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Monday, June 18, 2012

Dirty Banana Ice Cream

Let me introduce you to a delicious St. Lucian frozen concoction called the "Dirty Banana." You'll find Lance and Jonathan serving them up all day long at the pool bar at our honeymoon spot, Calabash Cove Resort near Castries. Though we never knew exactly what was in the drink, I believe it consisted of a ripe banana, lots of dark rum, milk and simple syrup. Good thing it was banana season in St. Lucia as Nick drank a few of these each day we were there!

I wasn't trying to recreate the drink in ice cream form when I tried making this recipe, but the finished product brought us right back to the glorious infinity pool with the swim-up bar. Most of you probably don't have an ice cream maker lying around the kitchen, but I encourage you to invest in one NOW. We got ours on sale at Crate & Barrel for $60. I even reorganized our cabinets so that we could find a spot for it! There's nothing better than homemade ice cream, and the ability to create new and interesting flavors is a fun project for a relaxing summer weekend.

You will love the mixture of the fresh banana, crunchy toasted walnuts and the hint of dark rum flavor. It couldn't be easier to make - just mix the base together and throw it in the ice cream maker for about twenty minutes or so. Then add the bananas and walnuts. Sounds like my kind of summer dessert. I also used light cream in the recipe, so that cuts down on the fat and totally justifies an extra half-scoop.

Dirty Banana Ice Cream
Makes about 5 cups
Adapted from "The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever"


  • 2 cups half-and-half or light cream
  • 1 14-ounce can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 overripe medium bananas
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts 


In a large bowl, combine the half-and-half, condensed milk, and vanilla. Whisk to blend. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least three hours or as long as three days.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas, lemon juice, and rum to form a coarse puree; there will be about 1 cup. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Whisk the half-and-half mixture to blend and pour into the canister of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. When the ice cream is at the soft serve stage, add the mashed bananas and toasted walnuts and process 2 minutes longer.

Serve with vanilla wafers or caramel sauce.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Uncle Paul's Rhubarb Crunch Cake

I am about ready to jump in the car and drive the five hours up to Portland, PA to go through my Uncle Paul's stash of recipes and interview him for some baking and cooking tips. My uncle is a trained chef and clearly knows how to create amazing baked goods. I found this crunch cake in the recipe book from my bridal shower. It is getting to be the end of rhubarb season, so this cake was the perfect seasonal treat to try. I was a little hesitant to use strawberry Jello in a coffee cake, but no one is ever going to guess you used it! 

Nick and I agree that this is probably one of the best fruit coffee cakes we've ever had. The sour cream in the batter provides some density without compromising the lightness of the cake. Though the recipe has plenty of sugar, the rhubarb provides a hint of sourness that cuts through the sweet cake. The cinnamon, sugar and nut layers provide the satisfying crunch, balancing out the layers of fluffy cake and spongy rhubarb. This cake would be a delightful addition to a weekend brunch, afternoon tea, or a light summer meal. Add a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream to put this treat over the top.

I only used the two larger stalks of rhubarb. Fortunately, Nick stopped me from grabbing about five stalks at Whole Foods! This cake is relatively simple to make, but I did have some issues spreading the sticky batter into the greased pan. I think an offset spatula would work well. The layering is just batter, rhubarb, nut mixture, batter, nut mixture. It's okay if some of the rhubarb is peeking out along the edges. This just adds extra color to the top of the cake.

True confession - I forgot to add the first layer of the walnut / sugar mixture on top of the rhubarb. Hence, we had only half the crunch, but this cake was still amazing! Be careful not to over-bake it as the walnuts will start the burn.

I hope that the family chef will share some additional dishes with us - his recipes may become a permanent feature on the blog! We're praying for you . . . get better and get back in the kitchen soon.

Rhubarb Crunch Cake
From Paul Lebkuecher
Serves 18-20

  • 3 cups rhubarb pieces, 1/2" or smaller
  • 3 oz strawberry Jello
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix rhubarb pieces thoroughly with strawberry Jello. Set aside to absorb color.

Make batter with next eight ingredients. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs well. Stir in remaining batter ingredients (sour cream, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt). 

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, remaining sugar and walnuts in a small bowl.

Spread half of batter in greased 9 x 13" pan. Spread rhubarb mixture lightly over batter. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the rhubarb. Spread on remaining batter. Sprinkle the batter with the remaining nut mixture. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until browned.