Thursday, February 19, 2015

Banana Smoothie

When the hubby was getting ready to leave this morning for work, he remarked that three of the bananas in the bowl looked, "very ripe." Yep, they certainly were great "candidates" for banana bread. Since I just made banana muffins last week, I decided instead to whip up a smoothie. I tossed a little bit of this and a little bit of that into my trusty blender and made a delicious concoction. We received an automated phone call at 5:15 this morning that Dominic's school was closed because of the subzero temperatures. That meant I had one of my taste-testers here to try a "sample." I poured the smoothie mixture into two glasses and tucked a straw into each one. Dominic and I polished ours off in less than 10 minutes. One thing I have heard incessantly lately from my son is, "Mommy, I'm hungry!"  Well, after Dominic had his smoothie, I didn't hear him utter that phrase for about three hours. That's a new record. LOL.  If you have a growing preteen boy like I do, give him this smoothie. It hopefully will keep him "filled up" for at least a few minutes!!

Ingredients

5.3 ounce container Greek yogurt,
  vanilla flavor (any brand)
3 small bananas, very ripe, chopped
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all ingredients into a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. Makes two cups.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Red Velvet Cupcakes




I grew up in Maryland and have lived in the Midwest for over 13 years, but I love southern food, like jambalaya, hush puppies, sweet potato casserole, pulled pork, pecan pie and any kind of corn bread! Red velvet cake is a very popular dessert in the South. I have made red velvet cupcakes from a box (I used either Duncan Hines or Better Crocker, I can't remember) and while they were delicious, I was curious if I could make my own version from scratch. A key ingredient in a red velvet cake or cupcakes is buttermilk. I made a special trip yesterday to the grocery store and would you believe, I couldn't find any in the dairy case?!?!? Rather than giving up, I made my own. There are only two ingredients to buttermilk - lemon juice (which I haven't tried) or white vinegar (which I used) and milk. Did you ever see that movie, Steel Magnolias? If you did, do you remember the armadillo groom's cake? it was made out of red velvet cake!  I whipped some of these cupcakes up yesterday afternoon. They are so yummy that if I close my eyes while I'm eating one, I can almost picture myself down in the South where it's warm and sunny, instead of here, where we had to shovel a path,


To get to our mailbox!



Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups white flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake liners into a 12-cup cupcake tin. In large bowl, put the sugar and butter. Beat with electric mixer on low speed for two minutes or by hand until smooth. Add the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined. In small bowl, put the buttermilk, red food coloring, vanilla extract and the white vinegar. If you need to make your own buttermilk, put a tablespoon of white vinegar in a one cup measuring cup and pour in enough milk to make one cup. Let it stand 15 minutes. Add the ingredients of the smaller bowl into the ingredients in the large bowl and beat on low speed for about one minute or by hand until well incorporated. Pour batter evenly into the cupcake liners. This recipe made 18 cupcakes for me, but I filled the cupcake liners just a teeny bit too full!  The next time I make these cupcakes, I think I'll only fill the tins about 1/2 way up with batter :) Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let them cool about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling. When cupcakes are completely cool, frost with the cream cheese frosting below. Store covered in the fridge.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix by hand or with electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

* Feel free to sprinkle the cupcakes with red sprinkles (like I did) or with chopped pecans!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Carrot Cake Bread

Yesterday, at 5:40 a.m., our phone rang with a message that Dominic's school was going to be closed because of ice on the roads. That meant three things for the day - he could sleep in (which he did), go sledding on the driveway,



and do some baking with me!!!


Dominic loves carrots. I give them to him in his lunch and as a snack.  He won't eat them cooked, but that's okay. I'm just glad he loves carrots so much! Anyways, when I was starting to assemble all the ingredients (and there are a lot) to make this yesterday, "Chef " Dominic came over to investigate what I was up to. I told him that it would be at least a few minutes, because I needed to shred 1 1/2 cups of carrots. Once I was ready, I had him come back over to assist me.  Dominic has gotten so good at cracking eggs, that I don't need to have him crack them into a separate bowl anymore! Once the bread was baked and cooled, I decided a little frosting would make this bread even more yummy. Dominic "sampled" the two ends of the bread (hey, those are my favorite pieces!!), and proclaimed it to be "good." This morning, when Dominic's bus driver (Mr. E), came to pick him up, I had Dominic hand him a slice of this bread. Mr. E looked right at me and said, "I'm going to have this with my coffee!" It takes a special person to drive a special needs bus and Mr. E is definitely that person :)

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Bread:

1 1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups carrots,
  peeled and finely shredded
1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside. Peel and then shred the carrots into a medium bowl. Set aside. In large bowl, put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, egg, water, canola oil and vanilla. Mix well with a large spoon - the batter will be stiff. Add the shredded carrots and oatmeal and "fold" in gently until combined. Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan to continue cooling. To make the frosting - in small bowl, put all the ingredients in the order given (except the pecans) and mix well by hand with large spoon, or to make it even creamier, use an electric mixer. Spread the frosting on top of the cooled carrot bread with a small knife and then sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Store covered in the fridge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sour Cream Pancakes




I have probably made enough homemade waffles in my lifetime to circle the Earth twice. Pancakes on the other hand, don't make it on to the "menu" very often. Well, that may change. These sour cream pancakes are so light and fluffy, they are sure to be a hit with your family! I like BIG pancakes like the ones above, but feel free to make smaller ones if you want. This recipe made 13 five-inch pancakes, which is a "baker's dozen." Have you ever wondered what the term, "baker's dozen" means?  According to Dictionary.com, the definition goes back several hundred years ago to when a baker would give "13 items to the dozen as a safeguard against penalties for short weights and measures." You would think that considering I have been baking for almost 50 years, (I probably helped make my own cake for my second birthday),


and I am a great granddaughter of a baker, that I would know the definition of a "baker's dozen." Well, it's always good to learn something new! Isn't it?!?!?!?

Ingredients

2 cups white flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large bowl, put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well with large spoon. Set aside.  In medium bowl, put the milk, sour cream, eggs, butter and vanilla extract. Combine well and then add to the ingredients in the large bowl. Mix well (it's okay if there are a few small lumps). Spray pancake griddle with non-stick spray and preheat. Pour enough batter onto the griddle to make a 5-inch pancake. Flip over when small bubbles appear and the bottom side is brown. Makes 13 pancakes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Applesauce Spice Bread


This bread includes my "triple threat" of  favorite spices - cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger! I love, love, love those three flavors together. One thing I have discovered about ginger, though - a little bit goes a LONG way!  Dominic was telling me this afternoon, "I'm hungry!" When is he not hungry these days?!?!? It sometimes seems like he grows overnight! I gave him a piece of this bread and watched as he broke off half of it and stuffed the entire thing into his mouth. Yikes, I was more than a little concerned, because he has always refused to eat applesauce out of the jar! Well, guess what? He loved the bread and actually had a second piece. Cool, guess he's none the wiser that there is an entire CUP of applesauce in this scrumptious bread. I'm not going to tell him, are you?

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup honey
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 1.5 quart loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside. In large bowl, put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mix well with large spoon by hand. Add the honey, applesauce, eggs and butter and combine well.  Fold in the walnuts gently (if you want to use them).  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack about 20 minutes before removing bread from pan. Enjoy warm!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Golden Rich Cake

Every so often, I like to look through the magazine and newspaper clippings that belonged to my mother-in-law. Have you ever heard of the magazine, Woman's Home Companion? It was a monthly publication that was published from 1873-1957.  It ceased publication six years before I was even born! Anyways, when I "found" this recipe from February 1955 AND I had all the ingredients on hand, I knew I had to give this one a try. I think it's pretty neat that this cake recipe is almost 60 years old! When two of my favorite "taste testers" got a "sample," they gave the cake rave reviews. Lauren had a piece before she went back to college this past Sunday and told me, "this cake melts in my mouth!" Last night, Dominic remarked, "the cake is yummy!" Cool.  Do you have a bunch of leftover candy canes from the holidays? Instead of throwing them away or tucking them into the pantry (where they may get forgotten), crush them up and sprinkle on top of the cake! With a certain "holiday" coming up on February 14, how about making this cake for your "sweetie?" Did you ever notice that red and white are also the colors for Valentine's Day?!?!?!


Ingredients

2 cups white flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup margarine, melted
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In large bowl, put all the ingredients in the order given and mix well by hand or with electric mixer for two minutes. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Frost with your favorite icing and sprinkle with crushed candy canes, if desired! Makes 20 servings.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Shrimp with Tomatoes and Peppers

Last night, the hubby was inquiring what was going to be on the "menu" for dinner. I told him, "well, it will be something involving shrimp!" That "something" turned out to be this:


This meal was so easy and quick to prepare, that I felt a bit like Rachel Ray, because I made it in less than 30 minutes! I am the "queen" of multi-tasking, so while I was working on making the shrimp with tomatoes and peppers, I was making a pot of white rice at the same time. My family and I recently went back to the East Coast to visit family and friends over the holidays. Since I love to cook and bake, I prepared a handful of meals at my parents house. One of the days that we were there, I was remarking to my dad that the biggest challenge to cooking a meal is to get everything to come out at the same time. Wouldn't you agree?!?!?

Ingredients

1 pound raw shrimp, raw or fresh
12-ounce package 3-pepper and onion blend,
  frozen
14.5-ounce can sliced stewed tomatoes,
  undrained
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2-3 dashes of cayenne pepper sauce,
  optional

I almost always use frozen shrimp and if you pour cold water into a small bowl that just covers the shrimp, it will defrost quickly! Remove shells, if necessary and then slice into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. In large skillet, put the stewed tomatoes and the 3-pepper and onion blend. Simmer on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chili powder, crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper sauce, if desired. Stir well and then add the shrimp and continue to let simmer on medium heat until the shrimp turns pink. This will only take 5-10 minutes. Makes four servings.