Sunday, March 27, 2011

Coffee Heath Ice Cream

I am officially obsessed with making my own ice cream. I don't know how I didn't realize the awesome-ness and utter fulfillment of it before! Now that I'm feeling much more confident in my ice cream maker (and myself!) I've been thinking about what flavors to make next.

One of the best Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavors is their Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. This is not my opionion, it's a fact- this stuff is incredible! So, in an effort to make some at home, I found a recipe by the renouned ice creamer David Lebovitz. The base recipe is his Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream and then I just mixed in some crushed Heath's so simple that it's stupid, but if you try this, you won't be able to deny it's magnificents. Even my coffee hating husband agrees that this ice cream is pretty great!

One note: the recipe calls for VERY STONG coffee...take this advice. The other ingredients really mellow it out so if you want your ice cream to actually taste like a delicious frozen coffee dessert, make sure your base coffee is really strong.

Coffee Heath Ice Cream

2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
2 C. VERY strong coffee
2/3 C. whole milk
pinch of coffee or espresso grounds (optional)
Heath bar pieces (10-15 mini's, roughly chopped), plus more for garnish

In a bowl, whisk the sweetened condensed milk, coffee, whole milk, and coffee grounds together. Taste it! (This is ultimately what your ice cream will taste like...if you need a stronger coffee flavor, add a bit more coffee grounds). Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions.

Once finished, transfer your soft ice cream to a storage container. Gently mix in the Heath pieces. Freeze until firm. Sprinkle your bowl of deliciousness with even more Heath pieces. Thank me later :)

Adapted slightly from David Lebovitz

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

This weekend I was looking for a delicious way to use our newly acquired Panini maker. My brother was crazy enough to not want it so his loss is our gain! This could easily be adapted by using leftover or rostisseire chicken. You can also load it up by using jarred spreads like the Red Pepper, Garlic, Onion one that I spied at Trader Joe's last week. YUM!

My firt attempt at Panini turned out great and was easier than I thought it would be. I could have gone little more simply and started with a grilled cheese sandwich, but that's not really my style....enjoy!

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini
yield: 4 panini

2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
8 whole Sundried Tomatoes, Packed In Oil
3 Tablespoons Prepared Basil Pesto
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cups Mayonnaise
2 whole Red Bell Peppers
8 whole Slices Asiago (or other Italian cheese like Provolone Or Mozzarella)
8 slices Good Whole Grain Sandwich Bread
4 Tablespoons Butter, Softened


Slightly flatten chicken with a mallet (just until uniform thickness.)

In a blender or food processor, puree sundried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add half the mixture to a ziploc bag with the chicken breasts. Smush around to coat the chicken, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

After marinating, heat heavy skillet or grill to medium. Grill or cook chicken until done. Slice chicken into strips.


In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons of the sundried tomato mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.


If you have a gas cooktop, blacken red peppers directly over the flame. (If you do not have a gas cooktop, blacken them directly under the oven broiler.) Completely blacken/char on all sides, then immediately seal in a ziploc bag. Allow peppers to sit, sealed, in the bag for at least 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove from bag and use fingers to slip off the blackened skin. (Don’t be afraid to leave some black bits!) Lop off the top, cut in half, then seed and slice into strips. Set aside.


To make the panini, spread generous amounts of the sundried tomato/pesto spread on one side of all the pieces of bread. On four of the pieces, arrange 1/4 of the chicken slices, 1/4 of the pepper slices, and two pieces of cheese. To with the other four pieces of bread with the spread face down. Butter both sides of sandwich, then grill in panini maker or on a skillet over medium-low heat. (If you use a skillet, set a heavy pan or skillet on top of the sandwich as each side browns.)

Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

Tuxedo Cake

This cake is perfect for a fancy party, or pretend fancy get baking!

If you make all three layers (as the recipe below suggests), you will end up with a very tall cake. For a dramatic effect, it's perfect. The slices look a bit funny because they are so tall, but trust me, no one complains! I don’t think that has stopped anyone from enjoying this. You can make the same amount of batter in two 10-inch round pans for a shorter cake. I like the tall cake as it's more visually impressive.

A friend and co-worker asked for a recipe that would be perfect for a shower she was hosting. She's also an avid baker and had adjusted and increased the amounts to create a stunning cake (pictured below). The original recipe is for a tall 3 layer cake and that is the recipe below.

Tuxedo Cake
yield: 1 tall 3-layer cake

For the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil
4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:
1 lb. fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced - plus more whole berries for garnish
1/4 C. sugar
1 Tb. vodka (optional)

For the frosting:
4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

For the chocolate topping:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line three 9-inch round cake pans (or two 10-inch round cake pans) with parchment paper. Butter and flour the inside edges of the pan, shaking out the excess flour.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, water and canola oil; heat until the butter is melted. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and flour; whisk to blend. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the baking soda, salt and vanilla to the bowl and whisk just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake layer and invert onto a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.

While the cake cools, make the strawberry filling. To make the filling, mix the strawberries, sugar, and vodka in a bowl. Let the berries macerate at least 30 minutes.

To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat!

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake platter and top with some strawberries. (The berries go first...they are juicy and all of that juicy goodness will ooze into your cake and not out of the frosting.) Spread a layer of the whipped cream frosting over the top of the berries. Top with a second cake layer, more strawberries, more frosting (and the third cake layer, if using). Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake. Refrigerate until the frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.

To make the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes. (Do not let the glaze cool longer or it may become difficult to pour over the cake.) Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that the top is covered and the glaze drips over the sides.

Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour. Garnish with extra strawberries. Slice with a long, sharp knife, wiping the blade clean between slices.

*Photo courtesy of H. Fitch. She truly did an amazing job! WOW!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta

Were you getting tired of all of the sweet posts lately? Hmmm...I wasn't! But, I thought to change it up a bit, I'd share with you a recipe that I made for dinner last week. This was the first time that I'd tried beef short ribs and they were delicious! They were infused with flavor, fall-off-the-bone tender, and really satisfying to my "meat and potato" loving husband.

You might want to make this on a weekend because it really does take some time to get the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender, but the wait is so worth it. So, before grilling season really kicks off, make one last slow-cooked comfort meal. You'll be glad you did.

Braised Short Ribs
yeild: 4-6 servings

8 whole Beef Short Ribs (**see note below)
Kosher Salt and Pepper To Taste
1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
6 pieces Pancetta, Diced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
3 whole Carrots, Diced
2 cups Red Or White Wine
2 cups Beef Or Chicken Broth (enough To Almost Cover Ribs)
2 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Rosemary

Salt and pepper ribs, then dredge in flour. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until completely crispy and all fat is rendered. Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease.

Add olive oil to pan with the pancetta grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, until well browned and cripsy. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Add onions and carrots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the flavorful bits. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.

Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. (You can also refrigerate the mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.)

Serve 2 ribs on bed of creamy polenta, spooning a little juice over the top.

**Note: It is really important to get good quality short ribs. Make sure they are meaty and don't look too fatty. If your short ribs are too fatty, they will not be nearly as delicious as you and your dinner guests will be wasting time picking around fat pockets (yuck!) rather than savoring the beefy goodness!

Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta
yeild: 4-6 servings

1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 ounces, weight Goat Cheese

Bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil.

Add cornmeal to the water in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.

Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, adding salt and extra tablespoons of water as needed.

When polenta is done, stir in butter and goat cheese. Check seasonings, and add salt to taste.

Serve with your favorite meat main course.

Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

This recipe is really different than any other ice cream I have made so far because it has sour cream in it. But before you go running away or turn up your nose in disgust at the inclusion of sour cream in ice cream, hear me out. It really is the sour cream that gives it the creamy taste and texture. This ice cream is ripe with intense strawberry flavor and the sour cream makes it super creamy while keeping it from being overly sweet. I would bet that anyone tasting this would never guess it has sour cream in it. What I do know is that this is for sure the best strawberry ice cream I have had.

I also added one vanilla bean to pair nicely with the strawberries and because I'm a sucker for those little vanilla bean flecks in just about anything. If you don't have any, that's ok. They are completely optional. But if you do...I highly recommend using the vaniila bean. It really adds that "something extra" to make this an amazing ice cream.

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Icea Cream

1 lb. fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced*
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. vodka (optional)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with the seeds scraped from inside
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the sliced strawberries in a medium bowl with the vanilla, sugar, and vodka. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a blender or food processor and add the sour cream, heavy cream and lemon juice. Pulse briefly until almost smooth but still slightly chunky. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

*Note: If you can find locally grown, farmstand strawberries, I really do recommend them for this recipe. The difference in flavor really is noticeable. You definitely get a stronger strawberry flavor than with typical supermarket berries. However, if your only option is the store-bought kind, that's ok...this recipe is still great!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

While I don't have a new post for you (too busy whipping up cookies for work, daycare, and The Husband!) I would like to redirect you to last year's posting of Corned Beef and Cabbage. It's definitely what I will be making this year too (and hopefully getting a better picture of it!)...although I think we're celebrating a few days late. I plan to make this Saturday :) What other delicious goodness do you have planned for this year? Green Beer anyone?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak

There’s nothing special about this dish, except that it’s a total southern miracle of fried beef smothered in gravy.

It’s Chicken Fried Steak, is what it is. I made it for my husband last night because he's pretty great and although I try to cook healthy foods throughout the week, sometimes the food that's not so great for you just tastes so darn good!!! Don't mind the bad lighting...we were enjoying this so much that we didn't get in a good picture until after it was dark and that's killer for food photography!!

Anyway, make this for someone you like, they'll probably like you back - but you might also want to plan a workout session afterwards ;)

Chicken Fried Steak
about 8 servings

3 pounds Cube Steak (tenderized Round Steak That's Been Extra Tenderized)
1-½ cup Whole Milk, Plus Up To 2 Cups For Gravy
2 whole Large Eggs
3 cups All-purpose Flour
Seasoned Salt
¼ teaspoons Cayenne
LOTS Of Black Pepper. Lots.
Canola Oil, For Frying
Salt And Pepper, For Both Meat And Gravy

Begin with an assembly line of dishes for the meat: milk mixed with egg in one; flour mixed with spices in one; meat in one; then have one clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat.

Work one piece of meat at a time. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then dip in the milk/egg mixture. Next, place the meat on the plate of seasoned flour. Turn to coat thoroughly. Place the meat back into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Place back in the flour and turn to coat.(So: wet mixture/dry mixture/wet mixture/dry mixture.) Place breaded meat on the clean plate, then repeat with remaining meat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it’s sufficiently hot. Cook meat, three pieces at a time, until edges start to look golden brown; around 2 to 2 1/2 minutes each side.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat until all meat is cooked.

After all meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan. Allow grease to heat up.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix flour with grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Keep cooking until it reaches a deep golden brown color. If paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour and whisk.
Whisking constantly, pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until gravy is smooth and thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.
Serve meat next to a big side of mashed potatoes. Pour gravy over everything and enjoy!

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I tried a new flavor of ice cream and this is one of the best flavors I have made. This recipe is great because if you are like us and consider peanut butter a pantry staple, chances are you have everything you need to make it on hand. The only thing we needed to buy were the Reese’s cups. (I try not to keep these in the house because somehow they dissapear from the pantry and reappear on my's the weirdest thing...)
It seems a fact of nature that chocolate and peanut butter are a perfect pair, and this ice cream was certainly evidence of that. I think the peanut butter base would also be fantastic with a fudge ribbon through it ...mmmm....alright - let's get to eating!

Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2 2/3 cups half-and-half
Pinch of coarse salt
Dash of vanilla extract
1 heaping cup mini Reese’s cups, wrappers removed, frozen and chopped

Combine all of the ingredients (minus the candy) in a blender or food processor; and puree until completely smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When the mixture is chilled through, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. To mix in the Reese’s, transfer the ice cream to a storage container and gently fold in the peanut butter cup pieces until evenly distributed.

Adapted slightly from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Saturday, March 5, 2011

White and Dark Hearted Brownies

I found this recipe when looking for a really tasty brownie for a friend who was in the hospital. Nothing says "Get Well Soon!" like a big plate of brownies. I came across these at Smitten Kitchen and fell in love. They are not only the cutest little brownies I have ever seen, but they had the perfect sentiment.

I was a bit hesitant about the white chocolate brownies because I'm not a huge white chocolate fan. However, these were really good....amazingly good even. Don't tell anyone, but I actually think I liked them better than the dark chocolate brownies. Maybe it was because they had a little dark chcolate heart belly, but the combination of flavors was out of this world. I also loved that they still remained very much a "brownie" to me - rich and chewy, the way a good brownie should be.
I hope you try it soon - and feel free to make the bellies whatever mini shape you have - I think these would be a very welcomed non-green treat for St. Patty's Day and little shamrocks would be irresistible!
White and Dark Hearted Brownies
**This recipe makes 16 2-inch square white or dark chocolate brownies. To make a pan of each and reverse the middles, you’ll need double the ingredients listed below. You will end up with 32 reversed-center brownies.

4 ounces (this was 1 bar for me) semisweet or good white chocolate (I used Ghirardelli for both), coarsely chopped
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1-inch heart or other shaped cookie cutter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over opposite sides of pan. Repeat with second piece of foil in opposite direction. Grease the foil.
Melt white or dark chocolate and butter together in a large bowl over a simmering pot of water until it is melted; remove from heat and stir the mixture until it is smooth.

Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Add flour and salt together, stirring until just combined. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes (for the dark chocolate version) and 30 to 35 minutes (for the white chocolate version).

Repeat this recipe with the other kind of chocolate and a second 8×8-inch square pan. Cool pans on a wire rack in the freezer if you’re going to make cut-outs; frozen brownies are much easier to make clean cuts from. Once solid, transfer brownies in their foil “sling” to a large cutting board and cut each pan of brownies into 16 even squares, about 2×2 inches each.

Still cold (and if they warm up and soften too quickly, pop them back in the freezer for 5 minutes), carefully, slowly, gently, press your cookie cutter into the center of each brownie and set the cut-out aside. Insert the dark cut-outs into the centers of the light brownies, and vice-versa. From here, you can let them warm up to room temperature or wrap them up in the freezer until you will need them.
adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen