Land of Leftovers

At my house, it's normal to see a bunch of bananas hanging on a hook on my refrigerator. They're one of my favorite fruits and find their way into everything from beverages to dinner. Of course, my favorite way to enjoy one is right out of the peel -- either by itself or sliced into my morning bowl of cereal. However, anyone familiar with bananas knows that they go from very firm to very soft in a matter of days, so it's always good to have some recipes on hand to take advantage of them all along the way.

That's where this month's set of recipes come in. These three quick recipes take you from a morning smoothie to dinner at the end of the day. What's more, they don't require a lot of fancy ingredients or lots of time. Quite frankly, they're perfect for a busy month like March! Our banana recipe line up is:

  • Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
  • Simple Banana Bread
  • Tropical Chicken Stir-fry

As always, I look forward to hearing from you about your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . And now, on to the recipes ...

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • 1 c. frozen strawberries
  • 1 c. vanilla nonfat yogurt
  • 1 c. skim milk

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Process the mixture until smooth. Pour into tall glasses and enjoy.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Simple Banana Bread

To mash the bananas, simply pop them into a resealable plastic bag. Then mash with your fingers, squeeze thoroughly to empty all the banana into the mixing bowl and throw the bag out. Easy mashing and easy clean up!
  • 1/3 c. margarine
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, blend the margarine and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs and continue beating for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the mashed banana to the egg mixture. Mix well and add the rest of the flour mixture and banana. Mix well again and add the walnuts. Stir to combine.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely before slicing.

  • Yields: 1 loaf
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Tropical Chicken Stir-fry

The bananas soften slightly to add a creamy sauce to the stir-fry, but make sure that you use very firm bananas or they will turn into nothing but mush!
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c. coarsely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 c. coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 c. pineapple chunks
  • 2 medium bananas, sliced and cut into chunks

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crushed red pepper, garlic and chicken and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink. Add the red bell pepper and onion and stir-fry another 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the pineapple chunks and bananas and stir-fry another minute to heat through and combine the flavors. Remove from the heat and serve immediately over hot cooked rice.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes