Food, Recipe

Banana “Ice Cream”

I already had a lot of respect for bananas as they are one of the only fruits to have an awesome, arguably better use when they are practically rotten (banana bread.) But bananas have been holding out on you. Bananas….

….can be ice cream.

What’s that? Yeah, you heard me. When I first learned this secret, I was shocked. It seemed like some weird raw-foodie trick that probably wouldn’t taste as good as the real thing. I was skeptical, but I was even more curious. I froze a banana. I stuck it in the blender. It took a little scraping down the side and a little prodding with a fork and a little constant stop-and-start blending action, but lo and behind, I scooped it out and into a bowl and….wow. Creamy, smooth, rich – this is the real deal. Ever since, I’ve kept a constant supply of peeled frozen bananas in my freezer.

The greatest thing about banana “ice cream” is that it is versatile. Craving chocolate ice cream? Add cocoa powder, syrup, or chocolate chips. Fruit? Blend in frozen berries. Nuts? You got it. This is a healthier, but by no means sacrificial dessert.

Banana “Ice Cream”

Serves 1

1 1/2 frozen bananas, peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces

2-3 teaspoons almond/coconut/soy/regular milk

2 dashes cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

Add bananas, cinnamon, and honey to a blender. Pulse on low, constantly scraping banana chunks down the side, until it starts becoming creamy. Add the milk as needed to achieve desired consistency, but not too much as you don’t want this to turn into a regular old smoothie. When it looks like soft-serve, spoon into a bowl. Sprinkle with desired toppings or just enjoy plain!

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Food, Recipe

Icy, Crunchy, Sweet

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Today I’m feeling light. Outside, it’s anything but – we were supposed to get a blizzard but it turned into rainy slush. Spring break is not far off, and while I’m very excited to be going to New York City, I still can’t stop dreaming of tropical places, fruit, and sun.

We often talk about food taste, but what about feel? The velvety warmth of roasted sweet potatoes, the stickiness of eating berries with your fingers, and – my favorite – the crispy crunch of fresh produce. This salad fulfills me completely as I wasn’t craving the taste so much as I was craving the feeling of biting into something with a sound.

Icy Sweet Salad

Serves 8-10 as a side salad

1 head romaine lettuce
1 head red lettuce
1 6 oz container blueberries
1 head (9 stalks) celery
3 granny smith apples
2 cucumbers
2 tbsp honey
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tap salt
1 tbsp lemon juice

Roughly chop the lettuce and put in a large bowl. Add the blueberries. Dice the cucumbers, celery, and apples and add to the bowl. Combine the honey, balsamic, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix with fork until blended. Pour over the salad right before serving and toss.

Mix it up! This salad would be good with chopped almonds. You could also try a more lemony dressing, taking out the balsamic and adding lemon zest.

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Food, Recipe

Chicken Adobo with Millet

adobochicken

I love coconut. My favorite candy as a child was Mounds, and when those weren’t around my parents sometimes caught me eating frozen shredded coconut out of a bag in the freezer. Freshman year, I met my half-Thai roommate who introduced me to the wonders of mango and sweet coconut sticky rice. Recently, I was craving coconut, but wanted it in something savory. This recipe caught my eye, as I was intrigued by the combination of ingredients that seemed atypical of my perception of “adobo.” I love that it uses chicken, a cheap, lean meat with infinite potential. If you are constantly looking to diversify common foods, such as chicken, this is the dish for you. This recipe’s uncanny blend of sweet coconut milk, tangy red wine vinegar, and salty soy results in an indulgent adobo sauce that complements the meat…

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Food, Musing, Recipe

pomegranate mocktail

Recently (very, very recently) I’ve been trying to cut down on my added sugar intake. It’s not really new. I feel I proclaim this every once in a while. “No sugar!” I say, swearing off everything even remotely related to sugar for about a few days before I break down and eat a bajillion cookies and cupcakes. Now that I’m on medication for my high triglyceride levels (thanks for the cholesterol levels via genetic mutation, Dad!) I’m trying to take eating well seriously. I’ve also been watching this whole Paula Deen ordeal carefully. Yikes! Sugar addiction is a very real thing. Recent studies have shown that sugar addictions rival cocaine addictions. It’s hard to find a healthy approach, especially if you’re someone like me for whom the term “in moderation” never, ever successfully applies.

Sugar wasn’t really readily available in the average human diet until quite recently on the ol’ history of the world scale. It’s difficult to discuss different approaches without feeling like you’re delving into the world of fad dieting. But here’s the thing. For people such as myself (and Paula Deen) there’s a lot less leniency when it comes to mantras such as “have just a little dessert every day.” It’s really something I have to conquer, re-shape in my head. Food-wise, dessert for me has to be limited: natural sugars in fruit. Dark chocolates. But what about dessert as a mental thing? After all, what is dessert? An indulgence. A reward. Other things can be “dessert”–taking a bath, making a really nice cup of coffee, taking fifteen minutes to paint your nails. Sugar is used too often as a treat, and I argue there are other things that are just as enjoyable.

But when the cravings do hit, I have to be prepared. I’ve been having this drink a lot at around 3 PM when my blood sugar crashes. It’s simple and makes me feel like I am appeasing that mental “sweet tooth” moment.

Pomegranate Mocktail

1 can Fresca

2 splashes sugar-free Fuze or non-sweetened juice (ie: cranberry)

1/3 cup chopped pineapple

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Combine everything in a glass. Add ice if needed.

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Food, Recipe

chia seed pudding

These are chia seeds. Yes, I’m talking about the seeds that allowed you to grow your beloved, grassy pet in the 90’s. These are the same ones. But we’re not going to plant them. They’re a superfood, you see! While you’ve forgotten about them, they’ve gotten fancy. People eat them now. Buy them in bulk. Tout the wonders of their omega-3 content. Runners make gels with them and use them for energy. And yet these little seeds look very pre-historic. Up close, they resemble multi-colored pebbles. Mixed with liquids, however, they swell up and become gel-like.

An easy recipe that utilizes these seeds and also falls under the “healthy raw food” category is chia seed pudding, similar to rice pudding but no cooking needed. You can find these at a local co-op.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

2 tablespoons chia seeds

6 tablespoons almond, coconut, or soy milk

a dash cinnamon

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp honey

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. (Add milk depending on desired consistency: less milk will create a thicker pudding, more milk will make it runnier.) Let the mix sit for an hour, or even better, overnight.

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Food

sinful dinner (the best kind)

Here at Culinary, we don’t %!$# around with food. Because really, no one should. Yeah, we have a variety of dietary restrictions, but that doesn’t mean we sit around like goats at dinner, merrily chomping on lettuce leaves and debating the latest lemon juice cleanse. We believe in indulgence. Mindful indulgence. At the end of the day, if your food looks and tastes unappetizing, no matter how healthy it is, it’s not worth it. So we play around. Goat cheese instead of normal cheese (and really, who says eating goat cheese is “missing out”?) Depending on healthy carbs like sweet potatoes. Lean protein is essential for a balanced diet. Salads will fill you up and add freshness to a rich dinner.

The perk of living in Culinary House is that members cook dinner once a week for 10 people. This means scouring blogs, parents, cookbooks, and friends for food ideas. This means, if you, say, wake up one morning and see this on Tastespotting, you can go ahead and cook it later that night. It’s convenient. It’s luxurious. Sometimes I feel like I’m not a college kid when I sit down to our dinners.

Make this sweet potato dish sometime. Roasted grapes may seem strange, but they’re truly the dark horse of roasted foods, and I will be sure to use them to spice up my next wine & appetizer night. We topped these babies with home-made smoky chili caramel, and served them with salad and lightly-dressed lemon olive oil chicken. The effort is fairly minimal for how great this dinner comes out. The best part? The meal, which fed 9 with leftovers, cost less than $40. That’s less than $5 a person!

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Food, Recipe

pandekager – danish crepes

It seems that most European countries have their own version of the crepe. The French are, obviously, known for them. Swedes have a similar light pancake, except it is smaller, and made on a special griddle. The Danes have their famed pancake balls, aebleskiver, but they, too have dessert crepes. And like most Danish experiences, it doesn’t hurt to add beer. In fact, my host family swears by it. Take that, french crepes!

A favorite special past time of my host family’s was a trip to the pancake house. I can only explain it as driving into the woods to a little clearing that contained a tea shop with an attic full of Christmas elf and royal family knick-knacks. To the side of it was a rustic stand with two teenagers working hard to make crepes for hungry visitors.

These pancakes are light and crispy, thanks to the beer. Lemon and cardamom add a fresh taste. They are best enjoyed with a variety of fillings, so get creative. Home-made apple sauce, jam & sugar, nutella & banana, honey, and the Danish classic: ice cream & jam.

Danish Crepes – Pandekager

scant 1 cup flour

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp lemon zest

3 eggs

little less than 1/2 cup milk

3 tbsp light beer

Combine ingredients together in one bowl with a hand mixer or whisk. Let the mixture chill for half an hour. Drink the remaining beer while you wait. Pour into a frying pan and cook over medium heat in butter, flipping once.

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DSLR, Food, Recipe

summer arnold palmer

Find a really beautiful jar–it could be a Mason jar, or maybe just a jar that used to contain pasta sauce–and fill it with ice cubes. Add lemon juice and honey to taste (I used four tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey), and then a tea bag (I used ginger.) Boil water, pour it into the jar. Stir immediately before the water cools so the tea can steep, but be careful not to break the tea bag. Leave the bag in for five minutes, then add more ice cubes, and perhaps a few mint leaves to garnish. This is a refreshing combination of iced tea and lemonade that isn’t too sweet.

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Food, Recipe

dacie’s beer muffins

There’s one smell at the house I live in–besides cookies–that is instantly recognizable. It’s the yeasty, rich smell of beer muffins, a recipe that’s been around since Dacie lived here. There are a few foods that have been constant through-out the years at Sunday brunches. Cookies, egg bakes, and beer muffins are among them. Alumni always ask for the muffins freshly hot from the oven.

We make a large batch of beer muffin mix and keep it handy to feed the 40+ hungry people that show up to brunch. There used to be cans of cheap beer stocked in the kitchen for these brunches–but Dacie’s is an open house, and eventually local teenagers figured out, hey, there’s not only cookie ingredients here, but beer as well! Now we use non-alcoholic beer. Either one works. Just make sure it’s cheap.

Dacie’s Beer Muffins

For the mix:

9 cups sifted flour

1/3 cup baking powder

1 cup + 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup vegetable shortening

For the muffins:

3 cups mix

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup beer

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Bake in muffin tins at 350 to 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

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Food, Recipe

almond vanilla pound cake

Almond is a flavor missing from mainstream American desserts. In Scandinavia, I fell in love with the taste of almond, especially in baking. In cakes, Scandinavians use marzipan (almond paste) like one would fondant–covering a cake for a smooth outer layer. Marzipan is baked into the center of croissants, drizzled with chocolate, sandwiched with creme. It’s a popular candy at Christmas time, when my host mother rolled thin tubes of marzipan filled with raisins, wine-soaked nuts, and chocolate, slicing them into bite-size pieces.

When I cleaned the house I will live in for the rest of this summer, I found a single vanilla bean tucked inside an unmarked jar. I wanted to bake with it (vanilla beans produce a flavor unmatched by extract) and knew immediately what I would include–almond. We didn’t have any marzipan, but I found almond extract. I that thought a poundcake, simple and buttery, would best show off the flavor. Drizzled with a glaze as soon as it comes out of the oven, it has a crispy crust and beautiful pale yellow color, flecked with vanilla.

Almond Vanilla Pound Cake

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.)

Cake:

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks butter

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Glaze:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

4-5 tablespoons milk

1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a loaf pan with butter/cooking spray and flour. With a whisk, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a mixer, beat egg whites until they form hard peaks. Beat in 1/2 cup of sugar a little at a time. Remove from mixing bowl and set aside. With the mixer, cream butter and add remaining sugar (1/4 + 2 tbsp). When the butter and sugar is well combined, add yolks one at a time, followed by the almond extract and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to over mix. Finally, fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined. Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. It will be done when a toothpick comes out clean, but be sure to err on the side of moist (avoid dry poundcake!) While the cake is baking, combine glaze ingredients in a bowl. If needed, add more milk to get desired consistency. Once the cake is out of the oven, immediately pour glaze on top and drain any excess. Let cool for 10 minutes, and you’re ready to go!

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