Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love Like Bananas

I must apologize for the sparseness in updates.
Due to time and money constraints I have unfortunately not been able to give this blog as much attention as it deserves.
I have several updates backed up that I'd like to post, but in between working at my part-time job, and working on my thesis, I have not been able to find the time to dedicate to this.
There is still hope, however.
If I can get some more financial support, I may just be able to take some time out of my busy schedule to post more here and on the sister blog at EJS Creations.

And so, in an almost crazy-like-bananas move, I have added a "Donate" button to this blog.
There it is, right there in the upper right hand corner.
If you like what you've read so far, and want to see more updates, please feel free to click that button and give a little love.
These funds also go toward the purchasing of more banana goods, so it really does make a difference!
As a gift to whoever donates, I will have Crazy Banana make an appearance with a special message to you at the end of the next update I post!
If you donate $5 or more, I will send you a Crazy Banana sticker!
If you donate $10 or more, I will send you a Crazy Banana bookmark!
If you donate $25 or more, I will send you both a Crazy Banana bookmark and a sheet of stickers!
If you donate $50 or more, I will give you a special thanks in my side bar and I will also send you a Crazy Banana Ornamont!
If you donate $100 or more, I will give you a special thanks in my side bar and I will also send you all of the above, as well as a box of chocolate banana cookies!

If that's incentive enough, then go for it!
But don't by any means feel obligated to donate.
I appreciate all my readers, and will love you whether you support me or not!

I do apologize for the eyesore in that corner, but hey... at least it complements the color scheme of the rest of the blog, right? ;)

Emily J Sampson

Friday, January 13, 2012



Artwork by yours truly,
Emily J Sampson,

Enjoy and have a banantacular day. :B

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bananas for Breakfast

Bananas are a very good breakfast food in and of themselves.
They're a delicious fruit that's gentle on the stomach,
so for people with delicate digestive systems (like yours truly),
bananas are perfect in the morning.
What's even better is that they can be used as a topping or mixed in with cereal.
However, while I was at home for Christmas,
my family and I went to our favorite breakfast diner,
Blueberry Hill,
where I discovered a use for bananas for breakfast that was so ingenious,
I wish I had thought of it:
Banana Nut French Toast.

It's French Toast,
but made with their homemade banana nut bread
(which I haven't had a chance to try yet).

I ordered the Blue Plate Special, which comes with two pieces of the French Toast, 2 eggs any way you want them, and 2 pieces of any meat you desire,
all for about $7.
That's not bad.

And let me tell you, the Banana Nut French Toast was definitely worth it.
It retained the comfy cozy taste of banana bread,
even with powdered sugar and syrup on in.
The banana slices on top just made it all the better.

The only caution I'd give is for those with nut allergies (obviously),
as this dish does contain nuts (which kind I am uncertain of, though).

Still, if you want to try this at home,
simply make up some banana bread using the banana chocolate chip muffin recipe I posted earlier,
take out the chocolate chips (or leave them in if you prefer) and bake in a loaf pan instead.
Then slice the bread, dip it in a whipped egg with a little milk, and toss it in a frying pan until it's toasted.
Add butter, syrup, and powdered sugar and there you go!

You can add or subtract ingredients too, depending on your tastes, of course.
The possibilities are endless!

Banana Flavor: 6
Banana Accuracy: 10
Banana Texture: 8

Overall Rating: 8  (Delicious and simple, this breakfast dish is great for anyone who doesn't mind the occasional crunch of a nut in their French Toast.  Not my very first option for breakfast, but if you're going all out, you might as well try something new, right?)

Emily J Sampson

Saturday, December 17, 2011

¡Me Gusta Bananas!

As some of you may know, I'm home for Christmas, and am enjoying time with my family.
Fortunately for you all, that time also includes the occasional meal at local restaurants.

Tonight I enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner with my sister and her fiancé at Friaco's Mexican Restaurant and Cantina off of Route 59 in Aurora, IL.
Despite being full of spicy quesadilla, my sister and I had enough room to split a Banana Chimichanga (only $4.99) for dessert.

Here's the description from Friaco's website:
"A mixture of bananas, butter, cinnamon & sugar rolled into a flour tortilla & fried.  Served with ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream."

Well that definitely sounded awesome, and it definitely tasted awesome.
The chimi came and it was as beautiful as could be.
They took an entire banana (no slicing, no substituting, just a straight up whole banana) and wrapped it in a tasty tortilla and fried it with cinnamon sugar.
There was a wonderful pool of creamy sweet glaze engulfing the plate around the chimi as well, and the ice cream was simply wonderful.
That aside, the chimi itself was amazing, to say the least.
Definitely tasty and worth the five bucks.

Now I'll stop chatting and show you the good stuff:

Now you just try and tell me that doesn't look good.

Banana Flavor: 9
Banana Accuracy: 10
Banana Texture: 10

Overall Ranking: 9  (Sweet and cinnamon-y, this dessert can't fail unless you absolutely hate bananas!  If that's true, then why on earth are you here reading this blog?!?  Anyway, the Banana Chimichanga has the great crunchy texture of the outer fried tortilla shell with the smooth creamy texture of the chilled inner banana, which I absolutely love.  Friaco's has multiple locations in the Northern Illinois area, so get yourself over to one of them if you're nearby, and get one of these babies!)

Emily J Sampson

Monday, December 12, 2011

You're My Muffin

If you know me, chances are you know of my infamous Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.
Sweet, moist, delicious in all ways...
but I can't take credit for them.

No, this recipe is a conglomeration of all my mother's stolen baking knowledge,
which she has in turn passed along to me.

And now, I shall pass it on to you.
Here it is, folks.
The recipe for the best Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins you will ever eat!

Start by making traditional banana bread.
Really not that hard.
You'll need about 3 average sized bananas for each batch you make.
Pretty basic stuff there- bananas to make banana bread...
But there's a secret to it, a trick that makes these muffins so much better than traditional means.
The key is to freeze your bananas.
You have to freeze them just at the right moment in their life though...
when they start to get those little brown freckles all over.
Stick them in a Ziploc bag, pop them in the freezer, and wait until the time comes to make your muffins.
They'll be all brown and gross-looking by the time you need to use them, but don't worry about that.
The freezing actually intensifies the sweetness.
It's definitely a difficult part of the recipe though, as I'll explain later.

Here are the rest of the ingredients for a single batch of muffins:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 cups unsifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour or buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed bananas (approximately 3, as stated above)
2 cups chocolate chips

First, cream the sugar, and shortening together, adding the eggs one at a time.
The tip here is to put the eggs out early so they're room temperature, then beat them a little with a fork before adding them one at a time to the mixture.

Next, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together and add that to the creamed mixture.

Separately, put the baking soda in the buttermilk (buttermilk is better, but if you don't have access to it, you can make sour milk by adding 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and enough milk to make half a cup and let stand for 5 minutes; apparently you can use plain yogurt as a substitute as well).

Now comes the fun part: mashing the bananas.  You have to thaw your frozen bananas first, and they get pretty mushy and slimy after thawing out, which can either be very very fun for you, or a nightmare.  They should slide right out of the peel, but sometimes you have to give them a little... push with your thumbs.  Only a little gross, but worth the effort considering what you're making here.  Mash them until they're nice and smooth, or slightly lumpy depending on your preference for muffin texture.

Add the vanilla to the mashed bananas, mix, then add to the creamed mixture.
Mix in the chocolate chips a little at a time, then pour a heaping spoonful into each of your lined muffin tins.
You'll want to fill them about a third of the way, but no more than that, as they will rise quite a bit.

Bake them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes (sometimes I leave them in for a couple minutes longer, but if you want softer, creamier muffins, 15 minutes is a good time), and keep an eye on them.  They're done if they're a little golden brown on top.
Let them cool a little on a rack and eat them warm with a nice tall glass of cold milk (or what have you).

This recipe usually makes anywhere from 24 to 30 muffins, depending on how big or small you make them.
You can also add either more chocolate chips, or more bananas to change the flavor and texture of your muffins.
More chocolate chips means richer, sweeter muffins,
and more bananas means moister, fruitier muffins.

Banana Flavor: 8
Banana Accuracy: 10
Banana Texture: 6

Overall Ranking: 9  (Sweet and good for you, this is a snack or dessert that's perfect for any occasion, any meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, you name it!  The texture the bananas bring to the muffins in combination with the sweet chocolate chips makes it the ideal nomming experience.)

Emily J Sampson

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Bananas, Cookie!

Today's post is brought to you proudly by my lovely and talented Vegan roommate Bridget Underwood,
who was faced with a dilemma.
She loves cookie dough (don't we all?),
and especially loves eating it raw (ditto),
but the eggs used to make such a delightful treat are neither safe to eat raw,
nor Vegan-friendly.

But there is hope for us all.
Bridget discovered a method
(I cannot recall the original pioneer of this method, or I would immediately and most definitely give their genius the credit they are due)
that allows you to make cookie dough that is animal- and stomach-friendly.

And it calls for that most glorious of fruits...
you guessed it...
the banana.

Here's how it works:
Simply make the cookie dough as you would normally
(Bridget follows Nestlé's original cookie dough recipe),
except, instead of the eggs,
substitute a banana.

The banana acts as a bonding agent,
the same as the eggs,
and also gives the cookie dough and extra tangy taste that's irresistible.

Here's another secret,
which my mother learned from yet another unnamed banana pioneer:
when cooking or baking with bananas,
use slightly over-ripened bananas that have been frozen.
The freezing part is especially key.
Freezing bananas intensifies the sweetness,
and, while it turns them brown and rather unpleasant to look at
(and peel once thawed out and ready to be used in baking),
it definitely makes all the difference.

Once you make the dough,
you're free to do with it whatever you like.
Bake it as cookies, or a giant cookie cake,
or, my preferred indulgence method, eat it raw,
which is exactly what Bridget and I did this afternoon after a good work session.

Make sure you have a tall glass of milk (or soy milk if you're Vegan ;P ) to wash it down with though,
because you'll definitely need it!

Banana Flavor: 2
Banana Accuracy: 9
Banana Texture: 2

Overall Ranking: 6  (Delightfully subtle banana taste for your cookie dough indulgence, but beware!  It is incredibly sweet!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lucky You, Lucky Monkey!

When putting the BananaBlog together the first thing I considered was my location.
I currently live in Savannah, Georgia, but will more than likely be leaving at some point in the Summer to seek out new adventures on the West coast.
Taking this into account, the only logical starting point for the BananaBlog would be to review local banana goodness before I leave them behind for good.

First up, kicking off BananaBlog's no doubt long list of local Savannah bananaties,
it's the ever-loved Lucky Monkey frozen smoothie from The Sentient Bean!
The Lucky Monkey!
(Forgive the poor quality photo, as my camera screen is broken...)

Located just across the street on the South end of Forsyth Park in beautiful historic Savannah,
The Sentient Bean provides healthy food, organic coffee, Vegetarian and Vegan friendly dishes, and atmosphere to boot!
They also play host to many delightful Indie musicians from time to time
(including my favorite band, The Seedy Seeds, a couple years ago).

I used to live walking distance from this amazing coffee shop, and took full advantage of its delights,
and of course, upon my first visit there, imagine my sheer joy when I saw the "Lucky Monkey" on the menu!
A chocolate and banana blended smoothie, this is definitely worth the $4.75 (or $5 with Soy milk instead of regular) to indulge it.
Creamy and cool, with the occasional nommy ice chunk for texture, it's perfect for those sweltering Savannah Summer days at the park.

Try any of the items on their menu and you're guaranteed a win at the Bean.
Just remember, though: they don't take debit or credit cards, but if that turns you off, don't worry; they have an ATM handy for some quick cash withdrawals.

Trust me when I say the Lucky Monkey is a treat you'll go ape for!

Banana Flavor (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 ranking as incredibly strong and overpowering, 1 ranking as barely noticeable): 4
Banana Accuracy (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 ranking as "are you sure this isn't just a regular banana?" and 1 ranking as "what chemicals am I eating here?"): 7
Banana Texture (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 ranking as "there are whole chunks in this thing!" and 1 ranking as "where's the banana hidden in all this???"): 1

Overall Ranking (on a scale of 1 to 10 bananas, 1 banana ranking as highly unsatisfactory, and 10 ranking as sheer banana perfection): 7

Now go get yourself to the Bean and enjoy!

BananaBlogger Extraordinaire