Thursday, January 7, 2010

Staying In As The Snow Falls

We are having ANOTHER winter storm here, SIGH, which is supposed to continue through tomorrow. It is a day for hunkering down and staying in. On days like these I like to have something in the oven going to boost up the heat and to make our home smell more warm and cozy. Last night, I baked banana bread from a box of cake mix I had on hand. I had wanted to use up some bananas and didn't want to put in much effort. One review of the recipe, which I found online, said that the first loaf of the bread was eaten by the family in one day. Well, I will top that. My boys ate one of the loaves within an hour! I didn't believe the reviews which raved about the recipe but it is very moist and good. Almost as good as my real banana bread made from scratch!

Cheap, Easy, Fun Banana Bread

1 box yellow cake mix
3 - 5 ripe bananas (I used 4)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (you can also use 1 cup of apple sauce if that is what is on hand)
3 eggs
optional - 1 cup chocolate chips, which we add to everything I bake

Mix all ingredients well, pour into two loaf pans coated with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes (start checking on bread at 35 minutes).

I also made a new recipe for chili last night, which was a nice change of pace since I make a lot of chili over the winter - once a week.

Sloppy Joe Chili

1 cup chopped onion
2 T. Chili powder (at least - I always use more)
1 lb. ground turkey or beef
1 can Sloppy Joe sauce
1 can drained kidney beans
3 cups hot cooked white rice

Brown onions and chili powder with cooking spray. Cook meat and drain. Stir in Sloppy Joe sauce and beans, heating for about 5 minutes. Serve chili over rice and top with cheese, sour cream and more chili powder. I always serve corn with chili. We don't usually eat chili with rice and it was surprisingly tasty.

I am taking advantage of being able to stay in and putter. We're supposed to get at least 7 inches of snow. This is kind of my last fling, since I'll be seriously searching for work as soon as I take the Nursing Asst. state exam next Sat. I am trying to be as cheap as possible in terms of feeding us but want to be preparing some more creative entrees focusing on what is in the pantry.

I have a large can of Bartlet pears and some applesauce so today's mission will be to see what I can come up with to use those. I still have some bananas left and might try the above recipe using a box of chocolate cake mix. I love to cook and bake and really have not done it since having to pack up and move from the house. Things seem to be settling in a bit or maybe I am just ready to try and make life more settled. For me that has always involved cooking and baking and I am finding it a creative challenge to come up with cheap and flavorful dishes.

Our place still smells so good from last night's meal and banana bread. I want to try and keep up this effort and momentum. It makes a difference. My oldest came in last night from studying with his girlfriend and the first words out of his mouth were how good it smelled when he opened the door. We all need more of those simple moments.


  1. i've been submerging myself in work but i've tried to keep up. i must have a processing glitch that is keeping me from following.

    you have moved your things back out of Sam's place and are back to your apartment with bi-monthly visits scheduled that you have to drive to to be with him? your sons demands won out after their promises to flunk their new school? and Sam is going to wait for you for the next few years?

    he is one in a million. i hope he stays in your life even if it's only on the phone. you've wanted a man and he seems so selflessly vested in your life. i've never read where you've professed your great love for him or his love for you, only of his willingness to take you on and of your needing someone so you aren't alone. but there has to be love there, a strong love to wait for each other for the next few years, until your youngest son leaves for college. not many men would do that so there must be a great and deep love there.

    my fingers are crossed your sons finally settle down now that they have what they want. i hope you find a job so you all don't have to live in your car. i do remember that was a very real fear for you. you are in my thoughts.

    i'm sorry i've been so distracted. a couple of important days are coming up for me and my Dragon will be missed terribly. i find i'm just staggering through by keeping my head down and sewing. i promise to try to keep up better.

  2. Just reading about the banana bread has me imagining it's sweet smell. I'm going to buy the ingredients and try it myself.

