Category Archives: ice cream

Safe Travels

Eric and I haven’t done much traveling. I realize now this is something I should be quite embarrassed about, similar to finding toilet paper stuck to my shoe or my fly unzipped in the middle of a big presentation in front of People Smarter and More Important Than Me.

But that’s the way it is. Here we are, both turning 30 in 3 months, and we’ve never left the US. Well, I take that back, Eric spent a few days in Canada a few years ago. So he wins. I guess.

Don’t me wrong, I’d love to jet off somewhere exotic. See majestic mountains, jewel-toned oceans and crumbling ancient ruins. There’s just always an absence of two very important things. Mainly, money and time. I frequently hear from the well-traveled that we should do these things while we’re young. While it’s just the two of us. Before kids come along.

We’ve had six years. Let’s be honest. I’m 99.9% sure that’s not going to happen. Someday, right? Someday when we’re retired and all of sudden traveling Europe by train with the lead anchor on the 10:00 news sounds like an excellent idea. (Does your local news advertise trips like this? An Alaskan cruise with your favorite weatherman! The commercials always make me laugh!) Yep. Then we’ll go. Someday….

Until then, it’s a good thing I have a stocked kitchen and an active imagination. With the right food, I can travel wherever I want, whenever I want.

A couple weeks ago, I decided Italy was the place I wanted to go. So, I closed my eyes and thought about what it would be like to be there. I pictured peaches and cream sunsets streaked with lavender and pink, jaunty cobblestone streets and the whir of scooters whizzing by. I pictured a white flowy sundress, gold sandals that tie around the ankles, and hair in long, loose waves. I pictured outdoor cafes, tiny cups of espresso billowing with steam and bottles of wine that last for hours. I pictured hopeful coins shimmering with wishes at the bottom of a tinkling fountain. I pictured history – the last remains of great empires, towering, intricate cathedrals and Renaissance art. I pictured falling in love.

Most of all, I pictured gelato. Walking slowly with one hand wrapped up in the fingers of a true love and the other wrapped around a cone dripping with a cool, creamy treat.

This Gianduja-Stracciatella Gelato will put you there. All of those experiences in just one bite. And if that isn’t what it’s really like there – hey, I can dream right? It is my imagination after all. Someday I’ll know for certain.

I’m not even sure where to begin to tell you how much we loved this stuff. In The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz describes gianduja as an Italian confection made from local hazelnuts ground together with milk chocolate. Hello, heaven! This gelato is like frozen Nutella with bits of crunchy, chocolate goodness running through it. It may look like chocolate overload, but really the flavor is not over-the-top rich. It’s chocolatey in a completely perfect way. The hazelnuts give it a little bit of a coffeehouse flair. I’m actually not big on ice cream in a cone, I almost always have it in a dish. But here, the slightly spicy crunch of the cone compliments the chocolate and hazelnuts perfectly. Go for the cone!

GIANDUJA-STRACCIATELLA GELATO (Recipe Source: The Perfect Scoop)

Make the Gelato:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 ounces good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. After toasting hazelnuts*, rub in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the papery skins as possible. Finely chop the nuts in a food processor.
  2. Warm the milk with one cup of the cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Once warmed (do not boil), remove from the heat and add the chopped nuts. Cover and let steep at room temperature for one hour.
  3. Put the chopped milk chocolate in a large bowl. Heat the remaining cup of cream in a small saucepan until it just bubbles. Pour it over the chocolate and stir until melted. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
  4. Pour the hazelnut infused milk through the strainer into a medium saucepan. Squeeze the nuts firmly with your hands to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the nuts.
  5. Rewarm the hazelnut/milk mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm hazelnut/milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.
  6. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom while stirring, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through a strainer into the milk chocolate. Add the vanilla then stir until cool over an ice bath. Cover and chill the gelato in the fridge until very cold, at least 8 hours or overnight.

*To toast the hazelnuts, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven until golden and fragrant, about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Make the Stracciatella:

Stracciatella is more of a technique than a recipe. It involves melting chocolate and adding it in steaks to frozen ice cream. The streaks are broken up into crunchy “chips” that run throughout the ice cream. I have to say I really loved this technique and will likely use it again in the future. The bits of chocolate are small and they melt instantly when hitting the tongue, giving you a delightful chocolate flavor. Sometimes I find adding actual chocolate chips to ice cream leads to chunks that are so frozen solid, it’s like crunching down on tasteless, waxy pebbles. This technique eliminates that.

  • Finely chop 5 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not use chocolate chips)
  • In a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring until it is completely melted.

Freeze:

Remove gelato from the refrigerator and stir. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according the manufacturer’s instructions. After it’s frozen, transfer from the bowl to a storage container. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the gelato in a slow, thin stream, stirring as you pour to break up the chocolate. Cover and freeze until ready to serve.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Crack Corn

Welcome to Day 2 of my Corn Fed series!

One of my favorite guilty pleasure snack foods is caramel corn. I love it. LOVE. It’s serious.

The problem is our relationship is…complicated. When caramel corn is around, I cannot resist it. Even if it’s so-so, boxed, stale caramel corn, I will STILL stuff it in my face until my stomach hurts. There’s just something about the combination of light, crunchy popcorn and sweet, buttery caramel I can’t resit. The way it sticks to your teeth, the way it makes your fingers sugary and lickable. I just can’t get enough of the stuff.

And when it’s fresh, sweet, GOOD caramel corn (preferably mixed with fresh cheese popcorn a’la Garrett’s in Chicago), forget it. Hold my calls, do not disturb, I am busy. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can tear me away from my forbidden love. I cannot be held responsible for any bitten fingers should you try to stick your hand in my bowl. You’ve been warned. 😉

For all of the above reasons and more, I keep my distance from caramel corn. Most of the time. Usually. Except for a few times a year when the stars align perfectly and I happen to find myself in the great city of Chicago following the scent of freshly popped popcorn across many city blocks to the nearest Garrett’s. Then I just gotta get my hands on some. It’s fate.

Now, I’m featuring SWEET corn recipes this week not POPcorn recipes. That’s another week for another time. What if I told you you could have sweet delicious caramel corn flavor all mixed up into creamy, dreamy ICE CREAM! And what if I said it actually starts with fresh corn on the cob? You’d say I was crazy, right? Caramel corn ice cream? Really, REALLY?!

Yes. Really. And it’s really easy. And really good. And it really does taste like caramel corn! This ice cream is so unexpected I just had to try it. The corn flavor is there for sure, but it’s subtly sweet. The caramel really makes the flavor POP (I’m just full of CORNY jokes, aren’t I? 😉 )

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to swap out the 2% milk for whole. It is ice cream after all – might as well go all out with it. Otherwise I kept everything the same. Then I stuffed my face with it like I do actual caramel corn. Then life was good and my tummy was happy. 😉 I kind of loved this stuff. And I kind of wish I had some in front of me right now. It’s actually quite wonderful and I hope you’ll consider giving it a try. Enjoy it!

CARAMEL CORN ICE CREAM (Recipe adapted from: Cooking Light via MyRecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
  • 1  cup  half-and-half
  • 2  cups  whole milk
  • 2/3  cup  sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 3  large egg yolks
  • 3  tablespoons  2% reduced-fat milk
  • 12  small soft caramel candies

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine corn and half-and-half in a food processor; process until smooth (about 1 minute). Pour pureed corn mixture into a sieve over a large bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids. Add 2 cups milk, sugar, salt, and egg yolks; stir with a whisk. Pour mixture into a large saucepan; cook over medium heat until thick (do not boil), stirring constantly (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 30 minutes or until mixture comes to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Chill the ice cream until very cold or overnight.
  2. Combine 3 tablespoons milk and caramels in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer; cook 10 minutes or until caramels melt, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Pour corn mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in caramel mixture. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 2 hours.

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Cheering for Cherries!

Have you ever stumbled across a recipe you’re dying to try, only to realize the timing is completely off? Such a letdown, isn’t it? Pumpkin is not nearly as appealing in April as it is in October. The outrageously overpriced, hard, tasteless berries gracing your store shelves in January are in no way deserving of your dessert plate. It’s disappointing when the discovery of a recipe gem and the season in which to eat it just don’t match up. We live in a Google-induced, instant gratification kind of world these days…in all areas except for food.

Quick!  What’s the population of Terre Haute, Indiana? What’s the average lifespan of the common fruit fly? How many licks DOES it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

I could probably come up with the answers to all these questions in about 5.3 seconds. Except for maybe the Tootsie Pop thing…the world may never know on that one. 😉

But the only instant gratification you’re going to get when you find a strawberry recipe in January is to Google WHEN the strawberries are best in your area…and then sit back and wait for that day to come.

It’s okay to throw a quick tantrum before bookmarking the recipe and saving it for a rainy day when the ingredients are more appropriate. That’s what I usually do.

::whining:: But I want it nnnnnnnnooooooooowwwwwwwww!

Hi! I’m 3! Have we met?

Anyway, this happened to me twice this past winter around Christmas, when I opened up two separate cookbooks I received as gifts only to be faced with two recipes I just couldn’t wait to try – neither of which would be gracing our table for at least another 6 months or so.

Awwww, Man! Waiting.is.hard.

One of these recipes involves fresh sweet corn. Yep. Still waiting on that one. Only 7 weeks (or so) until sweet corn season! Not that I’m counting. I don’t wake up every morning and think about how we’re one day closer to sweet corn season or anything like that. Nope. I’m not THAT crazy.

Or am I?

Hm. Wonder if Google can help answer that question. 😉 Let me know what you find out.

The other recipe involves cherries. And ice cream. Cherries and ice cream didn’t make a lot in sense in December when this recipe fell into my lap. But now….ah, the snow and cold are gone, the sky is blue and the sun is shining…cherries and ice cream make perfect, harmonious sense.

Well, now you’re going to laugh at me, because I jumped the gun on this one. If I could have held out just a few more weeks, I probably could have made this delectable frozen concoction with fresh, delicious Michigan cherries. But instead…I used frozen.

I’m a little embarrassed by my false start here. I waited so many long months with the intention of using fresh cherries. I was going to lovingly pit and chop each one by hand. What happened?

Two weeks ago, the price tag on the  cherries at the store was still pretty steep. I got scared. What if they weren’t that great? I knew a frozen cherry was going to be ripe and sweet. I also knew I wanted this ice cream and I didn’t want to wait anymore. Frozen was going to have to do. Of course, just today, I opened my mailbox to find my weekly grocery circular only to discover – in giant font and pretty pictures – that cherries are on sale for a GREAT price this week.

Isn’t that always the way?

So what could elicit such a hasty reaction? What could make me dash toward the prize before the whistle blows?

Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry ice cream. With chocolate truffles. Oh yes. It happened.

Let me tell you how much I love this ice cream – frozen cherries and all. This is a smooth, creamy, nutty indulgence that’s just bursting with flavors and textures. This is a sundae in one scoop. It’s so good, it’ll make your knees buckle. (Okay, that’s a little overdramatic, but it is very good!)

The recipe comes from David Lebovitz, and although there are a lot steps and components, the end result is well worth the work. Toasted almonds are steeped in the milk/cream/sugar mixture, strained through a sieve and then squeezed to get as much of the nut oil and flavor back into the ice cream base as possible. Then cherries are simmered on the stovetop with sugar until they are cooked down, tender and render a thick, tasty syrup. The truffles are optional, but why in the world would you SKIP chocolate?

That’s what I thought. 🙂

They are made from a simple ganache that is finished with a bit of liqueur. The end result is a smooth ball of rich chocolate that stays slightly soft when frozen in the ice cream, making them easy to scoop through when ready to serve.

The almond ice cream base is mixed up with more toasted almonds for some crunch, the cherries, drained of the syrup and chopped, and the truffles. Yum. Crunchy nuts, juicy bits of fruit, smooth, rich chocolate. Savor it, my dear friends, and remember this little taste of summer in December when your ass is frozen to the seat of your car and cherry season is just a memory. It may help you get through some tough times ahead.

TOASTED ALMOND AND CANDIED CHERRY ICE CREAM (Recipe Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup well drained Candied Cherries, chopped (recipe follows)
  • Chocolate truffles (optional, recipe follows)
  1. Warm the milk, sugar, salt and 1 cup of the cream in a medium sauce-pan. Finely chop 1 cup of the almonds and add them to the warm milk. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Strain the almond-infused milk into a separate medium saucepan. Press with a spatula or squeeze with your hands to extract as much flavor from the almonds as possible. Discard the almonds.
  3. Rewarm the almond-infused milk. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly add the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir in the almond extract and stir until cool over an ice bath.
  5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to directions. During the last few minutes of the churning, add the remaining 1 cup of chopped almonds. When you remove the ice cream from the machine, fold in the chopped cherries and truffles. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

Candied Cherries (Recipe Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

Makes about 2 Cups

  • 1 pound cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 drop almond extract
  1. Remove the stems and pit the cherries. Heat the cherries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a large, nonreactive saucepan or skillet until the liquid starts to boil.
  2. Turn down the heat to a low boil ad cook the cherries for 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 minutes of cooking t make sure they are cooking evenly and not sticking.
  3. Once the syrup is reduced to the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the the heat, add the almond extract, and let the cherries cool in their syrup.
  4. Before adding to ice cream mixture, drain for about 1 hour or until the cherries feel dry and sticky.

Dark Chocolate Truffles (Recipe Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

*Note: This is the full recipe for the truffles, which makes about 40 1/2 inch diameter truffles. I knew that would be way too much for one batch of ice cream, so I halved it and it was STILL too many truffles. I have half left in the freezer for another batch of ice cream (not that that’s a bad thing, I’m just saying!) The moral of the story, feel free to adjust this recipe to your needs.

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Congnac, rum or other liquor or liqueur
  1. Heat the cream with the corn syrup in a small saucepan until it just begins to boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until it’s melted and the mixture is smooth. Mix in liquor. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap. Form little 1/2 inch truffles using two small spoons. Scoop up a teaspoonful of truffle mixture, then scrape it off with the off with the other spoon onto the plate. Repeat, using all the truffle mix. Freeze the truffles until ready to mix in.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: I came home with a load of goodies from the Wilton Tent Sale
Two Years Ago: Grilled Polish Sausage with BBQ Grilled Onions

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Hypothetically Speaking…

Let’s say there’s a room somewhere where you spend significant time. A room like…say…your office. For at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (if not more, for all the extra special folks out there) you are most likely in your office.

Let’s say you had a choice – from now on, your office can either be too warm or too cold. It can’t be just right. Someone came along and decided all of us nameless, faceless office peons in this world didn’t deserve to be comfortable. That JERK FACE!

Anyway, you must choose to spend at least 40 hours a week in a room that’s either too warm for your tastes or too cold. Of course, this is subjective. What’s warm to you is likely still cold to me. Think about your own personal warm/cold threshold.

Are you thinking?

Okay, now which would choose?

It’s hard, isn’t it? This is your office, so if the room’s too warm it’s not like you can strip down to your birthday suit and work in the buff – unless you work from home, in which case that’s your business. Just remember to cover up before you get on that Skype call with the LA office. Plus, if you’re working on a particularly boring task, a warm room can lead to a serious case of the Afternoon Naps. You’re plugging along entering data into a highly tedious spreadsheet and the next thing you know you’re passed out on your keyboard face down in a pile of your own drool. Not attractive. Also, not a good position to be in when your boss walks by. Just sayin’.

But on the flip side, is there anything worse than being cold? I’m talking chilled to the bone, shaking cold where your fingers and toes turn to little tiny ice cubes. Is it just me, or is it is extremely hard to concentrate like that? Chattering teeth and shaking hands do not a productive employee make. It’s impossible to know how to dress in the morning if your office is too cold – especially when it’s warm outside! People tend to look at you funny if you’re sporting a parka in July. Not that I’ve done that or anything…

Still can’t decide? Allow me to address a few FAQ’s for you.

Q: If it’s too cold, can I wear gloves at my desk?
A: Yes. But as someone who has tried this, prepare for all your work and emails to look something like this: aoihtishgishtisuhgwiethbskgal. Just throwin’ that out there.

Q: If it’s too hot, are electric fans allowed?
A: Yes. Electric fans are permitted if not encouraged. You can even point it straight at your face and hang your tongue out like dog on a car ride if you want – whatever blows your hair back. (Ha. Literally and figuratively)

Q: If it’s too cold, can I sneak a space heater under my desk?
A: Well…technically, you can. Are you supposed to? Mmm…Probably not. Be prepared to explain yourself when said heater blows a fuse and your entire workstation is without power for half a day. Not that I know anything about that either…

Also, space heaters have been known to cause a fire or two. So be careful, friends. Just be careful.

Q: If it’s too hot, can we have afternoon popsicle breaks?
A: Why, yes. Yes you can. Every day, in fact! Popsicles for everyone!

Okay, that does it! If I can’t compose a coherent email because of my gloves and if my illegal space heater is going to go around knocking out power (thus rendering the thing useless anyway) I have decided I’d rather spend 40 hours a week in a room that’s too warm.

As long as there’s fans and popsicles.

Can you tell I get cold at work? Because I do. And it’s so funny because people on the other side of the building are constantly complaining that it’s too hot. This just makes our cold problem worse. Because as maintenance cranks the AC in attempt to cool the other side of building, this side just gets steadily colder and colder and colder. 70 degrees. 68 degrees. 65 DEGREES! I CAN’T WORK LIKE THIS, PEOPLE!

I’ve been over there – to the warm side. I.am.so.jealous. I come up with excuses to walk over there just to GET warm. There’s a water fountain on my side – perfectly capable of refilling my water bottle. But there’s also one in the Desert Oasis (that’s what I’m going to call that side of the building now. Yep.) I’d walk an extra mile in shoes that hurt to get to a water fountain just to be warm for a few seconds!

So clearly while I’m working, I’m not thinking about popsicles. I’m trying to forget that I’m turning in to one. But if I worked on the other side, in that indoor Desert Oasis, I would totally take a popsicle break.

And would do so with these homemade treats!

I guess I would call these Smoothie Pops instead of popsicles, because they are made with yogurt. I used Greek yogurt to punch up the nutrition and add a little extra protein, but any kind will do. I used fresh strawberries and frozen pineapple (because it’s my favorite fruity combo) but any of your favorite berries or fruit would work. The little ice pop molds are really inexpensive and easy to find. I spotted them in the seasonal housewares section at Target over the weekend for about three bucks and snatched them up but I bet you can find them anywhere hyping up summer gear! These are so much fun to make and eat – guaranteed to cool you off!

Oh, so what did you decide? Too hot or too cold? 😉

CREAMY FROZEN SMOOTHIE POPS (Recipe Source: This really isn’t a recipe so…yeah. I’ll just say it belongs to all of us. How’s that? ;))

  • 6 oz. yogurt – any flavor you like (I used plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit, whatever you like
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of your choice (sugar, Splenda, honey, agave syrup), to your taste (I just used sugar and started with two tablespoons, blended everything, tasted it added 1 tablespoon more, then blended again and it was perfect)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and fully combined. Pour mixture evenly into ice pop mold. Freeze until solid. To remove, dip the mold in a bowl of warm water to loosen and slide out the pops. Makes 4 servings.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Muffins
Two Years Ago: Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

Don’t forget about my What’s New Cupcake giveaway! You have until Thursday night to enter. Hurry, hurry! Don’t delay!

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Weeded Out

Can we talk about weeds?

Weeds.

They’re all I can think about.

Every time I pull into the driveway.

Weeds.

Every time I glance out the window.

Weeds.

Every time I see our neighbor the Lawn Master suspiciously eyeing our yard from his very expensive and fancy ride-on mower.

Weeds. Embarrassment. Also, the feeling I should go out and apologize to said Lawn Master and beg him not to call the city on us.

