Paula Deen: It Ain't All About Cooking

In a large skillet, combine the sausage, bacon, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the sausage is browned and crumbles. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Stir in the butter until well blended.

Mrs. Groover's Banana Nut Delight Cake

From Michael's momma's memory and my cooking smarts, we reconstructed Banana Nut Delight Cake, his supreme favorite dessert, for his groom's cake at our wedding. It turned out to be delicious, but not exactly the cake he remembered so fondly. Imagine my own delight when, a year later, we found Mrs. Groover's original recipe box and the true Banana Nut Delight Cake recipe written in pencil on a little card in her own hand. Here it is. Now we have to have the weddin' all over again with this exactly right groom's cake.

For Cake:

2 ½ cups sifted cake flour

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup vegetable shortening

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 ¼ cups mashed ripe banana

2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350?F. Grease and flour three 8-inch or two 9-inch cake pans.

2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl; add the shortening, buttermilk, and banana. Mix until all the dry ingredients are dampened then beat at low speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out on a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Banana Nut Frosting:

1 eight-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 one-pound box confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine all the ingredients, except for the pecans, and beat until fluffy. Fold in the pecans, and frost the cake. If you love lots of icing, you can make 1 ½ times this recipe. Remember, this is not banana bread but a stacked cake, so be sure to frost between the layers as well as the outside.

From PAULA DEEN by Paula Deen. Copyright © 2007 by Paula Deen. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.

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