May 2007


Some people are very superstitious when it comes to test taking. For instance, when Mr. Hillman’s Helpings took a MAJOR test in 2005 I sent him with some of my mom’s famous chocolate chip banana bread. He was CONVINCED that the banana bread was part of the reason he did well. (amazing actually)

So when it came time to take another MAJOR test last Monday, can you guess what he asked for in his lunch? You got it! Chocolate chip banana bread. This recipe is definitely a favorite of mine. It travels well, freezes well, and takes literally no time to prepare. (OK, besides the baking time)

The best part is, you can serve it as part of brunch, as a dessert, or simply as a good luck snack.

Oh yeah, make sure you watch out for banana bread thieves- turn your back and it will be gone in an instant!


Programming Note: I will be away on business next week, so the next issue of Hillman’s Helpings will come on June 7th. Don’t you hate it when work gets in the way of your personal life? 😉


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a non-stick loaf pan with Pam cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream 1 stick of butter and 1+1/3 cup sugar in a standing mixer or with a hand mixer. Add 1 tsp. vanilla and ½ cup light sour cream.

Add 2 eggs, one at a time. Incorporate each egg with the mixer after it is added.

In a seperate (and smaller) bowl, mix 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda and ¾ tsp. salt.

Add flour mixture to batter alternately with 2 mashed (FRESH and ripe, not frozen) bananas.

Add 1 small bag of chocolate chips to the mixture and stir to combine.

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 45-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out smooth.

Note: Test the bread in the middle – it takes the longest to cook.

Bon Appetit!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings! Bake this bread for someone you love.


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings


TO continue with my theme of the week (herbs, if you didn’t realize), I made the folowing chicken dish last Thursday night. The strong basil flavors came through and popped in our mouths! I served it will parmesan ploenta (with some fresh basil!) and a salad.

Chicken with Garlic/Basil Sauce
Serves 2

Preheat a large saute pan with 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil. Place two boneless,skinless (and preferably pounded) chicken breasts in the pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until completely cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and cover to keep warm.

Ad 1 large clove of chopped garlic to the pan and saute it for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cups chicken stock, 2 tbs. lemon juice and 2 tbs. butter (or margerine). Let the mixture come to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes. Add a few leaves (7?) finely chopped basil to the pan. Add the chicken breasts back to the pan and coat them with the sauce.



Warm weather brings great seasonal foods – corn, tomatoes and herbs! This weekend, my mom was in town and I asked her to take me to our local plant nursery and help me create my herb garden, since she is blessed with a green thumb. We chose rosemary, thyme, parsley, lavender and basil for this year. After all of our herb-y discussions, I decided to make pesto as part of my dinner for that night!

In my opinion, pesto is one of those foods that makes EVERYTHING taste good. But, not many people know that you can make pesto with practically anything, as long as you incorporate some fat (nuts and oil), leafy green, and of course cheese and garlic.

So today, I’m providing you with a few of my favorite pesto recipes. Any of the below recipes can be slathered onto a chicken breast, stirred into whole wheat pasta or used to make a delicious pizza.

Side Note: You can make a whole bunch of pesto and freeze it for use at a later time. Many people suggest freezing it in ice cube trays so you have individual servings. I would have made a bunch, but alas, my mini-prep just wouldn’t cut it for this. Definitely need a bona fide Cuisinart…


REGULAR BASIL PESTO – Courtesy Food Network
4-6 Servings

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, salt, and pepper and process for a few seconds until the basil is chopped. Add the cheese, pine nuts, and garlic and, while the processor is running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream until a mostly smooth sauce is formed.

SPINACH-WALNUT PESTO – Courtesy Food Network
4-6 Servings

4 ounces chopped walnuts
10 ounces (1 package) baby spinach
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or freshly grated
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toast walnut pieces in a small pan or toaster oven until lightly browned. Remove from heat and cool.

Using a food processor, working in batches, grind spinach leaves with nuts and garlic. Transfer ground spinach nut paste to a large bowl. Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4-6 Servings

1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings!


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings

This Mother’s Day I wanted to make something extra special because my mom and sister were coming into town to celebrate. It’s the first time we’ve spent the day together in a very long time. One of the fondest momories I have of my mom is going to the mall and sharing a cinnabon – that cinnamonny taste, the thick, sweet icing – sounds like a heart attack in a box, right?

Well, it may or may not be, but I wanted to re-recreate that memory and make my own…from scratch! I found a recipe on my favorite site. Not only did I find these rolls to be easy, they’re freezable too! I actually made them the weekend before mothers day, froze them raw, took them out 30 minutes before baking, and they were perfect!

Oh yeah, they’re only 193 calories per roll…

Freezer Cinnamon-Fruit Rolls

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
Cooking spray

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fat-free milk

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup milk and next 5 ingredients (1/2 cup milk through egg). Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 3 1/2 cups flour to yeast mixture; stir until blended. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.

To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, raisins, dried apricots, chopped pecans, and cinnamon.

Roll the dough into an 18 x 10-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Brush 2 tablespoons melted butter over dough; sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Beginning with a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion, and pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll).

Place a long piece of dental floss under dough 3/4 inch from end of roll. Cross ends of floss over top of roll; slowly pull ends to cut through dough. Repeat procedure to make 24 rolls. Coat 2 (9-inch) square foil baking pans with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/2 cup filling into bottom of each pan. Place 12 rolls, cut sides up, in each pan. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover rolls. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until browned. Invert onto a serving platter.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over warm rolls.

To Freeze Unbaked Rolls: Prepare recipe through cutting the dough into 24 rolls, placing in pans, and letting rise until doubled in size. Cover with plastic wrap. Wrap tightly with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer up to 2 months.

To Prepare Frozen Unbaked Rolls: Remove rolls from freezer, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Uncover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until browned.

I know I’ve been slacking on this blog – I’ve been really really busy at work and I haven’t wanted to so much as look at a computer during non-working hours.

Anyway, a few nights ago I made this spiced shrimp dish, and it reminded me just how much I love shrimp. I’ve been making this for more than a year, and it is just so good I keep coming back for more. Is from (guess…) Cooking Light!

Oh, and I never have avocado oil – so I just omit it.

Spiced Shrimp with Avocado Oil
Serves 5

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
Lime wedges

Sprinkle shrimp with sugar and salt. Combine chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Lightly coat shrimp with spice mixture.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil and half of shrimp; sauté 4 minutes or until done. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with 1 teaspoon oil and remaining shrimp. Place shrimp on a platter; drizzle remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons oil over shrimp. Serve with lime wedges.

My boyfriend and I were starving when we got home for work yesterday, but it was to early to start making dinner. So I decided to experiment with a can of white beans (canellini).

I brought out my trusty mini-prep and this is what I came up with:

Place two whole garlic cloves in the bowl of the food processor and process them until they’re chopped. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper.

Drain a whole can of canellini beans (white beans) and add it to the bowl. Add 2 tbs. lemon juice and 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil. Process until smooth. You may want to add some more lemon juice and olive oil, depending on how thick/thin you want your dip. Just experiment like I did!

Serve with celery and cucumber sticks.



In honor of Mother’s Day, today’s issue is a classic meal from my mom. My mom cooked for us every night growing up. She had a few staple dishes that we loved, including this one!

It’s called Chicken Imperial, although I have no idea why. A Google search of “Chicken Imperial” yields many different types of chicken dishes, none of which are like the one my mom made. Anyway, this recipe is very simple, delicious and easy to prepare on a weeknight!


Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 1/2 cup light sour cream, 1 tbs. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. paprika and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Dip skinless, boneless chicken breasts in the sour cream mixture and coat it well.

Take the chicken out and dip it in a bowl full of dry stuffing Press the stuffing into the chicken so it is fully coated with the stuffing. Place the chicken breasts in a baking pan lined with foil.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Serves 4

This is also one of my mom’s favorites!

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Trim and wash 1 lb. of string beans. Once the water has come to a boil, place the beans in the pot, put the top back on, and let them cook for around 4 minutes, or until desired doneness.

I usually cook them for 4 minutes even, but my boyfriend complains that they’re not cooked enough – do what you like!

Drain the beans and place the pot back on the stove. Add 1 tbs. butter. Let the butter melt and add 1/4 cup sliced almonds. Coat the almonds in the butter and add the green beans back to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Coat the beans with the butter/almond mixture and serve!

Bon Appetit!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings. Happy Mother’s Day!


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings

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