Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Yummiest-Ever Banana Bread

Read the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, OR just make this recipe and bring it to work:

Angela's Yummiest-Ever Banana Bread
(basically Good Housekeeping's recipe, plus chocolate chips)
Ideally use bananas that are completely ripe (covered with brown spots), but not blackened and super soft.

Prep: 20 minutes  Bake: 1 hour 10 minutes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 medium)
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
(optional: 1 cup walnuts or pecans)

1/ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Evenly grease 9" by 5" metal loaf pan.  In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  In small bowl, combine bananas, milk and vanilla.

2/ In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Reduce speed to low; alternately add flour mixture and banana misture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.  Beat just until blended.  Add chocolate chips (and optional walnuts/pecans) and stir in with a spatula or wooden spoon.

3/ Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.  Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.  Makes 1 loaf, 16 slices.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Roasted Chicken Dinner

This recipe started Saturday night with Mike and I discussing some healthy, easy options for a Saturday night dinner in (he's been under the weather, so he was rejecting the Prosciutto Lamb Burgers and Asparagus Lasagna that I was trying to convince him would be just as easy and twice as fun).

This started as a recipe I found in a magazine on grilling (the original recipe calls for all ingredients to be placed in a cast iron skillet and cooked w/ hickory wood chips over a BBQ).  My version is more simple for the laymen to prepare and equally delicious.

Servings: 6  Time: 1 1/2 hours


1 chicken (2.5-4lbs), split in half  - (*you usually can find split chicken halves in the meat aisle.  If not, follow my instructions below to  split your own chicken.)
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small red onion, sliced (the original recipe called for white onion)
1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme - (pulled right from my patio garden; otherwise substitute 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1-2 large sprigs fresh oregano - (added to the original recipe, also from my garden)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
black pepper
approx 4 tablespoons Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange potato slices in a large baking dish.  Scatter bell pepper and onion slices over potatoes.  Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and 2 Tbsp olive oil; season with garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper flakes (holding approx. 1 thyme sprig and 1 oregano sprig for chicken).
Place chicken on top of vegetables; drizzle with remaining lemon juice and olive oil; season with salt, pepper and remaining thyme and oregano.
Place pan in oven and cook for 35-50 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.  Check for doneness by insterting a thermometer into a thigh - it should read at least 175 degrees F.  Remove pan from oven; let chekcin stand for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces.  Garnish w/ fresh parsley, if you so desire.

*Instructions for Splitting Chicken:
Note: It's very helpful if you have a fresh pair of kitchen shears and a large, sharp knife.
Rinse and pat chicken dry.

Split the chicken by removing the backbone, cutting along both sides with kitchen shears.

Turn chicken over.  Spread the bird open and using a sharp knife cut down the center "keel" bone (this should feel like a triangular plastic piece of cartilage).

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Amaretto Whipped Cream

This recipe is taken from Giada De Laurentiis  "Giada's Kitchen - New Italian Favorites" cookbook.  The description is as follows:
"This is the chocolate lover's answer to panna cotta.  It's quite similar to a mousse but the gelatin makes it a bit firmer"

For those of you who have eaten at Cafe Stella in Silverlake and experienced the Pot Au Chocolat, you will cherish this recipe.

My Panna Cotta had an incredible flavor bordering on bourbon/cocoa, but the texture left something to be desired (it was slightly grainy and too moist).  To be honest, I was preparing this dish while roasting the chicken from the previous recipe and I think I bit off more than I could chew.  In the future, I want to invest in a larger, easier-to-use kitchen strainer and try using fresher chocolate chips.  Also, I pulled the pan out of the oven 10 minutes early because it appeared done and I think the Panna Cotta could have used a few more minutes.

All that criticism being said, this still was decadent, rich and incredibly delicious.  I will definitely try this again in the hopes of perfecting it.

Make's 4-6 Servings


2 cups cold whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 packet unflavored gelatin
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (12 ounce) bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 toasted sliced almonds*
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon almond liqueur such as Amaretto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the granulated sugar, and the vanilla.  Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/2 cup of cold milk and let it dissolve for 2 minutes.  Combine the cold milk and gelatin with the hot milk and sugar.  Stir to dissolve the gelatin, about 5 minutes.  (Heat the milk gently if the gelatin is not dissolving easily.) When the gelatin is dissolved, combine the eggs with the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs.  Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or small pitcher.

This step was incredibly time consuming and difficult.  Not sure if there are larger, better strainers that would expediate this step...

