Thursday, October 28, 2010

Banana Cheesecake

I'm giving the apple recipes a break for a while (still have more to come). I came across this cheesecake in the Taste of Home Fall Baking Cookbook Magazine. I ALWAYS have overripe bananas here and since I love banana bread and cakes I thought I'd give this a try. I am not a big fan of cheesecake but enjoy a slice every once in a while. Especially if it's from Cheesecake Factory! The banana flavor really comes through in this cake. That is the first thing you taste. So you really have to love bananas to enjoy this cheesecake. I liked it but my husband didn't care for it at all. He thought it had a rum flavoring added to it, which it did not. Just vanilla. It baked up beautifully. I didn't have to put it in a water bath while baking it and it didn't crack at all. I have the sour cream topping on it only because the recipe called for it. Not hiding any cracks. There is another cheesecake that I make that is delicious and I will be trying that again soon but it has always cracked....I've done the water bath thing, left it in the oven to cool off, etc. Cracks....Anyhow this cakes just comes out looking beautiful, so if you want to impress, then give this one a try.


3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
6 tbs butter, melted


1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream


1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup assorted fresh fruit (if desired)

Combine the first five ingredients; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in springform pan; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine bananas and lemon juice; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch and salt until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in sour cream, vanilla and banana mixture. Pour into crust. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Let stand for 5 minutes. Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla; spread over top of cheesecake. Bake 5 minutes longer.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with fresh fruit.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

I have been wanting to make this apple pie for about 2 years and have finally made it. It was fantastic!!! I had it in my "to try" folder and finally tried it! What I should have done but did not do was make a lattice top for the pie, since you pour a syrup over it. I made a regular top pie crust (I have to work on trying to make a lattice one), and while it worked fine, it did not look pretty at all. That's why I'm posting a picture of a slice of the pie. The syrup just kind of turned a dark brown and didn't blend well into the crust while if it were a lattice crust like it should have been it would have spread over each strip. Still, it was good and I would definitely make this again. It's from Allrecipes and is their highest rated apple pie. At this moment I have another one baking in the oven by Ina Garten and I will be posting that one soon too. Anyone tired of apple recipes yet? I'm baking this one for my oldest son, for his 26th birthday. I cannot believe my son is 26 already. I don't know where the years have gone.....although I'm glad that his teenage years are gone!

Hope everyone has a great weekend...we are expecting the temperatures to be in the 70's here and possibly 80 one day next week. Right now it's cold as anything and going down to 40 tonight, crazy!!!

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Place bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

Bake 15 minutes in te preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes until apples are soft.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Uncle Bob's Fresh Apple Cake

Well we had a great time at the apple festival at Graves Mountain this year. We thought it would be a little on the cool side since we would be in the mountains but it was so warm that we were sweating!!! Had a great lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, apple cake and apple donuts for dessert and even found some neat things from the crafters. The mountains are just so beautiful this time of year.

Before I move on to the this recipe, let me just clear up something. I'm not an authority on any type of food nor its origins. I had a recent comment from someone regarding my Swedish Apple Pie that "they didn't want to ruin" it for me but my pie was not a Swedish apple pie, etc, etc, etc.......That recipe originated from Allrecipes and I just copied what they wrote. People, I'm a home cook and baker and I'm just trying to have a bit of fun here on my blog and maybe learn how to become a halfway decent baker.....I don't expect people to do anything more than read my blog and on a lucky day maybe someone will like one of my recipes and try it. That's it.

This recipe is once again from my husband. He baked this to bring to our church's apple festival which was also this past weekend. Delicious and full of flavor and perfect with some ice cream on top. Of course, it's from his girlfriend, Paula Deen! I'd be in trouble if she lived close by. Hope you all enjoy it....

Honey Glaze:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons milk

Apple Cake:
3 cups diced Granny Smith apples, about 2 large apples
1 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs

Glaze: Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and stir until smooth. Set the bowl aside.

Cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a Bundt pan or tube pan.

In a bowl, mix together the apples, walnuts, vanilla and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and beat until completely combined. Fold in the apple mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to fully cool in the pan, about 1 hour, and then turn it out onto a plate.

Drizzle the apple cake with some of the honey glaze, serve and enjoy!

Note: This cake can be wrapped tightly and stored in refrigerator for 3 to 5 days

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Easy Swedish Apple Pie

Apple season has certainly begun and the apple recipes have officially started!!! We are going to Graves Mountain tomorrow for their annual apple festival and we'll be bringing back a huge box of apples. I can picture myself already making tons of apple pies and cakes! I'm sure within the next two weeks I'll be all "apple'd out!" Graves Mountain has such a nice festival with music, crafters, hayrides and a huge hay mountain for kids to climb up and jump down from. They also have a lodge and restaurant. Sunday's lunch/dinner is always fried chicken, mashed potatoes and of course an apple dessert! Their meals are served family style so you sit at a huge table with quite a few other people and get to know one another. My husband really enjoys meeting and talking with people at our table. Me, not so much. This atmosphere, while friendly, to me, feels forced. Maybe it's just me but that's how I feel. But the food is delicious! All home cooked.

I came across this recipe on Allrecipes. I must have been saving it for about 2 years. This was in my "to try" folder with about 100 other ones, just waiting to be looked at again! This is a very different take on the traditional apple pie. It has no bottom crust, just a crust on the top. Lots of cinnamon in the crust! I also added some apple pie spice to the apples since some of the reviews of the pie had stated it was a bit bland inside. This addition definitely worked since it didn't lack in flavor at all. Very delicious warm and perfect with vanilla ice cream on top. And of course, easy as pie to make!!

One thing - do not make this in a deep dish pie plate. I did that and had to make 2 batches of topping. It probably works better in just a 9 in pie plate.

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar - I also added a liberal sprinkling of apple pie spice
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup melted butter
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss apples with 1 tablespoon sugar and pour them into a pie plate. Thoroughly mix together 1 cup of sugar with flour, cinnamon, butter and egg. Spread this evenly over the top of the pie.

Bake in preheated oven until the apples have cooked and the topping is golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. (Mine took about 1 hour).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Creamy Pesto Chicken & Bow Ties

This dish is total comfort food. It comes from Campbell's Kitchen so that alone will tell you that it is easy and delicious. And very, very kid friendly! My son loved it and was so glad when I served it again as leftovers the following night. My husband made this dinner and used a bit more chicken than the recipe called for. I believe he used about 6 breasts instead of 4. This is the type of recipe you can play with and add your own extra ingredients to. It would probably be great with some red or yellow peppers added in or even some broccoli. I'm sure we will make this again. It's tasty, easy and goes a long way.

I've been doing some fall and winter shopping lately and love some of the new clothes out there. I love shopping for clothes although lots of times I find they look better on the hanger or mannequin than on me! I saw some skinny jeans that look like they would be fun to wear and would go great with boots. My son wears them.....all the "skaters" seem too, so I'm told. Anyhow these pants would look great with boots. I need some new boots too. I want ones this year with heels. For many years I would NOT wear any heel at all. It had to be like 1/2 inch or less because I'm tall to begin with - almost 5'8". Well this summer I finally said the hell with that - I love heels, love shoes so I am now wearing EXACTLY what I want! It has taken a long, long time to get over this height thing. I saw on Facebook recently a motto someone posted and I am literally taking its advice...."Life is short - so wear high heels!" Love it!!!!!!

2 tablespoons butter

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts ( about 1 pound) cut into cubes

1 can (10 3/4 ounce) Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (regular or 98% fat free)

1/2 cup pesto sauce

1/2 cup milk

Heat butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until well browned, stirring often.

Stir the soup, pesto sauce and milk in the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the pasta and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling.
My husband put this into a casserole dish at this point and sprinkled some Mexican Blend cheese over the top and baked it for about 15 minutes at 350F......

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival

We had a great time this past weekend on Chincotoeague Island. The weather could not have been better. It was around 80 and dry. Bright and sunny. Perfect. The oyster festival was very nice as long as you don't mind crowds or waiting quite a while on lines for your food. I have to say my oysters were perfect. They had them fried, on rolls or by themselves, and also right in their shells. I only eat the fried ones. There were also huge bowls of crabs but the lines were just so long that we only had the oysters. We stood in line for those alone around a half hour. There were 3,000 people at this festival and Chincoteague is just a tiny beach town. So it was definitely a huge crowd. I don't think I would do it again because it is very expensive and just way too crowded for me. I'd rather take that money and have a great dinner in a nice restaurant and be served! Just saying.....

Here are some pics of the food and line at the festival and also of my son - "the skater!"

I'll be back soon with a recipe....

Friday, October 8, 2010

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while now will know that I have a weakness for banana cake, bread, etc. I love trying different banana cake recipes and it helps since I always, always have bananas in my kitchen. My favorite fruit, but they can't be too ripe. I like them with a tinge of green. So, needless to say, once they get beyond having a few little brown specs on them, they are recipe ready!

I found this recipe at Lick the Bowl Good. Monica has a fabulous site with the most delicious looking cakes. My mouth waters every time she has a new one posted. This lady not only has great tasting cakes but they are decorated beautifully. My goal is to be able to present as pretty a cake as she does. Please check out her site if you are not familiar with it. You will not be disappointed.

I've made quite a few banana cakes and breads in the past and this has become one of my favorites. It is a bit lighter than the usual banana cakes and breads and has a wonderful flavor. I found the frosting to be a bit more of a thick glaze but that could be because I "fooled" around with it a bit. I made this into a bundt cake rather than a layer cake and did not need too much frosting. Regardless, it is delicious. I used a dark cocoa powder and I also added chocolate chips to the cake batter so it was very chocolatey indeed. I find with banana recipes you cannot go wrong adding chocolate and it would be really hard to add too much. The combo is just perfect.

We are headed to the beach again this weekend. They are having an oyster festival and I love fried oysters. Not raw, they MUST be fried!!! The weather here in Virginia is supposed to be just perfect - mid to high 70's......does it get any better than that? Good food and weather! I will try to remember to take some pics and post them when I get back. I always seem to get caught up in the moment and forget to take out my camera.....the food gets eaten rather quickly!!!

Have a great weekend everyone, and thank you Monica for a terrific cake!!!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softenend
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup evaporated milk or half in half
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the cake, heat the over to 350F. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans (I used a Bundt pan). Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a fork to combine well.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the vanilla. Beat well for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl occassionally until you have a smooth batter.

Using a large spoon, stir in half the flour just until it disappears into the batter. Stir in the buttermilk and then the remaining flour the same way. Quickly and gently fold in the mashed banana and then divide the batter between the 2 cake pans.

Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks. Then turn out onto the racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the butter, cocoa and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the cocoa dissolves into a dark shiny essence. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at low speed until you have a thick, smooth frosting.

To complete the cake, place one layer, top side down, on a cake plate and spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly over the top. Cover with the second layer placed top side up. Spread the rest of the frosting evenly first over the sides and then covering the top of the cake.

For a Bundt cake bake at 350F for 55-60 minutes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pistachio Pudding Salad

Our church had its 110th anniversary this past Sunday. A little country church that is 110 years old is a beautiful thing. It really is much older than that, but that is the anniversary of this building itself. I don't know how many of you have ever had the feeling of deja vu at one time or another but I had a strong dose of it 12 years ago when I first walked into this church. I felt like I already knew this place and had an overwhelming feeling of having been there before. I am not a religious person, but I've never felt more at home anywhere than I have there. I was raised in the Catholic faith and not ever felt a sense of belonging or really any warmth in any church I attended growing up or as an adult, except for this one. Can't explain it but I always leave there feeling happy.

Ok, for the recipe now. We found out the early part of last week that we were assigned fruit dishes for the potluck celebration to follow at church this past Sunday. I was gone for most of the weekend and needed something I could just whip up in a jiffy but that people would also enjoy and that included fruit. I ask you - is there any dish easier to make than Pistachio Pudding Salad. No way!!! This is so simple that anyone, even my 11 year old son can make this and it will come out fantastic!!!! The above picture of the watermelon is the handy work of my husband. As I've mentioned before he was in the catering business many years so these things are a breeze to him. The most trouble he had was finding straight pins to attach the flowers. Is it pretty or what? He filled it with watermelon balls (of course) and kiwi, mangoes and papaya. Delicious......So remember if you need a quick fruit or dessert recipe, the pudding is a no fail sure bet!

I doubled this recipe:

1 bag mini marshmallows

1 box Jell-O pistachio pudding mix

1 small can crushed pineapple

1 small can mandarin oranges

1 tub Cool Whip

In a large bowl mix together the pineapple, mandarin oranges and the packet of pudding. Do not drain the pineapple or the mandarin oranges. Then add the Cool Whip and 1/2 bag of marshmallows. Chill for a couple of hours.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cheesy Skillet Chicken and Rice with Broccoli

This was one delicious meal! I found this on a terrific food blog - Mel's Kitchen Cafe. She has some wonderful recipes on her blog and I already have a few others in mind that I'll be trying. The original recipe calls for green beans but my son prefers broccoli so I decided to go with that instead. It's a simple recipe and kid friendly.

Looking very forward to the weekend with cooler, sunny weather moving in. We have had torrential rains here the past few days with flooding in some areas. But we did need the rain. Feels like the humidity is finally leaving and that is a good thing. Have a great weekend everyone!!!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt and group black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces white button mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered or sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound frozen or fresh green beans (I used fresh broccoli)
1 cup shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Carefully lay each chicken breast in the skillet and cook until the chicken is well browned on the first side, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken with a pair of tongs and let it brown on the second side, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons oil from the pan.

Return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, scraping the browned bits off the bottom and edges of the pan, until the mushrooms begin to soften and start to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the rice and continue to cook until the edges of the rice turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken to the pan and cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the rice is mostly cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Remove chicken from the skillet again, brushing off any rice that sticks to the chicken back into the skillet. Cover the chicken with foil to keep warm. Stir the green beans (or broccoli) into the skillet, stir the mixture well, cover and continue to cook on low until the beans and rice are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.