Homemade Banana Crumb Muffins

Use up your ripe bananas with this

banana muffin recipe!

Speaking of muffins ~ remember the Seinfeld episode, “The Muffin Tops?"

Elaine, who only cares for the muffin tops, proposes a harebrained plan to open a muffin shop that just sells the tops.  Mr. Lippman, her ex-boss, takes off on the idea, thinking it’s a million-dollar idea, does exactly that:  opens a muffin top shop.  When the muffin tops turn out tasteless and ho-hum, the business starts to fail.

Seinfeld, "The Muffin Tops"

Lippman asks Elaine for advice and bribes her with 30% of the profits.  She realizes that he is only baking the tops, and explains that he must bake the whole muffin and then pop the top from the stump.  This succeeds, but Lippman is left with hoards of muffin stumps.  They try to donate them to the homeless shelters who decline the measly offerings.

Running out of options, Lippman and Elaine explain the situation to her neighbor, the gluttonous and conniving Newman.  In a spoof of Harvey Keitel’s character in the movie, “Pulp Fiction,” (Keitel played a “cleaner,” an underworld figure who makes problems disappear, usually by burying them), Newman shows up with a vast quantity of milk and proceeds to devour the staggering stockpile of muffin stumps.

Which leads me to these banana muffins, with their addictive cinnamon crumb topping.  This is a slightly adapted King Arthur Flour recipe.  The original recipe was a blue-ribbon-winner in the junior division at the 1997 State Baking Contest at the Connecticut State Fair for a 9-year-old girl.

Hot from the oven

It’s a fairly simple muffin recipe to throw together ~ just a couple of bowls and a few ingredients.  For a stronger banana flavor, add banana extract.  If you do not have the flavoring on hand, substitute vanilla extract.

I’m not sure why the original recipe mentions that paper muffin liners shouldn’t be used.  I used them and they worked fine...

They’re banana-y muffins with a great cinnamon-y crumb topping!

Printable recipe 

½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, room temperature 

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon banana extract
1 egg, slightly beaten
⅓ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°.
For the topping: in a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar and cinnamon.  Add butter and mix with a pastry cutter or fork until crumbly, set aside.
For the muffins: in a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, set aside. 
In another bowl, combine mashed bananas, sugar, banana extract, egg and butter; mix well.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Fill greased muffins cups or paper liners two-thirds full.  Using hands, arrange coarse, pea-sized crumbs over muffin batter.
Bake at 375° for 16 to 20 minutes until muffins test done with a cake tester or toothpick.  Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
*Banana extract boosts the banana flavor, use vanilla extract, if you prefer.


Tilapia Piccata-Style over Parsley and Tomato Orzo

Tilapia Piccata is a spin on the traditional 
Italian dish of 
veal or chicken piccata.

The history of the "piccata" dish is a bit confusing, but many believe it to be of American design, most likely by Italian-American immigrants during the 1930's.  Piccatas today are generally made with veal, but here in the U.S., chicken prevails. 

Irrespective of its origin, piccata flavors go perfectly with tilapia...

Tilapia piccata is a quick-and-easy dish that gets its distinctive flavor from capers, white wine and lemon juice, and butter.  The piquant sauce is drizzled over the sautéed tilapia at the last minute and served immediately, that is unless you hold it up by taking time for photos first, which Bill patiently waited for.

The tilapia, served on a bed of smooth and creamy orzo tossed with halved grape tomatoes and parsley, just gets better.  Orzo is a slender pasta that resembles large grains of rice.  It is definitely Italian and the word means “barley.”

When this dish appears on our dinner table we’re pleased it does, it’s an adult comfort food with an excellent combination of flavors.

I hope you give it a try!

Tilapia Piccata over Parsley and Tomato Orzo 
Printable recipe 

8 ounces (1-1/2 cups) uncooked orzo
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons flour
4 (6-ounces) tilapia fillets
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup white wine
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons capers, drained

1.  Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain, stir in tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and parsley.  Set aside, keep warm.
2.  Combine remaining salt and pepper, and flour on a large plate.  Dredge fish in flour mixture.
3.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add fish to pan, cook about 4-5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Remove fish from pan and keep warm.
4.  Add wine, juice and capers to pan, cook 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.   Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pan, stir until butter melts.
5.  Serve fish with sauce and orzo.


Mouthwatering Creamy Ritz Chicken Bake

Chicken never tasted quite so good!

This dish is comforting, delicious, rich and buttery with tender bites of chicken ~ a recipe that’s in about any community or church cookbook, and surprisingly, there are a minimum of variations from one recipe to the next.

For this creamy casserole, mix chicken with condensed chicken soup and sour cream, top with Ritz cracker crumbs, poppy seeds, French fried onions, and butter.  Season with pepper, and you will have a comforting dish that will appeal to your whole family and friends.

Ready for oven
Voila!  Dinner's ready!

I gently poached (boiled) the chicken breasts in salted water.  Meat from a rotisserie chicken would work well also, use plain Ritz crackers, if you prefer.

The next time, I will add canned sliced mushrooms to the dish.  If you want, add shredded cheddar cheese to the topping ~ it’s a casserole ~ about anything goes.

 This is American comfort food at its best, easy with a few simple ingredients!

Creamy Ritz Chicken Bake 
Printable recipe


4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
3 (10-ounces) cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
2 sleeves Ritz Garlic Butter Crackers, crushed
1 large teaspoon poppy seeds
3 tablespoons butter, melted


In a large bowl, mix together chicken, soup, sour cream, and pepper. 
Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking dis that is coated with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine crackers, poppy seeds, French onions and butter. 
Sprinkle evenly over chicken mixture.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until casserole is golden brown and bubbly.
Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.


As a note:

There was a conflict on my blog with the original post for this recipe, it corrupted other recipes. I re-posted it, but lost the comments.

Thanks so much to all of you for your kind comments on the original post!  

Chicken Fajitas, About the Easiest You Will Ever Make!

These could very well be the easiest
~ and maybe the tastiest fajitas ~
you'll ever make!

They are so good and super simple to make, thanks to Perdue Short Cuts, Grilled Fajita-style Chicken! 

The chicken is already cooked and seasoned ~ it takes the chicken to a new level for a quick meal you can make in a snap.

A simple fajita made with the tender chicken, colorful red peppers, slivered onions, spices, sautéed in beautiful bright red chili oil.


Chili oil is made by infusing ripe red chilies in soybean oil, yielding a red-hot fragrant seasoning. The red oil adds a delightful taste and fragrance, it adds a distinct flavor to any dish, and can be used in cooking or as an ingredient in dipping sauces.

These fajitas are a great way to get your Tex-Mex fix!


Easy Chicken Fajitas

  • 2 tablespoons chili oil
  • 1 package, Perdue Short Cuts, Carved Chicken Breast, Grilled Fajita Style
  • 1 large onion,  slivered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4 large (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • Sour cream, sliced black olives or your favorite toppings

    1. Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat.
    2. Add the pepper and onions and cook about 5 min., stirring often.
    3. Add seasonings and combine well.
    4. Add the chicken and cook for an additional 5 min., continuing to stir often and heated through.
    5. Heat tortilla shells and spoon some of the chicken and pepper mixture in center.
    6. Top with your favorite toppings.


    Harry's Cooking with Gladys Knight's Spanish Pork Chops

    The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, sings with her heart and soul, and it seems she cooks the same way, judging by this recipe!

    Gladys & Harry

    If you haven’t watched "Harry," the TV show that's a blend of talk, music, comedy, and variety, starring Harry Connick, Jr., you’re in for an entertaining hour.  There isn’t much this guy who was born and raised in New Orleans can’t do!  

    Harry’s a great melodic singer/pianist/composer; he proved his acting ability in the movie "Hope Floats,” and he’s a devoted husband to his wife and 3 daughters ~ a family man at heart who idolizes his 90-year-old father ~ and, the guy likes to cook too, his specialty being NOLA food and BBQ!

    He has a quick wit, he’s funny, funny; however,  he does not take kindly to being interrupted when he’s speaking, nor does he interrupt anyone. I've seen him chew a person out more than once or twice for doing that to him!

    As for Gladys Knight, she appeared on his show earlier this year, and cooked Spanish Pork Chops, which I knew for sure, I’d be trying soon.  What’s not to like:  a pork chop, slice of onion, a thickly cut ring of bell pepper holding a serving of rice!  That’s right down my alley!

    I did adapt her recipe slightly.  I finished the dish in the oven instead of on the stove-top.  Feel free to continue cooking it on the stove-top, if you desire.  I just thought it would be easier to let the oven do the cooking and I wouldn’t have to keep checking up on it.

    The dish was great, very delicious!  The chops were tender and tasty, as well as the onions and the peppers.  The mild flavor of the rice was perfect with the addition of V-8 poured over it all.  Who knew that V-8 juice would make such a flavorful sauce for pork chops and rice!

    If you’re looking for something a little different to cook on a chilly evening ~ here you go, try this!  

    It’s a keeper that I will be making again!

    Gladys Knight's Spanish Pork Chops
    Printable recipe

    4 thin pork chops (boneless or bone-in)
    ½ teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt, plus more for seasoning
    ½ teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
    ½ cup all-purpose flour
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ¼ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
    1 onion (yellow or white) cut in slices
    1 green bell pepper cut in rings
    12oz of original V-8 juice
    2 cups cooked rice


    Preheat oven to 350°.
    Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops and sprinkle with garlic powder.
    Combine the flour, salt and black pepper.
    Dredge each side of the pork chops in the flour mixture, and then set aside on a plate.
    Heat the canola oil over medium to medium-high heat in an ovenproof skillet. 
    Add the pork chops and let sizzle for 1 minute and immediately flip and brown lightly other side for 1 minute. 
    Place sliced onions evenly on the pork chops. 
    Put one bell pepper ring on each of the pork chops.
    Fill each ring with cooked rice. 
    Pour V-8 juice over each of the pork chops. 
    Cover pan and bake until the onions and peppers soften, and meat is tender, about 30 minutes.


    Rich Creamy Chocolate for Your Valentine!

    Caution:  Bill says this could be fatal!

    Chocolate is a major food group to just about everyone ~ but not me ~ I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way for it.  I do have a sweet tooth though, it’s just not for chocolate like it is for my family members and friends.
    So when the most chocolate-covered day of the year, Valentine’s Day, rolls around again ~ that day when everything seems to be slathered in chocolate ~ it’s the perfect time to make a delicious dessert.

    Chocolate is everywhere, it’s universally loved.  Apparently, according to research done by Dr. David Lewis, letting chocolate dissolve slowly in your mouth produces as big an increase in heart rate and brain activity as a passionate kiss ~ except that the effects of the chocolate lasts four times longer. 

    Therefore, truly, chocolate must be the food of love.

    If you’re looking for a creamy, very rich chocolate treat for your Valentine, this Chocolate Pudding Cake by exclusive French pastry chef, François Payard, who launched several eponymous patisseries in New York City, is for you!  

    The creation is not exactly quick to make, it takes a good bit of freezer time, 6 hours at least, but it’s worth the effort to make for your Valentine!

    Believe me, this is a decadent dessert, so I’m told ~ smooth, creamy, rich, particularly luscious and velvety, a sinfully delicious chocolate treat!

    Just a sliver will do it!

    Françoise Payard’s Chocolate Pudding Cake
    Printable recipe

    1¼ cups finely chopped semisweet chocolate
    1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional*
    ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    2/3 cup whole milk
    1/3 cup sugar, divided
    1 large egg yolk
    1 teaspoon. pure vanilla extract
    Cocoa powder for dusting

    1. Place the chocolate, espresso powder and butter in a medium bowl and set aside.
    2. Combine the milk and all but 1 tbsp. of the sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stop stirring and cook until the milk begins to bubble around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat.
    3. Whisk together the egg yolk and the remaining 1 tbsp. sugar in a small bowl. Pour half of the hot milk over the yolk mixture, whisking to combine. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and just begins to bubble around the edges (reaching 183° on an instant-read thermometer).
    4. Immediately pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the chocolate is melted. Whisk in the vanilla.
    5. Scrape the batter into a 6-in. round springform pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.
    6. Remove cake from freezer, and let sit for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cake onto a serving platter, and lightly dust the top with cocoa powder. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 45 minutes before serving.

