5 Minute Prep: Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Bread

Banana Bread is such a wonderful thing. Is it dessert? Is it breakfast? Who knows! And thus, you can eat it allllll day. ;)

In one of my many hours spent scouring Pinterest, I happened along a photo not unlike this (PS – my bananas were thawing from the freezer, that’s why they look kinda wet and gross. haaa):

My interest was piqued. And on a click it said something along the lines of: The closest thing to my Grandmother’s Banana Bread in Two easy steps. Um…Wha?

And so I went on to get the recipe.

Mash 3-4 Over-Ripe Bananas in a mixer… Blend in the Yellow Cake Mix and the Two eggs. Add 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips or nuts, or whatever you like, and bake for 50 minutes.

WHAT?!

No. Way.

I decided to give it a shot.

You guys, this turned out SO well! I made a few alterations (I always do), and added a streusel type topping for a little more pizzazz. Even after that – it took me five minutes TOPS to prepare… And I had emails and texts flying in from all over about how good it was. Here is my VERY slightly modified, full recipe:

Ingredients
1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix
3-4 Over-Ripe Bananas
2 Large Cage-Free Eggs (Initiative.)
1/4 Cup of Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup of Chopped Hazelnuts
1/4 Cup of Cinnamon Chips (So totally optional, but they made a big difference to me. If you don’t have these, just add a tbsp of cinnamon to your batter)

Preheat Oven to 350.
1. Mash the Bananas in your Mixer.

2. Blend in the Cake Mix, Eggs (one at a time), and all other dry ingredients into the Mashed Bananas.

3. Bake for 30-40 minutes. (I did longer, for the Bundt Pan).

Yum!

It smelled so good, I had to take a peak. :)

It didn’t last long.

Cranberry – Apple Coffee Cake

One of my favorite things in the world is coffee cake. I love it in the mornings with my coffee (um, duh), in the afternoon as a snack, as a dessert… Whenever. The combination of sweet and spice and the crumbly moist cake gets me every time.

So it’s probably no surprise that I’ve always been terrified of making a coffee cake. WHAT IF I MESS IT UP? Such fear has kept me awake many nights.

Not really, but you get what I mean.

Anyway! So I’ve seen lots of recipes for coffee cakes out there with mixed reviews, so I decided to take the most basic of recipes and make it my own. This was my first venture into complete recipe creation and I have to say it was a SMASHING (!) success.

I am so proud of this cake. It was so good and it was gone in minutes at work. I got emails and IMs from everyone, raving about how perfect it was. I can’t wait to make it again. MMMmmm.

The repeat offender to all of the coffee cake recipes I found was that the reviewers found them all dry. So I decided to mix in a common ingredient: chopped apples. I was worried it would be a little bland, though… so I threw in some candied cranberries. It really worked well and the combination of flavors was perfect.

Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum! Want some yet? Well, here is how I made it. :)

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Just over 1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp of Milk
1 cup chopped, peeled tart apples
3/4 cup chopped, lightly candied cranberries

TOPPING:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1/2 teaspoon of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cold butter or margarine
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

TO CANDY CRANBERRIES:
Soak overnight in maple syrup (just enough to coat), sugar, and cinnamon.
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.
  4. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream and milk.
  5. Stir in apples and cranberries.
  6. Transfer to a greased spring-form pan.
  7. For topping, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts; sprinkle over batter.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. There will be a bit of moisture on the knife due to the fruit in the cake. Don’t overcook, or you will dry it out!

 Bon appetit!

Baked Spinach Dip in Mini Bread Bowls!

I discovered this delightful little snack a few weeks ago and they were an instant hit. It’s hard for me to come up with good, warm snacks for my vegetarian husband that aren’t chips and queso or something along that line… So I’m always looking for something creative and new. :)

Enter the Baked Spinach Dip in Mini Bread Bowls! Tadaaaaaaaa.

These things were super easy to make and so yummy. They also came out WAY cuter than I expected them to! Win!

These guys are gooey and creamy and cheesy, but the bread doesn’t get soggy at all. It stays warm and light. I want to make them again and again.

I made them for a small get-to-gether a few weeks ago and they were gone in minutes. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 can/roll of refrigerated french bread loaf, I used Simply Pillsbury
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
3 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup light sour cream
2 tbsp fresh shredded parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp Ancho Chile Pepper
1/8 tsp Garlic Salt
1/8 tsp Sicilian Sea Salt (I actually just used regular salt bc I didn’t have sea salt at the time)
1/8 tsp Ground black pepper
1/3 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 10 muffin cups with non stick cooking spray.

