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Caribbean Sweet: With & Without the Kids

Here's a chance to use bananas for some adult and kid-friendly island treats!

The Caribbean lifestyle offers so many options to please those with sugar cravings. Add a dollop of rum and you will quickly become a true islander.

In our island-hopping, recipe-shopping state of mind, you will see that many ethnic recipes call for familiar-sounding fruits: mango, papaya, coconut, banana, guava, and passionfruit. Then, there are the unfamiliar fruits, such as cherimoya, soursop, breadfruit, and ackee, which is toxic if eaten before it ripens. Plantains, which are banana cousins, also offer up their own sweet taste in cooked dishes and when fried.

With these fruits we can make such delights as pies, chutneys, and salsas. Specialty markets carry many Caribbean items, either fresh or canned. However, some fruits are too delicate for shipping, so we will not taste them until we travel to the islands.

The most important libation in our tropical adventure is, of course, rum. Dark rum, light rum, golden rum - so many choices. Rum is a wonderful partner for desserts and sweet drinks. There is no end to recipes that combine the two flavors.

To satisfy a sweet tooth, you will find some excellent banana-based recipes below, all with a rum twist (the adult version). Bananas are a favorite choice of mine: they are always available, and most recipes make it easy to substitute with other fruits when available. In other words, if you find that mangoes are in season at your local market, try one instead!

Make these recipes in the "adult" version with rum (included here) or the kid-friendly version (with no-proof rum substitutes).

Fried Bananas

-4 bananas, peeled
-2 Tablespoons dark rum
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-2 Tablespoons butter

Melt butter in skillet. Add bananas, fry on both sides, about 30 seconds each side. Do not burn. Add the rum and spices and cook for an additional minute. Serve with ice cream.
Note: burn the rum off if you wish.

For kid version: replace rum with 2 tablespoons of a dark cola.

Banana Whip (approx. 4 servings)

-2 medium bananas, peeled and smashed
-8 ounces ginger ale
-2 Tablespoons light rum
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-3 Tablespoons sugar
-3/4 cup milk
-8 ice cubes

Mix bananas, milk, sugar, and vanilla in blender.
Add ice cubes and ginger ale.
Blend until well-mixed and serve immediately.
Kid-Version: leave out rum

Frozen Banana Pie

-1 graham cracker crust
-1 can frozen banana cocktail blender mix (experiment with other flavors-pina colada, for instance)
-1 pint vanilla ice cream
-1 medium banana, smashed
-3 cups whipped topping
-1/4 cup light rum

Allow frozen mix, ice cream, and whipped topping to soften and then blend.
Add in banana and rum and mix thoroughly.
Re-freeze in bowl until mixture can be scooped out with a spoon.
Fill crust and place in freezer again for about 4 hours.
Kid-Version: leave out rum

With these recipes, you'll want to kick back, close your eyes, and savor the sweet side of the Caribbean!

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