Michael’s birthday was this week. It was actually on Thursday, but we don’t do well with middle-of-the-week birthdays. On Thursday, Michael was on the road with Christopher’s football team at an away game. Elizabeth and I enjoyed a girls’ night dinner at an Italian restaurant in town. We had already agreed to celebrate Michael’s birthday this weekend. Saturday was out. Christopher spent all day at a speech event and our whole family attended a surprise birthday party for a friend who actually shares Michael’s birthday.
So Sunday was the day. I began questioning Michael early in the week about what he wanted to eat for his birthday. He decided that he would allow himself some carbs – it’s been a LONG time. While he couldn’t narrow it down to what entree he wanted, he was absolutely certain about dessert. His very favorite dessert in the entire world.
Michael has always loved banana pudding. When we first married, we belonged to a small church that often had “dinner on the ground.” It was actually in the fellowship hall, but it was awesome! Every little old lady – and the young ones, too – brought the dishes they were famous for. Chicken and dressing, macaroni and cheese, yeast rolls, pecan pie. And no dinner on the ground was complete (in Michael’s eyes) without banana pudding.
I grew up watching my mama make banana pudding. She would never make banana pudding without using a cooked pudding. No instant pudding for us. No, sir!
As I’ve grown older, I’ve eaten lots of different kinds of banana pudding. With vanilla pudding. With banana-flavored pudding. Cooked pudding. Instant pudding. With meringue. With Cool Whip.
To be honest, I’ve never met a banana pudding I didn’t like.
I used a different recipe this time. And I’m pretty sure it was a winner. Michael – the banana pudding expert – loved it. Ate it. Ate it a lot of it. Made himself sick eating it.
That’s a good thing!
Well, maybe not.
Anyway, this one is definitely a keeper!
- 2 3.4-ounce boxes of French Vanilla instant pudding
- 2 1/2 cups of milk
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
- 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12-ounce tub of Cool Whip, thawed
- 1 bag (1 pound) of vanilla wafers
- 2-3 large bananas, sliced
Line a 13X9 baking dish with vanilla wafers. Top each cookie with a slice of banana. Set aside.
Combine the cream cheese and condensed milk using a whisk or hand mixer. In a quart-sized jar, combine the milk and pudding mix, screw on the lid tightly and shake for 2 minutes. Add the pudding to the cream cheese mixture. Fold in the Cool Whip.
Pour over the bananas and vanilla wafers, being careful not to move them. Spread evenly. Top with another layer of vanilla wafers.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Well Duh #1: You can use regular vanilla pudding mix if you can’t find the French vanilla. If you do this, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Well Duh #2: I used skim milk, low-fat cream cheese, and low-fat Cool Whip.
Well Duh #3: Use sweetened condensed milk. NOT evaporated milk!
Well Duh #4: Yes, this is basically Paula Deen’s recipe. I just changed a few measurements because hers didn’t quite work for me.
Well Duh #5: If you don’t like vanilla wafers, by all means, use something else! I’ve made banana pudding with graham crackers, Nutter Butter cookies (yum!) and even those cheap, flower-shaped butter cookies that my kids got in preschool! Do what makes you happy!
He finally settled on burgers for lunch. He didn’t go too overboard. We made lettuce burgers instead of using buns. Our family loves doing this. We added caramelized onions, cheese, guacamole, and fresh tomatoes. This works really well with regular iceberg lettuce. Just wrap the hamburger in the lettuce leaves. Be sure to make more than you usually do since the bread won’t be there to fill your family up!
And be sure to have dessert!