Sunday, June 19, 2016

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

I have a group of friends that I try to meet up with every couple of months just to stay connected.  Let's be honest,  it is a ladies night at the Celebration Town Tavern, usually on the patio, which may or may not include some adult beverages, not so point friendly bar food and some laughs. We all work in different areas within the same company now and always have some really good stories to share.

"I'm busy" seems to be the theme lately.  I really am!  I don't know how people with kids can possibly do it all cuz I don't have any kids and I am super busy.  It feels so indulgent to do an all about me day spent pouring through cookbooks, practicing my royal iced cookies and watching true crime TV.  Yes, I am hooked on that station, ID TV (Investigation Discovery).  It features programs like 'Sinister Ministers', 'Deadly Affairs' and 'Fatal Encounters' .  The Bellman refers to it as murder porn  Hahaha whatever, I like it, lol.

One of my Patio Night girls challenged me to do a pineapple upside down cake ------with the key word of moist ---how could I say no?!  
I totally cheated and started with a box cake.  I've made this cake before from scratch but this time I wanted to use my beautiful Bundt cake pan and knew the scratch batter would be too flimsy. I totally stole the idea from Pinterest to add the pineapple in this way rather than on top.  It slices really nice when layered like this!

Oh, and I was gifted an awesome lime green fancy whisk this week.   It worked perfectly today for this easy cake batter and there was no need to dirty up the kitchen aide mixer. Thanks Mouguett!

Yield = 1 Bundt cake (12 servings)

1/2 C butter, melted
1/2 C brown sugar

1 20oz can pineapple slices, (reserve juice)
1 jar maraschino cherries

1 box vanilla cake mix
1 3.4oz box vanilla pudding
3 eggs
1/3 C veggie oil
1/4 C heavy cream

1.  Spray a Bundt pan with non stick spray.

2.  Evenly pour the melted butter into the bottom of the Bundt pan and top with the brown sugar.

3.  Cut the pineapple rings in half and, alternating with the cherries, place into the butter-brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan.

4.  In a large bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes together. Add the reserved pineapple juice and heavy cream (the juice and cream should together equal 1 cup of liquid).  Add the eggs and vegetable oil, and mix until fully blended.

5. Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple and cherries.

6.  Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

7.  Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before inverting it onto a serving plate. Slice between pineapple rings to serve.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Blueberry Banana Bread

 Wow, the weather is soooo beautiful right now in Florida. The heat of the summer is just around the corner so I am trying to get out there and enjoy it while I can. Right now it is blueberry season, woohoo! 

We went a pickin' this week. The berries still have some ripening to do but we got enough to do some baking. Aren't they gorgeous?!

I love Southern Hill Farms. It's close to home, they have several different types of berries and best of all they have a little shop that sells stuff! Along with my blueberry lemonade I picked up this blueberry chapstick. It smells soooo good!

I have some rotting bananas on my counter top that I would never dream of tossing cuz you know what that means....banana bread!! I used my tried but true banana bread recipe and threw in a cup of blueberries. So taaaasty! 
The bread is a very old fashioned and easy recipe. I've tried tons of banana bread recipes, some with oil, some with shortening and some with butter. Some fancy pantsy recipes with creme fraiche and some with good ole sour cream. This one is my fav. It can be mixed by hand and in one bowl. It's always super tender, not too sweet and doesn't stick to the pan on me. I think the key is the bananas. They have to be beyond ripe. Like to the point where you do not want to touch them because they look so nasty ripe. To the point where you think they are too far gone and might be liquefied ripe.  To the to the point that you have a flock of fruit flies ringing your door bell ripe. Yeah, like that.

The recipe is foolproof and easy or as The Bellman would say, "easy peasy Doc and Sneezy". I love it!!

Yield = 1 loaf

3 bananas 
6 TBL melted butter 
1 C cup sugar 
1 egg, beaten 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp cinnamon 
salt, pinch 
1 1/2 C flour + 2 TBL (separated) 
1 C blueberries 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a loaf pan. Really butter it--not that spray stuff or shortening.  I swear it makes a difference.

2. Toss fresh blueberries with about 2 tablespoons of flour and set aside. This will coat them enough to keep them from sinking to the bottom of your batter.

3. In a large mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir in the melted butter.

4. Mix in the baking soda and salt and cinnamon. 

5. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. 

6. Fold in the flour until just combined. (be gentle:)

7. Fold in the blueberries

8. Pour into buttered loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.

9. Remove from oven. When the pan is cool enough to handle, remove the loaf from the pan onto a rack and let cool for approx. 1 hour. When the loaf is almost room temperature wrap it up in tin foil. The remaining warmth will steam the loaf making it really moist and tender.

*this recipe is great without the blueberries, too.  Try leaving them out and adding a handful of walnuts, yum!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Druid Circles

Raisins are nasty.  At least that is the consensus around the Friday afternoon water cooler.  Yes, we spend our Friday afternoons very ah, productive.  This week's discussions ranged from horse jumping to Real Housewives to celery and raisins :)

I tend to agree with that raisin thought, though.  To me it is pretty disgusting to drill down into the ooey gooey center of a cinnamon roll only to find a dozen raisins all nested in there.  To The Bellman that is the holy grail.  Yes, he loves those nasty raisins.  

Druid Circles?  Well, I finally made it into the new Trader Joe's.  It took several tries, omg that parking lot!! Anyway, they have soooo many yummy things to try.  As I drooled over the baked goods table I noticed a bag of something called Druid Circles.  I was oh so curious and after reading the label I see that those are good ole oatmeal cookies.   Druid Circles = oatmeal cookies chocked full of nasty raisins = a Bellman favorite. The Bellman deserves a lil treat now and again and being that home baked is so much better than store bought,  I decided to give those Druid Circles a whirl.  I am pretty sure I'm not well versed in tasting or baking oatmeal cookies.  Remember, my not so domestic goddess mother didn't touch anything non chocolate so I've not had much exposure to oatmeal anything. After several tries and tweaks I think I have the recipe nailed down.  These are Bellman endorsed, and as he so proclaimed them "enchantingly delicious".  Like a Druid...Elf?  Even I like them, nasty raisins and all.

I'll share a couple of my secrets with you.  You hear all the time that one of the keys to good baking is to use the best ingredients you can find. I believe in that and have some favorites that I invest in.   I am in love with the organic Amish butter from Troyer Farm, good ole Nielsen Massey vanilla, Vietnamese cinnamon, cage-free organic eggs (happy chickens really do produce better eggs) and these nasty raisins from Trader Joe's.  They are plumper and not as chewy as the ones in the red box.  It's a texture thing, isn't it? 

I also really like my cookies to be crispy on the edges and chewy in the center.  To accomplish this I use a large scoop (see below) to form nice uniform mounds of dough.  I also bake the cookies until they are just barely starting to turn golden brown on the edges.  I usually let them rest on the cookie sheet 5 minutes or so before I move them to the rack.

Give them a try, ya never know!

DRUID CIRCLES (aka Oatmeal Cookies)
Yield = 24

1 C butter
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, fresh ground
3 C oats, old fashioned
1 C raisins
1 C walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. In a 2nd bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture until combined.

3. Fold in rolled oats, raisins, and walnuts.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.