RSS

Minty Deliciousness

So, apparently, July is national ice cream month. An entire month to celebrate one of my favorite things, and it has taken me 27 DAYS to get this post together. Never fear – we’ve been eating ice cream all month long – it’s just been insanely busy in our house, so I am just now getting around to sharing this with everyone.

I have been planning this one for months. Mint and chocolate are one of my favorite combinations, right behind chocolate and peanut butter, and I was getting tired of eating plain old vanilla ice cream. I stocked up on extra Thin Mints this spring and squirreled them away until my mint started growing like a weed. Once that happened, I just needed to find a good base recipe to work with. Thankfully David Lebovitz came through for me. (No surprise there, right? The man is kind of known for desserts.) 

I did a little tweaking based on what I had on hand. I used one ounce of fresh mint, since that was all I harvested from my plant. I ended up using four egg yolks, instead of five, because that was what was in the fridge. (Clearly, I planned well for this one.) And, obviously, I used a Thin Mints instead of melted chocolate or chocolate chips. It ended up being everything I had hoped for – fresh, minty custard with Thin Mints crumbled in all of the right places. Totally worth spending the $3.50 on an extra box of Thin Mints. :D

Thin Mint Ice Cream

Thin Mint Ice Cream

1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 ounce fresh mint leaves (about a packed cup) 
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
4 egg yolks
1 sleeve of Thin Mint cookies, coarsely chopped (about 16 cookies, depending on whether or not you’ve snacked on one or two while you were chopping them) 

In a medium saucepan, combine the half and half, 1 cup of cream, sugar, salt and mint. Heat over medium heat until the mixture is steaming and the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and let it stand, covered, for about an hour.

After the mint flavor has steeped into the milk, remove the mint leaves with a strainer. Squeeze the mint leaves over the milk, extracting as much flavor (and color) as possible. Discard the mint leaves.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are smooth. Rewarm the milk mixture over medium heat. Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking them constantly. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the mixture from heat.

Pour the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl. Set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl and pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is cold (at least two hours, preferably overnight).

Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream has finished churning, mix the chopped cookie pieces into the ice cream before storing in a freezer-safe container. Freeze until firm.

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Click here for a printable version.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Dessert, Ice Cream

 

Tags: , , ,

Catching Up: CSA 2014 Weeks 4 & 5

Two weeks in one post! That’s a sure sign that my summer is getting busier by the minute, and I don’t see things slowing down anytime soon. After all, we are coming up on the most wonderful time of the year, at least in my world. Plus, things are booming in my garden and with our CSA, and because I’m a glutton for punishment we love our fruit, I ordered massive amounts of blueberries again this year. They’ll probably show up about the same time as the airplanes. Thank goodness blueberries are easy to process.

Here’s a recap of the last two weeks of CSA goodness.

CSA2014 week 4

Week 4 brought us summer squash, zucchini, shelling peas, one bunch of kale, a head of broccoli, a bunch of beets and two cucumbers. The fennel was my “what am I going to do with this?” item of the week. I ended up roasting it with Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt and pepper. While it was definitely edible, I don’t think it’s in line for our favorite veggie anytime soon. I sauteed the beet greens (still have the beets in the fridge), and I am saving the kale for another batch of chips, I think. (Maybe tomorrow, since it’s cooling down a bit here.) In an attempt to eat more vegetables during the day, I sliced the cucumbers and packed them in our lunches during the week.

The real wins though, were the new recipes for the zucchini and summer squash. I didn’t have a chance to make fritters, and my fridge was dangerously close to being overrun by squash, so I went looking for some new ideas. I made zucchini muffins (complete with chocolate chips, per Andy’s request), and a savory squash bread, loaded with Parmesan cheese. The muffins were good, but the cheese bread was amazing. We ate it all before I could take a picture, but I am sure that I’ll make this bread again, so I’m sure to share it here sooner or later.

CSA2014 week 5

OK, so here’s week five. More lettuce. More kale. More broccoli. More squash and zucchini. (Can you say fritters and bread? Again?) The pickles and beans were the newbies this week. (Yay! I’m going to make this potato and bean salad with the beans!) The kale is headed for chipville, and we have been eating the lettuce on burgers and sandwiches. (I learned that lettuce, while great on a BLT, isn’t really ideal on a grilled cheese. What can I say? I’m just trying to use up the stuff!) I plan on “quick pickling” the pickles with our go-to recipe, although this idea intrigues me.

I also have a giant bag of green beans from our garden, and I can’t decide if we should just keep snacking on them or if I should can them. It’s probably enough to get four quarts… is that worth heating up the kitchen with giant kettles of water? Decisions, decisions….

I can’t wait to see what comes next! I’m hoping for tomatoes and sweet corn! :)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Childhood Favorites

Conventional wisdom says that it’s not a good idea to bake once the weather warms up for the summer. Especially if you aren’t running the air conditioning. (Which we almost never do. I’ll take the fresh air and a ceiling fan over the chill of the air conditioner almost any day.) Warm temps or not, sometimes you just have to bake something. Especially when it’s berry season. And while it’d be a crime to NOT eat hundreds of berries in their perfect, natural form, it’d also be a crime to let a summer slip by without making some fantastic fruit desserts.

Shortcake is near the top of the list when it comes to my favorite childhood desserts. (And that’s a long list. What can I say? I have ALWAYS been a dessert girl.) When I was a kid, strawberry shortcake meant Bisquick biscuits topped with strawberries and Cool Whip. And while I’ve moved beyond Bisquick and Cool Whip in most things, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of shortcake. So, while I have tried (and enjoyed) the “cake” shortcake, I was on a mission to recreate the stuff of my childhood dreams.

I used our last two quarts of strawberries for this shortcake, almost in a “farewell to strawberry season” tribute, and, rather than simply macerating the sliced berries with sugar, I pureed some of them to help create extra juice for drizzling. (“Extra juice” was the only way Andy was on board with shortcake. “No one wants a dry biscuit,” he said.) I used buttermilk instead of regular milk and winged it with the strawberry mixture. The best part about this recipe, though? (Aside from things like cream and berries, obviously?) How ridiculously easy it is.

Seriously. We are talking 20 minutes, start to finish. From the time you get the mixing bowl out of the cupboard to the time you are pulling warm, delicious biscuits from the oven. There’s no rolling, no cutting, no greasing of the pan. Just mixing, dropping and baking. Totally worth preheating the oven on a summer day. :)

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake 

For the shortcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk

For the berries:
2 quarts of strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered if small
2-4 tablespoons of sugar, to taste

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small peas and the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Pour the buttermilk into the dry ingredients and stir until it is just combined.

Using a large spoon, divide the dough in eight mounds (blobs? piles? none of this sounds appetizing) on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

While the biscuits are baking, puree 1/2 cup of the strawberries with a tablespoon of sugar. Gently toss the rest of the berries with the pureed strawberry sauce. Taste the berries and add additional sugar if necessary. Cover the berries and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the shortcake.

To make the whipped cream, combine the cream, vanilla and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. (I used a Pyrex bowl and my hand mixer, but this could be done with a stand mixer as well.) Beat/whisk on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

To serve, split the biscuits in half and fill with strawberries. Place the biscuit top on the berries, add more strawberries and top with whipped cream.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Click here for a printable version.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Dessert

 

Tags: , , ,

CSA 2014: Week 3

Happy July! It’s official; we are moving out of the spring produce and in to summer veggies! Sure, we still received lettuce and peas, and there were our first garlic scapes, but we also had zucchini for the second week in a row AND cucumbers. Hello summer. :) (Maybe tomatoes will be next!)

CSA2014 week 3

Week number three included:

1 head of lettuce
1 + lb. of peas (shelling peas, not sugar snaps)
2 cucumbers
2 kohlrabi
2 garlic scapes
1 zucchini
2 summer squash
1 bag of popcorn

We are working our way through the lettuce, slowly but surely. (It doesn’t help that the lettuce in our garden is growing like a weed as well… lots of salads for us.) I wish there was a way to “put up” lettuce for the winter… any ideas? Lettuce pesto? Does that work?

I made our favorite “quick pickles” with some of the cucumbers, and I have been enjoying the rest of them with hummus for lunch. Speaking of hummus, I may make garlic hummus with this week’s scapes. I’m actually undecided about the zucchini and the summer squash. Do I make my go-to fritters or do I make these unpronounceable-yet-totally-delicious-looking Greek fritters that Elly shared? Decisions, decisions. Maybe week four will bring us more zucchini so I won’t have to take sides.

While I won’t make all of the popcorn at once, I will pop some up for our movie date on Friday. (Our city shows movies outdoors during the summer, so this week, we are going to spend some quality time with everyone’s favorite minions.) Total side note… did you see the World Cup as done by the minions? My favorite thing about soccer, for sure. :D

No inspiration yet on the kohlrabi. Thankfully, it’s keeping well in the fridge. Still undecided on the peas too… I think I may have left my inspiration at the beach over the 4th of July… :)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

CSA 2014: Week 2

Is it just me, or does summer seem to be flying by at a ridiculously fast pace?? June is practically done, and I have a feeling that things are only going to speed up from here. Thankfully, there are still 18 more weeks of CSA goodness left.

CSA2014 week 2

This week’s share included:

1 lb. asparagus
1 pint strawberries
1 1/2 lbs. sugar snap peas
1 bunch beet greens
1 head of lettuce
1 bunch of pea tendrils
2 zucchini

First, let’s talk about what we’ve already enjoyed. :) You may have noticed the beet greens hanging out in this picture. I simply sauteed them with butter and a little chicken broth. Next time though, I think I’ll try this idea. The strawberries didn’t make their way into anything besides our mouths. As for the zucchini, well, there was really only one option for them. FRITTERS!! Yes, I was that excited.

I will be roasting or grilling the asparagus this week, and I plan on making stir fry with some of the peas and the tendrils. As for the lettuce, well, we’re on a salad kick. Steak salads, grilled chicken salads… you get the picture. I still have the radishes from last week’s share too. Maybe I should start adding them to our salads. Although… I just checked out Kirsten’s blog (a great resource for CSA veggies!) and I see that she has a radish pizza. I think we’ll have that for dinner this week.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

Rhubarb for Dinner

25 years ago, if you had asked me to eat this dish, I would have said no. (I’m sure that I would have said it in a completely stubborn AND adorable way. I’m also sure my mom agrees with me here.) As a child, I was very much in the anti-rhubarb camp. Looking back, I’m not sure why. 99.9% of rhubarb recipes are dessert recipes, involving sugar, sugar, and more sugar. What five-year-old wouldn’t love that? (I actually think my childhood rhubarb hang-ups were more psychological. It looked like celery to me, and I was NOT a fan of celery.) Luckily, my tastes have matured since then. ;)

Even so, if you had asked me to make this five years ago, I would have probably given you the side-eye and wondered why on earth you’d waste rhubarb in a main dish. Aren’t there enough crisps, cobblers, bars, cakes and pies for rhubarb? Why do we have to eat it for dinner? But, with age comes wisdom, and the knowledge that while there are indeed plenty of delicious rhubarb desserts, man cannot (or should not) exist on sugar alone.

And since rhubarb season happened to coincide with my cake decorating class, we really didn’t need any more dessert in the house. I thought about freezing the rhubarb from our first CSA share, but I already put quite a bit of rhubarb up for next winter. So when I saw this recipe in the New York Times, I was intrigued. Skeptical, but intrigued.

I scaled the recipe down, since I didn’t have an entire chicken on hand (and let’s face it, an entire chicken is more than I need to make for the two of us). I was pleasantly surprised by how easily it came together AND by how well it turned out. You do need to plan ahead – the chicken should hang out with the thyme for a few hours – but as long as you do that, it’s totally do-able on a weeknight. I’ll be the first to admit that the sauce isn’t the prettiest, but its bright, tart flavor flavor makes up for the drab appearance. (I did forget to add the butter to the sauce, but since we didn’t miss it, I’m omitting it from my directions below.) It got a solid four out of five stars from Andy, which means I’ll definitely be hanging on to this recipe – you know, for those days when we need a break from rhubarb pie. ;)

Rhubarb Chicken

Served this one with sauteed beet greens from our CSA and some sweet corn from my grandma. :)

Chicken with Rhubarb Sauce

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 scallions, white and light green parts finely chopped, dark green parts reserved for garnish
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 cup white wine* (I used my favorite… again.) 
1 1/2 teaspoons honey

Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and place in a bowl. Generously season with salt and pepper and place the thyme sprigs in the bowl with the chicken. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour. If possible, let chicken sit overnight with the thyme. (Mine hung out in the fridge for about 10 hours while I was at work.) 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Reserve the thyme sprigs. Cook the chicken until skin is nicely browned and releases easily from the pan. Flip the chicken over and cook until the other side is nicely browned as well. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the white and light green scallion parts to the pan and cook until lightly browned and tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and reserved thyme sprigs and cook for another minute. Pour the wine into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of fresh pepper to the pan. Stir to combine.

Add the chicken back to the pan in a single layer.** Cover and cook over medium-low heat until chicken reaches 165 degrees. Garnish chicken with reserved green onions and serve with rhubarb sauce.

*Chicken broth can be substituted for wine, if you find that you don’t quite have enough wine on hand… not that I’d know anything about that… ;) 

**If your sauce looks too dry or like it’s in danger of burning, you can add a splash of wine or chicken broth when you add the chicken. 

From the New York Times

Click here for a printable version.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Chicken, Main Dishes

 

Tags: , , ,

It’s Back! CSA 2014: Week 1

Finally! After months of waiting, it’s CSA season again! This is our third year participating in the CSA program through Olden Produce, and I am just as excited about it now as I was three years ago. I love knowing where my food comes from, and I truly believe that nothing tastes better than fresh produce. (OK, so maybe chocolate tastes better. Maybe.) 

What did we get this week?

CSA2014 week 1

1 lb. of asparagus
12 oz. of rhubarb
7 oz. of green beans
1 bunch of radishes
1 bunch of kale
1 pint of strawberries

So, what’s in store for this week’s produce?

Well, the green beans are gone. We ate them with our favorite dinner the other night. I didn’t even bother to cook them. After all, somethings are best fresh off the vine. :) The strawberries made their way into a pie. We made quick work of the asparagus as well – I grilled it for dinner tonight.

And while I typically use rhubarb in desserts or muffins, I may make it part of our dinner with this recipe. I am thinking of sauteing the radish greens and using them on top of a fried egg sandwich, and I think I’ll make some pesto with the kale. And then I’ll toss the pesto with some pasta, Parmesan cheese and bacon. How’s that sound for a quick dinner? I haven’t decided if I am going to eat the radishes raw or find some way to cook them. Radishes stump me every year…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 147 other followers