Don’t get me wrong, I love summer. I mean really, what’s not to love, the fruits and veggies are wonderfully vibrant and flavorful, the weather is awesome and I don’t have to rush out of the house everyday to work. But, I also look forward to the cooler temps of the fall when it’s socially acceptable to fill my plate with a pile of carbs and gobble it all up.
I’ve been wracking my brain on how to use up my bananas once again. I’m kind of tired of the banana bread idea, and I was thinking about making some sort of jam. But then again I’m not all too sure that would turn out well. Considering that my hubby drinks a lot of banana milkshakes as it is, I thought this might be a good extension of that. And since I’m not really a fan of bananas in dessert, this was a stretch for me.
So I scoured the web in search of what I was looking for and lo and behold I found a recipe from Emeril for Bananas Foster, the New Orleans classic (that I’ve never tried because of the aforementioned condition). and that’s when I decided that this banana dessert idea might just include enough butter and sugar for me to enjoy it. And f course since the kiddos were going to partake in this yummy treat I ditched the liquor and replaced it with vanilla. Although, FYI, the liquor does cook off, it’s just that the flavor that it leaves behind is not one that I think kids would enjoy. Hey, guess what? It was honestly pretty good. Again, I think this is due to my love of butter, I’m not totally converted yet.
2 bananas sliced into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
pinch of salt
1. In a small sauce pot over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar. The sugar will begin to look glossy and no longer granulated.
2. Add the cinnamon, vanilla and bananas. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, depending on the ripeness your bananas. You want them to be fragrant and slightly mushy.
3. Let the sauce cool 1-2 minutes and then pour 1/4 cup over some quality ice cream, or stir into some vanilla yogurt for a wonderfully decadent, but super simple dessert.
We would walk into her home on Sunday, and the smell of garlic would fill your nostrils; it would make your mouth water the moment you entered the door. We would find her rolling out dough to make the Sicilian style pizza, and she would enlist my help.
It is only fitting that I post this recipe today since her 96th birthday would have been tomorrow. As I been delving into this adventure in food blogging I think of those recipes that remind me of her often. Thanks Grandma for tempting my palate.
The basics of any Italian, family meal is in the marinara sauce. There’s no need to buy that jarred stuff. Sauce is not a complex thing. It’s pretty simple, in fact. When you make your own you can control the flavor and the quality. And of course, when you make a batch it smells like love.
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 smashed garlic cloves
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes in puree
29 oz. can of tomato puree
1 tablespoon Italian herbs
½ tsp. kosher salt
1. Place all ingredients in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer covered on low heat for 20-30 minutes for flavors to develop.
Makes 8 cups. Store in 2 cup portions in freezer safe zippered bags.
There’s nothing better than fresh herbs wafting through your nose. All that flavor coming from a little leaf is so cool to me. Ok, maybe I’m a bit of food geek. Anyhow, I remember many a lazy summer evening eating pesto pasta for dinner when I was growing up, so I thought I’d try to mix it up a bit and add in some more veggies to that herby delight. I figure if you still keep the basil and parmesan flavors you can hide some spinach there too.
The thing I love about sauces is that they are so versatile. When I make different sauces, like this one, I start to think of all the things it would work in other than pasta. For example, this is great on a sandwich, grilled veggies, fish, chicken and stirred into some basic chicken soup. This is such a simple fast meal you can easily whip this up while pasta is on the stove or chicken is on the grill. And to me…pesto is just a little hint of summer…man I wish it were here already.
1 cup fresh spinach
1 bunch (about 1 cup) of fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sliced raw almonds (you could certainly use regular raw almonds, but I had these on hand)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
1 lemon (you really only need 1/2 a lemon, so save the other half for your iced tea)
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat warm the olive oil and garlic until the oil is infused with the flavor of the garlic. This will take close to 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in your blender add the clean spinach and basil. Then place the nuts on top. That’s an important tip because they weigh down the leaves so the leaves will actually puree in the blender. Also add the parmesan and the juice from half of the lemon.
3. Pour the warmed garlic and olive oil in the blender too. Then, push the highest setting, on mine it’s “liquefy”. Let it go until it becomes a thick paste. You might have to stop it to make sure the leaves are reaching the bottom of the blender.
4. At this point stop and taste it, you might need to add a dash of salt and pepper to suit your taste. Toss half of the sauce over 1/2 a box of cooked pasta …and…You’re done! Dinner served. Easy, right?
5. Save the other half of the sauce in a freezer safe zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. You can pull it out in the next two months and make this meal even faster.