Best Ever Banana Bread

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 6 bananas)

4 eggs, well beaten

2 ½ cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 ½ cups frozen blueberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add bananas and eggs and beat until well mixed. Mix dry ingredients and blend with banana mixture, but do not over mix. Fold in blueberries (or chocolate chips). Pour into 2 loaf pans that have been buttered and floured or a bundt pan. Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour; test for doneness (toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean) and cool on rack for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Freezes beautifully.

Beth’s modifications: Instead of 1 tsp. nutmeg, I usually add ½ tsp. nutmeg and ½ tsp. cinnamon. Also, I’ve never made it with blueberries, but I always add a bag of mini-chocolate chips instead! (If you don't have the mini chips, try mixing regular chocolate chips with about 1/4 cup flour before adding to the batter. That way the chips will not sink directly to the bottom of the pan when baking.)


Orange Crunch Salad

1 head romaine lettuce
1 (10oz) can mandarin orange sections, well drained
1/3 c slivered almonds, slightly toasted in oven
1 avocado, cut in bite-sized pieces (optional)

Toss with poppy seed dressing.

I like to add spinach to this salad for variety (and iron). A yummy alternative to toasting almonds is caramelizing them.

Caramelized Slivered Almonds for Salads

1 c nuts
5 Tbsp sugar

Toss in frying pan. Cook medium to low heat, stirring until sugar melts and coats nuts a golden brown. Take off heat quickly and cool on bread board or whatever. Makes enough for 2 or 3 salads.


Healthy Chili with Crispy Spiced Tortillas

2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 pound of extra lean hamburger
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 small zucchini, diced
1 (15 oz) can of corn, drained
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can of pinto beans, drained*
1 (28 oz) plus 1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes with juices
½ cup of water
¼ cup of brown sugar**
2 heaping teaspoons of fajita spice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
* I wasn’t able to find pinto beans so I used red kidney beans instead.
** The first time I made the chili it was a bit too sweet. I would add less brown sugar to avoid the sweet taste.

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onions until lightly browned. Add ground hamburger and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add red bell pepper and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, water and brown sugar and stir. Add fajita spice, cumin, cayenne pepper and cinnamon and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and let simmer 20-25 minutes.
Optional: Before serving you can sprinkle fresh cilantro and cheddar cheese.
Servings 6-8

Seasoned Tortillas
4-6 Tortillas-You can use whole wheat or flour tortillas, which ever you like the most.
Mexican seasoning- You can use one of the following: fajita or taco seasoning, chipotle chili powder, cumin or cayenne pepper.

Spray both sides of the tortilla with cooking spray and add spices. Then place tortilla in a large non-stick skillet. Cook for about a minute or until crisp on both sides. Repeat for remaining tortillas. Cut tortilla into quarters and serve along side with bowls of chili.


Chicken & Rice Soup

This is my aunt's recipe, but super yummy!

6 T butter
1 T onion
1/2 C flour
2 1/2 C chicken broth (1 can + 1/2 C water works fine)
1 pkg Rice-A-Roni long grain & wild rice, cooked according to pkg
2 C chicken, cubed & cooked
1/2 C grated carrot
12 oz. evaporated milk

Melt butter & saute onion. Add flour & whisk, then gradually add broth. Boil about 1 min. You will see it change quickly. Stir in carrot, cooked rice & cooked chicken. Simmer 5 min or until carrot is tender. Add evaporated milk & heat. Serve with grated Chedder cheese.