Frozen Banana Pops

frozen banana

Frozen bananas are creamy like ice cream, fun to eat like popsicles, but easier to make than both.  They’re also lower in fat and sugar than store-bought frozen treats.  Paired with the right toppings, these desserts can actually be part of a healthy breakfast!

These might be my favorite fruit to freeze, besides grapes.  You’ll actually look forward to blackened bananas because the mushy ones stay soft when frozen.  There’s really no need to throw away bananas that ripen too quickly; besides banana pops, you can also make the ubiquitous banana bread or banana souffles.
 
Banana Pops
adapted from a Food Network recipe by Cat Cora

4 large bananas
2 cups fruit-flavored yogurt, Nutella or peanut butter (For easiest spreading, dilute nut butters with enough vanilla or plain yogurt so it’s the consistency of thick cake batter)
1 cup combination of chopped dried fruit, granola, crushed cereal, crushed cookies or crushed candy

Peel the bananas, cut in half crosswise, and dip them in the yogurt. Roll them in the toppings to coat. Freeze until firm. Serve when firm.

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New address!

Please note, Su Good Eats is now at www.sugoodsweets.com/blog.  For those with newsreaders, take your pick between RSS 2.0, RSS .92 and Atom.  You can also syndicate the comments.

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IMBB 17: GreenTea Biscotti


It’s that time of month again: Is My Blog Burning, in which bloggers around the world cook around a common theme. This time, Clement of A la Cuisine! has chosen tea as the themed ingredient.

I developed this recipe for Mariko of Super Eggplant, who loves green tea. You see, I sent her a care package for Blogging by Mail. Two events collide in one day!

I took a trusty chocolate chip biscotti recipe from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts, added green tea leaves, and swapped the semisweet chocolate with white chocolate, since green tea has a delicate flavor. Going with the white theme, I also substituted mild almonds for the walnuts.

Be sure to use white chocolate that lists cocoa butter as the main ingredient. In cheap brands, partially hydrogenated oil poses as white chocolate. And you wonder why most people don’t like white chocolate! Would you substitute brown-colored vegetable shortening for dark chocolate? I don’t think so. Use the real stuff!

These low-fat biscotti become wonderfully fragrant a day after baking. They are delightfully crunchy but not jaw-breakingly hard, if you don’t overbake them.

Green Tea Biscotti
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp pulverized green tea leaves, from about 3 tea bags
2 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp brewed green tea
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds (optional)
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line the baking sheet with greased foil.
  2. Place the flour, baking soda, salt, and tea leaves in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla, and brewed tea until well combined. Beat in the flour just until combined. Stir in the nuts and white chocolate chips. The mixture will be thick and sticky.
  4. Use a large spoon to scoop the batter onto the baking sheet, dividing it evenly into 3 long, skinny, rope-shape loaves, each one foot long, or 2 loaves 16 to 17 inches long, depending on your baking sheet. The loaves must be 2 1/2 inches apart. You’ll get slightly messy. Use the back of the spoon or a spatula to even up the “loaves” and neaten the edges. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on the pan. Leave the oven turned on.
  5. Carefully peel the loaves from the foil and transfer them to a cutting board. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice the loaves diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the slices directly on the oven racks. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are crisp and dry. Or arrange the cookies on 2 baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and back to front about halfway through the baking time. Turn cookies over and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets as before.
  6. Cool biscotti completely before storing. They become more tender about 2 or 3 days stored in an airtight container. They keep for several weeks.

Notes:
This is a developing recipe, and the tea flavor, although present, is not as strong as I would like. Any ideas for improvement? I can’t add more brewed tea, or else the dough will be too sticky. There’s only so much you can do to concentrate the tea: you can’t brew three bags in 2 tablespoons of water.

Using matcha (green tea powder) rather than leaves may concentrate the flavor. From what I’ve researched, 1/2 Tbsp matcha = 1 Tbsp tea leaves.

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Blogging by Mail: A Sweet Package

As I mentioned before, Nicole (of The Baking Sheet) and I mailed each other homemade sweets, which sprouted the idea of Blogging by Mail. It was really fun to receive her marshmallows, and she thoroughly enjoyed my Nutella. So why not spread the fun to the rest of the blogging world?

My “secret” blogging pal, Jocelyn of Brownie Points, sent me raspberry jam, mango-jalapeno preserves and (ooh, is this legal?) hemp-hazelnut chocolate. I could have sworn she snooped around on my blog, because everything matched my tastes. I love spreadable fruit but am too cheap to buy a freaking $10 jar of Sarabeth’s preserves. I also love dark chocolate and hazelnuts (can’t you tell I love Nutella?). The hempen chocolate bar had a smooth dark flavor without being bitter or acidic. The hemp tasted like sesame seeds!

