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Hello?  Anyone there?  If you are, I apologize for my 3 month-long blog silence.  I can’t even feign being super busy this spring (speaking of, what spring?), as I was only taking one class this semester.  And boy, was that SO nice.  But not nice enough to make me want to spend the next 4 years getting my grad degree.  We’ll stick with 2.5 or so, if possible.  That’s slow enough as it is!

Anyway, thanks for sticking around, blogging friends.  As you can see, my poor blog wasn’t a high priority for me this winter/spring.  I have been making and eating some amazing meals, but I haven’t been chronicling them enough, or at all.  I got an ice cream attachment for my mixer, and oh man, the world of homemade ice cream is a really amazing (and fattening) one.  Sadly it’s the one baked good/dessert that I can’t just send to work with Brad and be done with.  We actually eat the ice cream ourselves, and all of it at that!

This recipe, oh this recipe.  So this was one of the more involved ice creams I have made (although there has been talk of trying to make coffee oreo with homemade oeros.  I’ve done both, but separately), and it’s SO delicious.  I honestly don’t remember if I have had tin roof ice cream (or sundaes) before, but the flavor combination is pretty awesome.  Vanilla ice cream (and not that yellowy crap you might find at the grocery store, this has beans in it), homemade fudge ripple (again, another favorite), and chocolate covered peanuts.

I’ve gotten it down where I will make the base one evening, chill it overnight, churn it the next evening (or day, depending), and then chill that overnight, so that I have some really delicious and firm ice cream.  I still do love to go to the beach (Revere, don’t judge) to get ice cream at my favorite shop Twist & Shake (the owner is pretty awesome).  But nothing beats the homemade stuff.

I promise I am going to try to come around more often, I really will.

Tin Roof Ice Cream

Source: Brown Eyed Baker

¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1½ cups heavy cream
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup Chocolate-Covered Peanuts (recipe follows)
Fudge Ripple (recipe follows)

1. Warm the milk, sugar, salt and ½ cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. With a sharp paring knife, scrape the flavorful seeds from the vanilla bean and add them, along with the pod, to the hot milk mixture. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Rewarm the vanilla-infused mixture. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream to cool. Remove the vanilla bean, wipe it clean of any egg bits, and add it back to the custard. Stir in the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

4. When ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla bean (it can be rinsed and reused). Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is freezing, chop the peanuts into bite-sized peanuts.

5. Fold the peanut pieces into the frozen ice cream as you remove it from the machine, and layer it with Fudge Ripple.


Chocolate-Covered Peanuts

4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

1. Put the pieces of chocolate in an absolutely dry heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. In the meantime, stretch a piece of plastic wrap over a dinner plate.

2. Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the peanuts, coating them with the chocolate. Spread the mixture on the plastic-lined plate and chil.

Mixing them in: Use a chef’s knife to chop the chocolate-covered block of peanuts into bite-sized pieces, then mix them into 1 quart of ice cream as you remove it from the machine.

Storage: Chocolate-Covered Peanuts can be stored for several months in an air-tight container, refrigerated at room temperature.


Fudge Ripple

½ cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges.

2. Continue to whisk until it just comes to a low boil. Cook for 1  minute, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool. Chill in the refrigerator before using.

Mixing it in: The Fudge Ripple should be thoroughly chilled, as it’s easiest to use when very cold. Just before you remove the ice cream from the machine, spoon some of the Fudge Ripple onto the bottom of the storage container. As you remove the ice cream from the machine, layer generous spoonfuls of the sauce between layers of ice cream. Avoid stirring the Fudge Ripple, as it will make the ice cream muddy looking.

Storage: Fudge Ripple can be stored for up to 2 weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.

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I know I have sort of dropped off the face of the earth.  I promise, I am still alive, I started my new job a few weeks ago, and am still getting used to my new commute, coworkers, job and routine.  I do have to say that working in downtown Boston is quite fabulous, even if I am tempted by countless stores and restaurants.  I’m trying to be good and continue to bring my own tea and lunch everyday.

