Banana Cake with French Vanilla Frosting

Morning all! It’s been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks. Jamberry has been consuming my life here recently, what with trying to get things ready for home parties AND we’re coming down on the wire with our school year. G–Man has a 9 weeks test tomorrow in Science and then it’s on to Health studies until the year runs out. At this point it’s looking like summer school is gonna be another iron in the ever blazing fire that I keep stoking. The song “Under Pressure” keeps playing through my head!

Easter is upon us and I know most of you wonderful good doobies have already planned out your menus! I love y’all! But I’m thinking there might be few out there who are still wondering what to make for a dessert. That’s ok punkin’, I’ve got a delicious cake recipe here that I’m sure will please everyone! You can certainly dress it up however you wish, add some fun Easter frosting decor or maybe a few peeps on the top…just let those creative juices flow 🙂 Alrighty, the recipe I have based my cake off of comes from Cooking Classy who in turn based theirs off of the one from Butter Yum. I can certainly see a slight difference in both recipes, it’s not a major deal though. I won’t repost the ingredients and directions seeing how you can click on either link and see them for yourself. However, I will share my personal results and images 🙂

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Let me start off with a mmm yummy and a have mercy this cake is delicious! And I’m not a huge banana fan either! I normally have an issue with bananas(ok I burp them). But the banana isn’t overwhelming in this. When I was following the Cooking Classy’s ingredients list I noticed that I didn’t have as much banana as they used. To make up the difference I added in some homemade apple sauce to make up the difference and wowza! This is just my humble opinion, but that third banana wasn’t missed 😀

Since I always use salted butter, because it’s the only kind of butter we keep in the house, when I bake I left out the salt. It was half a teaspoon but you can’t even tell! Now Butter Yum uses one quarter teaspoon of salt, I probably could have gone with that but my family DID NOT complain at all. So, if you’re gonna use salted butter with the recipe you could leave the extra salt out or at the very least at one quarter teaspoon for kicks. I leave that up to you.

The baking temp and time varies between both sites. I followed the one from Cooking Classy, unaware of the baking temp and time over at Butter Yum. So I baked the cake at 350 for 25 minutes and it wasn’t even set up. Back in it went for another 15 minutes and came out perfect! I used a glass 9×13 baking dish lined with release foil, I know the rule of thumb is to reduce the heat by 25 degrees when using glass or dark baking pans but I think next time I’ll just bake it longer from the get go. Please be mindful of your ovens, not all ovens will bake the same way at the same temp or time. The end results should be lightly browned, the edges pulling away from the pan, and when you test the center with a knife it should come out clean.

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Oh, pay no attention to the missing corner…the uh kitchen fairy had to do a taste test. And she approves!

This is one of those cakes that can honestly stand alone, kind of like banana bread, pound cake, or devils food cake. You don’t HAVE to add a frosting or glaze. The kitchen fairy enjoyed her sample piece without the frosting and found it to be quite scrumptious!

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For the frosting, I don’t have vanilla bean paste. Instead I went with my old standby…used French Vanilla Coffee Creamer. I’m not too sure what y’all think about me doing that. No one has ever said ew, gross, why on earth does she use that, is she that lazy…lol in my mind it’s an easy short cut and if I had access to it I would use the vanilla bean paste. Sounds uber delicious and the little specks would add lovely look to the frosting.
Now, why does my frosting look more like a glaze? Well, it all started with the cake coming out of the oven after 6pmCST, then an hour later I had certain family members clamoring for dessert. Warm cake + Frosting, divide by four = frosting acting more like glaze and running everywhere! But hey, it’s eats the same and as I mentioned before my family DID NOT complain! My Dad consumed two pieces, that right there tells ya this cake is a keeper!

All in all I am very pleased with this cake, it’s been a couple of hours since I had my piece and no ill effects from it. So whether you eat it plain, dust it with powdered sugar, or add a vanilla frosting to it you’re going to have a happy crowd and many requests for this cake for years to come! Homemade don’t get better than this!

Happy Eating!

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Easter is on it’s way and Pound Cake…

Afternoon everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I hope you haven’t forgotten who I am 😉 Things have been a tad busy around here, well at least in my own little world. My Jamberry business is starting to pick up! I’m so excited about that!! I have two home parties that I’m gearing up for and that’s what’s been consuming my downtime. When I’m not teaching G and cooking/baking I’m usually making slide shows, pulling graphics together to use on my business page and currently have an online party going to the end of the month. How many more irons can I put in the fire?! No, really don’t hand me anymore lol!! I’ve got plenty thanks 🙂 But I am super pumped about the Spring/Summer line that Jamberry has put out. Lots of new styles, new lacquers and they are doing this new thing where they are mixing up wraps on one sheet! Two or three designs put together to really customize your mani/pedi. It’s so much fun!! My Facebook party that I got going on(in case anyone in the US/CAN area wants to join) is called Easter Basket Jam. It will end March 31st, so if you want any fun wraps or lacquers to complete your Easter look now’s the time to get them.

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If you have a daughter, here is a Mommy and Me look that is sure to please!

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If you don’t wear things on your nails either by choice or because of your workplace regulations, BUT you like for them to look clean and well taken care of, Jamberry does offer high quality nail care supplies and above is some of their newer products! The cuticle oil pen makes it so much easier to apply the cuticle oil and there’s no worrying about a bottle spilling over or getting oil all over your fingers. Very nice to have!

I trust everyone had  wonderful St. Patrick’s Day 🙂 We certainly had a nice one. Didn’t go all out this time like we did last year. Kept it simple and had a fun dessert that everyone just loved! It was a cream cheese pound cake, which I’ve made before, but I did a little twist with it! Keeping it in line with the festivities I made it into a St. Patrick’s Day Pound Cake (see below).

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There are a couple of ways you can get a swirled effect with your cake batter. One is to use a knife(plastic or metal) and swirl the dough together. Another method I’ve seen is where you place your batter into bags and squeeze it out in a random fashion. I think I might try that method next time just for kicks!
The recipe I used is your standard cream cheese pound cake recipe that makes a 10–inch bundt cake. I divided the batter in half and colored the one with green food coloring (approx. 3/8 tsp). You can certainly use gel coloring, I think the suggested amount is about 1/4 tsp but definitely go by the suggested amounts on your box/bottle. All brands are different!

St. Patrick’s Day Pound Cake

(Recipe found at AllRecipes)

Yields 1 10–inch Pound Cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hr 10 minutes(+/-)

Ingredients:

1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs, room temp
2–3 tsp vanilla*
3 cups all purpose flour3/8 tsp green food coloring

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325*F (but I didn’t do this because I wanted the outside of my cake to be lighter in color since I was using a darker baking pan). Grease and flour your pan; set aside.

In large bowl cream together cream cheese and butter. Scrape down the sides if needed and add in the sugar. Now here’s where I deviated slightly. Add all eggs into the batter and continue mixing for 2–3 minutes. Since there is no leavening in this cake you must incorporate air into the batter. I’ve been making pound cakes for years and have never had a flat pound cake by adding in all the eggs at once. So save yourself the time and just add all the eggs at once. Just be sure to mix the batter longer to achieve the same results. While mixing the eggs in go ahead and add in the vanilla. You don’t have to use as much as I did, you can stick with the original recipe but I love the flavor the Madagascar vanilla imparts.
Remove the beaters and gently fold in the flour. This is crucial that you are careful with this process, don’t just stir the flour into the batter. Otherwise you’ll lose all that air you just whipped into it. Go slow, be gentle, and once the flour is incorporated completely put half the batter into a separate bowl.

Into one bowl add green food coloring or gel. Fold the coloring into the batter, again be gentle. The method I used for adding the batter into the pan was I started with the blonde or non–colored batter first and then added the colored batter on top. Then using a plastic knife I swirled the two colors together. I did this with each later. 

Bake for 1 hour, test the cake. If it’s still too gooey in the center continue to bake for another 5–10 minutes until the cake tester/knife/tooth pick comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto your cake plate. Let it cool completely before adding either powdered sugar or glaze over the top.

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My nephew, JJ, said it looked moldy. Kids. In a way I guess it does 😉 Throw in a darker shade of green and you’d have a camouflage pound cake hehe! I let this cool for an hour before I glazed it.

Green Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
2–4 Tblsp French Vanilla Coffee Creamer
1/4 tsp green food coloring(or more if you want a richer shade)

In a bowl stir together powdered sugar and coffee creamer until completely combined. Add in food coloring and drizzle over cooled cake.

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It turned out so pretty! I love green(which is my favorite color), it tastes so buttery and vanilla-ee…yeah that’s not a word! Basically, this recipe will work for any occasion. Use different colors all at once for a rainbow pound cake, stick with a theme color for other parties and festivities. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! It’s a lovely dense cake that holds up well to being colored. It’s imperative that you use all purpose flour for this recipe, do not use cake flour. Cake flour is too light and you won’t get that dense pound cake texture.     

