other people’s recipes

Food for fun is taking it easy this week. After the excitement of last Thursday’s crazy Halloween bash, it’s time to take it down a notch. Instead of offering original fare, I’m paying it forward by sharing experiences with recipes found elsewhere.

If you’re looking for recipes and photos that make you drool, a trip to Cottage Grove House should do the trick. Last August, a post for Cherry Yogurt Cake stopped me in my tracks. I was struck by the recipe’s simplicity. What would one need to make this pretty little cake? Only butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, yogurt, and cherries. Last week brought time to make the cake and it was everything I hoped it would be: spectacular in its simplicity.

Of course there were changes, though none made deliberately. About halfway through slicing through the bag of cherries I’d frozen last summer, I realized there were no pits (can you say “autopilot”?) and upon closer inspection saw that the cherries were red grapes. Huh. Well, why not, thought I and went ahead with my newly named Grape Yogurt Cake. I also neglected to use vanilla yogurt and didn’t add vanilla to the plain yogurt I did use. But in the end it was a stunner. As much as I love fancy-pants desserts, there’s something so lovely about a simple white cake.

PB&J Cake

PB&J Cake

The grapes had me thinking peanut butter, so I added a spoonful of two of chunky-style to warm caramel sauce and served it alongside, christening it PB&J Cake. I’m certain the cake would be smashing made with only cherries as well. Three cheers for Cottage Grove House!

Moving on: I’m always thrilled when others take me up on my invitation to post their fun food finds at deLizious facebook. Amb, of Words Become Superfluous fame, thrilled me over the weekend by posting her bananarrific muffins. They looked most festive propped with a Christmas-themed plate and topped with Halloween candy. (It’s a must-see you haven’t already. Follow my deLizious link above and look for 11/3’s post.) She also credited the original recipe, and it was drool-at-first sight. These muffins looked tender, moist, and so very banana-y. (And we all know food for fun loves a good overripe banana recipe.)

Glad for yet another excuse to bake, I set out to make the muffins. A note on the recipe mentioned the option of turning it into banana bread–even better. The loaf still got a generous topping of chopped Snicker’s and peanut butter cups per amb’s photo. Glorious and amazing, this quickbread makes breakfast and snack time very bright. Thanks, amb!

candy-topped banana bread

candy-topped banana bread

all sliced up

all sliced up

Finally, I’ll share a healthier recipe, with which I was also enamored. True to form, it took me a while to get around to making a Weary Chef soup that caught my eye back in February. My daughters love Panera’s chicken wild rice soup, and this seemed a healthier but equally lovely version. I went totally DIY with this one, starting with a large kettle of water and a whole chicken. After making stock, I proceeded with WC’s recipe and ended up with a pot of mmmm-good soup. After two large bowls, I was full and warm and happy. My girls enjoyed theirs as well, and I liked that it was chock-full of veggies, whole grain, and lean protein. Weary Chef is about much more than her Happy Hour, people!

DIY cream chicken wild rice soup

DIY cream chicken wild rice soup

So that’s the recap. Though I’ll close with a link to my latest Minnesota Soybean project. No need to click over unless you like pumpkin waffles 😉

Wishing you a most excellent and delicious week.

being a guest, DIY cocktail mixers, and pb graham poppers

blog  /bläg/

  • noun: blog;  plural noun: blogs
  1. a personal website or web page which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.
  • verb: blog;  3rd person present: blogs;  past tense: blogged; past participle: blogged; gerund or present participle: blogging
  1. add new material or regularly update a blog.  “It’s about a week since I last blogged”
  2. write about (an event, situation, topic, etc.) in a blog “”he blogged the Democratic and Republican national conventions and an independent”

Who knew?

“Blog” is a relatively new word for most. Wikipedia cites its first appearance in the late 1990s and only in 2009 did it take off on a more personal level. (Credit for definition and graph goes to google.)index

I never imagined I’d author something with such a funny name, but here I am. (And here you are–you’re probably doing it, too.) Food for Fun was born because it seemed important for a food writer to have a food blog. It’s been rewarding and a favorite part has been the community of like-minded (and some not so like-minded, but fun just the same) folk I’ve come to know.

