I have to go back to North Carolina now. And I really, really like North Carolina. Even flirted with the idea of loving North Carolina. Kicking off my shoes. Staying for a while. But then I come back to Texas. To Keller. To Austin. To my families. To my Kyle. And what begins, innocently enough, as a a quick trip - a little vacation, a short jaunt - ends at Gate 15 with a heavy heart. Biting down on my bottom lip, willing the tears back into their ducts. It'll pass, this feeling. It'll roll off my shoulders as the day-to-day seeps in and hushes the feeling that life is a smidge shy of complete for now. I'll board the plane. Land in Dallas. Board another. And be *home.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Being home. It's a beautiful thing.
Especially after a cancelled flight Tuesday night, a delayed flight Wednesday morning and a minor meltdown in the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. (The blubbering, racoon-eyed thing? Got it down pat. Unfortunately, sobbing to the gate agent does not get you a flight out).
But here I am. Feet on Texas soil. Spending an entire week with the fam, the pups and the love of my life. The sun's shining brighter. The birds are chirping louder. And the Gooey Banana Coconut Upside Down Cake is cooling on the counter. (What? You think the butter takes a vacation when I do?)
I went all Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee and used a boxed cake mix (gasp!) because Mom needed the oven to get tonight's dinner on the table. (Home-cooked dinners, oh, how I've missed you). But if you're feeling ambitious, by all means, bench Betty Crocker and start from scratch.
Recipe adapted from Gale Gand:
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup banana puree, from 1 or 2 bananas
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Whole bananas (I used 4)
Sweetened, flaked coconut
Macadamia nuts, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter & flour two 8-inch cake pans.
Cream the butter; then add the sugar mixture. Add the eggs and mix. Add the sour cream and vanilla and stir. Mix in the banana puree. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt to make a smooth batter.
Melt butter on stove. Add brown sugar and lemon juice. Heat until mixture just starts to bubble.
To bake, cover the bottom of the cake pan with banana slices. Pour the brown sugar glaze over the bananas. Sprinkle the coconut on top of that. (You can throw chopped macadamias in there too. I did. And I think it was the right move). Spoon in the batter.
Bake until just set, about 35 to 40 minutes. Keep warm in a low oven and turn it out at the last minute.
Monday, April 18, 2011
These are Cake Ball Truffles.
If I tell you the name I gave this recipe, you'd never eat it.
But if I don't tell you the name I gave this recipe, you'd be missing out.
So, against my better judgment, I give you Bunny Turds...
And not to be outdone, Bunny Tails...
High five for holiday-themed baking!
Sure, these treats are named after the excretions of a beloved Easter critter. But they don't taste like it. Pinky promise.
Just plop 'em next to the deviled eggs, watch 'em be gobbled up and pray your family has a sense of humor.
Now here's the fun part...
Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Using a large fork (or your hands, if you love to make messes like me) mash the frosting into the cake until combined. Roll the cake mixture into 1 TBSP balls. Arrange the cake balls on a lined baking sheet and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Dip the cake balls in powdered sugar or cocoa powder. Shake off the excess. Store in an airtight container.
(Does anybody else around here still get an Easter basket?)
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
What I'm about to pose to you is a question that bears existential repercussions. (You know, what's the meaning of life? and which came first - the chicken or the egg? and all that). No pressure, pseudo philosophers.
So here it goes...
Are you a cake person? Or a frosting person?
(I know, I know. Questions like this take time to process. A truly cerebral matter, no?)
If you answered yes to frosting, you're in for a treat. If you answered yes to cake, what I'm about to share could quite possibly rattle you to the very core, procuring unimaginable revelations, should you choose to embrace its bounty. (Yep, shimmy on over to the frosting side of life).
Without further ado... The Most Epic, Mind-blowing Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting. Ever. (Sipping on the hyperbole sizzurp today).
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (crunchy's cool too, I guess... if you're into that sort of thing)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 pinch table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Beat butter & peanut butter until smooth. (Let's call it 20 seconds). Add confectioners' sugar & salt. Beat it a little more, scraping the bowl as you go, until it's all combined. Cue the vanilla & heavy cream. Whip until light and fluffy. (About 2-4 minutes. Ballpark estimate).
This peanut butter (crack) frosting is so good that I stood over the bowl with a bag of preztels, dipping stick after stick, until the bag was near empty. (Don't judge me. The cupcakes hadn't cooled yet).
Monday, April 11, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
I'm bad at returning rented movies on time. Like really horrible. Like I refuse to enter a Blockbuster for fear of owing $73 in late fees upon checkout horrible.
Which leads me to the renting of movies on iTunes. Weird, right? Pay $4.99 for a movie you have 24 hours to watch before it evaporates back into... thin air? If I'm ponying up the cash, I want a tangible shiny disc to show for it, goshdarnit.
Enter Friday night. Plans to drink at Dixie's (one of the less douche-y uptown bars) seem... well, not as appealing as they did an hour ago. You know, before a couple of sweaty miles on the treadmill and the discovery of an all new episode of DC Cupcakes on TLC.
So what's a girl to do when wide awake well past midnight, having already devoured the book I purchased to cure such a dilemma? (The Paris Wife, for any curious cats. Infuses Hemingway's A Moveable Feast with the fictional flavor of his first wife, Hadley). A glass of wine might do the trick... but on second thought, I don't feel like crawling out of bed... and drinking in bed seems rather alcoholic. Ah yes, a movie. And yes, that's why I've strung you along, recounting my event-less Friday night, revealing my insomniac tendencies.
It's because... I get, iTunes. I totally do.
(Annie Hall is the perfect nightcap, P.S.)
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Baby apple pies. Because most everything is cuter as a miniature version of itself. (Babies, puppies, cupcakes, travel-sized shampoo. You catch my drift).
For the crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1 stick of butter, cold and cubed
1/8 cup really cold water
1 tablespoon sugar
Using either your hands, a pastry cutter, or a food processor (if you're fancy), mix the butter with the flour and sugar until pebbles form. Add the cold water and mix well until you form a homogeneous dough. Chill the dough for at least an hour. Once cold, roll the dough to a thickness of... um, thick enough to hold a few tablespoons of apples without crumbling to pieces. Cut out circles of the same size. (I used the drinking end of a wine glass as my cookie cutter. Precision at its finest).
For the filling
2 large or 3 medium granny smith apples (peeled & thinly sliced)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or nutmeg)
2 tablespoons of butter
Heat the butter on the stove until melted. Add the brown sugar and apples. Let it simmer on the stove (medium heat) until the juice from the apples has thickened. About 20 minutes. Give it a stir every now and then to make sure the butter coats every bite. Add the cinnamon after taking it off the stove. Let the filling cool before baking.
Preheat your oven to 350F
Place the filling (about 2 tablespoons) on top of one of the dough rounds. Cover with the other. Seal the edges with the help of a fork and don't forget to make cuts in the top to release the steam. Brush 'em with egg wash. (Sprinkling of sugar optional, but recommended). Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tarts are golden brown and oozing with sticky, juicy apple goodness.
And I don't think you'd be too disappointed plopping one of these in the microwave for 30 seconds, topping with a scoop (or three) of vanilla bean ice cream and falling happily into a food coma.
(Recipe borrowed & adapted from here).