I have this small problem in my household – perhaps you experience it too…
My children will decide that a particular food is their absolute favorite. They will eat it faster than I can buy or make more; they will request it for every meal and snack. Then, without any warning at all, said food is suddenly anathema. No amount of cajoling or commanding will make them eat it again, resulting in certain ingredients languishing on my pantry shelves or needing to be discarded because they have spoiled.
I really hate throwing away food so I find this cycle to be very frustrating. But, it does force me to find creative ways to use up ingredients that have fallen out of favor. This weekend, I decided to tackle a handful of bananas that were past their prime and a box of whole grain Cream of Wheat. Bananas are easy enough – muffins, pancakes, bread, cookies – no end of options for overripe bananas. But I really wanted to use both ingredients in one recipe.
I took to the internet, performing a variety of searches on bananas and Cream of Wheat or farina, turning up results for various breads and muffins. I figured I’d just pick one and get down to work, but as I read through the recipes and reviews I found that many of the reviews were very underwhelming: too dry, too oily, not sweet enough, too grainy, too dense etc. I didn’t want to replace the shunned ingredients with a baked good that would also be shunned and I had already spent a fair amount of time in research at this point so I picked one that had a decent rating and informative reviews to use as a starting point. To address the criticisms in the comments and reviews I made a few changes…
- Added sugar for flavor, moistness and tenderness
- Added eggs for flavor, leavening and moistness
- Added oil for moistness and flavor
- Increased the flour slightly to adjust for the additional liquid in the ingredients I added
- Replaced some of the baking powder with baking soda to react with the acidity of the Greek yogurt
- Soaked the Cream of Wheat in a portion of the wet ingredients to result in a smoother, less grainy texture
- Used a variation of the creaming method for additional leavening and improved overall texture
- Added mini chocolate chips for flavor (and fun!)
To be fair, the original recipe was intended as a lowfat product, but, since I was less concerned “lowfat” than I was with “yum!”, I was perfectly comfortable making the changes I did (If you are interested in the original lowfat version of the recipe, you can find it here ).
Chocolate Chip Banana Cream of Wheat Muffins
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 bananas (mashed)
- 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 cups milk (divided)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 cups white whole wheat flour (unsifted)
- 1 1/2 cups cream of wheat
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips (plus more for topping)
- Line muffin tins with paper liners or lightly grease.
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- In a medium bowl combine the yogurt, 1 cup milk, and cream of wheat - set aside for about 15 minutes or more.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.
- Continue whisking while slowly drizzling in the oil.
- Mix in the bananas, vanilla and remaining 1 cup milk.
- In another medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mini chocolate chips together.
- Add the cream of wheat mixture and flour mixture to the banana mixture, alternating between the two and ending with flour.
- Scoop into the prepared muffin tins, filling right to the top.
- *Optional* Sprinkle a few additional mini chocolate chips on top of the batter for each muffin
- Bake in preheated oven for 16 - 20 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs.