There’s a lot going on in February: the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and long, lingering winter nights. It’s the perfect month for comfort food!
1 large very ripe banana (must be ripe)
¾ cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter
¾ cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3-4 slices of bacon, fried crisp and minced (or a 2.5 oz. bag of prepared real bacon pieces)
Extra bananas for garnish
Peanut Butter Sauce
1/3 cup water
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons syrup
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Make the sauce first: bring water to a light boil, then add brown sugar, peanut butter and syrup. Stir until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat and stir in milk or cream. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork until you have an almost paste-like consistency. Then stir in the rest of the wet ingredients. Beat the egg before you add it to the bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients. Then mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Combine just until mixed; you don’t want to over mix the ingredients, or pancakes will be tough. Because a banana is not an exact measurement, if mixture is too thick, you can add another tablespoon of buttermilk. Test it by making a mini pancake.
Heat an electric skillet that has been sprayed with cooking spray or a nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Use a ¼ cup measure to pour out the mixture. When pancake spreads out and rests for 20 seconds, sprinkle bacon on the batter. When bubbles form on the top, the pancake is ready to flip (check the bottom first). Flip and cook until golden on the other side.
Serve with peanut butter sauce. The sauce is strong, so a little goes a long way.
Makes 8 pancakes.
3 ½ cups shell pasta, uncooked
2 tablespoons butter, plus ¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup half and half
6 ounces Velveeta, cut into chunks
3/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1 can Rotel (chipotle if you can find it)
1 ½ cups shredded taco cheese
Fried bacon to garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 375 F.
Cook pasta according to directions. When done, strain it twice because shells can hold water. As soon as it has been strained, return to pan and add 2 tablespoons butter. Stir.
Heat ¼ cup butter in a medium pot, over medium heat. When it has melted, add the flour and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly to cook out the flour flavor. Then add half and half and make a sauce. Next, add Velveeta, cumin seed and Rotel. I like to use chipotle Rotel because it has a smoky flavor. If you cannot find it, use regular Rotel or 1 ½ cups of a chipotle salsa. Stir until mixture is melted and smooth.
Butter a casserole dish and place pasta in the dish. Pour the sauce over pasta and toss until all the pasta is coated. Top with shredded taco cheese and crumbled bacon (optional). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until top cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
Tip: You can add 2 cups chopped chicken breast and ½ cup black beans and ½ cup corn to turn this into a dinner casserole.
Tip: If you have leftover chili, make this the next day and spread chili over the top instead of the bacon.
Easy Pulled Pork (Slow cooker and oven versions)
1 (8.75 pound) pork butt
5 tablespoons liquid smoke
1 ¾ tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Barbecue sauce for serving
Stir together salt, paprika, cumin, pepper, onion powder and seasoned salt.
Rinse the pork butt and pat it dry. Cut off any excess fat — sometimes there is a thick layer of fat on one side. Then pour liquid smoke, 1 tablespoon at a time, over the meat. Next, sprinkle the pork with the salt mixture and pat it on the meat.
Slow cooker instructions:
Place pork in slow cooker, fatty side up, and cook on 10-hour setting. Remove the roast, cover with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 30 minutes before you shred it. Because slow cookers vary, you may find the center is not ready to shred; simply put whatever meat will not shred back in the slow cooker for another hour or so.
Shred and serve with barbecue sauce.
Oven directions (my preferred method):
Heat oven to 300 F. Follow the above directions, but place it in a covered roasting dish and cook 45 minutes per pound. Test the meat after 7 hours, although it may take longer. When it is done, remove the pork, cover it, and allow it to rest on the counter for 45 minutes before shredding (this helps keep the meat moist).
Tip: Keep some of the juices and place leftover meat in it so it stays moist.
Chocolate Pecan Cobbler
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar, divided use
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2/3cup half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped pecans
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ cups boiling water
Vanilla ice cream for serving
Heat oven to 350 F.
Place butter in an 8×8-inch baking dish and melt it while the oven heats.
Put water on to boil on the stovetop.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons cocoa. Stir in half and half and vanilla until smooth. Spoon this batter over the melted butter in the baking dish. Top with chocolate chips and pecans.
Stir together the remaining ¾ cup of sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Sprinkle over the batter. Slowly pour boiling water over the top of the mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes, until set. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Juliana Goodwin is a food columnist, cookbook author and avid traveler. If you have a question, email email@example.com.