Banana Muffins

In the last box we purchased from Soergel Orchards, there were bananas. My oldest son ate most of them, but there were two lonely bananas sitting on my counter turning VERY ripe. For me, ripe bananas means it is time to bake! I didn’t want to bake banana bread, and well there weren’t enough bananas for that sitting on the counter (yes I know I have a full bag of bananas in the freezer, but that isn’t here nor there). So I set out to search the webs for something to bake with 2 ripe bananas. I came across the recipe for “Easy Small Batch Banana Muffins“… perfect!

Banana muffins (adapted from One Dish Kitchen’s easy small batch banana muffin recipe)

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp (85 grams) butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. line muffin pans with liners or spray (recipe says it makes 6 muffins, but my batch made 9)
  3. smash one banana in a bowl and stir in sugar to combine
  4. mix in egg, vanilla and melted butter (let butter cool a bit first to prevent the egg from scrambling)
  5. incorporate the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined (do not over mix, it’s ok to see some flour still in the bowl)
  6. chunk up the 2nd banana and fold it into the mixture
  7. put mixture into muffin liners filling about 3/4 of the way
  8. bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested

I let my muffins cool in the pan for a bit before transferring them to a cooling rack. I was surprised to see that the liners were very greasy when I pulled them out of the pan. It was I tasted one that had started to collapse on itself and found that there was a rather larger piece of banana in the middle and the muffin was struggling to stick to that piece. The muffin itself has a LOT of butter flavor to it. It seemed as if there was too much butter in the mixture. I’ll have to try this recipe again and cut the butter back by a tablespoon and see if that helps the taste and greasy feel of the cooked muffin. I would also mash up the second banana instead of putting it in chunks to make sure it is fully incorporated into the mix.

dinner · food

Parma Joes

My son was asking to have chicken parm the other day. While I didn’t want to make chicken parm mid week, unless I make my “healthier chicken parm” which is totally week night friendly. I decided instead to make another sloppy joe, parma joe.

Parma Joe

parma joes
  • sauce:
    • 1 can crushed tomatoes
    • 1/2 small can of tomato paste
    • 1/3-1/2 cup chicken stock
    • seasonings: Italian seasoning, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and sugar
  • main dish
    • 1 lb ground chicken
    • 1/2 onion diced
    • 2 cloves of garlic grated
    • oil
    • seasonings: Italian seasoning, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic flakes, onion flakes, salt and pepper
    • 1/4 cup parmigiana cheese
  • garlic toasted rolls
    • semi hard rolls
    • butter
    • EVOO
    • 1 clove garlic smashed
    • salt
  1. in a sauce pan combine sauce ingredients, stir to combine and heat over medium high until it starts to bubble then lower to medium low to let simmer
  2. in a skillet heat oil then add in diced onion sweating out onions.
  3. when almost translucent, grated garlic in on a microplane
  4. add chicken to the pan, break chicken into crumbles and brown
  5. Add seasonings to the meat mixture and mix well
  6. While chicken is browning, heat oven to 350
  7. heat butter, EVOO and smashed garlic in a pan. let simmer while you prep the rolls
  8. slice rolls in half and then brush garlic butter mixture onto the cut halves
  9. toast in the oven 10-12 min or until toasted to your liking
  10. When the meat is cooked through, add the sauce to the pan
  11. Let sauce reduce to “sloppy” consistency
  12. add parm cheese to the pan and mix to incorporate
  13. serve on garlic buns with provolone cheese and more parm cheese
  14. enjoy!

This dish turned our really tasty. While it looked like meat sauce it was thicker and the consistency of a good sloppy joe. The rolls, which were from the local grocery store’s bakery, were so tasty and made the perfect garlic bread goodness. My youngest son said “it looks like leftovers, but tastes like it comes from a 5 star restaurant” While I think this was a bit of a stretch and a bit of flattery, it was really good.

dessert · food

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

My youngest son often has a handful of chocolate chips in the middle of the day, chocolate therapy! He finished up a bag of chocolate chunks and noticed the recipe on the back of the bag. (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Nestle Toll House)

This motivated him to do some baking, fast forward a few days later, to yesterday and we got everything ready to bake. Both of my boys have been in the kitchen with me since before they could reach the counter tops. While the boys were in school, I took the cookie recipe (original recipe makes 4 dzn cookies, we made 21), cut it in half and prepped the butter and egg. As soon as my son was done with homework, he set to baking.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies (adapted from Nestle Toll House’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies)

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp butter (softened)
  • 1/2 c peanut butter (we used Reese’s smooth)
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c. mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. peanut butter chips
  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. line baking sheets with parchment paper or siltpats
  3. combine flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl
  4. cream butter and sugars
  5. add in peanut butter, egg and vanilla
  6. incorporate flour mixture
  7. stir in chips
  8. dish out balls onto cookie sheet flattening just slightly
  9. bake 9-11 min
  10. cool on pan before moving to cooling rack
  11. enjoy!

These turned out really good. Next time we will have to get the chocolate chunks, but having the mini chips means there is more chips mixed through the recipe. The original recipe calls for peanuts, but my son opted to put in peanut butter chips instead. We decided to do about equal portions of each kind of chips which means there is a lot of chips in the cookies.

They cookies are soft and have a good amount of chew to them. I feel they could be better by increasing the amount of salt just a tad which would bring out both the peanut butter and the sweet of the recipe.


Menu planning for the week

Every week my family sits down and we plan out the dinners for the week. I say “dinner suggestions?” Some weeks we have more ideas than days, other weeks we have no thoughts. I often try to add in a new recipe each week to keep things interesting. Sometimes we have more, sometimes less, but hey it’s a process!

This week we are making two new recipes AND trying out the dough from the Stromboli recipe again, but switching it up.

Here’s the menu:

Monday- burgers (yes I know that was yesterday, but I figured I’d share anyway

Tuesday- Scramblers (we have a LOT of eggs to use up)

Wednesday- Parma Joes (chicken parm sloppy joes)– new recipe

Thursday- Fend for Yourself (I have this any night that more than two people are busy around dinner time)

Friday- Cajun chicken pasta — new recipe

Saturday- Stromboli and pizza (Italian sub Stromboli and cheese pizza made with the dough from the Sally’s Baking Challenge’s Stromboli recipe)

Sunday- Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork (variation on a stand by recipe)

Stay tuned for posts on some of these recipes. See one you’d like to hear about? Let me know!


Lori-Bars recipe

I have a few recipes that I can make without ever looking at a recipe. I have made them over and over and over, and “Lori-bars” is one of those recipes. They are homemade Larabars, but my youngest son coined them Lori-bars since I make them all the time. He does too now.

This is one of those simple recipes that can be altered so many different ways. The main recipe is 3 ingredients and from there you can switch it up to change the flavors.


  • dates
  • cashews
  • water
  • mix-ins
  1. I use (about) equal parts dates and cashews, sorry I have NEVER measured this out.
  2. Put the dates in the food processor and whirl them until they are almost a paste
  3. Add the dates and whirl them in until they combine into a crumble consistency
  4. Add mix ins and whirl again
  5. Taste and adjust flavors
  6. stream in water until the mixture starts to bind together. (too much water and it’s a sticky mess, not enough and it won’t hold its shape)
  7. dump out onto a cutting board and form into a rectangle
  8. cut rectangle into bars
  9. store in the fridge.

Some of our favorite flavors: cranberry oatmeal, oatmeal chocolate chip (use the mini chips), peanut butter & “jelly” (dried fruit is the jelly, I like cranberry), peanut butter chocolate chip, oatmeal peanut butter. For most of these I add a dash of vanilla and a dash of salt, I’m looking for cookie type flavors, but you don’t need to add these.

This time I made cranberry oatmeal and toasted the cashews and oatmeal before adding them. This added an additional layer of nutty flavor which was nice for a change.


Bubba Joes

Who doesn’t love a good sloppy joe? We have a few different recipes that we enjoy. Often times we rename them to match the flavor of the sloppy joes, such as Philly Joes, which I really should repost about soon.

When I saw the recipe for Bacon, Beer and Cheese Joe from Dinner then Dessert, my mind jumped to Jeff Dunham’s Bubba J. So, these became Bubba Joes. This was a great night to cook this, as my husband did all the cooking. I helped with prep work and created the sauce. Everything in the recipe after the onion has -ish measurements. I just eyeballed everything I added (yes including the cheese)

Bubba Joes (Adapted from Dinner then Dessert’s Bacon, Beer and Cheese Joes)

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 8 slices of bacon chopped
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1 cup beer (we used Guinness)
  • 1/2 cup stock (I used chicken because it was in the fridge)
  • cubed cheddar cheese (I used about 12 oz)
  1. in a large skillet cook the bacon until crisp
  2. remove bacon and excess fat, we left enough to cover the bottom of the pan
  3. sauté the onions
  4. add turkey to the pan and brown, breaking up meat into small-ish chunks
  5. in a separate bowl, whisk up: ketchup, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, beer and stock
  6. Add liquids to browned meat, cooking until it becomes the “sloppy” consistency
  7. add in bacon and chopped cheese and let cheese melt a bit
  8. serve over rice.
dinner · reviews

Bourbon Chicken

I’m always on the search for new recipes, especially ones that use chicken. Why is it that? While scrolling through Pinterest, I came across a few bourbon chicken recipes. So… why not?

I decided to use Food Court Bourbon chicken by The Old Guy in the Kitchen’s recipe as my jumping off point. I had most of the ingredients already, even the bourbon. We used Pennsylvania Straight Bourbon that we got from Wigle Whisky. Ok… onto the recipe!

Bourbon Chicken (adapted from The Old Guy in the Kitchen‘s recipe)

  • oil (enough for a thin layer in the skillet)
  • 1lb chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • black pepper (4-5 grinds)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3Tbsp cold water and 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed
  1. cut chicken into small cubes
  2. whisk together ginger, garlic, pepper, soy sauce, bourbon, water, vinegar and brown sugar, set aside
  3. heat oil in the pan
  4. brown the chicken in batches
  5. put all the chicken back into the pan, lower heat to medium low
  6. add bourbon mixture into the pan
  7. cook for 15 min or so stirring on occasion
  8. add cornstarch mixture and stir to thicken
  9. serve over rice

While this tasted really good, I should have made the original portion on The Old Guy in the Kitchen’s recipe. I cut it in half as it said it served 8. In the end it felt more like the portion I made served two. (My youngest son didn’t even get any) Next time, I will use one package of thighs and one package of breasts which will add both more more and the different taste/texture that you get with a combination of breast and thigh meat. I also think it would have benefited from a bit more sugar and a red pepper flakes. We will be making this again. When I do, I’ll post the adaptions I make and tell you how I Lori-ized it that time!

baking · dessert

Chocolate Snickerdoodles

I am always on the search for a new cookie recipe. You know that recipe that you taste and then wish you had more. The challenge is finding one with a great texture, taste and balance of sweet and flavors. Over the years I have found a few that I make ALL the time. Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip (chewy only, I don’t get crisp chocolate chip cookies), peanut butter blossoms, lacy oatmeal cookies, cake mix cookies (yep they are made with cake mix, but soooo yummy). Oh I have a few others that I make from time to time too, the occasional crave of a good oatmeal scotchie or 7 layer bar for example.

So, the other day while scrolling through pinterest, admit it you do this too, I came across the recipe for chocolate snickerdoodles. I don’t typically make chocolate cookies. I make cookies with chocolate, but if I want chocolate something I tend to make brownies. But, hey I’m game. Chocolate and cinnamon are a great combination.

When I dove into the recipe, I was happy to see it was a true snickerdoodle recipe and not a sugar cookie with cinnamon. This recipe does have cream of tartar in it! So, I pinned the recipe and waited for the right moment, that came yesterday!

I cut the recipe in half, something I find myself doing more and more lately. This halved recipe produced 16 cookies for me.

Ok… so is it THE perfect cookie, no, but it is good. Next time I think I would add cinnamon to the dough itself. I am not sure I would have been able to tell you it was snickerdoodle based, it didn’t have that buttery quality that a good snickerdoodle cookie has. I’m not sure it was a OMG I need chocolate cookie. It was a good chocolate, but more subtle. It reminded me a lot of a Mexican hot chocolate, so I think I’d refer to them as Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies… Hmmm maybe they need a new name?

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies (adapted from dessert now dinner later‘s Chocolate Snickerdoodle)

Image may contain: food
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup and 6 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used special dark)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For rolling and topping:

  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  1. Cream butter and sugars until smooth
  2. add egg and vanilla making sure to scrape the bowl and fully incorporate all ingredients
  3. in a separate bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt
  4. add dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated (don’t over mix)
  5. mix together cinnamon and sugar into a small bowl
  6. scoop out dough and roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture
  7. pop dough balls into the freezer for 10 min or the fridge for 30
  8. preheat the oven to 350
  9. place dough balls onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes
  10. sprinkle hot cookies with extra cinnamon sugar mixture
  11. cool on the pan for 2-3 min before transferring to the cooling racks
  12. cool completely before moving to an air tight container.

dinner · food

Beef Stroganoff

I started to write this post a few minutes ago, but got detoured to write a post about where I purchase my essential boxes. You can read about that here. The recipe I’m sharing was inspired by the ingredients in the latest essential box, even if it was not the intended recipe from the box.. that’s tonight’s dinner!

