Deliciously Inspired: My Version of Bananas Foster Recipe

Bananas Foster is a renowned Louisiana often imitated never duplicated recipe creation.  My version of Bananas Foster recipe gives it a delicious run for its money.  Make no mistake, the original Brennan’s New Orleans recipe is exactly that- the original.  Breakfast at Brennan’s is a traditional taste of New Orleans.   Many, many moons ago my parents and I attended a private Breakfast at Brennan’s party.  First impressions make lasting memories, and thus began my New Orleans design, architectural and decorating love affair.  The historic buildings of the Vieux Carré give good curb appeal.  The salmon pink stucco facade, iron work and architectural elements forever left a design impression on me.  To say I was all eyes is an understatement.

Brennan'sBrennan’s New Orleans

Servers with silver trays in hand glided from table to table in choreographed step.  Atop the shiny props were several chilled glasses filled with Caribbean Milk Punch, a morning eye opener recipe of Smith & Cross Jamaican rum, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, heavy cream, vanilla bean and nutmeg 9.  Good morning, sunshine!  If this frothy nutmeg topped morning blend cocktail isn’t enough to wake you up on the right side of a New Orleans morning, the Eggs Benedict and Bananas Foster will get you where one needs to be after dining in New Orleans. Impressed!

Brennan's-eggs-benedictBrennan’s Eggs Benedict 

Bananas Foster is named for Richard Foster, a friend of Owen Brennan. Owen Brennan was the owner of Brennan’s and leading member of what can only be described as restaurant royalty, the Brennan family.  The dish was created by Paul Blangé at Brennan’s in New Orleans, Louisiana.  When bananas, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum and banana liqueur blend together in perfected flavor harmony it is a taste experience best served over vanilla ice cream.

bananas-foster1Brennan’s Bananas Foster

The tableside preparation and presentation of this legendary dessert is the stuff flambe traditions are made of.  Bananas are halved, butter is melted, and brown sugar dances the dance of caramelization as great and tasty things get to cookin’.  Banana liqueur and dark rum is added and ignited. The grand finale of flame and circumstance showcases the art of exhibition, a New Orleans tradition.  All that is left to do with this buttery, sugary, banana based and alcohol infused culinary masterpieceof aroma and flavor is to savor every delicious spoonful.

Brennan's-Bananas-FosterBrennan’s Bananas Foster 

The idea for this recipe was born out of a need to do something with a fruit bowl full of bananas.  When the liquor cabinet is void of rum and banana liqueur and the cook is not too keen on the idea of do it yourself flambe, a heavy-handed pour of rum extract and a little extra cooking time saves the day and the dessert.  My version of Bananas Foster may not be as good or flambe flamboyant as Brennan’s, but the Places In The Home supper club can not say enough about how delicious this recipe is.

My Version of Bananas Foster


6 Tablespoons (¾ stick)  butter, melted

4 bananas, peeled and sliced

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

3 teaspoons rum extract

vanilla ice cream



Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.


Add the brown sugar to melted butter using a wooden spoon to gently stir ingredients together.


Spoon in bananas and saute until bananas begin to soften.  Sprinkle the nutmeg over tops of  bananas.


Reduce heat to medium-low allowing mixture to reach a soft caramelized consistency.  Add the rum extract, gently stirring to incorporate.  Spoon over individual scoops of vanilla ice cream.  Serve immediately.

my version of bananas foster recipe



A Regional Favorite With A Kick: Hoppin’ John Grits

Mardi Gras is always on a Louisianian’s mind, especially when it comes to regional cuisine. We like a little kick in our Mardi Gras festivities, and a lot of kick in our food. Hoppin’ John is a Southern favorite recipe of black eyed peas, ham and the Cajun trinity- chopped onion, bell pepper and celery. Although traditionally served with rice, another southern favorite adds a culinary twist and turn.  Grits are about as Southern as you can get,and another house favorite of the Places In The Home gang. This recipe for Hoppin’ John Grits resulted in an unanimous chorus of C’est si  bon, cher!


Hoppin’ John Grits


1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups ham hocks

1 cup dry black eyed peas, soaked overnight or quick boiled

3 cups water

1 can chicken broth

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

2  teaspoons parsley flakes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 bay leaves

green onions for garnish, optional


Quick boil for black eyed peas.

black eyed peas

Bring 3 cups of water and 1 cup black eyed peas to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Pour off all water.

sliced ham

Heat olive oil in pan. Sear ham on both sides.  Before adding to the water, I prefer to saute the Cajun trinity in ½ Tablespoon olive oil and an additional ¼ teaspoon pepper (the kick).  This step is totally optional.

cajun trinity

Add water, chicken broth, peas, chopped onion, bell pepper and celery.  Stir well, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add remaining ingredients. Cook for 1 ½ -2 hours or until peas or tender.  If liquid cooks down too much add additional water or broth.

Hoppin' John black eyed peas



4 cups water

1 cup grits

½ teaspoon salt

6 teaspoons butter or margarine

milk or half and half to taste


Bring water to a brisk boil.  Add grits and salt into boiling water.  Whisk together, reducing heat to medium-low and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened. Whisk occasionally during cooking to avoid lumps.  Add 1 teaspoon butter or margarine per serving and desired amount of milk or half and half , stirring to blend.  Serves 6.  Plate grits and top with Hoppin’ John. Green onions may be added as garnish.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!


Carnival Season, A History Lesson and A King Cake Cupcakes Recipe

Have you heard the news?  New Orleans, Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast is throwing a Mardi Gras party!  It’s a Louisiana lagniappe-laissez les bons temps rouler-throw me something, mister atmosphere down here, and here’s a bit of background.  Carnival season begins on the 12th night of Christmas, which is also know as Epiphany.  Until Ash Wednesday, ’tis the season to celebrate Mardi Gras.  Revelers gather to pass a good time, attend masked balls, indulge in decadent food and drink offerings, parade party with the Krewes and carry on traditional traditions.


A custom still celebrated is the King’s Cake.  King Cakes are made of a cinnamon filled dough in the shape of a hollow circle, glazed with topping and sprinkled with sugar in the colors of Mardi Gras- purple, green and gold.


Purple signifies justice.

Green represents faith.

Gold denotes power.

A plastic baby is baked inside the King Cake, and tradition says whoever gets the baby in their piece of cake has to buy the next King and host the next party.


King Cakes are a diversified delicacy- baked, filled and decorated in different ways based on bakery, tradition and territory.  Different strokes and tastes for different parishes as it goes.  These Mardi Gras favorites are sold by the thousands during Carnival season.

mardi gras king cake

This recipe for King Cake cupcakes bakes up a little bite of Big Easy flavor in laissez les Bons temps rouler taste so good tradition.


King Cake Cupcakes 


1 ¼ cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
Creole Cream Cheese and Root Beer Frosting:
8 ounces Creole cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon ZATARAIN’S® Root Beer Concentrate


Preheat oven to 350°F.  For the Cupcakes, mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.  Set aside.

Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds or until softened.  Add granulated sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl frequently.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk on medium-low speed just until mixed.  Spoon batter into 12 lightly greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove from pans; cool completely.  Makes 12 (1 cupcake) servings.

For the Frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add confectioners’ sugar and extract; beat until fluffy.  Set aside.

Make an indentation in the center of each cupcake using the handle of a wooden spoon or a straw, making sure not to break through bottom of cupcake.  Spoon Frosting into resealable plastic bag or piping bag fitted with star tip.  If using plastic bag, cut a small piece off one of the bottom corners of bag.  Pipe a small amount of Frosting into each cupcake.  Pipe remaining Frosting onto each cupcake.  Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired.

~ recipe via Zatarain’s



Cheesy C’est si Bon: Potatoes Au Gratin

When I think of potatoes au gratin my thoughts take me straight to 4510 Dryades St, New Orleans, Louisiana.

charlies steak house

Charlie’s Steakhouse is a New Orleans must do for our family.  We come for the sizzle.


The potatoes au gratin at Charlie’s are the best I have ever eaten.  Served hot in small silver dishes straight out of the oven, I truly believe the piping hot cheesy crust with just enough burn to deliver the c’est si bon brings the gratin goodness.


This recipe is a fair substitution for Charlie’s potatoes au gratin, crust included.

Potatoes Au Gratin


2 Tablespoon flour

1 cup milk

1 cup half & half or heavy cream

sliced potatoes

2 Tablespoons margarine

1 teaspoon salt

½-1 teaspoon fine black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash, peel, and slice potatoes.  Place the potatoes in a buttered casserole dish.

Add the flour, milk, cream, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder to pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly.

When all ingredients have blended, add cheese.  Heat until cheese melts, stirring constantly.

Pour cheese sauce over the potatoes and place in oven uncovered.

Bake for one hour or until top is brown and bubbly.



Turtles, Hotel Monteleone, Turtle Soup And Helen Hayes

William, our four- legged Westie son, let his mama know something out of his ordinary furry routine was up today.  I realized his “I’m ready for my morning treat” bark was different.  When I walked out on the patio with treats in hand, William immediately showed me we had company.

Sir William B- Our Wild & Woolly Westie


Shelly~ The Visiting Turtle

This turtle is huge! The markings on her shell are quite beautiful. “Shelly” is currently residing in a cardboard condo awaiting transport to a more turtle friendly home.  My mother and I commented to each other that we know plenty of people who would view Shelly as dinner, and not simply an afternoon visitor.   Turtle soup with sherry is another Louisiana favorite.  I pulled out one of my favorite vintage cookbooks,  the 1967 edition of  Talk About Good to confirm.

Seventy one pages in and the Hotel Monteleone Turtle Soup II recipe via Mrs. Helen M. Hayes struck a culinary chord.


Hotel Monteleone is as rich in history as their turtle soup .   A New Orleans landmark  in the heart of the French Quarter, the list of Pulitzer Prize winners who have been guests of  Hotel Monteleone include Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Richard Ford.  It is reported Truman Capote claimed to have been born there.


Antonio Monteleone opened his historic hotel in 1886.  It still remains family owned and a New Orleans must see, must stay, must order the turtle soup kind of place.  Thank you, Mrs. Helen M. Hayes, for the recipe and the reminder.

Turtle Soup II (Monteleone)


3/4  gallon chicken stock (bouillon cubes may be used)

4  Tbsp. butter

1 c.  green onions, chopped fine

1/3 c.  celery, chopped fine

¼  c.  lemon, chopped fine

3  hard-boiled eggs, sieved

1 c.  flour

1 c.  tomato sauce

1 lb.  boneless turtle meat cut into very small cubes



Prepare chicken stock.  Saute onion and celery in 4 tablespoons butter. Brown the flour in a heavy iron skillet over medium heat stirring constantly.  Add flour to onions and celery.  Mix into stock. Add tomato sauce, sieved, hard boiled eggs, lemon and salt, red pepper and black pepper to taste.

Brown turtle meat and add to stock.  Cook over low heat, simmering 1 ½ hours to 2 hours.  Pour sherry into serving plate (not more than 1 tablespoon per large bowl) and ladle hot soup over it. Serves 10-12.

Mrs.  Helen M. Hayes