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Cinnamon Freud Banana Bread

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I was assigned to Karen’s blog, Cinnamon Freud, for the Secret Recipe Club this month. She’s a counseling psychology doctoral student who also loves to cook and bake. How genius is her blog name?! I know she must get that a lot, but it’s true. Genius.

So anyway, last month I chose banana bread for my SRC assignment and Debra suggested I do banana bread every month because of my outrageous obsession with it. Although I didn’t intend to take her up on that challenge, as soon as I received my SRC assignment, I looked to see if Karen had a banana bread recipe, because I had a bunch of bananas that were really overripe and needing to be used. And she did – this recipe, in fact.  I made this bread the same day I received my assignment – the quickest I’ve ever done it!

Since she simply called it banana bread, and I have way too many banana recipes on my blog to call it just banana bread, I added her blog name into it.  I couldn’t resist – it’s just so catchy!  :)  My second choice for this bread’s name would be “Dessert Banana Bread.”  This bread has more sugar than normal (which I totally am on board with – the more sugar the better, as far as I’m concerned), making it a bit more indulgent and appropriate for dessert…with a scoop of ice cream and caramel sauce on top, of course. haha! ;)  Oh and I have to tell you this bread is excellent with black walnuts. I made one plain, one with black walnuts. They were beautiful – sweet, dense, soft & velvety, just perfect.  These disappeared FAST – a definite winner!

Cinnamon Freud Banana Bread

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3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 cups mix-ins (nuts, chocolate chips, etc)
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and any mix-ins you want to add. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until blended, then add the remaining ingredients, beating until combined. Add approximately 1/4 cup dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until just combined. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.

Spread into prepared loaf pans & bake for 55-70 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe source: Cinnamon Freud

***

I usually keep my recipe posts and baby posts totally separate, but since I haven’t been posting very much period, I just can’t resist including some baby love. :)  Here he is being a cloth diaper and baby leg warmers model. :D

Be sure to check out the other Group C Secret Recipe Club contributions this month by clicking the linky frog below!

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Key Lime Pie


So happy to return today for the Secret Recipe Club‘s Group C reveal day!  Life has been keeping me pretty busy, but I’ll talk about life another day.

Today I need to tell you about this Key Lime Pie.  This amazing key Lime Pie.  I was assigned to Mother Thyme‘s blog this month, which is a new-to-me blog, and I was really excited to peruse it.  Jennifer’s blog is attractive, organized (yay for a recipe index!), and her photos are beautiful, so it was a real treat!  Not to mention that most of the recipes are her own creations!  I truly admire bloggers like Jennifer who mostly post their original creations, since I find that difficult, personally.  My creations are very rarely blog-worthy. LOL!

So when I ran across this key lime pie recipe, I was excited because Dennis loves Key Lime Pie and I’ve been wanting to make him one for a long time, but I was also very skeptical.  The main ingredients are sweetened condensed milk and lime juice.  And it only calls for for 9 minutes of baking.  I thought it was mis-typed, and eggs and extra baking time were missing.  I mean, how can two very liquid hardly-baked ingredients make a thick, creamy filling?

So I searched online recipes and found some similar ones that didn’t even require any baking.  What?  Really?  Wouldn’t this make soup pie?

I decided to give it a go, and I’m so glad I had faith in Mother Thyme!  This is kitchen science, folks, and utterly fascinating.  Apparently when the acidic lime juice is combined with the condensed milk, it thickens it, because as soon as I whisked it in, the two liquids turned into a thick, pudding-like filling.  Amazing!  After just two hours, it was ready to slice, and I didn’t even bake it at all!

The taste?  Just as amazing as the magical thickness.  Perfect balance of sweet and tart!  I’m just so excited by this pie, you guys, you don’t even know.  It’s so easy to make, so magical, and so delicious.  You could even say…it’s magically delicious.  :)

I made it a little festive by adding some food coloring to intensify the green (it’s really more ivory without the food coloring), and added shamrock sprinkles for a St. Patrick’s Day look.  This would make a nice change for a St. Patty’s day dessert since most of them feature booze and/or mint.  But even if you don’t try it for a holiday (would also be cool for Christmas with red sprinkes!), it’s great any time of year–especially spring and summer.  Dig in!

