#00 Banana Bread Muffins with Pecans and Peanut Butter Chips

Totally moving as fast as I can this morning to get to school early but with muffins I’d promised.

OK. So I’m not bringing the muffins that I actually promised but muffin flavors I was hungry for and for which I had all the ingredients.




The muffins this morning follow – for the most part – the Magnolia recipe for Banana Bread with Coconut and Pecans.

I have made the following changes:

  1. Instead of 3 cups all-purpose flour, I used
    1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
    2. 1/2 cup Barley
    3. 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    4. 1/2 cup rolled oats
  2. I omitted the coconut
  3. Added 1 cup peanut butter chips

I was hungry for peanut butter and banana – one of my favorite snacks! So I put it in a muffin.

Also – up close and personal – anytime I make anything with bananas and pecans, I think of my father for whom Banana Nut ice cream was a favorite flavor. If you make this recipe sometime, eat a spoonful of the batter – if you too like Banana Nut ice cream.

Oooooooooooooh !!!!!! I am on the second floor of the house and I can smell those muffins RIGHT NOW!!!!

I HOPE they turn out as well as the muffins in the photo below.

Thanks to Nancy at https://nancysrecipes.wordpress.com for this photo.

If you are a follower of this blog, drop by Gail Seay’s office to see if you can grab one of these muffins – or at least see if they have turned out tempting. It really is a “I hope so” this morning.

I should also have some in my room 1106.

If you are not at my school but somewhere else in the world, keep my muffins in your prayers.



If you’ve been paying close attention to the blog, you may have noticed that there are some gaps in the numeration of recipes. I’ve been baking – still not at a sufficiently high rate – but not getting the blogs written. In this single posting, I want to fill you in on a number of things, five to be more precise.

    1. #62, Chocolate Drop Cookies with Heath Bars, Vanilla Chips, and `Pecans
    2. #63, Peach Cobbler (instead of “Nectarine”as in the Magnolia cookbook)
    1. #64, Raspberry Crumb Squares
    1. #66, Devils Food Cupcakes
    1. Alfajores Peruanos


#62, Chocolate Drop Cookies with Heath Bars, Vanilla Chips, and Pecans

“These cookies have white chips in a deep chocolaty cookie, with toffee and pecans added to make them extra rich. Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l



Lots of stuff to be stuffing inside of a cookie. Left to right: Heath Bars (coarsely chopped), Pecans, Vanilla Chips. IMG_1311 Too flat! Again! Never thought that drop cookies would give me such a hard time. I’ll keep trying. It seems to be all about the butter, how soft and warm it is, how well it’s been “fluffed” with the sugar.

#63, Peach Cobbler (“Nectarine” in the Magnolia Cookbook)

“A lovely, not-too-sweet summer dessert that’s equally delicious with peaches.” — and so I did.

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

As it turned out, there were fresh nectarines in the house, but I didn’t realize it when I began to bake. Perhaps I simply had my memory sticks set on peaches in a cobbler – THE kind of cobbler I always had as a child. There was a can of peaches on the shelves and I wanted to use them and knew that I could. Even the cookbook gave me free reins to substitute the nectarines with other fruits…. I obliged.




Cobbler in a cup!
Have a bite and a book!


#64, Raspberry Crumb Squares

“This scrumptious bar is a perfect blend of fruit and crumb.”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l



This did not turn out well. Too much butter?


I double-checked the amount of butter and I had it right. Still, the bottom shortbread crust would not firm up. It would just kind of melt – even after hours in the fridge.


Looked like all was going well. I need to revisit this recipe before too long. I need to do some research about that crust.

After all, it ought to taste as good as this looks.



#66, Devils Food Cupcakes (with Caramel Frosting – not)

How embarrassing! I ought to have pictures of a beautiful set of cupcakes for such an occasion, but I have none. The occasion was a small affair with colleagues and was a pot luck lunch as well. I made a meatloaf as well as the cupcakes.

Click on this photo for a wonderful cupcake idea.



Even though I didn’t get any pictures of this batch of cupcakes, I did manage to pull off some YUMMY FUN.

  1. USING LEFTOVER STUFF– I didn’t make the caramel frosting (that’s the second time I’m making excuses for that) because I had leftover chocolate buttercream and cream cheese icings in the fridge. Having those icings ready to go was part of the reason I made the cupcakes.
    1. To the leftover cream cheese icing I added another 8 ounce block of cream cheese. I had never been satisfied with the earlier results. It wouldn’t stiffen up. The addition made a nice difference – a bit more tangy and stiff enough to stay on the cupcake.
    2. To the leftover chocolate buttercream I added more chocolate. I melted 4 oz of unsweetened block chocolate and stirred it into the existing frosting. YUM! I ended up with a darker, richer, chocolatier frosting.
    3. I took the cupcakes unfrosted to school and asked some students if they thought they had the willpower to frost the cupcakes knowing that they couldn’t eat any of them since they were intended for a baby shower. The power of chocolate and sugar in the air got them to accede to this pleasant suffering – and I decided that the baby shower wouldn’t miss a couple of cupcakes. 🙂
  2. KISSES and Cupcakes – I put a Hershey’s chocolate kiss inside each cupcake. All you need to do is put the chocolate kiss on top of the batter in the paper cup before putting them in the oven – and gently press down just a bit. The cupcake with rise up and cover the kiss. It makes a fun surprise.



The morning baking routine I had before Christmas has got to change. In fact, a change HAS occurred to which I have not adjusted – a morning commute to work that did not used to be a part of the equation. I can no longer rise at 4 AM and have something baked and blogged in time to then make breakfast and get everybody up and out the door. I love the early morning, THEREFORE, I don’t want to rush through it toooo much.



photo 1


These were not red or made in the shape of a heart, but they were made WITH heart for my Peruvian girl. These cookies hold a place in our hearts whenever we think about our family in Peru and the AMAZING food culture that is there. These are VERY delicate cookies and worth the practice it takes to make but not break them.

photo 2

I almost threw the batter away to begin again because it was just TOO soft and sticky when trying to roll out the dough (like a sugar cookie) and then cut them. Instead, I re-floured my table, reformed the dough in a ball and put it back in the fridge. In the end, it worked. There are enough cookies here for 8 Alfajores.


I am using store-bought dulce de leche here, but have since learned how to make my own. Next time I make these, I’ll explain that bit. Anyhooooo, this is going to be a sweet, milky, caramelly cookie sandwich.

camoji 2
Powdered sugar for the final touch.


Merci, Saint Valentin.

#67 Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing


“We made this exceptionally pretty cake for special orders only, but so many customers requested it that it became part of our standard cake repertoire. ”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l


This recipe makes Magnolia Man think so much of his beloved France – walnuts from our trees, golden delicious apples, Bonne Maman caramel, and fine calvados from Normandy.

This cake was not difficult to make – but I cheated a little bit. I didn’t make the caramel myself. The Magnolia cookbook has the recipe, but I had a jar of Bonne Maman Caramel and I couldn’t resist the ease of using it (this time).

The recipe calls for this cake to be a two-layer cake. I decided to split the batter between three pans for three layers. All I needed to do was watch the bake time which was reduced a bit. It worked out.


SOMETHING NOT-AS-USUAL: This recipe had three cups of flour – 2 cups all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat. That is not unusual in the baking world, but it is for the Magnolia cookbook. The whole wheat created a cake more easy than usual to break and crumb. I managed to keep it together, but I did need to pay attention when handling it. The whole wheat also tends to “burn” more easily. This started to happen so I turned on the fan of our lovely convection oven.

Walnuts. Lots of walnuts.
Merci, maman – Bonne Maman.

I smiled after piping the caramel onto this cake. The cake doesn’t look like the Magnolia pictures – and I like mine more. Ha!

SWRILS? The instructions in the cookbook asks that you swirl the caramel on top of the cream cheese icing. I have NOT been able to swirls that looked like anything other than a heavy-handed mess. So, what to do? Google it! of course.

I got a good idea from a cupcake decorating video (which I can’t find at the moment) using a plastic sandwich bag.


CHUNKY GOOD: Inside this cake are 1inch big chunks of apple and coarsely chopped walnut chunks.

Nothing delicate about this cake. It’s a dense, moist, pack-a-flavor-punch cake.


#65, Apricot Cream Cheese Streusel Bars

Magnolia Man announces his latest recipe.

Trying to stay on top of things. School’s about to begin but I wanted to get this new recipe up for my followers.



This 4-layer “bar” is the best I’ve ever done from the standpoint of technique. From the shortbread crust, through a thickened cream cheese filling, the non-sweetened apricot layer, to the crumble topping, it all held together nicely.


Almost ready for the oven.


Done! Look at that sweet-heart !

LEARNED: The importance of letting such a desert rest overnight in the fridge before cutting – as given in the instructions.


Now whose gonna get this treat – besides my family and those I bump into while getting to my classroom this morning?

Maybe YOU – if you’re paying attention.



Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s NAME competition !

My baker man needs a name!


YOU need to win a SWEET PRIZE of




Here’s how to give my baker a name and win this prize for yourself (and your friends?)

  1. LEAVE A COMMENT with: 1) Your name. 2) the NAME you’d like to give this baker man, AND 3) the recipe you’d like for me to bake for you.
  2. Encourage your friends to visit this blog and REPLY to your comment, saying YES (“no” simply doesn’t count)
  3. The comment with the most likes by Wednesday, February 4 @ 11:59 PM wins the prize.
  4. Winner to be announced on Thursday, February 5.
  5. Prize to be delivered to ASD on Sunday, February 8, 2015.

*NOTES: 1.  This competition is open only to ASD students, ASD employees, ASD families ( But ANYONE may vote.). 2. No ice cream recipes at this point please. I’m not ready for that. Anything that is baked. 3. I reserve the right to disqualify any names that would reflect badly on the spirit of this blog site.

Here is the link to see everything in THE COMPLETE MAGNOLIA BAKERY COOKBOOK.

Seven Recipes to Talk About – Rebooting the oven

#54 Poppy Seed Bread – #55 Brown Sugar Pecan Cake – #56 (already posted)- #57 Zucchini Walnut Bread – #58 Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies – #59 Orange Vanilla Chip Cookies – #60 Hummingbird Cake – #61 Dump Cake

Keeping up with my baking project got rather difficult during December and January. There was a trip with students to Paris, moving into a new house, a Christmas trip to family back in the United States, then midterm exams, grading and reporting. Sorry for the litany. I did manage to bake during this time, but at a much slower pace and with less time for blogging. Both blogging and baking took a hit, but the blog took the worst hit. All that said, the deck is newly cleared, and it’s time to catch you up on what I have managed to do towards the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook project. So, a few words on Seven unpublished recipes (in bake order – as always):

#54 Poppy Seed Bread

Poppy seed bread

I had been looking forward to traveling abroad so that I could buy poppy seeds for baking. Poppy seeds are not imported into this country because of the association of poppy with narcotics.

Well, the “bread” (I couldn’t find a bread mold at my mom’s house) was lovely to behold but kind of flat on taste. We finally decided that the vanilla I had used had lost its flavor, been in the cabinet too long.

As a note, my mom has a very serious sweet tooth and a very keen sense of taste in these matters. I enjoyed her comments on my baking so much. If I were baking in her house all the time, I’d receive the kind of feedback I need to improve things.


 #55 Brown Sugar Pecan Cake

This cake was the last one I baked while with my parents this past Christmas. I don’t have any pictures of it and that surprises me. It looked almost identical to the poppy seed bread from a distance, but up close and upon tasting, it was obviously very different.

NOTE: “Nutty,crunchy bundt cake” – This is a wonderful cake, but to kick it up a crunchy notch, finely chop up an extra 1/2 cup of pecans and stir it into the mix (being sure to include all of the fine pecan powder that results from your chopping). The result is a dark, golden brown cake with a pecan crunch exterior. Just do it.

Ode aux pécans


 #57 Zucchini Walnut Bread (with coconut)


With this recipe, I completed the first section of the book.: MUFFINS, BREAKFAST BUNS, AND QUICK BREADS


The quick-bread / cakes are so easy and so delicious. Makes whoever bakes them look like (taste like) a pro.

As you know, 90+% of what I bake is given away to students and colleagues. We kept this one on our table at home. It’s not too sweet, has a good touch of fiber and is so satisfying as a little snack.


 #58 Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies


So far in my baking project, cookies have given me a hard time – over-cooked, under-cooked, odd shapes… It was different this time. I was happy to share these guys.

IMG_1255 No more space. Somebody needs to get busy munching.
IMG_1254 Getting better with each new new batch of goof-ups.

#59 Orange Vanilla Chip Cookies

“These cookies were inspired by a recipe in Country Living magazine. It’s rather unique and reminds us of eating Creamsicles. People’s mouths water over these!”


These cookies were a definite hit. They represent the second cookie with which I was very happy – and so were the kids at school.



  1. Consolidated: Chill you cookie batter really well before cooking.
  2. New learning:
    1. Size matters – If the cookie dough ball is too big, the cookie can cook too much on the edges and not enough in the middle. I’ve reduced the size of the cookie ball.
    2. Cookie sheet size matters. I have two cookie sheets, one larger than the other. The heat circulates around the two sheets differently, cooking more quickly the cookies on the small sheet.

#60 Hummingbird Cake

“This wonderful cake, filled with bananas, pineapples, and pecans, came our way by good fortune.” (Magnolia)


Of the layer cakes I’ve baked so far, the Hummingbird and the Carrot Cakes are hands down favorites – and the Hummingbird just might take the cake. What makes it even more wonderful? It’s super easy to make, moist and with a perfect crumb.

FUN LITTLE STORY: I baked this cake to take to a dinner party and share with friends. It was the hosts birthday but I was unaware of the fact. When time for desert arrived, out came some cupcakes, a huge, gorgeous chocolate cake from a bakery, and the Hummingbird cake. The Hummingbird was devoured and the others left standing, almost untouched. As I said, it’s a great recipe and easy to make.

#61 Dump Cake

“It’s the easiest thing in the world,” says Kaplan, “because you just dump in all the ingredients, and out comes this terrific cake!” He sure was right!” (Magnolia)


I resisted cooking this cake for two reasons: 1) I was saving it for a moment when I needed a drop-dead easy recipe as a time-saver, and 2) It seemed too “canned” to take any pride in.

But, hey! I was feeling down for baking so little, so I decided the time was right and just did the dump deed.

IMG_1287 Looks like it might be good.

So. Can the pride thing. It’s a fun sweet to have around to make carbo-craving teenagers  think they have a dad worth keeping and it’s actually impressive to others.

dump-cake-05 Credit: Forrked.com

I baked this cake, as is the case for most that I do, for no special reason other than my learning project. About half of it disappeared on a Friday afternoon and then I realized I could share it at a dinner party. But, hey! who takes a half-eaten cake to a dinner party?

Bright idea! Scoop this 0h-so-scoopable cake into cupcake cups and share it that way! I had some extra-lovely cups as a Christmas present and did just that. It was a hit! (But I didn’t get any pictures of it. 😦 ………. Since then, I learned that this manner of serving such deserts is already out there (see below)


 I know this “catch-up” post is less than entertaining or enlightening. Hopefully, I’ll find my voice again in the coming posts. I actually have some more recent successes and spectacular disasters to talk about. Thanks for visiting and reading!