Jul 05
Cookies and Cream Ice CreamLeave a comment

Hope everyone had a great holiday! We celebrated with a nice spread at our house followed by fireworks at the local high school. One of the things on my to do list this summer was to do a deep clean of the pantry. To my surprise, I found an entire package of Oreos pushed way to the back. I knew immediately want I wanted to do with them, ice cream!! Ever since getting my ice cream attachment, I have made many different flavors of ice cream. Not once have I made Blair’s favorite which is Cookies and Cream. I knew that  had to be changed and boy I am glad I whipped this stuff up. It comes together like most ice cream flavors that I have made before starting with a custard. Once churned, it is loaded with chopped Oreos so you get a taste of the cookies in every single bite. It was a great way to kick off the summer with a new flavor!

 

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

Ingredients:

5 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1¼ cups chopped Oreo cookies

What you’ll do:

In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and a 1/4 cup of sugar until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. Prepare a large bowl filled halfway with ice water, this will be used to cool down the custard later on.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, heavy cream, milk and salt. Set the pan over medium high heat. Once the mixture becomes steamy, remove it from the heat. Slowly temper the milk mixture into the egg mixture, using a spoon or ladle, whisk constantly so you do not cook the eggs. A total of 3-4 spoonfuls should do it, whisk the tempered mixture in with the rest of the milk mixture.  Return the mixture to a low simmer and cook until the mixture thickens, about 1-2 minutes. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, this will remove any cooked eggs bits. Stir in the vanilla extract. Set the bowl inside a larger bowl that is filled with ice water and allow the mixture to cool while stirring occasionally. Once the ice cream base has fully cooled, cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.Freeze the ice cream base in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the churned ice cream to a resealable container and fold in the chopped Oreos. Seal the container and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

source: Smells Like Home who adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anna Walker, and Dabney Gough

Posted in dessert, ice cream | Tagged , |

Jul 03
No Cook Cheesecake3 Comments

Of course one of my favorite things about summer is having a lot more free time on my hands. Part of me wants to spend most of this time in the kitchen baking all those recipes that I have been meaning to try. This poses a problem since there are only two people living in our house, and there are too many treats to go around. The other issue is that some days it’s just too darn hot to turn on the oven or the stove. Since most of the country is in this heat wave that we are having, we all need a quick and easy 4th of July no bake dessert. And it is one of my favorites…cheesecake!

By looking at this photo, it is hard to believe that there was no baking required. Believe me I was just as surprised by the texture and taste of this cheesecake. The graham cracker crust comes together nice and easy. The cream cheese layer whips up in no time and all you need to do is chill it for at least 8 hours to get the firmness that you are looking for. Blair and I have been enjoying this for dessert since Sunday. The tanginess of the cream cheese and the sweetness from the berries compliment each other fantastically. Beat the heat and impress your guests this 4th of July with this showstopper!

No Cook Cheesecake

Ingredients:

15 graham crackers (8 ounces)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
Salt
2 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
2 cups fresh berries

What you’ll do:

Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add melted butter, 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, pulse until combined. The mixture should resemble wet sand. Press crumbs evenly onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom of a measuring cup helps to pack it down nicely. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

In a large bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, yogurt, vanilla, and a pinch of salt; beat until smooth. With a rubber spatula, fold in the prepared whipped cream. Pour cream cheese mixture into crust and smooth top(it may cover up the crust and go over the top, that is okay). Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight. About 15 minutes before serving, combine berries and remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; let macerate for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; release sides to remove from pan. Top with berries and juices.

