Sunday, August 28, 2011

Banana Foster Ice-Cream Pastry

I have always thought that banana foster looked delicious. Many of the recipes I have seen for this dessert call for dark rum and sometimes banana liqueur to be added and then lit on fire. I am sure it makes for an impressive display. The only problem is that I don't keep rum or banana liqueur on hand and am too cheap to buy it for an occasional recipe. When I saw this recipe in Southern Living magazine I knew I had to try it since it didn't call for alcohol. I have had the recipe for a long time just waiting for the perfect time to make it since it needs to be made and eaten immediately.

We are going to Ireland with some friends this week and at one of our planning meetings I made this dessert. I am not really into planning trips. I just want someone to tell me when and where to show up, and I will be there. I thought that my contribution to the meeting could be some yummy dessert. Everyone loved it! Southern Living seldom disappoints and this is no exception.

Banana Foster Ice Cream Pastry
Source: Southern Living Magazine September 2008
Serves 4

½ cup chopped pecans
½ (17.3 oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed*
Parchment Paper
¼ cup butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 T. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 bananas, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
Vanilla ice cream  

1.       Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and increase oven temperature to 400°.
2.       Unfold 1 puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 10-inch square, carefully smoothing creases. Cut into 4 (4 to 5 inch) circles using a cutter. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
3.       Bake at 400° for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.
4.       Heat butter and sugar in large nonstick skillet over low. Heat 2 minutes or until sugar is melted. Add orange juice, next 3 ingredients, and 1 Tbsp. water to skillet. Cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes or until mixture is blended and smooth. Add bananas, and cook 1 minute.
5.       Arrange pastry rounds on serving plates. Top each with about ½ cup banana mixture and ½ cup ice cream. Drizzle with any remaining sauce. Sprinkle with toasted pecans, and serve immediately.
*Frozen puff pastry shells may be substituted for frozen puff pastry sheets.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mrs. Patsy's Chicken Salad

This southern girl loves some chicken salad, but I don't love how traditional chicken salad recipes are loaded with fat. Mayonnaise is very fattening and when paired with a buttery croissant, a chicken salad sandwich can sabotage a healthy diet. Speaking of croissants, have you ever cooked or watched someone make them? If you have, I am sure you were as shocked as I was at the amount of butter used. Croissants look so light, fluffy, and totally innocent, but a 3 oz. croissant has 270 calories and 17 grams of fat! I assure you that the law of conservation of matter which states, "mass cannot be created or destroyed", applies to croissants. All that butter goes somewhere, and for me, it’s "through the lips, straight to the hips". 

Never fear! You can still enjoy delicious chicken salad without the guilt. Here are a few tips on how to make traditional chicken salad healthier.
  • White meat contains less fast than dark meat, so try using white meat instead.
  • Use light mayo. It has 1/2 the fat of regular mayo.
  • Adding fresh fruit like grapes or pineapple to chicken salad adds bulk and flavor with no fat.
  • Dried fruit, like raisins or craisins, are good options as well, but are higher in calories than fresh fruit.
  • Add nuts for extra protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Nuts are high in fat so be careful about how much you add.
  • Eliminate the bread and serve on a bed of lettuce instead. You can cut approximately 250 calories by simply substituting lettuce for the bread.
  • If you really want bread, try pita bread (my favorite way to eat chicken salad) or a low fat flat bread, but beware of flat bread. It looks healthy but can pack as much as 9 grams of fat per piece!
This recipe is from my bff's mom, Mrs. Patsy. I got this recipe from her about 15 years ago, and it is still my favorite chicken salad recipe. It is perfect for summertime, and I like to serve it when I have friends over for lunch. Every time I make it, I have requests for the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Buon Appetito!

Mrs. Patsy's Chicken Salad
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup green grapes, halved
2 T. fresh parsley
1/2 cup mayo
1 T. lemon juice
1T. cider vinegar
1 1/2 T. mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Mix together. Chill. If you like your salad wetter simply add more of the last 7 ingredients.