State Fair

State Fair
State Fair Ribbons

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Best Mint Ice Cream!

Haven't been in the posting mood for um.. a while!  Just had another snow storm and got 7 inches of fresh, heavy snow.  Ice cream makes me think of Summer and I need a Summer fix for sure.  I just made my SECOND batch of Cookie Madness Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.  I also completed my back-up plan:  I  found another never used, packaging- peanut- remnants- still- clinging- to- the- bowl Cuisinart ice cream maker at my local New Uses store.  To my dismay the price nearly doubled since the last $17 machine I bought.  I guess they did their home work. New ice cream makers are expensive.   Still, $32 for a never used $60 machine is a steal.
If you like mild mint flavored ice cream that does not have a dozen egg yolks in it, this recipe is for you.

Creamy, minty, chocolatey

My quality control tester Margo-I ran out of mixing room  so had to use the bathroom.
That's Margo's domain because it has the sink she thinks is her private watering hole. 


Here is Anna's recipe with a couple ingredient changes I made:
( I leave out the vanilla and add salt)

Utensils you will need:

Medium sized heat-proof bowl
large mixing bowl
Mesh strainer
fine mesh strainer to set over large mixing bowl
medium sauce pan
kitchen towel
heat proof spatula or wooden spoon
whisk
electric ice cream maker

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs (whites and yolks)
  • 1 cup whole milk or half and half or Fat Free half and half  (I've used both regular and Fat Free half and half.  Ice cream came out good both ways)
  • 2 cups heavy cream (divided use)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons peppermint extract (not mint — make sure it says peppermint)
  • 3 oz  mini chocolate chips, finely grated chocolate, or make your own (**I did this-see below)
  • Optional:  Green food coloring  and Oreo or another chocolate pie crust
Instructions: 
  1. Put an empty container into the freezer to be ready for filling with your ice cream.  
  2.  In a medium size bowl mix eggs with cornstarch , sugar, and salt.   Set near stove.  (Tip: put the bowl on a kitchen towel so it will stay still while you are mixing in the custard below)
  3. Pour 1 cup of cream into a large bowl.  Set a strainer over the top.
  4.  In a heavy saucepan set over medium heat, bring the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of the cream to a simmer. 
  5. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the simmering cream mixture into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan.  Reduce heat to about medium low and stir slowly, but constantly MIXING UP FROM THE BOTTOM until the mixture thickens – it should NOT come to a complete boil.  It should appear like thick gravy.
  6. Remove from heat and pour through the mesh strainer into the bowl of cream.  Slowly mix. 
  7. Mix in peppermint extract  and add 2 drops of green food coloring if desired.
  8. Transfer to a shallow bowl and allow to cool on the counter for 1/2 hour or so.  Then cover and cool over night or at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.  
  9. Mix according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
  10. Pour into the empty frozen container OR pour into a frozen Oreo pie crust and freeze for at least 4 hours.  
**  Per Anna's instructions I used 3 oz of dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's)  melted in the microwave and then added 2 teaspoons of canola oil to smooth it out.   I spread it on a parchment lined cookie sheet until it was thin and refrigerated it for 1/2 hour.   Then cut or break up into small pieces and mix into ice cream during the last few minutes of churning.  Or mix in by hand after churning.   

Notes:  Leave out the mint, add a tablespoon of vanilla, and you will have delicious vanilla ice cream.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

KAF Flourless Fudge Cookies

OMG.  Who knew gluten-free deep, dark chocolate cookies could be quick and easy to make.  If you want a perfect dark chocolate, gluten-free, easy cookie to mix up, look no further. Most people don't have a clue there is no flour in this recipe. Just look at the photo below. They taste as good as they look!



These are so easy to make your five-year old could do it!
Here is my adaptation of King Arthur Flour's Flourless Fudge Cookie

Yeild:  about 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon decaf coffee crystals (smashed fine with a spoon), optional but good
  • **1 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-process (or make your own) 
  • 3 large egg whites ( or 4 if your batter is stiff)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free extract (I would use orange, but you could use almond,  vanilla, or whatever you like)
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toasted nuts

Directions:
  1. Have egg whites at room temperature
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray two large cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper and spray that with nonstick spray **(Make sure it is not the baking spray because that has flour in it).
  3. In a medium-size bowl combine dry ingredients with a wire whisk until mixed well. Set-aside.
  4. In a small bowl using a fork lightly beat the egg whites for about 10 seconds.  Mix in extracts.
  5. Pour the egg whites into the dry ingredients  and mix carefully until fully combined using a spatula to mix up from the bottom.  (Batter is supposed to be thin like cake batter, but mine never is).  Then mix in chocolate chips and toasted nuts.
  6. Drop by tablespoon full onto cookie sheets leaving at least 1 inch space between cookies ( if you don't add chocolate chips or nuts they will spread more so give them at least 2 inches space.)
  7. Bake for eight or nine minutes. Remove from oven and either let cool on the tray or wait a few minutes and then pick them up and put them on cookie cooling racks. 
  8. Store covered on your counter.  Not sure how long they last, but it has not been an issue here.    
**Notes:  
I used a suggestion I read on the Internet on how to turn natural processed cocoa like Hershey's into Dutch processed cocoa.  Dutch processed cocoa has less acid and is more expensive.   For every 3 tablespoons of Hershey's natural cocoa you mix in 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda which is an alkaline. So for a cup of Hershey's natural cocoa (16 tablespoons) you mix in approximately 5/8 of a teaspoon. I think I may try using the Dutch cocoa next time, but these came out good. I just want to see if there is a difference.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Delicious Gluten-Free Orange Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies AKA Forgotten Kisses

I have been looking for gluten-free cookies recipes and recently came upon a post from Anna at Cookie Madness for meringue cookies.  Her recipe opened up a whole new world of meringue cookies for me.  Forgotten Kisses refers to leaving the cookies in the oven from a few hours to overnight to crisp up.  I altered Anna's recipe a bit, but as is they were great too!!!  
I am an orange and chocolate fan so I added some orange extract to the whipped egg whites. 
You can find her recipe at the link above.
Gluten free, less fat, and some egg-white protein too!  What's not to like?


Chocolate-chip pecan meringue cookies

My adapted recipe is here:

Ingredients
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar (don't skimp)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  ( I made the cookies big and only needed one sheet. See tips below.) 
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until just foamy.  Add cream of tartar.  Continue beating until you have soft peaks.  Beat in the sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Continue beating until stiff, shiny peaks form (mine didn't get completely stiff. It looked like stiffer shiny marshmallow cream). 
  3. To make sure the sugar has disolved, take a bit of the whites and rub between your fingers.  If it is silky smooth, you should be close to done. Then beat in the extract. Carefully fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.
  4. Using a teaspoon, drop 12 mounds of cookie dough onto each baking sheet. Set one sheet on the middle rack and one on the lower rack and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes switch the baking sheets so the sheet on the bottom is now on the top and the sheet on top is not on the bottom. Bake for another 15 minutes at 275 degrees.
  6. Turn off oven and let the cookies sit in the closed oven for about two hours or overnight. 



Tips:  
  1. Use egg whites that are at least as warm as room temperature.  I take mine out and put them on top of the oven while it is preheating.
  2. My stand mixer would not beat this small amount of whites so I needed to use my hand mixer.  
  3. Make sure you use at least a medium sized bowl because the whites will increase in volume as you beat them.
  4. Take a dab of the whipped egg whites and put some under each corner of the parchment paper to work as "glue" so it doesn't slip.
  5. Bigger cookies are a bit crumbly, but I think they are impressive-looking.  Smaller "one bite" sized cookies are neater.  
  6. I made larger cookies and got 13.  I baked them 45 minutes at 275 degrees.  
  7. You can try using mini chocolate chips if you make smaller cookies.
  8. Don't make them on a humid day unless you've got the AC running. 
  9. Don't eat too many.  They are suprisingly good!!  



