Monday, April 01, 2013

Following the recipe?

 I was making macaroni and cheese the other night and my youngest pulled out her recipe book and took notes.  Notes are about the best my kids can hope for because I'll confess, I'm not a recipe follower.  That's not to say I don't like recipes.  I so do!  I have a growing collection of cookbooks and love to browse through them.  But most of the time, I don't follow the recipes precisely.

For instance, I had some ripe bananas a few years back.  I thought about making banana bread, but it didn't really thrill me, so I played with a banana bread recipe and came up with a banana/blueberry, whole grain muffin.  I added lots of cinnamon and walnuts.  They've become a family favorite.

I bought a wonderful cookbook, Artisan Breads in Five Minutes or Less.  Again, I loved it.  But frequently, a whole loaf was a bit too much for a meal.  I found a cast iron biscuit pan at a house sale.  It was brand new and had never been used.  I seasoned it, and tried dropping the basic dough from the book in and making rolls.  Perfect!  I could make anywhere from two to more than a dozen. (I bought a second pan because I liked the first one so much!)

I'll confess,a less-than following the recipe form of cooking has its good days and it's not so great days.  But I really do love experimenting, and when something turns out good, it turns out real good!  I'll confess, sometimes, experiments fail, but that's why there's cereal in the cupboard!

So, here's my banana/blueberry muffin recipe.  I started with the banana bread recipe in Whole Foods for the Whole Family and then I tweaked it.  And here's what I came up with.


1 3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 t cinnamon
1/3 C oil
1 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 C mashed banana
1/4 C hot water
1/2 C walnuts
1 C blueberries (frozen, fresh or dried)

Mix wet ingredients, add dry and mix.  Add solids (nuts, berries).

350 for about 15-20 minutes.

You'll see these muffins in A Valley Ridge Wedding: You Are Invited...  Mattie, known to her family as Waltzing Mathilda (yes, I sang the song a lot as I worked), is working at Park Perks, the local coffee shop.  She adds a bakery section and these muffins are a hit.  She's someone who doesn't always follow the rules.  It's a little thing, but I love that some of her independent spirit comes out in her cooking at the coffee shop.

Mattie's spent years wandering the US, but when the chips are down, she throws her own life aside and hurries home to help a friend.  I imagine Mattie's someone who doesn't follow a recipe exactly.  Frankly, I'm pretty sure she considers them a loose guideline...rather like me! Go figure!  LOL

Now, if you look at this recipe and think the muffins look good except for the ____ (nuts, berries, bananas...) then switch it up and try out some variation of the recipe.  If you do, let me know how it turns out.

Happy Cooking...and Reading!



  1. Changing one nut for another is about as much as I deviate from a recipe, at least until I've made it as specified several times. So, it's good for me that there are adventurous cooks out there to write the recipes I love.

    One good thing about following recipes to the letter: you always get a consistent product, unlike my mother whose nature insists that she add something to every recipe. Then she wonders why it doesn't taste the same.

  2. JV, LOL Yeah, I am closer to your mom's version of cooking! Bt once I find a version I like, I tend to stick close to it! And I've thought about trying this one with pecans. I think it would be good!


  3. Looks like a wonderful recipe - I like the muffin idea, because the huge pan I always use for my banana bread (which varies with either shredded zukes, coconut, or orange zest/juice) is always too big and I have to throw the stuff at everyone who comes over, LOL. Great idea and can't wait to try the recipe. Thanks, Holly!

  4. My family is in love with these muffins. I have made three double batches in three weeks! Last week we were out of bananas and blueberries, so I used frozen black cherries and pecans. Not quite as sweet as the original recipe, probably because no bananas. But they were still good! (and disappeared fast) Thanks again for sharing with us, Holly.

    1. Aaron, I'm so glad you all are enjoying them! I just got home and have a few bananas that are overly ripe, so I'm thinking I'll be making a batch today or tomorrow! I love how versatile they are, too!

  5. Like my mother I stick pretty close to dessert recipes, but I don't follow recipes for much else. My children would want a certain casserole for dinner when they were younger, and I would have no idea how I prepared it. It was all about what I had to go in it at the time. These two recipes sound wonderful.

    1. Thanks, Shirley! I really hardly ever make a recipe the same way twice! We could probably cook together with no problems. I have friends that follow recipes exactly. I'd give them palpitations! LOL