Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ice Cream Time!!

Ice cream is the best in the summer, right?  I’ve always thought so.  And while I try to not maintain an “ice cream only” diet during the summer, I haven’t been doing so well lately.  I have been eating a lot of ice cream.  Sometimes we walk down to the ice cream store after dinner, sometimes we drive to go get fro-yo, but my favorite thing to do is bust out my ice cream maker and make it myself.

I have a pretty basic ice cream maker.  It is made by Cuisinart.  You freeze the inside bowl, pour in your ingredients, and let that baby go for about twenty to thirty minutes.  I tend to always keep the bowl in the freezer during the summertime so I can make ice cream at a moment’s notice.  The bowl has to be in the freezer for at least twenty four hours, and there is nothing worse than wanting to make ice cream and having a warm bowl.  Ok, I am sure there are many, many things that are worse….but hey, when you want ice cream……

Have you ever made homemade ice cream?  There are so many different ways to make a yummy cold treat, and some are definitely harder than others.  The hard way involves egg yolks and tempering and the easy way is more of a dump and mix kind of thing.  But that being said, ice cream is always pretty easy to make.  Even the hard way isn’t all that hard. 

Today I am going to show you three different recipes for ice cream.  Well, one is frozen yogurt, but you get my drift.  I will start with my easiest recipe and work my way down to my hardest.  The one thing you have to have is an ice cream maker.  There really is no way around that.  They aren’t expensive and they are such a great thing to have in the summer.  Your family will love it.  You will love it.

My first recipe is for my Caramel Apple Frozen Yogurt.  I use vanilla Greek yogurt, Gourmet Rooster Whiskey Apple Spread and cajeta.  I use fat free yogurt, but that is your call.  With all this ice cream eatin’ I’ve been doing to clean it up where I can.

Do you know what cajeta is?  According to the good people at Wikipedia, cajeta is “Mexican confection of thickened syrup usually made of sweetened caramelized milk.”  So it is basically the most delicious caramel you will ever have.  It comes in a small can, and you can find it in the ethnic section of any grocery store.

I pour my yogurt and Whiskey Apple spread into a mixing bowl and whisk it together.  Little tip here….you can use any brand of apple butter you can find.  Of course, I would prefer you use Gourmet Rooster, but I won’t judge.

Once the yogurt and apple spread are mixed, I pour it into my frozen bowl to the ice cream maker and turn that bad boy on.  Of course, your machine might be slightly different than mine, so always follow your machine’s directions.

This goes quickly!  You will have fro-yo in about ten minutes.  When you think the fro-yo is close to being done, pour your cajeta in through the hole at the top of the machine.  If your ice cream maker doesn’t have a hole in the top, turn it off and open it up to scoop in your cajeta.

I add the cajeta at the end so it doesn’t “seize up” while the freezing is going on.  You want your cajeta to disperse throughout the ice cream in a pretty ribbon, not big globs.

The cajeta gives this ice cream a smoky sweetness that works so well with the tangy flavor of the Greek yogurt and the cinnamon spice of the apple spread.  This is fro-yo perfection.

I recommend you eat this fro-yo as soon as it comes out of the ice cream maker.  Homemade fro-yo doesn’t keep well in the freezer.  It will turn into a rock that you couldn’t dream of eating until it defrosts almost back to its non-frozen state.  Science, man.

I call my second ice cream recipe “Lemon Buttermilk Pie”.  A buttermilk pie is a staple in southern cooking.  It is sometimes called a “chess pie” although that usually involves corn meal in the recipe.  My version uses buttermilk, heavy cream, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and little bits of baked, then frozen pie crust.

I start this recipe by baking a premade pie crust.  I buy one of those store bought refrigerated crusts that comes rolled up.  I unroll it, and bake it laid out flat, according to the package directions.  Once it has baked and cooled, I break it up into little pieces.  Then, I freeze those little pieces, usually overnight.

I freeze the pie crust pieces to keep them from just turning into mush in my ice cream maker.  By adding frozen pieces near the end of the mixing/freezing, the pie crust bits stay firm and crunchy.

My next step starts by whisking together buttermilk and heavy cream.  I also whisk in sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest.  This mixture gets poured into the frozen bowl of the ice cream maker.  I let this go for about fifteen minutes before I add in the frozen pie crust bits.  I let those mix in while the ice cream finishes freezing.

This ice cream is light and fresh tasting.  The lemon and buttermilk combination is tangy, sour and sweet from the addition of cream and sugar.  The pie crust bits makes you think you are sitting on your porch in Alabama eating a fresh lemon buttermilk pie.

You’ll notice this ice cream has no eggs.  The high fat content of the cream keeps the ice cream creamy and smooth.  The buttermilk keeps it light.  This is heaven in a bowl in the summertime.

Ok, my last ice cream is the one that takes a bit of work.  And it’s my favorite.  It’s my Dark Chocolate Orange Chip Ice Cream.  It is a combination of dark chocolate, chocolate chips, sugar, eggs, heavy cream, milk, orange extract and orange zest.

I start by whisking together dark chocolate cocoa powder, heavy cream and whole milk.  It will seem like the cocoa powder won’t want to mix in, but have a little faith….it will.  Then, I pour that into a sauce pan and bring it to a simmer, whisking every once in a while.

While that simmers, I whisk together egg yolks, sugar, orange extract and orange zest in a separate bowl.  Once the cream and milk mixture is simmering, I slowly whisk in about a cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolk/sugar mixture.  This will bring the egg yolks closer to the same temperature as the simmering cream.  When the whole enchilada gets mixed together, the yolks won’t scramble.  This is called “tempering”.  Fancy word, easy process.

Once the yolk mixture has some warm cream mixed in, I add the whole yolky mixture to the simmering cream pot.  I let this cook until it is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon.  This just means that if you were to drag your finger over the back of the spoon, it would leave a trail.  Easy, easy.

Once the mixture is thickened, I pour it back into a bowl and put that in the freezer to cool off the mixture.  The ice cream maker is good, but not that good.  It can’t make ice cream from hot cream.

I let it sit in the freezer for about a half hour.  Then, I pour it into the frozen bowl of the ice cream maker.  This should turn into ice cream in about thirty minutes.  Once you almost have ice cream, toss some chocolate chips in through the hole in the top.

I have to say, this one really is my favorite.  I love the combination of dark chocolate and orange.  And this ice cream is so rich and creamy.  It is super decadent.

I hope that this talked you into getting an ice cream maker if you don’t already have one.  They are so, so worth it.  Make some ice cream!  It’s a summer must.


Caramel Apple Fro-Yo

3 cups Vanilla Greek Yogurt

1 cup Gourmet Rooster Whiskey Apple Spread

½ cup Cajeta (Nestle La Lechera)

Whisk together yogurt and apple spread.  Pour mixture into bowl of ice cream maker.  Run ice cream maker for 10 minutes.  Add cajeta and run for another 5 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.

Serves 4


Lemon Buttermilk Pie Ice Cream

3 cups buttermilk (reduced fat is ok)

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

The zest of 1 lemon (about 1 teaspoon)

½ cup frozen pie crust bits (bake pre-made pie crust and crumble)

Whisk together buttermilk, heavy cream, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth.  Pour into bowl of ice cream maker.  Run for 15 minutes.  Add frozen pie crust bits and run for another 5 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.  Serve immediately as “soft-serve” or freeze for firmer consistency.

Serves 4-6


Dark Chocolate Orange Chip Ice Cream

3 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder, unsweetened

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons orange extract

The zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)

½ cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, whisk together whole milk, heavy cream and cocoa powder until smooth.  Heat mixture in a sauce pan to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, egg yolks, orange extract and orange zest until smooth.  Whisk in 1 cup of the simmering milk mixture.  Whisk until combined.  Add warmed egg mixture to simmering milk, whisking the entire time.  Heat mixture until slightly thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Pour mixture back into a mixing bowl and freeze for about 3 minutes.  Then, pour mixture into bowl of ice cream maker and run for about 30 minutes. Add chocolate chips and run for another 5 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.  Serve immediately for “soft-serve” or freeze for firmer consistency.

Serves 4-6

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chicken and Waffles!

We’re pretty much halfway through summer right?  Where did the time go?  I can’t believe my kids already go back to school in less than a month.  I feel like we haven’t done that much “summery” stuff yet.  I haven’t even been to the beach yet, for cryin’ out loud!  Between work, Farmer’s Markets, kids’ stuff, etc…..we just haven’t had the time.

You know what else I don’t have that much time for?  Cooking a really good meal for dinner.  I have been utilizing the slow cooker, making a lot of main dish salads, you know, that kind of thing. Easy stuff.   But every once in a while, I get the urge to bust out pots and pans, fire up the oven, and really cook something good.  Something the whole family likes. 

Last week, I decided to cook one of our favorite meals.  One that actually requires turning on the oven….chicken and waffles.  I bet to some of you that sounds like a weird combination.  It really isn’t.  Normally, this meal is big ‘ol pieces of fried chicken sitting on top of an equally big waffle, and the whole thing gets drenched in honey or syrup.  Fried chicken is actually phenomenal with sweet flavors like syrup and honey, btw.

For my chicken and waffles, I bake chicken tenders in a crunchy coating of panko bread crumbs and crushed up Captain Crunch cereal.  No Crunch Berries!  The sweet crunch of the cereal is perfect with chicken.  Captain Crunch chicken was actually a thing for a while back in the early nineties when Planet Hollywood was all the rage.  I never had theirs.

I put my baked tenders on top of corn meal waffles and then I drizzle the whole shebang with honey.  To die for.  Let me show you how I make this.

I start with about a pound of chicken tenders.  I usually pull my chicken out of a big bag of frozen breasts, but you can buy your chicken already cut into tenders.  I cut mine, which is quick.  I dip my tenders into a quick bath of whisked eggs, and then they get dipped into a combination of panko bread crumbs, Captain Crunch that I have crushed up into crumbs, salt and pepper. 

I place the coated tenders on a baking rack which is set upon a baking sheet.  Keeping the tenders off the pan lets hot air get all the way around them, leading to crispier chicken.  These are a quick baked, only about fourteen minutes!

I stay busy during those fourteen minutes though….I make waffles!  I have a waffle maker, which is helpful.  Actually, it is more than helpful.  It’s necessary.  If you don’t have a waffle maker, you will have to toast up some frozen waffles.  I won’t judge.

I use a box or two of Jiffy corn muffin mix for my waffles.  I could make them from scratch with corn meal, flour, etc. but this is close enough.  This little box actually turns out some amazing waffles. 

The mix just needs some milk, melted butter and eggs whisked in to get the perfect waffles.  The box calls for shortening, but that’s weird.  Butter works just fine.  I don’t add any sugar or sweetness to the waffles because the chicken has a sweet coating, plus the whole thing gets honey on top. 

I bake my waffles in my waffle maker for just a couple of minutes.  And yes, I peek in several times to see if the waffles are cooked.  I have zero patience for food.

Once I have my cooked chicken, and cooked waffles, I serve them by placing a waffle on a plate and then topping each waffle with about three tenders.  I drizzle delicious local honey all over the top, and it’s good to go! 


This really is a perfect dinner.  It is sweet, savory, filling and all together perfect.  And it still is pretty easy.  Yes, it requires a bit more work than my usual dinners, but it still isn’t hard.  And you could always split this up.  The waffles make a great breakfast and the chicken fingers are obviously good anytime.

I think this dinner needs a dessert, don’t you?  Since this meal was vaguely Southern, I thought it would be best followed by my Sweet Tea Cake.  This cake tastes like a tall glass of sweet tea, which is one of my faves.

I use a boxed white cake mix (surprise, surprise), strongly brewed Lipton tea, eggs, butter, powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice to pull this cake together.  I don’t add any additional sugar.  The “sweet” part is the cake.  And I use a Bundt pan, but your cake shape is entirely up to you.

In my standing mixer, I blend together the cake mix, three eggs, melted butter and some strongly brewed tea.  For the tea, I just let three tea bags steep in just 1 ¼ cup hot water.  This makes one heckuva cup of tea.  But you need it strong to achieve the right flavor.

I bake my cake in a Bundt pan, like we just talked about.  When the cake is cooked and cooled a bit, I invert it out of its pan.  Then, I drizzle it with a mixture of powdered sugar, lemon juice and a splash of milk.  Do you not like lemon in your sweet tea?  Leave it out!  This cake is just as good with just a glaze made from powdered sugar and milk.


My family loves this cake.  My kids don’t even like tea, but they love this cake!  But really, what wouldn’t be delicious in cake form?

See you all next week!

Captain Crunch Chicken Tenders

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders

3 eggs

1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs

1 ½ cups Captain Crunch cereal, crushed into crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a baking rack on top of a baking sheet.  Spray rack with cooking spray.

Whisk together eggs in a shallow dish.  Add panko, cereal, salt and pepper to another shallow dish.  Mix well. 

Dip each tender into eggs, then Panko/cereal mixture.  Press crumbs into each tender.  Place tenders on baking rack leaving about 1 inch between tenders.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Serves 4

Corn Waffles

2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, 8.5 ounce each

2 eggs

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 ½ cups milk

Preheat waffle maker.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together mixes, eggs and milk until just blended.  Slowly whisk in melted butter until incorporated.

Pour about ½ cup of batter onto waffle maker.  Bake waffle for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes about 6 waffles.


Sweet Tea Cake

1 box white cake mix

3 eggs

1 ¼ cups strongly brewed tea, (3 tea bags steeped in 1 ¼ cups hot water for at least 30 minutes)

1/3 cup butter, melted

For glaze:

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons milk

1 to 1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray Bundt pan with cooking spray or grease with melted butter.

In a mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, melted butter and tea.  Mix with a hand mixer for 2 minutes.

Pour cake into greased Bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and pulling away from the sides.

Let cool for 15 minutes before inverting cake onto a platter.

For glaze:

Whisk together ingredients until smooth.  Pour over cooled cake.

Serves 12

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"Plate Lunch".....Hawaiian Style

Aloha.  I want to go to Hawaii.  I am just throwing that out there in case one of you is going soon and would like to take me.  Just putting it out there in the atmosphere.  I used to go a lot when I was little.  My dad worked there for a short period of time too.  I was a lucky kid.  As an adult, I haven’t been since my honeymoon, almost twelve years ago.

I still dream about Hawaii even though I haven’t been for a long time.  The beach, the weather, and mostly….the food.  I love Hawaiian food.  Are you familiar?  Hawaii has lots of seafood, lots of Spam, lots of Asian influences, Portuguese sausage (at McDonald’s for breakfast!) and a little something called a “plate lunch”.

A “plate lunch” is a standard in Hawaii.  It is essentially, a meat, which is your main, two scoops of white rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.  Probably not the best thing for you, but so crazy good.  The meat, or seafood, is always delicious and the macaroni salad is different than a typical mainland macaroni salad.  It is a little bit sweeter, I would say.

Hawaiian restaurants that serve this kind of deliciousness have popped up all over the mainland.  When I lived in California, I had several to choose from.  I don’t have as many choices here in Nevada, but no big deal…I’ll make my own.

For my plate lunch, I am going to show you how to make Kalua pork, my macaroni salad and for dessert, a yummy Pina Colada Cupcake!  First, let me explain Kalua pork if you are unfamiliar.  Kalua pork, also called Kalua pig is named after a traditional cooking method, or “Kalua”.  It means to cook in an underground oven.  Basically, a pig is salted, stuffed with hot rocks, wrapped in banana leaves and buried in the ground.  The pig cooks underground for a long time, like six hours.  When it comes out and is unwrapped, the meat is smoky and tender.  It falls apart it is so tender.

Clearly, I won’t be digging a hole in my backyard and burying a pig.  I think my Homeowner’s Association frowns on that.  I am going to make do with my slow cooker.  I guess I could bury the slow cooker, but the electricity would be a problem.

I start with a four to five pound pork butt.  I chose a boneless version because that is what looked goof that day.  Bone in, bone out…it doesn’t matter.  Just make sure you have a nice fatty butt.  I rub the whole thing with liquid smoke and kosher salt.  You can use any salt, really.  Hawaiian sea salt would be great, but any will work.

