Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

I always buy bananas with the best intentions of having one each morning for a healthy, well-rounded breakfast. And then I eat a giant bowl of Lucky Charms. :/ Luckily, over-ripe bananas are perfect for banana bread!

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I do love a good ol’ banana bread, but I was excited to try a different take on a favorite. I’ll admit, the frosting was really the selling point!

Banana Bread Bars:

  • 1-1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

The original recipe called for regular sugar and didn’t include cinnamon.

Brown Butter Frosting:

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. milk

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.

2) In a large bowl, mix the sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs. Stir in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Then, add in walnuts.

3) Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown, and the middle is firm when you shake the pan.

4) While the Banana Bread Bars are baking, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Let the butter turn a light brown and remove from heat immediately. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth.

I had to use 4 tablespoons of milk to get it to a spreadable consistency.

5) When the Banana Bread Bars are done, remove from the oven and immediately spread the Brown Butter Frosting over them.

This is a treat which requires a glass of milk to consume — rich, and sweet, and delicious!

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting.

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting.

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Devil’s Food Cake Cookies

I’m back! Apologies for the hiatus!! I’ve been busy with work, and road trips, and birthdays, and pulling weeds in my yard. Speaking of birthdays, this recipe goes out to a certain brother-in-law whose love of chocolate rivals my own. I scrapped together what I had in my cupboard, and it turned out pretty darn delicious!

Happy Birthday, Jamie! 🙂

Ingredients: Yields 24 large cookies.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 16.5 oz Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz bag of mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1) In a large bowl, combine the butter, egg, and vanilla.

2) Stir in the cake mix, adding heavy whipping cream midway.

3) When the cake mix is completely incorporated, add the chocolate chips.

4) Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes.

5) Cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheets, then remove to wire racks.

Ooey-gooey-chocolate goodness!

Ooey-gooey-chocolate goodness!

The cookies are really soft and moist. This is a really easy cookie recipe, and I’m so happy with how they turned out!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Recently, a friend and co-worker of mine totally made my morning by bringing these delicious cookies to work. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are often overlooked and passed up for something chocolate, or for a more complicated recipe. Sometimes, we forget just how wonderful a simple, tried and true recipe can be.

This cookie is flavorful, has some healthy ingredients (always a plus), and it is SO easy to make! The recipe for this cookie comes from Smitten Kitchen, a blog I will definitely be following from now on!

The recipe yields about 2 dozen small cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups  rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup  raisins

My friend made her cookies with coconut oil instead of butter, which I have never tried before. This recipe was a great test cookie for the task, and I was very pleased with the results. I may be turning to this substitution more often when I am baking. 🙂

Directions:

1) In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

2) In a separate bowl, combine and whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.

3) Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Add in the oats and raisins. The coconut oil has a tendency to hold lumps. My solution was to hand-mix the batter after all the ingredients are incorporated; that way I could smoosh out any remaining lumps of coconut oil.

4) Shape the dough into small balls, and let chill while you pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough

5) Place 6 balls onto a cookie sheet line with parchment paper. Bake for 11-12 minutes.

The best thing about these cookies is they are crispy on the outside, but still soft on the inside.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This recipe is definitely being added to my big red cookbook. 🙂 And if you wanted something sweeter, you could add some chocolate chips — or I’ve even seen oatmeal raisin cookies with M&Ms in them!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

I made these on Sunday morning, and I would highly recommend them for the breakfast in bed tray next Mother’s Day! 😉 The thing I love most about this recipe is how it combines two of my favorite comfort foods: pancakes and cinnamon rolls. See the original post and recipe here!

Cinnamon Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

To make the cinnamon filling, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Transfer the mixture to a ziplock baggie and put aside to thicken. It helps to “massage” the baggie occasionally, even though it makes you feel silly!

Cinnamon filling.

Cinnamon filling.

Cream Cheese Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the glaze, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove and add the cream cheese, whisking until it is almost smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar, and then add in the vanilla extract last. I also added a little milk to thin out the glaze and make it easier to drizzle.

Delicious cream cheese glaze!

Delicious cream cheese glaze!

Lately, I’ve been using this recipe for pancakes that came with my Star Wars pancake molds. 🙂

Pancakes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the pancake batter, whisk two eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the milk, melted butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.

Directions:

1) Heat a large, nonstick skillet on medium heat. Use butter or vegetable oil to grease the pan. Add the batter, and reduce the heat to medium low. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, get ready to add the cinnamon filling.

Adding the cinnamon filling.

Adding the cinnamon filling.

2) Snip the corner of the ziplock baggie. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling in a swirl. Don’t go too close to the edges of the pancake! If you’re feeling creative, you could try some alternate designs!

You can taste the love!

You can taste the love!

3) Cook the pancake 2 minutes on low heat, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake. Flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. When you remove the pancake, make sure to wipe the pan clean with a paper towel for the next one.

4) Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze!

Cinnamon Roll Pancake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Cinnamon Roll Pancake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Needless to say, they tasted as good as they looked. I especially enjoyed the cream cheese glaze, a lovely alternative to always having syrup on your pancakes! 🙂

The Cake is Not a Lie

Somehow, this blog always come back to food! At least this time I have a legitimate excuse: my hubby’s birthday! I really wanted to do something special and make him a cool cake. It gave me the perfect opportunity to try out this recipe for homemade fondant from marshmallows!

I have never used fondant or made fondant or really made any design cake, so what possessed me to try all three for the first time during the busiest work weekend of the year is beyond me. And here is the design I chose:

The Storage Cube from Portal 2

The Storage Cube from Portal 2

Crazy, right? This is from one of the hubby’s favorite video games: Portal 2. Of course, I planned to simplify the design and just go for a straight up cube, but still — way too ambitious! Needless to say, I have learned a TON.

Making the fondant actually turned out to be the easiest part. Simple recipe, just three ingredients: marshmallows, powdered sugar, and food coloring.

You get the marshmallows moist, pop them in the microwave for 10 second intervals until they are melted, and then add your dye of choice. Stir together with a greased spoon. I used the spoon to mix in the majority of the powdered sugar and finished incorporating with my hands.

Still in the sticky phase!

Still in the sticky phase!

This is a messy, sticky endeavor, but it was fun. And let me tell you, I got a great upper body workout kneading and folding that fondant! I made four colors for the cake: white, gray, blue, and also a small portion of pink. You see, for Portal fans, the Companion Cube is really popular.

Companion Cube

Companion Cube from Portal and Portal 2

But, I really didn’t want to make him a giant pink cake, so I took some liberties with the designs and combined the two cubes. It also saved me from having to replicate the Aperture symbol!

To make this cake, I used 8-inch square pans and two boxed cake mixes: red velvet and confetti, two of the hub’s favorites.

I dyed the confetti cake blue ... or tried to!

I dyed the confetti cake blue … or tried to.

I like to bake from scratch normally, but with all the decorating I had to do and my tight schedule, I went for boxed cake mixes. This was a great chance to try out some boxed cake mix hacks I had read about, and they really helped! I used milk instead of water, melted butter instead of vegetable oil, added one extra egg, and rounded off the butter by a few tablespoons. The cake turned out dense and moist and delicious!

Lesson #1 — Stacking requires the cakes to be level. I had to MacGyver up a solution of hiding caramel squares in the corners under lots of frosting to stop my cake from leaning and sagging because I just stacked them as they were without trimming.

Lesson #2 — Make the fondant the day you make the cake because it is tricky to store and a pain to re-hydrate after it has been stored. When I got ready to use the fondant a few days after I had made it, I basically had to spend 10 minutes on each batch, microwaving for 2-3 second intervals and kneading it back to the original consistency.

Once that was finished, I got my work area prepared:

Parchment paper and cornstarch puff.

Parchment paper and cornstarch puff.

The cornstarch puff is AMAZING. It makes the fondant easier to work with and smooth, and it prevents the fondant from sticking to the rolling pin or board.

Lesson #3 — Having the right utensils is key. All of my knives are serated, and that just doesn’t work well with cutting smooth lines in fondant. It also would have made my life easier to have more cookie cutters in different shapes to help in my design.

So much easier than freehand cutting!

So much easier than freehand cutting!

I did make myself little paper stencils for the many components of the cake design. Even still, it took about four hours to roll out the fondant and cut all 75 pieces.

Each side of the cube had 14 pieces.

Each side of the cube had 14 pieces.

Lesson #4 — Don’t stack fondant when you store it.

After I had slaved over my fondant, I put it up for the night, thinking it was okay to stack them because they seemed dry enough and were dusted with cornstarch. My fatal mistake — forgetting I live in the South. Darn humidity! I had to scrap pretty much all of my white pieces of fondant because they got stuck together. 😦 And many of the thin gray pieces became so brittle that they cracked as I handled them.

If I had planned a little better, I would have had time to roll out more, but sadly I did not. The pieces that did survive looked good, though!

Not bad for my first time writing with icing!

Not bad for my first time writing with icing!

After I iced the cake, it was time to place the fondant!

My Companion/Storage Cube from Portal.

My Companion/Storage Cube from Portal.

I never know when to stop, so I ended up adding black icing to the edges. In hindsight, I think it looks better and more like the Portal cubes without, but it was a good exercise in icing.

Straight lines are hard.

Straight lines are hard.

This cake was a trial, for sure, but I learned SO MUCH, and bottom line — Bryan loved it! 🙂

Happy Birthday, baby!

Happy Birthday, baby!

Caramel Apple Chunk Cake

Some recipes carry memories better than others. From the taste and smell to all the little steps and directions, this Caramel Apple Chunk Cake recipe reminds me of time spent in the kitchen with my mother — and learning how to make caramel roses.

As I scooted around in my own kitchen this Easter, listening to music and hoping my cake would turn out, I could see the story of this recipe making another loop. This time, it was just me cutting the apples and sifting the flour. I worked alone but confidently through the directions, with no second guessing or uncertainty.

Even so, as I softened the caramels and rolled them out into petals I could see my mother’s hands, beautiful and strong, showing me how to do it that very first time. I felt connected to her and grateful that she had taken the time to make those memories with me, because the most wonderful gift you can give to your children is your time.

I will always have that day and carry that piece of her with me. And it makes my heart so happy to think that in 10 years or so the story will come full circle, and I will be teaching my own daughter (or son) how to make caramel roses.

IMG_0726

ShinyHappyPeebles

Caramel Apple Chunk Cake

Let me begin by saying that this is a decadent and rich cake — a destroyer of diets! However, in my own curvy opinion, it doesn’t hurt to indulge in some homemade goodness once in a while. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 and ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tart apples
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup whipping cream

1) Preheat oven to 350º and make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.

2) Peel and cut the apples into ½ inch chunks. You should get about 3 and ½ cups of apples.

3) Generously grease a 12 cup sponge cake pan. Coat with flour, tapping out any excess. I like to use a Bundt pan that I inherited from my grandmother. I love the shape and the weight of it!

IMG_0735

Just think of all the cakes this baby has seen!

4) In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

5) In a separate large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until thick and smooth — about 3 minutes.

6) Add orange juice to the large bowl, followed by the sifted dry ingredients. Mix completely.

7) Toss the apples and chopped pecans in 1 tablespoon of flour, then add into the batter.

The batter will be very thick.

The batter will be very thick.

8) Transfer the cake batter to your pan and smooth out the top. Cook about 1 hour. Let cool 5 minutes before glazing.

9) To make the glaze, mix the butter, brown sugar, and whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil – about three minutes. This is honestly the best part of the whole, darn cake!

You could put this stuff on Wonderbread and it would taste like heaven!

You could put this on cardboard and it would taste like heaven!

10) Drizzle the glaze onto cake after it cools, reapplying as it drips down. Best served warm!

Caramel Apple Chunk Cake

Caramel Apple Chunk Cake

The caramel roses are just a garnish, so if you don’t have the time or the patience, the cake will still taste fabulous without them!

Caramel Roses:

I use the individually wrapped Kraft Caramels, the same kind I use to make Caramel Apples at Halloween.

1) Unwrap one caramel and knead it between your fingers and palms until it gets soft. Roll the softened caramel into a small ball.

2) Coat the ball lightly in granulated sugar and use a rolling pin to shape it into a petal. Press the petal in the sugar and set aside. It usually takes 4-5 caramels to make enough petals to create a rose.

3) Jelly roll one petal into a spiral to create the center of your rose. Wrap the other petals around the center, pinching at the bottom to secure them. Adjust and open the petals as needed.

4) Use a knife to cut off the excess at the bottom and create a flat surface for placing the flowers on and/or around the cake.

5) Chill them before adding to the cake — and make sure to add them at the last minute or they will literally wilt!

Caramel Roses

Caramel Roses

Banana Bread in a Mug

Day 3 of my 7-Day Microwave Mug Challenge! Today, we are having Bannana Bread! Check out the original recipe here. It’s a great recipe, but I made a few alterations: some on purpose, others … not.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • pecan pieces, handful
  • brown sugar, to sprinkle on top

First, I have to ask: does anyone actually own a 1/8 teaspoon measurer? Or am I the only one just eyeballing it with a 1/4 teaspoon measurer?

1) Use a big mug because the banana bread will rise and expand and attempt to do summersaults in your mircowave. I selected this lovely Harry Potter mug. 🙂

I solemnly swear I am up to no good!

I solemnly swear I am up to no good!

2) In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Now, I accidentally forgot to add the brown sugar in the batter when I made it because the original directions just said to add sugar. I missed the implied plural. And so, I have made my directions a smidgen more O.C.D. 🙂

3) Add egg and combine until incorporated with dry ingredients. Don’t over mix!

4) Stir in vanilla, vegetable oil, milk, mashed banana, and pecans. I added the pecans to this recipe, because I like a little crunch! Feel free to use any nut you like, or make yours sans nuts.

5) Pour the mixture into your mug. Pop into the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

6) Remove and sprinkle with brown sugar and more pecans. Microwave an additional 1 minute. Let sit for 1-2 minutes because it will be nuclear hot!

You might find someone to help you eat this, because I found the portion to be a little much for one person, at least for breakfast anyway.

Here is PassThe Sushi‘s Banana Bread:

See how it tried to escape her tiny mug?

See how it tried to escape her tiny mug?

And here is mine!

ShinyHappyPeebles' Banana Bread in a Mug

ShinyHappyPeebles

It turned out more like a yummy banana cake — perhaps because I missed the brown sugar in the batter — but I do believe I made up for my error by garnishing with brown sugar and pecans. They make a delicious, caramelized topping!

What I love the most about these microwave recipes, besides the convenience of single servings and fast cook time, is that I have yet to go shopping for supplies. They all use basic ingredients that most people have in their home on an average day.