Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Green Beans with Orange Ginger Butter

Our green bean plants survived Hurricane Ike, but it did take a couple of weeks for them to recover. We started getting beans last week, and there's now enough to make some for everyone. Most of the time I just steam them and add some butter spray, salt, and pepper, but if I have a few extra minutes, I whip up this recipe. This is adapted from my Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book. The original recipe calls for snap peas (which we're also growing, however they're not ready to pick yet); I've found this works equally well with green beans. I've even used apricot preserves instead of orange marmalade, and it tastes just fine. I do like the little cirtus kick better can decide on your own preference. Frozen green beans also take the sauce well; we all like fresh beans better-- I guess we're spoiled because we have a garden. I buy fresh beans regardless of the season--the kids have told me the frozen beans are "chewy," instead of "crunchy."

You can make the sauce on the stove top, but I just put everything in a microwave safe bowl and nuke it in the microwave. Then I can toss the bowl into the dishwasher instead of cleaning a pot!

My kids can't get enough of these veggies (except Christina of course, who won't touch anything green.) I cook a few beans a little longer for Gabriel so they're soft instead of crisp-tender, and he loves them too.

Green Beans with Orange-Ginger Butter

1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Steam the green beans for 8-10 minutes in a vegetable steamer or in a pot over 2 inches of boiling water.

We like our beans with a lot of crunch, so if you like yours a little softer, cook them for a few extra minutes. When they're done, shake off the excess water and dump them into a serving bowl.

In a small pot or microwave safe bowl, combine the orange marmalade, vinegar, ginger, butter/margarine, salt, and pepper.

Microwave on "high" for 1 minute or until the butter and marmalade have melted.

Immediately pour the sauce over the green beans, toss to coat and serve. I made these a couple of nights ago, and there were no leftovers!

God bless your table tonight!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Asian Glazed Pork Chops

This is perfect for a quick weekday dinner, and you want something fast. These pork chops only need 2 hours to marinade (okay, maybe not so quick!), but they only need about 10-12 minutes of cooking time. I originally used this marinade for pork tenderloin, but I didn't have one on hand...further digging into the deep freezer revealed a bag of pork chops, so I used them instead.

Hoisin sauce is a tasty condiment traditionally used in Chinese cooking or as a dipping sauce. You'll find it on the Asian aisle next to the soy sauce, plum sauce, etc. Sometimes I use it to make a stir-fry...when I'm really sure about a recipe you all will like, I'll post one. But not yet...

Asian Glazed Pork Chops

5-6 pork chops, about 1/2 to 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 cup hoisin sauce

In a small, shallow pan or a large ziploc bag, combine the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, green onions, and hoisin sauce. Add the pork chops and turn to coat. Refridgerate for 2 hours (no more than 4-- or the marinade starts to taste funny).

Preheat the outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium. Make sure to oil the grates with a wad of paper towels dipped in vegetable oil. Grill the pork chops for about 5-6 minutes...

Flip, and then grill another 5-6 minutes or until done.

Don't overcook them, you want tender meat, not pork bricks. If you want to get all fancy and give the meat a 1/4 turn before you flip it to get those nice grill marks, knock yourself out. I was too busy making sure the baby didn't wander out of the back yard, down the driveway, and out to the street to get squished by a car.

Remove the pork to a nice big serving plate, and sprinkle with a little bit of chopped green onion if you have time, want to impress the visiting in-laws, or just for the heck of it.

I didn't garnish our platter, but I did put some on my own plate (so the kids wouldn't say, "Mommy, don't put any onions on my plate!"

I served Green Beans with Orange-Ginger Butter on the side. I'll post that recipe next, don't worry! My poor hubby came home late after making a big SAM's run, and then got the kids to bed, so he didn't get to eat until nearly 9PM. But he told me afterwards, "That was a very good dinner honey."

That was the nicest thing I'd heard all day. Oh, and getting carded at the grocery store because I bought a bottle of wine. Can you believe it? It made my week!

God Bless your table tonight!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin Bread with Golden Raisins and Toasted Pecans

We're all being inundated with pumpkin recipes right now, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, etc., so I figured I might as well jump on the bandwagon. This is another bread that will make your house smell divine.I got this recipe from my sister, who got it from her mother-in-law. It's easy to stir up and pop in the oven. This recipe makes 2 loaves, so make one and freeze one for later. I really think the golden raisins are better for this recipe. The dark raisins will taste fine, but they look out of place in the finished product. I also toast the nuts before adding them to the batter; toasted nuts add incredible flavor to just about everything.
We love this bread anytime, but it tastes especially good after the kids are in bed, the fireplace is going, and you're in your favorite chair with a good book and a cup of tea. You'll have to trust me.

Pumpkin Bread with Golden Raisins and Toasted Pecans

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup chopped nuts (preferably toasted)
1 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour the bottom only of 2 standard loaf pans. If the pan is the dark non-stick type, grease both the bottom and sides (so the batter will have something to cling to as it rises).

In a stand mixer, combine the white and brown sugar, mix on medium speed. (You can mix this bread by hand, but I don't recommend it, the batter gets heavy. But if you need a workout, this should do it!)

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
Beat on medium speed for just a minute. Now add your liquids--the eggs, oil, and water.

Then add the canned pumpkin.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and pour in the nuts and raisins. Let that go until the raisins and nuts are incorporated into the mix.

The batter should be thick, and a pretty orange brown color. Divide it between the 2 loaf pans.
Bake on the center rack for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I nearly always have to bake mine for an hour and ten minutes.

If I use my biggest loaf pan, it it closer to 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 mintues, then turn out to finish cooling. It should come out easily; if not, run a knife around the edges and try again. Don't panic...say a prayer to St. Jude...

Happy fall y'all, and God Bless your table tonight!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Favorite Enchiladas

There's this website out there that I just love. Ree Drummond ("The Pioneer Woman") was a once-upon-a-time city girl who met a cowboy, married him, and now lives on a ranch in Oklahoma with 4 kids and she home schools them...I'm serious! I'm impatiently waiting for her to write the next chapter of how she met her husband, in "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels." I encourage all of you to join in my addiction. She has a gorgeous website devoted to being a pioneer woman, (not just cooking); here's her link:

I've been dying to make her enchiladas for over a month now, and first saw the recipe while we waited for power to come back on after Hurricane Ike. Well, it got kinda busy after we finally got power back (okay, really busy!), and then that stomach bug hit. No way was I going to make a big pan of enchiladas if the hubby wasn't up for them, because I'm making these enchiladas for my man. He's not a cowboy, but his absolute favorite meal is fajitas, and when I showed him this recipe, well... I won't say what happened exactly. Let's just say I'm hoping everything on the "honey-do" list will be done this weekend!

Another great reason to make these enchiladas--the cilantro has taken off in the garden (it need some time to recover after the hurricane, as did everything else out there; yes, that's a pic of it up there). I try to use what's in the garden because I feel kinda guilty that David spends so much time out there growing stuff, and I either don't get to it in time (and it's rotten) or it's grown to mega proportions when I pick it (like zucchini the size of a linebacker's arm).

I'm sharing the PW's recipe with you all, and I made them exactly the way Ree did, except I used a "mexican blend" shredded cheese because it was on sale. I didn't take any pictures because there is no way I can compete with her photography. Nope...not even
going to try. Here's the direct link to the recipe:

I took pictures afterwards so you could see my finished product. But seriously, she does a much better job than I ever could. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to make some incredible enchiladas!

Pioneer Woman's Favorite Enchiladas


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large (28-ounce) can enchilada or red sauce (I used mild enchilada sauce)
2 cups chicken broth (I used low-sodium)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and flour; whisk together to make a paste, and cook for 1 minute. Pour in other red sauce, chicken broth, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.


1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 4-ounce cans diced green chilies (I used the mild ones)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

In a large skillet, brown the meat with the onions until no longer pink, and drain off the fat. Stir in the diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Turn off the heat and set aside.


10 to 14 corn tortillas
½ cup canola oil

Heat the canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in the oil until soft, not crisp—about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.


Sauce (above)
Meat (above)
Tortillas (above)
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped black olives
1 cup chopped green onions
½ cup chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour about ½ cup red sauce in bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. Spread sauce to coat the bottom. Dip each tortilla into the red sauce, and transfer to a work surface. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour the extra red sauce over enchiladas, and top with the remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Sprinkle some more cilantro and green onion over the enchiladas before serving. Oh, and a dollop of sour cream. You really have to do this, it takes the enchiladas over the top.

This was my plate, and I was so impatient, I forgot to put the green onions on. I took my first bite, and oh...mmm...I can't even tell you...there are just no words. It was SO GOOD!

Now, the real test...the hubby. Prior to tonight, he only liked one particular enchilada recipe (I won't say who's for fear of retribution), but I didn't like it because it had refried beans and cream of mushroom soup in the filling, and it called for flour tortillas (blah, yuck, eew!) I've been looking for a simple, authentic recipe for nearly 10 years now. Oops, I regress, back to the hubby's reaction...

He said, "These are very good..." and ate 2 1/2! David didn't quite say he liked these better than that "other recipe," but he did say he'd eat them again for sure. Ye haw!

Good Bless your table tonight!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ham and Swiss Macaroni Cups

The first try at this recipe... it didn't go as planned. I needed 3 pie crusts, and only had one. I loaded all the kids into the van, and made a quick run to the store for more pie crusts. Only someone had bought out the entire store, and there were no pie crusts! None at all! I racked my brain with baby on the hip, and decided to try using biscuits instead. Well...the end result was okay. The biscuits didn't make good "cups" because they filled the muffin tins completely during the baking process, so I scooped out the bread from the middle, filled the hollows with mac and cheese, and served them anyway. 2 of the kids liked them, 2 didn't. Can't win them all, right?

I first saw this idea on "Picky Palate," (see my blog list), and wanted to try it. Only one problem... the hubby doesn't like spaghetti. I love pasta...did I mention I lived in Italy for 2 years, but married a man who just can't make a meal outta pasta?

I had to come up with another plan, and still make it appealing to the kids.'s my take on these cute little "cups" of pasta. Honestly...I'm the one who was craving macaroni and cheese, but I wanted to add protein and a veggies, so that explains the ham and peas. I am using a standard mac and cheese recipe, (I found mine on the Internet, and altered it to my liking)-- I suppose you could make it out of the box, but this is really have to try it!

I made the "cups" in my 12 count muffin tin, but that got me thinking...when the kids get older I could use my oven proof ramekins, or small individual gratin dishes so they'd get a bigger portion....hmm. Okay, my brain is thinking too far ahead!

I really like bread crumbs on top of mac and cheese, and using panko bread crumbs makes a nice crunchy topping. You can find panko bread crumbs in the asian section of the grocery store. I find myself using them more and more instead of regular bread crumbs, to coat chicken, fish, sprinkled on top of casseroles, etc.

These are "as cute as pie," and hopefully your kids will eat 'em up!

Ham and Swiss Macaroni Cups

3 refrigerated pie crusts, thawed if frozen
Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup elbow macaroni (I use Barilla Elbows because the tiny ridges help the sauce cling to the pasta)
1/2 stick of butter (yes, use the real stuff)
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup chopped deli ham
2 cups swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Butter spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 12 count muffin tin with cooking spray. Using a large cup or small bowl about 4 inches in diameter, cut out 12 circles. (BTW, that plastic mug I used is from David's college days, and he'd make his coffee in it, and the occasional cup of tea for me... ahh, the memories...)

You will need to use all three pie crusts. (Don't toss the scraps, either... just ball them up and throw 'em back in the freezer. If you roll them all together, it should be enough for 1 complete pie crust). Gently press the circles of pastry into the muffin cups, ease out any air bubbles, and make sure the dough comes all the way to the top.

Gently prick the cups on the bottom and sides--once on the bottom and twice on the sides should do it. This keeps the pastry from puffing up too much during the baking process. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Take them out and set aside to cool while you make the mac and cheese.

Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions, or until just al dente, drain, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and let that bubble away for a couple of minutes. This will cook the flour a bit, and eliminate the raw taste of it in your sauce.

Now, add the milk slowly, whisking while you pour. You don't want lumps in your cheese sauce. Turn up the heat to medium and let it come to a gentle simmer--and keep whisking.

Once the milk comes to the boil, let it simmer for a few minutes; it should get nice and thick. Add your cheese, a cup at a time, stirring with a large spoon until it's all nice and melted, and then throw in the parmesan cheese.

You now have a luscious pot of cheesy goodness...go ahead and sample away, but be careful, it's really good, and you don't want to sample too much...

Season to taste with the salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. I use the white pepper because black pepper would just show up too much. But if all you have is the stuff in the red and white can, don't worry, it's no big deal. I like a trifle more nutmeg that the recipe calls for, but do it the way you want to.

I assume you saved the pot you cooked the pasta in, because you are like me and are intent on washing as few dishes as possible, right? Toss your pasta back in that pot, add the cheese sauce, and stir. Then add the ham and peas, and gently stir again until everything is coated in cheese heaven.

Preheat the oven again to "broil." Take a clean spoon (not the one you've been using to sample with...but hey, it's your kitchen, so if you do, I'll never know), and put a nice big spoonful of mac and cheese into the pie crust cups. Sprinkle with some of the panko crumbs, and then give each cup a squirt or two of the butter spray. (You'll have some left over, you can use it to make 12 more cups or just save it to eat later--I had some for lunch the next day..mmm).

Slide the pasta filled cups into the oven about 4-6 inches away from the broiler for about 3-4 minutes or until the panko crumbs turn a glorious golden brown. DO NOT LEAVE THEM! Every broiler is different, but they're all notorious for burning your food if you are not vigilant. So stand right there and watch 'em... and make sure the little ones are at least 1,000 feet away when you take them out, or those precious little fingers will get burnt to a crisp.

Let the pasta cups cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving. This time, Christina ate a few bites, the older two cleaned their plates and Gabriel...sigh...I have to be honest...refused to eat it. He didn't eat it last time either. This is my baby boy who is a world class eater, but for some reason, mac and cheese is not his thing. Oh well. Rebecca did say:

"Mommy, these are YUM-MEE!"

Good enough for me...God bless your table tonight!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baked Cherry Tomatoes

Sorry...I know it's been a week since my last post. But the hubby wasn't home for dinner at all last week, 1/2 of us got a stomach bug...y'all understand, right? There's just no point in making a decent meal worthy of posting here if those events are happening at the same time. Anyway, I was thinking it was high time to post another recipe for a vegetable. Here it is...

I scored at Kroger last week. I needed some little tomatoes, and the cheapest ones were $2.99 a pint. Okay, not terrible... then I was leaving the produce section, and they had big, 2 pound containers of cherry tomatoes for $1.99! No way... I checked again, and it was true...I wasn't seeing things. A 2 pound container of cherry tomatoes for $1.99... Awesome! Turns out the deli accidently ordered a surplus of them, and had to sell them quickly (they use cherry tomatoes on the self-serve salad bar). Rebecca has been in heaven. She is the only kid in our house who will eat tomatoes; and she's been snacking on them like crazy. Still...I had to come up with a way to use up the rest of these gorgeous little babies.

When David and I were assigned a sponsor couple during our marriage preparation, we quickly became friends. One night, we were over at their house for dinner, and Rochelle made these baked chery tomatoes that were just fabulous. Of course, I got the recipe, and now I get to share it with you. Even if you're not crazy about cherry tomatoes, roasting them brings out all their sweetness, so you should give 'em a try.

Baked Cherry Tomatoes

2 dozen cherry tomatoes, washed, patted dry, and cut in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons italian herb seasoning blend
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (trust me, it's just better!)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow bowl, combine the cheese, basil, italian herb blend, salt and pepper.

Pour the olive oil into another bowl, and dip the cut ends into it, then press into the herb mixture. Place cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet--I used a small baking dish.

Bake for 15-20 mintues or until the tomatoes are slightly soft and the cheese has melted.

I didn't make a full 2 dozen (only 17, which would be 34 halves), but David, Rebecca, and I ate them all in one night. David isn't crazy about tomatoes, but he loves it when I make these. So if you make 'em, maybe your man will eat his veggies too (technically, tomatoes are a fruit, but don't tell him!).

God Bless your table tonight!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chicken and Swiss Cheese Casserole

I wanted to make something easy for my friend Julie who had her 7th baby a few weeks ago. Yes...number 7! I found this recipe in Chloe's cookbook-- it looked like a cinch to make, and it would be enough to feed a family of 9. Well...8... I guess little Michael isn't eating solids yet :-)
I am sure I'll be making more recipes from Chloe's cookbook in the future. I went to her funeral on Monday, and it was beautiful...yes, I cried, but I was sure in the knowledge that Chloe is in heaven. And the purple text below is because Chloe's favorite colors were pink and purple.

There are a couple of changes from the original recipe. I know...I nearly always tweak a recipe...unless it's something complicated, then I'll follow the recipe to the letter the first time. After that...I will often make it my own. I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. My thyme in the backyard is finally recovered from Hurricane Ike, and I had plenty to harvest. I only used one bag of stuffing...2 seemed like a lot. I used "healthy request" cream of chicken soup, and light sour cream, but did use an entire stick of butter. Sorry... Sometimes, you just have order to moisten the stuffing adequently, I decided not to skimp on the butter.

So, here's another post dedicated to Chloe, and all children who have cancer.

Chicken and Swiss Cheese Casserole

6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 package fresh thyme
6 slices swiss cheese
1 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 stick of butter, melted
1 14 ounce bag stuffing mix (I used Pepperidge Farm Country style)

Place the chicken in a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Season with the salt and pepper. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks and sprinkle over the chicken. I used about one stalk per chicken breast.

Oh... about the chicken. Lately, we've been buying these "chicken breast portions" at SAM'S Club. They are a bit thinner that regular chicken breasts. You can use whatever you'd like.

Place a slice of swiss cheese over each chicken breast. Mix the soup and sour cream together, and spread over the cheese.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and stuffing, stir to coat. Sprinkle evenly over the chicken.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more. This will crisp up the top of the stuffing, and turn it a nice golden brown.

I thought the creamy chicken was great with the stuffing...some of it was soft, but the cubes of bread on the very top were nice and crunchy. My kids gave it a 6.5 (out of ten!). David thought it was very good. I though it was delicious, and really easy to make (always a plus for me).

Chloe, this one was good! God Bless your table tonight!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chloe's Chicken Nuggets

This post is dedicated to Chloe Anne Schmidt. She died October 9, 2008 of a rare form of cancer-- alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Her website is:

Chloe's story of love, faith, and courage are truly inspiring. She was simply an angel here on much so, that God wanted her for His heaven.

Chloe is a little girl after my own heart because she loved to cook, and her mom and grandma helped her publish a cookbook of her favorite recipes Making Miracles with Chloe. I bought a copy of the cookbook last July, and it's full of family recipes. If you'd like one of Chloe's cookbooks, email the address below to request a copy:

When Chloe died, I knew I wanted to post one of her recipes in her memory. This is classic kid's dish-- chicken nuggets. This recipe is supposed to be one of her favorites. Chloe must have been a force in the kitchen. My kids inhaled this chicken, even Christina said they were "yummy."

I made 2 little changes to the recipe. Instead of drizzling oil or butter over the chicken (just before baking), I used the butter spray--less fat and calories. I didn't have chicken breasts, but I did have chicken breast tenderloins, and used those instead. I also used panko bread crumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs... they make the chicken extra crunchy.

The whole time I was making these, I thought of sweet Chloe. I'll bet she's in the kitchen in heaven right now... whipping up something amazing. Here's to you angel girl.

Chloe's Chicken Nuggets

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or 10-12 chicken breast tenderloins (use however many it takes to feed your family)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs (in the asian section of the store)
4 teaspoons sesame seeds (usually in the spice/herb aisle of the store)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons paprika
Butter spray
Non-stick cooking spray

Spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray, set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If you're using the chicken breasts, cut them crosswise into strips about 1 1/2 inches across. Set up your breading station. Combine the flour and paprika in a large bowl. Lightly beat the eggs in another bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs/panko crumbs and sesame seeds in a third bowl. Please excuse the mess on my island (we really need to go through the mail stack...).

Dredge the chicken in the flour, tap off the excess, dip into the egg wash, and then roll in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Lay the chicken out on the greased baking sheet. Give each strip a couple of squirts of butter spray.

Bake in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes for chicken breast strips...chicken tenderloins will only need 8-10 minutes. You don't have to turn the over unless you want too...I didn't. I made steamed green beans and curly fries on the side.

Enjoy making these for your little angels. God bless your table tonight!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Strawberry Bread

I found this recipe in the local paper about 5 years ago, and I have to make this bread every year when strawberries are in season. I didn't make any all summer (I don't know why). But this past week, Kroger had strawberries at $1.50 a pound. Now, that's a great price. I bought 8 pounds, and the kids ate 5 pounds in 3 days. You'd think I was feeding an army around here (well...okay, I guess 4 kids could be considered a sizable force when it comes to eating).

So today, I went back and bought 5 more pounds, and used some to make strawberry bread. I'm sure I'll go back one more time before the week is out. I love recipes that make 2 for now, and one for later. This bread smells insane when it comes out of the oven.

The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cups of oil. I have found that to be too makes the bread heavy and oily. I've cut it back to 3/4 cup, and I think it makes the texture much better. I also use 1 cup of pecans instead of 1/2 cup of walnuts. I just love pecans, especially when they're toasted. If you prefer walnuts, by all means use them...or leave out the nuts altogether. Either way, this bread tastes like a piece of summertime (in October!).

Strawberry Bread

2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 1/4 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and thinly sliced (like the picture below)
1/2 to 1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of 2 loaf pans, glass or metal, (about 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 half inches. A bit bigger or smaller is fine). Make sure to get the corners-- the strawberries caramelize during the baking process, and might make the bread stick to the pan if you don't grease it generously. If you're using a dark, nonstick loaf pan, grease and flour the bottom only of the pan, so the batter will be able to cling to the sides as it rises). Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer on medium speed. Add the oil and eggs, mix until the dry ingredients are moist.

You can toast the nuts in the toaster oven (like I did), or just toast them on the stove in a dry skillet over medium low heat. Watch them carefully, burn nuts are want them a dark golden brown. My rule of thumb is when I can smell them, they're done. This is what they should look like.

I put the toasted nuts into a zip top bag and break them up with a meat mallet or rolling pin. I never chop nuts with a knife and cutting board because the pieces go flying everywhere.

Stir in the nuts and strawberries by hand, otherwise the berries will be mushed, and you want to leave them as intact as possible. Divide batter evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake for one hour, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean--you'll really want to do this. One of my loaves was a little bigger than a "standard" loaf pan, and it had to bake for 1 hour, 10 minutes. Cool for about 30 minutes before turning out...or it will fall apart on you. You will need to run a knife along the sides of the pan to release the patient, and it should come out easily. A hard tap on the counter top might help too. Cool completely before serving. This bread tastes great toasted with a bit of butter for breakfast. It also freezes well-- wrap in one layer of plastic wrap and one layer of heavy duty foil before freezing.

Have a berry fun time making this bread! God Bless your table tonight!