Root Beer Cake!


Hi, my name is Jenni and I have a thing for root beer. I'm all about the A&W, the good stuff that comes in brown bottles, or even better, from a barrel. I have a weakness for it, I will admit. I just can't help myself!

 For a while now I have been wanting to make a root beer cake, but I was massively unhappy with the recipes I was finding. Some had you pour in root beer flavoring, some a can of actual pop. But they all seemed to offer up a cake that was dull and boring.

So I took matters into my own hands and concocted a recipe. I started with the base of a red velvet cake, but changed it around a bit and left out the ridiculous amount of food coloring. I was very pleased with the result! This cake is rich but not heavy, just the right amount of rootbeer flavoring, and topped with a beautiful vanilla buttercream! I could have eaten this entire cake myself. I almost did, actually...

Rootbeer Cake
White Cake Mix
1 Packet Vanilla Instant Pudding
1 TBSP Root Beer Flavoring/syrup
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Eggs
1 Tbsp Cocoa
1 TBSP White Vinegar
1 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 C Veggie Oil

Mix root beer, vanilla, and cocoa together to form a paste.
Mix the pudding, cake mix, eggs, oil, and buttermilk together.
Add vinegar and flavorings.
Mix well.
Pour into two greased and floured 9' round cake pans.
Bake in a preheated 350 Degree oven for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool for 10 minutes in pans.
Remove from pans, place on wire racks, and allow to cool the rest of the way.

Vanilla Buttercream
1 stick salted butter, soft
1 stick unsalted butter, soft
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Mix well!



The Daring Bakers Go Nuts for Donuts!



I loved loved loved loved this challenge! It was so fun! And I loved having the whole family to enjoy our donuts and coffee feast, even if it was at 7:00 on a Sunday night! 


The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.


I love donuts, so I decided to make several kinds. 




First, I made the Alton Brown yeasted donuts, which were easy to make and so variable! I made glazed, chocolate glazed, cinnamon sugar donut holes. But you could also use this recipe to make custard/cream filled, jelly filled, and make all kinds of fun frostings and toppings!



Yeast Doughnuts:
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Rising time - 1.5 hours total
Cooking time - 12 minutes
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size
Ingredients
Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)
Directions:
  1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
  2. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
  4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
  5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
  6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
  7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
  9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
  11. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
  12. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.
My husbands favorite donut are French Crueller's, which are also called "Old Fashioned". I really only found one decent recipe for these, and they are baked! These were fairly straight forward to make, but I had some problems piping them out. They baked ip beautifully, though! They tasted good, but not a thing like a french Crueller! I think these definitely need to be fried and not baked. 


French Cruller Doughnuts (from "A Passion for Baking" by Marcy Goldman)
Makes about 8
Choux Paste Doughnut Base
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs


Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

For Choux Paste Doughnut Base: In a large saucepan, stir milk, water, sugar, and salt together over medium heat. Stir in butter and allow it to melt. Increase heat and bring mixture to a rolling boil. Stir in flour all at once. Blend well with a wooden spoon, adding vanilla and beating briskly until mixture forms a ball that leaves the sides of pan. Beat vigorously 1 to 2 minutes before removing from burner and turning out into a large bowl. Allow mixture to cool 5 minutes, but do not let cool completely.

Using a wide whisk or wooden spoon, add eggs, 1 at a time, until mixture is smooth and glossy. Spoon choux paste into a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch star tip
. On prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each pastry, make a 4-inch circle of batter with another circle on top -- concentric circles. If you don't have a pastry bag, use a soup spoon to spread out a ring of batter as best you can. It will be fine once it puffs.

Bake pastry 15 minutes; then reduce oven temp to 375F and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until doughnuts are light in texture and medium brown all over. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

To make glaze, whisk everything together in a medium bowl to a thick glaze consistency. If mixture seems thick, microwave for 10 seconds. Dip each doughnut once, let excess drip off back into bowl. Let doughnuts set on a wire rack.

Since I made my husband's favorite donut, I had to make mine as well, so Apple Fritters it was! These I found to be a bit more challenging. A lot of the recipes I found online were for little fritter balls. I wanted the flat, irregular shaped donuts you find in bakeries that are so big you may or may not be able to finish it. That is exactly the kind of recipe I wanted to make! I think I found a great recipe, the donuts were fantastic! They were a little messy to make, but good! The recipe has you cut out circles of the dough and fry that, but it says nothing about putting the leftover scraps back together to make more. I assumed since it says "cut them as close together as possible" that scraps were just that...not meant to be used! But of course I had to glob it back together and fry that up! It was messy, I lost some lovely apple chunks, but man they were delicious! And the glaze....oh man, the glaze... I'm drooling just remembering them! These will definitely be made again!

Apple Fritters***DOUGH***
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup whole milk
3 1/4 cups unbleached flour plus
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
4 extra large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup sparkling apple cider
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


***Apples***
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean
7 granny smith apples, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sparkling apple cider


***Glaze***
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted plus
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt





Directions:
To prepare the dough; place the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. In a small saucepan, over med. heat, heat the milk until warm to the touch. Pour the milk over the yeast to soften, 1 to 2 mins. Add 2 cups of the flour to the milk mix, w/0 stirring.Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the surface of the flour cracks, about 30 to 40 mins.

In a small bowl combine the egg yolks and sugar. Add the cider, melted butter, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and 1 1/4 cups of the flour and mix until combined. Add this mix. to the yeast. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, mix on low for half a minute, then turn up to med. for about 1 min. Add the rem. 2 Tablespoons of flour and mix on low for half a min, then on med. for another half a minute. The dough will be very sticky.

Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface; scrape the dough out of the bowl, onto the work surface Clean the mixing bowl and lightly coat it with veg. oil. Gather the dough and return it to the oiled bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

TO prepare the apples; in a large skillet over med. heat, melt the butter. Using a small paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise. With the back of the knife, scrape out the pulp and the seeds of the vanilla bean, and add the scrapings and the pod to the butter. Heat the butter until bubbly. Add the chopped apples, tossing to coat them with butter. Add the cinnamon and sugar, and sauté 3 to 5 mins. until slightly softened and the majority of the apples are deep golden. Add the vinegar and cider, and reduce over med. high heat. IF they are still very firm, turn the heat down to reduce slowly. The apples should be cooked, but still slightly firm to the touch Remove the vanilla bean and place the apples on a baking sheet to cool.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and stretch into a rectangle about 2" thick. Spread half of the apples over the dough and fold into thirds by bringing the bottom up and the top down, patting with your hands to flatten slightly. Scatter the rem. apples on top and fold into thirds again. Gather the dough together by tucking under the edges and return it to the oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 mins.

Heat the oil to 375.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll or pat it into a rectangle about 1/2" thick, flouring the surface of the dough as necessary. Dip the cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the fritters. Place them on a floured surface and allow to rest for 10 mins, no longer.

To prepare the glaze: in a small stainless steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, combine the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Heat until just warm, stirring frequently. The glaze should be thin and translucent; if necessary, thin it down with more cream.

Dip your hands in flour, and stretch the fritters by pulling them gently, elongating the round shape into a 4" oval. Don't worry if you puncture the dough as you stretch it. Drop directly into the hot oil and fry till golden brown.

Drain on paper towels and brush the fritters with glaze while they are warm.

This recipe from CDKitchen for Apple Fritters serves/makes 12

Syrian Chicken

I was looking for something adventurous the other day, something cultural, different, saffrony. I came across this recipe and got really excited! It looked like exactly the kind of thing I wanted! This dish turned out delicious, albiet INTENSE!! It starts out subtle, and then slowly builds and builds and builds and pretty soon you are sweating and drinking water and eating bread. It's not spicy hot, its just so intense! I think next time I will cut the spices in half! Feeling adventurous? Leave the recipe the way it is. If flavor is what you want, flavor is what you will get!!

Syrian Chicken

2tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Curry seasoning
1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 brown onions, thickly sliced
5 cloves ginger, smashed and roughly chopped
1/2 tablespoon crushed red chili flakes
2 small tomatoes, chopped
2 pinches saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 sprigs thyme
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup currants or raisons
100 ml olive oil
100 grams fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 can vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 bunch coriander leaves
rice to serve



Combine salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric in a large plastic bag. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over high heat. 
Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. 
Add onions, ginger, garlic, and chilies to pan and cook for 3 minutes, adding a little more oil, if necessary. 
Add tomatoes, saffron, cumin seeds and thyme and cook for 2 minutes.
Return chicken to pan and add lemon juice and zest, honey, currants,  and enough stock to just cover chicken. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. 
Uncover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through and sauce is slightly reduced. 
Stir in coriander. 
Serve with rice.

Penne with Roasted Cauliflower, Ham and Peas

It seems that my cooking has become as much "boil this, bake this, as little prep time as possible" as I possibly can lately. I just don't have the energy or time to do much more. Especially since dinner time has been pushed back a lot this month because my husband's rotation this month is an hour away. Which means he doesn't get home until 7-7:30 at night. Sometimes not until 8! So some super elaborate meal isn't quite what I have in mind lately. Whatever I can get on the table fastest wins!

This was a beautifully easy and delicious meal I made the other night! Filling but not overly heavy. I especially loved using the browned sage butter as the dressing - it made it seem really special, even though it was super simple, cheap, and relatively healthy (ok, healthy minus the butter. But it's only 4 tbsp people, and this makes quite a few servings!) This recipe definitely wins!

I totally forgot to write down where I got this recipe from, but I think it is really good! So, good job, whoever you are! :)

Penne with Roasted Cauliflower, Ham and Peas.

  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2½ pounds), cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1/3 pound sliced boiled ham, cut into ribbons
  • 2/3 cup peas
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. 
  2. Spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet, drizzle with the oil and toss; season with salt and pepper. Bake until browned, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until the butter is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the sage and remove from the heat.
  4. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain and return the pasta to the pot. 
  5. Stir in the ham, cauliflower and reserved pasta cooking water. 
  6. Stir in the sage butter and season with salt and pepper.

Linguini with Zucchini and Kielbasa

If you just happen to have an extra zucchini or two hiding on your counter, I have the perfect dish for you! This actually would be a fantastic meal for the dog days of summer, those dreaded hot muggy days where you want something nutritious and filling, but not heavy. But, I didn't find it until now. However, that doesn't mean you should hang on to this recipe for a year, because this is great even now! It has a great flavor - a tangy lightness you would not expect from a pasta dish. We all scarfed this down big time and will definitely be making this again, and soon!

Linguini with Zucchini and Kielbasa - this makes a perfect 4 servings!

12 ounces linguine 
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh basil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
12 ounces Kielbasa cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large sweet red or green pepper, cut into strips
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 or 3 small zucchini thinly sliced

1. Cook linguine in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside. 

2. For dressing, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard, basil and garlic; mix well.

3. In a medium skillet, cook kielbasa, peppers and onion until onion is tender. Add dressing and zucchini and cook an additional 2 minutes.

4. Toss with linguine and enjoy.

The Daring Cooks Make Stuffed Grape Leaves!


This month's Daring Cook's Challenge was straight out of the middle east. Stuffed grape leaves are a part of many cultures including the Syrians, the Turks, the Greeks, the Lebanese, the Albanians, the Israeli's, the Iranians, the Iraqis and the Armenians (just to name a few).
Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.
I found this challenge to be quite interesting! I was really worried about where the heck I was going to find grape leaves in Missouri in October!!! Turns out that my nerves were unfounded! Preserved grape leaves can be found in jars with the pickles at your grocery store! They have been brined in salt/vinegar, you only have to soak them and pat them dry to use them!
These were quite fun to make, but I was kind of disappointed by the end product. Don't get me wrong, they were good. But I was expecting to be blown away! They were just so-so. Neither my husband nor my brother were that impressed with them, either. Good! Just not absolutely amazing. I think I was also led astray by the title of this recipe. There was no sauce. If you say "Apricot Tamarind Sauce" then I want some yummy saucy-ness to ladle over the top of my little rolly-polly's. Instead, the apricots and tamarind were placed in the pot with the rolls, the pot was filled with water and then simmered. When you take the leaves out, they just look like leaves. No sauce! That kind of disappointed me. 

As a note, I could not find tamarind concentrate or paste at two different stores. I didn't have the opportunity to go to any ethnic stores, so I just made a substitute version:
Tamarind Paste Substitute:
2 tbsp dates, chopped
2 tbsp dried apricots, chopped
2 tbsp plums, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
Place chopped fruit in a bowl.
Pour enough boiling water over the chopped fruit to cover.
Let sit for 15 minutes. 
Pour off water and place the fruit in a food processor with lemon juice and puree into a paste.

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Ground Meat and Rice with Apricot Tamarind Sauce/ Yebra
Adapted from Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck and Michael J. Cohen. Published by Harper Collins, 2007
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Ingredients for hashu/filling:
1 pound (455 gm) ground (minced) beef
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2 1/3 oz) (65 gm) short grain rice
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) all spice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) cinnamon
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher (coarse) salt **if using regular table salt only use ½ tsp.**
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) white pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 cup (5½ oz) (150 gm) pine nuts 
Directions:
1.Soak rice in water, enough to cover, for 30 minutes. 
2. Combine meat, rice, allspice, vegetable oil, cinnamon, salt, white pepper, and if desired, onion and pine nuts, in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
Ingredients for assembly:
1 pound (455 gm) hashu/filling (see recipe above)
36 preserved grape leaves, stems trimmed, drained, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
6 dried apricots – or more if you desire
3 tablespoons (45 ml) tamarind concentrate
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (9 gm) kosher (coarse) salt **if using regular table salt only use 1.5 tsp.**
Notes:
If using grape leaves preserved in brine, to remove salt put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Make sure that the water penetrates well between the layers, and leave them soaking for about twenty minutes, then change the water a time or two using fresh cold water.
If using fresh leaves, plunge a few at a time in boiling water for a few seconds only, until they become limp, and lift them out.
Directions:
1.Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up. You can trim the little stem if you would like.
2.Place about two teaspoons (10 ml) of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge.
3.Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (50 mm to 65mm) long.

4.Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
(You can freeze the stuffed grape leaves at this point. Just line a baking sheet with wax paper. When firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight plastic bag place back in the freezer.)
5.In a medium saucepan put in the vegetable oil and then place the filled grape leaves in the pot.
6.Place apricots in between the stuffed grape leaves. Cover and cook over low heat for 5- 8 minutes or until the grape leaves begin to sweat.
7.Using all three tablespoons, place a little of the tamarind concentrate, if using, over the rolls.
8.Combine lemon juice, salt, and water then add to pan, filling it ¾ full.
9.Weigh down the grape leaves with a heat proof plate or board to prevent them from unraveling. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes. Alternatively, place the saucepan in an oven preheated to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and cook for an hour.
10.Spoon cooking liquid over the grape leaves occasionally. You will know they are done, when the grape leaves are neither soupy nor dry.
11.Tilt pan sideways over serving platter, allowing the grape leaves to tumble out. Try not to handle them individually to reduce unraveling. Alternately you can try spooning them out very gently.

Root Beer Sloppy Joes


Yeah, you read that right. Sloppy Joes, with Root Beer!

Isn't my kitchen color scheme simply AMAZING? I know you're jealous...
The other day I was perusing a "Parenting" magazine while the little miss was taking a nap, and I came across this recipe, and it stopped me in my tracks. Root Beer?! Now I must admit that I have never made sloppy joes before. Never. It has always seemed like a school cafeteria food to me, and why would I ever want to make that (remember, no kids yet!)? But root beer is my favorite pop. I drank this as my "special treat" while pregnant, and am still quite fond of it. So using it in sloppy joes definitely had me intrigued. I had to try it!


I am glad to say that this was actually really good! Not even remotely close to cafeteria food! The complex flavor made by the root beer, green chilies, and all the wonderful seasonings was really great! We scarfed this meal down, and practically licked our plates clean! I double dog dare you to try it! (Sorry, slipped back to elementary school there...)


Root Beer Sloppy Joes - serves 4 perfectly
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground sirloin
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup root beer
2/3 cup tomato sauce
Canned diced green chilies, to taste (1 to 3 Tbsp), optional
1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup minced scallions
4 potato rolls or hamburger buns

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute, just until fragrant.
Add the beef and sauté, breaking up gently, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. 
Stir in the chili powder, salt, and pepper. 
Add the root beer, tomato sauce, green chilies (if using), and Worcestershire sauce.
Bring to a lively simmer and cook about 15 minutes, stirring often, until thickened. 
Stir in the scallions. 
Pile onto rolls or buns. 

Banana Brandy Bread


I found something hiding on the back of my baker's rack this morning! 

I don't even remember buying these! But there they were, soft and spotted and perfect for banana bread! One more day and I would have lost these guys. Glad I found them when I did!

I decided instead of my tried and true (and great) regular banana bread recipe I would try something new. I found this recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, substituted the bourbon for brandy (hey, its what I had) and added 1/4 cup of sour cream. And by the way, has anyone else noticed that it seems like 98% of my recipes come from Smitten Kitchen? Maybe I should just change my name to "Smitten Kitchen Wannabe" or  something. Haha. Anyway, apparently I forgot to take a picture of the bread when it came out of the oven....but you've all seen banana bread before, so you know what to expect, right? This was a nice flavor change, a little more late fall/early winter type of banana bread. 

Banana Brandy Bread
3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices.
Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
Add the flour last, mix.
Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan.
Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool on a rack.
Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Apple Zucchini Bars



I think this is a perfect fall dessert! A great use of the last of the summer zucchini, the start of our fall addiction to apples...this is a delicious way to sweeten things up this time of year. These were originally supposed to be bars, but I rebelled and used a 9x13 pan instead, turning this into a great cake! 
Mmmm...see those chunks of apple and shredded zucchini?
While this cake/bar is sweet, its not overpoweringly so. In fact, I might have had it for breakfast a few times and was perfectly happy about it - hey, it has oats and whole wheat flour!!
I love the glaze on this cake, too. It gives it a little extra sweetness, but it isn't some thick heavy goop of a frosting (not that I have anything against frosting!) This is a great "everyday" dessert, something to just have sitting on your counter so you can walk by and eat a forkful whenever you please. Which may or may not be exactly what I did...



Apple Zucchini Cake, or bars, whichever you prefer
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups chopped raw apple
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cup flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 cup rolled oats
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Glaze:
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. margarine
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat together soybean oil, brown sugar, and eggs.
Add zucchini, apple, lemon juice, and vanilla.
Mix remaining ingredients together and then add to zucchini-apple mixture.
Spread in greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Glaze: Combine all ingredients over medium heat until smooth and sugar is dissolved. Do not boil. While bars are hot, pierce bars with a fork and pour glaze over bars. When cool, cut into squares.

Makes about 3 dozen.
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