Enter the Banana /Recipes for the fruit minded

    I am, by nature, someone that loves to entertain and have company stay for the weekend. I’m talking LOTS and LOTS of company. My husband, not quite so much as me. So, for the most part, we compromise and have lots of company. When I first start to plan the menus for the weekends one of the first things I have to determine is whether or not said company falls into or out of the banana category.

Ok, you ask, what heck is the banana category? Well, the banana category is where the guests I have to feed like to snack on fruit and if that fruit is likely to be bananas. Inclusion in this category determines the amount of bananas to be purchased and approximately how much time it will take for any left over bananas (and trust me, there’s always left over bananas) to get mushy after the company leaves.

There truly is a reason for this somewhat bizarre banana thought process. Bananas are actually one of the few foods for which I don’t have a lot of recipes. Not because I don’t like them but rather, because both my children and husband are highly allergic to them in the raw state. I eat them with pleasure when we have company and cook them for the family after the company leaves leave. I have always tried to make really different and exciting recipes because I never know when the next banana company will arrive. The following recipes are all utterly delicious and have come to me from a variety of sources.

 

BANANAS FOSTER CREAM PIE

Crust:
2 1/2 cup chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
5 tablespoons melted butter

Filling:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoons allspice
4 bananas — peeled and sliced

Pastry Cream:
3 cup half and half
1 vanilla bean — split in half lengthwise
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Grease a 10-inch spring form pan. To prepare crust, in a medium bowl,
combine cookie crumbs, sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Stir in
melted butter. Press mixture into prepared pan on the bottom and up
the sides of the pan about 21/2 inches and place it in the refrigerator
to chill. To prepare the filling, put the butter and brown sugar in a
large saute pan over high heat and heat until bubbling, about 2
minutes. Add cinnamon, ginger, allspice and bananas and saute until
tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and
spoon the bananas evenly over the bottom of the crust. Set aside.

To prepare the pastry cream, put the half and half in a saucepan with the vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, remove and discard vanilla bean. In a medium bowl, place egg yolks, sugar, dark rum and cornstarch and whisk together. Whisk about 1 cup of half and half mixture into the egg mixture to temper it. Add the egg mixture to the remaining half and half and place the pan over medium heat, stirring frequently until thick, 3-5 minutes. Pour the mixture over the roasted bananas in the crust and refrigerate for 2-3 hours
or until well chilled. To serve, carefully remove the outer ring of the pan, cut the pie into slices, and top each slice with whipped cream and several mint leaves. Serves 12

 

Submitted by Cheryl Cerdanadski Warsaw IN

BANANA SPLIT BREAD

1 can (8 oz.) unsweetened crushed pineapple, well drained, reserve
liquid
1 pkg. (14 oz.)  banana quick bread and muffin mix
2 eggs
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup Maraschino cherries, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips
1/3 cup pecans, chopped

GLAZE:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips, melted
4 teaspoons milk

Preheat oven to 375 . Grease and flour bottom only of a (9×5 inch)
loaf pan. Add water to reserved pineapple liquid to make 3/4 cup In a
large bowl, combine all bread ingredients. Stir 50-75 times with
wooden spoon until mix is moistened (don’t over mix!). Pour batter
into prepared pan. Bake 55-65 minutes or until toothpick placed in the
center comes out clean. Cool in a pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan to cool for 45 minutes or until completely cooled. In a
small bowl, combine glaze ingredients. Stir until well blended. Pour
over loaf. For gift giving you can use (3×5 inch) pans and bake 35-40
minutes. Store in refrigerator to slice when chilled. Serves 6 to 8

 

http://www.southerncooking.com

 

ALMOND FUDGE BANANA CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GLAZE

3 extra ripe, peeled medium bananas
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
3 eggs
3 tablespoons almond liqueur OR 2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted, ground

 

Banana Chocolate Glaze
1 pureed, extra ripe small banana
1 ounce melted semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10 inch bunt pan.  In a bowl mash the bananas and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sugar and margarine and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, liqueur and vanilla. Beat to combine. In another bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix the dry ingredients to combine.  Stir the almonds into the flour mixture. With the electric mixer running, alternately add the flour mixture with bananas to the sugar mixture. Beat well. Turn batter into greased pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out nearly clean and cake pulls away from sides of pan. Cool 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan to wire rack to cool completely. Glaze: Combine the pureed banana with the melted chocolate and whisk together. Pour glaze over the top of the cooled cake and let it drip down the sides of the cake. Serves 12 to 14

BANANA BUTTERFINGER® CAKE

 

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 1/2 cup chopped Butterfinger® bars

GLAZE
2/3 cup whipping cream
7 tablespoons butter, cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
14 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup chopped Butterfinger® bars

Position rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1-1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottoms with waxed paper rounds. Butter and flour paper.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in dark rum and vanilla extract. Combine sour cream and baking soda in medium bowl. Add mashed bananas to sour cream mixture and stir until well blended. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with banana mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir in chopped Butterfinger® bars.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until center of cake feels firm and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run small knife around sides of cakes to loosen. Turn out cakes onto racks and cook. Peel off waxed paper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap cakes tightly and store at room temperature.)

FOR GLAZE: Combine cream, butter and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat; add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in rum and vanilla. Pour glaze into small bowl. Cover and refrigerate just until cool and thick, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Transfer 1 cake layer to platter. Slide waxed paper strips under edges of cake. Stir glaze until smooth. Spread 1 cup glaze evenly over top of cake layer. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining glaze over top and sides of cake. Cover top and sides of cake with chopped Butterfinger® bars. Remove paper strips. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover cake and store at room temperature.)

 

From about.com

 

BANANA PANCAKES WITH CARAMEL-BANANA SYRUP

 

3 large bananas, peeled, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, divided
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs

Additional melted butter

 

Cut 2 bananas into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Combine 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup water in heavy large skillet. Boil over medium-high heat until mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract and sliced bananas. Remove syrup from heat.

 

Whisk flour and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl. Mash remaining banana in medium bowl, then whisk in buttermilk and eggs. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients (some lumps will remain). Mix in remaining 1/4 cup melted butter.

Preheat oven to 200. Heat griddle over medium heat; brush with additional melted butter. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle. Cook pancakes until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Serve pancakes with caramel-banana syrup. Makes 4 servings.

 

Bon Appétit, November 2005

 

BANANA COFFEE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CHIP STREUSEL

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)
2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 1/3 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 large)
3 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan. Stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon in small bowl until well blended; set streusel aside. Sift all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, room temperature butter, and egg in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in mashed bananas and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients and blend well.

 

Spread half of batter (about 2 cups) in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Repeat with remaining batter and streusel. Bake coffee cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool coffee cake in pan on rack. Makes 12 servings.

 

BANANA CHOCOLATE STRUDEL

4 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, covered with 2 overlapping pieces plastic wrap and then a damp kitchen towel
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 firm-ripe bananas
2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Accompaniment: lightly sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 425. Arrange 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface with a short side of phyllo nearest you, keeping remaining sheets covered, and brush with some butter. Top phyllo with 3 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter. Arrange bananas one above the other, horizontally, on lower third of phyllo, leaving a 1-inch border on both sides (trim bananas if too long). Sprinkle chocolate over bananas, then fold sides of phyllo toward middle (over ends of bananas). Fold bottom edge of phyllo over bananas and roll up bananas in phyllo.

 

Transfer strudel, seam side down, to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or to a buttered baking sheet, then brush strudel with beaten egg. Cut 4 (1/2-inch-long) steam vents diagonally along top of strudel with a sharp knife. Bake in middle of oven until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack, and then dust with confectioner’s sugar. Makes 6 servings.

 

Gourmet October 2001

CHOCOLATE BANANA TART

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 firm-ripe bananas
1/4 cup apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 350. Blend crumbs, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt in a food processor until mixture begins to hold together and pat onto bottom and up side of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake in middle of oven until side of crust is firm to the touch, 14 to 18 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips into hot crust and let stand 5 minutes to soften. Spread evenly over bottom of crust. Beat cream with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and rum until it holds soft peaks. Cut bananas into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Whisk preserves and add bananas, tossing to coat. Spoon banana mixture into crust and top with whipped cream.
Serves 8.

Gourmet January 2000

BANANA WAFFLES WITH PECAN MAPLE SYRUP

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not the fake stuff)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted lightly and chopped coarse
2 teaspoons orange juice or fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe medium banana
1/3 cup water
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron

Preheat oven to 200. In a small saucepan bring maple syrup and pecans to a boil and stir in juice. Remove syrup from heat and keep warm, covered. In a bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Quarter banana and in a blender purée with water. Transfer purée to another bowl and whisk in eggs and melted butter. Add flour mixture and stir until combined well.

Heat a well-seasoned or non-stick waffle iron until hot and brush lightly with oil. Pour half of batter into iron and cook waffle according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer waffle to a baking sheet and keep warm, uncovered, in oven. Make another waffle with remaining batter in same manner.

Serve waffles with syrup. Serves 2.

from Epicurious.com

 

PINEAPPLE BANANA MUFFINS

 

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons beaten egg

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 medium)

1/3 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained

 

In a small bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg, oil, milk and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in bananas and pineapple.
Coat muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray or use paper liners; fill three-fourths full with batter. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. Makes 6 muffins.

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Cupcakes for the Holidays

There are times in your life ( like after eating a dozen latkes) when you just gotta have that certain something sweet BUT you really don’t want the guilt associated with gobbling up 5 bags of candy coins or a calorie laden mega doughnut topped with chocolate and filled with custard (granted, there aren’t too many times when I DON’T want that kind of doughnut). For me that’s when I reach for a cupcake. Just enough cake and frosting to satisfy but not so much as that I feel like I’ve over indulged and the “oh I blew my holiday diet AGAIN” remorse isn’t omnipresent.

The origin of the cupcake isn’t all that clear. Some historians say it’s because the original recipe contained 1 cup measurements (I cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar etc.) Another source I checked with said that long ago that cake batter was cooked in tea cups, hence the name, cup-cake. Either way it came about I’m just glad the recipes evolved into the sweet treats we love today.

Deciding what type of cupcakes to make and what to top them with can be truly a personal and existential experience. You can fill them, frost them, and dust them with powdered sugar or cocoa. Sprinkles are always nice and so is a couple of pieces of candy or chocolate stuck into the top of the batter just before baking. The possibilities are endless and the results are always irresistible.

With cupcakes you can indulge in your love of lemon, banana, chocolate or vanilla or both at the same time and not have to commit to eating a whole cake. One of the beauties of making cupcakes is that most cake recipes can be converted into cupcakes. There are, however, some exceptions, like angel and sponge cakes, they don’t have quite enough structure to pull off the smaller size, but those to obvious exceptions aside, I say go for whatever recipe you want and see how creative you can get. I prefer to use cupcake liners in my pans as I find it easier to take them out after they’ve been cooked and they help keep all those pesky crumbs from falling all over your lap or shirt.

Just a few cup cake rules before you get started.

 

1. Always grease or line you baking pan, easier to remove the cupcake

2. Never over fill the pan, it will make an overly large cupcake top

4. Once the pan or pans are full, put them in the preheated oven immediately. The longer they sit out, the less they will rise.

5. Cupcakes should be baked in at least a 350 so that the structure sets quickly and the cake doesn’t dry while it’s baking

3. Make sure you test the cupcake with a toothpick before you remove it from the oven to make sure it cooked throughout.

 

 

Depending on how you decorate the following recipe they can be served as a snack or at a formal dinner and are equally at home at a 5 year olds birthday party or a wedding reception. I make the peanut butter ones every Chanukah and decorate them with chocolate candy coins.  Enjoy!

PEANUT BUTTER CUP CUPCAKES (dairy)

1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
16 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper cup cake liners in the muffin pan and set it aside. In a mixing bowl of an electric mixer combine the margarine or butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Mix to combine and then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix to combine. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture with the milk. Do not over mix or you’ll get air bubbles in the cup cake. Fill each muffin cups about 1/2 full of batter. Place a peanut butter cup into the center of each and push it down so it almost touches the bottom but so there is still some batter underneath the peanut butter cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean (be careful not to test where the candy is, you won’t get a true test of if the cupcake is done). Makes approx 14 to 16

 

 

BANANA SPLIT CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 mashed ripe bananas

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk or non dairy substitute

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese or pareve cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoon soft butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Optional Toppings;

hot fudge sauce,

maraschino cherries

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 20 to 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine. In another large bowl combine the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar until blended.  Frost and top with fudge sauce and a maraschino cherry

 

Modified from the Joy of Baking

 

ZUCCHINI AND PISTACHIO CUPCAKES (pareve)

This recipe uses self rising flour if you don’t have it for each cup of self rising flour use 1 cup of all-purpose flour and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

2 eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar

4 zucchinis, grated

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

2 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup dried cranberries

 

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease or line 2 12 muffin tin pans. In a bowl combine the egg, oil, and sugar and whisk until combined.  Add the zucchini, lime zest and nuts and stir together until well mixed.  Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, into the zucchini mixture and gently fold it in. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake and for 18 to 20 minutes until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack and then dust the top with powdered sugar. Makes 24.

 

Modified from about.com

 

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 oz cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

generous 1/3 cup potato flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon milk

 

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add the sugar and beat until combined.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla, milk and eggs and beat to combine.   Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until just combined.  Spoon the mixture into the paper liners and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.

 

1 oz bittersweet chocolate

5 oz cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Melt the chocolate in the microwave but don’t over heat it, it should just be soft. Cool for about minutes. Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl and then pour the chocolate over the top. Add the vanilla and mix until the cheese and chocolate is combine. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Frost and serve. Makes 12

 

Submitted by Roger Mancref and Cheryl Rodrego Naples FL

 

CANDIED CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

Topping

6 chocolate candy bars, chopped into pieces (your choice)

1, 12 oz bag of any kind of M&M’s you like

Crush, cut and mash into tiny pieces

Mix together in a bowl, set aside

 

Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup semi sweet chocolate

1/2 cup cream

 

Cupcakes

12 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

 

 

Make the frosting first. In a microwave bowl melt the chocolate and cream together. Stir until smooth and then add the peanut butter and mix until combined. Cool in the refrigerator and when it is cool beat the frosting until it is spreadable.

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or place paper liners in 24 cupcakes molds. In a bowl combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix to combine. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Add the salt, baking soda, flour, chocolate chips and mix to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepare tins filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before frosting and then decorate with the chopped candy. Makes 24.

 

LUSCIOUS LEMON CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

 

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream or pareve substitute

 

FROSTING:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon milk or pareve substitute

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease or paper line 30 muffin tins. Set them aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar. Mix to combine and then with the mixer running add the eggs. With the mixer still running add lemon zest and vanilla. In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer running slowly add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. This will be a thick batter.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the butter and powdered sugar. Mix until combined.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest and milk; beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Makes 30.

Baking Banana Bread

Everyday or so I get an urgent call or e mail from a family member or friend who needs a recipe, or cooking help or a quick menu suggestion RIGHT NOW! Yesterday it was a favorite cousin beseeching me for our grandmother’s banana bread/cake recipe. So naturally I said, “which banana bread/cake recipe of grandma’s do you want? The one with the chocolate chips, the one with the raisins or the one with sour cream?”

            After a second or two of silence she said “grandma had more than one banana cake recipe?”

            It was at that moment that I realized I actually had about 2 dozen different variations of the classic banana bread/cake recipe (only 3 from my grandmother) and that each and every one of them was really great. I love it when a column idea is this easy.

Before we get to those great recipes I thought you might like to know that bananas don’t grow on trees. They are part of the lily family, a cousin, if you will, to the orchid and they grow on stalks that can grow up to 25 feet high. They are, in fact, the largest plant on earth without a woody stem.  The banana is thought to have originated in Malaysia and spread throughout Asia, India and Africa long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Bananas came to the New World in 1516 when a Spanish missionary brought over the first root stocks.

A banana has less water, four times the protein, and half the fat, twice the carbohydrate, almost three times the phosphorus, nearly five times the Vitamin A and iron as an apple. They are also rich in potassium and vitamins B and C.

The good news is that there is an International Banana Association.  Yes, this does sound strange but they are located at 1101 Vermont Ave., N.W., Suite 306, Washington, D.C. 20005 and you can write and ask them for a free brochure (which includes free recipes) all about bananas. Just send them a stamped, self addressed business-size envelope with your request and have a banana-rama good time.

NOTE: Very ripe bananas give the best flavor in the following recipes.

LOW-FAT BANANA BREAD
Buttermilk replaces nearly all of the oil.

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup smashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2-inch pan; dust the pan with flour. Using an electric mixer; beat together the eggs and sugar in large bowl until thick and light, about 5 minutes. Mix in the smashed bananas, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt over mixture; beat until just blended. Pour the batter to the prepared pan.  Bake until the bread is golden brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Turn bread out onto rack and cool. 1 loaf

SOUR CREAM BANANA CAKE

The rich full flavor of the banana is enhanced by the density of this cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sour cream
 
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease (1) 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch pan; dust the pan with flour. Using an electric mixer; cream the butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and eggs. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add the bananas, sour cream and nuts. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Makes 1 loaf.

PINEAPPLE BANANA BREAD
 
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans – chopped
3 eggs – beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups mashed bananas – (about 5)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can crushed pineapple – (8 oz) drained
 
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease (2) 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch pan; dust the pan with flour. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well and then stir in pecans. Set aside the flour mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, oil, banana, vanilla and pineapple. Mix well to combine. Pour the wet mixture into dry mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into 2 prepared loaf pans.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from pans to finish cooling. Do not try to cut the bread until it is totally cooled.  Makes 2 loaves. NOTE: You can use macadamia nuts or walnuts instead of pecans if you like.

