I don’t like banana things. I like bananas…I take that back, I love actual, real life, peel and eat, yellow … and let’s be clear on the yellow…darkish yellow, not the new yellow that leads one to believe it was green just moments ago… they must be, ya know, perfectly ripe bananas. I just detest banana things. What does banana things include? I am so very glad you asked…you didn’t? Oh! Well…too bad.
Banana chips or dried bananas – ya know, those thin slices of hardened fruit (errr dried) that are found primarily in trail mixes that inevitably result in the almonds, walnuts, cranberries, raisins, M&M’s (or chocolate buttons if you aren’t careful), and heaven knows what else they have thought to cram into trail mixes these days, taste like bananas. Gross. Gawdawful.
Banana flavored Runts (or any banana ‘flavored’ candy). Who eats this stuff? It doesn’t even remotely taste like a banana. Have the creators of the infamous banana ‘flavor’ actually consumed a banana in their life? I think not. Banana flavored Laffy Taffy – NO! 1) It doesn’t taste like bananas and 2) Laffy Taffy never fails to numb my lips, resulting in me drooling on myself. Fact.
Banana Splits. Bananas DO NOT belong in my ice cream. Brownies, cookies, nuts, cherries, strawberries…yes, go right ahead – join the ice cream party…but bananas, please stay at home, you are not welcome. And speaking of ice cream, banana flavored popsicles…who enjoys these so-called treats? Probably you…and I have now offended you, but I can’t be sorry because it is disgusting.
And have you seen on Pinterest these two ingredient banana cookies and banana frozen ‘yogurt’ or would it be ice cream? First, these are labeled as ‘healthy’…well, yes, bananas are healthy, or healthier than say a bag of potato chips or Oreos, however – they are chock full of sugar and eating a tray of banana cookies – which is inevitably what will happen when something is labeled healthy and is also a cookie…you will undoubtedly eat a dozen of them and still crave the damn chocolate chip cookie that you were trying to avoid in the first place, which would have been a wiser choice (because you would have only eaten 1, ha!) plus, it wouldn’t have tasted like a banana. Which leads me to the second point…why would you want a banana flavored cookie…just eat a banana or a cookie. No need to mash the two together. ACK!
Banana bread/muffins/cakes/pancakes/waffles….No where near my cup of tea (or coffee – we are talking about me here…). Banana nut muffins are my morning nemesis. Mark this down…it is THE ONE sweet good that I will turn down given the chance ( not counting the banana cookies mentioned above)…. How come when heat is applied to a banana, all of its heavenly goodness is removed? Banana foster – no, just give me the pound cake and butter/sugar/caramel goodness and perhaps swap the bananas for peaches or apples. Or plums. Why bananas? Peach foster, please.
There are slight exceptions to the rule…a plain old banana can be fancied up with a dollop of peanut butter or sliced and covered in chocolate hard shell sauce and frozen. And I think the chocolate bit needs emphasized…the bananas must be sliced and never placed whole on a stick, frozen, and dipped in chocolate, and then eaten in public. No one, and I mean NO ONE can pull off eating a chocolate covered banana on a stick in public. NO ONE! Maybe my head is in the gutter…it normally is…but come on!
Get the point? I greatly dislike bananas unless it is just a banana…so why do I continue to bake banana bread? Because I am bonkers and think that if I stuff more things into banana bread that I will actually enjoy it (next up, peanut butter banana bread?!?)…and honestly, this chocolate banana bread came pretty damn close and so did this chocolate banana zucchini bread…I think the common link here is the chocolate.
This go around, I stuffed cherries, chocolate (that was sea salted), and walnuts along side the bananas…Think Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, but with the addition of banana and well, bread. I don’t know. But I do know my older brother would have eaten the whole loaf given the chance, since cherry cordial ice cream is his favorite and he actually likes bananas in his ice cream or he likes bananas in his bread. What?!? All I know, he eats what I bake and well he didn’t get any….but he would have liked it. Those that were lucky enough to have this stuffed into their bags as they were leaving my house ( you don’t leave without a doggy bag made from my freezer) texted me as they arrived home, that the this bread was delicious and the chocolate made it nice and rich.
I’ll have to take their word for it.
- 1+1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ Cup Quick Cooking Oats
- ¾ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¾ Teaspoon Salt
- ¾ Cup Light Brown Sugar, tightly packed
- 2 Eggs
- ⅓ Cup 2% Greek Yogurt
- ½ Cup Unsalted Butter, Melted and cooled
- 1 Cup Mashed Bananas (about 3 overly ripe bananas)
- ½ Teaspoon Almond Extract
- 1 Cup Pitted Cherries
- ½ Cup Toasted Walnuts (or pecans), roughly chopped
- 4 ounce dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped (or about ½ cup chocolate chips)
- Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside. (i also use parchment paper and let a little bit hang over the edges for easy removal)
- In a small bowl, toss together cherries and almond extract. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl using a wooden spoon, mix together melted butter and bananas. Blend in eggs and yogurt. Mix until everything is well combined.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
- Fold in cherries (with any juice in bowl), toasted walnuts, and chocolate to batter.
- Pour batter (it’ll be thick, so I use the term ‘pour’, lightly) into prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven and bake until toothpick, when inserted near the middle comes out nearly clean with a few crumbs attached – about 50-60 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool on rack for about 20 minutes before inverting on wire rack and letting cool completely.
My week days consist of me telling people they can’t eat broccoli.
Or brussel sprouts or kale or god-forbid any greens – including but not limited to turnip and collards. And do not even think about spinach.
But I feel really bad about the broccoli.
I blame the drug they’re on…it is the main reason. Or perhaps it’s their heart that isn’t functioning as it should or maybe they have blood clots in their legs or lungs or somewhere in-between or perhaps it because they had a knee replaced….I place the blame on one of the above….but I think the patients blame me. Because I am telling them ‘ no dark green vegetables’. I am the bad guy. If only vegetables didn’t contain vitamin K…because that is the true suspect.
It is hard to be angry at a vitamin…
The other month (yes, I made broccoli salad weeks ago and just haven’t found the time to post ) when I was explaining to an elderly women and her daughter, with whom she lived, that she would need to hold off on the broccoli, she turned to her daughter and shouted (either from pure distress over no broccoli or she damn near deaf…) ” DOES THAT MEAN NO MORE BROCCOLI SALAD FROM HEINENS’?!?!?!?! (note: Heinen’s is a local grocery store with a lovely prepared food/salad bar and their produce is top- notch, but their parking lots are death traps and they don’t let you remove their carts from the store…drives me bonkers) She was visibly upset by this fact. And I instantly had to agree with her…that stuff is like crack.
Dopamine triggering goodness. Bacon, cranberries, red onion, creamy dressing, and of course – crunchy, vitamin K rich broccoli. I felt the need to hug this lovely old women, with graying hair, and wrinkly thin skin…because I too, would be unconsolable.
Honestly, I hadn’t given broccoli salad much thought in some time…I am not a frequent salad bar at the grocery store type. I grab my veggies, coffee, head down the baking aisle for flour and sugar, grab my almond milk, eggs, and butter in the dairy and I am out the door…But I knew of the concoction she was mourning over. I’ve been to summer picnics and church dinners…places where broccoli ALWAYS makes an appearance. And I have had my fill…trust me. And it is delicious.
The thought of broccoli salad stuck with me and before long I found myself in my kitchen rendering bacon, chopping onion, and nibbling on cranberries…I needed a fix before I got too old and needed to be placed on Coumadin, which I think is the prize that is awarded for becoming elderly. Can. Not. Freaking. Wait.
Until then…I am loading up on broccoli salad. I think you should too.
- 2 Heads Broccoli, stems removed and florets chopped into bit sized pieces
- ½ lb Bacon
- ⅔ Cup Cranberries
- ½ Cup Walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
- ½ Small Red Onion, diced or thin half moons
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ½ Cup Buttermilk, well shaken
- ⅓ Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1-2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons finely diced red onion
- Pinch of salt and Pepper
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spread walnuts (or your nut of choice) evenly on a baking sheet. Place in preheated oven for about 5-8 minutes until fragrant (keep close eye). Remove from oven and let cool and then roughly chop. Set aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until brown and crispy. Place bacon on a paper towel lined plate to absorb extra grease. Let cool and then roughly chop.
- In a large bowl, combine bit sized broccoli florets, bacon, cranberries, roasted walnuts, and red onion. Toss to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine ingredients for dressing and whisk to combine – if you would like a thicker dressing, decrease buttermilk and increase mayonnaise.
- Pour over salad and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste as needed.
- Place in refrigerator to chill. Serve cold.
Food is quite the memory jogger. A trigger of sorts. Much like music. Or certain smells.
I don’t know if everyone is like this, but I want to think that a warm chocolate chip cookie takes everyone back to their childhood – I think my first memory of a chocolate chip cookie and looking back, probably the first time I took comfort from food or felt love through its simple preparation, was when our first childhood dog – ‘Puppy’ – original, I know…died.
I was curled up on dad’s lap in our old gray (it wasn’t old yet) recliner and I was sobbing and mom, from the kitchen, offered to make cookies – ‘maybe that will make us feel better’. I don’t remember the taste of the cookies or if we even ate them that night – I am sure we did, with large glasses of milk and spoons to fish out soggy lost bits and pieces. What I remember, as dad sat reassuring us that Puppy was in heaven causing ruckus up there, was that mom, while also mourning the loss of her beloved dog (even though she would holler and throw spoons in his direction from the back door when he would bark and howl), took time to bake us cookies – hoping they would ease our tears and cheer us up a bit. Which, I am sure they did.
Cookies have that sort of power. Especially if mom is making them.
Oatmeal Scotchies … guess what..you got it, comes with a memory. Like any cookie, they remind me of my grandma. As most things I bake do, but these are most definitely a Shirley memory. On Wednesday evenings, grandma had church choir practice or perhaps it was the Women’s Society meeting…all I know, is that she was at church on Wednesday nights and the church was just 2 blocks from our house. Therefore, Wednesday nights always guaranteed a visit from grandma and she normally brought a bake good ( and I wonder where I get this habit from). Cookies or pie. And if it was cookies…4 out of 5 times, they would be chewy oatmeal scotchies.
As grandma and mom sat and chit chatted and gossiped … we 3 kids scarfed down cookies, leaving just crumbs behind. Sore jaws and crumbs.
I hadn’t had an oatmeal scotchie in years. Years! Quite devastating, seeing how the recipe for these magic little guys are on the back of the bag of Nestle butterscotch chips. And when something is this good, there is really no need to tinker with the recipe. Well, I kinda did…I added roasted pecans, because pecans kind of rock in cookies. No?
Of all the cakes, cookies, and pies I have taken into work…I believe these cookies received the most hubbub. The container was returned with a pleading of it being refilled with more. People were hiding and stowing away cookies in lockers. They were being eaten 2 and 3 at a time. I wanna believe it was because these cookies were not only chewy and delicious, but because their flavor and texture and slight hint of cinnamon took them back.
Back to grandmas, school lunches, after school snacks, Wednesday nights.
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- ¾ Cup white sugar
- ¾ Cup, light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1¼ Cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ Cup Roasted Pecans, roughly chopped
- 3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
- One 11-oz bag butterscotch chip
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in vanilla.
- With mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated – the dough will be tacky.
- With a wooden spoon, stir in the oats, pecans, and butterscotch chips.
- Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined (optional) baking sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies.
- Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.
Adapted from Nestle TollHouseRead More
I love Ina Garten.
This post might as well be called ‘ an ode to Ina”.
