Bananas Foster Monkey Bread

Hello my dear Sweet Precision friends! It feels as though it’s been a lifetime since I’ve written a blog post. You can rest assured that I’ve still been baking (this Key Lime Pie recipe has been a favorite of mine this summer). I’ve simply been remiss when it comes to taking pictures and writing up my recipes.

It’s hard to believe that summer is in full force and (dare I say) even beginning to wind down a little bit. I’ve begun to see some of the students return to campus which is a sure sign that autumn is just around the corner. Matthew and I have had a fun albeit busy summer. I’m looking forward to a couple upcoming weekends when I have nothing (insert gasp) on the calendar. It’ll be nice to relax and enjoy a little rejuvenation time.

I had a good friend from college come to visit Ann Arbor this past weekend. We had a lovely weekend filled with girl talk, pedicures, a barre class, and way more food than we needed to eat! I wanted to make some dessert for our dinner on Sunday and together we landed on this recipe. If you’re looking for a recipe with minimal preparation, this monkey bread fits the bill perfectly. The bananas have a strong smell when the loaf is in the oven but the flavor isn’t overpowering. I think this would be a perfect dish to bring to a breakfast or brunch!

Bananas Foster Monkey Bread
Recipe from All Recipes

Ingredients
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 (7.5 ounce) packages buttermilk biscuit dough, cut into quarters
2 ripe bananas, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Place a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a loaf pan. Shake the sugar and cinnamon together in a large plastic bag; add the biscuit dough, bananas, and pecans to the bag and shake to coat evenly. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the brown sugar into the melted butter until completely dissolved. Add the vanilla and stir well. Pour the mixture over the biscuit dough.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
I found baking this loaf in a bundt pan was perfect for the recipe. It cooked evenly in about 35 minutes. Although I placed a cookie sheet underneath to catch any drips, the pan didn’t overflow while cooking.

Miniature Pecan Tarts

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Super Bowl 50 is right around the corner! Regardless of whether you’re a Panthers or Broncos fan, there’s a good chance you’ll be watching the big game. Although I love football and am a diehard Vikings fan, I usually feel pretty “meh” about the Super Bowl. To be honest, I get more excited about the food, commercials, and halftime show then the actual game. After I heard Beyonce was returning to the halftime show this year, it honestly didn’t matter who was playing in the actual game. Matthew was equally excited that Bruno Mars would be returning as well.

Halftime shenanigans aside, navigating the snacks at your Super Bowl party can feel like somewhat of a minefield for those of us with healthy eating New Year’s resolutions. In an attempt to lighten up one of my favorite desserts, I decided to miniaturize a pecan pie recipe. I stumbled upon some pre-shaped miniature phyllo shells at the grocery store and used this as a base for my pecan pie filling. The hardest part is stopping at just one of these little delicacies. If you’re looking for a healthier option for munching on Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to give these a try!

Miniature Pecan Tarts
Adapted from Athens Foods

Servings: 15 • Serving Size: 1 mini tart • Calories: 68 • Fat: 4.5 g • Carb: 6.5 g • Fiber: 0.3 g • Protein: 1 g • Sugar: 4 g • Sodium: 23 mg

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 large egg
4 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans chopped
15 Mini Phyllo Shells

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in center of the oven.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except pecans. Mix well. Stir in chopped pecans. Arrange mini shells on a baking sheet. Fill mini shells with one rounded teaspoon of pecan mixture.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let them cool before serving.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
These miniature tarts are so easy to make, you might find yourself with some extra time on your hands in the kitchen. Homemade whipped cream is the perfect topping for this dessert. While the tarts are cooling, whip up a batch and add a dollop to the top before serving!

The Seventh Day of Christmas: Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

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I have a secret to share with you. I still write letters to Santa Claus… every Christmas.

It’s almost more like a confession. Usually in these instances I would ask you to suspend judgment, but its okay today, you can judge me. I’m a 28 year old working professional with a college degree, and every Christmas Eve I sit down and write a letter to Santa Claus. The truth can’t be denied, I have the letter I wrote last year as proof.

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I have a second secret to share with you. Santa Claus writes me back… every Christmas. Again, I provide proof of this phenomenon by sharing the response letter he wrote back to me in 2011. At our house, Santa is always very clever writing letters backwards and in the wrong direction—he’s tricky like that. IMG_0422

Aside from creating a fairly persuasive argument for the fact that I’m completely crazy (which is exactly what my boyfriend thought when I shared this tradition with him on one of our first dates), I wanted to post these letters to show that you can never take yourself too seriously—no matter how old you are. Whether you’re 28 like me, or a wide-eyed 4 year-old sitting in Santa’s lap—why not have a little fun during the holiday season? What would you write to Santa in your letter for 2012? Now as to Santa responding to your letter, I can’t help you with that one…

One of the biggest choices on Christmas Eve can be selecting the best cookies to leave out for Santa. These cookies are packed with everything you (and Santa) could hope to enjoy in a cookie. Chocolate… more chocolate… peppermint… pecans…. seriously, they are completely delectable. Enjoy giving these guys a shot for Santa’s cookie plate!

Day Seven: Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies
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Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 cups plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (10 ounces) Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips
1-4 ounce bar of semi-sweet chocolate, chunked
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan melt butter with coffee granules over low heat until granules are completely dissolved. Remove pan from heat and let cool to about room temperature.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat butter mixture, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually beat in the flour mixture 1/3 at a time, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in peppermint crunch baking chips, chocolate chunks and nuts.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let rest on baking sheet for 1 minute then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Butter should never be melted on high heat. High heat causes the milk solids to separate out and can burn the butter. Watch butter carefully when melting and remove it from the heat when it’s about three-quarters melted, then stir until it’s completely melted.

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