Source: Everyday Food, July/August 2013

Posted in dessert, quick and easy | Tagged , |

Jul 01
Shake Shack Burgers3 Comments

Every month we head out to dinner with two couples for monthly dinner club, we get to catch up on life and get to try out restaurants that are new to us. When the emails start flying back and forth, and once the date is set, the next all important question is where should we go? I am pretty sure we haven’t been to the same place twice. Back in October, I distinctly remember my friend Katie asking if there was anywhere we were dying to try, my response was Shake Shack. One had recently opened in Philly and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a burger (and chocolate shake) from there. Of course, we like to go fancy when it comes to dinner club so it didn’t make the cut. Fortunately, Blair and I were going to a Penn football game so we planned to have dinner at Shake Shack afterwards. It was heavenly and reminded me of why I love burgers, french fries, and milkshakes so much. When I saw this recipe floating around on some of my friends’ blogs, I needed to get in on the action.

These burgers come together in no time, we ended up doing ours on the grill, which also works just as well as the skillet. The difference between these burgers and any other one I have tried is the cooking method and the sauce. I smothered my burger with the sauce, going over the recommended 1-2 teaspoons. The patties end up on the thinner side (which I love) and they get a nice crust on them while still being juicy on the inside. I wasn’t happy with my picture of these, but I just had to share them with you guys just in case you were looking for a showstopper burger for the 4th! Until I get back into the city, I will gladly make these babies at home all summer long.

Shake Shack Burgers

For the sauce:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 slices kosher dill pickle, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper

For the burgers:
1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter, softened
4 burger rolls, preferably potato
4 leaves lettuce, tops of leaves only
4 slices ripe tomatoes, center-cut preferred
4 slices American or cheddar cheese
What you’ll do:

In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until combined, set aside.

Using your hands, shape the ground beef into 4 patties. Season the tops of the patties liberally with salt and pepper. Using a paper towel, rub vegetable oil on a large stainless steel skillet, then place over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. When skillet is just barely smoking, place the patties seasoned side down into the skillet. With the back of a spatula, flatten the patties until they are about 4 inches wide. Season the tops with salt & pepper, cook until a nice crust forms, about 3-4 minutes. Flip burgers and top each with one slice of cheese. Cover and cook until cheese melts.

While the burgers are cooking, split the buns and spread the butter on the tops and bottoms of all 4 rolls. Place under the broiler until golden brown, alternatively use a toaster or toaster oven. Once the buns are toasted, top with 1-2 teaspoons of sauce. On the top bun, add the lettuce and tomato. Set prepped buns on parchment paper.

Once the patties are cooked, transfer to the bottom bun and cover with toppings and bun tops. Wrap in parchment paper and let sit for 1-2 minutes for the flavors to meld.  Unwrap and serve immediately.

Source: What’s Brewing in the Kitchen via A Taste of Home Cooking

Posted in main dish, quick and easy | Tagged , , |

Jun 27
Lately….1 Comment

Lately, my main priority has been getting a sun tan, drinking Rum Swizzles, and shaking the sand out of my beach bag. We went directly from Bermuda to my parents’ beach house in NJ and just arrived back home this evening. Blair starts his new job on Monday and we are somewhat thankful to get back into a routine of sorts. I just finished planning out our menu plan for this weekend and upcoming week, I can’t wait to share some of the recipes with you. Many of them revolve around the fruits and veggies we are getting in our CSA, we are swimming in blueberries over here. Thanks for bearing with me as I stepped away for a little summer vacation.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Jun 19
Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Lemon & Spinach5 Comments

We recently joined a CSA with my brother and his wife, we had our first pick-up last week, and it got me really excited for all the summer produce. I had found this CSA last year, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to join since I wasn’t sure what to expect and we would be gone for about 2 weeks out of the summer. I convinced my brother to join this year to share knowing that they would enjoy it as well. In our first share, we received the following: a head of romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, parsley, red beets, peas, asparagus, strawberries, and our dairy product was a dozen eggs. If you are a local reader, definitely check out Greensgrow Farms and see if there is a pick-up location that is convenient for you!

Menu planning and grocery shopping last week was a cinch since most of our produce was coming from the share. I am excited to try some new things and also feel like it will challenge me a bit in my cooking and baking this summer. Now that work is over, and Blair is back, I am very much looking forward to being in the kitchen more and more. When trying to figure out how best to use all of our veggies this week, I had my eye on this easy pasta dish for a little while. It was the perfect way to use up the spinach and parsley that we received. I also served this with a side salad using the romaine lettuce.

The longest part of this entire dish is the cooking of the pasta, the creamy goat cheese sauce comes together in under 5 minutes. It is light and perfect for a summer meal. Blair and I both talked about how it would be paired perfectly with some grilled chicken, shrimp, or even a light, white fish. Since we had it as our main meal, we treated it as our vegetarian option for the week. Oh summer cooking, how I love thee!

Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Lemon and Spinach
Serves 2
Ingredients

• 1/2 pound thin spaghetti
• 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
• 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
• Juice and zest from one medium lemon
• 4 cups baby spinach
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• salt and pepper

What you’ll do:
Cook pasta according to package directions.

A few minutes prior to the pasta being done, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. While the pasta finished cooking combine 1/2 cup of the pasta water and goat cheese in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir the water and goat cheese together until the cheese is mostly melted. Add in the chopped parsley, lemon juice, and zest. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, stir in the spinach and cook just until wilted. Remove from heat,  add in the pasta; adding more of the pasta water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle the pine nuts on top.

Source: Very Culinary

Posted in Uncategorized |

Jun 14
Whipped Vanilla Buttercream1 Comment

One thing that I haven’t bought from the store in ages is frosting, whether I need it for a cake I am making or a batch of cupcakes homemade is always the way to go. The thing about homemade frosting that you discover is that it really isn’t all that hard to make and it tastes way better. Everyone needs a basic vanilla buttercream to work with and have in their repertoire, this one is my favorite! It has a light, fluffy texture and is so good that it is hard not to lick it right off the spoon. Definitely guilty of that on many accounts. Another great thing about this frosting is that it pipes so nicely on top of various cupcakes and cakes making an impressive presentation. I will be sharing a new cupcake base next week with all of you. In the meantime, use your favorite base or just go ahead and make a batch to enjoy all by itself, believe me, I won’t judge.

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

Ingredients:
20 tbsp. (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream

 

What you’ll do:

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar, the seeds from the vanilla bean and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice, if needed.

Source:Cook’s Illustrated via The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Posted in dessert, quick and easy | Tagged |

Jun 12
I’m lovin’ it: May edition (a little late)1 Comment

My coworker reminded me that I hadn’t shared my favorites for the month yet. Since I don’t have many recipes saved up at this point, I figured it was the perfect time to do it. Here are things that I have been loving lately:

These pants from LOFT, they are totally out of my comfort zone, but I just needed to have them. The day I wore them to school, one of boys asked me why I was wearing my pajama pants, oh second graders. They kind of feel like pajamas because they are so comfortable, I kind of want to wear them every day.

It is finally swim suit season! I recently took advantage of the J Crew bathing suit sale and snagged this one for 30% in the color Byzantine Blue. I’m not quite sure if I will be able to pull off the high waist bottoms like the model, but I ordered a back up option just in case ;).

A few months ago when we were traveling, I picked up a copy of the HGTV magazine. I loved it so much that I had Blair change my subscription of Food Network (for some reason I was getting two copies) over to this one. It if full of ideas for your home and most of them are affordable and manageable. I made the striped pots for our front porch from the most recent cover (see picture below).

 

Our town. Seriously I love it. We have 2 different farmer’s markets, one on Saturday and one on Wednesday evenings. I recently took a cooking class at The American Table where I found out about a Food swap event. I also learned that Blue Moon Olive Oil and Vinegar does free tastings that seems like a really fun night out. The above picture is a salad from Kevin’s Salad Station, he is at the Westmont Farmer’s Market on Wednesday nights.

In Monday’s post, I mentioned my aunt was visiting from TN. When you put my mom and her together, they are always tackling some project. Lately, I have been the one reaping the benefits of their awesomeness. Above is a picture of the upholstered headboard they made Blair and I. My mom and I need to finish off the buttons, but I absolutely love it and can’t wait to get it into our bedroom. My mom got the fabric from Joann’s, it is a pretty grey linen.

