Whole Wheat Banana Bread

banana-bread-1

I have made this recipe many, many times. Not so much lately because we don’t often have bananas in the house. I don’t like bananas. I don’t like the smell of them sitting on the counter. I don’t like the texture. My husband loves bananas but he hides them at work. Oddly enough, I love banana bread! Banana cake too. (I need to post my mom’s recipe for that. It’s a classic. But I digress.) I guess I need to buy a bunch of bananas and set some aside for this.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread
(makes 1 8″x 4″ loaf, serves 12)

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 mashed ripe bananas (2 cups)
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (1 1/2 teaspoons at Boulder altitude, 5400 ft.)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots or dried pineapple
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or whatever nuts you prefer)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 8″ x  4″ loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, vanilla, bananas, egg, and lemon juice.

In a medium bowl stir together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing to just combine. Stir in the dried fruit and nuts. Pour into the prepared pan. Gently thump the pan on the counter to settle any bubbles. Bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.

Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, remove from the pan, and finish cooling on a rack. Don’t try to slice it while warm; it will fall apart.

Store at room temperature for 2 days. After that, refrigerate or freeze. Because of the high moisture in quick breads, they grow mold within a few days.

Pumpkin Apple Breakfast Bread

A not-too-sweet quick bread with chunks of apple and the flavors of Autumn

I am a big fan of quick breads. They are yummy for snacks and as an on-the-go breakfast. But, so many quick breads are really cakes in disguise. They are so damn sweet they make my teeth ache. Admittedly, I don’t eat a lot of sweet things. Which is my way of saying, this quick bread is not very sweet. I’m just giving you heads-up on that. Don’t expect cake. If you need to sweeten it up, slather on some apricot jam or apple butter. It does taste of the season with pumpkin, apple, and warm spices like cinnamon, but minus a lot of the sugar.

I specify separate spices but you can use premixed pumpkin pie spice instead. Substitute 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice for the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Pumpkin Apple Breakfast Bread
(makes 1 9″x5″ loaf, about 12 servings)

non-stick cooking spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder (use 1 tsp. at sea level)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
⅓ cup low-fat or whole milk
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼” dice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, both sugars, and the oil. Beat until smooth – brown sugar tends to be lumpy. Add the pumpkin puree and milk. Beat again until well-combined. With a spatula, mix in dry ingredients, walnuts (if using), and apple pieces. Do not over-mix; mix only until all the flour is incorporated into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap a few times on the counter to shake out any big air bubbles in the batter. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean with no liquid batter sticking to it. Set the loaf to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn out and let it finish cooling to room temperature. You won’t be able to slice it until it’s completely cool. To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. It can be stored at room temperature for about 3 days. After that, store in the fridge to prevent mold.

Chilean Cheese Toast

The Chilean Andes

And, now for something completely different, a really simple recipe! Last year, I visited Chile and I wrote about my food experiences there. One thing Chileans love is palta, what we call avocado. They spread it on their toast for breakfast. They use it in salads. They stuff them. They eat them by the bushel. Traditionally, Chileans use fresh cheese on their palta toast but it’s not that common in the US. Mozzarella cheese is very common so I used that. It’s a delicious breakfast or snack.

Chilean Cheese Toast
(serves 1 as a snack, double for breakfast)

Toast a slice of sturdy sandwich bread. Don’t use something with lots of holes because you are going to spread the avocado on it. Hole-y bread leaks. 🙂 Slice half of an avocado. When the bread is toasted, spread the slices all over the toast. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with a little shredded mozzarella cheese. Broil until cheese is melted. Garnish with hot sauce if desired. Stare longingly at the picture of the Andes as you enjoy.

Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Boulder got its own Trader Joe’s back in February. The place was a madhouse most of the spring. It’s finally calmed down to just busy and I ventured in there with my daughter this week. She turned me on to these addictive seaweed snacks. They are very, very thin pieces of nori roasted with a little oil and wasabi. They pack a good punch of sinus-clearning wasabi and the texture is interesting, in a good way. They start off leathery and as you chew them, they soften in your mouth to chewy. I really like them! Because they have such intense flavor, I can only eat a few at a time. The package says it contains 2 servings but I couldn’t eat that many at once. For me, a package would be at least 8 servings. At 99¢ a package, it’s a cheap and tasty snack.

Kimchee Quesadilla

 

In July, I visited Montreal, Quebec, a wonderful, charming, multi-cultural city north of the border. I wrote about my experience on this blog; go read it if you have plans to visit Montreal (and you definitely should make plans). One of the most fun things I ate while there was a kimchee quesadilla. I saw it advertised on a sign outside of a Korean restaurant near our B&B and I just had to try it. After a long day of exploring the city, I dragged my three friends in, and made them watch while I ate it. Actually, they helped eat it too.

It was quite tasty and very easy, provided you can get kimchee. That’s not so very hard. I saw it for sale in a small supermarket in Ithaca, New York recently. If they have it, I bet you can find it almost everywhere now. My kimchee came from Pacific Ocean Marketplace in Broomfield, CO. POM, as we call it, is a supermarket-sized Asian full-service grocery store. They cover nearly all Asian cuisines: Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Korean and more. They have locally made kimchee. It’s garlicky, and spicy, and not too, too funky. Also rather addictive. It was perfect for my homemade kimchee quesadilla.

Kimchee Quesadilla
(serves 1-2 as an entree, 4 as a snack or appetizer)

2 8-inch flour tortillas, labeled medium size usually
¾ cup colby-jack cheese, shredded
¼ medium bell pepper, diced
finely minced fresh hot chile, to taste
⅓ cup kimchee, coarsely chopped

Place one tortilla on a cutting board. Sprinkle on most of the cheese. Sprinkle on the remaining ingredients, then the rest of the cheese (this helps the quesadilla stay together). Heat up a large skillet or griddle over medium heat until hot. Place the quesadilla in the griddle and weight it down with another pan. This also helps the quesadilla stick together. When the bottom is slightly browned and the cheese is beginning to melt, flip over. Cook until cheese is completely melted and the bottom is browned. Serve immediately with fresh salsa and sour cream.