Banana Cake with Chocolate Icing Recipe

Bananas 12What do you do when you find a deal on bananas at your local grocery store?  Apparently you buy them and figure out what to do with them later.  I stumbled upon a cart full of these $0.98 banana bags.  How could anyone pass on this deal?  Well, if you are anything like my hubby, one banana is too many.  Even a FREE banana is more than he ever wants.

Bananas 1

I decided to buy them…I had visions of making smoothies, banana bread, banana pudding and even just eating plain bananas for breakfast.  Everyone could use a few more bananas in their diet, right?  Well, 3 days in to the bananas new life as being a decoration on my counter, only 1 banana had been spoken for – I took it to work to have for breakfast, and it is still sitting there today.  I had good intentions, I promise!

Bananas 2

So last night I finally decided to make something with these pretty little things.  One of my coworkers makes a wonderful banana cake with chocolate icing.  Every time that she brings in a dessert, I ask if it’s my “favorite cake.”  The answer is usually NO.  Since she won’t give me the recipe, I had to find one of my own.  After some searching, I can upon a promising recipe here.  Of course I had to add my own chocolate icing instead of the cream cheese icing that was used in that recipe, and I made a few, slight changes.  The end result was wonderful!  The cake was moist and the chocolate icing was just the right flavor for this cake.  But, the worst part of the recipe was…..DRUM ROLL….it only used 3 bananas!!!  ARGH!  Anyone want some bananas?!

The full instructions and recipe can be found below the step-by-step instructions with photos.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Prepare 9×13 pan by coating in butter and flour. Shake to remove excess flour.

DSC_1890

Mash 3-4 bananas until they are very runny.

Bananas 3

Add lemon juice and stir to combine.

Bananas 4

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium speed).

Bananas 5

Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition.  Add vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.

Bananas 6

Reduce mixer speed to low and add in 1/4 of the flour mixture and 1/4 of the buttermilk, mixing just until it’s incorporated.  Continue adding flour then buttermilk until everything has been added (ending with buttermilk).  Do not overmix. The batter will have a very nice consistency.

bananas 7

Turn off mixer and fold in the bananas until they are fully incorporated into the batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and place in the oven.  Please ignore my dirty oven.  I was planning to use the oven cleaning feature on my messy oven until I watched an episode of “Panic 911″ this past weekend.  A lady burned down her house using the self-clean feature on her oven.  I’m probably going to have to be sedated if I use it again.  Sometimes I hate television!

Bananas 9

Give your handsome, 13-year-old son the spatula to lick.  Seriously, raw eggs or not, this stuff tastes delightful.  He’s still alive, so don’t judge me! ;)

Bananas 8

Bake at 275 for 45-60 minutes.  Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Bananas 10

Let cake cool for 5 minutes and then place in freezer for 45 minutes.  I put my pan on top of a towel in the freezer because I was afraid the pan would crack with the extreme temperature change.  It turned out fine!

Remove pan from freezer and frost with chocolate frosting.

Bananas 11

Bananas 13
Banana Cake
Ingredients:
  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups flour OR 3 cups + 6 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/8 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Prepare 9×13 pan by coating in butter and flour. Shake to remove excess flour.

Mash bananas until they are very runny.  Add lemon juice and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium speed).

Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition.  Add vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add in 1/4 of the flour mixture and 1/4 of the buttermilk, mixing just until it’s incorporated.  Continue adding flour then buttermilk until everything has been added (ending with buttermilk).  Do not overmix.  Turn off mixer and fold in the bananas until they are fully incorporated into the batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and place in the oven.

Bake at 275 for 45-60 minutes.  Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cake cool for 5 minutes and then place in freezer for 45 minutes.  I put my pan on top of a towel in the freezer because I was afraid the pan would crack with the extreme temperature change.  It turned out fine!

Remove pan from freezer and frost with chocolate frosting (recipe below).

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup milk (varies depending on the consistency you desire)
In small bowl, sift together cocoa and powdered sugar.   In small bowl of stand mixer, add butter, cocoa/sugar and vanilla.  Cream together, and slowly add milk until desired consistency is reached.  I mixed my icing on medium for several minutes to ensure that it was smooth.

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – I have finally found it!

Cookie

There are only a handful of recipes that are requested on a regular basis in my house.  This cookie recipe is the #1 requested recipe, in fact, it has almost becoming annoying how often I have to make these.  I rarely memorize a recipe, but this one is burned into my brain.  I make these at least once a week because my children are excellent at guilting me into doing just about anything.  I am a pushover, trust me on this.  Oh well, they are only little once.

This recipe is one that I found online from one of the best blog postings I have ever read about baking cookies.  Please, please go to this site and read her post about baking cookies.  I learned so much by reading the entire story.

Secret #1:  Slice butter to allow it to soften faster.

Butter

Secret #2:  Place eggs in room-temperature water to keep them from curdling your batter.

Eggs

Secret #3: Sift/whisk your ingredients – Ok, I already knew this one, but I liked the pic.

Flour

Secret #4: Do not over-mix your batter and stir in chocolate chips by hand.  I knew this one as well, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this one because it’s VERY important.

Batter

Batter 2

So, if you love chewy, soft and non-cakey cookies, this is the recipe for you.  I exclusively use this recipe when anyone asks me to make chocolate chip cookies.  I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

cookies 2

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe adapted from: DesignMom.com

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place soft butter in large mixing bowl and beat on high until creamy.

Add white and brown sugar and beat on high for 4- 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, and beat for a full minute after each addition. Finally, add vanilla and mix for another 30 seconds.

In a large bowl, sift together flour,baking soda and salt. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients in 3 batches and mix only until flour is wet and incorporated.  I tend to undermix and finish the mixing by hand (just to be safe.)  Finally, add the chocolate chips and stir just until they are incorporated into the dough.

Form your dough into balls using a cookie scoop or measuring spoon.  The cookies will spread, so leave space between.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Be sure to remove them from the oven when they are just starting to brown around the edges.  They may not appear done, but they will be fine.  Trust me!  Let them cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet.  Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy immediately.

Cookies

White Chocolate Lemon Rice Krispy Treats



What’s your favorite dessert? Without hesitation I can tell you that I have 2 – Cheesecake and Rice Krispy treats. I actually eat Rice Krispy treats more often than cheesecake because they are easier to make and I can find them in coffee shops and vending machines. I am a Rice Krispy treat purist. I don’t need anything fancy in them, just the normal recipe from the side of the box.



A couple of months ago there was a bake sale where I work. There were all kinds of goodies, but I headed straight for the Rice Krispies. They were all individually packaged and had little labels on the outside. To my surprise…they were flavored Rice Krispy treats. WHAT!? When did this start happening? People are making them into special flavors now?? As soon as I saw the white chocolate/lemon flavor, I knew I had to try them. I love white chocolate more than any other chocolate. Shhhhh, don’t tell my oldest daughter, she would probably disown me if she knew that. These Rice Krispy treats were delightful. They were gooey and sweet….perfection!



Last night I had a craving for Rice Krispy treats, so I thought I should try to reinvent the white chocolate lemon version. I found a recipe online and got to work. My little sous chef decided to help me make them. I let him have the job of zesting the lemons. I realize that the tool he is using in the pic below isn’t a zester, but I don’t have a zester and the grater works just fine. Although, if anyone wants to buy me a zester (hint, hint to my family for Christmas), I would gladly accept it and use it.



These treats take no more than 10 minutes to prepare. I have to admit that these were not as “chocolaty” as the ones from the bake sale, but I’m ok with that. The flavors in this recipe were more subtle, and I think that’s ok, especially if you are going to make these for a crowd of people. I would certainly like to play around with this recipe in the future to make them more like the ones I had at the bake sale. I’ll keep you posted. Anyone have any other interesting Rice Krispy flavors that they’ve tried? I need some creative ideas for the holidays!



White Chocolate Lemon Rice Krispy Treats
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
3 tbsp butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Zest of 1 lemon

Directions:
Pour Rice Krispy cereal into a large bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until they are fully melted.

Remove from heat and add in white chocolate and lemon zest. Stir until all of the chips are melted.

Pour marshmallow/chocolate mixture over the top of the Rice Krispies and stir until the mixture is fully combined and sticky.

Press the mixture into a 9×13 pan. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes. Cut and serve!

Dark Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies – Week #7 of the “12 Week of Christmas Cookies”





It’s hard to believe that we are into week #7 of the “12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies” challenge. I have been pretty strict about sticking to theme of cookies, but other bloggers have done some very interesting desserts such as this Pumpkin Crunch Cake , or this Cinnamon Chai Pie , Peppermint Patties, or my all-time favorite (wink, wink) Butterballs. You should seriously check out all of the other great recipes. Everyone can find at least 1 recipe that they would love to share with their family during the holidays.

There is only 1 key player in my kitchen, well, besides me (ok, I’m not really this cocky, but it just sounded like the right thing to say) – so, the key player in my kitchen is my Kitchen Aid mixer…KA for short.


Have I ever told you the story of how I obtained my KA mixer? Ok, even if I have told some of you, it’s worth telling again. I just love this story because it was one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to me. Here goes…a few years back I was unemployed. I wasn’t down on my luck or having a hard time making ends meet, but I was doing some odd jobs here and there to make some extra money while I was searching for a job. It just so happened that my dad was on a home buying spree (he buys rental properties), so he had a ton of apartments and homes that needed to be prepped for rehab and/or cleaned prior to occupancy. I agreed to help my dad clean up some of these places – I almost said I “volunteered” to help, but that would indicate that I was helping for free. Let’s just say…it was almost free!

During this time my father purchased the infamous house owned by Gabby (this is not her real name). Gabby was a hoarder and her house was piled high with stuff. She would buy things from QVC and then never open it or use it. She had multiple ice cream makers, blenders, tapes, records, etc. She had so much stuff that my father had to rent her house back to her after he purchased it just to give her and her family time to finish cleaning out her home. Finally, the day had come for her to move, and she had barely made a dent in her mess. I can honestly say…I have never seen anything like this. It appeared as though her and her family had thrown their hands in the air and said “Forget it!” Trust me, I would have done the same thing, and I wanted to as soon as I saw the mess that they had left for us. By default, everything left in the house or on the property became the property of my father. If you have ever owned rental property, you know that this isn’t necessarily a good thing. People generally leave things that no one wants.

After many days of cleaning we finally made it to a back storage room in the basement. I’m fairly certain that this room had been inaccessible for at least 20 years. There was nothing in this room to indicate that there was anything in there that was made prior to 1990, and I think that’s a stretch. I found a Bugs Bunny toothpaste dispenser:



I also found an old Eeyore cookie jar and a bunch of random mail from the 60’s. But, the find of the day came when I looked on the back of one of the bottom shelves and spotted something beautiful. I knew what it was as soon as I saw it. It was a Kitchen Aid mixer! It still had the tags on it! It was clearly from the 60’s and had never been used. All of the attachments were still there including the 2 bowls. There was also a grain grinder that was still in the box. I think I jumped around and did the happy dance for an hour. Of course my dad let me have it – I don’t think he knew what he was letting me take. Oh well, thanks dad!

My KA mixer gets used almost every day. It is one of the most versatile kitchen tools I have ever owned. I know, people say…”I have a mixer that is just as good as a KA.” All I have to say to them is, your mixer probably works great for you, so keep using it. But, once you have tried a KA, you will truly understand why it’s the #1 player in MY kitchen.

