Pickled Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 garlic cloves, whole

1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.

Barbacoa Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Barbacoa Banana Peppers! More and more supermarkets are offering a wide variety of prepared meats to help make mealtime as effortless as possible. You can take advantage of these precooked packaged options or make use of last night’s leftover roast in the refrigerator, turning it into Barbacoa beef. I have great respect for everyone who juggles their time between work and home. This recipe combines fresh produce with convenient seasoned alternatives. Meet me halfway for this labor of love.

BARBACOA BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

6 mild banana peppers, sliced lengthwise; ribs and seeds removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

6 sticks mozzarella string cheese

1 cup Barbacoa beef, shredded

1/3 cup fresh sweet corn

1/2 cup pico de gallo

2 green onions, sliced into curls

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange in a single layer, without touching, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Roast for 10 minutes until banana peppers begin to soften slightly. Remove from oven to cool. Tuck one mozzarella cheese stick into each pepper.(It may be necessary to pull the cheese apart into strings to fill the pepper from end to end.) Divide shredded Barbacoa beef between peppers. Top with sweet corn. Set oven to Broil. Return stuffed banana peppers to the oven. Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden in spots. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Top with pico de gallo. Garnish with green onion strips.

Xiangjiao Banana Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Xiangjiao Banana Bread! How’s this for a fancy word? For those who haven’t a clue, “xiangjiao” is actually Chinese for banana. And who doesn’t love bananas? A few years ago my grandson came to my house for a sleepover. I had been to the grocery store to get some of his favorite foods, in addition to a couple of new choices. Imagine my surprise when I presented him with a half-peeled yellow banana. He got a puzzled look on his face as he eagerly grabbed it and said, “Nana. Ba-Nana?” I smiled and gave him a giant hug before the air exploded into peals of laughter. There’s nothing sweeter than a toddler’s giggle.

XIANGJIAO BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ripe bananas, peeled and crushed

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Topping: (optional)

1 ripe banana, sliced lengthwise

1 tablespoon chopped pecans

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with a nonstick oil containing flour. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and crushed bananas. Mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add to the creamed mixture. Stir just until batter is combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chopped pecans. Pour into prepared pan. For topping, place the two halves of a ripe banana on top of the batter. Sprinkle with remaining chopped pecans. Bake one hour or until tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes and then remove banana bread from loaf pan. Cool longer on a wire rack.

Banana Toffee Pops

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Banana Toffee Pops! It’s no secret kids love bananas. Adults do, too. With the dog days of summer upon us, make a treat with frozen bananas. Turn them into tasty pops covered in sprinkles or throw them in the blender for a refreshing smoothie. Can’t make up your mind? Do both! 🐵Question: How do you get a monkey down the stairs? 🐒Answer: Have it slide down the banana-ster! 🍌🍌🍌Have a great day!

BANANA TOFFEE POPS

Ingredients:

3 firm bananas, peeled and cut in half

6 popsicle sticks

8 ounces Greek yogurt

1/3 cup toffee pieces, slightly crushed

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet. Set aside. Combine toffee pieces and mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle onto a sheet of wax paper. Once the banana is coated in yogurt, you will roll the banana in the toppings before placing on the wax paper-lined baking sheet. Peel bananas. Slice each banana in half. Insert one stick into the bottom end of a banana segment. Working one at a time, spread yogurt all over the banana until it is completely covered. Coat in candy pieces. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat. When all six are complete, place baking sheet in the freezer. Freeze 4 hours or overnight. Keep treats frozen in storage bags until ready to serve.*

*Serving Suggestion: For smaller portions, slice bananas into 2″ chunks.

Zucchini ‘Nana Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Zucchini ‘Nana Bread! This isn’t your usual old-fashioned banana bread. And if you’ve been hesitant to try zucchini bread, well…just because, then I implore you to give it one more chance. You honestly cannot taste the zucchini. What you will notice, though, is that the bread is incredibly moist, not gummy. And the cinnamon streusel topping is a winning combination worth shouting about. Remember to only stir the batter until it is mixed. The more you stir, the more gluten comes into play. While gluten is crucial in bread-baking, it is not your friend in quick breads. The results could be dense and rubbery. After all, the purpose of baking is to share with others. Slather on the butter or cream cheese…and Enjoy!

ZUCCHINI ‘NANA BREAD

Ingredients:

1 medium zucchini, shredded

1 ripe banana, mashed

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Cinnamon Topping:

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Peel zucchini. If there are seeds, remove them with a spoon; discard. Shred zucchini and set aside. Mash banana and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil until combined. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Stir only until incorporated. Fold in shredded zucchini and mashed bananas. Stir slightly until blended. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Whisk together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow bread to cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool Zucchini ‘Nana Bread on a wire rack before slicing.

Cereal Milk Smoothie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Cereal Milk Smoothie! After yesterday’s post, it’s only fair to give the kids equal time on a delicious treat. Grown-ups, simply tap your heels together to be transported back to a time where you started your day at the kitchen table with a bowl of your favorite cereal. Remember how the sugary sweet morsels crunched their way to mushy softness leaving the milk at the bottom of the bowl tasting like syrup? At that point my brother would put down his spoon and lift the bowl to his mouth to slurp up the remaining goodness. Of course Mother never saw it, as she was usually standing at the counter buttering toast with her back to us. Well nowadays, the nostalgic flavor of cereal milk smoothies are a thing. Anyone with a sugar addiction is jumping for joy. And why shouldn’t they? It brings out the inner child in all of us.

CEREAL MILK SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1 cup Crispix* cereal

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 banana, sliced and frozen

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons agave nectar, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sprinkles, for garnish

Instructions:

In a blender, combine cereal, skim milk, Greek yogurt, frozen banana slices, cinnamon, nutmeg, and one tablespoon agave nectar. Pulse until smooth. On a sheet of waxed paper, crush a few cereal pieces until almost fine. Add sprinkles; mix together. With the remaining agave nectar, apply to the rim of a glass. Dip the glass into the topping to coat the rim. Fill with cereal milk smoothie. Add a paper straw. Serve immediately.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Papaya Banana Boat

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Papaya Banana Boat! When my son and daughter-in-law visited us in Kauai, I wanted to treat them to a special island breakfast. It was a perfect portion for them after greeting the sunrise sipping on macadamia nut coffee. Ripe papaya has such a naturally sweet flavor. It practically melts in your mouth with its creamy, butter-like texture. If you like cantaloupe, I promise you this: Papaya will take you “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. You may even hear the magical sounds of a ukulele strumming in the background.

PAPAYA BANANA BOAT

Ingredients:

1 ripe papaya, cut in half with seeds removed

1 banana, sliced

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

2 dollops Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons granola

Drizzle of agave nectar

Instructions:

Split the papaya between two plates. Fill half the cavity with sliced bananas. Sprinkle cinnamon over banana slices. Fill the other half of the papaya with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt. Sprinkle granola over top of yogurt. Drizzle entire papaya boat with agave nectar.

Yogurt Black Raspberry Smoothie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Yogurt Black Raspberry Smoothie! Blackberries and black raspberries. They’re both the same, right? Guess again. Blackberries are the larger of the two, in cell structure as well as actual size of a single berry. They also have a glossy finish. Blackberries are seen more often at grocery stores as well. Black raspberries, on the other hand, are as coveted as morel mushrooms. Growers typically save them for themselves and very close friends. Their flavor is more unique, not nearly as tart and very fruity. Some consider them the healthiest berries on the planet with three times the antioxidants as other berries. You can recognize black raspberries by their tiny protective hairs. The centers are hollow making them effortless for picking. Black raspberries are popular for cobblers, pies, jams, ice cream toppings, and of course smoothies. Is it any wonder I love you more.

YOGURT BLACK RASPBERRY SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

3/4 cup black raspberries

3/4 cup blueberries, frozen

1 banana, sliced and frozen

1 teaspoon natural honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup skim milk

Fresh mint

Instructions:

In a blender, combine black raspberries, frozen blueberries, frozen banana slices, natural honey, vanilla extract, Greek yogurt, and skim milk. Pulse for one minute to chop fruit. Stir, purée until smooth and creamy. Pour into glasses. Garnish with fresh mint. Serve immediately.

Jalapeño Cherry Smoothie Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Jalapeño Cherry Smoothie Bowl! Get ready to eat well. This morning’s smoothie bowl will energize your body as well as your mind. Feel the easygoing ingredients stimulate your senses with a kick of sass right between the eyes. I mean, just look at the brightness real cherries can make. Begin with frozen fruit. Did you know if you freeze a cut-up banana it doesn’t turn brown? Truth. Each ziplock bag contains an entire sliced banana. Make sure they freeze in a single layer, though. When it’s time to blend the frozen fruit, the smoothie is chilled so there’s no need to add ice cubes. Now to address the elephant in the room, so to speak. Jalapeños. Don’t worry. Their bold flavor is invigorating. It actually adds a nice balance between the sweet and creamy, not to mention the extra vitamins. But don’t take my word for it.

JALAPEÑO CHERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen cherries

1 sliced and frozen banana

3-5 slices of pickled jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Cherries, pistachios, and jalapeños for garnish

Instructions:

In a blender combine frozen cherries, frozen banana, chopped jalapeños, chopped pistachios, orange juice, sherry vinegar, and Greek yogurt. Pulse to process. Add coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and Himalayan pink salt. Blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Transfer smoothie to a bowl. Garnish with cherries, pistachios, and jalapeños.