Bananas for Bananas! Banana Streusel Coffee Cakes


Ordinary banana muffins, or coffee cakes, made extraordinary with a crispy sugary cinnamon streusel topping that simply melt in your mouth. Wonderful with a “cuppa,” be it tea, coffee or milk, on an early weekend morning watching the leaves change their color. Also makes a delicious and nutritious after school or work snack. Just the right size—not too big, not too small.



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

3 bananas, mashed

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted

Streusel Topping

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

Banana Crumb Muffins 3


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. In another bowl, beat bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins. Bake in preheated oven for 16 to 19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool at least an extra 10 minutes before devouring.

photo source: I-love-bananas

photo source: I-love-bananas

Copy That! Most Searched Copy Cat/Clone Recipes of 2014 #10 “Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana”


I remember making this incredible, scrumptious creamy soup for my sisters several years ago and they both highly approved. At the time I didn’t have a Copy Cat recipe for reference, just my creativity and imagination I believe the only variation was that I used curly endive or was it spinach? Either way it was a success and I still prepare this exact recipe for my family today and it’s always a hit! “Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana” tried and true, approved by a former Olive Garden chef and our personal in-home chef, me!

Prep Time: 20 min. Total Time: 1 hrs 20 min. Servings: 4-6 (Uh-huh, maybe 2 it’s THAT good!)

photo source Elizavegan

photo source Elizavegan


1 lb Italian sausage links (sweet, mild or hot)

2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices

1 large onion, chopped

1/4 cup bacon bits (use real bacon or crumbled cooked)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups kale or 2 cups swiss chard, chopped

2 (8 ounce) cans chicken broth

1 quart water

1 cup heavy whipping cream

photo source brooklynporkstore

photo source brooklynporkstore


Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces. Brown sausage in soup pot. Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir. Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in the pot.

Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Add bacon. Salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn to low heat. Add kale and cream. Heat through and serve in large soup bowls with lots of crusty Italian bread.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 (529 g)

Servings Per Recipe: 4

Calories Per Serving: 781

Magnificent Marinara; 20 Minutes to Pasta Perfection


Marinara became a catchall term for tomato sauce in Italy because its ingredients are all plentiful in Campania, the area around Naples that sent so many families to the United States in the last century. Italian-American cooks treated it as a multifunctional ingredient: a starting point for other sauces, the base of soups, the acid that breaks down meat in stews. Generally speaking, it consists of olive oil, ripe tomatoes, a substantial amount of garlic, a pinch of dried pepper flakes and dried oregano and or, fresh basil. The list of things that do not belong in marinara is much longer: no onions, no wine, no meatballs, no sugar no anchovies, no tomato paste and no butter.

San Marzano tomatoes are an essential key ingredient for this quick delicious sauce; they are mild, smooth, slightly less acidic and provide the basis of balance when blended with the 2 sweet, yet pungent herbs in this recipe.

This sauce is perfect over all shapes of pastas; a personal favorite is angel hair or thin spaghetti. It’s a wonderful pizza and dipping sauce as well. Serve over pasta with copious amounts of grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese, a side salad (I chose fresh sliced avocado & roma tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of pink Himalayan sea salt and fresh cracked pepper) and a fringe of sweet Sicilian sausage.

SM Tomatoes


1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered or minced

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large fresh basil sprig, or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, more to taste


Photo source danaslatkin


Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands. Pour 1 cup water into can and splash around to get tomato juices. Reserve.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. When it is hot, add garlic.

As soon as garlic is sizzling (do not brown it imparts bitterness), add tomatoes, then reserved tomato water. Add red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, oregano and salt. Stir.

Place basil sprig, including stem, on the surface and let it wilt, then submerge in sauce. Simmer sauce until thickened and oil on surface is a deep orange, about 15 minutes. Taste sauce after 10 minutes of simmering, adding more salt and oregano as needed. Tell, whomever receives the basil to make a wish because it will bring them good luck :-)

Guest Chef Wednesday! Karen’s Moist & Fudgy Brownies with Add-Ins; Deep Dark Delectable & Diverse!


Karen says. “These are totally the chewiest, moistest, fudgiest brownies ever! I have tried adding so many different things to the batter, and they ALWAYS come out great. They are also great without ANY add-in! BUT by varying the add-ins, you can make different brownies every week (or day!!) SUPER EASY PREP! So, add whatever favorite ingredient you can think of and you will not believe how yummy they come out! Oh, and the recipe doubles just fine–use a 9 x 13 inch pan instead and add a few more minutes of baking!”



1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt


1 -2 cup chocolate chips (semisweet, white, butterscotch, peanut butter)

1 -2 cup raisins

1 -2 cup chopped maraschino cherry

1 -2 cup chopped nuts

1 -2 cup M&M’

1 -2 cup Reese’s pieces

1 -2 cup miniature marshmallow


Add 1 Add All!


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease an 8 inch square pan or line with foil. In a medium bowl combine melted butter and cocoa and stir until cocoa is dissolved. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time and stir until well combined. Stir in vanilla, flour and salt until you no longer see any flour (do not overmix). Fold in add ins. Spread in pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes.

DO NOT OVER-BAKE — your brownies will come out dry. If you do the knife/toothpick test, it should come out with moist crumbs, not clean.

Cool completely before cutting into squares.

**For double recipe, bake in 9×12 pan and add 5 minutes to baking time.

“Eat Pray Love” Pizza Napolatena—“Something Beautiful” Official Recipe


“I think I deserve something beautiful.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Pizza Napolatena, is a type of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. Neapolitan pizza is traditionally made from simple, fresh ingredients: a basic dough, raw tomatoes or fresh sauce, basic mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil–no fancy toppings here. One of its defining characteristics is there is often more sauce than cheese, leaving the middle of the pie wet or soggy and not favorable being served by the slice. Because of this, Neapolitan pizzas are generally pretty small (about 10-12 inches), making them closer to the size of a personal pizza. These saucy, piquant pies are baked at very high temperatures (800°F-900°F) for no more than 90 seconds. Since conventional ovens only reach 500* the below recipe was converted for the modern oven. Having said the above, this pizza is no slouch and every bit as luscious as one baked on the molten coals of Mount Vesuvius :-)

*Suggestion. See note below before making the dough. If you feel adventurous, please feel free to make the dough recipe, but this scrumptious pie goes together in a flash if you use the quick option suggested below.



2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 package(s) (1/4-ounce) rapid-rise yeast

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cup(s) water

2 tablespoon(s) extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp cornmeal

3/4 cup bottled pizza or marinara sauce

3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella or slices of fresh…I used fresh

3/4 cup Muenster cheese

½ cup fresh basil leaves; whole

2 tbsps grated Parmesan cheese




In food processor, process 1 3/4 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt 5 seconds.

Heat water and 2 tablespoons oil in a sauce­pan or microwave until just warm

With processor running, add water mixture; process to mix. Uncover processor and add remaining 1 cup flour; process until mixture forms a ball, adding more flour if needed, 1 teaspoon at a time. Continue processing 1 minute to knead dough

Place dough on a lightly floured surface, cover with a bowl and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile place 1 rack on lowest tread of oven. Heat to 450° Grease 12” round pizza pan with oil; sprinkle with cornmeal.

On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a rough circle, then, with fingers, stretch dough to a 12-inch round. Lift to prepared pan. Press some dough to edges to form a thicker rim. Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap; let dough rise 20 minutes. Prick crust with a fork; brush rim with oil.

Bake 8 minutes or just until edges are pale golden.

Spread crust with pizza sauce; sprinkle with cheeses and spread basil. Bake on low oven rack for 8 to 12 minutes until crust has browned and cheese has melted.

NOTE: If you’re short on time simply visit your local pizzeria for a pound or two of fresh dough.


#10 of 2014’s Top 10 Food Hacks! “Sweet Treats–Play with Your Food!”


“The Zebra Cake” Two flavors of cake mixes, chocolate & vanilla. Why not add bright pink food color to the vanilla? Fun? Yes!! This is a “scoop of chocolate & scoop of vanilla” literally! Start with 1/2 C vanilla in the middle, allow to spread a bit, on top add a 1/2 C scoop of chocolate…repeat! Don’t mix batter just allow to spread until pan is 2/3 full. Bake, Cool & Frost! Genius!


“The Chocolate Art Bowl” Hints: Use cooler, but melted chocolate or BOOM! Layer layer layer! Fill with COOL foods :-)

Well, we’ve come to a close of 2014’s Top 10 Food Hacks. I’m sort of sad actually, but the upcoming series our team is developing is currently in the works and I must admit we are having a great time with our “food fun.” Just as we’re certain you will as well. Until then, Bon Appetit, Buon Appetito e Ciao!

#9 of 2014’s Top 10 Food Hacks “Know Your Veggies!”


From rock hard to velvety smooth…How to tell if an avocado is ripe. Choose one that’s the perfect ripeness to make delicious guacamole and Mexican dishes–every time!



Waste not want not…How to store fruits and veggies. Throwing away fruit and veggies gone bad is a very frustrating experience!



Crisp until the very last bite…Keep greens fresher longer. Blow into the plastic bag where you store your leaves; the CO2 will help keep your lettuce crispy

Nutella Mascarpone Cheese Danish

Best All

If you’re looking for a quick, easy and delicious breakfast or snack, this would be it!  The use of canned croissant pastry makes this recipe come together quickly. The center is nutty, chocolaty Nutella, mascarpone and pecans with a hint of cinnamon that is baked up perfectly in the tender flaky pastry.


1 8z can croissant dough (crescent rolls)

1 4z container of mascarpone cheese, softened (may substitute cream cheese)

2/3 cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp. Nutella

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp orange peel, fresh grated

1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Extra Nutella, melted

A sprinkle of powdered sugar



Whip mascarpone, powdered sugar, cinnamon. orange peel and 3 tbsp of Nutella with a mixer. Roll out crescent rolls into four squares, fold corners of each square into center and press. Fill centers with Nutella mix, sprinkle with pecans. Bake in preheated 375* oven for 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Drizzle with a bit of melted Nutella and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Makes 4 large Danish.

Best Close

#8 of 2014’s Top 10 Food Hacks “Cookies & Cream!” Make Your Own Ice Cream Sandwiches!


Make slices from ice cream carton, place on cookie, top with another cookie, peel of carton wrapping. Consume your creamy concoction!

Clever Clever Clever! Be them homemade cookies or bakery made, these semi- homemade ice cream sandwiches will satisfy your sweet tooth and your creativity all at once! Not to mention make you an instant hit at your next bash!

I recommend making more than one ice cream sandwich at a time–simply slice, fill and wrap the ones you can’t devour in one sitting in plastic wrap and freeze. The combinations are endless! Peanut butter cookies with “Peanut Butter Fudge or some Chocolate Therapy” ice cream, Chocolate cookies with “Salted Caramel or Karamel Sutra” ice cream or maybe “Cherry Garcia?” Snickerdoodles with “Cinnamon Buns or Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz” or how about soft (not too soft) Sugar Cookies with a slab of “Phish Food, Red Velvet Cake” or maybe “Peach Cobbler” ice cream? Click the link for more Ben & Jerry’s. How vast is your imagination? You’re about to find out!

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Flavors

Caramelized Red Onion, Bacon & Cheese Quiche

Best Plated

Serve with a crisp vegetable salad medley of choice–et voila!

“Quiche,” we’ve heard real men don’t eat them, cowboys won’t eat them, but I say move over boys and leave yours for me! For those not familiar, quiche (pronounced keesh) is a savory, open-faced pastry crust with a filling of savory custard with cheese, meat, seafood, and or vegetables. Quiche can be served hot or cold. It is part of French cuisine but is also popular in other countries, particularly as party food.

This is an easy, delicious quiche that will take no time to prepare and your friends will ask for the recipe! I have made this for numerous gatherings and everyone raves about it!

Best Whole


1/2 lb bacon; sliced & cooked crisp

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 tsp fresh thyme; chopped fine

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 (9 inch) deep dish frozen pie crust *Single homemade crust recipe at bottom

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup half-and-half cream

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper

Salt & pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 400*

Cook bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon & set aside. Add onion to bacon drippings, cook on medium heat until they begin to brown, add thyme—cool slightly add salt & pepper to taste. Add onion, cheese and bacon to pie crust. In a small bowl mix eggs, half and half, nutmeg and Dijon. Pour this mixture over ingredients in pie crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350* and bake for an additional 35 minutes, until top of quiche begins to turn brown. Remove from oven, cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.

Homemade Single Crust

Worth the little extra effort, but with a food processor is a breeze. The results are buttery, flaky and perfect every time.


1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 stick butter; cold, cut into 1/2” cubes

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3-4 Tbsp ice water with 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar added


Pulse dry ingredients in food processor until combined. Add butter cubes, pulse until mix resembles course sand. Slowly add ice water vinegar until dough forms on side. Remove and place in plastic wrap, pat into a 1/2″ disk. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Remove from frig roll and place into 9” pie plate, crimp rim. Fill as instructed above.




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