    I'm glad that you are feeling a bit more optimistic, and that the cooking and baking has brought back that sense of home. I still don't cook too much, and the kids really miss it. In fact, my daughter is home with lots of time on her hands, maybe she can bake the bread!

    Take care.

  3. wNs - You never need to apologize for not reading or commenting. I know what is upcoming for you. The decision to stay put was one that was mutually made and based on numerous factors:

    1. $4,000.00 penalty owed for breaking the lease on my apt.
    2. The academic problems of transferring the boys mid-year from a school operating on a semester system to one operating on a trimester one. It was not a good fit.
    3. The boys had absolutely no warning about the move and therefore, no real time to plan for it or process their feelings about it.
    4. Our apt. was never even fully unpacked from Sept. and the new move seemed so haphazard and fly-by-the-seat of our pants.
    5. We had not figured out how to pay for moving my belongings out of the apt. The costs were very prohibitive even for just putting them into storage here ($1,200.00).
    6. The two high schools had trouble coordinating the move because of being off for a week at Thanksgiving and then two weeks at Christmas.
    7. I had concerns about making such a drastic physical move when Sam had been at his new job only one month. What if it didn't work out or he was transferred? If so, we'd be stuck at the new location with our belongings in storage with no possible means to come back if we needed to.
    8. Just today Sam was told that he might be transferred to another location!
    9. It was just too much for me to handle at one time, especially after selling and moving so recently from my home. Sam and I rented his new home after only having 4 hours time to look at available rentals to begin with. Everything was too rushed and unsettled and I need more stability and predictability in order to make decisions and feel comfortable.
    10. Sam and I are not married. If we were, there is more of an obligation for spouses to move together. But here at home there are a number of families at the high school where the mom has stayed here so the kid(s) can finish while the dad moved out-of-state for a job.

    Sam and I agreed to table further discussions and a decision about moving until the end-of-the-school year. We would then have time to work out arrangements for my oldest to stay with a friend for his senior year. Sam still has a home in the area as well (about an hour away from me here) so it not as though all his ties have been physically broken.

  4. Dan - Please let me know if you end up baking the bread and how it turns out!

  5. You are so creative--I would never have thought of using cake mix for banana bread!

  6. Jude - I'm not so sure it is creativity as much as trying to make do and come up with ways to use what I have!

  7. Sam might get moved again??? That's crazy!! Any idea where? Possibly back by you? Wouldn't that be nice!!

    The banana bread sounds fabulous. I wish I had the energy to make it. Maybe this weekend. This week has been insanely crazy. Finally got my paycheck today and the missing funds from last pay period are finally in it!! With any luck there will be enough left over now for food and gas until the next one. Aiy yai!

    On a positive note, I tentatively did my taxes and was actually surprised to find out I will be getting money back! Since last year was the last year I could claim my daughter and the boys go to their Mom, I thought for sure I'd get about twenty bucks back but was pleasantly surprised. So that is something to look forward to!!

  8. Kelly - I think Sam would be transferred locally but you never know. His current job is now listed as an open one to be filled but no one has spoken to him yet!

    I hope you make the banana bread. It really gave me a lift and it is sooooooooo easy. Well worth the effort.

    And I'm truly glad for you that the money was restored in your paycheck and that you have some good news about the taxes!!! I am not even thinking about taxes yet - yuck!

  9. there's a song by Joe Cocker called, "The Simple Things" and it is beautiful ... and completely is about what you have posted here. If there is one thing that we learn through this awful pain and loss, it is that.

    thx 4 sharing recipes, one day, I may attempt them, except can't buy sloppy joe mix in the UK :-(

  10. You seem so much more at peace than you have in recent weeks. That makes me smile, and your banana bread recipe sounds like my kind of baking!! :)

    Jenny S.

  11. Boo - It is indeed a lesson that keeps coming up over and over again. Too bad you do not have Sloppy Joe mix!

    Jenny - Yes, I am less stressed now that a decision was reached in regard to the move. And trying to go forward in a stronger, more optimistic way.