Banana Bread

I haven’t tackled that many kitchen projects since Jake was born, but when we ended up with a pile of over-ripe bananas, I decided it was time to get back to it. I’ve waned to try this recipe for a while – but never seemed to end up with enough bananas for it.

Even though this is a quick bread, it’s not super quick – but the extra steps give this bread a really flavor. I don’t know that this will be my go-to recipe just because of the number of bananas and steps (I’d probably want a truly quick bread recipe for most days), but it’s perfect for when I’ll want something a little special.


Banana Bread
(slightly adapted from The Science of Good Cooking)
Makes 1 Loaf

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 very ripe bananas, peeled
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F degrees and spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

Place bananas in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and microwave until bananas are soft and have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to a mesh strainer over a bowl and let drain for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add liquid to a saucepan and reduce to 1/4 cup.

Stir reduced liquid into bananas until smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Add banana mixture into flour mixture until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining.

Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 45-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cheddar and Chive Beer Bread

We had our families over for St. Patrick’s Day a few weeks ago. No, we’re not Irish – we just love a reason to get together.

We made two menus: the traditional corned beef, cabbage and Irish soda bread was one and a big pot of beef and Guinness stew along with this bread for the people who weren’t into the traditional dishes. This bread was a big hit and a great mix of sweet and savory. I’m sure it’ll make repeat appearances in our house whenever I have an extra bottle of Guinness hanging around.

After lunch, we  played a game of luck (Left-Center-Right), complete with lottery scratch-offs for prizes. I think the luckiest part of the day was getting to spend it with people we love.


Cheddar and Chive Beer Bread
(slightly adapted from theKitchn)
Makes 1 loaf

2 3/4 C. sifted all purpose flour
3 T. granulated sugar
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer (I used Guinness)
3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c. chopped chives
1/4 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and then line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour in the beer and stir until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Fold in the cheese and the chives.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan evenly. Pour the melted butter evenly over top of the dough. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Italian Easter Bread

Originally published March 2013; Updated March 2021

My husband comes from a big, Italian family and grew up with many more food traditions than I did. My favorite? Italian Easter Bread. His grandmother made it for everyone for years and when she died, the torch was passed on. This isn’t her recipe, but it’s better – the same amazing taste but much less finicky.

Loaf of braided sweet bread with sprinkles

Italian Easter Bread takes time, so we generally reserve it for Easter, but it’s worth the effort. This sweet, soft loaf is a real treat.

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Flour Tortillas

I’m a self-taught cook. One of my biggest self-imposed obstacles is that I assume everything is going to be hard to make.

I’ve had this tortilla recipe bookmarked for nearly a year but making my own tortillas seemed like such a project. I finally had time last weekend to do some kitchen projects and decided to make these. Imagine my surprise when I was done in a half hour! These weren’t hard at all and they were so much better than store-bought.

Have you tackled any recipes that intimidate you recently?

Flour Tortillas
(from Confections of a Foodie Bride)
Makes 12

3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 heaping t. salt
5 T. shortening, lard, softened butter, or olive oil (I used shortening)
3/4 c. warm water

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the shortening and pulse until incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.

With the food processor running, slowly add the water until a ball of dough forms. Continue to process for another 30 seconds to knead the dough.

On a floured surface, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Cover with a towel to avoid drying out. Taking one piece at a time, roll into a 8″ circle.

In a heated pan, add one tortilla at a time, cooking for 10-20 seconds, flipping and cooking for another 10-20 seconds. Remove to a plate and keep covered with a towel to keep warm.

Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits

Have you noticed the lack of seafood recipes on this blog? There’s a good reason for it: I really don’t like fish. I’ve tried it a few times in hopes that my tastes have changed, but no dice.

So, it goes without saying that I’m not a fan of Red Lobster.  I’m the person who goes and orders the one chicken dish on the menu. Their biscuits, though, are something I can get on board with.

These simple biscuits are a copycat of what they serve in the restaurant. They’re a little crunchy on the outside but nice and soft inside.  The butter brushed over the top soaks in and makes these an awesome treat.

Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits
(from Lettuce Pray, as seen on The Girl Who Ate Everything)
Makes 4 large biscuits

1 1/4  c. Bisquick
2 T. cold butter
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 c. milk
1/4 t. garlic powder

1 1/2 T. butter
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dried parsley

 Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Prep a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or spraying with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, cut cold butter into Bisquick until you have pea-sized chunks of butter. Mix in cheddar, milk and garlic powder until just combined.
Drop 1/4 cup scoops onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops are lightly brown.
While the biscuits are baking, melt remaining butter and stir in garlic powder and parsley. Brush over tops of baked biscuits with a pastry brush.
Serve warm.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Amish Muffins

This is another recipe that starts with Amish Friendship Bread starter. It’s no secret that I love the peanut butter chocolate combo, and it worked really well in these muffins.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Amish Muffins
(from Friendship Bread Chicken)
Makes about 2 dozen

1 c. Amish Friendship Bread Starter
3 eggs
1 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
2 c. flour
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. chocolate chips
1 small box vanilla instant pudding

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Line cupcake pan with cupcake papers.

In a large mixing bowl, add ingredients as listed. Fill tins 2/3 way with batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Amish Soft Pretzels

I love soft pretzels – and these were particularly awesome.  The starter gives in a good sour bite, but they’re also still on the sweet side. The dough was quite forgiving to work with.

You can top these with pretty much any spices you like. I just sprinkled salt over most of them, but I made a few topped with herbs de provence and sea salt. Both were awesome!

These also freeze well. To reheat, just pop on a baking sheet in a 350F degree oven until heated through.

Amish Soft Pretzels
(from Friendship Bread Kitchen)
Makes 12

1 c. Amish Friendship Bread Starter
3/4 c. lukewarm water
2 t. yeast
3 c. flour
1/4 c. instant non-fat dry milk
1 T. vegetable oil
2 t. salt
Kosher salt to top pretzels

In a stand mixer bowl with dough hook, add starter, water and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add rest of ingredients into mixer bowl and mix until dough pulls away from the sides and a ball forms.

Grease a bowl, put in ball of dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest and rise for 1 hour. It won’t rise very much.

Lightly oil work surface. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll out each piece to about 20 inches. Use fingers to roll from inside to outside.

Take dough and make a U shape and then cross, bringing it down to for a pretzel. (You can Youtube this if you need to see an example!) Press dough together so it stays together.

Get 8 to 10 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda simmering on the stove top.

Place one pretzel at a time in the simmering water for 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon. Place pretzels, spaced out on a greased pan and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until pretzels are lightly browned. Remove to cooling rack.

Double Chocolate Chip Amish Friendship Bread Muffins

These muffins really surprised me. I whipped them up when I needed something chocolately for a friend. I expected them to be a chocolate version of the classic bread, but they came out quite different – very fluffy and light. The slight sourness of the starter played off the chocolate so well.

I used dark chocolate chips in these, but I think regular chocolate chips and peanut butter chips would also work well.

Double Chocolate Chip Amish Friendship Bread Muffins
(from Friendship Bread Kitchen)
Makes 2 dozen muffins

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
3 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. milk
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. unsweeten cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
2 c. flour
1 small box chocolate instant pudding
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, add ingredients except chocolate chips mix well. Fold in chocolate chips at the end.

Line muffin tin with cupcake wrappers and fill about halfway with batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Amish Cornbread

While I’m really a fan of any bread, cornbread is a particular favorite of mine. And, because of that, I’m quite picky about my cornbread.  I considered not making this because I wasn’t sure if cornbread with a friendship bread base would meet approval, but it totally did.

I recommend smothering it in honey butter and serving it along side a big bowl of chili. I don’t think there’s anything better!

Amish Cornbread
(from Friendship Bread Kitchen)

1 c. Amish Friendship Bread Starter
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
2 t.  sugar
1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking powder

Preheat oven 425F degrees. Grease an 8×8″ pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine starter, eggs, milk, sugar, flour and cornmeal. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add oil, baking soda, salt and baking powder.  Mix well.

Evenly pour batter in pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter & Classic Amish Friendship Bread

When I was in Girl Scouts, I was passed a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. My Mom dutifully worked the starter for ten days before baking the bread and passing it on to other friends. Growing up in a small town, we received the starter over and over until my Mom just threw it out – after a while, it was simply too much.

I’m not sure what made me think of this, but once it popped into my head I had to have some of that Amish Friendship bread. It’s sweet, chewy and full of cinnamon. So good. After a bit of internet research, I found that I could easily create my own starter. Even better, I found a ton of tips on cutting down the amount of starter you make and other recipes you could make with the starter. It seemed like the perfect cure to the issues my Mom faced during my Girl Scout days.

I’ve now been keeping my starter going for about two months. I was hesitant to blog this at first – ten days of prep is an awful lot of work for some bread – but I’ve been having a great time trying out different recipes with the starter. Today, I’m sharing the recipe for the Amish friendship bread starter and the classic Amish friendship bread recipe. The rest of the week, I’ll be sharing additional recipes using the starter.

Working with Amish friendship bread starter is definitely a lesson in delayed gratification – but I think it’s worth it.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter
(from Moms Who Think)
Makes 1 starter

2 1/4 t. (or 1 package) active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water (110F degrees)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. warm milk (110F degrees)

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes. Stir well.

In a 2 quart glass or plastic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or the flour will get lumpy when you add the milk.

Slowly stir in warm milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Transfer to a gallon-sized plastic ziploc bag. Consider this day 1 of the cycle.

Day 1 – Start or receive your starter.
Day 2 – Stir.
Day 3 – Stir.
Day 4 – Stir.
Day 5 – For a full batch, add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of milk. For a half batch, add 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of milk. Stir.
Day 6 – Stir.
Day 7 – Stir.
Day 8 – Stir.
Day 9 – Stir.
Day 10 – For a full batch, add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of milk. For a half batch, add 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of milk. Stir.

If you’ve made a full batch, divide the starter into 4 separate containers with 1 cup of starter in each.  If you’ve made a half batch, divide the starter into 2 separate containers of 1 cup of starter in each. These can then be used in friendship bread recipes or given to friends to create their own starter.

Hints and tips:

  • Do not use any metal bowls, spoons, etc. on the starter. It will give your starter a metallic taste. It is okay to use metal when mixing up your friendship bread recipes, though. I keep my starter in a glass canning jar, topped with plastic wrap and a canning ring.
  • The starter should smell yeasty – like bread or beer.
  • The starter may separate. This is fine – just give it a stir!
  • If the bag gets too puffy, let some air out. If you don’t, the bag could explode and you’ll have a mess!
  • Once the starter has been through its first 10-day cycle, it can be frozen. To use it in the future, just let it come to room temperature for a few hours before baking with it.

Classic Amish Friendship Bread
(from Moms Who Think)
Makes 2 loaves

1 c. Amish Friendship Bread Starter
2/3 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Grease two bread pans with butter and sprinkle with sugar instead of flour.

In a large bowl, beat all ingredients together by hand until well blended.

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.