Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Ice Cream Series - Chocolate Toffee Crunch Ice Cream

Anyone who knows me well knows that ice cream is my absolute favorite. I could easily have ice cream every day of the year. And nothing is more fun than making your own ice cream creations. In honor of summer, I've decided to create an ice cream theme for the season. So I'll be making and posting recipes for some really great ice cream creations.

I'm starting out with this Chocolate Toffee Crunch Ice Cream. I used my Cuisinart automatic ice cream maker for this. If you have a different ice cream maker, be sure to follow the instructions for it because each one is different in regards to freezing times and the capacity of ice cream it can make. This ice cream is a very simple and quick recipe. You can even create your own variations and add your own favorite candy pieces, nuts, sprinkles, whatever you can dream up. So pull out your ice cream maker (or go get one if you don't have one!), be creative and enjoy the summer! And be sure to check back for more ice cream creations throughout the next few months!

Chocolate Toffee Crunch Ice Cream

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate-covered toffee pieces (such as Heath)

1. For a no-ice, no-salt ice cream maker: In a large mixing bowl combine sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and a dash of salt. Whisk thoroughly until sugar is dissolved.

2. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. When finished, stir in 1/3 cup chocolate-covered toffee pieces.

Makes about 2 and 1/2 cups ice cream.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Burgers, Potatoes and Iced Tea!

This is a great meal if you're planning a Fourth of July barbecue or just want to do dinner on the back patio. All I can say is YUM!

Denny and I have turkey burgers pretty often. I saw this recipe for Mar-A-Lago turkey burgers on the last Oprah's Favorite Things episode. She had these burgers at one of Trump's restaurants and fell in love with them. I can see why! I halved the recipe because there was no way Denny and I could eat all of this. But it would be really easy to make the entire recipe and freeze half of it for a later meal. I actually ommited the scallions because the grocery store I went to didn't have them, and I'm sure you can add or subtract anything you'd like. I was worried about finding the chutney, but had no problems locating it in the mayo/salad dressing aisle of the supermarket. These burgers are SO GOOD! We toasted up some buns and added some sliced tomato and they were just perfect. I don't think I can ever make another turkey burger recipe again. Here's a pic before they went on the grill.

Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burger

1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1/8 cup canola oil
4 pounds ground turkey breast
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper
2 tsp. chipotle Tabasco™
1 lemon, juice and grated zest
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup Major Grey’s Chutney, pureed

1. Sauté the scallions, celery and apples in the canola oil until tender. Let cool.

2. Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sautéed items and the remaining ingredients. Shape into eight 8-ounce burgers. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. Season the turkey burgers with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill. Grill each side for 7 minutes until meat is thoroughly cooked. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Oven Fried Potato Wedges:

The potato wedges are a perfect complement to the burgers. They were really simple to make. Just slice the potatoes, coat them with the dressing you make, and then roll them in a cornbread mixture before placing in the oven. They have such a great taste. We ate them with ketchup and they were great!

Oven-Fried Potato Wedges

3 large baking potatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 tsp. onion salt
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 cups Pepperidge Farm cornbread dressing mix

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the potatoes and cut into thick wedges (each potato should yield six wedges).

2. Mix the mayonnaise with the hot sauce, onion salt, seasoned salt, and pepper. Coat the potato wedges with the mayonnaise mixture and roll them in the dressing mix.

3. Place in a greased baking dish and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Pineapple Iced Tea Punch:

I have been a really big fan of sweet tea ever since we moved down south. When I came across this fun variation of tea, I knew I had to try it. The recipe makes a very large amount... we'll be drinking this all week. I used half of the amount of pineapple juice that the recipe calls for and I still thought it was very pineapple-y, so I'll save the rest of the can for the next batch. Very refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day.

Pineapple Iced Tea Punch

5 cups water, divided
2 family-size tea bags
1 cup sugar
1 (46-oz.) can unsweetened pineapple juice
1 cup lemon juice

1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil; add tea bags. Boil 1 minute, and remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes.

2. Remove and discard tea bags. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.

3. Pour into a 1-gallon container. Stir in remaining 2 cups water, pineapple juice, and lemon juice. Serve over ice.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Peanut Butter Bars

This was the first time I've made these bars, though I've had the recipe for a long time. I decided to try these for a potluck lunch and I'm glad that I did! It's a really unique version of peanut butter bars with cranberries.

The recipe requires letting the cranberries soak, so I did that while I was busy doing other things around the house, which was convenient. Once I really started the cooking, it ended up taking about 35 minutes prep time before the final stint in the oven.

These were really different than I expected. The creamy center is great, and the cranberries give it a little extra sweetness. The tops were quite crumbly, however, making them a little hard to pack neatly into a container for the potluck. But the good taste makes them worth it. We'll see if there are any left after the lunch.

Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts
6 ounces cream cheese (two 3-oz. pkgs.), softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a small bowl combine cranberries and water. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Drain well.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter with an electric mixer until well combined. Beat in the brown sugar. Beat in the flour on low speed (mixture will be crumbly). Stir in the peanuts and drained cranberries. Reserve 1 cup of the crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, for filling, in a medium bowl beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the egg, 2/3 cup peanut butter, and lemon juice; beat until well combined. Spread evenly over crust. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top, pressing lightly into filling.

4. Bake about 25 minutes more or until top is lightly browned and edges are puffed. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 12 to 16 bars.

Recipe Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Squash, Ham and Mozzarella Crepes

This recipe is one I've been making in our house for a long time and I really love it. I believe it originated from Good Housekeeping magazine. No need to be intimidated by crepes - they are super easy and low calorie and can be filled with just about anything. Or, if you'd rather, you can substitute tortillas for the crepes. But the crepes are just too yummy to replace, in my opinion.

I used grape tomatoes this time instead of the plum tomatoes that the recipe calls for. With the tomato scare going on, I wanted to use something that I knew was safe. I just halved the grape tomatoes and they worked perfectly.

This recipe is healthy and light, just perfect for summer. It's also quick, taking only about 30 minutes from start to finish. Perfect for a fast weeknight meal. You've gotta try it!

Summer Squash, Ham, & Mozzarella Crepes

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 pound plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 zucchini (about 8 oz. each), each cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (4.5 oz.) refrigerated crepes (ten 7-inch crepes)
10 thin slices baked ham (about 6 oz.)
1.5 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (6 oz.)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In non-stick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring. Add tomatoes, zucchini, and red pepper; cover and cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir in basil, ground pepper, and salt; cook, uncovered, 5 minutes or until all liquid evaporates. Reserve 1 cup zucchini mixture; keep warm.

3. Place crepes on work surface; top each with 1 ham slice, then about 1/3 cup zucchini mixture; sprinkle with mozzarella. Fold each crepe over to enclose filling. Place crepes, seam sides up, in two 13" by 9" baking pans. Bake crepes 6 minutes or until golden. Top with reserved zucchini mixture to serve.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting

Denny has been out of town this week, so I haven't had anyone to cook for. Luckily we have a trip to Columbia planned for this weekend, so I had the opportunity to whip up something to bring along. I found this cupcake recipe on the Food Network's website and it sounded so irresistible. Cupcakes are all the rage for birthday parties, kid's events, parties, etc. They're so cute and you can do different color wrappers and icings and be really creative.

This recipe was moderately difficult to make. It took about 35 minutes prep time (not including the icing and cook time). The hardest part was putting the cheesecake filling in the cups and covering it perfectly with the batter. It was more time consuming than hard, really. It took some patience, but the end result was so worth it. The cheesecake center is really neat and a nice little surprise! Since today is my birthday, I allowed myself to sample one before anyone else. Delish, I will make this again for sure!

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 egg, at room temperature
2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons mini semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Ganache frosting, recipe follows

1. Place rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake papers.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. Using a mixer, cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add the egg and stir until just combined. Gently add half of the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Mix in the milk. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir until combined. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

4. Fill prepared cupcake liners with enough chocolate batter to just cover the bottom. Add a dollop of the cream cheese filling to each, then top with remaining batter (cream cheese filling should not be visible).

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cupcakes stand in the pan for 3 minutes and then remove and allow to cool completely on a rack.

6. Dip each cupcake into the ganache, forming an even layer of frosting. Place in the refrigerator to set, about 15 minutes.

Ganache Frosting:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional

1. Place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk together the chocolate, cream, and espresso powder (if using). Continue whisking until chocolate is melted and the mixture is thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Since becoming a stay at home Mommy, I've been spending more time in the kitchen lately and have had so much fun trying out new recipes. I'm hoping this blog will be a way for me to share my love of cooking with everyone and provide some of the recipes that have been a hit in our home.

I love making desserts, so you can expect to see quite a bit of them. And I love to try out healthy recipes, but I'm also a big fan of comfort food, so you'll find a good variety. I should forewarn everyone that I'm not a seafood eater, so you won't find any of that here. I may even throw in some restaurant and product reviews as I feel the urge to. Feel free to send me a favorite recipe and I'll give it a try and share it with everyone.

With Dylan crawling and learning to walk, my eyes are usually on him at all hours of the day, but I do manage to find some time in the kitchen a few times a week. I'm not making any promises as to how often I'll be posting, though I'm hoping that having this blog will inspire me to be creative and cook more often.

The first recipe should be posted later this week. Hope you enjoy!