Now, on to the cookies. I was all set to make a white chocolate chip cookie with toffee pieces. I had everything laid out on the counter, when my oldest daughter begged me to make something with regular chocolate. I really wanted to use my white chocolate chips (I love white chocolate), but I gave in to her chocolate craving and used my dark chocolate morsels instead. Although, I did still use the toffee bits in some of the cookies.



So, due to the last minute change in plans, I went straight to the back of the Toll House Morsel bag for a recipe. Seriously people, you cannot go wrong with their recipes. I haven’t used one yet that I didn’t really enjoy. For this recipe it calls for sifting the dry ingredients together (minus the sugars). I love sifting stuff together…I think it looks cool. Yes, I know I’m a dork!





I also like creaming together the butter and the sugar. I l-o-v-e butter! Add in a little sugar and you have pure heaven!



Finally, the recipe calls for melted chocolate.



Wow! This is a winning combination. I am in love with these cookies. I made them with and without the toffee bits and both versions are OH-SO-GOOD! I brought a container of them to work with me and they were gone in 5 minutes. I must admit that the chocolate and toffee were my favorite, but a chocolate lover will like either one. Enjoy!

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Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with optional Toffee Bits
Adapted from: Nestle Toll House Jumbo Dark Chocolate Cookies Recipe
Printable Recipe
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup dark chocolate morsels (divided into 2/3 cup and 1 cup)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Heath toffee bits (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degree. Prepare a large cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper or lightly spraying with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In microwave safe bowl, add 2/3 cup dark chocolate morsels and heat at 70% power in microwave for 40 seconds. Stir and heat an additional 20-30 seconds at 70% power until chocolate is melted. Set aside.

In large bowl of stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate and mix. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined (about 1 minute).

Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Finish mixing in the 1 cup of morsels and optional toffee bits by hand.

Drop by large tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 17-18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chunk Birthday Cake – The best and easiest birthday cake you can make at home.



Three of my four children have the worst birth dates. The twins were born 3 days before Christmas, and the youngest was born on Labor Day weekend. They never get a good turnout for their birthday parties, so we try to have something for them on a more acceptable date. This past weekend was the date we chose for their birthday party. The youngest had a few of her friends and the twins had several of their friends join us for a fun night.

I love birthday parties because I have an excuse to bake. I know that I can always find an excuse to bake, but parties give me an excuse to bake AND cook. It’s a beautiful thing! My oldest daughter always asks for the same thing…cookie cake. What’s not to love about a cake that’s a cookie?! Not only is it delicious, it’s very easy to make. Stop paying the $10 at the grocery store to buy these cakes. Make them yourself for a fraction of the cost. The only upside to buying these at a store is that they will decorate them for you. As you can see, my decorating skills are very, very poor. The little, lime green blobs were the best I could do.

Decorating attempts from previous years haven’t turned out much better (see pics below).



Apparently I decided to start the “B” for “Birthday” in the middle of the cake, so I had to write “Bday” instead. This was last year’s cake, so I can laugh about it now.



I have given up on being able to decorate a cake. Check out the pan of brownies in the background.



This was one of the worst decorating jobs I have ever done. I’m not even sure what I had going on with this one. I will let you, and all of the party goers, in on a little secret. That pan of brownies was gluten-free AND they came from a box….GASP! Don’t tell anyone. As a crazy foodie, this is a huge embarrassment. But, the hubby always gets left out of the baked good at birthday parties, so I made something he could eat as well. No one had a clue that they were gluten free because I loaded them up with extra chocolate. And, with my stellar decorating job, they were irresistible.

My little sous chef asked for a simple chocolate cake with chocolate icing. So, of course, I made a rootbeer cake with rootbeer icing. Um, mom doesn’t listen very well. It actually tasted ok, but the icing was ugly. It really wasn’t a hit at the party, so I won’t bother posting the recipe or any pics. I was kinda disappointed, but I don’t think anyone else cared.

