Aunt Shirley’s Sugarless Banana Walnut Cake

This week my Great-Aunt Shirley went to be with the Lord. She was remarkably witty and kind, and very much a part of my childhood. She was also a diabetic, although I never heard her complain. She and my grandmother were diligent in controlling the disease as much as possible with their diet. In her memory, I wanted to share one of her recipes. I think this is my first purposefully published sugar-free recipe; which seems befitting. And I’ll tell you what I love about it (besides that it came from my great-aunt), is that she didn’t try and substitute the sugar with something artificial. The bananas are the only sweetness, and the walnuts actually shine. I think it would be great served warm with a small pat of butter in the morning with your coffee. Or, depending on your GI intake, I might drizzle a small amount of honey (maybe a tablespoon or so for the whole cake – 9 servings) over the top while it is warm and can soak it up to represent more of a dessert to which we are accustomed. Enjoy.

As organic as possible:

2/3 cup mashed Bananas (approx 2)

1/2 cup Butter or Margarine, softened

3 Eggs

2 cups all-purpose Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp ground Cinnamon

3/4 cup Water

1 cup Walnuts

In a mixing bowl, beat bananas and butter until creamy.

Add eggs and beat well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; add to banana mixture alternately wit water, beating well after each addition.

Stir in nuts.

Spoon into a greased 9 inch square baking pan.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool. Yield: 9 servings.

Because I just have to, here is a picture of my grandma (top left) with her brother and sisters, Aunt Shirley is top center.

And this is Aunt Shirley as I will always remember her.

Aunt Shirley’s Sugarless Banana Walnut Cake


  • 2/3 cup mashed Bananas (approx 2)
  • 1/2 cup Butter or Margarine, softened
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 1 cup Walnuts


  1. In a mixing bowl, beat bananas and butter until creamy. Add eggs and beat well.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; add to banana mixture alternately wit water, beating well after each addition.
  3. Stir in nuts.
  4. Spoon into a greased 9 inch square baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until cake tests done.
  5. Cool. Yield: 9 servings.


Loving Lately 🎂

Loving Lately: Party Cakes

August is a big birthday month for my family and friends. I love parties, and pretty things- that you can eat. I appreciate the art of it all. You know how they say you want what you can’t have? I don’t know it that if that applies exactly…


But I really wish I could decorate a cake.


I’d be happy if it would turn out half as good as these ideas.


I am amazed at the creativity of people; how they get ideas in their heads and have the ability to make it happen.


I think “Wow! Can you imagine the party that goes with these cakes!”


Well, they are probably fabulous. (Like Pinterest, which supplied me with the photos)


Annie’s Lemon-Raspberry Cheesecake with Macadamia Nut Crust

My friend Annie is an excellent cook and baker. Her sugar cookie decorating is flawless (I’ve actually invited her over for a lesson) and after more than one meal I have requested recipes because of being blown away by her flavor combinations. It just so happens that she also creates perfect cheesecakes. Thankfully for me she is also completely generous with her time, ingredient lists, and instructions!

As organic as possible:

For the Crust:

1-8 oz pkg of macadamia nuts, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup of sugar

3/4 cup flour

Mix all 4 ingredients and press into 9″ cheesecake (spring form) pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.


2 lbs of cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups of sugar

1 Tbsp flour

3 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp fresly grated lemon zest

1 tsp of vanilla

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Using a stand up mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar and flour. Then add eggs and yolks one at a time. Add the zest and vanilla and mix until combined. Lastly, add the heavy cream and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the batter into the macadamia crust-lined pan and bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then 200 for 30 minutes. Turn it off and let the cheesecake sit in oven for 2 hours. When cooled completely apply topping as follows if desired:
The topping is from Ina Garten online (1 cup of raspberry jelly melted over low heat, then mixed with 2 pints of fresh raspberries until all the raspberries were coated)

Featured Image courtesy of Ryan French

Sadie’s Fruitcake

I can’t tell you why fruitcake gets a bad rap. Maybe I haven’t eaten a bad one. I can tell you that I could eat this one every day. I’m really proud of it. A blogger friend of mine, Natascha of Natascha’s Palace, made a fruitcake challenge and I accepted. I’ve tweaked this cake to perfection, if I do say so myself. It’s a little sugar, spice and everything nice (with less emphasis on spice or heavy on the everything). This fruitcake is dense and moist and outright delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

As organic as possible:

3 cups flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/3 cup chopped dates, pitted

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10 cup tube or angel food pan. (Do yourself a favor and do not choose a decorative bundt cake pan, trust me on this one.) Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large a bowl. Gently toss the pecans and walnuts in the flour mixture. Next add the dates. I like to toss these carefully (a few at a time) in the flour nut mixture because they are the stickiest. Once the chopped dates are coated with the flour mixture, add the cherries, cranberries, regular and golden raisins, and coconut. Gently toss until all fruit is lightly coated with flour mixture.

In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and beat with the butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, a scoop full at a time to creamed butter mixture, until all is combined. (I like to mix this part by hand, to not over-mix.) The batter will be very thick (like the consistency of  a thick drop cookie). Spoon the batter in the prepared pan, and gently even out the top with the back of the spoon or spatula.

Bake the cake for 1 1/2  hours. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the edges of the cake and place onto cooling rack to cool completely before serving.


Chorizo & Thyme’s Quick Chocolate Bundt Cake

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate chocolate on some level. Some of us appreciate it more than others. I’ve really learned the importance of a good piece of chocolate. If laughter is the best medicine, chocolate has to be the next best thing. My friend Roberta of Chorizo & Thyme has come up with a lovely and quick chocolate cake recipe. It’s just right for a delightful indulgence… with a little more to share.

Now because my friend Roberta lives across the pond on the island of Malta, her measurements are in grams. I felt quite precise getting out my scale (thank you Owen, for my gift several years ago now). I will tell you that preheating the oven to 355° is about right in translation. Because the cake called for natural “yoghurt” I think it’s considered health food, and I really think it helped keep the cake moist. Lastly, the only addition I would make is a pinch of salt, but that’s how I like it. I’ll leave that up to you. Okay, for one more addition, I wish Roberta were here to share a slice over some coffee.

As originally posted at Chorizo & Thyme

For the cake:

250g caster sugar
215g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
85g good quality cocoa powder
60ml vegetable oil
185g natural yoghurt
170ml water
2 large eggs
For the chocolate topping:

100g dark chocolate
small knob of butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C and brush a deep bundt tin or ring tin with melted butter or flavourless oil.

Put all the ingredients for the cake in a food processor or mixer, or in a simple mixing bowl and mix until all the ingredients are just combined.

Pour the cake batter into your greased cake tin and bake for around 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted somewhere near the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from the tin onto a cake stand or serving plate.

In the meantime melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmer water, adding a knob of butter for extra shine. When completely melted, remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.

Pour the melted chocolate over the cake and you’re done.


Thanks again Roberta for sharing this quick cake recipe. We really enjoyed it, and I loved sharing it with my guests!

Erica’s Sprinkle

When you have your first baby, you are given a party where gifts are bestowed upon you like rain. It’s called a shower and it is supposed to set you up in preparation with the things you and your newborn will need. Of course, by the time the next baby comes around you (most likely) still have all of the major items you need, plus experience so the transition is much easier. However, isn’t fun to celebrate the new baby anyway? And what mother wouldn’t mind a couple new onesies, stocking up on diapers and a few new outfits! Enter the “Sprinkle,” a gathering in honor of a mother-to-be (again) and the new baby. It is especially fun when the first born was, as in this case, a girl and the next arrival is a boy. Because it’s fun (and honestly refreshing) to add a little blue to the waves of pink. The theme of this party was woodland. The cake looked like a log and was adorned with forest animals.


It’s perfect for this time of year, when there is a little chill in the air… and we can bust out the lumberjack inspired flannels.

Mom and dad (and uncle) to-be.

Mom and dad (and uncle) to-be.

The restaurant is a rustic lodge inspired eatery with open log beams and buffalo plaid covered stools. The centerpieces, made by Aunt Rachel and Uncle Ryan (from a fallen tree right in their back yard), were like something you could find along the edge of a picture perfect forest.


The cake wasn’t the only place the little woodland animals showed up.


True to a hike in the woods, everyone got to take home a couple varieties trail mix.


We can’t wait to meet you Maxwell!


My husband turned 40 this week; which meant we could listen to Coach Mike Gundy’s sound bite incessantly, “I’m a Man! I’m 40!” (Are you familiar with the speech from a couple years ago? He was defending one of his young Oklahoma State players…) I think Owen even made it his ring tone for part of the day, because it was finally legitimate. It also meant that an event I had been planning for about a year was finally ready to come to fruition. I didn’t tell a soul until about 3 months ago, which was my mother, when I was confirming a babysitter. It seems like I plan a lot of events throughout the year, but this had to be special. I wanted it to be memorable (and something to commemorate his manhood, thank you Coach Gundy. -Honestly, I don’t think we could wear it out.) So when I was struck with the idea of a surprise private hot air balloon ride, I didn’t waiver!


The other details took a little thought. Owen’s favorite food is pizza. I needed a place that could hold a crowd and be conveniently located by our landing site. I also needed a cake place that could pull off my Pinterest find and wouldn’t be far from the restaurant, because I wouldn’t be able to store it. Thankfully my sister offered to pick it up before dinner. There was the small issue of having the kids ready for the party before we left… but all of that could be worked out, no problem.


So it was hard to believe that my parents were ill (exposed to Shingles/Chicken Pox), and couldn’t babysit. As well as my sister’s kids, so they couldn’t come and I would have to pick up the cake. The wind was too strong to go on the planned ride (a chance I knew I was taking). And the pizza place that we were supposed to meet everyone at afterwards had an oven fire and sprinkler situation. They called me the morning of to say they couldn’t serve us… What are the odds?


However, our very accommodating friends made the switch to a different location without issue. (And BTW a huge shout-out to the Moosejaw employee who will never read this and who was working at the store when I received the phone call about the restaurant mishap. You are dear to my heart for making phone calls and getting us relocated, while keeping our children entertained with the store video games none-the-less!!) I’d also like to thank my in-laws who offered to watch our children in place of my parents, and although our flight was cancelled allowed us to have a lunch date. And last but not least I’d like to publicly express my gratitude for “Money” and “Clutch” (aka Nanny Tara and Molly O) who once again came through like champions on a perfect windless night so we could balloon high in the sky and I could actually give my gift to my husband on his actual birthday! (Not a bad ending after all.)


Happy Birthday Owen, I love you!!


Easy Honey Cake from Natascha’s Palace

My blogging friend Natascha from Natascha’s Palace currently resides in Spain. I am envious of her cookbook collection and I enjoy how she incorporates what she is currently reading into her posts. From Julia Child to Monet, she has a fascinating way of bringing their recipes to life; all the while sharing her personal journey as a teacher, traveler, and wife… Thank you Natascha, your blog is a joy!

I love that the recipe called for “de miel” (honey), I feel so cultured! And I love that Natascha used a beautiful flower, (I tried to emulate her pic, but I am not sure my flower is edible). Aside from the beating the egg whites until stiff (because sometimes I can be lazy)… this was such an easy and delicious recipe! The aroma really made me love the smell of my kitchen and being that the mornings and evenings are getting quite chilly, it was lovely to finally have something baking in the oven! The honey drizzled on the top of this cake really kept it moist. And the hint of cinnamon in every bite was just enough to give a little depth. I really enjoyed this cake (as well as my friends and family) and it seemed like such a perfect dessert to add other ingredients. I thought “wouldn’t it be fun to throw in some pieces of chopped apple?” I’m getting excited just thinking about it. Baking season is here!

Thankfully Owen fulfilled my Christmas request a couple years ago and bought me a food scale from Sharper Image, because the measurements are in grams, not cups. Which for whatever reason I couldn’t get a clear translation on, so I got precise and weighed it out. I have included my dry ingredient measurements for you! My liquid measuring cup has ml’s on one side, phew! For the original recipe visit Natascha’s Palace!

