Banana’s for Banana Pudding

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banana pudding (2) Everyone in my family and all of my friends (except one very smart friend, JB) LOVE Bananas.  I am not really sure what the love is all about as I cannot stand the smell, texture or taste of the little jewels, but everyone else does so being the great wife, daughter, sister and friend I am I will oblige all my crazy family and friends and make them a very special banana pudding.  I know I am awesome…thanks for agreeing with me.  ;) 

I grew-up hearing everyone rave about my mom and MeeMaw’s banana pudding.  They all seemed to love how creamy the pudding part was and how it combined with the Nilla wafers to make a perfect combo, well being that I have never eaten bananas I just took everyone’s word for it…but I knew I wanted the same reactions to my banana pudding so I set out to create something very special.

I researched all sorts of recipes, from old church cookbooks (some of my favorite recipes come from one of these precious cookbooks from a German church in Missouri), online and of course family recipes.  I then took what I thought would be the best of each and created a creamy, rich and very decadent pudding that was still light.  After the pudding was complete I knew I wanted to make it just a little more special so I put my thinking cap on (I think I should really have a physical hat) and remembered that I had some delicious Homemade Salted Caramel (recipe can be found here) sauce just sitting in my refrigerator waiting to used on something special…could caramel make banana pudding better? 

The answer is an overwhelming…YES!  I took this piece of art (yes that is what I called it) to family dinner this past Sunday and everyone loved it!!  My dad even said it reminded him of my MeeMaw’s but even better, I know MeeMaw would be so proud.  According to my family the addition of the caramel only helped to enhance all the other flavors and really took it to the next level…maybe a little like a banana’s foster.

Banana Pudding with Salted Caramel
Serves 16
A homemade banana pudding that will take you back to your childhood
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
12 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
12 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  2. 1 1/2 cups cold water
  3. 1 - 3.4 oz box Vanilla pudding mix
  4. 3 cups heavy cream
  5. 12 oz box nilla wafers
  6. 4 cups bananas, cut into slices
  7. 1/4 cup caramel sauce (I used my Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce, recipe can be found at http://bit.ly/sltedcarsce)
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of your mixer beat sweetened condensed milk & water for 1-2 minutes or until frothy
  2. Add in the pudding mix and beat for another 2 minutes
  3. Transfer to a smaller bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best
  4. In a large bowl, or the bowl for your mixer using the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, about 4-5 minutes
  5. Using a spatula gently fold in the whip cream to the pudding, mixing until just combined
  6. In a large trifle bowl or individual serving cups layer the pudding, wafers & banana repeating as necessary
  7. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving
  8. Right before serving top with additional wafers and some salted caramel sauce, you can make your own or use store bought, but the caramel sauce is a perfect addition to this classic dessert
Notes
  1. Each serving is 8 WW+ points
Nutritional Info
  1. Calories 301 Calories from Fat 108 Total Fat 12.0g Saturated Fat 6.6g Trans Fat 0.0g Cholesterol 39mg Sodium 167mg Potassium 245mg Total Carbohydrates 45.9g Dietary Fiber 1.2g Sugars 31.6g Protein 3.5g
  2. Vitamin A 8% - Vitamin C 7% - Calcium 10% - Iron 4%
  3. Nutrition Grade C-
The Half Baked Life http://www.thehalfbakedlife.com/
I couldn’t let all that pudding goodness go without me enjoying a bit so I made me a special non-banana pudding and layered some the pudding with Nilla wafers and come caramel and I have to say it was DIVINE!!  This will definitely become a family favorite for sure!

cupcake-crop

 

 Happy (half) Baked Life – MJ

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pump crm chse muffins As you know I am a sucker for pumpkin anything, and these muffins do not disappoint.  They are so good they are DANGEROUS for me to have around.  I have always loved the pumpkin cream cheese muffins from Starbucks but lets be honest who knows how many points they have and they are all the way at starbucks and sometimes the need for a pumpkin muffin happens when I don’t have time to run up there…so creating one at home was a must!!

