Post #24: Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream...without the machine!

You know how sometimes you just really want some ice cream?  Like really want some ice cream?  Usually when this happens to me, I wander over to the freezer, pull out a pint of Ben&Jerry's, stand with the freezer door wide open, eating right out of the carton.  But this time, to my shock and dismay, we had nothing.  Not even the lazy man's 'one bite left in the bottom of the container'.  This gave me a sad face.  Did I mention I was still in my jammies and couldn't justify getting dressed and ready just to run out for a pint of ice cream?  My conscience would have needed an extra trip to the gym in order to sort that out.

So then I entered that phase of a craving where you start looking for something else.  Something that isn't really what you wanted, but it'll do.  So I started digging in the fridge to see if anything stood out.  Nada.  But I did notice we had eggs, heavy cream, milk, etc...  Could I make my own ice cream with these items?  Surely not.  I don't have an ice cream maker.  Another sad face.  Aw. 

But the craving was too strong.  I needed ice cream.  So I met with my sous-chef, Google, and asked him if I could make ice cream without a machine.  The answer was yes.  But all of the websites warned that it takes forever.  I was willing to give it a shot. 

I used a simple recipe so I could get the best results possible.  Next time, I will try a different flavour, or use add-ins, because I really don't feel like it will make much of a difference in prep.  I found the recipe on, and the original poster says they got it from a Ben&Jerry's cookbook.  While, I wouldn't say that Ben and Jerry will be knocking my door down for me to make this for them, it is a very creamy, rich, and yummy recipe. 

French Vanilla Ice Cream:

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used a double strength vanilla extract from Penzey's - it packs an extra vanilla punch!  YUM!)


Beat the eggs until light and fluffy
Gradually whisk in the sugar
Pour in the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth

At this point, you can put your misture in your ice cream maker, put it to the correct setting, and in an hour or so, you'll have rich, creamy ice cream.  But for those of us who live in apartments and don't have the space to rent to an ice cream maker, follow these instructions:

Before you start mixing the ingredients, put a baking dish, pyrex bowl, or anything freezer safe in the feezer to chill.  Mix all of the ingredients as stated, then put in the chilled dish.  Every 30 minutes, open the dish and stir like cazy!  You want to break up any large ice crystals.  The smaller the crystals, the creamier the ice cream.  After you do this every 30 minutes for about 3 hours, leave the ice cream to freeze solid. 

See, how hard was that!? 


Post #23: Coconut Lime Muffins with a Lime Glaze

I almost never have limes in the house.  Never.  But I needed one the other day, and couldn't find the singles on sale, so I bought a giant bag, removed the one I needed, and gave in to the fact that I would probably just throw the other 37 limes away.  I just hate wasting food.  So then I figured I'd keep them to put up a show that I would use them, wait for them to rot, and be like "oh man!  I really wanted to use those!  Shucks!"  Then I'd smile as I tossed them into the trash, feeling like a tried, but failed.  Har har har...

But, I decided to do an internet search.  After sifting through about 5 million recipes for key lime pie, and another 5 million chicken with lime glaze recipes, I found this gem.  This muffin really brings the business.  Not too limey, not too coconutty - this recipe really meshes the two flavours well.  The original recipe did not call for a glaze or frosting, but I really hate a dry muffin.  A simple lime glaze was just the ticket. 

Coconut Lime Muffins with a Lime Glaze

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup key lime juice (I just used regular limes.  Not sure what difference it makes!)
1 -1 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut


Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine milk, eggs, oil and Key Lime Juice.

Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just until all are moist, do not overmix.

Spray Large muffin tins lightly with cooking oil.  Large.  Like this recipe only makes 6 muffins large.

Layer batter and coconut by filling tins 1/2 full with batter, then 1 tablespoon of coconut, then fill to about 1/4 inch from top with batter and top with 1 tablespoon of coconut.  (My suggestion here would be to push the coconut topping into the batter a little - it browns fast!  I ended up picking off some burned pieces.  Not a huge deal, but after 20+ minutes in the oven, that coconut is pretty darn toasty!)

Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, until tops are brown and the coconut is toasty; a toothpick inserted in the center should come out almost clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, run a knife around the muffins and place on serving dish or store in airtight container. 

For the lime glaze: squeeze the juice of about one lime, and add powdered sugar until it become somewhat thick, but still able to drizzle.  Then, just dizzle it over the top of your muffins and enjoy!


Post #22: Veal, Spinach, and Portobello Mushroom Stuffed Shells

Last weekend, my sweet in-laws took us to San Antonio.  San Antonio has so much good food, it's not even funny!  We culinarily wasted spent one day at Sea World - which, if you have never gone, I reccommend it...but definitely during off-season!  The lines were long, but the dolphin shows are insane!  I was sad about the Shamu show...seeing whales in captivity sucks - that wilted dorsal fin gets me every time!  Funny I don't feel the same about seals or dolphins.  What can I say, I'm a conundrum.

Moving on!  We ate at this great restaurant on the Riverwalk called Iron Cactus - chipotle salsa to die for!  But that is not what this post is about!  My husband and I had a rough trip to SA last January.  Anything that could go wrong definitely did: car trouble, it rained the whole time, and the Riverwalk had been drained.  Drained!  The only hightlight from the trip was the food.  After the concierge at the hotel reccommended Saltgrass (are you kidding me?!)  We went exploring and ate at a delicious place called Paesano's.  So, on this trip, we decided to take the in-laws there too.

Personally, I have a hard time not ordering something seafood-y, so I went with a pasta dish with shrimp and mussels.  My hubs on the other hand, went bold: veal, spinach, and portobello mushroom stuffed shells.  Major yum!  They were perfect.  I had to make them, or at least try.  What of my attempt, you ask?  Let's just say that my husband won't be needing to go back to San Antonio any time soon.  :o)

I made dinner close to 8pm, so I had to use flash in the photo.  After uploading the photos to the computer, they were so bad that I don't even want to post them!  My apologies.  I need a better camera/photography setup fo sho.  Stuffed shells all kinda look messy anyway... ;)  Just try the recipe, it's a winner!

Veal, Spinach, and Portobello Mushroom Stuffed Shells

About 20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked with salt and oil, and cooled
1lb. ground veal
1 medium sized white onion
A giant handful of spinach
A portobello mushroom cap or two, depending on how much you like mushrooms!
Garlic.  I used 2 cloves, but they were HUGE - probably closer to the size of 4 regular cloves.
Basil - I bought mine in a little tube near the fresh herbs.  It lasts longer, and packs huge taste!  I probably used about a tsp. of this stuff
A jar of your favourite red sauce; I went with Newman's Own Bombolina (for the great basil taste!)
A jar of your favourite alfredo sauce; I used Buitoni Light Alfredo
Italian blend shredded cheese
Salt and pepper
Butter or oil for sauteing


Preheat oven to 350.

Saute onion, mushroom, and spinach with a little garlic and salt and pepper until onions are translucent and spinach is wilted.

In a seperate pan, fry up the veal with the remaining garlic.

Once the veal is browned, throw everything in a food processor (add the basil) and whirl it up until it is pretty fine.  Not a paste, but not huge chunks!

Take a 9x9 pan and put a nice layer of red sauce on the bottom, and swirl in some alfredo.  Stuff the shells with the mixture from the food processor, top with the remaining red/alfredo sauces, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake about 20 mins. or until cheese is bubbly and browned around the edges. 


Post #21: Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

I wanted to make something sweet, but was having a hard time choosing between this recipe, and a recipe for a raspberry chiffon pie - both look summery, sweet, and yummy, and I had everything I needed for both of them!  (Usually that's how I decide...but I even had the Sure-Jell on hand, go figure!).  Essentially, I chose to make these cupcakes because I love - LOVE - buttercream and cream cheese frostings, and this one is BOTH!  Fat booty, here I come!  I'll just make the pie for a family gathering in the future... ;)

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
Recipe from: Joylicious

(Prep time: 45 minutes; Total cooking time: 2 hours)
makes approx. 20 cupcakes
    1 package graham cracker crumbs
    1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 Tbs), room temperature
    1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    12 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 cup + 2 Tbs sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt4 large egg whites
    2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled & coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F and line 16-18 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Mix one box of graham cracker crumbs with butter using a food processor. The mixture should hold together when pressed with fingers, add more butter if needed. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the crushed graham cracker into the bottom of each prepared muffin tin. Press down using fingers and bake for 3-5 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove immediately from oven and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks appear, about 3-4 minutes, be careful not to overbeat. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder & salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugar until light & fluffy and then add the vanilla & beat on a low-speed. Then add half the flour mixture until incorporated then mix in the sour cream or yogurt. Add remaining flour & mix until just blended.
Gently fold 1/3 of the egg into the batter until combined, do not over mix the egg whites or the cake will fall flat. Add remaining egg and fold in the chopped strawberries. Fill each muffin tin about 3/4 of the way and bake for about 20 minutes depending on your oven. You can test the doneness by sticking a toothpick through the center, if it comes out clean it is ready to take out!
Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 packets of cream cheese (16 oz)
2 sticks of unsalted butter (16 Tb)
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar slowly in small batches, beating on low speed until incorporated. Once all sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy. Refrigerate for 1 hour. When ready to serve, spread icing on cupcakes or use a pastry bag with a star tip. Garnish with freshly cut strawberries and graham cracker crumbs and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Post #20: Non-traditional tzatziki sauce

I find the reason I tend to burn out on blogging is that I feel like I have to create something fancy and marvelous every time (think SprinkleBakes...damn her and her amazing everything!). But today, as I was prepping this tzatziki sauce for our impending gyro feeding frenzy this evening, I realized that I should blog about the delicious food I make on a daily basis.  It's just me and my husband at home, and we're not fancy people, but we do love a good meal! 

Traditional tzatziki is so good, but I am truly my mother's daughter, so, like her, I try to find ways to make good food better. 

My Tzatziki Sauce

1 (16oz) tub plain Greek yogurt (you can definitely save the cash and buy regular plain yogurt, but Greek yogurt is so thick and creamy, it's worth the extra cost!)
1/4 of a large cucumber, peeled, and minced (diced if you want a chunkier sauce)
1/4 medium sized purple onion, minced
1 tsp. dill (fresh is always better, but dried will do the trick!)
2+ cloves of garlic (I just used 2 because they were huge!)
splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Easy directions: just mix it all up!  Tastes best if you put in the fridge for at least an hour before serving!

Also, I always have a bottle of Greek seasoning in the house, and I add a few shakes of it to the sauce as well.  It adds a little hint of oregano and spearmint - big yum!

Tzatziki makes a great gyro topper, salad dressing, or dip for pita chips and veggies!