Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recipe: Banana Bread

In an attempt to stay on budget (or maybe even under budget?! What a concept!) this week, I am going to make all our meals from home with ingredients we already have. The other motivation for this is to wipe down the inside of our fridge really good. It's start to get yucky and it's buggin' me! All I spent on groceries this week was $25 for essentials like milk, eggs, butter, spinach (this really is an essential because I chop it and put it in just about everything Will eats), water, and grapes (we go through fruit like there's no tomorrow).

For dinner this week, we had Bacon Swiss Burgers with Carmelized Onions and Spicy Sweet Potato Fries. We used Bagel Thins as buns for our burgers since it's a little sturdier than regular bread and we didn't have any buns. It was a really tasty dinner, I have to say! And I think I perfected making carmelized onions and made bacon in the oven for the 1st time. I usually fry the bacon stovetop, but it came out really good in the oven and was way less messy! Hubby had the brilliant (but not so healthy) idea to add some of the bacon grease to the onions as they're cooking down. Oh. My. Gosh! To die for. My mouth is watering just thinking about it right now...
As I'm using up all of the food in our house, bananas are getting more and more ripe on the countertop. I already made banana blueberry bread on Friday and it was gone by Sunday, and I used up all of our blueberries (or Bloobs as we call them in our house). So I needed to use more bananas before they went bad. I made Chocolate Banana Bread last night. so tasty! Betty Crocker is my go-to when it comes to simple, down home cookin' recipes like this. The tried and true way to do it is a great start and then you can embellish from there. I love the tips in the books that explain why your bread didn't rise (because you beat the batter too much) and why your cookies remained balls instead of flattening out a little while cooking (you used too much flour in the batter).

The recipe makes 1 large 9"x5"x3" loaf, or 2 smaller 8 1/2"x4 1/2"x2 1/2" loaves. I cut the recipe in half for 1 8" loaf since we're just a little family of 3.

Banana Bread
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 or 4 medium sized)
1/2 cup buttermilk (**I used whole milk because that's what I had on hand**)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of loaf pan(s).

2. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts (or 1 cup blueberries or 1 cup chocolate chips.) Pour into pans.

3. Bake 8" loaves about 1 hour, 9" loaves for about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (**I use 8" loaves and check it at 50 minutes into cook time, maybe cook for another 5 minutes if it's really gooey. When the toothpick comes out with a little bit of goo on it, I take it out. As it cools, it will continue to cook a little bit, but it will still remain moist. Using blueberries with the bananas makes the bread more moist. Using chocolate chips makes it a little drier, so check the bread towards the end and adjust the time accordingly.**) Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours before slicing. (**If you don't let it cool completely and slice too soon, the bread will crumble instead of cut smoothly**). Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

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