The Supreme Banana Bread

We love banana bread at our house and the small person is all grown up and more than able to handle herself around the kitchen. Banana bread is such a fun recipe to experiment with, letting you add bits of whatever you have hiding in the cabinet. I love letting her pull out ingredients and do some measuring for herself. Sometimes we have a winner — and sometimes things don’t work out.

Here’s the play-by-play:

You’ll need three bananas and it’s good to use the ones that are icky brown. The small person likes to use a “potato smasher” to get things smooth. During a playdate we had the other day to perfect the recipe, her friend called them “poopy bananas” and I was like, yeah, you want the squishy brown ones. They really taste the best.

We like using Greek yogurt instead of butter or oil and lots of vanilla. Cinnamon is also a must — we had a little explosion while making ours but hey, that’s OK.

When it comes to the extras, we picked oats, chocolate chips, and hazelnuts. The bread is still good without all those chocolate chips but it really makes it (as the small person says) waaaaay better.

Notes from the young master baker: Remember before doing all of this always wash your hands and after too! Oh, and before you put it in the oven, put olive oil on the pan and then sugar all around it and over the sink pat it so it goes all around and it will give it a glaze.

Got it?


(It smells amazing while baking.)


  • 3 Bananas
  • 1/2 Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 chopped hazelnuts (or pecans, walnuts, almonds, or even peanuts)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup flour
  • Drizzle of oil
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Mash the bananas together until smooth and then add the Greek yogurt and vanilla. Stir until incorporated.
  3. Add the cinnamon, brown sugar, and sea salt. Mix together and taste — because you can’t after the eggs are added!
  4. Crack the eggs together in a separate bowl to check for shells before adding. Then stir in the oats, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Sprinkle in the nuts and chocolate chips (yes, you really need 1 cup!) and then slowly add the flour.
  6. Grease the pan with olive oil or butter and then dust with white sugar to keep the bread from sticking.
  7. Bake for 1 hour and then let sit in the pan until cooled — or for as long as you can stand it.
  8. Slice and serve with butter or use for making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, our favorite way to make school lunch deliciously fun.
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Cooking with kids: Super easy homemade tuna cakes


My daughter really loves cooking. She’s been mixing things together since she was itty-bitty, and now that she’s older, it’s time to get her in the kitchen for some real cooking. Well, actually, our craft table has recently been taken over with lots of cooking activities, with some pretty awesome results. I’m always trying to find ways to introduce brain-boosting foods to my tot, making tuna an ingredient high on my list of yummy stuff. But sometimes my daughter isn’t so excited about fish. This recipe for tuna cakes is so easy and the results are delicious. And even if your little one isn’t a big fan, you just might be surprised to see her noshing on these after having a hand at making them.


1 can of tuna, drained

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh spinach

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 egg

Salt and pepper

Squeeze of lemon juice


When cooking with kids, prep by getting all the ingredients ready before starting. For younger ones, pre-mesure the ingredients, chop and shred, and have in small containers along with mixing spoons and bowls at the ready. Older kids can help prep and even assist chop and shred with some adult supervision. After washing our hands, and getting all the ingredients ready, I asked my tot about what she saw in front of her.

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It as simple as dumping everything into a bowl and mixing together. For some kids this can take three seconds, or for others, like my daughter, this can turn into a 30 minute cooking segment. We used our favorite brand of tuna for these cakes and whole wheat breadcrumbs. When cooking together we have a rule that there’s no taste-testing when an egg is involved.

We added a few dashes of salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon, and the garlic. Then it was time to stir, stir, stir. The tuna cake batter will still be a bit moist, but, have no fear, these cakes are wonderfully delicious without being full of fillers.

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Preheat your oven to 400˚ F and lightly coat a sheet pan with vegetable oil. Now your child can scoop spoonfuls of the mixture and press together to create round patties, and then carefully place on the pan. You’ll have enough to make around six tuna cakes.

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Once your oven is nice and hot, toss those cakes in and bake for seven minutes and then gently flip. After baking for an additional three to five minutes those tuna cakes are ready to eat. I served our cakes with a side of special dipping sauce (equal parts plain Greek-style yogurt and ketchup) and a slice of lemon, which my daughter really enjoyed sucking on after each bite (as you can see from the picture below).

homemade tuna cakes

And you can add other ingredients to these tasty cakes, such as finely chopped green onion, swap pepper jack for the cheddar, or add a handful of corn — whatever your child likes.

Enjoy! We sure did!

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Zucchini cornbread muffins

zucchini cornbread

There’s nothing like the soft sweet crunch of cornbread muffins. One of my favorite things while growing up where muffins from that little box of mix that only required an egg, a bit of oil, and a splash of milk to make. The other day I had an abundance of fresh spring zucchini and knew they would taste divine paired with cornmeal. I baked a batch of muffins and totally admit to winging the recipe. But after they were eaten within hours, I decided it was a good idea to whip up another batch — making sure to write the ingredients down. And with the Shine Supper Club all about revisiting our favorite childhood eats, this recipe mixes classic cornbread with healthy and fresh zucchini.


1 1/2 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 pound shredded zucchini

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup oil


Preheat your oven to 350˚F and get out a big mixing bowl. Measure and add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl and give a stir to break up any lump. You can also add the ingredients to a blender and pulse on low to create a really smooth and delicate cornbread muffin.

mixing muffins

Now add the baking powder, baking soda, and shredded zucchini. Crack in the eggs, add the milk and oil, and stir to incorporate. That’s it — really.

cornbread ingredients

Line your muffin tin with liners or slightly grease and then ladle in the batter. Pop in the hot oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden.

Remove the muffins and let cool for 10 minutes before eating. They’re wonderful topped with a bit of butter, drizzled with honey, or slathered with cream cheese.

fresh muffins


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Cooking with Kids: Peanut butter oatmeal finger cookies

cooking with kids

I love cooking with my tot and have been exploring the wonders of the kitchen with her by my side for quite some time now. But there are times that I would love for her to get out of my kitchen and do some pretend cooking on her own. But the other day, when she was insistent on making some sort of treat, I caved. Well, yeah, I kinda wanted some sort of treat too.

We didn’t have much for tossing together something super sweet, but did have a few basics that, once expertly mixed together by my tot, would be just fine. And I’ve discovered that it doesn’t really matter what we make, or how it tastes, she usually eats it if she made it. There are a few things I’ve learned from inviting my youngster into the kitchen:

-The first, and most important, is to NOT worry about the mess. Really. You’ve got to let it go. By containing the potential disaster, you’re able to make clean up less time consuming. I try to have all ingredients, mixing spoons, bowls, measuring cups and spoons, and damp paper towels at the ready so I don’t have to leave my tot while she’s mixing.

-It’s probably not going to taste amazing. Even if you measure everything exactly, when cooking with kids, stuff just happens. Your tot may give the salt shaker an extra sprinkle, the oil may be drizzled too long, or something may be forgotten in the chaos. Guess what? Your kid won’t care — she’s excited about the process, and doing some actual cooking. So try not to wrinkle up your nose and dig in, which will show your child that you are impressed with her budding culinary skills.

-Keep it simple. Please. Now is not the time to try making perfectly cooked macaroons or something you’ve never attempted before. Stick with things you’re comfortable cooking and baking so your little one isn’t overwhelmed with the idea of getting in the kitchen.

We made these super easy and wonderfully adjustable peanut butter cookies the other day, and not only are they tasty, they are healthy. So grab your little one and get in the kitchen!


1 cup peanut butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 cup oats

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Dash of salt

1 cup flour

(You could add chocolate chips, a dash of cinnamon, raisins……)


Preheat your oven to 350˚F.

It’s as easy as helping your child measure and add the ingredients as they are listed to a mixing bowl. Our rule is that there is no taste testing after the egg has been added to any recipe, and to HOLD the BOWL while stirring. I try to stand back and let her at it. Yes, sometimes I need to give a helping hand when measuring and adding ingredients, but letting your child figure it out makes cooking together really special.

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cooking with kids3

The dough holds together really well, making it perfect for rolling in balls and then pressing flat with your fingers, which is why we decided to call them finger cookies.

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For extra sweetness, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sugar or drizzle with a bit more honey. Pop in the hot oven for 12 minutes, let cool, and enjoy.


What’s your favorite kid-friendly recipe? Leave a link in the comments below!


Fresh cranberry lemon yogurt bread

Now that Thanksgiving is over you may have a few leftovers hanging out in the fridge. We happened to have half a bag of fresh cranberries that were starring at me every time I opened the fridge. The tot started calling them “grapes” and really wanted to eat them and then would get angry and confused when I told her they wouldn’t taste very good. But, she was determined, so I let her have one.


She was excited about the idea of using them to bake something, so I gathered a few ingredients we sat down for some serious stirring. And this bread turns into a really awesome fine motor skill activity if you encourage your tot to only add one cranberry at a time — and it also keeps your little one busy for a good amount of time….


1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 cups cranberries

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 1/2 cup flour


Invite your child to measure and add the yogurt, vanilla, and sugar, giving the ingredients a stir. You can preheat the oven to 400F so it’s nice and hot when you’re finished mixing.

Now offer your tot the cranberries and encourage her to add a few at a time, and then give a stir. While she’s busy, go ahead and zest the lemon over the bowl and then add the fresh squeezed juice.

Measure and add the milk and vegetable oil, inviting your child to continue mixing the ingredients — and adding the cranberries.

Once the cranberries have been mixed into the batter, add the egg, baking powder, baking soda, flour, and dash of salt. Give things a final stir.

Now your child can help grease a loaf pan and then add the batter. Pop the bread into the oven for 45-minutes to an hour, or until the top is toasty brown and a toothpick comes out nice and clean.

Let cool for 30-minutes before slicing and enjoy as an afternoon snack or in the morning toasted with a slathering of butter — my favorite way to eat this tasty, healthy bread.

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Healthful Mondays: Cranberry lemon bread

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

It seems that every year I pick up a primo can of cranberry sauce to proudly display on my Thanksgiving table, and no one eats any of it. They might take a dainty spoonful, but for the most part, there’s tons left. I hate tossing things in the trash and am always trying to find ways to re-invent and re-use leftovers, so, those cranberries were burning a hole in my brain while chilling in the back of my fridge.

What to do with them?

Cranberries are an amazing little fruit. Packed with HUGE amounts of antioxidants (they are a truly miracle wee things) able to aid in fighting the common cold and ease pesky bladder infections, they are more than itty-bitty tart things. Cranberries grow on shrubs that thrive in low-laying areas of marshy land or water and are harvested with big ol-honking machines. They get their shining moment during the holiday season, and then are added to juices and other things for the rest of the year.

But, most of us have a can or jar of cranberry sauce hanging around for Thanksgiving. And, the majority of the time, that cranberry sauce isn’t eaten.

I had one of those amazing DING moments and got the idea of combining that sweet tangy cranberry jell-stuff with a complimentary tangy-sweet lemon bread for a winning and healthful combination. Cranberry lemon bread.



2 Tablespoons room temperature butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 lemon zested

Dash of salt and cinnamon

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cranberry sauce

How to make the sweet and tangy bread

Toss the butter, oil, yogurt, egg, and sugars in a bowl and give them a good mix with a whisk or hand mixer. Once you’ve got a big, frothy mess, you’re ready for the next ingredients. Go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, too.

Now you can add the baking soda, baking powder, zested lemon, vanilla, and dash of salt and cinnamon into the mix and give a gentle stir.

Slowly start adding the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Once everything has come together, grease a loaf pan and pour half the dough in the pan.

Get out that cranberry sauce and dish 1/4 cup of the stuff over the mix. You can use a knife to marble the cranberry sauce by running the tip from side to side and then front to back, distributing that cranberry stuff all about.

Now top with the rest of the bread mix and dab on the remaining 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce. You can marble the top, too, if you want.

Put the bread in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Once the time is up, take the bread out and let cool as long as you can stand it.


Healthful Mondays: Family focaccia

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

There’s nothing like a piece of yummy warm bread fresh from the oven. The smell of home-baked bread is a fabulous way to entice your family to a meal. It’s also super easy and a great way to use up those leftovers hanging out in the back of your fridge. I make focaccia bread when I’m invited to a friend’s house and always use the same base recipe, and then add different toppings to keep it fun and fresh.

Encouraging picky eaters can be frustrating. Satisfying everyone with one meal can sometimes be impossible. But, you can tackle the challenge by getting everyone in the kitchen to help with a family focaccia. By letting each family member pick their favorite ingredient to add to the focaccia, you might be surprised with the results – and how everyone’s excited to give it a taste!


1 cup warm water (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon for drizzling

1 tablespoon yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

dash of salt

2 cups flour + up to 3/4 cup additional for kneading the dough

How to make the yummy stuff

Start by pouring 1 cup warm water into a medium-sized bowl along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkling it with 1 tablespoon yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and a dash of salt. Let the water sit for a couple of minutes until the yeast begins to bubble and activate.

Begin stirring in the flour, a little at a time, until it forms a sticky ball. Dust a work surface with flour and begin kneading the dough until it comes together into a nice dough that is soft to the touch and doesn’t stick to your hands. The kids can help by kneading the dough or measuring and adding additional flour, which encourages their fine-motor skills as well as their math and measuring skills!

Place the dough in a medium-sized bowl with a fresh clean towel placed over the top to rest and double in size, which takes about an hour.

While the dough is resting, everyone can gather their desired ingredients for the family focaccia! Fresh herbs, sliced tomatoes, diced olives, spinach leaves, shredded cheese, leftover hamburger, sliced pepperoni, white beans – even sliced figs make for great focaccia toppings! The ideas are endless!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a large cookie sheet with olive oil and have everyone press the dough (with freshly washed hands, right?!) so it reaches the edges of the pan. Now it’s time to layer on the ingredients! Once each family member has added their ingredient, take turns using fingers to press the ingredients into the dough by pushing down – but not hard enough that the dough tears or breaks through to the bottom.

Drizzle more olive oil over the top and place in a 450 degree oven until toasty brown. Allow the focaccia to cool and then serve alongside dinner, or FOR dinner! Leftovers can be cut into squares and sliced in half to use as sandwich bread.