Bob and I have been going bananas lately ... literally. We're trying to eat more fruits and veggies so we bought a bunch of bananas. They're high in fiber, low in calories and contain lots of nutrients. What's more, they make a portable breakfast, an easy snack or a quick dessert.
The only problem is we somehow bought more than the two of us could possibly eat. Not wanting them to go to waste, I decided to bake. I came up with this banana cake because I didn't have all the ingredients for any of my usual ones. And improvising seemed more sensible than going to Super Target and getting sidetracked in the shoe aisle.
Mashed bananas, buttermilk, eggs and shortening make it super moist. Cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg enhance the flavor and bring a wonderful, I've-been-baking aroma to the kitchen. Pecans in the batter and sprinkled on top of the heavenly, homemade cream cheese icing give it an addictive crunch.
Yummy served warm or room temperature, this easy cake is a new favorite around our house. It tastes so delicious we'll be buying extra bananas on purpose next time.
Bob's been battling bruises. He mashed his hand really good while moving our dryer (ouch!). So like a good little wife, I googled natural ways to help heal his hurts.
Some people adore chocolate. In our house, that would be Bob! But I am all about fruit: strawberries, blueberries and, most especially, cherries.
Many--myself included--view dessert as the jewel in Thanksgiving's crown, and I believe that any serious holiday buffet requires several. If you feel overwhelmed, it's easy to purchase desserts or delegate them to others. If, however, you plan to prepare only one sweet treat yourself, make sure it's the Candied Pecan Tart. The recipe is adapted from a drop-dead delicious walnut tart I used to adore at March, Wayne Nish's now closed restaurant on Manhattan's Sutton Place. Unlike traditional pecan pies, it is almost pure nuts and contains no starchy filler.
With summer in full swing, Bob and I have been scoring plenty of fresh peaches at our local Farmer's Market. They're great on their own and even better in this to-die-for cobbler. Adapted from recipe guru Southern Living, our favorite fresh peach medley is packed with fruit, juice and two layers of crust.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Sounds yummy but peeling peaches can be a lot of work." But I've got a wonderful trick for you. After rinsing your peaches, dunk them in a pot of boiling water for 30 or 40 seconds. Afterwards, move them to a plate to cool for a few minutes and the skin will slide right off with a little help from a paring knife. Peeling peaches just got a whole lot easier and, even better, you won't waste any of that precious fruit.
Combine peaches, sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large pot. Let mixture sit five minutes then bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer about 15 minutes until peaches are tender. Turn off heat, add vanilla and margarine, and stir until margarine melts.
Our family insists on traditional favorites during the holidays. So Bob and I always serve Texas Turkey, Cornbread Dressing and homemade Cranberry Relish for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Besides feasting on them during our holiday meal, we layer that terrific threesome on hot rolls for killer sandwiches that keep us happy for days.
Although I've made my delish Cranberry Relish countless times over the years, I can never remember how much fruit to buy. I invariably pick up two bags of fresh cranberries only to realize (Duh!) that I only needed one.
When that happened this year, I immediately turned to Pinterest to find ways to use those extra bits of fresh cranberry goodness. That's how I discovered this easy, family-pleasing pie. It's based on an idea from Allrecipes.com.
Most everyone in my family enjoys cooking. My mom Patsy, my sister Pam, sometimes even my brother David and I get a kick out of trading recipes.
So you can thank my baby sis Pam, a talented Texan who followed her true love to Tampa, for this sure-to-please Sweet Potato Cheesecake. Topped with a luscious praline paste and oodles of toasted pecans, this creamy, almost pumpkin-tasting concoction spells Y-U-M. I made it and Bob's all-time favorite Chocolate Cream Pie for Thanksgiving, and he actually had a hard time deciding which he liked best. Trust me, that's high praise from a man who always chooses chocolate.
Even better, this irresistible cheesecake doesn't require a lot of work. You start with a large ready-made graham cracker pie crust like Keebler's 10-incher that says "2 extra servings" on the package.
The filling calls for Neufchatel cheese, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, eggs, mashed sweet potatoes and lemon juice. I like using Neufchatel rather than standard cream cheese here because you get the same taste with about one-third less fat. For the sweet potatoes, Pam buys fresh ones and microwaves them. But I'm all about shortcuts so I microwave frozen sweet potatoes instead. Then you have no messy potato skins to worry about.
Bob and I always look forward to my Florida sister Pam's annual visit. Besides giving me precious time with my baby sis, it means we'll be having one of my hubby's favorite desserts: Chocolate Delight. So everybody wins!
When I pulled out the recipe recently, I was surprised to see I've been making this classic since 1986 (I actually wrote down the date!). Since then, I've fixed it so many times you can practically smell the chocolate on the recipe card. My version layers a crunchy, pecan shortbread crust with a creamy, cheesecake-like base, luscious chocolate pudding center and simple Cool Whip-and-roasted pecan topping.
A lady's maid to do your hair, fancy dresses for dinner and footmen who serve the most lavish meals, I'm fascinated by everything about PBS' Downton Abbey. What a life!
Since fall has finally arrived in Texas, Bob and I have been in the mood for apples. He picked up some wonderful fresh ones great for munching. I wanted to make an apple dessert but peeling those little darlings can be a chore.
