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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Making refrigerator pickles

Do you know what can be wonderfully tasty? Pickles! Not just any pickles, but ones that you make yourself from in-season local veggies.

After hitting up our local farmer’s market, we came home with gorgeous cauliflower and carrots with the intent to turn them into pickles.

Beautiful multi-colored carrots. They tasted like candy.

First carrots I ever purchased with the tops still attached!

Delicious white, purple, and green cauliflower.

While you can make refrigerator pickles from scratch, I chose to use mixes that I picked up during a trip to Cook Forest, Pennsylvania previously.

Ready to go pickle mixes

We also have a collection of flip top glass jars that are perfect for refrigerator pickles. I filled them up with a combination of carrots and cauliflower and then modified the recipe to make a partial batch. The mix called for a gallon of vegetables, which is way more than I had.

Veggies chopped and ready to pickle.

 

The dill pickle mix has a few more days to marinate, but the bread and butter type mix has already been taste tested and given a seal of approval. I’m sure they won’t last long.

Ready to marinate!

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Making the most delicious banana bread

Have I ever mentioned that I love to eat bananas? To fuel my habit of eating them, I almost always buy more than I can eat before they go bad. Rather than putting them out into the compost where the rats will eat them, I throw them in the freezer once they are over-ripe.

Then every so often, I make them into some of the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted.  I always make two loaves at a time. The best part of that banana bread is the fact that it’s semi-healthy because you use yogurt instead of butter.  To make this delicious bread, I follow a recipe from Craftzine but I go heavy on the bananas, lighter on the nutmeg, and heavy on the cinnamon and ginger. The ginger gives the bread a nice bite.

First, I defrost 8 or more bananas (in case some aren’t good enough to use). I used to peel them while frozen but after a while my fingers were way too cold.

Eww… frozen and now defrosted bananas

All the ingredients ready for mixing:

The finished batter:

And after baking for an hour, the delicious product, so good that we eat some right away:

Vodka infusions!

So it may or may not be a surprise to you that vodka is my favorite alcohol to add to drinks. I love my Bloody Marys, the spicier the better, and my drink is not completed until it’s garnished with home-pickled green beans!

When someone first sent me vodka infusion recipes on Kitchen Konfidence I just knew I had to make the infusions at some point. Now that we’ve skipped spring in Texas and are straight into hot summer weather I decided it was time. I selected the Watermelon Rosemary infusion because I love watermelon. While I don’t really like grapefruit, I had to try the Grapefruit Tarragon infusion because of the drink it was featured in – a Salted Tarragon Greyhound. Not only is it a beautiful looking drink, it’s also a bit salty and it’s named after a dog! Some people even think my mutt is part greyhound (she’s not, she’s too slow). Soon I hope to enjoy the Watermelon Rosemary vodka in the Rosebud recipe as well.  I’ll have to get the ingredients to mix the drinks this weekend.

Anyhow, here was my experience making the infusions.

Slicing up the grapefruit. Such a pretty fruit but such a gross taste to me! Notice the bottle of Tito’s in the background. It’s my favorite vodka AND it’s local. Win!

The first step was to put the fruit in the vodka and let it infuse for four days. Somehow I lost those pictures, but after four days you add the herbs.  Here’s the grapefruit with the tarragon:

And the watermelon with rosemary from my giant rosemary bush in the garden:

Those mixtures sat for two more days and tonight I strained them using a fine mesh strainer. I tried to get a decent amount of the liquid out of the fruit.

The finished product! The grapefruit infusion is on the left and watermelon on the right. Can’t wait for a delicious drink!

Making a breakfast birthday cake

I got to do some more baking recently for a coworkers birthday. This baking was special because the celebration had to be at 9:30 am.  So instead of a dessert cake, I came across this Cinnamon Apple Cake recipe from Cooking Light that is perfect for breakfast! Also, I was amazed by the insane number of outstanding reviews it had, so I knew I just had to try it. An added bonus is the fact that the cake is relatively low in calories.

My husband bought the largest organic Fuji apples I have ever seen so I ended up chopping up just two of them and still had way more than the 3 cups called for. To make apple chopping easy, I used my peeler / slicer / corer contraption from Williams Sonoma, given to me a few years back by my mother-in-law. That thing rocks if you bake with apples often!

So many apples…

Dry ingredients combined:

(P.S. My apple corer contraption is the same red as my Kitchen Aid mixer, another awesome baking gift from my mother-in-law)

Mmmm… apples all cinnamon’d up and ready for use!

Folded into the dough – I noticed this recipe seemed to have more apples than dough, which of course makes it delicious. Also, I used extra apples. I spread some on top too because I had so many. And maybe I ate a few of the chunks.

The cake was baked in my 9” springform pan and that worked out just fine. I think next time I will bake it for a bit longer because I don’t think it was quite cooked all the way. I subtracted the 5 minutes for my larger pan as the recipe suggested but I think that was too many.

It earned rave reviews from my coworkers (and myself). Definitely worth making again.

Trying to replicate fat free ginger cookies

The Whole Foods near us makes these absolutely amazing fat free ginger cookies. The fat free-ness of the cookies is not the draw for me, but rather their wonderful texture – a bit firm around the edges and perfectly chewy on the inside. These cookies are not anything like ginger snaps. In fact, the cookies are so good that when I decide I want one and the store doesn’t have them I get kind of upset. Just ask my husband.

Before Christmas I decided to try to find a recipe for to make these cookies at home. Of course the internet delivered because others apparently have the same fetish for these cookies. They’re that good. Here’s the recipe from David Lebovitz that I used.

I’ve now made these cookies twice. If you read that recipe, I haven’t tried cooking down the applesauce, but I intend to next time. I also have not used the candied ginger. Instead, I just use a bit more ground ginger and cinnamon. I figure you can’t get enough of those delicious spices.

The first time I made them was when we were at my Mom’s house in Ohio for Christmas. They came out pretty well, although they were a bit softer than I wanted them to be after baked.

The second time was just this past weekend. This time, the dough wasn’t as sticky after being mixed up. I think it needed to be stickier. My guess is that the egg whites I used here were smaller than the ones I used at Mom’s (I think they were different sized eggs). Then I refrigerated the dough for more than a day so that probably made it even less sticky.

Once the cookies were done baking, they hadn’t spread out this time like they were supposed to. I had to take a cup and smash them so they were somewhat flat. Despite that, the texture of these cookies was better than my first attempt with the outside being firmer and the inside chewy. Because the cookies didn’t spread they are pretty small looking. Next time I will roll them into larger balls to start. I’ll probably also try adding a third egg white because we use smaller eggs at our house.

The dough after being mixed:

Making the balls and rolling them in sugar and cinnamon:

Ready for the oven:

Out of the oven and squashed by a cup:

And finally, the chewy center: