Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

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Perhaps fro-yo is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine…those places where you can prepare your own deep dish cup of soft-serve creamy tartness with colorful fruits or rich chocolates are one of my favorite after-workout snacks. Perhaps just one of my favorite snacks in general, but, let’s face it, going out for frozen yogurt twice a week probably isn’t financially sustainable. So I needed to find a way to recreate this taste in my home. And thank GOODNESS for my good little ice cream maker. I think it has quickly become one of my best friends in the kitchen, and we’ve only known one another for less than a year! Kyle is jealous. Not really :)

I’ve tried making homemade frozen yogurt before, and, to be honest, it just came out too…yogurty. Very thick and not tart enough, this first version of my yogurt adventure was a bit of a flop in my opinion. So this time, I needed a new outlook. The brand of yogurt you choose has a huge impact on the end result. My favorite Greek yogurt is Wegman’s brand 0% fat plain Greek yogurt. You really can’t go wrong with this brand! Use your favorite Greek yogurt, and you’ll achieve the perfect tartness and taste for you!

One tweak I would make to this recipe is perhaps adding more yogurt and less milk as well as adding a bit more vodka (to keep it soft in the freezer).

half-eaten vanilla frozen yogurt

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

2 cups plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsps vodka
pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth, making sure the batter mixture is cold before churning. While the dasher is in motion, pour yogurt batter in to the ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer instructions. Enjoy without getting chubby in the process.

Add any toppings you love and serve! I love berries with a few mini-semi-sweet chocolate chips! NOM!

Southwest Veggie Quesadillas

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This dish has all the benefits of eating a chicken quesadilla without the meat! We’re trying our best to eat more meatless meals by including colorful fruits, veggies, and whole grains in our diet. When I came across a recipe for Southwest Chicken Wraps, I knew that I wanted to experiment by substituting tofu for the chicken. And you know what? These Mexican flapjacks had an intense chipotle flavor complemented by the bite of melted Monterrey Jack cheese (with cheese it’s hard to go wrong, am I right??). Not only that, but the crispy tortilla cracks through to the hearty veggie/tofu filling. This recipe makes several full tortillas, making it great for lunch leftovers or a quick meal later. Or maybe you like Mexican for your midnight snack?

southwest veggie quesadillas

Southwest Veggie Quesadillas Adapted from Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps


1 c cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 package extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 green onion, finely sliced
1/2 green or red pepper, chopped finely (I used an orange one, quite tasty!)
1 small zucchini, finely chopped into chunks
1/4 c fresh cilatro, chopped (I used small frozen cilantro cubes from Trader Joe’s)
2 Tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 c shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (shred your own, the pre-shredded stuff comes with a weird coating to keep it from sticking together…)
nonfat Greek yogurt
1 package whole wheat tortillas

Heat a large nonstick skillet with a little olive oil to medium. Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic in a bowl.

Once the skillet is hot, add tofu and saute until hot or slightly browned. Make sure you break up the chunks with your spoon so that it has more of a ground meat texture. Add rice mixture and remaining ingredients, except for the cheese and sour cream, to the pan. Saute until the veggies are slightly tender. Remove from heat.

Prepare a grill pan (or another large skillet) and heat to medium. Sprinkle cheese over a tortilla, leaving about a 1/2 inch all around the outside. Arrange rice/veggie/tofu/bean mixture down the center and fold in half. Spritz each side with a little olive oil spray and place on the grill pan.

Grill on each side for about 2-3 minutes, until grill marks appear the the cheese is melty. Serve with lettuce and Greek yogurt on top.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies

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Whew!! That was a mouthful. No, literally…a mouthful of brownies! I am a dessert fanatic. Just ask Kyle. He is always telling me I don’t need to have dessert after every meal. I simply disagree; I need at least a tiny morsel of chocolate almost every time I eat! It could be an addiction, but life is short. Maybe I should start eating dessert first…

I hope you enjoy this brownie recipe; I certainly had my doubts. When I first read the recipe (courtesy of BakerStreet, found here), I thought that the amount of butter seemed excessive. Not only that, but it makes an entire 9×13 pan full of chocolately, hazelnutty, peanut-buttery heaven. Probably too much heaven for one recipe. Hence, I cut it in half, and it worked just splendidly! A flakey, crispy top crust with a moist and satisfying center that melts in your mouth awaited me when I pulled it out of the oven. Hints of peanut butter are evident, but the nutella is not very noticeable. Next time I would either add all peanut butter or all nutella. Nonetheless, these brownies were spectacular and rich with a deep mix of flavors perfect for serving guests.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Brownie

Kelsey enjoying a brownie!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies (original recipe can be found here)


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)
Dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 F and spray an 8×8 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Transfer to an electric mixer, adding eggs one at a time until incorporated. Beat well after each addition.

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture and beat until incorporated.

Mix peanut butter and nutella in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in a microwave until the nut butters become smooth and runny. Add to the electric mixer, and stir until combined.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out semi-clean when pressed in the center.

Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

This recipe is wonderful and easy enough to make on the fly. I hope you enjoy my version! Next time, it’s going to be all nutella and no peanut butter for me!

Blackberry Chocolate-Chip Ice Cream

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I love being in the midst of springtime. Everything is finally turning green, and, best of all, fruit is now in season!! Yes, I know you can buy pretty much whatever fruit you want all year, but I’m trying to be more eco-friendly! If it’s not in season, it probably came from far, far away. I’ll try to stick to the most local produce I can.

Anyway…blackberries are one of my favorite fruits. They are beautiful and come with a sweet-tartness that is just right. Especially when they’re on sale at Trader Joe’s. Jackpot!

After a trip to Carmen and David’s ice cream shop in Lancaster, PA, I’ve been on the hunt for a blackberry ice cream recipe that might compete with their blackberry chocolate chip flavor.

And so I attempted the feat of churning the purple batter in my glorious Kitchen Aid ice cream maker last night. It has never failed me before. And it almost did last night. Here is a word of advice to all you ice cream connoisseurs out there – DON’T POUR THE BATTER IN THE ICE CREAM BOWL WHEN THE DASHER ISN’T MOVING. Big mistake. Good thing I had Kyle around to muscle it through, otherwise I would’ve been stuck with a cold mess of berry batter all over my kitchen. Yes, and I mean ALL over the kitchen. I may have panicked a bit when the base froze to the sides of the bowl and the dasher was locked in place. I may have tried to dig it out with a spatula and flung plops of ice cream onto the walls. Oh, but Kyle saved the day! He scraped that frozen stuff from the chilled interior of my mixer and got the dasher on the move. PHEW! I pretty much always learn these lessons the hard way. :)

churning blackberry ice cream
Blackberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Blackberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Delicious Blackberry Ice Cream


2 pints fresh blackberries
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups light cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Add blackberries to a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain using a fine mesh strainer, pressing berries to extract as much juice/puree as possible (This takes some effort.). Set aside.

Heat half-and-half and 1 cup sugar in a separate saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat when mixture is totally heated.

Beat egg yolks by hand or with an electric mixer until yolks are pale yellow and slightly thick. Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling into the 1 1/2 cups of hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly. After that, pour the egg yolk/half-and-half mixture into the pan containing the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Cook over low to medium-low heat (depending on how hot your stove gets) until quite thick, stirring constantly.

Add light cream to a separate bowl. Drain custard using a fine mesh strainer, then pour into the bowl with the heavy cream. Stir to combine. Add blackberry juice/puree to the cream/custard mixture and stir.

Chill mixture completely, then freeze in an ice cream maker until thick, adding mini chocolate chips within the last minute of churning. Place in a tupperware container in the freezer for a few hours before serving. Enjoy – and don’t make too much of a mess!

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

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Happy Easter! It’s been busy this past week! First of all, we bought our first house. Woohoo! Since then, our focus has been on the removal of two rooms of wallpaper. Yes, wallpaper. Did you know that this papery substance people glue to their interior walls is, in fact, evil? Yes. Why? Wallpaper has so many disadvantages. It looks outdated more quickly than paint, it peels, and it’s the most difficult wall covering to change. Scraping, peeling, scraping, de-gluing, mucking, and crying. This wallpaper deserves a terrible fate.

Back to Easter, because Easter is a happy time! After heading to my first ever sunrise service on Sunday (a great experience, especially when the sun rose during the scripture reading of Jesus’ tomb being found empty!), I had a mission in mind to use up some Eastery cupcake papers that my momma gave me last year. How could I allow another year to go by without using them? Hence, carrot cupcakes were destined to be baked.

I made carrot cupcakes about a year ago, and they turned out really well. However, I cannot for the life of me remember how I did it! So, I must try and try again to find a recipe I see fit. And this one was good. Not amazing, but good. They were moist, fluffy, and light. Also, if anyone has a ground-breaking cream cheese icing recipe, let me know. This one was good, but I like my cream cheese icing to taste almost as rich as cheesecake :)

Carrot Cupcake 1

Carrot Cupcake

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing (adapted from Sam’s Famous Carrot Cake Recipe)

3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used a little under 1 cup of milk with 1 Tbs of lemon juice)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional, I did not add these)
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin/cupcake papers.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In an electric mixer, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until mixed well. Gradually add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until combined.

In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins. Add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well. Scoop equal amounts into each muffin cup, and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Check with toothpick. Allow to cool on a wire rack before icing.

Cream Cheese Icing (Not my favorite recipe for it, but not bad)

1 package low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Whip cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and almond extract in an electric mixer until fully combined and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar and whip until combined. You may frost the cupcakes immediately after this is mixed or place in the refrigerator until it is more firm.

Once you ice the cupcakes, sprinkle a little tuft of coconut flakes on each one, and you have a beautiful Easter treat!

Dark Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream

I really don’t know how it’s possible to go wrong with chocolate. Or ice cream. Did I mention ice cream is my favorite food?

This dark chocolate marshmallow ice cream is no exception from ice cream bliss. It has a rich, deep dark chocolatey taste without being overly sweet. I don’t know what it is, but when marshmallows soak up moisture from the ice cream and get all mushy and soft, they taste so much better! Mmm…that is exactly what happens once you mix these little white nuggets of sugary fluff into the chocolatey creaminess.

I hope you all aren’t getting tired of the ice cream recipes! :)

dark chocolate marshmallow

Dark Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups light cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 cups mini marshmallows

In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook and stir condensed milk and cocoa powder until smooth and slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly. Stir in cream, milk, and vanilla. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Pour mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Stir in marshmallows when the ice cream is about 5 minutes away from being done.

Pour into shallow containers and place in the freezer for several hours before serving.

When you’re ready, scoop out the creamy, chocolatey, marshmallow-filled mixture and eat it for dinner. Yes, I said it. Ice cream for dinner. Enjoy!

Warm Quinoa-Salsa Salad

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In an effort to be healthy, I’ve made a goal to have more vegetarian meals in my life. While I’m not the expert in nutrition, there are plenty of articles out there that suggest that having a few meatless meals each week can have a positive impact on your health. So here I am, eating lots of quinoa.

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains to cook because it is so simple, beautiful, and quick. It’s also a great source of protein! I was looking for something quick to make on a weeknight, and this just came together. To my surprise, it was quite delicious, and I will be making it again!

warm quinoa salad

Warm Quinoa-Salsa Salad

2 cups cooked tri-color quinoa
1 jar salsa (mild or medium)
3/4 cup yellow corn kernels (canned or fresh)
1 small green pepper, chopped or sliced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
dash of paprika
freshly ground pepper
Mexican cheese mix

While quinoa is cooking, heat a small amount of olive or vegetable oil in a skillet. Once the pan is hot, saute green pepper with garlic and corn kernels; about 5 minutes. Next, add the lime juice, chipotle chili powder, cumin, paprika, ground pepper, and salsa. Stir and allow everything to heat through. Stir in the black beans and quinoa. Serve with Mexican cheese sprinkled on top. You can also serve this in tortillas or hard taco shells.

This recipe really is nice and easy for a weeknight meal, it’s full of protein, and a great Meatless Monday option.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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I know I am behind on these posts. In fact, I don’t even have an image for this recipe…sorry :-\
However, I thought it was still blog-worthy and couldn’t pass up the chance to tell you all about it! Hopefully, I will remember to snap a photo next time I make it so you can all see how wonderful it actually is!

One of my favorite things to do is make birthday treats for my coworkers. This time it happened to be Erik’s birthday, and his request was for something I hadn’t yet made. Mint chocolate chip ice cream. Mmmm…need I say more? You don’t have to convince ME to make and eat ice cream! Seriously, if you know me at all, you know that ice cream is my kryptonite.

This is the recipe I landed on, thanks to Pinterest, as usual, and it’s definitely going in my cookbook collection. I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

2 cups light cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
4 lg egg yolks (yeah, not cholesterol friendly!!)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring (optional)
3 ozs. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or mini chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and set aside. Combine the cream, milk, and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Don’t allow mixture to boil, but watch it for steam and little bubbles to form around the edges. Remove from heat.

Slowly add the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. You can do this by pouring it directly from the pan in a slow, small, steady stream. Or use a ladle and slowly add the milk to the eggs. (You don’t have to add the whole milk mixture to the eggs, just enough to get the eggs to the same temp as the milk mixture in the pan, then add it back in to the milk.) Once mixture is completely combined, return it to the saucepan and place over medium heat.

Continue to cook until thickened and mixture just coats the back of a wooden spoon, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and add the vanilla and mint extracts. Add food coloring, if using. Pour into a shallow dish and cover. Chill for a few hours or overnight. When ready to make the ice cream, freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Add chocolate in the last five minutes of churning. If desired, transfer the ice cream to a bowl and freeze until ready to serve.

This recipe really turned out well and was a big hit. This is definitely one I will be making again.

Blueberry-Banana-Coconut Smoothies

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Lately I’ve been into smoothies. Don’t ask me why. For some reason I need liquefied frozen fruit and yogurt blended together even though it’s the middle of February and a mere 25 degrees outside. Maybe it’s just a craving for fresh fruit and Greek yogurt – but there are so many possibilities with smoothies! Sweet, fruity, full of nutella or peanut butter, coconut creaminess…

Smoothies are cousins to milkshakes, milkshakes are made with ice cream, and ice cream is my favorite food. There. Mystery solved. No wonder I love smoothies so much on a blustery winter day!

Here’s one I made up for Sunday morning breakfast, although it needs some tweaking. Ideally, it would have been nice to add a half cup of Greek yogurt and perhaps some coconut milk, but these ingredients were not in my cupboard. So I improvised, as usual.

Berry-Banana-Coconut Smoothies

1 cup frozen blueberries or blackberries (or a little bit of both)
2 bananas (if you think of it ahead of time, peel them, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze)
1/4-1/2 c sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut
1-1 1/2 c milk (1/2 c Greek yogurt, 1/2 c lite coconut milk, & 1/2 c milk)
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs Benefiber (yay fiber!)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until big chunks are gone; blend on high speed until desired consistency is reached.

Feel proud of yourself for making such a tasty, healthy breakfast, then enjoy!

Chunky Chipper Cookies

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As Nittany Lions, my college roommates and I were almost always testing and trading recipes.  Each one has inspired me to challenge myself in the kitchen, and believe it or not, I could hardly cook when I first moved off-campus.  Yes, I had some rocky starts…I distinctly remember almost destroying a roommate’s nice bakeware…and I may have set the smoke alarm off a time or two…or five.

Alas, since then I’ve come a long way, and thanks to all who had patience with me as I learned!  Especially Kyle, because he is my perpetual recipe guinea pig.  He’s such a trooper, hopefully he does not bust a button any time soon…

One of my dear friends and college roommates, Emile, shared this recipe with me a few years ago, and I think it might be one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes.  It’s pretty hard to go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter together!  I made these cookies on Friday night, and they never fail to produce delicious baked nuggets of chocolate-chippiness!

chunky chippers

chunks of chocolate

chocolate chip cookie

Emile’s Chunky Chipper Cookies

2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1/2 c chunky peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 Tbs water
12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao)

– Mix flour, baking soda, salt.
– Beat shortening, peanut butter, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and water in a separate bowl.
– Add flour mixture to the shortening mixture.
– Stir in chocolate chips and bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.

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