Friday, May 31, 2013

Banana Bread Snack Cake with Frosting

If you're like me, you can never seem to finish a bunch of bananas off before some of them get a little over ripe. Well, that's why recipes like this one were invented - to take advantage of those few remaining bananas that no one wants to eat!

This cake tastes exactly like banana bread without the long baking time. And with frosting! Yummy!

Here's what you need:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed (should equal about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teas vanilla
2 cups flour (I used half unbleached all-purpose and half white-wheat)
1 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts will do)

For the frosting
1/2 cup butter, melted
3-4 cups powdered sugar, depending on how thick you want it
2 teas vanilla
3 TBSP milk

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy (I do this in a stand mixer). Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the mashed bananas and vanilla. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until well blended. Stir in the nuts.

Spread the batter in a greased and floured 10x15 jelly roll pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Mix the frosting ingredients together until you reach your desired consistency. I like mine a little thicker, not like a glaze, so I add one cup of powdered sugar at a time until it's just like I want it.

While the cake is still slightly warm, spread the frosting over the top. It will be much easier to spread if the cake is warm.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Menu Plan Monday May 27-June 2

I'm a little late posting this week's menu. I've been busy this weekend, so it's the first time I've had to sit and post. I didn't get to some things last week, so they've shown up again on this week's plan.

Here's what I've got:

Grilled steak, twice baked potatoes

Calico beans, carrots

Chicken patty sandwiches, fries

Balsamic shredded beef (slow cooker), mashed potatoes

Quinoa burrito bowl

Stuffed shells, green beans

Oven baked tacos for our church's youth group

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cucumber Avocado Dip

For years I didn't like avocados. I had eaten guacamole in a restaurant and it wasn't a very good batch - very bitter and bland. I swore off avocados then and there. But everywhere on food blogs and recipe sites, I found tons of people who loved them. I just didn't get it.

Then I tasted some wonderful guacamole made by a friend and decided to give avocados another try. I'm so glad I did! I love them now and find ways to include them in salads and sandwiches. And dips.

This dip isn't like guacamole. It's cheesy and tangy. And the cucumbers add a taste of freshness that's fantastic! My friend Kris sent me the recipe, but I've tweaked it until she may not recognize it now!

Here's what you need:

2 avocados, pitted and diced
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2  TBSP finely diced onion (this helps keep the avocado from quickly turning brown)
1 teas garlic powder
1/2 teas ground mustard
 salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely diced cucumber (this was about 1/2 a large cuke for me)

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients but the cucumber. Process until creamy. Stir in the cucumber. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.
 This is the dip before I added the cucumbers. Don't know why I forgot to do this!
A close up of the dip WITH the cucumbers. Very tasty!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Menu Plan May 20-26

I've got two extra teenage boys to feed this week. My nephews are here for a few days so I can administer some achievement tests to gauge their academic progress. They're homeschoolers like we are. Hopefully my grocery budget can survive their presence! Ha ha!

Here's what I've got planned:

Taco salad, corn

Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread

Chicken bacon subs, roasted potatoes

Deep dish skillet pizza

Grilled steak, twice baked potatoes

Lentil rice burritos

Chicken and tater tot casserole (crockpot)
For more meal planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Cooking Inspiration

 This is my grandma. My dad's mom. Growing up, she and my Papaw lived next door to us. I spent much of my childhood at her house, taking advantage of her phenomenal cooking. And her hugs. She could give the best hugs!

Today would have been my grandmother's 96th birthday. She passed away during the summer after I graduated from high school. Twenty-five years since I felt her hug? It's unbelievable that so much time has passed and that life has gone on without her presence.

My parents tell me I cook like she did. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Tweaking recipes to my liking. I wish I had paid closer attention back then. I wasn't all that interested in cooking as a teenager. I thought I had all the time in the world to find out her cooking secrets.

Now the thought of cooking like her, at least in their esteemed opinion, makes me happy. I love her and miss her every day. I wouldn't be who I am without her influence on my life.  I'm glad that in addition to her legacy of love and laughter, I might be able to carry on a little of her cooking legacy, too.

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Little Caesar's Crazy Bread at Home

Not long back I had a craving for Little Caesar's Crazy Bread. I wasn't willing to drive across town to buy any though, so I scoured the internet until I found a recipe I thought would suffice. Most of the recipes I found used refrigerated, canned pizza dough as the base, and I'll be honest, I don't care for that stuff at all! Then I found this recipe at Life at the Holman's that made the dough from scratch and gave it a try.

