Monday, June 28, 2010

Less is More...

...Or simple is delicious.  That's what I think about a good pound cake and my mother made some of the best.  One of my favorites was a pound cake that I added grated chocolate to the batter--called a Mahogany Pound Cake.  And, it's not surprising that it was the chosen recipe we made together for my Grandparent's 50th Wedding Anniversary cake.  Pound cake holds up well and although, adding a filling and a frosting can enhance it, basically, the buttery flavor of a good pound cake will just melt in your mouth. You may use your imagination to change it with added ingredients; the basics builds a wonderful foundation.

Of course,  Pound Cake got its name from using a pound of butter,  a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, and a pound of eggs.  However, we've adjusted recipes through the years to fit pans or when we've added other things: chocolate, lemon, nuts, and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) to name a few.  This is one recipe you can add almost anything to, flavor wise, or try slicing it and grilling it to go with a fruited sauce or grilled peach halves.

I chose to simply slice a nectarine to have with my piece; stone fruits are one of my favorites (I'm anxiously awaiting peaches).    This version also is a tribute to Kelly and how, this past year, she tried to simplify her life; remove the stress and barriers to being happy.  I hope you like it.

Cream cheese Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks) at room temperature
1 8oz pkg. cream cheese (use the regular, not the low-fat!)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T vanilla (or do 2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 to 1 tsp. your favorite (i.e., lemon, almond, etc.)

In the KitchenAid, using the whisk attachment (I know, this is different, but trust me it makes for a light, beautiful batter), beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar 8-10 minutes.  The batter should be light and fluffy.  On low speed add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Raise the speed to medium and beat once more until fluffy.  In a small bowl, whisk (using a hand whisk, this time) the flour and salt.  Add it to the batter and beat until well incorporated.  Fold in the vanilla or your preferred flavorings.

In a 12-cup Bundt pan, sprayed with a baking spray (which is a vegetable oil and flour mixture), pour in the batter, smoothing slightly the top.  Place in a cool oven.  Set temperature 325F-degrees Bake or Convection for 80-90 minutes.  I set my timer for the 80 and checked it with a wooden skewer for doneness.  Let cool about 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a serving plate.  Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Whatcha Craving...

Kelly introduced us to Renee & Robin several years ago when we were in Colorado.  The "Twins" worked in the mall where Kelly had a part-time job while she attended Colorado State.  They have become just as dear to us, as they were to Kelly.  Coincidentally, both are pregnant and I noticed on Facebook that Renee mentioned she had been craving caramels and sunflower seeds!  My first thought, "wow, what a great combination."  And, I told Renee I would be creating a cookie using Baby's craving.

In addition to the caramels and sunflower seeds, I add a tablespoon of Lyle's Golden Syrup.  I'm sure my friends in Australia recognize this ingredient, and anyone else who has made Anzac Biscuits.  These cookies get their crispness from the syrup, but if you like a softer cookie, you could leave it out. 

I added the photo of Kelly because she would have loved this recipe, not to mention, she couldn't believe some of the things the Twins ate!  Also, one of the confections Kelly and I loved were Fran's Chocolate Caramels with Sea Salt.  In a weird sort of way, these remind me of those candies.  In fact, I thought about drizzling some melted bittersweet chocolate across them, but I thought the plain version would ship better to Renee.  However, feel free to add it...I will next time I bake them.

Caramelly Sunflower Seed Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 T Lyles Golden Syrup
1 egg
1 T Vanilla Extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup caramels, chopped (about half of a 14 oz bag of Kraft Caramels)
3/4 cup lightly salted, sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees/Convection (or Bake).  In a KitchenAid, using the paddle attachment, beat butter.  Add the sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add the syrup, egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly.  Sift, or mix in a bowl, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add to the mixture and combine.  
Unwrap the caramels and use a large Chef's knife to cut in half, then, each half into quarters. (You should get 8 pieces from one caramel).
Add the chopped caramels to the mixture, along with the sunflower seeds.  Beat just until combined.  Scoop out the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet (or use a Silpat).

 With your hand, press the tops down, slightly.  Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Let rest on the baking sheet 5-7 minutes before transferring the cookies to a rack to cool. 
YUM!  Hey Baby Jones...let me know whatcha craving next, these turned out perfect!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taking Time to Enjoy my Garden...

I love to bake, but today was one of those beautiful days in the 70s, sun shining and clear, so I took a walk around our home this afternoon to enjoy the blooms in my garden.  I have peonies that I have missed because of being away, first, with the tragic loss of our daughter Kelly and last week babysitting our granddaughter, Maddie.  One grouping of peony is actually from my grandmother's garden that I have transplanted in every home we've lived in the last 42 years.

I just needed to spend some time with nature and contemplate the beauty around me.  Enjoy!

Thank you for taking a walk with me; wasn't it peaceful!

Eggplant Balls

My early memories of eggplant, that my mother made for us, was anything but Italian!  In fact, I had never heard of eggplant Parmesan until after I was married.  Rather, my mother's recipe for eggplant was breaded and sauteed, but then she served it with maple syrup!  Neither my sister, Barbara, nor I know where this recipe came from and why she decided that syrup was the perfect accompaniment, but it's one I've never made for my family.

However, I do love eggplant Parmesan and make that often.  This recipe, I created, stems from the flavors and seasonings in Parmesan but, the roasting of the eggplant in Baba Ganoush.  I originally made these because I was coming up with a substitute for meatballs with our pasta, but they are so good, and easily stand alone...even though I still like them with a little pasta or stuffed shells.

Whether you've planted eggplant in your garden or bought it in the market (like I did), I hope you try this recipe. It's easy and I'm sure your family will love it.  And, if you've ever had eggplant with maple syrup, please tell me where this concept came from!

Eggplant Balls

1 large eggplant, wash and dry with paper toweling
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F-degrees. Brush some olive oil on the eggplant and use a fork to poke some "steam" holes in it.  Roast 40 minutes.  It will look shriveled when done.
 Let cool for 10-15 minutes for easy handling.  Then, make a slit with a knife and scoop out the flesh inside to a bowl.  I like to chop the flesh finer with my mezzaluna before adding the remaining ingredients.
Add the egg, seasonings, minced garlic, Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and stir together.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Heat a sauce pan on top of the stove over medium heat.  Add 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.  Use a large tablespoon to scoop up some eggplant mixture and form into a ball, about the size of a large walnut.  Roll the ball in additional breadcrumbs.
Gently add them to the hot oil.  Saute the balls on each side about 5-7 minutes.
 Add them to your favorite sauce...admittedly, mine is Raos, but a homemade marinara is great too.  You can cook them on top of the stove an additional ten minutes to heat through with the sauce or place in a baking dish, add some mozzarella or Fontina cheese on top and bake at 375F-degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Serve with your favorite pasta or as I did tonight, with stuffed shells; not maple syrup.  Enjoy!

Cinnamon~Sugar Doughnut...Muffins

Last night, a little jet lagged, but nonetheless listening to the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," my ears perked up when I heard the words...Donut/Muffin.  My mind began to think about such a wonderful breakfast treat combination and this morning I decided to make my own version.  As you know, I love donuts, cake donuts to be specific, and who doesn't like muffins?

Cinnamon~Sugar is one of my favorite "toppings".  When I was sick, my mother would make me tea and cinnamon~sugar toast.  It was as helpful as any medicine the doctor prescribed, but then, maybe it was the love that came with it from Mom.  Also, I remember when we moved to California and Kelly and I discovered that Swenson's Ice Cream made a Cinnamon flavor...what a wonderful discovery.

I'd like to say this baked version will save a lot of calories, but the step that really makes this taste like a donut is dipping them in melted butter then, in a cinnamon~sugar mixture to form that wonderful crunchy layer over the buttery layer.  Don't be afraid to try these and think about your favorite comfort foods.

Cinnamon~Sugar Doughnut Muffins

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion (optional, but oh, so good!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup buttermilk*

1 cup sugar
4 T cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven 400F-degrees.  In a KitchenAid mixer, using a paddle, beat the butter.  Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together.  Stir into the batter along with the buttermilk (remember these are also a muffin, so don't over beat). 

Fill greased muffin pan sections two-thirds full.  Place muffin pan on a baking sheet; this prevents the bottoms getting too dark, and place in the oven.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown and the top of the muffin springs back when touched.

Remove from the oven, but let cool in the muffin pan while you prepare the topping.  Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in one bowl.  Melt the unsalted butter and pour it into another bowl.  Cool butter slightly before dipping.  

Remove muffins from the pan (after 15 minutes of cooling) and dip first into the butter, coating the entire muffin.
Next, dip into the cinnamon~sugar mixture.
Make sure you coat well...that' what gives the crunchy coat.  Enjoy!

*If you don't have buttermilk, you can add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to regular milk to sour it. Let it sit about 10 minutes. You will obtain the same effect that buttermilk provides, although, I love the flavor that buttermilk does to enhance the batter.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Maddie's Toll House Cookies

 I was thinking about Kelly, which I do a lot lately, and remembering a special occasion that involved a restaurant called Mrs. K's Toll House, in Silver Springs, Maryland.   My Aunt Millie and Uncle Lou took me, Erin and Kelly out to dinner one evening to say good-bye before we moved cross-country.  (My husband had left to take a job in California and I was still in Maryland waiting to close on our house.)  The Tudor building, the restaurant is located in, dates back to 1709 and it functioned as a toll house.  The price to pass on the road was two-cents...the same as the price to send a letter that year! The restaurant is still opened and the gardens are just beautiful.  This occasion came to mind because Kelly said to me later, "we never got our Toll House cookies."  She was, however, very impressed by the lemon sorbet she was given between the salad course and entree to cleanse the palette! 

This memory reminded me of the first cookies I ever made with my mother--Toll House Cookies; a creation of Ruth Wakefield, who in 1930, along with her husband Kenneth, purchased a Cape Cod-style toll house located halfway between Boston and New Bedford.  The Wakefield's called the lodge the Toll House Inn and Ruth loved to prepare treats for the visitors.  One day, while preparing her Butter Drop Do Cookies (a recipe that dates back to Colonial days) she cut up a Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate bar into tiny bits.  The cookies were an instant hit; even the Boston newspaper wrote about these unusual cookies.  Ruth approached Nestle's about making the bar easier to break into pieces--which they did.  However, in 1939, they developed what we now know as Semi-Sweet Morsels.  I think the Toll House Cookie is a good recipe to start with and before I leave to fly back to Seattle on Monday,  I wanted Maddie to be able to make them with me, like I did with her great grandmother.

Maddie's Toll House Cookies

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 T vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups crushed Cosmic CoCo's (a Whole Food's brand of cereal, but you could also use CoCo Puffs)
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 12oz bag of mini or regular Semi-Sweet morsels
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate

In the KitchenAid with the paddle attachment (or use a hand-held mixer and large bowl) beat the butter and sugars until fluffy.
 Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition.  Add the vanilla extract and beat again.   Place the Cosmic CoCo's in a plastic bag and let your children crush them, like Maddie did with her little rolling pin.

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the mixer and combine completely.  Add the crushed Cosmic CoCo's, mini chips, chopped cranberries, and white chocolate and mix well.

I chopped the cranberries a little so the pieces would be more uniform with the mini chips and easier for a toddler to digest!  Preheat oven to 375F-degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.  I just used a large tablespoon to drop the dough on the baking sheet and Maddie flattened them a little.

Ready for the oven...bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool, 5 minutes on the pan before moving them to a baking rack to cool completely.

Maddie wanted her's with a glass of milk, of course, and just like the time Kelly watched Ari "dunk" for the first time...I watched how instinctively Maddie did the same with her cookie.
This has definitely been a memorable week for me and my little baking buddy.  I hope you're inspired to bake something with your children or grandchildren and make memories to pass along.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ode to the Blueberry

When I was growing up in Maryland, the blueberries I picked were wild ones called Huckleberries.  They were much smaller than the ones I'm use to now, but oh, so sweet.  My mother would make the most wonderful pies and jam from the bounty we found along our driveway.

The other day, my sister, Barbara, mentioned she had picked over 2 quarts of blueberries and it made me think about the time I convinced our daughter, Kelly, that going to a U-Pick It farm in Farmington, Massachusetts would be a fun outing!  Kelly was home for the summer from college, but Erin was doing an internship at Conde Naste publishing, so she escaped my "bright idea."  It was really a beautiful blueberry patch and the owners had taken the precaution of netting it to prevent the birds from stealing the harvest.  We each brought a large bowl and began picking, going down one row, then another.  It became a contest with us; shouting out, "You should see how big this one is!" or "Oh my gosh, this bush is covered!"  Needless to say, by the time we were done, we had picked over twenty-five quarts!!

In addition to the possibilities of blueberry pie, muffins, jam, and yes, freezing some for later, I loved making a blueberry cake with ribbons of blueberries swirled through.  Well, I didn't pick these blueberries, but rather bought them at Whole Foods in New Jersey, and decided that Maddie and I would create our version of blueberry cake to share.  I took lots of photos of Maddie because just watching her intensity with baking makes me smile and I thought back to when my mother would just let me try things.  I just know this is a start of a good baker!

Blueberry Streusel Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamon
1 cup milk

Blueberry Filling
1 pint (2 cups) washed blueberries
1/2 cup brown sugar

Streusel Topping
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamon

In the KitchenAid, and using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  I cracked them in a separate bowl and had Maddie add them to the mixer.
Beat well, after each addition, then, scrape down the bowl and beat again.  Maddie then, added the vanilla and sour cream.  Finally, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices alternately with the milk, ending with the flour.
After the batter was made, Maddie concentrated on creating the streusel.  She mixed the flour, sugars, and spices, then I poured the cooled melted butter over the mixture and she helped me blend it with a fork.  This makes the best streusel and sometimes, I mix up a double batch and freeze it to have ready to top muffins!
Lastly, we mixed the blueberries with the brown sugar and everything was ready to layer in a prepared (sprayed with a oil/flour spray) 12-cup bundt pan*.  Preheat oven to 350F-degrees/Convection (if you have convection) otherwise on Bake.
Start with the batter, layer half the blueberries, more batter, the rest of the blueberries, and finally top with the last of the batter.  Sprinkle the streusel on top.  Maddie couldn't help but taste!
I love seeing her with flour on her face...she really gets into baking!
The cake should bake about 1 hour~20 minutes, but test with a wooden skewer to make sure it's done.  Very important--let the cake rest in the bundt pan at least 20 minutes before turning it out on one plate, then flipping it to your serving plate.  I was in a rush and forgot to wait!  When I flipped it out after just 5 minutes, it spread out because the blueberries had not cooled.  Even some days, things don't always come out perfect, but having this time with Maddie and remembering picking blueberries with Kelly was worth the effort.  Enjoy!
*You could also bake this in a 9"x13" baking pan (Erin doesn't own one!) and reduce the time to 55-60 minutes, but watch for a golden brown.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Maddie & Me...Sweet Cherry Coffee Cake

This week I'll be posting from our oldest daughter, Erin's home in New Jersey.  I'm here babysitting Madison, our 19 month old granddaughter while her mom is in Istanbul, Turkey for an HR conference.

There's nothing like starting them early and, like my mother, I'm fearless when it comes to the challenge of baking with a toddler!  I know, wholeheartedly, that my love of baking came from my mother starting me early.  In fact, I made my first yeast rolls at the age of seven for our Thanksgiving meal.  I know some of you have seen me cooking with Ari, our almost two-year-old grandson, on Kelly & Kandyce's blog~Notions & Threads.  He and I had an enjoyable afternoon last month baking banana muffins and bread with some really ripe bananas.  It's so much fun to see the enthusiasm that both Ari and Maddie put in to baking and I look forward to a week with my little phenom of baking in addition to playtime.

Sweet Cherry Coffee Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1 T vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour (plus an additional 1/4 cup to toss the cherries in)
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup milk
2 cups pitted cherries
Preheat oven to 375F-degrees/convection.  Butter and flour a 9"x13" baking pan. (my daughter didn't own one, so I ended up using 2- 8"x8" glass baking dishes).  Maddie helped with the buttering and enjoyed every minute.
Use a KitchenAid with the paddle attachment or large bowl and a hand-held mixer.  Beat butter until fluffy, then, add the sugar.  Scrape down the sides and add the egg.  Beat well.  
Adding the sugar, Maddie really got into it!  I think she nabbed a bit to taste.  Add the flavorings and mix well.
I sifted the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add it to the batter, alternately with the milk, ending with the flour.  Mix until combined.  Scrape batter into the prepare pan(s).  Toss the 2 cups of pitted cherries with the additional 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour.  I arranged them on top of the cake batter and then, let Maddie "push" them down into the batter.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.  Dust the top with confectioners' sugar and enjoy as a snacking cake with your morning coffee or tea or better yet, serve it as a dessert with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Bars

The World Cup has started and everyone has the "fever".  I thought I'd bake up a bar that would be good for snacking while your family is glued to the television.

This recipe is my version of a Hermit Bar~a spicy, glazed cookie/cake bar, loaded with raisins.  My mother made Hermit Bars and they were one of my favorites, I think because of the spice, but also because this cookie is dense and has a cake-like quality that's very comforting.  So, my version...adds a dark cocoa to the mix and instead of raisins, I've substituted dried sweet cherries.

I first made a chocolate gingersnap one Christmas and since then, decided that chocolate and spices go very well together.  Actually, I believe in the adage, anything goes with chocolate.  This I know to be true because yesterday my dear friend, Ellen, offered me a chocolate covered edamame.  They were delicious and somewhat inspired my World Cup Bars today!

World Cup Bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
10 T butter-flavored shortening (hint: I use the sticks for easy measuring)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 large eggs
1/4 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cardamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups Cake flour
1/2 cup water*
1 cup chopped dried sweet cherries

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees bake.  Spray a 10"x15" baking sheet with a oil spray.  In a 2-cup glass measure, soak the cherries with very hot water.  Meanwhile, in a KitchenAid, (or use a hand mixer with a large bowl) and using the paddle attachment, combine the butter, shortening and sugar.  Beat until fluffy.  Add the molasses, then the eggs, one at a time.  Add the cocoa, spices and salt and blend well.  Drain the cherries, reserving 1/2 cup of the "cherry water" to add with the flour.  Add the flour and the reserved liquid and mix just until combined.  Chopped the cherries and stir into the mixture.  Spread the batter on the prepared pan.  Bake 18-20 minutes until the top is shiny.
Spread the glaze on the warm bars.

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 T milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk together all ingredients and pour over bars.  Spread with an off-set spatula.  Cut into desired sized bars, but should make about 2 dozen.  Enjoy!

Crunchy Fruity Granola

I love making my own granola; I know exactly what's going into it and I can change up the variety by substituting any dried fruit and nuts.  It's easy to toss together and if you have the patience of a slow bake (90 minutes) then this recipe is perfect.

Granola is also very versatile~not only as a morning cereal, but this is fresh fruit season and I love to have it to top my fruit and Greek yogurt.  Not mention, it's just great as a healthy snack to munch anytime you get hunger pangs or while you watching the World Cup!

Crunchy Fruity Granola

7 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats, uncooked
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup Salba (these are tiny seeds you can buy at a health food store or Whole Foods--think Chia-Pet!)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup diced walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts
1 cup sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dark amber Agave syrup
1 T vanilla
5 cups of mixed dried fruit, chopped in bite-size pieces (I used Favorite Fruit Blend)

In a large bowl (see Mom, I'm still using my wooden bowl!), combine the first six ingredients and toss well.
In a small saucepan, heat on low the oil, agave syrup, and vanilla just to warm.  Pour over the dry ingredients in the bowl, stirring and tossing until everything is very well combined.  Preheat oven to 250F-degrees.

Spread the granola on one or two large, lightly greased or use parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 90 minutes, stirring  the mixture every 15 minutes.  This is where the patience comes in, but it's worth it.   When it's done, transfer the mixture back to the large bowl.  Mix in the dried fruit mixture or your favorite combination.  I would recommend that you chop any large dried fruit into bite-size pieces. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

and for Dessert...

I was going to make banana bread, but my husband ate one of the bananas!  So, I decided to come up with a banana cake and make a favorite dessert...Cupcakes.

One of my favorite songs from 1964 was "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis.  I remember going around singing the rhyming song using names of my family and friends.  If you don't remember it, it goes something like this...

Marsha, Marsha, bo-barsha
Banana-fana fo-farsha

I introduced my girls to this song by singing their names and, well, Kelly's stuck to the point I would refer to her as Kelly-Kelly, bo-belly as a term of endearment.  However, once when I telephoned her one morning when she was in grad school in Colorado, her roommate, Christina answered the phone and because I couldn't tell these two California girls apart by their voice, I said, "Good morning Kelly Belly!"  Kelly was mortified that I had let out the name I called her at home!  She eventually came around and it was made us laugh!

I'm sharing this story because I'm calling these cupcakes Banana-Fana Cupcakes...because it still makes me smile.

Banana-Fana Cupcakes
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 very ripe banana, mashed
3 large eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
3 Cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Prepare muffin tins with paper liners.
In a KitchenAid (or a bowl using a hand mixer)  and the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth.  Mix in sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add the banana and flavorings and mix again.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix the sour cream in the milk.  Add the flour and milk mixture alternately, ending with a flour addition.  Mix well.  Use a one-third size scoop to place batter in the paper liners.  Bake 22-27 minutes or until golden brown and when you touch the tops, they spring back.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
4-5 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. Banana Flavoring
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2-3 T heavy cream
2-3 drops of yellow food coloring
Dried Banana Chips

In the KitchenAid, using the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth.  Add the 4 cups of confectioners' sugar and beat.  Add the flavoring and extract and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.  Beat until fluffy.  Add additional cream as needed.
Fill a pastry bag with a large round tip.  Pipe frosting on top.  

Add a banana chip on top... to let the recipient know what kind of cupcakes these are.  Enjoy!