BANANA SPICE CAKE

2 3/4 cup sifted flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 2/3 cup mashed bananas
2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour 2 8 inch round cake pans. Sift the flour, baking powder, and soda, salt and spices together. In a mixing bowl cream the shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat thoroughly. Alternately add the sifted dry ingredients and bananas to the egg/sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then pour into prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes. Makes 2 (8 inch) layers. This cake is great with a sour cream or cream cheese frosting.

TOFFEE BANANA BREAD

3/4 cup margarine (you can use butter for a richer taste)
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 to 5 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup toffee bits (such as crumbled Heath Bars)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour 2 loaf pans.  In a mixing bowl cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix until creamy. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. blend the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Fold in the mashed bananas and the toffee bits. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour.
Makes 2 loaves.

BANANA POUND CAKE

1 package (18 1/2 ounces) yellow cake
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 1/3 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium)
1 package (3 3/4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in large mixer bowl. Mix until blended then beat at medium speed for 4 minutes. Turn batter into greased and lightly floured 10 inch bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour or until done. If desired, dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.  Serves 12.

BANANA SPLIT CAKE

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 can rushed pineapple, drained
1 jar strawberry jam
4 or 5 bananas, sliced
3 cups whipped topping or sweetened whipped cream
1/2 to 1 cup Maraschino Cherries, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup chopped Pecans

In a bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted margarine and pecans. Pat the mixture in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Let chill 30 minutes. In a mixing bowl cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Spread the mixture over the cold crust. Layer the pineapple, jam and bananas over cream cheese layer. Top the fruit layers with the whipped topping. Sprinkle the top with cherries and pecans on top. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Pancakes & Waffles Anytime You Want Them

There is definitely a time to make pancakes. If my nephew is to be believed, it’s anytime he come to my house because, according to him, his mom only buys the ready made frozen ones. Not to knock my sibling but frozen pancakes, really, come on, frozen ones?? How hard is it to make the real ones?  All ya gotta do is mix a bunch of dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt) and then a bunch of wet ingredients (milk or buttermilk or sour cream, eggs, melted butter), and then you add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Voila pancakes or waffles. Ok, so sometimes it’s a tad more complicated and I add a mystery ingredient, like chocolate chips or bananas and pecans or wait for it…… blueberries. According to my nephew, I’m a culinary genius.

Waffles are almost as easy as pancakes. To my nephew waffles are kind of a mix between pancakes and cookies because they’re crunchy and sweet and he can eat them with his hands (ok, don’t anybody tell my sister I let him do that).
He loves the grids and pokes his fingers through them. Yes, I know, I’d never let my  21 and 24 year old sons do it but hey, this is my 9 year old nephew and I get to send him home after he’s done eating.

The following recipes are a great mix of easy and a little bit more complicated. Some call for buttermilk. Use it if you can. It gives a wonderful rich flavor to the pancake or waffle. You can, of course substitute milk or 1/2 and 1/2 but the flavor will be different. You can use almost any pancake batter for waffles, just reduce the liquid by about 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Some of these recipes use ready made baking mixes and others are from scratch. Don’t worry, they’re all delicious and kid friendly, even if the kid eating them is your 56 year old husband who’s wresting his 9 year old nephew for the last one on the plate.

NOTE: please do not write, email, text or otherwise let me know that the frozen pancakes and waffles have a place in this world. I do know they serve a purpose for those whose schedules are jam packed so just ignore that part of the column and just skip to the recipes.

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PEACHES ‘N CREAM PANCAKE

2 cup Bisquick baking mix

1 egg

1 1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 (29 oz.) can sliced peaches, drained

3/4 cup whipping cream, whipped (you can use the stuff from the can)

In a bowl combine the baking mix, egg, milk, brown sugar and cinnamon. Whisk to combine. Pour by scant 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle (grease griddle if necessary). Cook until pancakes are dry around edges. Turn; cook until golden brown. Top with peaches and whipped cream.

PUMPKIN LOVERS PANCAKES

2 cups flour

6 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted

4 tablespoons (about) butter

maple syrup

Preheat oven to 250. In a bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cloves and salt. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs and melted butter until well blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls into skillet. Cook pancakes until bubbles form on top and bottoms are golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes. Turn pancakes over. Cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm up to 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter to skillet as necessary for each batch. Serve pancakes hot with maple syrup. Serves 4.

PUFFED UP APPLE PANCAKE

1 large Granny Smith apple
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Lemon juice
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 450 and place rack in center of oven. Peel, core and slice apple. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour and vanilla until smooth. Melt butter in a 10-inch cast iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Spread apples in pan and cook for 4 minutes. Turn apples and continue cooking 3 minutes. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over apples and cook another minute or until sugar begins to melt. Remove pan from heat, stir apples lightly to coat with sugar, and then top with batter. Bake 15 minutes or until mixture puffs up and turns golden brown around edges. Remove from oven and cut into four wedges. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar. Serves 4.

MINI CHOCOLATE PANCAKES

1-1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup Hershey’s Cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil

your choice of sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, mandarin orange segments, sliced kiwi fruit, pineapple chunks, and maraschino cherry halves

Frozen whipped topping, thawed
In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl combine buttermilk, eggs and oil and whisk to combine. Add the liquid mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Pour about 1 tablespoon batter onto preheated, lightly greased griddle or non-stick skillet. Cook over medium heat until bubbly surface on top; turn and cook just until set.  Serve each pancake topped with heaping teaspoonful whipped topping, topped with selection of fruits. About 40 small pancakes or 10 large ones.

Modified from the Hershey’s web site

OATMEAL APPLE PANCAKES

These pancakes are more nutritious than your typical pancakes.

2/3 cup quick cooking rolled oats

1 1/4 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large apple, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup pecans (optional), chopped

In a large bowl, mix together the oats and buttermilk. Let stand for 10 minutes. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, and melted butter. Add this to the oats and buttermilk. Stir in the grated apple. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Stir in the pecans. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Fold the egg whites into the pancake batter. Heat up a large fry pan or griddle over medium high heat. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan. Ladle the pancake batter into the hot oil. Cook each side until browned (about 3 minutes). Serve with maple syrup. Serves 4 to 5

ORANGE CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 rounded cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Whisk together all ingredients except chips until just combined. Heat a griddle over medium heat until hot and lightly brush with additional oil. Working in batches, pour a scant 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle and sprinkle each pancake with about 1 1/2 teaspoons chips. Cook until bubbles appear on surface and undersides are golden-brown, about 1 minute. Flip with a spatula and cook other side, about 1 minute more. (Lightly oil griddle between batches.) Makes 4

SWEET POTATO PANCAKES WITH CINNAMON HONEY BUTTER

For the honey-cinnamon butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the sweet-potato pancakes
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk, plus more if necessary
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup store-bought pancake mix
1 small pinch ground nutmeg
1 small sweet potato, boiled, peeled, and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)

Beat together the butter, honey, and cinnamon until smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Stir in the pancake mix and nutmeg until just combined. Fold in the sweet potato. If the batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk until it reaches the desired consistency (it should be thick but still pourable). Place a large, greased griddle or pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, spoon the batter onto it and cook until the surface of the pancake is covered with bubbles, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve, topped with the honey-cinnamon butter and a little maple syrup. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Tip: As a time-saver, substitute 3 ounces of sweet-potato baby food for the cooked sweet potato (try the organic sweet-potato blend from Plum Organics, available at most Whole Foods stores). And if you don’t have time to make the honey-cinnamon butter, serve the pancakes with plain unsalted butter and dust them lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

From epicurious.com

STRAWBERRY PANCAKES

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Sliced strawberries (about 1 cup)

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl combine the eggs, sour cream, water, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until moistened. Fold in sliced strawberries. Preheat griddle skillet over medium heat; grease lightly. Pour about 1/4 cup butter onto hot griddle for each pancake. Cook until tops of pancakes are bubbly; turn and cook until browned. Serves 4 to 6.

BACON CHEDDAR WAFFLES

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine

2 cup Bisquick baking mix

6 cooked and crumbled bacon strips

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat waffle iron. In a medium bowl, beat together 1 egg, milk, sour cream, melted butter or margarine. Stir in the Bisquick and mix well. Fold in the crumbled bacon and cheese. Mix to combine. Spoon the batter onto a hot, greased waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup. Serves 4.

Submitted by Archie Davis age 10 Detroit

BANANA AND SOUR CREAM WAFFLES

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg — separated (beat egg white until stiff)

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 banana, mashed

Preheat waffle iron. In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In separate bowl whisk together egg yolk, sour cream, milk, butter and banana. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until blended. Fold in beaten egg white. Pour batter from cup or ladle onto center of hot waffle iron. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Remove waffle carefully. Makes 4.