Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Simple No-cook 25 mnute Vanilla Ice Cream

Today I was having my nephew over and thought it would be a fun activity to make ice cream. The problem is that most ice creams that we make take lots of time and I knew that that is more time than most 5 year olds can stand!  But I knew that there are ways to make no-cook ice cream so I asked around and checked our cookbooks.  I found a recipe in the Ben & Jerry book to make a quick ice cream base but it notes that it doesn't last long in home freezers.  No problem!  My brother in law is an ice cream hound and I figured they'd be able to finish off a pint in no time!

This recipe is so fast and easy it takes about 5 minutes to mix and then the regular 20 minutes to churn.  My nephew loved watching the clock and the machine churn.  He really enjoyed seeing the mixture get thicker and thicker.  He was also a big help with all the measuring and mixing.  And, as luck would have it, vanilla ice cream is his favorite flavor!

Simple No-Cook Vanilla Ice Cream

2 Cups Heavy Cream
2/3 C Half & Half
3/4 C sugar
2 t vanilla extract (I used tahitian)

1. In a medium bowl with a spout if you have it, pour in the heavy cream. Slowly add the sugar one quarter cup at a time while whisking vigorously.  You want to dissolve all the sugar in the cream before moving on.
2. When the sugar is dissolved, add half & half and vanilla and mix a little more
3. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn 20 minutes or according to the directions
4. Serve immediately with chocolate sauce or freeze.  It will be soft like frozen yogurt when it first comes out of the machine but if you have a patient child with you, serve right away and freeze the rest for later.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bobby Flay's Throwdown Chocolate Chip Cookies

From the moment I received the email in my inbox for 12 days of Christmas Cookies from the Food Network; I knew I had to make Bobby Flay's Throwdown Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

The difference in Bobby's recipe from a traditional CCC recipe is the use of a sugar called muscavado brown sugar.  According to the internet, muscavado brown sugar contains a different quantity of molasses to regular brown sugar.  Bobby uses both light and dark brown muscavado sugars in this recipe plus plain white sugar.  He also uses only 10 oz of chocolate and a mix of semi sweet and milk.

As luck would have it, William Sonoma carries muscavado sugar and they had free shipping for Christmas so I was able to get the sugars in hand immediately.  He calls for chocolate to be cut in chunks but I decided to buy chips instead.  I bought ghirradeli semi sweet (those chips are huge!) and nestle milk chocolate and then I weighed them on the scale to get 5 oz of each variety.

These cookies are worth all the trouble of getting the right sugars!  They are crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle. Despite their thin look they are everything I want a chocolate chip cookie to be.  I feel like the milk chocolate makes the cookie taste chocolatey but not too dark like semi sweet can do.  I love the texture.  Joey is a huge fan of these cookies and we're having trouble keeping our hands off them!  Perfect with a glass of milk!

Do use parchement paper, I think it makes a difference plus it keeps your cookie trays clean.  I learned a trick to just slide the parchment paper off the cookie trays and onto the cooling racks so that your cookies stay in tact and still cool effectively.

Bobby Flay's Throwdown Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown muscavado sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown muscavado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • One 5-ounce block semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, such as Callebaut
  • One 5-ounce block milk chocolate, chopped into chunks, such as Callebaut


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone pads.
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugars and continue mixing, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes longer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture, again mixing until just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand and fold in the chocolate chunks.
Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie, and bake on the middle rack until the cookies are lightly golden brown and still soft in the middle, about 11 minutes. Let the cookies rest for 2 minutes on the baking sheets before removing them to a baking rack with a wide metal spatula. Let the cookies cool on the baking rack for a few minutes before eating. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops

Lamb is a hard to find meat that I really like to eat once in a while. Since it is springtime and Easter is just around the corner, lamb is suddenly available.  Joey has never had lamb before so we decided to pick some up at Sprouts on Sunday.  I browsed the recipes on my phone and finally found one on Epicurious that I adapted for our chops.

Lamb shoulder is a rather fatty but cheap cut of lamb. It is a good stand-in for regular chops as long as you are not afraid to do some carving. You still get that same great lamb flavor and the portion is a bit larger than that of a classic chop.  Joey didn't end up liking lamb too much so we probably won't be having it often, but if you do like lamb, this recipe is a keeper.