So, in the box there was a container of mushrooms. Mushrooms are one of those things I don’t really like. I’ve tried. I put them in different dishes, prep them in different ways, but they never do anything for me. But, one recipe that I grew up with and that I make with mushrooms is Stroganoff! And, wouldn’t you know there was flank steak in the box, 2lbs of it… so I decided to use some of that, the mushrooms, and some of sour cream and onions (also included) and make stroganoff for dinner.

Beef Stroganoff (adapted from Betty Crocker’s recipe)

  • 3/4 lb flank steak
  • white mushrooms sliced thin(I had one of the small cartons, not sure how much, but you know what I’m talking about)
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced (I use my microplane to do this)
  • 3-4 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4-1 cup stock (I used chicken because that is what I had)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • flour
  • 2-3 squirts spicy mustard
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 package of egg noodles cooked according to the package
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg (fresh nutmeg on the microplane is what I used)
  1. About 30 minutes before you are ready to cook, prep the steak for cutting.: season both sides liberally with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Pop steak into the freezer for 25-30 minutes
  2. Dice onions and slice mushrooms
  3. pull the steak out and slice into thin strips (the freezing helps the slicing process. you don’t wan it frozen, but really really cold)
  4. dust steak strips with flour
  5. in a large skillet, melt the butter
  6. add onions, mushrooms and garlic to melted butter cook until the onions are translucent
  7. remove from pan
  8. add steak to the pan… leave it alone and let it brown!
  9. brown both sides and then add the stock, mustard, and nutmeg to the pan, make sure to scrape up all the yummy bits from browning the meats
  10. Let the meat get happy in the stock for a bit, then add back the onions/mushrooms
  11. add more stock if needed
  12. stir in sour cream shortly before you are ready to combine with noodles
  13. combine everything together and serve!

food · through my camera lens

Soergel Orchard’s essential boxes

If you follow my blog, you have heard me talk about purchasing essential boxes at a local farm. I’m going to post a recipe later today that I made from a few of the items from this box.

Image may contain: table, food and indoor
one of the many boxes we have purchased, to give you a look

First let me share more about the farm and the boxes. Soergel Orchards is a local family owned farm. They also run a country store, nursery, Naturally Soergel’s (a natural, gluten free, allergen free store), gift shop, winery and ice cream shop. (A storefront for Arsenal Cider is also located on the property, but is a separate company… but sooo worth supporting too). When we moved to PA, I wanted my boys to experience apple picking. That first summer we found Soergels for strawberry and blueberry picking. We were hooked! We picked so many blueberries and strawberries that summer. We also went there to apple and pumpkin pick in the fall. Not only was this good, but we fell in love with the pies. To die for crust! And you can get a 1/2 pie which is even better because you can get just half or get more than one flavor and not feel as guilty.

Anyway… when the world shut down, Soergels decided to find a way to get their products out to their patrons. They created essential boxes. Originally they produced a different box EVERY DAY (they now put them out on Tues and Fri)! Each box contains what you need to serve 1-2 main meals and then extra stuff. They always (almost always) have 1/2 gallon of milk and fresh apple cider (another Soergel’s favorite), 1lb of butter, 1 dzn eggs, 3/4 lb deli meat, 1/2 lb of deli cheese, a loaf of local bread, a whole pie and apples.

The latest box I purchased was set up with two meals: fajitas and meatball subs (and they give you recipe suggestions/directions too).

  • fajitas kit: 2lb flank steak, 1.25 lb chicken breasts, onions, peppers, mushrooms, lime, lettuce, tomato, fajita seasoning, fresh salsa, sour cream, cilantro, cheese, rice and wraps
  • meatball subs: already cooked meatballs, sauce, cheese, hoagie rolls
  • other: milk, cider, eggs, butter, 3/4 lb ham, 1/2 lb provolone cheese, 3lb bag of empire apples, head of green leaf lettuce, a bag of pretzels, hummus and a pumpkin pie (yuck… the one pie I don’t like, oh well I gave it go a good friend)

Ok… but that’s not it! You can then add on other things from the list they sent out. We have purchased and enjoyed: pulled pork, brisket, apple cider donuts, cornbread, and more.

This is a time of crazy life. The opportunity not only get my family good food, but also support a local business that has been good to my family over the year… I will be back for more essential boxes, to get more pies and hopefully one day back in the fields and orchards for self picking!