Thursday, May 26, 2011

Brownie Batter Ice Cream

Another day, another chocolate addiction. And this one is a keeper.

This might be up there with the best ice cream I've ever had. Certainly the best I've ever made. And anyone who knows me knows that I am quite the ice cream enthusiast/self-proclaimed connoisseur. And this stuff is gooooood.

Creamy and pure vanilla ice cream falls in love with dark, raw brownie batter. They're having a marvelously happy life together. In my belly.

Brownie Batter Ice Cream

For the ice cream:
1 cup egg beaters (equivalent of 4 eggs)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups cream
2-3 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
Most of the brownie batter

For the brownie batter:
2 1/4 sticks butter, melted
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup plus 4 TB cocoa powder
1/2 cup special dark cocoa powder (if you don't have this, just use regular cocoa)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 cup egg beaters
1/2 cup flour

Directions: For the ice cream, cream the sugars and eggs with a hand mixer. Combine rest of ingredients, then add most of the brownie batter mixture. Pour into ice cream maker container and chill for a few hours. Then make the ice cream according to the ice cream maker's instructions.

My handy dandy electric churner did all the hard work for me. All I had to do was keep pouring in ice and salt.

The ice cream maker took about 20 minutes to finish churning the ice cream. You can eat it immediately, or stick it in the freezer for a few hours for a harder consistency.

I'm telling you, this ice cream is amazing. It knocks the socks off Ben & Jerry's version of the flavor. And this is even before the half-raw brownie pieces are added.

Rich chocolate batter combines with the vanilla ice cream to form perfection. To step this up one more notch (as if that is necessary), I put a bit of the brownie batter into the oven at 325 degrees until it was a little bit cooked. About 10 minutes or so. Then crumbled some pieces into the mix.

 Luckily, this recipe makes a ton of ice cream so there is plenty left over to dip into any time, day or night. Put it in a tub and stick it in the freezer. Put some wax paper over the top to keep the freezer burn away (Thanks Martha Stewart...).

 And dish out a bowl of this awesome ice cream whenever you fancy. Like right now. Stay tuned for many more ice creams to come. I think I've started something here. I smell another obsession. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Molten chocolate. Enough said.

Sometimes, my love for chocolate takes over. Uncontrollably. This is one such time. When it comes in the form of an individual little cup of half molten chocolate, have brownie-like cake, I fall head over heels. In love. L-O-V-E.

And these are easy and (relatively) not bad for you. Which is why I find it okay to eat two or more individual portions. With ice cream. Not bad.

This type of rationalizing = the reason I run.

Chocolate Lava Cakes (makes 8 small servings)
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond milk or 1% milk
3 TB canola oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup very hot water
Directions: Boil 2 cups of water. Grease your serving dishes or ramekins.
Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir, then add in milk and oil until well combined. Pour into dishes.

Sprinkle brown sugar on top.

Then sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Sprinkle a little bit of vanilla on each dish. Then, pour hot water over top of the batter and don't stir. I know. It looks really weird. But it works.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Don't overcook! These should look undercooked, they are lava cakes. Which means gooey chocolate middles are meant to be. Eat, fall in love and be happy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Baked Goat Cheese and Brown Sugar Toasts

I have a new obsession.
To add to a long list of current obsessions. It's up there with honey Greek yogurt, Just Bunches cereal, dark chocolate ice cream. Which is to say, I eat it at least once a day.

Sometimes twice.

Once you try it, you might too. Anything that combines bread, goat cheese, brown sugar and walnuts has me hooked, especially when it's this easy to make. With only 4 ingredients. Little slices of heaven.

First things first, so we'll start with the bread. Don't waste your goat cheese on just any old bread. This is so much better with a good, thick chunk of fresh made bread. A couple of my favorites types to use are french baguettes and sourdough boules. Here, I used a loaf of 9-grain Italian.

Cut off a few hefty slices, depending how many you want. Next step, spread on the goat cheese. If the goat cheese is cold, this might be a bit difficult. I find popping the bread in the toaster for a minute helps in this process by melting the goat cheese when you apply it to the warm bread. And even if it's a bit chunky, no worries. It will melt more when you bake it.

Next, sprinkle on the brown sugar. 

Then the walnuts.

Stick them under the broiler until the cheese starts to melt and the bread and walnuts begin to toast. Remove and eat while it's warm and melted!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookies

Today I did a great thing.

Today I combined two of the best things to ever exist on this earth into one messy, magnificent bite. Today I made ice cream sandwiches. Out of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Be still my heart.

First step, the oatmeal cookies. And I use my ultra secret oatmeal cookie recipe... right off the top of the oatmeal container. Thanks, Quaker Oats:

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin CHOCOLATE CHIP Cookies
(slightly changed from Quaker's original)
1/2 cup crisco
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups Quaker Oats, Old Fashioned
1-2 cups chocolate chips
Directions: Mix together butter and sugars. Add the rest of the ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Half chocolate chip, half raisin, for the wusses out there.
These are perfect, even pre-ice cream.

Assembling the ice cream sandwiches is easy. Simply pick your favorite cookies and slap some ice cream in between.

Either eat them immediately, which is very tempting/rewarding/messy, or stick them in the freezer to harden for later. Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

I've been slacking on the baking (and the blogging) for the past two weeks. Between looking for a real job and working as a waitress I've had just enough time to grab a few bowls of cereal here and there and sleep occasionally. I'm ready for a true 9-5, to say the least. Bring on the routine hours and predictable days of sitting at a desk and editing, please. But finally, today, a day of respite with nothing at all required of me. With a lazy day ahead of me, I rolled out of bed at a prompt 10:30... to a 45-degree overcast day. Bad for boating, running, biking, sunbathing. Perfect for baking.

It was a toss-up between the following recipe and my favorite cookie in the world, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Since I'm planning a massive breakfast-for-dinner affair tonight, I figured a cookie would be a little too much like the stacks of pancakes I'm bound to consume. But be prepared for those in the very near future. So, I present to you

So good with vanilla ice cream, as usual.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble 

2 cups rhubarb, cut into pieces
2 cups strawberry, ditto
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 TB corn starch
1 cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
Pinch of salt
Directions: Mix rhubarb, sugar, water, vanilla, salt and corn starch. Pour into pan; mix topping ingredients and add to top. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. As easy as 1, 2, 3.

 Mix, crumble, eat. Today was my easy day with a perfect dessert to top it off.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Iced lemon cookies

On very rare occasions, I am not craving chocolate. Once again, I said rarely, because 9 out of 10 times chocolate wins. But every once in awhile, I want something sweet and tart and extremely lemony. That is when I make these lovely cookies.

Iced lemon cookies:

Cookie Ingredients:
1 lemon (2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 tsp lemon rind)
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup crisco
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp orange rind
1/2 tsp grapefruit rind

Directions: De-juice lemon and use a grater to get at least 1 tsp of lemon rind. More will make the cookies more lemony. Use the grater to extract a 1/2 tsp of rind from both the orange and grapefruit. This adds a depth of flavor so it isn't all lemon all the time. Mix together all ingredients. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, until a toothpick comes out relatively clean. Cool.

Icing Ingredients:
2 TB lemon juice
1-1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
3 TB butter, softened

Directions: Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer. Apply to cookies liberally.

Candied Lemon Ingredients:
1 or 2 lemons, very thinly sliced
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 TB corn syrup

Directions: Slice the lemons as thinly as possible. In a large pot, combine the sugar and water and allow to heat until the sugar dissolves. Add corn syrup, mix, and bring to a boil. Now it's ready for your lemon slices. Add those to the boiling water and allow to poach until the lemons are translucent. This takes about twenty minutes.Remove from water and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees for about an hour and a half, or until they start to crisp and brown. Remove, allow to cool, and place on top of cookies.

