Wonderfully Walnutty Banana Bread, Two Ways

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

What’s a gal to do when suddenly she finds herself in possession of a ten-pound bag of walnuts? (Thanks, Gourmet Nuts & Dried Fruit!) Make banana bread, of course! (Bananas + walnuts are my favorite.)

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I started out with the classics: soft, spongy banana bread laced with a generous helping of chocolate chips and walnuts. Delish!

I could have stopped after polishing off that loaf in record time, but a) I still had a half of bunch of rapidly blackening bananas and b) I wanted to try a loaf out on Mags, the littlest and oldest of my dog-kids. Over the past few years, she’s slowly been shedding weight, to the point that she now looks almost painfully thin. Thankfully, I think this is more a result of her fussy eating habits than a health problem. I thought I was doing good by letting her eat as much as she wanted and not pushing her – so as to not make mealtimes a horror show – but apparently not. My new strategy is a mix of good cop/bad cop: cajole her to eat a set amount at every mealtime, but also mix things up with new and exciting foods.

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The result? Five different kinds of kibble in my cupboard, not to mention a bunch of canned food, and specially prepared dishes like roasted sweet potatoes, tofu battered in nutritional yeast, and sweet and sour soy curls. She is so spoiled, you guys.

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Mags is especially fond of baked goods, including banana bread. Since walnuts are a big no-no for dogs, I kept the batter kind of basic, without any add-ins. Instead, I dressed things up in the form of a topping, borrowed from the Big Boat Banana Bread from Laura Dakin’s Cookin’ Up a Storm. That way, I got the top half, Mags the bottom, and we were both as happy as clams in a vegan ocean town.

Recipes after the jump!

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Strawberry Banana Banana Bread

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

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A page from Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt, just because.
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When the folks at Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit offered me some goodies for review, I jumped at the chance to try their dried strawberries. Along with the smell of wet dogs and chlorinated pools, nothing says summer quite like berries. Specifically, strawberries. And while these bad girls aren’t summer fresh, I thought they might just be perfect for baking.

The first thing I noticed upon their arrival is that they look much plumper than expected – kind of like the candied strawberries, minus all the extra sugar. They have a nice consistency, vaguely reminiscent of the fruit leather I make every fall.

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Since strawberry-banana is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations – and I just so happened to have three brown bananas chilling on the counter – I decided to whip up a loaf of my crowd-pleasing banana bread. In addition to diced dried bananas, it also has a wee bit of strawberry extract (totally optional but also totally yummy). For something different, swap out a few tablespoons of the sugar for strawberry syrup. Or just add it in to satisfy your sweet tooth. It’s pretty great either way!

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Fwiw, the strawberries also go quite well in oatmeal – they’re a nice change of pace from my usual dried cranberries, and make an otherwise boring breakfast feel a bit more like junk food. (Remember those instant oatmeal packs you ate as a kid, with the dinosaur eggs? Yeah, like that!)

 

Strawberry Banana Banana Bread

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Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup plain or vanilla soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon strawberry extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
a dash of cinnamon
a handful of dried strawberries, diced

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Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 8″x4″ bread pan with non-stick cooking spray, or lightly coat with margarine.

2. Pour 1/4 cup soy milk into a small glass measuring cup. Add the 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Mix well and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugars. Add the wet ingredients – mashed bananas, soy milk, and vanilla and strawberry extracts – and mix well. Add the salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and sift in the flour, mixing until the batter is smooth and (relatively) creamy. Mix in the diced strawberries; toss in a second handful if desired.

4. Pour the batter into a prepared bread pan, evening out the top with a rubber spatula. Bake at 350F for 50 to 70 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf and your oven’s own quirks. You can check the bread’s progress by inserting a toothpick or knife into the loaf’s center; when it comes out clean and the top of bread attains a nice golden color, you’ll know it’s done.

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Adventures in Nice Cream

Friday, November 6th, 2015

As much as I love banana ice cream (banana bread banana ice cream, you are the BEST!), making it can be such a pain. Waiting for the banana slices to freeze and then defrost ever so slightly; prying and wedging and knifing them apart; processing and scraping and processing and scraping, as my food processor dances on the counter as though possessed, and the motor threatens to burst into flames. And then there’s always one or two big ole chunks of bananas that refuse to assimilate no matter how long you stand over the bowl, pulsing and cursing. Yeah.

After years of this nonsense, I started to wonder: is there a better way?

Specifically, I wanted to know whether it would work if I skipped the first freezing step and just processed overripe bananas as is. Then freeze the ice cream mix, like I normally would anyway. (Even for soft serve, it’s a little too liquidy by the time I’m done with it. At least a half hour wait is typically required!)

So, instead of peel -> slice -> freeze -> thaw -> blend -> refreeze,

peel -> slice -> blend -> freeze.

I hit the internets to find out and found a few people with the same question – but no answers.

You know what that means: Experiment time!

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I tried the new method using just three bananas, to make a pint of nice cream (usually I go full-on quart). On the left is old school banana bread ice cream; on the right, newfangled chocolate cinnamon ice cream.

The results were underwhelming.

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Orange Marmalade Nice Cream

Friday, October 30th, 2015

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In the vein of purging the cabinets for that move we’re planning next decade, I give you Orange Marmalade Nice Cream. (Because “Orange Marmalade Banana Ice Cream” just feels like too much of a mouthful.)

I can’t for the life of me remember why I bought a jar of Orange Marmalade – I’m strictly a raspberry jam and peach preserves gal when it comes to my bagels – so I figured this was as good a use as any. And the end product was pretty tasty. I’ll call this one a win.

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Big Boat Banana Bread

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

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Banana bread is pretty much my favorite use for overripe bananas – except MAYBE for banana bread banana ice cream! – so when I saw the Big Boat Banana Bread in Cookin’ Up a Storm, I knew it was just a matter of time before I tried it. Time to remember to pick up a bunch of bananas, wait for them to properly brown – while also not eating them in the interim – and then bake ’em instead of slicing ’em up for future ice cream. It took me at least three tries before I got it right, you guys. The instinct to turn ALL THE BANANAS into ice cream is strong.

The end result turned out quite tasty, though procuring bananas wasn’t the only misstep I encountered along the way. Exhibit B: The recommended bake time for this bread, which is 25 to 30 minutes. Considering that banana bread normally takes ~an hour to bake, I had my doubts. Actually I thought it was a typo but whatever. I checked as directed at 25 and 30 minutes, and to no one’s surprise, the batter was still wiggly and jiggly – not even close to done. After that I let it go for a half hour and then started checking on it every ten minutes or so. Ultimately I let it bake for 90 MINUTES before the toothpick came out clean. Even then, the bottom quarter of the loaf remained a little undercooked, as I discovered when I cut it open. (You can kinda sorta see what I’m talking about in the last picture.)

Also. This recipe makes enough batter to almost completely fill a 9″x5″ loaf pan. I wasn’t even sure it’d all fit! Anyway, it’s by far the thickest loaf I’ve ever made; I bet if I were to divide the batter between two loaf pans, it’d bake more quickly and evenly.

On the plus side, I am hella glad I lined the pan with parchment paper as directed. I hate hate hate trying to cram and jam parchment paper into deep pans, but it totally paid off here. While the lower portion of the crust ended up thicker than normal, the paper kept it from burning outright.

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Also awesome: The topping, which is an even mix of brown sugar, rolled oats, and crushed almonds (I used almond meal/flour). Even if I never make this exact recipe again, I WILL carry the topping over to other banana breads.

The bread itself is tasty enough, though a little plain; I think some walnuts or chocolate chips could work wonders with it.

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The center seemed to firm up a bit overnight, and it only got better when toasted. I reheated a slice in the toaster oven – about ten minutes at 350F – and it seemed a little closer to done after that. A little pat of margarine added with an extra minute to melt it = pure bliss. And a thick slice is actually hearty enough that it filled me up for an entire meal.

There’s a second recipe (Chocolate-Banana Fudge Cake) utilizing brown bananas that I’m curious to try, but I don’t know if I’ll get to it before writing a review. It took me a month just to get the bananas together for this recipe!

Chocolate Banana (Paleo) Bread

Monday, April 6th, 2015

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After our rather underwhelming experience with the Blueberry Pancakes from The Paleo Bread Bible, I was a little scared to try again. I mean, I hate wasting monies, and once I fall into a baking rut, it can sometimes prove difficult to pull myself out. But I didn’t want to write the cookbook off entirely based on just one recipe, so. Banana Bread it was. Chocolate Banana Bread, to be exact.

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And you know what? It wasn’t that bad! The batter’s super-easy to pull together, and the bread smells heavenly while it’s baking. It’s got almond flour, coconut flour, cacao nibs, and walnuts (which, strangely, are mentioned in the instructions but not the ingredients list. Yeah.) This time I used flax eggs (3 TBS hot water + 1 TBS ground flax seeds; whisk and let sit for ten minutes) instead of Ener-G, and it seemed to get the job done.

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St. Patrick’s Day Spinach & Seaweed Superfood Ice Cream

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

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Okay, so this ice cream sounds a little sketchy, but it’s actually not half bad! Probably you’ll opt for a dessert drenched in booze for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday – not that I would blame you; may I suggest this Kahlua ice cream? – but with the festive green color, I just couldn’t pass on the fortuitous timing.

The seaweed powder is another superfood that I received for review from Kazu, hence the odd recipe. I only used a teaspoon and a half, though, so the taste is very subtle. It pairs surprisingly well with bananas, and the shocking green color provided by the spinach cuts down on the cognitive dissonance you might otherwise experience.

Plus it’s hella healthy, so there’s that too. And if you use a raw seaweed powder and leave out the sugar and nondairy milk, I do believe that this recipe is a-okay for raw foodies. So…eat up?

P.S. I am seriously considering changing my name to Ice Cream Star. Or maybe Unicorn Pizza Star. Something along those lines. Thoughts?

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Cacao Banana Ice Cream (Now with Nibs!)

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

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Last week I received a packet of sample goodies from Kazu; nestled among the quinoa, matcha powder, and goldenberries were cacao powder and cacao nibs. As usual, when faced with food items for review, I went with my first instinct: make ice cream! I even happened to have a few quarts of sliced bananas in the freezer, just waiting on me; serendipity, anyone?

So what’s the diff between cocoa and cacao powder, you might be wondering? While both begin life in the pods of the Theobroma cacao plant, the difference lies in the processing: cocoa beans are roasted before being cracked, deshelled, and ground into a powder, while cacao beans are not. (The shells, by the by, are where we get nibs.) Cacao is raw; cocoa is not. It may also contain more antioxidants than its processed counterpart.

Neither cacao nor cocoa should be confused with carob, which comes from an altogether different plant (the carob tree) and is the only one of the three that’s suitable for canines. Both cacao and cocoa contain theobromine, which is toxic to dogs.

Since cacao and cocoa powder can be used almost interchangeably, the recipe was a no-brainer. I only used 3 tablespoons of cacao, but feel free to increase it to a full quarter cup if you’d like a stronger flavor. And as long as you omit the sugar and soy milk (hopefully you’ll need neither – ’tis the goal with banana ice cream, after all), this recipe is suitable for those on a raw food diet.

Bon appétit!

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Carbs & Rec: Sex Bites

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Carbs & Rec - Sex Bites (0003b)

Quick! When I say “Parks & Rec,” which foods pop into your head?

Waffles? Check.

Eggs and bacon? You betcha.

Mac & cheese pizza? Hells yeah!

Bananas? Say what now!?!

Believe it or not, the unassuming banana has a long and storied history on Parks & Rec. From that one time Leslie demonstrated safe sex practices for Pawnee’s seniors with the assistance of a ginormous yellow banana,

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to Ron Swanson’s somewhat epic aversion to this healthy fruit,

bananas have made multiple appearances on Parks and Recreation.

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Rosemary Strawberry Banana Ice Cream

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

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This recipe came about because I needed to use up some ripening strawberries stat, and I wanted to try something other than plain old strawberry-banana. The rosemary certainly makes for an interested addition – it gives the ice cream more of a savory feel – but I’m not sure it’s my absolute favorite. I guess I’m just more of a strawberry shortcake kind of girl, you know?

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Strawberry Rosemary Banana Ice Cream

(Makes just under one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

3 cups strawberries, diced
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

3-4 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or several sprigs fresh rosemary) + extra to taste
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

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Fennel Banana Ice Cream

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

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I’ve wanted to try fennel ice cream for what feels like forever now, but somehow it always got pushed to the bottom of the list. When I found myself with an overripe bunch of bananas, I decided to finally give it a try. I was a little nervous about how the fennel would taste when paired with bananas (the flavor of which can sometimes be overwhelming in banana-based ice cream recipes), but a quick Google search turned up dozens of fennel-seasoned banana desserts, so I figured it was a safe bet.

The result is tasty enough; the fennel lends the bananas a sweet, licorice-like flavor that’s really quite refreshing. Still, it does compete a bit with the bananas for top billing. I really have got to try it in a more traditional, soy milk-based ice cream.

