Archive | February 2013

Orange & Ginger Baby Bundts with Maple Glaze

SONY DSCThis week I am back to cake recipe inventing.  I am really enjoying learning more about the why’s and how’s of baking and recipe building, but I admit I do find it all rather overwhelming.  My admiration for pasty chefs continues to grow the deeper I dive into my baking adventure.  The more I learn about baking chemistry, the more certain I am I will never be a pastry chef.   I shall never again watch another episode of Food Network Challenge the same way!  I am in awe of what they do!

The inspiration for this latest recipe came in my mailbox.  I was excited to discover the March 2013 issue of Saveur Magazine was all about donuts!  But it wasn’t the donut recipes that had me so excited.  It was the glazes for the donuts!  It occurred to me that I could use these decadent looking recipes to dress up my baby bundts.  Yay!  The recipes all look so incredibly fabulous: Dulce de Leche Glaze, Amaretto Cherry Glaze, Irish Cream Glaze, White Chocolate Cardamom Glaze, Marshmallow Glaze… My mouth was watering as I gazed upon the incredible glazes!  There were over a dozen fabulous glaze recipes and each and every one has already been added into my cookbook software.

But it was the maple glaze recipe really caught my eye.   I recently purchased a number of Boyajian oils and flavorings for my cake recipes, and maple was among the newest of the flavors to hit my pantry.  I was itching to try it out.  So, with the first flavor component in mind, I consulted my trusty Flavor Bible for other complimentary flavors.  There, among all the flavors listed were orange and ginger.  Bingo!  Ginger was already in the fridge and I had a brand spanking new bottle of orange oil in the pantry.  Perfect.

The next stop was the web site I have been using to develop my recipes.   I put together the recipe and got to work.  I gathered the ingredients and grated the ginger.

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First, I creamed the butter, then I added the sugar and beat it until it was light and fluffy.

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Then I added the egg yolks and egg one at a time, beating between each addition.

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Next, I added the grated ginger and orange oil and mixed well.

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I sifted the dry ingredients…

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And mixed up the buttermilk.  I love having dehydrated buttermilk on hand.  I almost never have real buttermilk so I always keep a container of Saco buttermilk in the fridge.  Just mix it with water and, voila!  Instant buttermilk!

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Then, alternating the dry ingredients with the buttermilk I incorporated it all into the batter.

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My original recipe started with half a cup of buttermilk, but ended up adding an additional 1/4 cup to thin the batter a bit.   I was a bit concerned that this might ruin the cake, but the batter seemed a little too thick so I took my chances.

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Here it is after I thinned it.

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I like working with small batches for my test recipes in case the recipe is a disaster.  This one filled almost 2 baby bundt pans.

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I used my convection bake feature and baked these on two different shelves.  The bottom shelf baked faster and I ended up taking it out at 11 minutes.  The cakes were browner than the top shelf pan, perhaps due in part because the pan was only partially full of batter.

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Here they are cooling on the counter.  The ones in the back were baked on the lower shelf.

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While these cooled I mixed up the glaze.

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I just dumped all the ingredients in a bowl and whisked them together.   I deviated from magazine recipe by using half and half instead of whipping cream because I didn’t have any on hand, and adding 1/2 teaspoon of maple flavoring, 1/4 tsp at a time.  The glaze didn’t have quite enough maple flavor to my liking so I decided to try the maple flavoring (or maybe it was just an excuse to use my new flavoring 🙂 ).  Now that the glaze has had a chance to sit a bit, I think 1/4 tsp would have been enough.

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It took all of my will power to wait to eat this until after I snapped the photos!  I thought the cake really was good.  I think it was the right move to add the additional buttermilk although I think I will adjust the final measurement down a bit because I did have some difficulty getting a couple of the cakes out of the pan in one piece (you wouldn’t know that from my photos because I ate the evidence!)

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This recipe is getting moved from my “Test Recipe” cookbook into my keeper recipes.  I loved the combination of orange, ginger and maple.  I would love to hear from you if you try my recipe or if you’re an experienced chef.  I would love to have your feedback, good and bad, so I can make improvements wherever possible.  Thanks for stopping by!

Orange Ginger Cake with Maple Glaze

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp orange oil (or 1/2 tsp orange extract)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat convection oven to 300 or regular oven to 325.

2. In a small bowl sift together dry ingredients.

3. Cream butter then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

4. Add egg and yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.

5. Add grated ginger and orange oil and mix well.

6. Beginning and ending with the flour, mix 1/3 of the flour into 
the wet mixture at a low speed, then 1/2 of the milk, alternating 
until all ingredients are mixed.

7. Fill prepared baby bundt pans 1/2 full with batter.  Tap pan on 
counter several times to release air bubbles and even out batter.  
Bake in convection oven for 11-13 minutes or until toothpick inserted 
into cake comes out clean.

8. Cool cakes for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack.

9. Cool completely.  Top with maple glaze and enjoy!

Maple Glaze (I halved this recipe since it was a small cake batch)

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp maple flavor
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp kosher salt1. 

Whisk sugar, syrup, cream and salt in a bowl until smooth.

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Valentine’s Day Projects From the Studio and the Kitchen

SONY DSCIt’s Valentine’s Day here and I have been busy making all sorts of fun things for my family and my little one’s classmates and teachers.  Now lest you think I am Wonder Woman, I must say I didn’t do all of this today.  I’ve been working on this over the past week and wrapped up the last task, a most delicious one, after spending most of the day working on my dratted taxes.  I can’t think of a better way to unwind after that unpleasant task than dipping strawberries and pretzels in chocolate!  Yum!

My little guy had his very first Valentine’s party at preschool this week.  He was so excited, though I don’t really think he knew what a Valentine’s party was all about.  But we had a great time selecting the treats and making the treat boxes and Valentine’s for each of his classmates.  You can’t see it in the photo, but we had a different Angry Bird character on each of the little Valentine cards.  I printed them up, but my little one colored them all by hand!  Don’t you just love the little french fry boxes?  I found the svg file online and cut these using my digital cutter.  I used some Stampin’ Up! punches for the hearts and tag.

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For his teachers I made a special coffee mug and some really delicious Vanilla Orange Instant Cappuccino.  I plan to do a post with the recipe in the near future as it is out of this world yummy!

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This adorable Valentine’s card idea came from Pinterest.  I totally cheated and copied the design concept for the front of the card!  I used Photoshop to create the card and my Big Shot to emboss the background.  I love the font for this card!  There are tons of fabulous handwriting fonts here.  I am addicted to downloading fonts and this is one of the best sites I’ve found for fabulous FREE fonts!

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Here’s a look at the inside.

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And the back…

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And a close-up…

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Here’s what was waiting for my sweet Valentine’s when they returned from school: Chocolate dipped strawberries and pretzels and a Valentine’s card.

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I can’t think of a better way to show my family how much I love them than with some delicious handmade treats!

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I hope you have a blessed Valentine’s Day and are able to spend it with the ones you love most!

Lime Baby Bundts With Strawberry Jalapeno Jam and Lime Buttercream Frosting

SONY DSCI am on a baby bundt baking roll!  I had an idea for a flavor combination that I couldn’t get out of my head, and although this recipe won’t make it to my parent’s 50th anniversary party, I think it might be a winner!  I need to make some minor tweaks to the recipe, but I really thought all the flavors worked together.  I think I will probably pursue a regular strawberry cake recipe for the party because my mom adores strawberries, but I can tell you I did not acquire my love for all things spicy from her.  Even though the jam really doesn’t have any heat to it (at least not that I can tell, though my heat seeking taste sensors might be dulled due to a lifetime of enjoying the spicier side of life) my dear mother would be less than thrilled to have her beloved strawberries accompanying a pepper in any form.  But alas, with so many jars of strawberry jalapeno jam left on the pantry shelf it is time to start figuring new ways to use it.

I am getting more daring with my creativity and trying to come up with my own cake recipes.  I really want to understand the science behind baking a bit more than I do.  So this recipe, good or bad, is my own.  I did have a couple missteps along the way, but in the end I think I have something I can work with.  I doubt I will get to play around much with this recipe for the foreseeable future as I need to solidify the dessert plan for my parent’s party, but hopefully I can try again and report back before too long (or maybe YOU might like to try my modified recipe and report back to me! 😉 .  I will give you the step-by-step of what I did and then I will finish with what I think the recipe should be next time.

So first I creamed 3/4 cup of unsalted, room temperature butter.

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Next, I added 1 3/4 cups of sugar and creamed the mixture again.

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Then I added 3 room temperature eggs one at a time, blending well between each addition.

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I zested a lime…

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 And I added it to the batter along with 1 tablespoon of lime juice and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

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Then I sifted together 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  This is where I think I made one of my missteps.  I think there is a problem with the baking soda and baking powder combinations.  I think next time I will try either 2 teaspoons of baking powder or 2 teaspoons of baking soda. (If you’re a baker and have any thoughts here I’d love to hear them!)

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Next, I mixed in the dry ingredients alternating with 1 1/2 cup of homemade plain Greek yogurt starting and finishing with the dry ingredients.  I think I should have used milk as part of my liquid ingredient here.  Next time I plan to use 1 cup of yogurt and 1/2 cup of milk.

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The batter was a bit too thick when I finished adding all the ingredients, but I went ahead with one batch anyway just to see how they turned out. Here’s what the batter looked like after I mixed in all the ingredients.

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The cakes puffed up pretty quickly.  I am not sure if that is because I overfilled the pan, or if the batter was too thick, or perhaps the baking soda and baking powder had something to do with it.  The also cooked really fast and browned around the edges more quickly that my other cakes have.  I was using my convection oven at 325, but I turned it down to 310 degrees as soon as I noticed the problem.  Here’s what they looked like while baking.

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So to try to remedy the problem with the batter, I decided to add 1/4 cup of milk.  I was pretty nervous that I was going to mess up the rest of the batter, but the first batch just didn’t have the right look or feel to them.  The outside of the cakes were a dry, crumbly texture probably due to the fact that the batter didn’t have enough moisture.  I tried to gently fold in the milk so as not to over mix the batter.

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The next batch of cakes came out much better!  I forgot to take a photo, but you can see the end result from the dressed up cake at the top and bottom of the post.

While the cakes cooled I creamed 1 stick of room temperature butter with 1 tablespoon of key lime juice and 1 tablespoon of milk.

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Then I added 2 cups of powdered sugar and just a touch of neon green food coloring (because I didn’t have any regular green on hand).  I was lax about taking photos at this point.  Sorry.  The frosting was a very pale green which was just the way I wanted it.  The flavor was okay, but I am not sure I loved the key lime juice.  I used it because I had a bottle and I thought key limes were supposed to taste better than regular limes.  I really think I am going to use Lorann lime oil the next time I make this.  I really love using Lorran oils for flavoring when I am making baked goods.  I just find the flavors to be spot on.  This frosting just wasn’t quite “perfect” for me.

Here’s my favorite little kitchen helper getting a peek into the mixing bowl as I worked.  Yes, he was rewarded with a sample… or two.  🙂  (Please don’t mind the pizza sauce on his cheek.  It was leftover from his grilled pizza sandwich he had for lunch.)

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Once the cakes were cool, I used a baby spoon to insert the homemade strawberry jalapeno jam into the cake cavity.  Then I put a little frosting in small zippy, snipped a tiny bit off one corner and piped it on top of the cake.

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So, there you have it.  That’s what I did and now here’s how I plan to make it next time.

Lime Baby Bundt Cakes with Strawberry Jalapeno Jam and Lime Buttercream Frosting (A work in process.)

Cake Ingredients: 
1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 Tbs lime zest
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp Lorann lime oil (or 1 tsp lime extract)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Frosting Ingredients:
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp Lorann lime oil (or 1 tsp lime extract)
1-2 tbls milk
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat convection oven to 300 (or a regular oven to 325 degrees). Grease and 
flour mini bundt pans or spray with baking spray.

2. In large bowl beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat at 
medium speed for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

4. Add lime zest and lime oil and mix well.

5. In medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda and baking powder, and salt. Sift. 

6. In a small bowl, combine yogurt and milk until well blended.

7. Gradually add dry ingredients and yogurt/milk mixture to butter mixture, beginning 
and ending with flour mixture.

4. Pour into prepared mini bundt pans, and bake for 13-14 minutes, or until a wooden
pick inserted in center comes clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from 
pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

5. While the cakes are cooling, cream the butter for the frosting. 

6. Mix lime oil, milk and powdered sugar into the butter, adding just enough milk to make 
the frosting light and fluffy.7. When the cakes are completely cool fill each cake cavity with 1 1/2 teaspoons jam and top 
with buttercream frosting.
Enjoy!

Banana Coconut Cardamom Cake – Mixed Review

SONY DSCSo lately I’ve been on this mini bundt cake kick.  My siblings and I are in the midst of planning our parent’s 50th wedding anniversary party and I have volunteered to make the desserts.  I am not exactly sure what possessed me to sign up for this, and I admit I am rather nervous about the whole thing, but I am having a fabulous time testing recipes.  I recently purchased some mini bundt pans and I been playing around with some fun recipes for the past couple of weeks.  I have seriously never had so much fun baking cakes in my life!  And the petite little cakes are just so stinking cute!

Baking baby bundts has opened up a whole new world of creativity for me.  (I know, like I needed another one.)  There is just something about baking these little gems (and eating them) that is just so fun.  And I must say that the cakes I’ve made in the last couple of weeks are among my all-time favorites.  Sadly, I didn’t document any until now, but rest assured I will… eventually.  My favorites were the Orange Cardamom cake and the Ginger & Lemon cake.  Oh, my!  So good!

Today I decided to experiment with some new flavor combinations.  I poked around my pantry to see what I had on hand and I grabbed my trusty Flavor Bible.   (If you don’t have this book and you like to experiment with different ingredients, I cannot recommend this book enough!  It’s one of my top favorite cookbooks, though it’s not really a cookbook at all.  It’s more of an encyclopedia of ingredients.  If you ever wanted to know what flavors compliment pistachios or salmon, for example, this book is the book for you.  It really is worth its weight in gold.)  Finding some overripe bananas during my kitchen exploration, I decided this would be my first flavor component.  I consulted my trusty Flavor Bible and discovered coconut and cardamom both compliment banana beautifully.  I had a can of coconut milk in the pantry and I wouldn’t even think of being without cardamom as it’s one of my absolute favorite spices.  So the flavor profile was in place.  I just needed to get the recipe figured out.

When I started down the baby bundt baking path a couple weeks ago I discovered a terrific book called Kiss My Bundt.  After reading the reviews I knew I had to have it.  I purchased the Kindle version and I absolutely love it!  The Orange Cardamom cake and Ginger Lemon cakes, that I believe my be among the best cakes I’ve ever made, were also adapted from Ms. Wilson’s book.  She really sort of demystified the whole cake baking process for me.  I love how the author explains the why’s and how’s of cake baking and exchanging ingredients in a recipe to come up with your own recipes.  So I used the Banana Cake recipe from Kiss My Bundt as a guideline and added a couple of my own twists.  Instead of using whole milk like the recipe called for I used coconut milk, as well as an extra half teaspoon of vanilla, and a teaspoon of cardamom.

The resulting cake was really quite good.  I really like the hint of coconut flavor, and the cardamom added a unique twist to ordinary banana cake.  So then I started thinking about how I would dress the cake further.  I decided to go with a cream cheese glaze.  Sounds pretty good, right?  But I couldn’t leave well enough alone just go with a traditional cream cheese glaze.  No, I had to add one more creative twist to my banana cake adventure.  With just a few tablespoons of coconut milk still left in the can, I got the brilliant idea to swap the milk for coconut milk in the glaze.  Pure brilliance, right?

Okay, not so much.  I can’t quite put my finger on what I didn’t like about it, but I just didn’t like it.  The cake by itself was pretty good.  I’d probably give it maybe 3.5 stars.  But the addition of the coconut glaze sort of ruined it for me.  But, well what can I say?  I tried.

So, take the rest of this post with a grain of salt.  If you’re into trying a new banana cake recipe, go for it!  But I’d probably suggest a plain cream cheese glaze or better still, a buttercream frosting.  I think the buttercream frosting would put this cake into a 4-5 star rating in my book.

Okay, here we go….

The ingredients.  (Check out my homemade vanilla in the big bottle between the sugar and flour.  That is some seriously good stuff and a first for me.  Perhaps a blog for another day…)

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I creamed the softened butter for a few minutes and then added the sugar and creamed it a bit more.

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Next, I added the vanilla and the eggs.

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I measured out the dry ingredients into a separate bowl.

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Yes, I seriously did sift the dry ingredients.  I don’t think I have ever done this before when making cakes until the last couple weeks.  But hey, 50 years of marriage is serious business!

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And into the mixer it went.  I alternated between mixing the dry ingredients and the coconut milk.

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Next,  the bananas.

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My creative juices were seriously going full throttle today.  Since I purchased my mini bundt pans a few weeks ago I’ve struggled with getting the batter into the pan nice and neat and tidy.  Invariably I had a big sloppy mess of batter all over the pan so I decided to try a new method today.  I put all of my batter into a big zippy, snipped a bit off the corner, and piped it into the pan.

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The verdict?  Well, it worked out quite nicely actually.  I was able to get most of the batter where it was supposed to be and I had better control over filling each well with the right amount of batter.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best method I have found as of yet.

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All that white stuff on the pan is flour.  I keep forgetting to pick up a baking spray at the grocery so I am using my Misto and a Pampered Chef duster to prepare my pan.  Just pretend you didn’t see the cakes in the background.  I didn’t think to take this shot until they came out of the oven.  So much for the big reveal.

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I just have to mention that I am finally getting around to learning how to use the convection bake option on my oven.  I was so excited to have this available to me when we built our house, but I never took the time to learn how to use it.  But if I am going to be baking 14 kajillion cakes and cookies for this party I decided I better get it figured out.  It’s so cool!  I can bake two pans at once on a lower temperature and for a shorter amount of time than my conventional bake option and they bake quite evenly!  Love it!   (My first two pans were already cooling on the counter and I was finishing up the last of the batter so that’s why there aren’t two pans pictured here.)

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Now, can I get a drum roll for the best photo of the day?  While the cakes were baking my little one decided he needed to get in on the photo action too.  He grabbed daddy’s phone and started snapping tons of photos of the cakes baking!  Priceless!

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Ta da!  The big reveal. Oh, yeah.  I already ruined that moment.

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I took some photos of the glaze making process, but I won’t bother sharing those as I just can’t recommend the glaze.  I think the cake is really tasty, but it still lacked a bit of something.  The banana cake recipe from Kiss My Bundt recommended adding a bit of banana extract, but as I didn’t have any on hand I went with 2 bananas per the author’s recommendation instead of just one.  Still it just didn’t quite get it and I do think the banana extract might be the key with the cake recipe.  Also, I really do think the cake would be really delicious with a big dollop of buttercream frosting.  I will probably try that some day, but for now there are just too many other flavors to experiment with before the big day in June!

So, my take-aways for today are:

 1. Swapping the milk for coconut milk was an interesting choice but maybe I will try something like Greek yogurt or sour cream next time.

2. Adding cardamom to banana cake is a must… like always!

3. Using a zippy to pipe the batter into the pan is a splendid idea.

4. Taking too many creative leaps at once might spell disaster!

And now for the recipe as adapted from Kiss My Bundt by Chrysta Wilson:

Banana, Coconut & Cardamom Cake

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
2 overripe banana, mashed

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium sized bowl sift together flour, cardamom, baking powder and salt.
3. Cream the butter with an electric mixer until soft, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the sugar slowly to the butter and continue beating until it’s light and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs one at a time incorporating after each addition. Once the eggs are incorporated, continue beating for about two more minutes.
6. Add vanilla.
7. Beginning and ending with the flour,  mix 1/3 of the flour into the wet mixture,
then 1/2 of the coconut milk, alternating until all ingredients are mixed.
8. Gently mix bananas into the batter.
9. Transfer batter to cake pans that have been greased and floured and fill to about ½ to ¾ full.
10. Bake baby bundts for about 17 minutes in a regular oven, or at 325 degrees in a convection oven for about 14 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.
11. Invert cake(s) onto a cooling rack or serving plate.
If cake resists, cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting.
(If cake still resists, cool an additional 15 minutes in the pan.)

Finally, after the cakes have cooled top with your favorite frosting
or glaze and enjoy!

Shrimp Quesadilla With Homemade Monterey Jack Cheese

SONY DSCWell, between the usual holiday rush in the shop and the busyness of the holiday season, as well as a very special project I am working on (sorry, this is super secret stuff that I cannot divulge until a later date 😉 ), I’ve had little time to spend blogging about my creative adventures.  But I wanted to add a quick post as a sort of update to my cheese making endeavors.

A little while back I played around with cheese making and much to my surprise I concocted some really amazing cheese.  One of my very favorites was my homemade Monterey Jack cheese.  After vacuum sealing my handiwork and tucking it away for a couple of months I decided it was time to open it up and give it a try.  I must say that I was completely floored with the results!  When I bit into my homemade cheeses I really couldn’t believe I had actually made them myself!  I am no cheese connoisseur, but even my friend preferred my homemade cheese to the fancy-schmancy local grocery store cheese shop cheese I served for our cooking group.  🙂  (Of course there is that possibility that she was just flattering me, but let’s not go there.)

Tonight I decided to try my Monterey Jack cheese in some shrimp quesadillas.  The recipe was super simple to put together.  First, I cut up some peppers and onions and sauteed them in a bit of oil.

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Once the peppers and onions had cooked through and the onions were translucent I added the shrimp.

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I cooked this for a few minutes until the shrimp was nice and pink.  I tossed in a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of chili powder, a bit of lime juice, and some sea salt.

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Once this was all heated through and nicely incorporated, I removed it from the heat.  Then it was just a matter of building the quesadillas.  A flour tortilla topped with a bit of cheese, some of the shrimp and veggies, some more cheese (just for good measure)…

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Topped with another tortilla and grilled to perfection.  (Okay, well maybe a bit over perfection, but it was still delectable.)

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The only thing left to add was a dollop of Wholly Guacamole and Salsa, which was just .49 with a fabulous coupon deal at Kroger last week.  Score!

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Let me tell you, this was one quick and tasty dinner!  I am not sure when I will have time to try my hand at some more cheese making, but I am buoyed by my success and I hope I can try making more sometime soon.