Banana Nut Muffins

The best cream cheese banana nut bread has shape-shifted into muffin form. Have one for breakfast or anytime for a satisfying treat. They are the ideal companion for a cup of coffee.

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Toasted pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread 1 cup chopped pecans on baking sheet. Toast for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Banana Nut Muffins

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 or 4 bananas)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir mashed banana into the mixture, then add pecans and vanilla extract. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 25 - 27 minutes. Cool before removing from pans. Makes 24 muffins.



Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

Time is the main difference I've found in ribs cooked in an Instant Pot or ribs cooked in the oven. The flavor is the same, but the Instant Pot is much faster.

Instant Pot Ribs

1 side baby back ribs
1 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dry rib rub
Barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle)

Prepare the Instant Pot by placing the wire rack inside. Add water. Remove the membrane from the side of ribs. This is easy to do by using a knife to separate the membrane from the bone side of the ribs, then pull to remove it all in one piece. If desired, the side can then be cut in half. Combine brown sugar and dry rib rub. Liberally coat the ribs with the mixture. Stand ribs on their side on the rack. The ribs will wrap around the pot. Set the pot on pressure cook for 25 minutes. Add additional time if cooking more than one side at a time. When pressure has released, remove from pot and place ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush with barbecue sauce and place in a hot oven or under the broiler for a few minutes.



Sourdough Biscuits in Iron Skillet

Sourdough is one of my favorite breads. I keep homemade starter so I can bake up a couple of loaves of sourdough bread any time the mood hits. The starter has to be fed on a regular basis, and one cup of the starter is removed each time before feeding. This cupful of starter can be discarded or used for another baking purpose. An easy project for the unfed starter is sourdough biscuits. These bake up piping hot in an iron skillet.

Sourdough Biscuits

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup butter, cold and cut in pieces
1 cup unfed sourdough starter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly butter an iron skillet. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter. Stir in sourdough starter. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead by folding dough over several times. Roll out to 3/4-inch thickness and cut rounds with a biscuit cutter. Place in prepared skillet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until slightly brown. Serve hot.



Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

October is the month for everything pumpkin. Whether you're baking for a Halloween party or simply your own breakfast, try some chocolate chip pumpkin bread. It's yummy enough for any month, not just October.

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

3 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 (3 ounce) package cook and serve vanilla pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare a 9-inch x 3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Stir in oil and pumpkin. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture; mix well. Bake for about 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool on wire rack.


Some additional October recipes to try:



Soccer Season

For the soccer fans in my family, the season never ends. The serious ones are either practicing, playing, or watching soccer year round. Much sweat and devotion has been given to both the school team and the invitational team. Weekend getaways and vacations are planned around the MLS schedule.

To honor the school team, I've baked cupcakes and cookies. The cupcakes are chocolate sour cream with buttercream frosting and soccer rings. The cookies are vanilla almond sugar cookies with royal icing and sugar soccer balls. Like soccer, baking season never ends.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

1 (18 ounce) box Dark Fudge cake mix (cake mixes have been downsized, so measure enough from a second cake mix to make up the difference)
1 1/3 cup water, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
8 ounces sour cream
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, add cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt. Stir with a whisk to blend. Dissolve coffee granules in water. Add oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and dissolved coffee to dry ingredients. Mix on low speed for one minute, scrape bowl and continue mixing for two more minutes. Spoon into prepared pans. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until cake tests done with a toothpick. Allow to cool before frosting.



Spicy Pecans

Add some zip to your holiday appetizers this year with these spicy pecans. My first batch is already gone, but there's still time for round 2. These are easy to make, and your guests will love them.

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1 pound whole pecan halves (about 4 cups)
6 cups water
1/2 cup superfine sugar (or use regular sugar and whirl a few times in the food processor)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, bring water and pecans to a strong boil, then continue to boil for 1 minute. Drain well. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, and vanilla. Toss hot pecans with the sugar mixture, mixing well. Cover and let sit for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours.

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the pecans on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Add more time in 5 minute increments, if necessary, until pecans are browned and crisp-looking. In a bowl, combine salt, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and pepper. As soon as the pecans are removed from oven, toss until well-coated with the combined spices. Return the pecans to the baking sheet and spread in a single layer to cool. After cooling, pecans may be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.



Christmas Baking and Taking

Whether you need a treat to contribute to an office party or something to take to a family celebration, I've got you covered. At this time of year, time is the most precious commodity, so I've assembled some quick and easy treats for your baking and taking dilemmas.

1. Holiday bars

2. No-bake cookie balls

3. Chocolate cherry cookies

4. Christmas brownies

5. Fruit cookies

6. Peppermint snowballs

7. Christmas crack

8. Candy cane blossoms

9. Gingerbread truffles

10. Super duper chocolate kisses