My daughter and her family visited this weekend and did a huge yard cleanup for me! I am so grateful for all of their hard work!
My job was feeding the troops.
First of all, I made a new banana bread recipe, and it is very moist and great tasting! I think the secrets are buttermilk, a bit of lemon juice, and half of the sugar is brown sugar. It is also baked at a lower temperature than usual. Here’s the recipe, which I got from the website Divas Can Cook:
Oven Temp: 325 degrees F.
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes (check after 1 hour)
Note: All ingredients should be room temperature.
3 large extra ripe bananas 1 1/2 cups mashed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar [I used 1/2 cup]
8 tablespoons butter, softened ( 1 stick)
2 eggs beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Note: You can add nuts or chocolate chips, but I didn’t.
Preheat oven to 325.
Grease and flour a loaf pan.
In a medium size bowl, mash bananas until creamy and stir in lemon juice. Set aside.
In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.
Beat in the eggs until combined.
Fold in the bananas.
Add in the vanilla extract and buttermilk.
Beat until combined.
Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture. STIR GENTLY AND JUST UNTIL THE FLOUR IS INCORPORATED.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake on center rack for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cooking times may vary. Check on bread at the 1 hour mark. [NOTE: I baked mined for 60 minutes in my convection toaster oven.] Toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean and bread should be golden on the outside.
Brush the top of the bread with butter if desired when it comes out of the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove the bread from the pan and place on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Slice and enjoy!
If you would like to try this ciabatta recipe, I highly recommend it. It is easy and bullet proof:
Fresh fruit was available for those who wanted it, and lots of cold drinks.
For dinner our second night, I made this vegetable lasagna. I had not made lasagna in years, but it was a hit. The lasagna was accompanied by a big green salad – lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber with a balsamic and olive oil dressing.
For dessert we had fresh berries over pound cake (not homemade) with vanilla ice cream.
NOTE: I used a 24 oz jar of Prego sauce with sausage, so what I made was NOT vegetarian! It would be just as good with a meatless sauce, but that is what I had in my pantry.
Cheesy Vegetable Lasagna
1 medium onion, small dice
8 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms, small dice
1 small eggplant (about 12 ounces), small dice
1 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, small dice
1 medium red bell pepper, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tsp minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional (I used it)
2 cups ricotta cheese (15 to 16 ounces)
1 small package baby spinach (NOTE: I used a small package of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed to remove excess moisture)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (12 ounces) – (I used 16 oz)
1 (24-ounce) jar good marinara sauce (3 cups)
15 dry lasagna noodles. You can use the no-boil noodles or the regular. I used the regular and cooked mine before assembling the casserole.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook until the onions are sweated and are just starting to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and most of that liquid has evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the eggplant, zucchini, and bell pepper, and cook until all are softened, 3 to 5 minutes more.
Push the vegetables aside to clear out some space in the middle of the pan. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil, garlic, salt, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes if using. Stir the garlic until it is fragrant and just starting to turn golden, about 30 seconds, then stir it into the vegetables.
If using fresh spinach, add the spinach and stir until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. If using frozen spinach, defrost and squeeze out excess liquid, then add to the ricotta cheese.
Spread a thin layer of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Lay 5 of the lasagna noodles over the sauce, breaking them if needed to create a single layer. Spread 1 cup of the ricotta over the noodles. Top with 1/2 of the vegetables, 1 cup of the marinara sauce, and 1 cup of the mozzarella.
Arrange another 5 noodles over mozzarella, followed 1 cup of ricotta, the remaining vegetables, 1 cup of the marinara, and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Top this with a final layer of 5 noodles and the remaining sauce, mozzarella and grated or shredded Parmesan. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake for 1 hour. Check to make sure the noodles are done by poking the lasagna with a knife; the knife should slide easily through all the layers. If it doesn’t, cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Remove foil and bake, uncovered, until the top is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: The lasagna can be assembled and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance, or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw the frozen lasagna for 2 days in the refrigerator before baking.