Award-Winning Pralines and Cream Banana Pudding

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If you enter the National Banana Pudding contest and win third place instead of first place … is it still “Award-Winning” banana pudding?

It all started a long time ago when I moved from Nebraska to Tennessee.  Whenever talking food I would often hear …  “oh! Banana Pudding!  Yum!”  Then I tasted it in a restaurant and truly said, “yuck.” My Banana-pudding-lovin‘ husband said, “that isn’t true banana pudding.  The banana pudding in my memory is creamy, delicious and topped mile high with oven-browned meringue!”


That is when my sister-in-law, Liz, gave me Southern Living’s Banana Pudding recipe.  She said, “this is the one he is talking about.”  I made it and the rest is history.  These pictures are some of the most shared pictures on Pinterest and the recipe still receives a lot of views on this blog.

Last August (2016) my Chief Banana Pudding-Lovin’ Husband read about the National Banana Pudding Festival held every year in Centerville, Tennessee.   He said, “Catherine, you should enter your banana pudding recipe in the National Banana Pudding Festival Cook-off!”

I said, “Sorry darling, it has to be an original recipe and mine is from Southern Living!”

Without even missing one little beat he said, “well, tweak it and make it an original!”  I had just taken an Apple Praline Cake out of the oven and I had pralines and caramel thoughts dancing in my head!

Apple Praline Cake – Fall’s Delight!

I started researching what it takes to enter the contest and again I was stopped by the “original, non-published” requirement for the banana pudding recipe that I could submit.  However, The Chief continued to encourage me to get creative.  I let my fingers do the walking through  and was pleasantly surprised not to find any recipes for pralines and cream banana pudding.  So, I had my title, now I just needed to create a recipe.

Over the next month, my sous-chef dish-washing mom and my Chief Banana Pudding Eater sampled several versions of what would become my original recipe.  Each time they would say “Yeah!  this is the best one.”  I quickly learned they were not an objective source for my recipe because they loved them all!

Finally, I settled on a recipe and the night before the deadline, I emailed off the application and my original recipe.  Three days later I received the surprise call — my recipe was chosen and I was one of 10 finalists chosen for the cook-off to be held in October.

As the information settled on my brain I got to thinking how I don’t even like to watch Food Network challenge cooking shows because it makes me too nervous and hypes me up!  Cook-off? In front of judges?  On a stage, in front of people?  What in the world was I thinking?

My husband was thrilled, my sous-chef dish-washing mom was “all-in” for a trip to Centerville, Tennessee and I was … well, sorta numb.  I received information that they were providing a hotel room for us the night before and that I would need to arrive at 7:30 a.m. at the Festival.  The cook-off would begin at 9 a.m. with 5 cooks on stage at one time.  We had ONE HOUR to make our pudding, layer it, top it and finish it.  Oh, yes, and by the way, we needed to make TWO batches, one for the judges and audience to taste and the other to auction off to the highest bidder.

Setting up my work space!

The informational documents I received said each contestant would have a gas stove and oven to use. Perfect, I could make my pudding faster as long as I stirred like a crazy woman!  No problem, I was feeling quite crazy. If there was any part of the recipe I couldn’t make in the one-hour time frame, I could do prep work at home.  For my recipe, I made the pecan pralines ahead of time and brought them with me.

The stage was in a large open-air building with a solid wall behind the stage, but was open on the sides.  Chairs were set up in the middle for the audience to sit.  My position on the stage was first in a lineup of 5.  That was good, I felt like the corner gave me some extra moving around space.  I set up all my ingredients and utensils.

The Festival sponsors provided all the bananas and Nilla wafers that we needed.  Then I turned around to heat up the oven.  OH, MY GOODNESS!  Shock set in – the “stove and oven” was a little apartment size that actually was heated with propane, not natural gas. I don’t know the technical part of heating with propane vs. natural gas but I do know that propane doesn’t heat as quickly or efficiently.  The day was a bit windy and when I turned on the stove the flames skirted off to the side a little bit.  The oven seemed to be heating up okay.

Display I set up to showcase my pudding for the judges.

Little did I know when I started that the pudding was going to be very difficult to cook.  My pan was larger than the burner on the stove.  Trouble.  One of the judges approached me and began chatting as my hour began.  Trouble.  The flames were blowing to the side instead of heating up the bottom of my pot.  Trouble.

Fast forward one hour.  Two puddings were done, layered with bananas, Nilla wafers, pecan pralines, topped with meringue and baked.  I was given table space to display them. I had designed my space to hopefully grab some attention.  The clock ticked, the bell rang.  It was over.

At home, the pudding took 10 to 12 minutes to cook on my induction stove.  The propane-fired miniature stove took 30 minutes of stir time to make my pudding.  In the end, I added some extra flour and sugar attempting to thicken the pudding quicker.  The pudding ended up grain and not as creamy as I would have liked.

At one point I held the electric mixer in one hand beating the meringue while layering the bananas, Nilla wafers and pudding with the other hand.  I had to of looked out of control and I certainly felt that way.

All-in-all it was a fun experience.  I didn’t know I was going to be given a hand-made pottery “pudding pot” as part of my 3rd place prize package.  That pudding pot made it all worth it!  I love it.

I don’t want to do it again.  However, I have tweaked my recipe a little bit since that time.  The recipe I am sharing with you is the “tweaked” version and we agree, it’s our favorite!

Pralines and Caramel Banana Pudding

If you’ve never made banana pudding, it is fun to do and guarantees rave reviews.  If you have made it, you may want to try this version because the caramel flavoring and pecan pralines send it over-the-top on the flavor scale.

Happy Cooking!
~ Catherine

P.S.  Another best part — my sweet banana-pudding-lovin’ husband washed up all my pots and pans at the Festival.  ❤️


Award-Winning Pralines and Caramel Banana Pudding
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
No matter where you take this bowl of banana pudding, it will return empty! My original recipe won 3rd place at the National Banana Pudding Festival in 2016. In this version, I added caramel flavoring which only served to improve the over-all recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Serves: 12-16
Ingredients
Praline Pecans
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. caramel flavoring
Pudding
  • ⅔ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. caramel flavoring
  • 1 (11 oz.) packaged of vanilla wafers
  • 4 bananas, sliced (dipped in lemon water or sprinkled with fruit fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon banana extract
  • ⅓ cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine whole pecans, brown sugar, cream, and caramel flavoring. Mix well coating the pecans evenly. Spread onto a baking sheet, sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the coating is dry and slightly crystallized, stirring at least once. Remove from oven to cool and break apart any pieces that are sticking together. Set aside.
To make pudding
  1. Combine ⅔ cup sugar, flour, and salt in a heavy saucepan. In a separate bowl whisk together condensed milk, whole milk, and egg yolks; stir into the dry ingredients. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until smooth and thickened. Use the largest whisk you have to stir while cooking the pudding. This usually takes 10 to 15 minutes, but really depends on your stove or heat source.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and caramel flavoring. Cool the pudding at this point on the counter until just barely warm.
  3. Using a 2 to 3-quart baking dish, arrange ⅓ of the wafers in the bottom of the dish, laying each one flat. Layer 2 sliced bananas over the wafers. Pour ½ of the pudding mixture over the wafer and banana layer. Repeat with a second layer ending with pudding on top.
  4. Beat egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add banana extract. Continue beating at high speed, adding ⅓ cup sugar just one tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until egg whites are very stiff.
  5. Spread egg white mixture over the pudding, sealing it up against the edge of the bowl. Arrange remaining wafers around the outside of the dish. Dot around the edge with praline pecans.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Drizzle with caramel ice cream topping if desired. Serve pudding warm at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cold. Enjoy!
Notes
Note: This pudding will fit a 9” x 13” baking dish or a 2 or 3-quart dish.
Also – be sure and use sweetened condensed milk and NOT evaporated milk!

 

Welcome Abby Hughes!

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I am so excited to write to you today and share some exciting news that I’ve kept under wraps for a little while now.  I want to welcome Abby Hughes and introduce her as my new blogging partner!

Abby is as beautiful inside as she is outside.  She is a graduate of Bob Jones University with a degree in Culinary Arts.  Besides being totally sweet and adorable she really knows her way around the kitchen!   Ooops – Sorry Abby, sounds like I am writing an ad for a husband for you … 🙂

Long before Abby attended her first class at Bob Jones University she was delivering delectable treats to our doorstep.  She takes after her mother Gaye Hughes in that department!  In the 7 years since we moved to the countryside of Middle Tennessee and became neighbors to the Hughes, we’ve been gifted with dozens of cookies, countless muffins, a variety of homemade soups, birthday cakes, gingerbread treats,  and most recently fresh yeast rolls hot out of the Hughes oven!


It is Gaye Hughes baked oatmeal recipe that I shared with you many years ago and I made as recently as yesterday!



Abby spent this past summer as a counselor to teenage girls at The Wilds Christian Camp in North Carolina.   When she returned home we had a chance to sit on my front porch and catch up.  It is then that Abby shared with me her wish to begin blogging.  She is highly creative and wants to hone her writing skills.   Abby asked me “how do I get followers on the blog?”  That is when it hit me.  She could blog for years and years and build her following or she could join me and have an instant following!  👏

We quickly started brainstorming what that would like on www.praycookblog.com.  You will see her many talents for yourself as she shares with us her variety of passions from art to crafts and from the kitchen to wherever her heart takes her!

I am thrilled to have her join me at My Daily Bread Body and Soul!  I love her and I know you will too!   ❤️

She has a lot of ideas and you will be hearing from her soon.  Please join me in welcoming Abby Hughes to our little space on the world-wide net!

Grace and Peace,
Catherine

 

 

 

 

Let The Little Children Come

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When is the last time you read a Facebook post that just took your breath away?    Or how about one that brought you to happy tears?  This is exactly what happened to me the other day when I saw a post by my niece, Jaeme.


Jaeme is a 30-something, wife, mother of three, business owner, Tough Mudder maniac, workout queen, she teaches the children at church on Wednesday night and is a disciple of Jesus Christ!

Jaeme & Ace

Jaeme tells me that each night she and her 5-year-old son, Ace, play a game about “who loves the other one more.” The “winner” loves the other one more!

ACE WINS!   It is no contest in my book when Ace told his mother:

“Mama, I love you just less than Jesus loves you and no one can love you as much as Jesus so there’s no way you can love me more than I love you.”   ❤️

Jaeme wrote on Facebook: “Not sure what I did to deserve this kid but I thank the Lord for him every day.”

I surely don’t have all the answers but I know this: children are little sponges and Ace is soaking up that which he is surrounded with – the love of Jesus!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14

I think raising children is hard.  Growing up I always saw myself as a wife and a mother.  It was my heart’s desire.  I love being a mother to my two sons and my four stepchildren, and grandmother to my 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.  I thank God every day for those kids and my extraordinary Jesus-loving husband.   But I see the struggles of young people today and realize it is hard to live in a world that is pushing in on all sides.

Kudos Jaeme and Brian for modeling the love of Jesus to your children and all of us who know you!

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.  
Proverbs 22:6

Blessings, Catherine

Morning Prayer and Evening Dinner

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Recently I had the privilege of spending time with my friend Sharron and staying overnight in her lovely home on Old Hickory Lake, Tennessee!  After a wonderful night of sleep, I woke to this beautiful sunrise.  My iPhone didn’t take as good a picture as my camera would have but all-in-all not bad for a phone!

This Psalm sprung to mind as I thanked God for the beauty of His creation.


to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night,”
Psalm 92:2(ESV)

As if this wasn’t enough of a lovely start to the day Sharron then gave me this Morning Prayer written by her friend Rachel Barrentine.

This is a copyrighted prayer and I have linked Rachel’s blog and website to the card.  Be sure to check them out for other writing she has done.

So, on top of the glorious sunrise, my day started with this prayer.  I have prayed this prayer many mornings since that time as Rachel really captured my morning thoughts.  I hope it is a blessing to you also.

Now ….

With today being Labor Day in the United States many families take the opportunity for the last cook out or picnic of the season.   I did “grill” a little this morning but only enough to put this pot roast together.  I mentioned pot roast the other day and my sous-chef dish-washing mom AND my Chief taste-tester’s eyes lit up as if to say “Oo-la-la let’s have pot roast!”

I like to cut the roast in individual serving pieces, grill on each side for 5 minutes and then layer in my crock pot.

I have several pot roast recipes on this blog but this is our favorite. I think the blending of the red wine and balsamic vinegar tenderizes the beef perfectly.  Click here or on either picture to link to the recipe.

The fragrance in the house right now is a sweet promise of what is to come for dinner!  For sure I will add garlic mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, Roma green beans from the garden, and fried green tomatoes (a special request from the Chief!)

Wherever in the world, this may find you, bon appétit.

~Blessings, Catherine

 

 

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