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 ūüė™

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 ūüėč might be in order. I need something to comfort my emotions. I’ll take an extra long hike tomorrow ūüźĺ

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 ūüėÄ

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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 ūüėĀ

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)

Cooking with Altitude

“Wow, these are the best pancakes you’ve ever made”, Al comments.¬† He wonders what I’ve done differently or if this is a¬†new recipe.¬† “It’s not the recipe, hon.¬† It’s the altitude”, I respond.¬† Altitude, or lack there of I’m thinking.¬† You see, Al made that comment while we were camped in Death Valley…. at sea level.¬† We live in Colorado,¬†5000+ feet in elevation.¬†¬†¬†Baking¬†or cooking at these higher elevations¬†can require modifications or tweaking to many recipes.

I have to agree with Al.¬† The pancakes were delish.¬† They had a thick, fluffy texture.¬† Usually they are a bit thinner and denser, thanks to the high altitude.¬† Nonetheless, we always enjoy¬†these yummy¬†pancakes.¬† It’s just sometimes they turn out better than other times.

I found this great pancake recipe on the Food Network website.¬† I’ve made them with white flour, as well as with wheat flour.¬† It’s merely a personal preference.

Pancakes:

  • dry ingredients:¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† wet ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†3 tablespoons melted butter
Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit (Photo credit: fensterbme)

Mix dry ingredients in large mixing bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in medium bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Mix until combined.

At this point I add 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts and a cup or two of fruit….blueberries, strawberries, or other berries.¬† I like to keep¬†bags of frozen fruit¬†in the freezer for those times we’re camped in the middle of nowhere, and Death Valley would constitute as the middle of no where.¬† No farmers market here.

Ladle batter onto a large heated skillet.¬† Flipping once.¬†¬†Serve topped with sliced bananas and warm maple syrup……….yum¬† ūüôā