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Going (Roasted) Bananas

Updated: Feb 9

Friends, I hope you're all taking care of yourselves as you work your way through 2023 (and hopefully you know by now that when I say "taking care of yourselves" I mean getting enough rest, trying some new things that feed your soul, and laughing a lot---nothing more). For me, taking care of myself looks different on different days. Sometimes it feels like cozying up under a blanket and not moving until I have to, other times it's getting fresh air or painting or writing. Sometimes it's even trying three or four different things before I find "the thing" that does the trick!


In any case, being in the kitchen, for me, generally means I'm taking care of myself. NOT because it's "bad" or "unhealthy" to eat ready-made or convenience foods. NOT because I don't love eating out. But because, for me, being in the kitchen means I'm slowing down, thinking creatively, and using all my senses in the process. Rant over...sounds a little like I'm going, well, 'bananas,' huh?

I realize that not everyone feels this way about cooking or baking or putting meals together. But since we all have to do it, might as well try to make it enjoyable in whatever ways we can! There are a few key things that help me enjoy my time in the kitchen, and may help you, too. Think about choosing one or two of the things on the list to try this new year could help you feel more effective/less overwhelmed when you prepare your meals.

  • Keep it tidy: keeping papers, dirty dishes, and even extra decór off of the counters is a great head start! It helps make space for your brain and your hands to work.

  • Keep it clean: I'm not talking "hospital sterile," but wiping down your counters every day or two can really make a difference in how you feel about making meals.

  • Keep it comfortable: Change into comfy clothes and shoes before you start on a recipe. Comfort is the best first step and keeps you from fussing over any mess!

  • Keep an open mind: Remember that no one shares the expectation you do for what you make. If something goes awry, don't be harsh on yourself. Take a moment, see if you can move onto the next step, and be open to the recipe looking/tasting a bit different that you imagined. In other words, if you don't tell them, they'll almost never know!

  • Keep a few staples on hand: For baking, I would suggest keeping some basic ingredients in your pantry so that each cookie craving doesn't have land you with a $30 grocery bill because you can't quite remember what you have, and have bought everything over again. (See far left photo below for some of the ingredients). At the least, keep the following:

  • Sugar, white and brown (you can keep brown sugar soft using one of these)

  • Flour

  • Eggs (at least a half dozen, even if you don't enjoy them alone, they are key for baking)

  • Baking soda and baking powder (buy small containers to ensure they're fresh when used)

  • Chocolate chips (morsels, chunks, or even a chocolate bar that be chopped up)

  • Butter (I am "team salted butter" because it tastes good alone and when baked into things)

  • Cinnamon

  • Milk (try lactose-free milk if you're intolerant; non-dairy milk can alter the texture of things)

The recipe today employs most, if not all, of the above ideas! These Banana Bread Scones are simple, delightfully hearty treats that only require about 30 minutes of hands-on effort. Plus, they can serve as easy snacks or a foundation for breakfast for the week to come. They're also not too sweet, so if you're someone who can't handle really sweet things in the morning, these are just the thing! If you're someone (like me) who likes a bit more sweetness, you can use a bit of the extra glaze OR add some jam or nut butter on top.

The Ingredients:


Bananas: If you love banana bread, you probably already know the color of the banana is crucial! Too green (or even yellow) and you've got bread that crunches because the banana won't soften enough. Too ripe, and well...it really can't get too ripe unless things start to mold! For these scones, you will soften the bananas in the oven before mashing them, so even if you don't have the "ideal speckle" on the banana, you're going to get a great product. If you're in a hurry or really don't like the idea of having to roast the bananas, that's okay. My idea of "just ripe enough" is when the bananas have a pretty heavy speckle. Think of someone you know who has beautiful freckles, the kind that peek out when they spend a day in the sun and adorn their skin. THAT is the type of coloring you want. (Also I think freckles are beautiful, embrace them if you have them)!


Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is actually just white/granulated sugar with molasses added to soften it. Fun, right? This means it isn't "healthier" or different from white sugar outside of taste and texture. Good thing we already know that all food is just food, and that it doesn't matter if it's marketed or touted as healthy. You can enjoy all the foods in moderation! In this recipe, the brown sugar adds a caramel-like, rich flavor to the glaze and makes it feel so cozy and comforting.




Banana Bread Scones

Yield: 6-8 scones

Ingredients:


for the scones:

3-4 ripe bananas

2 – 4 Tablespoons milk

1/2 cup yogurt (regular or Greek will work, I used Skyr)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons white sugar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small cubes (see second photo from above)

for the glaze:

1 Tablespoon butter

2 Tablespoons milk

3-4 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar


Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place the unpeeled bananas the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. The banana skins will be brown/black. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.


2. While the bananas cool, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea (see far left photo above).


3. Peel and mash the bananas. I would suggest mashing them in a Pyrex measuring cup so that you don't have to transfer the bananas into a separate measuring cup. You should have about 1 cup of mashed banana, but if not, mix in milk to bring the measure up to one cup. Stir in the yogurt/Skyr.


4. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated. The dough will be sticky enough to stay on a spoon/fork when lifted out of the bowl (see far right photo above) but not so wet that it falls right back into the bowl. Add 1 Tablespoon milk at a time if your mixture is too dry, add 1 Tablespoon flour at a time if your mixture is too wet.


5. Line a dinner plate with wax paper and turn out the dough on top. Flour your hands lightly, and pat into a 1" thick disk. Top with another piece of wax paper and freeze for about 30 minutes. While the dough chills, heat the oven to 400°F.


6. Remove the top sheet of wax paper and invert the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Remove the other sheet of wax paper and slice the dough into 8 wedges, pulling the pieces apart slightly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the scones are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes.


7. While the scones cool, heat the butter and milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla until the sugar is melted. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar, starting with 1/4 cup. Add more for a thicker glaze. When the scones have cooled, drizzle the glaze to your liking on top and serve.





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