The little orange chunks are dates, which I added for extra sweetness (and I’m not gonna lie, fiber!); these are optional, but make an already healthy frozen dessert even more nutritious!

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Fennel Banana Ice Cream

(Makes just under one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
1 teaspoon ground, dried fennel + extra to taste (I used 1 3/4 teaspoons, all told)
4 dates (optional)
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Put the bananas and dates in the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen banana chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

2. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend.

3. Add one teaspoon fennel and process. Same the batter and add additional fennel to taste.

4. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

Butternut Squash Banana Ice Cream

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

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So here’s the deal: I bought a butternut squash a few weeks ago and then completely forgot why. I assumed it was for a specific recipe, but I’ve combed through my cookbook pile and I’ll be damned if I can find it. So into the ice cream it goes!

This recipe’s a lot like the Sweet Potato Soft Serve I made last year, only with butternut squash in place of sweet potatoes! (Next up: Spaghetti Squash. I kid, I kid.)

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Butternut Squash Banana Ice Cream

(Makes just under one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

2 cups roasted butternut squash (about 1/3 of a squash)
4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

1. To roast the squash, cut it in half lengthwise. Place it on a large baking sheet, flesh-side up, and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes, or until the insides are soft and tender. Set aside and allow to cool.

2. When cooled, peel the skin off the squash and dice into 1/2″ pieces. Put two cups of diced squash in a food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Add a little soy milk if necessary.

3. Next, add the bananas and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl.

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

4. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend.

5. Add the cinnamon and pulse until blended.

6. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

 

P.S. I just so happened to photograph this ice cream during the dogs’ post-lunch bathroom break, and this happened:

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“It’s mine, you understand? Mine! All mine! Get back in there! Down, down, down! Go, go, go! Mine, mine, mine! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!”

Cocoa Crunch Soft Serve

Friday, December 13th, 2013

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After I saw some people on tumblr making ice cream sundaes with sugary cereal, I got to thinking: why not skip a step and put the cereal right in the ice cream? I could make whole flavors based on my favorite cereals! Sadly, I haven’t had much chance to experiment – current weather conditions are more conducive to hot chocolate and hotter tea than they are to ice cream and milkshakes – but I did give Cocoa Puff cereal a whirl. Or rather, Cocoa Roos or whatever the generic, cereal-by-the-bag version is called. Sadly, Cocoa Puffs contains the non-vegan version of Vitamin D (D3), so I had to switch to the store brand, which isn’t quite as tasty. But no sheep parts, yay! (Or at least that I know of; the label doesn’t specify. Damn fortified cereals!)

In addition to the cereal, I added some cocoa powder for an extra-chocolatey taste. It’s really good, and you can definitely detect the cereal’s distinct flavor over all that chocolate. And between the cereal and the bananas, I think we can all agree: this is totally a breakfast food. Dessert at 7AM, does it get any better than this?

 

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Cocoa Crunch Soft Serve

(Makes just under one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
2 cups generic Cocoa Puffs cereal
3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Place one cup of the cereal into a food processor and pulse until it’s almost powdery.

2. Add the bananas to the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

3. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend.

4. Add the cocoa powder and pulse until blended. Add the rest of the cereal and pulse until it’s broken up into bite-sized bits. Sample the batter and add extra cocoa powder or sugar to taste.

5. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

 
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Cranberry Banana Ice Cream

Friday, December 6th, 2013

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In the four days between my making this ice cream and photographing it, Shane asked me every single night whether I’d taken the pictures yet – since he’s not allowed to eat the homemade ice cream until I can photograph it for the blog. A little whinier each night, he sounded a kid waiting for…well, his ice cream. Annoying and a slightly endearing all at once. Needless to say, he’s super-stoked to see this post go up!

This is a pretty simple recipe, and a tasty way to use up leftover cranberry sauce. By my best estimate, you’ll need about a cup of cranberry sauce per four to five bananas, which ultimately yields about a quart of ice cream. But just in case you like your ice cream with an extra cranberry kick, I included instructions for making two cups of sauce. You can stick with my basic recipe or swap it out for your own favorite version. Just be sure to simmer as much of the moisture out as you can!

Also, feel free to dress this up with chocolate chips and dried cranberries; cinnamon (~ 1 teaspoon), nutmeg (~ 1/4 tsp), and allspice (a dash); some extra lemon or orange zest, perhaps in addition to a few tablespoons of frozen OJ concentrate); or a shot of bourbon or triple sec.

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Cranberry Banana Ice Cream

(Makes a little more than a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

(This makes about two cups of cranberry sauce, or enough for 1 to 1 1/2 or even 2 batches of ice cream, depending on how heavy your hand. You can use the leftovers as an ice cream sauce, in oatmeal, on savory foodstuffs, etc. If you’d rather not have any extras, reduce this recipe by half.)

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Begin by making the cranberry sauce. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst (about ten minutes). Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened up considerable. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature until continuing to step #2.

2. Transfer one cup of the cranberry sauce to a food processor and pulse until it’s relatively smooth. Some chunks are okay.

3. Put the bananas in the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

4. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend. If you’d like a stronger cranberry taste, add some more sauce.

5. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Soft Serve

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

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Normally I wouldn’t try to claim that ice cream in November is “seasonal,” but pumpkins! Or pumpkin pie spice in this case, which is pretty much the laziest way to make pumpkin pie ice cream. And I’m okay with that! Lazy is good, especially this time of the year. (But if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice mix on hand, you can totally make your own.)

By the way, don’t you just heart my foam pumpkins? They’re an old family decoration – I’m pretty sure they’re older than I am, much like 25% of my parents’ holiday swag – and my mom gave them to me when I moved out of the house. I’m pretty sure she has a bunch more, including some ginormous, life-sized one. Note to self: raid the attic for Halloween decorations the next time you find yourself in New York.

 

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Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Soft Serve

(Makes just under one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice mix
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Put the bananas in the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

2. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend.

3. Add the cocoa powder and pumpkin pie spice and pulse until blended. Sample the batter and add extra seasonings to taste.

4. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

Serve topped with cocoa powder and cinnamon!

 

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Mucho Matcha Banana Ice Cream

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

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In all my banana ice cream experiments, I’ve been hesitant to try green tea on account of I wasn’t so sure the two flavors would taste all that hot together. Unless you’re pairing the banana base with a truly overpowering flavor – chocolate, maybe, or peanut butter (or, better yet, both together!) – the banana taste tends to bleed through. And while green tea goes well with some fruits – oranges, lemons, and blueberries immediately come to mind – green tea and bananas is hardly anyone’s dream team.

But I’ve been trying to eat healthier lately, and what better snack that potassium-rich bananas paired with antioxidant-rich matcha powder?

As it turns out, green tea banana ice cream? Not too shabby. Naturally I prefer the soy-based stuff, but this Mucho Matcha Banana Ice Cream (as I now call it) is pretty tasty, too. Better still served with sprinkles and strawberries.

For a richer dessert, try adding a third flavor to the mix: lemon or orange peel, perhaps, or vanilla or almond extract.

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Just playing around with my camera’s settings, don’t mind me.
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Mucho Matcha Banana Ice Cream

(Makes just under one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
3 tablespoons matcha powder
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

optional seasonings: lemon peel, orange peel, vanilla extract, almond extract, etc.

Directions

1. Put the bananas in the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

2. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend.

3. Add the matcha, a tablespoon at a time. Pulse until blended, sample the ice cream, and, if the green tea flavor isn’t strong enough for your liking, add another tablespoon. (If using optional seasonings, add them at this step as well.) Three tablespoons of matcha powder hit the sweet spot for me, but you may prefer less.

4. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

It’s that time again, folks: VeganMoFo, where vegans (and the veg-curious) the world over gather to drool over their favorite foods. This year I’m doing an alphabet theme, Vegan A to Z, where I try to hit all 26 letters of the alphabet while cooking/baking/eating my butt off. Let’s kick things off with – you guessed it – the letter A!

A is for Apples! In this case: Apple Pie Ice Cream. Made with frozen bananas, so no ice cream machine required!

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Always start with ice cream, and Always take a banana to a party.

In all seriousness, this dessert is as tasty as it is healthy. Basically you start with a half a batch of my apple pie insides, and blend them with a few frozen bananas. It’s that easy!

 

A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream (0010)

 

Apple Pie Ice Cream

(Makes about a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
brown sugar or another vegan sweetener, if needed
a splash of nondairy milk or creamer, if needed

3 medium-sized apples, cut into slices 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean (or a teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a dash of allspice
2 tablespoons margarine, cut into small pieces

Directions

1. Begin by preparing the apples. Preheat the oven to 400F. After you’ve cleaned and peeled the apples, cut them into slices about 1/4″ thick. Consistency is more important than the size; try to cut them as evenly as possible so that they bake at the same rate. The thicker the slices, of course, the longer the bake time!

