Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best Banana Bread

In keeping with my trend toward very versatile recipes, this banana bread is a very flexible recipe that allows you to customize it to your family's particular tastes. It calls for all-purpose flour but I sometimes use all whole wheat or half whole wheat. It calls for walnuts but I've used walnuts or pecans and I've also replaced half or all of the nuts with flax seed and gotten excellent results. It also calls for margarine but I refuse to even have the stuff in my house, considering it not to even be "real food", so I use butter. It also calls for buttermilk which I almost never have in the fridge so I use 1/3 of the amount in plain yogurt or sour cream and mix it in a cup with milk to make buttermilk. You can use a higher ratio of yogurt to milk if you like a little more tartness.


3/4C (1 1/2 sticks) margarine, softened to room temp.
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 C mashed ripe bananas (~3)
1 t vanilla
1 3/4 C unsifted flour
1 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1/2 C buttermilk (I use milk cause I never have buttermilk)
1 C chopped nuts (pecans, optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F

Grease bread pan. This recipe makes one 5x5 inch pan or two 4x7 1/2 inch pan or one 9x5 inch pan,or you can multiply the ingredients by 1.3 and do it in a 9x13 pan. I've had good luck baking it in a couple 13oz empty metal coffee cans. It makes a nice shape for wrapping up and giving as a gift. You will have to adjust your baking times accordingly.

The key to success with this recipe is to be sure that your bananas are ripe. They should be brown on the outside and squishy to the touch. When I have bananas that are ready in my fruit bowl but I don't have time to make the bread, I just throw the bananas in the freezer, skin and all, and when I have enough to do the recipe and the time to bake then I thaw them out. You can squish bananas in their skins if you do it carefully and then scrape them out. Saves on the mashing time. Also, on the boat where I don't have an electric mixer, I use a potato masher to mix this recipe. They work great for hand-mixed recipes like cookies and so forth that are thick.

After mashing your bananas in the bowl, add the softened butter. Mash it together and then add the rest of the liquid ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir quickly but completely. Over-mixing will produce a dense loaf that can be tough.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. As you can see here, I'm feeding a big group so I have used the 9x13 pan. It will bake for 45-50 minutes in my boat oven and since I know my oven is cooler than the indicated thermostat it will bake at 350° not 325°. You will need to experiment with your oven. Let the bread cool a bit before cutting. You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top if you're doing it in the cake pan. You can also frost it with whipped cream icing and use it like a cake. It keeps well, although there's rarely enough left to worry about it. You can also freeze it. It's great either warm or cold with cream cheese. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sailing Day Quick Enchiladas

Today was Easter Sunday.  The day dawned blue sky and 10 kts of wind, just chilly enough to need a jacket and be able to drink coffee.  Our friend Kacey had invited us sailing and we had decided the night before to take our breakfast out on the lake, even if we had to motor out there and sit, bobbing, while we ate. We did not have to bob after all, but enjoyed a wonderful sail for a few hours.

When someone asks you to go sailing, you should go. Now. As a result, there is often not enough time left in the day to make homemade corn tortillas and enchilada sauce. Times like these call for a grab into the pantry for a few cans and 30 minutes later you have a good hot meal around which to reminisce about the season's maiden sail.


Package of corn tortillas
1 pound of sharp cheddar
1 can refried beans, seasoned
1 large 29oz can enchilada sauce

Sour cream
Corn tortilla chips
Jasmine rice

Preaheat oven to 375°. Pour half of the can of enchilada sauce into a 9 x 13 pan. Set aside.

Grate cheddar. Place a good handful of grated cheddar on tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down into sauce in pan. Repeat with other tortillas until you have a line the length of the pan.

Mix half of the can of refried beans with a good handful of cheddar and stir well. Spread on tortilla and roll up. Repeat with three more tortillas and line up in two rows of two in remaining space in pan. This is the ratio of cheese to bean enchiladas that our family likes, but you can make as many of each as you care for.

Pour the remaining sauce on top, being sure to cover all the tortillas. Add remaining grated cheddar on top. Bake 375° for 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles up between enchiladas and cheese is bubbly. Serve with sour cream, chips, and rice. These reheat very well.

At this point I would normally have a really terrific picture of the finished product but, truthfully, I totally forgot because we were trying to get dinner in before we had to leave the boat to come back to the city. I'll try to remember next time!