banana

Frozen Dark Chocolate Banana Bites with Toasted Pecans

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How many times have you bought bananas to only have them turn into a pitiful brown by the end of the week? For awhile there, I'd just toss them in the trash and never gave them a second thought but the beauty of internet has paved the way to a brand new world of recipes featuring the overly ripened fruit. 

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You could use them to make muffins and breads or even as an egg replacement, freeze them for smoothies, or ice cream and my favorite way of enjoying them is frozen and dipped in dark chocolate. 

Fun fact for the day: Did you know you're suppose to peel your banana from the stemless end? If you ever want to be the life of the party, here's 9 ways to peel a banana

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I usually like to peel the ripened bananas, slice them and lay them out in a baking sheet lined with wax paper. This way makes cutting painless and when you dip them in the dark chocolate, the chocolate will immediately harden. However, bananas do melt quickly, so you have to work quickly and in smaller batches. If the bananas start to soften, simply return them to the freezer and dip once they are hardened again. 

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This recipe is simple and uses only 3 ingredients: bananas, dark chocolate and toasted pecans. Also if you don't want as much chocolate on your bananas or you're short on time, take the melted chocolate (make sure it's not piping hot) and place it in a ziplock bag. Squeeze the chocolate to one of the bottom corners and cut the tip and drizzle the chocolate all over the frozen bananas pieces and top with pecans. Omit pecans if you're not a nutty kinda guy. 

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Ingredients:

serves 1-2; yields about 30-40 pieces (printable recipe)

  • 3 ripened bananas, peeled sliced into 1" thick pieces and frozen
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (3.5 oz each ) I used a 70% cacao bar but milk chocolate can be used as well
  • 1 1/2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Peel bananas and slice into 1" pieces. Place onto large pan lined with wax paper. Place into freezer for at least 1 hour.

Chop dark chocolate bar into small pieces and place into a small glass bowl. Microwave for 30 sec and then in 10 sec intervals (stirring in between) until chocolate is fully melted. Add melted coconut oil and mix thoroughly.

Find some wooden skewers or fondue skewers to make the dipping process easier, if you have neither you can also use  2 small forks. Remove bananas from freezer and pierce banana pieces using the skewers and slowly allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Place onto reserved wax paper and top with pecan pieces. Set aside.

If you are using two forks, drop the banana pieces one at a time into the chocolate and use the forks to lift them, allowing any excess chocolate to drip off the sides. Place onto parchment and top with pecan pieces. Continue with the rest of the batch. 

Eat immediately or place back into the freezer until ready to eat. If the bites are too hard, simply leave on the counter for a couple minutes and they will soften a little. 

If the chocolate hardens while you are dipping, simply place back into the microwave for 5-10 sec to soften again.

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Ricotta Pancakes with Banana Pecan Syrup

Nothing really beats the smell of pancakes and bacon cooking on the stove in the mornings. It's a wonderful way to welcome the weekend and even a better excuse to stay in your pajamas just a little bit longer. And when it's a Paula Lambert recipe that involves whipping some of her house made ricotta cheese into the batter-- life doesn't really get sweeter than that.
Dallas Mozzarella Company (owned by Paula Lambert) makes some of the best cheeses hands down. Having won numerous awards from the American Cheese Society, Paula has been serving up fresh made cheese in Dallas for over 24 years -- that's almost a quarter century of cheese making folks. This woman is damn serious when it comes to cheese and the flavors of her products says it all.
I really fell hard for this recipe because of the light airy texture of the pancake, resulting from the whipped egg whites that are gently integrated into the batter.  Plus there's ricotta cheese in the batter, need I say more? I think the base would also serve for a great savory version as well -- maybe topped with some creme fraiche, smoked salmon and chives... Do I smell a weekend project coming on? Perhaps. But for now, enjoy this recipe!
Ricotta Pancakes with Banana Pecan Syrup

Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Paula Lambert
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4
Light fluffy pancakes dotted with rich creamy ricotta cheese topped with a warm banana and pecan syrup. Yes. This is what heaven tastes like.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter Unsalted
  • 1/2 Cup Pecans Chopped
  • 2 Bananas Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Cup Cane or Maple Syrup
  • 2 Cups Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 eggs Separated
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 4 Ounces Ricotta
Instructions
  1. Banana Syrup: Melt the butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add the nuts and sauté for about one minute, or until fragrant. Add bananas and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring to combine the ingredients. Add the syrup and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until syrup is well heated and thick. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
  2. Ricotta Pancakes: Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt together onto wax paper or a plate. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with a hand beater until stiff, but not dry.
  3. Beat the egg yolks, milk, and ricotta together in a large bowl until well blended and smooth. Add the dry ingredients and mix gently with a large spoon. Stir a spoonful of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites with a spatula.
  4. Warm the platter in a low oven. Heat a flat nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Grease with butter or vegetable oil. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter per pancake onto the pan when it is hot. Pour as many additional pancakes as the griddle will comfortably hold. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until air bubbles form on the surface, and then flip the pancakes over using a large flat spatula. Cook on the other side for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and place the pancakes on a warm platter.
All the ingredients for this recipe can be ordered through Artizone - a grocery delivery service that finds the best artisans in the city and showcases their goods in the form of an online market . I've been working with the company since the beginning when there were just 5 vendors. Two years later, they now have over 40 vendors and have expanded to Chicago and recently started to ship nationwide.  It's been a great experience meeting all of the vendors, exploring their passion in their craft  -- it has allowed me to take the time to appreciate the love that goes into all of their products and further more, being able to support and buy from local businesses. It's fun, addicting, and quite frankly freaking awesome.
Give it a whirl, make breakfast for your family or maybe even your boo. But whatever reason you have to cook, always cook from the heart and embrace the messes. Happy cooking and have a great weekend!
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On a side note, I was recently contacted by Love With Food to review one of their specialty food boxes. Based in California, this company not only sends you tasty snacks from great vendors they find, but with each box they donate a meal to help feed hungry kids across America. Pictured below is the box of goodies they sent me, I especially loved the hot fudge sundae sauce. I use it to top my coconut gelato nightly :) Lucky for my readers, Love With Food is actually offering a giveaway for a free 1-month trial. The winner must provide their credit card number in order to qualify and you may choose to cancel your membership at the end of your term or continue ordering away!  Also anyone who is curious to try it out can also get $2 off their next order using the coupon code JOYVIP.
To win your free one month trial for Love With Food simply leave a comment below and I will draw a number randomly next week and announce the winner. Good luck!

Best Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vegan Banana Ice Cream

Chocolate Vegan Peanut Butter Cupcake with Banana Ice Cream One of the many reasons why I fell in love with Collin was for his Superman abilities.  Whenever my computer crashed, BAM it’s fixed.  Whenever I couldn’t move that stupid heavy box, POOF he lifts it with one hand.  Even that one time when my heel got stuck in the crack of the sidewalk and my face was about to meet the pavement of death, like magic he not only pulls me back but frees my heel at the same time in the process.  I realize I’d never want to ever lose my hero, honestly, what would I do?  With that being said, although 99% of the time Collin is indestructible, like every Superman, he has his kryptonite: desserts.

Chocolate Vegan Peanut Butter Cupcake with Banana Ice Cream

Let’s start with a simple equation: Collin + Desserts = Epic Domination.  If I bake a pie and he sees it, within a couple hours it’ll be gone.  There have been instances at our dinner parties where he’ll even hoard a few portions of desserts for later, when after the guests leave.  Recently he’s been so good at sneaking my baked goods that I don’t realize anything is missing, until I pull the pan out of the oven.  The point is the man has no self-control when it comes to desserts, and he simply cannot stop.  When I make dessert recipes for the blog and you wonder “Wow who gets to eat that?”  The answer is Collin; he eats all of it, that night usually.

As a result of his bad boy behaviors, consequently his waist line suffers and then that leads to frustration towards me.  “I was SO hot before I met you, remember when I had a six-pack and some monster biceps??!!  Now look at me!  YOU DID THIS TO ME, STOP MAKING DESSERTS!!!”  He’s right.  I did.  I did do that to him.  But I didn’t mean to!  Desserts are evil, the only way they’re good is if they’re packed full of cream, eggs, sugar and butter.  How can the best things in life be so bad for us?  WHY IS THE WORLD PACKED FULL OF CONTRADICTORY SITUATIONS?

So this year I’ve been on a mission.  I realize to keep my Superman around I have to keep him healthy and in good shape.  However, it’s impossible to say I won’t make any desserts, life is too short for that but I can try to find dessert recipes that won’t give you a third ass.  This is one of them.

I finally found the ultimate vegan dessert recipe.  For all you vegan haters, hey I feel you – I was on that boat of “Uhm vegan dessert?  Those two words don’t ever go together.”  But this recipe changed my mind.  After trying a couple vegan cake recipes, I found this to be the best one.  The addition of the coffee along with the Valrona cocoa makes this cake moist, rich and delicious.  For the filling I used all natural peanut butter and sweetened it with some raw honey.  It is important that you opt for all-natural peanut butter; it contains monosaturated fats that are good for lowering LDL cholesterol as well as a good source of protein.  When you buy regular peanut butter, it usually contains high levels of hydrogenated fats (bad fats), preservatives, sugar and salt – save yourself go natural.  The banana ice cream is just frozen bananas blended – due to the low liquid content in bananas, when blended it turns into this creamy, milky texture.  It’s so easy to make and it tastes incredible, the more ripe the bananas the sweeter your ice cream (I wouldn’t recommend using bananas that don’t have brown spots on them)! Top it off with some cocoa nibs and cocoa powder for that nice earthy touch and I promise you’ll forget its even vegan.

Recipe for Chocolate Vegan Cake with Vegan Banana Ice Cream:

<Print Recipe Here>

 

Banana Ice Cream (makes about 3 cups)

  • 3 very ripe bananas, frozen
  • 1 Tablespoon soymilk (optional)

Using a blender or hand-held immersion blender, blend the bananas into a smooth paste.  If it feels a little thick, feel free to add the soymilk.  Place in a medium glass container and freeze for 30 minutes or more before using.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (8-10 cupcakes)

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, I highly recommend you using Valrhona (yes it makes all the difference in the world)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon distilled vinegar

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  • 1 ½ cups all-natural peanut butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup honey
  • Cocoa nibs and cocoa powder for garnish

Mix peanut butter and honey together in a bowl until combined.  Set aside until ready to use.

If you’re interested in making the candied hazelnuts you can find the manual over at Martha Stewart.

Chocolate Vegan Peanut Butter Cupcake with Banana Ice Cream

Preheat oven at 350F.

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together until well incorporated.  Add water, coffee, oil and vinegar into dry mixture, mix until fully blended.  Fill muffin pan with liners and fill with batter ¾ the way full.  Bake in oven for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Place on rack to cool.  Using a paring knife or tiny circular pastry cutter (1”-1.25”) cut out a hole in the center of each cupcake for the peanut butter filling.

Take banana ice cream out and set aside.  Fill each cupcake with peanut butter mixture up to the top and scoop banana ice cream on top.  Garnish with cocoa nibs and cocoa powder.  Serve immediately and eat often.

*** If you feel this dessert needs to be sweeter, simply add more honey on top!

(p.s. I know "technically" honey is not vegan so feel free to use agave as a substitute.)

Chocolate Vegan Peanut Butter Cupcake with Banana Ice Cream

Electrolux #splits: Caramel Banana Split with Bourbon Praline Pecans

When Foodbuzz sent out an e-mail about supporting Ovarian Cancer Research, it really touched a special place in my heart  My late grandmother battled Ovarian Cancer and throughout her struggle we offered her endless love and support.  I miss her dearly and wish she were still here so I could've fed her this Banana Split:) (Love you nainai!)

Foodbuzz is offering to donate $50 for every banana split entry done by a Featured Publisher, so I knew I had to support the cause! The cause is run by Electrolux who has teamed up with Kelly Ripa to raise money for Ovarian Cancer Research, you can find more information at Kelly's website here.

Ovarian cancer effects tens of thousands of women each year.  It is hard to say why one woman will be effected while another will not but there are certain risk factors.  Women who have family histories of cancer, personal history of cancer, menopause, any woman over 55 and those who have never been pregnant all pose as risk factors for ovarian cancer.  Therefore it is important to get annual exams at your gynecologist to ensure the health of your reproductive system.

So without further ado, here is my version of Banana Splits.  I decided to make some caramel from scratch and paired it with some bourbon praline pecans -- it's pretty much heaven in your mouth. :)

Ingredients for Bourbon Praline Pecans:

  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Grease two baking sheets; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in the sugars, then cream; cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 236F° (soft-ball stage), about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat; stir in the pecan halves, chopped pecans and bourbon. Immediately drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Let stand until pralines are set and no longer glossy. Chop the pralines into small chunks using a large knife.  Store in an airtight container.

Ingredients for Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Few drops of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

In a small, deep saucepan, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down the side of the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat and cook without stirring, until the caramel just begins to color around the edges, about 5 minutes. Gently swirl the pan and simmer until the caramel turns a medium amber color, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Using a long-handled wooden spoon, stir in the heavy cream. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Ingredients for Caramel Banana Split: (serves 2)

  • 1 pint of vanilla ice cream (I like Haagen Daz)
  • 1 banana, halved vertically
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream
  • 1/2 cup caramel
  • 1/4 cup bourbon praline pecans

You can assemble your banana splits however you like!  I like to put my bananas down first, then place a couple scoops of ice cream on top.  Then I will top it with whipped cream and garnish with the pecans and drizzle GENEROUSLY with the caramel :) You can garnish with a cherry if you'd like, I'm not such a fan of Maraschino so I used fresh cherries!