Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pecan Streusel Banana Bread

Where have I been?

What have I been up to?

Oh how I wish I could tell you a tale of adventure and romance, or fame and fortune...

the truth, however, lies in the comedy of errors that I call life.

So rather than read you a laundry list of excuses, I'll share with you a favorite recipe that fills the belly and, when shared with the right people, warms the heart.

Banana Bread
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of fresh grated lemon rind
2 beaten eggs
1 1/4 cup mashed ripe banana
Pecan Streusel Topping
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cold butter (cubed)
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Topping: Combine brown sugar, flour, and pecans. Add butter and mix until crumbly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease loaf pan.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir in flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle streusel topping over batter. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheesecake Cookies

Blogging from the archives....yep, that's what it's come to. Thrown yet a few more curve balls this month, I have little time for baking. Very little. :(  So I'm pulling out a favorite, Cheesecake in a Cookie

Find the original post and recipe HERE.

Try adding a hint of vanilla, or switching up the topping (blueberry is my fave!).


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nutella Mousse Squares

When things get hectic (or should I say stressful), it's only natural to seek the comfort of your one and only, your one true love. The one that, through thick and thin, has been by your side. The one that can always pick you up when you're feeling down...

Found on the Nutella Day website, this Nutella mousse recipe is quick, easy, and sure to impress!

In a ramekan, sprinkled with a few chopped hazelnuts, is by far my favorite serving suggestion. Or, spread it in a pie crust topped with some whipped cream and you've got a delicious Nutella cream pie. Or, chill it in a pan and cut it in to easy to share mousse squares (fork recommended, but not required). Or...


OK. Let's be honest. You'll probably just eat it right out of the mixing bowl...'cause it's THAT good!!

Nutella Mousse Squares
1 cup Nutella
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups Oreo cookies, finely crushed
3 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In food processor, crush cookies...or you can use a ziplock and a rolling pin like I did. Works just as well!

Stir cookie crumbs with melted butter until moist.

Press cookie mixture into bottom of 8" square pan and bake for 10 minutes. Completely cool crust before filling.

In chilled mixing bowl, combine heavy cream and nutella.

Whip on high until not so soft, but not so stiff peaks form.

action shot
Spread on top of cooled crust.

Chill overnight.

Sprinkle with hazelnuts before serving.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Crumb Coat Cakes: American Girl Doll

As of lately, time is the enemy! I'm hoping, however, that time and I can mend our ways. And I'm hoping to make amends soon...very, very soon! 

We've had quite a few changes around here. In addition to potty training my youngest and the continued bliss of nurturing a moody spirited teenager, 3 out of my 4 kids have begun a new adventure. New schools and new experiences, not to mention the new/old sports and activities that come with this time of year (ballet, gymnastics, football, CCD, voice lessons, auditions, etc). I know, I know...blah, blah, blah! We're all in the same boat. Busy, busy busy! 

So how does my sob story correlate with my latest cake creation you ask? Well due my recent lack of time (and patience, I must admit), I cheated.  :(  I typically pride myself on the fact that each and every element of my cakes are 100% edible. But this time, that wasn't the case.

The plan was to mold a miniature version of the birthday girl's own American Girl doll out of fondant and have her sitting on top of the cake. But, due to said circumstances (see above), she just wasn't coming out as planned. So...I resorted to a doll pick, leaving only her outfit, legs, and boots as edible elements. As for the placement, she was strategically positioned for a quick and easy removal. If by chance, the birthday girl/mom of the birthday girl didn't like her, with a quick wipe of the board no one would ever know she existed. I think, however, she made the cut.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oozy Bread for Irene

Another one from the archives: Ooh, Ooh, Oozy Bread, November 2010.

It was "that" kind of morning. I guess hurricanes just put me in an Oozy Bread kind of mood. 

Thankful for having power and a dry basement, but praying for those still in Irene's path. Stay safe everyone!

Oozy Bread 
1 package bacon, chopped (I use pre-cooked bacon. Saves a step, tastes just as good)
1 8-ounce jar maple syrup
1 stick butter
1 package (8 biscuits) home-style buttermilk biscuits

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (today I baked at 350, and turned out with what may be the most evenly baked oozy bread to date). Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add bacon. Cook until crisp, about 8-10 minutes and reserve. Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add the maple syrup and the butter -- do not bring up to a boil. Cook until butter is melted, then turn the heat off and reserve. Butter or spray a 3x9 loaf pan. Pour a couple tablespoons of the maple/butter sauce in the bottom (I sprinkle some of the bacon on the bottom before adding the biscuits). Layer 3 of the biscuits in the bottom of the pan. Tear up one of the biscuits and fill in any open spaces with the pieces. Don't worry if any still remain, the ooze will fill those in. Sprinkle half of the reserved bacon onto of the biscuits and top with about a 1/2 cup of the butter/syrup mixture. Place the remaining biscuits on top, sprinkle the rest of the bacon over them and top with the remaining maple sauce. Transfer to oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. (when top of bread starts to brown, I tent with foil allowing for the extra baking time without over-browning) Remove and immediately turn over onto a serving dish.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Banana Bread Comfort Cookies

Rain, rain go away...come again another day. But while you're here, can I interest you in some comfort cookies??

One from the archives: Banana Bread Cookies, October 2010.

A modification of Martha's Stewart's Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookie.

Banana Bread Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana, about 1 large (don't be shy)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts pecans. 

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely (or not). Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

I know I haven't been a very faithful blogger lately, and I'm sorry for that. It's been a busy summer! Between vacations, visitors, and virtually anything else you can think of, I haven't had any time to bake. And today, my birthday, was no different, just a wonderfully busy day with the family.

So this post isn't about recipes or fancy photos, it's about 1 thoughtful statement and 4 amazing kids who backed it up.

"No one should have to make their own birthday cake."

And I didn't!

One boxed cake mix...

Some canned icing...

Lots and lots and LOTS of sprinkles...

And, voila! The most beautiful cake I've ever seen!

Funfetti to boot!

Got a kick out of this, the cake IS NOT on fire, there were just A LOT of candles (and a very excited grandma in the background).

I love my kids! They even cleaned up. (sort of)  ;)


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lemon Creme Bars

Lemon. Again. Shocker!

I'll keep it short and sweet. I love to bake from scratch, to combine each and every ingredient, building on each layer, creating something delicious with a little science, and let's face it, a little luck. But who am I to turn my nose up to Betty Crocker? I'll be the first to admit, I am not opposed to an occasional shortcut, especially when the end result tastes this good.

Betty Crocker's Lemon Creme Bars 
1/2 cup cold butter
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® oatmeal cookie mix
1 egg
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, cut butter into cookie mix, using fork or pastry blender. Stir in egg until mixture is crumbly. Press half of cookie mixture into bottom of pan; bake 15 minutes.

In small bowl, stir condensed milk, lemon peel and lemon juice until thick. Spread over baked crust. Crumble remaining cookie mixture over top. 

Bake about 25 minutes longer or until light golden brown. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. For bars, cut into 5 rows by 5 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Lemon-Raspberry Muffin Project

And the lemon obsession continues...with a raspberry twist this time. 

In a recent issue of Cooking Light Magazine, I stumbled upon a Tuscan Lemon Muffin recipe using ricotta cheese and olive oil, yum! Without hesitation, I dog eared the page and put it on the must try list. What's better than a fresh lemon muffin? A fresh lemon muffin with raspberries, of course! 

Add raspberries to the Tuscan Lemon recipe, or adapt the recipe to a basic sour cream variation? Which would be a better pairing? Will it even matter? What do I know? Try both with different ingredient combinations. (Real story here is, with no ricotta on hand, the sour cream variation would be an immediate cure to the craving)

And so the Muffin Project begins... 

Day 1: Sour Cream Adaptation

Consensus...very good! My husband loved them, but I wasn't sold. However, being that he is a muffin man and I'm more of a cupcake gal, he may be the better judge.

Day 2: Tuscan Lemon Recipe

Consensus...great! I was sold! (and so was the muffin man)

Two batches may not quite constitute a "project", but there was no need to go any further. 

Day 3 & 4: Continue Eating All of Those Muffins

Cooking Light's Tuscan Lemon Muffins with some fresh raspberries thrown in to the mix (literally) were exactly what I hoped they would be, delicious! (Guess that's why they publish a cooking magazine and I don't)

Cooking Light's Tuscan Lemon Muffins
*my sour cream adaptation in red
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta  OR  3/4 sour cream 
1/2 cup water OR 1/2 milk
1/4 olive oil OR 1/4 vegetable oil
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt): make well in center.

In separate bowl, combine ricotta and next 5 ingredients (through egg). Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until moist.

Place 12 liners in a muffin tin; coat with cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. (batch in above picture came out on the skimpy side, 2nd batch I filled each cup nearly full and they came out perfect) 

Dust raspberries with a bit of sugar and either gently mix them into batter or place a few into each batter filled cup. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 16 minutes, or until pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kailey, her Dream Cake, and an Icing Smile

Kailey and Me
Meet Kailey. In 2007, she was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia. After 2 unsuccessful treatments, Kailey received a cord blood transplant, and just this past weekend she reached a huge milestone. Kailey celebrated her one year anniversary of the transplant, and has had all restrictions lifted. (Except, according to Kailey's mom, for tattoos. She'll need a few vaccines first.) Yay Kailey, life is good!

It was a call to action by Icing Smiles, a non-profit organization that provides custom celebration cakes to  families impacted by critical illness of a child, which allowed me the opportunity to meet Kailey and her family while providing a dream cake for her anniversary celebration.

"After every storm comes a rainbow." Literally!

Just as I was preparing for the cake delivery, a storm passed through, bringing thunder and heavy downpours. The worst part was that the party was being held outdoors. Kailey had requested flowers, butterflies, peace signs and a rainbow for her dream cake. And thanks to my dad (and a giant golf umbrella), that's exactly what she got. Cake arrived safe and sound, skies cleared, and they partied well in to the night. Thank you Icing Smiles! Together, we provided yet another icing smile.

The making of Kailey's dream cake...


Icing Smiles on Facebook

Icing Smiles - Call to Action

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bake A Difference!

The time has come..."dream" cake in progress!

Read about my Call To Action and learn more about Icing Smiles Inc, a non profit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by critical illness of a child. Or, check out how you can help.

Check back later this week for the "dream" cake post, and share in the opportunity of providing an icing smile.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Our FAVORITE Blueberry Pie

Before pie, I'd like to sing the praises of all the working mothers/fathers out there. As well as the praises of all the working bloggers! Or how about the working bloggers with kids?! Whew! Seriously, how do you get it all done? How many hours are in your day? It's gotta be more than 24, 'cause if not, that just time management skills suck! 

I'd love to find time to bake more, experiment more, post more, and explore more. The blogging world has so much to offer, I've already connected with so many talented and creative people. A special thanks to each and every one of you for your individual inspiration.

As for those time management skills...I'm working on it!

Now, lets talk pie!

My five year old was responsible for the planning of our Father's Day agenda...make breakfast, a visit to the fish hatchery, a trip to Maggie Moo's for ice cream, finishing up with a run through the fountains. Sounded good to me! They'd all be tired, and we could just pick up a little something for dinner on the way home.

Not quite!

While rattling off the agenda to daddy over breakfast, she (unbeknownst to me) added steaks on the grill and his favorite blueberry pie for dinner. Whoa!! My day just got busier! 

Another "kitchen drawer" recipe that I've used for years!

Blueberry Crumb Pie
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
5 cups fresh blueberries
Crumb topping:
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp butter (cubed)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Line 9 inch pie plate with pie crust, press into bottom and sides.
In large bowl, mix white sugar, flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Gently stir in blueberries to coat. Pour blueberry mixture into pie crust.

In medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, oats, flour, and cinnamon. Mix in butter using a fork (or your hands) until crumbly. Spread crumb topping over blueberry mixture.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top. (I sometimes tent the pie with tin foil for the last few minutes of baking to avoid over-browning) Cool on wire rack.

*Recipe originally found on


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Orange Julius Pops

Want an Orange Julius? Go to the mall.

That's how it was. That's what it was, a delightfully refreshing mall treat. Not anymore. Now, 4 kids later, I avoid the mall at all costs. Therefore, plan B.

Want an Orange Julius? Keep your freezer stocked with OJ concentrate.

As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and apparently, that of my family's as well. Last week we broke out the blender, and for some reason, I felt it was necessary to double the Orange Julius recipe. Turns out, it wasn't. We ended up with, oh, I'd say...a full batch left over.

Orange Julius isn't the kind of thing that keeps well in the fridge, and you know what they say...waste not, want not. Thank goodness for those popsicle molds that have been sitting (unused) in the cabinet for a million years.

Umm, not quite!

During one of my "Please don't nominate me for Hoarding: Buried Alive" moments, I must have gotten rid of them. Good thing my husband has ignored my continual nags to hook up our ice maker...we still have ice cube trays!

Orange Julius
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/4 sugar
1 tsp vanilla
ice cubes (10-12)

Blend all ingredients, except ice cubes. Continue blending adding one ice cube at a time until smooth. Serve immediately. For pops: pour into molds and freeze. OR pour into ice cube trays and once partially frozen, insert a toothpick into center of each.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Homemade Pancakes With...

If asked that question, I would have said no. But apparently, that's not the case...

I gave up Bisquick years ago, 12 to be exact. You see, I stumbled across a picture in a magazine of the most adorable teddy bear shaped pancakes with a tiny heart of strawberry jam right in the center. And the recipe...simple! Go ahead, say it...DUH! What did I know? I told you I used Bisquick, pancakes were a mystery to me.

For all these years, I've kept the entire magazine tucked away in a kitchen drawer, fully intact (minus a missing cover)...until today. When pulling it out to give due credit, not only did I find out that I was once a subscriber to Sesame Street Parents Magazine, I tore the recipe right in half. UGGH! 

Homemade Pancakes
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk (or buttermilk)
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Add egg, milk, butter, and vanilla. With whisk or large spoon, gently blend ingredients just until the batter is moist (lumps are OK). Do not over beat. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat (when a few drops of water sprinkled on to skillet sizzles, it's ready). To make shaped pancakes: Place heavy-gauge cookie cutter in skillet and fill 1/4 way with batter (or just ladle batter to desired pancake size and use cookie cutters to shape once fully cooked). Cook pancake for approx 2 minutes or until you see bubbles on top. Remove cookie cutter, flip pancake, and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes or until lightly browned.