Monday, June 9, 2014

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

What's the start of a week without ice cream? I first made this recipe over a year ago, but somehow neglected to take pictures. Since it was such a tasty recipe, I posted it anyway but who wants to follow a recipe without pictures? (Maybe Julia Child or her loyal fans, but certainly not me!) This recipe comes from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein. I used cheap Nestle dark chocolate with high-quality cocoa powder and vanilla. The result was pretty tasty but I can only imagine how yummy it would be if I used nicer ingredients for the entire recipe. I especially like that there's not a half-dozen egg yolks in this recipe, yet the result is pretty close to a commercial quality ice cream. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream
1/2 c sugar
2 egg yolks
1 c milk (I used 2%)
1/4 c cocoa powder
1.5 c heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla

In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until a pale yellow color is reached (this will take a few minutes).

Bring the milk (only) to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Whisk in cocoa and simmer 3 minutes.

Slowly beat hot milk mixture into egg/sugar mixture. Return the entire mixture to the stove over low heat. Cook stirring constantly until custard thickens slightly. This took about 10 minutes with low-fat milk.

Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl. (Strain, if desired (i.e. if you scrambled some eggs).

Bring the cream to a simmer and melt chopped chocolate. (I pre-melted the chocolate in the microwave, but this likely is unnecessary if you're using high quality chocolate.)

Combine the chocolate mixtures and stir in the vanilla.

Cover with plastic wrap (touching surface of custard to avoid a skin forming). Chill completely (overnight is ideal). Make ice cream according to your ice cream machine's directions.

Makes 1 quart

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chocolate Frozen Goodies

Never mind that I plan on making my favorite carrot cake for Easter dessert tomorrow. I'm in a chocolate frozen goody mood. I'm planning to try one or both of these recipes that I pinned on Pinterest many moons ago.

Fudge Popsicles from Comfy Belly

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt from Serious Eats
There's no picture on the website, but it sounds easy and yummy.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

I absolutely love Pinterest. Essentially, I use it as my "to try" bookmark folder for food, craft projects, and numerous other ideas. I love that you save/post not only a direct link to the website, but also a picture to remind you what you're pinning. Beyond my own virtual clippings, it's a treasure trove of ideas. You can search or simply sit back and watch what your friends are pinning. This morning I came across this recipe from a new-to-me food blog called Damn Delicious. I've tried oatmeal pancake recipes in the past, with mixed success. My favorite oatmeal pancake recipe thus far has been this one from Martha Stewart. However, like the others, it's a bit labor intensive because you have to haul out the food processor. Today's recipe trumps all the rest. It's a simple dump and mix procedure, one which could easily be made into a freezer or shelf mix. Yogurt keeps the oats from sapping up all the moisture of the pancake without requiring a presoak of the oats, yet still leave the crunch and texture I think of when I think of oatmeal in pancakes.

The only catch I can think of that might make this recipe something reserved for special brunches is that not everyone may have Greek yogurt (or any yogurt) in their fridge. But the same could be said of buttermilk. Some people always have a quart handy, others only buy it for special occasions. Fortunately, I've been on a Greek yogurt kick and have even started making it in my yogurt maker. My home version is not as tangy as commercial, but that didn't hurt the recipe a bit, so I feel safe in recommending whatever plain yogurt you might have on hand. I adhered to the original recipe, except to swap white whole wheat flour for the all purpose.

On to pictures and the recipe!

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes
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1 2/3 cups white whole wheat (or all purpose) flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup skim milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 cup blueberries

Preheat griddle to 350 degrees and oven to 200 degrees.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix together all wet ingredients except for blueberries. Gently incorporate wet with dry into thoroughly mixed.

Stir in blueberries. Note: the batter will be quite thick.

For nicer browning, spray hot griddle before pouring batter. Ladle or spoon 1/3 cup for conventional-sized pancakes, 2 tablespoons for dollar-sized. Cook until tiny bubbles appear, about 2-4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes.

Serve with your favorite syrup. Keep pancakes warm in oven until ready for serving.

Serves 4-6

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kitchen Stand Mixer Cozy

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I prefer my appliances to be covered. There's nothing I hate more than discovering a fine, grimey film of dust on one my beautiful kitchen appliances when I want to use it. Most of my appliances currently have crochet covers made with cotton yarn. They're mostly cream with a few blocks of pink and brown. They work, but have zero structure and dull as can be. My current crafty personality is all about color and patterns so I couldn't wait to make a new cover.

Enter my new hobby: sewing! Okay, it's a not a new hobby. I've been fiddling on and off with a sewing machine since I was a kid, but with the birth of my son I've really gotten back into it. It might have something to do with the time investment for the return product--much less time is required than for crocheting and I can make large statement pieces unlike with paper-crafting. Over the past year I've made a set of soft blocks, a tag-style lovey, a sleeping bag, and a nap mat for my son, plus numerous throw pillow covers for around the house. Those projects mostly involved cutting squares or rectangles and didn't involve a pattern or much more than straight lines. With this project, not only did I venture into the world of curves but I also did a bit of quilting!

I followed this mini tutorial from a blog called Heart of Mary. She includes a simple pattern for the curved part, as well as detailed directions. For the most part, I'm very pleased with my result although the bias tape along the top edges was a huge pain as two quilted layers plus the bias tape was a bit much for my novice skills. From a distance it looks great, plus it's also reversible so if I truly hate the imperfections, I can always flip it. Since I plan on covering all my appliances and have a hoard of new fabric from a recent Joann shopping spree, no doubt my skills will improve.

Here are a few more shots of the finished cosy. My apologies for the messy work space in the background and poor lighting but I was anxious to get this posted and the new cover on my machine.

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Next up will be my spring pillow covers, though I might get around to sharing the winter ones before I take them down. I also have holiday fabric ear-marked for the kitchen since I actually hoped to make this project in December but time got away from me. There's a possibility I'll make a holiday one before I work on covering the rest of the appliances. We'll see.

Have a great rest of the week!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Puffs

Happy Friday! How about a super easy dessert? These cream puffs are deceptively easy and so delicious. This recipe comes from the blog One Perfect Bite. I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, except for the omission of chopped nuts. I made both mini puffs, as the recipe suggests, and 6 bigger ones, but will stick to minis in the future. Much more satisfying to polish off 2-3 at a time then be restricted to just one :) Plus, the big ones took longer to bake and it wasn't as easy to tell when they were done. Though none were left to freeze, I've been freezing bakery ones for some time so I feel pretty confident that these would freeze--either with or without the filling. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Puffs

6 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (e.g. Nutella--I used Wegman's storebrand)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or pecans, toasted (I omitted)

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

To Prepare Filling
Beat mascarpone cheese with sugar until smooth. Gradually add heavy cream and hazelnut spread and beat into smooth. Stir in nuts, if using. Cover and refrigerate until puffs have cooled.

To Prepare Puffs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cocoa and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan bring water, butter and salt to a boil. Stir in flour mixture and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2" apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffs are set and slightly browned. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Slice each puff in half or about 3/4ths of the way. Use a piping bag and to fill with filling. (Alternatively, you can scoop out some of the dough before they cool, but the dough is light and airy so there was plenty of room to fill.)

Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Makes about 2 dozen mini cream puffs

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

2014 Crochet Progress

Inspired by the 2014 Crochet Mood Blanket group on Facebook and Instagram, I decided to start working on a blanket that I could make in a piecemeal fashion. Initially, I planned it out so I would finish this in a year, doing about 3 squares per week, but then I realized that I was in a crochet mood. Also, what was the likelihood of me sticking to one craft all year long, despite my best intentions? Not very high. And I'm okay with that, so long as I'm crafting something. Anyway, I selected the Patchwork Motif Afghan which is a free pattern from Lionbrand.

I haven't done too many hexagonal patterns before, so I thought it would be something new. Today's January 16th and I've finished 10 squares. I'm a little behind if my goal is one square a day, but actually I'm doing a couple at a time, whenever the mood strikes me. Hey, I guess in that way it's a "mood" blanket, right? Here's my progress to date:

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I'm working with a single color now. I might regret that when it comes time to put the blanket together, but for now it's easier to keep a single skein of yarn out at a time.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Another wet and dreary day

It's hard to tell in this shot, but it's raining cats and dogs. This day two of rain, rain, rain. I love the rain, but this time of year it's should be snow, darnit! On the bright side, it's deliciously warm...the trouble is I'd probably be a bad mommy if I took my little one outside to play in it for very long.

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I guess my goals for the day will include mostly puttering about the house, hanging with the little one, and maybe a little baking.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New Year!

It's another year--can you believe it? I know, I know, I'm already a week and a half late, but oh well. As you may have guessed from the new blog URL (, some changes are afoot. Assuming I can stick with them, that is. Last night, I merged my craft blog with my kitchen blog and purchased a shiny new domain name. If you're in the market for a new domain name, GoDaddy is having a super 99 cents sale so I recommend checking them out.

Since my son came along, my time for hobbies decreased dramatically. I've experienced a fair amount of guilt for neglecting the blogs, but not enough to really make much headway in getting any of them on track. Don't worry, I still try new recipes on a weekly basis and find time every now and then to craft. By merging my blogs, I can also share just about anything I want in one forum that's not kid-related. At the moment I intend to keep my kid-related posts separate on simply for organization purposes, but I have a lot of catching up to do there as well.

In the next week or so, hopefully I'll get things here organized and maybe even come up with a blogging schedule. I still take random photos of what I bake, cook or craft so I've definitely got some material to share. I also plan on sharing more random life-musings such as my list of 2014 goals. Fingers crossed that I'll stick with it.

Until then, ta ta for now!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Panzer Tank Slippers

 photo IMG_2511.jpg They're finally finished! I can't believe I thought I could make these in a weekend. They took an entire week to make. Each day I devoted at least an hour or more, some days it felt like I spent the entire day. The probably was not so much that they were complicated to do, I'm just mostly a blanket and scarf kind of hooker. Sure, I've made hats, shawls, and even some fitted clothing over the years, but off the top of my head I can't think of any amigurumis or stuffed animals that I've completed. Making cute, small items requires greater attention to detail than I usually approach crochet projects. Anyway, I managed. And they're cute.

I used a pattern found on Etsy, which my husband found and asked me to make for him. For the most part, the pattern is extremely well-written--lots of pictures, however I think the author became a bit tired of pattern-writing towards the end, especially when it came time for assembly. Either that or it's a common sense thing that I'm just lacking. By the time I started assembling the second slipper, I had figured most things out, but the first one was rather tedious.

Here are a couple more shots of the slippers.
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As you can see in this last picture, I "embroidered" an iron cross on the side of each tank. I use quotes because I did a really messy job here. I so wanted to be done with these things and just wasn't thinking that you could easily see the messy side if someone wasn't wearing them. Oh well. Maybe in another 7 years I'll make my husband a neater pair.  photo IMG_2516.jpg

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Another Pecan Pie Recipe

Well, hello there! After nearly three months, I decided it was time to dust of the blog and start posting a bit more. I can't say that there will be many more posts to follow, but I will try to do as I did last year, which is to end the year with a more organized slate. Trouble is that this year we'll be in a cabin in woods which, though very nice, doesn't have wifi. However, we'll be back in Chicago for a couple of days after the new year before we head home so I might get some quality blogging in then. Maybe.

On to today's post. For Thanksgiving, I wanted four different pies--chocolate cream, pumpkin, apple, and pecan. However, as I learned a few weeks ago when I made pecan pie squares, many desserts that I made years ago are now too sweet for my taste buds. I didn't want to lose too much sweetness, though, so I combined a Cooking Light recipe and the one from the Karo Syrup website. Results were good, though still a little too sweet for me to eat as much as I'd like. (Probably not a terrible thing, I know :). I used my regular dough recipe, so rest assured it definitely wasn't a low-cal affair. Also, although I used 1 1/2 cups of pecans, it still only made enough to fill a regular pie dish not a deep dish plate, which is what I used. Yes, I have at least 6-8 pie plates, but two were occupied by the chocolate cream pies, one held a pumpkin pie, and another was in the dishwasher, so all I had left was a metal plate, a couple clear Pyrex ones, and this deep dish plate that seemed to match the best. To address the problem of too much space, I simply rolled down the dough and made a crostada-like crust.

Another Pecan Pie Recipe
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1 cup corn syrup
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup pecans, halves and chopped
1 regular pie crust
Egg wash, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll pie dough and place in pie plate, if not using frozen. There is no need to par-bake the crust.

Blend together corn syrup through butter until well mixed. Stir in vanilla, salt, and pecans. Pour into pie. If desired, give the crust a brush with an egg wash.

Bake for 60 - 70 minutes until center of pie is set (i.e. no more jiggling) and nuts are lightly browned.

Cool for at least 30 minutes, then serve with whipped cream.