Killer Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

The bananas on the trees are ripening quickly and we are awash in a plethora of fruit, so we’re scrambling to come up with great banana recipes. Ripened bananas in their skin, wrapped in saran wrap, will keep in the freezer for up to six months for use in breads, cakes and smoothies, but it’s more fun to try and keep up with the rapidly ripening crop (it’s a race we can’t possibly win). Tonight, not only did we dehydrate them for banana chips, but also made this killer Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, a simple recipe that yields a moist, tasty, chocolatey loaf.  You can also add a little cinnamon, rum or vanilla if you like, but there really isn’t any reason to since it is delicious (and addictive…we can’t stop eating it) as is.

Please click here for the printable recipe.


Broccoli and Pork Stir-Fry…Fast, Easy and Delicious

Tonight we  picked some fresh broccoli, scallions and an orange, added a few other ingredients (like  pork, which was kind of essential for this recipe, since it’s actually in the name) and came up with this incredible Broccoli and Pork Stir-Fry. This is one of those great dishes that is not only easy to make, but also very adaptable to what you have on hand. If you don’t have water chestnuts, just leave them out…if you want a little more crunch, add some cashews or peanuts…extra mushrooms in the fridge, toss them in. The two most important things are to make sure the skillet is very hot (you should see the oil shimmering) when you add the pork so you get a good sear and to cook the pork in two batches; if you crowd the pan, it will steam and not brown properly.  Other than that, it’s pretty tough to screw this up…and make sure you add the Sriracha at the end to give it that great spicy kick.

Please click here for the Printable Recipe.

Swiss Chard on Quinoa…Much better then it sounds!

One thing about Swiss Chard…it has to be really fresh for it to be really good. We picked this chard just hours before we prepared it using this recipe we found on Simply Recipes and it was exceptional. We served it on a bed of quinoa (keen-wah). If you haven’t tried quinoa, you should give it shot. It is a pseudocereal and is actually related to Swiss Chard and spinach. Quinoa is extremely nutritious and has a very high protein content (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians, vegans and athletes.  Unlike wheat or rice, which is low in lysine, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source. We cook it like rice, using chicken or vegetable broth instead of water for extra flavor, and add sauteed diced onions and garlic to it before serving.

Kirkland Quinoa is an excellent quality, organic, gluten-free, reasonably priced brand if you want to give it a try.

Papaya, Banana, Blueberry Yogurt Hawaiian Smoothies

This might be the best smoothie ever made…it’s simple to make, it tastes great and has the consistency of creamy soft serve ice cream. I took fresh picked papayas and bananas, cut them into chunks and froze them overnight. To make the smoothie, put about a cup of frozen papaya chunks, a cup of frozen banana chunks,  6 oz. of  your favorite blueberry yogurt ( I use Dannon) into a blender and add about 3/4 cup of V8 Splash (available everywhere…I use Tropical Blend, but any flavor will do). Pulse the blender for about 30 seconds, give it a quick stir (make sure the blades have stopped!), and repeat a few times. It should be very thick at this point, so to get the perfect consistency, take the top off the blender while it’s running (make sure all the fruit has been pureed before you do this or you may end up wearing some smoothie) and slowly pour in a little more Splash until you see a vortex form in the center-you’ll know what I mean when you see it happen-and the Smoothie will be perfect. If you love peanut butter like I do, you can add a heaping tablespoon (I prefer chunky) and blend for a couple of seconds more…it’s incredible!

Cookhacker Goes Hawaiian

Morning's FruitCookhacker is fortunate enough to be spending the next  few weeks in one of the most beautiful places on earth…the island of Kauai in Hawaii (if you’ve seen Lost, Tropic Thunder or Jurassic Park, you know what the island looks like). We’ll be living off the land as much as possible…pictured is a portion of the first morning’s bounty. We gathered about 10 oranges, 8 avocados, 3 papayas, 2 grapefruits, 1 key lime (not pictured…3 fresh eggs, bananas, broccoli, mustard greens, beets, Swiss chard and assorted lettuces)…and that was all in the first day!

As the days go on, I’ll be posting our attempts to use all of these amazingly fresh ingredients to prepare our meals (I did go shopping and bought flour, spices, olive oil and other cooking essentials…things are really expensive here). Tomorrow morning’s breakfast…Fresh Papaya, Banana and  Blueberry Yogurt Smoothies…can’t wait!