Banana Bread – Best Ever!

Good Morning! Are you tired of throwing away over-ripe bananas? I’m here to help with the Best Banana Bread recipe!

I’ve made this often during our quarantine. It is seriously so good. As always, I find a recipe, make it as directed…then adjust it to what I know we will enjoy! This one is now a keeper.

(And baking it in my grandmother’s vintage “glasbake tube pan” from the 1940s makes it even sweeter.)

  • 1 stick of softened salted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla flavoring
  • 1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4-5 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (I toast them in the oven)
  • 1/3 cup craisins
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan (9″ is good) with Baker’s Joy (my fave).
  2. Blend softened butter and brown sugar. I actually don’t use a mixer – I do this all by hand.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and blend again.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to above mixture.
  5. Now peel the bananas and rough chop them – leave them sort of chunky, then gently add to the mixture.
  6. Lastly, blend in the pecans and craisins.
  7. Pour into your baking dish or loaf pan and bake until golden brown – 55-60 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is especially good with some of that wonderful whipped cream cheese spread, or warm it up in the microwave and add some butter. A cup of coffee makes it taste even better too! ENJOY and don’t throw away your bananas any more. I’m not sure if doing it by hand makes it taste differently, but it is dense and very good – not dry at all. Maybe not using a mixer makes the difference. I’m not sure – but at any rate – it’s a fine banana bread.

Gran Jan

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National Buttermilk Biscuit Day!

Today is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day! All that know me well, know I love to make and teach others how to make biscuits. I help with a mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry at my church called “Tasting Grace.” Our purpose is to teach the joy of biblical hospitality, serving others in the love of Christ.

So today I am going to share my tried and true recipe here, with pictures. It’s an easy recipe with only three simple ingredients. The more you make them, your confidence will grow. That’s what my Granny always told me, and she taught me how many years ago.

Three Simple Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of White Lily self-rising flour

1 cup of Whole Buttermilk

1 stick of Frozen Butter

Makes between 8-12 biscuits depending on the size of your biscuit cutter!

NOTE: You will need a little extra flour to keep your hands “dusted” during the folding process; and some extra butter to melt for the finished biscuits. About a half-stick will do!

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and lightly grease (I use Crisco) a cast iron skillet. I love the Lodge 10.5″ griddle pictured here. I’ve seen them at Walmart and hardware stores too.

Measure the self-rising flour into a large bowl. I love to use clear glass bowls for all my baking prep.

Using the larger holes of a box grater, grate the stick of frozen butter and then pour into the bowl of flour. Work quickly now to mix the flour and butter together. I call it “pinching in” the butter for even distribution. You don’t want to handle it too much or cause the butter to melt.

Pour in the 1 cup of buttermilk and mix well. I use my hand, but you may use a spatula if you prefer.

Mix just until everything starts to “come together.” DO NOT OVERWORK THIS BEAUTIFUL DOUGH!

Now dust your hands with some of the extra flour and turn the sticky dough out onto a piece of parchment paper (or your counter if you don’t mind the mess)!

Pat the dough into a nice rectangle about the size of a piece of notebook paper, about 1/2″ thick. (Not shown in picture.)

Pay close attention to the next two steps – this is the FOLDING technique and creates the wonderful layers in your biscuits. First, fold the dough in thirds. See the picture? Fold the right side in and then the left. (Not shown in the picture – just fold the left side in! You’ve got this!)

Now take your folded dough rectangle and fold it again, this time in half!

After you’ve folded into thirds and then halves, smooth your dough into a beautiful nice rectangle about 1″ thick and the size of a piece of notebook paper.

But once again, don’t “handle” the dough too much!

Now take your biscuit cutter or a smooth glass, and dip it in some extra flour. Go STRAIGHT DOWN and UP. No twisting or turning. Just up and out.

Place the biscuits close together on your greased skillet.

Take your extra dough and shape it back into a rectangle again so you can cut out the rest of the biscuits.

Remember, don’t work the dough too much. You may have to just roll the last one out with your hands!

Put your skillet into the pre-heated hot oven and bake the biscuits 15-18 minutes, until lightly browned. Mine are perfect at about 17 minutes in my oven.

Remove the skillet from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter.

This recipe doubles easily, but I don’t do that unless I’m feeding a crowd! I hope you enjoy trying my recipe and will let me know if you make them.

Blessings on your beautiful buttermilk biscuit making.

Gran Jan

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Pecan Pie & Homemade Crust

Gran Jan’s Pecan Pie & Homemade All-Butter Crust!

I was sharing this recipe today with my sister Joan, and decided to add it here so you can share the Pecan Pie joy with us. I have tweaked and searched and made pie crusts and pecan pies for a long time. I’m done and these two recipes together are the happy result. First, the all-butter crust!

