Nanner Puddin





That’s Tommy, on the far left- he says he takes his Nanner Puddin very seriously and would not have known that mine was a reduced calorie version, had I not told him. His dad, Tom is next, and that’s my dad on the far right.

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!


You can use any kind of dairy milk, or soy milk- I’ve used the Silk Light Soy Milk which is even lower in cals than skim milk! See notes in recipe instructions about using this ingredient.


Here’s all you really need to make Nanner Puddin- so simple, yet so satisfying!  : )






Here’s the packaging that my beans came in- Beanilla offers several kinds of vanilla beans, and their variety is interesting. I’ll probably try different ones next time, but for now, these seem like the best for making extract.

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.


Vanilla beans are really expensive if you buy them from a grocery store, but I order mine from a website where they only cost about 50 cents each- you have to order in quantity but I’ll tell you later in this post how to use them to make your own vanilla extract, and in the long run, you’ll save money and have much better tasting dishes! Click here to order.*

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.




split bean
Can you see where the bean has been scored? I’ve done this all along the length of the bean.




Here, I’ve spread the bean open along the cut I made, and I’ll run the back of the knife (the curved side) along the opened bean and gather the caviar. If the bean is not scored all the way through the top layer, it will probably open as you press down and scrape.


Here’s the caviar I’ve scraped- just take it and put it right in the bowl you’ll use to make the pudding. YUMMY!! This is going to be fabulous!





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.





You can see the vanilla beans in the pudding here- a promise of deliciousness to come!



beanpiecesNow, 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.





nanner spoon



So, grab a spoon, a jar of goodness, and ENJOY!!





Nanner Puddin
Print Recipe
Silky and sweet, cool and refreshing; banana pudding is one of my very favorite summertime treats.
Nanner Puddin
Print Recipe
Silky and sweet, cool and refreshing; banana pudding is one of my very favorite summertime treats.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Once the pudding has set, take it from the fridge and carefully fold the cool whip in. Set aside for a few minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. Arrange one third of the banana pieces over the cookies.
  9. Spoon one third of the pudding over the bananas and cookies, and gently spread evenly.
  10. Repeat two more times, using up all of the cookies, bananas, and pudding,
  11. 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! ; )
  12. 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!
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Trifling With My Valentine

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.  : )

his n hers
Here’s my Valentines Day treat- his and hers Zest Strawberry Trifles  (Notice the adorable skirt and pearls on the “hers” one!)

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.

This is the one I made according to the directions- it was delicious, but still a little sticky and moist even after I added several minutes to the baking time.

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!





Here’s what you and your Valentine have to look forward to!

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.

lemon zest


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.




Adding the citrus juice helps the berries maintain their gorgeous color.


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!



You can still see some of the structure of a berry on the left side- I like my sauce to be a tad chunky. But I’m so glad I’M not quite so chunky anymore!

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.



trifle bowl
You can find mini trifle bowls just about anywhere that sells lots of kitchen serving items. I got mine in a box of 4 for about $15, but I’ve seen them for just a few dollars each, sold individually.

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.




I cut my cake in half first, knowing I wouldn’t need the whole thing, so there’d be some pretty slices leftover.


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.


Here’s what mine looked like- not perfect, but the overall look is always impressive even if each layer has flaws.




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!


layer 4side2

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!




ta da


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
Print Recipe
This treat is delicious, but light and refreshing- and it comes in at right around 225 calories* per Trifle!
1 Trifle
1 Trifle
Trifling With My Valentine
Print Recipe
This treat is delicious, but light and refreshing- and it comes in at right around 225 calories* per Trifle!
1 Trifle
1 Trifle
Zesty Strawberry Sauce
Servings: Trifle
  1. 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
  1. Place the frozen berries and citrus juices in a wide skillet or pan, over low to medium heat.
  2. Allow to cook, gently, just until berries are soft.
  3. Remove from heat and smash berries with a potato masher.
  4. 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.
  5. Allow the juice to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then combine with the cornstarch in a small bowl, whisking until thoroughly combined.
  6. Add the sugar and the cornstarch mixture to the berries, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and begins to bubble.
  7. Continue to stir and cook for just another minute, then remove from heat.
  8. 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.
Pudding Mixture
  1. Make pudding according to directions.
  2. 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.
  3. Whisk until all lumps are gone and put in the fridge to cool.
  4. When pudding is set, stir in Cool Whip, gently folding to combine.
  5. Place in fridge until ready to assemble Trifles.
Recipe Notes

*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.

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