Inspiration: Banana Split Strikes Back

I kind of feel like I took the easy way out with my re-creation of the banana split last week. I already knew the flavors would mesh. I didn’t have much to ponder besides lowering the calories (though I didn’t know I could make such amazeballs whipped cream…whipped cream which is currently living in my freezer and tastes about as awesome when I eat a frozen spoonful as it did when I ate a refrigerated one).

So while last week’s recipe was such a triumph, I feel unfulfilled. What’s a girl to do? Obviously, go for the harder option. This week, I’m reimagining the banana split based on its construction. As a reminder, here’s what that means:

Construction

I’m focusing on the different textures and general look of each element of the banana split, and their proportions. Here’s what the banana split is constructed from:

  • Scoops of three different similarly textured, but differently flavored items
  • These items are sauced with three different sauces
  • Then there’s a sprinkle of crunch on top of those scoops
  • And there’s also a less dense sauce (than the other three) over all three scoops
  • The scoops are surrounded by long strips of a food item.
  • A bite sized item tops off the dish

I have a ton of ideas, but there’s this one problem – I’m basically broke, so I have to be frugal about this. My vision of three kinds of ravioli will probably not be the winner here, but that does sound like a good challenge for another day…

Banana Splizit review: Don’t Read This, Just Make the Recipe

I admit, after last week’s mediocre recipe, I was feeling a little shaken in the confidence department. I had eaten tremendous watermelon soup before, and I had even made some (I followed a recipe, and I don’t remember where I found it or how to even begin looking for it again), but the final product was less than satisfying.

Now, I decide to recreate a banana split. I knew all the ingredients for success were there, especially when I decided to go with the flavor profile of a banana split, but there was still that niggling doubt that refused to go away. “What if you don’t find a good way to incorporate chocolate?” “What if it tastes like some thrown together fruit salad?” “How is this even going to be healthy?”

Well, let me just say that those doubts have left the building and this banana split re-creation is going to become a dessert that I make every summer. Or a breakfast for that matter (if you check my food log from this morning, you’ll see that’s the case).

The chocolate whipped cream is rich and thick tasting, but with a light and fluffy texture. Vanilla beans in the vanilla whipped cream add a butteriness that reminds me of the good French vanilla ice cream, the kind made with egg yolk. And it tastes amazing on fruit. I urge you to get fresh fruit – pineapple tastes so much better fresh than canned. And it tastes like a banana split even without the maraschino cherries, but why would you skip those?

In short: Just make it. And eat it. And invite some friends over. And then make a sundae bar, because you’ll have so much whipped cream goodness left over, and you really can’t be on a diet 24/7/365.

Banana Splizit!

I have no idea what to call this recipe besides Yum!, so I decided on the “Banana Splizit” because it’s funny and reminds me of my senior year of high school (for shiz!)

Anyway, earlier this week, when I was contemplating whether I’d reconstruct the banana split using flavors or its construction, it was a hard choice…well, hard until I asked myself why I was craving a banana split. It’s the flavors, hands down. So once that choice was made, I had to figure out what I would make that would honor those flavors and that would fit within my calorie budget.

I looked over my list and realized that over half of these flavors are fruit. And I love fruit. And fruit is healthy. I also love how in a banana split that the fruit is basically raw (or at least cold), so I didn’t want to create anything warm. Basically, I’m left with fruit salad or frozen fruit and one last dilemma – how do I get chocolate and vanilla flavors into my dish and keep it healthy, cold, and well balanced? And that’s when I thought of one of my favorite breakfasts from Urth Caffe – a bowl of strawberries with a side of fresh whipped cream…

Ingredients

4 cups whipping cream

½ cup sugar

1 vanilla bean

2 TB Cocoa powder

1 pineapple, sliced

16 oz strawberries, husked and sliced

2 bananas

Maraschino cherries

Directions

  1. Measure 2 cups of whipping cream into a metal bowl
  2. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the bowl of whipping cream (I found this awesome tutorial for it: http://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/video/scraping-seeds-from-vanilla-bean-10000001690681/)
  3. Whisk the cream and bean to mix well
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour so the vanilla bean can marinate in the cream.
  5. While the cream marinates you can:
    1. Chop the pineapple (Another awesome tutorial: http://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/video/peeling-cutting-pineapple-10000001847719/ )
    2. Chop your strawberries
    3. Do your dishes (no picture of that…that’s boring)
    4. Put another metal bowl in the freezer so it gets cold

      (this is for the chocolate whipped cream)

    5. Talk to your roommate about the new TV shows that are premiering in just a few weeks (just me?!)
    6. Sooo, right before that hour has passed, take your cold metal bowl out of the freezer. Fill it with the remaining 2 cups of whipping cream, ¼ cup of sugar, and the 2 TB of cocoa powder
    7. Whisk to combine the ingredients. Don’t worry if the cocoa powder doesn’t incorporate very well.
    8. Take an electric mixer and put whisk attachments on it (or you can do this in a stand mixer if you’re lucky enough to have one). Put it in the bowl and turn it on high (yes, as high as it can go). If your cream starts splattering, turn it down for a few seconds then turn it back up gradually. Keep the mixer on and mixing until the cream becomes stiff and whipped cream-y. It takes about a minute. If you have to turn the mixer down, it will probably take a little longer.
    9. Wash off the mixer attachments – you’re about to use this on the vanilla whipped cream
    10. Now, it’s time to take the vanilla bean/cream mixture out of the fridge. Add ¼ cup sugar to it.
    11. Repeat step 8 with the vanilla bean whipped cream.
    12. Now, it’s assembly time. For each serving, use half a banana (then halve it lengthwise), about ¼ cup strawberries and ¼ cup pineapple.

      look what cup is making a comeback!

    13. Then put a dollop (2 TB worth each) of the vanilla bean whipped cream and chocolate whipped cream. And top with some maraschino cherries.

It’s only 280 calories and would probably be amazing as a weekend breakfast! (fruit salad and whipped cream – nothing wrong with that!)

Inspiration: Banana Split

So for the past two months, I’ve been dieting. Besides the week during which my mom and sister were visiting, I’ve been diligently staying on course and have lost 10 pounds so far! Because I generally cook healthy food for myself, the transition to dieting hasn’t been all that difficult (although portion control was hard at first – I like eating… a lot. Haha.). Most cravings I have, I’ve either been able to satisfy directly (like ½ cup of ice cream for dessert) or with something slightly healthier (baked, breaded chicken instead of fried).

There is one craving I’ve had that I haven’t been able to satisfy – it’s quite high in calories so I can’t satisfy it directly, and there’s really no substitute for it. A banana split.

So I thought that my challenge for this week would be to re-imagine the banana split. The only rule is that it can’t break my calorie bank. Other than that…the sky’s the limit…as long as what I make resembles a banana split.

The way I see it, there are 2 ways to look at a banana split for my re-imagination: flavor profiles and construction.

Flavor Profiles

If I chose this route, I’d focus on combining the flavors in a traditional banana split in new ways. Here are the flavors I’d be exploring:

  • Chocolate (ice cream and sauce)
  • Vanilla (ice cream)
  • Strawberry (ice cream and sauce)
  • Pineapple (sauce)
  • Peanuts
  • Whipped Cream
  • Cherry; and…
  • Banana

Construction

If I chose this route, I’d focus on the different textures and general look of each element of the banana split, and their proportions. Here’s what the banana split is constructed from:

  • Scoops of three different similarly textured, but differently flavored items
  • These items are sauced with three different sauces
  • Then there’s a sprinkle of crunch on top of those scoops
  • And there’s also a less dense, dairy based, sauce (than the other three) over all three scoops
  • The scoops are surrounded by long strips of a food item.
  • A bite sized item tops off the dish

At this point, I don’t know which I’m choosing, but I’m really excited about this challenge. Hopefully my banana split craving will be satisfied…and if not, I’ll be distracted from it for at least this week.

Watermelon Soup Review: Refreshing, but Lacking

It was super hot the afternoon I made my watermelon soup. The cool watermelon was crazy refreshing and the mint added to my refreshment. Unfortunately, that’s about all I could taste.  I was counting on the jalapeno and ginger to add contrast and heat to the soup, but had I not made the soup myself, I wouldn’t have known those ingredients were in there.  And while I loved the look of the balsamic vinegar syrup dotting the soup, it was entirely lacking in acidity and bite.

There’s not much else to say. The soup was, in short…bland. I had such high hopes for this soup and I want this recipe to work.  With summer coming to a close, I hope I still have an opportunity to buy a watermelon so I can fix this recipe. I’m thinking more ginger, more jalapeno, and put in some lime juice along with the zest.

