Bananas Foster (slow cooker)

According to the website

In the 1950’s, New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America.  In 1951, Owen Edward Brennan challenged his talented chef, Paul Blang to include bananas in a new culinary creation.

The scrumptious dessert was named for Richard Foster, who, as chairman, served with Owen on the New Orleans Crime Commission, a civic effort to clean up the French Quarter.  Richard Foster, owner of the Foster Awning Company, was a frequent customer of Brennan’s and a very good friend of Owen.

Little did anyone realize that Bananas Foster would become an international favorite and is the most requested item on the restaurant’s menu.  Thirty-five thousand pounds of bananas are flamed each year at Brennan’s in the preparation of its world-famous dessert.

Here’s my version of Bananas Foster – slow cooker style!

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick butter (cut into small pieces)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup dark rum
¼ cup water
4 bananas (cut into 2″ pieces)
Vanilla ice cream or gelato (optional)

Set slow cooker to high. Add in everything except bananas. Mix well. Add in bananas. Gently toss with your fingers so bananas don’t get smashed.

Cook on high for 2½ hours. Uncover and gently mix once more. Spoon over your favorite vanilla ice cream or gelato and serve with a smile. It’s gonna taste soooooo good.

Note: Choose bananas that are yellow, not green. They should not have black pots of ripeness on the skin. You don’t want super ripe bananas for this recipe. And sorry, no flambé! The alcohol in the rum will have evaporated during the cooking process.


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Irish Cheese & Guinness Beer Bread

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley VegetarianHere’s a recipe our son, Robert, sent to me on St. Paddy’s Day. I’ve modified it a little so that the taste is pure Irish. This is even better than my Irish Soda Bread. Spread a 1-inch slice, while still warm, with Irish butter and enjoy with a proper cup of tea.

2¾ cups sifted all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1  12-ounce bottle Guinness Extra Stout beer
4 ounces Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar Cheese (grated)
¼ cup chives
¼ cup Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour in the beer and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Fold in 3/4 cup of the cheese and the chives.

Transfer the batter to prepared pan. Pour the melted butter evenly over top of the dough. Bake about 30 minutes then scatter the remaining cheese over the top. Return the loaf to the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: Any beer will do but a good Irish stout is best for true flavor. Also, the Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar is a bit bitter when baked but I like it. If you aren’t a fan of really sharp cheddar, substitute a sharp cheddar (or regular cheddar) of your choice. Tillamook makes a good one. Also…any butter will do but Irish butter is velvety good.

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Banana-Apple Bread

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Banna-Apple Bread (shown with raisins for added goodness)

I had two very ripe bananas and a few apples that needed to be enjoyed before going bad. Ordinarily I would have cut them up, added my favorite yogurt, and maybe sprinkled unsweetened shredded coconut on top. The fruit, however, was too ripe. Continue reading

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Mushroom-Lentil Pâté

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian When I hear the word pâté, I picture a slice of toasted baguette with a modicum of creamy pâté spread on top. Until recently, I hadn’t considered making my own because I thought it had to be made with liver and that it took a lot of prep time. Continue reading

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Quinoa Salad with Serrano Chiles

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Red quinoa, serrano chiles, fresh mint. Fresh salad!

Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wah”. When I journeyed to Peru a couple of years ago with our son, Robert, he and I enjoyed this traditional grain salad on the balcony of a small restaurant about an hour from Cusco at 11,000 feet in elevation.

While waiting for our food we noticed a bowl of small green leaves on our table. We were told that these “coca” leaves were a powerful stimulant and should be added to our hot tea if we had trouble acclimating to the local elevation. I tried them in my tea but our son did not. I can’t say I liked the sensation. I can say I liked the Quinoa salad they served. When we returned, I tried to duplicate it and think I got close. I like to serve on a bed of crisp, cold butter lettuce.

1½ cups red Quinoa
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 Serrano chiles (remove stems and seeds; chop)
1/3 cup grape seed oil
2 medium cucumbers (peeled, seeded, cut into ½ inch cubes)
2 firm medium tomatoes (chopped)
8 green onions (chopped – use white part only)
1/3 cup fresh parsley (minced)
1/3 cup fresh mint (minced)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

Rinse the Quinoa and combine in a sauce pan with 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 12 to 14 minutes or until all the grains of Quinoa are translucent. Drain Quinoa and transfer to covered bowl. Place in refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.

Whisk together lime juice, chiles and oil. Set aside (be sure to wash your hands with plenty of soap and water after handling the chiles). Combine chilled Quinoa, cucumber, tomato, green onion, parsley and mint in large bowl. Mix gently. Pour juice mixture over the top of this mixture and toss to mix. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This recipe makes a bunch of salad and will put a smile on many hungry friends at your next potluck gathering.

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Tip: I also make this with extra-virgin olive oil when I am out of grape seed oil…and it turns out just fine.

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Caprese Salad Stack

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Our garden produces a variety of tomatoes. Here is one of our favorite ways to enjoy them fresh from the garden. This traditional Italian salad is easy to prepare, a true flavor-flash on the palate, and very pretty when plated. Continue reading

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Roasted Cauliflower Pilaf

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Here is a super-healthy recipe that makes for a nice side dish or a light meal all by itself. It is fresh. It is low in calories and it is rich in oleic acid – a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid. In addition, it just tastes good. Continue reading

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