A Party for Miss Sadie

I have never hosted a baby shower before…. well, I hadn’t until a couple of weeks ago.  Back in January I posted about my friend Vanessa who was soon to have a baby… well, she did… on January 23 a beautiful baby girl named Sadie Ruth.  And so we had a party for Sadie…

Paul, Nessa & Sadie (one week old)

Almost as soon as Vanessa told me she was expecting I told her that I wanted to host a baby shower for her & that she really didn’t have a choice in the matter… you see, Paul & Vanessa got married in New Brunswick… I was living in Illinois the year before their wedding & working insane hours… my life at the time didn’t really lend itself nicely to hosting a bridal shower for Ness…. but this is the kind of thing best friends are supposed to do.  Which brings us to baby & my chance to finally do something for Nessa.  Thankfully, my dear friend agreed & I didn’t have to fight her too hard on it!

My Nessa - Motherhood looks good on her!

My initial thought had been to host a baby shower before the baby was born… but somehow we ran out of time.  November was busy & also the month Paul & Ness had their house warming.  December was pretty much a write off because of Christmas & January… well, January was getting too close to Ness’ due date to try to plan anything.  So February it was… & as it turns out, February had lots of benefits.  First off, holding the shower in February made Nessa more comfortable… she would not have to be the center of attention (I certainly do not blame her for this…. being the center of attention is not something I like either…. which is usually why I am hiding behind my camera!)… her beautiful baby would be the star of the party.  And secondly, Vanessa’s Mom Jocelyn would still be in town & I really wanted her to be part of the shower.

Sadie & Vanessa's Mom Jocelyn

Now, as I said, I’ve never hosted a baby shower before… in fact, I’ve not even attended that many… the last one I attended was back in November for my childhood friend Carly, who, incidentally just had a baby girl on February 23 (that 23 must be a lucky number!).  Carly’s sister Tory & her friend Jordan hosted the baby shower & it was wonderful.  Very low key, a small crowd, some snacks, some chatting & some men.  This wasn’t a shower just for women… Carly’s husband Chris was there as well as many other guys.  And why shouldn’t the father be there?  The shower was very Chris & Carly & it was a great afternoon…. this was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to do for Vanessa.  I was not into the “traditional” baby shower… I was not going to decorate… & we were certainly not going to play any cheesy games.  Who really wants to have a diaper in front of them with something resembling poop & have to try to guess what was in it?  Not me thank you very much!  Plus, a lot of the traditional baby shower games wouldn’t apply because the baby would already be there!

Fast forward to February 11… the day of the shower.  Wouldn’t you know it that it snowed like crazy the day before & the day of the shower.  We have not exactly had winter at all this year & yet it decides to snow the day of the shower.  Oh well… it didn’t stop anyone from coming!  The night before the shower I was cooking up a storm… this shower was basically about food, visiting & Sadie.  Paul & Vanessa’s friend Dana volunteered to help me & made a few appetizers which certainly was a huge help!  I made fruit flowers & red velvet cupcakes which both turned out great.  Sadie was the star of the party & was passed from person to person as was to be expected.  In fact, Sadie spent so much time being passed around I don’t even have a picture of her with either one of her parents from that day!  I guess that is just a good excuse to go visit them again! I would have to say that Sadie’s party was a great success & she is a very lucky little girl to have so many people that love her!

Forget Football - This is how women complete a pass!

OMG I'm Holding My Baby Cousin!

Dana & One Tired Sadie - it is hard work being cute!

Chocolate Banana Cake Two Ways

I seem to have a problem with bananas.  It’s kind of a love hate relationship.  I like bananas but only when they are on the green side.  Once they start to get ripe (to the point where most people like them) they are too ripe for me.  If they have spots on them, they are definitely too ripe.  If they have spots, in the freezer they go… which is where I run into problems.  You would think that I would stop buying bananas every week since I end up with so many in the freezer but I never do.   And if you could see how many bananas are currently in my freezer you would certainly agree that I have a problem.  My guess is that there are at least ten bananas in the freezer, possibly even more.  But there are less than there were a week ago!  I’ve made this chocolate banana cake twice in the last week, which used up six bananas.  Honey has commented on how many bananas there are… far too many by his standards… & you know it is really bad when the bananas start jumping out of the freezer & attacking you!

Usually I make banana bread with the frozen bananas.  I’ve had my banana bread recipe for a few years now & it’s good… recently I’ve taken to making a double batch, making half of it into banana bread & the other half into muffins, adding a few chocolate chips just to mix it up a little.  Last week was number two nephew’s birthday & I decided to try to incorporate bananas into my cake to try to use a few more of them up.  I googled chocolate banana cake & found this recipe (www.joyofbaking.com).  It’s easy, nice & moist & you almost can’t even taste the bananas.  Last week I made the cake version with chocolate ganache frosting… this week I made cupcakes with butter cream frosting.  Both were equally delicious & easy!  Try this recipe out before your freezer bananas get out of control!

Day 14 - Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting

Chocolate Banana Cake

2 cups granulated white sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium-sized bananas)

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F & place rack in the center of the oven.  Butter or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 x 13 inch pan (when I made this in the cake form I used a bundt pan & muffin tin when I made cupcakes).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil & vanilla extract.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & stir or whisk, until combined.  You will notice that the batter is quite thin (I didn’t find it to be too thin).  Pour the batter into the prepared pan & bake for about 35 to 40 minutes (the bundt pan took about 50 minutes as it’s deeper than the 9×13, cupcakes take about 20 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven & let cool on a wire rack.  When completely cool, frost.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized stainless steel or heatproof bowl.  Set aside.  Heat the cream & butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate & allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  When ganache has completely cooled, beat until soft & fluffy.  Then spread the frosting on top of the cake/cupcakes.

Chocolate Banana Cake with Ganache Frosting

Butter Cream Frosting

2/3 cup butter

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk/cream

In medium-sized bowl, cream together butter, cocoa powder & vanilla.  Add icing sugar a cup at a time beating until smooth.  If icing becomes too thick, add milk as needed.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes