Really Eating

Banana Bread

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on October 22, 2011

This is my go-to recipe for banana bread. I’ve tried a handful of different recipes, often willing to see if a tweak in this ingredient or the additional of that ingredient will convert me from this one, but alas, I always come back to the original.

It probably also has something to do with the fact that this recipe doesn’t call for any ingredients out of the ordinary–no sour cream, no buttermilk, etc. If anything, when I have a craving for banana bread, I sometimes don’t have the 3-4 over-ripe bananas I need to make it!

I buy a bunch of organic bananas almost every week and sometimes we can’t eat them fast enough to avoid the eventual over-sweet ripening from happening. Both of us like our bananas a little under-ripe (or just-ripe) so once they tip into that starting-to-brown territory, I just set them aside and let them ripen… and ripen… and ripen. If I have 3-4, I’ll make bread right then and there, but if it’s just a lone rang-er, banana, I’ll stick it in the freezer.

I never really understood what to do with frozen bananas, but I had always *knew* in the back of my head that they were re-usable. I finally did a quick Google and found out that:

  • You can definitely use frozen bananas in recipes. Some people even claim that they’re easier to cook with/taste better, maybe because of their mushy consistency.
  • You don’t have to defrost them, but sometimes they’re easier to use when slightly defrosted. I would suggest putting them in a plastic bag or container of some kind to protect the rest of the fridge from banana defrosting slime. You could also just leave them out on the counter for an hour or two (with your eggs and butter).
  • Some people claim that you can snip off the top of the bananas and squeeze out the insides… but I haven’t had any success with this method.
  • I use gloves to peel off the uh, peel, and minus cold fingers, works for me!
Original recipe was from the ever-reliable Simply Recipes, with a few tiny tweaks/additions below.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • Toppings/add-ins: Mini chocolate chips, chocolate chips, walnuts… whatever you have on hand

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub butter wrapper/butter over a 4×8 loaf pan (I like this one).

Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. With a wooden spoon or spatula, mix in the mashed bananas. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. (One bowl recipe, yes!)

*If you’re adding in any extras, fold them into batter gently at the end.

Pour mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool before serving.

Store in an air-tight container to keep the bread from drying out. A quick toast is a great way to re-heat for breakfast or snack.

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Bacon, Onion and Rye Bread Stuffing

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on December 4, 2009

Like most girls, I love carbs. As long as there’s bread, pasta, potatoes or rice in a meal, I’m one happy camper. However, I’ve always been a pretty picky eater, much to my detriment. When I was younger, for some reason stuffing just didn’t appeal to me. It looked like such a weird, mushy combination of vegetables and carbs… so I just opted out and enjoyed mashed potatoes, rolls, and rice instead.

But one night more than ten years ago, that all changed. My Aunt Joy, the cultured fashionista/personal trainer/English professor (seriously), brought stuffing to our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Given her absolutely to-die-for cookies and brownies, I took a few hesitant bites of her stuffing and much to my surprise, I. Fell. In. Love. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was! Honestly, I don’t remember any of the ingredients or seasoning, but I do remember how I couldn’t stop eating it.

Every Thanksgiving after, I’ve longed for her Thanksgiving stuffing. Nothing else really comes close. Tragically, Joy was killed in a car accident only a few months after Thanksgiving and I think of her every year.

Armed with dozens of food blog subscriptions and my (free) subscription to Food & Wine, I realized that maybe I can try making my own stuffing… and maybe one day I’ll get lucky and stumble upon (pun intended) Joy’s stuffing and make her proud.

I did a little bit of research and realized that most stuffings are bread-based… but there are SO many choices! Being a “real” advocate, I knew I had to use real bread and not resort to one of those mixes, as nice as they  may be. (Who wants MSG in their stuffing? *looks around* Yeah, no one.) The only question was… which kind? Cornbread? Italian? Herb? Agh!

Well, you gotta start somewhere. There was a pretty delicious sounding “Bacon, Onion and Rye Bread Stuffing” recipe in the November 2009 issue of Food & Wine so I adapted a little and hoped for the best.

Ingredients

  • Loaf of Semifreddi’s Rye bread, cut into ~1-inch cubes (PS: a better bread knife is totally on my Wish List)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 stalk celery, diced (1/4 inch)
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme (accidentally threw away the thyme from my CSA, boo!)
  • 1/2 pack of thick-sliced bacon, cooked & diced (1/2 inch)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (the butter wrapper’s really handy for this). On a large rimmed baking sheet, toast the rye bread cubes for about 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until lightly golden and dry. Transfer to a large (they really mean large) bowl.

In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery; cook over moderate heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme (I didn’t have sage) and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape into the bowl with the bread.

Wipe the skillet. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon (genius!), transfer the bacon to the bowl with the bread. (Was your bowl big enough?)

In a medium bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the egg. Pour over the bread mixture and add the kosher salt and pepper. Toss until the bread soaks up the liquid. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight.

Bake the stuffing for about 30 minutes, until hot throughout. Remove the foil and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the top is lightly golden. Serve hot or warm.

Yummy! I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of rye bread, but a good experience, nevertheless. Unfortunately, I made the recipe without seeing the “Serves 12” note and have SO MUCH leftover stuffing… next time, will definitely cut everything in half, or maybe into fourths.

Feel free to pass on your favorite stuffing recipes… I’m still on the look out!

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