I’ve never been one for collecting things. But a few years after I was married, and once I dove head first into cooking, I began to accumulate cookbooks. I would pick them up at garage sales. I joined a book club and snagged many great books at bargain prices. Then it dawned on me a few years ago. How often do I actually use these books? After looking through my collection, I realized that I had a habit of picking up the same few books time and time again. Most of my cookbooks were in near new condition because they were rarely used. So to earn a few extra bucks and to clear out my kitchen, I pared down my collection, keeping only the books I really used. Here is what I was left with:
These are my tried and true books. The ones whose pages are creased, dog-eared, and stained. Back when I was more than a little challenged in the cooking and baking departments, I chose these books because they gave me easy to follow instructions and consistent results every single time. Now, those same books are used for a different reason. They provide good “bones” for my own recipes. They lay down the structure and then I go in and tweak and recreate them to make them mine. If I need to check what kind of leavening I should use in a recipe or the proper cook time for a piece of meat, I consult the trusted few.
If creases and stains are any indication of a good recipe, then this one for banana bread from The Joy Of Cooking, takes the cake. How’s this for overuse:
Some may look at those pages in disgust. I look at them and get kind of nostalgic. That’s the recipe for banana bread that our family has loved for years. That very page was turned by the tiny fingers of my then young children as we baked this bread together. That seemingly ugly page served as the inspiration for a recipe that would take me to the Pillsbury Bake Off in 2014. See? There is beauty in those stained pages. There are memories in each little wrinkle. This book, I treasure, and I know someday, my children will as well. This book will always remain on my shelf, and I will always see its beauty no matter how tattered it becomes.
Let’s talk about this beloved banana bread recipe. The difference between this banana bread and others has everything to do with the process. Instead of blending bananas completely into the batter, the instructions call for simply folding chunks of banana into the batter at the very end. The result is a delicious quick bread with chunks of ooey-gooey banana inside. The bread itself is not banana infused bread. The bananas are just cooked inside and visible in every bite. This subtle change makes a big difference and one that I love!
I’ve taken the liberty of using this recipe as a jumping off point for my Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins. Again, I’ve used it as a guide, but my final recipe is quite a departure from the original. My version is gluten free, egg free, dairy free, cholesterol free, and sweetened with a bit of honey instead of sugar. Don’t let all of those “free” words scare you away. They are tasty, light, and airy.
Health food? Probably not, but they are a treat that I can feel good about letting my kiddos have.
Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins
6 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 & 3/4 cup oat flour** (plus more for topping)
1 & 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 & 1/4 cups banana chunks (small pieces about 1/4″) – about 2 small bananas
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line 10 spots of a muffin tin with paper liners. I prefer to use parchment paper muffin cups. They release instantly…every single time!
Place the coconut oil (which will be solid at room temperature) into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream together for one minute. Add in the honey. Cream together for 2 minutes, gradually increasing the speed up to medium. Don’t skimp on the time here. You want to work out any lumps and bumps found in the coconut oil. The final product will be a creamy, smooth mixture.
**Place 1 & 3/4 cups of rolled oats (not quick cooking) into a food processor or powerful blender. Process until a fine powder forms. Sift the flour, tapioca, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
Slowly add the almond milk in, mixing until well combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips, raisins, and chopped walnuts.
Break apart the bananas into chunks. I like to cut the bananas into 1/4″ slices, then break them apart into thirds right where their natural seams are. Gently fold the bananas into the batter with a rubber spatula.
Place 1/4 cup of the batter into each prepared muffin cup.
Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a bit of rolled oats.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. When gently pressed in the center, the muffin should “spring” back. If your finger sinks in, well, pop it back into the oven for a few more minutes!
These muffins are best when they have had time to sit. Gluten free products can have a tendency to fall apart if they are eaten right out of the oven. I usually make these at night and have them ready for the next morning. They’re just right then!