Frosted Banana Bars by Guest Chef Amy

½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (usually about 2 bananas)
1 (16 oz) container cream cheese frosting or from recipe below
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or two 9 x 13 pans. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.

Whipped Cream & Cream Cheese frosting (as pictured on the banana bars below)
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
In a small chilled bowl with chilled beaters, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.

Nutter Butter Cookies by Guest Chef Amy

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup white sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
¾ cup all- purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup quick cooking oats
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup smooth peanut butter
2 ½ Tbsp heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, cream together ½ cup butter, ½ cup peanut butter, white, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add egg and beat will. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir. Add oatmeal and stir. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet and press each mound down to form ¼ inch thick cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 – 10 minutes.
To make filling, cream butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter and the cream. Spread filling onto half of the cooled cookies, then top with the other half to form sandwiches.

Breakfast Shortcake by Guest Chef Amy

(Okay so there is no cooking required for this one. But, it is easy and delightfully sensible and filling!)

1 frozen waffle
½ cup flavored yogurt
½ cup honey bunches of oats or granola cereal
Fresh or canned fruit

Toast waffle. Top with yogurt, cereal and fruit. Serve immediately.

Lasagna Style Baked Ziti by Guest Chef Amy

½ lb.dried ziti
16 oz ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella
3 cups spaghetti sauce
½ cup grated parmesan
Italian sausage (optional)
Sautéed vegetables (optional)

Cook ziti until tender, about 8 minutes. Mix cooked ziti with ricotta and ½ of the mozzarella cheese in a large bowl. Grease a 9 x 13 dish. Spread ½ spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the dish. Add ziti mixture and cover with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese on top. Bake @ 350 for 20-30 minutes or until it bubbles on the edges.

***Serve with Guest Chef Amy's Quick Breadsticks


Creamy Bean Soup & Taquito Dippers by Guest Chef Amy

Start to finish: 30 minutes 4 servings

1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup (from 14 oz can) unsweetened coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
1 package (1.25 oz) taco seasoning mix
6 sticks (0.75 oz each) sharp cheddar or chipotle cheddar cheese
1 pkg (10.5 oz) of 12 flour tortillas for tacos & fajitas
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 medium green onions, sliced

Heat oven to 450. Line cookie sheet with foil. In 2-quart saucepan, stir beans, tomatoes, broth, coconut milk, chiles and taco mix; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut each cheese stick in half lengthwise to make 2 thin sticks. Place 1 cheese stick on one edge of each tortilla; roll tortilla tightly around cheese. Brush edges of tortillas with water to seal. Place taquitos, seam sides down, on cookies sheet. Brush each lightly with oil. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until edges of tortillas are golden brown and cheese is melted. Pour soup into serving bowls; garnish with cilantro or onions. Serve with taquitos for dipping.
**Amy’s notes:
--You can find unsweetened coconut milk in the oriental section of the grocery.
--Instead of prepackaged sticks of cheese, I just bought an 8 oz block and cut into thin strips.
--I had Azteca brand tortillas and Kroger brand tortillas. The Azteca sealed well with water. The Kroger brand wouldn’t stick and I had to secure with a toothpick for heating.


Sausage and Tomato Rigatoni by Guest Chef Amy

4 cups rigatoni pasta, uncooked
1 lb. Italian bulk sausage, cut into chunks
1 medium red onion, sliced
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup Kraft Sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, brown sausage in large nonstick skillet; drain. Stir in onions and tomato paste; cover. Cook 15 min. or until onions are tender and sausage is cooed through, stirring occasionally. Stir in dressing. Toss sausage mixture with pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and cheese.
Makes 4 two cup servings.


Quick Breadsticks by Guest Chef Amy

(*for picture, see previously posted Chicken Tetrazzini recipe by Guest Chef Amy)
½ Tbsp dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
½ Tbsp powdered milk
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
Garlic salt
Shredded mozzarella or freshly grated parmesan
Dissolve yeast in water. Add powdered milk, sugar, and salt. Add flour until mixture forms a ball. Knead. Roll out to approximately 8 x 10 inch rectangle (about the size of a sheet of paper). Lay on lightly greased cookie sheet. Using pizza cutter, cut into 1 inch strips but do not separate. Spread with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt and cheese. Let rise 15 minutes. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

Chicken Tetrazzini by Guest Chef Amy

4 chicken breasts, boiled, cubed
7 oz spaghetti noodles, cooked in chicken borth
1 jar sliced mushrooms
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
¾ stick margarine
8 oz. sour cream
Combine all ingredients and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes.
(Breadsticks in picture will be posted next!)


Banana Crumb Muffins

*stole this one from allrecipes.com. It got rave reviews, and we loved them!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed (I used frozen ones and let them thaw a bit)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Asian Marinated Steak by Guest Chef Amy

Steak, sliced in small pieces
½ cup soy sauce
Scallions, chopped
¼ cup water
2 cloves garlic
4 Tbsp sugar

Combine soy sauce, scallions, water, garlic, sugar and pepper to form marinade. Reserve a small amount of sauce to top steak. Add steak to marinade in large sealable bag. Keep in refrigerator 5 hours to overnight. Broil on top rack in oven in broiling pan until done (about 5 minutes). Serve with rice and reserved marinade.


Tangy BBQ Sandwiches by Guest Chef Amy

1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 ½ - 4 lb.)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 ¾ cups ketchup
Oval shaped buns/hoagies

In slow cooker, mix all ingredients except buns. Cover; cook on low for 5 hours, stirring occasionally. To serve, fill buns with beef mixture.


Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies by Guest Chef Amy

2/3 cup Crisco shortening
1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 oz. pkg) semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375. Combine Crisco, brown sugar, water, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat eggs into creamed mixture. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake one baking sheet at a time at 375 for 7 – 9 minutes, or until cookies are set. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cookies will appear soft and moist. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen.


Best Blueberry Muffins by Guest Chef Amy

(also a great recipe for Apple Cinnamon Muffins!)
½ cup unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour, divided
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup buttermilk*
1 pint fresh blueberries**-- rinsed, drained and patted dry
2 Tbsp sugar
Position rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 375. Spray the top of the muffin pan with non-stick spray and line with paper liners. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, 1 ¼ cups sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix together 1 ¾ cup of the flour and baking powder. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated. Crush ¼ of the blueberries, and stir into the batter. Mix the rest of the whole blueberries with the remaining ¼ cup of the flour, and fold into the batter. Scoop into muffin cups. Sprinkle tops lightly with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and tops spring back when lightly tapped.
* If you do not have buttermilk, pour 1 tsp lemon juice into a measuring cup and fill with milk until you reach 1/2 cup. Stir well and refrigerate at least an hour. I often do this step the night before if I know I’m going to make muffins.
**To make apple cinnamon muffins, substitute blueberries for 3 peeled, cored apples—chopped small. Also add 2 Tbsp cinnamon.