Banana Walnut Crumb Cake

The recipe for this delicious cake is brought to you by Pizzazzerie, a beautiful blog I follow.  This recipe arrived in my inbox one day and I pinned it to my cake board on Pinterest knowing it would be something I would want to try.  We had a bunch of ripe bananas left over at work, and I had a ladies event at church coming up — the perfect combination to set this cake into motion!

If you are looking for a Mother’s Day gift for someone who loves to entertain, Courtney Whimore’s book Pizzazzerie Entertain in Style is the perfect coffee table book.

The Banana Walnut Crumb cake has all the right elements going for it — it’s easy to make, it bakes beautifully, it slices perfectly and it’s a great way to use up ripe bananas.  I am not a walnut fan, but I did make sure to include them just in a smaller amount and I substituted buttermilk for the milk.

You can either access the recipe here or below.

Ingredients For the Crumble:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used 1/2 cup)

For the Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk (I used buttermilk)

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick spray.
To make the crumble topping, melt butter and set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add flour, salt, and cinnamon and stir to combine. Mix in chopped walnuts, use a rubber
spatula or back of fork to crumble the topping together. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until blended. Add mashed bananas and beat until just combined. Add
eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Stir in the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the milk.  Pour half of the batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle half of crumb topping. Then pour the
remaining batter on top. Finish with the remaining crumble topping. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (my cake was done at about 45 minutes so be sure to check it)

TIP: Cover cake with aluminum if top begins browning too much. Allow to cool before glazing.

To make glaze, whisk together powdered sugar with vanilla extract and milk. Add more powdered sugar if you want a thicker glaze or more milk for a runnier glaze. Drizzle on top of cake.

It’s perfect for dessert, a snack or morning brunch.  It’s a keeper and I hope you will buzz over to Pizzazzerie for more ideas.

Super Easy Sweet — Grown Up S’Mores

Miss Bee and I made these at Sister’s house a few summers ago and we still enjoy making them.  So easy and is reminiscent of the traditional s’more, but with a twist — of course!

All you need is a fresh baguette loaf, soft butter, a family size package of chocolate bars, your choice, course vanilla sea salt and fresh raspberries.

Slice the bread into 2 inch slices and slather on soft butter on both sides.  Place slices on a parchment lined baking pan.  Turn up oven to 450 degrees or light your gas grilled if you want grill marks.  Place bread in the oven for about 3-5 minutes until lightly brown and crispy.  Watch carefully, because the bread can burn quickly.

Remove from the oven and place a slice of chocolate on top of the slice of bread.  Sprinkle with a pinch Jacobsen vanilla sea salt and return to oven to help warm the chocolate — maybe 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the oven, place on serving platter and press a raspberry into the warm, melty chocolate.

Have fun trying different chocolate varieties — dark, milk or bittersweet, caramel or raspberry, orange infused chocolate.  Really, any chocolate of your pleasure works.  It’s the perfect touch of sweet after dinner to enjoy with bubbly or a dessert wine.  Give it a try!

The Legend of Frieda’s Strawberry Cake

This week I had the chance to host my church lady friends for lunch.  I made a few favorites, in particular a recipe for strawberry cake that our whole family has enjoyed for generations.  There are five birthdays in the month of February and almost always this cake is requested.  My brother Jim and Mother loved it, too, when their April and August birthdays came ’round.  And it’s my nephew’s go-to dessert as well.  I got to thinking that I didn’t know the origin of the recipe and I messaged Sister Bee to get the story.  Here is her memory…

A recipe made with a lot of love

“It was Kent’s mother Frieda’s recipe.  She made it for us when we were in junior high.  She liked me alot (probably better than Kent) and she would always tell Kent before he left for school that she was baking a strawberry cake that day and invite Paula to come home with him after school for cake and a glass of milk.  Kent adored his mother so he happily obliged.  He’d always find me between classes and just wink and say, ‘Strawberry cake after school today?’  We did that alot over the course of junior high.  In high school we went steady (she inserted a winking emoji here).  I would go with him to his sister’s house for dinner and help her feed her little boy in his high chair.

Because Frieda was so precious to me, I kept in touch over the years after I married and had children.  After Carrie was born, Frieda would still want me to come and visit so she could see Carrie.  Suffering from MS made it difficult for Frieda to bake the strawberry cake, but she still did.  I was the one this time to slice the cake and boil the water for the tea.  We would sit and drink tea and eat cake while Carrie played on the floor in Frieda’s cozy living room.  I asked her to share the recipe for the cake to bake for Carrie’s second birthday.  That started the tradition of making the strawberry cake.Frieda passed away when Elizabeth was born so she never got to see her, but the cake lives on in our family. Carrie started baking it for her daughter, Violet.  Violet, now a teenager bakes it for Elizabeth’s daughter, Amelia.  Christina bakes it for Bryan’s birthday, and the beat goes on.”

Here’s Frieda’s recipe for her amazing strawberry cake.  It really is a winner and I hope when you make it, you will say a little “Thank you, Frieda!”

Mix together one box of white cake mix

One small package of strawberry jello

3 TBL of flour

1 cup canola oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

3/4 of a small bag or box of thawed, frozen strawberries (if they are whole mash them with a fork).

Mix together and pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan.  Bake for about 25 minutes at 350.

Frosting:

One box of powdered sugar

Remaining strawberries (mashed with the fork)

1 tsp of vanilla

3/4 cup of softened butter

Mix until all the butter and strawberries are creamy.  You may add more powdered sugar if you want a stiffer icing.

Iced completely cooled cake.

Blueberry Muffin Cookies

We’ve been making alot of cookies lately.  Sugar cookies to be exact for Miss Bee’s fundraiser at church.  So, when I came across this recipe for Blueberry Muffin Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction I thought they would be a nice treat for bookclub.  They are a soft lemon cookie, full of juicy blueberries and taste very much like the top of a blueberry muffin.  And the added touch of lemon zest icing make for a surprisingly nice cookie.

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (310g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (about 1 and 1/2 6-ounce packages)*

Lemon Glaze:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) half-and-half (or heavy cream or milk)

Directions:

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and milk. Beat everything just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Dough will be very creamy, sticky, and thick. With a spoon or rubber spatula, carefully fold blueberries into cookie dough. Handle with care because some may break a little. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes and up to 2-3 days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  4. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. Scoop cookie dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons each, and place 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. If desired, sprinkle each with a little coarse sugar. Gives the cookies an extra crunch. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until a cookie springs back when lightly poked with your finger. (That’s how I test them!)
  5. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
  6. Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and half-and-half together until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or more lemon juice/half-and-half to thin, if desired. Spoon over cookies. If applied lightly, the glaze will set within a couple hours.
  7. Glazed cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Be sure to check out all my other cookie recipes on Pinterest.

The Best Lemon Bars

I make the best lemon bars in the south and I have to thank my Sister Bee for that because it’s her recipe.  They should really be called “dilemma” bars because the dilemma is whether you can stop eating just one.

One of my pet peeves with lemon bars is if they have a gummy filling with a spongy top.  They are supposed to have a lemon curd filling, with a crispy top and a buttery shortbread base.  Well, the following recipe nets all of those requirements!

Heat oven to 350.  Grease a 9×9 inch square pan.

In bowl cut with a pastry mixer or two knives blend 3/4 cup of cold butter, 1/3 cup powdered sugar and 1 1/2 cups of flour.  It will take a bit of effort because at first it will be like pea sized dough and then just as you think it won’t come together, it will into a dough that you will then press evenly with your fingers in the bottom of your square pan.

Bake for 20 minutes.

While the shortbread is baking, mix in a bowl with a whisk 3 eggs, then add 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 3 TBL of flour, and 3 TBL of fresh lemon juice.

When the dough has come out of the oven, whisk egg mixture one more time, then pour evenly over the dough.

Put back into the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  You want it to slightly brown around the edges, but just slightly.

Let it set on a cooling rack until cool.  My favorite way to eat these is when they are slightly warm.  Oh, heavens.

These are perfect for anytime, but especially for a wedding or baby shower.  I double dare you to just eat one!

Pumpkin Caramel Bars

I pinned so many pumpkin recipes over the weekend and decided to give the Fudgy Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Bars from the Food Charlatan a try.  I have over 250 bars and brownie recipes pinned to my Pinterest board — you can check them out here.

I put my own twist on them by adding one half cup of semi sweet chocolate chips on top of the melted caramel.  The end result was a cross between a spice cookie, a snickerdoodle, and a salted caramel brownie.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 and 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vanilla (not a typo — yes Tablespoons)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (11 ounce) package caramels
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional:  I added this, it was not included in the original recipe)

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper, or grease the pan. (You can do foil too. Grease the foil).
2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, melt the butter.
3. Add the brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla, and beat well.
4. Add the flour to the bowl but don’t mix. Spoon the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the flour and gently stir into the flour.
5. Beat well, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
6. Pour about half of the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it on the bottom of the pan.
7. Bake at 350 for about 19-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and it is set in the middle.
8. Remove from the oven but don’t turn it off.
9. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and milk in a medium microwave safe bowl. Start with 45 seconds, then stir well. Continue to heat in 30-45 second intervals, stirring well each time. When the caramels are almost smooth, stop microwaving and stir until smooth.
10. Pour the caramel over the hot baked layer in pan, spreading to within 1/2 inch of the edges.  Sprinkle the optional chocolate chips over the caramel.
11. Drop reserved batter by spoonfuls over caramel layer. Cut through batter with knife several times for a marble effect.
12. Bake a second time for 25-30 minutes or until center is set. A toothpick test won’t work because the caramel layer is too gooey.

P.S. If you are coming for bookclub on Thursday…a pan of these will be waiting for you!

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios Bars

My stockpile of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios is growing and I picked up some Pumpkin Spice Special K and Frosted Shredded Wheat today.  I still haven’t made it to Trader Joe’s for my pumpkin haul, but that’s coming this weekend.

My niece sent me this recipe from We are Not Martha and I thought I would give them a try for bookclub last night — Pumpkin Cheerios Marshmallow Treats.  They are like Rice Krispie treats, but with Cheerios.

Ingredients:

  • ½ stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 11.5 oz. bag marshmallows (I used mini marshmallows)
  • 7 cups Pumpkin Spice Cheerios (I think you could cut back to 6 cups so the bars aren’t too dry)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ginger
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • Note:  I think you could easily increase the spices to 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and nutmeg and 1/4 tsp ginger.

Directions:

  1. Spray 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.
  3. Add marshmallows to saucepan and stir until melted.
  4. Turn off heat and add spices then the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. Stir until Cheerios are completed coated in marshmallow.
  5. Fold in white chocolate chips.  I took the extra from the bag and sprinkled them on top while the bars were warm and spread them out with a knife.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and let sit for about an hour to cool and harden.
  7. Cut into squares.

I could see this recipe working with other flavors of Cheerios, even the chocolate variety.  They were tasty and an interesting twist on the normal krispie bars.  They’d be fun to wrap up individually for a school treat or fall hostess gift.

I’ve got tons of other recipes on my Bars and Brownies and Something Kinda Sweet over on Pinterest, so check out more ideas for weekend baking.

Praline Grahams

 

We hosted a small gathering at our house on Monday to meet our new pastor.  It’s always nice to have just a little something sweet for guests to nibble on, and this recipe for Praline Grahams is perfect.  It is from a cookbook I have had for a long time — so long that the spine is falling apart.  Southern Living Incredible Cookies is also the same book from whence my chocolate chip cookies come from.

For the Praline Grahams you can use regular, cinnamon or chocolate grahams crackers.  Be sure to only use margarine, not butter, for best results with the syrupy coating.

12 whole graham crackers

3/4 cup margarine

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 300.

Break graham crackers in half into squares.  Arrange graham cracker squares with edges touching on a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet with sides).

Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in sugar and chopped pecans.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat. Working quickly, spread syrupy mixture evenly over graham crackers in pan.

Bake at 300 for 12 minutes.  Remove from pan to cool completely on a wire rack.  Yield:  2 dozen.

These travel well and make a great hostess gift or after dinner dessert.

 

Blueberry Butterscotch Pie

Several years ago, my bestie shared her recipe for Blueberry Butterscotch Pie.  Originally, it called for apples, but she put her twist on it by substituting blueberries and never looked back!  This is one of Mr. Bee’s favorite desserts.  I had a carton of blueberries and since there’s nothing like blueberries in the summertime, why not?  It’s so easy and if you are looking for a sweet treat to take with you to a Memorial Day party this weekend — this is it!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (fresh is best)

1 pint of blueberries (I used more, so you don’t have to be exact)

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of flour

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/8 tsp of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the blueberries with the lemon juice in a mixing bowl.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir.  I let it set while I roll out my crust.

Place crust in a pie pan and fill with the blueberry mixture.  Either cover the crust with strips of foil, or like me use a pie shield to prevent the crust from browning too much.

Bake for 20 minutes.

While filling is baking, prepare the butterscotch topping.

Topping Ingredients

1/4 cup of butter (when I bake I use European Butter from Land O Lakes)

Half a bag of butterscotch morsels

1/8 tsp of salt

3/4 cup of flour

Melt morsels and butter over low heat until smooth.  Remove from heat and add in salt and flour.  Blend with a fork until it comes together.  I then place the mixture in a bowl so it can cool and get crumbly.  The longer it sits and cools the more it will come together as a crumble topping.

Take pie out of oven, sprinkle with crumble mixture and return to the oven for another 25 minutes.  Watch your crust and if it starts to get too brown, add the pie shield back on.

Let it cool, if you can wait that long, and serve either warm or room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Me, I just scoop it out of the pan into a bowl and eat it like cobbler while it’s still warm.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!