As organic as possible (my input)

120 ml honey, plus more for topping

3 large eggs, separated yolks and whites

2 Tbsp sugar

150 ml milk

120 ml olive oil

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp flour

1 Tbsp (rounded) baking powder

Confectioners sugar for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a cake 9″ round cake pan, set aside.

Heat the honey in a small pot until it is liquid-y, remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Beat the egg yolks and sugar into the honey, add the milk, cinnamon and oil, mix well. Sift flour and baking soda in a large bowl, add the wet ingredients and combine. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the flour mixture until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool about 10 minutes and remove from pan onto a cooling rack. When cooled completely sprinkle with confectioners sugar and drizzle with honey. Enjoy!


Elijah’s Birthday Extravaganza!

Everyone wanted a horse themed party this summer (well two kids anyway). So how do you plan two parties back-to-back with the same theme and keep them completely different? It ended up being a lot easier than I thought. Elijah, who turned three, wasn’t able to take riding lessons this year. For a couple of the lessons he sat and watched enviously as his older siblings and cousins got to ride around on horseback. I know, I feel like a terrible mother. But what are you supposed to do when you have no baby sitter? I’ll tell you what I did. I rented a horse and pony to come to our house for his birthday party so he could have his very own horse ride.



Look at that face, worth every bit of it!

And you have to let the other kids ride too…


The package also came complete with petting zoo,IMG_9829IMG_9779IMG_9780IMG_9785

And face painting!



I got to feed the horse one of our apples!


Aren’t horses beautiful?


And so are little cowgirls!


I honestly was so busy with the party that I almost had forgotten to take pictures of the food!


Beef brisket, scalloped potatoes, rolls, chips,


the family baked beans (I think they make an appearance at almost every gathering),


and corn on the cob grilled in the husk,

Where is one to get something to drink in these parts?


At the waterin’ hole of course! (And there was pop on ice.)


We had “haystacks” at the last party, so this time we had “Barn Muck,” peanut butter and chocolate. Yummy!


And no birthday party is to be without cake!

I missed the whole part with swimming in the pool, but it was there. Then we had what turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the day. (I’ve shared my love of party photo ops before.) I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time. I never knew one could have so much fun turning dollar store mustaches into all sorts of facial hair… (I’d really like to do a whole post on this, and I would like to apologize in advance for the onslaught of pictures coming your way.)

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Overall the party was a huge success because the birthday boy was happy! He told me so! “Me excited about my birthday. Me like my presents!”


Happy Birthday Elijah/Cowboy/Power Ranger/Spiderman! We love you so much!

Horsin’ Around for Addi’s Birthday

The kids, my two oldest, my neice and nephew, have been taking riding lessons this summer. Naturally horses are all of the rage to them right now. So when the birthday ideas were rolling around the one and only theme to be had was a horse of course! (I had to.)


The farm, where the lessons are had, rents a pavilion along with a horse riding package for parties. My sister, the chef, is also quite an efficient party planner (she gets that from our mother). She made the giant daisy overhead streamer for an area designated as the dance floor. (She also made the burlap birthday banner from the featured image.)


She covered all of the picnic tables with white cloths and made beautiful arrangements with wildflowers and Mason jars.


The menu included hamburgers (requested by the birthday girl)…


baked beans and watermelon…


slaw salad,

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and potato salad.


The weather was absolutely gorgeous for cowboys and cowgirls alike.


As a memento for the birthday girl, everyone attending the party signed a picture…


of Addi with her favorite horse, Morning Star.


I have to admit, when Addi said she wanted a cake with the face of Morning Star, I was nervous it would come across like something from The Godfather, but it turned out pretty cute.


A highlight of the evening for me was the daddy-daughter dance.


Everyone got to take home a little “haystack.” Have you had one of those before with chow mein noodles and butterscotch? Um, delicious.

Thank you Addi! You are turning into such a lovely young lady!