Category Archives: dessert

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Maeve’s First Birthday | Banana Cupcakes + Cream Cheese Frosting

best banana cupcake recipe

I moved into my house several years ago now. Was it 6 years? Maybe it 7 years ago? I can’t recall. What I do remember is the feeling I had the first night I stayed here. It was hours after my lovely friends who lent me their strength and baked celebratory brownies were gone. The place was terribly quiet. There was an absolute sea of brown boxes overflowing with the things I’d collected through many years in various homes and apartments.

I padded about the house sinking my toes into the dark green thick pile rug. I looked at the blank walls, which were painted a sallow color reminiscent of the peach toned crayon. I checked all the faucets for water pressure. I repeatedly looked out the window and opened all the doors to get a sense of my new landscape. I remember feeling a bit scared, but simultaneously exhilerated. I was alone. I was home. It was all mine and there were a million things I could do to make the house the way I wanted it to be. I was newly single and felt breathlessly free.

And, for several years, I continued to feel liberated and weightless each time I opened my front door. It was a good arrangement. I loved my little house and it treated me well in return. I worked long hours every day and came home alone, but I never felt lonely.  Quite honestly, during those years it never once crossed my mind this place might one day house my little girl. I never once dreamed of the pitter patter of bare baby feet or the gibber gabber of a wee one waking up in the morning contented to converse quietly with her stuffed animals until the rest of the house was ready to join her in wonder.

It’s strange to think about all this now. I still look back on those first years of living here so fondly. Those were good times. Life was interesting and I loved every minute of transforming this house into a home. But, in the year before Maeve came, the house felt more like a shell waiting for her arrival. It wasn’t the same fresh new home of the early years. K really put it best. It was Christmas week last year and I was enormously pregnant. We were seated side by side on the couch when he turned to me, “I feel like we’re not complete until she gets here.”

Truer words were never spoken.

banana cupcake recipe

Today, my life is so altered I barely recognize it. And, the house? It’s so very different. It feels even more like home– a house full of love and laughter.  I wouldn’t trade it for all the riches in the world.

banana cupcake recipe

Last week, Maeve turned 1 year old.

To celebrate, I made her a sweet party hat and some banana cupcakes to share. The cupcakes are very much like the ones my mother always made for me on my birthdays. It just seemed right to continue the tradition.

banana cupcake recipe

Of course, Maeve loved her first taste of sugar. She was dazzled, in particular, by the multi-colored sprinkles.

easy banana cupcake recipe

I enjoyed this recipe a great deal and thought I’d share it with you. If you are a banana person, like me, you might have some reservations about banana recipes. As we banana people know, some banana recipes are quite greasy and leave you with a soggy cocktail napkin with an oily imprint. On the other hand, some banana recipes are sort of dry and gritty tending more toward something you might uncover in the health food section of a hippie supermarket. This recipe falls squarely in the middle, which, in my opinion, is just right. The banana flavor is subtle with just the ideal amount of sweetness. The cupcakes are light and fluffier than most cakes. There is no grit nor grease. It’s a perfect little introduction to cake for the wee one.

Maeve loved them and the house was filled to the brim with the scent of freshly baked cupcakes for hours.

It never felt more like home.

Banana Cupcakes

Batter:
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large ripe bananas, peeled, and mashed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 1 (12-cup) muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the butter and the sugar. Beat with a hand-held mixer until combined. Add the sour cream and the vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Incorporate the dry mixture and wet mixtures together until thoroughly combined. Add the bananas and walnuts, being careful not to over mix. Using an ice cream scoop fill each cupcake liner 3/4 way full.

Bake in the preheated oven until the tops turn golden-brown and when a toothpick, inserted in the middle of the cupcake, comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the oven to a wire rack and let cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Recipe Source:  The Food Network

apple apple cake breads Breakfast christmas cookies dessert edible gifts holiday

Happy Holidays!

We did not have any expectations for Maeve’s first visit with the man in red. He was a nice man and he didn’t smell like beef and cheese as expected. Nonetheless, Maeve’s emotional state went quickly from bewilderment to terror. Poor thing. I have to admit, however, I adore this picture. She is a sweetheart through and through.

I am going to sign off here for a few days. When I return, you will be winding back into life after much holiday cheer. You will have full bellies and good spirits. And, Maeve, my little red fox, will be a toddler.

Here are just a few quick links. Happy Holidays!

Have you made this gingerbread yet? It’s not too late.

A bread to fill your house with the scent of cinnamon will thrill your loved ones.

An easy last minute cookie.

Also easy. Apple cake.

Chocolate truffles!

A little story about a Christmas elf to get you in the mood or, really, to make you laugh.

Some more fun santa photos here.

camping christmas dessert easy edible gifts holiday

Homemade Marshmallows | Edible Gifts

easy Homemade marshmallows Recipe

There are not many foods that cross seasonal lines with ease and fluidity. The time for stone fruits is fleeting. Tomatoes are best if eaten when sun-kissed by the warmest summer temperatures. Asparagus is just about perfect when pulled from the earth during the damp days of spring.  We feast on the finest pears and apples in the fall around here.

But what food brazenly leaps across the seasonal barriers without skipping a beat?

Marshmallows.

I mean it.

Although you might not put these pillowy chunks of goodness into your shopping cart as you prepare for your camping trip, you will certainly pick them up later when you hit the small store on the outskirts of the national park. You know what I’m talking about, right? You breeze in there for a bundle of firewood and realize you forgot to pick up the marshmallows. Surely no summer camping trip is complete without them. After all, you wouldn’t want to disappoint the kids.

Please also consider for a moment those gooey bits that form a blanket over your mother’s famous Thanksgiving yams. These are the yams you feast on for days. These are the yams you love and tried in vane to replicate for the first Thanksgiving meal you attempted after college. These yams would be ordinary orange tubers without their fine marshmallow dressing.

And let’s not forget the ambrosia salad that is essential to any potluck picnic or company party. You know this salad well. It’s the one for which you feign disdain. You scoff. It’s the salad you secretly love to eat, but you plop only a small spoonful on your plate lest anyone think you don’t know good food from bad.

Easy Homemade Marshmallows

Call me crazy, but marshmallows, the staple of my college diet along with diet coke, are one of the things I love most in this world. And in these dark and damp days of early winter, I crave hot chocolate smothered in a healthy coating of melted marshmallows. It is just about the best thing. Last winter during the final days of my pregnancy when my stomach was enormous and real estate was tight, this was my meal of choice.

Easy Homemade Marshmallows

Considering this long-standing love affair with marshmallows, it is actually quite surprising I didn’t attempt to make them from scratch far sooner. I feel so silly because these marshmallows were really a joy to make. The ingredients are few. The recipe is simple. It’s so breezy, in fact, I was able to crank out this batch of white magic goodness as Maeve took an afternoon nap. Getting anything accomplished in that 40 minute window is nothing short of miraculous and truly a testament to the simplicity of this recipe.

Easy Homemade Marshmallows

The marshmallows were delicious. The vanilla flavor was subtle, but pleasantly sweet. The texture was soft and fluffy. And, although working with the uncoated taffy was a bit sticky, the dusting of fine powdered sugar made these little gems easy to handle. I do think they are quite possibly the perfect gift. Maybe even coated with chocolate or roasted coconut?  There are no rules or limits with marshmallows. Seasonal eating be damned!

easy Homemade marshmallows Recipe

Homemade Marshmallows

Vegetable oil, for brushing
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with oil. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Brush parchment with oil; set aside.

Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours. When firm, cut into one inch squares. Pour the powdered sugar onto a plate and dip individual marshmallows into the powdered sugar to coat.

Source:  Martha Stewart

Breakfast breastfeeding crisp dessert easy summer

Nectarine Crisp | Summer Days

nectarine and wild berry crisp recipe

Suddenly, it is the middle of August.

It’s silly, I know, but I find myself feeling a bit desperate. It’s a familiar feeling. It’s one I recall from childhood when the burden of school loomed large as the days grew shorter. It’s really no different now. I feel like I’m constantly reaching out with frantic hands in an effort to grasp every morsel of sunshine and every bit of summertime fun. It doesn’t last long around here, you know. One must take full advantage.

I’m not sure how to describe our days because they aren’t the typical summertime fest. There are things like naps, breasts, and diapers to consider. Such considerations change the scope of a day, for certain, but they do not dampen our fun. We are spending loads of time outdoors with Maeve. She goes to the park or wading pools nearly everyday. She is tasting lots of different types of berries and stone fruits. She spends countless hours sitting in grass and beachy sands. A single blade of grass or a lone dandelion can capture her attention indefinitely. It’s quite amazing and absolutely fun to watch. Baby television really is the best thing out there. I never get bored.

We also took on a major home renovation project. It was a task I didn’t relish, but the timing seemed right. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but bringing a wee one into your home suddenly makes home remodeling urgent. Making our house really ours was of great import. It appears I was living in limbo for years. The house was always in a state of transition, but never complete. I painted walls countless times. I took off the cupboard doors and removed more than a little shag carpet. I planted flowers. I did my best to improve the soil. All these things were wonderful and rewarding, but there was always something a little awry. There was always the ghost of the former owners, their lives, and memories.

nectrarine crisp recipe, summer dessert recipe

So we did our best to let in the light. We painted the walls for the umteenth time in the lightest shade possible and sanded our floors until they were shiny and safe for tiny hands and feet. It felt good and, quite suddenly, everything seemed sort of luminous. In fact, I was admiring my surroundings just this week as Maeve was scooting backwards across the floor on the hunt for a pink toy, but managing only to find herself farther and farther away. I picked her up off the shiny new floor and soothed her. She calmed and as I leaned over a laundry basket brimming with freshly laundered clothes, she spit up into the basket. I pulled back. I looked at her and there she was smiling and laughing.

In that moment, I knew I was done. No more renovations. And, really, who cares about laundry? This is home. We walked outside for some fresh air and I spotted a tiny log cabin we unearthed recently. It was probably buried there 30 years ago when the previous owners’ children were toddlers. It made me smile. Of course, there is room for their memories and for our new ones as well.

So we celebrated home here in the our little northwest house with stone fruits and wild berries. Catch them while you can and bake them into this super easy but utterly delicious crisp. And, please tell me, what you do around your house to truly make it home?

nectarine and wild berry crisp

Nectarine and Wild Berry Crisp

6 medium nectarines, about 2 lbs.

1 cup wild berries (I used blueberries and huckleberries)

4 tblsp. sugar

2 tblsp. lemon juice

1 cup oats

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tblsp. roasted and roughly chopped pistachio meats

Leaving the skin on, slice the nectarines into 1/2 inch chunks.  Mix the nectarines together in a bowl with the berries, sugar, and lemon juice. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare the topping by mixing together oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and pistachio meats.  Add the butter and using a pastry tool or your fingers, mix the ingredients together until the mix comes together and resembles small peas.

Pour the fruit mixture into a shallow baking dish (about 9 inches in length).  Cover evenly with the oat mixture. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until the top is evenly golden brown.

Enjoy warm with ice cream or cool.

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