I hope you enjoy this cake, let me know if you decide to make it. I love hearing from y’all!
Have a blessed day!!

Winter Apocalypse Breakfast

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It was a frigid morning, not a foot print to be seen. People held up in their homes, chimneys billowing smoke reminding everyone it was a blistering cold day. One woman who braved this wintery apocalypse set out on a journey to make her family a simple breakfast with eggs, bread, and milk. Unlike others before her, this woman was a visionary, she would transform those ingredients into a delicious meal with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon! Here, her tale begins…

Just a bit overly dramatic, but I caved today. That’s right, for the first time in about five years I made French toast. Since my Dad is home today with workplaces shut down due to this weather, he put in a request for breakfast and I had to indulged him!  I love French toast, it’s one of those things I give into maybe once a year. Though it has been several years since I’ve made it here at home! I think the last time I made it G–Man was about four or five years old. Yeah, it’s been a while. There are oodles of recipes out there for the perfect French toast…you can bake it, fry it, make it into a casserole, slow cook it in your crock pot(for real), and the possibilities are endless!
There’s quite a controversy about the type of bread to use, and hardcore French toast fans will hold the fort on day old, stale bread. Nothing wrong with that, but in a pinch before the wintery apocalypse hits most folks are going to grab loaves of sliced sandwich bread. Which is what I used today! I don’t have a special recipe for French toast, Alton Brown has a delicious recipe you can check out here. But to keep is simple here’s what I did…

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Winter Apocalypse Breakfast (aka French Toast)

14 slices of loaf bread

4 eggs, whisked

1 cup milk

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4–1/2 tsp cinnamon

Maple Syrup

Over a medium high heat, heat up your griddle.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, add in the milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
Once griddle is hot dip one slice of bread into the egg mixture and place it on the hot griddle. If it cooks up too quickly, reduce the temp to medium or low. You want golden brown results, not blackened. Serve with your favorite syrup, fruit or a light dusting of powdered sugar. 

These were simple, tasty and not overly heavy with cinnamon or vanilla. It wasn’t soggy either, it was cooked all the way through and nicely crisp on the outside. I didn’t use any butter on the griddle which I think helped. But you can use butter if you must.
G–Man could have easily eaten all of them but thankfully he didn’t and Dad enjoyed his with fried eggs. However you choose to eat these you are sure to enjoy the simple pleasure of this wintery storm delicacy! Any leftovers can be frozen for another quick breakfast. Just place a couple of slices in the toaster long enough to thaw and slightly crisp up and enjoyed with a drizzle of syrup or turn it into a French toast breakfast sandwich with a slice of ham and a cooked egg with cheese! 

Stay warm and have a blessed Thursday!!

~Eggplant Parmesan(the NOK way)~

I love learning the history behind recipes. How they came to be, when someone discovered it, and what made them want to try it. I can honestly say today’s recipe has a little bit of a story to it, perhaps not a vintage one but it exists none the less. I didn’t grow up eating eggplant, in fact it was one of those vegetables that my Mom did not like at all!

She grew up in IL and had some bad memories of eating it in soupy casseroles. Even her dad, my Papaw, didn’t like eggplant for similar reasons. He wasn’t a fan of the eggplant flavor.  The eggplant in and of itself is not a great tasting vegetable. As is, it can be bitter and once cooked it gets all mushy. It’s not a very promising vegetable unless you know how to wrangle it into deliciousness. The first time I tried eggplant we were living in Brazil. A common appetizer down there is to have a salad and a little dish of condiments is brought to the table. Black olives(the real deal, not the dyed stuff), olive oil, and some other goodies. And it just so happens that the restaurant we were at included roasted eggplant. I scooped up a little bit and added it to my salad willing to try something new. Have. Mercy. Flavor sensation! I was in love!!!

Needless to say after that experience I wanted more 😀 I went through my Mom’s cookbooks looking for eggplant recipes and most of them offered recipes for parmesan. I had never made one before and the cookbook I decided to go with was a Southern Living cookbook that my Mom had received from her sister. We still have it to this day! It’s such a handy book, on the side margins it gives little kitchen helps and suggestions and there happen to be a suggestion for eggplant. I remember telling my Mom I was going to attempt making an eggplant parmesan and she wasn’t too thrilled. All she could picture was a watery version from her childhood. I get it, that’s a rather scary image. But I told her that the recipe I was going to use sounded really good and to trust me!

With fingers crossed and a quick prayer I plowed on ahead and to this day(some 14 years later) this recipe is her favorite! And in her words, “it gets better every time you make it!” High praises indeed! I have kept this recipe rather guarded, thinking that since it’s such an involved recipe that no one will ever want to make it. True it does take me about 3–4 hours to make if I do not have the eggplant prepped ahead of time, but the end results are worth all the sweat and pain that goes into this dish! I believe someone who is reading this right now will try this recipe and fall in love with eggplant parmesan just like my Mom (and my Papaw) does now!

 

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 Eggplant Parmesan with Alfredo Sauce

2 medium eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4 –1/8 inch round slices

Kosher Salt

4 eggs, whisked thoroughly

3–4 sleeves Saltine crackers, processed in Food Processor or Blender

2 tsp dried sweet basil

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

oil for frying

Favorite Spaghetti Sauce(homemade or jar)

Parmesan cheese

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Favorite Pasta Noodles(I used Dreamfields Angel Hair Pasta)

Alfredo Sauce(homemade or jar)

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The very first step is to cut off the ends of the eggplant and peel the skin off. I used a potato peeler rather easily. With a serrated knife(bread knife, steak knife, etc) slice the eggplant into thin rounds. As thin as you can manage. Some of my slices look a tad thick there but the majority were about 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch thick. For this recipe the thinner the slice, the better! And you’re going to salt each slice. The salt will draw out the bitterness and excess liquid from the eggplant. You can’t see it from the images but I started out with a sprinkle of salt in the bottom of the bowl and laid three slices on top of it. Sprinkled a little more salt on those and keep going until both eggplants are in the bowl. You have to let each salted eggplant sit for 30 minutes, so since I did two I let them sit for an hour. You can see in the second image some liquid beginning to pool there at the bottom.

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An hour later the eggplant is ready to be rinsed thoroughly in lukewarm water. One secret trick I do to make sure all the liquid is rendered from each slice is I squeeze them gently before rinsing. Which will leave you with this…

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Gross I know and this is why it is so important to salt the eggplant. This rendered liquid is what makes most eggplant parms watery and bitter. After this process you are left with is a fresh tasting vegetable ready to be transformed into a delicious parmesan! Toss this liquid out since there is no need for it.

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Add about an inch of oil to a skillet and get it hot.
After you have rinsed the eggplant and layered them on paper towels on a baking sheet(as you see above in the picture), whisk together the eggs until they are foamy on top. Crush the crackers till it’s a fine dust and mix it with black pepper, dried sweet basil and parmesan cheese. Get everything lined up in a way that will make it efficient for you to dip in the egg wash and coat with the cracker mix for frying.

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Try to use whole slices and discard half slices or tiny bits. Those will just add to your cooking time and take longer. Which I should have done that but I was deluding myself that I could cook up every piece. Learn from me and skip the bits. Just wanted to show here what the eggplant slice looks after the egg wash and you want to cook them till their are golden brown. If your oil is at the right temp(about 350*F) then you won’t need any towels to drain the slices. There was barely any oil on the plate when I was done.

Now I was running behind on time and I did not get pictures of layering these slices in a baking dish. The next time I make this I will be sure to update this post with those pictures! But I promise it’s so easy and it goes by quickly! Spray one of those deep aluminum foil roasting pans with cooking spray and ladle some sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Begin layering the fried slices of eggplant over the sauce until you can no longer see the sauce layer. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and ladle more sauce over it. Repeat these layers until you reach the top layer. You should end with parmesan cheese and then you add the mozzarella cheese on top. Cover the pan with foil and bake in a 375*F oven for 35–40 minutes. Remove the foil and finish baking for 10 minutes or until it’s bubbly around the edges. Serve over favorite pasta with Alfredo sauce.

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    I will no lie to you, this is a labor intensive recipe. It takes me about 3–4 hours to make it from start to finish BUT it is so worth it and you will love it more than your favorite Italian restaurant’s version. Plus if you make the eggplant slices up ahead of time and freeze them(yes these freeze well) then you will shave those hours off of your meal prep and have dinner ready in 45-50 minutes. Serve this up with your favorite garlic bread and salad and enjoy Italian at home! My Papaw enjoyed this dish and we never told him he was eating eggplant. When slices are thin they become almost like meat. Sometimes I just like to eat the slices after they’ve been fried, so crisp and hardly a hint that I’m even eating eggplant!

If you are brave enough to try this recipe, please let me know below! I would love to hear from you and your experience with this recipe! 🙂

Have a blessed day!!