I am not sure what it is about pumpkin but there is just something about it that makes me smile.  Maybe its the warmth of the spices all combined together or the creaminess the pumpkin brings to everything it is combined with but there is just something that I love.  I have always joked with The Hubby that I like them because they are short and round, kinda like me, but it doesn’t really matter they are just so cute and perfect!!

My favorite part of a pumpkin cream cheese muffin is the sweetness mixed with the richness of the cream cheese creating a perfect balance.  In each bite you get a bit of tartness from the cream cheese, a little spice from the pumpkin pie spice and then the moistness from the pumpkin puree. 

You could also easily make this into a quick bread, just increase baking time 50-60 minutes.

 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Serves 18
A rich, delicious and moist pumpkin muffin topped with a cream cheese mixture and a crunchy topping making it a perfect way to start off your morning
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
For the Filling
  1. 6 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  2. 1 egg yolk
  3. 1 tsp vanilla
  4. 3 tbsp. brown sugar
For the Topping
  1. 4 1/2 tbsp. flour
  2. 5 tbsp. sugar
  3. 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  4. 3 tbsp. butter
For the Muffins
  1. 2 1/2 cups flour
  2. 2 tsp baking powder
  3. 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 cup white sugar
  6. 1 cup brown sugar
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
  10. 2 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Line 1 1/2 muffin tins (18) with cupcake liners
Making the Filling
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or a large bowl you can use a hand mixer with, mix cream cheese until very smooth
  2. Mix in egg yolk, vanilla & brown sugar until mixture is very smooth
  3. Set aside
Making the Topping
  1. In a small bowl combine flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and butter using a fork or with your fingers until mixture is crumbly
  2. Set aside
Making the Muffins
  1. In a large bowl sift flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt
  2. Stir in white sugar and brown sugar until well combined
  3. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and fill it with eggs, olive oil, pumpkin puree & vanilla
  4. Gently mix everything together until just combined
Assembling Muffins
  1. Using a large cookie scoop or a spoon fill each lined muffin tins half way full
  2. Carefully place 1 tablespoon of cream cheese filling in the middle of the muffin tin
  3. Sprinkle topping on top of cream cheese mixture
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the muffin
  5. Let muffins cool for 5-10 minutes in muffin tin and then continue to cool on a wire rack
  6. ENJOY!!!
Each muffin is 7 WW+ points
  1. Nutritional Info
  2. Calories 254 Calories from Fat 80 Total Fat 8.9g Saturated Fat 3.5g Cholesterol 43mg Sodium 201mg Potassium 138mg Total Carbohydrates 41.2g Dietary Fiber 1.1g Sugars 25.2g Protein 3.9g
  3. Vitamin A 61% - Vitamin C 1% - Calcium 6% - Iron 8%
  4. Nutrition Grade D+
The Half Baked Life http://www.thehalfbakedlife.com/
These muffins will make any morning (or afternoon) something special!

cupcake-crop

 

Happy (half) Baked Day – MJ

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Puttin on the Ritz

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ritzy chicken When I was growing up we would go visit my grandparents each summer for several weeks, and every time we were at my Mammaw’s home she would always make this super special chicken dish.  It was so special that we were sure it took her all day to make it.  It was creamy, full of chicken and topped with crunchy stuff…plus it was so pretty it had to take her forever to make it!  We always felt so special that she would take all that time to make us one of our favorites…it was definitely a highlight of each trip.

When I went off to college I decided to go to Texas Tech, which was only about 1 1/2 hours from my Mammaw.  One weekend I was visiting her and I asked her if she could please show me how to make that super special chicken dish with the crunchy stuff on top.  She kinda laughed and then said sure, it would be her pleasure, plus it was so easy to make we could have it for dinner that night.  I must have had a confused look on my face because she laughed once again and then told me to go get the chicken and soup out of the pantry.  In my head I was so confused…chicken was in the pantry??  In a can??  Surely she didn’t use canned chicken, but yes she did…I never would have guessed!!

As I continued to grow up and develop my culinary style a little more I decided it was time to tackle this favorite childhood dish…only I was going to make it my way, and hope it worked.  The first thing was to deal with the canned chicken stuff.  I had a few options I could go with…I could roast a whole chicken, roast some chicken breasts or thighs or I could go to the store and buy a rotisserie chicken…the later was definitely my most favorite idea, and of course the easiest by far.  Plus it just makes it that much quicker for those busy weeknights.

 

Ritzy Chicken
Serves 12
A delicious chicken casserole with buttery crackers and a creamy filling...this is comfort food for sure
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken with skin removed)
  2. 8 oz reduced fat sour cream
  3. 1 cup fat free Cream of Chicken Soup (check out my easy Homemade recipe posted below)
  4. 1 tbsp. pepper
  5. 2 tsp garlic powder
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 1 tbsp. poppy seed, divided
  8. 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers (30-32 crackers)
  9. 2 tbsp butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick spray, set aside
  3. In a large bowl combine chicken, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, pepper, garlic powder, salt and 1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds
  4. Pour chicken mixture into casserole dish
  5. Crumble a sleeve of crackers over the top of the chicken mixture
  6. Drizzle melted butter over the top of the crackers
  7. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until crackers begin to brown and edges are bubbly
  8. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving
  9. ENJOY!!
Each serving is 9 WW+ points
  1. Nutritional Info
  2. Calories 385 Calories from Fat 174 Total Fat 18.2g Saturated Fat 10.0g Trans Fat 0.0g Cholesterol 31mg Sodium 684mg Potassium 243mg Total Carbohydrates 35.5g Dietary Fiber 2.8g Sugars 6.0g Protein 10.9g
  3. Vitamin A 3% - Vitamin C 1% - Calcium 5% - Iron 75%
  4. Nutrition Grade D+
The Half Baked Life http://www.thehalfbakedlife.com/
Next came the canned soup, I cannot stand canned cream of chicken soup at all but I am a HUGE fan of my homemade cream of chicken soup.  The soup is full of flavor, creamy, rich and so easy you will never buy the canned stuff again.  To make it even better it is low in Weight Watcher points so it is definitely one of those recipes that you will want to keep in your recipe box.  I usually have some soup in my freezer, just in case I get a hankering for this casserole. 

 

Oh and by the way the crunchy stuff on top that was so good we couldn’t get enough of it was my favorite crackers, Ritz, crumbled up and then drizzled with butter…I mean can it get much better.  I knew I loved this casserole!!

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup
Serves 8
An updated version of my original Homemade Cream of Chicken soup...it is just so good I had to do it again
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Fat Free Chicken Stock
  2. 1 chicken bouillon cube, or 1 tsp chicken base
  3. 1 tsp. pepper
  4. 1 tsp. dried basil
  5. 1 tsp garlic powder
  6. 1 tsp onion powder
  7. 1 tsp dried parsley
  8. 2 cups fat free milk
  9. 1 cup flour
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan combine chicken stock, bouillon cube, pepper, basil, garlic powder, onion powder & parsley over medium heat to a simmer
  2. In a small bowl whisk together milk and flour until smooth
  3. Slowly add in milk mixture, whisking constantly
  4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 10-15 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached, stirring often
  5. Let cool to room temperature and then either store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in smaller portions to use as needed
  6. ENJOY!
Each serving (1/2 cup) is 2 WW+ points
  1. Nutritional Info
  2. Calories 87 Calories from Fat 2 Total Fat 0.2g Trans Fat 0.0g Cholesterol 1mg Sodium 137mg Potassium 258mg Total Carbohydrates 16.1g Dietary Fiber 0.7g Sugars 3.3g Protein 4.4g
  3. Vitamin A 3% - Vitamin C 2% - Calcium 8% - Iron 6%
  4. Nutrition Grade A-
The Half Baked Life http://www.thehalfbakedlife.com/
The real test was going to come though when I let the Mammaw taste it.  I took some over to her, and made her taste it on the spot.  Being the funny Mammaw that she is she made a face like she didn’t like it and then smiled super big and said it was one of the best things she had ever eaten!  It is hard to believe that with just 2 simple changes this casserole was taken to a new level and it was even better then I remember as a kid…now that is a success in my book!!

cupcake-crop

 

  Happy (half) Baked Day – MJ

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