What to do with All these Bananas!?

So I’m sitting in my living room stumbling through recipes on the internet. and My dad screams to me from the kitchen “Do something with these damn bananas! You have 4 black ones in the freezer, and 5 ones about to turn to mush!” and it is too damn hot to put the oven on for my normal banana breads. So I need Plan B and  Fast. So after googling and realizing I have a Jam sale coming up I figured “Banana Jam- I’ve never heard of it but that doesn’t mean that other people won’t love it!” So I googled. I kept finding recipes for Jamaican Banana Jam. And there is nothing Jamaican about these recipes. You think Dark Rum, Yummy Rum, Creamed Rum, Brown Sugar, Sugar Cane when you think Jamaica. These recipes were pretty much “Banana, white sugar, lemon/lime juice, pectin.”

So I kept searching. And Found a recipe for Banana Foster Jam and Changed some things around to make it more Jamaican and awesome.  These are bananas with Kick and they’re a little drunk. I also made it ice cream topping.

CAPTAINS JAMAICAN BANANAS FOSTER JAM ICE CREAM TOPPING
8-9 ripe but still firm bananas (about 3 cups, mashed)
½ cup lemon juice
2 cups white sugar
2 ½ cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice
1/2 c. Captain Morgans Spiced Rum
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
¼ cup water (if needed)

To Make Ice Cream Topping:

  • Mash the bananas, using a fork or pastry blender or a potato masher (pictured). Add in the lemon juice, Water  and mash together.
  • Put the bananas into a 6qt. saucepot. (Your favorite stew pot will due nicely) With the banana mixture on the heat, stir in the sugars and spices.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring every few minutes until the bananas mixture are starting to bubble.
  • Use a hand blender to mix everything together into a syrup
  • After 45 minutes, stir in the Spiced rum, and continue cooking for at least 15 more minutes to cook the alcohol out of the mixture
  • Remove from the heat and fill sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Adjust the caps.
  • Process in a hot-water bath according to USDA directions: 15 minutes for one-cup (8 oz.) jars.  (See my last entry for more on how to do this)

To Make it a Jam:

Ingredients are save as above plus 1 box of pectin (you might need a second box)

  • Mash the bananas, using a fork or pastry blender or a potato masher (pictured). Add in the lemon juice, and measure to be sure you have at least three cups of jam.
  • Put the bananas into a 6qt. saucepot. With the banana mixture on the heat, stir in the sugars and cinnamon and 1 box of pectin.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring every few minutes until the bananas are a thick puree – about 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, stir in the dark rum, and continue cooking for at least 15 more minutes to cook the alcohol out of the mixture.
  • Remove from the heat and fill sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Adjust the caps.
  • Process in a hot-water bath according to USDA directions: 15 minutes for one-cup (8 oz.) jars.  (See my last entry for more on how to do this)

Keep an eye on it and make sure to test it to going to where you want it to be, there is a possibility that because of the Rum you might need between one and two packages.

The reason for the extra rum extract is to get that good rum flavor through out the banana mush jam. Rum has so many nice tones to it, its no wonder that pirates everywhere wonder “Why is the Rum gone?” But in all seriousness its in there for flavor and flavor is the most important of all things. I might have added more rum then I should have but I assure you that this is a fantastic tasting recipe

Now that you have this fantastic Ice Cream Topping, I highly suggest pulling out your ice cream makers (or a box from the freezer) and getting some Vanilla Ice Cream. Drizzle the Captains Banana Foster Ice Cream Topping over a bowl of your favorite vanilla ice cream and you have a perfect treat to any summers day. Or you have the perfect Jam to add to your Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich- A Twist on the King’s Classic!

Oh Yeah, Jam Session!

So I totally forgot to take pictures when I was making the Jam this time but I promise you next batch will have pictures and I’ll go through it with you guys.

But this was my first time making Jelly and ended up making two flavors.  Mixed Berry Surprise (Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry and Kiwi)  and classic Raspberry Jelly. I don’t know about you, but I use the words Jam and Jelly interchangeably with each other. Believe it or not, there is a difference.  According to the article on TLC Cooking‘s “What is the difference between jelly, jam and preserves? And what exactly is Jell-O?” Jelly is a sugar, fruit juice and pectin mixture that is boiled and then left to gel. Jam has bits of fruit pulp, fruit juice, sugar and pectin mixed together and left to gel. And a preserve is fruit chunks in jam or syrup. So depending on the chunkyness of what is in your jar depends on what you’re spreading on your toast.

It is surprisingly easy to make your own Jam.

I did it today with frozen fruit.

So here is Jam Making for dummies

  • Search the internet for a recipe or ask Grandma for hers.
  • Put the semi thawed out frozen fruit in a LARGE stew pot over med heat add some of the liquids and use a potato masher to mash the semi frozen fruit. I just find it easier to mash it at a semi frozen fruit over fully thawed out.
  • Add about 1 cup of sugar mixed with the pectin and any remaining liquids to the fruit mash and stir.
  • OPTIONAL: Add about a tablespoon of butter to help cut down on frothing.
  • Stir until you cannot stir away the bubbles.  Stir for about a minute AFTER you hit the point where you cannot stir the bubbles away.
  • Add the rest of the sugar
  • and Keep Stirring. This time once the bubbles come, keep stirring for 5 minutes. This ensures all sugar is melted in.
  • Turn off the heat and put into jars.

Canning things is actually really easy. I highly suggest picking up a canning kit like this one available at Walmart.  Believe me, I’ve canned without it and I will never go back! The “Ball Canning Utensil Kit’ has : Jar lifter (Jar sized tongs), Bubble remover / headspace tool (have never used this but I hear its useful), Magnetic lid lifter (A Magnet on a stick), Jar funnel (So much less mess!).  The Ball Canning Utensil Kit generally runs between $6.00 and $8.00 and is available at Walmart, Target and some supermarkets.

Canning can be difficult and can take a few times to get it right. I’ve been reading a few different methods that a claimed to work, but I don’t know if they do. But here’s what I know works:

  • SANITIZE your jars, I find using the Sanitize cycle on my dishwasher is fantastic, but hot soapy water works well too.
  • Keep the jars warm/hot if you’re putting hot contents into the jar, hot jars with hot liquids break less.
  • In a small sauce pan, keep the lids in hot water until you’re ready to use them. The lids work best when hot.
  • Once the jars are filled, clean off the top where the lid goes and then using the Magnetic lid lifter to get one flat lid out of the water, and place it on the jar then use the lid lifter to get the other part of the lid and place it on the jar
  • Tighten the lid onto the Jar as tightly as you can with you’re hands. If you can’t get it tight, have someone help you get it nice and tight.
  • I don’t have the can pressure cooker that most sites suggest, I have a large stew pot with a top. I put enough water in so that there is about 1 inch of water above all the jars and boil the jars for about 10 minutes  of BOILING TIME.*
  • When you take the jars out of the water, I was told to put them on a few cloth towels in case the jar breaks while cooling. I put them on the table away from the stove and just let them hang out until I’m ready to do something with them.

Its important to keep the box/tray your jars come with because if you’re doing a batch of 12 jars, you already have the perfect thing to store the full jars/move the full jars with.

Most Jars of Jam can last up to about a year. I’ve read that after about 9 months the jam is still good but gets a little runny. So I would say its BEST BEST to eat within 6 months of Jarring until you are sure of what you are doing and then always check how it looks, feels, tastes and notice if it makes your stomach feel funny after. Other important things are to Date and Label the jars, few people like Mystery Jam and Toast.

Enjoy your Canning and Let me know how it goes. To come is going to be a picture and recipe blog for Strawberry & Blueberry Jam. Also tempting Wine Jam. For more information on Canning your own fruits and finding pick your own fresh fruit places please check out http://www.pickyourown.org/jam.htm
Happy Jamming!

 

*Boiling Time meaning time where the pot of water is actually boiling with a nice rolling boil.

Simple 6 Ingrediant PERFECT Brownies

This post is brought to you by SHARK WEEK!!!

Like many girls during shark week I have this uncontrollable urge for brownies. And I love simple recipes. I was stumbling about and I found How to Make Perfect Brownies and after reading its recipe I decided to give it a shot. So after reading the recipe again I pulled my kitchen together and found what I was looking for. I needed to pick up some chocolate chips but I had the cocoa powder.

Cocoa Powder is important in a recipe like this because it is simple and you want the best tastes to shine through. I have 3 different Cocoa Powders in my cabinet. I have Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder and used this one today. But I also have Hersey Cocoa Powder and Hershey Special Dark Cocoa Powder. Each Powder has its time and place. I like using the Ghirardelli for special thing and things that require only a few items because it show cases the fine flavors of my favorite thing, CHOCOLATE! But ALWAYS use one that you enjoy.

For chocolate chips today I used the store brand because I’m low on funds and had to replace some spices in my closet on this trip out. If I’m cooking for people other then my family, I splurge and buy the Ghirardelli chips. But when I’m cooking for me and my family I go with whats on sale. For Chips, go with your favorite brand. I would say take a step up from the store brand in this because these did not stay as little chocolate pocket but the store brand bled into the brownies leaving them moist and soft and I’m wondering if this is a bad thing?

Sugar and Eggs not pictiuired

(Eggs and Sugar not shown)

Ingredients

1½ cups sugar
¾ cup flour
¾ cup cocoa powder (see note below)
3 eggs
¾ cup butter, melted
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (see note below)

How to do it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
  2. Melt your butter- Microwave or sauce pan, either or works fine.
  3. Put Sugar, Flower and Cocoa Powder together in a large bowl and mix them together with your whisk. They don’t need to be sifted together, just mixed a little
  4. Add eggs and Butter to dry ingredients and mix together
  5. Mix you’re chips AFTER THE MELTED BUTTER IS MIXED IN or else you might melt the chips
  6. Spray your choice of brownie pan with cooking spray and/or line with parchment paper.
  7. Place in the oven and cook. If you’re using a 9X9 square you’re looking between 30 and 40 minutes until you’re brownies are ready to come out. If you’re using a 12X9 rectangle you’re looking at 20-30 minutes.

Now, I’m the type of girl that can’t break into the brownies first. I’ve been waiting patiently for my dad and brother to get home so they can break into it first. Dad sent me to get him a glass of milk and THEN I got to enjoy this treat. If you are looking for a brownie, that is rich and absolutely horrible for you, then these babies are what you are looking for! If you’re looking for healthy baking treats…. GET AWAY FROM MY BLOG! Okay some healthy treats will be mentioned… eventually.

You might be looking at this and wonder “wait why is there no baking soda?” I thought that too, but it worked out surprisingly well without it. If you add 1/2 teaspoon you’ll make it a tad more cake like. But if you like cakey brownies, go for it. I like mine dense!

Treat yourself and your friends to these. You won’t be disappointed.

Hello I’m A Baker With A Problem….

I love to bake and I can’t cook to save my life. I have the basic knowledge of “Chicken needs to be cooked till no longer pink.” “There are multiple shades of white when it comes to seafood” and cheesecake bakes till jiggle. I passed Freshmen Home Ec back in High School but really, what does Freshmen Home Ec have to do with ANYTHING in the real kitchen? Not much.

I love baking. I can bake a cheesecake with ease- bake till jiggly, easy as Pie! IN FACT- According to one of my friends who went to Johnson and Wales, Cheesecake is a Pie not a cake because it has a crust of some sort and cakes don’t. Who knew?

I’ve got a handful of baking projects a head of me: Cheesecake Oreo Cupcakes for Jenn’s Friday the 13th Party, JimBob’s Gypsy Carnival where I need Cheesecakes, 3 Tier Fondant Cake, Brownies and MORE! I effectively need to bake for 200 people. I have a Chocolate fountain on stand by and can get fruit easy enough for that too.

But SO it begins. I love to Bake. I am learning to cook. And with any luck, I don’t poison my test subjects… I mean my friends.