Showing posts with label bananas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bananas. Show all posts

Monday, June 2, 2014

Banana Blueberry Muffins for #MuffinMonday


I’m always on the lookout for ways to use the last two bananas in a bunch that have turned brown and are therefore disdained by my family. Banana muffins answer this need beautifully. Add another fruit, like blueberries to jazz them up a bit.

Yesterday was my mother’s 76th birthday. Of course, we celebrated with food. It was Mexican for lunch at a new (to us) restaurant she discovered hidden away in a neighborhood not far from my house in Houston. It is appropriately called La Hacienda Escondida and is part of a family group of Houston restaurants, all called La Hacienda but ours is the only one that is escondida or hidden in a residential neighborhood.

For dinner, we prepared one of my mom’s favorite meals. Smothered pork chops, creamed potatoes, sweet potatoes and fancy salad with tres leches cake to finish. I brought these muffins with me and left them for my brother-in-law and nephews who would not eat a brown banana to save a dying puppy but have a devoted love of banana bread. The boys are in their final week of school and suffering through final exams so I figured they deserved a treat. Also, now no one has to make them breakfast. I got to use my old bananas. Win-win-win!

Ingredients
2 cups or 250g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup or 80ml canola or other light oil
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
2 ripe bananas
6 oz or 170g fresh blueberries

Optional for decorating: pearl sugar

Method
Preheat your oven to 350F° or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing or lining with paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl mix together your flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.



In a smaller bowl, add your milk, canola, vanilla and eggs, along with the two ripe bananas. Mash the bananas with a fork and then whisk all the ingredients together with that fork.



Set aside 12 blueberries for the tops of the muffins.

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and stir until just combined. There should still be flour showing.



Now fold in the big pile of blueberries.



Evenly distribute the batter among the muffin cups.



Top with one reserved blueberry each.  Sprinkle with a little pearl sugar– optional, but look how pretty!


Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Remove the muffins from the muffin pan and finish cooling on a rack.



Enjoy! How do you use up old bananas? Please leave me a link in the comments to your favorite recipes. Thanks!





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Monday, February 24, 2014

Banana Sour Cream Muffins for #MuffinMonday

The secret to these muffins is the sour cream. It makes them so rich and moist I will double dog dare you to eat just one. Can’t be done.

Since I’m still in Uganda, once again, I’ve chosen an ingredient that is produced here in abundance, bananas. We’ve been eating them every day and the farm where we are staying grows several types, including ones called Matoki that the Ugandans serve cooked and mashed. They taste remarkably like potatoes.  For these muffins, use normal sweet bananas.

I’ll add a little bit about my first day at Masooli School and some photos after the recipe so for anyone who is interested, scroll on down.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
1/2 cup or 100g cup brown sugar
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup or 120ml canola or other light oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup over-ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 medium bananas or 175g when peeled)
3/4 cup or 185g sour cream
1 large egg

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin tin by spraying with non-stick spray or lining with muffin papers.

Combine your flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl.



In another smaller bowl, whisk together your bananas, egg, oil, sour cream and vanilla.


Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stop when it’s still quite dry looking. 



Divide your batter between the 12 muffin cups.


Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pans and then remove to continue cooling on a wire rack.





Enjoy!



The first day at school got off to a late start when the battery on our rented van was dead and the engine refused to turn over. The plan had been to start our “specials” of art, sewing, technology and puzzles at 8:30 and get through four half-hour sessions before recess at 10:30. Then we’d keep going for another four sessions before the 1 p.m. lunch hour. And yet another four 30-minute sessions between 2 and 4 p.m. Well, that didn’t happen. But between day one and day two, we did manage to see all of the P4, P5, P6 and P7 children, teaching in all more than 200 children.

My sewing project was for each of them to make a small drawstring bag, tied with ribbon. So far, they have all started their bags and I am hoping they will finish them in one more 30-minute session each. I will also be working with the lower grades, stringing beads and playing with punch cards and shoestring for “stitching” practice.

Here’s an amazing thing: At the instigation of my teacher friend, MJ (the one who sucked me into this! If you didn't watch her video interview that I embedded last week, have a look here.) last school year was the first time that Masooli School had a Kindergarten class so, before that, they all arrived in P1 at the age of six with no knowledge of the alphabet or counting and, frankly, no experience in the how to behave in school or listen to the teacher. This year the P1 teacher is having a joyous time! Her students already know about half of the year’s curriculum and they all know how to sit and learn and listen and interact.

Which brings me to another change that has come about in this school the last two years. The children are gradually learning to interact, to question, to discuss, to collaborate. The old educating-by-rote method, that is sheer memorization, is slowing dying out as the teachers learn to teach in a new more dynamic, interactive style. Which is a pretty amazing breakthrough. I know that is a very western idea so it will take a while to overcome the innate shyness of these students but we are already seeing the blossoming of calculative thought and reasoning.

The kindergarten students

Putting on their new shoes to make a "short call," the Uganda term for a trip to the toilet to pee pee.

Masooli School yard


Enjoying the donated laptops

Crowding around an iTouch

Art lab



Their favorite thing:  Selfies! 
Then they all want to see!


The lunch line at 1 p.m. - serving a hot lunch to more than 250 students.
About 120 little ones who go home before lunch get porridge mid-morning.
Sharing her juice drink in a bag with her friends.


Some of my students with their bags.  They were so proud to have sewn them!

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Banana Sweet Bread


With a great sweet dough recipe, variations are endless.  You can make raisin bread or cinnamon rolls or even hot cross buns.  All home bakers should have at least one great sweet dough recipe in their repertoire. The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook is a good place to start. 

Bread is magic and every country has its own way of conjuring yeast and flour and water into nourishment that not only sustains life but also gives many a reason to continue living.  (Thinking of my friend, Carol, here who would probably choose bread if she were only allowed to eat one thing for the rest of her life.)  From the roti canai of Malaysia and the baguette of France to the pão de queijo of Brazil and the aish baladi of Egypt, we have taken bread to heart as we learn to love the places we have called home.  Bread is comfort, from the therapeutic act of kneading the dough and the deep yeasty smell as it rises in a warm place, to the heady aroma while it bakes, drawing the family near.  I guarantee, you’ll never have so many friends as when fresh bread comes out of your oven.

This recipe is adapted from my old standby, Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, 1980 edition. 

Ingredients
For the bread dough:
1/3 cup or 75g sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (1/4oz or 7g) I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise.
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2-3 cups or 315-375g flour
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
1/3 cup or 75g butter
1 egg
1 medium banana

For the filling:
2 medium bananas
3 tablespoons or 45g butter
Good pinch salt
1/4-1/2 cup or 50-100g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method
Put your sugar, yeast, salt and half a cup of flour in the bowl of your stand mixer or other bowl if you are going to use hand beaters.

Put the milk and butter in a microwaveable container and heat until it reaches between 120 and 130°F or 49-54 °C.  If you don’t have a thermometer handy, this would feel quite hot to the touch (I mean, put a finger in it.) but you would be able to keep your finger in it comfortably.  The butter doesn’t need to completely melt.

Pour the warm milk mixture into the mixing bowl and beat until combined.


Add in one banana and one egg.   Beat well.


Add one cup of flour and beat well.


Add more flour, a half a cup at a time until you have a soft dough and it’s too stiff to beat in the mixer anymore.   Use a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula to mix in the last of the flour.



Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface.  Knead well for about five minutes.


Wash your mixing bowl out and spray the inside with a little non-stick spray or rub with butter.

Form a ball out of your dough and pop it back in the bowl to rest and rise.  Ideally, you want it to double in size.  This can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour, depending on your yeast.


Cover with a cloth and if your room is colder than 80-85 °F or °C, put the stopper in your sink and fill it part way up with hot tap water.  Set the bowl in the sink.



While the dough is rising, grease your bread pan and make the filling.

Melt the butter in a medium sized non-stick skillet and slice the two bananas into the pan.  Throw in the pinch of salt.

The butter will start to bubble up and the bananas will caramelize a little.

They are done when the milk liquids have evaporated and only the oily part of the butter is left.  Set it aside to cool.



When your dough has risen sufficiently, punch it down.  Spread it or roll it out into a rectangle (about 12x18in or 30x45cm) on top of a large sheet of cling film on a clean counter top.




Distribute the bananas and butter evenly over the rectangle of dough.

Sprinkle with the light brown sugar.  As the dough is already sweet, I used about a 1/4 cup of sugar but if your family loves things sweet, feel free to use more.  Sprinkle on the teaspoon of cinnamon.



Start rolling the dough up on the short side until you have a neat tube.  Fold the sides of the roll under.





Place the dough seam side down in your greased bread pan.  Sprinkle with a little flour and, use a sharp knife or lame´ to cut some slits in the top of the dough.  Set in a warm place - this could be the kitchen sink with hot water again, if necessary - and allow to rise until doubled.


When it’s getting close, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Almost flowing over the sides of the pan! 

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped.  Turn it out on a wire rack to cool a little before cutting.  This stuff is great just as it is but it is even better when slathered with some butter.



For breakfast the next day, assuming there is any left, toast it and apply butter liberally.  Delicious!



Enjoy!


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