My mom Patsy often snacked on fresh lemons as a girl. Although we've never tried that, Bob and I share her love of their tangy citrus taste.
With berries in season, Bob and I keep our fridge filled with fresh blueberries. Besides tasting great, they're loaded with antioxidants and fiber, are belly friendly (1 cup has only about 85 calories) and can even help keep your memory sharp. Bonus!
Bob mixes them with Greek yogurt for breakfast. I munch on 'em at lunch. And we both enjoy blueberry sweets like this prize-winning pie after dinner.
Want to bake like a champ? It's simple with this berry-licious recipe from America's Best Harvest Pies (Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., Oct. 1, 2013, $11.95). This two-crust treat puts a tart-but-sweet blueberry-raspberry filling with eight cups fruit in a made-from-scratch crust that cries "HOMEMADE" with every bite.
Our nephew Zach has a thing for blueberries. So a fruity dessert was a must when he and my younger sister Pam (she may be 50+ but she's still the baby of our family!) visited recently.
Bob and my mom have one big thing in common (besides loving me!): they're both crazy about chocolate. And this Classic Chocolate Cream Pie is among their favorite desserts.
Want a sweet way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Try these Mexican Wedding Cakes from Esther Brody's The 250 Best Cookie Recipes (Robert Rose Inc, September 2013, $19.95).
Key Lime Pie is a spring, summer ... make that every season staple around our house. But some versions pack a meal's worth of calories in one little slice.
A few weeks ago, I whipped up some delightful Red Velvet Mug Cakes. Talk about speedy! Those perfect-for-two morsels were ready in less than 6 minutes because you cook them in the microwave.
I couldn't wait to try another quick mug recipe. So I was thrilled to find this single-serving, spring sensation in Camilla V. Saulsbury's 250 Best Meals in a Mug (Robert Rose Inc., Jan. 16, 2014, $24.95). Superfast and easy, this tart lemon treat packs a zing sure to please any citrus fan.
Its scarlet color and irresistible chocolate flavor make red velvet cake a Valentine's Day natural. But, when there's only 2 of you, baking a big cake seems silly. It's a lot of trouble and means you'll have to toss or giveaway most of your effort or face temptation for days!
That's why Bob and I adore these red velvet morsels from Mug Cakes: 100 Speedy Microwave Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth (St. Martin's Griffin Paperback Original, Aug. 6, 2013, $22.99). Besides being perfect for 2, these delightful Southern tidbits are amazingly fast and easy to prepare.
The hardest part is measuring the ingredients. You'll need an egg, cocoa powder, red food coloring plus the 7 other ingredients listed below. Per the recipe, cheap liquid food coloring works much better here than fancy food coloring pastes or gels. But, take it from me and handle with care, especially if it's in a glass bottle.
When making our mug cakes, I accidentally sat the food coloring too close to the edge of the pantry shelf. Seconds later, the FULL bottle dropped about 4 feet, broke into a zillion pieces after hitting the tile floor and splattered everything in sight (the floor, the walls, even serving dishes on the lower shelves!). It was a disaster so bad Bob said we should just draw a chalk outline around it and leave it be!
No time to bake? You can still treat yourself and your guests to homemade cookies thanks to one of our favorite recipes from Food.com. My friend Bev, one of the best cooks I know besides my Mom, turned me on to these speedy delights!
With Christmas around the corner, I've been looking for special dessert ideas.
Thinking about the holidays makes me crave cranberries. This time of year especially, I love keeping dried ones on hand. Tart and sweet, they make nice nibbles and wake up everything from salads to side dishes.
Entertaining a crowd? My rule of thumb is "Keep it simple."
So, when my sister Pam visited recently, I immediately thought of these yummy peanut butter cookies with chocolate kiss centers. She and her family stayed with Bob and I while in town to celebrate my mom's birthday, filling our typically empty nest and making it eight for dinner instead of the usual two.
Given half a chance, Bob would eat chocolate at every meal. Start the day with a chocolate-coated breakfast bar then move on to Chocolate Chip Cookies at lunch and his favorite Chocolate Cream Pie for dinner? He'd call that heaven!
If you can relate, you're gonna LOVE this cocoa-licious choice from The Old Farmer's Everyday Baking Almanac (Sherin Press, 2012, $9.95). Moister than a brownie; more substantial than a pudding, these Chocolate Mud Bars have a chewy, gooey texture that practically melts in your mouth. We're wild about their thick, milk chocolate filling (or mud as it's called), especially since it is packed with nuts (another of Bob's favorites!) and sits atop a homemade graham cracker crust.
If you're anything like me, you love baking homemade treats for your family but don't want to spend all your time in the kitchen ... especially if LOFT, Lucky, let's make that anyone is having a sale. So why not take a few shortcuts?
Hello fall! We're looking forward to changing colors, cooler temperatures and pumpkin-inspired desserts like these heavenly, cream-cheese-frosted bars.
Offer fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, and Bob will agree to just about anything. Pick up groceries? Move furniture? Spend hours shopping at the outlet mall (IF we are in Alabama)? No problem!