Thursday, October 6, 2011

Healthy Baked Banana Pudding and Warm Bacon, Egg and Spinach Salad

This morning, after waking up at 5am to get ready for work as usual (actually, it would probably be more accurate to say that I hit the snooze button from 5 to 5:40 before finally getting up), I headed down to my car at 6 where I discovered, to my dismay, that my car battery was dead.  As much as I would like to blame something or someone else, it was my fault.  I just might have left the light on inside my car when I was rummaging through the glove compartment last night...  But this didn't bother me nearly as much as my discovery the other day that one corner of my front bumper had popped loose and refuses to go back into place.  Upon that discovery, which was in the parking lot of our gym, I burst into tears.  Which might have been a little bit of an over-reaction.  But the thought of spending money on car maintenance always makes me feel stressed.  My car battery is all better now, by the way, thanks to Jamie.  My bumper, not so much.  I'm not sure what to do about that.

However, I'm pushing aside all feelings of stress because as I write this, I can hardly contain my excitement that after tomorrow, Jamie and I have a whole week off work for a little fall vacation.  Of course, I'm already dreaming up so many recipes I want to make over the week.  We went back on forth on so many options for how to spend the week - a visit to my sister and her new baby, flying to Maine to eat seafood and enjoy the fall weather, going to the beach and getting some sun...  But in the end, we decided to stay here and have a relaxing week of day trips here and there around Denver, starting with tomorrow night, an event that I'm looking forward to much more than he is...  the ballet!  Yes, that's right, we'll be going to the opening night of Swan Lake.  I've only been to the ballet once, to see the Nutcracker Suite, and I'm really looking forward to the evening.  And Jamie likes doing things that make me happy.  He's sweet like that.

I had actually first suggested going to see a wrestling match tomorrow night at the Pepsi Center - because I like to keep my man happy, too - and then the ballet another night.  Wrestling for him and ballet for me!

I made a warm bacon and egg salad for dinner tonight, and as an experiment, I also made a quick and healthy baked banana pudding.  Jamie says this pudding is a hybrid.  Not really a pudding - certainly not the sweet yellow banana pudding from a box with mounds of whipped cream and vanilla wafers - and not really banana bread either, but a cross between the two.  Really, it's simply an incredibly moist banana bread with a pudding-like texture, due to the very low amount of flour in the recipe.  So I'm calling it a pudding.

What I like about it is that it's so healthy.  There's nothing in this recipe that isn't good for you, with very little fat and sugar.  Normally I wouldn't bake on a weeknight, unless I'm baking treats to take to work the next day, but this only took 5 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake.  I had intended the recipe to be just two servings, but it was pretty filling, so I'd recommend this as four servings, unless you're eating this on its own for breakfast or something.

The "salad" is also a bit of a hybrid - I've never made a salad before with a fried egg on top.  I got the idea for this salad from this month's issue of Food and Wine, although I simplified my version a little from theirs.  It was surprisingly good, although I quickly sauteed the spinach which wilted it a little too much, so next time, I would probably leave the greens raw.  But since it was a warm salad, it didn't feel summery at all, which made it a nice weeknight, fall dinner.

I made the homemade croutons from some dark pumpernickel rye, so they had a really nice deep flavor, complemented by the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and thyme I tossed them with before baking.

And warm banana pudding while relaxing on the couch on a chilly winter night is, of course, total comfort.

Baked Banana Pudding
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray 4 ramekins with non-stick baking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour into the ramekins and bake for 30 minutes.  Serve warm, with a small dollop of fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Yields 4 servings.

Warm Bacon, Egg and Spinach Salad

homemade croutons
  • 1 cup bread cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder and ground thyme, to taste
  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2-4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup shaved white cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup homemade croutons
  • salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  In a bowl, toss together the bread cubes, olive oil and seasonings.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes, until crispy.  Set aside to cool.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the turkey bacon until crispy.  Set on a paper towel to drain, then cut into smaller bite-sized pieces.  Spray the skillet with a little non-stick spray, and crack the eggs into the skillet.  Cook on one side only for 2-3 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk is still runny.

Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, mustard and vinegar.  Pour over the spinach leaves and toss until coated.

Divide the spinach between two plates.  Top with the bacon and fried eggs.  Scatter the shaved cheese and croutons over the salad and sprinkle with parsley.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve while eggs are still warm.

Yields 2 servings.