Leftover bananas + leftover Easter chocolate = delicious

I have a love of bananas. I buy more of them than I can eat and once they are too ripe or almost too ripe I’m faced with what to do with my leftover bananas.

Over the years I’ve come up with strategies for dealing with my banana problem.

  1. Feed them to our dog Molly. She LOVES banana slices. We usually mix it with her dinner but sometimes I just give her extra because I can and she’ll eat it.
  2. Freeze them. I use frozen bananas to make the most wonderful banana bread you’ve ever eaten.
  3. Compost them. To be honest this rarely happens with the first two options around.

Now I have a new strategy to add to my list: chocolate covered frozen banana pops! After realizing I was never going to eat a white chocolate rabbit in the pantry, I decided to put it to good use.

My first step was to slice bananas into about 1.5″ slices and stab them with a small wooden stick. I had left over coffee stirrers from a Starbucks coffee package that worked perfectly. You can also use wooden skewers that you cut into smaller pieces. I put the bananas on parchment paper on a plate and put them in the freezer. A few hours later they were frozen solid.

Next I chopped the chocolate up:

I microwaved the chocolate on 50% power for short intervals (30 / 15 seconds) and stirred it until all the lumps were gone.

I got out the bananas and dipped / rubbed them in the chocolate. I put the bananas back on the parchment paper and into the freezer. Not long after, it was time for me to share the banana pops with my friends!

Very delicious. Not quite as fancy as the delectable chocolate covered frozen bananas made by the food truck Bananarchy, but these are a smaller serving and I don’t have to drive to downtown Austin. Maybe next time I’ll try adding toppings like Bananarchy does. Yum!

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It’s my birthday, I’ll make 4 cakes if I want to

Ok, it was my birthday last month. And then 7 days later, it was my husband’s birthday. To celebrate, we threw a party so that I could bake a cake (or four).

My selections for the evening:

Changes to the recipes:

This year I made the chocolate stout cake with a spiced porter instead of stout. It was in the kegerator after all. I always use store bought chocolate frosting on this cake.

Chai spice cupcakes were delicious and well worth the effort. I made a simple powdered sugar / milk glaze and reused the chai tea bags in the milk to give the glaze a bit of flavor.

This time, I made my honey apple oatmeal cake with store bought applesauce. It’s way better when you make your own applesauce. Or maybe I over cooked it. It was just a bit less moist than usual.

When I had the cinnamon coffee cake made by a friend, it was amazing and I couldn’t stop eating it. Got the recipe and of course didn’t get the same results my first try. The instructions talk about using firm butter in the topping, but really I think you are supposed to melt the butter first. I will have to try again.

Cake display

Chocolate spiced porter cake

A chai spice longhorn cupcake

Honey apple oatmeal cake

 

 

Cinnamon coffee cake... the cinnamon topping is supposed to sink into the cake.

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Making apple crisp, a simple but delicious dessert

I used to make an apple crumb pie for Thanksgiving. It was good, but I don’t really like to mess around with real pie crusts so I always just bought a frozen crust. That was probably the downfall of my pie.

Then one magical day, I discovered the world of making apple crisp. Ok, so someone else actually made it and I was so enamored that I had to have the recipe. She obliged and now it’s one of my favorite fall and winter desserts to make. I’ve changed up the recipe a bit to add more spice of course.

Apple filling:

  • 5 – 6 Medium to large apples – I like to use sweet apples like Gala, Braeburn, Jonagold, Cameo, Fuji, etc.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Cinnamon and ground ginger to taste

Topping:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened / melted
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Cinnamon and ground ginger to taste

Directions:

Chop apples. Peel them if you like, but I like to leave the peels on. Place in a baking dish and toss with water, cinnamon and ginger.

Combine topping ingredients. Stir together by hand until combined. No mixer required.

 

Spread topping on top of apples. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until apples are soft. Hard apple cider in a Christmas glass is optional, but highly recommended for the cook.

It was so good I didn’t even get a picture of it before it was partially eaten.

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Making applesauce… it’s really easy!

This time of year always makes me long for fall in northern Ohio, the land of apple orchards. OK, maybe not THE land of apple orchards, but A land of apple orchards which is more than I can say about central Texas.  I think to myself, surely good, cheap apples will show up in the grocery stores in the fall, but they never really do. That doesn’t keep me from making up a few batches of applesauce though!

I’ve never canned my applesauce, I just make enough to refrigerate and eat in a week or two. Typically I use around 5 – 7 apples, but if you are feeding more people you can use more.

I always start with a sweet variety of apples (often Fuji or Gala because they are easy to find here), mostly because I don’t like tart apples.  If you start with sweet apples, you don’t have to add much sugar at all. And you can snack on bits of them as you’re cutting them up.

After washing my apples, I start with a handy-dandy apple corer / slicer / peeler contraption from Williams Sonoma given to me by my mother-in-law. I love everything about this tool except having to clean it when I’m done. It’s made out of metal and is very solid and it suctions to the countertop. You can choose not to peel the apples if you don’t want to.

Williams Sonoma Apple Corer Peeler Slicer

The most awesome tool for coring and slicing apples.

The apple is loaded onto the corer.

Turn the crank to slice the apple.

And then you're left with the core mounted on the corer and nice round slices of apple to use.

I like my applesauce with the skins in it, but I find if I leave the skins on all of the apples, it’s a little overkill. Instead, I typically leave the skins on about half or a little more than half of the apples and peel the rest. I hand out bits of apple that don’t get used to my dog, she likes apples as much as I do.

Next up is putting the apples in a pot with some water.  For 5 apples, I start with about one cup of water and add more towards the end if needed.  I also add a healthy dose of cinnamon, the best spice ever, and a sprinkling of ginger and brown sugar.

Put the heat on medium, cover and let cook. If it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low.

Partially cooked apples

It takes probably about 30 – 40 minutes to fully cook the apples.  Once they are soft enough, mash them up with a utensil in the pot. I use a wooden spoon or plastic potato masher. Check the consistency and add more water and cook longer if needed.  Taste test and add more spice or sugar. Go light on the sugar though, because not much is needed at all.

The finished product!

Last – eat some warm, refrigerate the rest and enjoy the rest of the week!

Making stuffed berries

I came across a post on Craftster via the Craftzine blog about a super easy no bake summer dessert that I decided to try.  The chocolate chips I got for the raspberries were a tad bigger than normal and sometimes were difficult to get in the berries without splitting them.  With the help of a strawberry huller, the no bake cheesecake filled strawberries turned out great! I plan to take them to a party for others to enjoy 🙂

Baking plantains & peaches

I purchased a plantain because I know that I like them but have never made them at home. I prefer the non-sweet version so I decided to try out baked tostones.  While I had the oven on I decided to whip up some baked peaches since we had some very ripe peaches.

The recipe for tostones all called for green plantains. My plantain wasn’t green but I think it turned out fine anyhow.

I sliced up the plantain into thick slices and tossed with salt and just a drizzle of olive oil.

After spreading them out on a baking sheet that was covered in olive oil spray and baking for about 15 minutes, I flipped and smashed them with the bottom of a cup.  They baked for another 15 – 20 minutes and were done! I enjoyed them but next time I’ll be sure to have some dipping sauce to go along with the tostones.

At the same time, I sliced up some peaches, tossed them with some brown sugar, cinnamon and honey and baked them until soft. Delicious!

Making… Smores pie?

What’s a Smores pie you say? Well, it’s down right delicious of course! The second I saw it in my Vegetarian Times magazine, I knew I had to make it. Memorial Day seemed like the perfect occasion!

Vegetarian times taught me that marshmallow fluff is vegetarian! No gelatin like normal marshmallows (this is good for my vegetarian friends).

My husband consented to allow me to use his Malley’s dark chocolate that was still left from Valentine’s Day. Malley’s is a delicious chocolate company in the Cleveland area.

I had to break it up and put it in a bowl:

Heat soy cream to a simmer:

And then pour the soy cream over the chocolate and whisk in one egg, some vanilla and a pinch of salt:

The chocolate mixture was then poured into a prepared graham cracker crust and baked for 25 minutes. The edges of the pie crust were covered with foil to keep them from getting too brown.

After cooling for an hour it was time to “spread” on the marshmallow fluff.  Well, marshmallow fluff is not the kind of stuff you spread. It’s more like a plop:

Somehow I spread it out enough and then put it under the broiler until it was brown on top:

The finished product was very rich and delicious. Definitely more flavor than a campfire smores!