Citrus Berry Avocado Salad with Orange Basil Vinaigrette

Citrus Berry Avocado Salad with Orange Basil Vinaigrette

I’m absolutely loving the summer flavors lately. I currently can’t get enough avocado in my life, and a bowl full of fresh berries is my ultimate craving. Comfort food is great and all, but when the summer is around, I just want to live in the produce aisle.

Currently, our veggie garden is thriving. Our jalapenos are growing like crazy, and I’m fairly tempted to make more jalapeno pepper jelly to use some of them up. I just dug up some garlic that I planted last July as well and can’t wait for it to dry out, and also, our basil plant just won’t stop growing! I’m going to have to take a weekend to make a large freezer batch of pesto!

Now, when it comes to basil, I’ve been looking for more ways to use it up (no offense to pesto), and I thought about adding it into my salads. I love a good, herby vinaigrette and thought that combined with orange, it would be a great combination. This salad is a great way to use up leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken from the store, and because of that, it’s a meal that comes together very quickly. It’s also very colorful, which makes for a fun presentation.

Citrus Berry Avocado Salad with Orange Basil Vinaigrette
Source: an original


For the salad:

  • 1 9 oz. bag baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup canned mandarin oranges, strained (preserved in water, not syrup)
  • 1 Haas avocado, cut in large cubes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chopped rotisserie chicken

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (juice of one large orange)
  • 1/4 tsp. orange zest
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar


  1. To assemble the salad, place the baby spinach in a large bowl. Sprinkle the blueberries, oranges, feta cheese, avocado and chicken on top.
  2. To make the dressing, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until everything is well mixed and the basil is finely chopped. Pour the dressing over the salad, and sprinkle the almonds on top. Toss the salad well and enjoy!

Bananas Foster a la Mode Cups & A Giveaway!


A couple of months ago, my husband and I went to a restaurant in New Orleans. When it came time for dessert, we decided to split something, but the problem with splitting with my husband is the dessert cannot contain any chocolate, caramel or peanut butter (he hates it all). I know…poor guy doesn’t know what he’s missing! Luckily, this particular restaurant had a bananas foster torte, so I knew we were set. It was absolutely delicious, indulgent and rich. In fact, I’m SO glad we split it, because there was no way I could eat the whole thing. Ever since then, bananas foster has been fresh on my mind. I had to make a fun recipe with this classic New Orleans favorite.

I’m thrilled to be working with Calphalon again to review their brand new Elite Nonstick cookware, which is sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. It’s currently for sale on their website, and will be in stores on September 27th. I’m sure you guys know that I love using nonstick cookware, but one of the biggest issues I’ve faced is being limited to wooden or silicone utensils. This line is safe for metal utensils (fork out your whisks!). Yep…I’m serious! This cookware also comes with a textured sear surface, which is awesome because you can get the sear that you usually get from stainless steel, but with the convenience (hello, easy clean-up) of a nonstick pan. This line of cookware is also dishwasher safe.

Calphalon sent me this 3 piece set to review, and asked me to create a modern twist on a classic recipe, using one of the pans. With that in mind, I grabbed the 10″ pan, some bananas and got to work! The end result is homemade bananas foster ice cream, topped with warm bananas foster, contained in a cinnamon sugar wonton cup. I hope you like bananas for this one, y’all, because there is plenty of sweet banana flavor in this recipe!


For the ice cream, I omitted the rum, because even though the alcohol cooks off, I didn’t want to chance the ice cream not setting up properly. I suggest making the ice cream one day before you plan on serving these desserts, so the ice cream can be a scoop-able consistency.

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Turkey Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Quesadillas & Calphalon GIVEAWAY


Well, HELLO JULY! So many wonderful things going on this month: July 4th, my best friend’s wedding (OMG…hope my bridesmaid dress still fits after the 4th haha!)…well, that’s basically it. However, those are two HUGE events to me. I love the 4th of July. LOVE. The fireworks, the smell of the grills going crazy in our neighborhood and celebrating the holiday with All-American classic dishes. It’s just great. I’m pretty sure I wake up on July 4th craving food from the grill. Wonder if my husband would grill breakfast for me….LOL!

One of my favorite All-American dishes is sloppy joes. My Mom used to make sloppy joes a lot when we were kids, and the klutzy person in me loves the fact that the food is naturally sloppy. Whenever I go out to eat, I end up with a line of food around my plate. I’m not a neat eater at all. I’m sort of a disaster in public…I’m surprised people take me anywhere. Any food that says it’s sloppy means no judgement if I make a mess, right? Right.

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Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes


I was a huge *NSYNC fan back in the day, and every year, I get a real kick out of the “It’s Gonna Be May” meme. Seeing it 2390859 times on Facebook this week made me watch the video again, and it reminded me of the days when I would get to drive my Mom’s minivan and would blast *NSYNC’s “Pop” CD in the old Discman (with the cassette tape attachment), since the minivan only had a cassette player. Ahh…how times have changed, y’all!

(Please tell me someone else attached their Discman to the car stereo with the cassette tape adapter…)

Anyway…it’s May (whoa..). And well, since it’s May, Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. Usually the tex-mex places appeal to me with their food and margarita specials for the day, but lately, I’m not that much of a drinker since I started calorie counting. Give me ice cream over a 1,000 calorie cocktail. I know…I’m weird. We actually purchased alcohol on our cruise in December, and this is the first time I opened the tequila we bought there. We’re kind of boring in this house. ūüėõ

I’ve been wanting to make these cupcakes for a while, but the boozy aspect is what got to me. I can’t exactly do my usual baking routine of baking a recipe and bringing it to coworkers. I’m pretty sure HR would be at my desk within 2 hours, so I’ve never made them. However, these are for a celebration for a good friend of mine, and since she’s a big fan of everything tex-mex, I thought these would be the perfect cupcake to celebrate. :-)

I ended up adapting a strawberry cupcake recipe by adding lime juice and zest, as well as brushing the tops of the cupcakes with tequila (which I found this idea on another blog). The frosting is a simple buttercream with strained strawberry puree, lime zest and of course, tequila. The combination of these flavors are just awesome. I hope she enjoys these! :-)

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes
Source: cupcake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, technique from Confections of a Foodie Bride, frosting is a Nifty Foodie Original


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • juice and zest of one lime
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 10 oz. strawberries, hulled and diced finely
  • 1/4 cup tequila

For the buttercream:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 cups of confectioners sugar, divided
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 tbsp. tequila
  • 1/4 cup strained strawberry puree (puree in a blender, put in a sieve over a bowl to let excess liquid drain for appx. 30 minutes)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and prepare 2 cupcake pans by lining them with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the two flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer (using the paddle attachment), beat the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, and beat in the eggs one at a time, until well-mixed. Add in the vanilla, as well as the lime juice/zest, and mix until just combined. Put the mixer on low speed, and add 1/3 of the flour mixture (mixing until combined) and then 1/3 of the milk (also mixing until combined), repeating until everything is in the batter. Fold in the strawberries.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes, rotating the pan halfway through baking (at the 10 minute mark), for 20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean). Immediately brush the cupcake tops with tequila (using a pastry brush), and then transfer the pans to a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes, and then remove the cupcakes from the pan to finish cooling on the wire racks.
  5. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the buttercream. Cream the butter for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in 3 cups of confectioners sugar, and beat well until the mixture is sort of crumbly. Add the lime zest, tequila and strawberry puree, and beat the mixture for 2 minutes. If the buttercream appears to be too wet for piping, add more confectioners sugar (1/4 cup at a time), beating for about a minute after each addition.
  6. To serve, pipe or spread the buttercream on completely cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake

This past week, I’ve been spending my afternoons prepping the gardens/weeding/planting annuals. Wasn’t it just Christmas? Man…can’t believe it’s almost April, y’all! With the weather starting to warm up over here, the colder the beverages, the better. I started making iced coffees a couple of weeks ago, and now, I just can’t get enough of smoothies/shakes.

As far as this shake goes, peanut butter and jelly is a favorite of mine. Move over ham sandwiches…if you offer me a PB&J, I’m going for it! I wanted to try these flavors in a shake, and while I used frozen fruit instead of jelly, the flavors (strawberry/peanut butter) work beautifully together. This was so refreshing, and filling (thanks to the protein powder). It’s definitely a goodie!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake
Source: an original


  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until everything is smooth (about 2 minutes).

Blackberry Basil Popsicles


Blackberry Basil Popsicles

A few weeks ago, our basil was absolutely booming. I ended up making a huge batch of pesto, but I also wanted to try something sweet with the basil. I know that strawberry basil is a popular combination, so I figured why not try something with blackberries?

