Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hummingbird Cake

Last weekend The Hubble went out to a barbecue with a bunch of guys he used to work with. The guys were down here for school and somehow the small get together we were planning turned into something huge.

Little Butt and I were planning to attend this cook out but when The Hubble received yet another phone call telling us that more guys were coming, I decided to beg off. It's not that I didn't want to go...I just didn't want to go! LOL!

The more phone calls that came in, the more guys who were going to be attending, the more I thought that Little Butt and I would not have any fun.

The cook out was going to be held near the barracks on the base and there's just no way. Little Butt wouldn't have had anything to do, and I would have just gotten annoyed at The Hubble because I would be chasing her all over the place while he had fun.

So I made some pasta salad and queso and threw together some burger fixin's for him and sent him on his merry way. Then Little Butt and I decided to have a girl's night. We ordered pizza and watched TV.

At a certain point I started thinking that it would be a great night to make my friendly neighborhood baking challenge cake! This month's challenge was chosen by my friend Melanie. It's a Hummingbird cake!

This cake was so tasty! My frosting was awfully thin so I had to refrigerate it several times to get it thick enough to stay on the cake.

The first cake maker in the group had set hers up with a beautiful silk Lily and a paper hummingbird cut out. It was so lovely. As we do more things in the group I'm starting to see everyone's creativity a bit more.

So I reserved a bit of the frosting, colored it and piped on a flower and some dots. This was my first time at "free hand" piping and I wasn't all that thrilled with it. But what can you do??

The cake itself though?? Amazing! The ingredients were different from any other cake I've ever had. It tasted sweet and tangy and moist and just delicious. I'm kind of sad I sent it to class with The Hubble.

But if I hadn' know I would have eaten that thing all by myself!'s true.

So there you have it! That's our baking assignment for the month. Oh, and I created a group on Facebook for this challenge so other people can get involved if they would like. You can search for it as "Your Friendly Neighborhood Baking Challenge" on Facebook. I also tried linking it but I don't know if that will work.

Anyway. Here's the recipe!

Hummingbird Cake
Retrieved from Food Network


  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 3 ripe bananas, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

For the Frosting:

  • 2 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and dust with flour.
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant and toasted, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then roughly chop. Toss with the bananas, pineapple and 1/2 cup flour in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Beat the eggs and granulated sugar in a separate bowl with a mixer on high speed until thick and light, 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the vegetable oil.
  4. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg mixture, then gently fold to make a thick batter. Fold in the pecan-fruit mixture, then transfer the batter to the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool in the pans on a rack, 25 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the rack to cool completely.
  5. Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy, then gradually beat in the butter until combined. Sift the confectioners' sugar over the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  6. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread about half of the frosting on top, then cover with the other cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daring Bakers July 2010: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

Well it's that time of the month again! Time to reveal the month's Daring Bakers Challenge!

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

Sunita did not have many requirements for us Daring Bakers this month. However, we were required to make everything from scratch. What we did have to do was to make a swiss roll with cream, two types of ice cream, and a fudge sauce. Haha! And I said there weren't many requirements!

I was inspired by my favorite ice cream. Sadly, my favorite ice cream has been discontinued. It was Starbucks Coffee Almond Fudge ice cream and it was amazing. So I tried to make an ice cream cake with a similar taste.

The swiss roll cake was chocolate, the cream in the swiss roll was almond flavored. Then I made an almond ice cream, the fudge as per Sunita's recipe and a coffee ice cream. I made this cake the first weekend after we found out about the challenge.

Have you ever made ice cream without an ice cream maker? Well, I

Let's talk about how things went for me. First off, I made the cake in the wrong pan so ended up having to pretty much throw out the first one. There was WAY too much cream for the cake and I think I filled it too full.

Making the almond ice cream without an ice cream maker was not as difficult as I thought it would be. However, when I made the fudge sauce, I didn't give it enough time to cool and it melted right into the almond ice cream. And apparently, I chose a bowl that was too small so I ended up having to scoop out a ton of almond ice cream to be able to fit the coffee ice cream. As you can see, the coffee ice cream didn't really set that well. And, in my brilliance, I tried to use coffee grounds as I would have used cocoa powder and let me tell you...that doesn't work. It gave the ice cream great coffee flavor, but the ground don't all.

I served this cake at a friend's house. The kitchen was about 1,000 degrees that night and she had forgotten to buy disposable plates. So we pulled dishes hot right out of the dishwasher. Do you know what that does to an ice cream cake?? Yup. This:

LOL! Oh well. I fed it to a bunch of soldiers and not one of them complained! It was flavorful and very rich. And as always, it was definitely a learning experience.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sunita for bringing such an awesome challenge to us Daring Bakers and allowing us to put our own spin on the dish. I highly recommend you go check out the other Daring Bakers and see what they came up with. There were some really great interpretations of this dessert! You can check out the blogroll or The Daring Kitchen main page.

If you are interested in making this cake, you can find the recipe here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Do you know what the worst part about being a food blogger is?

Other food bloggers. And not in the bad way. I mean, in the way that there are too many recipes and not enough meals!

I may have to start taking my queue from the Hobbits in the Lord of the Rings series and start having breakfast, brunch, elevensies, lunch, onesies, afternoon snack, and all the other meals that Hobbits eat. Of course then I may be about 5,000 pounds and couldn't move around the kitchen to cook.

When I found out about food blogging it was through some communities on my livejournal page. I had discovered a couple food communities, one being food_porn. In this community I found the amazing food blog Crepes of Wrath by the beautiful Sydney.

This girl makes some of the most amazing looking meals that I've ever drooled over. One of these was this recipe for bacon wrapped pork chops with sweet sliced apples and onions. This meal is positively delicious.

The combination of flavors in this meal is heavenly. When I made it the first time I was at my father's house. I cooked this with some roasted sweet potatoes and rosemary olive oil and sea salt potatoes like Sydney suggested. My stepmom and I literally camped out on the stuff!

As the pork, apple, onion, and butter cook this juice is created in the bottom of the pan. Well, let me tell you how good this meal is. It's so good that my stepmom would not let me throw out that juice after all the meat was gone. Instead, she ate the juice as a soup.

When The Hubble came home from Afghanistan and I told him about this meal he was skeptical. Then I made it for him and he became a believer.

If I haven't convince you yet. If you are still a skeptic. I challenge you to try it! And you should definitely head over to Sydney's blog, The Crepes of Wrath to check out all the other amazingly delicious recipes she's cooked up!

Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops with Apples and Onions
Adapted from Crepes of Wrath

  • 4 medium-sized pork chops
  • 1 lb sliced bacon
  • 2 medium apples, cored and sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Slice apples thinly and place them in the bottom of an 8×8 pan. 
  3. Sprinkle two teaspoons of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of sage over the apples.
  4. Top that with the sliced onions. Sprinkle the cubed butter over the onions.
  5. Wrap the bacon tightly around the pork chops. Place them on top of the onions and apples, and bake for 30 minutes.  (Sydney stated 15 minutes on each side but every time I've made them I've had to cook them a lot longer)
  6. Take the pan out and flip the pork chops over on the other side, then bake for another 30 minutes, until the bacon is lightly crisp. (If bacon is still soggy place under broiler for a few minutes until it browns and crisps) 
  7. Serve the pork chops with the apples, onions and plenty of juice from the pan. 
  8. Pair with roasted potatoes or some kind vegetable and enjoy!.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

So Much Love to Go Around

So today I have a lot of stuff to share with you. Unfortunately, it's not going to be a recipe.

I have been amazingly lucky within the last couple of months and would like to share my bounty with you. I hope this doesn't seem like I'm showing off or anything, I just want you all to know about the amazing people who are out there and the wonderful gifts I've received from them!

First we are going to start with winnings.

Mrs. M over at In The Military and On the Move hosted a giveaway a while back. I honestly didn't think I had a chance of winning because I didn't have the answer to the question she asked. But, I replied and wished her other readers luck. Well, wouldn't you know that I won anyway! That was the first thing I had ever won on a giveaway like that and I was beyond thrilled. So this is what I got:

I got this bowl! It is Polish pottery and traveled all the way from Germany to reside in my home!

This is my first piece of Polish pottery. Isn't it lovely??

Next up!

Molly over at i dance. was hosting a giveaway for cookies from none other than the brilliant Bridget of Bake at 350. And guess who happened to win?!?!?!

Here's how this went...

I received this lovely box with a hand written note.

Then opened the box to the most gorgeous cookies I've ever seen!

I got half a dozen!

Little Butt liked them. She would eat the edges...

Not only were they gorgeous, they were also delicious.

And I should probably admit that I only really got two...someone else got the rest!

Now let's head over here..

Julie at Mommie Cooks hosted a giveaway while she was out of town. I honestly had forgotten about this one and was shocked when she announced I had won! She went on vacation and picked up a couple treats on her travels. This is what she sent me:

Maple apple pie sugar, a maple pepper grinder (yum!) and a Barnes & Noble gift card that I turned into this book.

And finally...

Pink Little Cake

Kathia over at Pink Little Cake had a CSN Stores giveaway. I actually didn't win this one at first. Someone else did, but she couldn't get a hold of him and he never responded back to the winning it ended up coming to me somehow! The gift card I got there I turned into this and this.

Are you getting tired yet? I know, I know. I'm sorry! I'm hurrying! But I can't possibly forget to mention one of the greatest gifts I have ever received in my life. This one was not a winning, unless you count the amazing friend I have won on the other end of this gift. See...I met this girl Sarah. She's from Life is Still Sweet. Well, she hosts this thing every month for people who have cooked anything from a magazine over the course of the month. Actually, it's going on right now so jump over there! Here's her button:


So far, I'm the only person who has linked up on this subscription justification game (hint, hint to all my lovely readers who will go show her some love!). To show her appreciation she sent me this:

Trivets!!! Customized!!!

Aren't they adorable??? How did she know?!?!?! Sarah is seriously amazing and if you haven't checked out her blog, you should.

Actually, every single blog I've mentioned here are absolutely amazing people. I'm so lucky to have been able to come to know them and to have been so blessed to have received so much love.

But you aren't off the hook just yet! Because Julie at Mommie Cooks decided to give me an award too!!! She gave me:

Which I would like to pass on to little Cat of Rate.Bake.Create. This girl is so cute. Her reviews are thorough and honest. I always smile whenever I get a comment from her or she posts on her blog.

And last but certainly not least, Memoria over at Mangio da Sola gave me an award too! I didn't even think she knew I existed but there it is. She gave me:

With this I'm supposed to tell you 7 things about myself but I think I've rattled your ears...eyes?? long enough don't you think?? But I would like to pass this one on to Renee over at Kudos Kitchen By Renee. This wonderful woman has just embarked on a brand new business. She makes hand painted, customized trivets! She's amazingly talented and has just started a brand new blog as well, but there's so much to it already! Oh! she's also hosting a giveaway of one of her trivets (she'll paint your button or blog header on a trivet if you win) so head over HERE. But hurry because the giveaway ends on July 24th!

So thank you so much to everyone who made it to the end of this post! Please go show each other some love because what good are we if we can't support one another???

Monday, July 19, 2010

Roasted Pork Loin with Autumn Vegetables and Mustard Wine Sauce

Sometimes when I sit down to make a menu for the week I am struck with a desire to walk away. At times, I have no idea what I want to make. I just can't wrap my head around it. Then I pull out the list.

See, I have so many food magazines that sometimes I don't feel like looking through them and trying to decide which recipe I'm going to include in the week's plan. So as I look through a new magazine and something catches my eye, I will write down the title, magazine issue, and page number on a piece of paper. For these times of inspiration loss, I will whip out this list and ask The Hubble to just pick something.

