One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

Inspiration: This is one of those recipes that I’ve seen all over the internet for about a year now. I always just figured it was too good to be true, like I’ve found most recipes to be that are substitutes for the real thing. But when I ended up with a slew of extra bananas that I really didn’t feel like eating after we had taken them along for snacks on a road trip…..well, there really was no choice but to throw those babies into the freezer and wait for an ice cream sort of day.

What We Loved: We both really enjoyed this as a substitute for ice cream. Like most things that are substitutes, it’s not the same as the real thing, but it’s pretty darn good just the same. It’s hard to believe that one simple ingredient can be turned into such a creamy treat, but it really does work. The texture is delightfully creamy, and the taste is wonderfully banana and refreshing. What a nice and surprising treat.

Tips: You’ll need to scrape down the sides of the food processor often while making this. Don’t be discouraged if it looks like the recipe isn’t going to work – it’ll come together in time. I also think that this would be great with almond butter mixed in, or maybe with a little dark chocolate melted and poured over top.

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
Source: All over the internet

Ripe bananas (I used four to give us four servings about 1/2 cup each)

1. Peel the bananas and cut them into slices. Place the slices into the freezer for a least a few hours to freeze (I actually had mine in there for about a month).

2. Place the banana slices in the food processor. Process until the bananas form a smooth puree, scraping down the sides of the food processor often while you’re processing.

3. Eat the ice cream as is, or place it back into the freezer to harden further before serving.

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Chocolate-Drizzled Cashews

Chocolate-Drizzled Cashews

Inspiration: The minute that I saw these on What’s Gaby Cooking, I knew that I’d be whipping up a batch for the Christmas get-together that my family has with all of my siblings each year (hope they look tasty to anyone who will be there!). These really have everything going for them, don’t they? They’re so simple and quick to make, which is a huge bonus during the busy holiday season; they’ll keep just fine probably for weeks, so they’re perfect for making ahead of time; and they include both chocolate and cashews. That pretty much covers all of my requirements for an awesome holiday treat.

What We Loved: Buttery cashews and rich chocolate are truly an indulgent, classic pairing, and they make for such a simple and delicious snack. And since I used roasted and salted cashews, there’s that nice combination of salty and sweet in there, too. One other thing that I like about these is that unlike cashews that are completely coated in chocolate, these give you that nice chocolate flavor without completely masking the great flavor of the cashews.

Tips: I made these for the dessert table, but they’d really be great for an appetizer or snack to have sitting out all evening, too. I debated using both dark and white chocolate, but I ended up just using dark because I got lazy. I think using both would look and taste great, though. Also – if you want your chocolate to look prettier and not have the lighter-colored, dull streaks like you can see in the glob in the left side of the bowl above, you can temper your chocolate. Heat it to 113 degrees F in the double boiler, then let it cool to 88 degrees F before drizzling. Again, though, this came down to laziness for me. Half the reason that I wanted to make this treat was because it was simple.

This will be my last post before stepping aside for Christmas, so I want to take a minute to wish everyone who celebrates Christmas a beautiful and relaxing holiday.

Chocolate-Drizzled Cashews
Source: What’s Gaby Cooking

Cashews (I used roasted and salted)
Chocolate of choice

1. Heat the chocolate in a double boiler until completely melted.
2. Spread the cashews on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the melted chocolate.
3. Pop the tray in the refrigerator for a few minutes to harden the chocolate.
4. Break the cashews apart. If you feel like the cashews need more chocolate after you mix them up, drizzle with additional chocolate and let harden again in the refrigerator.
5. Store in an air-tight container.

Our Favorite Simple Roasted Squash Seeds

Inspiration: I’ve roasted squash seeds with all kinds of seasoning combinations over the years, but I’ve found that I always, always come back to this simple recipe again and again. No matter what crazy spice combinations that we can come up with, this recipe with salt and pepper is by and away our favorite. One of my favorite things about fall and winter is that I’m always cooking up winter squashes, so we always have these around the house as a snack (though they don’t last long).

What We Love: These are basically crispy and crunchy little bites of delicious. They’re very salty (we love that), and they have a nice little something from the greasy olive oil and spicy pepper. Simplicity at its finest. And one of my favorite things about these is if you don’t clean your squash seeds too too well before baking them. Those little bits of squash that stick to the seeds and crisp up in the oven are fantastic and add just a tiny bit more flavor. I used seeds taken from a spaghetti squash this time around, so you can see some of the random spaghetti squash strands in the picture.

