Friday, June 4, 2010

Recipe: Banana Bread

Happy Fry-day! ;) Last week a dear friend of mine and I got together and baked some delicious bread! I shared the basic recipe that we used on here last fall, but this is a wonderful recipe that allows for changes in the main ingredient without ruining the texture or flavor of the bread. Today I'm going to share with you the variation my friend and I used last week.

I happened to be fixing the kids a snack and saw that we only had one banana left and it was a bit more ripe than my kids will eat them. We all like our nanners firm and not too sweet, so when they get to where the peel has brown spots it's borderline whether anyone's gonna eat them. When they get nice and ripe to where we won't eat them, I peel them and stick them in a ziplock baggie in the freezer. So I took a peek into the freezer to see if there was a bag of bananas in there already that had room enough for another. Nope... in fact there were 2 quart ziplocks in there that each had about 3 large bananas in them and no room for more. I had to start a new banana baggie. I thought to myself, "Hmmm self, you need to bake something banana-y and pronto!" Then I thought of my favorite bread recipe of course, and how I usually add a couple bananas to stretch it so I can get away with using less of the less-plentiful zucchini or pumpkin main ingredient without affecting the taste or texture. I started pawing around for some frozen pumpkin or zucchini and found a ziplock with about 1 C. of shredded pumpkin, and another with about 2 C. shredded zucchini. Add that to my approximately 3 C. worth of frozen overripe bananas, and I had twice the amount needed to make a batch of bread. So I talked to my friend on Facebook and we decided instead of splitting it up, we'd make a double batch and add ALL three kinds of main ingredient! After discussing the details, we realized we didn't have nuts. This bread is delicious with nuts, but it is also delicious without them! ;) So we didn't let the lack of nuts stop us. Besides, we're both a little nuts (in the funnest sense of the word of course) anyway so who needs nuts in the bread too? ;) We planned who would supply which ingredients and the next morning I drove to her house (my oven gets a kick out of burning things on the bottom so I'm so glad her oven behaved much better than mine does!) and began baking.

Here's the variation we wound up making. It's a terrific (and delicious) way to warm up a rainy spring day by using up leftover fall ingredients! :)

Leftover Pumpkin, Zucchini, and Banana Bread! ;)
5 1/3 C. Sugar
1 1/3 C. Butter (softened)
TOTAL of 6 C. in any combination of the following: grated Pumpkin, grated Zucchini, and/or mooshed overripe Bananas
1 C. Water
8 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
6 2/3 C all-purpose Flour
4 tsp. Baking Soda
3 tsp. Salt
3 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground Cloves
1 tsp. Baking Powder
Cinnamon Sugar (to make, blend 1/4 C. each of cinnamon and sugar) I store my Cinnamon Sugar in a glass shaker with a large-holed metal lid like you find full of parmesan on the tables of pizza places. I got mine at Dollar Tree for... you guessed it! $1. ;)
At least 2 loaf pans
Spray oil (cheap nonstick spray works fine. I personally use the organic olive oil kind we got on sale- yay for sale!)
Foil and a dish towel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bread loaf pans with aluminum foil, spray with oil and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. I find that it's easier to press the foil into the pans without tearing it if you use a wadded up dish towel or tea towel to press it in with. :)
In a large HUGE bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in pumpkin/zucchini/banana, water, eggs and vanilla.
In seprate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and baking powder. Mix well. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. Your arm will feel like it's gonna fall off, but I've never heard of an arm actually falling off due to batter mixing. If they did that I would be armless by now.
Measure out approximately 2 1/2 C. of batter per fullsized loaf pan. Sprinkle cionnamon-sugar generously on top of the batter in the loaf pans for a sweet and cinnamony crust. Bake 2 at a time until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean- about an hour to 1 hr. 10 minutes. When you remove the bread from the oven, the foil on the top should cool pretty quickly to where you can uncurl it from the handles of the bread pan (careful not to touch the bread pan- ouch!) and lift the whole loaf out of the pan by the foil and move it to a rack, foil and all, to cool. This enables your loaf pans to cool faster since they are empty, which is handy if you've only got 2 loaf pans since this recipe witll make about 7 loaves of bread and you'll need to refoil/grease/sugar them and get them back in ASAP so you can be done baking by midnight. Cool your bread almost completely before attempting to slice. Try not to burn yourself as you peel the foil off a loaf and chop off a chunk of deliciousness to snack on as you finish baking. If bread is still hot it will not slice pretty. Lukewarm is okay. It also, for as yummy as it is hot, actually tastes even yummier cooled. But still, if you're like we were, you'll likely be into the first loaf before it's cool. :)

Will store in refrigerator in a ziplock or saran wrap for up to 10 days. Will store in freezer for a month or two- wrap in foil and then put into a gallon ziplock bag and then in freezer. If you baked it in foil lined pans, just wrap the existing foil up and over the top and stick the whole thing in a ziplock in the freezer. Can be left on the counter for up to 2 days, provided it's kept covered between snacking so it doesn't get all stale.
Makes a wonderful gift to say thank you, great to share with friends and neighbors, give as gifts for hollidays, or just keep in the freezer and pull a loaf out when you are in a bread mood or have company.

This is great for a beginner sweet bread. If neither my picky bottom-hot oven nor I have yet found a way to mess it up, it's gotta be difficult to do! ;) You can omit or add more of the cinnamon or cloves to suit your tastes. I love cinnamon but not so fond of cloves in large amounts (LOVE the smell, but I appreciate the taste more in moderation) so you might notice if you compared this variation to the original recipe that I tripled the cinnamon but halved the cloves. Besides, cloves are really pricey. It would have been awesome with nuts, but was still awesome anyway without nuts. Out of the 7 loves, we had totally devoured the first one before the last was finished baking. This is between 3 adults and then there were a couple toddlers who each had a bite or two as well. When we finished baking, there were 3 loaves left for each of us. When I got home I left one out for my family to enjoy and froze the other 2 for later. In hindsight I wish I'd taken one over to the neighbor- guess I'll just have to bake something else tasty to share in the near future!

Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

There's a new site just launching called and it looks like there will be some good inspiration on there for us Mamas who are striving to raise Godly daughters. :) They are having alot of great giveaways right now so pop on over there and check it out!

Raising Homemakers is giving away a 4-book prize pack including 3 Beautiful Girlhood titles and Polished Cornerstones to kick off their launch! This giveaway ends on June 4th and can be found HERE!
Raising Homemakers is giving away the entire 10-pack of Homestead Blessings DVD's! This super giveaway ends on June 4th and can be found HERE!
Raising Homemakers is giving away a copy of Raising Maidens Of Virtue! This giveaway ends ??? and can be found HERE!
Raising Homemakers is giving away a 9-MP3 mentoring course called “Evenings with Victoria Botkin“ from Western Conservatory! This giveaway ends on June 8th and can be found HERE!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

~Laundry~ My Laundry Schedule

This post is linked up to my Thursday Question Blog Hop! Please go HERE to see the original question and add YOUR post or read others' thoughts on this subject!

Laundry... How do you do it? I myself do not generate a large amount of dirty clothes, but lets just say that I am the only one who does not! We have 2 toddlers, one of whom is "freshly potty-trained" (you know what that means... accidents do happen! Especially the kind that involve complete bedding changes in the middle of the night.) and the other of who is still in diapers and has a propensity for ... um... well let's just say that diapers do not exist which can hold all night with him. So not only do I wash a high volume of wet britches and skirts, but I also wind up washing a high volume of toddler-sized bedding. And pillows. And... well you get the picture. This is in addition to the laundry associated with the typical yuck that winds up on a child and everything and everyone around them during a few hours of living life. :)
Then there's my awesome husband. His work has a dress code and when he's on a job site all day, often in the hot sun or un-air-conditioned buildings... well lets just say he can't wear the same clothes twice. So, barring the purchase of a dozen expensive wardrope pieces for work, I need to be on top of the laundry all week so he can at least ARRIVE at work clean and fresh. ;)
Then there's the regular non-clothing items like the adult sheets and the bath towels.
And THEN there's my obsessive nature. I have to wash the throw rugs if they don't look fluffy enough, and I sniff the dishcloth every time I use it to see if it needs washed, and I wash everything from the carseat covers to our shoes to my purse whenever it looks less than sanitary and I can fit it in.
So, how do I get it all done so we don't run out of things? I made myself a schedule that hangs on the laundry room wall. This serves 2 purposes. It keeps me on track so I know what I have to do to catch up if I miss a day, and it is there if my husband ever needs to take over for me, like he will probably have to do for a few days or more when this little bun in the oven arrives.

The thing about schedules is that they can help TREMENDOUSLY but they need to change often, and differ from family to family. What works this month might not next month and what works for me might not work for you. I thought this would be a great post because I've started getting out the baby clothes and washing them up for the coming baby (yes I know I still have 3 months to go- I'd rather have things prepared now and be able to relax in those roasting-alive beached-whale final weeks, KWIM? I have a theory about that... but then that's for another post.) and as I'm having to add the tiny baby things into our family laundry it's throwing off my laundry schedule a wee bit. ;) Which means that it's time to redo the schedule in anticipation of our new bundle of joy! And you know I won't be able to sit down and redo it after the baby is here without falling asleep! ;) I'm going to share my FORMULA for creating a laundry schedule sometime next week but for now, here's an example of my current laundry schedule so you can see how it works. Or, well, how it's supposed to work anyway. Now, I took the paper off the laundry room wall not too long ago and it must have run off on 2 chubby toddler legs or something because it has not been seen or heard from since, so this is by memory, which we know tends to not work properly during pregnancy. So lets hope I am remembering it right! If not then hey maybe that's why the schedule stopped working for me! Haha...

-Soak any stained or dingy whites and lights in OxiClean overnight. I just toss them in right before bed.

-Finish washing the Whites that were soaking overnight.
-Bedding day: Wash all sheets.

-Darks; one load of darks a week is the linty kind that fuzz up all the other darks so I wash them by themselves, usually linty's are on Tuesday with the towels.
-Odds and ends; like carseat covers and throw rugs and anything else that needs wash by itself.

-Whites/lights; always after washing every load of whites/lights I examine each as it's going into the dryer and if it's dingy or the stains did not come out I drape it over the edge of the hamper to air-dry and then it will go in the OxiClean soak on Sunday night to make it pretty again. ;)

-Kid bedding that has been soiled since Monday.
-Darks; one dark load a week is just the blacks to keep them blackest and un-linty, usually the blacks are Thursday's darks.

-Whites/lights; as mentioned, I sort and save out the dingy/stained ones before putting the rest in the dryer.
-Greens/yellows. Yeah I know this is an odd color for a wash load but my family goes through enough laundry to make an entire load of yellows and greens once a week. If I try to put the yellows in with the whites it can sometimes make the load too big to wash, and adding the greens to the darks DEFINATELY makes the load too big to wash. It's just the simplest solution to make a seprate load of the yellows/greens. I do it on Saturday because our nicer clothes are worn on the weekends and most of the yellows/greens are not our nicer outfits so we won't miss them if they're in the washing machine while we are out and about. Sometimes I wait to do them until Saturday evening when we're done our Saturday activities so that if someone wants to wear something again on Sunday that got dirtied on Saturday then I can wash it up with the yellows/greens before bed on Saturday.

Laundry Tips:
-Use lingeree bags (you can get 3/$1 at Dollar Tree!) to keep tiny baby and toddler socks together in the wash! No more dryer eating your kids' socks! I have these mesh bags by the laundry room hamper and as I'm sorting the laundry I put the socks in the bags and then in the color-coordinating hampers. I have found that the max amount for baby socks is 2 pairs per bag or they won't wash and dry well, and for toddler socks it's 2 pairs. I imagine, accordingly, that an older child's socks would be 1 pair to a bag for optimal washing and drying. I think an adult's socks would be much too bulky for this to work but hey, I have not tried it, and I have been known to be wrong on occasion! ;)
-The sooner you get the stain treated, the more likely it is to come out in the first wash. I prefer Shout spray to combat stains. It seems to work the best for me, and all my friends call me the laundry queen and bring me their stained stuff to work on so I like that it makes me look good... Haha! I put Shout on everything... well I make sure to wash it out of my Whites very well, see the next tip for why.
-DO NOT put whites/lights that have been treated with Shout into a washload with OxiClean and soak them! For some reason if you do not do an OxiClean-free light wash cycle first to get the Shout out, it reacts with the OxiClean and yellows your whites. I have then tried, and FAILED, to get this yellowing out. It's permanent in most fabrics. So if you're going to soak it in OxiClean, wash the Shout out of it first! Or just don't use Shout on the whites at all. Now, maybe this has something to do with my fabrics, or my city water, or I don't know what. All I know is that this combination has proven unpleasant results for me and I thought I should warn you!
-Tide To-Go Pen is a lifesaver when you have babies and toddlers. A life saver. Seriously. No mom should be without this in their purse!
-Use half the reccommended amount of laundry soap. Seriously. You really don't need that much. I have toddlers too and I know how gross laundry can get and the only time I use the full amount is on my hubby's work clothes simply because they stink.
-White Vinegar is great stuff. Put some in the fabric softener dispenser instead of fabric softener, and splash some in the filling washer to get out stink. The smell evaporates when you dry them so don't worry about your clothes smelling like vinegar.
- Baking Soda is great for getting out stink too. I've gotten hand-me-downs from heavy smokers and alternated soaking them in Baking Soda, OxiClean, and Vinegar until they were fresh as a daisy. I recently had to do that with the fabric parts of my double stroller that had been stored in the garage and the neighborhood tom cat peed all over it. It smells fine now, thankfully!

~Laundry~ Question Thursday!

Just because your blog isn't as well-known as some million-follower blogs out there doesn't mean you don't have good ideas and good advice! And I want to hear it. It's question Thursday! ;) There are 2 ways to participate.
1) Answer in the comments! Just comment on this post with your answer. Simple. Easy.
2) Participate in the Blog Hop! Blog a post that answers this week's question and then click "get the code!" to add the SAME Linky list to the bottom of your blog post. When you're done, add your own link to the Linky list and it will show up on ALL the participating Linky lists. That way if someone enjoys the topic being discussed, they can "hop" from blog to blog using the linky list and might decide to follow some blogs they didn't follow before. Blog hops are a good way to get "discovered" by new readers!
-You may answer or link any time within the week following the question post- for as long as the Linky is still open you may still add posts/answers. If you have an old post/posts that answer the question and you would like to link those up that's fine, but please come back for a future question Thursday with a fresh post, to be fair. ;)

~Question Thursday!~
Topic: Laundry
How do you handle laundry at your house? Do you do it all on one day or some each day? Do you have a laundry schedule or certain way of sorting so you know what goes where on which day or do you just pick what needs doing most each day? Tell us all about how you handle the laundry and link up below!

(*Next Week's Topic: Coupons! Do you? Don't you? When? Where? How?*)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"I Licked It!" - Toddler Tales Tuesday

5/19 Bug (1 yr. 9 mnths.) was napping in the kids' room, and Chicklet (3 yrs. 8 mnths.) was in time out in my bed. She was cranky and tired so I decided she would nap with me and was refilling my water bottle while she waited in bed. When I got to bed and lay down, that mean old heartburn set in and I started feeling around on the windowsill above my head. I always keep 1 or 2 Tums up there for when I am awake due to heartburn. I found the purple berry flavored one that was left by it's lonesome from the night before and popped it into my mouth, snuggling down into my pillow. Chicklet snuggled up to my back and giggled. Then she giggled again. I said, "What's funny? You're supposed to be sleeping." She giggled again, very quietly, and then said in a quiet, mischeivous voice, "I licked it."
I stopped sucking my antacid, and began to get an uneasy feeling that I knew precisely where this was going.
"What did you lick?"
Chicklet, giggling again, whispered, "I licked it!"
Me, "WHAT did you lick?"
Chicklet, in that low mischeivous, secret-voice, "Mommy's purple on the window."
Me, "You licked Mommy's purple Tums?!"
Chicklet giggled again and I felt her nod against my back as she whispered again, "I licked it!"

5/20 I was trying to take a nap. Bug was napping in the kids' room. Chicklet was coloring in the corner of my bedroom as is our usual arrangement. She colors until she gets bored and then climbs into bed with me. She winds up either squirming/talking too much until I give up and we go start dinner, or falling asleep if she's actually tired. I vaguely remember her climbing into bed with me after a while, taking one of the pillows to the foot of the bed, and telling me she was sleeping "upside down." Shortly, I awoke again to a very tickley sensation on my foot, when I curled it up in protest, I heard a little giggle, followed by the tickley sensation on my other foot. After I was awake enough to be coherent, I realized the tickling was Chicklet's breath as she was sniffing my feet like a dog.

5/31 Daddy took Miss Chicklet fishing for the first time and I was home with my little Bug-man. I was checking my facebook. I should know better by now than to try to do anything on the computer when either of the tots are awake. They always need something when I'm right in the middle of typing out a train of thought. So Bug went in the kitchen and came back promptly with a can of ravioli from the pantry cabinet. Whoops! Guess I forgot to put the lock back on that door. He was SO proud of himself though that I praised him for being helpful and was rewarded by one of his showstopping grins. I turn into a puddle of mush when he flashes me that grin. He's such a sweet boy with so much joy in his sparkling eyes! Well I tried to finish the sentence I was typing in response to a friend's status so I could get up and figure out dinner, and I hadn't even gotten 5 more words down when here comes Bug, proudly carrying 2 bags of lentils. He handed me one, and tried to bite into the other. I thanked him for the lentils and told him they need opened and cooked before we bite them. Lol! He smiled and raced back to the kitchen again. I started pecking out the rest of my sentence with the hand that wasn't now holding ravioli and lentils as fast as I could but not fast enough! Here comes my little helper with 3 cans of tuna! Each time he would bring me something with a proud smile, the sparkle in his eye in anticipation of my praise, I would thank him and he would give me his amazing smile and then race off to the pantry again as I tried to peck out the rest of my ill-fated comment! I wound up with 2 bags of lentils, 3 cans of tuna, a jug of olive oil, a can of ravioli, a "family sized" can of chicken noodle soup, a can of sardines, and a can of vienna sausages. And each time I thanked my tiny man for his helpfulness and was rewarded with his amazing smile! I love this age! Both of my kids have been such amazing little rays of sunshine at this age! Not that Chicklet still isn't a ray of sunshine, she is amazing as she comes out of the trying toddler age and becomes a sweet and helpful little girl!

Later that night Chicklet made us Mac & Cheese for dinner. I put some water on to boil and when it was bubbling, Chicklet poured in the noodles. After they were done I drained it for her and then put her up on a stool to stir while I dropped in the remaining ingredients. She did very good at mixing the meal together and it was so cute how proud of herself she was for cooking us all dinner. ;) She didn't spill noodles out of the pot but she got it all mixed together nicely. I was proud of her! She even wanted to help me unload the dishwasher while we waited for the noodles to cook! She was so excited to tell her Daddy who made dinner tonight. :) Meanwhile the Bugster knelt on the couch with his head on the back of it, watching us work, looking like he might drop off to sleep at any second. Poor sleepy baby! Bringing me half the contents of the pantry must have been exhausting! ;)

If you have a sweet, cute, or funny Toddler (or kid) story, I'd love it if you'd share it! :)
If you would like to post a Toddler Tales Tuesday on your blog, please leave a link to your post in my Linky below, AND post the code for this blog hop in your Toddler Tales Tuesday post! Commenting on at least one of the other linked posts would delight the writer of said post I'm sure - hint hint! ;) The linky will remain open for 2 weeks following the date of this post in case you want to add a post late.
If you don't have a blog or would prefer it, you may share your toddler tales here in the comments.