Sunday, January 30, 2022

Totally Delicious Banana Walnut Muffins

This recipe is simple and the result is well worth it! These were about the best banana muffins I have made and surprise! I actually had all the ingredients in the house! If you can't eat nuts, they are just as good without them but there is something about bananas and walnuts that is almost magical...

Totally Delicious Banana Walnut Muffins
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (plus a couple of tbsp to dust pans if necessary)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • 6 tbsp melted butter: sweet or salted
  • 2/3 c brown or golden brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 - 1 c chopped walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips (if desired)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a medium muffin pan by either spraying it with cooking spray, using cupcake liners or using melted butter to coat each cup then dusted with enough flour to just coat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg together . Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mash bananas. Using a spatula or wooden spoon (or mixer if you prefer), mix in the melted butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla extract and milk.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the moist ingredients and continue stirring until combined and no dry bits remain. Then add nuts and/or chocolate chips. The batter will be quite thick.
  5. Spoon the batter into cups (prepared as directed in #1), distributing evenly. It will come just below the top of each cup of the tin, which will give you a nice rounded muffin top.
  6. Baked at 425 for 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees without removing the muffin pan. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, depending upon your oven, or until a toothpick or thin knife blade comes out clean. 
  7. Remove from oven, wait a few minutes and then transfer muffins to wire rack to cool. If using butter/flour, you may want to gently brush off some of the coating from the bottoms before serving.
NOTE: Not all ovens are created equal and some run hotter than others. You learn that by experimenting. Our gas range runs about 10 degrees hotter than our electric oven did, so test the muffins a bit earlier to ensure they don't overbake. Lowering the temperature after 5 minutes (as instructed) gives the tops a nice crusty rounded finish that is the benchmark of a good muffin. Make sure to allow a good amount of time to preheat the oven to begin with so you ensure that it has reached the correct temperature.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Shepherd's Pie with a Twist

 As most of you know by now, I am a fool for shepherd's pie of any variety. Whether a mashed potato topping, beef or pork or turkey, any type of vegetable, gravy or tomatoes, this is my comfort food. So after freezing diced tomatoes with their juice a couple of weeks ago - yes, I will include the recipe for that - I went "aha!" when looking through our admittedly sparse pickings right now. We obviously 'dug into it' because this is the remnants of dinner tonight. Here is my little tutorial on one pot (and a casserole) Shepherd's Pie.

Frozen Diced Tomatoes

  1. Wash all tomatoes thoroughly. I just put cold water in a sterilized sink and let them soakdwhile I prepared for freezing, then wiped them with paper towel before the next step to ensure they were cleaned (these were garden tomatoes)
  2. Place water in a large pot - fill about half-way - add tomatoes and bring to a slow boil. Make sure the water covers the tomatoes totally so they can blanch properly.
  3. Sterilize sink or use a large bowl, place ice water inside and let sit.
  4. When skins start to split, turn off element and remove tomatoes one at a time with slotted spoon. Place in ice bath that you have created. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Dice each tomato with a paring or other sharp knife, placing in container with juice. Do not fill to more than 1 inch from the top of the container and pop on the lid.
  5. Place in freezer or if you prefer, simply use right away in your favorite recipe (or this one).

Shepherd's Pie

  • Potatoes 6 or 8 (enough for 2c of mashed potatoes)
  • Diced tomatoes (1 1/2 c canned or as frozen above)
  • Ground beef (approximately 1 lb)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Mixed vegetables of your choice
  • Grated cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • Seasoning of your choice: salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, dry beef bouillion, a tbsp of ketchup, minced or chopped onions etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Cook diced potatoes on medium heat in a saucepan with enough water to cover them and boil until tender when poked with a fork (approximately 20 minutes). Drain some of the water and mash the potatoes. You can add a splash of milk and a couple of tbsp of butter as well as 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tsp salt for flavor and texture.

2. Brown ground beef in oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat with chopped or minced onions, stirring until brown (about 5-10 min.). Every stove is different so it's best to stay while the meat is browning.

3. Drain the fat from the saucepan (I used a small colander to make it easier).

4. Add diced tomatoes, frozen mixed vegetables and your choice of seasoning to the meat and stir gently with a spoon until heated through and thick - 10-15 min.

5, Pour into a 2 qt casserole dish. Spread mashed potatoes to cover the top of the casserole and sprinkle with grated cheese.

6. Bake in oven until the cheese is melted and the meat mixture begins to bubble and seep through the mashed potatoes. This will take approximately 30 minutes.

7. Let sit for 15 minutes with a piece of foil to cover the top to cool it slightly and enjoy! Great with a side salad or garlic toast. With any luck you will have left-overs for the next day.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Lemon Creme Pie with Toasted Coconut Topping


Lemon Creme Pie with Toasted Coconut Topping

(alas my photo disappeared and now I have to find it again! Disaster!)

Sometimes life leaves us with a lot of time on our hands to make lovely dishes and take great effort with prep. Other times you simply don't have the gumption, so you use what you have on hand to prepare something pretty tasty that is quick-as-a-wink, as my dad used to say.

This is one such recipe. Just a few basic things that are still easy to find on the shelves of the store or that you may well have in your cupboard right now. I find pre-made graham wafer pie crusts in aluminium foil pans to be one of the most marvelous inventions! They have saved me a lot of scrambling for ingredients when I had precious few during this whole pandemic. 

Just one hint: These crusts taste even better when you mix an egg white with a bit of water and brush it on the crusts before baking at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. It sets the crust and makes it a pretty brown.I also discovered the homemade toasted coconut is a breeze and intend to use it more often. SO here you go, friends! One of the latest creations by The Little Cook - me! 

Please note, this is homespun and not a fancy dessert. Easy, peasy lemon squeezy, to coin a phrase.



Pie Crust

I am not fussy but Keebler seems to have a tastier finish when prepared. I have used many generic graham pie crusts that are excellent as well but they do tend to crumble a bit more quickly. It also bakes to a nice golden color (see directions above). Home made is always the best.


  • One can of lemon cream filling OR lemon pie filling or you can prepare your own from package directions
  • One 8-oz tub of Cool Whip or a similar topping
Toasted Coconut Topping
  • Approximately 4 oz of flaked coconut. 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk 1 egg white with a bit of water in a small bowl, then brush lightly onto the top of the pie crust. Heat in oven for approximately 8-10 minutes before removing. Set aside to cool. Leave oven on for the coconut layer.
  2. While the crust is in the oven, fold together the lemon filling and cool whip in a medium bowl until thoroughly blended. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge til ready to use.
  3. To toast coconut: Place on a cookie sheet or foil pan large enough to spread the coconut into one even layer. This insures even toasting. Place onto middle rack of oven and heat, stirring ever couple of minutes and shaking gently to distribute pieces, until an even golden color is reached. It is okay to have some lighter and darker bits. Let cool for approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Once the crust has cooled, empty the bowl of filling onto the crust, spreading it evenly with a spatula or wide knife. It will be quite thick.
  5. Sprinkle evenly with the coconut. The variety of colors is what makes it so attractive. Place in fridge, covered with the lid that comes with the crust (another reason I love the convenience) or plastic wrap to cool for a couple of hours before serving.
 Et voila! A yummy summer dessert.

Note: Flaked coconut gives a slightly more tasty, chewy texture that complements the creaminess of the filling.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Good Morning, World!

So the big news is that as much as loved our RV, almost 2 years of living in a 33 ft space was just a bit too much for us, especially as this Pandemic started. "Crab-walking" between table and couch became very old very fast and the lack of preparation space made being creative turn from a challenge to a horror very quickly. We loved our trip to Utah last summer and relish the memories, but the day-to-day reality hit a bit hard especially when trapped in a tin box with the forthcoming hot dry Vegas summer looming, in an RV park. In short, we needed out. 

So we went searching for apartments because house prices here are ridiculous. After looking at 6 or 7 'meh' places, I finally contacted a 55+ place in town - one of the MH communities that Mike found which are usually quite attractive. They said "Why not come down and take a look. We have a brand new home that you might love." We talked specs on the phone, then Mike and I went to look at it, masks on face, and fell in love. It is our gingerbread house - 3 BR, 1200 sq ft, 2 baths, nice big yard with 'desert landscaping' (aka rocks). In our eyes it was perfect, it was home and it was less than a lot of places we had explored. Totally unlike us, we went to the office, signed the lease for immediate possession and started moving in the next day. What a whirlwind!

So here we sit, 5 weeks later, waiting for some furniture to be delivered but loving the sheer space. Slowly hanging pictures, getting stuff out of storage to put in our shed, talking about what we need vs what we want after selling, giving away or donating all our furniture prior to moving into our Lyda, our RV. She sits on a space on the hill above her for now so we can keep an eye on her. Charlie is happy to have roaming room and many windows to his world. We are still pinching ourselves. Some struggles with getting services established during this difficult COVID time but so happy to have home. Voila: