Vegan Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

For when you want to eat an entire giant bowl of ice cream in one sitting but aren’t looking for that “oh crap, I just ate an entire giant bowl of ice cream in one sitting” feeling.

(For the record: No, it doesn’t taste like ice cream. It tastes like banana. But it also tastes frozen and creamy and sweet, so it kind of does taste like ice cream.)

Ingredients:

  • Multiple frozen bananas (and one un-frozen one too, if you have it)
  • Soy milk (optional)
  • Peanut butter or honey

With an immersion blender chopper thingie or a food processor, cream a frozen banana or two. For added creaminess, add an un-frozen banana or a few splashes of soy milk. For added yumminess, add a tablespoon or so of peanut butter and honey. Blend until it looks like soft serve. Put into bowl. Add random toppings if you want, or just proceed to television, turn on sappy movie, and indulge.

Pink Berry versus Red Mango

This weekend in NYC, I was made part of a fierce and heated debate: Which is the better low-cal, yogurt-flavored, of-vaguely-Asian-origin frozen yogurt? Started in 2005, Pink Berry had the first-in-market advantage in the states, and quickly became the stuff of celebrities and obsessions. Red Mango, on the other hand, was founded in 2002, came late to the scene in the United States, and seems relegated to second-class status.

Both are yogurt-flavored frozen yogurt, served with mostly fresh fruit toppings and other not-so-sweet toppings (Captain Crunch is available, but heath bar is not). The styles of each store are a similar style—clean, hip, and happy. Each has its converts and its faithful contingents who swear, “It’s so much better than [other brand].”

Add me to that list. After a weekend in the city, I can now be counted among the Red Mango enthusiasts. While so much is similar between the two franchises, there’s one thing that’s quite different; the taste. Red Mango’s servings do a better job of capturing that tangy sour-sweetness of real yogurt, meaning that the fruit it’s so often served with works to (I love it with mangos) complement it instead of serving as a distraction.

I went back for seconds in the same evening, just because it was so delicious. Thank you to Claire and Kyra for the introduction to my new favorite obsession.

Guest Post: Bacon Dinner Club

Everyone enjoys a little stalking, right? So when I saw on Facebook that my NYC-based friend Kyra (of the dating blog Gotard City) had posted pictures of a Bacon Dinner Club, I immediately demanded the story. So here goes the first ever Stalking Sarah guest post! Thanks, Kyra!

A little over a year ago, my friends and I decided to start a Dinner Club based on our mutual love of the Food Network, cooking, and most importantly, eating. We choose a new theme or key ingredient (basil, citrus, the color white, tapas,  desserts, etc) and we get together once a month to cook and eat together. It’s usually an all-day affair.

Dinner Club’s important to me for a number of reasons: It’s an opportunity to make socially acceptable bad decisions in the form of food. I like to eat. I love to eat. Tasting delicious food is one of the best pleasures in life. It’s fun to see all my friends together. We get to play board games and catch up. I get to play hostess and show off all my materialistic crap that I’ve acquired from Crate & Barrel. And, I get to learn more about cooking and try new foods.

A few years ago, I started dating someone named Movies. After a while, he got to be a part of Dinner Club, too. None of my friends were particularly amazed by him, but none of them really disliked him either. And at the end of the day, though, I’m the Kim Jong Il of Dinner Club, so if I wanted my boyfriend there, he was gonna be included.

Unfortunately, Movies’ picky eating habits had never been squashed by his parents, so he often violated the “try new foods” mandate of dinner club. On numerous occasions, he’d make a passing comment about not wanting to try someone’s dish. Whenever we circulated the tentative menu before the actual Dinner Club date, Movies would send a note reminding us that he didn’t like certain foods.

The biggest point of contention among us Dinner Clubbers was bacon. Continue reading

Gelato Update

As I wrote back in July, I have long been on the search for fabulous gelato. So I was thrilled when, on two recent trips, I discovered some incredible versions of this artisanal delight.

Dolcezza

Tanya (of Veggie Love) dragged me into this Argentine gelateria, kicking and screaming. “I won’t have delicious things, I won’t I won’t!” Ok, total lie: It doesn’t take much to convince me to try gelato; simply pointing out the shop is usually all it takes. But once inside, I acted somewhat unusually. Rather than veering towards my usual choices of hazelnut or pistachio, I pointed at something else. “I’ll try the honey avocado,” I ventured bravely. Avocado?? Ice cream!?

Well don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, folks. That stuff was incredible. I’m an avocado lover generally, and Dolcezza’s gelato brought out the creamy avocado flavor amazingly, well complemented by the honey. It was neither overpowering nor overly sweet. We meant to bring some for our friends working down the street, but by the time we left, the gelato had sent us into such rapture we barely knew our own names…

♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5, for inducing amnesiac effects

Cones

While walking in the East Village of New York City with friends, I spotted a gelato shop on the corner of Bleeker and Grove street, called Grom. We were looking at the mouth-watering menu (caramel with Himalayan pink salt) when a man walked over and stuck his head into our huddle. “You want good gelato?” he asked in a thick New Yorker accent. Not waiting for an answer, he started pointing around the corner, saying, “the best stuff is right up this street, at Cones, right next to John’s pizza. They make it all by hand.”

Now I don’t know about you, but when complete strangers stop me on the street to tell me to go eat somewhere, I go there. Especially when they’re locals. So I dragged my group a block and a half up the street to Cones. Run by a charismatic and chipper Argentinian, the gelato is absolutely out of this world. The hazelnut, in particular, made me weak in the knees. The coconut, sitting in a cup next to a scoop of dark chocolate, made me moan.

♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5. Perfect date spot—the food itself is an aphrodisiac!

There is a spoon. And it is bent.

Sweet basil and goat cheese with strawberry creme fraiche (Photo by SeriousEats)

Once, when I was on a group trip to Italy, my friends and I decided to undertake a small experiment: Which town had the best gelato? After seriously investigating, sampling, licking, tasting, analyzing, discussing, and evaluating gelati from Firenze (Florence) to Venizia (Venice), we found the most heavenly scoops in the small city of Ravenna. It tasted so good we had trouble walking.

Back home in the US of A, we doubted being able to find those same fresh, creamy flavors. But our home town of Princeton, NJ surprised us. Though it had multiple thriving local ice cream stores already (see Thomas Sweets and Halo Pub), a new one opened: The Bent Spoon, which serves its fare out of Euro-style shallow tubs.

While it would be an appropriate (and catchy) name for a regular ice cream store, The Bent Spoon’s name is actually ironic— rather than the hard, packed ice cream available at other stores in town, theirs is soft, slatherable gelato. Their flavors are equally unexpected— strawberry ice cream with fresh berries in it, chocolate that melts you into ecstasy, and a vanilla so good that Bon Appetit calls it “standout.” They have more unusual flavors as well— including a vanilla with fleur de sel caramel that is unexpectedly addictive.

The icing on the, er, cone, is that The Bent Spoon strives to use as many locally grown and organic products as possible. No wonder it tastes so good; it’s full of sustainability!

At $3 for a small, the pricing isn’t cheap, but hey—it’s cheaper than a gallon of gas, and so much better for the community. Not to mention your taste buds.