I'm always at a bit of a loss about what to say about Mother's Day, not to mention similar holidays that feel slightly (more than slightly?) manufactured.

I'm not a curmudgeon about them, exactly, but I'm a bit skeptical of the external forces that say, "THIS is the day you need to celebrate your sweetheart/father/mother/uncle's neighbor's dog/cousin, and you'd better do it right!" Go out? Stay in Breakfast in bed? The pressure! Who needs it?

But on the flip side, I definitely would be sad if the kids ignored the holiday completely. And because I am always firmly entrenched in the kitchen, I do get a bit excited when they elbow me out and take over the culinary detail for the day.

Not seeing the mess — and knowing that my husband will be there to help put the kitchen back together when they are finished — is an even greater thrill. I really don't care what they decide to make. In this case, it really is the thought that counts. But if they are at a loss for ideas, I might leave a copy of this recipe on the counter a few days ahead of time.

I originally made this for my friend's 50th birthday, and we were all a bit in love. It's a simple kid-friendly dish to make. Egg cracking, measuring, whisking, banana mashing, bread cutting (easy with even a kid's knife, and the cubes don't have to be perfect at all), all very doable. Younger kids will need an adult on hand to help get the dish in and out of the oven, but other than that this is a dish that any enthusiastic kid would be thrilled to serve up to Mom.


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Banana Bread Pudding

Start to finish: 1 hour 40 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

Butter or cooking spray, for the pan

1 loaf challah bread (about 1 pound), cut into cubes

4 large eggs

3 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 very ripe bananas, mashed

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

Arrange the challah cubes on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the outsides firm up just a bit. Remove the challah from the oven, but leave the oven on.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Add the mashed bananas and mix well. Stir in the bread cubes, then let sit for about 10 minutes so the bread absorbs some of the liquid.

Transfer the bread pudding to the prepared baking dish. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the pudding is set and puffy, and the top is golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it firms up a bit, but is still warm.

Nutrition information per serving: 670 calories; 230 calories from fat (34 percent of total calories); 25 g fat (13 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 215 mg cholesterol; 680 mg sodium; 93 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 48 g sugar; 18 g protein.

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/