2. Unroll package of french bread loaf and slice into 10 equal size slices, about 1 inch thick. 

3. Press each slice into about a
3 inch round, and press into pan. I used a mini tart shaper, but the dough was still a little difficult to shape. Press up the sides of the tin as well, creating the mini-bowl. It is okay if your bowls aren’t perfect. (See: mine)

4. Cook the spinach by heating oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Cook and stir spinach until wilted, about 3 minutes.

5. Add garlic. Cook and stir for another minute. Remove from heat.

3.  In a medium mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, sour cream, cooked spinach and garlic, Parmesan Cheese, Ancho Chili Powder, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Mix well.

4. Scoop the dip into the centers of the bread bowls, re-shaping when necessary.

5. Top evenly with shredded cheese and bake for 15-17 minutes until just turning brown on edges.  Remove and let cool for 3-5 minutes before removing from oven.

Y.U.M.

Many thanks to Picky Palate for the nommy recipe! :D

NY Style Cheesecake with Cherries and a Gingersnap Crust

Remember the time I hosted two Thanksgivings?? Yeah… It was a busy week! Anyway, for one of them I decided to take another crack at a cheesecake, since my first one was a little less than satisfactory.

I AM SO GLAD I DID!!

This cheesecake just sounded so good and like a great combination of flavors. The recipe differs quite a bit from the first one I tried, so it was nice to learn what a few differences can do to drastically change a cake. I was a little skeptical about the last step during baking, but it all worked out so perfectly. This cheesecake was light and delicious and literally melted in your mouth. MMMMmmmm. Success!

 

NY Style Cheesecake with Cherries and a Gingersnap Crust

 Ingredients
4 cups ground gingersnap cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 can cherry pie filling

Directions

Heat oven to 350° F.

1.) In a medium bowl, combine the ground gingersnaps and butter. I actually prefer to grind the cookies and the butter together in my food processor. It really helps and eliminates the work of grinding the cookies.

2. ) Press the mixture into the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.

3.) Beat  the cream cheese and 1 cup of the sugar until smooth.

4.)  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

5.) Beat in ½ a cup of the sour cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla.

6.) Pour the mixture into the crust and bake until set, about 40 to 45 minutes.

7.) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 ½ cups of sour cream, ¼ cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

8.) Spread over the hot cheesecake and bake until set, about 5 minutes more.

9.) Let cool in the pan, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

10.) Spread the cherries over the cheesecake just before serving.

Voila! This recipe really created the cheesecake I’d been wanting. I plan on coming back to it again and again. And the Gingersnap crust was divine and added a really nice flavor to the cake. YUM.

Just for fun, here is my friend Stephanie excitedly waiting for her slice!

And this is me and my husband after dinner.

I found this recipe on RealSimple.com.

5-Minute Prep: STICKY BUNS.

So I’ve decided to start this new series of occasional blog posts called 5-Minute Prep. I am sure I am not the only one who occasionally wants or NEEDS to make something and you really just don’t have the time or the stuff to make it, right? Right. Sooooo here is my first one for you! And it is PERFECT for this time of year and the type of cold, drizzly weather that we are experiencing right now. Even better? You probably already have all of the ingredients for them in your cupboard right now.

And even better? ZOMG THEY ARE AMAZING. Seriously. This is the first thing I’ve ever baked that my husband simply refused to share with anyone. We may have both eaten two the night I made them. Annnnd two the next night. THEY ARE GOOD. :-$

Meanwhile, I’ll be joining a gym in January… ;-)

Sticky Buns


Seriously I want on right now.

Ingredients
1 Tube Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits
8 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
2 Tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tsp Allspice
1/4 Cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Melt the butter and mix it well with the syrup. Set aside.
2. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a sugar mixture.
3. Pour half of the butter mixture into the bottom of a fluted / bundt pan.

4. Pour half of the sugar mixture on top of the butter mixture (do not stir).
5. Layer the biscuits in a circle, so they overlap eachother and each biscuit is touching the sugar/syrup.
6. Top with the remaining butter mixture.
7. Top with the remaining sugar mixture.8. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through.
9. Let cool in pan for a minute or two before flipping it. They will come right out.

ENJOY!!

I made these on the night that we put up our Christmas tree and decorations. It went quite well with our wine and Holiday music. Have you heard the DFW Actors Give Back Holidazzle CD? I HIGHLY recommend it! So many of my dear friends are featured on it and it’s a really great album for a REALLY great cause. You can check it out here.

And, just for fun, here is a pic of our Christmas Tree. :) Happy Holidays! The Season has officially begun. :D

Many thanks to All Things Delicious! I adapted this from their recipe, that you can find here.

