Coming up this extended weekend is Labor Day! This holiday, according to Wikipedia, is celebrated on the first Monday in September in honor of the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of our country. It is also the unofficial ending of summer in the USA. Let’s feast and frolic and have a great time with our families and friends to celebrate this day.
We are borrowing, from Southern Living All-Time Favorites, their wonderful all-purpose banana nut bread recipe. There is the basic recipe for banana nut bread plus four different toppings. This is wonderful stuff!
Sally Hummer’s Apricot Bread is shared by our First Presbyterian Church friends from Punta Gorda in their publication, A Taste of Heaven. Apricots have such a lovely sweet and tangy taste, they make wonderful bread. The recipe says to soak the apricots in warm water, but the apricots in this modern day may not need soaking. They are already quite moist (unlike when I was a child).
Isabel Beach’s Three-Day Coconut Cake is a joyful event all by itself. Isabel is my sister, and this is one of her claims to fame in the kitchen. It is a terrific cake, but you have to leave it alone in the refrigerator for three days to age properly. That is the hard part. I haven’t made the Three-Day Coconut Cake – although I have certainly eaten my share – but my niece has and will again for our celebration this weekend. She uses two long widths of plastic wrap to lay on the cake plate, then builds the cake up from there with enough wrap to pull up the sides and lay on top to seal over the finished cake. The coconut on the sides and top keep the plastic from sticking. You use your CLEAN hands to pack the coconut on the sides and top.
From the Apopka Citizen’s Police Alumni Academy’s Sharing Our Finest Cookbook, we find Ann Hlinak’s Spinach Balls. These are wonderful because, not only loved by the consumers, the bulk of the preparation can be done ahead of time and frozen, thawed and baked in time to serve piping hot.
CREAM CHEESE-BANANA-NUT BREAD
Recipe from Southern Living
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups mashed bananas (1-1/4 pounds unpeeled bananas, about 4 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Combine flour and next three ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into two greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides pull away from pan, shielding with aluminum foil last 15 minutes to prevent browning, if necessary. Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.
Makes two loaves.
ORANGE-PECAN-TOPPED CREAM CHEESE-BANANA-NUT BREAD:
Prepare bread batter as directed above, and spoon into desired pans. Sprinkle 1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans evenly over batter in pans. Bake as directed. Cool bread in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Stir together 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, and 1 teaspoon grated orange zest until blended. Drizzle evenly over warm bread, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks.
TOASTED COCONUT-TOPPED CREAM CHEESE-BANANA-NUT BREAD:
Prepare and bake bread, as directed above, in desired pans. While bread is baking, stir together 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, and 1/4 cup milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut; 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans; and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Remove baked bread from oven, and immediately spread tops with coconut mixture. Broil 5-1/2 inches from heat 2 to 3 minutes or just until topping starts to lightly brown. Cool in pans on wire racks 20 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.
CINNAMON CRISP-TOPPED CREAM CHEESE-BANANA-NUT BREAD:
Prepare bread batter as directed above, and spoon into desired pans. Stir together 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar; 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans; 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon melted butter; and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter. Bake and cool as directed.
PEANUT BUTTER STREUSEL-TOPPED CREAM CHEESE-
Prepare bread batter as directed above, and spoon into desired pans. Combine 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup butter and 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter in pans. Bake and cool as directed.
Recipe from First Presbyterian Church of Punta Gorda,
A Taste of Heaven
1 cup snipped dried apricots
2 cups warm water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup chopped nuts
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Soak apricots in warm water for 30 minutes. In mixing bowl, cream: sugar, butter and egg. Stir in orange juice. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into creamed mixture just until combined. Drain apricots well. Add apricots and nuts to batter. Pour into 9 x 5 x 3-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes until bread tests done when toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool ten minutes in pan before removing to a wire rack.
THREE-DAY COCONUT CAKE
Recipe from Reader of The Apopka Chief and The Planter newspapers
1 cup butter flavor Crisco or Parkay margarine
2 cups sugar
3-1/2 cups White Lily Self-Rising flour, sifted before measure
1 cup milk or coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately. Pour batter in three 9-inch pans. Line each pan with wax paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool. Mix filling.
2 cups frozen coconut, thawed
2 cups sour cream
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Split all three cake layers with thread or dental floss.
Put filling in between all layers but not on top. Cake will be about 8 inches tall. Ice cake with cool whip or whipped cream. Sprinkle two cups coconut all over and around the cake. Refrigerate for three days.
ANN HLINAK’S SPINACH BALLS
Recipe from Apopka Citizen Police Alumni Association,
Sharing Our Finest Cookbook
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach
2 cups herb stuffing
6 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup melted margarine
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2/3 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Cook spinach according to directions. Drain well (most important). Mix in other ingredients. Chill. Roll into balls, little smaller than golf balls. You may now freeze if you wish. Put balls on cookie tray. Freeze, then place in bags. Thaw and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Makes about 65 balls.