These are tart and sweet with three layers of texture and taste. The soft pillowy citrus cookie is topped with the sweet and creamy icing, then the chewy crunch of the lemon tops it off perfectly. I also like to take the lemon off to eat all by itself. Enjoy with lemonade on a sunny day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wild Ohio Morels

The hunt for the ever illusive morel mushroom has begun. Okay, so I've been attempting to hunt them for three weeks now, but today was my first successful hunt.

After an hour of fruitless hunting in the woods, after half twisting my ankle and tripping on sticks about twelve times, I spotted my first little mushroom. Just patiently waiting for me under a tree. Hi there.

 And then, shortly thereafter, four more appeared under another dead elm tree!
 Like magic.

 A little grove of mushrooms, waiting for me to come and fry them up.

Two hours and five mushrooms later, the hunt was done. I wasn't returning triumphantly with the bagfuls of 6-inch mushrooms I'd imagined, but still, five is better than none.

And all that tromping through the woods works up an appetite.

Fried Morels (Sponge Mushrooms)
As many morels as you can find
Lots of butter
Salt water

Cut off the dirty ends of the mushrooms, the parts that were in the ground. Rinse the mushrooms to remove clumps of dirt. Cut in half.

Soak in salt water. This cleans the mushroom and gets out any bugs or whatnot. Don't think about it, just do it.

Remove from salt water bath and roll in flour and cornmeal mixture. Add a touch of pepper.

In a medium-sized pan, melt butter. When it is hot, add the mushrooms. Cook until they are crispy and most of the butter is gone.
A big hunk of butter is mandatory.

And voila! Buttery, crispy morels still hot from the pan. Very few things in life are better.

Okay, so my hopes for foraging my dinner didn't quite work out. A pizza was necessary to fill in the gaps in my provisions. Hopefully next time the hunt is on, I'll find the legendary mushroom fields where there are so many, you couldn't possibly eat them all. But until then, I'll eat my few but mighty morels and be happy.

** Only eat the morel (sponge) mushrooms. If you aren't sure what type of mushroom you've found, don't eat it. Don't mess with fungi.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fresh Rhubarb for Pie

It's finally that time of year.

When the Indians are winning and winning and winning, for once? When the sun finally begins to shine for short periods during the day? When you can walk out the door without a heavy coat? When bathing suit season starts looming in the semi-near future? Yes yes yes and yes (but we'll forget about the last one).

All of these wonderful things are true, but more importantly, it's the time of year when fresh produce starts popping up in the garden. This is the sweetest time of year, the time to shine for those emerging fruits and vegetables, because after a month or two we'll have eaten them in so much excess with so many left overs that we can't give them away. And they're still growing. For example, who even wants to look at a zucchini in September? No one, that's who. But not yet. Now the early vegetables are stars. Now is their big debut onto the table and into our hearts.

So, today I bring you fresh-from-the-garden rhubarb.

Looks like a rhubarb pie is in order...

 Now, the only time I like pies is when they have a crumbly top. But my family demands double crusted pie. So, I give you a compromise.

Crust & Crumble Rhubarb Pie
 2 pie crusts
2 cups sugar
2/3 cups flour
6 cups of 1/2 inch pieces of fresh rhubarb
1/2 TB butter, for sprinkling
 For crumble:
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup firm butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Lie one pie pan with crust. Mix all pie ingredients together and put into pie. Sprinkle butter over the half of the pie that will be covered by crust.

Cut the remaining pie crust in half and cover half the pie with it. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch flutes in the edges.
Mix crumble ingredients together with a fork until crumbly. Place on other half of pie.

Bake for 15 minutes, then cover edges of the crust with foil. This is to keep the crust from burning and getting too crispy. Watch your hands and forearms, it's easy to burn yourself while putting the foil on. If you are accident-prone like myself, I suggest taking the pie out of the oven to put the foil on.

Turn oven down to 350 and bake for 25 to 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 2 hours. Serve with lots of vanilla ice cream and coffee.