Any other suggestions?

Bottom line:  Cool, clean, and refreshing, but without depth

Watermelon Soup with Balsamic Drizzle

It’s the end of summer, and with that, some of my favorite produce will soon be out of season. Besides stone fruit and cherries (which, I guess, are still stone fruit, haha) , I also love all types of melon – cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. And it just so happens that one of the souvenirs left with me from my mom’s visit is some watermelon we didn’t eat during our trip to the Hollywood Bowl.

Looking at the last of my watermelon in my refrigerator and thinking about the challenge reminded me about a watermelon gazpacho I had a few years ago that I absolutely loved, so I decided to make one of my own with a whimsical touch – a Balsamic vinegar reduction that, when you drizzle it, mimics the look of watermelon seeds in the soup.

Here’s the recipe

FOR ONE SERVING

Ingredients

1 jalapeno pepper

2 cups watermelon, cut into chunks

½ tsp ginger, chopped

½ tsp fresh dill

½ TB fresh cilantro

1 TB fresh mint

¼ tsp lime zest (from about ¼ of a lime)

¼ tsp salt

For Balsamic Drizzle:

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 TB sugar

Directions:

  1. Roast the jalapeno under a broiler
  2. Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Turn the flame on medium and let reduce, stirring occasionally
  3. While the jalapeno is roasting and vinegar is reducing, do all your chopping, measuring, and zesting
  4. At this point, the jalapeno should be done (the skin should be blackened). Take it out of the oven and wrap it in foil or put it in a paper bag and let it cool. (The darkness helps the skin come off later)
  5. While the jalapeno is cooling, check on the balsamic reduction. Using a metal spoon, stir the mixture then take the spoon out of the pot. The vinegar should coat the spoon and not run off. If this is true, give the vinegar a taste. It should be sweet and slightly sticky. If it is, take it off the heat. If not, keep it cooking and test it often.

    this is ALMOST, but not quite, done

  6. So the jalapeno should be cool now, but, if you’re prone to accidentally touching your eye before washing your hands after having them covered in jalapeno juice (like me!), put on some latex gloves, then peel the burnt skin from the jalapeno.
  7. For one serving, you’ll only need ¼ of the jalapeno. So chop the jalapeno in quarters, seed it, and then chop the quarter you’ll be using.
  8. Don’t forget about the vinegar on the stove!
  9. Put the watermelon in a bowl or cup (if your immersion blender comes with one) and blend (you can obviously use a regular blender).

    blending furiously!

  10. Put the rest of the ingredients, minus the balsamic drizzle, into the bowl/cup/blender and blend away!
  11. Once everything is well combined, put the soup in the cup, bowl or cup-bowl in which you’ll serve it.
  12. Now it’s time to use that balsamic drizzle (you’ll definitely have extra — it’s great as salad dressing, or a topping for strawberry ice cream…seriously!). Take a spoon and dip it into the pot. Hold it over your watermelon soup and dot the surface with the vinegar. It should float on the top and look like watermelon seeds.
  13. Enjoy…perhaps with a snickerdoodle!

Inspiration: Presents from Mom

A while ago, I’d briefly mentioned to my mom that when I got a chance, I wanted to go to an antiques store or an estate sale and find some old china with a cute pattern on it to use when I plated my recipes for this blog. My mom tucked this into her mind, and, when she happened by an estate sale, picked up a fun cup and saucer.

It was such a pleasant surprise when she gave it to me during her visit a couple weeks ago

Look how pretty!

Cup seems to be an understatement for this piece of dishware – it’s pretty huge.  I would have to be extremely thirsty to sip from this like I might a teacup, but the whimsy of its size is one reason I think it’s great!

But this gift is not without obligation. My mom gave it to me under the condition that I use as inspiration for a Why Meatloaf? recipe.  And what better time than the present?

I look at this cup/bowl hybrid and have two thoughts – tea and soup.

Soup brings another thought to mind:

I have yet to feature my immersion blender in this blog as I promised I would. So this week my inspiration is a gadget double whammy. Actually, both these gadgets have connection to my mom. I bought my immersion blender  with her in June and now I have this Cup-Bowl and Saucer from her.

So let’s see what happen when these crazy kids get together!