Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


***Brad and my Uncle Hal have created a monster...an ice cream monster!  Brad surprised me with a Cuisinart ice cream maker as part of my Valentine's present this year.  I was so excited, because I've been wanting one for a while.  My Uncle Hal found this particular ice cream maker while we were shopping during their recent visit.

Get this...it makes ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet...all just by flipping a switch.  There's no hand-churning, rock salt or bags of ice required.  This machine makes it so easy, which probably isn't very good for our waistlines!  Thank goodness we've both been working our butts off (literally, I guess!  haha) on the treadmill.  A little ice cream is a good reward for such hard work, right??  That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.  :-)

When I asked Brad what flavor he wanted me to try first, his answer was a resounding Mint Chocolate Chip!  See, that's always been one of his favorites, if not his #1 favorite.  I found a great recipe at allrecipes.com, which I decided to give a shot.  There are a lot of recipes out there that call for real, fresh peppermint leaves.  Because fresh peppermint is in short supply around here, I had to stick with a recipe that included peppermint extract.  I did use dark Ghiradelli chocolate, which was fabulous...we love the hint of dark chocolate.  The results were nothing short of mind-blowingly, decadently delicious.  In fact, I just finished off a few scoops about an hour ago.  

Oh, this could be dangerous...

Bon Appetit!***

Sweet goodness...

Still churning away in the ice cream maker...


Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract until the sugar has dissolved. Color to your liking with the green food coloring.
  2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After about 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. After the ice cream has thickened, about 30 minutes later, spoon into a container, and freeze for 2 hours.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Delicious Cheese & Sausage Balls


***Some things are so addictive - chocolate, a good book, coffee, shopping...and these Cheese & Sausage Balls!  

My Aunt Julie brought the ingredients along when they came to stay with us last weekend.  Brad and I were both so happy!  This recipe is something that she makes on Christmas day every year, so it was a special treat for us to have them on William's birthday weekend!  

The best part? - This recipe is incredibly easy but absolutely packed with yummy deliciousness.  Each little bite is like biting into a sausage biscuit from your favorite breakfast restaurant.  Even though they are made with hot sausage, they're not too spicy.  Let me just say this - I usually don't like anything that's super spicy, and these are amazing!  We did leave out the cayenne pepper, but if you like the heat, by all means add it in!

This is the sort of thing that would make a perfect appetizer for a party.  They'd be so cute with a fancy little toothpick stuck in each one, and arranged in rows on a pretty platter.  If you volunteer to bring appetizers to a party or family gathering anytime soon, this just might be the recipe you're looking for!

Bon Appetit!***

 Before baking...

Cheese & Sausage Balls
Source:  Julie Culbreth

Ingredients:
3 cups Pioneer Brand Buttermilk Biscuit & Baking Mix OR Bisquick
1 lb. mild or hot sausage, depending on your preference
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)


Directions:
Mix baking mix and raw sausage.  Add softened cheese, then pepper.  Blend well.  Shape into 3/4 inch balls.  Bake at 375-400 degrees F, for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Devour!


Recipe makes 9 dozen.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream + Happy Birthday William!


***I have had such a fabulous, awesome, and fun weekend...I am sad that it's almost over!  On Friday, my Uncle Hal, Aunt Julie and cousin William came into town for William's birthday.  I was so happy that I got to help celebrate his big day and even happier that I got to spend the whole weekend with them!  He turned the big 1-7, and I had just the perfect idea in mind for his cake.  A few weeks earlier, he mentioned that he had seen my cinnamon rolls on this blog, and that he really wanted to try some.  Well, what could be better than a birthday cake made entirely out of cinnamon rolls, then?!?


When I was younger, I remember going to Hal & Julie's house for dinner.  We would eat spaghetti, swim in their awesome jacuzzi and eat Cookies & Cream Ice Cream...

Oh.My.Goodness...

That ice cream... 




 Uncle Hal working his magic...

The whole gang...

I still remember how decadently perfect that ice cream always was.  It was creamy, sweet, and filled with crunchy pieces of Oreo cookies.  I seriously can't think of many things more delicious than homemade ice cream...especially THIS ice cream!  It just doesn't get much better than that, folks.  Those fun dinner nights at my aunt and uncle's house bring back so many happy memories...just like eating this dessert!  In fact, Brad has heard me brag about their Cookies & Cream Ice Cream for years, and he finally got to experience his own little bit of ice cream heaven last night....haha.


