Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing

Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing

I recently found myself with several over ripe bananas and leftover Buttermilk.  I know over ripe bananas usually mean a batch or two of Banana Bread, but I still had a few loaves in the freezer.  Besides I wasn’t in the mood for Banana Bread.

I was however in the mood for cake!  So why not bake some banana cupcakes?  Then I remember that a local bakery sold this yummy banana cake with Chantilly Icing.  I think Chantilly icing must a a local Hawaii favorite because the recipe isn’t too easy to come by.

You might be wondering what Chantilly Icing is.  Well it’s sort of hard to describe, it’s sweet, creamy, and buttery; kind of but not quite like the frosting on a German Chocolate cake.

In Hawaii Chantilly icing is used on Chantilly Cake which is very similar to a German Chocolate Cake but with macadamia nuts instead of coconut flakes.  It’s also used to top Liliha Bakery’s Coco Puffs, those delectable chocolate cream filled puffs. It’s also used on Banana Cake!

So to make these really yummy Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing I used 2 different recipes.  The Banana Cake recipe and a recipe for that delicious Chantilly Frosting.  The frosting I made was more than enough to ice the cupcakes.  I refrigerated the leftover frosting and used them on a chocolate cake a few days later.

Banana Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup Butter, softened to room temperature

2 Cups Sugar

3 Eggs

1 Tsp. Vanilla

1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

2 Very Ripe Bananas, mashed

2 Tsp. Lemon Juice

3 Cups Flour

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1 1/2 Cup Buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees

Line Cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers

Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.

Beat in vanilla and cinnamon.

Add lemon juice to mashed bananas and stir until smooth.

Add to butter mixture.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together.

Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture.

Mix well.

Pour batter into cupcake wraps about 3/4 full.

Smooth tops.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool.

Frost when completely cooled.

Chantilly Icing

Ingredients:

1 2/3 Cup Butter

1 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk

1 1/2 Cup Baker’s or Caster Sugar

2 Tsp. Vannilla

2 Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

2 Tbs. Corn Starch

Directions:

Melt Butter in saucepan over medium low heat.

Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Whisk in milk, sugar, and vanilla.

Then whisk in eggs and yolks one at a time.

Cook on medium hear until it comes to s low boil.  Whisking is it intermittently.

Once it boils cook for another 2 minutes continuing to whisk intermittently.

Remove from heat then quickly sift in cornstarch while whisking.  Whisk cornstarch quickly and hard to prevent it from lumping.

Pour into a shallow bowl and cool to room temp.

Cover and refrigerate about 3 hours or until it’s in a spreadable consistency.

Frost cooled  cupcakes.


Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing
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Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing
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Banana Cupcakes
Chantilly Icing
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Lebanese 7 Spices Mix

LebaneseI’ve heard it said many times that Lebanese cooking is the best cuisine the Middle Eastern countries have to offer.  Lebanese restaurants are the go to places when one has a yen for Arabic or Middle Eastern food.  This seems to be one of the few things that Arabs from around the world can mostly agree on.

I must confess that in my experience this is usually true.  Lebanese cooking is definitely top notch and any where we travel we look for a Lebanese restaurant.  Among my favorites are Al Halabi in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and Wafi Gourmet in both the Dubai Mall and Wafi Mall; Reem Al Bawadi in Amman; and Mandaloun not far from the Spanish Steps in Rome.

But what makes Lebanese cuisine so great?  I’m not exactly sure, but I believe that one of its secrets are the spices they use.  Their Lebanese 7 Spices Mix in my opinion is the key to their delicious entrees.

Lebanese 7 Spices Mix contains many of the spices found in cuisine in and around that region.  It has cumin and coriander for sure and 6 other spices making it actually an 8 spices mix.  Why it’s called 7 Spices is beyond me unless the ground black pepper isn’t counted as a spice.

lebaneseAnyway whatever you call it seasoning grilled meats and stews with this Lebanese 7 Spices Mix makes for a delicious meal!  I like to keep a jar on hand and use it in marinades and of course for one of the family’s favorite dishes Mesaf or Fatiyeh, a dish of stewed meat in yogurt sauce.

You can mix up  a batch of Lebanese 7 Spices Mix to add to your stews too.  Just be sure you store it in an airtight container.  I use pint sized mason jars to store all my spice mixes.

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Lebanese 7 Spices Mix
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Lebanese 7 Spices Mix
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients into a small bowl and stir until well blended.
  2. Transfer to an airtight container for storage.
Recipe Notes

To use in rubs or marinades stir 2 Tbs. Mix into 1 Tbs. Olive Oil and rub into meats.  Or add the same proportion of mix to oil and combine with 1 Tbs. Vinegar to make marinade.

When using in stews or other dishes 1 Tbs. of mix is for each serving.

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Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix

Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix

Shawarma is a typical Middle Eastern street food that’s sold on street corner kiosks, fast food joints, and restaurants in Middle Eastern countries and beyond.

It’s sort of similar to the Greek Gyro but is seasoned with different spices and allowed to marinate for at least a few hours.  It’s usually cooked very much like the Turkish Doner Kebab which is a cone of mixed meats (beef, lamb, and chicken) cooked on a vertical spit.  Typically it’s served as a Shawarma Sandwich which is pita bread stuffed with shaved meat, tahini sauce, and fresh and pickled veggies.  It can also be served as a plate with rice, salad, hummus, and pita bread.

Today most Middle Eastern restaurants and fast food places serve specific shawarma meats such as beef or chicken shawarma in a sandwich or as a plate.  Needless to say both are very popular in our family!

But the real secret to Shawarma isn’t the meat or the way it’s cooked.  The secret lies in the spices used.  You can make shawarma in your oven, grill, and even in your Instant Pot.  In fact I always make it in my Instant Pot!  I’m working on an article to share how to make Beef Shawarma in an Instant Pot; but before I can make any type of shawarma using any method I have to season the meat!

I’m actually a big believer in spice rubs.  I make all sorts of rubs for different things such as my Basic BBQ Chicken Rub. I mean sauces are great for adding flavor to meat after it’s cooked, but what really gives meat great flavor are rubs and marinades.  So if you want to make homemade shawarma that tastes like you ordered it from a Middle Eastern restaurant you’ll need this Shawarma Spice Mix.

I usually mix up a large batch; large meaning enough mix to fill a  quart sized Mason Jar.  I store my Shawarma Spice Mix in a sealed jar in my pantry, it stays fresh for about 3 months, assuming you don’t use it all before then!  The spice mix can be used for beef or chicken shawarma and can even be added to other recipes when you’re wanting to add a touch of exotic flavorings.

To use the mix as a marinade for shawarma I use a teaspoon of mix per pound of meat.  Combine the mix with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, and a pinch of salt then massage it on to the meat.  Place the meat in a ziplock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

So scroll down for the Shawarma Spice Mix recipe!

This post contains affiliate links.

 


Shawarma Spice Mix
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Shawarma Spice Mix
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix all spices together in a large bowl
  2. Transfer spice mix to a mason jar
  3. Place jar lid on tightly and store in a cool dry place
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Sweet Potato Pie – Old Fashioned Comfort Food

Every year at Thanksgsweet potato pieiving I like to try something new to add to our Thanksgiving dinner menu.  If we like it then it becomes a permanent addition to our traditional meal.

This year my grandson Dion and I decided to try our had at a Southern Thanksgiving meal staple, Sweet Potato Pie.  I’ve never actually had Sweet Potato Pie, but Dion loves it.  He says it’s his favorite pie, specially the way his grandmother from Atlanta makes it.

Sweet Potato Pie is a Southern specialty that can be served instead of or beside the traditional Pumpkin Pie which graces just about everyone’s Thanksgiving dessert table.

So we searched online for a Sweet Potato Pie recipe; we found hundreds!  Each one touting that it was the best of course.  Well we experimented with a couple of different recipes and relied on Dion’s recollections of watching his Southern grandma make her pies.  In the end by tweaking and patching several recipes together we ended up with our own version which turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

We’ll share our version of Sweet Potato Pie below, but before we do here are a few things we learned along the way.  It might help you out and save you from making the same mistakes we made.

  1.  Use fresh yams!  Not canned yams preserved in sweet syrup!  Don’t get me started on this, just ask yourself, would your granny use canned yams?  I doubt it!
  2. Use Large RED Yams.  Not white yams, or purple yams, or Okinawan sweet potato.  Just plain old Red Yams!  And before you ask, yes there are many varieties of yams and sweet potatoes in the markets.  So don’t get fancy, keep it simple, RED Yams.
  3. Bake your yams DO NOT boil them!  This saves you from peeling and chopping raw yams.  BTW have you ever tried peeling and chopping raw yams or sweet potatoes?  No?  Well let me tell you peeling and chopping wood might just be easier!  Most importantly baked yams make a better pie filling, it’s not mushy or watery like boiled yams can be.  And you can bake yams for your Sweet Potato Pie up to a week before you actually make your pie.  Still not convinced or it sounds too tedious?  Remember even though it takes an hour to bake the yams it’s actually a hands off hour so you can do something else like making applesauce, doing laundry, or relaxing in the tub.
  4. Baking yams – Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you’re ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.
  5. Just like Pumpkin and pecan pies, a Sweet Potato Pie is considered a custard pie; hence it must have some form of milk or cream.  There are recipes out there that call for milk, cream, or half-and-half; but since it’s a truly Southern specialty you should use canned evaporated milk.  That’s what they used in the Southern states.  Trust me on this you’ll end up with a creamier and smoother Sweet Potato Pie when you use canned evaporated milk.
  6. When you bake your pie pay close attention to the timer.  Test pie before removing from oven.  First nudge the pie – the center of the pie should be slightly softer than the rest of the pie so that it jiggles a bit when nudged.  Then insert a knife or a toothpick at the center – it should come out clean but moist.
  7. Let baked pie stand for about 30 minutes before cutting it.  This will firm it up so sliced don’t fall apart.  Better yet refrigerate the pie overnight then remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving so it warms up to room temperature.  I like my custard pies cool I feel it brings out the sweetness.

Having said that here’s our recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Large Red Yams – Baked & Mashed to yield 3 cups (see tips for baking instructions)

1  Cup butter – softened

4  Cups Sugar

1 Can Evaporated Milk 12oz.

1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

6  eggs – beaten

1 1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon

2 Unbaked deep dish pie shells – homemade or frozen

Proceedure:

Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.

Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.

Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.

Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.

Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.

 

Sweet Potato Pie
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Sweet Potato Pie
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.
  2. Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.
  4. Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.
  5. Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.
  6. Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe Notes

Baking yams - Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you're ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.

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The Best Homemade Applesauce

The Best Homemade Applesauce

ApplesauceThanksgiving is next week.  I started my annual holiday cooking routine last this week.  From now until the New Year yummy aromas will be coming from my kitchen!  The annual game of cat and mouse will begin; family members sneaking tastes of pies, cookies, and candies while I try to keep them hidden.  Last year my son and husband went thru a couple of pecan pies a couple of days before Thanksgiving, luckily I made 6 pies!

The first thing I make every year is my homemade applesauce which we use instead of cranberry sauce.  It goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Christmas.  Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.

Over the years I’ve tried different types of apples to make my sauce.  You never quite realize just how many types of apples there are until you start shopping for them.  I’ve used Fuji, Mackintosh, Delicious, Gala, and Granny Smith apples just to name a few I’ve tried.  I’ve discovered that the best applesauce is made by using different types of apples.  Yes each apple variety has its own unique flavor and texture so mixing them up makes for a  tastier and more robust sauce.

My family will only eat my homemade applesauce, no store bought sauce for them.  Even my grandson, Dion, who absolutely will not touch store bought sauce, even as an infant, loves my sauce.  It’s sweet and laced with lots of cinnamon.  Dion says he likes it because it has a nice texture, not the strained baby food like texture the ones from the store have.  It’s a bit chunky, but not too chunky, even the twins, Harper and Sadi, love it!  By the way the cinnamon can be optional!  My grandson Devon has recently declared that he dislikes cinnamon (this declaration boggles my mind as he still loves cinnamon rolls) so before I add the cinnamon I set aside a small portion just for him.

The applesauce is easy to make, just a bit time consuming.  That’s why I make it well ahead of time.
This allows it to chill, we feel applesauce should be served cold.  Here’s my recipe, it will make 2 pint size jars or 1 quart size jar.

Ingredients:

2 Red Delicious Apples

2 Golden Delicious Apples

2 Gala or Mackintosh Apples

2 Granny Smith Apples

2 cups sugar (add more if you want it sweeter or less if you don’t want it so sweet)

6+ Cups Water

1 tbls. ground cinnamon (you can adjust this to suit your taste)

Directions:

1.  Fill a large pot about half way with water.

2.  Wash and peel apples, then cut into bite size chunks about 1/2″ big

3.  Place apple pieces in pot of water.  Add more water if needed to cover the apples.  The top layer will float a bit.

4.  Add sugar and stir.

5.  Cook on stove over medium heat until water has been absorbed.  Stir occasionally to keep bottom from burning.  As it cooks and softens you can mash the chunks a bit with the spoon used to stir.  The sauce will start turning brownish.  If it starts to bubble reduce heat.  This process takes about 2-3 hours.

6.  When the apples have all liquified and water evaporated remove pot from heat.

7.  Stir in cinnamon.

8.  Seal in mason jars according to canning instructions or allow to cool then transfer to sealed containers and store in refrigerator.  Even If you seal it in jars you should store it in the fridge so it will be cool when served.

You can serve this as a snack, or with roast turkey or beef, and pork chops.  It’s really yummy!

The Best Homemade Applesauce
Print Recipe
Homemade applesauce goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.
Servings Prep Time
2 Pints 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 - 3 Hours 2 - 3 Hours
Servings Prep Time
2 Pints 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 - 3 Hours 2 - 3 Hours
The Best Homemade Applesauce
Print Recipe
Homemade applesauce goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.
Servings Prep Time
2 Pints 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 - 3 Hours 2 - 3 Hours
Servings Prep Time
2 Pints 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 - 3 Hours 2 - 3 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Pints
Instructions
  1. Fill a large pot about half way with water. This is why I put 6+ cups of water in the ingredients. You can adjust it to fill your pot.
  2. Wash and peel apples, then cut into bite size chunks about 1/2" big
  3. Place apple pieces in pot of water. Add more water if needed to cover the apples. The top layer will float a bit.
  4. Add sugar and stir.
  5. Cook on stove over medium heat until water has been absorbed. Stir occasionally to keep bottom from burning. As it cooks and softens you can mash the chunks a bit with the spoon used to stir. The sauce will start turning brownish. If it starts to bubble reduce heat. This process takes about 2-3 hours.
  6. When the apples have all liquified and water evaporated remove pot from heat.
  7. Stir in cinnamon.
  8. Seal in mason jars according to canning instructions or allow to cool then transfer to sealed containers and store in refrigerator. Even If you seal it in jars you should store it in the fridge so it will be cool when served.
Recipe Notes

You can also make this applesauce in a crockpot.  Just dump all the ingredients, except the cinnamon, into the pot.  Cook for about 6 hours, add cinnamon, and place in storage containers.

If you do make it in the crockpot don't leave it much longer than 6 hours, overcooking will turn it into apple butter.  That's good too!

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