bluth banana

Bluth Frozen Bananas

Recipes June 10, 2013

“There’s always money in the Banana Stand.”

Arrested Development has been one of my favourite shows for years. Sadly it was cruelly cancelled by Fox during its third season, much to the disappointment of all its fans. It grew in popularity after its cancellation and finally, seven years later, they released a fourth season via Netflix (which premiered 26 May 2013), woohoo! I wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion by making some homemade Bluth bananas, a treat which is sold on the show at the family’s Banana Stand.

(From the Arrested Development facebook fan page.)

As you can see its a pretty easy recipe (my favourite kind!) and is a fun treat to stash away in the freezer. It would be great to make with kids!

Peel four ripe bananas and seal in a plastic bag to freeze for at least one hour (or overnight if you have the time). Remove the bananas from the fridge and insert a popsicle stick or similar (I used the plastic sticks from my iceblock moulds).

If you are crushing your own nuts, this is a good step to get out of the way while the bananas are freezing. I used a handful of almonds and macadamias (but you can use whatever you like: walnuts, cashews, peanuts… anything really). Spread out your crushed nuts on a flat plate to roll your bananas in.

Melt some good quality chocolate (I used dark) and dip your bananas in the chocolate and roll them in the crushed nuts (I made some mini Bluth bananas by cutting them in half as well). You can either eat them now, with the melted chocolate (recommended) or allow them to set in the fridge and allow the chocolate to harden. If you’re going to set them in the fridge, I would recommend adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to the melted chocolate before coating the bananas – this will make the chocolate coating a bit thinner and easier to bite into. You can store them in the freezer for up to one week.

Frozen Bluth Bananas


Makes: 4 large frozen bananas, or 2 large and 4 small (depending on how you want them!)
Time to prepare: min. 1 hour to freeze, 10-15 mins to assemble

Bluth Frozen Bananas

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup of nuts of your choice (I used 1/2 cup macadamias and 1/2 cup of almonds) you can also omit these if you have a nut allergy
  • 1x200g block of chocolate (I used dark but you could use milk or white if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)

Equipment needed: a food processor (or you can seal your nuts in a ziplock bag and bash them with a rolling pin!), a bowl to melt chocolate in, 4 popsicle sticks or similar, 1 plate, ziplock bags


  1. Peel bananas and place in a ziplock bag to freeze for at least one hour (overnight if time permits).
  2. Remove bananas from the freezer and ziplock bag. Insert popsicle sticks into base of bananas. If you want to make mini versions, cut frozen bananas in half and insert popsicle sticks into cut bases.
  3. Melt chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl. If you are planning on putting your bananas in the fridge after coating (or storing any leftovers in the freezer), add a teaspoon of coconut oil to your chocolate now.
  4. Dip frozen bananas into chocolate, coating completely.
  5. Roll your chocolate coated bananas immediately into your plate of crushed nuts until they are completely covered.
  6. Serve, or place in the fridge to harden the chocolate if you prefer them that way. Store any leftovers in the freezer for up to a week.

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coconut lime

Dairy Free Lime Cheesecake

Recipes February 18, 2013

On my latest adventures in ‘no gluten or dairy’ land (see here to read more), I came up with this latest dessert gem. I’d often seen Tofutti ‘cream cheese’ in the cold section in supermarkets, but dismissed it as being one of those weirdo tofu replacements that tasted, well, kinda awful and not a patch on the regular stuff. Not to mention it was usually twice the price of the cheapest brand of cream cheese which I would normally use. Well, I decided to give it a try, and was pleasantly surprised with the results. The texture is pretty much exactly the same as cream cheese and it tastes very similar, without that soy or tofu like aftertaste. I was very impressed and tried it out with my vegan mushroom pâté and it worked out quite well! I am looking forward to trying it out in new recipes – definitely more cheesecake flavours. Maybe even some frozen cheesecake pops? Cream cheese frosting (oh how I missed you!) Oh the possibilities are endless!

I also had a jar of marshmallow creme sitting in my cupboard waiting to be used and so I thought, why not combine the cream cheese with the light and fluffy marshmallow creme, add some lime juice/zest and see what happened? And boom, suddenly I had a lime cheesecake filling!

As for the cheesecake crust (an imperative element, you must agree), I had heard that many gluten free cooks use almond meal with butter or oil to create a similar taste and texture to the usual graham cracker crust. I experimented and added some coconut oil to make it dairy free (plus limes and coconut go together so well) and a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste just to give it an extra kick. I was really surprised at how similar it tasted to a regular cheesecake base.

In future I think I will definitely give this a try with the whole traditional pressing the crust into a pie pan and adding the filling like a tart, but for a smaller dinner party this time around, it went quite nicely in some pretty glasses for a ‘deconstructed’ look. Plus it was super easy to throw together! I was seriously amazed at how much it tasted like cheesecake – I could barely taste the difference. The super sweetness of the marshmallow cream went well with the zing of the lime and the crunch of the vanilla almond crust. So gluten and dairy free (ex) lovers, rejoice! There is still cheesecakey hope for the future!!

Lime Cheesecake with Vanilla Almond Crust (100% gluten and dairy free!!) an original recipe by Cooking Crusade

Serves: 5 (I half-filled 5 glasses)
Time to prepare
: About 10 minutes to prep and at least 2 hours to chill in the fridge

Cheesecake Filling

  • 2 x 227 gram packages of tofutti cream cheese (or regular cream cheese if you like)
  • about 1 cup of marshmallow fluff (I used a 7oz container I found at the Reject Shop)*
  • zest and juice of two limes
  • 1.5 teaspoons of agar agar, dissolved in cold water (optional) I think it would still set pretty well without this. This was more of a ‘just in case’ measure
  • 1 lime, sliced, to decorate (optional)

Vanilla Almond Crust

  • 1 cup roast almond meal (I used Lucky Nuts)
  • 1.5 T coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Equipment needed: Chopping board, sharp knife, a food processor/blender, 5 decorative cups or dessert glasses to serve in


  1. Place cream cheese, marshmallow creme and zest/juice of limes into food processor and blend. Add dissolved agar agar (if using) and blend again until creamy.
  2. To make crust, mix together all vanilla crust ingredients in a bowl and stir until fully combined.
  3. Place 1 tablespoon of crust mixture into each glass and press down with the back of a spoon. Divide cream cheese mixture among glasses equally and top with another tablespoon of vanilla crust. Add sliced lime to decorate and chill in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. Serve and enjoy! There, wasn’t that easy?!

If you don’t have marshmallow creme, don’t despair! It’s quite easy to make (from what I’ve seen online anyway – I haven’t tried it yet) – it seems like it’s basically a meringue made with egg white, sugar and corn syrup. I reckon this would probably work well without the corn syrup as well. Here’s a great recipe for a handy guide.

If you’re not averse to using gluten/dairy in your cooking, then I’m sure that using regular cream cheese and/or replacing the almond meal with crushed bikkies would also work a treat, but give this is a try anyway as I think you may be pleasantly surprised! Additionally, Tofutti cream cheese has lower fat content than regular cream cheese, making this dessert a good alternative for those trying to cut a few calories.

Hope you all had a super relaxing weekend full of lovely sleep and incredibly delicious food and are looking forward to the week ahead, I know I am !


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mango featured

Super Simple Mango Gelato

Recipes November 12, 2012

Scoop of mango gelato in bowl

Here’s a recipe to get you ready for summer… A ridiculously easy mango sorbet you can whip up in no time – and no ice cream maker needed! You will however, require a food processor – or a high quality blender may do the trick too. I finally caved in and purchased a food processor and I looove it. Homemade cookie dough dip? Yes please. Pesto, hommos, capsicum dips? I’m there! I can’t imagine my kitchen life without it now! If you have any great food processor recipes, please share as I’d love to have another excuse to whip mine out :)

Frozen chunk of mango gelato

Now, onto matters more gelato related…

This recipe is very easy to prepare and make, and only takes a few minutes to blend – what’s not to love?

Start out by (not pictured) freezing fresh mango flesh in ziplock bags overnight.

Chopped chunks of frozen mango gelato
Remove mango flesh from ziplock bag and slice into chunks.

Chunks of mango gelato in blender
Chunks of mango gelato is blender with brown sugar
Place mango in food processor. Optional: Add sweetener if desired (brown sugar pictured) and/or a splash of vanilla essence.

Blended mango gelato before adding milk
Blend. (Pictured without sugar). Mangoes become crumbled and require some liquid to help it become creamy and smooth.

Blended mango gelato after adding milk
Add milk of choice and blend again – it should become nice and creamy!

Scoop of mango gelato served in bowl
Scoop and serve! Enjoy!

Mango gelato in plastic container for storage
You can also freeze any leftovers in a plastic container for later. This shot reminds me of pumpkin puree hehe.

Here’s the handy-dandy recipe!

Super Simple Mango Gelato (an original recipe by Cooking Crusade)

Serves: About 3 people
Time to prepare: Mangoes need to be frozen overnight but actual blending takes less than a few minutes!


  • 1.5 cups frozen mango, chopped into chunks
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used soy milk but you can use whatever you like – cow’s milk, almond, coconut etc.)
  • 1-2 T maple syrup or brown sugar*
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I just added this for some flavour but it’s not neccessary.)

* You can omit if your mangoes are very sweet. These particular mangoes I bought were very cheap and not terribly sweet – clearly they had been forced to ripen early in order to meet demand and unfortunately did not have the best flavour. However, in my experience, proper ripe mangoes are usually more than sweet enough without the sugar added. See for yourself – you can always add extra sugar after tasting if you like (I made two batches, one with and without sugar).

Note: This recipe requires a little preparation overnight – to freeze the mangoes.

  1. Slice cheeks of mangoes (I used about 3 medium sized ones) and scoop out the flesh. Freeze in a ziplock bag overnight.
  2. Remove frozen mangoes from ziplock bag and chop roughly to make it a bit easier for the food processor to blend.
  3. Place mango chunks and vanilla essence (if using) into food processor bowl and blend for about 1 minute or until it is completely broken up into tiny pieces. Add milk tablespoon by tablespoon or until you get the creamy consistency you like.
  4. Taste. If it’s sweet enough, serve – but if not, add sugar spoonful by spoonful, blending after each addition and taste each time to get the right sweetness for you.
  5. Scoop mango gelato out of processor bowl using an ice-cream scoop into bowls and serve! I’d like to try topping this with some freshly whipped cream (or coconut cream) and chopped macadamia nuts for that true mango cream Weiss bar feel. Mmm. Weiss bars. But honestly its pretty good by itself – even my vegan Mum enjoyed it! Any leftovers can be poured into a plastic container and stored in the freezer. It will harden, but a few 10 sec zaps in the microwave should be enough to make it scoopable.

Feel free to play around with the measurements in this recipe. You can add more / less mango and just add the milk / sweetener afterwards so you can get a good consistency / sweetness.

Hope you enjoy this super simple summery recipe !


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Pastillas de leche in 5 minutes

Recipes November 4, 2015

Simply empty 1 x 395 gram can of (full fat) condensed milk into a large bowl and sift over 2.5-3 cups of milk powder (until you reach a nice dough consistency). If you add too much milk powder by accident, add water 1 tsp at a time until you get back to the consistency that you want. You’re looking for a play-dough type feel. Roll into balls and dip into white sugar and you’re done! If you want to get even more fancy, add a few drops of flavouring/colouring to the condensed milk prior to adding the powder and mix thoroughly to combine.

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Italian Cheesemaking Class: Review

Reviews November 1, 2015

I have a friend who absolutely loves online voucher deals. Fortunately for me, she is also a food lover & will often find interesting food experiences online for us to go to at a discount. This time, she found a cheese-making class for us to do at Cromer Community Centre for a mere $20 each with Om Nom Cheese. Even though I’m nearing the halfway mark through my time at culinary school, we haven’t touched on the subject of home-made cheeses so I was excited to finally dip my toe (not literally of course!) into unexplored food territory. While I’ve read a few blogs on making cheese at home, like making home-made butter, it’s been one of those things I’ve always meant to make but have never gotten around to it. Mentally it got stuck in the ‘too hard’ basket… until now!

Sweets for the sweet! Leche flan with young coconut and sticky rice. #philippinefoodweek #annapolyviou

Flavours of the Philippines 2015

Reviews October 3, 2015

Every year I look forward to the (Sydney) Shangri La’s Flavours of the Philippines buffet for Good Food Month. I go every year regularly (read my 2013 post by clicking here), and most years I take several trips! Its only around for 1-2 weeks at a time (only one week this time around sadly) so it’s worth getting in a few times if you love Filipino food as much as I do. The best thing about the SGL Filipino buffet is that if you’ve never tried Filipino food before, it’s the perfect place to start since it has so many specialties you get the opportunity to sample many different dishes at one go.

Ella Hooper

Inspiring People – Ella Hooper

Articles September 30, 2015

You’ve been in the music industry for almost 20 years now and yet you’re still so young. What inspired you to start your journey with music? Do you have any particular moments of inspiration throughout your career that you would like to share?

I admired my parents’ record collection from a very young age, and I guess I wanted to be in it! Also as my older brother was quite talented at playing violin and guitar I wanted to copy him… I mean join in! I think I really got my ambition on after primary school when we started playing together as a duo at fetes and local things. The positive reaction gave me the hunger to chase that dream of getting in the record collection.

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Guess who’s back?

Articles September 27, 2015

So… you may have wondered where I’ve been for the past year or so. It’s been a huge year for me and probably one of the most exciting years I’ve ever had. You could say this was the year I gave my heart to food. I got my first job working in the food industry as a PA to a food personality, had the opportunity to work on several food TV shows, start recipe testing for magazine shoots and cooked for a book shoot for the first time ever.