All Butter Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons of whipping cream

1. Add the flour and salt to a bowl.
2. Cube the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Using your hands, combine the flour and butter quickly. You don’t want the butter to melt!
3. Add the heavy cream to the flour/butter mixture and combine well. The dough will start to hold together – but do not overwork it!
4. Transfer the dough to your pie plate and use your fingers to push the dough into the dish – spreading from the center outward. Be sure the dough is at an even thickness throughout.
5. Crimp the edges by making a scalloped edge. See my pie above! Use your index finger to squeeze the dough around and then press with your thumb and index finger of your other hand.
Note: I actually like to pre-bake my pie crust for about 5-7 minutes to allow it to set up a bit. Or you can chill it prior to filling. Just a personal preference.

GRAN JAN’S PECAN PIE RECIPE
1 cup of white sugar
3 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of light corn syrup
1/3 cup of melted butter (I use salted)
3 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix white sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl.
3. Last, stir in chopped pecans and blend well.
4. Bake the pie for 60 minutes – until it is no longer “jiggly” in the middle. You know your oven. It will continue to cook for a while once it is removed, so don’t overcook it. A “wee jiggle” is okay.
5. Allow to cool for several hours before serving so it can set.

I hope you will try these recipes together!
~GranJan

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Cast-Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Cast-Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have made this delicious Cast-Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie three times the past month or so for my family. I made one this afternoon. I discovered it was a favorite dessert of my daughter-in-law, Carrie. I will get the opportunity to send some home to her by my son, who just happens to be preaching at a men’s conference close by tonight. God is good! I love every opportunity to see my out-of-town family and to cook for them.

Here’s my recipe below – tweaked and tested!

  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (I used salted butter)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons of hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of semisweet or milk chocolate chips

I began by setting my oven to 375 degrees. Then I went ahead and slid my skillet into the oven to warm while I made the cookie. I used a 12 1/2″ well-seasoned, beautiful, wonderful, old skillet I’ve had for many years that was gifted to me over 35 years ago and there’s no telling how old it was then! A treasure to me for sure.

I used my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and beat both sugars and the butter until nice and smooth. Then I added the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Next I poured in the vanilla and gave it a quick mix. Then I added the baking soda dissolved in hot water, then the salt, and the flour. (I added the flour in 3 “additions,” not all at once.) I mixed just until the batter was smooth – not too long! Be aware that this cookie dough is stiff. Lastly, I stirred in the 2 cups of chocolate chips by hand.

I set the bowl of cookie dough to the side and carefully removed my hot skillet out of the oven. I used a couple of paper towels to very carefully and lightly grease the hot skillet with some butter-flavored Crisco. Then I spooned the cookie dough evenly into the skillet and smoothed it out with a spatula. It responded to the hot skillet by getting softer, and that helped!

I baked the cookie until the edges were lightly browned, exactly 28 minutes.

I removed the skillet from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. I then cut it into 8 pie-shaped wedges and then sliced those in half for a total of 16 wedges. I used my long offset spatula (that I use when icing cakes) to lift the wedges out of the skillet. It worked great to get under the long skinny wedges. This skillet cookie would be great with vanilla ice cream on top – in fact, I believe that is Carrie’s favorite way to enjoy this dessert.

I just told my husband Gary I may order some small 6 1/2″ cast-iron skillets to make “personal skillet cookies.” He proceeded to ask me how we were going to remodel the kitchen with more cabinets because…well, he knows how much I love all things kitchen, and cast-iron.

I must share this…the secret ingredient! This ingredient is very, very special and no one can replicate this ingredient. My precious little sous chef, 7 year old granddaughter, Emery. (We made a skillet cookie a couple of weeks ago.) She is a wonderful helper in the kitchen, in the garden, in the sewing room, and well, anywhere! Gran Jan’s JOY for sure.

Best Secret Ingredient Ever!

God bless you all, Gran Jan

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Homemade Apple Butter

Well, I’ve been retired 5 1/2 months and for the first time in my blog’s 10 year duration, I missed posting for 2 months. “They” say you are busier than ever in this season of life, and I’m beginning to believe that! But I am making plans to slow down a bit and I’m not sad about that at all. I think it takes a while to figure out how to “be retired.”

So this morning I got in the kitchen, and that is one of my favorite places to be. I made homemade apple butter using the crockpot. It turned out so well, so I wanted to share exactly what I did here on my blog. First the recipe, then the pictures! I enjoyed some already on an English muffin!

CROCK POT APPLE BUTTER (This made 5 pints and a little jar for my fridge!)
*5 1/2 lbs. of apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
(1 pound of apples is approximately 4 small, or 3 medium, or 2 large apples. I used about 25 small-medium apples of mixed varieties: Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and Gala).
*4 cups of sugar
*1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
*1/4 teaspoon of salt

  1. Peel, core and slice the apples. I used an apple corer and then I pulsed the cored pieces in my food processor just enough so they appeared chopped.
  2. Spray your crockpot with some Pam and then place the chopped apples in the crockpot.
  3. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a bowl and pour over the apples, stirring well.
  4. Put the lid on the crock pot and cook on high for one hour.
  5. After an hour, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 hours. I put the apples in the crockpot before I went to bed and even got up once to stir them. The apple butter will turn a dark brown, thicken and smell wonderful!
  6. This morning (after 10 hours), I took a small emulsion blender and mixed the apple butter right in the crockpot to smooth it all out. The texture was perfect!
  7. Then I put the apple butter in hot clean pint-sized mason jars (with a canning seal/lid on top) and processed the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to can them. See the pictures below or research canning if you aren’t familiar with the process. Canning the apple butter just allows you to keep it longer; otherwise, you’d have to eat it up or give it all away within a couple of weeks (or you may freeze it in freezer containers). I prefer to can the apple butter because I just love doing so!

