Baking – Banana Bread from a mix

I love baking mixes. Do the end results taste as good as something completely made from scratch? Honestly, I think so. Although, I usually add some extra ingredients to the mixes to give them a bit more of a “from scratch” taste.

And honestly, when you have a couple bananas that are past the stage in which you would want to eat them, what’s better than banana bread? Not much, right?

Now, when I have the time, I have a recipe for banana bread that I like because it is so easy to put together. I’ve blogged about it here.

But, when it’s a summer morning and we have to get a lot of other stuff done, a mix is perfectly fine.


Banana pudding – Checklist Update #16

There are some things on the checklist that, honestly, I’m not sure where they came from. Big girl isn’t really a big fan of stuff in pudding. She normally picks it apart. And, although delicious, I have actually not made banana pudding for her so I’m not sure where she got the idea about making banana pudding. But, it’s on the checklist. So, we’re going to do it. 🙂

I wanted a super simple recipe since I was going to have the girls help me as much as possible. I found this one and thought that it would be really easy and simple enough for two little kids to help with.

Big girl helped by cutting all of the bananas. She was really excited because it was the first time that she was in charge of doing the cutting. Thankfully, butter knives cut through bananas really easily.


Baby girl helped by putting the cookie layers into the bowl. She liked counting out each cookie before she put it in the bowl. Then, when all of the layers were done, all three of us added the Cool Whip to the top. All in all, not bad. Not bad at all. 🙂


Summer checklist so far:

  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the pool.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the playground.
  • Make cookies.
  • Go downtown.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Eat at Flat Top Grill.
  • Read books.
  • Eat at Noodles & Company.
  • Get ice cream.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Go to the water park.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Go to the movie theater.
  • Play on the McDonalds playground after lunch.
  • Go to family fun festival downtown.
  • Go to the Art Museum and go to the kids area after looking at paintings.
  • Go to the dinosaur museum (Field Museum).
  • Go to the space museum (Adler Planetarium).
  • Have a pajama day. (Although big girl has now requested that we have 100 pajama days.)


Chocolate and Bananas



Bananas are a hot commodity in our house. I almost always take one to work for my breakfast. Big girl likes to also have one for her breakfast. So, I tend to buy a large amount of bananas. If I only buy one bunch of bananas then we tend to be out of bananas by the mid-week. However, if I buy a lot, there are usually 4 or 5 that get way too ripe before we can eat them. So, I am always on the lookout for a recipe that will use up those overripe ones. If you follow this blog, you know that I’ve found a favorite banana bread recipe that is super easy to make. I recently found a recipe for a cake that uses bananas, chocolate, and applesauce. You can find it here.  The pictures made the cake look delicious (and we eat with our eyes first!) so I thought that I would give it a try.

Don’t assume that just because there are bananas and applesauce in this cake that it’s a, um, healthy cake. There are a lot of chocolate chips in this cake in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. But, I wasn’t looking for a healthy cake. In fact, I don’t think that one should eat “healthy” cakes. The point of eating a cake is that it is a treat and it should taste like a treat.

Yay! Cake!

Yay! Cake!

This is a much more banana-y cake than what I was expecting and it isn’t nearly as chocolate-y as I would’ve thought since it smelled so strongly of chocolate as it was baking.  But, it was a nice and super moist cake.  Will definitely be making this one again.



Banana Bread – with chocolate chips

Once again, I made my go-to banana bread recipe. And if you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know that each time I make this recipe I try to play around with it a little bit.  This time, I added 2/3 cup of chocolate chips before baking.  Chocolate + banana bread = Yummmmmm.

Chocolatey Banana Bread

Chocolatey Banana Bread

This may be one that I need to dial down a bit.  It was chocolatey.  I mean, it was really, really, really chocolatey.  I think that it would’ve been fine with just 1/3 of a cup.  But, all in all, it was good.  The bread had a good consistency and the chocolate chips were nicely interspersed throughout the bread.

In a lot of recipes, if you are adding something like chocolate chips, they recommend tossing the chips in some flour to ensure that they don’t just sink to the bottom. Don’t worry about that with this bread, though.  The bread is super thick when you mix it up so I didn’t bother tossing them in flour and as you can see from the photo, the chocolate chips were in every single bite.

Banana Bread – with cranberries

I’ve made this recipe many times before. And I’m trying to add something new to it each time I try it. This time, dried cranberries.  I started with 1/3 cup of cranberries but after I stirred it together it just didn’t look like enough.  So, I added another 1/3 cup for a total of 2/3 cup of cranberries.  Anytime I add cranberries to something, I tend to add more than many people would so I wasn’t sure if this was going to be too much…..or just right.  I love the taste and the look of cranberries so you may want to play around with the amount if you attempt this.

