Monday, September 27, 2010

Banana Nut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I hope to return to regular Sugar Free Sunday posts starting on October 3rd. Meanwhile, enjoy this yummy full-sugar, nothing-but-goodness cake!

My husband has never been one for fancy decorated cakes--he always requests a home baked cake for his birthday, usually chocolate-on-chocolate. After eating more than his fair share of banana nut cake recently at the home of a family member, he surprised me by asking me to make one for his birthday this year. I called and asked for the recipe and made one for his birthday--and promptly turned around and made another the very next week! This is a wonderful, moist, cake, with just a hint of "real" banana taste--and the made-from-scratch cream cheese frosting makes it even better!

Banana Nut Cake


  • 1/2 c butter, (one stick) softened
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 medium bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and sugar; add eggs, vanilla, and sour cream, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar-butter mixture, and mix--this will be very stiff--then add in the mashed banana. Add chopped nuts, and stir to incorporate. I baked this in a greased sheet cake pan, about 15 x 10, 20-25 minutes, at 350 degrees. Allow to cool, then frost with cream cheese frosting, below.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 box (about 3 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1-2 T milk (if needed)

Make sure that the butter and cream cheese are well softened, then cream together with vanilla extract. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. This will be very stiff, especially at first. The first time I made this, I thought my mixer was going to bog down, so I added a dash of milk. It made the mixing easy, but the end result was soft--since I made a sheet cake, it still worked, but it would have been a little too soft to frost the sides of layer cake, for instance. The second time I made it, I just persevered with the mixer, lifting it from the mixture once of twice to clear the beaters, and it did all cream together to make a luscious, thick frosting. And left lots on the beaters to lick off afterward, too. All by myself.

I'm not usually much of a "banana nut" gal myself--I didn't even taste this when we were visiting, and would have never picked this to try if my husband hadn't asked for it--but I'm so glad he did! This has no artificial pseudo-banana flavoring, just real bananas, and it has such a subtle flavor--this is a keeper, for me as well as the rest of the family.

Until next time, good baking, and good eating!

This post is linked to:
Meatless Monday at Sweet and Savory
Mouthwatering Monday at a Southern Fairytale
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
Just Something I Whipped Up at the Girl Creative
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken Pesto Pizza

To help get me out of my cooking and blogging and rut, I've decided to participate in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog.

I love to eat. I'm not a gourmet, or a great cook; sometimes I'm not sure I'm even a good cook! What I am, though, is an ordinary woman who likes to cook most of the time, and likes to eat well-cooked food. I like simple recipes; and while some days I don't mind spending some time planning and executing a good meal, I usually don't want to spend all day in the kitchen. I like to cook a variety of dishes, made with everyday ingredients that are readily available and easy to stock up on and keep on hand in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. My recipes run the gamut from made-from-scratch to semi-homemade, but they are always simple, and usually delicious!

This first dish is a regular quick and easy, semi-homemade-from-what's-on-hand supper.

I came back to Georgia last week to help get the rest of our things packed and ready to move. A lot of my kitchen things and groceries have already been moved home, and I've been trying to figure out what to cook with the dribs and drabs of things left in the fridge and pantry, without buying a lot of additional groceries that would have be packed and moved or discarded when we leave. I found a "canned" Pillsbury pizza crust, and had about two boneless skinless chicken thighs in the freezer. I didn't think I had anything to use for sauce and was going to try to make a white cheese sauce when I spotted a jar of Pesto in the back of the fridge--perfect for one our favorite quick and easy meals--Chicken Pesto Pizza!

After spraying the baking sheet with cooking spray, I sprinkled a little corn meal over it and tapped it back and forth till a light dusting of corn meal covered it. This keeps the crust from sticking to the pan, the same as greasing and flouring a cake pan.Next I unrolled the crust, and precooked it for a few minutes, just until lightly browned--another trick I've learned to keep the crust from being "doughy" in the middle.

The pesto I used is Makers Mark from Sam's club, it's in the refrigerated section next to the fresh pasta, and is delicious--it has just the right mixture of olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and basil. Spread lightly, so the finished product won't get too soggy.

I boiled the two chicken thighs I had in some water with chicken stock paste, dried onion flakes, and Tony Chachere's creole seasoning, then chopped them up. You could use any leftover cooked chicken that you have on hand--even leftovers from a bought Rotisserie chicken.

Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edge browns a little more.

Then just enjoy! The first time I used pesto, I did half Alfredo sauce and half pesto, in case everyone didn't like it, but it's become our new favorite! I could see adding additional ingredients, too, but even plain and simple it's delicious!

This post is linked to:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at At The Well
Tuesday at the Table at All the Small Stuff
Delicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Giveaway Winner-Macaroni Grill frozen meal for two

And the winner is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


And #58 on the list is Lynda E, who stated that she would most likely share her meal with her husband, or she might make it for herself when he's away and have the leftovers for lunch! Linda, I'll be contacting you by email to get your shipping information.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered!

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Pigging Out" with Mike & Ed's Bar-B-Q

Be sure to scroll down and enter the Macaroni Grill Meal Giveaway

I'm back in Georgia this week to help my husband pack up and move the last of our things home to Louisiana, and get his things ready to move on to the next project site. While we're here, we took the opportunity one night this week to eat at one of our favorite local eateries, Mike & Ed's Bar-B-Q on Veterans Parkway in Columbus.

Boy was I in for a big surprise the first time I ate at Mike & Ed's. At home, bbq, especially sandwiches, is beef, and it comes chopped or sliced. Yes, we also have bbq chicken, and of course ribs and sausage. But the true test of a good bbq joint is their basic chopped beef. If they can't do chopped beef right, well--let's just not even go there. So imagine my shock as I looked over the menu and Mike & Ed's, and they had no beef--no beef anywhere on the menu.

No chopped beef, no sliced beef, no brisket platter or beef-by-the-pound. No thick sweet sauce.

Their sandwiches were pork. What we call chopped, they call chipped. What they call chopped was bite-sized chunks. They put slaw on the sandwiches. And pickles. And the sauce was yellow, and thin--it comes hot or mild. They do have a hickory flavor, but it's thin, too, and kind of vinegar-y. Good, just not the thick, sweet sauce that I was used to.

But they did have one great thing going for them--great smoked flavor. I learned to eat chipped pork instead of chopped beef. And to actually like slaw on the sandwich--it's not bad as long as you eat it right away so that the bread doesn't get soggy. (just be sure to order the slaw on the side if you get it to go!) And the chicken and ribs (pictured above)--are sooooo goooooood! They have a couple of strange-to-me sides--brunswick stew, bbq stew and bbq slaw--they're okay, but to me they just don't spell barbeque like their baked beans, potato salad, and cole slaw.
And how can you not like a bbq joint that has just right mixture of brick, wood and tin for their decor?

Or that labels their bathrooms "Hens" and "Hogs"? At least they aren't labeled "Sows" and "Hogs"!

This is where the magic happens....

And it really is magic--we went this week intending to order a couple of chipped pork sandwiches and an order of french fries, but it smelled so good, we both ended up with a chicken and rib combo plate!

So whether you're used to Texas or Memphis style, Carolina pulled pork or Kansas City ribs, Mike & Ed's is well worth the stop when you're in the neighborhood.

If my luck holds, I'll still make it by there for a chipped pork bbq sandwich.

Until next time, good (un)cooking, and good eating...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Macaroni Grill Frozen Meal--Review and Giveaway

Giveaway is now closed
As a member of My Blog Spark, I was recently offered a chance to try one of Romano's Macaroni Grill frozen complete meal for two. Macaroni Grill is my absolute favorite Italian chain restaurant, when we lived in Colorado Springs we ate there almost every week--we even had a favorite waitress and would request to sit in her section when we could. She was the best at that writing their name upside down on the paper table topper thing that they do--and the best waitress, too! We haven't live where there was a Macaroni Grill in a couple of years, so I was really eager to try these frozen meals.

The one I received was Grilled Chicken Florentine. All I had to do to make this was open the bag, dump the entire thing into a non-stick skillet, add 1/2 cup of milk, cover, and cook on medium heat about 15 minutes. The picture really doesn't do this justice---it was delicious! The bow-tie pasta came out tender but not mushy, the spinach wilted down just enough, there was plenty of chicken in it, and it made it's own tasty alfredo-type sauce as it cooked. I would definitely buy this and make it again. It's just the right amount for two people--and with the addition of a salad and some rolls or breadsticks you could easily have a nice meal for two on the table in no time.
And now on to the giveaway--besides the frozen meal (which came packed in dry ice, by the way) I also received this nice stoneware pasta plate and extendable tongs (packed separately) and one of you can receive the thing (although the meal may be different one), courtesy of Romano's Macaroni Grill and My Blog Spark.

The giveaway will run from today until next Monday night, September 13th, at 6:00 p.m. All you have to do to enter is leave me your name, email address, blog url (optional) and a comment telling me who you'd share your meal-for-two with--would you use this for a special meal for you and your significant other--share it with one of your friends--have a special mom-and-me night with one of your kids--on the form below. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. Except for the winner's name and shipping information, no other information will be shared or used for any purpose other than this giveaway.

Until next time, good (easy) cooking, and good eating!