Cambrian: Opinion

Chicken lasagna, banana cupcakes: meat meets sweet

Ecuadorian bananas have become available in some markets, half the size of regular ones and twice as tasty!
Ecuadorian bananas have become available in some markets, half the size of regular ones and twice as tasty! Special to The Cambrian

As promised, here are a couple of fine recipes that were shared with me earlier, and reserved for just the right moment.

Nancy Allen gave us delicious ways to utilize the banana, that nutritious berry, easily identifiable as such if you run your pinky finger down the center of a peeled fully ripe fruit, and separate it into its three sections and see the tiny seeds. I used to amaze my students and family with that little trick.

Oatmeal Banana Cupcakes

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

3 fully ripe medium bananas, mashed

3/4 cup honey

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

With an electric mixer, cream together sugar and butter; beat in eggs, banana and honey. Stir together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt; add to creamed mixture, beating just till blended. Stir in the oats.

 Fill 24 muffin pans lined with paper baking cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. They are delicious plain or iced with a smear of orange cream cheese; just mix freshly squeezed orange juice and zest into spreadable cream cheese.

Bev Praver adapted a recipe from Cooking Light via MyRecipes.com. It was easy to adjust to taste for her and Jerry, especially the garlic and onions. This half the original recipe produced four generous portions for them. Yummm.

Spinach Mushroom Chicken Lasagna

10.5 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts

1-1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth

1-1/4 tblsp. olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onions

1-1/2 tblsp. minced garlic

3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp. each fresh thyme and red pepper flakes, or to taste

5-10 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms

10 oz. bag fresh spinach

Cooking spray

3/4 cup nonfat or reduced fat milk

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

6 no-boil lasagna noodles

About 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Bring stock to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add chicken and reduce heat, simmering 18-20 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan and reserve stock. Shred with two forks when cool enough to handle.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat add oil and swirl to coat. Add onion, garlic,  1/4 teaspoon salt, thyme, pepper and mushrooms; sauté eight minutes. Stir in spinach 1/3 package at a time, cooking two minutes after each addition or until spinach wilts before adding more. Remove pan from heat and stir in chicken.

Coat an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray. Combine milk, flour and nutmeg, stirring with a whisk until smooth. In a small saucepan, bring reserved stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk mixture to stock, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in the remaining salt. Cook 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Remove pan from heat; stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Pour 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish; top with two noodles, half the chicken mixture and 1/4 cup mozzarella, making sure noodles are covered with sauce. Repeat layers once with noodles, chicken mixture, mozzarella and sauce. Top dish evenly with remaining noodles, sauce, and mozzarella.

Cover dish tightly with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. (May be cooled, sealed, and frozen to thaw and reheat later.)

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Submit recipes and ideas to her at The Cambrian, 2068 Main St., Cambria, CA 93428, or email her at cambrian@thetribune news.com.

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