When I was a kid, I remember going to my grandma’s house, and picking a bowl full of these near the ditch by her house. They grew like crazy out there, and as kids, it was the coolest thing to pick your own food and bring it back for everyone to enjoy for dessert. Every time I eat blackberries, I’m always reminded of grandma’s house. :-)

These popsicles are simple to throw together, and they are insanely good. You only need your blender or a food processor, and you’re good to go. I made these in those tiny bathroom cups (I think they’re 3 oz) and stuck a paper straw in there, since I couldn’t find popsicle sticks at the store. I think it makes them look more fun anyway. :-)

Blackberry Basil Popsicles
Source: an original


  • 1.5 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed
  • one heaping handful of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • juice of one lemon


  1. Add the berries, basil, honey and lemon to your food processor or blender and puree the ingredients until well combined. (Optional: strain out the seeds, if you’d like.)
  2. Add the mixture to popsicle molds or 3 oz. cups. If you’re using cups, allow the popsicles to freeze for about 30 minutes before putting the popsicle sticks in, so they stay put.
  3. Freeze for about 8 hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

I absolutely love making holiday treats. You know it’s the holiday season in our house when our fridge has at least 5 lbs. of butter, 8-10 packages of cream cheese at any given time and 2 extra bags of flour and sugar in the pantry to ensure that I don’t run out of the essentials. :-)

The big bake-palooza (as I like to call it) is this weekend. There’s quite a few coworker and neighbor gifts to make this year, which has me super excited! This year’s packages are going to have some old favorites and new ones too, which I plan on sharing with y’all next week.

While this particular recipe won’t be with the gifts this year (since they need to be refrigerated), I wanted to share these truffles with y’all, since this is still a delicious recipe if you’re looking for something to include with your holiday parties. I came up with this recipe for a local recipe contest with the newspaper. I was actually torn between an eggnog inspired dessert and a peppermint bark inspired dessert. This recipe idea won out though, because after asking some friends, it seems like a peppermint bark inspired recipe would be more popular, since quite a few people hate eggnog. Fair enough.

The great thing about these truffles is that they come together pretty quickly. It’s definitely an easy dessert recipe to add to your holiday menu! Just keep in mind since the recipe involves cream cheese, these truffles can’t sit out for too long without needing to be refrigerated. They actually taste a lot better cold anyway.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering how these little truffles did in the recipe contest! I won first place! FIRST PLACE! I still can’t believe it. The prize was a big deal too… $1000 to a local furniture store! (I can’t wait to share with y’all what we used that generous prize on, but I’ll save that for another post once it’s delivered.)

I’m also supposed to be in the paper tomorrow. Crazy, right? I’m completely giddy about that! I’m sure I’ll buy multiple copies for family. :-)

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles
Source: an original


For the filling:

  • 1 pkg cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 5 candy canes
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup (appx. 6 large) ground graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips, chopped

For the coating:

  • 2 cups of white chocolate chips or almond bark
  • 1/2 cup of semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 2 crushed candy canes


  1. With a spatula, whip up the cream cheese to a stirrable consistency.
  2. Using a food processor, grind 3 of your candy canes to a powder. Stir the ground candy canes, powdered sugar and ground graham crackers into the cream cheese with a spatula until everything is well-incorporated.
  3. Place the last two candy canes in a quart sized plastic ziploc-type bag, and using a heavy bowl, crush up the candy canes into small pieces (not quite a powder, since you want these to add a bit of a crunch to your truffles). Add the candy canes, along with the chopped white chocolate to your cream cheese truffle mixture.
  4. Chill the mixture well, for four hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to assemble the truffles, divide the mixture into tbsp. sized balls and put the balls on a cookie sheet. By the time you’re done making the truffle balls, the mixture probably warmed up a bit, so place the cheesecake balls in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up.
  6. In the meantime, melt your white chocolate for the coating (either in the microwave or with a double boiler).
  7. Take your cheesecake balls out of the freezer, and individually dip each ball in the white chocolate mixture. Place the finished dipped balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper for the chocolate to set.
  8. Once the white chocolate has set, melt your milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips and add a small amount on top of each truffle, along with some crushed candy canes for decoration.
  9. Enjoy these cheesecake truffles right out of the refrigerator and keep the truffles cold, since there is cream cheese in the recipe.

Strawberry Orange Frozen Yogurt

Strawberry Brown Sugar Yogurt

This past weekend, I bought a flat of strawberries. Since it’s the peak of the season, how could I not? It took me about an hour to slice up a flat of strawberries, and as delicious as they are on their own, I figured I had to make SOMETHING with them!