Our yard? It’s a weed patch. It kind of looks like that lonely stretch of highway where the weeds grow rampant because of lack of mowing and maintenance. In other words, it’s an eyesore.

Yep. We’re THAT house in our otherwise well-groomed neighborhood. There’s also currently a rusty old farm implement parked on our driveway. So… that’s adding to ambiance as well.

You’re judging us, aren’t you? It’s okay. We know. Let me just say the rusty plow is just visiting and will be making its way down the road to a new home here very shortly. And we’re taking care of the weed problem. Promise.

We’ve had a couple dandelions here and there in our yard every since we moved in. Probably because the yard wasn’t all that healthy to begin with. They’d pop up and we’d just live with ‘em. Eric would mow over them for a couple weeks until it got blazing hot and they all died.

But this year. Yeesh… It’s been wet this spring. And it’s been relatively warm, as far as spring in Iowa goes. Things have been greening up and blooming in our area faster than I’ve ever seen since we moved here. And these little nuisances have completely taken over our yard. They may or may not have choked out the grass completely. Jury’s still out on that one. I mean, these are GIANT, MUTANT weeds. Look at this one:

This is the REDWOOD of Weeds. Look at the trunk on that bad boy. It’s an inch in diameter! THICK.

After I took that picture, Eric annihilated the thing by spraying it with hose at full blast. Where upon he turned to me and said: “I just succeeded in spreading the spores…and watering them.”

Touché, my good man. Touché.

Oh Weeds. You and I…we can’t go on like this. I’m sorry. So so sorry. The landscape guy is coming tomorrow. So…to the left, Weeds. To the left.

In an effort to distract myself from the spring nuisance that is our front yard, I went out in search of some of the great things about spring. The bright, colorful, juicy spring bounty.

And I found it! In the form of my favorite thing about spring…the STRAWBERRY. On sale for an amazing price, no less! SCORE! The first thing that popped in to my head – other than standing over the kitchen sink and stuffing my face with the entire pound, of course – was ICE CREAM!

I love strawberry ice cream. It doesn’t get near the hype it deserves. Vanilla is the big star with all its sundae and a’la mode applications and things. And of course there’s the fancy chocolate truffle, fudge ripple, peanut butter, caramel stuff that certainly has its place at the ice cream table.

But strawberry. It’s so pure. It’s so naturally sweet and delicious. And that color! So perfectly pink. Everyone looks great wearing it. 😉 On their face, that is. It’s reminiscent of bare feet and sunglasses. Sunburns and pool floaties. Maybe it even reminds you of picking dandelions and blowing those puffy white petals into the wind…

Just…not in my yard, k? We have enough of those.

Anyway, this is a quick an easy recipe courtesy of the ice cream master – Mr. David Lebovitz! It’s not a cooked custard type of recipe so the prep work is prety minimal. A quick soak for the berries, a whirl in a food processor or blender and you’ve got the beginnings of a delicious treat. The result?  Oh so good. Smooth, creamy, pink perfection. It’s just bursting with fresh berry flavor. It’s like summer in a bowl! This ice cream does contain one interesting ingredient – sour cream. Now, I’ve said before that I’m not an sour cream fan, but here it works. The slight tang in the background keeps the final result from being too sweet and the thickness of the sour cream lends a great creaminess. If you tend to prefer the texture of the egg-based ice cream recipes, I encourage you to give this a try. I swear you won’t even miss the eggs!

STRAWBERRY SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM (Recipe Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vodka or kirsch (I used vodka from a very old and questionable bottle that may or may not be left over from our college days.)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and alcohol.  Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve.  Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every so often.
  2. Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until almost smooth, but still slightly chunky.
  3. Refrigerate for 1 hour. (I actually chilled mine overnight) Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 1 1/4 quarts.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Another fabulous strawberry concoction – Strawberry Lemonade!

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Milk and Honey

Did you know that the Milk & Honey in this blog’s namesake is actually code for Eric and Erin? It’s true. He’s Milk. I’m Honey.

He’s Milk because he’s pale. Wait, no. He’s Milk because he’s rich? Um. Definitely not. He’s Milk because if you leave him out overnight, he turns sour? HA HA!

No, no. I kid, I kid.

The Milk is a nod to his dairy farm upbringing. Country goodness squeezed fresh daily. Squeezed by me –in the form of lots and lots of hugs, that is. Awww. My Milkman. He’s the best!

And I’m Honey because, well – that’s pretty obvious….

I attract bees.

I mean – um. Wait. No. Well, Yes. I suppose that’s true. If there’s an outdoor eating adventure to be had, I’m usually the one running down the sidewalk screaming “There’s a beeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” So maybe I do attract bees.

Anyway, I’ve been told I’m sweet as honey. And sugar. And pie. I’m as sweet as a pie topped with sugar and drizzled with honey. Such a nice girl. All smiles and sunshine. All rainbows and puppy dogs. Most of the time. Usually. Well, except for first thing in the morning. Okay, I’m as sweet as honey about 90% of the time – The other 10% of time spent being sour, pouty, cranky, crabby, grouchy, mean, cantankerous (great word, eh? Thank you, Thesaurus!), surly, ornery and all around unpleasant is reserved exclusively for my husband (aw, what a lucky guy!) Can’t be sunshine and rainbows all the time, right? Have to give major props to Eric for putting up with the non-sweet me so well that she doesn’t rear her ugly head with family and friends, at work, or in public. Thanks, Eric!!

So, basically, what I’m saying is I’m a firm believer in the old mantra ‘you catch more flies with honey than vinegar’ and just try to treat each and every person I come in contact with in the respectful, friendly manner I would like to be treated. The Golden (Honey) Rule. Simple. More people should think about trying it. Seriously. That said, I’m not really all about catching flies (ew…) or bees, for that matter (yikes!) so maybe we can change flies to cute little honey bears that look like Winnie the Pooh. Agreed? Awesome.

Moving on!

Even though it’s in my blog’s name, honey has never been a go-to ingredient for me. Sure, sure I always have it on hand for when it’s needed, but I found myself rather indifferent toward it. Didn’t love it, Didn’t hate it, would never specifically search out recipes that featured honey as a main ingredient.

Until. Yes. Until I had really, really good honey.

See, before I bought honey the way I’d buy…say…a can of black beans. I looked for the absolute cheapest, stuffed off into a corner on the bottom shelf, most generic brand I could find. A black bean is a black bean is a black bean. Therefore, by the transitive property (I have no idea what I’m talking about, can you tell? What’s the transitive property again? I forget…) Anyway – honey is honey is honey, right?

Wrong!

I have changed my tune. I have seen the light. I am totally, completely and hopelessly in love with fresh, golden, locally produced HONEY!

::Insert choirs of angels singing::

I bought this cute little honey bear at the farmer’s market a bit earlier this summer. As you can see, I’ve plowed right on through it. It’s absolutely delicious and the pure honey flavor really shines through. I can’t say enough good things about it. Plus, it’s wonderful to support a local producer right here in Northeast Iowa! I’ll never go back to the store brand again.

I wanted to try something that would really highlight the delicious, sweet flavor of the honey. When I saw this Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Ice Cream recipe, I bookmarked it immediately. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And with how quickly I was plowing through my honey bear, I knew I needed to get to it…um, NOW!

Now, this is not a cooked/custard type ice cream so some of the creaminess of those types of recipes is certainly sacrificed here. So heads up there. But it’s so easy, and since it uses 2% milk and half and half, you feel like you’re saving a bit on the fat and cals. That’s always good. I’m willing to give up a bit of creaminess in favor of saving my butt from not fitting into my pants. LOL. The crunchy peanut butter adds great texture and helps cut some of the sweetness. The bananas are a nice surprise. It is quite sweet – if you get a bite without any peanut butter or banana it’s like – WOWZA! I might knock back the white sugar next – with a half a cup of honey, I’m not sure how much sugar is really needed. Overall, this is an interesting flavor combo that we really enjoyed.

PEANUT BUTTER, BANANA AND HONEY ICE CREAM (Recipe Source: Cooking Light)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4  cup  half-and-half
  • 1/2  cup  honey
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1/3  cup  chunky peanut butter
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 1/2  cups  2% reduced-fat milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in peanut butter and next 3 ingredients (through bananas). Stir in milk. (I always chill my ice cream batter before freezing – I did so here for about 8 hours)
  2. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm.

Note: If you wanted to cook the first three ingredients to disolve the sugar, you can. Just combine the half-and-half, sugar and honey in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbles form around the edge of the pan and the mixture thickens slightly. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let cool completely (about an hour or so) before proceeding. You’ll probably get creamier results this way. 🙂

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Illini (Orange and) Blue Velvet Cupcakes – Red velvet cupcakes turned Illini blue. Although, I’m pouty and mad at them now so….yeah…. LOL.

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Kitchen Blunders

Kitchen screw-ups are a given. When I screw up in the kitchen, I just kind of shake it off, tell myself that it happens to everyone and then vow to never speak of the incident again. And obviously, it doesn’t get blogged. LOL. So if you read my blog, it looks like I’m some sort of domestic goddess. I promise you that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I just don’t share my failures. Heh.

One of the places I get tripped up in the kitchen is when I’m trying to manipulate a recipe so that it makes more or less than originally called for. Usually, I’m trying to make less. I don’t know why it’s so hard so…it shouldn’t be. I’m just not….great with numbers, as they say. Or, I just forget that I’m halving half way through and continue on normally. Ha! Oops!!

So this recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream I’m about to share is kind of a screw up, but kind of not. It is, because I tried to halve the recipe and I messed up the ratio of my ingredients and that changed the texture of the final product. It’s not because the flavor combo is AWESOME!! It’s really very delicious. I loved the flavor. Eric did too. I LOVE the graham cracker crust in there. That’s the best part!! But the texture was the slightest bit off. It wasn’t as creamy as some of the other ice creams I’ve made in past. But, of course, that’s not enough to make me NOT stuff my face with it. 🙂

On to the recipe! I spotted this in the Taste of Home cookbook my mom gave me for Christmas. The original recipe called for blueberries, but I subbed strawberries instead because they were on sale this week. 🙂 Reading through it, I didn’t like the way the it suggested to make the ice cream part….just mix together the ice cream ingredients and throw it straight into the freezer? Hmmmm…This didn’t seem right to me. Most of the other ice cream recipes I’ve made calls for cooking the milk/sugar mixture to dissolve the sugar, so I went ahead and did that. Then I chilled it overnight before freezing, per usual.

Where I went wrong was somewhere in the milk to cream ratio which should be two to one, I think. I’m not really sure which one was off. I am the first to call operator error here. I don’t want to blame the recipe, so I am going to include the ingredients for the full recipe below and write the directions in the way in which I prepared it. The full recipe makes about 2 quarts. Which is a helluva lot of ice cream. 🙂

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE ICE CREAM (Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home Cookbook)

Makes 2 quarts

ICE CREAM:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 package (3.4 oz) instant cheesecake pudding mix
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

STRAWBERRY SAUCE:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

GRAHAM CRACKER MIXTURE:

  • 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 36 squares)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Prepare the Ice Cream:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar and pudding mix. Heat to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, the mixture bubbles a little bit around the edges and thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Whisk in cream and vanilla.
  2. Cover and chill overnight.

Make the Strawberry Sauce:

  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water until smooth. Stire in strawberries and lemon juice, bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cover and chill overnight.

Make Graham Cracker Mixture (I did this in the morning before I froze the ice cream, but you could do it the day before too):

  1. In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in butter. Pat into an ungreased 15 x 10 x 2 inch baking pan. bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  2. Cool completely on wire rack.
  3. Crumb into large chunks

Put it all together:

  1. Stir ice cream mixture and freeze, in batches, in your ice cream maker according to the directions.
  2. Pour about 1/3 of the frozen ice cream into your storage container, then add a layer of graham cracker crumbs and half the strawberry sauce. Top with another third of ice cream and a second layer of graham cracker crumbs and the last of the strawberry sauce. Top off with the last of the ice cream.
  3. Freeze about two hours to harden before serving.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Filed under fruit, ice cream