Banana Bread Recipe

I make this banana bread about twice a month. Both my picky eater boys love this recipe! It’s a safe food for both of them and I’ve added some healthier ingredients like whole wheat flour, flax seed and oatmeal to the mix.

I make mini muffins, but the recipe can be easily adapted for loaves of banana bread. However, my kids ONLY eat the mini muffin versions.

 

It does make a pretty loaf though:

TIP: Freeze your over-ripe bananas in a freezer bag and add to it until you have enough to make banana bread. Takes about 4-5 good sized bananas.

BANANA BREAD MUFFINS

By Scout Semmes

Onethousandwordstohome.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 ¼ CUPS SUGAR

½ CUP BUTTER – softened to room temperature

2 EGGS

1 ½ CUPS MASHED BANANAS – overripe are best

1 ½ CUPS MILK

1 TEASPOON VANILLA

3/4 CUP OF VEGETABLE OIL

1 ½ CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

1/2 CUP WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR

½ CUP PLAIN QUICK OATMEAL

1 TEASPOON BAKING SODA

1 TEASPOON SALT

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:

⅓ cup Flax Seeds

2 TBLS Brewer’s Yeast

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven 350 degrees. Grease bottoms of muffin and/or loaf pans (or use baking cups for muffins)
  2. Mash bananas in a medium bowl with a potato masher or your electric mixer.
  3. In a separate large bowl, mix sugar and butter with a spoon until well incorporated and smooth. Or use your electric mixer.
  4. Add eggs to butter and sugar. Mix until eggs are well blended to create a creamy texture.
  5. Add bananas, milk, oil and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  6. Stir in flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt. (add optional ingredients if desired at this point) Mixture will have a “batter-like” consistency.

Divide batter evenly among greased pans and/or muffin cups. Fill greased pans with batter: ¾ full for loaf pan and ¾ full for muffin cups.

Bake 45 minutes – one hour for loaf, 25 minutes for muffins, and 19-22 mins for mini muffins or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 mins. Remove carefully from pans to cooling rack.

Makes about 2 loaves OR about 5 dozen mini muffins

To freeze muffins:

Wait until completely cool. Remove muffins from cupcake pans to a sheet tray. Place muffins on sheet tray without allowing them to touch. If you need more room put aluminum foil on top of the first layer and put the rest on top of the aluminum foil. Freeze for 30 minutes or until flash frozen. Remove to marked freezer bag and seal for up to two months.

To freeze loaves:

Wait until completely cool. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place in marked freezer bag and seal for up to two months.

To defrost mini muffins:

Remove 3 muffins from bag and put on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 10 seconds. Let stand if too hot.

Or

Defrost in refrigerator until soft

Download the recipe PDF here:

Banana Bread Muffins

Real Research: Writing about faraway places – Guest Post by Stuart White

 

Tales from the Falkland Islands…and writing research tips!

I am proud to present a guest post by my friend and mentor, Stuart White. Please read his impressive biography HERE.

Real Research: Writing about faraway places

A guest post by Stuart White

I’ve been up since dawn and I’m peering across a grim, rain-swept bay to a small mist-shrouded harbor as a ship’s tiny tender battles against the buffeting gale towards the shore.

And not for the first time in my travelling-writing life I wonder,

“What the hell am I doing here?”

“Here” in this case happens to be the Falkland Islands, 8,000 miles from my home in England.

It’s off the tip of South America and there’s nothing south of it except Antarctica.

And the answer – or excuse perhaps – is, I’m doing research on a film script whose locations all lie in South America, the South Atlantic or the Pacific west of that continent.

And my trip is all the more strange perhaps since I actually wrote the script two years ago!

It’s about two now mostly ignored World War One sea battles a hundred years ago involving the British Royal Navy and the German Imperial Navy that were pivotal to the eventual Allied – including American – victory.

It’s also a dramatic story of intense personal and international rivalry involving figures like Churchill and the German Kaiser.

