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Banana Cake with Coconut Streusel

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Oh. Em. Gee! Guys, I totally baked the best thing ever today. Really, I did. It’s been a while since I’ve been this in love with something I’ve made.

I bought a crapton of bananas last week for snacks for Girls on the Run practice, but I had quite a few leftover. I figured I could always bake something with them, so I just left them alone until they were nearly black. Oh, by the way, anyone else think super ripe bananas smell like alcohol? I’m sure there’s a chemical reaction reason for that, but I don’t know why. Anyway, ripe bananas obviously lead to banana bread, which is delicious, but kind of played out if you know what I mean. So I made cake instead. I kind of consider this a coffee cake, but probably only because it has streusel. I guess I just equate streusel with the Entenmann’s coffee cakes of my youth.

The cake recipe is not super sweet, and would actually make a super awesome banana bread if you just want to use a loaf pan and skip the streusel. Ohhh, or banana coconut steusel muffins! Yeah. Make this baby portable. That would be pretty baller too.

Sour-Cream Banana Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 overripe bananas, roughly mashed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (light works just fine)
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add extract, eggs, sour cream and bananas and beat until well-mixed. Some chunks of bananas are fine.
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix gently until just combined.
  6. Pour in 9″ cake pan (or loaf pan).
  7. Cover with streusel topping (below) or continue onto step 8 and skip topping.
  8. Bake cake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until done. Begin check after 35 minutes.

Coconut Streusel Topping

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup sugar in the raw (or regular sugar)
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  1. Using pastry cutter or a mixer on low setting, mix ingredients together until butter is pea sized and mixture resembles coarse sand.
  2. Cover cake completely.
  3. Enjoy tropical deliciousness.

This was so crazy good. I enjoyed it as an afternoon snack, but I could totally see myself eating a small slice for breakfast and not feeling the slightest bit guilty about it. I love that the coconut streusel gives it an unexpected injection of tropical flava.

And now I’m off to couch it up. I did not sleep well last night and spending the afternoon with 12 3rd graders is exhausting! I don’t know how teachers do it everyday. 🙂

 

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Cherry Streusel Cake

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I had a very successful baking project this afternoon. I was thinking of something to make last night, and I thought of my babysitter when I was younger — Sandy. She had a big plum tree in her front yard and all of us kids would pick up all the plums when they fell off the tree. There were always so many! And when we brought them in to Sandy she would make pan after pan of this sugary, delicious plum streusel cake. I lived for that cake during the summer months.

So back to today. During my reminiscing I looked up some recipes for plum streusel cakes similar to the one I remembered. I found quite a few and I decided to adapt one of them to use with my cherries.

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This was pretty simple to make, although my batter was nearly unspreadable so I added a few tablespoons of milk. After layering the quartered cherries over the batter, I added the best part – the streusel!

HPIM3811The cake was not a typically “spongy” cake. It’s more like a cross between and shortbread and a cake, very dense and buttery.

HPIM3812I had a bite… before dinner. I’m such a rebel. I really like it, and it’s not overly sweet which is nice. I should make more fresh fruit desserts. Brent and I split a piece, and I’m planning on taking the rest of it to work. The universal thing I’ve noticed about every office I’ve worked is that they all love free food. 🙂

HPIM3814Tonight’s dinner, after a truly arduous and very HOT run, had to be cold and refreshing. We also had to use up an ever-growing amount of leftovers in the fridge. I made a salad of arugula, lettuce, basil, and pea shoots and then added chopped up pieces from yesterday’s casserole, a bit more feta and some homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

HPIM3820Brent actually really liked the salad. It made an excellent use for the leftovers. But we still have some casserole left, chickpea curry, and white chili in the fridge! Looks like it’ll be a leftover-heavy weekend.

Happy Mother’s Day

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day. I wasn’t able to see my mom today, but she is a pretty awesome mother. I can definitely say I appreciate her way more now that I’m an adult myself. My family was having a pretty big get together today so I’m sure Mom got showered with enough attention (I did remind my other absent sibling to call her! ;))

However, we did have Brent’s family over for dinner to celebrate with his mom today. Whenever I’m entertaining people, I like to look to the Barefoot Contessa for inspiration. She thinks like I do, and she likes to serve things that can be prepared ahead of time so she’s not spending the whole time in the kitchen instead of with her guests. Today’s meal was pretty much entirely prepped ahead of time.

Our main course was roast chicken. It’s super simple to prepare and I knew Brent’s family would like it. I don’t try to force “adventurous” food on people, especially family. Both Brent’s and my family are fairly simple when it comes to what they like, so this was perfect. I forgot to grab a picture of it before Brent carved it.

HPIM3329It came out very well, and I made gravy for it (Brent loves gravy) from the pan juices. On the side I made French Potato Salad, which is absolutely one of my all-time favorite potato recipes. It’s definitely my favorite potato salad — and it tastes delicious at any temperature. Perfect picnic food.

HPIM3311I also made roasted green beans, which I popped in the oven for fifteen minutes while the chicken was resting and I was making the gravy. All together:

HPIM3330Finally, for dessert, I made Deb’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Hers looks much better, but mine was equally delicious. My “concentric circles” didn’t work out so well.

HPIM3318Brent was especially fond of the crispy caramelized edges of the cake. I’ve never eaten pineapple upside-down cake that I can remember, but I think this version is pretty fantastic and I enjoy it’s summery-ness.

I leave you with an entertaining photo of Brent’s brother Jonathan chasing Larry around the backyard. Larry is much faster than Jon. Jon’s moving to Colorado next month, and I definitely think Larry’s going to miss him.

HPIM3332I hope you had a wonderful day and were able to spend time with your family this weekend!

I Love My Freezer

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This morning, I’m feeling a little groggy. I may have had 1 or more adult beverages after we got home last night, and obviously I have a bit of a food coma as well. I did not want oatmeal, mostly because the pot I use to cook it was dirty and cleaning it seems like a monumental hassle. Yes, I can really be that lazy. So I thawed out part of the Banana Date Coffee Cake, which I made last month and then froze half of. It was delicious with coffee.

hpim2980This coffee cake was my first time cooking with, or even eating dates. Obviously I did not realize how much I would love dates. Next time I make this coffee cake, I would double the amount of dates. They’re delicious.

Our fridge is completely void of food. Right now, all we have are condiments, 2 carrots, and a bunch of parsley. It’s a sad state of affairs, so a grocery trip is definitely in order. I have to plan some menu ideas. Anyone have any amazing meal ideas I should try immediately?

Banana Date Coffee Cake

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I finally made something for the Blogger Secret Ingredient contest. Here’s my entry Sarah!

I don’t think I’ve ever had dates before. Turns out, I like them. Sweet and chewy, like molasses sort of. Well, since I had no experience with them, I didn’t have any specific plans of what to make, other than to definitely bake something. I also had on hand an over ripe banana, and I bought some walnuts yesterday, thinking I could make some sort of quick bread with them. I woke up Sunday morning thinking “Coffee cake sounds good.” We used to have Entemann’s coffee cake all the time on the weekends when I was younger, so it seemed like a perfect Sunday morning breakfast.

hpim2733I also still have a lot of shredded coconut leftover from Christmas cookie baking, so I sprinkled that on too, because in my opinion, most things are improved with coconut. I love it. Because I intended to eat it for breakfast, this coffee cake does not have a lot of added sugar, instead I relied on the banana and dates to give it natural sweetness. I really enjoyed a piece of it with coffee this morning.

hpim2737BANANA DATE COFFEE CAKE

  • 1/3 cup butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped dates, divided
  • ~1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • ~2 tablespoons shredded coconut
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add in banana and mix until smooth.
  3. Add in eggs, beating after each one.
  4. Add in milk and extract and mix until smooth.
  5. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and add to wet ingredients, mixing lightly until everything comes together.
  6. Fold in ~2/3 cup chopped dates (more would be fine too).
  7. Spread in a greased 9×9″ pan.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining dates, walnuts and coconut.
  9. Bake for ~25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  10. Let cool slightly.
  11. Enjoy!

“Christmas” Dinner 2008, Part 2: Dinner, Dessert and Games

Preparing a huge amount of food isn’t really difficult, and it is certainly made easier when you plan ahead, but everytime I feel completely calm, it seems like the last half hour before the food is to be served is when the shit really starts to hit the fan. I was flying around the kitchen pot-holders in hand and 4 pots on the stove and another 3 in the oven, while my mom started drinking some wine and remarked, “I’m surprised she doesn’t injure herself more.” My sister Sarah took most of the photographs, since I was otherwise occupied.

Up first, we have the turkey, made using Alton Brown’s Roast Turkey recipe and method. We did this same thing last Thanksgiving, and it received generally good reviews, so we thought it was worth repeating. The turkey was probably far larger than we actually needed, but there was a sale and coupon deal combined, so it cost us less than $9 and Brent can enjoy leftovers all week. Brent would like me to acknowledge his superior turkey carving skills that he has honed over the past few holidays, Even my mother, who loves to critique, praised his slicing skills. Sarah seems to really enjoy the slanted camera angle.

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Along with dinner, we had a TON of side dishes: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto, Creamed Spinach, Noodles, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans, and French Bread, made using the Artisan Bread recipe. There was also a little bit of gravy made from the pan juices for Brent. The creamed spinach was the only new recipe I tried out for the side dishes, but I think it’s something I’ll make again. I always struggle with cooked greens, but I know they provide such a boost to my iron levels. I tried to get my mom to eat more of them, and she just said “Vic, I know you’re trying to get me to eat this spinach, but I’m just not into it.” Can’t win ’em all I guess. The green beans are a favorite for Brent and I. I just drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and minced garlic and roast in the oven at 400 for about 18 minutes. So easy and delicious. I think everyone knows how to make mashed potatoes. I just make sure to add a lot of sauteed garlic to mine for Sarah and I. Here is everything all lined up and ready to be devoured, and that is me in the background, covered in something I spilled.

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And a shot of the bread before slicing. I am loving this recipe. I really need to go buy myself the book.

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Too bad I didn’t get a photo of my whole plate. It was a pretty colorful meal. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, but once again I over-prepared and we have so many leftovers! It doesn’t look like we’ll even need a grocery trip this week.

Once everyone had slightly digested, I made some coffee and took out a bunch of desserts. First up I made some Oatmeal and Apple Butter Bars, which were so easy and delicious, as well as a wonderful way to use up some of my apple butter. This recipe was recommended to me by my friend Tessa, and I would like to recommend it to all of you as well.

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In addition to the bars, I used some leftover coconut and took inspiration from the Macaroons that I made in order to make Coconut Almond Pound Cake. I used to love pound cake, but I only ever remember eating the Sarah Lee frozen kind. I thought it might be even better home-made and I was right. It is extremely butter-packed and definitely belongs in the “Very Rare Super-Indulgent Splurge” category, which is unfortunate since it is very addicting and leftovers are sitting in my fridge as I type.

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COCONUT ALMOND POUND CAKE

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
  3. Add in sour cream and extracts, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Add in flour and baking soda and mix until incorporated.
  5. Fold in flaked coconut.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  7. Bake for approximately 75 minutes.
  8. Cool completely and serve.

My mom and I were completely in love with this cake. I cannot say enough good things about it. It’s really easy and a definite crowd-pleaser, assuming your crowd likes coconut. To round out the dessert table (we didn’t need any more, but oh well), my mother in law brought a pumpkin cream cheese roll/loaf thing that was a big hit at Thanksgiving last year, and I put out a plate of leftover Christmas cookies that I had frozen and thawed.

After dessert and some further digestion, and at the insistence of my brother Zack, we played a round of Cranium, which is hilarious. Some captions: the board, my parents scrutinizing a word problem, Brent’s brother Jonathan pretending to “bloom” and Brent’s dad sculpting a giraffe.

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After cranium, Brent’s family had to get going, and the rest of us played a round of Trivial Pursuit: Pop Culture Edition, which disgusted my father. He wanted the “real” version. He was unable to answer any questions correctly, save for one question about the soundtrack of Flashdance, which I found so funny. My mother, however, knew that Mickey Rouke is a former boxer and Paul Newman loved race-car driving. She’s always full of surprises. We finally made it to bed late Saturday night, so that my parents could be on the road as soon as possible this morning in order to get home in time to see Da Bears!

I’m not sure what we’re doing for New Year’s, so it looks like the holiday season is pretty much wound-down here at the Monroe household, which is probably good for our sanity and wallet, but I always get a little sad because I really love all the traditions and family-time this time of year. Luckily Brent still has all of this coming week off work, so we’re just bumming around watching a ton of “watch instantly” movies on Netflix.

Dinner and a Cake

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Edamame Lo Mein

This is a recipe I found doing a random search on the internet, and I’ve eaten it once a week for the past 2 or 3 months. I love it. I just wanted to recommend that everyone I know try it. It’s easy and totally delicious. So check out this recipe immediately.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Buttercream Frosting

Well, the recipe needs a shorter, catchier name, but it’s still a work in progress. I’ve been craving something lemony for the past week or so and I wanted to make a cake, so this is the result.

The cake itself is based on the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I just doubled the recipe, added 2 tablespoons of lemon zest to it and baked it in a 9 inch cake pan instead of cupcakes.

I would say the highlight (and what I am most proud of) is the vegan “lemon curd” filling. I found a few recipes for lemon curd, and I then attempted to make a vegan version of it. I thought it turned out great, although I can’t remember ever having actual lemon curd, so I could be way off base here. I sliced the cake into 2 halves and spread the lemon curd over the bottom half.

The frosting is a combination of Earth Balance Shortening, Earth Balance Margarine, powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. I added a lemon slice and some more zest as garnishes, and then dug in.

VEGAN LEMON CURD

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1/2 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons vegan margarine, diced

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

PREPARATION:

  • Whisk 1/4 cup lemon juice with the cornstarch and set aside.
  • in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine 1/2 cup lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar. Whisk until sugar is dissolved.
  • Whisk is margarine, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
  • Add cornstarch mixtures and whisk until the mixture come to a bubble, about 3-4 minutes. Mixture should appear thick.
  • As soon as bubbles star to appear, whisk in powdered sugar and remove from heat.
  • Let cool at room temperature slightly, about 10 minutes.
  • Place into refrigerator for at least 1 hour prior to using.