Well, a couple of weeks ago, one of my awesome food blogger friends, Serena of Big Apple Nosh, filled me in on a new challenge that she’s doing on her blog: The NoshGirl Chef Challenge! The challenge features two common ingredients, and each blogger has to come up with a recipe idea using those ingredients. The two ingredients for the challenge were plain yogurt and brown sugar. Since I had these strawberries on hand, I definitely wanted to also feature them in my recipe.

I really didn’t come up with the idea until this morning. Talk about last minute! I was debating between a coffee cake, a cookie or something frozen. Well, it’s already feeling like summer out here, so I had to do the frozen idea. I was worried about using brown sugar instead of regular sugar, but it really goes well with the strawberries. The addition of orange zest and juice also brings out the flavor of the strawberries really well. I really love how this turned out!

Strawberry-Orange Frozen Yogurt
Source: an original


  • 1 lb. strawberries, chopped and hulled
  • 1 5 oz. container of plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. vodka


  1. Place the chopped strawberries and brown sugar in a bowl, stir the mixture together and allow to chill in the refrigerator for about an hour for the sugar to sort of dissolve into the strawberries.
  2. Place the strawberry mixture, yogurt, heavy cream, zest, juice and vodka in a blender and blend until pureed.
  3. Pour the mixture in an ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Let the frozen yogurt set in the freezer for a couple of hours, and enjoy! (Note: If you serve this a couple of hours out of the freezer, it will be the perfect texture. I found that the longer I left it in the freezer, the icier the frozen yogurt became, because strawberries tend to contain a lot of water and can contribute to an icier texture when pureed.)

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago, Justin of Marx Foods asked for bloggers who would be interested in developing a recipe using Mangalitsa pork products. (The winner would move onto another challenge issued by Marx Foods!) I’ve never heard of this before, but I was intrigued, so of course, I sent an email. Before I knew it, I had a slab of Mangalitsa bacon in front of me, begging to be made into something.

I asked my Twitter friends what they would prefer: sweet or savory. It was close, but savory had the most requests. :)

So, I brainstormed. I didn’t want to do a breakfast item, since that’s what bacon is known to be used in. I wanted to do something a tad different, and I remember having a spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette at a restaurant a while back. It was absolutely delicious, so I thought this would be a good thing to try to replicate in the kitchen.

I’m not the best cook in the world when I wing it, but for some reason, this dressing came out really awesome on the first try! The bacon lends a very mild flavor, but is still prominent in the dressing. I really enjoyed it!

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
an original


  • 1 slice thick cut bacon (I used mangalitsa bacon), cut into small cubes
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the bacon on medium heat until done. Set the bacon to the side and pour off all but appx. 1 tbsp. bacon fat.
  2. Cook the shallot and garlic in the same pan (with the 1 tbsp. bacon fat) for about 5 minutes on medium low heat until it’s cooked down.
  3. Turn heat to low. Add in red wine vinegar, honey, dijon mustard and whisk well.
  4. Whisk in the olive oil, a little at a time until well blended.
  5. Serve over a salad of greens or spinach and enjoy!

Bananas Foster Milkshake

Banana Milkshake

I’m sure you can tell I’m sort of in love with bananas foster. I’m from New Orleans, so I guess you can say I’m pretty hooked to the stuff. I don’t really remember the first time I had it, but I know it was love at first bite!

I’m also greatly in love with ice cream…I gave it up for a month for a personal junk food detox to prepare me for the 10 week weight loss challenge I’m participating in. :) Before my personal little detox, I used to have a bowl almost daily. It was low-fat ice cream, so no guilt right? Psh, unfortunately those 150 calories daily added up, and I blame the hot summer for the crazy weight gain I’ve experienced. Darn you hot summers and refreshing ice cream!! :)

So,¬†naturally when I heard that Foodbuzz and Lactaid were hosting a smoothie/milkshake recipe contest, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enter my idea: a bananas foster milkshake. I know milkshakes are a huge diet no-no, but hey, I can practice portion control here, right?

After submitting my idea to Foodbuzz, I found out that my idea was one of the 12 chosen to participate in this contest. :) Wahoo!!

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what the prize for this fabulous contest is, right? It’s a trip to this year’s Foodbuzz Festival!! So, cross your fingers for me, y’all. This would be an amazing opportunity for me, and I think I would just go nuts if I won (in a good way, I promise).

Now, since this is a contest for Lactaid, I couldn’t just make any milkshake. Rather, this milkshake had to be lactose-free AND unique! Quite a challenge, no?

Now, I knew Lactaid made milk, because I was graciously given a coupon to get a Lactaid milk product for free to make this recipe happen. However, my two other worries were ice cream (of course, a milkshake staple) and butter (a main ingredient in authentic bananas foster).

After perusing Lactaid’s site, I found that Lactaid makes an ice cream product. Bonus? A store really close to my house carries all Lactaid products, so the products are easy to find. If it’s in my town, it’s probably in your town. Yay for availability! Also, Lactaid products are very reasonable in price. I know not everyone can pay mega bucks for groceries, so it’s wonderful that Lactaid keeps costs fairly low for their products. :)

Milkshake Ingredients

Now, for the butter, I took a risk and used a little bit of oil with water rather than butter. I thought this would work well, because I interchange oil and butter in most of my cooking, so why not? Thankfully, the flavors worked out, the shake ended up not tasting oily, and it worked beautifully in making the infamous bananas foster sauce. :)

On a side note, I have to hand it to the folks at Lactaid. When I was a kid, I think I was a little lactose intolerant (never was diagnosed). I used to have major stomach pains after drinking milk, and the sad thing was, I used to drink chocolate milk anyway. I know…you think I must be crazy!¬†To me,¬†the pain was totally worth it. I was completely addicted to chocolate milk!¬† And yes, while I had stomach cramps, I like to think my addiction to milk had to contribute to my 5’10” frame.¬†Haha! Now, don’t worry…the good news for me is sometime in my teenage years, I grew out of the intolerance I had. Yay!

However, not everyone ends up so lucky. So, it’s good to know that those who are lactose intolerant can still enjoy cow’s milk now, get the same nutrients from regular milk, and hey, they can even make milkshakes, root beer floats, enjoy sundaes…the list is endless!

Lactaid has really taken it upon themselves to make lactose intolerance less daunting. They have a huge array of lactose-free products, and offer a new website, called MooVision, which is to bring awareness to lactose intolerance and to showcase their product line. They have some fun features on the site too, which include:

  • Moolah!, a trivia contest about lactose-free milk (you can win gift cards here!)
  • Gourmoo cookoff, which is a competition with recipes featuring lactose-free milk
  • Moo News, which is a mockumentary style news show for milk lovers

So, using Lactaid’s ice cream and milk products, I came up with this milkshake. I’m sure you’re wondering if there’s a difference in consistency or taste with these products. Good news peeps…I really didn’t notice a difference,¬†which is awesome.

The verdict? The taste of this shake came out perfectly, as expected. :) Heck, bananas foster is typically served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream anyway. Why not combine it into a tasty drink? You might noticed that I didn’t make traditional bananas foster with alcohol. I did this, because it’s not a huge flavor difference to me, and because of the lack of alcohol, this becomes a shake you can make for the kids, too! :)

And, in case you’re wondering, I only drank 12 oz. of the stuff. This shake made it really hard to practice portion control too…so tasty! I kind of don’t want to calculate the calories, but in hindsight, with a 48 oz. pitcher next to¬†me,¬†I could have done much worse damage.

Disclosure: I received a free sample of Lactaid milk for this recipe, and this recipe serves as my entry for a contest to attend the Foodbuzz Festival.

Bananas Foster Milkshake
Source: an original


  • 3 bananas, sliced
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • appx. 1/4 cup water
  • 12 oz. Lactaid milk (we used 2% reduced fat)
  • 1 quart Lactaid vanilla ice cream


  • Place oil in a medium skillet and bring the heat to medium heat.
  • Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir and slowly add water until it forms a sauce. Lower the heat to medium-low heat.
  • Add the sliced bananas to the pan, stirring occasionally.¬† Cook this down for about 5 minutes. You know it’s done when you can smell it and the bananas are really soft!
    Bananas Foster
  • Remove the bananas and place them in a bowl in a larger bowl with an ice bath to cool down. Reserve the sauce in the skillet.
  • Once the bananas foster has cooled, blend the milk and ice cream together until well blended. Then add the bananas foster and blend. If you think the shake is too thick for your liking, you can add some milk, a little at a time.
  • To serve, drizzle bananas foster sauce in a glass, pour in the shake and drizzle more sauce on top. Enjoy!

Makes appx. 48 ouncesBananas Foster Milkshake

Thanks again to the folks at Foodbuzz and Lactaid for allowing me to participate in this contest. :)