Crummy Weather & Rotten Bananas

Stuck at home on a rainy morning with nothing to do and a bunch of very rotten bananas sitting on the counter, we decided to pass the time by making banana bread.  Somehow whenever we are stuck at home, Ria and I end up working on trying a fun recipe together.  Then off she goes to her afternoon preschool and “shows off” to her friends and teachers about what she cooked in the morning.  “Teacher Nancy, I just made the BEST banana bread,” she says as she is getting out of the car.

Banana bread is one of those classic things almost everyone can bake and a fun project with the little ones.  Get them busy with the peeling and mashing of the bananas, measuring, mixing and adding their own creative little touches.  In Ria’s case the “creative” addition was chocolate chips.  We love our banana bread slathered with nutella (yes, we are a little bit crazy around here) and made into a sandwich with tiny scoops of vanilla ice-cream.  Great treat for picnics and school lunches.

Banana Walnut Bread – from Food Network Kitchens

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for preparing the pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled, and mashed with a fork (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (a Ria-addition)

Directions

  1. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl, set aside.
  2. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a liquid measuring cup with a spout, set aside. Lightly brush a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. With an electric hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually pour the egg mixture into the butter while mixing until incorporated. Add the mashed bananas
  4. With a rubber spatula, mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Turn the bread out of the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

Anything Puffs

I cannot make pastry.  I almost have pastry phobia.  Thank goodness for pre-made dough which can be bought almost anywhere.  It is not the healthiest of options but sometimes for convenience and yumminess, it’s very OK to indulge and take the easy way out.

This recipe replicates the kind of puffs we ate in India as children.  The dough is filled with a rich chicken/spinach sauce, all rolled in store-bought crescent dough and baked to form delicious puffs of perfect comfort food. Cream cheese is a wonderful addition to add some creaminess to the filling and it contrasts amazingly well with the light pastry.  Great for a light supper, brunch, lunch, snack or school packed lunch.  Serve with a side salad and nice glass of wine (for grown-ups).  These are a big hit with my little kidlet and I am considering pre-making, freezing in individual baggies and baking off for an easy meal or school lunch.

Basically, these are a great vehicle for virtually anything or any kind of leftovers.  Let your imagination run wild and if you have a combination that you think will taste good, let us know.  Recipe scales easily and you will eat more than you think you can eat.

Anything Puffs inspired by the Chicken Puffs from Recipe4Living

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chicken (good use of leftover store bought rotisserie chicken)/2 cups sauteed chopped frozen or baby spinach  (I added peas and mushrooms as well on my second attempt)
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • pinch chilli powder (optional)
  • 1/2 8-oz. package cream cheese
  • 1 10-oz. can refrigerated crescent roll dough (you can use the regular size or the bigger crescents depending on if you want mini or larger puffs)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Note: You might have leftover filling depending on how much you fill each puff.  The leftovers work great on their own or in grilled cheese sandwiches

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil till onion is tender and slightly browned.
  3. Add cumin, chilli powder (if using) and salt and pepper.  After a minute or two, add cooked chicken or spinach or anything else you are using as a filling and fry for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer mixture to a bowl and allow to cool for 8-10 minutes and then add cream cheese to incorporate.
  5. Unroll crescent dough and divide to create triangles.  Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in each triangle.  (Amount of filing depends on “size” of dough you are using).  Fold sides over to create a free form pinwheel.  Mine look different each time.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.