I love summer television, it reminds me of the summers I would spend in CT. We would get hooked on the Bachelorette and So You Think You Can Dance. I am liking Desiree a lot so far, I wasn’t sure that I would. So You Think You Can Dance is still in the early stages so of course I don’t have any favorites just yet.

And for my local readers, I thought it might be fun to start showcasing my favorite restaurants in the area. We have dinner club with two couples and we try lots of new places. First up is Blair and I’s absolute favorite, IndeBlue. They recently opened a new location in Philly as well. This is our number one spot for date night. Blair got me into Indian food back when we first started dating. The staff there does an awesome job of making recommendations for Indian food virgins. They have a great deck and of course it is BYOB. If you are going on a weekend, make sure to make reservations because they book up quickly!

Posted in Uncategorized |

Jun 10
Caprese Pasta Salad2 Comments

For the past few weeks, I have been lost in my own thoughts at night since Blair has been away, they keep me up at night and I don’t sleep my best. I am happy to report that Blair arrived home on Saturday from North Carolina and I feel so fulfilled again. This also means that all those restless nights will be long behind me. It really is true that distance makes the heart grow fonder, I missed this man so much. Before Blair traveled to NC, he interviewed for a job here in the Philadelphia area and I prayed and prayed that he would get it, of course he did! He starts July 1st and I feel incredibly lucky that we get a little bit of time together before he starts his new job! We travel to Bermuda at the end of next week for a long weekend getaway. I just can’t wait to spend time with him over the next few weeks.I am so proud of him and very excited for this new opportunity of his!

Ever since he has been gone, I just haven’t felt myself, like part of me was missing. Hence why this blog has gone by the wayside, not only have I had no motivation to cook, but one of my number one fans has not been here to push me. He really is my cheerleader, photography assistant, and number one taste tester. This week on the menu plan are some new dishes that I hope to be sharing with all of you. Thank you for being patient with me as I took a little break.

Clearly, the summer countdown has been on for a little bit, I have been so focused on things with Blair that I had a hard time getting excited for summer break. I have 5 more days with the kids and I have been somewhat emotional about it. I am really going to miss this class of mine, they have grown so much and although they can make me nuts some day, I really am going to miss them. I also am going to miss the current 6th graders, they were a great class of mine, they will be moving on to the middle school. I have received several thank you letters from them this past week, and my goodness they made me cry. Makes all of those hard days worth it.

With summer break right around the corner, I am looking forward to so many things. Of course BBQs and get-togethers with family and friends are always at the top of the list. This caprese pasta salad is a nice twist on the traditional pasta salad. I put it together for a Memorial Day BBQ at my parents’ house while my aunt and cousins were visiting from TN. It is has the freshest taste and comes together very easily. The dressing is simple as olive oil gets infused with garlic, tossed with some vinegar, and you have a lovely summer meal. Simple ingredients, big flavor.

Caprese Pasta Salad

Ingredients

1 lb. pasta shapes, such as shells, bow ties, etc.
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cubed
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

What you’ll do:

Prepare your desired pasta shapes according to package directions.  Drain well.  Rinse with cold water to remove starches. Drain again and set on a kitchen towel to catch any extra water.  While the pasta is cooling, in a small skillet, combine the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) over medium-low heat.  Let the garlic and olive oil warm, do not let the garlic burn, stir often, cook for 5-10 minutes until flavors are infused. Set aside to cool slightly.

Add the pasta to a large mixing bowl.  Add the tomatoes and mozzarella, toss. Pour the olive oil mixture, vinegar, and basil over the mixture. Fold gently until evenly coated evenly combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Posted in Uncategorized |

May 28
Blueberry Crisp1 Comment

I apologize for the lack of posting these days, adjusting to life without Blair at home as been harder than I imagined. I find myself cooking some staple meals, mooching off of family members, or treating myself to some take-out (workers at Chipotle may or may not already know my order by heart). I am going to try to stick to a schedule of sorts, but I can’t make any promises.

Along with these personal changes, comes the end of the school year which always keeps us teachers busy. I believe the countdown is at 14 days which is amazing! I have been so focused on things with Blair that I haven’t really had time to get myself pumped for the summer.

Blair flew home for the weekend and we accomplished some DIY projects that I have been wanting to tackle. Our neighbors gave us a vintage iron patio set that we decided to paint yellow, now I just need to find the perfect tablecloth to finish it off so we can enjoy it this summer. I also got some inspiration from HGTV magazine to paint some terra-cotta pots with yellow and white stripes. (You can see these projects via my Instagram feed @kblast94) I still need to plants the flowers, but they look adorable on our front steps and compliment the gray color of our home. We enjoyed a Sunday night grill session with this blueberry crisp as dessert. It was the perfect ending to a great weekend.

My friend, Bethany, shared this recipe with me last year and I have to admit I was quite skeptical of it at first because of one secret ingredient. We had dinner at her house about a month ago and she made this for us, it was amazing. I was no longer skeptical! Since then I made it for Mother’s Day and then again this past weekend. It is seriously the best blueberry crisp I have ever had. So now that I have your attention, the secret ingredient to this crisp is mayonnaise. Rather than butter you use the mayo as the binding ingredient to make the crumb topping, it adds a nice tang.

I put the cups of blueberries as a variable in the ingredient list below. When I made this for a larger crowd I did 4 cups of blueberries and doubled the crumb topping. For a smaller crowd, I would do the 2 cups of blueberries with the crumb topping. It also depends how you want your crisp to come out, Blair loves things a little doughy so he would rather have more crumb topping than berries. All personal preference, definitely play around with it to your own liking. All I can tell you is that this will be a summer staple  using up all those delicious berries that are right around the corner!

Blueberry Crisp
  • Ingredients:
  • 2-4 cups of blueberries
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

What you’ll do:

Rinse your blueberries and pat dry. Spread evenly in a small rectangular or square baking dish. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix until well combined. Add in the mayonnaise. Using a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers, work in the mayonnaise until the mixture resembles a crumb topping. Distribute the crumb topping evenly over the blueberries. Bake for 35-40 minutes in a preheated oven until the top is golden brown. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream.

Source: All Recipes via Bethany Golebiewski

Posted in dessert, quick and easy |

May 17
Easy Chocolate Fudge with PretzelsLeave a comment

It has been a long time since I have shared a fudge recipe. One of my very favorite things about fudge is that reminds me of all the wonderful summers that we spent vacationing as a family in Stone Harbor. It not only floods back memories, but at this time of year it gets me excited for the end of the school year and summer vacation. There is only 19 days of the school year left (not like I have a countdown or anything). I am looking forward to longer days and days spent at the beach.

I recently made this fudge for my coworkers and many of them raved about it. As the title states, it is easy. All you do is combine the chocolate with a bunch of other simple ingredients and you let the heat do the work. You end up folding in some chopped pretzels to get that nice balance of sweet and salty. The fudge is finished off with some more chopped pretzels which makes for a pretty appearance. A little piece goes a long way, so I suggest making this for a crowd. Just do it.

Easy Chocolate Fudge with Pretzels

Ingredients:
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (16 ounces)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 1/2 cups roughly chopped miniature pretzels

What you’ll do:

Prepare an by spraying an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leave a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, combine butter, chocolate chips, condensed milk, vanilla, and salt. Stir occasionally until chocolate just melts and mixture is combined and warm but not hot, about 8 to 10 minutes. While the mixture melts, prepare your pretzels by giving them a rough chop.Remove the chocolate mixture from heat and stir in 2 cups pretzels. Transfer mixture to pan and smooth top of the fudge; press the remaining 1/2 cup pretzels on top. Refrigerate until set, 2 hours (or up to overnight, wrapped). Using parchment, lift fudge from pan and cut into 36 squares

Source: Everyday Food

Posted in chocolate, dessert |