Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Banana Cake

 Banana Cake

Love getting together with friends and at our last occasion I brought the dessert. I had not made a banana cake in a long time...and I had some over ripe bananas!

I made the recipe I have been making for years from this cookbook.   My mother bought this for me when soon after I married and I love reading the recipes and trying old traditional dishes (halushky, kolacky, pirohy, etc.)  - and the wonderful cakes.

2 cups cake flour                                2 eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons baking powder                1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda                      1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt                                 3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup margarine                              1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sugar                                         
                                                       Mrs. Tony Brenkus, 
                                                       Whiting, Indiana
OK...I just love that each recipe has the name of the person who submitted it to the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association.  The first cookbook was published in 1952...I received my copy in 1977 and I don't believe it was updated much from the original.
I just love that the book is "Dedicated to our mothers and grandmothers in grateful remembrance"!   

That dedication always brings a tear to my eye as I remember the wonderful dishes my mother made in our kitchen.  And, the sifter pictured here belonged to my fraternal grandmother.  I never met her...she died before my parents even met.   But my mother moved into the family home and this sifter was there...my mother used it for years and I am lucky enough to have it today.  Each time I use it I think of them and how their story goes on....and say a prayer for them both!

Sift the dry ingredients, cream the margarine, add sugar, beat until light and fluffy. 
 Add eggs and vanilla, beat again  Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, blend, and add bananas.
The recipe calls to add the walnuts at this time...but I save them for the top of the cake.
Pour into two 8 or 9 inch pans ( note, these are my NEW cake pans!   I had my other pans for years - they were showing wear and cakes were sticking, so I treated myself to new ones!) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

And they worked great !  The recipe calls to frost the cake with regular white frosting...I decided to make a cream cheese frosting - 
Since I was going to only use one layer today I used a half stick of butter and half of a package of cream cheese.  
Beat well, then add enough powdered sugar to make frosting...add a little vanilla, too.

Then, before I frost the cake, I put strips of waxed paper under the edges to I don't mess up the plate it sits on...
One it is frosted I top the cake with walnuts and dried banana chips.  Then pull out the wax paper and...
There you have it !   I picked up this holiday plate in one of my shopping trips and then used it as my gift to our hostess.   The cake was great...it is a rich, dense cake ( that is why I only use one layer at a time - last time I made it I made it a layer cake with two layers and it was almost too rich to enjoy) and the perfect way to use up those bananas that are over-ripe! I put the other layer in the freezer...well wrapped in plastic and foil - and it is all set for another occasion - just needs frosting !

Do you have a favorite cookbook ?  Or a favorite cake you like to make ?  Please leave a comment below - and thank you for stopping by Our New Vista!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fairy Tale Cooking

 There is a wonderful cookbook out there - still available from private sellers on Amazon and available at my local library, so check yours - called The Fairy Tale Cookbook, by Carol MacGregor, c1982
I purchased this book when I was working as a elementary school librarian and was enthralled with the recipes..."Jack's Favorite Bean Casserole", "Cinderella's Wedding Cake", and many others.   My favorite - and often made recipe as you can see from the tattered card that I copied the recipe on to - is Strega Nona's Magic Pasta.
Strega Nona, written and illustrated by Tomie De Paola in 1975, is the story of a "Grandmother Witch" in Italy. Strega Nona's meddling assistant Big Anthony is determined to prove to the townspeople his knowledge of the magic secrets contained in the pasta pot of Strega Nona. In so doing, he unleashes a torrent of pasta which threatens to engulf their little Italian town.
This is a great pasta dish and is a great way to use up leftover ham from a holiday dinner or even sliced ham from the deli counter.  This dish is filling, easy to make, and delicious.   I have altered the recipe over the years... here is how I make it:

 Chop enough onion to equal 2 tablespoons...or more if you like a lot of onion.  
Then chop about 1/4 pound of ham...once again - ham chunks leftover from a ham dinner, deli ham, etc.
Brown the ham and onion in butter until the onion is golden brown.
Add the salt, pepper, and frozen peas.   Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

I will post the entire original recipe below....but over the years I have stopped using butter and use Smart Balance to make it a little healthy.   The same with the heavy cream....I use Half&Half.
Add 1/2 cup of cream ( or half&half) to pan and cover and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the cream is slightly thick. 
OK...this is where the recipe says to set aside - so you can boil and drain the fettucini.  I NEVER do that.  I always use whatever kind of leftover pasta I have on hand...and usually it is what I had leftover and frozen in a container in the freezer.  If I am hungry for this and don't have a stash of frozen pasta I have used the new "ready made" pasta available from Barilla....any shape.
Here is my leftover spaghetti that I put into a dish and popped in the microwave to defrost.   This is too much pasta, but I was cleaning out the freezer and thought "what the heck!"
Add the pasta, the other 1/2 cup of cream, and 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese to the pan....mix well and heat through.
Top with extra cheese and enjoy.   We usually have this meal without bread and a salad because it is filling...

It is fabulous with a glass of white wine - enjoy!  
I have posted the recipe below...it says it serves 4.  Not really...maybe they meant 4 children.  
If you have little children in your home ( and even if you don't) it is fun to read the Strega Nona book before or after dinner!
Thanks so much for stopping by Our New Vista - please leave a message and share your favorite pasta recipe!

Strega Nona's Magic Pasta
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 pound ham, chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1/2 of 9oz pkg. of frozen peas
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz fettuccini
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Brown onion and ham in butter until onion is golden.  Add salt, pepper, peas and cook for 5 min.  Add 1/2  cup of cream and cook for 5 more minutes.  Set aside, boil and drain pasta.  Add the pasta to the ham and peas mixture, stir.   Stir in butter, the rest of the cream, and cheese...toss until blended and heated through.   Serve hot. 
 Serves 4???

Friday, October 19, 2018

Boo-tiful October

Boo - tiful October !

Fall weather has finally come to Pennsylvania.  The mornings are crisp and cool, the leaves are starting to turn, and life is cozy.   The ghost wreath on our door is one I made several years ago and I still love it!  While I know that decorating for Halloween is a big thing these days I am NOT purchasing or making any new items.  Using what I have...and thinking of editing some things this year as I put them away.  I put out Fall/Sunflower items right after Labor Day - then just tuck in some Halloween items for the month of October.
Our foyer greets guests with "Aunt Mamie's Ghost".  My dear Aunt Mamie made this ghost in her ceramics class and she was in her 90's at the time.  She even learned how to wire it so it lights up.  Every year I enjoy bringing it out and thinking of her.
Love this display on top of our wine rack....just took some old books, spray painted them black, then added the stick on silver letters.
Just added a Happy Halloween sign to the Fall coffee table display...

And tucked in a Jack-O-Lantern and ghost ( also made by Aunt Mamie) into the mantel display.
This is a "vintage" Jack-O-Lantern...I made this in ceramics class the first year we were married - 1977.  
Love this pillow...."and your little dog, too"!
Ghost for the dining room was made in 1977, also.
And, if you were not already creeped out enough  - here is Aunt Mamie's doll. It is an antique Queen Louise doll that we had restored a few years ago.  Aunt Mamie received it for her birthday around 1907...and it is so nice to see it restored to a good condition. 
Do you decorate for Halloween ? 
Please leave a comment...and thank you for stopping by Our New Vista !

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Salmon and Rainbow Peppers!

The peppers in the grocery looked so wonderful when I stopped the other day that I decided to make one of our favorite and healthy meals - Salmon and Peppers.  This recipe is SO easy.  I found it years ago on Reynolds Wrap website under "packet cooking."  I don't think it is on the site any longer...so here you go!
2 sheets of Heavy Duty Reynolds Wrap
2 salmon fillets, 4-6 oz. each
2 medium red, yellow, green, or orange peppers
2 Tablespoons of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon of dried basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees or grill to medium/high

Wash and cut peppers...I usually use 3 different colors and chop to make the equivalent of two peppers.

Center one salmon fillet on each sheet of heavy duty wrap ( or just double up regular wrap).

Put the pepper pieces around the salmon, then top with 1 Tablespoon of butter and sprinkle with the dried basil.
Wrap the packets up and seal...leaving some room for steam.

I put them on the grill on our patio.  When making the packets in the oven I put them on a baking sheet in case there is any leakage.
Cook for 18 - 20 minutes.
CAREFULLY open the packets...
And serve with rice...I use brown rice.
The color of the peppers goes great with my Fall table...this is set for 6.  You can easily double/triple/? this recipe - it's a great make ahead dish for company.
The napkins are from Kohl's a few years ago.
The place mats are from Dollar Tree.

Table center is a combination of some fresh flowers from the grocery store and silk sunflowers from Dollar Tree.   The place mat under the centerpiece is a place mat from Pier One...there was only one left on a clearance table and it works fine for this purpose.
I always like to have a little take home sweet for guests....I had just made a batch of the Rollo Pretzel bites ( recipe can be found on the Rollo Candy bag) and topped them with pecans and Autumn colored M&M's.  
Put in clear treat bags wrapped with raffia I added some Fall tags that were a printable download from On Sutton Place - Thank you, Ann, for sharing!

Hope you enjoyed the recipe and ideas.  Do you have any easy "packet" recipes to share?   Any good salmon recipes?   Please leave a comment and thanks so much for stopping by Our New Vista ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ™‚

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ready for FALL!

I am SO ready for Fall!  While I never have been the kind of person who is bothered by the weather, for some reason this year all the rain, gloom, and humidity has really made me lazy.  Just want to sit and read.  Not that that is a bad thing, but I am anxious for the crisp, cool mornings and the wonderful colors when the leaves change. 
Finally got out all my Fall decorations last Sunday when the weather was cool and it rained all day.   It was also the perfect day to make my favorite Vegetable Beef ( or no Beef ) Soup.  I have posted this recipe in the past, but this time I remembered to take some photos of the process - and made it a little differently than in the past.

Vegetable Beef ( or No Beef ) Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef, browned and drained.  BUT...I use one package of soy crumbles.   They are easy, on hand in the freezer, and we do not notice the difference as the soup cooks all day and takes the taste of the other ingredients.
1 14-1/2 ounce can of stewed tomatoes
1 15-1/2 ounce can of tomato sauce (I use a can of diced tomatoes instead of sauce.)
1 packet of dry onion soup mix
1 10-1/2 oz. can of beef broth( I use vegetable broth.)
1 15 oz package of frozen mixed vegetables ( and any other leftover veggies that are in the refrigerator!)

Mix all together in a slow cooker.  Stir in one soup can of water.   Cook on low temperature for 8 to 12 hours.  Enjoy with a loaf of crusty bread.

I made this yesterday before breakfast.   It was a raw, rainy day and we ventured out only to go to a great presentation on The First Ladies at the Cultural Center here at Willow Valley.   We spent the afternoon reading, watching a great old movie ( The Lady Vanishes, 1938), and enjoying the scent of a good soup simmering for our supper.   This meal makes enough for 6 dinner sized servings.  I put the remaining soup in freezer containers and am all set for the next cold and chilly day - just reheat in the microwave and enjoy.

This recipe is a great crock pot choice - and I spray the crock with non-stick spray just to make clean up easy.
The difference this time was that our neighbors were leaving for a trip and gave us all these home grown tomatoes from their garden.   I chopped up the tomatoes and used them instead of the can of stewed tomatoes in the recipe.
They were so fresh and juicy - I had to sneak a few pieces to taste!
This is where the NO BEEF comes in - I use these vegetable/soy crumbles and they are wonderful in this recipe.  Everything cooks for so long and absorbs the flavors that you would never know it was not ground beef.  I use this product in Chili as well - but not in Lasagna as you notice the difference in that dish.
Mixed vegetables...
Tomato sauce...
Broth - I use Vegetable Broth, and I use more than the recipe calls for...I like a lot of broth!
Then add one packet of Onion Sip mix...
Then mix it all together, cover, and cook all day.   It is so comforting on a cold and rainy day, perfect with some crusty bread and a nice glass of wine!  Since it is just the two of us I freeze the leftovers and they reheat well for a quick and easy meal some other day!

While the soup was cooking I started the Fall decorations...and of course, the EAGLES football had to be on display for the first game of the season!
Changed out the tray ( anybody else loving using trays???) and  added pumpkins, little apples, and my leaf candle holder.
Always like to add a seasonal touch to this book of poetry...
Some more apples ( love that plate, it used to sit in my kitchen window and caught the light...no more kitchen window so I use it here...), pumpkins, and still some sunflowers for September.
I changed out the lighter pillows to a darker tone for Fall/Winter and added this leaf pillow I found at Ross a few years ago.
Love my reader statue ( Thank you, Joanne!) and always add something to her to celebrate the season.
Dining table...still a work in progress.  The leaf placemat was a "there is just one, it is a great price" at Pottery Barn last year.
Added some faux mums near the front door...

Some fall colors in the foyer and stuck some leaves into the Powder Room wreath...
Can't forget to add a little Fall to the outdoor table...yesterday it was finally dry and cool enough to enjoy lunch outside!
And lastly a Fall wreath to greet visitors!  We will enjoy this one until October 1...when it will be time for the Halloween decorating to begin!

Do you decorate for the Fall ?  I have cut way back on what I do, but still trying to simplify.   Any tips for me ?  Have you tried the soup recipe?  Thank you so much for stopping by Our New Vista - please leave a comment - and have a Fabulous Fall!

Banana Cake

  Banana Cake Love getting together with friends and at our last occasion I brought the dessert. I had not made a b...