“Will you always go grocery shopping with Jacquie so she doesn’t have to go alone?”

Yes, that was actually a line from Jason’s vow to me on our wedding day. I must concede that there has been some attempt on Jason’s part to keep his vow but there always seems to be pesky things that get in the way. Things like golf games, golf lessons, college football, pro football, and Tiger Woods winning yet another championship. Sense a pattern?

Every time he does manage to go with me though, I wish I could go back in time and change the vow to read, “Will you always go grocery shopping with Jacquie and never complain while you are there?” I admit that the amount of time I spend at the grocery store is inhumanely long but some women drag their husbands to the mall and spend hours shopping for clothes and bags. I like to spend an hour or two browsing the produce section at the supermarket or looking for farmer’s markets. At least my habit doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars and Jason gets to reap the benefits of my cooking!

There are three main parts to grocery shopping that captures Jason’s interest in the slightest:

  • Eating at the pizzeria that shares a shopping complex with the supermarket
  • Choosing the cuts of meat for his homemade burgers (ground at home with our nifty food grinder of course)
  • Picking up the cheapest, most overripe bananas he can find from the discount rack.

                                                              

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Wait a second — at this point you may be questioning my judgment in asking Jason to help out. See, he discovered the discount rack near the back of the produce section last year so he makes a beeline for it every time. No, he’s not cheap 🙂 The discount rack is where the neglected, bruised, battered, and brown bananas are sold at a low low rate of 15 bananas for $1.50.

I must admit I have gotten stares from people at the checkout line when I put the ugly bananas onto the conveyer belt. However, if they were so bold as to tap me on the shoulder and ask what I do with the “bad” fruit, I’d proudly say, “Make banana muffins!” and offer up this delicious recipe.

The banana nut muffins produced from this recipe are Jason’s favorite muffins and as such, our fridge is rarely without at least a dozen bananas sitting in the back of the fridge – turning black – just waiting to be made into these babies.

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Banana Nut Muffins
3 large VERY ripe bananas (see above picture), peeled
2/3 cup sugar
5T butter, melted
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 ½ cup flour
½ cup chopped walnuts, or more depending on your preference (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add sugar, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

                                                            

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(gratuitous butter shot)

4. Stir in baking soda, salt, and flour until just combined. Try not to overmix.

5. Fold in walnuts.

                                                                

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6. Pour into muffin tins (regular sized or mini) lined with muffin liners or lightly greased. Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on how hot your oven runs. Your best bet to ensure doneness is to use the trusty toothpick method. Stick a toothpick into the center of the muffin and when it comes out clean, they’re done!

                                                            

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This is a pretty foolproof recipe that turns out moist and flavorful muffins every time. I have often doubled and tripled the recipe to accommodate the amount of bananas I have on hand and it has always scaled well. In the batch pictured, I made 24 regular sized muffins and 24 mini muffins in the time it would have taken me to make a dozen regular sized muffins. I made mini loaves and whole loaves with the same recipe in the past and they turned out just as delicious – albeit not as portable.

It seems that banana muffins are a crowd pleaser no matter how I’ve made them. I whipped up a couple of batches when Jason’s family and a bunch of out-of-town friends (expected and not expected!) stayed with us the week of our wedding. Jason has given batches to his one employee as a ‘thank you’ gift, I have brought them in to share with coworkers, and we have also shipped them to my sister up at Cornell. While I appreciate compliments as much as the next person, the fact that the muffins go so quickly is proof enough that everyone loves them.

In the batch pictured, I substituted ¼ of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat and it had virtually no flavor impact. Next time I will use ½ all purpose and ½ whole wheat flour to see if I can up the health factor a bit more. If not that, I will sprinkle flax seed over the muffins prior to baking.

The mix-in options are limited only by your imagination and taste preference. I normally stick to walnuts but have added chocolate chips and raisins in the past. Much to Jason’s chagrin, I haven’t made the chocolate banana muffins in a while in an attempt to be healthy. Perhaps next time sweetie! 🙂

I have been meaning to use fresh blueberries in the muffins but if I don’t get to that soon, I’ll have to try it with frozen. Thankfully the blueberry season lasts into mid-October so I still have one more batch of muffins left before I have to resort to frozen.

There are some fall fruits that could work with bananas as well. With the sweetness of the bananas, a tart fruit like Macintosh apples might go well. Some time in the coming months I will try the banana muffins topped with thinly sliced apples and a crumb topping. Yum!

The first person to comment on how many times I said banana in this post will get a batch of muffins with his/her choice of add-ins 😉

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