I am posting the recipe for the cookie cake. All of the kids and the adults loved this cake. I hope you enjoy making and eating it at your next birthday party.



Chocolate Chunk Cookie Cake
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup chocolate chunks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare 2-9” inch cake pans (if you want 2 smaller cakes), or 1 large pizza pan by spraying lightly with cooking spray. I used the disposable pans that you can buy at the grocery store.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Continue mixing and add in vanilla and egg.

Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Do not overmix. Turn off mixer and pour in chocolate chunks. Mix in by hand.

Press the cookie mixture into the pan(s) and bake for 15-18 minutes. Once cooled, decorate with your favorite icing. You can also use chocolate syrup, or leave it plain.

Thanksgiving Menu – Simple recipes for those that don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen

I recently had a request from a friend to post a Thanksgiving menu that is super easy, but still really good. I love to torture myself by spending hours upon hours in the kitchen, but I forget that others don’t really prefer that kind of torture. I’m not sure why, but apparently they don’t. I’m sure all of you foodies can relate.

So, what are my favorite, easy recipes for the holidays….here they are:

Appetizers


Pumpkin Dip – Serve with gingersnaps or Nilla Wafers
Chocolate Chip Dip – Tried and true! Everyone loves this one.
Sausage and Cheese Tray – I really hope you don’t need a recipe for this one.
Veggie Tray – See above

Main Dishes
Slow Cooker Turkey – I have been making this recipe for many years. It is perfect for a small family gathering and tastes amazing. I made this when I hosted thanksgiving at my own home.
Slow Cooker Ham - I just made this for the first time a month ago. You will not be disappointed in how great this ham is. No need to even turn on your oven!

Potatoes
Cheri’s Mashed Potatoes – Use the mashed potato recipe from my meatloaf cupcakes post. These aren’t tough to make, but you do have to spend time peeling potatoes. If you don’t want to peel potatoes, then move on to recipe #2.
Hashbrown Casserole – Everyone loves this casserole. It’s easy, cheesy and full of yumminess. I highly recommend these for anyone that needs potatoes and doesn’t want to spend much time preparing them.
Sweet Potato Casserole – I haven’t tried these, but they look easy and they got good reviews.

Vegetables


Green Bean Casserole – This is the same recipe that almost everyone in America uses. You can use any type of “Cream of…” soup. They all pretty much taste the same. This is my favorite Thanksgiving dish!
Roasted Vegetables – Use this recipe to roast sweet potatoes, zucchinis and carrots for a quick and easy veggie.

Desserts


Chocolate Pudding Pie – I make this pie for every holiday. Everyone loves it and it’s EASY!
Pumpkin Pie – This is the recipe from the Libby’s can. You cannot go wrong with it. Buy a premade pie crust in the dairy aisle or buy a frozen one and then pour in the mixture. It doesn’t get any easier then this. Just make sure the pie is cooked thoroughly. Serve with whipped cream!
Chocolate Eclair Dessert – This one is excellent! Make it the night before and it will be perfect by the time you are ready to eat dinner.
Peanut Butter Cookies (chocolate optional) – These are very easy and can be prepared ahead of time.

Noticeably absent from my menu is stuffing/dressing. We have a traditional family recipe that I make every year, but it is not easy and it is not quick. I’m not going to post it with this menu for that reason. I have never made stuffing any other way, so I am leaving it off the list. Feel free to grab a box of Stove Top and read the instructions. I’m sure it’s easy and probably pretty good.

Also absent is cranberries. I have never, ever had a good experience with making any type of cranberry sauce or jelly. They have all turned out terrible. If your family likes the stuff that comes out of the can, I would just keep using it. It’s easy and can easily be found in your local grocery store. I will continue to pretend like cranberries, in any form, are not a traditional Thanksgiving dish.

Remember, this menu is not meant for someone who wants to prepare a complicated dinner with fancy dishes. This menu is meant for those of you that don’t like to cook, or don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but still want to prepare a delicious meal for your family.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies – For Week 5 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies





What a week this has been!! So many good things have happened, along with a few bad things scattered in. My hometown baseball team making it to Game 7 of the World Series has definitely washed away all of the bad. Game 6 will go down as one of my favorite games of all time! I am so glad that the Cardinals won, because if they hadn’t, I would still be thinking about the horrible kitchen debacle that I had last night.

I am participating in this great challenge called “The 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies” hosted by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic. I have had so much fun making new cookies each week and sharing them with you. I had planned to make Oatmeal/Raisin cookies for Thursday’s post, but somewhere in the day I changed my mind. The hubby has to eat gluten-free, and I knew that it had been a while since I had made him something sweet, so I decided to make flourless chocolate cookies with mini peanut butter cups on top.

This was all good in theory, but I’m fairly certain that the recipe I got from another blogger was off on the amount of ingredients. These cookies were a mess from the moment I started putting them on the cookie sheet. They were too runny, so I added more powdered sugar thinking that this would help. No dice! They ran together and created a very strange and large cookie that was full of air and had an odd consistency. The unfortunate thing about this is that they actually tasted good! They just looked like a steaming pile of poo. Trust me, we ate the large mess of cookie-like stuff, but there is no way I would ever post something that turned out so ugly on a post for Christmas cookies. It wouldn’t be fair to you. Christmas cookies are supposed to be pretty.

I decided to go back into the archives and bring out a good recipe. This is one of the first recipes that I ever posted. I know it hasn’t been that long since I started my blog, but hopefully you are willing to give this recipe a try if you passed it over the first time.

These cookies are “naturally” gluten-free because the original recipe doesn’t call for flour. This is a regular recipe, so don’t pass on it because it’s gluten-free. These cookies are not a cakey cookie. They are more soft and chewy, which is how I like my cookies. Don’t get me wrong, I like cookies that have a cake consistency as well, but there is nothing better than a chewy cookie…it reminds of the corners of brownies. YUM!

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Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle
Adapted from: Gluten Free Girl
Yields 2 dozen cookies
Printable Recipe
Ingredients

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar + an additional 1/2 cup sugar for rolling
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together peanut butters and sugar. I used my stand mixer, but you can also mix by hand. Add in the baking powder and eggs and mix until combined evenly.

Pour additional 1/2 cup sugar into a small bowl. Roll cookie dough into small balls and then rolls in the bowl of sugar. Place dough balls onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes. IMPORTANT: Leave the cookies on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Do not remove the cookies from the cookie sheet before this time is up or they will not have the right texture.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave by placing them in a microwave-safe bowl and cooking on high for 10 seconds. Stir and cook an additional 10 seconds. Follow this method until they chips are completely melted. Once the cookies have cooled, use a fork or spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the top.

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Povitica – An Eastern European dessert for the Daring Bakers Challenge





The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Have you ever heard of Povitica? I hadn’t until this challenge. Honestly, I really didn’t want to participate because this recipe seemed quite difficult. There were so many steps that I even missed one. Oops! I started watching the other bakers as they finished their challenges and became inspired. Their loaves turned out so beautifully and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it as well. I also wanted an excuse to use one of my most prized possessions, besides my Kitchen Aid mixer, my marble rolling pin which was handed down to me from my mom who received it from her Aunt. I remember seeing that rolling pin in my great aunt’s dining room when I was a kid, and I always thought it was so cool. I bet she never could have imagined that it would end up in my hands and that I’d be using it weekly….thanks Aunt Iva!

