Saturday, September 19, 2009

Class Ice Breakers - UGH!

So not much going on in my classes except a LOT of reading! Students couldn't get into the classes early so I didn't get my textbook list until day 1 so off to Amazon and $$$ later, my books were being shipped overnight. Interestingly enough, one of my books had a digital edition and so for $10.00 more, I was able to access the digital version immediately and it stays in my Amazon media library forever. I am always suspicious about that word because so far in my life, all the things that have been supposed to last or 'be' forever - have not...but I digress. The online version is very cool in any case, and I would get all my text books that way if possible. I already get Saveur and a few other magazines digitally via Zinio Digital Books and Magazines and it is very convenient. I do like the 'feel' of a real book though for general reading...

Anyway, so this week has been a lot of reading, preparation and the online 'ice breaker' activities.

One class only required a photo of yourself and a brief written intro. The other two required PowerPoint slides about yourself.

In  616 Production of Computer-Based Training, one PowerPoint slide was required with three historical events from the year of your birth so people could 'guess' when you were born.  Here is my slide:

In addition to the three historical events listed, I added three others in the imagery of the slide:

1.  The date of the patent for bubble wrap was July 28 of that year by Marc A. Chavannes (although it was invented in 1957) and did you know that the company manufactures enough bubble wrap every year to wrap the equator ten times?

2.  I have the old flag of South Viet Nam since I lived there from 1970 - 1975 (yes, I was there for the "fall") and since the year I was born is considered the "official" start date of the Vietnam War, I felt this was appropriate.   The year I was born is when LBJ committed US troops full time with public knowledge...but the US actually sent military advisers into Viet Nam in 1954 and started adding armed troops few years later. The US did not admit to the country that we were legally there until President Johnson needed funds for more military might. So all in all Viet Nam lasted 21 years for the US ending in 1975.  Congress never declared it a "legal war"  as the US never recognized itself as being personally there, but over 58,000 US soldiers lost their lives in something that was never declared a war.  Hmmm...what is that saying about change and how things stay the same?

3.  Finally I put the logo of the Tokyo Olympics (with my face in the red sun of the hi-no-maru) on there as well...

...and if you haven't guessed it yet, I was born in 1964.  January 23, 1964 at 4:30 am at Fatima Hospital in Taegu, Korea.

TMI yet?

The second class, INSDSG 640 Planning and Design of Educational Multimedia Programs, required five slides and interestingly enough, the concept for the information was based on the MBTI or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and I am a solid ESFP.  So here are my slides for that class:

So there you have it - "ME" in 6 slides...and STILL most likely TMI!!

Have a GREAT day!!  (^_^)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Basmati Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onions, Cherries and Pine Nuts

4 Tablespoons of butter
3 medium onions: 2 sliced (about 3 cups
1 teaspoon of Lebanese Kibbee Spice (see recipe below)

1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 orange, zest finely grated (about 2-1/2 tsp.) and juiced (about 6 Tbs.)
Splash of Armagnac (or cognac or brandy)
3/4 cup sweetened dried tart cherries

1-1/2 cups hot basmati rice, cooked to directions on package

1.  Start rice cooking then prepare rest of elements while rice is cooking.  I use a rice cooker – very handy for this part!

2.  Pour the orange juice and the splash of Armagnac over the cherries in a small microwave safe bowl or mug to hydrate them, the liquid should almost cover them completely.

3.  In a 12-inch heavy-based skillet (I use an electric skillet on med-high), melt 4 TBS. of the butter over medium heat.

4.  Add the sliced onions; reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and nicely caramelized, 20 to 25 min.

5.  Add in the pine nuts and cook with onions until lightly browned, be careful not to burn.

6.  Once onions are caramelized, place into a bowl and sprinkle with kibbe spice and mix well.

8.    Add grated orange peel to onion mixture and mix well.

9.  Place cherries with liquid into microwave and microwave on HIGH 1 minute.

10.  Strain the cherries, discard the orange juice/Armagnac liquid and stir into onion mixture.

11. Once rice is done, fluff the rice by slipping the tines of a fork down into the rice alongside the edge of the pan. Gently lift and toss the rice toward the center of the pan. Continue this process as you work your way around the perimeter.

12.  . Using the fork, gently fold in the cherries, caramelized onions, pistachios, and orange zest. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Kibbe Spice Mixture

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall Classes Begin - 1 Year and Counting to M.Ed!!

So it begins...

I am on my lunch and just took a peek at my classes that start today:

Class 1:   INSDSG 601 Introduction to Instructional Design

Course Objectives:

•    State the reason for using an Instructional Design Model.
•    Identify and describe the purpose of each component of the Dick and Carey Model of Instructional Design.
•    Develop instructional (performance) objectives that include behavior, condition and criteria.
•    Develop an assessment strategy for an instructional event.
•    Develop assessment items that map to instructional objectives.
•    Develop an instructional strategy that maps to learner needs and performance objectives.
•    Plan a formative evaluation strategy to assess instructional materials

Class 2:  INSDSG 616 Production of Computer-Based Training 


Course Objectives:

This course is designed to introduce the Instructional Design graduate student to the components of CBT/WBT development.

Research based techniques will be examined during the development process. Students will be exposed to a large volume of resources and reading material in the area of e-learning development. Students will have an opportunity to explore the development process using some e-learning tools commonly used in the field today.

This is a course in developing e-learning. The course addresses the execution of common instructional strategies. The process of development, as well as the use of instructional graphics and human interface design will be studied. Achieving hands-on practice at e-learning development is a major component of this project based course.

Class 3:  INSDSG 640 Planning and Design of Educational Multimedia Programs

Course Objectives: 

•    Be able to demonstrate through the design and use of media elements, advantages of an e-learning approach over a traditional instructor-led model
•   Be able to identify resources that will enable the instructional designer to enhance learning in an instructional design project
•    Compose sound instructional design objectives
•    Demonstrate using a learning design document, which incorporates various types or learning activities and interactions, an effective way to solve an instructional design challenge

In looking over the syllabi and  assignments, it will be a LOT of reading and writing but that was to be expected - well, to be honest; maybe I didn't expect it to be 'as much' reading and writing, but shigata ga nai ne!!!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Upside-down Fresh Fig Cake

We have two fig trees (a Misson Fig and a Turkish Fig) that I bought from Magnolia Nursey about 6 or 7 years ago and the last three years, we have had figs appear but not ever enough to make anything with and the figs were nothing to write home - or even blog - about.  Pathetic figs!!

I am not sure which tree is which but I think that the one on the left is the Turkish Fig Tree.

This year, the fig trees are all grown up and they are LOADED with figs - especially the Turkish fig tree. 

When my mother-in-law was here, we cute a few fresh figs and then drizzled them with balsamic syrup and added them to the mezze - she and John loved them!

Figs, however, are really perishable and you have to eat them right way or they get over ripe over night. 

Faced with about 14 figs today that I have to use, I think I will make a fig cake as opposed to a fig tart... 

For a lighter, more summery dessert I added lemon zest to the batter and a little cardamom to the topping. Next time, I'll enhance the citrus flavors by adding some lemon juice as well. 


Upside-down Fresh Fig Cake 

Makes 6 servings 


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon cardamom

10 fresh figs, stems removed, cut in half


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I usually line the pan with a strip of nonstick foil and leave  some hanging out on each side to facilitate removal of the cake from the pan but you can use butter and parchment if you prefer:

Butter a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat or in the microwave, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Stir in the brown sugar and honey until smooth. Pour the sauce into the prepared cake pan. Arrange the figs, cut sides down, in concentric circles over the sauce. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons butter with sugar and vanilla until lightened in color and texture, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating until well combined after each. Beating on low speed just until combined after each addition, add dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk in 2 parts.

Spoon the batter evenly over the figs.

Bake the cake until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.

Transfer the cake to a rack and cool in the pan for 50 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan to loosen.

Place a serving platter on top of the pan and invert the cake. Gently lift off the pan and remove the non-stick foil or parchment paper.

Spoon over the cake any of the sauce that has run off, and serve warm.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quimbolitos Equatorianos

After the great dinner we had last night, I was looking around to see what other great dishes Ecuador might have for me to try making. There are a few in English but most are in Spanish, naturally so I got my trusty Spanish dictionary and dug into some of the great recipes from Ecuador. I found a blog called, "Sabor de Familia" which means "Taste of Family" and they had a number of great recipes. I saw a recipe that I am going to attempt tomorrow called, "Quimbolitos Equatorianos" which is a tamale like steamed cake. Probably not a great description but it is a batter that is spooned into an Achira leaf (also known as Dasheen or Yautia) or in Japan as Taro.

Luckily with both Supremo Food Market, a Latin grocery and H-Mart(also know as Han Ah Rheum) a Korean grocery; we can get fresh frozen Achira/Dasheen/Yautia/Taro leaves easily enough.

I will let you know how they turn out - based on Edison's reaction - tomorrow night or so.

In translating a few Equadorian recipes, variations called for toasted corn flour, anise, cream cheese as well as Chihuahua and even Parmesan cheese.  A few also had a yeast option and after researching a few recipes, I chose the more common flour or corn flour and cornstarch based versions that used baking powder as a leavener.  So here is a recipe that I put together:

Quimbolitos Equatorianos


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

6 large egg yolks

6 large egg whites

pinch of salt

pinch of cream of tartar

2 tablespoons sugar

6 ounces Chihuahua, mozzarella, muenster cheese or parmesan cheese grated.

1/2 cup masa harina (or cornmeal)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

Grated lemon zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon anise seeds crushed (optional)

2 tablespoons brandy or rum from soaking the raisins

Pinch of salt

One 1 pound bag of banana leaves cut into10 x 12 pieces


Let the butter soften at room temperature. In a mixing bowl combine the butter and sugar until it becomes light and fluffy cream, add  the yolks and beat until light and well mixed then add rum.

In another container place the flour, masa harina, cornstarch and  baking powder , gradually add to butter mixture.

Beat egg whites with pinch of salt until foamy, then add cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks.

Then add one tablespoon of sugar at a time and beat to glossy, stiff peaks.

Take 1/3 of egg whites and incorporate into butter mixture until lightened and then fold in remaining 2/3 egg whites until batter is well mixed and fluffy.  Take care to not over mix.

(How to fold the quimbolitos)


Place a banana leaf down with the grain running left to right

Spread 3 heaping tablespoons of mixture in center of leaf about 3.4 to 1 inch thick

Place 3 or 4 raisins on top of batter

Bring sides of leaf together over filling

Fold other ends under and place on a cookie tray until ready to steam.

Place quimbolitos in steamer, top loosely with leaf pieces and cook 30 - 40 minutes.

Stay Tuned!!!

Ecuadorian Dinner

We had dinner with our neighbors Edison & Alyse - and Edison (as I have mentioned already) is from Quito, Ecuador. He has made a number of dishes for us in the past and all have been really good.  Last night he made two more dishes that we haven't had:

Locro de Papas

Locro de papas is a classic Ecuadorian potato and cheese soup. Soups are very popular in Ecuador; they are one of the cheapest and best tasting dishes you can find. A typical Ecuadorian meal will consist of primero or the first course, seco or segundo or second course- usually meat, poultry or seafood with rice and dessert. Soups are usually served as a primero and most soups -as well as a lot of other dishes- are always served with avocado and aji or hot sauce.

Locro de papa is more common in the Andes highlands or Sierra region of Ecuador, and like many Ecuadorian dishes the ingredients and preparation will vary from one city to another, some variations of the locro de papa add fresh corn to the soup, others add chopped cabbage. I read also that some made locro de papas without cheese and used freshly ground peanuts instead, when people couldn’t afford to buy cheese they would use ground peanuts.

This locro de papa is a great soup for cold rainy or snowy weather; it can be served as a first course, but is satisfying and filling enough to make a complete meal. 

 Edison's Locro de Papa was a beautiful saffron-gold color (from the achiote) and he served his soup without the avocado because it wasn't ripe enough. He also didn't top it with feta cheese - which was fine with me. However, he did have the other traditional accompaniments like "chulpi" which are these really crunchy tiny corn nibs that you sprinkled on the soup and for Ed and I as well as himself, he added  pieces of the bagged pork rind snacks which turned from airy crispy into a soft soup soaked morsel. Yum!

(These are the toasted, crunchy 'chulpi' - yum!)

LOCRO de PAPA RECIPE (Locro de Papas Ecuatoriano)

10 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped into small and large pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp achiote powder
7 cups of water
1 cup of milk or more
1 cup grated or crumbled cheese (mozzarella or monterey jack)
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves only, minced
Salt to taste
1 cup of feta cheese (optional)
Chopped scallions
Avocados, sliced or diced
Aji or hot sauce (see bottom of post)

   1. Prepare a refrito or base for the soup by heating the canola oil over medium heat in a large soup pot; add the diced onions, minced garlic cloves, cumin, and achiote powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.

   2. Add the potatoes to the pot and mix until they are coated with the refrito. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring a every couple of minutes.

   3. Add the water and bring to boil, cook until the potatoes are very tender. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in the pot, don’t mash all of them, the consistency of the soup should be creamy with small tender chunks of potatoes.

   4. Turn the heat down to low, stir in the milk and let cook for about 5 more minutes. You can add more milk if the soup is too thick.

   5. Add salt to taste

   6. Add the grated cheese and cilantro, mix well, and remove from the heat.

   7. Serve warm with the avocados, scallions, feta cheese and aji or hot sauce.

Seco de Pollo (Seco de Pollo Ecuatoriano or Ecuadorian chicken stew)

Alyse told us that the name "Seco de Pollo" is a bit odd because it translates to "Dried of Chicken" and 'seco' does mean "dry, dried, and parched" among other things in Spanish but Edison explained that 'seco' in this case was an exception and meant "segundo" or second because the dish was a main (or second) course and 'seco' had colloquially been used as long as he could remember to mean "second" dish.  There is also another famous dish called "Seco de Chivo" (goat stew served with a side of rice).

This chicken stew is another delicious recipe from Ecuador, and is also known as "seco de gallina criolla", if it is made with a young chicken it is called "seco de pollo" and if it is made with an older hen it is called "seco de gallina criolla". Traditionally it was a way to cook those older tougher hens and soften the meat but cooking it slowly in a sauce of onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, herbs and spices, the traditional preparation also uses "chicha" - a fermented corn drink – instead of beer, most people today prepare it with beer because it is much easier to find and tastes great. "Seco de pollo" is an easy recipe to make but it is time consuming mainly because the chicken has to cook for a long time, "Seco de pollo" is always served with arroz amarillo or yellow rice -just add some achiote to the rice preparation -and fried ripe plantains. Those are the two must have sides; Edison (and many others) also like to also serve it with avocado slices.



6 lbs of assorted chicken pieces

6 tbs canola oil

2 red onions, quartered

½ red onion, minced for refrito

10 whole garlic gloves plus 4 minced garlic cloves

2 tsp ground achiote or annatto

4 cups of beer

8 tomatoes, quartered

3 bell peppers, quartered

1 hot pepper (jalapeno or serrano)

1 bunch cilantro, reserve some to add at the end

1 bunch parsley, reserve some to add at the end

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste


Arroz amarillo or yellow rice

Fried ripe plantains

Avocado slices


   1. Blend the beer, quartered onions, whole garlic cloves, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot pepper, cilantro, parsley, oregano and cumin to obtain a smooth puree.

   2. In a large saucepan or soup pot heat the oil over medium heat to prepare a refrito or sofrito, add the minced red onion, minced garlic and achiote, cook for 2 minutes.

   3. Add the chicken and brown lightly on each side, add the blended puree mix, and cook on low heat until the chicken is very tender and the sauce has thickened, about 2 ½ hours.

   4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

   5. Add the remaining cilantro and parsley.

   6. Serve with arroz amarillo or yellow rice and fried ripe plantains. Can also be served with avocado slices.

AJI - (Aji Criollo or Aji Ecuatoriano)

I know some people who assume that food from Latin American countries is the same in each country and while there are a lot of similarities, the cuisine and ingredients are not only very different in each country but also regionally in each country. The reason I mention this is because the food that Edison has made for us (and my foray into some peruvian cooking recently) has been SO not anything like what I have had from Mexico, Spain, Cuba or Puerto Rico.  They all have great, distinct cuisines that are just delicious!
 Aji is made from a very specific pepper, the ají pepper, also known as Peruvian hot pepper, or Capsicum baccatum, containing several different varieties of pepper.  The most common are simply differentiated by color, like "yellow Peruvian hot pepper" or "ají amarillo". These peppers have a distinctive, fruity flavor, and are commonly ground into colorful powders for use in cooking, each identified by its color. 

 Aji Criollo is a fresh hot sauce or salsa that is very popular and a lot of typical dishes are served with it, it is pretty easy to make and should be consumed ideally the same day but can last up to 3 days. You should look for the "aji amarillo" but you can use serrano peppers to make this aji, they are usually spicy enough to make it pretty hot, you can also use jalapeños but I find that they are inconsistent and one might be spicy and another is not spicy at all so use at your own risk or be sure to taste to your level of heat before you use them in making Aji.
4 aji amarillo or hot peppers
½ bunch of cilantro (stems and leaves)
½ cup of water
3 garlic cloves
Juice from ½ lime or lemon
3 tbs finely chopped white onion (scallions or the whites of leeks can also be used)
Combine the hot peppers, cilantro, water, garlic cloves and lime juice in the blender and blend well.
Add the chopped white onions and salt to taste.
 It was a wonderful meal with some wonderful friends and the sangria went well with this amazing dinner!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Summer Sangria

I am not a big drinker these days but I do love red Spanish sangria (and Ed's freshly muddled mojitos with fresh mint from the yard) and this is the best recipe that I have cobbled together over the years for sangria. 

Sangria (Spanish: sangría; Portuguese: sangria; Italian: sangria; meaning "bloody") is a wine punch typical of the Iberian Peninsula. It normally consists of:

    * red wine (usually Rioja or Tempranillo in Spain, and Carrascão (table wine) in Portugal)
    * chopped or sliced fruit (often orange, lemon, apple, peach, berries, pineapple; occasionally melon, grape, or mango)
    * a sweetener such as honey, sugar, orange juice, and/or fruit nectar
    * a small amount of added brandy, triple sec, or other spirits
    * and ice and carbonated soda, in some recipes

I am making a big batch for this afternoon to take to our neighbors Edison and Alyse.

Edison and Alyse, our neighbors invited us for a 'patio warming' since they just had a beautiful bi-level paver patio put in last week.  Edison is from Quito, Ecuador (see map) and he loves to cook (and he is REALLY great at it, I have to say) so I am looking forward to this afternoon

View Larger Map

Anyway, back to the sangria.

I like a lot of fruit in my sangria and I also like to make it the day ahead so it can all macerate together - the fruit juices, liquors and it does make a difference.

You can use any good, ripe fruit.  I usually use strawberries, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines and grapes.

I also always add citrus in the form of lemons, limes, and oranges.

(Recipe for one or two at bottom of post)


·    5 bottles of an inexpensive dry red wine (750ml bottles)


·    2 cups sugar
·    2 cups brandy (E&J VSOP is fine)
·    2 cups Grand Marnier
·    2 small lemons, sliced crosswise
·    2 small oranges, sliced crosswise
·    2 small lime, sliced crosswise
·    4 medium pears, diced
·    6 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
·    4 apples, cored and sliced thinly
·    2 cups of red grapes, sliced in half
·    4 cups of sliced strawberries
·    1 whole fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

·    2 bottles carbonated lemon-lime soda


In a large glass or stainless container, place sugar on bottom and then add all cut fruit and mix well.

Let this mixture sit for about an hour.

You can then add the wine and let is sit overnight in the refrigerator or a cool place.

To serve

Add ice to glasses and fill 3/4 with sangria mixture and some pieces of fruit.

Top with carbonated lemon-lime soda or seltzer, stir and enjoy!


If you can get a great Spanish (perfect for sangira wine) like Tapena's Tempranillo, then by all means do it.

It was $9.00 a bottle at our local Wine Warehouse in Voorhees, NJ.

Spanish vineyards have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, as a new generation of winegrowers nurture grapes with lush, fruit-forward characteristics. Regions like Penedés, Priorat and Tierra de Castilla are at the forefront of this delicious evolution, offering quality wines for an exceptional value.

Long known for earth-driven Riojas and classic Spanish Sherry, the new style of wine from Spain is especially exciting, as the country’s warm and sunny Mediterranean climate and mountainous landscape cries out for the cultivation of wine grapes. As a result, Spain has more land devoted to vineyards than any other country and ranks among the top three wine producers in the world.

Tapeña offers a fresh, fruit forward style of Spanish wine. It is made by the Ferrer family whose Spanish wine experience dates back several centuries. Today, the Ferrers operate over 11 wineries in Spain with sales all over the globe. Perhaps best known as the owners of Freixenet, the world's favorite sparkling wine, the family is uniquely positioned to introduce these distinctive Spanish wines with broad appeal.

The BEST sangria wine, in my opinion. is the Tapeña Tempranillo

The quintessential red wine grape from Spain, Tempranillo (temp-rah-NEE-yo), the little early one, adapts well to varied growing conditions. Tapeña Tempranillo is a rich, bold blend of fruit, earth and structure, rounded out by a deliciously soft mouthfeel. Think of this Tempranillo as Pinot Noir in blue jeans.

This delicious wine captures the sometimes elusive character of Tempranillo - luscious red cherry fruit wrapped around an earthy, intense center. The finish is long and layered with a hint of coffee and chocolate and a pinch of spice. This distinctive wine from the heartland of Spain is unlike any of the top three red varietals so utterly available from all over the world.

Appellation: Tierra de Castilla, Spain
Composition: 100% Tempranillo
Acidity: 5g/L
pH: 3.54
Alcohol: 13.6%
Vintage: 2005


(For those times when you don't need a couple gallons of sangria):



·    1 bottle of an inexpensive dry red wine (3 1/4 cups which is a 750ml bottle)
·    1/3 cup (3  oz) sugar
·    1/3 cup brandy (E&J VSOP is fine)
·    1/3 cup Grand Marnier
·    1 small lemon, sliced crosswise
·    1 small orange, sliced crosswise
·    1 small lime, sliced crosswise
·    1 medium pear, diced
·    2 medium peach, peeled, pitted and sliced
·    1 apple, cored and sliced thinly
·    1 cup (8 oz) of red grapes, sliced in half
·    2 cups (8 oz) sliced strawberries

·    1 bottle carbonated lemon-lime soda


place sugar on bottom and then add all cut fruit and mix well.

Let this mixture sit for about an hour.

You can then add the wine and let is sit overnight in the refrigerator or a cool place.

To serve

Add ice to glasses and fill 3/4 with sangria mixture and some pieces of fruit.

Top with carbonated lemon-lime soda or seltzer, stir and enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

BEST EVER Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

I am not a big dessert 'eater', but I do enjoy making them.  My Grandma Chadd used to make a great banana bread and this cake reminds me of that bread - and I promise that if you follow the directions EXACTLY (meaning the freezer part), you will always get rave reviews for this cake.

The oven temp of 275° F may sound a little low, but this cake bakes up beautifully.
If you don't have buttermilk, just add 1-3/4 tablespoons of cream of tartar to a cup of milk, or add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes. 
In many baking recipes, you can also just use plain yogurt or sour cream instead of buttermilk. 
The baking time may vary based on individual ovens, so after an hour just use a clean knife or toothpick and stick it into the center of the cake - if it comes out clean it is done.
It can take some ovens 1.5 hours so start checking after 1 hour the first time you make it, to get your timing right.
1¼ hours (approx.) | 15 min prep

Preheat oven to 275° (130 C)

1 9x13 pan

    * 1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe
    * 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    * 3 cups flour
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 3/4 cup butter, softened
    * 2 1/8 cups sugar
    * 3 large eggs
    * 2 teaspoons vanilla
    * 1 1/2 cups buttermilk


    * 1 cup butter, softened
    * 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    * 2 teaspoon vanilla
    * 7 cups icing sugar (or confectioner's sugar


* chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 275°.
  2. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.
  7. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
  8. Stir in banana mixture.
  9. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and place hot pan directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist, trust me!
  11. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  12. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  13. Add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.
  14. Spread on cooled cake.
  15. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over top of the frosting, if desired.