An unforseen bonus has been having clients bring me on as guest poster for their sites. As it’s all food related, I’ll offer links here–please give them a look-see. The salad alone make them worth the read. Promise.

But I won’t just send you elsewhere to read other blogs. Food for Fun is about content, folks 😉

First up: I’ve become of fan of celery simple syrup, which goes especially well in gin and vodka cocktails. It’s also a great way to use up those last few ribs of celery that always seem to be hanging out in the crisper. For each 2 ribs chopped celery, add 3/4 cup each water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes; drain and voilà! It’s sharply flavored enough that you’ll know the celery is there, but mild enough to be a versatile and interesting addition to lighter cocktails.

celery simple syrup

celery simple syrup

Second: How-To sour mix (margarita, anyone?) posts are everywhere, so this may be old news, but having tried it once, I always keep a stash on hand. It’s tasty enough to drink as-is, but a dilution of at least soda water makes is irresistible. And it shines in tequila-based drinks, absolutely.

D.I.Y.

D.I.Y.

Making the homemade sour requires more muscle than does the celery syrup as it calls for a cup each fresh lemon and lime juice. After much squeezing, the juices are poured into a premade simple syrup (boiling 1 cup each sugar and water until sugar dissolves). Its bright and fresh flavor set it worlds apart from store-bought sour and there will be no going back if you haven’t already made the switch.

Third: Now that your cocktail pantry is stocked, we’ll roll some peanut butter balls. A recent project put me close up and personal with oodles of peanut butter recipes–most of which I want to make immediately as they look so amazing. Because I’m paid for working on the recipes on paper and not in the kitchen, I hadn’t tried any. Until I came across this 3-ingredient, 5-minute recipe that demanded to be made NOW. You’ll like them, too, I think.

three ingredients--all you need

three ingredients–all you need

peanut pyramid of power

peanut pyramid

PB Graham Poppers

adapted from a Skippy® recipe

  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Sprinkles, coconut, additional graham cracker crumbs, unsweetened cocoa powder, and/or other favorite coatings

In medium bowl, stir together 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, the peanut butter, and honey. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Roll into 15 (1-inch) balls; coat in sprinkles, etc. as desired. Refrigerate to store.

I’ll be back next week with a more cohesive post, though hoping you enjoyed today’s smorgasbord of goodies.

peanut butter, banana, chocolate

Having recently received a large bag of dried banana chips, I wanted to find a use for them outside of eating as-is or tossing with granola. An online search got me thinking about using them for baking. A few recipes included them in banana bread, which intrigued me. Because peanut butter and chocolate seem a good fit with banana, I wanted to build a quick bread that incorporated all three flavors.

Banana chips in banana bread seemed redundant and chocolate bread was more indulgence than I needed. This left me looking for a peanut butter bread recipe. My cookbook collection includes a 1970s-esque Jif Peanut Butter recipe booklet (complete with ’70s-style food photos), which was where I found a simple and delicious peanut butter bread recipe. I tossed a large handful of coarsely chopped dried banana chips and a slightly smaller amount of coarsely chopped chocolate (mix of semisweet and dark) into the batter and was thrilled with the result.

The bread itself is rich and peanutty, but adding chocolate (always a good idea) and banana chips elevated it to another level of yum. The banana flavor is only there when you bite into a chip, but it’s a lovely subtle hit when you do. And the slight chew of these chips–they don’t get squishy like raisins do–adds texture contrast.

I find myself having a slice (or two) for breakfast, munching on it between meals, then considering it a dessert at the end of the day. It needs no embellishment, but a small bit of grape jelly bumps up the sweetness and if I’m really wanting to gild lilies, a touch of butter rounds out the flavor very nicely. It’s been a fun bread to discover and am happy to have found a use for my bag of banana chips.

Peanut Butter Bread with Banana Chips and Chocolate

Based on a recipe found in Jif® Choosy Mothers’ Peanut Butter Cookbook (1979)

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (Jif’s recipe called for creamy, but I used chunky)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried banana chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped chocolate bar

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch loaf pan.

In bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add peanut butter; cut in with fork or two knives until crumbly. Add egg and milk; stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Gently stir in banana chips and chocolate. Pour batter into pan; bake 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted near center of loaf comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

out-of-this-world peanut butter bread