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice; mix well.

3. Transfer the apples to a small baking dish. Dot with the margarine. Bake, uncovered at 400F for about 45 minutes, or until the apples are soft and tender. Stir halfway through so that all the apples bake evenly.

4. When done, allow the apples to cool. Transfer the apples (and their juices!) to an airtight container and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or until cold. You can make and store the apples up to a day before blending the ice cream.

5. To make the ice cream: Put the apples in the food process and pulse until chunky.

Tip: If you’d like your ice cream chunky, set a few apples slices aside. Cut them into smaller pieces and mix them into the ice cream at step #8.

6. Add the (frozen) bananas iand pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead. The juices from the apples should help in this regards.

7. Sample the batter and add a bit of sugar or other spices if desired.

8. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

 

A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream [with granola] (0006)

Doubly amazing when topped with fresh apples, cinnamon, and a handful of Apple Cinnamon Granola.
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Maple-Roasted Carrot Banana Ice Cream

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

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So this ice cream has got it going on: with both bananas and carrots, it’s got a serving (or two or three, depending on how big you like your sundaes!) of fruits and veggies, all in one delicious dessert. I got the idea for it while reminiscing about the Carrot Cake Banana Ice Cream I made last summer (mmmm, carrot cake ice cream!). Here, the carrots are roasted in a maple syrup-bourbon sauce (the bourbon is optional, but gives it a nice kick!) and then blended into a fine mash using the food processor.

Personally, I think that the bourbon’s the most distinct taste, but Shane’s undecided. We’re both big fans, though. Try it and see for yourself!

 

Maple-Roasted Carrot Banana Ice Cream

(Makes about three quarters of a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 large carrots, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan bourbon (optional)

3-4 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
brown sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a 9″x9″ baking pan with the sliced carrots. (4-5 large carrots halved lengthwise and halved or quartered into thin slices should be enough to do it, but use your own judgement!) In a measuring cup, whisk the maple syrup, olive oil, and bourbon. Pour the mixture on top of the carrots and mix well, making sure that all the carrots are coated. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Toss the carrots and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft and tender. Remove from the oven and (carefully!) transfer the carrots and their juices to a food processor. Process until smoothly blended. Allow the mash to cool on the countertop before continuing.

2. When you’re ready to make the ice cream: Add the bananas to the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

3. If the ice cream isn’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of brown sugar (or other vegan sweetener) to taste.

4. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

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Blueberry Lavender Banana Ice Cream

Friday, August 9th, 2013

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This particular flavor combination was inspired by the Lavender Pancakes in Alicia Simpson’s Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food, which I made for VeganMoFo and topped with a yummy blueberry sauce. Spoiler alert: it tastes every bit as delicious as it sounds.

(Incidentally, Shane enjoyed his pancakes with maple syrup and didn’t share in my heavenly dining experience. He was less than impressed. To which I responded: Told you so! Maple syrup and lavender, ew.)

The blueberry syrup is optional but really takes things to the next level.

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Blueberry Lavender Banana Ice Cream

(Makes just under one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup blueberry syrup (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
1/2 cup dried blueberries
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Put the bananas, vanilla extract, and blueberry syrup in the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir the bananas by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

2. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend.

3. Add the lavender and dried blueberries and process until the berries are broken up into smaller pieces. Your food processor might get a bit jump during this step, so hold on tight!

4. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

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Lemon Lime Banana Ice Cream

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

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Like Sprite, but frozen – and about a million times healthier. I went with a combination of lime juice and lemon zest; the juice helps to get things moving during the blending process, but you also don’t want to add too much extra liquid, since that can lead to ice crystals. If you’d rather, you can use lemon juice and lime zest, or swap out the juice altogether for lemon and lime zest. Whatever you’ve got in your spice rack!

The candied lemon peel is optional but a nice treat. Stir them in my hand @ step #4 if you’d rather not give your food processor a workout. The tend to stick to the blades like whoah.

 

Lemon Lime Banana Ice Cream

(Makes just under one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon candied lemon peel (optional)
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Put the bananas and lime juice in the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

2. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend.

3. Add the lemon zest and pulse until blended. Sample the ice cream and add extra sugar and spices to taste. If desired, toss in some candied lemon peel and pulse a few times to mix them in. Most likely they’ll make your food processor jump, so hold on tight.

4. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

 

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