Monday, May 31, 2021

Banana Crumb Coffee cake

Banana Crumb Coffee Cake

I have a very similar recipe, already here on the blog. But can we ever have too many banana cake recipes?   I don't think so
Well bananas are my favorite fruit, right up there with strawberries.  When it comes to dessert though, I am not a huge fan of strawberry anything, I much prefer banana flavored.  I guess that's a good thing because bananas are one of those foods in my kitchen that go bad really quickly, so I'm always on the lookout for a good way to use them up.
If you're looking for a few recipes to make using your ripe bananas, just do a quick search here on the blog, I have a quite a few waiting for you to try.

Banana Crumb Coffee Cake 

The trick to this amazing coffee cake, is to layer the batter and the topping. 
Ask me if I did that this time? 
No, no I didn't.  I was quickly getting this recipe together, in the middle of cooking dinner, and proceeded to dump the whole batter in.  When I realized what I had done, I grabbed a spoon and just stirred it all up, then added the topping.
Not what it is supposed to be, at all, but you know the taste is still there and that is what matters.
Besides, who has never made a mistake in the kitchen?  Cause this girl right here, still makes quite a few to this day.  You would think that with as much as I cook and bake, and how much time I spend in the kitchen, I would be an expert, but nope, mistakes are still made.
Anyway, this is the perfect coffee cake for a breakfast, a brunch, an afternoon dessert or a family get together.
So good!
Banana Crumb Coffee Cake
Banana Crumb Coffee Cake
Crumb Layers 
1/2 cup cold butter (8 tablespoons), cut into small cubes  
1 cup all purpose flour 
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
3 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp salt 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed 
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup milk 
1 cup powdered sugar 
1-2 tbsp 
Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter or cooking spray; set aside. 
In a large bowl, use your hands or two forks to crumble together the cold butter cubes, flour, sugars, and cinnamon until the mixture resembles a crumbly topping. Set aside the crumb mixture. 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer, mix softened butter on medium until creamy, about 2 minutes. 
Add the sugar and mix for another minute, until well incorporated. Then add the eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and mix just until ingredients are incorporated (do not overmix!) 
Turn the mixer down to low, and alternate mixing in milk and flour until all ingredients are combined. 
Pour half of the cake mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with ⅓ - ¼ of the crumb mixture. Then pour the remaining cake mixture on top of that layer and finally, top evenly with the remaining crumb topping. 
Bake at 350º for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 
To make the glaze: 
In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Add more milk as needed until you get the glaze consistency you prefer. Set aside. 
Cool at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before drizzling the glaze over the top, slicing, and serving.

Homemade Gyros with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

Homemade Gyros
My first experience with Greek food, was through my sister in law who has Greek descendants in her family.   She would always tell me about the yummy food, like Moussaka, Spanakopita, Baklava and Gyros.  I couldn't wait to try it, and was definitely not disappointed when I did.

Later, when I was a radio DJ at our radio station (yes my family owned a radio station in South Africa), one of our time slots was bought by a Greek community, and they would come in and do their shows, talk about their news, their food and so on.  It was another way that I was surrounded, so to speak, by the Greek culture.

Homemade Gyros 
I quickly became a fan, and Gyros have always been one of my favorites. But, the only time I ate any would be if we went to a Greek restaurant, and that wasn't something we did often. 
Like many of my favorite restaurant dishes, I realized that if I could make them at home, then anytime the craving kicked in, I could have it without having to go out....that and the fact that usually it is much cheaper to make it at home too. 
I found this recipe at Christina's Cucina, along with the recipe for homemade tzatziki sauce too, and I could not wait to try it.  I honestly thought that it was going to be this very long complicated process, but it was so easy to make, and my husband loved them, stating that they are very close to the ones from our local Greek eatery.

Just one thing, I couldn't get lamb around here, so I used ground beef and ground pork, which is not the traditional meat used in Gyros, but nonetheless they were superb.  I am going to try and find lamb so that next time I make them, they are more authentic, but nonetheless, keeping this recipe and adding it to our family favorites.

Homemade Gyros

Homemade Gyros with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
Yield: 8 servings 
1 medium size onion, roughly chopped 
1 lb ground beef 
1 lb ground lamb 
2 large cloves of garlic 
1 Tbsp dried marjoram 
1 Tbsp dried ground rosemary 
2 tsp Kosher salt 
1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
To Serve 
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below) 
sliced tomatoes 
sliced sweet onion 
Run the onion in a food processor for about 15 seconds. Place the onion in the center of a kitchen towel and squeeze out the juice and return to the food processor. Add the meat, garlic, spices, salt and pepper to the onion, and process. 
Do so until it looks like a fine paste, about a minute. Place the mixture in a loaf pan and press evenly. 
Bake in a water bath (place loaf pan inside another pan filled with water) at 325°F (165°C) for about an hour or more until temperature reaches 165-170°F (75°C.) 
Remove from the oven, drain fat, and place on a cooling rack. Cover meat with aluminum foil and a heavy weight for about 15 minutes until internal temperature is 175°F (79°C).
Place meat on a cutting board and slice as thinly as possible. In another pan, heat the pita bread. 
Finally, place the meat on one half of the pita, topped with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion. 
Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
16 oz Greek yogurt 
1 medium cucumber or about 3 Persian cucumbers, grated 
Kosher or sea salt 
2 tsp finely minced garlic 
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
Place the grated cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Place a plate and weight on top to press out the liquid, for 20-30 minutes. 
Drain, then squeeze the cucumber in a kitchen towel (or a strong paper towel) to remove the rest of the liquid. 
Next, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. 
Mix well, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Blueberry and Lemon Loaf


I grew up in South Africa, so when we refer to a loaf it is usually a bread loaf.  
When I got married and moved to the USA, I was so confused when people would refer to sweet cakes as loaves or bread, like Banana Bread and so forth.  It took me a while to realize that just because it is called loaf, it doesn't necessarily mean a bread.
Over the years, as I got more used to the term, I started making all kinds.  Chocolate chip and Pumpkin, Zucchini and Lemon and so on.
This one is by far one of our favorites, especially my husband, who loves anything Lemon.
The recipe comes from The Mennonite Girls Can Cook, a blog I have followed since 2008.  Unfortunately they stopped sharing new recipes in 2018, but the blog has an amazing archive of over 3000 recipes.  Be sure to go check them out.  


It is a delicious, soft, fluffy loaf that goes perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea. 
I did adapt the recipe slightly, but only by adding some lemon juice which it did not call for.  The reason is simple, the recipe only calls for lemon zest, but we love lemon and I felt that just the zest wouldn't be enough.  
It turned out just perfect.  And how beautiful is it?  
Like they say, we eat with our eyes too, and at least for me, if it doesn't look appealing, I am not that eager to try it.  This one however, you won't be able to resist.


Blueberry and Lemon Loaf
2 cups flour 
3/4 cup sugar 
3 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt 
rind (grated) from one large lemon 
2 eggs 1 cup sour cream 
1/4 cups oil 
1 tsp vanilla 
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen) 
Optional:  lemon juice (I just squeezed in about 2 tablespoons of juice)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or line with parchment paper, one 5x9 inch loaf pan. 
Mix dry ingredients along with rind. In separate small bowl, mix wet ingredients and add to dry along with blueberries. Stir until just combined and spread into loaf pan. 
Bake for 60 - 70 minutes, until cake tests done with pick. Leave in pan for 10 minutes before removing. 
If desired, drizzle with a mix of 3/4 cup icing (confectioners) sugar and juice of about 1/2 lemon.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Toasted Italian Sandwiches


Our weekend meals have always been super easy.  Sandwiches, pizza, leftovers or some take out if we're so inclined.
As much as I love cooking, weekends are sometimes our busiest days, and I often find myself struggling to get dinner on the table.  We've even had frozen pizza on some days, nothing wrong with that.
One of my favorite subway sandwiches, are the Italian BMT.  Well, mine and our son Nick's as well.  We always seem to get that one and ask for it to be toasted too.  So good!
If you don't know what is in the BMT, it is Salami, Pepperoni and Black Forest Ham.  
I used that as inspiration for these Toasted italian sandwiches.  I adapted them slightly according to each family member's likes, for example, Jasmine doesn't like salami (I know, what on earth?) so I left that out for her.  She also is lactose intolerant and can't have any kind of yellow cheese, so I did pepper jack for her.

Nick on the other hand doesn't like yellow banana peppers, so I left those out of his sandwich.  There really is no way to go wrong with these, use what you like, leave out what you don't.  

Want veggies?  Add them.  Don't want any?  Leave them out.

Toasted Italian Sandwiches

Hoagie Buns
Salami, black forest ham, pepperoni
Banana peppers
Sliced Cheese of your choice
Ranch dressing
Slice the hoagie buns in half, almost all the way to the bottom, but not all the way through.
Drizzle on some ranch dressing, spread it on both sides of bun.  Add the ham, pepperoni and salami,  sliced cheese and banana peppers.  

Bake in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes.  You can leave them in longer if you like your bread crispy and brown, but we prefer it softer.  

I served ours with potato chips.

Smoked Sausage and Potato Bake


I've always been a fan of one pan meals.  Not just because of the clean up, but I in my family, I am known as the one who mixes all her food in the plate.   Especially if there's rice, beans, salad and some sort of meat.  I don't know why, I just love mixing it all.

This dinner came about as a quick way to get a meal together while Curt and I worked outside in the garden.


What I love the most about these type of meals, is that they're a great way to adapt to your family's likes.  I would have added some peppers of some kind, but our son doesn't like them, so I omitted them.  

I used smoked beef sausages, onions and potatoes cut into wedges.  

The seasoning is also entirely up to your preference, I kept mine pretty simple with doing olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic and parsley and cilantro.  You could use thyme, oregano, rosemary, whatever you like.

This is a meal that my entirely family eats, enjoys and goes back for seconds.


 It makes really yummy leftovers as well. 
Smoked Sausage and Potato Bake
  • Sausages of your choice
  • Potatoes, washed, cut into wedges (I leave the skin on mine but you can take peel them if you wish)
  • Small onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • Seasoning of your choice
  • Olive oil
In a large baking pan, drizzle on some olive oil.

Add the sausages, potatoes and onions, then season to taste.  Stir everything around to coat both sides.

Bake in a 425 F oven, for half an hour or until potatoes are tender.  I flip everything over, halfway through to give it an even bake.

Serve immediately.