Healthy Banana Chocolate 'Ice Cream'

Yes, I said "healthy" and "ice cream" in the same sentence!  Impossible, you say?!  Hear me out!!

First of all, this 'ice cream' is not really ice cream... in that there is no cream in it at all!  But it looks, feels, tastes and smells (wait, does ice cream smell??) like ice cream.  AND it's good for you!

This ice cream has just two ingredients:  Bananas and Nutella.  Now, if you don't like bananas, this might not be the dessert for you...  but if you are trying to be good and not eat ice cream every single day, give this a try!

You could also use chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, or peanut butter instead of the Nutella, but I am a Nutella girl, so that's what I used!  Or you can leave it out and go for plain banana!

Healthy Banana Chocolate 'Ice Cream' Recipe
This recipe makes 2 servings.

3 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup Nutella

Slice the bananas into 1/2" rounds, place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze overnight.

Place the frozen banana slices into your food processor or blender along with the Nutella (1/4 cup is a rough measurement...  just drop a few big spoonfuls in there to taste!)  Pulse (or blend) until the bananas are smooth and creamy, the consistency of soft-serve ice cream!  (This will take a few minutes...  be patient!)

(Disclaimer:  Your food processor might sound like it is going to explode in to a million pieces when you start processing the frozen bananas.  It WON'T! - or at least mine didn't!  :o) - Just give it a few pulses and it will start to calm down...)

You can eat this right away as a soft-serve ice cream, or if you like your ice cream firm like I do, pack it into a tupperware container and freeze for several hours!


lemon blackberry scones

I love scones.  I really, really love them.  Especially with a yummy glaze and a big cup of coffee!

Now, if I don't have any coffee, I'm not interested in scones.  Or muffins.  Or just about anything sweet for that matter...

Actually, if I'm going to be totally honest here (which I always have been, so why stop now?!), if I don't have coffee I'm not interested in much of anything!  :o)

But really, back to the scones...  these are moist, flavorful and best of all EASY!

You can use any kind of berry your heart desires (that would be - any kind of berry your freezer possesses!) and you could easily mix up the dry ingredients and butter the night before and just stir in the wet ingredients in the morning while your oven is preheating.

DISCLAIMER:  This recipe makes large coffee-shop style scones...  If you prefer 'daintier' ones, divide the dough in half and make 2 disks of scones!

Lemon Blackberry Sour Cream Scones Recipe

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 2 large lemons (*reserve juice of one lemon for glaze)
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries
lemon glaze (*see below)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, blend together the sour cream and baking soda; set aside.  In another small bowl, blend together the egg, vanilla and lemon zest; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tarter and salt.  Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender until the butter is the size of small peas.

Stir together the wet ingredients and then add to the flour mixture, stirring until just moistened.  Gently stir in the frozen berries.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times, just until the dough comes together.  Place the dough onto your parchment-lined baking sheet and pat into a round disk about 1/2" to 3/4" thick.  Score into 8 wedges - scoring is to making partial cuts, but not all the way through.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out almost clean!  Cool for about 15 minutes, and then glaze with a lemon glaze...

*Lemon Glaze Recipe:

juice of 1 lemon
2 cups of powdered sugar
more lemon juice or a splash of water, if needed

Squeeze the lemon juice into a medium bowl.  Add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.  Add more juice or a touch of water, if needed, to thin the glaze out!


so much to say...

...and at the same time so little to say!  I don't even know where to start.  I have had a case of mushy-brain for quite a while now, and I need to snap out of it.

My baby is growing up.  He is so not a baby anymore.  He is a moving, playing, ball of energy that is full of personality and spunk.

He has been busy growing teeth...  He's up to 6 so far, and the latest 4 have yet to be photographed.  He's just not having it!

He is a crawling machine now...  he's all over the place!  (Maybe that's why my brain has turned to mush??)

He's learning to take a few steps... with a little help from his daddy, of course.

And he's even been growing some hair!  

Ok, I know it doesn't look like he has any hair, but trust me...  for him this is a TON of hair!

Oh, and the best part is all the yummy foods he has been experiencing.  Yep, my boy is turning out to be a foodie :o) and we are proud!  He is so over baby food...  if we're having it, he wants it too!  Love it!!!  Tonight's tastes?  Scallops!  I had a hard time keeping my own dinner with him wanting it all.

Well, there's the latest in our lives...  Maybe my brain will un-mush itself and there will be more to come?!  (I'm working on his birth story at least, so I am accomplishing something!  Be watching for it in the next few months...  it's a long one!)


fudgy dark chocolate brownies

I do not love chocolate.  But I do love brownies!

Fudgy, chewy, preferably warm-out-of-the-oven brownies.

Weird?  Yes.  But I'm OK with that.

These brownies are especially good, almost as easy as a boxed brownie mix, and so much tastier!

Try them... you'll never want go back to the boxed kind!

I like to make these peppermint-y, because that's what I like.  You can do that too, by substituting the vanilla extract for peppermint, or whatever flavor you'd like!

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Brownies Recipe

3/4 cup dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted & divided (1/3 cup + 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract**
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350degrees F, and butter a 9x13" glass baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa and baking soda.  Stir in 1/3 cup of the melted butter until smooth.  Stir in the boiling water until the mixture is smooth and thick.  Stir in the sugar and eggs with the remaining 1/3 cup melted butter.

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the flour, tossing to coat.

Into the chocolate mixture, stir in the remaining flour, extract and salt until just smooth.  Stir in the flour-coated chocolate chips and spread the mixture into your prepared baking dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the pan.  (Better to under-bake than to over-bake these!!)  Cool completely in the pan.  Enjoy with a big hot cup of coffee, or a cold glass of milk!

**I like to make these pepperminty, because that's what I like.  You can change these up however you like by replacing the vanilla extract with peppermint extract, or almond extract, or coffee liqueur...  whatever strikes your fancy!**


the cutest kisses...

Bjorn loves to kiss.
He grabs your neck, pulls you close, and attacks your cheek!

And big brother puts up with it as best he can...
I guess it's not quite as charming to him!  ;o)


chipotle ham & bean soup

We love ham!  And I try to stock up during the holidays when the spiral sliced ones are on sale.  But we always have so many leftovers!  So, I spend a lot of time coming up with new recipes for them.  This is one of my favorites...  so hearty and comforting and full of flavor!

The chipotle chili powder really does something special to this soup.  If you don't have any, please pick some up!  You'll find lots of uses for its smoky, sweet, slightly spicy flavor.  Use as much as you'd like...  it really doesn't have to be spicy if you don't want it to be!

Chipotle Ham & Bean Soup Recipe
makes 4 large servings - or 6 if you are serving a big salad and lots of bread with it!!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups diced ham
3 cups chicken stock
2 cans pink beans, drained
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Saute the onions, carrots and celery until they are softened and light golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic for about 30 seconds, and then add in the ham and saute for a few minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock, beans and spices, stirring well and scraping up the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Before you add any salt, taste the broth - as the beans/ham/stock can be quite salty as it is!

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours or longer.  Remove the bay leaf and serve with lots of crusty bread!


banana split ice cream cake

Crisp Oreo cookie crust.  Frozen ripe bananas.  Creamy strawberry ice cream.  Gooey hot fudge sauce.  Pure vanilla ice cream.  Sweet strawberries.  Juicy pineapple...  Banana Split Heaven!

All put together into a beautiful and impressive cake!

Soooo good and so easy.  Really!

Navy turned 8 last week, and this is the cake he requested.  I had never made this kind of ice cream cake before, but it's definitely a new favorite, and was a huge hit at his party!

Oh, and don't let the 'cake' part fool you...  there's no cake in this 'cake'!

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake Recipe

20 Oreo cookies, crushed
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3-4 bananas
1 pint strawberry ice cream
1 jar hot fudge sauce
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 (10oz) package frozen sliced sweetened strawberries, thawed
crushed pineapple

Take out the strawberry ice cream to thaw.  Place the Oreos in a gallon ziploc bag and crush well with a rolling pin or small frying pan.  Pour the melted butter into the ziploc bag and mix it up.  Press this crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9" springform pan.

Slice the bananas into 1/2" rounds and arrange in a single layer on top of the crust.  (Use as many banana slices as needed to fill the layer.)  Place the pan into the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Scoop the softened strawberry ice cream in small scoops on top of the frozen banana layer, smoothing it together with a spoon dipped in warm water.  Return to the freezer for 1-2 hours, until the ice cream is firm again.

Take the vanilla ice cream out of the freezer to thaw.  Warm the hot fudge sauce slightly, just until it is easily spreadable.  Pour the fudge over the strawberry ice cream layer, smoothing the top, and place back into the freezer for 15 minutes or so, until the fudge has firmed up again.

Scoop the softened vanilla ice cream in small scoops on top of the fudge layer, again smoothing it together with the back of a spoon dipped in warm water.  Cover with plastic wrap and return to the freezer for at least another 4-6 hours until very firm.  (At this point the cake could be frozen, well wrapped, for a week or longer!)

Pour the sliced sweetened strawberries into a bowl and crush with a pastry blender until the berries are all mashed up.  Strain the crushed berries through a fine mesh strainer.  Store in the fridge until almost ready to serve the cake.

Spread the strained crushed berries over the top of the cake, to within one-half inch of the edge.  Serve with fresh whipped cream and crushed pineapple for those who want it!

*UPDATE:  This recipe has been featured:
here:  Annie's Eats
and also here:  Tasty Kitchen Blog!


wow! Saveur Magazine feature!!

This morning I got a fun surprise!  I got an email letting me know that my Lemony Chicken Soup recipe had been featured yesterday on Saveur Magazine's website!  SO fun!!

Here's the link to the recipe they featured!

I hope you'll try it and let me know what you think!  Super easy to throw into the slow cooker!

happy birthday to... me?

Yesterday was my birthday.  A day that used to be all about me (at least in my own little world it was!). But then, something funny happened since my last birthday.  I had a baby!  And well, my birthday no longer felt so special, or rather - it no longer felt especially about me.

Instead, it reminded me of the day last April that I had my baby boy and the real birth day that was!  And it made me start to think.  Why do we celebrate the birthday of a child who was born, instead of celebrating the mother who birthed him?  

Yesterday I felt more like celebrating my mom, for having me, than celebrating myself for just being born.  I now truly understand the love of a mother and life no longer is about myself...  every moment is about the child that is holding my heart.

A day that was supposed to be my day - celebrating me - becomes his day - celebrating a tooth breaking through and the joy that he brings my life - and her day - for having me, and loving me.

I love you, sweet baby Bjorn.  And I love you Mom.  Thanks for having me, and loving me.  Happy Birthday to you!


baby wearing and baby love - Grandpa style!

Bjorn got to spend some quality time with Grandma & Grandpa
this weekend...  and he loved it!

Grandpa even got to wear Bjorn for a little while...
Aren't they cute?

Lots of kisses and loves from this boy...

And just my favorite picture!
Love that face!!  :o)

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