Summer has also finally arrived here (both officially and in terms of weather)!  We had a slow start to June, which was unfortunate, considering that May was gorgeous.  We never have nice springs here in New England, and this year seemed to be the best one I can remember in a long time.  Let’s hope that we can continue the momentum and have a fantastic summer.  I’m looking forward to random beach days!

This recipe for chocolate whiskey pots de creme comes from Tartelette, who happens to be a woman named Helen, who lives in Charleston (my favorite!) by way of France.  If you don’t know her site, you should, as her pictures are to die for.  Mine does her recipe no justice, but she seems to have an amazing array of serving pieces.

The recipe is actually quite easy, and amazingly delicious.  I had to borrow some whiskey from some neighbors of ours, as I am not generally a brown liquor kind of girl (I am trying to expand my horizons).  The result was not overpowering at all, and the chocolate wasn’t too rich or sweet.  I definitely recommend this recipe, and I am pretty sure I used the whites to make either meringues or angel food cake.  Since I don’t have an ice cream maker I always end up wasting yolks when I make angel food cake, so now I can actually use all of the egg when making something that requires egg whites!

This is also a great entertaining recipe, since you can make it well in advance and you really have to do nothing to serve them except for take them out of the fridge!

Chocolate Whiskey Pots de Creme

Source: Tartelette

6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup whole milk (I had 1% and it still worked fine)
1 cup heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup Irish whiskey (I used the full 1/4 cup and didn’t think it was too overpowering)

Place 6 to 8 ramekins into a roasting pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the honey for 2-3 minutes.

In the meantime, bring the milk and cream to a simmer in a large saucepan set over medium high heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate to the mixture. Slowly whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. (return over low heat if it needs a bit more heat to dissolve). Slowly pour the chocolate mixture over the egg yolks and honey, whisking constantly until both mixtures come together. Add the whiskey and stir briefly.

Divide the chocolate batter evenly among the ramekins. Pour hot water into the roasting pan so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cream appears just set. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before eating.

As you might realize from the above picture, I recently learned that cropping is a good thing.  I always knew it, but never really applied it to my blog.  I digress.

I can’t believe that I have yet to share this recipe with you.  Homemade mac and cheese was something that I started making my sophomore year of college, when I had my first apartment.  It was something that my mom would make all the time, and now I know why.  It’s fairly easy, inexpensive (all you really need are a block of cheese and pasta, usually you have milk, butter, and flour in your pantry), and makes for good leftovers.

In recent years I have experimented with it a bit, trying different cheeses, adding things.  My mom would sometimes put ham steak into it, which I like, but my new favorite is also peas.  Sometimes just regular mac and cheese, sometimes just peas, and if you’re feeling really sassy, BOTH peas and ham steak.

I know that sometimes you might think I’m putting on a front about being a picky eater (ever see any seafood on here?  I didn’t think so), but according to my mom, when I was younger I refused to eat this unless it was yellow.  So she made it with velveeta.  And let me just tell you, velveeta is not cheese.  It’s rarely found with the cheese, because it requires no refrigeration.  Let that one sink in for a minute.  Yes, I will admit that I used to use the stuff on my grilled cheese, but I have since moved on, and love to make them with Muenster cheese, as it melts brilliantly.

Anyway, this is a favorite of both B and I, and who knows, it could be yours too.

Mac and Cheese

3 tb. unsalted butter
3 tb. flour
3 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
various cheeses (cheddar, jack, mozzarella, fontina, whatever you have in your fridge)
bread crumbs
1 lb. cooked pasta (I use wheat pasta)
optional: frozen peas and/or cubed ham steak

Boil your water and cook your pasta according to directions while you are making the cheese sauce.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Once butter is melted, whisk in flour and incorporate completely.  Let cook for about a minute.  Add in milk, salt and pepper, and whisk constantly, until sauce comes to a bubble and thickens.  This could take 10-15 minutes.  Don’t rush it and turn the heat up to high, keep over a medium heat.

Once sauce bubbles, congratulations, you have made a bechamel sauce!

Now is when you start adding in cheese.  I don’t ever use a set amount of cheese, I just start dicing and tossing into my sauce.  I also will use shredded cheeses leftover from other meals.  You can basically raid your fridge of any cheese you happen to have, it will not make this mac and cheese bad.  Melt the cheese in the sauce, and taste to see if there is enough cheese flavor to your liking.  If not, add more.  Also season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once cheese has melted, add in frozen peas and cubed ham steak, if using.  Again, put in as much or as little as you like.  I like peas a lot, so I probably add in 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

Mix together with pasta, adding pasta in batches to make sure there is a good ratio of sauce to pasta (you don’t want there to be too little sauce).  Pour into a 9×9 (or 8×8) baking dish and top with breadcrumbs.

Bake at 350 for about 15  minutes, until breadcrumbs are crispy and brown.

This past week was filled with holiday parties, and naturally, desserts galore.  On Thursday my office had our annual potluck, and I offered to bring a dessert.  I made the mistake of asking what people preferred at our weekly staff meeting, and was met with a random assortment.  The final decision was red velvet cupcakes, and one idea had been to tint the frosting green, but many thought that might go a bit too far.  Mind you, that was NOT my idea.  There’s already enough food coloring in the cupcakes to…turn your insides red?

Anyone who knows me knows that I happen to take my red velvet very seriously.  I make either cupcakes or cake for special occasions (and yes, they are different recipes), had the cupcakes at my wedding shower, had the cupcakes at my wedding, made a red velvet cake for a bff’s birthday, made a cake for a coworker’s wedding shower…the list goes on and on.

I think they are perfectly festive, with the bright red cake and the white cream cheese icing.  I naturally took it one step further and adorned them with holiday sprinkles.  I played with piping the frosting, but I think it was a bit too stiff and didn’t take well to that.  So I stuck with my regular “rustic/handmade” look.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

adapted from Epicurious.com

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces water
1 ounce red food coloring (they sell one ounce bottles, conveniently)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake tins as directed as directed in the recipe you are following.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs and blend well.  Add cocoa and food coloring to butter and egg mixture, and blend well.

Sift flour and salt together into this mixture.  One at a time, add the following ingredients: buttermilk, vanilla, and water.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda. Fold it into the cake batter. Make sure it’s incorporated, but don’t beat it.

Pour the batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out of the tins and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks butter, room temperature
4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

On high, mix cream cheese and butter together until blended.  Add in confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time.  Once all sugar is incorporated, mix on high for 3-5 minutes, until smooth.  Add in vanilla until blended.

Put icing in fridge until the frosting gets stiff enough to easily spread.

I hope you all had a good Halloween!  As usual my husband and I went to my sister in law’s to help hand out candy and take our nephew trick or treating.  We also went to a BU (Boston University) hockey game (unfortunately they lost) and I went in costume as a BU girl circa 2003.  You’ll have to check my other blog for pictures, I haven’t uploaded them yet.

Now onto food.  I appreciate you all being patient with me and the fact that I haven’t given you a food recipe in a while.  Work is insanity, life is a bit insane, and luckily the hubs  and I are headed to Charleston in less than two weeks for a nice long weekend getaway.

I recently was in the mood for soup, and looking for some new soups to add to my small but growing collection.  It was a Friday night, and I wanted something fairly easy and quick(ish).  I scoured my reader favorites, as well as just started googling things.

I came across a few loaded potato soups, and the one I went with was from Cooking During Stolen Moments.  It was easy, delicious, and not nearly as bad for you as it could have been.  Yes, there was some butter, but no cream, just low-fat milk and yes, some bacon.

My husband and I loved it, and the leftovers are delightful, like digging into the best mashed potatoes ever.  He wanted to just make this for Thanksgiving, but I think we need some regular mashed potatoes, and he does make amazing ones at that.

Loaded Potato Soup

1 lb. bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
5 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 c. chicken stock
3 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
3 green onions, sliced
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 t. black pepper
Sour cream for garnish, optional

In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain and set aside. Drain all but 2 T. of bacon grease from the pot. Cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease for about 5 minutes, until tender.

Add potatoes and chicken stock to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. With a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Slowly stir in to stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir mashed potatoes back into pot.

Add 1/2 c. shredded cheese, three-fourths of the bacon and half the sliced green onions to pot. Add pepper. Stir to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and top with some shredded cheese, bacon, green onions and optional sour cream.

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