Go Bananas on Banana Lover’s Day

Banana Pancakes

Americans eat more than three billion pounds of bananas a year, adding up to roughly 300 bananas a second. Soft and sweet, rich in potassium and bursting with fiber, it’s no wonder bananas are hailed as a super food!

  • There are nearly 1,000 different kinds of bananas, but very few of them are actually sold in stores.
  • A banana plant isn’t actually a tree – it’s technically an herb!
  • Some cultures use banana peel fibers to make paper.
  • The banana is a rock star. More songs have been created about it than any other fruit. Check out this playlist of our favorites!
  • The fruit’s combination of tryptophan and vitamin B6 produces the neurochemical serotonin, which can stave off depression and improve overall mental health.
  • Bananas have been recorded as far back as ancient Egypt. There are even bananas depicted in hieroglyphics!

In our bodies, bananas fuel us with energy and nutrients. The potassium wards off muscle cramps and the antioxidants ease stomach ulcers. But bananas are good for more than just banana bread. You can harness the full power of bananas in some very interesting ways, particularly by:

  • Adding bananas to cake batter, resulting in a moister and naturally sweet dessert. We recommend substituting up to half of the oil in the recipe with banana puree. It’s also a delicious addition to pancakes!
  • Putting banana peels in your watering can to create a natural fertilizer for your plants.
  • Placing peels on chicken breasts as they cook to keep them moist and tender.
  • Mashing a banana and using the puree as a face mask. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes for super moist skin!
  • Using the peel to polish silverware and leather.
  • Easing itchy bites and rashes with the inside of the peel.

Ultimately, however, even with these inventive uses, we can all admit that the best part of a banana is its flavor. To keep your bananas from browning too quickly, wrap the stems in plastic wrap to lock in the ethylene gas, keeping them yellow for days. Or find another use for them this National Banana Lover’s Day (that’s today!) by putting on your banana mask, polishing your silverware and cooking up one of these delicious banana recipes:

Fresh Fruit Pizza: This simple dessert pizza starts with a crust made from brown sugar and walnuts. It’s topped with cream cheese and a variety of fruits, including, of course, bananas.

Sunrise Muffins with Honey Butter: Combining buttermilk and cinnamon with pineapples and carrots gives these muffins a delectable and savory flavor. Ripened bananas make these muffins moist and sweet.

Chill Out Banana Coffee Cream Pie: Who needs an afternoon coffee break when this recipe exists? Vanilla wafer cookies, coffee extract and bananas give this dish a creamy, sweet flavor.

Banana Maple Beignets: This French pastry mixes banana chips and maple syrup together for an extraordinary breakfast experience.

Best Fair Food of 2014

Funnel Cakes

Who doesn’t love the excitement of the State Fair? For many of us, as kids we walked the midway, chewing on roasted corn dripping with butter and licking sticky cotton candy off of our fingers. Those were the simple days of fair foods. Nowadays, fair food is less of a tasty treat and more of a mouth-watering art. Amid an array of fried candy bars and bacon-covered everything, states are taking their fair food to a whole new level. Here are just a few treats we’d like to snag. And devour.

Deep-Fried Texas Bluebonnet: “A blueberry muffin, scone-style batter that is stuffed with cream cheese, blueberries and sweet morsels of white chocolate” is this concoction’s description at the Texas State Fair. A finalist in the Big Tex Choice Awards, this fried goodness is topped with whipped cream, powdered sugar, more fresh blueberries and a special glaze. Seriously yum!

Funnel Cake Sticks: Ah, a classic fair indulgence. Well, sort of. At the Iowa State Fair, fair-goers had their choice of vanilla, chocolate or strawberry batter deep fried and topped with a smooth icing. It’s everything we love about traditional funnel cakes without all the mess.

Making your own funnel cake is not near as daunting as you may think. This simple Clabber Girl recipe makes it easy. 

Chicken-n-Waffle Cone: Despite original cream puffs being the oldest food tradition and crowning glory of the Wisconsin State Fair, we just had to know more about this dish. A finalist in the “Golden Spork Awards,” this fair treat boasts a rosemary cornmeal waffle cone stuffed with Cajun buttermilk fried chicken, blue cheese coleslaw, honey lager maple syrup and beer candied bacon. We didn’t make that up (though we wish we did!).

Fruit Twister Shake-up: This year, our home state of Indiana flaunted the Fruit Twister Shake-up. The refreshing thirst-quencher has long been an Indiana tradition, and the new spin includes lemons, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, sugar, ice and water.

Don’t let summer go by without trying out a few new drinks. Start with Watermelon Lemonade – perfect for sitting on the porch, flipping a few burgers or after mowing the lawn. Just blend 4 cups of watermelon, 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar!

All of these creative recipes were worthy of treks to the State Fair. With all the delicious and innovative choices, we can’t help but wonder what the imagination will cook up next year!

Happy Zucchini Day!

Zucchini group from marketplace

Happy Zucchini Day! If you’re looking for a way to celebrate this versatile, nutrient veggie, how about cooking or baking with it? Sweet or savory, main dish or dessert, light or hearty…whatever you crave, we’ve got you covered.  So go forth and celebrate summer!

Soups and Stews:

A vegetable like zucchini holds up well in warm, hearty soups. Make it the star of your chili, or add it in with other veggies in classic minestrone.

Beefy minestrone
Beef stew with cheese dumplings

Breads and Muffins:

Isn’t zucchini bread everyone’s number one way to use up all that summer squash? Shred it up very fine for a moist bread that could pass as veggie-free. Hint: making a chocolate version hides it from the kids even more!

Chocolate zucchini bread
Chocolate zucchini muffins
Pineapple zucchini bread
Savory zucchini parmesan bread
Zucchini bread

Top 3 Biscuit Mistakes

Skillet-Biscuits-Full

It’s almost Sunday morning – time for biscuits! The mouth-watering smell of rising dough fills the house. Every second the aroma strengthens, enticing you to nibble on that flaky, buttery goodness. The timer goes off and you eagerly open the oven door, only to feel your mitt-clad hand lower and your mouth dry up. The dough is all spread out and hard as a rock, not to mention the burnt bottoms. Something obviously went wrong, but you followed the recipe to the letter. So what happened?

Even the best cooks have their moments. Environment and equipment play just as important of a role as ingredients and recipes. That’s why the baking experts here at Clabber Girl have come up with some clever solutions to the most common biscuit-baking mistakes.

1. I could build a house with my biscuits! They’re just too hard.

Overcooking or high oven temperatures yield brick-like biscuits that can appear to look just fine on the outside. Sometimes, using too many dry ingredients can harden the dough, too.

Solution: Lining your tray with parchment paper can help reduce the hardness. Also think about reducing the heat or cooking time. If this is a repeat offense, your oven is likely the culprit. Placing a thermometer inside will reveal if your oven needs calibrating. Try tweaking your process with these simple Skillet Buttermilk Biscuits.

2. My entire baking tray morphed into one giant, shallow biscuit. How do I keep my biscuits from spreading?

Using too much butter or hot baking trays can cause the dough to glide across the pan like molten lava. Overeager cooks too impatient to let the oven adequately preheat can also incur the dreaded biscuit spread.

Solution: Let the dough cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes before baking and make sure your baking pan is cool or, at least, room temperature. Try your new techniques on these savory Cheddar and Chive Drop Biscuits, the perfect companion for soup night. If your biscuits still spread, try substituting half the butter with shortening. They’ll have the same rich flavor, minus the soft spreading agent.

3. My biscuits have the perfect shimmer of light brown on top, but the bottoms are burnt to a crisp.

If your oven is too hot or you’ve placed the tray too close to the heating element, your biscuits can look golden on top, but black on the bottom.

Solution: If your oven doesn’t heat evenly, try turning the tray at the halfway point and also place it on the middle rack, not the bottom. Parchment paper can also help prevent burnt bottoms. Pick up a roll as you grab the ingredients for Clabber Girl’s incredible Smoked Bacon Biscuits.

Biscuits are a food that should make you just as happy baking as eating. Few things are as disappointing as a baking disaster. Making these few simple adjustments can turn your biscuit breakdown into a kitchen conquest!