Friday, April 25, 2008

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

It's starting to get warm again. It's supposed to be about 90 degrees on Sunday, but today is absolutely beautiful. So warmer weather means...HOMEMADE ICE CREAM! I love homemade ice cream because it gets all melty really fast. Some require making a custard first, but the reason that I love this recipe is that you can have homemade ice cream in literally minutes. There is no cooking and no eggs involved. It isn't as rich and creamy as a custard based treat, but this is a great alternative. My husband actually likes this ice cream recipe better than those made with a custard because he likes that it isn't as rich.
Growing up we always had strawberry-banana homemade ice cream and we didn't have it very often. I always thought ice cream was hard to make until I got an ice cream maker that doesn't use rock salt and ice. It has been the best thing ever. You just throw everything in and click "on."
One of my favorite ice cream flavors is chocolate chip, but I'm sort of picky about it. I don't like huge chunks of chocolate but I like it when the chocolate is shaved. It has a very delicate texture and you don't have to bite the chocolate. It really just melts in your mouth. I used a Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar and shaved it. Dark tastes better to me than milk chocolate in this ice cream. Milk chocolate makes it way too sweet.

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes 1 1/2 quarts

1 1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup of mix-ins (optional)

Combine milk, sugar, and salt. Stir with a wire whisk until sugar is dissolved. Stir in half and half, whipping cream, and vanilla.
Pour into ice cream maker canister and freeze according to directions.
Stir in mix-ins during the last few minutes of mixing.
You can eat it immediately, or you can freeze it in the freezer for a couple of hours so it will set even more and the flavor develops a little stronger.

Note: Last time I made this ice cream I did not have any half and half or whole milk. Instead I used 1 1/2 cups 1% milk and 1 1/2 cups whipping cream. I didn't use any half and half and it turned out great. So you can really mix it up if you wanted.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Craisin and White Chocolate Blondies

When my friend first tried these she took a bite and said, "Oh, I don't like peanut butter."
I told her, "Ummmm...they don't have peanut butter in them."

"I swear I tasted peanut butter." She tried another bite. "Why on earth did I taste peanut butter?"

Answer: I have no idea.

Some possibilities could be that it has a chewy texture that some peanut butter bar cookies have or it has a TON of brown sugar that gives it a butterscotch flavor. I really can't come up with any other reason why it would taste like peanut butter. Maybe she was just expecting it to.
Once when I was teaching school back in the day to 5th graders one kid brought in a science experiment in which he was trying to prove that our sense of sight has an effect on taste. He made samples of vanilla ice cream in which he made them different colors. It worked too. The kids thought that the pink tasted like strawberry, the purple tasted like grape, etc. It was all just the same vanilla ice cream from the very same container. So I guess that my friend thought they looked like a peanut butter bar cookie and tricked her mind into tasting peanut butter. I myself love a peanut butter bar cookie. These are not them. Nooo, but they ever so delicous and chewy. It is just a plain blondie recipe that was made fabulous with crasins and white chocolate chips. I wish that I had some pecans to put into the mix.

Blondies with Craisins and White Chocolate

1/2 c butter (I used salted)
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup craisins
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F. Melt butter in the microwave in a large microwaveable bowl. Add the brown sugar and stir until moistened (about 2 minutes). Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Stir in craisins and white chocolate chips.
Spread batter, it will be thick, into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan.
Bake for 22-27 minutes
*I lined mine with foil so that it overhangs the edges. After it bakes and cools you lift out the blondies with the foil overhangs.

P.S. This is probably one of the easiest things I have ever made. Just one bowl!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Surprise Cookies

I had some leftover marshmallows from my husband's campout hanging around in the pantry. I'm always looking for recipes that use up something in the cupboard that would otherwise have gone to waste. Marshmallows would definitely go to waste. I don't really just sit down with a bag of them and chow down. I guess I could, but I don't. Once I made a mini batch of rice krispy treats with some leftover marshmallows, but I wanted to do something new and I also did not have any rice krispies. I had all of the ingredients for these cookies so I went for it. Actually, most of the recipies I have posted here are made from ingredients one would usually have on hand--if you're a baker. That's just how I bake...I like to keep it simple. I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's web site. It's one of their "Cookie of the Day" recipes. I love to look at each cookie of the day, but I don't actually make them. I'm just a recipe reader.
These cookies are rich, but not overly sweet like I had anticipated. I thought they were a great blend of textures with the frosting, marshmallow, and cookie all in one bite.

Surprise Cookies
from Martha

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (one sitck) unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally

2 c powdered sugar
4 tabl unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/4 c milk
1/4 tsp vanilla

To make the cookie:

Preheat oven to 375F and line baking sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.

Scoop into heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 10-12 minutes. (I did 10 minutes)

Remove from baking sheets and place a marshmallow cut-side down into the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begin to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool cookies ona wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Spread about 1 tablespoon frosting over each marshmallow and spread to cover the marshmallow.

To make the frosting:
Place sugar in a bowl. With an electric mixer mix in the butter and cocoa. Add milk and vanilla.
Mix until very silky and just slightly runny. It hardens on top as it dries.