Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

This is a mash up of 3 different recipes I used to create the perfect banana cupcake for Nathan's first birthday. (They are the cupcakes on the far right.) I thought banana would be a cute fit with the monkey theme, and who doesn't like chocolate covered bananas?
It occurs to me now that I should have saved and sliced one so you guys could see the cake. Oh well! Think like banana bread, only cooler!


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
about 4 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1-2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth. Mix sour cream and vanilla into bananas.

2. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, (about 3 minutes). Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter among paper lined muffin cups

3. Bake cupcakes until toothpick inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.
Makes approximately 1 dozen cupcakes

Prepare frosting by beating butter until smooth in a large bowl with electric blender. Slowly beat in powdered sugar 1/3 cup at a time.  Add heavy whipping cream. Beat in cocoa. Refrigerate covered until ready to use.
*You may not use all the sugar or all the cream. Just play with it until it gets to the consistency you'd like. Every time I make this, I use different amounts.

And of course, Nathan had to have his own cake. Here is a peek at his smash cake, in the same flavor with the bunting and display box I made.

I'm linking to these Rockin' Parties:
Mad Skills Monday at Super Stinky Boys
Mad Skills Monday at Mad In Crafts
You're So Very Creative at Me Making Do
Made By You Monday at Skip To My Lou
Strut Your Stuff at Saturday Mornings
Letting The Creative Juices Flow at These Creative Juices
Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts
Hoo's Got Talent at Night Owl Crafting
What's Cooking Wednesday at Not So Homemade
Strut Your Stuff at Somewhat Simple
Thrilling Thursday at Paisley Passions
Fun Friday Finda at Kojo Designs
Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T.
Craft-O-Maniac Monday at Craft-O-Maniac


Amish Style Macaroni Salad

Amish Style Macaroni Salad

I love this stuff. Like, LOVE LOVE it. When we party, I typically make this in addition to a potato salad so that I can make it veggie style, (IE. no eggs.) I made a massive batch of this for Nathan's birthday and happily ate leftovers the next day.
This is a great make-ahead dish. If you have the room in the fridge, you can prepare this and let it chill overnight. I think it tends to taste better the longer you let it chill. Play with the amounts to satisfy your own taste buds.

3 cups uncooked elbow noodles (1lb)
2-3 celery stalks, washed and chopped
3 hardboiled eggs
1 small onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 whole dill pickles (the refrigerated kind,) chopped
2 Tablespoons dill relish
2 cups Miracle Whip
5-6 Tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
2 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or cider)
3/4 teaspoons celery seed
1/4 cup sugar
(you are going to add the sugar in to taste, so don't dump it all in at once.)

1. Boil pasta 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse.
2. Add all ingredients EXCEPT sugar, pepper and paprika. Mix well. Slowly add sugar in until it is just sweet enough for you. Add pepper and paprika to taste as well.
3. Cover and chill at least one hour before serving, preferably overnight.

Footnote: Blame it on PMS, but after posting this, I had an immediate desire to make and eat this. As I type this, baby Nathan is standing here screeching at me for not shoveling it into his little mouth fast enough. The child loves to eat.

I'm linking to these Rockin' Parties:
Letting the Creative Juices Flow at These Creative Juices


Full Hearts and Sweet Tooth's

Sometimes you just gotta grab a boxed treat and head to the kitchen with your kids. I love those times.

Everyone look ridiculous, ready? GO!
"It's CHOC-wit!" says Jackson
Nathan, patiently waiting for the eating part to begin
And now, my heart is full!
He's a natural.
What kind of horrible parent lets their child lick the beaters??
"Someday I'll be big enough."
Brownies By Jack

And these are from last week, but I had to show you all Nathan's favorite place to play....



Flashback Friday

Today, Flashback Friday happens to fall on the 19 year anniversary of the day my father died in a plane crash. He was a fighter pilot and I was 13 years old. It was a Tuesday, in the desert, in Arizona and it changed our lives forever.

( At the Virginia Military Institute)

(In the cockpit)

(About an hour before the crash, giving the OK for takeoff)

(At rest in Arlington National Cemetary)

Flashback Friday Button


Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

(Stuffed Sweet Potatoes)

I made this as a side for the Turkey Tenderloin I served Bill and the boys the other night. It was really delicious! I had a hard time keeping my hands out of the bowl containing the streusel! I found this on foodnetwork.com, it's one of Tyler Florence's little gems and I knew I had to share it with you guys.

12 large sweet potatoes
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted pecan pieces
1 cup miniature marshmallows

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the sweet potatoes and with a fork, prick the sweet potatoes in a couple of spots and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center goes in easily.

2. In a large bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, and flour together until it's crumbly-looking. Add the cinnamon, salt, pecans, and marshmallows; fold the streusel topping together to combine. Go ahead, I dare you not to start devouring this before it even GETS to the sweet potatoes!

3. Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise down the center and push the ends towards the middle so it opens up. Stuff the sweet potatoes generously with the streusel topping and return to the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and brown.

