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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #28 and Banana Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Bananas go with just about everything. (OK, I’ve never had them on hamburger; but this is a dessert blog–they go with just about every kind of dessert!) And bananas have found their way, in one form or another, into many of our recipes.

But there’s something about a banana cake that just smacks of moist decadent richness. Banana cake is so special you can’t ask for it any old time, for any ho-hum occasion. It has to be an important occasion–a holiday or a birthday or a family reunion. Those are the times for a banana cake–but don’t linger talking to another guest or a distant cousin, or that cake might be all gone by the time you get to its spot on the dessert table.

But here at Reading and Recipes we make the special available for everyday enjoyment and consumption, the rich and tasty here today (and, in most cases, gone tomorrow). That’s why we’ve downsized the banana cake into these small-batch Banana Cake Cupcakes. That way you don’t have to wait for a special occasion or fight off Cousin Bubba or Aunt Matilda (who has a shoulder like a battering-ram) for the last piece on the buffet. You can just bake them, frost them, and eat them all yourself, at your leisure.

Because at R&R, we make the special available for everyday enjoyment and consumption.

  banana cupcake

Banana Cake Cupcakes 

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

1 Tablespoon sour cream or plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 small ripe banana, mashed

2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts, optional

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1-2 teaspoons milk or cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

banana cupcakes w cream cheese frosting

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 3 cupcake liners.

To make the cupcakes, beat together the butter and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk until fully incorporated. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla. Slowly stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until just mixed in, careful not to over mix. Fold in the mashed banana and walnuts until well mixed into the batter.

Divide the batter between the 3 cupcake liners. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into 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 beating together the cream cheese and butter. Once completely mixed together, slowly stir in half of the powdered sugar. Mix in the milk, vanilla, and salt, and then the remaining powdered sugar. Add a little more milk or powdered sugar until you reached a desired consistency. Refrigerate the frosting until cupcakes are cooled. Frost cooled cupcakes.

Makes 3 cupcakes.

banana cake cream cheese frosting

{Adapted from The Food Network}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #28 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #28, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #28, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #27 and Apple Pie Smoothie

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Depending on where you live, fall may be making an early appearance or summer may be hanging on (or, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, winter is clinging or spring is getting started early). Wherever you live, mid-September is a time of transition–saying good-bye to one season, getting ready for the next.

And this week’s Apple Pie Smoothie is designed to ease you through that transition with its mix of subtle fruit flavors and a touch of sweetness for a filling and healthy snack. It’s cool and refreshing (if you’re caught in a heat wave) but also rich and energizing (if you’re experiencing a cold snap or–Heaven forbid!–a dusting of snow).

I also like to think of this as a tasty intro to apple season. You can sip on this smoothie and think of all the great ways you can prepare those crisp, fresh-picked apples starting to show up at the farmers’ markets.

Because mid-September is a time of transitions. And here at R&R we’re helping ease you through those changes!

apple pie breakfast Apple Pie Smoothie

1 frozen banana*

1 cup unsweetened applesauce or stewed apples

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup uncooked oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt or ice cream

1 handful of ice

apple pie smoothie

Add ingredients to a blender in the order listed. Blend on the highest speed for 30 seconds, or until ingredients are fully mixed. Serve immediately. If you desire, top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Makes 1 large smoothie, or two smaller smoothies.

*A fresh banana is fine too. Freezing the banana gives the smoothie a thicker texture.

apple pie smoothie drink

{Adapted from Gimme Some Oven}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #27 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #27, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #27, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #26 and No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

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So it’s back to work or school or tending the kids or tending the parents or whatever it is you do in the real world. I mean, just how difficult is it to get back into the daily grind after the long holiday weekend which may have been extended by a week or two with a summer-ending vacation at the beach or lake or hilltop retreat?

Kind of tough, isn’t it?

Then to top it off, your week is shortened by a day but you still have five days’ worth of responsibilities to fulfill and everybody wants it done yesterday!

Yep, it’s the week after Labor Day, the annual letdown from the summer high that may or may not have been everything we’d hoped but it sure was better than this jumbled mess!

So you need a little boost, a jolt of energy to get you through these challenges. And we’ve got you covered here at R&R (with a little help from our friend at Sally’s Baking Addiction). These No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars take that match made in Heaven of peanut butter and chocolate and put it into an easy to prepare, easy to cut and serve and transport (as in a bag lunch or car snack pack) form that will allow you to take this energy-booster anywhere you need to take it.

Because we’ve got to get through this post-holiday week. Fall lies just around the corner! (Think apples and pumpkins and cool crisp weather!)

pb choc bars

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

6 honey graham crackers (full sheets)

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

peanut butter chocolate bars

Line a 5×7 inch pan with aluminum foil and set aside.

Using a food processor, process the graham crackers until they become crumbs. Add the butter to a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until butter is completely melted. Add the melted butter, powdered sugar, and salt to the food processor. Pulse until mixture comes together into a ball. Add the peanut butter to the food processor and process until fully incorporated into the dough. Press this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

In the same microwave safe bowl you used to melt the butter, melt the chocolate chips on 50% power in 20-second increments. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Once the chips are almost completely melted, stir them until smooth. Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter layer.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour, or until completely firm. Cut into bars. Store any leftovers in refrigerator for up to one week.

Makes 6-8 bars.

chocolate pb bars

{Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #26 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #26, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #26, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #25 and Mini Strawberry Glazed Pies

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Kind of silly being nostalgic for spring with Labor Day weekend staring you in the face. This is the end of summer, or close to it. If you want to get nostalgic about a season, how about summer?

But no–this week at Reading and Recipes we’re looking all the way back to May: spring flowers blooming, leaves just starting to come out on the trees, and fresh strawberries in the fields waiting to be picked. These Mini Strawberry Glazed Pies are the essence of spring with their intense strawberry flavor in a compact single-serve packet. Just add a dollop of whipped cream and impress the heck out of your guests.

Or keep them all for yourself and make your tummy happy. I mean, we do have a long weekend staring us in the face. There’s one pie for Friday, one for Saturday, one for Sunday, and one for Monday. And who cares if it’s the traditional end of summer. With a bite of this pie in your mouth, it’s springtime year-round!

Happy Labor Day!

strawberry glazed pies

Mini Strawberry Glazed Pies

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 pat unsalted butter

1 package mini graham cracker crusts (6 total)

mini strawberry glazed pies

To a large saucepan, add 1 cup strawberry slices, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and water. Mash the strawberries with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Heat ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to boil. Boil for a minute before removing from heat. Add butter and stir until completely melted. Set mixture aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Arrange mini crusts on a cookie sheet. Divide remaining cup of sliced strawberries between crusts. Pour cooled strawberry glaze over fresh strawberries. Serve pies immediately, with a dollop of whipped cream. Cover and store any remaining pies in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 mini pies.

strawberry glazed pie

{Family recipe}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #25 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #25, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #25, text © Jeffrey Anderson