Key Lime Pie

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Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
5 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons granulated sugar

Filling
3 (14.5 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
2 drops green food coloring + 1 drop yellow (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup key lime juice (or regular lime juice)
2 tablespoons freshly grated lime zest (from about 2 large limes)

Garnish
Whipped cream or Cool Whip
Extra lime zest or sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crumbled graham crackers, butter and sugar in a 9” spring form pan or a deep dish pie plate and firmly press evenly over bottom and sides of pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool before adding filling.

Meanwhile, combine sweetened condensed milk and food coloring if desired, mixing until totally blended. Add the sour cream, lime juice and lime zest and whisk until thickened and completely incorporated. Pour mixture in to cooled crust and refrigerate 2 hours or until ready to serve.

If desired, just before serving, pipe whipped cream around the edge of the pie (I used Wilton tip 1M) and garnish with some extra lime zest or festive sprinkles of your choice.  Or you can just serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Veronica’s note: never mind my shallow pie dish, do not use a regular pie dish or you will have too much crust and filling, as I did (I made a second small dish of pie with my leftovers). Do as I say, not as I do. ;)

Recipe source: Mother Thyme

You can see all the other Group C SRC recipes by clicking the linky man below:



Lemon-Basil Peach Dumplings

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So this recipe is totally crazy.  Just wanted to warn you before you got too involved and the list of ingredients sent you reeling.  I’m just going to put it out there.  Right here and now.

This recipe has two whole sticks of butter in it.  And 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  Both are poured/sprinkled over only sixteen itty bitty peach “dumplings” which are really only slices of peach wrapped in crescent roll dough.  And you know what else I  poured over the top along with the butter and sugar?  Sprite.  Yup.

But here’s the deal.  These dumplings are so good and totally worth the butt dimples you will get after the little artery-cloggers work their way through your system and your body decides to skip the digesting part and just add them straight to your butt.

I made this for a cooking challenge on Facebook to make a recipe using fresh peaches, Sprite or 7-Up, and fresh basil.  So this is what I came up with, based on a cooky Midwestern recipe for apple dumplings (see it on PW’s blog here).

I still have yet to make the original version, but now I know I have to come fall because you would not believe how good this summery version is.  Sweet, yes, but not too sweet, incredibly.  And the juicy peach is the star, somehow not overpowered by the lemon & basil*, or all that sugar and butter. When I took them out of the oven, the liquid was pretty sloshy but thickened up and seemed to absorb a little more after 10-15 minutes, making the dumplings crispy with sugar on top and gooey on the bottom, but definitely not soggy, which is what I had feared.

They are best warm, but I served the leftovers (after Dennis and I had our way with a few) at room temperature to my family after a barbecue and they went crazy for them.  Even my sister, Danielle, who refuses to eat my (beloved) pumpkin gooey butter cake because it has two sticks of butter in it (light weight!), and generally only takes a few bites of my desserts, not only ate one ( a whole one!) but also took one home with her for later. Miracle!

*The fried basil does add a nice color and the mildest of flavor, which I thought was perfect, but if you’re really hoping for a huge pop of basil, I’d double (or more) what the recipe calls for.  Or just make extra to munch on–they are even crispier than potato chips!

Fried basil is so cool-it gets transparent and shatteringly crisp. Would also make a great garnish on soup!

While making these, I admit I cringed the whole time I was pouring and sprinkling sugar over the top.  I tried to stop myself several times.  How could sixteen little bitty teeny weeny dumplings need that much butter and sugar?!  But I had to go with the original measurements in the end, and I’m glad I did.  Because they are perfect.  Besides, divided between 16 servings, it’s really not too bad and actually lower in fat/sugar than most of the cakes I make.  Or at least, that’s what I was telling myself when I helped myself to seconds. >:)

Lemon-Basil Peach Dumplings

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3 medium fresh peaches
2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 lemon
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup Sprite
½ cup fresh basil leaves (not packed)
Coconut or vegetable oil for frying

Fill a pot that is big enough to fit three peaches with water high enough to cover them. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and water to have ready to cool the peaches. When the water is boiling, add the peaches and boil for 1-2 minutes, until the skin is easy to remove. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to ice water. Once they are cool to the touch, take them out to peel off the skins. If the skins don’t peel easily, boil again for a minute.

Preheat oven to 350F. Slice the peeled peaches in half around the pit, separate the halves and remove the pit. Slice each half into thirds. You will only need 16 of the slices so feel free to nibble on two of them as you continue with the recipe.

Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Wrap each peach slice in a crescent roll and place in prepared dish. Grate the zest from the lemon and sprinkle over the dumplings (reserve the lemon), then sprinkle 1 cup of the sugar over the top. Melt the butter and pour over the top, then sprinkle the remaining sugar over. Juice the reserved lemon, then add the juice into the Sprite.  Pour over everything, then bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ½ inch of coconut or vegetable oil in a small skillet or saucepan to 360F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test it by throwing a basil leaf in.  If it is ready it will pop and spatter big time so be ready to cover it with a splatter screen or jump away. When the oil is ready, throw the basil in the hot oil, then IMMEDIATELY cover with the splatter screen. Fry until crisp, then remove to a thick layer of paper towels to drain. Once cool to the touch, about a minute or two, crumble up with your fingers and set aside. The oil makes the basil stick to your fingers so just get as much off as you can.

Remove the dumplings from oven and sprinkle the fried, crushed basil over the top. Serve the dumplings warm with ice cream, spooning the sweet sauce from the pan over the top.

Lemon Blossoms

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I made these for Mother’s Day, intending to give pretty little baggies of them as gifts to all the mothers at the annual Mother’s Day picnic on Dennis’ side of the family.  It didn’t quite work out that way.  The first pan, which was half the batch, I didn’t grease well enough and they all stuck horribly so guess where those ended up?  Yup, in our bellies.  Can’t say we were too sad that only half the batch was pretty enough to share.  But then we couldn’t keep our hands off those either, and in the end, there were only enough to give to two mothers: his and mine.

Our mothers loved these little beauties, and we loved them.  Way too much.  They are really delicious, but most of the lemon flavor comes from the glaze, and I would suggest trying this with a lemon cake mix instead of a yellow if you can find one.  That would really intensify the lemon flavor.  They are wonderful as is, but can you get enough lemon flavor in the summer?  I think not.

Lemon Blossoms

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1 (18.5 oz) box yellow or lemon cake mix
1 (3.5 oz) box instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Glaze:
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray miniature muffin tins thoroughly with cooking spray.

Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Batter will be quite thick. Using a cookie scoop, divide the batter between the muffin wells, filling each halfway. Bake for 12 minutes.

While the blossoms are baking, make the glaze. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Whisk until smooth.

Remove the blossoms from the oven when they are done and turn out onto a tea towel. You might have to run a butter knife around the edges of the cupcake wells to loosen them before turning out. While they are still warm, dip the blossoms into the glaze, covering as much of the cake as possible, or spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. (I did this over the sink.) Let the glaze set, about 1 hour, before storing in airtight containers or covering with plastic wrap on a platter.

Makes 48 mini-cakes

Recipe source: Paula Deen, as seen on Minda’s Cooking

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

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You may have noticed I’m no longer posting regularly.  I have a feeling that’s how VC will be from now on, with periodic posts when I have the time.  While I hope my sporadic posting doesn’t bother any of my readers, I likely wouldn’t begin to post regularly for your sake at the expense of my own, so it would help my conscience out a lot if you would just be OK with it.  Thanks. :)

Onto the pudding.  I know it sounds weird, but you just have to try this to believe it how good it is.  Even my avocado-hating husband loves this pudding!  Basically it’s just avocado blended up with cocoa powder and agave nectar to create a sweet, silky, perfectly chocolate-y pudding.  No dairy, no refined sugar, no gluten, no cooking, just blending and eating of the most delicious & wholesome dessert ever…refrigeration totally optional.  We couldn’t wait and ate ours as soon as it was blended and it was fabulous.  But I bet it would be even better cold.

Chovocado Pudding

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1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel and quarter the avocado. Put all the ingredients in a Magic Bullet or food processor and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe source: Forgiving Martha

Andes Mint Cupcakes

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Guess what???  It’s Monday and I have the day off with my husband.  I’m SO excited!  Before I became permanent and my schedule changed, we had the weekends off together, but now we only get one day off together once every five weeks so it’s cause for celebration.  I’m going to relish it.

Speaking of my husband and celebrations, I made these cupcakes for his birthday in December, and everyone at the party fell in loveMel calls these “over-the-top” and I’d have to agree.  It starts with a moist, deep chocolate cupcake.  Then there’s the cool & creamy mint frosting.  Garnished with peppermint ganache and an Andes mint.  But there’s more to these cupcakes than what meets the eye, and my only regret is that I did not have the chance to snap a photo of the inside to show you they are also filled with the same peppermint ganache that is drizzled over the top.  Making them, you might say, over the top. :)

These would be great for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities!

Andes Mint Cupcakes

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1 recipe of your favorite chocolate cake*, baked into 24 cupcakes and cooled completely

Chocolate Mint Filling:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
2/3 cup powdered sugar

Mint Buttercream:
1 cup (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
Green food coloring

24 Andes mints for garnish

For the mint filling, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute at 50% power. Stir. Repeat the process until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract and powdered sugar, whisking until smooth. Let the mixture cool to room temperature (but don’t let it get too stiff) and pour it into a disposable pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, or a squeeze bottle with a tip.

Insert the decorating tip or tip of the squeeze bottle into the center of the cupcake and press gently to fill the middle of the cupcake with the mint ganache.  You can be pretty generous, squeezing until you see the top of the cupcake start to rise a little. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.

For the frosting, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the heavy cream and peppermint and vanilla extracts. Beat until light and fluffy. Add green food coloring until the color you like is achieved.

Frost the cooled, filled cupcakes with frosting (using a large star tip, I used Wilton # 1M) or simply spread the frosting in a large dollop (again, you can be generous-there is plenty) with a butter knife or flat spatula. Garnish with a drizzle of leftover ganache (make sure the ganache is completely cool or it will melt the frosting when you drizzle it on top of the cupcake), and an unwrapped Andes mint.  Serve at room temperature.

*I used a devil’s food cake mix, but this is my favorite from-scratch chocolate cake recipe.

Recipe source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

***

I had to share a few more photos from his party, which was actually only half for his birthday (our preacher and his wife had a holiday dinner/birthday party combo).  One of the games we played was holding paper plates on top of our heads and trying to draw a picture of Dennis playing his guitar without looking.  You have no idea how difficult this is until you try to do it!  This is what I ended up with:

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/s720x720/375983_10150501251206480_541706479_10934912_410175853_n.jpg

However, this is what his best friend, Jack, came up with:

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/s720x720/386399_10150501252261480_541706479_10934919_836445075_n.jpg

Highly suspicious.

Here’s Dennis and Jack trying to look natural after I urged them to try embracing each other for a photo.  I don’t think this is natural for most men, but they pulled it off better than I expected. :)

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/s720x720/384593_10150501252876480_541706479_10934928_1748743330_n.jpg

And here’s Dennis practicing his Kung Fu moves with our preacher’s bat’leth (a Klingon weapon…as in something a Trekkie would totally recognize but me, not so much) shortly before we left (and yes, this thing is super sharp and dangerous! Yet he was swinging it like the pro he is.):

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/s720x720/382966_10150501256611480_541706479_10934943_332731381_n.jpg

Your Klingon Kung Fu is strong, honey.

***

Reminder: this is the last week to get your postcards out to Beverly! You can get the deets here if you missed the announcement: Operation Postcard for Beverly.

Dixie Pie


This is one of the pies my friend, Teri, and I made during our pie-palooza, which is why the pie pictured is so small.  We made each recipe into two small pies so each of us could have one to keep.

This pie was the most popular of the four we served before a Bible study at her house that night.  It was gone in a flash!  It’s similar to a pecan pie, but it has chocolate chips (or raisins, if you prefer) and coconut in it too, so it’s even richer.

Which brings me to the reason I’m sharing it with you now instead of back in July, when we made it.  Something this rich is what I deem a winter holiday dessert, and it certainly fits the bill!  It would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving and Christmas spreads.

*Note:  I cut this pie when it was still warm, hence the gooey runniness.  It will set up nicely if you give it time!

Dixie Pie

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1 9-inch pie crust
3/4 cup chocolate chips or raisins
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup flaked coconut
Whipped cream, for serving

Bake pie crust at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes; remove to cool on a wire rack and reduce oven temperature to 350.

If using raisins, place in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth. Drain raisins. Stir Raisins, coconut, and nuts into creamed mixture ( mixture will appear curdled). Pour mixture into crust, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until set. Cool completely, ideally 6-8 hours to allow it to completely set up, before serving. Serve with whipped cream.

Recipe Source: adapted from Desserts In My Kitchen

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