Happy Thanksgiving week to all of you from the Morton Family Farm!

Gran Jan

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Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread

Tomorrow is September 1st and as my friend Kim Safina in California says, we begin the wonderful, amazing “ber” months: SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, and DecemBER! They include wonderful fall (my favorite season), my sweet granddaughter Emery’s birthday, my youngest son Jonathan’s birthday, my birthday, and the beautiful Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, also my favorites. 

I made cream cheese pumpkin bread today (my pictures below) and wanted to share this delicious recipe. I have tried many recipes for pumpkin bread, but my search is now over! This one is a keeper. It had me at CREAM CHEESE! It makes 2 loaves. My husband and I had a piece with coffee this morning. I took 2 pieces next door to my parents and I took the second loaf to my friend Lanie this afternoon. 

I found this recipe while looking at one of my favorite Instagram accounts “Eunamae’s,” named after the grandmother of the IG account owner. Her name is really Amy Hannon, she is a pastor’s wife from Arkansas and the founder of Love, Welcome, Serve. She has a fabulous cookbook by the same name. I love her heart for faith-filled hospitality. It reminds me of the heart of my church’s Tasting Grace Mentoring-in-the-Kitchen ministry! Go follow her on Instagram. I really believe she and I would be fast friends. 

CREAM CHEESE PUMPKIN BREAD

For the pumpkin bread:
3 cups all purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup oil
1 15oz can cooked pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup water

For the cream cheese swirl
8 oz cream cheese, softened well at room temperature

¼ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

  1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients together, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar. Stir it all together well. 
  2. Add the wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Divide into two prepared loaf pans.
    (Amy suggests using a glass loaf pan, so I did and loved the results.)
  4. Mix together the cream cheese swirl ingredients until smooth.
  5. Equally spoon dollops of cream cheese mixture over the pumpkin batter. Then use a long toothpick or skewer to drag and swirl the cream cheese around the top of the batter. Just swirl it around, do not stir it into the batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool 10 minutes in the pans then invert and cool completely.  Here is my “cream cheese swirling” picture prior to baking.

Fall – I can’t wait for you to get here in 3 weeks but until then, I will be making this wonderful bread to share and serve!

Happy Almost Fall Y’all!

Gran Jan

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Gran Jan’s Chicken Pie Recipe

I was home last week as my office (our local school system) was shut down for Spring Break. It was a marvelous week.  I am fully convinced (as if there were any doubt) that I am going to be a fan of retirement. I worked harder than ever in my gardens, but it was great. I spent one day visiting two different women in very different seasons of life. One is a brand new mother with a 1 month old son, the other is a beautiful wife and grandmother who recently had surgery. I loved visiting with them and also shared a pound cake with them. The Retirement Countdown is officially at 40 DAYS! FORTY! FOUR-OH! FOR-TY! The slower pace will be so welcomed. Was I busy? Absolutely! But I picked my own pace – therein is the JOY!

Today I am sharing this wonderful chicken pie recipe again. I’ve made it twice recently and it is a keeper. It makes such a nice meal and the crust on top rises up in perfection. This recipe is one that I had published in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook several years ago, entitled Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets I also made it for another friend who recently had some surgery and she and her husband both said it was pure comfort food. I like that.

I also like that it is simply a chicken pie with simple vegetables. You may keep it plain or add peas/carrots or even a can (drained) of mixed veggies. I like to have a big salad as a side dish, or sometimes another hearty vegetable like black-eyed peas or corn on the cob.

Pick up a rotisserie chicken from your local deli grocery store and you’re halfway through with the preparation!

Ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from bone and cut into bite-sized pieces 
1 can of drained peas/carrots or mixed vegetables
1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 oz size can)
2 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour (White Lily preferred)
1 cup of buttermilk (maybe a splash more if it seems too thick)
1 stick of melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 casserole or a large round casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Spread cut up chicken over the bottom of your casserole dish. (Lightly salt/pepper the chicken.)
  4. Evenly spread the can of drained vegetables over the chicken. 
  5. Whisk together until smooth the cream of chicken soup, broth, and cornstarch and pour this over the chicken.
  6. Now whisk the flour, buttermilk and melted butter together and pour/spread evenly over the soup/broth mix.
  7. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Serve with a side of your favorite vegetable or a big green salad!

This recipe is simple comfort food.  Love your family, make a chicken pie tonight. Sit around the table and linger for a while in conversation. These are the best times.

~Gran Jan

        

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