Comforted by Banana Nut Muffins

We’ve had an incredibly busy August which lead to feeling like the summer whizzed by. Can you believe it’s already the beginning of September?  And to think, when Al and I decided to spend the summer parked in the same RV Resort for four months, I thought for sure I’d be bored and ready to roll after the first month. But Prescott, Arizona, is a lovely community surrounded by beauty which kept me entertained and the camera clicking. We had a great summer!

sunset at Goldwater Lake

Goldwater Lake, Prescott, Arizona

As the end of August rolled around, it was time for us to get the wheels rolling again. I’ll be honest, I had a few mixed emotions about packing up and leaving and actually thought about staying another month, but with twinges of hitch itch nipping at my heels, I knew it was time for a new backyard.

camping in Kaibab National Forest

My new yard. Our home for the Labor Day weekend

Currently I’m sitting in the Kaibab National Forest just south of the Grand Canyon surrounded by tall pine trees and enjoying the crisp fresh air. Wow, talk about a change of scenery along with cooler temperatures. I found myself pulling out pants and a sweatshirt camping in Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyonas the evening temperatures dropped into the 50’s … refreshing, and ah, the smell of pine is intoxicating!

As I sit here relishing the tranquil beauty around me, I feel incredibly lucky yet overcome with sadness. Mother Nature can be gracious and bless us with amazing desert sunsets or spectacular beach sunrises or she can lower her hammer sending death and destruction.

This past week, the Texas Gulf Coast certainly felt Mother Nature’s wrath when she sent hurricane Harvey ashore. I’ve stayed glued to my computer following news stories and getting updates from friends via Facebook and email. The photos and updates are heartbreaking.

Banana bread

I need some comfort food!

Al and I have a special relationship with the Rockport area (this is where the center of the hurricane came ashore). Rockport has been our winter home for the past four years and just a little ways down the coast is where my parents used to winter. Al was also stationed in the area during his military days. Thus, you can see, we have a fond connection to this part of the Texas Gulf Coast.

bird photography

This little guy poses nicely for me. I’m sad there won’t be any Texas birding for me this winter.

For obvious reasons, our usual Texas sojourn won’t be happening this winter. I always look forward to our visits which includes communing with shore birds and reconnecting with friends. I’ll definitely miss this years excursion. I’m afraid if I talk anymore about this disaster the flood of tears will short out my laptop 😪

banana muffinsSo instead of crying, let’s head into the kitchen and bake up something comforting … well, at least comforting to me.

I’ve always loved banana bread, and it usually makes me think of my mom. She made the best, and I could literally devour half a loaf in one sitting provided she didn’t take it away from me.

Because of this lack of will power, I make muffins instead of loaves and can usually limit myself to one a day. But as my emotions run rampant thinking of the Gulf Coast, my mom (RIP), and her favorite beach in Texas …. I think two or three 😋 might be in order. I need something to comfort my emotions. I’ll take an extra long hike tomorrow 🐾

Banana Nut MuffinsBanana Nut Muffins 
4 very ripe bananas
5 Tablespoon of melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons of brewed coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add melted butter and sugar and mix well. Mix in egg, coffee and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and salt mixing until all ingredients incorporated well. Fold in walnuts. In a paper lined muffin tin, divide batter equally by filling each muffin cup about 3/4 full.

Bake in a preheated oven – 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12.

Banana nut muffins

Stay strong Texas … You’re not alone … sending prayers and support!

never alone in the woods

Never alone !

BTW – this is not my mom’s banana bread recipe. I don’t know what I do wrong, but mine never tastes as good as hers did. My mom was a great baker. Oh well, I found this recipe online a few years ago and tweaked it and am sharing my version. It’s not the same as mom’s, but it’ll do. Hope you enjoy it!

Some items I used during this post – pls note: these are affiliate links 😀

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Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

The RV lifestyle can be as social or anti-social as one chooses. I know lots of RVer’s who engage in activities regularly with fellow traveler’s and even go so far as to caravan together. Others prefer solitude and rarely socialize with their fellow RVer. It’s all about personal preference.

For Al and I, we’ve discovered the middle of the road is the perfect fit for us. We’ll go weeks without socializing enjoying our solitude, and then we’ll find ourselves in a location where we embrace multiple get togethers…. quite often with folks we’ve never met before. And this is how complete strangers become friends.

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

Our socializing usually centers around hiking and eating. Although it’s fun to meet up at a local restaurant or brewery, we prefer pot lucks around a picnic table or at someone’s home.

Wonderful friendships have been made at campgrounds and through clubs like Escapees, but most surprising are the friendships we’ve forged through the blogosphere with RVer’s AND non-RVer’s a like. When I started this little thing called a blog, I never imaged it would lead to some genuine friendships. It has and I’m ever so grateful 😁

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares Bars

For those of us that travel, it’s so much fun running into a fellow Blogger in one state and then reconnecting months later in another state. Most times these re-connections are serendipitous.

Over the years, we’ve met some of the most culinary talented folks and shared some very flavorful meals together. Occasionally the sharing of recipes ensues and the scribbled notes get passed around. That’s exactly how I came about this Blueberry Oatmeal Square recipe, and it has become one of my all time favorite go to dishes to bring to a get together.

Smucker's Blueberry preserve recipes

It’s super easy to make and because it has oatmeal in it, we know it’s healthy (she says while winking). The fact that it’s calorie-laden with refined sugars and flour is irrelevant. Oatmeal equal healthy, and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I belong to a few “RV” related Facebook groups and a common question that seems to pop up is about whether an oven in the RV is necessary? A lot of RV’s only have a convection/microwave combo unit. I love my little propane oven, and since I enjoy baking and use my easy bake RV oven often, I couldn’t live without it. I’m sure many of you have perfected convection/micro baking, and I congratulate you, but I’ll stick with my propane oven that doubles as additional storage when not in use.

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

And since many of my friends know I enjoy baking, I’m the one they count on to bring the dessert to those get togethers.

So the next time you’re getting together with friends and need to bring a dish/dessert to share, give these Blueberry Oatmeal Squares a try, and be sure you tell your friends to indulge because they’re healthy …. Ingrid said so!

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

  • Servings: 20
  • Print

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares1 3/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 jar of blueberry preserves (I use 3/4’s of an 18 ounce jar of Smucker’s Blueberry preserves)

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter just enough until the butter is broken down and incorporated with the ingredients. Add in the oats and with your hands mix well. Press half the mixture into a buttered 13-by-9 inch rectangular shaped baking pan. Top the dough with the preserves, spreading evenly. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over preserves and then press down lightly.

Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree pre-heated oven. Once cooled, cut into squares.

A couple of products I used …. (affiliate links)

Grilling an Awesome Burger

Do you ever get bored eating the same old meals over and over? Al and I really enjoy a good old-fashioned hamburger, but the usual burger time and again just doesn’t get us excited about eating … snore. Yep, it’s easy for food boredom to set in. Wanting to take it up a notch and take the ho-hum out of my everyday hamburger, I searched the internet for ideas.

Green Chili burgers

Hatch Green Chili Hamburgers

I started playing around with different ingredients that would hopefully incorporate some exciting yet tasty flavors.  I had some successes and some near failures. I wanted something out of the ordinary, but flavors that would mesh well with our individual palettes. Keep in mind, Al and I are originally from northern Illinois where it’s all about corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Peppers and chilies weren’t ingredients we grew up with in Illinois. I’m sure times have changed and peppers are much more common these days, but thirty to forty years ago peppers or chilies weren’t a part of our diet or products we’d easily find growing in the fields. I know, our mother’s certainly never used green chilies. I’m not even sure they knew what they were. So a couple of months ago when I returned from the grocery store with a little can of green chilies, my husband wondered what the heck I was up to. To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure myself how I’d feel about the taste of these unusual, to me, ingredient.

grilled burgers and asparagus

green chili burgers with grilled asparagus and sweet orange bell pepper.

Well let me tell you, these burgers are so awesome that they’ve become the norm around the RV, and when we get together with the kids, they even request these flavorful green chili burgers.

They are so darn tasty, that a bun isn’t required. Since we loosely follow a Paleo diet and avoid bread, we usually eat our burgers in a lettuce wrap. Add a side of grilled veggies and can you say, ‘yum’!

Green Chili burgersLast year we spent a couple of weeks hanging around Santa Fe, New Mexico. Not only did we fall in love with the eclectic city, we fell in love with the food and learned a lot about peppers and chilies.

I swear, Santa Fe has the best farmer’s market … at least the best farmer’s market I’ve ever been to.  Unbeknownst to us, we timed our excursion to Santa Fe perfectly last August during pepper / chili season. Ah, the smell of roasting peppers.

New Mexico is known for producing the best peppers and chilies in the United States. Oh and by the way, I was adamantly told or rather corrected, that there is indeed a difference between a pepper and a chili. Not one to argue with a New Mexican culinary aficionado, I’ll roll with that tidbit.

But my pepper and chili education didn’t end in Santa Fe. I’m a cookbook junkie and unfortunately the RV doesn’t allow space to collect books like I used to. Thus, I now rely on local libraries to satisfy my cookbook addiction. Most recently I picked up a copy of Freddie Prinze Jr.’s cookbook – Back to the Kitchen: 75 Delicious, Real Recipes (& True Stories) from a Food-Obsessed Actor. The actor grew up in New Mexico and shares his love affair with peppers and chili’s grown in his home state. Awesome … I learned even more about New Mexico and their agricultural specialty.

Although I would never consider myself a pepper or chili expert, since becoming enlightened, I now make it a point to purchase Hatch chiles whenever possible. These ‘hatch‘ chiles are grown in Hatch, New Mexico … go figure … and are undoubtedly known as the best chilies in the country. We’ll attest to that. They are indeed quite tasty. And this coming from a  couple of former Midwesterner’s with northern European heritage. Boy, our taste buds sure have changed over the years.

Travel is enlightening in so many ways. We see amazing scenery, meet extraordinary people, and discover unique culinary delights. How fun! Never in a million years would I have envisioned my German/Norwegian husband eagerly popping samples of sauteed peppers in his mouth at the Sante Fe farmer’s market. “Where is my husband, and what have you done with him?” 😆🌶🌽

THE WORLD IS A BOOK, AND THOSE WHO DO NOT TRAVEL READ ONLY ONE PAGE – ST. AUGUSTINE

So how bout it …. are you ready to take your burgers up a notch?

Awesome Green Chili HamburgerGreen Chili Burgers 
Ingredients
– 1 Pound lean ground beef
– 1/2 can of Hatch green chili’s, drained
– 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
– 1/4 cup chopped onion
– 1/8 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
– 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except for the ground beef. Once all ingredients are well incorporated, toss in the ground beef and mix together well. Divide beef into four equal amounts and patty out into burgers. Grill to desired temperature and serve on a toasted bun or wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Hope you give these burgers a try and enjoy them as much as we do! Let me know if you do make’m and if you made any tasty changes ☺


Cuisinart CNP-410 Non-Stick Grilling Platter, 10 by 10-Inch

affiliate links contained in this post!