Tips: These taste really, really wonderful when they’re fresh out of the oven and still warm. I’d recommend eating them that way if you can (or at least snacking on a few, like I always do). They’re great completely cooled, though, too. They make an awesome football-watching snack or a great little treat in a work-day lunch.

Simple Roasted Squash Seeds
Source: Original Recipe

Squash seeds (from a pumpkin, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, etc.)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

1. Spread the squash seeds out onto a baking tray. Pour on gobs of olive oil, and sprinkle generously with a ton of Kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Mix with your hands to combine, and then shake the tray so that the seeds are in a single layer.

2. Bake at 350 degrees until the seeds are browning and starting to pop in the oven, about 15-20 minutes. Toss the seeds a few times with a spatula while they are cooking to ensure even browning.

3. Eat warm or let cool and then transfer to a storage container.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day & Brewlimination

We’re a couple of beer lovers, and while a Guinness on tap at an Irish pub will always hold a special place in our hearts just for being what it is, we stick to Guinness Extra Stout or Guinness Foreign Extra Stout when we purchase bottles for St. Patrick’s Day. If you haven’t had either of them, definitely give them a try! They’re much more robust and complex, and in our opinions they’re much more satisfying.

And if you do like beer – specifically craft beer - my brother and his friend run a website called Brewlimination that has gotten Brandon and I into the habit of taste testing our beers and comparing them against each other, like we did last night with these two lovely Guinness beers. Brewlimination places craft beers into a 64 beer bracket and runs a tournament until a winning beer is chosen. You can pit beers against each other, choose and vote for your favorite, and learn a whole lot about all of the different and wonderful craft breweries that are out there along the way. Brandon and I like to buy one of each beer for a match, then split them between us so that we each have half of a glass. We take turns pouring for each other so that one of us can always taste blind, which always makes things interesting. So if you’re looking for a fun new way to enjoy beer, head on over to Brewlimination and check it out. They’re heading into the final four of the current tournament right now, so there are some great beers on deck!

And no matter what you choose or choose not to drink on this St. Paddy’s Day, we hope that it’s a wonderful day :)

Hurricanes

Inspiration: With the never-ending winter that just won’t let go and glum skies that keep dumping piles of snow on us, I sometimes find it really hard not to get into a funk at this time of year. But do you know what helps (and I bet you do, if you’re a regular reader here…)? Making Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day a focus! With a pot of jambalaya, a nice cold Hurricane, and season two of Dexter (how good is that show?) ready to go, how could we not be happy? Here’s one last Friday-approved Mardi Gras recipe before we roll on into St. Patrick’s Day – which is way, way up there in my list of favorite days of the year. But more about that next week :)

What we Loved: These drinks are so fruity and refreshing. They’re very much summer in a glass, which is a nice break from this dreary March! They’re the kind of cocktails that you can sip down way too easily – aka, the best kind. :) When we make cocktails like this, we always try to use as much fresh fruit as possible – it makes such a difference in flavor versus using store-bought mixes or juices, which always taste fake and stale. That said, these had that wonderful and bright fresh fruit flavor, combined with the sweet grenadine and some nice underlying caramel/nut notes from the rum. And look at that color! I don’t think there’s a more appealing color for a drink, do you?

Helpful Hints: For reference, one large orange and two small limes gave me just enough juice to make two of the drinks as listed below. Also, these most decidely do not fit into a lower carb lifestyle – but we consider them a treat. I might try these again when cherries are in season and replace the grenadine (pretty much pure sugar) with pureed cherries – but that might leave a little to be desired in the sweetness category, I’m not sure. Regardless, we like to drink a lot, so we do make alcohol our main treat in life (though we usually stick to our main loves – beer and wine!). Now, the question is - does it still count as a treat if we have it every day? ;)

Hurricane
Source: Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1.5 oz (1 shot) light rum
1.5 oz (1 shot) dark rum
1.5 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz grenadine
Maraschino cherries and lime slices to garnish

1. Add all of the ingredients to a tulip or hurricane glass and stir. Add ice cubes and a straw. Garnish with maraschino cherries and lime slices.

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles

Inspiration: These truffles were so pretty when I found them online that I couldn’t resist adding them to our Christmas truffle tins!

What we Loved: These truffles have a fresh and light lemon flavor that is just wonderful. The lemon is really subtle and far from overpowering, and the greatest thing is that the lemon tastes really natural since the recipe uses real lemon juice and lemon zest rather than flavorings. Combined with rich white chocolate and the sweet and crunchy (and pretty!) sugar coating, these really are a treat.

Helpful Hints: I always prefer to use cane sugar when I use sugar, so that’s what I used for this recipe. It works wonderfully!

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles
Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Global Gourmet

Makes 2-3 dozen

⅓ cup heavy cream
Grated zest of 1 lemon
9 ounces best-quality white chocolate
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Sugar, for coating

1. In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream and lemon zest. Heat on medium heat until the cream comes to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to stand for 20 minutes at room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, combine the white chocolate, salt, and butter in the bowl of a double boiler. When the cream has stood for 20 minutes, remove the cover. Reheat the cream mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a simmer again. Strain the cream through a fine-meshed strainer into the white chocolate mixture. Press down on the lemon zest left in the strainer to extract all of the liquid from it.

3. Melt the chocolate mixture in the double boiler over almost-simmering water, stirring frequently, until just it’s just over half melted. Remove it from the heat and the hot water. Continue stirring until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Make sure to melt and mix the white chocolate slowly, as it can be hard to melt properly. If you can’t get rid of all of the lumps, throw the mixture into a food processor.

4.Stir in the lemon juice. Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator, and chill for at least 1 hour.

5. Form balls of about 1 inch diameter from the cold truffle base. Roll the truffles in the sugar until well-coated.

6. Store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Maraschino Cherry Truffles

Inspiration: I like to make chocolate truffles every year at Christmas time, and I always like to try new kinds. Brandon loves chocolate covered cherries, so this little variation was for him :)

What we Loved: With rich chocolate and sugary sweet maraschino cherries, what’s not to love? Chocolate and cherry is really just a classic combination that works so well, and I loved the clean taste of this spin on the classic chocolate covered cherries, which generally have a rich and creamy sauce inside. Both are great in my book! And aren’t these so pretty??

Helpful Hints: Make sure to pat your maraschino cherries dry with paper towels after taking them out of the jar. You don’t want all of that extra liquid in your truffles! Also, if you accidentally buy a jar of jumbo cherries like I did, those work fine too if you just cut them into smaller pieces.

Maraschino Cherry Truffles
Source: Inspired from my standard chocolate truffle recipe and Thibeault’s Table

12 oz semisweet chocolate
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Maraschino cherries
Additional semisweet chocolate for coating (approximately 12 oz, but this will vary quite a bit depending on your technique and how many truffles you make)

1. Melt the semisweet chocolate  in a double boiler. In another small saucepan, heat the whipping cream over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan (right before the cream starts boiling).

2. Mix the whipping cream into the chocolate to combine.

3. Add a tablespoon of butter and whisk until smooth.

4. Chill the chocolate mixture in the refrigerator until hardened, at least 1 hour.

5. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator.  If necessary, let the  mixture warm a little bit until it is easy to scoop from the bowl with a spoon. Using a spoon and your hands, form a small amount of chocolate around a maraschino cherry. Roll into balls between your hands, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It helps to wash your hands often with very cold water while you are working, which will leave your hands cold and make it easier to work with the chocolate without melting it. When you’re finished rolling all of the truffles, place the sheet into the refrigerator or freezer to harden.

6. While the filling is hardening, melt about 9 oz of chocolate in a double boiler. Place a candy thermometer in the chocolate and heat it to 113 degrees F. Remove the top of the double boiler from the heat and place it on a pot holder or a towel on the counter. Add another 3 oz of chocolate to the pot, and mix to combine. Place the thermometer back into the chocolate and let it cool to 88 degrees. This process of tempering the chocolate will ensure that the chocolate coating for the truffles will be hard and shiny when it cools, instead of melting to the touch or containing gray spots.

7. Drop a truffle into the tempered chocolate (one at a time), coating it quickly with a spoon and removing the truffle to a parchment-lined sheet to dry. It takes some practice to get the coating on the truffles to look clean and pretty, but I’ve found that the best method is to roll the truffle off of a spoon onto the baking sheet, smoothing as necessary. Work quickly, because the chocolate you are using for the coating will cool quickly, and your truffle fillings will begin to warm and melt.

8. When the chocolate you are using for the coating begins to cool to the point where you can’t work with it, heat it again in a double boiler to 113 degrees, and then let it cool back down to 88 degrees. Place your remaining truffle fillings back into the freezer until you’re ready to begin coating again.

9. Repeat Step 8 as necessary until all of the truffles are coated, adding more chocolate to melt as you run out (keeping the ratio at 2/3 melted, 1/3 added cold to the melted chocolate).

9. Refrigerate the coated truffles until hardened (approximately 15 minutes), then place in air-tight containers.