My 12-year-old beagle, Ford, has a malignant lymphoma diagnosis. My heart is broken. I have a lot of big feelings, and I don’t know where to put them.
Every time I find myself in this scary, sad place – when my husband deployed to Afghanistan in October 2010, when my brother deployed to Afghanistan in December 2012, and now that I know my dog is dying – I always find my way back into the kitchen. It gives me something functional to do with my hands, something new to learn with my brain, and somewhere productive to put my feelings to work.
So I made these DIY homemade three-ingredient dog treats for Ford and his brother, Otto. They use overripe bananas that I keep in my freezer until I’m ready to bake something, quick rolled oats, and creamy peanut butter. Sometimes I sprinkle turmeric on them, as turmeric is supposed to aid with inflammation.
The dogs love these special treats made by mom. They can be baked on the low end of the time scale for a softer treat, or on the high end of the time for a crunchier treat.
I hope your dogs love them as much as mine do. Tell your pups that Ford and Otto say hi, squeeze your furry companions tight today, and tell them you love them.
I completed the baking portion of the B-52 cake tonight. I feel an overwhelming sense of relief, but I’m so exhausted that I can barely spell. Everything hurts, including my brain. I also managed to do the first layer of vanilla buttercream frosting on the Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice Layer and the Classic Neopolitan Layer. Thankfully that went pretty smoothly and actually somewhat easier than frosting my normal-sized cakes – not entirely sure why. I have to frost the Chocolate Elvis Layer, then stack them all, and frost the entire thing.
I find myself really wishing I had more witnesses to the process. I don’t think that the final reveal will come anywhere close to indicating the amount of work that went into it. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been in this kitchen with me the whole time could possibly understand the magnitude of this undertaking. I think I’m going to be completely underwhelmed when it’s all over, but maybe that’s the exhaustion talking.
Sorry the images aren’t in gallery form. An internal server error happened while I was inserting the gallery. I just don’t have the energy to re-upload and re-insert and re-optimize those images. I’ll do it later. Right now, I just desperately want to get out of this apron and scrub all the sugar and butter off of me. I’m sure you all understand.
I promise I’ll be much less grumpy and much more exuberant when it’s over. 🙂
I thought about doing a mocha cream frosting to complement the mocha cream cheese swirl in the cake, but the cream cheese I bought for the frosting tasted terrible and the cake stands on its own just fine, so I skipped it. I’ll make a mocha cream frosting on something else later for you guys. (“Why is the condiment bottle picture so blurry?” you ask? Because I dropped my camera in the filling. Yeah. I’m awesome.)
Banana Cake Recipe with Mocha Filling Recipe Ingredients
Banana Cake Recipe with Mocha Filling Recipe Directions
Prepare an 8″ round or square baking pan. (I used square.) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In one large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. In your kitchen mixer or a separate bowl, blend the mashed bananas, vanilla yogurt, shortening and vanilla and add the flour mixture in parts. Add the eggs one at a time and beat just until combined. For the mocha filling, melt the chocolate over low heat in a double bowler and then remove from heat to rest for a few minutes. In a separate bowl or your kitchen mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, one egg and ground coffee until well-mixed, then stir in the melted chocolate. I used a condiment bottle to apply the mocha filling but you could just as easily use a piping bag or just pour the stuff. I just wanted a “swirl” more than a “layer” of mocha filling. Pour about 1/3 of the cake batter into the pan, then put about half of the mocha filling, and continue layering the rest until you run out of both – finishing with cake batter. Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes if all in one pan (less if you divided the batter between two pans – always start low and add time as you need it). The cake should be a beautiful brown color, and spring back when gently pressed, and if you insert a toothpick or skewer into the center it should come out clean. Cool for about 15 minutes then turn out of the pan.
I had several of frosting and garnishing ideas I didn’t do with this one but wish I had. You could frost with a banana frosting or mocha frosting, and dust with cocoa powder if you like! Garnish with chocolate covered banana chips, chocolate covered espresso beans, plain banana chips, or miniature chocolate chips and you’ll have a very happy audience.
Apparently St. Louis has the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the country, behind beautiful and festive New Orleans. Apparently this is especially so in the Soulard neighborhood, which I’m not especially familiar with yet. Apparently the drinking starts early and stays hard all day. So some smart individuals I know (Hi, Maggie!) decided to have a Mardi Gras breakfast to start the day off right – with full tummies. So for this St. Louis Mardi Gras breakfast, I decided to make a true New Orleans original treat – bananas foster, but in the form of a muffin. (Thanks for the idea, Lori!) Bananas foster is traditionally served with vanilla ice cream, but since it’s being served for breakfast alongside a host of other yum foods, I just topped it with a bit of cream cheese frosting and garnished with Mardi Gras colored coarse sugar and gold dragees. The recipe yields about 18 muffins.
Bananas Foster Muffin Recipe Ingredients
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 large egg, room temperature
Bananas Foster Muffin Recipe Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill two muffin tins with paper cupcake liners. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into one bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, combined the mashed bananas, brown sugar, sugar, butter, milk rum and egg and blend completely. Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time and blend completely after each addition. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the muffins have a rich golden color and spring back when pressed gently. FYI – I accidentally bought plantains instead of ripened bananas, which are very different, so I had to break mine down in a pan over low heat with orange juice, brown sugar and butter. This recipe works with plantains if you do that, but bananas are definitely the way to go.
Rum Glaze Recipe Ingredients
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Rum Glaze Recipe Directions
While the muffins are baking prepare the rum glaze. Mix the three rum glaze ingredients until the sugar is dissolve. Brush over the bananas foster muffins while they’re still warm from the oven. I garnished mine with a dollop of cream cheese frosting and coarse purple sugar and coarse green sugar, as well as gold dragees. You really don’t need to make that entire cream cheese frosting recipe, unless you plan to fully frost the muffins. I barely needed any to dollop the muffins.
My Grandma Cochran asked if I had a recipe for a cake using bananas and chocolate, and all I had was my recipe for chocolate chip banana bread, so it inspired me to make this two-layer banana cake with chocolate buttercream frosting! (Which is also an excuse to practice cake decorating skills from the cake decorating class I took.) I put about 20% of the batter into a jar to make a jar cake to send my husband in Afghanistan.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Banana Cake Recipe Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare two 9″ round baking pans. In one bowl, mash the ripe bananas and lemon juice together. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In your kitchen mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture was light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. Alternate adding the dry ingredients mixture and the buttermilk a bit at a time, starting and finishing with dry ingredients. Add the mashed banana goop and beat just until mixed in. Pour the banana cake batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake four about 45 minutes, or until your cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely. I’ve heard about popping this cake in the freezer while you prepare the chocolate buttercream frosting. I tried it out and thought it really helped the icing process.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe Ingredients
8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe Directions
In a stainless bowl over a saucepan with simmering water (creating a double boiler) melt the chocolate, stirring constantly so it doesn’t scald or burn, until it’s smooth. Remove from heat and cool for about 15 minutes. In your kitchen mixer, beat the softened butter until creamy. Alternate adding the powdered sugar and milk in small parts, starting and finishing with the powdered sugar. Fold in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth. I recommend working with the chocolate buttercream pretty quickly so it doesn’t cool on the cake and get difficult to work with. Garnish with whatever seems tasty – banana chips, chocolate chips or chocolate curls, I used some walnuts since I had them handy.