Hummingbird Cake

“We just need to find three hummingbirds and we will be ready!” I say to Whitaker as we are finishing up at Whole Foods.  “WHAT!?!”  Oh, his look was priceless and he was fully questioning everything about my baking at this point.

Hummingbird Cake is a staple of the south.  There is something about the pineapple, bananas, cream cheese frosting, and pecans that welcome the spring.  I fell in love with this cake about a decade ago while living in Virginia. Then I started making it for Easter each year.  You just need one slice of the rich cake to understand why it is looked forward to at our home. 
For planning purposes, you can make the cake layers ahead of time. You can freeze the layers until you are ready.  Then create your cake when ready.

Fun Tip:  Find a fun cake stand to display your cake on.  There is something special about a great cake stand.  

Hummingbird Cake

Cake Layers Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
2 cups chopped ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Vegetable shortening

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup salted butter or margarine, softened
2 (16-oz.) pkg. powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake Topping:
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted

Prepare the Cake Layers: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, bananas, and toasted pecans.

Divide batter evenly among 3 well-greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

Bake in a preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire

Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Assemble Cake: Place 1 Cake Layer on a serving platter; spread top with 1 cup of the frosting. Top with the second layer, and spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with the third layer, and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of the cake. Arrange pecan halves on top of cake.

Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie

A couple weeks ago, I hosted a Noonday Party. It was a fun evening of trying on jewelry, catching up with friends, and noshing on some goodies I had prepared. One appetizer I introduced to the group is my Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie. Let’s just say that there were no crumbs left on the plate.

The way the cranberry pecan topping plays with the brie truly makes happiness. I served the brie with a sliced baguette and crackers. And now this little number will be added to other upcoming festivities this season.

Super easy, great presentation, and a crowd pleasure for sure.

Keep Singing and Dancing during the Holidays,
Amanda

What you Need:

For Brie
1 (8-ounce) wheel brie cheese, rind trimmed
2 T brown sugar, packed

For Cranberry Pecan Drizzle

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 T honey
2 T maple syrup
1 T unsalted butter
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place brie on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place into oven and bake until softened. This should take about 12-15 minutes. Remove brie from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Occasionally stir, until foamy. Then stir in pecans and cranberries.

Serve brie warm topped with pecan mixture. I like to serve with crackers or a baguette.

Sweet Potato Casserole

And at most Thanksgiving tables, we find some sort of sweet potatoes.

There are so many ways to make sweet potatoes.  Some are great and some are just yuck! This little sweet potato casserole is like dessert.  The first time I had this dish, we were sharing Thanksgiving at my parents house.  My sister made this side dish and we all went crazy.

If you believe sweet potatoes must be served with marshmallows, I will not judge. You probably like Peeps too, again, not judging.   You can add them to the top.  But you honestly do not need them.  The sugars and pecans make this dish come to life.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups cooked, sweet potatoes

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup butter, divided (1/2 cup melted & 1/2 cup softened)

1 T Vanilla

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup white flour

Peel and mash potatoes.  In a large bowl add eggs, white sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, and vanilla.  Mix with an electric mixer.  Place in a 13X9 buttered baking dish.

Mix brown sugar, pecans, and flour.  Then add 1/2 cup softened butter.  Sprinkle on top of potato mixture.   Optional:  top with  1 1/2 cup of  mini marshmallows.  I don’t do this but some like it.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve warm. And leftovers are yummy too!

Thanksgiving Pie– No More Choices

Every year we plan out our Thanksgiving menus.  Turkey, Sides, Appetizers, Beverages, and Desserts!  Oh the desserts!  We are traditional and make Pumpkin and Pecan Pies.  I have thrown in a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie (YUM!).

When I hit the dessert table, I usually take a little bit of everything.  (It’s the right thing to do!)  But what if two of your favorites were combined.  Like Pumpkin Pie married Pecan Pie!!

Well, it happened the other night in my kitchen.  A few years ago, Southern Living introduced this little union.  And we all lived happily ever after! You need to plan to make this pie the night before serving.  It is better when it has time to completely cool and flavors will pop.  I have made a few adjustments to the recipe and it is perfection.

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Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle work surface with powdered sugar. Roll out piecrust, and place on prepared surface. Sprinkle piecrust with chopped pecans. Place wax paper over piecrust and pecans, and lightly roll pecans into crust. Fit piecrust, pecan side up, in a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp.

Mix together pumpkin  and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl until smooth and well mixed; pour into prepared piecrust.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.  Remove and shield edges with aluminum foil or crust protector.  This will keep your crust from burning.  Then bake an additional 25 minutes.

While pie is baking, you will create your pecan streusel topping.  This will create the pecan pie element to your pie.

For Pecan Streusel:
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
Mix all the pecan toppings together until well blended.After pie has baked 45 minutes,  gently top pie with Pecan Streusel Topping. Reduce oven temperature to 325°,  and bake 10 minutes. This will allow streusel to golden a bit. Then cover pie with aluminum foil.   Cool completely on a wire rack at least 3 hours.  Once cooled, place in refrigerator over night.  This will allow all the flavors to go crazy.
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Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

Hello December! There is something about this month that makes me think I need to bake every day! I’m a realist with an active eight month old and nine year old so I have set the goal of at least 5 new baking recipes this season. You know those recipes you have set aside all year or torn out of magazine, that is the ones I’m after. I have a limited amount of time for baking (basically during nap time) and I will be sharing what I have learned.

This little cookie has snuck into our house and is crazy insane IF you love chocolate and fudge. Being from Texas, our sheet cake shows up at lots of get togethers. So I wanted to make a cookie inspired by this famous cake. After combining four different recipes, I think I found something that works. My son and I are fudge lovers. So the icing on these cookies gave us complete happiness. See what you think! If you have a cookie, candy, or treat recipe that you are dying to try- send it my way. I’m feeling crazy! As you are cooking, baking, decorating, wrapping, etc.- don’t get so overwhelmed or crazy that you forget what this whole season is about.
Singing and Dancing to Sufjan Stevens!- Amanda

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Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

½ cup butter, room temperature
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 t baking powder
½ t salt
1⅓ cup flour
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Icing
½ cup butter
2 T cocoa powder
3 T milk
2½ cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light, scrape sides frequently. Add egg and vanilla. Continue mixing until well blended. Mix in baking powder and salt. Turn mixer to low and slowly add in flour. Dough will be thick. In the microwave, heat chocolate chips on high in 30 second increments until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds. Mix melted chocolate directly into cookie dough until evenly mixed. Drop dough by a tablespoon sized mounds onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes until cookies appear set. They will still be very soft on the inside. You do not want to over bake. Trust me. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.
Now let’s make the icing- In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder and milk over medium heat. Continue to whisk until all is melted together. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar. Finally add the pecans. Pour icing over cookies and allow icing to set before serving. Seriously let these cookies just take a bath in the chocolate goodness. Once cooled, prepare yourself. Then store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Look at those cookies taking a warm, chocolate bath!

Look at those cookies taking a warm, chocolate bath!