Exit 34 in North Bend, Washington. Just 30 minutes east of Seattle on I-90. 10 minutes away from Snoqualmie Falls & Snoqualmie Casino.

Streusel-Topped Banana Bread With Maple Frosting Recipe

It’s been a long time since I’ve made banana bread. I keep tossing brown bananas into my freezer for smoothies but it’s been even longer since I’ve made smoothies so the freezer is too full for more bananas. I was simply forced to make banana bread this week. I didn’t really have a choice when it came to the streusel or the maple frosting either. You see, once you go streusel and frosting, you can’t ever go back.

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Cannot. Get. Enough. Streusel.

Banana Bread Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs, bananas, fresh lemon juice, flour, baking powder, salt, chopped walnuts. Mix well.

Makes one large loaf. Butter and then flour a bread pan. Fill pan with banana goodness. Top with streusel.

Streusel Recipe:

  • 1/2 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup of uncooked oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small egg
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Pulse in small amounts in food processor, watching texture to be sure it clumps only in pea-sized bits or a little larger. If you place food processor on low, the streusel will become doughy. Paying attention to these details is how we bake with love. Sprinkle oatsy, nutty goodness all over top of loaves.

Bake for about 1 hour or until a fork inserted comes out clean. Do not over-bake or bread will become dry. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes and then make maple frosting.

Maple Frosting Recipe:

  • 1 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons maple extract
  • 2 teaspoons water (add more a little at a time if needed)

Place powdered sugar, maple extract and water in a medium bowl and whisk until all lumps from powdered sugar are dissolved. Drizzle daintally yet liberally over your banana bread.

Now I shall be making blueberry mango smoothies to make up for this streusel-y, maple-y goodness. You know, tomorrow.

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Waldorf Salad Recipe

It appears I am not the only person on the planet who has the gift of making incredibly healthy food unhealthy. I am happy to carry on the tradition which has obviously been going on for decades. The proof? The Waldorf Salad – a must for every holiday table and a perfect snack if there are leftovers.

 

  • Waldorf Salad Dressing Recipe
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Stir together and allow to rest so sugar can dissolve while chopping salad ingredients.

Waldorf Salad Recipe

  • Waldorf Salad Dressing (above)
  • 4 cups chopped honeycrisp or cameo apples
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of red & green grapes cut in half (optional)

Stir all ingredients together and place on a pretty platter or bowl. If you like, sprinkle with a few more chopped walnuts.

Merry healthy, unhealthy Christmas and may your tables be filled with an abundance of lovely food and joyful relatives and friends this year. Thank you for reading. I love you.

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Yeast Biscuits and Country Gravy Recipe

When I am at my normal post, you will not see biscuits and gravy at the inn… until today. Today, the gravy was made with fresh herbs. Today, the biscuits were light and fluffy and moist. Today was lovely.

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Serves at least 10 people with leftover biscuits to have later – you know, warmed with butter and honey.

Yeast Biscuit Recipe

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup Crisco shortening
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or almost 2 cups of milk with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar stirred into it to create buttermilk)

Place yeast, warm water and sugar in a small bowl. Swirl around and let sit in a warm place while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Place flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and shortening in a large bowl and blend together using a pastry cutter or a fork until shortening is about the size of peas.

Stir buttermilk and yeast mixture into flour mixture.

There are a couple of ways to form the biscuits:

  1. Place a little flour on counter and roll out about to 1 inch thick, depending on how thick you’d like the biscuits to be. Dust off excess flour and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Drop biscuits onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper using a spoon – about 1/2 cup per biscuit for large size.

Bake about 15 minutes or until light golden brown and done in the middle.

Enjoy with butter & strawberry jam or honey butter or gravy or any way you like. These are the moistest biscuits you’ve ever had and they keep very well. 

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Sausage Gravy Recipe

  • 3 pounds country sausage
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups milk
  • House seasonings (like Lawry’s, Spike or Johnny’s Seasoning)
  • Sea salt & pepper
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme, minced
  • Leaves from 3 sprigs of oregano, minced
  • Leaves from 1/2 sprig of rosemary, minced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a very large frying pan on medium-high heat, crumble and cook the country sausage until nearly done cooking. Add in diced onion and cook until onion is translucent. Sprinkle in flour to create the gravy roux. Stir and cook for a few minutes (important because the flour taste cooks out within these few minutes). The flour might look like it has disappeared, but it’s just waiting to do it’s magic. pour in water and stir. Pour in milk and stir. Gravy will thicken when liquids heat up. After gravy has thickened, reduce heat to medium. Season gravy to your liking – this is sometimes tricky because gravy can start out very bland. Just keep adding salt a little at a time until you reach the perfect level for you. Your gravy shouldn’t end up tasting like salt. The salt is there to enhance all the other flavors that are hiding. Stir in fresh herbs, sour cream and cheese (country gravy will never be the same). Cook until cheese & sour cream have melted. Gravy is ready to serve.

Cut biscuits in half and place on plate. Cover with about 1 1/2 cups gravy. If desired, serve with a fried egg on top.

Great served with fresh fruit or berries on the side… you know, to lighten things up.

Note: This biscuit recipe is known as Paula Deen’s recipe but has actually been around a long time & is found in many old cookbooks.

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How to Make Perfect Scrambled Eggs

How to Make Perfect Scrambled Eggs

Sometimes seemingly simple things aren’t so simple. one of the most common and delicious dishes in all of the breakfast kingdom is scrambled eggs. It’s easy to end up with not enough eggs, eggs that are overcooked or maybe you just have a case of the blahs. Here’s an easy, gourmet twist on this breakfast comfort food just on time for Christmas.

Scrambled Eggs With Fresh Herbs

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Sea salt & fresh ground pepper
  • Leaves from 5 springs of fresh thyme, minced
  • Leaves from 1 sprig of fresh basil, minced
  • Leaves from 1/2 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 cup fully cooked shredded ham (optional)
  • 3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated

Heat olive oil in a large, non-stick pan over medium heat then add onions. Cook onions, while stirring occasionally, until translucent. Make sure your non-stick pan is in great condition so that it truly is non-stick. Never use metal utensils with non-stick pans.

In a medium-large bowl, combine eggs, water, salt & pepper. With my salt shaker, I plan on three shakes per egg plus a few more shakes for the added water (what I normally add to one fried egg). Test your salt shaker and then plan accordingly the amount you need per egg when making scrambled eggs. Whip eggs until combined and golden using a fork and your wrist action – I find this gives me more control than using a whisk. It’s good to lift the fork often as you whip the eggs to incorporate as much air as possible into them.

After onions are translucent and eggs are well-beaten, turn heat to medium-high and add eggs to pan. Use a turner to scrape bottom of pan clean as you stir the eggs. The longer they cook, the less often you stir. When eggs are still a bit wet but starting to firm, turn heat to medium again and add minced herbs (save some for the top when eggs are finished cooking if you like), and ham. End cooking by taking large amounts of the eggs and flipping over gently… this will prevent your scrambled eggs from falling into tiny pieces and unbecoming. If serving right away, sprinkle with grated Gruyère and add about a tablespoon of water into the pan. Cover with a lid right away  to create steam and serve after cheese has melted.

You can tell when your eggs are over-cooked when they begin to turn brown and they will have a different smell. Burnt egg smell is unique, so train yourself to recognize it and you’ll be golden – no pun intended.

If your serving time has been delayed or you would like to cook the eggs early, you can place them on a baking sheet when the eggs are firm but still undercooked. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with foil (should fit loosely on top so cheese doesn’t stick to it but tight around sides to keep moisture in & prevent over-cooked eggs). Bake in oven heated to 170F for longer wait or 200F for 10 minutes or less.

If you saved some minced herbs, sprinkle over the melted cheese and serve. Bask in the compliments.

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Braised Chicken With Dried Cherry Compote

What is gorgeous and festive and scrumptious and festive? Why, braised chicken with dried cherry compote, of course. She is sexy upon a plate of arugula and impressive for your guests. Doubled or tripled, she is perfect for a shindig – for she is a party on a plate and in your mouth.

Braised Chicken With Dried Cherry Compote

Braised Chicken Recipe

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 chicken, fabricated (cut into pieces)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Leaves from about 8 fresh thyme stems
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-safe pot over medium heat. Brown the chicken pieces a few pieces at a time. After skin is golden brown on all sides, set chicken pieces aside.

Add onion to remaining olive oil and cook until somewhat translucent. Add the chicken back into the pan and enough chicken stock to come to about 1/2 the way up the chicken. Sprinkle with thyme leaves, salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer, cover lightly with foil and bake at 350F for about 60 minutes or until middle of the breasts are 165 degrees on meat thermometer. Remove from oven when done.

Dried Cherry Compote Recipe

  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup chardonnay wine
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Cook onion in oil in saucepan over medium heat until somewhat translucent. Add sugar and balsamic vinegar. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes while stirring until sugar mixture turns a golden caramel. Carefully add  wine and salt. Continue to boil, stirring for a minute or so. Add dried cherries and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally, until liquid has reduced down to become syrupy, about 45 minutes. Add water. For a sweet and spicy zing, add a 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper to compote at the same time as adding the water. Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When chicken is done baking, place on a platter and top with dried cherry compote. ‘Tis lovely served with Swedish rye bread.

She is sweet and saucy.  She will not disappoint. Plus, you get to use the word “compote” when telling your guests about her and that is always most impressive.

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Ham and Great Northern Bean Soup

The word “blizzard” has been tossed about in the northwest today. The wind is wildly dancing outside and it is likely that we will get a mix of rain, wind and snow for a few days. The media shall stir things up worse than the mighty wind and midwestern relatives will call to be sure we’re okay. We will tell them we have 2 inches of snow and they will laugh and the world will be okay again. Hot soup is the only remedy.

Ham & Great Northern Bean Soup Recipe

HAM & GREAT NORTHERN BEAN SOUP RECIPE

  • 1 pound great northern beans, picked over, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups water for soaking + 7 cups water for cooking
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large smoked ham hocks, (or 1 pound smoked ham, shredded or diced)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place beans and 6 cups of water in a large bowl. Discard any beans that float to the top of the water. Soak overnight (or 7-8 hours).

After soaking time is done, drain beans and set aside.

Braise ham hocks in olive oil over medium high heat on all sides (skip this step if not using ham hocks). Remove ham hocks from heat and set aside. Place chopped onion into remaining olive oil and cook until onions are golden or somewhat translucent. Add minced garlic if desired.

Pour about seven cups of water into the pot with onions. Add beans then ham hocks (or ham) back into pan as well.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about an hour. Add celery and carrots. Add salt & pepper to taste. Cook for another 30-60 minutes – until done. If using ham hocks, remove and allow to cool to the touch. Remove ham from them and place ham pieces back into soup.

Yes, we Seattlites will never make friends with the snow. Soup, on the other hand, well, it makes everything okay. Add corn muffins smothered in honey butter and blizzard? What blizzard?

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Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

It is Christmas cookie baking time. Some adore this season and try to make the fanciest of the fanciest cookies and as many varieties as possible. I’m here to tell you that it can be easier. There is no need to hyperventilate before the next cookie exchange party. Make these classic beauties and you’ll be just as popular as all of the insane bakers.

THUMBPRINT COOKIE RECIPE:

  • 1 cup butter (or two sticks)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • If making chocolate filled: Chocolate thumbprint filling (recipe below)
  • If making jelly filled: 8 ounces raspberry (or your fav) jelly or jam – don’t use preserves

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg & salt, then flour. Combine until a nice dough. Scoop using a cookie scoop onto baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Press down centers with thumb or back of cookie scoop while taking care to not let edges crack (so that filling will remain in the middle later) or for “thumbprint” to go down to deep (to prevent cookies from breaking easily from being too weak in the middle).  Bake for about 10 minutes or until you can see they’re turning light golden brown on the bottom.  Make chocolate filling while waiting.

CHOCOLATE THUMBPRINT COOKIE FILLING RECIPE:

  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Hershey’s dark cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons hot water

Stir ingredients until smooth. If needed add fourth tablespoon of water. Place in a decorating bag and squirt into centers of cookies when they’re done baking. Use care as to not overfill.

Fill with jelly or chocolate frosting right after they come out of the oven. Jelly is easier to work with when stirred first. Allow to cool & box up to deliver Christmas joy.

For more Christmas: Before pressing down, roll cookie dough balls in candies or glitters or nuts or… oh wait. Starting to sound like one of those insane bakers. I’ll stop now.

One batch makes 30 cookies.

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Homemade Danish Pastries Recipe

Ever since we were featured on Evening Magazine, this has been my most requested recipe. It simply whisked across the screen for 30 seconds and people were in love. I don’t blame them.

I figure I’ve frosted 58,923 of these in my lifetime so far. They were popular at Scandia Bakery when I worked there many years ago and I made it one of my life goals to try to recreate them. You know, because I missed frosting them every day. My goal has been achieved and I am regifting them to you this Christmas.

You’re welcome. I’m sorry. You’re welcome.

DANISH RECIPE:

  • 5 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110F or cooler)
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar (divided)
  • 3/4 cup of instant mashed potatoes stirred together with 3/4 cup of warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk (110F or cooler)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • About 7 cups all-purpose flour

Place 1 tablespoon of sugar,  yeast and warm water into a large bowl. Give a little swirl and let sit for about 10 minutes to become foamy.

After foaminess has developed, whisk in remaining 1 cup of sugar, instant mashed potatoes (mixed with the 3/4 cup water), milk, eggs & shortening. Mix until well combined and shortening is about the size of peas. Finally, stir in salt.

Continue mixing with a wooden spoon and add a couple of cups of flour.

Slowly continue adding a cup or two of flour at a time. When you can no longer stir the dough easily with a spoon, begin kneading in the remaining flour. You can keep it in the bowl while doing this or on the counter – whichever you find easiest for you.  Knead by hand for about 5 minutes or until dough is somewhat elastic.

Cover with a clean warm, damp towel and let dough sit in a warm place for about an hour or until dough has doubled in size. This can sometimes take longer in the winter because of the weather so be sure to place dough in a warm place.

Turn happily risen dough onto flour covered countertop. Coat dough with a little bit of flour so it’s easier to work with and punch down. Form into circles or long ovals. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Use fingers to press down and spread out dough into shape and size you would like them to be.  Makes up to 24 regular-sized danishes depending on what size you make them. You can also make minis for parties, brunches & teas. They make a lovely spread when filled with different kinds of toppings. Minis are my favorite.

If baking on same day, let sit on tray in a warm place for an hour or doubled in size.  If making the night before, cover with non-stick spray coated saran wrap and place in fridge. After removing from fridge, allow to sit out for about 20 minutes before filling.

Press centers of danishes down to make room for fillings, then brush each danish with a well-beaten egg.

FILLING IDEAS:

  • Cherry & cream cheese (Pictured above. See cream cheese filling recipe below.)
  • Boysenberry & cream cheese
  • Apricot
  • Strawberry & lemon
  • Lemon & cream cheese
  • Apple

You can use homemade or store-bought pie fillings or jelly.

CREAM CHEESE FILLING RECIPE:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Blend together until smooth and creamy. Apply to danishes using a pastry bag.

TO FINISH DANISH:

After danishes are formed, add filling or fillings of choice to each one. Top with streusel.

STREUSEL RECIPE:

  • 1 stick of butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2/3 cup of powdered sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg
Place streusel ingredients into food processor and press pulse until combined but still crumbly (about the size of peas). Sprinkle onto filled danishes generously.

Bake in preheated oven at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until light golden brown.

Remove danishes from oven when done baking and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Drizzle frosting over danishes and add extra on edges of danish.

FROSTING RECIPE:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Stir together until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Here’s to the next 58,923 perfectly frosted danishes. Merry Christmas.

 

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How to Use Print Friendly

Because I love trees. Because I know you’d like to save money on printer ink. Because as much as I’m sure you love my awkward notes in the middle of my recipe posts but don’t necesarily want to print them. I’ve written this post to help you get the most out of “Print Friendly”.

Print Friendly can be found at the bottom of every blog post here. It is more powerful than some might even realize.

 

Today, we’re printing up a peanut butter ball recipe – a Christmas favorite. When you scroll to the bottom of the post, you will see the green “Print Friendly” at the very, very end. Click that.

But before you print, you might as well trim down the fat. I mean, peanut butter balls aren’t exactly lean. See that check mark in the box on the top right? You can click that to remove the images. And just like that, you shall save 11 trees and 40 boxes of ink.

To save even more, hover your mouse over anything that isn’t important. Whatever is highlighted will be removed when you click on “Click to delete”. Hallelujah. I mean, will you really care that I ran out of peanut butter while making these babies in 2009? I think not, so save another tree by getting rid of my chitter chatter.

Finally, when you’re done trimming off all the extras, go back up and click on “Print” on the top left. You will now have simply the recipe printed for many happy holidays still to come and be surrounded by beautiful trees that you saved. Thank you, “Print Friendly”. Amen.

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Marzipan Candies

Sometimes things look good for you but they’re not. You know, like Caesar salad and sledding from the back of a SUV. And, now, marzipan treats made to look like fruits and vegetables.

I talked my mom into reliving one of my childhood memories this week by remaking these candies that I remember her making when I was little. To color the marzipan, you simply work a bit of food coloring into the marzipan.

Momma’s hands… I had forgotten how messy it is to do.

For the potatoes (my favorite) you make little eyes with a toothpick.

Then roll them into cocoa powder.

Slice just like you would a potato, and then form a pat of butter from the yellow marzipan.

Tips

  • Strawberries: We added mini white bead candies for the speckles. You can also use a bit of sugar instead.
  • Pears: We used a little green and a little yellow food coloring for a nice, light yellowish-green.
  • Stems: We used cloves – which way we placed them in depended on which side looked the most like the stem of the fruit or veggie.
  • Citrus: We used a small grater/zester to create the texture on an orange, lemon or lime.
  • Coloring: Use a wee bit of food coloring on a wee painting brush to create a blushed look on peaches or pears.
  • If the marzipan sits out too long, it will dry out and not be easy to work with. Keep extras in a Ziploc bag until you’re ready to use.

The possibilities are endless. Here is our assortment which includes mini plums, limes, strawberries, lemons, cherries, potatoes, oranges, grapes, apples, peas and pears. They’re an adorable addition to the Christmas table or in a pretty box for a gift. Healthy. But not.

 

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© Deanna Morauski 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013