Once the pork has been rubbed down, I set it in my slow cooker that has been lined with banana leaves.  (These actually aren’t as hard to find as you would think, and they really do add an authenticity that can’t be beat.  I found mine at an Asian grocer in the frozen section.)  I wrap the leaves around the pork to make a banana leaf package.  Then, I let the cooker go for 10 hours.

When the meat comes out, it will fall apart.  I discard the leaves, shred the meat and return it to the smoky cooking liquid.  This meat is crazy, knock your socks off, good.  It will make you want to Tahitian dance, twirl fire and maybe even surf.  And so easy!  The slow cooker does all the work!

And just in case you were wondering, the banana leaves are totally optional.  But you really should go to your local Asian grocer.  I could wander around for days.  The food is amazing.

As for my macaroni salad….it is a pretty basic recipe.  I boil macaroni noodles until they are totally done.  No al dente here.  A good Hawaiian macaroni salad has fat, fully cooked noodles.  The drained noodles get mixed with chopped celery, bell pepper, carrot and red onion.  I also stir in chopped Canadian bacon and shredded cheddar cheese.  The dressing is mayo, milk, cider vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper.  It is reminiscent of the dressing that goes on a broccoli salad.

The whole this gets mixed together and chilled.  It is perfect next to a mound of Kalua pork and white rice.  I topped my pork with a Guava Pineapple Teriyaki sauce I found at the Asian market.  Seriously, go there.  You will love it.


Doesn’t this make you want to put on a grass skirt?

Finally, the cupcakes.  Have some of you been waiting for this only?  For my Pina Colada cupcakes, I use a white box cake mix.  I add three whole eggs as opposed to egg whites only, melted butter instead of oil and pineapple juice instead of water.  I also throw in a couple of teaspoons of rum extract.

I bake the cupcakes according to package directions and let them cool.  As for my frosting….I use butter, powdered sugar, milk or heavy cream and pineapple jam.  I look for a really stiff pineapple jam.  Play with the jars in the store.  Throw them around, tip them over, see what looks stiff and thick.  I’m kidding of course.  You will get thrown out.

I blend the softened butter with the pineapple jam and powdered sugar in my standing mixer.  How much milk you add depends on how stiff your jam is.  I needed about a quarter cup.

This gets spread over the cupcakes, and then for the crowning glory, I dip each frosted cupcake in sweetened flake coconut.  Yum!  So tropical and so yummy! 


Who wouldn’t want this on a hot summer night?  Or any other night?

If you would like to take me to Hawaii, let me know soon.  I will have to practice my hula.  If not, make these recipes and we can all pretend.


Kalua Pork

4 to 5 pound boneless pork butt (or blade roast)

½ cup liquid smoke

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Banana leaves

Line slow cooker with defrosted banana leaves.

Rub pork evenly with liquid smoke and salt.  Place in slow cooker on top of banana leaves.  Fold leaves over the top of pork, forming a “package”.

Cook on low for 10 hours.  Remove meat from cooker, shred and return to pot and cooking juices.

Serves  6 to 8

Court’s Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

1 pound elbow macaroni, boiled till done and cooled

½ cup carrots, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

½ cup bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup red onion, chopped

½ cup Canadian bacon, chopped

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix elbow macaroni, carrots, celery, bell pepper, red onion, Canadian bacon and shredded cheese together in a large bowl.

Is a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar, milk, sugar, salt and pepper.  Pour half over macaroni salad.  Mix well.  Wait 10 minutes to pour over remaining dressing.  Mix well and chill.

Serves 12


Pina Colada Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix

3 eggs

1 stick butter, melted

1 ¼ cup pineapple juice

2 teaspoons rum extract


1 stick butter

½ cup pineapple jam

3 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup heavy cream or milk

1 cup sweetened flake coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together (with a hand mixer) cake mix, eggs, butter, juice and rum extract for about two minutes.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full.  Bake according to package directions.  Let cupcakes cool for at least 2 hours.

For frosting:

With a hand mixer, beat together softened butter and pineapple jam.  Once that is blended, slowly blend in powdered sugar and cream/milk.  Beat until desired consistency is reached.

Frost cupcakes evenly.  Place coconut in a shallow dish.  Dip each frosted cupcake into coconut.

Makes 22-24 cupcakes