  That is my new goal after reading The Brothers K, the book I just finished.  One of the reviewers described it as such and I thought, I want to do that.  I want to write something that makes people imagine and weep and somehow changes their lives (for the better).  Maybe someday...


One Loved Bear

Beneso (pronounced Ben E So) has had a rich life for a stuffed bear.  He has been my precious bear for 32 years.  After years of being my favorite (I think that I even took him off to college with me), I passed him on to my son when he was a toddler.  Lucas, almost 6, sleeps with him by his side or even lays on him every night.  And he generously shares Beneso with his little sister, Clara, who calls the bear "Nutho" and lovingly drags him around with her during the day.

When I was young, I was convinced that my Beneso was real.  Well now I know that he is...just like the skin horse described when asked by the Velveteen Rabbit the question "What is real?"  His reply was: "Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Maybe Beneso wasn't alive back then, but he surely is real now.  This shabby bear sure has been loved and has years of love left in him, if he can only stay in one piece.


Clara's Vices

It is so easy not to blog anymore. There are a million other things that are pulling at me...but let me give it another try. Seeing that the last post was a summer recipe, it has clearly been awhile.

Today, I got to experience what being the mother of a blanket baby sounds like. Clara's been into her blankie (a cute duckie one that a friend, Anna, made for Emily when she was an infant)for a month or so now. It's really sweet to see how she cradles it, drags it around with her, cuddles with it while sucking her thumb. She calls to it when it is not around "DUCK!" Sounds more like "Guck," I think.

Well this morning, I decided that it was time to wash her bedding, including her blankie. I did not tread gently, waiting for her to put it down. I just marched right up and took it, telling her that I needed to wash it.

Poor Clara cried at the washing machine for a while. Pointing and yelling for her "Guck." She didn't seem to care when I showed her that it was all wet and soapy.

I ran up to her room and attempted to find her a substitute blankie while hers was out of commission. None of them appealed to her. Soon the tears dried and she moved off to do something else. But a couple hours later when she had her "Guck" back all fresh and warm out of the dryer, you should have seen her face. She danced with it. I played a game of taking it away from her and she squealed and giggled. And the kid could hardly concentrate on eating her lunch because she wanted to get her blankie back.

Yes, my kid has an addiction. A couple in fact...she's a cute thumb sucker. But I love that about her. I love the way she is. Her little things are what make Clara, my little punk.


A Sensational Summer Sandwich

Tonight I made an awesome new recipe that I had to share.

Fruited Tuna Salad Pitas

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. honey
1 can (12 oz) white, water packed tuna, drained
1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges, drained
1 medium apple, chopped
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/8 tsp. salt
4 whole wheat pita breads
2-3/4 cups alfalfa sprouts

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise and honey. Stir in the tuna, oranges, apples, pecans, celery, cranberries and salt. Serve on pita breads with sprouts.

I toasted my pita bread and served the salad in them, instead of on top of them.

They were super, light and you couldn't really tell that it was tuna because it was so sweet. I'll bet that it would also be good with chicken and served on croissants.

I am trying two more recipes this week: Ratatouille with Polenta and Bacon Chicken Sandwiches so stay tuned...

Next time I will try to remember to take a photo before I inhale it:).


Two Posts in a Day--NO WAY!

So, after several requests for the recipe for our tasty dinner the other night...I decided to post it here. I got it from my favorite cooking magazine, Taste of Home's "Simple & Delicious." I had it for lunch again today and it was perhaps even better. Quiche makes an excellent leftover! Too bad the picky kids didn't like it. Oh well. I ate most of their leftovers...who can let awesome deliciousness go to waste?? Unfortunately, I overdid it a little. Must exercise tonight to make up for gorging!

Spinach & Bacon Hash Brown Quiche

3 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/4 cup of butter, melted
6 bacon strips, diced
1 small onion, chopped
3 eggs
1 cup half-and-half cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Press hash browns between paper towels to remove excess moisture; toss with butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-in. pie plate. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are browned.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon and onion over medium heat until bacon is crisp (maybe 10-15 minutes...it was hard for me to tell), Remove to paper towels to drain. In a large bowel, combine the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach, cheeses and bacon mixture; pour into crust.

Bake at 350 degrees (remember to turn your oven on now...this is a very important step;-)for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.


I think that I will start regularly posting good recipes that I have tried. Also I would like to host a monthly cooking club where we try out new recipes, each bring ingredients and share in our treats. Any locals interested in joining me on a culinary adventure? Julia and Julia inspired me and I even bought Julia Child's cookbook, so we could try our hand at some fancier things, too.

Sisterly Love

It's been so long since I've blogged that I almost forgot how to log in. I am so accustomed to using Facebook now for quick updates that it hurts my head a little to think of blogging again, but...it's been 5 months so it's time for a little something.

In the early days of having a new little sister, Emily wasn't quite sure what to make of her. I think that she was having some jealousy issues. I asked her once if we should take Clara back...just to see what she said. And to my surprise, she said "YES!" I explained that Clara was our little baby and we had her for good. She is a precious member of our family.

Since then, Emily has warmed to Clara and often wants to hug and kiss and touch her. Emily must have touch as her primary love language. She also regularly loudly exclaims "You are BEAUTIFUL!!" which makes her little sister giggle and smile. Perhaps Emily likes words of affirmation, too:).

Recently, though, she revisited her early desire to get rid of her sister. "Mama, can we take Clara back and get a pet like a doggy or kitty instead?" I think that this came up because the kids have been asking me for a pet and I have said that we will have to wait until Clara is older so that mama can handle it. And her logic is, if we just ditch the sister, I can get me a puppy!

Gotta love kids. They keep me on my toes.