Banana Bread & Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This was actually my first time baking banana bread – shocking, I know, considering how easy it is. I usually bake zucchini bread or zucchini muffins, but banana bread was another Father’s Day request, aside from the Fried Bread I made. Along with the loaf, I also made a second batch into muffins and added chocolate chips.

I used Alton Brown’s method and recipe from his book, “I’m Just Here For More Food”. The only thing I changed was instead of using a combination of all purpose flour and oat flour, I just used all-purpose flour because that’s what I had. I did not add nuts, but you can add walnuts, pecans, or almonds. Like I said, I added big, dark chocolate chips to the batch of muffins and they were exceptional!

Since I’ve never made banana bread before now, I am not sure how the batter usually comes together, but Alton says to combine the bananas with the sugar first using a potato masher. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, butter, and flavoring — and then add that to the banana mixture. Add that wet mixture to a large bowl containing the dry goods (flour, baking soda, and salt) and combine well – but do not overmix! Overmixing will change the texture. Breads and muffins should have a coarse, uneven texture inside – not even like a cake would be.

So here’s the mashing of the bananas with the sugar…(Use overripe bananas!)

Try to get it as smooth as you can, but you won’t get it totally smooth and that’s okay. The above shows how smooth I could get mine even with all my might!

If you are using nuts or chocolate chips, fold them in at the very end after you’ve combined both wet bowls together and added them to the dry ingredients. Remember do not overmix!

See the uneven texture and those big chocolate chips? Bliss.

Here’s the recipe! No mixer required…just a potato masher and a big spoon! 🙂

Banana Bread (adapted slightly from Alton Brown)
or Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:
3 large or 4 small OVERRIPE Bananas
1 cup of granulated sugar
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1 stick or 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
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2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
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Optional: 1 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the oven rack a little higher than the middle position. (According to Alton Brown, this would be the second rack down from the top.)

2. Line a loaf pan with a rectangle of parchment paper so that the sides hang off the loaf pan a little so you can easily lift it out after baking. (Line the longer sides and grease the other two exposed sides.) Or you can just grease the whole pan, but I am a big fan of parchment paper! If you are making muffins, prepare your muffin tin with liners.

3. Place the bananas and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and mash them together with a potato masher until you can get them somewhat smooth.

4. Combine the melted and cooled butter, eggs, and almond extract in a separate, medium bowl with a spoon. Make sure you do not put hot melted butter with your eggs because you don’t want to cook your eggs! It needs to cool down a few minutes when you remove it from the microwave or stove.

5. Now add the egg/butter/flavoring mixture to your banana/sugar mixture and combine well with a large spoon.

6. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Remember do not overmix. (I sound like a broken record, don’t I? Does anyone even know what a record is anymore?? hehe)

7. If desired, fold in 1 cup of chopped nuts or chocolate chips.

8. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake – banana bread should be moist.  I probably should have taken mine out a little sooner than I did. After 50 minutes, it was still undercooked, but after an hour I think it was a little overdone on the bottom. Could have been my oven though! If you are baking muffins, bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

9. Cool the loaf in pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. This is so easy if you use the parchment paper with extra sides as ‘handles’! If you make muffins, remove them immediately from the pan and cool on rack.

Keep the cooled bread or muffins tightly wrapped and they will last about 5 days at room temperature. (But I doubt you will have to worry about that!) If desired, you can wrap it tightly and freeze as well.

Dig in!

Fried Bread with Cinnamon Sugar

(There’s nothing to see here, healthy people…move along, move along.) Fried bread with a dusting of cinnamon sugar is such a treat ~ one that has been in my family for years. We don’t make it often because it’s not the most nutritious breakfast(!!), but it was requested for Father’s Day and I wanted to share it with you. My mother used to make this for us and I believe her mother used to make it for her. (This is one of those recipes like my Chicken Tropical post that will have them begging for more!)

You mix up the batter, dip the bread in the batter, and fry it on both sides in some oil. As soon as it comes out of the oil, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and en-joy! I like to use white sandwich bread, but not the really soft kind. I prefer to use Pepperidge Farm White Sandwich Bread because it holds up to the wet batter. You can use whatever you like, though I’ve only tried it with white bread. You just don’t want something really soft because it will tear when you dip it in the batter. I also like to cut my bread slices in half.

When you dip the bread slices into the batter, try to let the excess drip back into the batter bowl.

In a deep skillet, fry both sides in hot oil until golden brown. (On my electric stove I use the a number that’s between medium and medium high.)

While your bread is frying, make your cinnamon sugar if you don’t have some on hand.

When the bread is nicely browned on both sides, remove it from the pan onto a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over the nice hot bread. Fry the remaining slices and eat!

Recipe for Fried Bread and Cinnamon Sugar:
(Batter makes about 9-10 full slices or 18-20 halves)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
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1. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl.
2. Add the eggs and the milk and whisk to combine.
3. Preheat about 1/2″ to 3/4″ of vegetable or canola oil in a deep skillet over medium-medium high heat. (To tell if the oil is ready, I take a drop of the batter and put it in the oil. If the drop bubbles and floats, I know it’s ready.)
4. Dip the bread halves into the batter, letting the excess drip back into the bowl.
5. Fry the bread in the hot oil on both sides until golden brown in batches.
6. Remove from pan and drain on plate or platter lined with paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. You can add more to your liking, but get some of the sugar on there while you can still see some oil.
7. Fry remaining bread.
8. Go to your happy place while eating this heavenly breakfast treat (or dessert) and thank me when you’re full.

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Cinnamon Sugar: (You won’t need this much but save the rest in a tight container for next time…or you can cut the recipe in half.)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix these two until well combined and sprinkle on fried bread as soon as it comes out of the oil.

Hope you like it as much as we do!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Since today is National Chocolate Chip Day, I thought it would be a good time to post the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip bars that I made recently! These cookie bars are chewy and full of texture…and the rolled oats add iron, thiamine, and fiber (which we know reduces cholesterol!). I set out out make them for the kidlets as a special breakfast treat, knowing they are getting bored with the same old, before-school breakfast of cereal. They loved them! I used less chocolate chips (1 cup) because they were going to be for breakfast, but if you want to make them more chocolatey, use up to 2 cups of chocolate chips.

(Chewy) Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars
Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup gran. white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
6 to 12 oz. -or- 1 – 2 cups chocolate chips*

*I used 1 cup of dark chocolate chips, but like I said these were a breakfast treat. If you are making them as a sweet snack or dessert, you might want to use more chips. Next time I think I’d use semi-sweet chips, but I had the dark chocolate chips on hand so that’s what I used. Go with your taste and preference!

Directions:
(Preheat oven to 350 degrees)
1. Cream softened butter, both sugars, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer.
2. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. Stir in oats.
4. Add chocolate chips and combine well. You may need to use your hands for this!
5. Press dough into a greased 9×13 pan. (I lined mine with parchment paper so I could just lift the whole thing out of the pan to cut it up after it cooled, rather than grease my pan.)
6. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until lightly golden and set in the middle.
7. Cool 20 min. in pan. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Tammy’s Recipes.