Banana Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream [VEGAN]

So, apparently, it might reach 100 in NYC this weekend.

Until a few years ago, I was this really, in hindsight, stubborn person. I didn’t want to use an A/C for the mere fact that I didn’t want my utilities to skyrocket from June – September. ConEd already has me in enough of a vice grip! Props to my old roommate Emily (my first out of two roommates named Emily!) that sold me her old A/C for $20 about three years ago. If there are two things I love on a hot summer day, it’s that antiquated yet lovely box of coolness, and this ice cream.

Who knew throwing a few old bananas in the freezer and blending them could whip up a dessert so similar to a good soft serve ice cream? I used to roll my eyes at food bloggers gushing love about their “nice cream”. Eh. I’ll give them their due credit. They’re right. It’s fantastic! It’s also incredibly versatile. I felt like going the peanut butter route, and I had no regrets! (Plus, I had to use up the rest of my 1/8th empty jar of The Bee’s Knees, soooo…)

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This is about as simple and guiltless as a good dessert can get. Well, unless you’re allergic to peanuts. Then perhaps you may want to switch to almond butter or consider my Strawberry Granita instead. Haaa. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered! No one wants to use their EpiPen post-dessert.

 

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Banana Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream [VEGAN]
(Serves 1)

Ingredients:

– 2 small frozen bananas, peeled, sliced, and frozen
– 1 tablespoon peanut (or other nut) butter, slightly melted

Before We Get Started…

– ALWAYS PEEL YOUR BANANAS BEFORE FREEZING. About nine times out of ten, I forget. My photos are indicative of that.

– Melt your nut butter in the microwave in 15 second spurts to get a smoother, runnier consistency that’s good for swirling.

Directions:

1.) Remove bananas from freezer and add to blender or food processor; blend until smooth.

2.) Pout into bowl and swirl in nut butter. Eat immediately or return to freezer to allow to set. Top with whatever your heart desires! (I love to glob on more peanut butter, myself.)

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Spinach Parmesan Pasta

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

If you are a food lover searching Google and Pinterest for pasta recipes, you’ll see that we live in a world full of zoodles. The nutritional benefits that come from replacing pasta with zucchini are quite clear: lower calories, lower carbs, and more vitamins and minerals. They are light, they are refreshing, and they can replace pasta in most every instance. I’m a huge fan and I make them at least once a week!

But I’ll be damned if I sit here and state that I don’t still love a big freakin’ bowl of pasta every now and then.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

If I could down bowls of mac & cheese or spaghetti with pesto without gaining a pound, my pantry would have every kind of pasta imaginable. I’d also have a season pass at Eataly. (Oh, goodness, imagine if that existed…)

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

If there is something better than a big bowl of pasta, it’s a big bowl of pasta that can be thrown together in about 15 minutes flat. I found this recipe on Two Peas & Their Pod, and fell in love with its simplicity, its lightness, and yet its ability to leave me feeling perfectly full without being overstuffed.

Truth: I ate this for dinner one night. Then I made it for lunch the next day. Then I ate it again for dinner that same night.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

The zoodles can wait. Give me some damn carbs.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta
(Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod’s recipe for 5-Ingredient Spinach Parmesan Pasta)
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

– 8 ounces thin spaghetti, uncooked
– 5 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tablespoon butter
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated, separated into two 1/4 cup parts
– Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add thin spaghetti and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water; drain pasta and set aside.

2.) In the same saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add olive oil. Add garlic and cook for two to three minutes or until soft and slightly golden brown. Turn off heat and return pasta to pan. Toss with garlic. Add spinach and toss well until spinach is wilted; slowly add pasta water, if needed, if pasta starts to dry out or spinach is slow to wilt. Toss with one part parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.) Serve with additional part of parmesan cheese for garnish.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

Cacio e Pepe Ramen

Ramen. It’s a word that we all know too well.

In my youth, from roughly 3rd grade all the way up through college, I was like any other kid I knew. Namely, I devoured ramen noodles like it was my job. Of course, in my formative years, I never knew how horrible it was for you. I just knew that little flavor packet full of MSG and approximately 2,800 milligrams of sodium satisfied something deep inside of me. Like any other American college kid, Top Ramen Chicken Ramen was a staple in my dorm room’s food shelf for four straight years, usually stacked by the dozen. It was great on those nights I didn’t feel like walking five minutes to the Carpe Diem Cafe to eat my sixth consecutive Chicken Caeser Wrap. (Bay Path Class of 2006, you know what’s up!)

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Though I have evolved to champagne tastes, I still have, in essence, a hot dog budget at times. Prime example: Two months ago, I dropped $1,600 on first month’s rent and security for my new apartment lease. (Which, luckily, is still pretty damn cheap by Manhattan standards! [Humble brag.]) And, of course, Navient loves to remind me of the $701 I owe them each month. To help heal the still-fresh wound in my bank account, in the interim, I have been eating out less and cooking more.

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A few months ago, I had been scrolling through one food web site to another with no real agenda. Something led me to discover a recipe on Spoon University for Cacio e Pepe with ramen noodles. I looked at the recipe for a few minutes with equal parts skepitism and awe. Then I decided to try it. Damn. David Chang’s onto something! I’m by no means calling this any sort of classic Italian masterpiece. Still, taste-wise, it’s at good as any Cacio e Pepe I had consumed at your average Italian restaurant. Danke Schön, Mr. Momofuku!

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Like I said: Champagne tastes on a hot dog budget. This dish has got it covered.

Don’t expect any nutriative value to this meal, either. Embrace it.

Cacio e Pepe Ramen
(Adapted from David Chang’s Instant Ramen Cacio e Pepe)
(Serves One)

Ingredients:
– 1 package instant ramen noodles, seasoning packet reserved
– 1 & 1/2 cups water
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 1 & 1/4 cups grated parmesean, percorino, and / or romano cheeses
– A few hard cracks of fresh black pepper

Before We Get Started…

– As mentioned, do not use the seasoning packet that comes with the ramen noodles. Discard or save for a later use. Personally, I’d discard that little MSG bomb.

– Have the ramen noodle package opened and ready to go, because as soon as you add the cheese, the ramen needs to pop in the pot moments later.

– I enjoy straight romano, but I’ve made it with combinations of the above cheeses, and all have turned out lovely. Experiment!

– This needs to be eaten immediately. After about five minutes, it begins to congeal. Just…don’t choke! Please and thank you in advance.

Directions:

1.) Add water, olive oil, black pepper, and butter to saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a slow boil. Allow the butter to melted completely.

2.) Add cheese to pot and stir quickly. Immediately add ramen noodles and continue to stir for about 3 to 4 minutes or until noodles are separated, soft, and coated in the cacio e pepe mixture.

3.) Transfer to bowl, top with more pepper, and consume immediately!

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Classic Mac & Cheese

There is little in this world that I find more comforting than a hot bowl of macaroni and cheese. Long gone are the days of neon-yellow Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Spirals, for I no longer have the “Blue Box Blues“. As much I love a box of Annie’s in a pinch, all of these boxed mac and cheeses are loaded with sodium, regardless. (How I’d come home from school in my teenage years and down an entire box without exploding is still beyond me…) Of course, like many, I love to experiment with different cheeses, noodles, vegetables, and methods when it comes to mac and cheese creation. Still, in my opinion, it’s the simplest method that works the best for me. In just an extra five minutes compared to ripping open a box of dried noodles and questionable powder in a packet, you can make a perfectly satisfying bowl of mac and cheese with the full knowledge of what ingredients you’ve put into it.

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Slate counter top and old metal measuring cups. Instagram ready! 

Classic Mac & Cheese
(Serves Two if you’re generous, Serves One if you’re selfish)

Ingredients:
– 1 cup dried pasta of choice (I prefer a whole-wheat elbow or rotini pasta)
– 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 2 tablespoons salted butter
– 1/3 cup milk
– 4 ounces shredded cheese (I prefer 3 ounces of sharp cheddar with an ounce of Colby Jack; feel free to switch it up!)
-A few generous shakes of garlic powder (optional)

Before We Get Started…

This recipe involves making a roux, since you’ll essentially be making a Béchamel sauce. Some rouxs can be made darker than others, but we’re making a simple white roux in this case. Make it with a whisk, if possible, but I find it just as good to use a fork to mix a roux.

…and if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about when I say “roux”, this is a pretty good introduction.

Directions:

1.) Fill saucepan with water and bring to boil; cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain when finished, rinse, and set aside.

2.) Place additional saucepan over medium heat; add butter and slowly melt. Once melted, add flour. Whisk for approximately 2 – 3 minutes to create a roux ; once flour and butter are combined, add milk and whisk. Bring mixture to a slow boil. Once bubbles begin to break the surface, add cheese and stir quickly to form cheese sauce. Remove from heat. Add garlic powder, if desired. Add pasta and stir.

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My future, and I’m okay with this.