Posts Tagged 'banana'

Banana Spice Muffins

have been really hungry lately. Maybe it’s the cold, grey weather that’s been hanging around for a few days, occasionally dropping what the weather folks call a “wintery mix”. Or maybe it’s because I am working over the holidays, albeit from home. Work from home wearing sweats, while an improvement over getting dressed up to go to the office, is still work.

At any rate, I decided I need to get back into my habit of baking a dozen muffins every week to stave off the times when I feel the need to eat something satisfyingly sweet and filling. Baking also warms up the chilly kitchen. The scent of aging bananas was perfuming the kitchen, so I decided to make a variation on my standard banana bread in muffin format.  By the way, when you use bananas for bread or muffins, they should be very ripe – mine were actually black, The riper the banana, the sweeter they make the batter.

Banana Spice Muffins

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup egg substitute
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup raisins or currants (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F and place rack in center of oven. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Put the bananas into the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat them until they are well mashed. Beat in the egg substitute. Beat in the sugar.  Add the flour mixture about 1/4 cup at a time, until it is incorporated into the banana mixture.  Beat in the yogurt. Stir in the raisins if using. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.   Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and cool on a rack. Eat warm – like I just did –  or cold.  Makes 12 muffins. There is less than a gram of fat per muffin.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread

Still cold. Makes me feel like baking. Turn on the oven and the kitchen becomes warm and cozy. Since my family room is part of the kitchen, I have a toasty place to read and catch up on household tasks at the kitchen table. I’ve already baked 2 loaves of my regular no fat banana bread, one of which is sliced and in the freezer to take for lunches. I still had bananas, so I decided to make a banana bread that I made quite a few years ago.

Back then, the non-profit organization that I manage was just starting out, and we wanted to have a press conference to announce some accomplishment – I don’t remember the details.  Knowing that  mostly junior reporters get sent out to cover low-level community events, we decided to lure the press with home made baked goods. We were then small and new, and we invited everyone we knew for goodies so the press would see a little crowd. We did get some television coverage, which thrilled us.  This was one of the home baked goodies I made.

The original recipe came from Cooking Light. It is not as dense and moist as my regular banana bread, and it seems much sweeter to me, almost like cake.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesaucw
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup  semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (see note) with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, egg substitute, applesauce and yogurt. Beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.

Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup of the batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into prepared pan. (I did 3 layers of plain batter and 2 of chocolate.) Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.  This makes 12 servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.

marble banan

NOTE: This recipe called for an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, which I used.  I wasn’t totally satisfied with the way it baked – a little too dark around the edges.  I think the last time I made it I used a regular 9 inch loaf pan, and it might work better in that pan.  Also, the original recipe said 16 slices, which in the smaller loaf pan was really not realistic.  A slice would be only /2 inch thick.

HINT: Many recipes call for softened butter.  I don’t use much butter, so I keep my butter in the freezer.  When I need softened butter, I really do not want to defrost an entire stick to cut off a piece and and then refreeze it.  But trying to hack off two tablespoons from a hard frozen stick of butter really isn’t feasible. So I cut thin slices off the stick of butter until I have the proper amount. The thin pieces soften quicker than a whole chunk, too.

Stuffed French Toast

When I last visited Baltimore, my daughter and I went out for Sunday brunch at Gertrude’s.  Gertrude’s is at the Baltimore Museum of Art. They have a Sunday Jazz Brunch of the sit down and be served something elegant kind. So I sat down and was served stuffed French toast with a cinnamon apple topping.  It was divine. It was huge (I only ate half). It was definitely not low fat.  When I got home, the memory of the brunch haunted me.  How hard could stuffed French toast be to make?  And lowering the fat was going to be easy – just use non-fat cream cheese and egg substitute.

So I researched recipes, and found that there are two schools of thought about stuffed French toast. All of recipes called for soaking the stuffed French toasts for at least an hour; some of them called for letting it soak overnight in the refrigerator, which would be handy if you were having people over for brunch the next day.  Some cooks recommended cooking the French toast on the stove top, others called for baking the whole thing in the oven – again, this would be handy for brunch for a crowd.

I opted for the stove top method and set off on a stuffed French toast spree.  I actually ate them for dinner most of the time, instead of breakfast, since I am not much of a big breakfast eater (except for the occasional Sunday brunch).  The instructions for all the stuffed French toast variations themselves are identical, so I just listed the ingredient variations, and instructions for the different toppings. They were divine. They were huge. They were definitely low fat.

Honey French Toast with Cinnamon Apple Topping

4 1½ inch thick slices of French Bread
1 8 ounce block of fat free cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons honey
1 cup egg substitute
½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup fat-free half and half (or all non-fat milk)
2 teaspoons butter, divided

Cinnamon Apple Topping
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced thinly
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Process the cream cheese and honey in a food processor until very well blended. Cut a pocket in each slice of French bread by slicing it almost all the way through. (Alternatively, you can use two slightly thinner slices of French bread – 8 slices total for the recipe – if you don’t want to mess with pockets.) Spread ¼ of the cream cheese mixture in each bread pocket (or between the slices of bread). Whisk together the egg substitute, fat-free milk, and fat free half and half.  Place the stuffed French toasts in a flat glass (or non-metal) pan. Pour the egg mixture over the French Toasts, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, turning once while it is soaking. The egg mixture should be almost all absorbed.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Place one teaspoon of butter in pan and swirl around so the pan is coated.  Place the French toasts in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until golden. Remove the French Toasts from the pan, add the second teaspoon of butter, swirling to coat the pan.  Return the French toasts to the pan to cook the second side. Remove from pan and top with whichever topping you are making.

To make the cinnamon apple topping (I usually make my topping while the French toast is soaking in the refrigerator) place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until apples are soft, stirring occasionally.

Makes 4 servings with about 3 grams of fat/serving.  The fat gram count is the same for all the variations.

stuffed french appleHoney French Toast with Cinnamon Apple Topping

Banana-Rum Stuffed French Toast with Rum Raisin Topping

4 1½ inch thick slices of French Bread
1 8 ounce block of fat free cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons honey
I large mashed ripe banana
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 cup egg substitute
½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup fat-free half and half (or all non-fat milk)
2 teaspoons butter, divided

Rum Raisin Topping
½ cup raisins
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup dark rum
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon cold water
2 Tablespoons fat free half and half

Make stuffed French toast as described above, adding the banana and rum when processing the cream cheese filing.

To make the rum raisin topping, place the raisins, brown sugar, water, and rum in a medium saucepan and cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.  Mix the cornstarch with cold water, and add to the rum raisin mixture. Cook stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly.  Remove pan from heat and stir in fat free half and half.  (Confession: when I was experimenting with this, I added the half and half before the cornstarch, and let it cook.  It curdled unattractively. The cornstarch helped a bit, but, although it tasted great, as you can see below, it was less than elegant.  So add the fat free half and half last, after you remove it from the heat.)

Variation: You could leave the raisins out and just make rum topping.

stufed french banana Banana-Rum Stuffed French Toast with Rum Raisin Topping


Honey Ginger Stuffed French Toast with Ginger Apricot Topping

4 1½ inch thick slices of French Bread
1 8 ounce block of fat free cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground dried ginger
1 cup egg substitute
½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup fat-free half and half (or all non-fat milk)
2 teaspoons butter, divided

Ginger Apricot Topping
10 ripe apricots, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup of apricot jam
¼ cup of water
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground dried ginger

Make stuffed French toast as described above, adding the ginger when processing the cream cheese filing. I added a teaspoon or so of ginger preserves that I happened to have in the refrigerator on top of the cream cheese filling, but if you don’t have it, it isn’t necessary

To make the ginger apricot topping, place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until apricots are soft, stirring occasionally.  I actually wasn’t sure I would like this, because the ginger seemed a little bitter, but the ginger actually gave the French toast and the topping a subtle warmth.

stuffed french apricot Honey Ginger Stuffed French Toast with Ginger Apricot Topping

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

I just got back from a week’s trip to the Washington DC area.  It was unseasonably cold and snowy. It has been my experience that snow and cold other than at Christmas, are always described as “unseasonable”.  I did not have winter clothes with me, as when I left Spokane the weather in DC was supposed to be in the 50’s – which it was for a day. So I went from one appointment to the next, freezing.  When I flew home, I got in at midnight, and my car, which was parked at the airport, had a dead battery. Yes, it was my fault – a light got left on. And did I mention that it was freezing in Spokane and I still didn’t have a winter coat on?  When I woke up the next morning it was snowing heavily – unseasonable no doubt.  And it dropped to 7 degrees.  But at least I was re-united with my parka.

So I am in the need for some serious comfort food.  I was really glad to have all that soup and pot roast in the freezer to eat until I could get to the grocery.

These muffins are true comfort food.  They are muffins, which, as I have said before, are a comfort food by their very name.  And chocolate! What else says comfort like chocolate, especially when combined with that other comfort food, banana. This was a recipe for bread, and the muffins are somewhat bread-like rather than very sweet.  The original recipe (which I’m not sure where originated) had banana chips in it, which are rather high in fat – 15 grams for a half cup.  I also thought the idea of banana chips in muffins was really unappealing.  The original bread was quite high in fat, although there was no added oil since the prunes and banana took the place of fat.  The bread was almost 8 grams of fat for a 1/20 of the loaf slice.  So who is going to accurately measure 1/20 of a loaf – and how will that be enough to snack on?  So we have muffins, the pre-measured snack delight.  I also reduced the fat by halving the amount of chocolate chips and walnuts.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

12 ounces pitted prunes
¾ cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup egg substitute
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.

Bring prunes and 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until prunes are very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain. (By the way, the simmering liquid that is left is quite tasty, so don’t waste it.  Put it in yogurt, or drink it, or something.)

In a food processor, process prunes and banana until very smooth. Add egg substitute and process until combined.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Stir in the banana mixture until evenly moistened, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the dry ingredients.  Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out dry.  This makes 12 large tasty muffins at about 4 grams of fat/muffin.

Variation: You can also use ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour and ½ cup all purpose flour, or entirely (1 cup) of all purpose flour.

Comment: I was so anxious for my comfort food that I bought the ripest bananas I could find at the grocery and used them –they were still mostly yellow.  The muffins would be sweeter if you used really ripe, soft bananas.  But I couldn’t wait for ripening.  I want my muffins NOW!

food-choc-muffins

Carribean Banana Cookies

Finally. All of the bananas are gone!  I feel like I never want to see a banana again.  I don’t even want to have them one my breakfast cereal.  This cookie is moist and chewy – but it is almost too sweet for my taste.  It is also an interesting cookie recipe because it doesn’t have oil or eggs.  I think that the mayonnaise (in a cookie!) takes their place.

Caribbean Banana Cookies

2/3 cups brown sugar
½ cup ripe mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
½ cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon rum
¾ cup all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup flaked or shredded sweetened coconut
½ cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash of ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350. Line a large cookie tray (pr two trays) with parchment paper (HINT: if you want the parchment paper to lie flat on your pan, spray the pan lightly with cooking spray before you lay the paper down).

Place brown sugar, mashed banana, mayonnaise and rum into the bowl of a mixer and beat at medium speed until well blended. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and level with a knife. Combine flour and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheet making 20 cookies. Bake at 350 for 20-23 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.  This makes 20 cookies with about 2 grams of fat/cookie.

carribean-banana-cookies

Variation: The original recipe for these cookies had ½ cup of chopped walnuts, added at the same time as the raisins.  But that just seemed like one too many ingredients, and since I was thinking of these as tropical, it didn’t go with the theme.  You can add them, but the cookies would then have 3.7 grams of fat/cookie.

Confession:
I was making these cookies at 2 a.m., and I accidentally put a tablespoon of rum in instead of a teaspoon.  It was promptly absorbed into the brown sugar.  I frantically scooped out most of the soaked brown sugar and added dry brown sugar back in. They still tasted a little to rummy – sort of like soaked fruitcake.

Family confession:  Late night cooking is a family tradition.  Allegedly, my father hated the smell of baking, so my mother would bake late at night after he had gone to bed.  In truth, I think when we were teenagers it gave her an excuse to stay up until we came home from our night-time escapades. Whenever we asked her why she was up so late, she would say she was chopping nuts.  I still miss her.

Banana Pecan Biscotti

Banana and biscotti are two words that just don’t seem to go together to me.  Banana things are soft and moist; biscotti are hard and crunchy, ready for dipping in coffee or tea.  But in my banana overload desperation, I was looking for something other than bread and muffins.  These biscotti are quite good, crispy on the outside and not too sweet.  The original recipe came from Cooking Light magazine.

Banana Pecan Biscotti

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mashed very ripe banana (I used 1 banana)
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and level.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, combine mashed banana, oil, vanilla, and egg.  Add flour mixture and pecans to banana mixture, stirring in thoroughly.  The dough will be sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in half and, with floured hands, shape each half into an 8 inch long roll.  Place rolls on a baking sheet covered with cooking spray and flatten each one to ½ inch thickness.

biscotti-logs

Bake at 350 for 23 minutes (they will start to brown slightly).  Remove rolls from baking sheet and cool them on a rack for 10 minutes.  Cut each roll on a slight diagonal into 12 pieces.  They should be about ½ inch wide.  Place slices cut side down (on their sides) on the baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 250.  Bake the slices at 250 for 15 minutes.  Turn cookies over and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven.  Cookies will be slightly soft, but they will harden as they cool.  Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on racks.  This makes 24 biscotti, with 2 grams of fat/cookie.

banana-biscotti-close

Banana Rum Walnut Muffins

I am awash in bananas.  The reason for this plethora of bananas is that while I am convalescing, I have been ordering groceries to be delivered to my home.  Now when you buy bananas in the grocery, you probably pick a bunch of 5-6 bananas, enough for your current needs.  You don’t think about the bananas’ weight.  On the order form, the bananas are ordered by the pound, so I blithely ordered 5 pounds (believe me, a banana does NOT weigh a pound).  This resulted in a very large number of bananas, which are rapidly becoming very, very ripe.   So, in addition to a loaf of my traditional banana bread, I made these muffins.  It’s the banana bread recipe with the addition of rum and walnuts, and is a nice variation for a late in the day snack.

There are still bananas left, so more banana recipes will follow –  a nice respite from the traditional pumpkin bread and turkey recipes that you usually see at Thanksgiving.

Banana Rum Walnut Muffins

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup egg substitute
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons of rum
½ cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F and place rack in center of oven. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Put the bananas into the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat them until they are well mashed. Beat in the egg substitute. Beat in the sugar.  Add the flour mixture about 1/4 cup at a time, until it is incorporated into the banana mixture.  Beat in the rum, and fold in the walnuts so they are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a rack.  Makes 12 muffins, with about 2.5 grams of fat/muffin.

banana-rum-muffins1


ABOUT KAREN

I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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