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over simmering water in a double boiler (or metal bowl over a large pot). When the chocolate is melted, gradually combine the milk and egg mixture with the melted chocolate, stirring between each addition to create a smooth chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.  Sprinkle the top with the almonds.  Place the casserole dish in a larger baking pan or roasting pan and add hot water to the larger pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the casserole dish.  Place both pans in the oven and bake the panna cotta until the sides are firm and the center just jiggles slightly, about 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl using a whisk or electric hand mixer.  Add the confectioners' sugar and almond liqueur and whip to combine.  Spoon the panna cotta into individual serving bowls and dollop the top with the almond whipped cream.

*Instructions for Toasting Almonds
Spread almonds on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 
minutes., stirring once or twice.  Watch carefully to keep them from burning.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Tart

My friend Maria made this for me one night and I didn't believe her when she told me how simple it was.  It is.  And the flavor and presentation are impressively gourmet.  The original recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, but instead of puff pastry Giada uses a 9-inch refrigerated pie crust.

1 sheet store-bought frozen puff pastry (if you're feeling gourmet and want to make puff pastry from scratch, see my recipe below)

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts* See Cook's Note
1 garlic clove, peeled (I use 3 or 4 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 medium (12 ounces) heirloom or 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/8" thick slices
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

For the Crust:
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the puff pastry on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes until lightly golden.
(I used a pizza stone which I would not recommend.  The puff pastry sheet ended up sticking to the stone and was a little hard to get off.)

For the pesto:
In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until finely chopped. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture forms a smooth and thick consistency.  Add the Parmesan and pulse until combined.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a spatula, spread the pesto over the cooled crust.  Arrange the tomato slices on top of the pesto and garnish with the sliced basil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Cut the tart into wedges and serve.

*Cooks Note: To toast pine nuts, place on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly browned.

This is a great base for the Heirloom Tomato tart, as well as many great desserts, such as eclairs and cream puffs.  Use the batter while it is still warm to get the highest puff possible.
Prep: 10 minutes  Cook: 5 minutes

1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick), cut into pieces
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

In 3-quart saucepan, combine butter, water, and salt; heat over medium high heat until butter melts and mixture boils.  Remove from heat.  Add flour all at once and, with wooden spoon, vigorously stir until mixuture leaves side of pan and forms a ball.  Add eggs to flour mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until mixture is smooth and satiny.

For tart separate the dough into two.  On a heavily floured surface, roll the dough into a thin crust (approx 1/4" thick).  Place on ungrease pan and cook as called out above.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

After many requests, here they are.  And no, these are definitely not gluten-free.

-1 cup butter, softened
-3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
-1/2 cup white sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
-1 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate

1/ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2/ In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.  Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture.  Mix in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate.  Drop dough by the teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3/ Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Nutrition Info:
Calories: 122   Total Fat: 7.4g   Cholesterol: 20mg

I got this recipe from allrecipes.com

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ginger Honey Salmon w/ Grapefruit Frisee Salad

This is one of my invented recipes (so the measurements are estimates).  It's pretty simple and tastes like a restaurant quality dish.  One of Mike's favorites.

- 1 Bottle Makoto Honey Ginger Dressing
- 2 med-large wild-caught salmon fillets
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 lemon
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 bunch red romaine lettuce
- 1 bunch Frisee or other bitter green lettuce
- 1 small block of Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup candied walnuts
- Coarse ground salt and pepper

1/ Rinse Salmon and pat dry.  Place in large zip lock bag and pour in enough salad dressing to submerge salmon (approx 1/2 bottle).  Place in fridge and marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes.

2/ Set oven to broil setting and move rack to top-most spot in oven. Place salmon in a glass baking dish, and squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon onto fish.  Pour contents of the marinade from zip lock bag on top of salmon.  Add a squeeze of honey, a dash of salt and pepper, and then decorate top of salmon w/ a few lemon slices.

3/ Place in oven and broil approx 7 minutes or until salmon is cooked through (cooking times vary depending on the thickness of salmon).

4/ While the salmon is cooking, tear equal parts romaine and frissee into bite-size pieces.  Rinse thoroughly and dry using a salad spinner.  Add sliced grapefruit chunks and walnuts.  Toss with  a few tablespoons of Honey Ginger dressing. After salad has been put into individual serving dishes, add a few shavings of parmesan and some ground pepper.  Serve with salmon and eat a healthy, delicious dinner.

Gluten-Free Maple Nut Scones

A  Saturday Morning experiment that proved a success; these are delicious and only a little crumbly.  The agave and maple syrup give them a richer sweet flavor than the ordinary variety of scone.  Using Tazo wild sweet orange tea as a flavorful herb, gives a zing to this recipe.

Prep: 15 minutes  Bake: 22 minutes
-2 cups Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free Baking Mix
-2 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp Kosher salt
-2 Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea Bags
-1/2 cup cold butter
-1 large egg, separated
-4 tbsp raw 100% Maple Syrup
-3/4 cup rice milk
-3/4 cup golden raisins
-3/4 cup raw walnuts - coarsely chopped
-agave syrup and raw sugar for topping scones


1/ Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and the Tazo dry tea (rip open tea bags and pour it into bowl).  With pastry blender or two knives used in a scissor fashion, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2/ In 1 cup measuring cup, with a fork, mix milk, egg yolk and 2 tbsp maple syrup until blended.  Make well in center of flour mixture and pour in milk mixture.  Stir until just combined. 

Add raisins and walnuts and mix until combined.

3/ Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 5 to 6 times, just until smooth (gluten free dough is very sticky, so be sure to flour your hands as well.)  With lightly floured hands, pat into 7 1/2" round.  Transfer to ungreased cookie sheet.

4/ With lightly floured knife, cut dough into 8 wedges (do not separate wedges). 
In small cup, lightly beat egg white and remaining 2 tbsp maple syrup.  Brush scones w/ egg white mixture and sprinkle with raw sugar (approx 1-2 tbsp).  Top off with a little agave syrup.  
Place in oven and bake until golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes.  Separate wedges.  Serve warm or cool on wire rack to serve later.  Makes 8 scones.

Chicken with Olives, Raisins, and Spinach Rice

If you want to make an excellent dinner in 30 minutes or less, this is the recipe.  It's simple, fast and delicious.

(serves 4)

-1 Cup Long Grain White Rice (I substituted 1 Cup Trader Joe's Basmati Rice)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper (I am obsessed with Hawaiian Sea Salt; it's very course, slightly sweet and really brings out the flavor of grilled chicken)
- 1 bunch flat leave spinach (1 pound), thick stems removed, leaves washed well and coarsely chopped (or just buy the pre-washed baby spinach; just as good and much faster)
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 8 chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup pitted Kalmata olives, slivered
- 1/4 cup golden raisins


1/ In a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil.  Add rice, season with salt and return to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook just until tender, 16 to 18 minutes.  Remove pan from heat; add spinach, cover and let stand, without stirring, for 5 minutes.  Using a fork, fluff rice and mix in spinach.  (I simply rinsed the basmati rice and made it in a rice cooker with low sodium chicken broth; then added the spinach after).

2/ While rice is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook in two batches, until browned outside and opaque throughout (the recipe says this should be 1-2 minutes per side; but we use the large foster farms breasts from Costco, and they take about 10 minutes a side to cook all the way through).  Transfer to a plate (reserve skillet); cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

3/ Add wine, olives, and raisins to skillet.  Cook over a medium-high until wine is almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add cup 1/2 water; cook until sauce is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.  Serve chicken over spinach rice, and top with sauce.

Serve with the leftover dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is always my pick - try Nobilo or Spy Valley).

Gluten-Free Quinoa Hot Breakfast Cereal


Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast foods.  It's high in fiber, and iron, low on the Glycemic index and keeps me full for a long time.  However, oatmeal has a small amount of gluten.  As a gluten-free alternative hot cereal, try this recipe:

-1 Cup Dry Quinoa
-1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
-1/3 Cup Raw Walnuts - Chopped
-1 tsp Vanilla Extract
-2 tbsp Agave Syrup
-1 tsp Cinnamon
-1 tsp Kosher salt
-1/2-1 Cup Rice Milk

1/ Prepare Quinoa as instructed on box
2/ Mix in cranberries, walnuts,vanilla, agave, salt and cinnamon.  Add rice milk a little at a time until you get the desired Constancy (I like mine a little soupy).

Should make approximately four servings.  I usually store it in tupperwear and microwave individual portions for breakfast, adding a touch of honey or agave and rice milk to each serving.  Quinoa is high in protein and a great power food.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Marinated Baked Salmon and Avocado Cream Sauce

Like most of my favorite recipes, this is a simple dish using minimum ingredients but with a fresh and healthy combo of flavors that taste's incredible.  This is the first time I've made the avocado cream sauce and it's positively unbelievable.  The combo of avocado, olive oil, coriander, green onions and Bragg's Aminos tastes like a more intense, flavorful guacamole.

Both the fish and cream sauce recipes came from Dr. Gillian McKeith's, "You Are What You Eat".  If you are not familiar with this book, get familiar: http://www.gillianmckeith.info/  

Gillian McKeith is a holistic nutritionist who gives real info on the benefits of good eating in a no-guilt, direct manner.  I love her book and think everyone should own a copy:

The recipes:
Marinated Baked Salmon
(serves 2)

2 Leeks (I use only 1)
2 Salmon Steaks
Generous Handful Spinach
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Grated Ginger
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Cup Fresh Coriander (optional...I never use this)

Prepare the Leeks by making a long vertical cut to spray the edges and rinsing thoroughly (leeks tend to hold a lot of sand).  Slice into approx 12 chunks and steam or boil for about 5 minutes to gently soften. 

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.  Rinse and dry the salmon.  Place a liberal amount of fresh raw spinach in a shallow oven pan.  Place the softenend leeks on top of the spinach.  Then place the salon on top of the leeks.

Mix the olive oil, crushed garlic and grated ginger together, then brush it over the fish.  Keep some extra olive oil mixture on hand.  Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the fish and spinach.  Place in oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes.  While cooking, brush the olive oil misture onto the salmon every 10 minutes. 

Decorate the plate with coriander, if you so desire, and add a last squeeze of lemon.  (I also add a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground salt and pepper.)  Top with Avocado Cream Sauce (see recipe below).

Avocado Cream Sauce
(This also works as a salad dressing)

2 Very Soft Avocados
2 Spring Onions, Finely Chopped
1/4 tsp of coriander powder (I buy whole coriander and grind it w/ a mortar and pestal)
1/4 tsp seaweed seasoning (I substitute 2-3 tsp Bragg's Aminos)
1/2 tsp Olive Oil (I use approx 1 Tbsp)
3-4 Tbsp water (the recipe calls out a preference for still mineral water, to get the added nutrition)

Place the water at the bottom of a blender.  Add the avocados, spring onion, coriander, seasoning, olive oil and mix until smooth and creamy.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Favorite Gluten-Free Pancake Mix

I have recently been craving "breakfast for dinner".  Last week I came home with chardonnay chicken sausage and Trader Joe's Gluten-Free pancake mix.  This is the best gluten-free mix I have found to date.  Pancakes were light and fluffy and didn't have the heaviness of most gluten-free items I've experimented with thus far.

This past Sunday, I made a stack but added a scoop of protein powder and extra rice milk.  Serve with a pat of butter and Pure Maple Syrup for a delicious breakfast.

Chocolate "Wow" Cookies

Appropriately named, these cookies are insanely rich, decadent and delicious.  If you've ever purchased a super dark chocolate-chocolate-chip cookie from a bakery or cafe and wondered "how do they get this so rich and delicious", prepare to find out.  This recipe comes from the best cookbook I've ever owned: "The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book" (suck it, Martha).

Prep: 20 minutes   Bake: 15 minutes per batch

- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 squares (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used what I had in the house, which was a semi-sweet rasperry truffle bar and a Trader Joe's 73% Dark Chocolate Bar)
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups pecans (8 ounces), chopped - (I substituted Trader Joe's Cinnamon-Sugar Coated Almonds, coarsely chopped...These are seriously addictive)
- 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Almonds

1/ Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease two large cookie sheets.  In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and slat.

2/ In heavy 2-quart saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth.  Remove from heat and cool.

3/ In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat eggs and sugar until light and lemon colored, about 2 minutes, frequently scraping bowl with rubber spatula.  Reduce speed to low.  Add cooled chocolate mixture, flour mixture, and vanilla; beat just until blended.  Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes.  With wooden spoon, stir in pecans (almonds) and chocolate chips.

4/ Drop batter by rounded teaspoons, 2 inches apart, on prepared cookie sheets.  With small metal spatula, spread batter into 2-inch rounds.

Bake until tops are shiny and cracked, about 15 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking.  Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheet.  With wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

5/ Repeat with remaining batter.  Makes about 48 cookies.

Each cookie: About 102 calories, 1g protein, 9g carbohydrate, 7g total fat (3g saturated), 14mg cholesterol, 45mg sodium

Everybody's Favorite Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every time I make these, they are well received.  It's now reached the point that I've been getting requests.  This recipe was amended from a Martha Stewart recipe for Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  I removed the walnuts and used chocolate chips instead of chunks (sorry kids, this one's not gluten free).

- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Coarse Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 3/4 Cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana (about 1 large)
- 1 Cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 10 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips - (Option: Substitute 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks and 1/2 Cup Coarsely chopped Walnuts-toasted)

1/ Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Whisk together both flours, salt, and baking soda in a bowl.

2/ Put butter and both sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low.  Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined.  Mix in banana.  Add flour mixture; mix until just combined.  Stir in oats, chocolate chips (and optional walnuts).

3/ Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.  Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

Makes approx 3 dozen