Thursday, January 17, 2013

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

These are to die for, that's all I have to say. Thanks Becky for sharing your amazing banana cake recipe with me! This browned butter frosting just puts these over the top. They are good freshly made, but I prefer them cold from the refrigerator the next day.

Banana Cake

2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. sour cream, room temp
3 eggs, room temp
½ c. (1 stick) Butter, softened
6 overripe bananas mashed well
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 c. flour
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350, use cooking spray to grease a half sheet (bar) pan.

Cream together sugar, sour cream, eggs, and softened butter. Add mashed banana and vanilla. Add flour, salt, and baking soda; mix well.
Pour into pan and bake for 15-18 minutes. Top should be lightly browned.

Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 c. unsalted butter, divided
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, cut into 6 chunks
about 4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In Kitchenaid or mixing bowl place cream cheese and 4 Tbs of cold unsalted butter. In small saucepan, melt remaining 4 Tbs butter over medium heat. Continue to cook, watching carefully, until butter is a brown nutty color, this usually takes about 5 minutes. Pour hot browned butter over cream cheese and cold butter. Beat together for 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Correct consistency with more powdered sugar or milk if necessary.

When cake is cool, frost. If not eaten immediately, refrigerate.

Chewy Glazed Lemon Cookies

I know it has been awhile, but these two recipes were so good, I had to share! I had seen a picture on pinterest of glazed lemon cookies that looked really good, but when I read the recipe, it said they were crispy. Nothing against crispy cookies, I know some people love them, but I am a fan of the chewy type.
So I took my all time favorite Chewy Sugar Cookie recipe (from Cooks Illustrated) and made it into a lemon cookie. The glaze was simple to put together, this recipe makes about 22 cookies. These cookies are seriously amazing (and I have high standards when it comes to cookies!) Once you eat one, you'll be back for more. You'll notice there are weight measurements on the flour and sugar, I always weigh them to be consistent each time, but if you don't have a kitchen scale, don't worry about it!

Chewy Sugar Cookies
(from Cooks Illustrated)

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, aerate before measuring
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract (2 tsp if making plain sugar cookies, only 1 tsp if making lemon)

Preheat oven to 350 and adjust rack to middle position.
Have two cookie sheets ready.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In mixing bowl combine sugar, cream cheese, and lemon zest. Pour hot melted butter over and stir with rubber spatula until you can't see any chunks of cream cheese. Add oil and egg, stir until well combined. Add milk and vanilla. Stir until well incorporated. Slowly stir in flour mixture until the dough resembles play dough. Scoop by Tablespoons into hand, roll in ball, and then roll in sugar and place on baking sheet. I usually get about 11 on each sheet. Bake one sheet at a time, for 10-12 minutes. 11 minutes is perfect for me, but my oven runs a little hot. You really do not want to over bake these, they should be mostly white with VERY LIGHT browning on the edges and crackly on top. Remove to wire rack to cool.

While cooling make the glaze:

Lemon Glaze

1/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp lemon zest

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. When cookies are cooled, lightly spoon about a teaspoon of glaze on each cookie, swirl around with back of spoon until covered. Let harden and enjoy! These cookies stay chewy and delicious for 3 days.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Banana Whoopie Pies

I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart website and it was AMAZING! They just melt in your mouth.

Banana Whoopie Pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (from 1 large ripe banana)
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 oz. ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Combine banana and sour cream in another bowl.
Beat butter and granulated and brown sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed, until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, beating until incorporated. Add banana mixture in 2 additions, alternating with flour mixture.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip. Pipe batter into 1 1/4-inch rounds on baking sheets, spacing rounds 1 1/2 inches apart OR use an extra small (about tablespoon size) cookie scoop to drop dough on parchment paper.
Bake until puffed up and toothpick comes out clean, the perfect time for my oven was 9 1/2 minutes. You don't want them to brown on top, then they will be dry.
Beat cream cheese and butter together until combined. Add confectioners' sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and milk with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. This should be consistency of frosting, adjust with more powdered sugar or milk if needed.
Transfer cream cheese filling to gallon size zip top bag, snip of corner and pipe filling onto cookies and then sandwich together. Best if eaten the same day, I like dusting with powdered sugar because they can be a little sticky.
Makes about 2 dozen whoopie pies.

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I used my favorite buttermilk pancake recipe and added in mashed banana and chocolate chips. My 7 year old could not get enough of these, they are so moist and tender. I think next time I will add in some chopped banana in addition to the mashed.

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

1 c. all purpose flour
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. low fat buttermilk
1 Tbs canola or vegetable oil
1 large egg lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. mashed banana
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips
1/4 of a banana, chopped, optional

In mixing bowl whisk together first 5 ingredients, through salt.
In separate bowl combine next 5 ingredients, through banana. Add the wet ingredients into the dry. Sprinkle chocolate chips and chopped banana on top. Slowly stir everything together until all ingredients are incorporated, you don't want to overmix, there should be lumps. I like to coat my pan with butter and then use a 1/4 c. scoop to place my batter on the frying pan. Cook until bubbles form on top and edges look set, then flip. When nicely browned remove and place on plate and repeat with remaining batter. I usually get about 8-10 4" pancakes from this recipe.

Scotcheroos aka O'Henry Bars

I can only make these a couple of times a year because I can seriously eat the whole pan, that's how delicious and addicting they are! They are sweet, chewy, butterscotchy, peanut buttery, chocolatey squares of heaven. I've heard these called Scotcheroos or O'Henry bars. This particular recipe came from my sister in law Emma (Thanks Em!)


1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1 pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 pkg. butterscotch chips
6 c. rice krispies

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Add rice krispies. Lightly press into a buttered 9X13" pan.
For topping:
Combine milk chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 20 seconds at a time until melted, stir until completely smooth. (You can also do this with a double broiler)
Pour topping over bars and let sit for a couple of hours until topping has set up. Cut into bars and serve. Store covered on counter, do not refrigerate.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Bars

This is my favorite blondie brownie recipe. I like to use half semi sweet half peanut butter chips, but any kind of chip or nut would be good in these. I would recommend letting them cool, cutting them, and then storing in an airtight container. They are definitely the best the same day you make them, but will last 2 or 3 days in a container.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Bars
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

*Makes a 9X13-inch pan of bars

2 1/8 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 (3 1/2 ounces) cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips (use your preference of semisweet, bittersweet, milk, white, peanut butter…the options are endless!)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, letting the excess hang over the edges of the pan by about 1 inch so you can grab those edges and pull the brownies from the pan after they have baked. Spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula.

Bake until the top of the bars is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan, 24-28 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil overhang and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Mini Lasagnas

This recipe was so good and so easy! It took me about 20 minutes to put them together and another 20 to bake. You can make them in a muffin tin, or a petite loaf pan like I did here. I used Trader Joe's Organic Marinara sauce and they turned out great, I will definitely be adding this recipe to my dinner menus.

Mini Lasagnas

1 jar marinara sauce
1 lb. ground beef
12 wonton wrappers (for muffin tin, or 8 egg roll wrappes for petite loaf pan)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
4 oz. parmesan cheese
4 oz. ricotta cheese
basil or flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.
Brown ground beef in skillet, drain and return to pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in marinara sauce and heat on low while cutting the wonton wrappers.
If using the muffin tin, cut wonton wrappers with the top of a drinking glass or biscuit cutter, just so it's about the right size to fit in the muffin cup. There will be two layers of the wonton wrapper so you will need to cut 24 circles, or 16 rectangles if using the petite loaf pan.
Spray pan with cooking spray. Beginning from bottom, layer one wonton wrapper, mozzarella, ricotta (I just grabbed the ricotta with my fingertips and pressed into pan), parmesan, meat sauce, wonton wrapper, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, meat sauce, a little more mozzarella and parmesan. Bake 18-20 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Cheese Ball

I loved this because it was fun and different, not to mention oh so yummy. I made mine the night before and froze it. I took it out 20 minutes before serving and it was perfect. This is great slathered on apples and graham crackers. I bought those butter waffle cookies at Trader Joes.

Peanut Butter Cheese Ball
from The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
Graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, and/or apple slices for dipping

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until blended.

Spoon onto a large piece of plastic wrap; bring up all four corners and twist tightly forming into a ball shape.

Freeze for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm enough to keep its shape. Place peanut butter and chocolate chips in flat dish. Remove plastic wrap from ball and roll ball into morsels to completely cover, pressing morsels into the ball if necessary.

Place ball on serving dish; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until almost firm. (Can be made ahead. If frozen overnight, thaw at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.) Serve with graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, or apple slices for dipping or spreading.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry

I love this sweet and sour chicken, it has just the right amount of sweetness. I also really like this recipe because I hardly had to buy anything for it, most everything I had in my pantry so it was a really low cost meal.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry
adapted from Our Best Bites

1 cup rice
2 1/2 c. water
1 chicken bouillon cube

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 8 ounce can pineapple chunks, drained and juices reserved
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

3-4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs diced into 1 inch pieces
(you could also use pork tenderloin, or sliced boneless pork chops)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
about 1 cup snow peas
1/2 medium bell pepper, stemmed , seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch squares
1/2 large onion, or 1 small onion cut into 1/2 inch squares

Rinse rice in colander. Place rice, water, and crumbled chicken bouillon cube in medium saucepan. Cover with lid and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook 20 minutes or until rice is soft and cooked through.

While rice is cooking...

Combine cornstarch and water in a medium sized bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the reserved pineapple juice*, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar to the bowl and stir to combine.

*If you’re using a stainless steel pan, save pineapple juice for de-glazing it

heat 2-3 teaspoons of the oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry until the chicken is cooked and no longer pink, 3-4 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and cover to keep warm.

Add the remaining 1-2 teaspoons oil to the pan and add the broccoli and bell pepper. Stir-fry over medium-high heat until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the broccoli is bright green, 3-5 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the pineapple chunks and sauce mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook until everything is heated through and the sauce has thickened, 1-2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the hot cooked rice. If desired, top with sesame seeds and chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.

Serves 4 or 5

Homemade Sloppy Joes

I've recently found the blog Our Best Bites and I've been having so much trying out their recipes! This is one that is so good, I've already made it 3 times. I serve the meat mixture on homemade rolls, but any good, soft roll will do. I've used ground hamburger and ground turkey and they both taste great! I also like to add in at the end before serving about half a cup of sliced black olives (slice them yourself, the ones that come sliced already have a really funny taste) and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

Homemade Sloppy Joes
adapted from Our Best Bites

1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
Seasoning salt to taste
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 green pepper, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3/4 c. ketchup
1 tsp. mustard
3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/3-1/2 c. water to reach desired consistency
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 hamburger buns or homemade rolls

Stovetop Instructions:
Brown ground beef with onion, green pepper, and garlic. Season to taste with seasoning salt. Add in mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Combine tomato paste and water and add to hamburger mixture. Add more water if desired. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve on hamburger buns.

Crockpot Instructions:
Brown ground beef with onion, green pepper, and garlic. Season to taste with seasoning salt. Transfer to slow cooker. Add in remaining ingredients and combine well. Cook on low for 3-4 hours and serve on hamburger buns.

Freezer Instructions:
Brown ground beef with onion, green pepper, and garlic. Season to taste with seasoning salt. Transfer to a freezer-safe container. Add in remaining ingredients and combine well. Freeze. When ready to cook, transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low to 3-5 hours. Serve on hamburger buns.