Thursday, May 19, 2011

Strawberry Banana Bread

So, I had three bananas that were black and about 3/4 of a carton of strawberries left that were loosing their texture fast.  I knew I wanted to use the bananas to make a banana bread but I also didn’t want to waste the berries.  I did a little research and found a recipe that I modified slightly and oh m’gosh is it tasty!  It is a keeper and will be added to the “special recipe book” that I keep.

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Strawberry Banana Bread

3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup Crisco
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup mashed strawberries
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Cream sugar, Crisco and eggs together.  Add vanilla, strawberries and bananas and mix well. 

In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. 

Add dry ingredients to fruit mixture and mix well.

Bake in a greased loaf pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Best Carrot Cake Ever

Ok, so I got approval from my friend to share with you her recipe for the Carrot Cake that I made on Sunday.  This friend, Sandi R., is becoming known as the “Cake Goddess” within our circle of friends.  Everyone just loves any cake she makes, It was a mutual friends birthday last weekend and I comsulted Sandi on what type of cake our friend likes and she took a wild guess and said carrot cake.  She offered her recipe if I didn’t already have one, which I didn’t, since I have never made one from scratch before.  I was a little cautious when I read over the recipe she sent me.  It only made 1 9in round layer.  She said I would need to double the recipe for a layer cake or to make a 9x13 cake.  I had never seen only half a cake recipe before BUT I trusted Sandi, fully.  We were only expecting 6 people for the get together so I decided that a single layer round should be fine.  I am glad I did…it came out beautiful and was the perfect amount too.  It is a very dense cake that I served chilled so small slices were perfect after a big meal.  Now, I know, BAD ME…I forgot to get any pictures of it, I’m sorry!  I will just have to make another and photograph it for you.  Sandi says all of her scrumptious recipes have either been passed down to her or are her own creations.  Any woman that can create something as heavenly as her cakes deserves the title “Cake Goddess”.  Note: I made my cake the night before and refrigerated it, covered and then iced the cold cake the next day and had no issues with the icing being too soft. 


Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
tsp baking powder
tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup cooked, mashed carrots cooled to room temp
3/4 cup veg oil
1 8 1/4 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
3 eggs
1 tbsp hot water
1/2 cup walnuts (soaked and washed)
1/4 cup raisins (soaked)

-Preheat to 350

-Mix carrots, oil, pineapple, eggs, hot water in a bowl.

-Sift dry ingredients, mix in wet ingredients until smooth, fold in walnuts and raisins.

-Pour into a greased and floured 9 inch pan. Bake for 45 mins. or when middle springs back slightly when touched. Let cool completely, then ice the cake.

Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup REAL unsalted butter
1 lb powdered sugar

-Have everything room temperature, cream well. You can add a smidge of vanilla if you like (I do ♥)

This recipe makes One 9 inch round cake. You can double this recipe and make it in a 9x13. I also double the icing recipe and chill for a bit before I put in on the cake (still in the pan or baking dish) But you can turn the cake out and icing it if you want. It's a very soft icing though and doesn't stack well if you make two 9 in cakes. It smooshes out of the middle. I also decorate the top with some walnuts.

I add a little vanilla and/or rum to the warm water I plump my raisins in. I think it makes a difference.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Soup Day!

Good morning y’all!  How was your weekend?  Are you and the loved ones staying warm around your hearth?  Our hearth was very active this weekend and there was always a pot of something going from Friday night all the way till Sunday late afternoon.  We hosted the ladies from our women’s group and celebrated the wonderful fall season, an early Thanksgiving  and one of the ladies had a birthday on Friday.  I decided to make soups and have everyone bring breads to go with them.  I made my basic chili (a double batch), a chicken noddle with veggies and a broccoli cheese soup.  To be honest, I have never made a homemade chicken noodle soup…I have always made chicken and dumplings or a chicken pot pie.  There really isn’t a recipe to post for the chili, as I just use a brown bag (now it’s in a box, but was always sold in a bag before) seasoning mix (and yes, I use the whole cayenne pepper packet) and add it to 2 lbs. browned hamburger meat and add a can of light red kidney beans, 2 cans diced tomatoes, 1 can of tomato paste and a couple cans of water, till I get it the consistency I like, and slow cook it 4-5 hours in a crock pot.  I served it with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, oyster crackers, chopped green onions and one of our ladies brought a wonderful batch of cornbread.  It was yummy, as always. 

I really can’t post an exact recipe for the chicken noodle soup either.  I had been collecting and freezing the pan drippings and leftovers from my roasted whole chickens from the last 6 weeks or so.  The herbs varied with each roasted bird so this is why I can’t give an exact recipe and mine will probably never taste the same way again.  Like I said, it was my first time of making it and I was VERY impressed.  It was the best I’ve ever had and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  I took my broths and chopped chicken pieces and to it I added another chicken breast that I had boiled then chopped and also added one 32 oz container of fat free chicken stock that I bought.  I added some water at the end.  I chopped a few peeled carrots and some celery and a medium whole onion that I had sweated in a few tablespoons of butter before adding them.  I added just a touch of salt and pepper and simmered it for about 3 hours on low and about 45 minutes before we sat to eat I added a bunch of wide egg noodles, covered it and let it continue to simmer.  The noodles were almost like flat dumplings in this one and they had absorbed a good bit of the soup part, so next time I will add even more water before I put the noodles in (or like someone suggested, I could have cooked the noodles first then added them at the last minute, but I think I like them cooked in the brothy mixture as opposed to plain, salted water).  The rosemary focaccia bread on the table was excellent in my bowl along with a few oyster crackers and this soup.  I was impressed and was in heaven with every bite.

Now, my other new recipe was one I am putting the exact recipe for  below.  It was on the internet on several sites as a “knock-off” version of one of the major  Bread Company’s soups.  The only real change I made was in the cheese.  I had a big ziplock of cheese chunks left-over from a birthday party back in August that I had thrown into the freezer.  It was the correct amount, approximately  16oz, but was a mixture of swiss, mild cheddar and cheddar-jack cubes, that I had defrosted.  I am not a true fan of broccoli cheese soup but this one is good!!!  I can’t wait to make it again.  I may add a touch more hot sauce next time or maybe a teaspoon or two of ground cayenne.  Anyway, here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Serves 8
Ready In: 30-60 minutes

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups half-and-half
4 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1 pound fresh broccoli
2 cups carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
16 ounces grated sharp cheddar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons hot sauce (any brand)

Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree or use a handheld immersion blender, which is what we used, and it was a perfect texture. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg, mustard, hot sauce and serve.

I can’t wait for dinner tonight for leftovers!  I also made my first scratch carrot cake and it was fabulous.  A good friend shared her amazing recipe and I am just waiting to get the go ahead from her to post her recipe…stay tuned, you have to try this one!

The only BAD part was that…sniff, sniff…I forgot to take pictures of any of it, as we were creating it or when we sat with the finished products at the table. Surprised smile  I can’t believe that I forgot to do this.  So sorry. I guess we were having such a great day no one thought about stopping to pose for the camera.  You’ll have to use your imagination for visuals of the soups and cake.  Rolling on the floor laughing

Have a great week everyone. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Good morning everyone!  I was blessed by a visit from the canning fairy a while back…I found loads of canning supplies spread on my counter top when I awoke and in the mix was a brand new spring form pan.  I was so excited and couldn’t wait to make my very first scratch cheesecake.  I had seen a recipe in a magazine ad and it sounded perfect, especially when my honey requested that I make it.  See, she is not really a cheesecake fan and I am, so when she said she really wanted this one, I thought woo-hoo, my lucky day!  I finally get to make a cheesecake.  I could NEVER justify making one for just me, since I am the only one in the house that likes it.  We picked up the ingredients last weekend and made it late last Saturday night.  A fellow blogger, Andrea, had posted a comment to a statement I had made about making cheesecakes and I wish I had seen it BEFORE I made this one.  I guess the way to get really good at something ,though, is trial and error…you know, learn from your mistakes.  I made this cheesecake exactly as the directions show and it came out good.  Everyone liked it but I was not happy when I saw the big crack in the top of it.  I thought it was just a touch dry and I immediately said to myself, “I must do more research on the art of cheesecake making”.  Unfortunately, I then came across Andrea’s reply about making cheesecakes and she had told me to check out her blog.  I did and I can’t wait to try her Vanilla Bean Cheesecake recipe and follow her tips.  See her blog post here ---> .  Now, here’s the recipe for the one I made.  Check out her blog first for tips, though.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

38 Ginger Snaps, finely crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)

1/4 cup  finely chopped pecans

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

4 pkg.  (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 can  (15 oz.) pumpkin

1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp.  vanilla

4 eggs


HEAT oven to 325°F

MIX crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9-inch springform pan.

BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour into crust.

BAKE 1 hour 20 min. to 1 hour 30 min. or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.


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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Banana Nut Bread

So, this past weekend, I made 2 different kinds of banana jams. I did a bananas foster type jam and a banana nut bread butter. They both came out yummy and you can check them out on my other blog…the link is over to the right. I lucked out when I went to the store for the bananas and found that half the display was filled with the black banded bananas which means they are fully ripe and need to be used in a day or so. They may have a bruise or two but the price can’t be beat. They are almost half the cost of the greener, under ripened ones. I went ahead and bought a few more than I actually needed, just in case some of them were too bruised to use after I peeled them. Turns out they were all perfectly ripe and ready to be used the next morning and not one was unusable. I realized I had about 5 medium to large sized ones left after I was finished with the jams and they needed to be used soon. I was too tired to make my 3rd batch of jam on Saturday, which was going to be a spicy, ancho chili, apple butter, so I decided to wait till Sunday to make that and I would also make a loaf of my homemade banana bread to use up the bananas. The banana nut bread butter recipe had called for diced walnuts and I had a half cup of them left over.
I typically make just banana bread loaves but since I had the walnuts, I decided to add them this time. Here’s the recipe, as I made it on Sunday.

Banana Nut Bread

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
2 lightly beaten eggs
5 medium bananas, mashed
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup diced walnuts

Grease and flour (I use a baking spray with flour added) one standard loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, salt and sugar. Mix in the lightly beaten eggs and mashed bananas. Slowly stir in the melted butter and walnuts until just blended. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 1 hour 5 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool, completely, in the pan then remove it and wrap it in foil.

This loaf came out better than ever before! I don’t know if it was the walnuts or that I used 5 bananas this time (I usually use 3 or 4) or that I let it cool completely in the pan, but whatever it was it is GREAT! I enjoyed a piece earlier with a light layer of whipped cream cheese spread top of it. I wonder what the banana nut bread butter would taste like on top of the banana nut bread??? Hummm, I’ll have to try that for breakfast.

I have always loved banana bread and even requested it as my birthday cake one year for a childhood birthday party, My friends made fun of me for not having a real cake that year, but it didn’t matter, I had my favorite…my Grannie Winchester’s banana bread. Her sister, Aunt Etta (pronounced Aint Etter) was known for making the best in the family, but I always thought Grannie’s was best, no matter what the rest said. This loaf made me think of Grannie and all the times we shared in her kitchen…I miss her so much!

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I am.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cowgirl Candy (aka Whoa Nellie! Candy)

A little over a week ago, while visiting the local community organic garden, we were gifted with a whole bag of hot peppers from a friend. I didn’t think to ask exactly what kind of peppers they were, I was just so thankful for the bounty. There were a few sweet bell peppers included, too. So, when we got home I began to wonder just what I was going to do with these peppers, there were so many of them. I then remembered hearing about a recipe that called for fresh jalapeno peppers so I figured I would just substitute these…hot is hot right? (too bad you can’t hear the sarcasm right about now in my voice)

A few weeks ago I saw reference to something called “Cowboy Candy” and after doing what I do best (can you spell Google dot com!) I found dozens of recipes all over the web and they were pretty much identical. I should have noticed, though, that NONE of them used anything other than jalapenos. Anyway, I needed something to do with these peppers so why not?!? Now, since I was substituting a different kind of pepper I decided to call mine Cowgirl Candy (I may eventually rename Whoa Nellie! Candy, we’ll see). Here’s the recipe…

Cowgirl Candy

1 ¼ cups sliced (into rings) fresh Tabasco peppers (seeds removed)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 drop green food coloring (optional)

After peppers are deseeded and sliced (I recommend wearing gloves) place them in a small saucepan and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is reduced and syrup-like, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, and, after they have cooled completely, place them in a jelly type jar and store the jar in the refrigerator.

Serve on crackers topped with a dollop of whipped cream cheese and one of the pepper rings.

Now, remember the original recipe calls for jalapenos…keep this in mind. As I sat at the kitchen table slicing the peppers my son comes in the room and wants to try one. I remind him that they are probably really hot and try a tiny bit for myself…yep, just a teensy nibble and my lips and mouth are on fire. He tries a tiny nibble and takes a whole cup of crushed ice with him back to his room. I know what you are thinking, ice won’t kill the heat, he knows this, we talked about it. It just gave him an excuse to get away with crunching a cup of crushed ice chips. I went ahead and made the recipe and it came out beautiful in the jar. It did continue to thicken as it cooled, so don’t overcook it. Now the jury is still out on how it tastes…we are all afraid to try it! I picked up some cream cheese today. Maybe I’ll get my nerve up soon. I’ll let you know when I do. Maybe I’ll try half a ring chopped in small pieces first.

Before I sat down to type this I decided to try to find the exact name of the type of pepper that I had used. I am surprised by what I have learned! Did you know peppers have a heat scale they are rated on? It’s called the Scoville Heat Index and it ranks peppers from zero (Green Bell Peppers) to one million (an extremely rare Ghost Pepper is rated at over one million and is the hottest pepper in the world). Usually one of the hottest that is used on a day-to-day basis is a Habanero Chili which rates at 150,000 - 350,000. Jalapenos usually rate around 2,000 to 8,000. I looked at a few sites that had pictures and confirmed that the peppers I had were Tabasco peppers and their rating is between 30,000 and 60,000!!! This is why I’m afraid to try the ones I made, ouch! I think this would be great as it was originally written for the Jalapenos. I plan to make it again as the original Cowboy Candy, which I‘ve heard can be very addicting. I’ll let you know when I do make it again and how it turns out.

Good luck, either way you decide to make it, and mainly, enjoy!

Friday, October 1, 2010

My son is the Fan of the Week...

Check it son is on the front page of the Betty Crocker FB page this week. He is their "Fan of the Week" and is pictured with the cake we made for his Cub Scout to Boy Scout Crossover Banquet back in February. He won that day for Best Scout Theme for acknowledging the 100th year of Scouting. Click on the pic to get to the comments for it and show him some love!!/photo.php?pid=4849883&id=10081584315&ref=fbx_album

And here are some other pictures of the cake.

As you can see it was a basic devils food cake with milk chocolate frosting that I made from scratch (it was my first time).  The trees were upside down sugar cones piped with green frosting.  We had planned on mounting them on big fat pretzel sticks (for the trunks) but stabilization was an issue for transporting it and they wouldn't stay so we ditched the trunks and just used the cones alone.  He used mini marshmallows as a border around the outside.  Single strands of black licorice define the river banks and we found a beautiful blue gel that had sparkles in it that was in a decorators tube and it made the water almost glisten!  There are broken Life Savors along the river to represent boulders.  The tents are graham crackers (Cub Scout colors used on them) with little mini pretzel sticks legs and black jelly bean feet sticking out.  The campfire was ringed with Tootsie Roll logs, there were red hots for the embers and the little mini pretzel sticks were the logs.  We were going to use red and yellow Fruit Roll Ups to cut little flames from but when we went to the store we actually found some that were tye-dyed and were red-yellow-orange in color...they were PERFECT!

We had a blast as a family working on this.  My son baked the cake part all by himself then we did the decorating all together.  I can't wait to do it again sometime!