3 T fresh mint, chopped
3 T fresh thyme, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 t olive oil
juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper to taste
2 lamb shoulder chops

1. Combine 2 1/2 T mint, 2 1/2 T thyme, garlic and shallot in a bowl. Rub the mixture all over the meat of the lamb and place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for several hours or overnight
2. Later, mix oil, juice and zest in a bowl until slightly thicker.  Pour mixture all over lamb and let rest about 1 hour before cooking (I only did this part for 30 minutes if that)
3. Heat the grill to medium high
4. Grill lamb over indirect heat about 3 minutes per side until medium rare
5. Let lamb rest at least 10 minutes and then slice, working your way around the fat
6. Serve with yogurt sauce if you like.  I served with crispy roasted potatoes because I wanted to make sure it was filling, the lamb alone may not be filling.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chili with bell peppers

It was a cold and blustery day on Saturday and Joey and I decided to warm ourselves up by making chili.  We scrounged the internet and our phones and cookbooks for recipes and ended up making a variation on this one from Bon Appetite.

One thing I both like and dislike from this recipe is the amount of bell peppers involved. I like it because it gets everyone to eat bell peppers but i don't like it because the whole chili has a taste and texture of bell peppers.  If you make this recipe I encourage you to either make it with less bell peppers or cut them smaller.

We didn't actually follow this recipe to the T. We halved it because we we didn't want to make enough for 8-10 people and then guess what? Even the half portion made enough for 8-10 people! We cringe to think how much the full recipe really makes!

We didn't use any beer because I couldn't find less than a six pack of stout anywhere and we decided against using Newcastle or Hefeweisen instead because we didn't know what that would do. We aren't what one would call beer aficionados.

Our adapted recipe of this chili was actually pretty good. I recommend it to you and yours.  Serve with corn bread or biscuits.  If you know Jenny, invite her over to make you biscuits to serve with the chili.

*Note - I just realized as I was typing this recipe up that I did not halve the chili powder from the original recipe but I did halve all the other things...whoops.  The thing is it wasn't THAT spicy and I kind of feel like if I only used 3 1/2 T total it wouldn't have been enough.  Your choice here.
5 bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I advise that you use less bell peppers)
1 jalepeno, minced
1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 chipotle chili in adobe sauce, minced
3 1/2 T Chili Powder
3 1/2 T Ancho Chili Powder
1/2 T coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 T cumin
2 1/2 lbs ground beef (actually I used half ground beef and half steaks cut into 1/2 inch pieces but I think I would stick with ground beef if I did it again)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can chipotle pinto beans, undrained because of the chipotle seasoning and to add liquid since we omitted the beer (or regular, I was excited I had these on hand)
1 T canola oil
3 T masa harissa (Mexican cornmeal)
cheddar cheese (for serving)
green onions (for serving)
sour cream (for serving)

1. Chop everything up, this takes about 15 minutes for two people to do so leave time!
2. Meanwhile, in a small, dry skillet toast the cumin and coriander seeds until smokey and darker, about 4 minutes, set aside.
3. In a large skillet heat the oil and saute the peppers, onion and jalepeno until soft, about 15 minutes.
4. In another or the same or even the pot you are cooking in brown the meat until no longer pink, about 8 minutes.  Drain if you used the pot you're cooking in
5. Add all the ingredients to a large heavy bottomed pot except for the masa harissa
6. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes
7. About 5 minutes before serving, add the masa harissa to thicken the sauce. Stir it into the pot and continue to simmer.
8. Serve with cheese, green onions and sour cream and with biscuits or corn bread

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bacon & Egg Grilled Cheese

I saw a recipe last week for a quick grilled cheese sandwich with the addition of pancetta and egg.  This sounded like a great idea to me and I decided then and there to make it!  I couldn't find pancetta but I did buy some thick cut bacon at Henry's and it was just perfect.  This could be eaten at dinner, lunch or breakfast--we had it for dinner though.  It takes about 15 minutes to make too so you can make it tonight!

I think that eggs and bacon are very hearty and a really nice comfort taste, add a little cheese and warm bread and that's what I call a meal.

4 slices sourdough bread
4 slices provolone cheese or other cheese of choice (we sort of wished for something more flavorful like irish cheddar)
4 slices bacon
2 eggs
2 sprigs of basil

1. Heat a small skillet and place slices of bacon in it and cook until crispy on each side
2. Meanwhile, butter bread slices on the outsides of the bread and top the inside with cheese.
3. When the bacon is done, set aside on paper towels to drain. In the bacon pan, drain a little of the grease and crack the eggs into the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper. Fry the eggs until the yolks look solid to your liking.
4. In another skillet heat a little butter and add 2/4 of the bread slices with cheese butter side down. When cheese is melted, top with egg, bacon basil and second slice of bread & cheese. Be careful not to puncture the yolk.  Flip the sandwiches over and grill the other side until cheese has melted.
5. Serve warm

Monday, March 19, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

My family is not Irish, but my mom always celebrated St. Patrick's day with a little corned beef, soda bread, and sometimes dyed green milk.  I loved celebrating the holiday that really meant nothing to me with a little green!  My husband isn't a huge fan of corned beef so I knew I wouldn't be making that this year, however, just before the holiday I came across a super easy recipe for homemade Irish soda bread.  The bread uses buttermilk, which, we happened to have hanging out in our fridge!

This is the EASIEST bread recipe I've ever made. Easier than no-knead and it yields a circular loaf of dense bread in just an hour!

I used this recipe from the Christian Science Monitor. This would be great to do with kids.  It is super easy even if you've never cooked before you could do it!

4 Cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 3/4 C buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
1. Spray a 9 inch round cake pan with cooking spray or rub with a bit of butter.  If you don't have a pan just spray a cookie sheet
2. In a large bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda
3. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture by pushing the flour to the sides, pour in the buttermilk and stir until it just comes together
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead 10 times.
5. Shape into a round and place in the cake pan or on a baking sheet.  If you have another cake pan set it on top, if not, don't worry about it. Cut a cross shape on the top with a sharp knife
6. Bake for 30 minutes, remove top pan and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Bread will be golden brown. If you can wait, let it cool a bit before eating.  Delicious with butter and honey!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pie for Two

Today Jenny & Gavin had us over for dinner and I offered to bring dessert.  I had a hard time deciding what to make because the 90+ degree weather we've been having lately made me hungry for summer desserts and unfortunately, despite the weather summer produce is not in season.  I decided to make some cherry fruit hand pies (turnovers), but then while at the store I decided instead to make mixed berry partially because that sounded good to me and partially because they didn't have frozen cherries at the store. 
You can find the recipe for the puff pastry turnovers here.  The only thing I did differently was swap the cherries for the mixed berries.  

After making all the puff pastry pies, I still had lots of filling leftover.  So I pulled out this frozen pie crust from the freezer and let it defrost a little while piling all the leftover berries into a small ramekin.  I added a little baking spice over the top and then placed about 1/3 of the pie crust over the top.  I put it on a bit early so it ripped in lots of places, but that was like built in vents!  I folded the excess crust inside along the edges of the dish.  Then I baked the little pie for 30 minutes at 375.  Heavenly! If I could've made little individual pies for everyone I may have gone with this recipe.  The crust edges were flaky but the crust sitting on top of the bubbling berries was the perfect doughiness for me--this is how I like my pies!

Joey & I ate this pie warm and enjoyed it to the fullest.  The best part is that this recipe isn't terrible for you--a bit of sugar, a dash of flour, and then pie crust--which isn't by any means GOOD for you, but it's not so terrible.

Pie in 30 minutes and just enough for two? Yes please

5 oz mixed berries
2 T + 2 t. sugar, and a little more for dusting
1 1/2 T flour
1/2 T lemon juice
1/3 refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust

1. Preheat the oven to 375
2. Mix berries, sugar, flour and lemon juice and let sit for at least 5 minutes
3. Pour berries into an oval ramekin for 2 and drape the pie crust over the top
4. Fold the pie crust sides inside the dish
5. Bake for 30 minutes until filling is bubbly and side crust is golden brown