Monday, January 31, 2011

Banana Walnut Coconut Cake

I made this cake for my father-in-laws birthday celebration last night.  It turned out sooo good, I had to share.  Excuse the bad photos..I had about 3 seconds to take them.  My FIL announces after we finish dinner..."I have to leave in 20 minutes to get home in time for the game to start!"  Yeah.

Here is the recipe:

Banana Walnut Coconut Cake

For the cake:
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. shredded coconut

For the syrup:
1c. sugar
1 c. water
(or substitute 2 T. of water with rum)

For the frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
~1/4c. water

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9" cake pans with cooking spray.
2.  In a stand mixer, or bowl with hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Mix in eggs, bananas, milk, and vanilla.
3.  Add in the flour and baking soda.  Mix just until moistened.
4.  Fold in the walnuts and coconut.
5.  Pour batter into prepared pans.  They will bake for about 40 minutes, turn pans halfway through.  They are done when the cake bounces back after being pressed in the center.
6.  To make syrup, add water and sugar to a saucepan.  Heat until boiling.  Remove from heat and cool completely.
7.  To make frosting, cream together butter, vanilla, and confectioner's sugar.  Slowly add in the water.  When it has reached a thick but spreadable consistency, stop.  Fold in the walnuts and coconut.
8.  To assemble.  Place one cake layer on a stand.  Brush generously with syrup using a pastry brush.  Spread 1/2 of the frosting on top.  Place other cake layer on and repeat.

Source:  Modified from AllRecipes

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meal Plan 1/30-2/5

I got lazy last week and didn't post my meal plan and links.  Good thing because I tried 4 new recipes, and 3 were a total flop.  Such a bummer when that happens.

This week I am all about comfort food.  Soup, soup, and more soup.  Maybe it's due to the stressful week I had last week or maybe it's the weather, but it is all I want to eat lately.

Meal #1: Father-in-law's Birthday Dinner:  Chicken Stew with Homemade Bread (I'm winging it on this one...wish me luck)
Dessert #1:  Banana, Walnut, and Coconut Cake (will post recipe if this works out as well as I think it will)
Meal #2:  Tuna Melts (a slightly more sophisticated version) and Peas
Meal #3:  Carrot Soup with Cheese Quesadillas
Meal #4:  Roast Chicken with Sweet Potato Souffle and Spinach
Meal #5:  Winter Squash and Black Bean Chili and Cornbread

So, I just realized that I don't have many links to share with you.  If there is a recipe that you would like, please let me know and I will take pics of it and post the recipe.

Have a wonderful and productive week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Little Bean Circle Quilt Tutorial and Bedroom Makeover

Here it is!  The beast that has consumed my crafting life since Christmas!

Purple explosion

A closer look
And of course, I couldn't put this loveliness in Layla's yellow baby room.  So, we had to buy a new bed and throw on a new coat of paint - and what else, purple!  Her favorite!  Here is a look at the rest of the room.


Close-up of Bunny art.
Reading nook...need more shelves.
Photo is "Layla" by my lovely friend Jill.

Usually about 20 more stuffed animals live on the bed...we compromised.

Hard to see, but there are sparkly butterflies hanging from the them!

Here is the quilt that started this whole thing from Garnet Hill:

This has been a project months in the making, literally.  I think I started this last spring or summer.  Firstly, let me say:  I am NOT a quilter.  I pretty much made up what I was doing as I went along and asked for advice from some friends and the local quilt shop when I needed input.  I am sure that real quilters would be disturbed by some of my methods.

That being said.  Here is how I did it...and I apologize there aren't pictures of everything, but I did my best.

Here is what you'll need for a twin size quilt:
  • Queen size sheet for front
  • Queen size sheet for back
  • Several coordinating (or not) fabrics for the circles - I used six and needed just over 1/2 yard each
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing (~6 yds.)
  • Batting
  • Pins
  • LOTS and lots and lots of coordinating thread
  • Safety pins
  • Disappearing pen or fabric chalk
  • CD

To save money, I started out with a king size white sheet for the front of the quilt (this was too much...a queen will do).  I looked several places online to find dimensions of quilts and I averaged them out and made mine 70" x 86" and it works great on Layla's twin bed.

Cut your sheet to these dimensions. Put aside.

Get out your lovely fabrics.

Next, iron your interfacing onto each of your coordinating fabrics (the back, obviously).  Start with 1/2 yard of each can always make more later if you need to (I used 35 of each fabric).  How many you are going to need is going to depend on the spacing you choose (there are 208 on this one).

Now we are ready to start tracing out our circles.  I don't have a circle cutter, so I used a CD as a template. 

Plain old CD
 I traced circles on each fabric and cut them immediately so that my pen wouldn't disappear first.  Be precise when you cut your circles because there is no way to hide uneven edges!

Your circles will look like this.

This is the part that is very unconventional.  Get out the sheet that you cut previously.  We are going to use it in one piece...we are not making blocks.  Now start laying out your circles.  I completely eyeballed this since I am pretty good at that.  If you are more comfortable measuring, by all means do that.  This quilt has 16 circles on the length and 13 circles on the width.  They are about 1/2" apart.  I would leave 1" around all of the edges so that you have enough room for your binding.

We are going to attach the circles with safety pins for now.  I recommend only attaching about 20 at a time.  I found that this was pretty easy to work with.  It gets tricky if you have too many.

Now start sewing on your circles.  I used a zig-zag stitch in purple thread.

This is the part that took me months and months because I just did a few circles here and there and it was never really in the forefront of my mind.  It certainly doesn't need to take that long.

You should have something that looks like this when you are complete (ignore the extra fabric...not yet trimmed in this picture).

For the back, I used a purple sheet.  I did not pre-cut the sheet.  Instead I laid it out flat and then put the batting on top and then finally the quilted top on that.  Once I was sure everything was all smoothed out and even.  I pinned all around the edges.  Once I did this, I loosely cut both the batting and the backing...not worrying too much if there was still a bit of excess.

Now comes the quilting.  And yes, I was able to do this on my home machine.  I'm not sure that I would want to do much bigger of a quilt on this machine, but it worked out fine for a twin. 

I used the Quilting Foot that came with my machine (not the Walking Foot).  Be sure to lower your feed dogs so that you can move the quilt about freely on the machine. 

I started in the middle of the quilt and worked my way out.  Depending on what colors you choose, you may want to quilt the background one color and the circles another.  This is what I did.

I just did a free form loop-de-loop pattern.  It is really quite small on the background since I had to go through a lot of tight spaces.  But, I did it much bigger inside the circles.

The white background

The circles with purple thread

This does make the back of the quilt multi-colored, but I don't really want anyone looking at the back anyways (that's where all my mistakes are hiding).

Once you are done quilting, which, if you do like me, will take you quite a while, you need to trim up the edges so that all three layers are perfectly even.

Now you are ready to start binding.  Everyone told me that I had to make my own binding and then after they told me how to do it, I realized that all I would be doing was making bias tape.  So, why not just use bias tape?  Since I just wanted solid white, that's what I did.  I used 9 yards of extra wide double fold bias tape.

If you look at bias tape, you'll notice that one side is longer than the other.  You want the long side to be on the back of your quilt.  Unfold the bias tape and sew down the inside flap of the long side to the back of your quilt.  I found it easiest to do one side at a time.  Now fold you bias tape back up and over to the front side.  Sew all the way down the side you just worked on making sure to "catch" the bias tape on the back.

Since we are doing one side at a time, you will want to finish the corners as you go.  You can either miter the corners or you can do them square.  I played around with it and decided that I liked them squared the best.  Just fold over your ends and then overlap them in a square.  Sew down.

 And that's it.  Time to celebrate with a cocktail because you seriously deserve it.  Please let me know if you try this and of course send me pics!!!!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Former Life...As a Professional Cake Decorator

Prior to mommy hood, I did many things.  My favorite of which was being a professional cake decorator.  Baking and art had always been two passions of mine that I was quite good at.  So, one day in the midst of graduate school, a light bulb went off and I decided to go to culinary school.  One of the best decisions I have made.  As Oprah says, follow your passions.

I thought that I would post some of my favorite photos of cakes that I have done in the past.  Some of these I have done from my home and some were done at the Happy Cake Co. where I worked for several years.


These were HUGE!

Luscious (and sparkly) lips!
The only cake competition I ever a 2nd place ribbon

My rack.

Sweet Cala Lilies

Halle Barry wedding cake knock-off

I LOVE this cake...feel sorry for the groom, but still love it.

Waterfall cake



Bold and beautiful snowflakes

Cookies on the cake

Baby Shower

Probably the most elegant cake ever


Top Hat and Tie

Mardi Gras!

Go Cougs!

Shout out to PBR

Don't love the colors, but love the decorations
Another marbled cake

Definitely the most difficult cake I ever did.

Wedding dress buttons

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Meal Plan 1/16 - 1/22

I feel as if this is the only thing I am posting lately, the meal plans, because believe it or not, I am STILL quilting.  I am getting much closer to being done and then will hopefully resume some sort of creativity.

Until then, here is what's up for the week.  You may note that there is more meat in here than normal...well, what can I say?  If I can find it free range/organic...I'm eatin' it!

Meal #1:  Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini and Parmesan
Dessert #1:  Rice Pudding (I switched out the lemon zest for orange zest...yummmmmmm.)
Meal #2:  Hummus, Pita, and Greek Salad
Meal #3:  Turkey and Roasted Red Pepper Meatloaf with Homemade Tomato Herb Bread
Meal #4:  Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (I switch out the Velveeta-yuck, in the recipe for light cream cheese - an 8 oz. block) with more Tomato Herb Bread
Meal #5:  Green Curry with Tofu, Eggplant, and Green Pepper with Cucumber Salad

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meal Plan 1/9 - 1/15

The holidays really messed me up as far as food planning was concerned.  But, I'm back in the swing now.  This week is really laid back and easy because my husband will only be around for four meals (workaholic, anyone?).  So, here we go...

Meal #1:  Sesame Chicken with Rice and Broccoli
Meal #2:  Cream of Asparagus Soup (homemade, of course) with Biscuits
Meal #3:  Southwest Bean Burgers with Avocado and Chipotle Aioli and Sweet Potato Fries (these are the absolute best bean burgers I have ever made!)
Meal #4:  Spinach Manicotti in Creamy Tomato Sauce with Tossed Salad
Meal #5:  Bean Burritos with Corn

And lets face it, the other nights we'll have leftovers or grilled cheese.

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Where Have I Been...Attempting to Quilt!

I am NOT a quilter.  And I fully blame Garnet Hill for the predicament that I am currently in.  They mail me their catalog...which is full of gorgeous things, of course...and I saw this:

Garnet Hill Johanna Quilt

Now how could I not fall in love, I ask you.  So, many, many months ago, I decided to start making this quilt in all purples and white for Little Bean.  This is for her twin size big girl bed and the plan was to have it done by the time she was in it.  I have failed. 

I thought that the cutting of the circles and the piecing of the quilt was time consuming.  I finished all that last week.  Now I am doing the actual quilting. is sooo tedious.  I am doing it on my little Brother sewing machine which doesn't help matters, but to pay someone else to do it or to take a course on the long arm quilting machine at the local quilt shop would cost me over $100...and for that price, it's hardly worth making it myself, am I right?

So, I will be posting about the quilt once it is all done.  Although buying one from Pottery Barn Kids sounds like a much better suggestion at the moment.

Stay tuned...