Tag Archives: banana

If You Give a Toddler a Cookie…

14 Nov

My toddler is on a vegetable strike. At one time she would gladly gnaw on roasted Brussels sprouts, sauteed spinach, baked sweet potato fries, and other veggies of every shape and size. Don’t mistake me, she’s been on this strike for quite a while, but I keep reminding her that she loved broccoli when she was little. She says she used to eat it when she was very little, but now she eats pizza.

At least she’s got good taste.

Anyway, I try to add vegetables in whenever I can to foods she WILL eat. She actually cooks with me a lot, so I am not hiding them. But somehow zucchini pancakes (we like the Smitten Kitchen version) are a million times easier for her to consider eating than even carmelized carrots. She knows there are veggies in there, but she doesn’t care.

I also try to cut the sugar in most recipes (although the pancakes above don’t need any adjustment) because we cooked with very little sugar and salt for her first year or so of eating. After that, most regular recipes are kind of overwhelmingly sweet or salty, so we are super careful. Trust me, she got candy at Halloween and has carefully picked a piece every day since, so I am not denying her. 😉

Anyway, when your toddler refuses dinner and asks for a cookie instead, you start thinking creatively. I actually made a version of these a few months ago when we were watching my best friends’ daughter, but today’s batch was even better. I am the type of cook who tosses in a little of this and a little of that, so the amounts aren’t an exact science, but the results should still be delicious.

I asked her if she wanted banana cookies, and she was excited. Then I asked if she wanted banana or “green banana” cookies, and she went running through the house squealing about green cookies. What can I say? Colored food is a hit!

What is fun about these is that they are really green. The photos don’t do them justice. They would be right at home at an Oscar the Grouch birthday party or on a Saint Patrick’s Day buffet. But despite all the spinach in them, they really taste like a light banana oatmeal cookie! I tried to pack as much flavor and nutrition into these as possible, but don’t stress. If you don’t have the seeds I list, just add a little more oatmeal.

Elisa’s Banana Oatmeal Green Cookies

  • 2 very ripe bananas (ok if frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach (if using fresh, use approx. 2 cups)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tbsp brown sugar (I used 2)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 melted butter or oil
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts (seeds)
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you could use stone ground whole wheat flour but I would probably use some white flour in place of some whole wheat)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Totally yummy and totally green!

Totally yummy and totally green!

In a blender or food processor, blend spinach, banana, yogurt, and milk until a thick smoothie consistency is formed. Add to a large bowl and whisk in eggs, vanilla, butter, and sugar. Add oatmeal and seeds and blend well with a spoon. Add salt, baking powder and soda, and flour. Mix well. Should be about the same thickness as pancake batter.

Spoon onto a baking sheet (we use a medium scoop and parchment paper, but a teaspoon and clean baking sheet will be just fine) and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

These cookies are soft and chewy, with lovely body because of the seeds. My daughter had FOUR, dunked in milk, four dinner. I wasn’t complaining. 🙂

Happy Toddler and Happy Mommy!


Banoffee Pie, and Pies With Friends

5 Dec

My family and I traveled to Ireland in 2005, and the tiny town of Ennis, in Shannon, had the most incredible meal at an Italian – yes, Italian in Ireland – restaurant.  After the meal our host (my 5th grade teacher and my mom’s friend, Ms. Sutherlin) suggested we order Banoffee Pie.

Banoffee Pie (or Banoffi pie) was created in the late 1960s by Ian Dowding, a British chef.  I’ve linked to his website below,  but it seems everyone in Britain has their own variation on the dessert.  Whatever recipe you use, one thing is clear: it’s a mixture of bananas, toffee (or, as we’d say in San Diego, dulce de leche), and whipped cream flavored with a little coffee.  It sounds seriously weird but it works.  It’s creamy and sweet but surprisingly not cloying or heavy.  It’s INCREDIBLY easy to make.  And while it may not be the most beautiful pie in the contest, it’s darn tasty!

Today I had the occasion to try out a recipe for Banoffee pie.  You see, my friend Carrie has a tradition, for the last several years, of hosting a Pie-Off at her home.  Like a Bake Off, competitors’ creations are judged for taste, creativity, and looks, with awards handed out according to a very scientific voting system!  🙂  It’s kind of competitive, but mostly, it’s about friends getting together and sharing food.  We were invited this year for the first time, and I knew I had to bring it.  Hubby and I had actually each planned on making a pie, but ran completely out of time to do a ton of baking, so it was lucky that this recipe had very little baking time!  I’d never made this recipe before, and of course I made a tweak or two to the original, but it turned out quite nicely for a first attempt!

The only thing that gets tricky, time-wise, is making the toffee – it’s not like you can just whip it up in two minutes – but you can probably purchase a tin of ready-made dulce de leche and cut out the toffee making entirely if you’re in a real hurry.  Either way, prep is minimal, taste is awesome, and it’s a keeper of a recipe!

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I “won” 2nd in the Taste category, behind a nut-and-raisin pie passed down from another guest’s grandma, so I consider that a victory!

Banoffee Pie (adapted from Ian Dowding)

  • 1 pie crust.  I used a Pillsbury crust because my own luck with pastry making is terrible, but Chef Dowding has “the” recipe on his site.  Most of the recipes I’ve seen – and the first pie I ate – had crusts made from British digestive biscuits (which are like graham crackers without the brown sugar).  I’d actually intended to make mine from digestives too but didn’t have a chance to get to a store that carries them.  You can find them at Cost Plus and subsitute them in your favorite graham cracker crust recipe.
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3-4 large ripe (not overripe!) bananas.  They should have almost no brown spots, so that they don’t look brown and gross when you cut into the pie.
  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant coffee (I used Starbucks VIA Columbian, and it lent the perfect hint of coffee without being overpowering or bitter, but you can use whatever you have or can find inexpensively, as long as it’s not flavored)

The day before: This is the EASIEST way to make the toffee; there are several very effective ones but this is a no-brainer for me: Remove the label from the can of condensed milk.  Place it in the bottom of a crock pot and fill the crock pot with enough water to cover the can entirely, with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water above the top of the can.  Turn the crockpot on low and walk away.  Let the crockpot cook for 6-8 hours and then turn it off and leave it for another 3+ hours or until cool to the touch.  You want to make sure that the can isn’t hot enough to explode when it hits cool air, so just leave it until you’re sure.

Assembly of the pie: Bake and cool your crust completely.  Open the can of toffee and smooth it over the bottom of the crust.

Crust, meet toffee.

I told you this was easy!

Now place your bananas in a single layer on the toffee.  Sort of push them in so the carmely goodness oozes around them.  You will get messy, and the top of the bananas won’t look too pretty.  Oh well.

Sort of like a bananas foster pie, minus the pyrotechnics

I should note here that the original recipe called for 5-6 bananas.  I don’t know if they just have smaller bananas in the UK, or if the chef squashed them together differently or had multiple layers of fruit, but I only really needed 3.  As you can see, it’s not an exact science.

With a stand or hand mixer, whip together the cream, powdered sugar, coffee crystals, and vanilla until the cream is thick.  I make whipped cream on a relatively regular basis (several times a year) so I know the texture I like is somewhere not quite to the stiff peaks stage.  But if you don’t, you’ll need to experiment.  Just be careful not to whip too much, or you’ll get sweetened curds and whey.  Which might be a treat for Miss Muffett but won’t be very tasty on your pie.  Smooth your cream onto your bananas and make the top as pretty as you can.

The finished product

And just because, here’s a photo of the Pie-Off table.  All NINE pies (and no repeats!).  Mmmmm…  That was some good eating!

Clockwise, from top left: Raspberry Velvet Tart, No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Lemon Cream Pie, Chocolate Orange Mousse Pie, Apple Pie, Banoffee Pie, French Nut Pie, Bourbon Carmel Truffle Tart!

I think the best part of tonight – I mean, aside from the utter decadent deliciousness – was the company.  We’d never met any of the other guests, and most of them were strangers to each other too.  But when you get together a good group of people, eating and talking and being just slightly competitive, it works.  At least with good hosts!  Thanks Carrie for the invite – can’t wait for next year!

Strawberry-Banana Muffins

27 Apr

We had a TON of strawberries in our CSA box last week, and unfortunately they were quite ripe.  Which meant we didn’t get to all of them before they started going bad.  Luckily, I was able to make use of some of the less “pretty” berries by modifying the banana bread recipe I developed about 10 years ago (eek!  now I really feel old!).

This recipe makes one dozen pretty pink muffins; I suppose you could just frost them (with cream cheese frosting perhaps?) and make them cupcakes (although you might want to add a little extra sugar, since they’re not overly sweet).  The one biggest piece of advice I have for this recipe (aside from using the ripest bananas you can find – mine were a little too chunky) is DO NOT OVERMIX!  It’s easy to take these pretty cakelike muffins and make them heavy and gummy – don’t do it!!

Elisa’s Strawberry-Banana Muffins

  • 3/4 cup strawberry pieces
  • 3 medium-to-large bananas (between the strawberry puree and the mashed bananas, you’re looking for between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 cups of fruit)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (more if your berries are really tart; mine were very sweet!)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Puree strawberries in a food processor. 

I tried pureeing the bananas with the strawberries - next time, just mash them instead!

You’ll see in the photo I started trying to smash my bananas with the strawberries but they were too unripe and didn’t really do well.  You’ll do better just mashing most bananas by hand; make sure they’re as smooth as possible.

Strawberry puree with mashed bananas

Add the fruit, sugar, cinnamon, powder, soda, milk, oil, and salt to a large bowl and mix until combined.  Beat the egg lightly in a small bowl and add it to your fruit mixture.  Add the flour all at once and mix together all the ingredients JUST until combined.

Add the flour

Add the mixture to prepared muffin cups or cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Just try to resist!


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