Category Archives: Fruits

Apple, Brie and Prosciutto Appetizer

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Apples are a marvelous fruit that is transformed throughout the year into delicious recipes for snacks, drinks and desserts. Some recipes are seasonal like warm apple crisp in the warmer months or mixed into fruit salads in the cooler months. My simple recipe for Apple, Brie and Prosciutto Appetizer can be made anytime of the year and may be transformed by the type of apple you decide to use.

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In the fall , the best kinds of apples are honey crisp, Swiss gourmet and granny smith. When my youngest son was a little guy we would gather some friends to go apple picking before the weather turned too cold. There was a local farm not far from out neighborhood that allowed you to pick seasonal fruits by the pound. The kids loved it because they could ride a wagon down to the apple orchard then fill their bags to the brim. Granted, it was a little more expense than store bought apples but to see the kids running around having fun was well worth it. Plus, there was a petting zoo, face painting and pony rides that the kids all loved.

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My apple of choice for this recipe was a granny smith apple. We did not have time to pick any so I had to settle for apples from the grocer. Still, the apples were juicy and delicious. Anyway, I used granny smith apples because I wanted a contrast of flavors between the Apples, Brie and Prosciutto.

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Hubby thought the Apple, Brie and Prosciutto Appetizer was sweet and rich but not too rich. Sour, salty and sweet is how I would describe the flavors. Sour, because of the granny smith apples. Salty, because of the slightly salty prosciutto and sweet because of the nice creamy brie. Adding a few crackers to the mix made my hubby and I agree this was an appetizer our family, friends and my blog followers would enjoy. This recipe will definitely be on my menu for the holidays. To make it look festive during the holidays I think I will use both red and green apples. Maybe I should make an apricot fruit dip to go along with the apples. Hmmm….. stay tuned for that one.

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Apple, Brie and Prosciutto Appetizer

Ingredients:
1 – 2 granny smith apples sliced into wedges
1 – 2 pkgs prosciutto sliced in half lengthwise
8 oz brie sliced cut into bite sized pieces

Place a piece of brie on each apple slice then wrap with prosciutto. Serve with crackers.

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Apple Dumpling

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Slowly but surely I am becoming more and more comfortable trying out my baking skills. Granted I am still a long way off from competing with my Mom who is the baking Queen of the universe. Once someone tries any of her baked goods they will come back again and again to ask Mom Mom if she will bake them a cake, pie, cookies or anything sweet.

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I am the tortoise in the baking race of life. I am slow but steadily gaining ground as I go along. Today I decided I would try to make an Apple Dumpling for dmariedining.com. Instead of making an apple pie I thought it would be nice to create an apple filled pastry that has all of the flavors of an apple pie. Plus, the process seemed simpler to me. I wanted an individual dessert rather than a large pie since my family does not eat a lot of dessert. Making an Apple Dumpling meant I could make two dumplings that we could all share and not worry about wasting a whole pie.

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I must admit I have only had an Apple Dumpling once or twice in my life. They were okay but the pastry was a little tough. For me, the crust is the best part of any pastry dessert. Since I am still honing my baking skills I either get my Mom to make me a batch of crust which freezes nicely or I buy a crust I know will be flaky.

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Apple Dumplings are a wonderful treat that is pretty simple to make with only a few ingredients. Hmmm… I think I will try making a peach dumpling when peach season comes around.

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Apple Dumpling

Ingredients:
2 granny smith apples peeled
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tbsp nutmeg
4 tbsp butter melted
1 egg lightly beaten
1 box Pillsbury Pie Crusts (two per box)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice and core apple with an apple slicer (to maintain shape of apple). Wrap a strip of pastry dough around the apple to hold slices together. Melt butter in small sauce pan. Brush apple with butter then roll in sugar mixture or pat mixture around apple with your hands. Place apple in the center of the pastry. Spoon a little melted butter in the middle of the apple and fill center with more of the sugar mixture. Fold pastry tightly around apple and brush the pastry with egg wash. Poke the top and sides of the pastry with a fork for ventilation. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hr until golden brown and the apples appear to be soft..

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Sticky Granola Clusters

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Once in a while I have a sweet tooth for something other than chocolate. Cookies, cakes, pies and ice cream don’t always hit the mark for me. Instead, I just want a small treat that will satisfy my desire for sweets but will not make me feel too guilty or bloated.

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Looking around my kitchen on one of those days of having a sweet tooth I found a container of granola. I know. Granola as a treat does not sound very exciting when you have a sweet tooth and I wanted more than plain ol’ granola. To jazz up the granola and make it into a really delicious treat I added a few extra ingredients to a basic granola bar recipe and created Sticky Granola Clusters.

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Naturally sweetened from the whipped honey I used along with the dried fruit, this easy treat satisfied my sweet tooth and kept me from feeling too guilty or bloated. I liked the nice crunch of the granola, toasted almonds and walnuts plus the chewiness of the dried plums, mango and cranberries. The whipped honey made it all sticky and fun to eat.

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Usually, I use my family as taste testers but this time I took my recipe directly to the public and asked my co-workers what they thought of the Sticky Granola Clusters. Sometimes you have to go outside of your own bubble to make sure you are on the right track when cooking. Judging by their comments and the fact that a few folks came back for seconds I know this recipe is a hit. The next time you have a sweet tooth make a batch of Sticky Granola Clusters. Not a lot of fuss and a lot less guilt than most treats.

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Sticky Granola Clusters

Ingredients:
14 oz granola (I used Aurora Natural Vanilla Crunch)
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup dried chopped plums
½ cup dried chopped mango (optional)
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup whipped honey or regular honey
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup light brown sugar (lightly packed)
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread coconut and almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Check coconut to make sure it does not burn. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Place granola, cooled coconut, almonds and walnuts in a large bowl.

In a small pot heat brown sugar, butter, honey and vanilla in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over granola mixture and stir. Add dried fruit and stir until well mixed.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Pour granola mixture onto baking sheet and gently press to spread out the granola evenly. If necessary, wet your fingers before handling to prevent mixture from sticking to you.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 3 hours to set. You can cool in the refrigerator the last 30 minutes. Break into clusters or cut into squares. Store in an air tight container. Refrigerate if necessary.

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Banana Bread Bars

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The idea for Banana Bread Bars came to me when I was thinking of making more of my Fruit Nut Bars but I had two ripe bananas crying out for me to do something with them. I have only recently started using ripe bananas in various recipes. Before I started dmariedining.com I would just freeze overly ripe bananas for smoothies because I don’t like to eat mushy bananas. Fortunately for the bananas, I was in an aventerous mood and decided I could try making banana bread but in the shape of bars instead of a loaf.

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Making banana bread is not too different from making banana muffins but I found that the texture and flavor was slightly different. The Banana Bread Bars were firmer but still very moist. As always, my family and friends are my taste testers and truly honest judges of my cooking. If something does not quite meet their level of expectation or does not tickle their taste buds, they have no problem in letting me know without hurting my feelings. I also know I have not hit the mark if my son does not let me know how much he will miss my cooking when he goes to college or he does not brag to his friends that I can make dirt taste good. No, I have never tried to make dirt taste good but I figure that was a very high compliment coming from my youngest son.

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On the few occasions that we have unexpected company or I don’t feel like making a complicated dessert for a family gathering, I can make Banana Bread Bars in a little over an hour. That is my kind of cooking. The next time your bananas start turning brown don’t toss them or freeze them. Turn them into Banana Bread Bars. Pretty Quick and Pretty Easy.

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Banana Bread Bars

Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
3 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Shift flour, baking soda and salt together into a small bowl and set aside.

Place bananas in a large bowl and mash. Mix in vanilla extract and eggs. Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium size sauce pan over medium high heat. Add sugars. Stir until sugars melt and are smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 8 – 10 minutes.

Add cooled sugar mixture to bananas. Slowly whisk flour with bananas and sugar until totally blended. Fold in walnuts. Pour mixture onto a rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper. Spread out evenly in the pan. Chill in the frig for 15 minutes then bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the center of the banana bread to see if center is cooked. If it comes out clean the banana bread is done. Let cool then cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

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Fruit and Nuts Cookie Bars

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I have been searching for cookie recipes that were easy to make and included mascarpone cheese. I found a couple of recipes but changed my mind and decided to come up with a cookie bar that included nuts and dried fruit. I could try to say the nuts and fruit made the cookies healthier than a regular cookie but who would I be kidding!

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I usually use pecans in my dessert recipes but I decided I wanted to use some thing different so I chose walnuts. Walnuts of course go great in any cookie. To compliment the nuts I used dried chopped plums instead of cranberries just because they looked interesting and they were on sale.

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Since I have been working on improving my baking skills I was pretty confident I could pull off making a tasty cookie bar. The issue would be whether or not my son would like them because they had both nuts and fruit. He is more of a chocolate chip cookie or oatmeal raisin kind of person. Nuts and dried plum? I was not too sure about that. I was pleasantly surprised that he really liked the cookie bars and didn’t even ask what was in them. One step closer to being a real baker!

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Fruit and Nuts Cookie Bar

Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter softened
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup dried cranberries or dried chopped plums
¼ cup golden raisins (optional)
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter over medium high heat then stir in brown sugar. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Let mixture cool for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl combine four baking soda and salt. In another bowl mix eggs, vanilla and cooled sugar. Slowly add flour to butter mixture and stir until well mixed. Stir in nuts and dried fruit.

Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour cookie mix onto parchment paper and spread it out. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool then cut into 2 inch squares.

Enjoy!

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Fruit Cups

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When you think of fruit cups I am sure you think of fresh (or canned) fruit chopped up and mixed together. Kind of like the fruit cup they would serve you in grade school for lunch. Well this Fruit Cup is nothing like the fruit cup from our childhood memories. My alternate version of a fruit cup is a pastry cup full of fresh (or canned) fruit simmered down with pecans then topped with a glob of vanilla ice cream.

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I came up with the idea of creating pastry fruit cups when I was thinking of what else I could make with the extra large muffin tins I used to bake big muffins. I also was trying to decide what to make with the leftover pastry dough my mom gave me so I could work on a new quiche recipe. Rather than make a big pie I thought I could create individual Fruit Cups that would be like a slice of pie.

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The great thing about Fruit Cups is that you can fill them with any kind of fruit you like and make several different types at once. For this post I tried making peach fruit cups. They tasted like mini peach pies with a hint of pecans. Apples were a good substitute for the peaches when I made this for my hubby because he likes apple pie but blueberry and blackberry also work well with this recipe. I just had to tweak it a little and instead of using brown sugar and cinnamon I used only regular sugar and lemon zest to brighten the flavors.

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Try making Fruit Cups the next time you have a desire for pie but don’t want the whole thing only a muffin sized slice.

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Fruit Cups

Ingredients:
1 pkg of Pillsbury pie sheets (or your own crust)
2 15 oz cans peaches in heavy syrup
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ cup pecans chopped
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp of water
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 4 large muffin tins with cooking spray.

Add peaches with syrup, butter, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg to a medium sized pot and simmer for 20 minutes over medium heat.

Cut out four 6 ½ inch circles (I used a cereal bowl to measure) from the pie sheets re-rolling the excess dough if necessary. Place each circle in the muffin tin then with a slotted spoon fill will fruit & nut mixture. Add a little of the juice from fruit to each cup. Fold over top of pie sheet to close the cup. Brush with egg wash and then vent with a knife. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Serve with a scoop of ice cream.

Optional:
Sliced Apples
Blueberries
Blackberries
Strawberries

If using berries, substitute sugar for brown sugar and add a little lemon zest.

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Grilled Chicken Salad

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Grilled Chicken Salad is another family favorite when the weather is warm and no one wants to eat a real heavy meal. Chicken of course is good any time of the year but chicken salad is one of those dishes I tend to make when I need a quick meal and I am too tired to turn on the oven or stove. I like to make Grilled Chicken Salad when my hubby is in the mood to do a lot of grilling. Grilling is his territory not mine so I take advantage whenever hubby is ready to fire it up.

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That being said the last time I made Grilled Chicken Salad for the family I didn’t wait for hubby to grill the chicken for me. Instead, I went to Trader Joe’s and purchased packaged grilled chicken which is actually very tasty with a great grilled flavor. Home grilled is wonderful but if you are short on time check out the grilled chicken at Trader Joe’s.

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Most chicken salad is just chicken and a few veggies. I kick it up another level by adding fruit. Grannie Smith apples, fennel, green grapes and golden raisins provide both a sweet and slightly sour taste to the salad. The combination of sweet and sour along with different levels of texture from the chicken, walnuts and tomatoes made this one of my signature dishes.

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To really put a smile on my family’s face I served the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce then sliced up a little brie and served it with crackers. De-li-ci-ous!

Grilled Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
2 pkgs grilled chicken cubed (approximately 2 cups)
2 boiled eggs
½ cup sliced apples
½ cup sliced fennel
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
½ cup green grapes sliced in half
¼ cup golden raisins
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp dill
¼ tsp celery seed
¼ tsp cilantro
¼ tsp parsley
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp ranch dressing
1 tbsp sour cream
juice from ½ a lemon

Remove yolks from boiled eggs and then chop the egg whites. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix until chicken, veggies and fruit are well coated with dressing. Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour then serve on a bed of lettuce or with crackers.

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Wild Rice Salad

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I love this time of year when the weather is slightly warm during the day and cool at night. It lets me know summer is coming and our meals will be filled with grilled foods and salads. All kinds of salads!!! I am fortunate that everyone in the family likes eating salads so it makes it easy for me to come up with a variety of warm or cold salads that go well with grilled chicken, fish and barbeque.

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My latest salad experiment is a Wild Rice Salad. I liked this one because I could serve it either chilled, slightly warmed or at room temperature. Rice isn’t heavy but can be very filling so it goes well with most entrees. If you don’t want to eat a lot of food but you want to feel like you have eaten a meal, put a little more rice on your plate. You will feel quite full and may not even want dessert. I know, who am I kidding. Everyone wants dessert no matter what. At least you may want a little less dessert.

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Whenever I make salads I try to combine both veggies and fruits. Golden raisins are one of the staples in my pantry as well as cranberries. Most of the leafy salads I make include fruits, nuts and cheese. I wasn’t too confident that including all three of those ingredients would work in a Wild Rice Salad so I decided to stick with fruit and nuts. The combination of wild rice, oranges and pecans was perfect. Savory, sweet and crunchy. Not bad if I do say so myself. One more wonderful salad recipe added to my long list of summertime dishes.

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Wild Rice Salad

Ingredients:
1 box wild rice (approximately 2 cups cooked)
1 10 oz can mandarin oranges drained
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup cranberries
¼ cup celery small dice
¼ cup vinaigrette
1 tsp lemon zest
½ tsp black pepper
pinch of salt

Prepare wild rice according to package. Let rice cool then place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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Skillet Apple Pie (Adapted from Trisha Yearwood’s recipe)

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The skillet apple pie recipe I am sharing was adapted from Trisha Yearwood’s skillet apple pie recipe. I was watching her show one day and she made an amazing looking pie in just a few minutes. I figured if she could whip together such an amazing dessert in no time flat I should be able to do the same. I just transformed a few of the ingredients she used and cut out others. Trisha’s recipe called for a cinnamon and sugar mixture but I used each one separately plus added a little nutmeg. I am also not big on sugar coated pies so I did not sprinkle the top with the same cinnamon sugar combination she used inside the pie. Of course if you like a lot of sugar feel free to sprinkle the crust with cinnamon and sugar.

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I have to admit when I first saw the recipe for a skillet pie I thought peaches would be better than apples. I imagined using fresh peaches cooked down just a little bit with cinnamon and sugar. Unfortunately, peaches are not in season yet so I stuck to the recipe and used apple pie filling. Give me a few months and I will definitely try the recipe using fresh peaches.

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The results of the pie were absolutely wonderful if I do say so myself. Flaky and delicious this is as close as you can get to an apple pie made from scratch. Quick and easy is my recipe mantra and Skillet Apple Pie hits the mark on both counts. Even on those days you are too tired or cranky to spend a lot of time in the kitchen you can pull this dessert together in less than 15 minutes. Okay, so you do have to wait for it to bake but it is truly worth the wait.

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Skillet Apple Pie (Adapted from Trisha Yearwood’s Recipe)

Ingredients:
1 box Pillsbury Pie Crusts (2 crusts per box)
½ cup light brown sugar
½ stick of butter
½ tbsp sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 21 oz can apple filling
1 tbsp butter melted
9” iron skillet
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll each pie crust.

Spray cooking spray around iron skillet. Melt ½ stick of butter in skillet over medium low heat. Add brown sugar and let melt into butter stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from the heat and add one pie crust to the skillet. Gently push the pie crust down into brown sugar and butter. Add pie filling and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg. Place second pie crust over the filling and turn crust edges inward. Brush top with 1 tbsp of melted butter and then place small slits in the top of the pie to allow the steam to vent. Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Optional:
Try this recipe with a peach or cherry pie filling. Adjust using cinnamon and nutmeg if using cherry pie filling.

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Banana Nut Muffins

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For our first AAU game this season, I and another parent (C.T.) volunteered to provide snacks for the guys to have in between games. CT brought bananas, grapes and clementines while I supplied the Gatorade and granola bars. Although our intentions were good, we found out we could not bring food into the arena. Since it was a cold snowy day we could not organize the guys to go outside and partake of the goodies. Needless to say there was a lot of Gatorade and fruit leftover. CT suggested I keep the fruit and put it to good use so I left the games with a good helping of bananas.

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I thought about making some type of fruit salad but I ate quite a few grapes on our long journey home. My hubby ate most of the clementines which meant I only had bananas to worry about. I wasn’t in the mood for banana pudding and wanted to make something I had never tried before. As you know, I am still working on my baking skills and thought I could try out a banana nut muffin recipe.

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I found an old recipe in my recipe box for banana bread that I decided to turn into a muffin recipe. I just tweaked the banana bread recipe a little by adding golden raisins and nuts to the mix. Yummy… The muffins came out really moist and flavorful with a subtle crunch from the pecans. Plus, the golden raisins plumped up and added another layer of sweetness along with the ripe bananas. In the end, I was happy with my updated recipe and felt confident I could share this recipe.

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Thanks CT for providing the bananas and for helping me to stretch my baking wings once again to create a lovely banana nut muffin.

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Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas peeled and mashed
2 eggs slightly beaten
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter softened
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp lemon or orange zest
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray then fill each cup a little more than half way. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until center is set. Place a tooth pick in the center of the muffin and if it comes out clean muffin should be done. If necessary, cook a few more minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edge of the muffin to loosen then gently lift out of the muffin tin. Dust with powdered sugar.

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