Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More Bananas...

Still have lots of bananas left... time to figure out what to do with them!  These muffins were delicious.  My only problem is that I needed a bigger muffin pan...

1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 small to medium ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
Grease a 12 count muffin pan or line it with baking cups (if your muffin pan is shallow, baking cups are a good idea) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl beat together the bananas, sugar and egg, then add the melted butter.  Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir just until moistened.  Spoon the batter into the muffin pan.
Mix the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon together for the topping.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal.  Sprinkle the topping over the muffins.  The butter will caramelize in the oven...YUMMY!
Bake for 18-20 minutes.  The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Going Bananas

Quite awhile ago, I saw a really fabulous idea online for a snack using bananas.  They seemed healthy and yummy and I knew I would love them.  I have been waiting and waiting for bananas to get really cheap so I could go buy a "bunch" (haha) and try it.  So when Winco put them on sale for 18 cents a pound I knew my time had come!  I headed to Walmart and price matched them...and I ended up with 27 pounds of bananas.  Here's the picture to prove it:

Now it's time to use these bananas up before they all go yucky.  One important thing to know about bananas (and the reason I will probably go get more before the sale ends) is that you can mash them and freeze them and they are GREAT for adding to recipes like banana bread and muffins.  Yes, they turn dark brown...but if you're putting them in something you will never even know.  I will be mashing these in batches of 3 and 6 (based on the recipes I will use them in) and freezing them.  But, before I do that I'm going to enjoy as many as I can right now!
As for the great idea I wanted to try... they turned out great and I highly recommend them.  While they would have been fun to have during the summer, when you're waiting for bananas to go on sale, you take them when you can get them...


While I love bananas dipped in chocolate, these seemed like a more healthy alternative.  There is no real recipe, so just have fun and experiment!

First, you want to use bananas that aren't overripe at all.  The ones I peeled were almost a titch green.  Peel them, cut them in half and stick a craft stick into each half.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the bananas out so they aren't touching each other and place the pan in the freezer for a few hours (until they're completely frozen.)

While the bananas are freezing, decide on some toppings you would like.  I crushed up a bunch of different things including peanuts, graham crackers, white chocolate chips, and toffee bar.  You could use just about anything.  Crush or chop the toppings as fine as you can and put them in pie plates or shallow bowls.  (You may be tempted to not use toppings, but the toppings help hold the pudding in place so they are a good idea.) You will need more toppings than you think--they went fast and so did the pudding!  Some other toppings I thought about using were Oreo cookies, mini Reese's pieces, mini chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or vanilla wafers.  Some crunched up cereal might be good, too.

Make your pudding according to directions on the package less 1/4 cup of milk (for the pudding directions).  I used devil's food for one batch, chocolate fudge for one batch, and chocolate mint chip for the last batch.  One of my boxes of pudding was not Jell-o brand, and it didn't work out as well (the pudding went lumpy and it wasn't sweet enough) so I would probably stick with Jell-o brand next time. Beat the pudding with a whisk until it starts to set up, then you need to start dipping bananas before it completely thickens up.

Put the banana down in the pudding and spoon pudding until the banana is covered.  Then dip the banana in your topping.  DO NOT ROLL THE BANANA or you will just scrape all the pudding off into your topping.  Dip it, then turn it and dip it again and so on until the banana is covered.  The bananas I dipped in the chocolate mint chip didn't get a topping because I had run out (and there were chunks of mint chips in the pudding anyway). I let that pudding set up a little more before dipping them and they seemed to cover and freeze well.

Place the dipped bananas back on the baking sheet and when the pan is full put it back in the freezer.  When the bananas are completely frozen, cover them in plastic wrap (or plain sandwich baggies would work good too) and they can all be tossed in a freezer bag.
For the record, the white chocolate ones are my favorite, but the graham cracker ones run a close second.  The salt of the peanuts was a little much so I will probably use unsalted nuts next time. These were really yummy and make GOOD after school treats!  I still have bananas AND more pudding so I think I'm going to go make some using Cookies & Creme pudding...YUM!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Halloween Tradition

My kids have been asking me for weeks if I am going to make donuts.  The funny thing about them asking is that I do it EVERY YEAR.  It has become such a tradition that I now even have my kids' friends asking when the donuts will be ready....and this year one of the friends said "wow, your mom makes HOMEMADE donuts?  She must be a SUPERMOM!"  Hehe...
I am definitely not Supermom, but I do love a good challenge and that's how this tradition began... I wondered if I could do it.  Many years the donuts have not been good (I will explain my mistakes later) but I have finally got it down.  They aren't hard, but they are time consuming.  The kids wish I would make them more often, but there are a couple problems with that--first, we don't NEED 6 dozen donuts sitting around the house and second, I don't want to devote an entire day to making anything more often than once a year.  But this is definitely a tradition worth keeping... 

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
2 Tablespoons yeast
1 Tablespoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon salt
2 cups mashed potatoes (you can use instant and I don't think it makes a difference)
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups milk
15-16 cups flour
1 1/2 quarts oil for frying

Cream sugar and shortening.  Add yeast, nutmeg and salt.  Put the milk in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes on high.  Add the mashed potatoes and mix well (especially if they are hot) before adding the eggs one at a time.  Add a cup of flour and the vanilla before adding the hot milk (you don't want to cook the eggs).  Add the milk slowly, stirring as you go.  
Add about 5 cups of flour and mix well, then add one cup of flour at a time until you get a good dough--it should be almost sticky in consistency (and will resemble a stiff cookie dough, not a smooth bread dough)  The flour measurement is a rough amount--if you are using a mixer you will need more than if you are mixing by hand.  Cover the dough tightly and let it rise for one hour, then punch it down.
At this point, you can choose to roll them out and cut them or put the dough in the fridge and wait a day.  I have found that the dough is easier to work with when it sits overnight.  Get it out of the fridge about an hour before you want to roll them out.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness and cut your donuts out.  If you don't have a donut cutter, use some other circle cutters or lids.  Place them on a buttered baking sheet to rise again. Notice mine do NOT look perfect by any means--it just doesn't matter.  Let them rise for about another hour or until double in size but don't let them go too long!
Heat oil in a fryer, electric skillet or dutch oven to 350-375 degrees.  Use a candy thermometer to watch the temperature.  When the oil is hot enough it's time to fry them.  Only fry about three at a time (if you fill the fryer the temp will drop and the donuts will end up grease soaked--yuck!)  These fry REALLY FAST so don't walk away from them--only about 30 seconds per side.  When they're done, drain them on a paper towel then move them to a wire rack.
I like to glaze them all before I frost them.  Why have just one layer of sugar when you can have two?  Mix 2 pounds of powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon vanilla, and enough milk to make the glaze a good runny consistency and dip the donuts in, then put them back on the wire rack to drain.  (I put a baking sheet under them so I can scrape up the glaze and dip more donuts--otherwise you will waste a lot of it)
Don't forget the holes... You can roll these babies in glaze and pop them right in your mouth while frosting the rest and eat a good dozen in under 15 minutes.   

Then it's time to frost and decorate them!  

2 lbs. powdered sugar
1 cube butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk
I like to make the frosting a little bit runny so it goes on smooth and runs down into the hole and coats the sides.  I divided the frosting into three different bowls and colored it orange, green and purple.
Don't forget to make some chocolate ones...

1-2 lbs. powdered sugar
8 oz. baking chocolate
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt the chocolate and butter, then add half the sugar and vanilla, stirring and adding sugar until the consistency is right.

  1. Make the dough the night before and leave it overnight in the fridge.  Trying to do it all in one day is overwhelming.
  2. Don't overdo it on the flour.  Because you're thinking "dough" you envision firm, smooth and non-sticky.  Actually, the dough should be almost sticky and messy looking.  Don't go overboard on the flour when you roll them out either, but add enough that you aren't fighting with it.  Sprinkle a little flour on the top to make it easier to roll.  It should roll easily and not attach to the rolling pin.
  3. Butter the baking sheets (or use cooking spray)!  I have tried parchment paper, wax paper, and foil and the dough sticks to everything and makes your donuts weird shapes when you take them off to fry them.
  4. A dutch oven is really the best fryer for maintaining heat.  I never had to wait for the oil to heat back up like I've had to do with a fryer and a skillet.
  5. Keep a washcloth handy dedicated to grease wipe-ups.  I hate all the oil that drips as I move the donuts in and out of the oil.  Maybe it's just me, but I'm a little anal that way.
  6. Change out the paper towels you're draining your donuts on every couple of batches or the donuts don't drain properly (and probably soak up some of that oil too)
  7. Wait until all the donuts are fried before trying to glaze.  It's too stressful to try and do it all at once because the donuts cook too fast.
  8. NO matter how big of a hurry you're in, DON'T cook more than a few at a time--it actually isn't faster because the donuts cook slower and get soggy with oil.  It will ruin them.
This may sound hard, or like it's too much work, but it's SO WORTH IT!  And just a can cut the recipe in half, but you'll be sorry if you do.  Everyone will love them and soon people will show up (including friends of your kids, waiting out on the sidewalk for an invitation to come in and eat them) and they will be gone before you know it.  I say, if you're going to all the work, GO BIG!