Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Go Bananas!

Have you ever had one of those weeks at work that make you feel as though you are going to "go bananas"? This week has been one of those weeks for me. Perhaps that is why I have been craving something comforting. Banana bread is a real comfort food for me.
As a child, one of the things my mom made quite often...and made VERY well was banana bread. As I looked at her recipe I knew I had two options: 1. Make it as well as she makes it or 2. Modify it to make it my own. I chose option 2. :)
I decided to take my mom's banana bread recipe and make banana muffins. I added the cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, and an extra banana (because I had it). I also substituted 1/2 cup of white sugar for brown sugar. Finally, I also added the cinnamon and sugar crumb topping after being inspired by my mom's cinnamon apple muffins she gave me in my Christmas goodie basket. These banana muffins turned out great!

The adorable Mother and Daughter Tea Kettle was a gift from my mom. :)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (I used 5 good sized bananas)

For the topping:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F . Lightly grease 12-14 muffin cups with shortening or butter. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add mashed bananas and stir until well blended. Add dry ingredient mixture to banana mixture and stir just to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan (I was able to get 14 good sized muffins so I needed a full 12 cup pan plus two muffin cups  ).

Combine topping ingredients and stir with a fork. Mixture will form a crumb consistency. Sprinkle crumb topping on muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove muffins from pan.

**To make a Banana Bread loaf instead of muffins, Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

“A Taste of the Islands” Pound Cake

Chris and I just returned from another AMAZING Caribbean get-a-way! The 2009 Buckeye Cruise for Cancer Proceeds from the Buckeye Cruise benefit the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Join us on the 2009 Buckeye Cruise to help fight breast cancer! Check it out!

While on the ship, Chris discovered his love for pound cake. He claimed he has never tasted it before this trip. When I informed him I could easily make this at home he was very excited. This recipe for Pound Cake was adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Simon & Schuster, 2002 ).
I decided to bring a little of the Caribbean into our home to remind us of an amazing time had last week. The mix of flavors is wonderfully fruity, yet subtle. I baked mine in a dark pan and it turned out just fine (the recipe suggests glass).

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,
at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon rum flavored extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavored extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces sour cream, at room temperature
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8 1⁄2-by-4 1⁄2-inch loaf pan, preferably glass, and dust with flour.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until blended. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and all extracts on medium to medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until just blended. Sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and stir until both are just incorporated. Stir in the sour cream, then sprinkle with the remaining flour mixture and stir until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap gently on the counter to even out and settle the ingredients. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 70 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the pan. Place the cake on one of its sides and continue cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cheating....It tastes so good! A Cinamon Roll Cake

I'm not talking about the "cheating" on a diet type cheating (I don't diet). As a self-proclaimed choc-a-holic, it felt like "cheating" when I told Chris that this chocolate-less cake may just be "the best cake I have ever made!" It's true. This is absolutely delicious!

Inspired by my FAVORITE cinnamon roll, Cindy's Cinnamon Rolls, this cake is moist and surprisingly light with nice buttery edges. It has a deliciously cinnamon swirl throughout and the icing is... well....for lack of a better word "the icing on the cake". If you like cinnamon rolls you will LOVE this cake.

These basic, buttery yellow cake and sugar frosting recipes are both ones my grandma gave me years ago. I added the cinnamon sugar layering effect to the cake and cinnamon to the frosting to create a cake that tastes like a Cindy's Cinnamon Roll. :) I like to microwave my piece for 20 seconds before eating. Mmmm...Enjoy!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch pan or 9 inch Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream; beat until well blended. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the batter in the pan, leaving only a small amount in bottom of bowl. Spread the rest of the batter into the pan and sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes for 13x9 inch pan (check at 50 minutes- mine took 55 minutes) or 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. For Bundt pan, allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk (Add 1/2 tablespoon at a time)
Cream sugar, butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add a small amount of milk (1 to 2 tablespoons). Beat until fluffy. If frosting is too sweet add a little more milk.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Growing up I hated meatloaf (sorry, Mom). I've talked to several people who feel the same way. This is why I was shocked when my mouth was watering as I watched an episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello.

This was a delicious and easy dinner! I took the "prep work" out of my actual dinner time by following the first few steps in the recipe to create my "mini loaves" before I left for work this morning. I changed the original recipe slightly. Mostly because I didn't have any fresh Parmesan cheese and I decided a sweeter topping might be more our tastes. I highly recommend this recipe to those who have been turned off by meatloaf of the past. :)

Adapted from Italian Meatloaf Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello on Food Network

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, seeded, small diced
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons (about 3 cloves) chopped garlic
1 pound ground beef
1 large egg (original calls for 2)
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned)
1 cup grated Parmesan (I omitted)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce (my addition)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt or regular table salt (I used almost 2 teaspoons since I omitted the Parmesan)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce Topping:
3/4 cup ketchup mixed with 1/4 cup brown sugar + 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the peppers, onions and garlic. Saute until just soft, remove to a plate and cool.

When the peppers and onions are cool, combine all of the remaining ingredients together except for the sauce topping. Separate the meat mixture into 4 equal “mini loafs” or one large loaf shape on an oiled oven tray or baking dish. Top with sauce topping (recipe above) making sure to spread evenly over the top.

Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes for mini loaves or 50 to 60 minutes for large size loaf or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.