Baking isn’t a sure thing. I’ve heard it’s a science but since I’m not an exact measurer and English was my best subject, my talents lie more in unpretentious, candid culinary storytelling and sharing goods from my kitchen when they turn out to be delicious.
Enter banana bread. Other than the rare few who don’t like anything baked with brown bananas, people will generally accept the offering of a fat slice of tender chocolate chip banana bread.
If you’re on the baking end, banana bread recipes are typically easy-going and tolerant of even the most novice bakers. But somehow I found a way to bake a deep, doughy sinkhole in my most recent loaf. The problem wasn’t the recipe.
I tried to be too fancy by placing thin slices of bananas down the center of the loaf before sliding it into the oven. Why? Because one of my favorite muffins, banana chocolate chip, from Kowalski’s Markets has a few crunchy bananas baked on top and I wanted it to be like that. But I think the mushy rows of bananas on top wouldn’t really bake—I even turned the broiler on at the end! I finally had to take the bread out of the oven because the top was getting too brown.
I think I tried doing this once with banana chips but I can’t remember how it turned out. Maybe I need to wait until the bread is half or three-quarters baked and then toss banana chips on top. Or perhaps a baker from Kowalski’s Markets will tell me their secret.
To top off my fiasco, I was planning to share the bread with my sisters that day so I needed it to cool down quickly. After the bread cooled for an hour or so, I stuck it in the fridge and next thing I know, there was a cavernous sinkhole down the center. The upside of this story is that this recipe is a keeper (if you don’t add mushy banana slices to the top). It is magnificently tender and chocolatey.
I only slightly adapted the recipe from one of my go-to recipe and entertaining blogs Reluctant Entertainer. My additions to Sandy’s Sour Cream Banana Bread include a cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, and using white and brown sugar.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup mashed overripe (brown or spotted) bananas, about 3 bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Heat oven to 350° and grease a 9-inch loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy (about 4 minutes).
- Beat in eggs.
- Stir in bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat on medium-low until incorporated.
- In a separate medium bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, cardamom, soda, and salt.
- Gradually and slowly beat in the flour mixture in three batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each, but be gentle—overbeating the batter will create a tough banana bread. It’s fine to see some flecks of flour still.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean (or with only melted chocolate).
- Cool 15 minutes then remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Store at room temperature in airtight container up to four days.
Sweet, sinking wishes,
Posted in Baking, Bread, Breakfast & Brunch, Kitchen Stories, Muffins | Tagged Banana, chocolate chips, comfort food, loaf pan, sour cream | Leave a Comment »
Like speed limits, recipes are merely suggestions for when normal conditions exist. But who defines normal conditions? Maybe you never have a box of Chex cereal (or three) in your cupboard when you have the hankering to make traditional Chex™ Muddy Buddies™ so you have to think outside the box. Why not make puppy chow, also known as people chow, with the traditional peanut butter, chocolate chips, and powdered sugar but use your favorite cereals?
In my most recent batch, I folded in Golden Grahams, Corn Pops, and Corn Chex cereals for an even tastier version of puppy chow. I planned to toss in chow mein noodles but I forgot to add them. Did you know that if you store puppy chow in an airtight container in the refrigerator it stays crunchy longer?
You might also like Corn Pops Clusters.
If you have a box of Golden Grahams cereal, reserve four cups to make what will become a fight-over-the-last-piece family favorite: Marshmallow Creme Crunchy Graham Brownies.
Of course there’s always a special version of Chex Mix Like You Mean It.
Hodgepodge Puppy Chow with Corn Pops, Golden Grahams, Chex, and Chow Mein Noodles
9 cups of a combination of your favorite cereals and maybe chow mein noodles
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups powdered sugar
- Put all the cereal in a large bowl.
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter together. Stir until melted and creamy. Remove from heat.
- Stir in vanilla.
- Pour chocolate mixture over cereal and toss until all the cereal is drenched in chocolate.
- Using a 2 or 2.5 gallon plastic zipper bag, dump in 1/2 cup powdered sugar, chocolate coated cereal, and top with remaining 1 cup powdered sugar. Seal bag and shake it like a Boggle game until everything is coated with powdered sugar (everything in the bag, not your kitchen).
- Spread the cereal mixture onto a sheet of wax paper until cooled.
- Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.
May your recipes feel like suggestions,
Posted in Baking, Candy & Other Sweets, Holiday, Kid Approved | Tagged baking, cereal, chocolate, chocolate chips, comfort food, marshmallow, no-bake, peanut butter, sweets | Leave a Comment »
She doesn’t like potatoes but Country Grandma is the queen of stirring up delicious gravy, and pretty much any other down-home Midwest comfort food served at a farmer’s table. When it came time to make gravy this Christmas, I had an abundant amount of reserved ham cooking juices but I didn’t have a recipe or a plan for making the gravy. Should I use flour or cornstarch? Broth or milk? My sister Heidi suggested I ask Country Grandma, the queen of gravy, to show me how she makes hers.
Thankfully she obliged by stepping into the kitchen and showing us how to make ham gravy with milk and cornstarch. She eyeballed it so I’m hoping the mental notes I’m posting will be enough for me to remember how to make it next time.
Also known as Ma T, Country Grandma (Judy Thomssen) is grandma to my nephews—the T Boys. Before Grandpa Ron died, they farmed near Lake Benton and raised a son, Will, who is married to my sister Heidi. (Yes, that makes Judy Heidi’s mother-in-law and we love her company!) When the T Boys were little, Ron and Judy lived in the country and my mom lived in town so they nicknamed Judy Country Grandma. Can you imagine a farmer’s wife not liking potatoes? But my sister was right—Country Grandma is the queen of gravy and she is welcome in my kitchen anytime. I want her to come back and show me how to make her beloved meatballs, and the hamballs I just heard about.
The T Boys in 1998 (Trav, Garritt, Cody)
Country Grandma’s ham gravy recipe – the eyeball method
Grab what you need:
equal parts whole milk and water
cornstarch (liquified to a paste with ice water so you don’t get cornstarch floaters in your gravy)
ham cooking juice to taste
Make the gravy:
In a large pot over medium-high heat, whisk milk and water to boiling. Pour in cornstarch and stir constantly until thickened. Add ham cooking juice to taste, starting with a smaller amount and adding from there. (It’s easy to add more but you can’t take it out if you add too much.)
Serve over mashed potatoes. Store leftovers in refrigerator and serve hot over fried leftover mashed potatoes or toast.
Salty swine wishes,
Posted in Meals, Potatoes & Vegetables, Side dish | Tagged Christmas, Easter, gravy, ham, leftovers, mashed potatoes, Thanksgiving | Leave a Comment »