Thursday, April 5, 2012

Banana Cake

My 1st Birthday Cake 
This banana cake has made many appearances throughout my life.  My mom says that this cake is what she made for each of our {my three siblings and I} first birthdays.  I can definitely say that I may carry on that tradition when I have my own kids, I mean what kind of kid wouldn't want a yummy banana cake with buttery frosting on it for their first cake? The first cake can make a great impression, and you want to make sure it doesn't disappoint! The recipe was passed down by her mom, so it's a Halloran family insider.

This was my first time making the cake, and I wish I had tried to make it earlier!  Honestly it's just about the easiest cake to make.  Proof?  I had my seven year old sister, Nora, help me out.  She greased the pan for me and mashed up the bananas :)

 2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sour milk {or see note in "How to"}
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup mashed bananas

How to:
  Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.  Mash cut-up bananas up in a small bowl using a fork to press the chunks against the side.  Cream butter and sugar in a mixer, add the eggs.  Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl.  Add the vanilla to the sour milk {Note: if milk is not sour, just add a dash of vinegar to it}.  Alternately add the dry ingredients and milk to the butter, sugar and eggs.  Add the mashed bananas last and mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Top with the white-butter frosting { and a candle? ;) }

Butter Frosting:
6 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups sifted powder sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla {or almond flavoring!}

How to:
In a small mixer bowl beat butter till light and fluffy.  Gradually add about half of the powdered sugar, beating well.  Beat in the milk and vanilla/almond flavoring.  Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar, then additional milk if necessary. 


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Grilled Cajun Chicken Salad

Summer Chicken Salad
Here's a delicious summer salad to celebrate all the nice, warmer weather we've been having in Ann Arbor!  This is a delicious recipe with a kick of spice that's sure to be a crowd pleaser.  I made this along with the cheese scones I posted before leaving for Houston and together they made a delicious meal.  The dressing alone is delicious, but with the seasoned chicken it becomes an entire meal.  The ingredients may look extensive, but the meal is actually pretty simple to make.  Try it out and let me know what you think!  

2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Salad Dressing:
1 3/4 cup buttermilk 
1/2 cup mayo {light}
2 T. chopped green onion
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 T. chopped parsley
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced 

1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
1 5 oz pkg. mixed baby greens
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1/4 cup dried cherries {or raisins}
red bell peppers
grape or cherry tomatoes

How to:

Mix ingredients to blend.

Whisk 3/4 cup buttermilk, mayo, onion, parsley, vinegar, garlic, lemon peel and 1 1/2 tsp seasoning mix in medium sized bowl until blended.  Can be made a day ahead -- cover up and refrigerate.  Rub remaining seasoning onto chicken.  Place in medium sized bowl and pour the remaining 1 cup of buttermilk over the chicken, turning it to coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 3 hours.  Grill the chicken {med-high} for about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer over the cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.  Combine greens, pecans, cherries, tomatoes and bell pepper with the chopped up chicken.  Toss with dressing and serve :)