I'm linking this post to these Rockin' parties:

Friday Favorites at Simply Sweet Home
Free For All Friday at Sassy Sites
Thanksgiving Link Party at Oopsey Daisy
Fantabulous Friday at Mommas Kinda Crafty
Thanksgiving Categorically Crafting at Someday Crafts
Weekend Wrap-up at Tatertots and Jello
Craft-O-Maniac Monday at Craft-O-Maniac
You're So Very Creative at Me Making Do
Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T
Just Something I Whipped Up at The Girl Creative
Mad Skills Monday at Mad In Crafts


Barbecue Pulled Pork

(Barbecue Pulled Pork)
This is the first of the recipes from the party that I wanted to share with you guys. I've made this a few times for Bill and a friend and it's always been a hit. It's a recipe I found in a slow cooker recipe collection from Better Homes and Gardens. Almost more of a Carolina style barbecue than many "Northerners" are used to, it's sauce is a blend of yummy ingredients with just a touch of heat.
For the party, I made the sauce the night before and let it chill overnight. Be sure to choose the cut of pork it calls for, or ask your butcher which is closest. By the time this was done, the pork was falling apart to the touch and there was hardly any work involved in the actual shredding.

4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast
1 large sweet onion, cut into thin wedges
1 12 ounce bottle of chili sauce
1 cup soda (NOT diet)
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Trim fat from meat. Place onions in the bottom of your slow cooker and top with meat.
2. In medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients and pour over top of pork.
3. Cover and cook on low for 12 to 13 hours OR high for 6 hours.
4. Once meat is done, remove from slow cooker and shred, using 2 forks. Add back to slow cooker and cook, covered for another 15 minutes on HIGH.
5. Serve on buns
(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

I'm linking this to these rockin' parties:

You're So Very Creative at Me Making Do
Motivate Me Monday at Keep It Simple
Strut Your Stuff at Somewhat Simple
Show Off Your Stuff at Fireflies and Jellybeans
Weekend Wrap-up at Tatertots and Jello
Mad Skills Monday at Super Stinky Boys


Birthday Hangover

Nathan turned 1 on Tuesday! You guys know I've been planning, baking and crafting for a month getting ready for his party and I'm happy to say it was a success! We had about 30 of our friends and family out to the clubhouse where we live and there was much eating and laughing. Here are some photos from the day. Ill post the food and recipes throughout the next week or so. Enjoy!

(Cell phone Dessert Table mock-up)

(Nathan's Smash Cake)

(One of the signs. All done by hand, I dont have any fun machines)

(Menu on the food table)

(Favor Bags filled with Monkey Munch)

(Vanilla cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream.....)

(And Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream)

(Take-home bags for the cupcakes)

(Pinwheel Box table decoration)

(Doing fun things with old formula cans)

(Eating some pulled pork and baked mac & cheese)

(Super enjoying his chocolate covered banana cake)

(Feeling very proud of his champion eating skills)

(Getting help from Big brother opening his presents)

(Loving his new snuggly Curious George)


Chicken (or Shrimp) with Roasted Red Pepper Cream

Chicken (or Shrimp) with Roasted Red Pepper Cream

(Doesn't it look so good with my new camera?!?)

Easy and delicious! Bill isn't a fan of shrimp so I whipped this up with chicken instead.

1 package of vermicelli pasta
1 (12oz) jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
2lb peeled cooked large shrimp
OR 1.5 lbs chicken breast tenderloins, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Prepare your pasta according to the package directions. Set aside and keep warm.
2. In a blender or food processor, blend red peppers, cream cheese, chicken broth, garlic and ground red pepper until smooth.
3. To prepare with shrimp: Add sauce to skillet. Cook over medium heat , stirring often, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.  Remove from heat, serve over hot cooked pasta. Sprinkle with basil.
4. To prepare with chicken: Add sauce to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, . In a skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons oils over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Add chicken to saucepan, cook, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, serve over hot cooked pasta. Sprinkle with basil.

Adapted from Southern Living Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals

I'm linking to these rockin' parties:

Weekend WrapUp at Tatertots & Jello
Sunday Showcase at Under the Table And Dreaming
Making Monday Marevelous at C.R.A.F.T
Just Something I Whipped Up at The Girl Creative
Made by You Monday at Skip To My Lou
Mad Skills Monday at Super Stinky Boys, Support Blog for Moms of BOYS!
Letting the Creative Tuesday Juices Flow at These Creative Juices
Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts
Hoo's Got Talent at Night Owl Crafting
Inspiring Creativity Wednesdays at Dragonfly Designs
Thrilling Thursday at Paisley Passions
Favorite Things Friday at The Speckled Dog
Sister Sister Sunday at Kuzak's Closet
Motivate Me Monday at Keeping It Simple
Stut Your Stuff at Somewhat Simple


Just some photos

I have a fab new recipe to post on Monday, but today I just feel like sharing some pictures....





Ok, back to birthday party planning madness!
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