Banana Puddin'

If there's one things my kids love to eat, it's bananas. We're a regular old barrel of monkeys here at my house because we go through an obscene amount of them. Actually, if I don't hide the bananas as soon as our Washington's Green Grocer delivery arrives, it wouldn't be strange for my 40-pounds three-year-old to eat six or seven of them. At any given time I think his total body mass is comprised of at least 45% banana. I have to stow them away in the laundry room or stuff them in the oven so my kids can't find them and I can dole (heh heh) them out in a way that assures no one dies of potassium poisoning.

Consequently, the ultimate dessert for my two chimp children is banana pudding. I've made Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding before but my thinking is, if my kids are going to eat their weight in something, I may as well try to make it as natural as possible. So, for not much more trouble, I do my own, health-ified version, that omits the store bought pudding and condensed milk. Tastes better and I don't have to worry about Yellow 5 and junk like tetrasodium pyrophosphate (what is that?). It's still not lite...but hey, gotta live, right?!

Banana Puddin'

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup milk
2 tbsps. organic cornstarch
2 tsps. vanilla
2 tsps. butter
2 egg yolks, whisked
1 bunch bananas, sliced
1 8 oz. pack organic cream cheese, softened
1 pint heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 pack shortbread cookies (I used Schar gluten-free so my dad who has Celiac can eat this)

First, you're going to make homemade vanilla pudding (this replaces the store-bought mix). Combine sugar, cornstarch, and milk in a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat and stir for two more minutes. Stir in a small amount of hot filling into egg yolk, and then return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and stir in butter and 1 tsp. vanilla. Cover, refrigerate for one hour, and feel proud you just made pudding from scratch. Embrace your Southern side.

In a separate bowl, use a hand held immersion blender to make homemade whipped cream (this replaces Paula's Cool Whip). Beat cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in 1 tsp. vanilla and powdered sugar until peaks form. Don't mix for too long or else you'll make butter

Then, in a second bowl, slowly beat together cream cheese and chilled vanilla pudding. Fold in the whipped cream. Then, layer sliced bananas in the bottom of individual serving dishes (you can also use a 9x13 pan depending on how you want to present it). Cover with a layer of cookies and top with pudding mixture. Layer more bananas and top with more pudding. Follow with a final layer of cookies and bananas. Enjoy!

(These bananas keep us stocked for, well, a couple days at least!)