The BEST Banana Cake Recipe!

To me there is nothing better than a moist flavorful banana cake covered with rich thick cream cheese icing. And unfortunately while every grocery store and bakery in the South sells chocolate cakes, vanilla cakes, carrot cakes, red velvet cakes and German chocolate cakes, it is almost impossible to find a banana cake. Thank goodness I love to bake! Now, that said, I don’t make my own frosting. I have never made homemade frosting except for a New York Times chocolate dump cake recipe, which I’ll never do again. The dump cake was fabulous…the frosting? Not so much.

But for those of you searching for an easy and very satisfying banana cake recipe and don’t mind using store bought frosting or your own special cream cheese icing recipe, please give this one a try and let me know how you like it.

**For best results let the butter and eggs come to room temperature first.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                             1/2 cup butter                                             1/4 tsp. baking powder                                                   1 1/2 cups sugar                                         1/2 cup milk                                                                       2 large eggs                                                 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract                                                     2 cups all purpose flour                           1/4 tsp. banana extract                                                   3/4 tsp. baking soda                                   1/2 tsp. salt                                                                         3 very ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees then grease and flour (or use Baker’s Joy) a 9×13′” baking pan or two 9″ layer cake pans.

Beat the eggs. Cream the butter, sugar and beaten eggs. Sift the flour several times and during the final sifting add the salt and baking powder, stirring well to mix.

Add the milk and the flour to the creamed butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

Mash the bananas and then add the baking soda, mixing well. Add the banana/baking soda to the butter/milk/flour mixture, along with the vanilla and banana extracts, blending throughly.

Bake the layer cakes for 25-30 minutes, the baking pan 35-40 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting. Easy-peasy! And so tasty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Need Some Inspiration?

Since I’ve stepped away from social media I’ve been getting my book recommendations from the monthly/weekly magazines I subscribe to. Recently I came across Maria Shriver’s latest, I’ve Been Thinking…Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life, and while I’m not into organized religion I have begun meditating. I got online and requested it from my local library and because I live in what is quaintly known as “The Bible Belt” the wait list was fairly long even though Shriver until recently was a die-hard Democrat.

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About a week ago it was my turn. I picked it up, along with several other books, not really that excited about it. Finally started reading it Saturday evening and much to my surprise, I completely devoured it, finishing it less than 24 hours later. It’s not a very long book, only 225 pages, but it’s a book you want to savor.

Shriver acknowledges in the introduction that not everyone worships the same God and that’s ok. She wrote the book not to convert people but to share what has helped her navigate all her personal life challenges. Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote, then the essay, and finally a short prayer, which I skipped. While she does talk about her faith and how important it is in her life, she never comes across as “preachy.”

Because I read so much I seldom ever buy books, relying on my local library, my neighborhood Little Free Library or Kindle Unlimited. But as soon as I finished I’ve Been Thinking…, I got on Amazon and ordered a copy of my own. This is the kind of book I want to be able to read whenever I need a bit of encouragement. I want to be able to underline certain passages. I want to stop, take my time and appreciate her words of peace, inspiration and love.

No matter what your struggles, fears or worries; no matter what physical, mental or emotional trauma you may be experiencing, or perhaps you’re simply searching and questioning the next chapter in your life, give this book a try. Shriver doesn’t preach, she doesn’t spout old worn-out platitudes. As a member of a prominent family that over the years has suffered more than its fair share of public tragedies, Shriver simply talks about what has helped her survive.

I sincerely hope you give I’ve Been Thinking… a try. And if you do, I’d love to know your thoughts. Please leave your opinion in the comment section below.

 

 

 

Final Vacuum Saga Post

Saturday, December 30th, 2017 the UPS man arrived with a package. Since all my Christmas shopping had long arrived and my out of necessity Bissell vacuum Amazon purchase had been delivered 24 hours after I placed the order, I had no idea to expect.

Once inside I saw it was my Dyson replacement vacuum. And the reason I had no idea what UPS was dropping off was because I still to this day have never heard a word from Dyson. No follow-up emails, no return phone calls, no smoke signals, no Morse code, nothing but a whole lot of crickets.

My husband asked what I wanted him to do with it. After politely biting my tongue…I mean it’s not his fault Dyson customer service sucks…I told him the true. I didn’t care what he did with it. He could open it and use it. He could leave it in the box and stick it in a corner somewhere. He could sell it to some guy at work. He could put it out by the side of the road with a free sign on it. He could give it to his Dad. I honestly don’t care what happens to it.

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The Dyson in its new home. In the garage next to the kitty litter pan.

 

I am so totally over Dyson which it really sad since I had, before this fiasco, decided my next Dyson purchase was one of their humidifiers. I will give credit where credit is due, Dyson does make some pretty decent products, but the incompetence of their entire customer service staff and the thought of ever having to deal with them again, completely kills my desire to purchase anything else with the Dyson name on it.

Starbucks Caramel Brulee Recipe

With a new year comes the chance to begin fresh. Kick those pesky bad habits to the curb and fill your life with renewed passion and drive. But alas, a new year also brings an end to the Starbucks holiday drink menu. No more toasted white chocolate mocha lattes. No more gingerbread lattes, or chestnut praline lattes, or eggnog lattes, or my husband’s favorite: caramel brulee lattes.

The majority of the other drinks I can live without, though I did really like the toasted white chocolate mocha latte especially when I brought it home and added one extra pump of toasted marshmallow. So yummy! I have searched online for a copycat recipe without any success. I think part of the problem is since Starbucks no longer sells their syrups or sauces it has been difficult to recreate the exact ingredients. Someone said they thought it was a mixture of white mocha and butterscotch but they weren’t 100% sure. And since white mocha can be a pain to work with due to the thickness, I’ll just enjoy my barista making mine until they run out of the syrup/sauce.

But in researching copycat Starbucks drinks I did find a caramel brulee latte recipe that you can easily make at home or if you don’t want to invest in all the necessary syrups, just order at Starbucks when you’re craving one and the caramel brulee syrup is long gone.

For a grande request: 3 pumps caramel, 2 pumps white mocha and 2 pumps toffee nut. For a venti request: 4 pumps caramel, 3 pumps white mocha and 2 pumps toffee nut.

It’s my understanding you must add the white mocha in order to recreate the creamy texture of a true caramel brulee. Also, I didn’t include the amounts for a tall because really? who orders a tall anything at Starbucks?

Because I really don’t pay attention to how much things cost at Starbucks…I want what I want, when I want it, prepared the way I want it…I don’t know the correct way to order the caramel brulee hack so that you save money. That would be something to discuss with your barista after they break the sad news that the syrup supply has once again been discontinued until next year.

Good luck and let me know how you like it! Also, if by chance you run across a toasted white chocolate mocha recipe please feel free to share.

 

 

 

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

It is that time of the year again. Time to take stock of my life, figure out what I did right, what I did wrong, where I can improve and basically just try to determine how to live my best life for the upcoming 365 days.

I must admit dear readers, the last couple of years have been challenging. Without boring you with all the messy details it is sufficient to say the number one reason is because I am ready to move onto my next adventure. But due to numerous reasons, most of which are valid, it hasn’t happened. And while I am reluctant to say “definitely” I will say I am “almost definitely” certain nothing is going to happen for at minimum the next five years.

So my biggest challenge for 2018 is structuring my mindset and life to provide some semblance of peace and happiness. Which in turns, falls under the category of New Year Resolutions.

In the past I’ve had limited success in keeping resolutions. For example in 2016 one of my resolutions was not to incur any library fines, and I kept that one. In 2017 I resolved to stay off of social media. I deleted my Facebook account, gave up Instagram, closed Goodreads and Snapchat and vowed to stay off Twitter (I didn’t close my Twitter account because I don’t want to lose my account name.) Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much success as I had hoped. I found myself sneaking back on Twitter and occasionally looking at Facebook through another account. I also tried to stay off internet news sites and couldn’t accomplish that to the degree I wanted. But on a positive note, for all the free time generated by not being online as much as in the past I ended up reading 80 books and countless magazines.

First 2018 New Year’s Resolution: STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ALL NEWS SITES. In fact, I do better if I just stay offline completely unless for business, research or my blog.

Second 2018 New Year’s Resolution: Stop giving advice. No more weather reports or road condition updates. No more emailed or texted links to articles. No more magazine articles on subjects of interest. I will no longer waste my time.

Third 2018 New Year’s Resolution:  Figure out how to create my next glory day. (Thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson.) I have always had a goal to work toward. And for the most part I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish. And then it seemed as though I woke up one day with nothing to excite me. Tyson talks about “when people stop writing chapters.” And as a writer it’s a pretty sad day when you realize you yourself have stopped writing your life’s chapters.

Three resolutions, all of which are pretty life changing. Wish me luck. I plan on updating my progress throughout the year. Hopefully that will help to keep me on track.

Vacuum Saga Update-Part Two

Saturday December 23th around 11:30AM the doorbell rang and there was the mailman holding a fairly large box. After helping me drag it inside I opened it and discovered my brand new Bissell vacuum, ordered almost exactly 24 hours prior.

It was super easy to put together. Two screws and a couple snaps and that was it! Plugged it in and the suction level was amazing. The cord isn’t as long as my previous vacuum and the process required to change from the floor to carpet setting isn’t quite as user friendly, but over all I’m very pleased.

Great price. Super fast delivery by Amazon. Amazing suction. Adequate variety of attachments.  All factors which make me very happy especially considering it has now been 10 days and still no update from Dyson on my lost vacuum.

 

But On A Happier Note…

I GOT NEW SHOES! And aren’t they awesome! I just adore the Tory Burch Minnies and wanted these as soon as I saw them. They were on pre-order with Neiman Marcus and I held off. Then I earned a nice rewards gift card right around the same time they went from pre-order to available.

I was concerned the leather wouldn’t be as soft as my royal tan pair because of the dye but they are. In fact, it’s weird, the only pair I have that isn’t as rich and buttery are my black ones…but I still love ’em.