    *This is the slightly adapted recipe of Chef Payard's. I added espresso powder for a darker richer flavor.
    It doesn't taste like coffee, it just enhances the chocolate flavor.


    Chicken Tinga, not with my IP!

    I know a lot of you are obsessed with your Instant Pot, that "miracle" small appliance! 
     I researched it carefully, 
    read your posts about the wonders of it, 
    got suckered in, 
    purchased one.  

    Unfortunately, there’s no IP love here.  It all went downhill with this recipe...

    First off, I browned the tomatillos and onions nicely.  Then added the seasonings, stock and diced tomatoes; removed the skin and bones from the chicken and added that to the pot.

    The next step is when it all went wrong!  Put the lid on, lock it in place and set the IP to pressure cook, it sounds sooooo easy!  Wrong! 

    Once again, I couldn’t get the lid on, couldn’t lock it in place.  It was sort of tricky the first 2 or 3 times I used it, this time it was impossible.

    I even read the manual for the umpteenth time, still couldn’t do it.  Then I asked Bill to try it, he had no more luck than I did.  After being frustrated for 30 or so minutes, I watched a video of some man demonstrating placing the lid on and locking it in place - he must've been a magician!

    It sounds so simple, but it’s so crazy.  I never did get the lid on, couldn’t cook the chicken in it, ended up braising the chicken in the tomato mixture, in a casserole dish, in the oven.  

    By then, I had lost all interest in it and dinner too - just wanted it over with and done!  I'd just rather cook ~ stir ~ & taste ~ my way.

    The chicken turned out OK though, tasted OK.  We decided we’d like it over noodles instead of a traditional Chicken Tinga recipe with tostada shells. 

    The last step in this disaster:   Bag up the IP and put in the garbage can outside ~ the next day was garbage day and I was happy to be rid of the darn thing and get back the space it demanded!!! 

    There is one positive thing I can say about my Instant Pot ~ at least I didn't have to clean the contraption!

    I’m hoping I’ve learned my lesson and won’t buy the next pricey kitchen gadget that comes along...

    Chicken Tinga
    Printable recipe


    2 tablespoons olive oil
    3 large tomatillos, husked and quartered
    1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    ½ cup chicken stock
    1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon seasoned pepper
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    1 teaspoon chipotle purée
    8 ounces uncooked extra wide egg noodles


    Preheat oven to 350°.
    Place olive oil in IP (skillet) on medium high heat.  
    Add tomatillos and cook until browned; add onions and garlic, and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
    Add chicken stock and stir.
    Add tomatoes with their juice, oregano, salt, pepper and chili powder, stir to combine.
    Transfer the tomato mixture to a casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
    Add chicken and chipotle purée, stir well.
    Place lid on dish and cook until chicken is cooked through and tomato mixture has thickened.
    Meanwhile, cook noodles in boiling water according to package directions.
    After cooking, transfer chicken to a plate and pull it into bite-size pieces.  Return to tomato mixture and combine.
    Transfer chicken and tomatoes to serving bowl.
    Serve over cooked noodles or tostada shells.


    We went for Sunday rides in the Model-T when my grandmother didn't visit. My parents liked the orange groves, miles and miles of orange trees always either in blossom or full of oranges. My parents had a picnic basket and a metal chest. In the metal chest were frozen cans of fruit on dry ice, and in the picnic basket were weenie and liverwurst and salami sandwiches, potato chips, bananas and soda-pop. The soda-pop was shifted continually back and forth between the metal box and the picnic basket. It froze quickly, and then had to be thawed.
    ~ Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye


    Jules-Alexandre Grun

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