I adore everything about her….even her button down shirts – that are tailored made just for her (why do I know this?) – with the popped collar – which makes me think of spring break and the cruise we took and the dancing we did, which brings be around to Grillz by Nelly…ad a whole top diamonds and da bottom row’s gold. Can we go back to those days? Days where spring break existed and you lived with your friends and weekends started on Thursdays? Did we know how good we had it? I don’t think we did…we were always wanting to get to the next stage. Little did we know the next stage was full of work and serious responsibility – mortgages are no one’s friend.
Yes, I some how just connected Ina to Nelly. That takes mad skills, people.
Did you know… she was a White House nuclear policy analyst. I don’t know what that entails. It seems pretty major. Therefore, she is not a classically trained chef. She is like us, a home cook with a bit of passion, a love for great ingredients, and a desire to make those around us happy and full. That she took a leap of faith on a gourmet food store and it became crazy successful. That she has since, hosted the famed Food Network Show – Barefoot Contessa, that she has written some 6+ cookbooks, and has been the inspiration for millions when it comes to hosting dinner parties, whipping up simple family dinners, or setting a table fit for a king or your best friends. This all from a whim. And major guts. For reals.
I am also, slightly in love with the fact that she lives in New England (and has an apartment in Paris…but who doesn’t love that?). I am a sucker for New England…the ocean, the homes, the food, the scenery, the accents…you name it – I love it. I sometimes get mad at the entire state of Pennsylvania. Downright angry. For if it wasn’t for the 311 mile wide state of Pennsylvania, lobster rolls and I would be so much closer. Sigh.
I have made many of Ina’s recipes…and not once have I been disappointed. And today is no different. These are a simple dessert, whipped up in a moments notice, and sure to please a crowd. I took these into work as a random Tuesday treat and they were gone before lunch. Well before lunch. Second shift only got crumbs. Not a raspberry fan? Use strawberry jam. Or blueberry.
Dear Ina. Thanks.
- 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Room temperature
- ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2+ ⅓ Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 12 Ounces Jam, Raspberry – use high quality
- ⅔ Cup Granola, I used Bear Naked Granola (maple pecan) – make sure it is free of dried fruit
- ¼ Cup (a good handful) Sliced Almonds
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper (easy removal).
- Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt. With mixer on low, slowly add flour and salt mixture to butter mixture. Mix until the dough starts to form into a ball. It will be crumbly at first, just keep mixing.
- Press ⅔ of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan and about ¼ inch up the sides of the pan.
- Spread the jam over the crust, leaving about a ¼ inch border.
- Mix the granola with the remaining dough. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the jam. Scatter slivered almonds over crumb topping.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 45 – 50 minutes until the top begins to turn golden brown.
- Cool completely before cutting and serving.
slightly adapted from Ina Garten.
Or it might be a tart….
A tart pan was used in the making of this pie. Or tart. Ugh, I don’t know. A tart pan with fluted edges and a removable bottom. Very French. Also, the cheapest thing I have ever purchased from William Sonoma. That store kills me.
For the purpose of this post and my sanity…let’s call it a pie. I am more of a pie gal, anyways.
Pie is very Saturday night family dinner, served by grandmas and eaten with mismatched forks and chipped plates around a crowded kitchen table while your brothers tell off color jokes and the resident 3+1/2 year old counts to 25, skipping the number 15 altogether…every single time.
Tarts are meant for catered wedding and baby showers and fancy brunches… Tarts sound like straight back chairs and uncomfortable couches that weren’t actually meant to sit on and throw pillows that are just to be admired, never ever ever used. Boring…stuffy?
Pies get ice cream.
Tarts…just a dollop of whipped cream.
I prefer ice cream and crowded kitchen tables….
Pie it is.
But I like the look of a tart (I am so torn!) The edges standing so straight and strong…yet so flaky and buttery and fragile. The removable bottom is key to that cherished edge. You wanna know what else is key?… greasing the edges of the pan…like, really greasing the edges…liberally is not to be taken lightly. Because if the tart won’t release from the sides of the pan…that removable bottom is useless and a disaster waiting to happen. Trust me. Butter. It. Up. Or make a pie crust (like the one below) that is so buttery…that there won’t be an issue on the release. Score!
Let’s make a pie. Or a tart…Read More