And that is the story of how we ate a meal that included Autumn vegetables during summer.

Thankfully we live in a country that has fruits and vegetables of all seasons at any time of the year. And though this dish includes "Autumn vegetables" it was still light and delicious enough to enjoy during the summer.

Intrigued? Well let's get going...

Ingredients: boneless pork tenderloin, dijon mustard, kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, olive oil, low sodium chicken broth, white wine, carrots, fresh sage, and...rutabaga.

Let me digress for a moment and talk about the rutabaga. I had heard of rutabaga before but never eaten or worked with one. I had it on the grocery list and this is about how the conversation went with The Hubble when we were shopping:

Me: "I just need to get a rutabaga and I'm done."
The Hubble: "Rutabaga?? What the Hell is a rutabaga??"
Me: "I don't know, but I guess we're about to find out."
The Hubble: ::shrugs shoulders and walks away::

Thanks for listening. Back to the show!

It's time to cut the onion. Chop off the top.

Peel off all the skin...

Cut it in half from top to root.

Then cut each half in half keeping root in tact. Now you have successfully quartered your onion. Yay! Go you!

But we aren't done yet. Cut all those little guys in half until you have 8 onion sections.

Then set them aside.

With a peeler, peel the rutabaga...

And I just chopped off the flat part of the vegetable.

Okay. Now we need to have another talk. A rutabaga is like a sweeter type of potato. It's actually a mix between a turnip and a potato. And the thing is tough! It's hard to cut through. And I needed to dice it.

So what do I do?? I call in reinforcements. I mean, one of The Hubble's favorite things to say is "there isn't a problem in the world that brute force won't fix." So naturally, I figured he and his brute force could cut right through this rutabaga...

Sadly, my poor little cutting board didn't agree. And this is why The Hubble is now banished from my kitchen and my poor favorite cutting board will never be shown again.

But dinner must go on and we can't fall apart over one broken cutting board. Let's all grieve and move on together.

At this point you have everything chopped and ready so we'll start cooking. Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion.

Saute until nice and golden brown around the edges, about 6 minutes.

Then remove them from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, heat more oil and add the rutabaga and carrots. Stir occasionally.

While those are cooking let's prepare the pork loin. Put it on top of a greased roasting rack inside a roasting pan.

Chop up your fresh sage on a slightly inferior but no less useful cutting board. Try not to cry...

Sprinkle the sage on the pork loin.

Then sprinkle the pork loin with salt...

And fresh cracked pepper.

At this point the veggies should be done. They should be a nice golden color, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the onion back in to warm them up and mix them in with the rutabaga and carrot.

Then pour the veggies into the bottom of the roasting pan under and around the pork loin.

Salt and pepper the veggies as well.

And cook until done!

At this point, add the wine, broth and mustard in the same pan as was used for the veggies.

And cook until all the mustard is dissolved and mixed in and it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Slice the pork loin...

Serve with lots of veggies and mustard wine sauce and enjoy!!

Roasted Pork Loin with Autumn Vegetables and Mustard Wine Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 2 small onions
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups (1-inch) cubed and peeled rutabaga (about 2 rutabagas)
  • 16 baby carrots (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 (2 1/4 pound) boneless pork tender loin roast
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, divided
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel onion and cut into 8 wedges, leaving root intact.
  3. Peel and cube rutabaga.
  4. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoon oil in large skillet. Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan
  5. Add remaining oil, rutabaga and carrots to the pan. Saute, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6. Place pork on greased rack in a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with fresh sage, 1/2 teaspoonsalt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  7. Spread vegetables around pork and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees F for 50 minutes or until thermometer registers 160 degrees F. 
  9. Heat wine, broth and mustard in same skillet vegetables were cooked in until mustard dissolves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Serve pork with vegetables and generous amounts of sauce. Enjoy!
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