Cranberry Banana Bread

Cranberry Banana Bread

I really liked how this one turned out.  The bread had a great consistency and the cranberries were nice and juicy.  They weren’t super-tangy as cranberries usually are but I think that this combo was a pretty good one.  I’ll definitely be doing this variation again.


Banana Bread….again

Once again, I have made this banana bread recipe.  It is really becoming my go-to banana bread because it is just so easy.  This time, I double-checked to be sure that I had all of the ingredients that I needed before I started so I wouldn’t have another bread turn out like this.  I then returned to my original goal of playing around with the recipe each time that I made it.  This time, I added 1/3 cup of oats right before throwing it in the oven.

IMG_20140624_204803The results?  This bread was more dense than the very first batch.  I am guessing that that is because of the oats.  I pondered adding dried cranberries to this batch but wanted one banana bread completed with just one extra ingredient before adding others.  Next time?  Cranberries.

Super Easy Banana Bread

We had several overly-ripened bananas and the best thing to do with overly-ripened bananas is to make a banana bread.  I did a quick search online for easy banana bread recipes and came across this one.  I liked that it seemed to have very little prep work and the ingredients could all be mixed together in one bowl.

This recipe came together incredibly quickly.  It may be the only bread recipe (other than a quick bread mix) that I would attempt when one has to keep listening for little toddler feet who are supposed to be in their bed and instead keep running around their room.  I did ponder adding some oats to it for no other reason than because the oats were sitting on the counter – so, perhaps next time.

I will definitely try this recipe again.  The crust was nice and crunchy.  The center was soft but not the weird tastes-slightly-undercooked thing that happens with some banana bread recipes.  Plus, it was easy.  I do think, though, that next time I’ll play around with the ingredients.  Perhaps add some oats, or honey, or dried cranberries.

The finished bread

The finished bread

Banana Pumpkin Bread and What To Do If You Are Out of Pumpkin Pie Spice

I had two bananas that were in desperate need of being made into banana bread.  In the past several months, I’ve been making a Weight Watchers recipe for banana oatmeal bread.  It’s a fine bread.  Simple to put together.  But I wanted something a little different this time.

There are many cans of pumpkin in the pantry since I stocked up after the holidays were over.  And, I found a recipe for a banana pumpkin bread that had some good reviews.  You can find the recipe here.  I took a look in the pantry to be sure that I had all of the other ingredients and I did, with the exception of pumpkin pie spice.  Pumpkin pie spice is one of those ingredients that really make a big difference in the final product.  Luckily, I also found a substitute for pumpkin pie spice that you can make with ingredients that you probably already have.  You can find that recipe here.

It came together very easily.

On a side note:  I don’t usually bake with a lot of honey.  But when the honey hit the other ingredients, the smell swept me back to my childhood.  My Nana and Papa gave me a cookbook for my 8th birthday – one of many cookbooks that they gave me.  This cookbook was amazing.  I would cook something out of it quite frequently.  And, of course, I still have it.


I flipped through it and could remember the recipes that I had tried when I was a kid.  It’s amazing how powerfully connected the sense of smell is to memories.  The smell of the honey in the bread recipe brought me back to one of my favorite recipes that I would make.


Oh man.  Banana frothies.  So good!

Out of all of the cookbooks that I was given as a child, this one was probably one of my favorites.  Nana would usually inscribe something on the front cover.  Like, “Happy Birthday” or the hopeful “I’m sure you’ll become a great chef.”  Nana, I am not going to be a great chef as I get distracted when cooking and have destroyed too many pots by cooking rice and forgetting about it.  But, I think that you would be proud of my pastry chef abilities.

Anyways.  Back to the bread.  Here’s what it looked like on the way into the oven.Image

Not really a pretty bread but it did smell pretty good.

The outcome: this recipe has a weird baking time.  I noticed in several of the reviews that others had issues with the baking time.  This bread was in the oven for almost 25 minutes longer than the recipe called for.  The toothpick finally came out clean after 25 extra minutes but it seemed to take forever to get to that point.  The poor bread is covered in holes since I had to test it so many times!  It is also a lot darker than I thought it would be and I hope that the top isn’t baked too much.

The taste: I’m going to try it toasted.  The taste is pretty mild.  Sometimes banana breads and/or pumpkin breads are very strong because those two fruits can have very strong flavors.  But this is actually pretty light.  If I can ever figure out the actual baking time, this could become a favorite recipe.