Monday, January 7, 2013

Best Ever Banana Bread

The Banana Dilemma...

Do your kids go through phases where they can't get enough of something, and then BAM out of nowhere the hate it? Like dry heave at the sight of it hate it? What the heck?! On the plus side I get to make this when they are going through one of the hate cycles.

I am in love with this bread. It's moist, it has rich flavor, and can even be consumed the next day and be fantastic...granted it lasts that long.


1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream (it makes everything better! Click, here and here)
1/2 chopped walnut...we opt for chocolate chips. The kids really have to twist my arm.
2 medium bananas, smashed.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl stir butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla, stir until mixed well.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, stir into the butter mixture until smooth.

Fold in the sour cream, bananas, and walnuts (*cough* chocolate chips) Spread evenly into a greased 9x5 loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60min.


It's Party Time!

I am a big fan of cakes, er, make that frosting. I LOVE making cakes for my kiddos and in this case, my hubby. The man loves golf, so I thought it would be awesome to bring a golf course into this house this year! Ha!

Here is the play by play:

First I baked 24 spice cupcakes, if you want a hint on making a box mix taste like homemade, click HERE.

***Tip: Use a 1/3 measuring cup when filling up your cupcakes. It will give even, perfect sized cupcakes almost every time without having to much or too little leftover***

While those were baking I smashed about 8 graham cracker cookies in a Ziploc bag for the sand trap...or whatever that's called.

You can also prepare your pole/flag. Mine is a pretzel stick and a fruit roll up. I just cut it into a diamond shape and wrapped it around.

Now you're going to want to make your frosting, I used my own recipe for cream cheese frosting.

6 of the cupcakes will be used in the sand trap I used some untinted frosting and put some on those cupcakes to make the graham crackers stay put. I also reserved some of the frosting and put it in the freezer to make the golf balls...More on that later.

Then I tinted the frosting using Wilton's "kelly green", I used Wilton tip #18 to make the grass effect. The fairway is just simply spread, and the "green" is dusted with green sugar.

For the final touch I rolled tiny balls of frosting I had put in the freezer to make the golf balls.

The Hubs loved it, I am a huge fan of making cupcake cakes!

Tricks For Finding The Next Good Book To Read

I love to find a great book to read... but it use to be really hard for me to find the next good one. Mostly it would be word of mouth or I would go to the Authors website of the book I just read and sometimes they would give recommendations for another good book.

This last year, 2012, I made a goal for myself to read more and watch TV less. It's always easier to read more in the summer when there isn't much on TV to entice you. I also bought an Ipad, which made it great for having the Kindle app to download books. So throughout the year, I learned tips and tricks on my own to find more books that are great to read, based on the books I have already read and enjoyed.

So, for all you New Years Resolution type of people that have a goal of reading more... I hope these tips help you out quite a bit.

1. If you don't already have a kindle or an ipad or the kindle app on your phone... I would seriously recommend it. If you are a big reader, you will save lots of money this way and coming by books is definitely easier.

2. Amazon is your best friend! If you don't already have one, you need to start your own Amazon account. You only need to give your credit card when you are purchasing something. You can buy used books for less then half the price of a new one. You can download books to your kindle or you can get an audio version of the book. Its such a great resource!

3. I'm going to take you through Amazon step by step on finding just the right book that fits your style... First go to Amazon and Search by books. Type in the last book that you read that you really enjoyed; I'm using Matched by Ally Condie as an example.
Example (if you can't see it very good, just click on the image):
4. Now click on your book you just read and "loved"(mine is Matched). It will come up with pricing and description, etc... The important part we are looking for, you'll need to scroll down to get. Past the Book Description, it will say Frequently Bought Together. Amazon will automatically link you to the trilogy if you didn't already know your book was one. If you've read all three already then right after that it will say, Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought, this is where you can scroll from left or right to see all the books that people have purchased that are similar to your book. (You can use this for any style of book that you have read. The recommendations will always match up to the book that you are searching)
Here is an example of what you should see:

5. From here, it should be easy to choose your next book of choice. Some things to look for... How many customer reviews? If the book has less then 100 reviews you should question the rating. Not a lot of people have read that book to give a good opinion. Next you want to look at the star rating. I tend to choose books that have at least 4 1/2 stars. You'll most likely enjoy that book.

6. As just an example, from the list of recommended books, the one that stood out to me the most was The Book Thief.  I clicked on the book and it gives me all the options of buying the book. What I'm really looking for is some reviews of the book to make my final decision on whether or not I want it. The best way to do that is to click on customer reviews next to the star ratings...

7. After clicking on the customer reviews you'll see at the very top: The most helpful favorable review versus The most helpful critical review. By reading both, it will give you a good perspective on whether or not you would enjoy reading the book.

8. If you like The Book Thief but aren't sure if you're in the mood for reading it right now, you can always save it to your wish list for later. This is a great resource for remembering books that you want to read and can come back to them later. Especially if you saw more than one book you wanted to read from the recommended list of books.

9.  Amazon keeps track of the things you buy and will give you Recommendations for future things you would like according to what you have already purchased. So, in other words, the more books you buy on there, the more it will recommend other books to you by what you are reading. Example:

10. My last tip, pay attention to Price. If you are downloading a kindle book, it shouldn't cost you anymore then $9.99. If a book seems too pricey but its one you just can't seem to pass up, add it to your Wish List for later. Most times books (even Kindle books) go on sale. The Author can have a sell and knock off a big chunk of the price. Another tip of advice... check out Indie Authors. There are some really good ones out there and their books cost 1/3 of the price of an Author who has been published. If you are an experience reader with good advice about a book, leave a review! It will help us novice readers out there pick a good book and it also helps the Authors get more readers! 

Please leave a comment of any advice you may have or experienced while choosing a book.

Share the knowledge!