Banana Pudding (Nanner Puddin, as my cousin Tommy calls it) is one of my very favorite summertime treats. The thing about this southern specialty is that it can be ridiculously high in calories! Some recipes I’ve looked at run in the neighborhood of 600 or more calories per serving!
But my version is sweet, silky, refreshingly cool, and at just around 230 calories, it’s a fairly painless splurge!
Here’s all you really need to make Nanner Puddin- so simple, yet so satisfying! : )
One of the tricks I’ve learned that makes my version taste more like higher calorie versions is adding the caviar of a vanilla bean to the pudding.
Nothing I’ve found adds quite the richness and depth of flavor like this does! In absence of this, use a really good pure vanilla extract- I make my own with vanilla beans and a good quality Bourbon; it’s much cheaper and definitely better than the store bought stuff.
So, to get started, I take a vanilla bean, and scrape the caviar (seeds) out. Don’t be intimidated- it’s really pretty easy and you’ll love the flavor and how it fragrances your kitchen! Just keep reading and I’ll show you how.
*As always, I don’t receive compensation to recommend or favorably review any product. I just share the things that are working for me so you can enjoy them too. : ) You can see my policy on this here.
First, cut the ends of the beans off, then run the tip of a sharp knife along the bean, lengthwise, trying to only cut through the top layer of the bean.
See the tiny little dark brown specks on my fingertip? Those are the seeds!! That’s what you see in good quality ice cream and other products that contain real vanilla caviar. For more pics of the process, click here.
Now, don’t throw the rest of the bean away!!! Cut it into sections like this, and throw them into a mason jar, along with some good Bourbon or Vodka, and some whole beans, prepared as instructed here; in about 8 weeks or so, you’ll have made your very own pure vanilla extract. How cool is that?! I just keep adding the beans as I use them, which only intensifies the extract. I make all kinds of extracts- mint, lime, coffee, etc., but that’s another post. : )
So, now just follow the directions below for how to make and assemble your Nanner Puddin!
I like to make individual servings- not that I’d ever think of eating an entire recipe, and therefore would need portion control… ; ) A mason jar with a lid makes it so easy to make them ahead and they make a pretty presentation.
So, grab a spoon, a jar of goodness, and ENJOY!!
Silky and sweet, cool and refreshing; banana pudding is one of my very favorite summertime treats.
Cut the ends off the vanilla bean. Score the bean lengthwise with a sharp knife, trying to cut through the top layer only. Open the bean along the split at one end, then place the dull side of a knife or spoon at the end, and carefully scrape toward the other end, gathering the caviar onto the utensil. (See above pics.) Place the caviar in the bowl, preferably metal or glass, that you'll use to make the pudding.
Add the Jell-o mix, and the soy milk (or milk) to the bowl, then whisk to combine. Place the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes until the pudding firms up.
Note: I sometimes use the soy milk due to a milk allergy in the family, and I love that it has fewer calories, even than skim milk. However, when I use it, the pudding doesn't firm up quite as quickly, or as much, as when I use dairy milk. The soy mixture can actually be a bit soupy when I assemble the dish, but once it's allowed to set up in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, it sets up just fine.
While the pudding is chilling, count out the Nilla Wafers. If making one big casserole, I usually leave the cookies whole, but when I'm making individual servings I like to break them up a bit. I just use a sharp knife and roughly chop them into four pieces each, which allows me to spread them out a bit more evenly.
Cut the bananas as you like. Sometimes I slice them fairly thin, which allows me to spread them out a bit; other times I slice them thick and quarter them, for a more chunky texture.
Once the pudding has set, take it from the fridge and carefully fold the cool whip in. Set aside for a few minutes.
Arrange one third of the cookies in the serving dish. When making individual servings, I place a very small amount of pudding in the bottom of the dish to keep the cookie pieces spread out and in place, but when making a large casserole, I just arrange one third of the cookies evenly over the bottom.
Arrange one third of the banana pieces over the cookies.
Spoon one third of the pudding over the bananas and cookies, and gently spread evenly.
Repeat two more times, using up all of the cookies, bananas, and pudding,
If you like, you can crush up a few extra Nilla Wafers to spread over the top as garnish. I use my meat pounding mallet or food processor. The mallet is a fabulous tension reliever if you've had that kind of a day! ; )
Now I know how tempting it is to dive right in, but if you can stand it, put your masterpiece in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, which will allow it to set more firmly, and gives the cookies a chance to soften up just a bit. Whenever you just can't stand it for one more minute, grab a spoon and go for it!
This post is a collaboration between me and my wonderful daughter, Allie. She gets lots of the credit for the production of this recipe, many of the pics, making the whole thing lots of fun, and the idea of putting a skirt on the “hers” trifle, pictured below. Not that I’m proud or anything. : )
Trifle has always been one of my very favorite desserts, so when I found out I could make it in a low calorie way I was so excited! I’m going to spare you the hundreds of trifle, trifling, trifled, etc., puns I could put here, and throughout this post, but you’ll know I’m thinking them!
This can be super quick and simple, or you can make it more homemade, whatever you feel like doing and have time for. It’ll be fun either way- and you get to play with cool whip, sprinkles, and edible glitter- whatever you like.
To start, you need an Angel Food Cake, either from the store, a mix, or scratch. I made mine from a mix, but I added a teaspoon each of vanilla and almond extracts, along with some cinnamon, to the mix before I added the water. Other than that, I just followed the instructions on the box. Well, except for the baking part- I’d just finished making dinner and the oven was already heated up to 450F, so I just went ahead and put the cake in, and immediately dropped the temp down to 350F, then timed it for 30 minutes- it came out a lot better than the one I made following instructions. So, the truth is, I didn’t really follow the directions at all, in how much water I added. My husband claims I’m not very good at following directions, or guidelines, as he refers to my understanding of most instructions, rules, directions, etc. He might be right.
Anyway- see how pretty my cake is? Well, ok, so it’s not exactly gorgeous– angel food cake usually isn’t, but before we’re done with it, we’ll make something really pretty out of it!
Next, you’ll need to make a box of instant fat free, sugar free chocolate pudding. You can add a splash of vanilla- maybe a teaspoon- in here too, if you like. Or a few granules of instant coffee… or both… oh, that would be really good!
Anyway, follow the directions on the box for how much milk (I use 1/2%, or equal parts skim and 1%) to add, whisk until all the lumps are gone, and put it in the fridge to set up.
Once it’s set up, mix however much of the pudding you’re going to use- about 1 cup for 2 servings- with an equal part of fat free cool whip, folding it in gently, and then put it back in the fridge until you’re ready to start assembling.
While the pudding / mousse (not the kind with antlers- that probably won’t fit into your fridge) is setting up, zest and juice the lemons and limes- to do this, I turn my micro planer upside down, and draw it across the fruit.
This way, the zest stays nicely contained so you can dump it easily, exactly where you need it.
You can see all of the zest, right there on the micro planer- I’ll dump it right in with the berries and lose very little of the precious lemon oil, like I would if I let the zest fall onto a plate, and then transferred it to my recipe. Set the zest aside for now.
So, next, Put the frozen berries and citrus juices in a saucepan or skillet, cover tightly, and cook over low to medium heat, just until the berries are soft and lots of juice has been released.
Remove the berries from the heat and, using a potato masher, smash them up a bit- more if you want a smoother sauce, less if you like it a bit chunky. I pureed a batch the other day, and we didn’t the texture, for this recipe anyway, at all! That’s been a big part of this process for me- I’ve made lots of mistakes, but learned from every one, and I usually come up with something really great… eventually. My family just laughs now when they ask what’s for dinner, and I say, “Well… it’s kind of an experiment…” I guess it’s either that or cry.
Now, ladle out some of the mixture, and strain about a quarter of a cup of juice into a small bowl, then blend it with the cornstarch until smooth. Oh, and put the strained berries back in with the rest or they’ll get lonely!
Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture to the pan and crank up the heat to medium or medium high. Stirring constantly, cook until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Keep stirring, and allow it to simmer for just a minute more, and remove from the heat. It’ll look like my pic to the right.
Now, allow the berries to cool down, at least to room temp, or you can chill them overnight in the fridge. Stir in the zest once the sauce reaches room temp. When you’re ready to assemble, get two clear serving somethings- like my (adorable) mini trifle bowls. Or, you could use clear mugs, crystal champagne flutes, glasses, or whatever you have- preferably matching, but most importantly clear so your sweetie can see your beautiful layers.
I started my trifle by spooning some of the pudding mixture into the bottom- just till I got to the part where the glass isn’t curving anymore. Carefully spoon it into the middle, then spread it out toward the sides, and let it cling to the sides so you can see it there when it’s all done.
Next, turn your cake up on it’s side, and slice off some big rounds, about 1/2 in thick or so. They’ll look this my pic here.
Now, cut away most of the middle of a round, so you have a strip about 1/2 inch or less thick.
I used the outside of the round because I think it’s pretty, but you can cut that off if you like the pure white of the inside of the cake better. This is a bit sticky and messy, and knives and angel food cake don’t really have a great relationship, so I cheated and just used scissors!
Next, carefully place your strip, laying it snugly around the inside of the glass, trimming to fit, then add some scrap chunks to the middle. In this pic, I haven’t pushed the cake tightly, all the way out to the edges yet, but you need to do that or the next layer will seep down and obscure the cake.
Now, using a baby or demitasse spoon like the one in my pic above, carefully place some of the strawberry mixture in the middle, then carefully spread it out toward the edges, being careful not to push it down over the cake. Let some cling to the side of the glass, and put about enough to make a 1/2 inch layer, then smooth it so it’s level.
Do the same thing, again, with more of the pudding- start in the middle, like the pic on the right, and smooth toward the outside carefully.
Be patient, and take your time- this is easier said (or written) than done! If you get the sauce or pudding somewhere you don’t want it, use a mini scraping type spatula to push it down into the layer you’re working on, until it’s mostly gone- the next layer will likely camouflage it if you have to leave tiny traces. You know how I know this, right?! I’m giving away all of my ooooopsey secrets today!
Here’s how mine was coming along. It still looked like a mess to me, but once it was all done, I thought it looked pretty good- the pizzazzy piped cool whip on the top also tends to draw your attention up and away from imperfection in the layering. See? There is a method to my madness! Now if someone could just convince my family of this, that’d be great!
All that’s left to do is add another layer of the cake, then top it off with one last helping of the strawberry sauce! Here’s how mine looked, up close and very personal. It’s not the best pic, I’m sorry- still working on mastering the whole photographing stuff through glass skill. It’ll get better with practice. I hope.
For the finishing flourish, you can just spoon a dollop of cool whip on the top, or pipe it on like I did- if you like that, but don’t know how to pipe, click here for step by step pics and instructions on how to do that. (I tried to take pics with one hand, while piping with the other for you, but that was a complete and total failure- the link I gave you is from the Wilton site, and their tutorial is much better anyway!
FYI- piping and decorating like this looks really complicated and difficult (not to mention pretty spectacular and impressive once you get the hang of it) but I taught myself to do it, with just a Wilton Yearbook, (when I was in my 20’s, and a new mom) some time, and lots of practice- this particular trick, on top of my trifles- the “1M Swirl”- is pretty spiffy looking, but super easy to do!
OH!! And don’t forget the sprinkles, edible glitter, and pink pearls!!
So, there ya go! Happy Valentines Day!
I do hope it’s just a trifle (get it? trifle? ha ha) bit amazing! I really did try to contain myself… but I escaped… and so did just one (you’re welcome) pun.
Trifling With My Valentine
This treat is delicious, but light and refreshing- and it comes in at right around 225 calories* per Trifle!
Follow instructions, in pictures above, for assembly.
If you need to do this in a huge hurry, use a store bought angel food cake, and just thaw the berries then smash them up a bit. I'd strain a lot of the juice off, as the juice, unless thickened as in the recipe below, will make the cake very soggy. If using this method, make the Trifles and serve almost immediately, or as soon as possible.
Zesty Strawberry Sauce
Place the frozen berries and citrus juices in a wide skillet or pan, over low to medium heat.
Allow to cook, gently, just until berries are soft.
Remove from heat and smash berries with a potato masher.
Strain some of the berries- enough to obtain about 1/4 cup of the juice- and reserve the juice. Place strained berries back with the rest.
Allow the juice to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then combine with the cornstarch in a small bowl, whisking until thoroughly combined.
Add the sugar and the cornstarch mixture to the berries, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and begins to bubble.
Continue to stir and cook for just another minute, then remove from heat.
Allow to cool to room temperature and stir in zest. May be used to make trifles at room temp, or can be chilled in fridge overnight, until ready to use.
Make pudding according to directions.
A teaspoon of vanilla extract and/or a teaspoon of instant coffee may be added to the milk, and combined thoroughly, before combining the milk and pudding mix.
Whisk until all lumps are gone and put in the fridge to cool.
When pudding is set, stir in Cool Whip, gently folding to combine.
Place in fridge until ready to assemble Trifles.
*The actual calories in your Trifle may vary from my estimate of 225 per Trifle, depending on the capacity of the serving dish you use. I based my calculation on the quantities I've suggested, of the ingredients listed in the Trifle section of the above recipe, so if this matters to you, keep it in mind as you choose the size of your serving dishes. For my cake, I used a Pillsbury Angel Food Cake Mix, and estimated that I used about 1/18th (probably less, but I'd rather overestimate on calories, than underestimate) of the entire cake to construct each one of my Trifles. To be totally honest, the cool whip swirl on the top may not be possible using only the quantity I've listed in the recipe- if you use about 1/2 cup extra of the fat free cool whip, it adds 60 calories to my calculation- still not terribly awful, but thought you should know. Sprinkles and edible glitter don't have enough calories to worry about, unless you plan on eating them with a spoon, in which case, consult the nutritional label.
*To see my policy on nutritional information, go here and scroll down.
Here’s what I had for lunch today- Easy Peasy Pimento Cheesy Pinwheels- they’re so pretty and just perfect for lunch, or as a fun snack or appetizer. I used 2/3 of one of Joseph’s flatbreads (90 calories each, so 2/3 was just 60) to make the pinwheels. Keep scrolling down and I’ll show you how I did it!
And this was my lunch Saturday- the pimento cheese has just a bit of heat to it, which is perfectly contrasted with the cool ranch dressing for my chilled veggies.
Pimento Cheese is one thing I sure didn’t think I could ever make in a healthy and delicious way- what with high fat ingredients like cheese and mayo, I figured I’d have to give it up, for sure. But then some of my very favorite products came to my rescue! With their help, this version of my childhood favorite is just 45 calories per ounce!
So, let me introduce you to two of my Superheroes:
First, there’s sharp cheddar cheese. I grew up loving cheese- I came by it honestly.
*I do not receive compensation to favorably review or recommend any product- you can see my policy on this here.
I remember sitting at the table, watching my grandfather cut ridiculously thick slices (hunks would be a more accurate term) and chow on them, one after the other.
I learned a lot from him… although I don’t know that I’d like Limburger cheese as much as I’m told he did.
Anyway, given my love for sharp cheddar cheese, I don’t suffer tasteless waxy low fat or fat free cheeses well.
Although this isn’t my grandfather’s cheese, (his had roughly twice the calories of this one) it’s really good, and I use it all the time!
Then, there’s cream cheese. (Are you beginning to detect a pattern here?!) Ahhhhhh, how I love cream cheese. But not the fat free stuff!!
And I’m not all that happy with the level of fat and calories in the standard reduced fat kind either.
So, this is a great compromise! (Sometimes, if I want an even deeper reduction in calories, I mix Greek and fat free, half and half.)
So, to make this stuff, it really takes no time at all!! Oh, if you’re reading this ahead, and can remember, put the cream cheese out on the counter for about an hour or so, to soften up. If not, or you forget, don’t worry, I’ll tell you how to get around it. (Because not reading the recipe ahead of time and/or forgetting what I’m supposed to do is quite a regular occurrence for me, so I know a lot of get-arounds!)
First, get your bottles of pimentos and drain them like the pic over there, to the left.
Next, grate up all of the cheddar- and try not to let anyone walk by and steal pinches of it before it gets into the salad, like some people in my house have been known to do! You can grate it coarsely, as in the pic above, or more finely- just depends on how you like it to look.
Now, for measuring the mayo(s). This was definitely not may favorite chore until I found the most amazing measuring “cup” ever! This thing allows me to measure sticky and messy things like mayo, honey, peanut butter, etc., not make a huge mess, and get all of it in the recipe, not leaving a bunch of it all over the the measuring cup. How cool is that?!
You simply adjust the liner / plunger part with the sleeve, to the amount you need, fill up the space with your ingredient, level it off, then turn it upside down (over your bowl!) and push- it ALL comes off the sides of the sleeve, and all you have to do is scrape the little bit that might be stuck to the top (or bottom- however you look at it) of the liner/plunger. Life changing would be a gross understatement!
OK, so enough playing with toys… Put the cream cheese, mayo(s), pimentos, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce in the bowl with the cheese.
And here’s what you’ve got- Easy Peasy Pimento Cheesy!!
Who knew you could have pimento cheese for right around 45 calories* per ounce?
To make the pinwheels:
Just spread pimento cheese evenly all over about 1/3 of a Joseph’s flatbread, leaving a little space along one of the long edges so it won’t ooze out when you roll it up.
Use a really sharp serrated knife like this one to cut even slices.
They’ll look like these- even better if you roll them really tight in the middle! I need practice… clearly.
Put your pinwheels on a pretty plate, along with some apple slices, and add your finishing touches. You have my permission to use allofthecolorsof paperumbrellasyou want to!