This trip will take me from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Montevideo,

 

Montevideo

Anchor from the German pocket battleship Graf Spee in Montevideo. The Graf Spee was scuttled in the River Plate just off Montevideo in 1939 after being badly damaged by British ships. It’s relevant to my research because the ship was named AFTER (or for, depending on usage) Admiral Graf von Spee who is the subject of my film script – an Admiral in the First World war. (photo property of Stuart White)

 

Uruguay; the Falkland Islands; round Cape Horn,

 

Cape Horn

Cape Horn (island) where one goes ’round the Cape’…the very tip of South America. (photo property of Stuart White)

up the Magellan Strait…then the Chilean fjords

Chilean fjords

Chilean Fjords – photo property of Stuart White

ending at the large port of Valparaiso and the country’s capital, Santiago.

 

South American Street Scenes

photo property of Stuart White

photo property of Stuart White

It started like this: I was commissioned to write a script called Death at Sea for a Hollywood production company, and duly did. The project is in development right now.

So far the script has had rave reviews. But….I know there’ll be re-writes, there always are. And something nagged at me. I am never comfortable setting one of my books or scripts in a location I’ve never visited.

I’m lucky in that respect as during my career, especially as a journalist and foreign correspondent, I’ve visited more than eighty- five countries, lived in three, including the United States for a total of more than eleven years. (And I’ve visited forty-four of America’s states, too).

I’d even been to four countries in South America. But…I was writing about Montevideo and I’d never been; about the Falkland Islands and…I’d never been. Valparaiso, Chile. Ditto.

So when I happened upon a ship that was visiting all those places on a 15 night voyage I knew I had to take that trip, so that when I eventually come to do the re-write I’ll be better informed.

“How so,” I hear you cry? “Come on Stuart, get with the times dude. With Google anyone can find anything about anywhere; statistics, history, maps, satellite photographs.  It’s child’s play. No need to leave your desk.”

Well yes, but in my view also – no.  Statistics and dry facts don’t tell you everything. You can’t hear them or see them – not really – and you can’t smell and feel them.

Statistics and dry facts don’t tell you everything.

I’ve read novels and scripts set in places such as Paris, New York, London and I just know the writer has never set foot there. They don’t have the sense of it, the smell of it, and the feel of it.

Absolutely nothing gives you the true sense of a place like going there…then it becomes real, and your book or script leaps from the possibly banal and clichéd (and frequently inaccurate) to one with verite.

I wanted to go to the Falklands because our script centers around two battles. In December 1914 a British fleet sank four German warships and drowned 1,800 German sailors about 40 miles off its coastline.  Six weeks earlier a German fleet had sunk two British ships and killed 1,500 men off Coronel in Chile.

I wanted to see exactly where those men died, witness the cruel sea as they did.  

I needed to feel the juddering, pitching of a ship beneath me as it battled high seas and howling gales, and try to imagine the terror of being sunk there!

And later in my voyage I had the thrilling – if eerie – opportunity of knowing the exact moment I was sailing over the precise locations where the battles had taken place; and where fathoms below me, the wrecked ships and the hundred year old remains of those brave men lay.

To me that is research. It sends a shiver down my spine now as it did at the exact moment I passed over the locations, to think that what I had written about had one day been cruel reality for these men.

When I come to the inevitable re-write, that will inform and inspire my work as nothing else can.

Next time: Precisely what I did in the Falklands and later locations in terms of actual research; and what the producers had me do also to help with the project.

And how if you can’t afford the time or expense of visiting a location, the best way of putting spice, and smell and feel and atmosphere into your research.

 

Five Easy Recipes Reviewed: January 2017, Week Four

I made a few meals this week. Most were tried and true deliciousness!

I also tried a new recipe this week! I purchased a few cookbooks from NewLeafWellness and I’m trying out recipes.

(I’ve included the links in case you’re interested.)

Recipe Reviews from January,Week 4:

From NewLeafWellness:

Singaporean Chicken Rice Stew (PAID) Rating: B+

Make Ahead Freezer Chicken Fajitas (FREE) Rating: A

Modified from AmandatheVirtuousWife:

Chicken Enchiladas Freezer Meal (FREE) Rating: A

My Recipes!:

Banana Bread  – WHOLE WHEAT BANANA BREADINGREDIENTS2017 (DOWNLOAD FOR FREE here) A+

Tuna Casserole – TUNA CASSEROLE 2017 (download free) A+

Singaporean Chicken Rice Stew (Rating B+)

I loved this. However, my husband did not like the ginger in it. LOL.

My 11-month-old also LOVED this and ate most of mine when I fixed a bowl. Surprisingly, it makes a wonderful first food as the chicken and carrots cook down very soft.

The recipe has some Asian flavoring including soy sauce and sesame oil which I enjoyed. The recipe is super easy and I already had everything in my pantry. I used brown rice too, so healthy.

Make Ahead Freezer Chicken Fajitas (Rating A)

I had a leftover bell pepper so I did a half-recipe for this. I wanted to use up my bell pepper. I had everything else to make up this freezer meal. I left out the chicken because we buy in bulk and freeze in serving sized portions. I just take out a little bag of pre-frozen chicken with this meal and that makes it!

I used left-over bell pepper:

My husband likes this dish. Not so much as some of my other meals, but it’s good enough to get an A rating.

Chicken Enchiladas (Rating A+)

I’ve modified the original recipe to our taste. that’s why I’ve give it such a high rating!

I made a pan…

and I froze a pan…

I’m not a strong cook and depend heavily on recipes. And with two small kids underfoot, I don’t have much time to devote to following anything complex. That’s why I totally love freezer crockpot meals! This one however, goes in your oven. It’s almost easier. Because I don’t really have to defrost it. I can take it from the freezer and put it straight into the oven.

Do not put a cold dish in your hot oven!

NOTE: I line the casserole dish all the way with tinfoil. Top and bottom. Then put it in the freezer. After the dish is frozen I remove it from the casserole dish and transfer the food (still with the tin foil) to a plastic freezer bag, label, and return to the freezer. That way I can safely remove my casserole dish from the freezer!

It’s simple to place your food back in a casserole dish when you want to cook it. Simply stick it back in the casserole dish and either bake or defrost as needed.

Alterations to Amandathevirtuouswife’s recipe:

  • corn tortillas instead of flour
  • chicken for the ground beef
  • omitted the refried beans and tomatoes/chilies (husband doesn’t care for them)
  • I used a large (cheap) tub of taco seasoning to taste instead of packets
  • no sour cream

Overall, this is an easy and ingredient-flexible recipe. I would recommend this to anyone who is thinking of getting started with freezer cooking!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread (Rating A+)

I’ve toyed with this recipe for years to make it my son’s favorite breakfast food! I always use my muffin paper cups and mini-muffin pan. He will ONLY eat the mini-muffins. I love this recipe, so I thought I’d share it here for you guys.

WHOLE WHEAT BANANA BREADINGREDIENTS2017

Tuna Casserole (Rating A+)

I love tuna casserole. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods. By the end of this week, I needed some of that.

I had all the ingredients stocked in my pantry, so WIN. I threw this together. Recipe – TUNA CASSEROLE 2017

The End of An Exhausting Week

Last week was long and is stretching into this week. The kids are still sick. Bringing them to the doctor tomorrow.

I spent a little time this evening while my kids were occupied (and finally not crying) getting some neglected cleaning done. My kitchen, living room and dining room are acceptably clean. I’m mostly caught up on laundry.

Writing this while winding down with chocolate and a glass of red wine. Got to gear up for another week of sick kids. Still trying to get over this myself.

 

 

 

 

Choosing my word for 2017

Choosing my word for 2017: Author

I wanted to choose a word for the year to help keep focus for my goals. I got wise and had a discussion with my super-awesome-husband. We chatted a bit about my mini weekly goals and my goals for the year. Together, we chose the best possible word for me: Author.
This word is, and has been, at the root of my goals for years.
From NaNoWriMo 2015, to this past year I kept at my writing projects even with a baby in tow and an energetic 4-year-old. This year, I want to put this word at the forefront for focusing myself on my three weekly goals.
My end goal for my books is to self-publish to Kindle e-Books.
From now on, I will set every weekly mini-goal with this word in mind.
It think it’s very fitting that I choose a word in January, because that’s my birth month! I’ll be doing a little celebrating next week. I LOVE cookie cake. It’s one of my weaknesses…I plan on indulging.

Meals:

Best recipe of the week:

Chicken breast: I made 8 chicken breast meals.
I kept it super simple this week for food. It’s been a rough week.

For the chicken breasts, I found this video. It’s super helpful for a cooking novice like myself!
It’s a simple “recipe” or technique as he calls it. I have made chicken breasts this way all week long. My husband says that, in our almost 6 years of marriage, this is his favorite way that I have prepared chicken breasts!

Worst recipe of the week:

I tried his recipe for “brats” or bratwurst. I did not care for it at all. I guess I just didn’t care for that type of sausage. It was so bad that we tasted it and then threw it out. Some might judge me for being wasteful, but the taste was horrible. I was not going to eat it.
Anyone who does like this sausage please forgive me! (And kindly send me a better recipe.)

Writing my novel:

I’ve been delving deeper into my villain’s character, exploring his motivation for why he’s opposing my main character. I’m also exploring my female protagonist’s emotional depth. She experiences a lot of guilt and I want to show her past and the reasons why she feels this way. Interestingly, I haven’t done much with my main character and I’m almost 25k words in. What do you think that says about my story?

Cleaning:

I’ve been cleaning the kitchen plus one room for the second week straight. I did not expect it to make such a huge difference! It helps me keep concentration when I sit down to write.

I’ve been really feeling the space in my head with the clean rooms. It’s like I can breathe more easily! I love how having a clean home makes me feel. It’s so much more effort than I anticipated even with just two rooms, but it is so worth it for me.

To keep me motivated, I’ve been listening to A Slob Comes Clean. I just discovered this podcast and it’s wonderful!

Comment below and tell me about your week!

Meal Prepping Challenge: Week One

EIGHT MEALS: WEEK ONE

One of my goals is to meal prep 8 individual meals per week. This is to make more time for writing by spending less time in the kitchen.
Meal Prepping is going great so far. It’s helping me and my family to eat better without stressing over cooking every night.
  • Prepping Individual Meals
I love prepping Crockpot freezer meals and freezer cooking in general. But lately I’ve also been loving prep for individual healthy meals!
In the videos we watched they had similar meal prep containers, but I got super cheap ones from Kroger. They were $1.99 for 4.

Our meal prep containers:

Prepping individually packaged, from-scratch meals makes it so easy to eat a healthy meal even when pressed for time or when trying to juggle small kids. I can just grab a meal out of the fridge (or even freezer) with very little prep, if any. Also, this works great for making sure my husband has lunches to bring to work that are:

1. Appetizing
2. Healthy
@fitcouplecooks YouTube videos are so easy and so good for individual meals. We’ve done a few and so far: delicious. I’ve made variations on their meals in the last couple weeks:

I’ll confess a little secret. I’ve stepped out of our comfort zone with two ingredients.

  1. Brown rice
  2. Quinoa

I’m embracing new and healthier options! I didn’t even know how to cook it these correctly before this past week.

 Thankfully, @fitcouplecooks provided perfect, delicious instructions for quinoa and brown rice!
  • More @fitcouplecooks goodness…

My husband made their delicious healthy chicken nuggets! This was an A+ winner recipe. I don’t have a pic…because we ate it all!

I’d recommend @fitcouplecooks recipes available on YouTube. They have easy to follow videos and inspired me to build my own meal prep meals!

Here’s a look at what I’ve done this week for my 8 meals!

  • Black bean brown rice burgers – 2 meals (frozen for later)

I made a huge pot of black beans from scratch the other night, so I’ve been trying to find ways to use them.
Note: making beans from scratch is a great way to use your crockpot! Also, making them from scratch is a good way to make beans that don’t have added salt, like you would find in canned beans.
I found a great black bean burger recipe. I’ve made some failed black bean burgers, but this one is even husband-approved! (I omitted the onions.)
  • salad with black beans and quinoa – 4 meals

I added salsa, taco sauce and cheese and heated in the microwave. Delish!

Confession: I did not follow the recipe exactly…
Here are the ingredients I used (“to taste”) for the ground beef:
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Taco Bell mild sauce
Taco seasoning
Salt
(Cooked) Black Beans
And after cooking, I topped with:
salsa
olives
lettuce
We ate this with organic, low-salt corn chips.
The Nachos fed us each dinner plus at least 4 more meals in leftovers!
I’m over my quota for meals this week; which means more time for writing, less time cooking.
Apparently, I don’t have to sacrifice healthy meals to make time for writing. Meal prep for individual meals has bought me time all week!
Do you meal prep, freezer cook or crockpot freezer cook? Let me know how you save time in the kitchen!

Week One-Day One: writing Goals 2017

  • 275 words on my novel
  • 75 words on my next blog post
  • The kitchen and my son’s room are clean 

On this first day of the year, I’d  like to express my gratitude to those who have followed my blog for the last year. Thank you for your support!


I’d also like to express my heartfelt love and gratitude to my husband for his patience, love and support this past year. ❤

Without him, I would not have gotten this far. 

Day One: Success!

My Goals for 2017

Happy New Year’s Eve! I hope this post finds you and your family well and happy.
After doing some soul-searching and some inspirational reading over the past few days I’ve come up with a plan for my writing goals.
  • I’m finding time
I’m the past, I’ve made writing Goals without any thought about how I was going to fit these goals in my regular life. There’s the endless laundry, dishes and baby diapers. Without making time to do my writing, I could end up gettting burned out. Instead, I’m implementing a plan and schedule that I’m hoping will save me time without being complicated.
I am not going to isolate my writing goals from the rest of my life. Writers want to write but then life happens!
  • I’m learning from my failures with goal setting
I’m also learning from my past mistakes and NOT overwhelming myself. I’m doing this three ways.
  1. I’m only choosing three goals.
  2. I’m only committing to these three goals one week at a time.
  3. AND I’m doing a weekly checklist.
Week one checklist – FREE DOWNLOAD January2017weekonegoals
  • I’m not going to be rigid with the process
I’m giving myself the flexibility to re-evaluate in week instead of a year.
  • These are my goals for the month of January 2017
I’m taking January one week at a time but I still have a plan for the month. This is what week one looks like for me. I’m hoping to keep this up for four weeks.
My three goals for Week One of January 2017:
1. 1,200 words per week
2. Meal planning 8 individual meals per week
3. Clean one room per day + the kitchen

My words per week are broken down by day. 200 words per day on my novel and 40 words per day on a weekly blog post.
My meal planning of “8 meals” may sound like a lot, but I’m planning on only batch cooking two meals that would make up 8 individual servings. I’ll be posting more about this and why I’ve switched from slow-cooker family freezer meals to “meal prep” of individual meals in a future post.
I am going to try to keep myself sane by not looking at the whole house and seeing a mess. I’m going to focus on one room per day to clean. And for the sake of my sanity, I will keep the definition of “clean” flexible!

Click the link below to download a FREE PDF printable of WEEK ONE of my goals. Follow along with me if you think this will help you with your goals. Or do it with me!!!

January2017weekonegoals

What do you think of these goals? Comment below if you plan to do this with me!

 

When writing seems like a luxury

If you’re a mom with small kids, writing could get shoved to the back burner. I know that’s what happens to me many days. I have a four-year-old and a 10-month-old. My second baby is still mostly breastfed, including through the night. It’s exhausting.
When just taking a shower seems luxurious, time for writing seems indulgent.
I’ve been trying to balance dreaming big with having practical, achievable goals. I really love Crystal Paine’s article on this.
She recommends starting with only a few goals, as few as three.
I’ve established three goals. It’s not many, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I’ll be posting about my three goals and my plan on New Years Eve. I want to make a plan that will work and won’t make me burn out.
I’ve failed with writing goals. In the past I’ve set my goals too big and burdensome.
Sure, big goals are good, like finishing my book. But I have to be practical because I have a family. I’m raising two small children with my husband. I have to establish goals that are attainable…In other words goals that I can achieve without losing my mind.
Writing may seem like it’s a luxury, but if you’re reading this, I would guess that you share my passion for writing.
Writing is self expression and discovery, the lens through which I help myself process life. 
Without it, I would feel incomplete.
I’m guessing that writing, or some form of creative expression, is essential to your life as well. 
Everyone needs a creative outlet.
Give yourself time to write, even if it feels indulgent. And maybe have a cup of coffee to stay awake. 
What inspires you and fulfills you? Does it feel indulgent to do creative things?

I’ve Failed at Writing Goals and Learned a Lot


It’s ok to fail. I’ve had to learn that. I’ve failed at a lot of stuff. Most people have. But what challenges me the most is my failure when it comes to writing goals.

I’ve failed with writing goals. In the past I’ve set my goals too big and burdensome.

Just this past year, 2016, I tried to do NaNoWriMo. It was just too much. It was too much to do in too little time. But that’s mom life, right? There’s always so much to do and so very little time. But, I still got some of my novel done! Starting also kick-started my writing and kept me going even if it wasn’t the NaNoWriMo 1,667 words per day.

I have not finished or published my novel. It’s now almost 2017. I started it in 2011 when I got pregnant with my first child.

BUT… I have yet to give up.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S. Lewis

I have to learn to be kinder to myself and to establish goals that are attainable. With two small children and keeping up with daily household duties trying to do anything else can get overwhelming. I have gotten overwhelmed, many times.

This year, 2017, I’m going to attempt to establish a short list of doable goals for writing and home life. No more than three.

I’m trying to learn from my past failures and choose fewer goals and break them down into smaller chunks.

A great resource that I’ve used is this article by Crystal Paine.

What are your past goal setting failures? What have you learned?

Goal Setting Inspiration 

Setting Writing Goals: for Moms


  • Why set goals and not New Years Resolutions?

Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting vague resolutions with no plan for follow-through. The difference between goals and “resolutions” is described well by Michael Hyatt HERE in his article. 

Instead, I set myself up on a stronger platform: goal setting. 

  • How do I Set Goals For Writing?

There are lots of great resources for learning about goal setting. Some of the resources I have found the most helpful for me are compiled at the end of this article. As a mom and a writer, I’ve found these articles more helpful than others. 

 I’ve brought together information that speaks to me where I am as a mom of young kids with little time to shower much less set writing goals for the coming year. 

  • Staying encouraged 

I’ve found some articles about goal setting more discouraging than anything else because they assume that you’ve got hours to spend (and likely from the tone of the articles that you have a maid, a nanny and a secretary.) But I’m here to prove that goals are not just for people who seem to already have it “together.” I’m broke, I’ve got young kids, I’m an emotional wreck. My house is always littered with toys. But by gosh I’m going to set my OWN writing goal. Because it’s important!

If you’re interested in making 2017 YOUR year, let’s do it together!

Check out these authors and resources on goal setting that I have found particularly inspiring:

Crystal Paine

Jeff Goins

What are your goals for 2017? Post below!