Banana Coffee Cake

Every weekday morning by 10:00 am, here is what I have usually accomplished:
  • Taught a 45 minute religious education class to 10 high school kids
  • Gotten my 6 kids up, dressed, fed and out the door for school
  • Exercised
  • Showered/Hair/Make-up for myself
  • House cleaned up from all the various morning disasters
  • Newspaper read, crossword attempted
  • Email/Facebook/Pinterest read
So can someone please explain to me why, for the life of me, I don't even come close to being that productive by 10:00 am on a Sunday morning?  
While we are never late to our 10:00 am church services, everything leading up to sitting down in the pew is a nightmare:
  • My house is beyond a complete disaster
  • No one has eaten breakfast so they shove dry cold cereal in bags to eat in the car
  • 2-3 children are still getting dressed, hair styled or make-up applied in the car
  • At least two little children are crying
  • At least two big children are being rude and disrespectful
  • I have lost all patience and have none left for the 1 hour 15 minute long service spent together in the pew

Am I alone here?  I am working hard to make our Sabbath mornings a bit more like they should be so pass along your suggestions!
I usually reserve these breakfast treats like this recipe for Friday or Saturday mornings.  Maybe if I switch to Sundays, I could bribe everyone:  If you are up and ready to go by 9:30, then you get a big, awesome chunk of coffee cake.  If not, dry cold cereal in the car.
This "Sunday morning bribe" is an awesome one and I am always looking for more ways to use my over-ripe bananas that I have in the freezer.  The banana flavor is nice and subtle while the cake is wonderfully dense from the cream cheese.  Who needs the same old banana bread with this recipe in your repertoire?

I better go start prepackage the dry cereal in bags because who am I kidding?  My Sunday mornings won't change for at least another 16 years :)
Banana Coffee Cake
(adapted from
8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 C butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 C mashed ripe bananas, about 3 medium
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 C chopped pecans
2 Tb dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Mix in the bananas and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix into the batter just until combined.  Do not overmix!
2.  In a small bowl, combine all the topping ingredients.  Add half of the topping to the cake batter and gently fold in.  Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 cake pan.  Sprinkle on the remaining topping and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until light touch in the center springs back.  Cool on a wire rack.  Drizzle on a powdered sugar glaze if desired (1 1/2 C powdered sugar, dash of salt, dash of vanilla and enough milk to allow the glaze to drizzle off your spoon.)

Jana's Biscuits

I like to think of myself as an honest person and someone others can trust to be so.  However, there are just certain situations in which I find myself that are simply impossible.

Bold face liar example #1:  this morning at the pediatrician's office.  I was running late (of course) and I just grabbed whatever I could for my two year old's snack as I ran out the door.   I had carrots on the counter from prepping dinner, so I shoved one in her little hand and bolted.  She was still munching on this monster carrot when her pediatrician saw her.  I was dubbed "Mother of the Year" right there on the spot for "giving my child a perfect snack."  He went on and on and on (and on) about how proud he was of me and how he wished more mothers followed my example and stopped feeding their children so much junk.

I didn't have the guts to show him the inside of my purse.  It contained the requisite bribes for a two year old's good behavior:  fruit snacks and candy.

I'm such a fraud!

By the time we got home from the doctor's office, it was time for lunch.  My four year old knew I had a bag of homemade biscuits in the freezer and used his best puppy-dog eyes to convince me to bake some up for lunch.  Both my preschoolers were ecstatic when I agreed.

I mean, if you've given them a carrot for snack, why not have biscuits for lunch?
This is my go-to recipe for biscuits.  They always turn out perfectly.  Light and fluffy, with those to-die-for flaky layers.  I wish I knew the original source for this recipe.  I mooched it off my sister in law years ago, which is why they will always be "Jana's Biscuits" in our family.  
When I make a recipe, I get out my biggest mixing bowl and multiply the recipe times five.  I bake off one batch right away, then cram the rest of the raw biscuits onto a cookie sheet.  I freeze them overnight, then toss them in a bag until needed.  Genius!  Just ask my preschoolers who were the beneficiaries of my freezer biscuits.  Believe me, I would have never whipped up a batch from scratch after my exhausting morning as the perfect mother.
Jana's Biscuits
(makes 12 biscuits)
2 C flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tb sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 C shortening
2/3 C milk

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.  In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry cutter, blend in the shortening until evenly distributed and the pieces are the size of small peas.
3.  Make a well in the center of your mixture and add the milk.  Use a wooden spoon mix together your dough, starting from the well of milk and working your way outward.  Your dough will still seem a bit crumbly.
4.  Dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead gently about 15 times until the dough comes together.  Roll to a 1" thick disk and cut with a floured biscuit cutter.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Serve immediately.

**For freezer, prepare the dough as listed above, but do not bake.  Place cut, uncooked biscuits on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer overnight.  Once frozen, toss in a freezer bag.  To prepare, preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake frozen biscuits for 13-15 minutes.

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl: A Book Review

So I am going for something a little different with this post.  I hope you don't mind me branching off a bit from yummy recipes and crazy Mommy moments :)

As a member of the BlogHer family, I was given the opportunity to participate in their book club and publish a review.  I decided to give it a try.  I am always looking for an excuse to read!  As a mom of six kids, taking the time to read leaves me feeling a bit guilty.  It is such a selfish indulgence when life is so crazy and busy.

Note:  I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review, but the opinions shared are completely mine :)  

As soon as I saw the cover, I was completely infatuated.  I couldn't wait to dive in!  It screamed "great chick read" at me.  (Yes, I do judge a book by it's cover, so take note all publishers).  My one complaint:  if those legs and rear end are considered fat, I think I better start hitting the gym three times a day instead of just once!
Ace Jones is definitely mad.  I would even go as far to classify her as a bit on the crazy end.  However, fat is not how I would describe her.  In fact, her weight really doesn't play a role in the story.  There are a couple mentions of her thighs and 10-15 extra pounds, but it was disappointing that author Stephanie McAfee didn't utilize Ace's weight in the plot.  I mean, look at the title!

The book definitely is filled with many memorable characters, including her two best friends Chloe and Lilly, and her love interest, Mason.  He is much more patient than any man in real life would be and he should have walked away from the disaster Ace years ago.  Hands down though, my favorite character is Ace's psycho boss Catherine Hilliard.   I picture her just like Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter.  Out to crush everyone in an effort to further her own success.  

The book is a quick and easy read.  It made me laugh out loud a couple of times.  However, I can't let this review end without cautioning you on the two items that would keep me from handing my copy to a friend.  First, the language is over the top.  Too many F-bombs and crude references.  Do grown women really talk like that all the time???  Second, the sexual references and situations went beyond my comfort zone.  There are many amazing chick stories I have handed down to my 17 year old daughter.  This would not be one of them.  

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Chicken Bites

As soon as my husband saw this recipe on Pinterest, he went to the store to buy me the needed ingredients.  He was a bit disappointed that it took me a few more days to whip them up, but he is a patient man.  We have been low-carbing it for 10 months and sometimes we just need something special and indulgent.  These totally fit that craving!
Are they as amazing as they sound/look?  Ooohhh baby yes!  Were they easy?  Well, in the aspect of simple and few ingredients, yes.  But since they are small appetizer sized pieces, they do take time and a bit of patience to assemble.  They aren't hard, just take a bit more time than I had planned :)
Don't worry if your chicken pieces fall apart when you flatten them.  Most of mine fell apart because I was in a rush to get them flat.  This was one of the few pieces that survived my frantic pounding with the meat mallet!  Once you roll it all up in the bacon, it all stays together nicely so don't get discouraged.
Since there was a ton of snow outside, I decided to grab my indoor cast-iron grill.  Sounded like the wise and correct choice at the time.  It so was not....
This picture does not do justice to the disaster that awaited me after dinner.  Grease was literally everywhere!  I had to mop the floor, completely take apart my whole stove and break out the ammonia to cut through the greasy mess all over my kitchen.  Learn from my mistake and grill these outside :)  We will definitely be making these again, but never, ever, ever, ever again inside.

The only change I will make next time I made them is to add more jalapeno.  I don't like spicy food, but with the tiny 1/4 tsp that the original recipe called for, we couldn't even taste the pepper at all.  I will use at least a 1/2 tsp next time around.
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Chicken Bites
(makes about 30 bites)
(recipe adapted from Salad in a Jar)
4 - 6 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 jalapenos, finely minced with seeds and membrane removed
1 package thick sliced bacon, sliced in half
salt and pepper

1.  Preheat grill to medium high.
2.  Cut chicken into about 2 inch x 2 inch pieces.  Using a meat hammer, flatten out to about 3 inch x 3 inch piece. (Measurements are just a guideline)  Salt and pepper generously.
3.  Place a small amount of cream cheese in the center, about 3/4 tsp.  Sprinkle on some minced jalapenos.  If you look at the picture above, I used about a 1/4 tsp per piece, but should have used at least double that amount.  I couldn't even taste the jalapeno with such a small amount.
4.  Roll up the chicken around the cream cheese.  Using a half slice of bacon, wrap up the chicken tightly and secure with a toothpick.  Repeat for remaining chicken.
5.  Place on the hot grill and cook for about 7 minutes, then flip to finish cooking for about another 5 minutes.
**For freezer meal, prepare as listed above, up until all the chicken has been wrapped in the bacon.  Place on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid.  Place in container and freeze until ready to use.  To prepare, remove from freezer the night before you want to serve them and thaw in the fridge.  Cook as listed above.