Three Simple and Amazing Anytime Appetizers :)

So I had my first of four Thanksgivings yesterday. It was SUCH an amazing day! All of the food was so delicious and the company was even better. I was in charge of Appetizers, Potatoes, and Dessert. ;)

Have I mentioned how addicted to Pinterest I am? YOU GUISE I AM SO ADDICTED TO PINTEREST.

Anyway… I found all of my appetizer ideas through Pinterest and I was so excited to make them. So, without further adieu:

Three Super Simple Snacks that Will Make You Seem Like a Cooking Rockstar

They are: Pecan & Caramel Candies, Sparkling Cranberry Bites, and Drunken Grapes with Goat Cheese. And they are all GOOD. Not only are they all good, but they are all different and light enough to go with eachother. We had 8 people over and there was not a clear winner or favorite. I think that’s a sign of all good things, yes?

Look how pretty!

I’ll start from the bottom and work my way up. :)

Pecan Caramel Candies

Ingredients (You ready for this?)
Pretzels
Rolos
Pecans

These were probably the easiest thing to make ever and they are SO good. The perfect combination of salty and sweet.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay pretzels out onto a cookie sheet. Place one rolo on the center of each pretzel. Put in oven for 2-3 minutes, only long enough to get the Rolo super soft, but not melted. Remove from oven. Move pretels to cooling rack and then gently push down on rolo with Pecan. DONE. Let them cool completely and you have the perfect little salty and sweet snack.

I took these to rehearsal on Saturday (like 60 of them for about 20 ppl) and they were GONE. They were popular at Thanksgiving as well. I want one right now. :-$

Sparkling Cranberry Bites

Not only were these super yummy, but they were so pretty, too! I can’t wait to make them for a Christmas party.

Ingredients
2 cups Fresh Cranberries
1 cup of real Maple Syrup
2 cups of White Sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
Brie Cheese
Ritz Style Crackers

This one takes a *little* preparation in that you have to soak the cranberries overnight, but oh is it worth it.

Directions
Heat up the maple syrup until warm, but not too hot (don’t want to pop the cranberries). Pour over cranberries in a glass bowl and let cool. Let sit in refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, drain the cranberries of the syrup and then cover them in the sugar and cinnamon, to give them the sparkle and sweeten the bitter cranberriness.

Spread a generous amount of brie on each cracker and then top with 3-4 of the candied cranberries. DONE. And these guys go down easy. ;)

Annnnd last, but not least:

Drunken Grapes with Goat Cheese

Oh Em Gee. I think these were my favorite. One of my friends at Thanksgiving said ‘I could make a meal off of these grape things!’

Ingredients
Grapes (any color)
Bourbon
Goat Cheese
1-2 cups Finely Chopped Pecans
~1 tbsp Nutmeg

Directions
Soak the grapes in the bourbon overnight. Drink some bourbon. ;)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll the goat cheese into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Mix the chopped pecans and nutmeg in a small bowl. Roll the goat cheese in the pecans until fully coated. Pop into the oven for about 2 minutes – just until warmed through.

Put a grape on a party toothpick and then push it down on top of a goat cheese ball.

Voila! Yummy and pretty and easy!

Enjoy!

Many props to So Wonderful So Marvelous for the Candy Recipe, Yummy Mummy Kitchen for the Sparkling Cranberry Bites, and Showfood Chef for the Drunken Grapes!

Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Bread!

So – I’ve been sick. Like really really sick. LIKE TOO SICK TO BAKE DELICIOUS THINGS AND THEN BLOG ABOUT THEM SICK! D-:

I’m starting to feel better, but I’m still all sorts of snotty and exHAUSTED.

Anyway – on Saturday I had the CRAZIEST need to bake SOMETHING. I couldn’t bake anything that would make a large batch because I couldn’t share it. I was super contagious. (Anyone want a plague-infected brownie??? *cough cough* No?? Why ever not??)

So I scoured my TBC (to-be cooked) list, and found a recipe for Cheesy Beer Bread that I’d been wanting to try. A quick scan of the ingredients and I knew I had everything. We didn’t have any regular beer left in the fridge, but we did have some pumpkin beer left from a party, because we did NOT enjoy the taste of pumpkin beer. (Finally something pumpkin related that I’m NOT obsessed with.)

So I figured I’d try it out.

And I’m pretty positive that pumpkin beer was MADE for pumpkin beer bread!! It added the slightest hint of pumpkin and tang of beer to the flavor of the bread – but it was so not too much.

This was a great recipe and I will definitely be making it again. It was light and flavorful with an awesome, lumpy, buttery crust. Ohhh I want some now.

I had mine with a fresh batch of my Instant Shepherd’s Pie – hey, I said it was a staple, didn’t I? :)

Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Bread (say whaaa?) – Makes one loaf

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
1 bottle (12 ounces) pumpkin (or any kind of) beer
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan. (I used my new PC Loaf pan and LOVED it! Did not stick at all. :))

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed. If you microwave the honey for about 10 seconds, it’ll be much easier to mix in. ;) Stir in cheese.

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.  At this point I was a liiiiittle freaked out. This stuff looks deadly and FATTY when it’s first poured in. But considering it’s a loaf of bread, it’s not really THAT much butter, right? It’s just the way it’s poured over the dough, right?? :D

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Mine was steaming and perfect after cooling for about 10 minutes. I also wrapped it and munched on it for the next two days.

I really really enjoyed this bread and will be coming back to this recipe again and again! I think I’ll expirement with a cherry wheat beer and another type of cheese next time. It’s a fun recipe to play around with.

I started with this recipe from Gimme Some Oven and will be bookmarking their blog! Good stuff!

The Perfect Snickerdoodle.

You guys! I got my first baking request! And then another! And another! I GOT THREE BAKING REQUESTS IN ONE DAY!

I think that means I might be okay at this baking thing! :D

So what was it for? Well, the first one was by a gentleman that my husband works with for Snickerdoodles! And so I set out to find a delicious snickerdoodle recipe.

I found this one on Allrecipes. With 3000 positive reviews – I knew it was the one for me.

I’ve always heard that it’s kind of easy to mess up Snickerdoodles – so I followed the recipe exactly.

I knew after about two minutes in the oven that these cookies were going to be fantastic. My house smelled AMAZING as they baked.

And fantastic, they WERE. I’m not sure I’ll ever try another Snickerdoodle recipe. These have always been one of my favorite types of cookies and everyone that tried them thought they were really good. I wrapped them up in a pretty plate and sent them off to work with my husband to give to his coworker – who was very touched and excited that I actually made them for him.

Now – two more to go! :o)

Mrs. Sigg’s Snickerdoodles (Makes about 48 cookies)

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
  3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.
Enjoy!!

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake with Raspberry Drizzle

First, a story.

Smash spends a good chunk of time surfing the interwebz and Pinterest for some nommy things to bake on Thursday night. Smash comes up with three delicious-sounding items and decides to call her husband to see which he wants most before she goes to the grocery store. The following conversation occurred:

Smash: “Hi Honey, I was going to go the the store and wanted to ask you which of the-”

Husband: “Cheesecake!”

Smash: “-se things you’d like me to ba… Cheesecake? Really? Don’t you want to hear what I cho-?”

Husband: “Cheesecake! With Chocolate Swirls!!”

Smash: “Cheesecake with-”

Husband: “AND RASPBERRIES!”

Smash (folding and setting the other delicious recipes aside for another day): “You got it, babe.”
~fin~

So you’ll have to wait on those other three items, because rarely does my husband make requests and they are never that specific. So I sat in my car in the parking lot of Kroger and looked up Chocolate Swirl Raspberry Cheesecakes. Ha.

I found this recipe with really positive reviews on Epicurious. So I set out to get the ingredients for it and made my way home.

Crust

  • 7 ounces chocolate cookie wafers (about 27 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup husked toasted hazelnuts (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
The recipe also has a topping that is optional. I chose to skip it.
This was my very first experience EVAR making a cheesecake from scratch. It was definitely a learning experience and I loved getting to break in my new Pampered
Chef Springform Pan (Which I ADORE).
Overall I was super excited about making my first CHEESECAKE and a MARBLE one at that! It was really fun to do the swirly designs and not as difficult as I thought it would be when I started.
For the Raspberry Drizzle I simply combined three tablespoons of Raspberry Pie Filling, 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar, and a couple tablespoons of water until it was runny enough but not too runny. It turned out really well!
But how did it taste? I was a little disappointed. If I do this recipe again I will cut the amount of chocolate chips used in half. The chocolate overwhelmed the delicious creamy flavor that cheesecakes are known for. It was still there, you just had to get past the super chocolatey-ness first.
Now the Chocolate Cookie/Hazelnut Crust? That was AWESOME. We didn’t have chocolate wafers at kroger, so I got Chocolate Animal Crackers. I could just eat the crust all day – no lies.
This cheesecake was also a little more heavy than I like. I like a very light, fluffy cheesecake that is rich in flavor. This one was very rich and tasty, but not very fluffy. I didn’t do it in a water bath because the recipe didn’t call for it, so there were cracks. I wonder if that also kept it from being fluffy enough? Or maybe the eggs? I’m definitely going to try this one again with these minor alterations. It was good – just not great. :)
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