Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Here I am, sitting in nearly complete silence (the slight hum of the kegerator is interrupting my silence. Or is that my name it's calling?....). Usually as I'm typing up recipes and going about my blogging business at this time of the day, I have Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN in the background and random nonsense coming out of my brother's mouth. I'm sure there's still nonsense coming out of his mouth, but since he moved out last week I just can't hear it. It's totally throwing off my morning routine. So bear with me.

By the way, whenever someone says "bear with me," this is what I picture.

I had a special request for some banana cake by one of my dearest, most amazing, life-long best friends. I made a version of this cake for her baby shower, which seems like yesterday. Her little one is now 17 months old. Heck, we've been best friends for almost 20 years, and our days of Dream Phone and neighborhood bike rides don't even seem that long ago. I can't believe how time flies. I actually baked my first from-scratch cake with her. It was an apple cake in third grade and we had the kitchen all to ourselves. We burnt it. It was amazing.

She is one of the hardest working, kindhearted, selfless and caring people I know, and has managed to raise her beautiful son to be a loving little boy. I'm so blessed to have them both in my life, let alone just down the road. I love you, Corrine Elizabeth and Trent Michael!

Banana Cake 
Adapted from

3 bananas, mashed
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp dark rum
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
A whole lot of love

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9" round pans. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stream in oil. Mix in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla and rum. Add one cup of flour, baking soda and salt, and stir until just combined. Mix in the buttermilk, then add the rest of the flour. Don't forget to douse the whole thing in love. Divide batter between the two pans, and bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool before frosting. 

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp milk

Cream butter and peanut butter until well combined and lighter in color, 2-3 minutes on high. Slowly add in powdered sugar a little at a time until all 3 cups are added. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency. 

Also! The other page I write for it up for an award by Saveur Magazine. If you get the chance, please head over there and vote for Honest Cooking! Thanks, y'all!

To vote, click here:

Have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Road Trippin'

I got back from a visit to Florida a couple weeks ago. I have a bunch of family trickled down that way, so I tagged along with some of my craziest most beloved and entertaining cousins, and we had a blast. After a train ride to DC and a 13-hour bout in the car, we arrived in paradise, aka Port Orange. If only I could wake up and start every day with a run on the beach instead of the treadmill. And then casually have an ocean-side lunch. Perhaps a bit of surfing to follow. I would seriously consider moving there if I could, but I can't, and I'll explain why later.

Of course, the food was awesome. We tried a few Mexican spots (Tia Cori's-$1.50 tacos!), got our fill of gator, and did a little bar hopping. One place that had us coming back was Our Deck Down Under, where you can't tell who works there and who's just a regular because everyone is friends with everyone. The clam strips seem to be their claim to fame, but everything we tried was right on the money. The seafood was all very fresh and cooked by someone who knows a thing or two. The variety of sides (Hush puppies, anyone? Slaw?) and portion sizes definitely made you feel like you got your money's worth. And dessert--I have a love for Key Lime Pie, and they didn't have to do much arm-twisting to get me to try theirs. The thing I love about it is the tartness. Any dessert is sweet, but the fresh key lime juice is what makes this kind of pie stand out, and in my opinion, it needs to be loud and abundant. They served the pie very chilled, which was a refreshing surprise, I just would have liked a little more of that coveted lime juice in their version. But in all honesty, what do I know, I'm just from New Jersey.

Fried oysters, blackened scallops and hush puppies

We had a great time catching up and enjoying the surroundings. I even got offered a shoulder to sleep on during the plane ride home. Could be creepy, but I thought of it as a kind gesture (then fought to stay awake the rest of the flight). This post would have been more appropriate posted a week or so ago, but a few cool changes have come about recently and have temporarily sucked my attention away.

Cool Change #1: I'm now a contributor on, an online food magazine. I'll be writing about and sharing recipes (mainly desserts) all happily paired with a beer. Be sure to stop over there, even if you're not interested at all in more of my nonsense work. They've got a lot of new and useful info!

Cool Change #2: I'm moving to England! It's been real, America. You will always have my heart, but I gotta set sails and check out somewhere new for a while. I'll be in Manchester working through the church. I couldn't be more excited to give up everything I know to serve God in a new setting. I won't head out until September, which is good because I'm not sure how to pack everything and I think it'll take me that long to figure out. 

I hope you have some cool things going on too. If not, the weather has been pretty amazing lately. Though I really hope you have more to look forward to than the weather. Have a wonderful day!

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pecan Pie and a Flop

I hope everyone had a relaxing and blessed Easter! It's always good to be reminded of how great our God is, and remember that Jesus died and rose from the cross so that our sins would be forgiven, and so we could have everlasting life ourselves.

Holidays always mean lots of time spent in the kitchen--a feast is definitely in order! And a feast is what we had. Baked ham, rosemary lamb chops, grilled asparagus, deviled eggs, potato salad, homemade pickles, crescent rolls, cornbread, fruit goes on and on and on. Mom always outdoes herself. And that's before all the baked goods! I tackled some pies and cupcakes, then the two of us teamed up to make some egg bread and frosted sugar cookies. 

Let's talk pie. One pie, the pecan pie--the one I'm sharing with you today, was a give-away. But I'm told it got rave reviews. The other pie, lemon meringue, was a recipe featured on the cover of the latest Fine Cooking magazine and caught my attention immediately. I knew I had to attempt it! Then I realized I've never even eaten lemon meringue pie before, I've only made up in my head what I think it would taste like. I guess it's the unnatural fluorescent yellow filling that's kept me away for so long. Anyway, this pie is a marathon to make, and I was surprised at how smoothly the process was going. By the end I had a picture-perfect pie. 

That turned to soup when we cut into it. 

It's currently sitting, half-eaten, on the kitchen table positioned right next to the magazine with its shining cover photo looking at my pie and straight up mocking it. I think no one knows if it should be thrown out or mourned. The taste was right-on (I'm told, since I guess I can't say that I actually know what it was supposed to taste like). I'm not sure where it went wrong since the magazine had pictures to go along with the steps, but I'm determined to get this one right. And hopefully next time we can use forks instead of spoons...!

Back to the other pie (the one I know will come out as a solid as opposed to a liquid). Pecan pie often times calls for a touch of bourbon, which we didn't have on hand at the time (no worries, I've already solved that problem), so I substituted with some Crown Royal, which we always have hanging around. I had some leftover ground gingersnap cookies so I tossed them in the filling to add a little extra spice. You can use your favorite pie dough for the crust or an uncooked store-bought version. 

Classic Pie Dough
(makes top and bottom crust)

2 cups flour
3 Tbsp cold shortening, cut in cubes
3 Tbsp cold butter, cut in cubes
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6-8 Tbsp ice-cold water

Combine dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender (or two forks) to cut in butter and shortening until the mixture resembles wet sand and the fat is no bigger than pea-sized. Add 6 Tbsp of water and toss mixture with a fork to combine. Continue to add more water until the dough comes together and is no longer dry, but not sticky (you may need more than 8 Tbsp of water total). Divide dough in two, form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Avoid touching the dough with your hands as much as possible, since your hands are warm and you want the dough to stay cold. Put dough in the fridge for at least a half hour before rolling out. 

Pecan Pie 
Adapted from

3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp ground gingersnaps
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup corn syrup
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp Crown Royal (or bourbon)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
1 tsp maple sugar (white sugar or vanilla is fine too!)
1 uncooked pie shell

Place baking sheet on middle rack in oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Beat eggs with sugar until well combined. Stir in corn syrup, and add gingersnaps and flour. Mix in butter, Crown Royal and vanilla, then fold in chopped pecans. Pour filling into pie shell and top with pecan halves placed in a decorative pattern (or just mix them in-it all tastes the same!). Sprinkle with maple sugar. Place pie on baking sheet in oven and bake for an hour. 

I just got back from a trip down to Port Orange, Florida for a week spent with some crazy cousins. I'll be recounting my trip soon! Which may or my not include my attempt at surfing coming from someone who can barely stand on two feet on dry ground.

 Have a blessed week!