It was exactly like Little Caesar's, only fresher! I make this at least once a week, usually at the kids' request. Sometimes we eat it as an accompaniment to a meal, sometimes as a snack. It's quick and easy, too!

Here's what you need:

1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teas yeast
2 teas sugar
2 1/2 cup flour
1 teas salt
2 TBSP butter, melted and combined with 1 teas garlic powder
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or so, until the mixture is foamy.

Add the flour and salt. Using a dough hook, knead the dough for 5 minutes or until it's smooth and not sticky. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Brush a pizza pan with a little olive oil. I like to sprinkle a little cornmeal over the pan to make it more like Little Caesar's but you don't have to. Roll out the dough to cover the pan. Using a pizza cutter, slice down the middle then across to form sticks. Let rest for 10 more minutes.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately brush with butter mixture, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve warm with pizza sauce.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Menu Plan May 13-19

I hope all of you moms had a fantastic Mother's Day. Our tradition has been to place a takeout order at the restaurant of my choosing and pick it up on the way home from church. No lines, no waiting! Today we had Outback. I had a wonderful steak and coconut shrimp. And no kitchen to clean up! Yay!

This week we'll be finishing up our homeschool year. I'm so proud of the kids and how hard they've worked throughout the year. I'll be glad for a little break, then we're going to give year-round schooling a try. Instead of taking 12 weeks off like most school programs do, we're going to try six weeks on, then one week off. Hopefully we won't have the typical retention programs that come after an extended period of no school.

Now on to this week's menu:

Pizza pasta, garlic bread

Loaded baked potato soup, pretzel bread

Meatball sliders, fries

Jambalaya, green beans

Homemade pizza

Chicken cordon bleu casserole

Calico beans (crockpot)

For more meal planning inspiration or to share your own menu plan for the week, visit Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chicken Chili

Chicken, potatoes, beans and corn blend together in this simple soup to create a tasty, warming meal. Salsa verde adds a fantastic burst of flavor. It's a great alternative to traditional chili that will be sure to please your entire family.

Here's what you need:

1 small onion, diced
5 medium potatoes, cubed (I used Yukon Gold, but any kind will do)
1 carton (32 oz) chicken broth
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 teas cumin
1 teas garlic powder
1/2 teas chili powder
1/2 teas sea salt
pepper to taste
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can creamed corn

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in a little olive oil. Add the potatoes, broth, salsa verde and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the chicken, beans and corn and heat through.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Low Country Crawfish Boil

When my husband lived in south Georgia, he attended many a Low Country boil. Potatoes, corn, sausage, and shrimp are all cooked together in one pot, then drained and dumped out onto a table where you basically help yourself to what you want.

But here in the Gulf Coast states, crawfish are added to the pot. When I was a kid, I used to catch little crawdads in our creek, but never tried to eat one. The crawfish we used were fresh from Louisiana, shipped via FedEx to our door.
Now, I've never done a Low Country boil before, but we have some good friends who volunteered to show us how. They set up on our carport and got down to business.
One pot held the spicy version, the other a more mild version for the kids. Potatoes and corn went in first, then sausage and shrimp, and finally the crawfish.
Then all of it got dumped out and we filled our plates.

I can't tell you how much fun this was, especially since I didn't do the cooking! As big as the crawfish were, you don't get much meat out of them - only from the tails. It was still interesting, learning how to do it. And I'd happily do it again!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Menu Plan May 6-12

It's been another weekend of wacky weather here in the Deep South. I think we set a record for low temps in May. Just when I'm about to put away the cold weather clothes, another cold front comes through and I have to pull out the long sleeves! It's crazy!

In spite of the cool weather, we hosted a Low Country Boil on Saturday with some friends. I had my first taste of crawfish ever. We used to catch crawdads in the creek when I was a kids, but these things were huge! I'll post more about this experience later during the week.

Now on to this week's menu:

Ladies Night Out at church, hubby and kids fend for themselves

Slow cooked cheeseburger casserole

Herb-crusted tilapia, Parmesan couscous

Baked potato bar

Skillet lasagna, garlic bread

Pulled pork sandwiches

Mother's Day - take out

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.