Tuesday, August 31, 2010

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Today's recipe I'm sharing originates from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.  You know, THE Ben & Jerry - the guys that I'm thankful for bringing flavors like Cherry Garcia (low fat fro yo version is awesome, too!), Cake Batter, Americone Dream, and Peach Cobbler to my freezer.  I love this book because the recipes are simple and are sized for today's smaller ice cream makers.  I'm doubly delighted since this is a lot like my family's recipe we make in the large 4 quart machine on July 4th - just in a size fit for my Cuisinart ice cream maker.  Fair warning about this recipe and most of them in this book - they use raw eggs; this is not a cooked custard base.  If you have any concerns about using raw eggs, look for pasteurized eggs at your grocery store.  More expensive, yes - but can you put a price on peace of mind?

French Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  Start off by whisking the eggs for about 1 to 2 minutes, until they are lighter in color and fluffy in texture.  Adding in a little at a time, begin whisking in the sugar.  Keep whisking until the eggs and sugar are completely blended, about another minute.  Pour in the remaining ingredients, and whisk until everything is combined.

  Pour into your favorite ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions on freezing.

Notes:  If you don't like the soft-serve consistency of straight from the ice cream freezer, feel free to put it in a plastic container and stash it in your regular freezer for a few hours.  I like it both ways, but I can also detect a distinct difference in chocolate syrup in a plastic bottle vs the can.  I will always take the can over the bottled, especially on homemade goodness!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spinach Stuffed Squash or Zucchini

  This is one knock-out dish - squash dressed to the nines.  Another Paula Deen creation for you to enjoy.  It can be made with zucchini or yellow summer squash; my favorite is made with zukes, but this last trip to the store, the yellow squash was so much better than the zucchini.

Spinach Stuffed Squash or Zucchini
6-10 servings

3 large zucchini or 5 medium/large yellow squash  (this last batch was made with 3 large yellow squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup chicken flavored stuffing mix (dry - do not prepare)
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz by weight)

  Start off by preheating the oven to 400°F.

  Cut your squash in half lengthwise.  Brush the cut sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Lay  them on a lined baking sheet, with the cut side down.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Let the squash halves cool down a bit, and lower the oven temperature to 350°F.  Once the squash is just cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp into a bowl, taking care not to break your "shells".  Lay the squash back on the baking sheet, this time, cut side up.

  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Toss the diced onion in and saute until they are transparent, around 5 minutes.  (I personally like to cook mine until they turn slightly brown and take a bit of caramelized quality to them.)  At this time, add in the stuffing mix, spinach, cheese, squash pulp and sour cream, mixing everything together.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 3 minutes, and remove from the heat.  Scoop the stuffing mixture evenly as you can into each squash shell, and return to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes.

Serving Ideas - These are great served with fried chicken livers. (Don't knock it until you try it!)  But they are pretty filling if you buy the large squash/zukes, so serving 1-2 halves as a meal isn't too shabby, either.

Helpful Tip - A potato ricer does a nice job squeezing dry thawed frozen spinach. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

  This beauty is my biscuit pan - makes drop biscuits look awfully purty.  The recipe I'm sharing today is designed to take advantage of a cast iron pan, whether it's a drop biscuit pan like this, or even a skillet or griddle.  This recipe is from Lodge Cast Iron, and is also featured in Cast-Iron Cooking for Dummies.  The biscuits will come out tender and fluffy like a drop biscuit, but with the taste of a good ol' buttermilk biscuit.  At the end of my post, I'll include variations from both sources.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
Makes 7 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or vegetable shortening -- cold
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  Preheat your oven to 450°F.

  In a mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients together.

   Make sure you are using cold butter or shortening, and cut into the dry mixture with a pastry blender, fork or knife method. The mixture will have a coarse crumb consistency when you are ready for the next step.

  Pour in the buttermilk, and stir just until everything is blended. Take care not to overmix.

Drop Biscuit Pan method: If you have a drop biscuit pan, spoon in the dough into each well, filling it pretty full. I used a 7 well cast-iron pan. If you don't have a pan - see the next step.

Skillet or Griddle method: Mound the dough into about 7 biscuits onto your griddle or in your skillet. (Make sure these are oven-proof!).

  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

For parsley biscuits, add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.
For a garden vegetable biscuit, add 2 tablepoons finely grated carrots, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley, and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped green onion.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Broccoli Salad

  Back to school means back to packing lunches for me.  So while digging through my tried and true files, I was reminded of one of my favorite, easy sides - Broccoli Salad.  One of the things I really like about this recipe is the yield - 2 servings.  No getting tired of it before it's gone!

Broccoli Salad
Servings: 2

2 cups broccoli florets
2 bacon strips, cooked & crumbled
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon sunflower kernels
1/3 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  Start off by making the dressing.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sugar, and the vinegar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is creamy smooth.

  Fold in the broccoli, bacon crumbles, cranberries, sunflower kernels, and shredded cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.  Enjoy!