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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #20 and Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins

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It’s mid-summer. You want a treat that’s tasty, versatile, healthy and not too heavy.

It’d be nice if you could pack it in a bag lunch for work or a backpack for that bike ride. But then again you’d like to have something made ahead for breakfast that would both encourage you to get out of bed and also make it easy and quick to run out the door (always nice to squeeze in an extra five minutes of sleep).

And what about something for an afternoon snack along with a glass of iced tea or lemonade to share with your neighbor that might drop by. And last but far from least, can it also be a late-night nibble to eat while you’re curled up on the couch reading or listening to the continuation of the serial novel you’ve been following week after week?

That’s four desserts, right? And who has time to make all that?

Reading and Recipes to the Rescue! (R&R to the R!) This Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffin recipe, which just happens to make four muffins, will meet all your needs from breakfast to a late-night snack, and in a package that’s easy and healthy, light but satisfying.

So give them a try to see how well they meet your summertime snack requests.

banana cinnamon swirl muffinsCinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins

1 medium very ripe banana, mashed

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg white

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

banana cinnamon muffins

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 muffin cups with paper liners, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the mashed banana, melted butter, granulated sugar, egg white, and vanilla extract, making sure ingredients are fully incorporated. Stir in the baking soda, salt, and all-purpose flour until just mixed and no large clumps remain. In a separate bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Spoon some of the batter into the four muffin cups, filling a third full. Sprinkle the brown sugar cinnamon mixture on top of batter. Divide the remaining batter between the muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full, and sprinkle remaining brown sugar cinnamon mixture on top.

Bake muffins in preheated oven for 24-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 4 muffins.

cinnamon swirl banana muffin

{Adapted from Lovin’ From The Oven}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #20 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #20, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #20, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #19 and Fluffernutter Milkshake

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Some of you have heard of the “fluffernutter” sandwich–peanut butter and marshmallow fluff between two slices of square white bread.

Fluffernutters and I have a relationship that dates back–well, let’s just say a long, long time. It’s the original high-energy snack, before there was such a thing as a “high-energy snack.” It pulled me through many a double shift at work or an unplanned late-nighter, not to mention those afternoon swoons in grade school or the long bus ride home.

This fluffernutter mix is finding its way into many places other than between slices of bread. I’ve heard of it being used in ice cream, cookies, even oatmeal (for Heaven’s sake!).

And now, exclusively on Reading and Recipes (not really exclusively–check out the credit site–but we can pretend for dramatic effect), we can add milkshake to the list of peanut butter/marshmallow fluff conquered territories. Our Fluffernutter Milkshake will simultaneously cool you off and heat you up, fill you full of energy and make you want to kick back and take a nap. In short, it does everything this unique mix of protein and sugar is supposed to do, all in a drinkable form that’s simple to throw together and goes down oh-so-easy.

So mix up a batch and share it with a friend, then take a jog around the block and a swim in the pool just before you crash on the couch.

fluffernutter milkshake Fluffernutter Milkshake

2 cups vanilla ice cream*

1/3 cup milk or cream

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 Tablespoons marshmallow fluff

10 Nutter Butter Bites cookies

Cool Whip or whipped cream to garnish


Add all of the ingredients to a blender in the order listed. Blend until smooth. Top with Cool Whip and serve immediately.

Makes 1 large milkshake, perfect for sharing.

*To make this milkshake healthier, you can substitute vanilla frozen yogurt and omit the Nutter Butter cookies.

fluffernutter milkshake 2

{Slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #19 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #19, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #19, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #18 and Banana Pudding Cupcakes

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There are universal desserts and regional desserts. Some of the universal (or nearly so) desserts are vanilla ice cream, apple pie, chocolate-chip cookies, brownies. Some well-known regional specialties include New York cheesecake, key-lime pie, bourbon pecan pie, tiramisu.

But our all-time favorite regional dessert (that is hardly regional anymore as everyone everywhere has discovered it) is banana pudding!

Except there’s one problem. Well, two problems really. Banana pudding is messy to serve and hard to keep. You need bowls and spoons and a big wad of napkins to eat it. And a day after it’s made, those banana pieces start to turn black; and that is not all that appetizing (like time to toss the rest in the trash crying all the while).

But Reading and Recipes has the perfect solution to these two drawbacks: Banana Pudding Cupcakes! Gone is the messiness of serving and eating (unless that little smudge of frosting on your upper lip is messy, but I say it’s cute). And you don’t have to worry about these cupcakes going bad after a day or two, if any of them last that long.

So give this new spin on a regional specialty a try. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too, or your pudding and eat it too, or your pudding-cake and eat it too, or your cake-pudding and eat it too.

(Guess I should give up trying to be witty and just stick to writing intros.)

banana pudding cupcake Banana Pudding Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons Nilla Wafer crumbs plus more for topping

1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg white

1/2 of a small ripe banana, mashed (a scant 1/4 cup of mashed banana)

2 Tablespoons buttermilk

For the frosting:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 vanilla pudding cup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

banana pudding cupcakes

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 muffin cups or line with paper liners.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, Nilla Wafer crumbs, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.

In another mixing bowl, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg white and beat until well mixed. Stir in the mashed banana, mixing until fully incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, slowly mixing into the cake batter. Last, stir in the buttermilk until just mixed in.

Divide the batter between the three muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for 20-24 minutes, or until tops begin to turn golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by combining the butter and 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Beat in the pudding cup, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir in 1/4 cup or more of powdered sugar, until your desired consistency and flavor is met. Store the frosting in the refrigerator until cupcakes are cooled. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost and sprinkle with Nilla Wafer crumbs. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Makes 3 cupcakes.

banan pudding cupcake bite

{Cupcakes adapted from Cooking Classy}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #18 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #18, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #18, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #17 and Peanut Butter Cheesecake Parfaits

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Time out!

Time to cool off from this hot weather with an easy and yet surprisingly elegant no-bake dessert. These Peanut Butter Cheesecake Parfaits will impress the heck out of that friend visiting from out-of-town or that special guest you’ve invited over for a light dinner.

Or maybe not.

Three servings, you say? That sounds like breakfast, lunch, and dinner to me!

Sharing is O.K. but sometimes it’s over-rated. Besides, I’ve got to test the recipe out before taking a chance on offering it to company, right? If it’s good, maybe I’ll share some of the next batch I make.

Or maybe not.

peanut butter cheesecake parfaitPeanut Butter Cheesecake Parfait

4 sheets honey graham crackers, coarsely chopped

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 8-ounce container Cool Whip, room temperature

1/4 cup chocolate syrup

pb cheesecake parfait

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter for a few minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and stir until combined. Add most of the Cool Whip to the peanut butter mixture, reserving some to top the parfaits. Fold the Cool Whip into the mixture until combined.

Divide half of the crumbs into the bottom of your serving glasses. Top with half of the peanut butter filling. Top the peanut butter filling with a tablespoon of chocolate syrup. Repeat layers, by adding the rest of the crumbs and then the rest of the peanut butter filling. Cover and refrigerate the parfaits for at least 2 hours, or over night.

When you are ready to serve, top the parfaits with the remaining Cool Whip and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Makes 3 parfaits.

*You can use peanut butter cookies, Oreos, chocolate graham crackers, or any cookie crumbs of your choosing. I prefer honey graham crackers to provide a contrast to the rich peanut butter filling and chocolate syrup.

pb cheesecake parfait bite

{Slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #17 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #17, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #17, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #16 and Rustic Brown Sugar Cherry Tarts

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If you’re like me, you are intimidated by the idea of making a pie.

And the anxiety is all tied to the challenge of making the crust. The thought of getting the dough exactly the right consistency, rolling it out between sheets of wax paper, transferring it to the pie plate, getting it centered in the pie plate, distributing it around the pie plate, and all without tearing it–AARGH: I’m having a panic attack just thinking about it.

And that’s too bad, since eating pie is as pleasurable as making it is miserable.

Now let’s calm down.

Take a few deep cleansing breaths, put on that ocean-waves relax mix your roommate gave you a few years ago, and throw back a couple shots of your favorite 80-proof spirits.

Then take a look at this week’s recipe–Rustic Brown Sugar Cherry Tarts. This recipe is for those who suffer from PTSD–that is, Pie Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Once you’re in a relaxed state of mind, just toss the crust ingredients together, chill for a little while, then roll it out on a cookie sheet. No wax paper, no transfer, no making it look cute in that stupid fluted deep-dish pie plate. Just a flat circle, filling in the middle, roll up the edges, and bake. No mess, no stress.

And the results are . . . Well, you give it a try and let us know. Chances are you’ll have a whole new outlook on making pies after having fun with these Rustic Brown Sugar Cherry Tarts.

rustic cherry tart

Rustic Brown Sugar Cherry Tarts

For the crust:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

2 Tablespoons cold water

For the cherry filling:

2 cups chopped pitted sweet cherries

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 egg, beaten

brown sugar cherry tarts

To make the crust, add the flour, salt, and granulated sugar to a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix ingredients. Add the cold butter to the food processor. Pulse until a grainy mixture is achieved. Add the cold water and pulse until the mixture just comes together. Remove the dough from the food processor, form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

When you are ready to make the tarts, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the chopped cherries with the brown sugar and the cornstarch.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Siplat mat, and lightly flour the surface. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into two balls. Roll each ball into an 8 inch circle directly on the parchment paper. Divide the cherry mixture and pile the cherries into the middle of each round of dough. Gently fold the border of the dough over the cherries, pleating and pressing the dough together as you go. Brush the dough with the beaten egg and lightly sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake the tarts for 25-28 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cherries are tender. Remove the tarts from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Makes 2 tarts.

rustic brown sugar cherry tarts

{Adapted from Chocolate with Grace}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #16 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #16, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #16, text © Jeffrey Anderson