September 17, 2010

On the cooling rack: Banana Bundts with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

I have complained a few times over the last year that we never have bananas ripe enough for me to make banana bread. There are three solid-food-eaters under this roof, and all three of us eat a banana almost every day. Sometimes I share a banana with Tessa in hopes that the banana spared will turn a lovely shade of spotted so I can make a smoothie or a loaf of bread with it. But then it gets eaten. Grrr!

But this week, my friends, this was it. Ted was gone in San Diego for two and a half days, and during that time, I stayed at a friend's house with Tessa and Dean. And our half dozen bananas that were ripe when we left got...riper. Ted had to leave for another trip to DC for two days, and I fed Tessa a pear instead of a banana for breakfast.


Banana baked goodies, here I come!

In searching for my loaf pans, I came across the mini bundt pans we registered and got for our wedding. I'm trying to remember if I've used them yet. My mind flashed back to one of the greatest desserts I've had at Corner Bakery - their Banana Bundt Cake with Maple Icing. It was delish. I figured I have the world's greatest banana bread recipe (courtesy of a recipe my mom created decades ago), so why not turn it into a bundt and throw some maple icing on it? Why not, indeed! So I'm here to share.

Banana Bundt Cake

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (from 2 medium bananas - the blacker, the better [like my men {that was for you, Chris}])
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease six mini bundt pans. I use spray to get into all the nooks (and crannies). Also, if you only have four pans, like I do, you can also spray a mini loaf pan.

Cream together shortening and sugars. Add eggs and beat. Add banana and beat to combine. Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add to batter. Spoon batter carefully into bundt pans about 2/3 full. DO NOT OVERFILL.

Bake 15-20 min or until toothpick comes out with moist crumbs on it. Let cool in pans 10 min or so, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my go-to cream cheese frosting. I would halve it for the above recipe, then just add maple flavoring (which is already a lovely shade of brown) to it.
1 stick butter
1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Maple flavoring (optional)
Chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

Beat together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add vanilla and salt, beat again. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time.

If using this as a maple icing, the consistency is perfect if you zap it in the micro for a few seconds, stir in a little imitation maple flavoring, and drizzle away. If you're feeling randy (always, thank you), chop up a few pecans and toast in a nonstick skillet over med-low heat for a few minutes and garnish while the icing is still wet.

Eat, and moan.
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One month old

Cute little bugger, I humbly opine.
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September 11, 2010

Family outing: Mapleview Farms

We ventured about 15 miles from our house to indulge in some fabulous ice cream out in the bonafide countryside, made on site from North Carolinian cows. The dairy farm has a quaint country store where you can turn in your empty glass milk bottles and pick up more of their fresh, creamy milk. I hear tell their skim tastes like whole, but who gives a crap about milk when there's small-batch-produced ice cream to be had?

I introduced my mom to the many wonders while she was here. She got coconut, I got banana pudding. I know what you're thinking: "But there's no chocolate in banana pudding ice cream, dummy!" I realize this, and to that rude affront, I reply that to balance out my diet, I occasionally dabble in non-chocolate dessert items and still manage to find them quite delicious. Besides, one of life's greatest pleasures is a fresh banana milkshake, so I figured my flavor choice wouldn't stray too far from the mark. I was totally right, as usual.

The other thing I love about this place is the porch they provide, on which to enjoy said fab s'cream. There are no less than 20 rockers, all lined up. So feasibly I could invite my whole family and only half of them would have to sit on the floor. tee hee.

Last year, I came with Tessa shortly after our NC arrival and got this shot:

I decided to reprise the staging, so here's the 2010 version:

And since it looks like we started a tradition, here's Dean's first (he couldn't sit up well enough in the chair yet, so Grandma's helping him out 'til he can get more starch in him):

Now there's one dessert who's even MORE tasty than chocolate. Big servings of him are TOTALLY on my diet.

September 7, 2010

Creation: Dress for Tess

About a month ago, my friend Melanie and I were discussing all our shortcomings in the sewing department. We each have a sewing machine, lots of desire, very little time, and several half-begun projects. It was a few days before she left NC for good (her husband recently graduated from Duke Law) and we were making our attempts to prolong the inevitable goodbyes.

So on that Friday night, I promised to her that I would finish this dress I'd started back in January. I had been scared of it because I was working with a stretchy fabric, a non-stretchy lining (and I've NEVER done lining before, of any kind), and the fluffy ball trim that kept getting caught in places where I didn't want it (isn't that always the case?). But Sunday would be the last day I'd see her. And it was Friday night. So I hunched over my sewing machine a good part of Friday night and Saturday night after Tessa was in bed and just did it. "Hunching over" has a whole new meaning when there's a nine-month pregnant belly to contend with.

Here's the result:

I'm not showing any pictures any closer because there are details I'm not proud of (like the fabric puckering along one side of the zipper in the back). When you're working against a deadline, things have to be sacrificed. Of course, now I see that zipper and just cringe, but I keep telling myself I'm chalking up this dress to a learning experience.

She's my little chocolate covered raspberry in it.

The Cooling Rack

Baked goods are only half the story...