Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hotel Fried Bananas

We've been traveling for the holidays.  I like to stay in hotels that have some cooking facilities, at least a microwave, because it's easier (and cheaper) than restaurants when traveling with food allergies.  The hotel we happen to be staying in at the moment has a very small kitchenette with two small burners.  It did come with pans and utensils, which made things a bit easier. 

The kids were clambering for dessert, but what can you do with no oven and allergies to wheat and eggs?  And I didn't want to buy a lot of ingredients, most of which I wouldn't use before we had to leave.

I did have two bananas left from the small bunch that I got when getting groceries for the stay.  Hm, skillet, bananas...  Ding, ding ding!  Inspiration.  Fried bananas.

I took a little help from breakfast, with a couple of pats of butter, a bit of brown sugar and a few walnuts.

This really is pretty simple. First melt the butter.

Then slice the bananas into the pan.  The great thing about bananas is that they are soft enough to cut with a butter knife.

Cook the bananas until they're softened and warmed, then add the brown sugar and walnuts and stir until the brown sugar is melted and the bananas are glazed. 

Note:  If you happen to be cooking this in a hotel and use brown sugar from breakfast, don't keep it in the fridge; it loses moisture and clumps.  Ask me how I know.

Finally, plate them and top with whipped cream.

Don't leave the whipped cream out where kids can help themselves. Otherwise you might end up with a plate of fried bananas like this:

Would you like a little fried banana with your whipped cream?

Hotel Fried Bananas

2 large bananas
2 tablespoons butter (or 2 pats)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (more or less)
A few chopped walnuts
Whipped cream

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Slice bananas into saucepan.  Sauté until the bananas start to soften and caramelize.  Add brown sugar and walnuts.  Gently fold until bananas are glazed with brown sugar.  Divide among four small dessert plates, and top with whipped cream.

This would also be good with coconut oil and toasted coconut (which would also make it vegan).  It would also be good over ice cream or non-dairy frozen dessert.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chicken Thighs with Creamy Dill Pan Sauce

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a flavorful alternative to chicken breasts.  They don't need much to make them taste delicious, and this simple, low-fat pan sauce adds a touch of elegance. Because it's so simple, fresh herbs are absolutely necessary.  Dried herbs just won't have the same flavor punch.

Chicken Thighs with Creamy Dill Pan Sauce

Servings:  4 to 6

6 to 8  boneless skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1/4 cup fat-free half-and-half
1 tablespoon fat-free sour cream

 Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray (I use an oil mister from Pampered Chef).  Add chicken thighs and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  You could also use a salt-free seasoning blend.  Cook chicken on both sides until almost done.  The last one or two minutes, add the fresh dill and turn chicken over.  Remove chicken to serving plates.  Add half-and-half to pan and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom.  Add the sour cream and stir until melted.  Let pan sauce simmer until thickened slightly.  Spoon over chicken and serve.

I served this with a basic risotto with dill as well.  Both were a hit with my kids.  Even my picky almost-4-year-old cleaned his plate (he calls it a happy plate).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chocolate Banana Shake

Several weeks ago, I was faced with bananas that were really ripe.  I was going to be out of town for the weekend, and they would have gone bad before I could make banana bread.  To preserve my precious organic bananas, I mashed them up and froze them in ice cube trays, with some vague idea that I might use them to make banana bread in the future.

Fast forward a few weeks.  It has been hot here, and, being on the river, it has been humid.  Talk about uncomfortable!  All things ice cream and frozen have sounded really good.  On a whim, I decied to use the banana cubes.  One of my favorite shake flavors is chocolate-banana, so I decided to make a chocolate shake.
Does this not look delicious?

Oh, my goodness!  It turned out to be one of the best shakes I've ever had, and ridiculously easy to make.  I haven't introduced it to the kids yet, because I know if I do, I'll be making shakes nonstop.  Making it with frozen puréed banana means you don't end up with the unblended ice chunks that bother the oldest boy so much.

As usual, some notes on ingredients.  This can be made free of most allergens.  Use your favorite non-dairy milk.  Silk makes a dark chocolate almond milk that would be heavenly in this.  In that case, omit the chocolate syrup.  It could also be made using cocoa powder, but you might need to add sweetener of some sort.

Chocolate Banana Shake

Servings: 1
Three simple ingredients...

6 frozen banana cubes
1 cup milk or non-dairy milk of choice
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  I used my Magic Bullet, using the handled cup container. 

Blend until banana cubes are mostly broken up.  Unlike ice cubes, banana cubes are soft, so if a few chunks are left, it's okay.  Enjoy immediately.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lemonade Beets

My kids look forward to going to the Farmer's Market every weekend.  They ooh and aah over all the locally-grown produce.  Often they ask to get some of the vegetables.  Last weekend, one of the stands had baskets of lovely baby beets.  You guessed it: they asked for beets.  I have unusual children; I freely recognize this. 

Growing up, I never liked beets, because all I ever had was the insidious beets from a can.  I distinctly remember at least one time when I sat at the table for more than an hour because I wouldn't eat a single bite of beet.  It wasn't until I was grown and my kids were old enough to start asking for vegetables that I had the courage to try beets again.  I pulled out my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and fixed them with an orange glaze.  I was hooked (and so were my kids).  They were actually good!

back to the beets we got from the Farmer's Market.  I opened the fridge to fix the Orange-Glazed Beets and discovered that we were out of orange juice.  We did, however, have lemonade that the oldest son had bought.  Inspiration struck, and Lemonade Beets were born.

Lemonade Beets    

1 pound fresh beets
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 cup lemonade

Trim stems from beets to 1 inch. Scrub and put in a microwave-safe casserole dish. Add a splash of water. Microwave on High (100% power) for 9 minutes, or until crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, melt margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in lemon peel and lemonade. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened.

When beets have cooled enough to handle, slip skins off and slice into lemonade glaze. Gently toss to coat beet slices. Makes 4 servings.