As I say with most of my Daring Cooks recipes, this isn’t for the novice baker. In fact, it almost wasn’t for me either. The thought of rolling out that dough and having to fold it really scared me. But it wasn’t tough at all. I should have known better. There have been many times in my life that I was scared of something that turned out to be less painful than expect or not painful at all. I guess the lesson in all of this is to always give yourself the opportunity to know if you like something or not. I almost declined to participate in this challenge because I thought it would be too hard. I’m so glad I didn’t. This Povitica was delicious! My children loved it, my friend loved it and even the neighbors liked it. If you are looking for a challenge and a way to impress a guest that may be from Eastern Europe, make them a Povitica.

Povitica
Recipe by: Jenni of The Gingered Whisk
Printable Recipe

To activate the Yeast:
½ Teaspoon Sugar
¼ Teaspoon All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Warm Water
1½ Teaspoons (1 package) Rapid Rising Yeast

Dough:
½ Cup Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons Sugar
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter, melted
2 cups All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

Topping:
(I accidentally forgot this step)
2 Tablespoons Cold STRONG Coffee
1½ Teaspoons Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Filling:
Adapted from: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2011/03/23/caramel-crumb-bars/

1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cans (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

To activate the yeast:

Add sugar, flour and yeast to a bowl of warm, not hot, water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 minutes.



Yeast after 5 minutes.



To prepare the dough:

In a medium saucepan, heat milk to the scalding point stirring constantly. Do not boil. Allow to cool slightly before using.



In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk, 3 tbsp. sugar, and the salt. Add the beaten egg, melted butter and 1/2 cup of the flour. Switch to the dough hook (or remove and knead the rest of the flour in by hand), kneading with the dough hook and adding in the flour until the dough starts to clean the bowl. I used almost all of the 2 cups of flour. Remove from the bowl and knead in any additional flour until the surface of the dough is smooth and does not stick.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 90 minutes).



Cover a large countertop or table with a clean bed sheet. Lightly dust with flour to prevent sticking. Turn risen dough out onto cloth and begin rolling it out using a rolling pin.



Start from the center and work outward. Roll the dough into a large rectangle. Spoon 1 teaspoon of melted butter on top of the dough and then begin spreading the dough with your hands. You can also use a rolling pin to achieve a flatter dough.



The dough should be thin enough to see through. Be sure to continually pick up the dough to ensure that it’s not sticking. Once the dough it paper thin, begin preparing the filling.



To prepare the filling:

Add butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering. Continue to simmer until the mixture begins to smell caramely and it changes color slightly. Use the caramel immediately or else it will be impossible to spread on the dough.



Rolling and Assembling the Bread:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a spatula, spread the caramel over the top of the dough leaving a rim around the edge to ensure a good seal once the dough is rolled.



After the caramel is spread out completely, begin rolling the dough into a long snake. Use the sheet to lift up and let the dough roll itself up like a jelly roll. This technique works really well.

Grease a standard sized loaf pan and place a portion of the dough into the pan, forming a “U” shaped with the 2 ends sticking out of the pan. Next, fold the 2 loose ends back into the pan making sure that they are coiled around one another to ensure that the bread has the unique, swirled look when it is sliced.



Mix coffee and sugar and brush over the top of the bread and place in preheated oven.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and then lower temperature to 300 and then bake for an additional 45 minutes.

Remove bread from oven and brush with butter.



Let bread sit in pan for 30 minutes, although I used a knife to ensure that the caramel wouldn’t stick and make it impossible to remove from the pan.

Slice and serve!

Apple Slump Recipe – Use up all of your fall apples



Have you ever taken a recipe out of a magazine or a book expecting it to be one of the best recipes you have ever made? If you answered yes, then you will understand the next question. Did that recipe totally suck? I’m sure you have experienced this at least once in your life. You see something that sounds so good on paper, and yet it completely fails to deliver in the end. Most of the time it usually sucks because it’s too bland. This happened to me quite often when I was first learning to cook. I can honestly say that Allrecipes.com changed my life. When I first visited the site, it was the first time that I was actually able to see what others thought of a recipe and then I could decide whether or not to make the recipe based on that information. I am a huge fan of Allrecipes, and I spend a lot of time at that site.

Several years ago, my children came home with one of those lovely magazine fundraisers that the school puts on. I really dislike fundraisers. I understand why they are important, but it would be nice if we could opt out of all the drama and just mail a check. I have actually done that before and it worked out beautifully. But, back in 2008, I felt the need to actually order something, so I ordered Everyday with Rachael Ray. I must admit…I am not a huge fan of most of her recipes because they are a little strange. I prefer simple ingredients that aren’t going to cost me a fortune. I suppose that’s why I was drawn to her Apple Slump recipe. I had never heard of apple slump, but I knew I had a full bag of apples that needed to be used, so this looked like the perfect recipe. I tried it back then, using gluten-free flour, and it was fantastic. This was not one of those instances that I talked about above. It did not suck! So, when I came home from the grocery store yesterday with a big bag of apples, I immediately thought of this recipe. My Sous Chef, a.k.a. my son, and I made this dish together. He sliced all of the apples for me using my handy dandy corer, peeler, slicer machine. This recipe came together pretty quickly. If you don’t have one of those “apple thingys,” get one. It makes preparing apples for pies and other desserts really simple.

This recipe was copied from the 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. The only adaptation that I made was to use gluten-free flour, but I recommend regular flour if you don’t require a special diet.

Apple Slump
Recipe from: Everyday with Rachael Ray
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 3 tablespoons chopped and chilled
2-1/4 pounds fuji or granny smith apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour (gluten-free or regular)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk


Directions:

In a small skillet or Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat and add the apples.



Then stir in 1/2 cup sugar, the lemon juice and cinnamon. Cover and simmer until the apples are nearly tender, about 8 minutes.



Stir in 1 tablespoon flour and remove from the heat.



In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the 3 tablespoons chilled butter, working it in with your fingertips until crumbly.



Add the milk and stir to combine.



Return the Dutch oven to medium-low heat and spoon the batter onto the hot fruit to almost cover the surface.



Cover and simmer until the batter is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies – Great Halloween Party Dessert Idea



Pumpkin. Why are there so many pumpkin recipes? It seems that October is all about pumpkins and apples. November is as well. I guess it could be worse, it could be all about brussel sprouts and olives. VILE! I guess it’s good that I love both apples AND pumpkins.

I was talking with a coworker yesterday about baking a pumpkin cheesecake, and she inspired me to make pumpkin cheesecake brownies. I’ve never made these or even tried them. But, I know I love pumpkin and I know I love brownies. They have to be a good combination. The inspiration for my brownies came from another blogger at Pass the Sushi . Her pictures looked yummy, so I knew this was going to be good. I did use my own brownie recipe, found here, but I followed her recipe for the cheesecake. What I didn’t do was follow her instructions. Oops! The cheesecake was supposed to be layered in the middle of the brownies. If you make the same mistake that I did, you will understand why she said to layer the cheesecake in the middle. The cheesecake is heavy and causes the brownies to sink. They still taste ok, but they certainly didn’t look as pretty as I’d hoped. I will write the correct instructions below, including using a smaller pan so you can get thicker brownies. I think these would be much better if they were thicker. But, they do taste really good, and the pumpkin cheesecake layer smells delicious.



Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
Adapted from: Pass the Sushi and Allrecipes.com
Printable Recipe

Brownie Layers

Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake Layer

Cheesecake Batter:

6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.

For brownie layers – in a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Spread half the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

For cheesecake layer – Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Continue mixing and add in egg, flour, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well mixed.

Pour cheesecake mixture on top of the first layer of brownie mixture and then top with remaining brownie mixture.

Using a butter knife, slowly swirl the mixture to ensure that the brownie and cheesecake layers are swirled together. This is done by slowly pulling the knife through the mixture horizontally first and then vertically. Do not stir or mix.

Place brownies in oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

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