Nicole, the gracious hostess, mailed all the participants goodie packages too! She sent me Eating Well’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, chewy ginger candy and green tea. The cookies were thick and chewy, although I wish there were more butter flavor. But I’ll excuse that shortcoming, since tahini was the main source of (heart healthy) fat.

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NYC Bloggers Meetup Part II: Potluck Edition

After the success of the NYC foodies’ get-together at Otto, we decided to meet again, but this time for a potluck. The dinner was destined to be good, since we all enjoy cooking and know our way around NYC restaurants. Rebecca, our gracious host, cooked pizza (with pizza stones to get the crust crispy!) and basil/almond pasta; Samantha brought edamame dip, red pepper dip, hummus, currant snack cake, chocolate walnut cake, chocolate candy bar cookies, roasted vegetable sandwiches and air-cured beef/mozarella/pesto sandwiches from Balthazar home; Susann brought broccoli and cornmeal upside-down cake (a tribute to Clotilde, who introduced us all) and Valrhona chocolate and jelly doughnuts from the Doughnut Plant; Lisa and her family brought lentil salad (recipe from a Moosewood cookbook); and I made my signature macaroons.

Thank you all for a good time, and I look forward to hanging out with more food bloggers at the next potluck!

Left to right: me, Samantha, Lisa’s dad, Pat (Lisa’s mom), Susann, Sonny (Lisa’s boyfriend), Lisa. Second row: Dave (Samantha’s husband), Rebecca.

A sampling of our food: currant snack cake, air-cured beef/mozarella/pesto sandwiches, Scharffen Berger chocolate, macaroons, broccoli cornmeal upside-down cake, pasta with basil and almonds, lentil salad, spiced pecans, hummus, edamame (soy bean) dip and pita chips.

Sonny marvelling at our spread.

Rebecca dumps freshly toasted almonds on her pasta salad.

Lisa and her boyfriend Sonny

Samantha, Dave (Samantha’s husband) and Pat (Lisa’s mom)

Lisa’s dad

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Blondies have more fun

Now for a deep philosophical question: is a brownie still a brownie without the chocolate? No, in that case it would be a blondie. These bars are perfect when you’re craving the dense and chewy texture of a brownie but don’t want chocolate. Yes, a girl can get sick of chocolate after ingesting too much chocolate mousse. I lightened the recipe by using 5 tbsp of butter rather than a whole stick. These bars have plenty of fat from the almonds, so they were still wonderfully moist, although they might not keep as long. But do you really expect to have them laying around for a whole week? They even develop the characteristic skin you get from boxed brownie mix, except these don’t have nasty-tasting artificial ingredients.

Fruity Almond Blondies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies

Ingredients:
3/4 cup whole almonds, with or without skins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, cranberries, chopped apricots or any dried tart fruit

Equipment:
8-inch square pan, lined across the bottom and up two opposite sides with parchment paper or foil

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toast the almonds for 15-20 minutes, or until brown. Stir halfway between baking to ensure even coloring.

Move the rack to the lower third of the oven and continue to heat the oven.

Process the almonds with the flour in a food processor, until the almonds are fine. Add the salt and baking powder and pulse to mix.

Toss the fruit with one tablespoon of the flour mixture so they won’t sink to the bottom of the bar. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg and almond/vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the dried fruit. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the top is light golden brown. Cool in the pan. Run a knife along the unlined sides of the pan. Lift the ends of the paper or foil liner and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares.

Can be stored, airtight, for at least one week.

Notes: Dream up your own creation by substituting any nuts or dried fruits! Pine nuts would give an Italian twist, pistachio is popular among food blogs like Chocolate and Zucchini and The Food Section, and walnuts would make a richer bar. Tart fruit is recommended to offset the sweetness of the bar.

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Food freebies: Ice cream and more

Coming up on the food freebie calendar:

6/29: Stop by the Starbucks ice cream social for ice cream blended with coffee. The four-ounce samples will not be available all day, so check with your local Starbucks beforehand.

6/30: Last day to use this coupon for a free box of Celestial Seasonings tea. In Manhattan, Whole Foods, Walgreens and Pathmark will manually key in the coupon, but Rite Aid, Duane Reade, Associated Supermarkets and Met Foods won’t accept it.

7/2: Cold Stone Creamery offers free samples of five new Red Pan flavors from 10 to noon.

7/11: Every year Seven-Eleven gives out free 7.11-ounce Slurpees.

7/31: Last day to mail in a rebate for free Land O’ Lakes Light Butter with Canola Oil. I wouldn’t recommend this product for baking unless the recipe specifies, since oil has a different melting point and moisture content than regular butter. It would be good for toast or sauteeing though.

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Blogging by Mail

In the age of e-mail, it’s rare to receive anything special in the mail anymore. The occasional handwritten letter is a delight, but surprise packages are even better. First, there’s the convenience of having something delivered to your door: no lines, no crowds and no carrying needed. Then, there’s the anticipation and wonder at what could possibly be inside. After tearing open the package, there’s a sense of satisfaction for receiving an undeserved gift.Nicole of The Baking Sheet and I proudly introduce Blogging by Mail: a foodie exchange. All participants send a homemade treat or regional specialty to someone else, and in return, they get a package as well! The deadline to sign up is this Friday, July 1.

Nicole and I tested out this idea serendipitously, and it was loads of fun! She sent me homemade lime and chocolate marshmallows so I could critique them. In return, I gave her homemade Nutella (Keep your eyes peeled for a recipe for reduced-fat Nutella cake! Or, you can order it through Su Good Sweets).

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New York Bloggers Otto Get Together


New York is crawling with food bloggers, but it’s ironic how a French woman prompted us to finally meet in person. Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini (she’s the quintessential food blogger and an NPR writer, for good reason) took a break from Paris and travelled to NYC this weekend.Just to show you how much influence she has, she proposed that us local bloggers meet at Otto, Mario Batali’s restaurant, and we all joined her this Sunday.

I met old “friends” (people whose blogs I already read) as well as new ones. One news article compared Clotilde to Audrey Tautou in Amelie, and I’d have to agree. She’s really cute in person, and I’m glad she’s the food blogger representative to the media.

It was cool to meet local “celebrities” like Josh of The Food Section and Adam of The Amateur Gourmet. I also bumped into Julie of A Finger in Every Pie (I was so flattered–she knew my blog name after I merely told her my first name), Lulu of Lulu’s Gonna Love Manhattan, Samantha of The Samantha Files, David of What I See, Danielle of Celebrity Baby Blog, and Paul of Paulfrankenstein.org. I had hoped to meet Debbie of Words to Eat By, Kelli of Lovescool, Allen of The Impetuous Epicure, Andrea of The Strong Buzz, Alaina of A Full Belly and Adam of Slice, but alas, another time. (How’s that for name dropping?)

I don’t have a liking for drinks, so I opted for “Gelotto” instead. Susanne (in white) and Andrea (in pink) and I split a trio of olive oil, hazelnut chocolate chip and ricotta gelati. (Picture is at the bottom of David’s post.) New York foodies like Adam and New York magazine unamimously agree that the olive oil gelato is the best in the city, and my favorite condiment is Nutella, so those two flavors were no-brainers. My favorite of the bunch, however, was the ricotta. It tasted just like cheesecake. But I have to say, the Gelotto wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. In Italy, the gelato flavors explode in your mouth (chocolate gelato tastes like the highest quality chocolate bar, and fruit gelato tastes like the ripest fruit imaginable). At Otto, the flavors were more subtle.

Also, David shared fava bean bruschetta with everyone. It came with crusty artisan bread. The fava bean puree tasted like buttery, garlicky mashed potatoes. It was an awesome combination of soft, chewy and crunchy. Otto’s now one of my favorite restaurants! Supposedly the main dishes and pizza aren’t so hot, but I’d be content just ordering the appetizers and gelato. If you can’t get a reservation, the bar area is spacious and provides instant gratification.

We bloggers were so inspired that we’re getting together again for a potluck! If you’re interested, leave a comment at Lulu’s Gonna Love Manhattan or e-mail her with the subject “NYC Bloggers Potluck.”

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Food freebies: Godiva and “A Taste of Germany” (in NYC)

 

Don’t you just love freebies? Stop by your local Godiva store on these days for a chocolate fix. Yes, chocolate purists turn up their noses at Godiva, but it’s free samples!

June 9-11
Chocolixir (at select stores offering Chocolixir)

June 23-25
Chocolixir (at select stores offering Chocolixir)

June 23-25
Chocolate Bars

Warning: Newsweek reports that the drink has 700 calories. I made an unwanted purchase when Godiva tricked me into buying the drink. A couple weeks ago, my local store advertised free pomegranate truffles and Chocolixir samples. I enjoyed the truffle, and when a sales rep asked me if I wanted to try the drink, I said, "Sure." I thought it was a sample but noooo, she made me a full-size drink that I had to pay for. It was way too sweet and not worth $4.50 or the 700 calories. In fact, half of it is still sitting in my infamous freezer.


If you’re in NYC, Grand Central Station is hosting A Taste of Germany from June 3-9 in Vanderbilt Hall. It’s a really fun exhibit complete with samples of full-size granola bars, fruit jellies and a cooking demo from 12:30-1:00 and 5:30-6:00. There’s also live performances and artwork.

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