Thursday, October 3, 2013

What To Do With Those Frozen Summer Berries??

If you are like me, you found bargains on fresh blueberries and strawberries over the Summer.  If you are like me, you purchased too many and stuck them in your freezer.  Unlike me, you probably are using them in healthy snacks or quick breads.  
I decided to use them in ice cream.  No complaints from the husband, nieces, or nephews!  I made blueberry custard ice cream and strawberry custard ice cream.
I used the same recipe for both, but I used bits and pieces from 3 different blogs.  The recipes are a combination of Rich and Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream from Cookie Madness, Blueberry Ice Cream from Fine Cooking, and Strawberry Ice Cream from Joy of Baking.  

Tips: 

  • You can make the blueberry and strawberry sauces a few days in advance and refrigerate. 
  • Put a medium sized covered empty bowl in the freezer ahead of time so it will be cold when you spoon the freshly churned ice cream into it. 
  • If you are making an ice cream pie, pour the churned soft ice cream directly into the pie crust.  Don't freeze it hard, then soften it to put in the crust and re-freeze. If you do, the texture becomes icy.  At least it did for me.
  • Make scrambled egg-whites or an omelet with the leftover egg whites.  I add about a 1/4 cup of milk, some salt, onion, and garlic powder. I also add any leftover cut up meat or veggies. Beat it up, fry it in some olive oil, and presto!  You have a healthy meal to be followed by ice cream.






Blueberry Sauce:
  • 10 oz. (2 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup (keeps churned ice creams creamier than regular sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • Directions:
  • In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the berries, corn syrup, and lemon juice. Set the pan over low heat and mash the berries well with a potato masher or the back of a large fork.  Increase the heat to medium low and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until it gets thicker, stirring occasionally.  Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce while it is in the pan.  If you don't have one, use a regular blender or just mash real well.   Refrigerate until cold.  
Strawberry Sauce:   No photo :(  You will need to use your imagination!
10 oz of frozen or fresh strawberries
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:
In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the berries, corn syrup, and lemon juice. Set the pan over low heat and mash the berries well with a potato masher or the back of a large fork. Increase the heat to medium low and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until it gets thicker, stirring occasionally.  Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce while it is in the pan.  If you don't have one, use a regular blender or just mash real well.   Refrigerate until cold.


Blueberry

Strawberry

Drumroll...the ice cream base:
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
1 cup less about an 1/8 of a cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (not whipped!!)


  1. Set a large bowl on a towel on the counter.  Pour the cream into it.  Put a hand held strainer on top of it.  Set aside. 
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat or whisk the sugar and salt into the egg yolks until thickened a bit.  Set aside.
  3. Pour half-and-half into a 2 quart sized sauce pan and bring to a simmer (bubbling a bit), not a full boil.  
  4. Slowly drizzle and whisk 1/2 of the hot half-and-half into the egg mixture. If you pour too fast, you will get scrambled eggs. Then pour the rest in while wisking.  Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan and stir constantly with a heat proof spatula (making sure you stir the bottom) until the custard thickens slightly and looks like thick eggnog. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through the strainer into the bowl with cream. Press the liquid through the strainer if it is too thick. Stir just until combined. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight.  
  5. Place an empty medium sized covered bowl in the freezer to put the ice cream into once it is churned.
  6. For Strawberry or Blueberry Ice Cream. Right before you are ready to churn, stir 3/4 of a cup of the chilled strawberry or blueberry sauce into the chilled custard, then freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished, the ice cream will have a soft-serve texture.  If you want it harder, transfer it to the bowl you had in the freezer and freeze at least 2 hours.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Time For Ice Cream

Those 90 degree temps tempt me to think about ice cream.  As I was perusing the cooking section of New Uses, I found a Cuisinart ice cream maker for....drum roll please.....$17!!!   They retail for $55!!   It appeared brand new!!!  So I think to myself...hmmm..probably doesn't work.  New Uses has a 7 day return policy so I walked out with my ice cream maker and into the alien and blissful world of home-made ice cream.  But where to start?  There are thousands of recipes on line.  My go to blog for all things dessert is Anna's Cookie Madness.  She suggested this Vanilla Gelato recipe.  I liked that it was a simple, straightforward  recipe.  Plus, if my new, used machine didn't work, I wouldn't have wasted too many ingredients.
My first attempt was a success!!  **No scrambled eggs!!!

The recipe below is supposed to have a vanilla bean.  I don't normally have vanilla beans. I omitted it and the vanilla extract and replaced the vanilla with 1 teaspoon banana extract.  I tasted the custard after it was cooked, but before it morphed into ice cream .  Thought I'd gone to heaven!!

You need to try this recipe!!!  Also, pour your favorite chocolate sauce over the banana flavored ice cream.  You won't be disappointed.  One thing about the texture though.  Because it uses more milk than cream, it comes out a little less creamy than ice cream, but not too icy for me (there is a price to be paid for everything and less fat is no exception).  Once it melts a bit, you will know what gelato heaven is!


My new used ice cream maker and banana gelato!!
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt-I used 1/8 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon banana extract
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until they become pale yellow.  Set aside
  2. In a saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture is 170 degrees F (just hot and no bubbles at all yet). 
  3. Slowly pour about half the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour it all back into the saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches 185 degrees F or until the mix coats the back of the wooden spoon and sticks.  **DO NOT LET IT BOIL or you will get scrambled eggs. 
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl that has a strainer on top of it (to catch any scrambled eggs). Then stir in the banana extract.
  5. Let cool slightly at room temperature and then chill thoroughly (at least several hours. I chilled mine over night).
  6. Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Freeze for another hour or so before serving.
  7. Tips:  A:  Have a clean bowl and strainer ready for the hot custard so you don't have to frantically yell at your husband, wife, housemate, or kids to get a bowl and a strainer at the last minute.  B:  To easily separate the egg yolks, crack them and then pour into your clean hands.  Let the whites slip out between your fingers into a bowl if you want to use them for something else later. Works every time.  C: Cover the custard with plastic wrap before you refrigerate it so that it touches the custard. That way no "skin" will develop.  D:  Serious Eats has good info. on ice cream and gelato and the science of ice crystals and other issues you may have with some recipes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Passover Sweet and Sour Meatballs

 It is no secret Passover is traditionally NOT a good time to begin a health-food diet.  I usually post baked goods, but today I'm posting a Sweet and Sour Meatball recipe that is about as good as dessert.  To me, anyway!   Since the recipe uses brown sugar and apricot preserves, it qualifies as dessert-like.   I know everyone who celebrates Passover has probably made theirs already and you probably have an old standby that your relatives made, but these are easy, delicious, and worth a try. No one could find my grandmother's recipe.  I knew she used a citrus soda pop and brown sugar, but I didn't remember any of the other details.   It took me years of trying out less successful recipes (my family can confirm) to finally get everyone's favorite.   The secret is lots of eggs and onions.   I also cook the meatballs in the sauce.  I used to bake the meatballs and then add them to the sauce later because it was easier to skim off the hamburger fat. I don't eat these meatballs often and they taste much better cooked in the sauce  so it is a guilty pleasure I'm not going to mess with.





Here is the recipe...

Approximate assembly time 30 minutes
Approximate cooking time:  60 minutes

For the utensils you will need:
  • 8 quart Stock pot
  • large mixing bowl
  • cookie sheet

For the meatball mixture you will need:
  • 3 pounds of lean ground beef-I use about 85% lean.  This time I used ground beef, but I have also used a mixture of 2 pounds ground beef and 1 pound ground turkey.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups matzoh meal
  • 1 medium finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
For the sauce you will need:
  • 12 ounce jar of apricot preserves (or any other fruit preserve)
  • 2 small cans (6 oz each) of tomato paste
  • 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) of tomato soup +1 can of water
  • 26 ounce can of Hunt's plain spaghetti sauce (or any other brand you like)
  • 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
  • 2 medium finely chopped onions
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Directions:
Make sauce first. Put all of the sauce ingredients into an 8 quart pan.  Heat  and stir sauce on medium until it begins to boil.   Stir occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn.  While the sauce is heating up, make the meatballs.
You will need a large bowl.  Add six eggs and beat with a fork or eggbeater just until they are blended. Add the chopped onions, ketchup, salt, matzoh meal, and stir until well combined. Add the hamburger and mix until combined well. I use rubber gloves for this part.   
Roll meatballs so they are about an inch and a half in diameter.  Set the meatballs on a cookie sheet as you roll them.   When you are finished rolling meatballs, drop them one by one into the boiling sauce.   REDUCE TEMPERATURE TO MEDIUM LOW.  
Cook for 30 minutes gently stirring a couple of times from the bottom up. At the end of the first 30 minutes stir so that meatballs on the bottom are redistributed to the top. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Notes:  The meatballs will not all be covered by sauce at first.  I sometimes spoon a little sauce from the side up and over the top meatballs trying hard not to break any of them. As the sauce and meatballs cook down,  they will sink.
If you decide to bake the meatballs and then add them to the sauce-or just eat them plain, reduce the salt in them by 1/2 teaspoon.   

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Coconut Cupcakes With Cocoa Buttercream Frosting

If you are a Mounds bar fan, you will love these cupcakes!  I was browsing my favorite blogs and found White Mountain Coconut Cupcakes on Cookie Madness.  They looked fairly simple to make and I love coconut so I thought I would give them a try.   I didn't have cake flour so I improvised with the standard substitution of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to replace 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. DON'T DO IT!!!  The weird thing is the cupcakes ended up tasting like corn muffins.  I like corn muffins, but not so sure I liked them with the chocolate frosting though....So, I decided to cave in and invest in cake flour.  Glad I did.   These cupcakes were tender and had a faint flavor of coconut. I did improvise on the cupcake and made up my own chocolate buttercream frosting (most of them are too sweet for me) by combining a few different recipes to come up with my favorite chocolate buttercream frosting.



You'll have to excuse the cupcake model-I'm not good at dressing and posing models.


Here is my slightly modified recipe:


  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons)  salted butter at room temperature (add 1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter.)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup room temperature coconut milk (I used full fat, not reduced fat)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, not toasted.

  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting by Gloria:

  • 1 stick salted butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup regular unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
  • 1/4 cup (approximately 1.5 ounces) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk or more if needed
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut lightly toasted plus a 1/3 cup of un-toasted coconut**


  • Instructions for Cupcakes:
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
    Line 12 cupcake cups with paper liners.
    Mix the flour, baking powder and salt ( if using unsalted butter) in a bowl and set aside.
    In a medium sized mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for about five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat well.
    Beat in half the flour on lowest speed. When flour is blended, beat in the coconut milk. Beat until blended, then add the rest of the flour mixture and beat on lowest speed until smooth.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of shredded coconut.
    Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for about 22 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when touched. Mine were done in about 21 minutes.   Frost as soon as they are room temperature.

    Make the frosting:
    Melt chocolate in a microwave proof measuring cup for about 30 seconds on high. Stir until completely melted. Set-aside.
    Beat room temperature butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes or until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix 2 cups of powdered sugar with cocoa until well combined.  Blend sugar mixture alternately with coconut milk beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate and beat until smooth.
    Immediately after frosting cupcakes sprinkle toasted shredded coconut on top. Otherwise they won't stick to the frosting after it sets up.  
    Frosting tip learned from a video posted on Cookie Madness:
    cover the whole top of the cupcake with a layer of frosting so you don't see any of the cake.  This helps prevent the cupcake from drying out.  

    **  Toast coconut by spreading it out on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Heat the oven to 350 and bake for about three minutes. Remove from oven and stir. You want less than half of the coconut to be brown.  When cool, I mix in about a 1/3 cup of un-toasted shredded coconut.