Saturday, June 16, 2012

The World’s BEST Banana Nut Cake, SERIOUSLY!!!!

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I made this last weekend when the family was home and it was a huge hit.  I found the recipe on AllRecipes and it had 1000 positive reviews.  I read all the tweaks, and ended up making the recipe pretty much like the original, except I baked it at 300°instead of 275°, and I added pecans to the batter as well.  It took about an hour and twenty minutes to bake in my oven.  This is a heavy, dense cake, reminiscent of banana nut bread, but better! I wish I would have weighed it, I would guestimate 7 lbs.  The consistency reminded me of our much loved Elsah’s Landing Hawaiian Carrot Cake, another winner that I’ve made for my family for the past twenty-five years. You can read the recipe for the Carrot Cake by clicking here.

I did put the cake immediately in the freezer for 45 minutes as the recipe told me to do, but then I frosted it, covered it and left it at room temperature so that it would moisten.  I would refrigerate this after 24 hours, since it has cream cheese in the frosting, but I think it’s best served if you bring the sliced pieces back to room temperature before serving, so that the frosting is creamy.  This cake improves with time, every day it gets more moist.

This is such a great recipe, going into my Tried ‘n True Hall of Fame it’s so good.  I did use buttermilk, some people didn’t, and I used the entire recipe for frosting as we like a lot of icing.

Ingredients

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
I added a cup of chopped pecans to the batter, you can toast pecans if you like for a richer flavor

Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Garnish
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275°. – I baked this at 300°
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan, I sprayed with Pam
In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.  I had 5 bananas, very ripe, that’s the secret, you want your bananas turning black, they have the best flavor.  I used all of mine, I didn’t measure, I just used them.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.  I sift all of these ingredients together.

Using a mixer, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.

Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
Stir in banana mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  This is not long enough, even at 300° it took mine an hour and twenty minutes to bake and I have an accurate oven.

Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.

For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.

Spread on cooled cake.

Sprinkle chopped pecans over top of the frosting, if desired, or you can mix the chopped nuts in with the cream cheese frosting. 

You’re going to love this cake, it is totally awesome.

bon-appetit-leaf

Tips to organize your refrigerator…

This great video from HGTV has some super ideas.  Now I need to find those lemon/onion containers that hang off your shelf.  Nifty idea!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Portillo’s Chopped Salad, an AMAZING recipe…

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My friend Barb, told me about how awesome Portillo’s Chopped Salad is.  Portillo’s is a Chicago institution, a hot dog stand that was started in 1963 by Dick Portillo’s in a small trailer with no running water, and has now grown to 47 locations.  Their chopped salad is famous, and rightly so.  Oh, what a great summer recipe this is for all of you…  The recipe is widely available online, this is how Barb makes hers…

Portillo’s Chopped Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce
1 – 2 heads Romaine lettuce, depending on size
1 small head red cabbage, minced or 1 bag sliced red cabbage, chopped
1 small red onion, finely minced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
2  c. ditalini pasta, cooked and cooled
1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (Amish Blue Cheese from Sam’s is awesome)

Vinaigrette dressing, bottled or homemade

Wash and dry the lettuces. Finely chop until the lettuce is in small pieces, this is the secret, you want this to be finely chopped, not large chunks.

Put in large salad bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except dressing, and toss to combine well.

Serve dressing along side the salad or pour on and combine just before serving.

Dressing:

Barb uses a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, I’ve also read that Marzetti’s Sweet Italian Dressing is a dead ringer, Commenters also say that Aldi’s Grandesse House Salad Dressing tastes really similar.  I also found a homemade recipe with positive reviews  if you would like to try it.

This Italian Dressing is from  the Chicago Sun-Times. It is similar to the dressing found on salads at Portillo's and Maggiano's restaurants.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Place vinegar, garlic, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.

While the machine is running, slowly drizzle olive oil through the blender top or feed tube until dressing is combined and emulsified.

Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks