Chocolate Banana Bread

Everyone’s had the typical banana bread, right?  Well, take that and kick it up about 10 notches.  Oh and of course, add some chocolate to that.  It pretty much takes the typical and moves it into the extraordinary!

If you happen to have some browning bananas, I would highly suggest transforming them into this spectacular creation of a banana bread.  I would even go as far as to hide bananas from my kids, in the hopes that they get brown fast enough to make this again.

Cream the butter and sugar.

Use two brown bananas and mash them in a bowl.

Add the mashed bananas and sour cream.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients, then add it to the wet.

Add the mini chocolate chips and walnuts, for extra sweetness and crunch.

Pour the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.

Look at this warm chocolate beauty!  I like how those mini chocolate chips are peeking out, enticing you to come and pluck them out one by one.

I guarantee that after this banana bread comes out of the oven, the 10 minutes you need to wait for this to cool will be the longest 10 minutes of your life!!  Even though banana bread is thought of as more of a breakfast food, my family ended up eating it for dessert.  Yup, it’s that good!

Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe

From Savory Sweet Life


1 stick of salted butter, softened to room temp.

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

2 large ripened bananas mashed ( or 2.5 small bananas)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbl. cocoa powder

1/2 cup of sour cream

1 cup of mini chocolate chips (regular chocolate chips work too)

optional 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts


Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan, or 2 mini pans with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.

Add baking soda, cocoa, and flour.

Mix everything until well incorporated (about 3 minutes in a stand mixer).

Add chocolate chips and nuts (if applicable).

Pour batter into loaf pan(s) and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hr.

Insert a tooth pick into the center of the loaf and check to see if it comes out clean when you pull it out.

Remove from heat and allow bread to rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.

Invert the loaf pans onto a cooling rack. Enjoy warm or cold.

Chunky Granola

My family has been granola crazy since I started making it myself.  They can’t get enough!  We find ourselves not only having it for breakfast on our yogurt with fresh berries, the kids are having it as an after school snack and my husband is eating it as a late night dessert.  I tell you it’s crazy the amounts of granola we are going through.

Here’s the main reason: I finally learned how to make it correctly!  Actually, I didn’t make it incorrectly before, it just wasn’t chunky like my family likes it.  My previous Maple Almond Granola recipe is still what I use now, but I learned how to chunk-i-fy it.

Here’s the secret ingredient for chunky granola!  Can you tell what it is?  C’mon, give it a guess………………..

It’s egg whites!  This is one egg white, for 3 cups of oats.

You beat it until it’s a little frothy and just add it to your favorite granola recipe.  Easy peasy!

Dump the beautiful mixture into a heap on a parchment-lined sheet pan.

Lay it out flat and do not touch it at all while it spends one and a half hours in the oven.

Here’s is what you’ll get.  Lovely sheets of yummy granola.  You can break it apart into bite-sized pieces and enjoy any way you like, for breakfast or dessert.

Sweet and Savory Bread Knots

These are the fresh garlic basil bread knots that I made today to accompany my chicken corn chowder.  This is such an easy recipe and it was fun tying up these little knots of dough.  My kids actually ate the garlic and basil too, I was shocked.  My daughter usually scoffs at anything green on her plate.  These little things are an easy two-biter and they’re gone.

The kids had some friends over after school when these came out of the oven.  So I tossed these in some cinnamon sugar for a sweet after school snack.  Of course they were a hit with the kids!

Start by blooming your yeast in some warm water and sugar.

                     Yeast in full bloom after 10 minutes.

In my stand mixer, I have the flour mixture with the yeast poured in.

Here’s the poor dough getting beat up by the dough hook.    I had to stop the mixer a few times to scrape down the sides.  The stand mixer is such an easy way to make bread.  I hardly had to touch the dough at all.  The hook does all the kneading for me!

Here’s the ball of dough all oiled up and ready to proof.

The dough doubled in size in about 2 hours.

Split the dough into 4 quarters and cut into thin slices.

Tie those babies up and let them rise a second time for 2 more hours.

This is the olive oil, garlic, basil and scallion coating for the savory knots.  Paint this mixture on right when the knots come out of the oven.

Sweet and Savory Bread Knots

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Prep time: 3 hours

Cook time: 14 minutes

Yield: Makes 24 knots


  • 3/4 cup warm water (105°F-115°F)
  • 1 package (2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package)
  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, more for coating
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Garlic-Butter Coating:

  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1/4 cup basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Cinnamon-Sugar Coating:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar and yeast in the warm water and let it sit for 5  minutes. Stir to combine and let sit for another 5-10 minutes, until it begins to froth a bit.

2 In the mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil, then the yeast-water mixture. Using the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer, mix this together to form a soft dough for 5-10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly coat with olive oil. Put it back in the mixer bowl, top the bowl with plastic wrap and set it at room temperature to rise.

3 When the dough has doubled in size, anywhere from 90 minutes to several hours, cut it in 4 quarters. Set out a large baking sheet and line it with a silpat or parchment paper. Working with one piece at a time, flatten into a rough rectangle about 5 inches long 1/2 inch thick.

4 Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into strips of about 1 inch wide by 5 inches long. Take one piece and work it into a snake, then tie it in a knot. The dough will be sticky along the cut edges, so dust these with flour before you tie the knot. Set each knot down on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough. Remember that the dough will rise, so leave some space between each knot.

5 Once all the knots are tied, paint them with a little olive oil. Loosely cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise again until doubled in size, anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours or so. Toward the end of this rising period, preheat the oven to 400°.

6 Uncover the knots and bake in the oven 12-15 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.

7 Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small pot and cook the garlic gently in it just long enough to take off that raw garlic edge, about 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the basil and green onion and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.

8 When the knots are done, take out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Paint with the olive oil and basil mixture and serve. For sweet knots, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Paint with some melted butter and toss in the sugar mixture.  These are best warm, but are good at room temperature, too.

Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Muffins

Before I begin, YES, I do realize this is only my first post of this month and it’s already December 21st.  Does that tell you a little about my busy life right now?

Amongst all the normal preparations for Christmas…………..I’ve hosted and attended several parties……………Helped  my son with his science fair project……………..Attended weekly Bible Study……………..Helped the kids study for Chinese school midterm exams……………….Crocheted like crazy for Christmas gifts……………….Baked for neighbors…………and tried to remember to breathe.  Okay, enough with the excuses.  Let’s get to these muffins!

Is it bad that I hope my bananas go brown and mushy before my kids can eat them, just so I have a reason to bake these?  Well, after tasting these muffins, I would buy perfectly good bananas and let them go brown, just for this recipe!

Talk about moist and fluffy.  This definitely makes getting up in the morning a little easier.  Knowing these muffins are waiting for me in the kitchen, puts a little pep in my step in the morning!

Start by mashing your ripe bananas with a fork.

Mix and whisk all the dry ingredients together.

I felt that my hand mixer was getting a little jealous of my stand mixer, so I brought it out to play today.

After adding the dry ingredients to the wet, slowly fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Fill your paper liners 3/4 full and bake until your kitchen fills with the delectable smell of bananas and chocolate!

These muffins look even better sitting on this beautiful jade-green plate.  I got a set of these beautiful plates when my husband’s grandmother died this past summer.  They remind me of her and the colors of New Mexico, where she lived.

Thank you Grandma Katie, we love and miss you!

Moist Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Adapted from Curious Foodie


1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large)

3/4 cup sugar

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

1/4 cup milk

2 small eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 20 muffin cups or line with muffin papers.
2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Combine bananas, sugar, butter, milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a medium bowl with hand mixer
4. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over-mix!
5. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
6. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, fill it till 3/4 full.
7. Bake until muffins are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, for about 20-25 minutes. (10 to 15 minutes for miniature muffins)
8. Cool muffins in tray for 5 minutes before transferring muffins to cooling rack to cool completely.

Blueberry Streusel Muffin

I was asked by a friend to bring blueberry muffins for a surprise baby shower for our friend, Elsa this past weekend.  The shower was so much fun and the food was wonderful too.  The hostesses made these Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups from Annie’s Eats and they were wonderful!  Of course, you can’t go wrong with bacon.

The also made french toast skewers with berries…….adorable, and tasty.

My blueberry muffins and fruit rounded out the shower brunch.

Although the muffins were great the next day at the shower, they were definitely at their prime just out of the oven.  The streusel topping was crunchy and the warm blueberry just oozed through the muffin to fill your mouth with berry goodness.  The lime zest caught the ladies by surprise and added a second dimension of flavor.  Overall it was a hit!!

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
From Ina Garten via Dreamy Dish

Makes 30 muffins

Note: Wash blueberries in a strainer under running water and pick out any stems and leaves.

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (2 half-pints)

For the Streusel Topping:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and blend with your hands. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, and eggs. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing just until blended. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Don’t over mix! With a standard (2 ¼-inch) ice-cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cups, filling them almost full.

For the topping, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the butter is in very small pieces. Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until crumbly.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the streusel on top of each muffin. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.


Berry Oat Bread

This might be the world’s easiest sweet bread to make.  I only used 5 kitchen tools…….a large bowl, a glass measuring cup, measuring spoons, a spatula, and a loaf pan.  Now, that’s my kind of clean-up!  Am I right?!

Also, the main reason I made this bread is because I had all these ingredients in my pantry and fridge.

Well………technically, I didn’t have buttermilk on hand.  That is easily remedied by my homemade version, using regular milk and vinegar.  Just substitute one cup of buttermilk with one tablespoon of vinegar plus enough milk to make one cup.

I had reservations about the oats drying out the bread, but to my surprise it was totally moist.  The berries also help with the moisture content.  They also add sweetness and tang.  Love that combination!

Berry Oat Bread

Adapted from

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup quick cooking oat

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 cup of buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tbsp. lemon zest

2 eggs

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup diced strawberries

Combine all dry ingredients and lemon zest in large mixing bowl and mix together with a spatula.

In a small bowl whisk eggs, buttermilk and oil together.

Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix.

Fold in berries and pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, checking for doneness about 10  min. before timer goes off with a cake tester.  If you are using fresh berries and not frozen then only cook for about 65 min.

Berry Buttermilk Muffins

These berry muffins came out beautifully and I couldn’t ask for a better way to use up the left over berries from my fruit tart.  They were very tender and moist.  The crunch from the turbinado sugar also adds a wonderful texture contrast to this  billowy soft muffin.

The next time you find yourself with extra berries around the house, try this recipe.  You’ll love them for breakfast in the morning!



Buttermilk Berry Muffins

adapted from the


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest of one orange

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup safflower or canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups fresh raspberries and blackberries

1/4 cup turbinado raw cane sugar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Position rack in center of oven. Butter or spray with a non stick cooking spray 12 – 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch muffin cups or use paper liner. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract.

In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Gently fold in the berries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Fill each muffin cup almost full of batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.  Generously sprinkle raw sugar over the top of each muffin.

Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes 12-15 regular sized muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.

Note: If using frozen berries you may have to bake the muffins a little longer than the stated time. Also, if making jumbo sized muffins, again, you may have to bake the muffins a little longer.

A Valentine’s Day Breakfast

Guest Chef:  My hubby.

This is what my sweetheart made for me this morning, on Valentine’s Day

These waffles look very romantic to me.  I think it’s the color of the berries on top, the powdered sugar, and of course the the fact that my hubby made them for me!  I know it sounds as if I’m painting a very romantic picture of a Valentine’s breakfast with the just the two of us at the table with candlelight and music…………………so NOT true!

The kids are at the table in their pajamas and we happen to have company visiting too (sister and brother-in-law, Anne and Aaron).  It was a busy morning in the kitchen with kids running around, the waffle iron with drips of batter all over the counter and trying to get it all on the table while it’s still morning!

Nevertheless, I took a moment to enjoy the fact that my hubby made these waffles for me, on Valentine’s Day.

I hope you are able to spend today with a loved one!  And if not, make these waffles.  I know it’ll make you feel warm and lovely on the inside.



From Better Homes and Gardens

1-3/4  cups  all-purpose flour

2  tablespoons  sugar

1  tablespoon  baking powder

1/4  teaspoon  salt

2    eggs

1-3/4  cups  milk

1/2  cup  cooking oil or butter, melted

1  teaspoon  vanilla

1. In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

2. In another medium bowl beat eggs slightly; stir in milk, oil, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be slightly lumpy).

3. Pour 1 to 1 1/4 cups batter onto grids of a preheated, lightly greased waffle baker (use a regular or Belgian waffle baker). Close lid quickly; do not open until done. Bake according to manufacturer’s directions. When done, use a fork to lift waffle off grid. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm.

4. Makes 12 to 16 (4-inch) waffles

5. Buttermilk Waffles:Prepare as above, except reduce baking powder to 1 teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Substitute 2 cups buttermilk or sour milk for the milk.

Cranberry Orange Scones with Devonshire Cream

One of the best parts of baking these scones is the way it makes my house smell.  My kitchen is perfumed with the scent of sweet and tangy oranges.  The second best thing is, of course the taste.  The cranberries also add a nice sweetness along with the orange glaze on top.  These scones are crumbly and perfect with devonshire cream and orange marmalade.

I brought these to a brunch potluck and they were a hit.  The cream compliments the dense texture of the scones and the marmalade just drives home the orange flavor.  They are a nice brunch treat and would be even better with a cup o’ tea (imagine me saying that in a British accent!).


Cranberry Orange Scones

from Ina Garten


4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 cup dried cranberries

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons

4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 4-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.



Homemade devonshire cream and orange marmalade.  I used the Knott’s brand marmalade.


Devonshire Cream

4 oz (1/2 pkg.) cream cheese, softened

4 Tbsp (½ stick) butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream


Wisk together the first four ingredients.  Whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and fold into cream cheese mixture.


Banana Pistachio Bread


This recipe came to me purely due to my non-wasteful nature (drilled into me by my parents saying, “Do you know there are starving children in China?!”). I don’t know if I saved any children in China, but my overly ripe bananas were saved, in a great way!

I’ve never used pistachios in banana bread before, but I was out of walnuts, so there you are. It was a nice surprise to see the way the pistachios gave the normally drab-looking brown bread some color. Those pops of greenish yellow made the bread look kind of exotic, I think. They also gave the bread a richer taste and texture. It was an overall success and none of the banana bread went to waste either.


Banana Pistachio Bread

5 tbsp butter, room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups mashed, about 3 very ripe bananas

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking powder

½ cup heavy cream

1/3 cup chopped pistachios


Preheat oven to 350F. Spray bottom only of 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Beat butter in large bowl with an electric mixer set at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add egg, egg whites and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add mashed banana and beat on high speed for 30 seconds.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with cream, ending with flour mixture. Add pistachios to batter; mix well.

Pour batter evenly into prepared loaf pan. Bake until browned and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Cool bread in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan; cool completely on wire rack.