The recipe is simple and comes together in about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  I know it's been a little chilly outside, but we couldn't help ourselves this weekend...It was just too much fun.  Here are some more photos for you to drool over...





Cookies & Cream Ice Cream
Source:  cooks.com

Ingredients:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
2 c. sugar
15-20 Oreo cookies
Approx. 3 c. milk

Directions:
Mix together all ingredients EXCEPT cookies with hand mixer. Pour into ice cream freezer. Add additional milk if needed to reach the fill mark. Halfway through freezing process add Oreo cookies. Makes 1 gallon.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Florentine Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken


***Prosciutto...Just the word brings back delicious memories from our time in Italy.  That's where you can find the finest Prosciutto di Parma in all the world.  I remember waking up at our hotel in Florence, Italy and walking downstairs to a gorgeous array of breakfast food - prosciutto included!  Sadly, the packaged prosciutto that you can find in the grocery stores here in the USA just doesn't compare.  However, I will say that The Fresh Market has some of the best that I've been able to find.  There, they cut it fresh for you.


This recipe for Florentine Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken is simply delish.  The toasted pine nuts and nutmeg both add such wonderful flavors to this dish.  In fact, if you don't have nutmeg, don't make this chicken without it - It makes such a difference!


When a trip to Italy isn't possible, this yummy dinner sure does do the trick!


Bon Appetit!***

Florentine Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken
Source:  Look + Cook cookbook by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
  • 1 box frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A few grates nutmeg
  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 6 slices prosciutto di Parma, 1/3 pound
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
 Butterfly each chicken breast, then add the spinach stuffing.

All wrapped up in prosciutto and ready to go!

Preparation:
Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
Wring out defrosted spinach in clean kitchen towel.

Toast nuts and combine with spinach in a bowl, mix in cheeses, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Cut into and across but not all the way through the chicken breasts, opening them up like a book with a sharp knife. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Fill each with a small mound of stuffing. Flap chicken breasts back over stuffing and wrap each breast with prosciutto to seal them, carefully covering the whole breast. Brush chicken all over with some EVOO and roast 18-20 minutes until cooked through.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Citrus Chicken Stir-Fry - Perfect for the Chinese New Year!



***Just in time for the Chinese New Year, here is a stir-fry recipe that's packed with delicious, citrusy flavors.  I was so pleased with the way this dinner came out, and I'm thankful there are leftovers in the fridge!  The sauce is incredible...It's made up of orange marmalade, fresh ginger, soy sauce, and chicken stock, which couldn't be any easier.  The sauce has a fresh, delicate taste that isn't overpowering.  The orange flavors and fresh ginger are definitely the star of the show.

This dish comes together so fast.  Take Rachael's advice and have all the veggies prepared and next to the stove.  As you can see, I used thinly sliced chicken when I prepared it.  Like Rachael mentions, you can also use pork or shrimp.  If you're feeling extra ambitious, you could even use all three and make it a stir-fry combination!

WATCH THE VIDEO:
You can watch Rachael Ray make this dish HERE!

If you want to learn more about the Chinese New Year, here are a few interesting links that you can check out.

Citrus Soy Chicken Stir-Fry
Source: Look + Cook cookbook by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 cup stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup Tamari (aged soy sauce...I used reduced sodium soy sauce)
  • 1 inch ginger root, peeled grated
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I omitted this)
  • 2 tablespoons high temp oil such as safflower, peanut or vegetable
  • 1 pound thinly sliced chicken or pork or peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound snow peas, halved on an angle
  • 1 small bunch of thin scallions, thinly sliced on an angle into 2 inch pieces, whites and greens

Preparation:

Heat a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook pasta to al dente. Prepare all ingredients and pile them near the stove top. Mix together the stock, Tamari, ginger, orange marmalade, black pepper and hot sauce in a bowl. 

Once the pasta is dropped into the pot, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. When oil smokes add meat and stir fry 2-3 minutes then add vegetables and stir fry 3 minutes more (or until meat is cooked through).  Stir in the sauce and toss for 1-2 minutes, then drain the pasta and combine.  

For shrimp, stir-fry it for 1 minute, add the edamame, snow peas and scallions.  Stir-fry for 3 minutes more, then add the sauce and toss with the pasta.