Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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So smooth, creamy, decadent, flavorful and satisfying! I love the creaminess of custard-style ice cream over Philadelphia style hands down. The texture and mouth feel of custard based is so much more pleasant than the butter fattiness of Philadelphia. I learned that a couple of years ago when I tried this recipe; and even though my favorite style requires more ingredients and wait time, I promise it’s worth every minute. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – adapted from The Food Network

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla sugar if you have it (next time I will use a less – it’s pretty sweet!)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Directions –

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Place the half-and-half and the heavy cream into a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and remove from the heat.

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In a medium mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sugar and whisk to combine.

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Temper the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar by gradually adding small amounts, until about a third of the cream mixture has been added. Pour in the remainder and return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 to 175 degrees F. Pour the mixture into a container and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place the mixture into the refrigerator and once it is cool enough not to form condensation on the lid, cover and store for 4 to 8 hours or until the temperature reaches 40 degrees F or below.

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Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. This should take approximately 25 to 35 minutes. Serve as is for soft serve or freeze for another 3 to 4 hours to allow the ice cream to harden.

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Hot Chocolate for One

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post…I made this several weeks ago to remedy a craving for some real hot chocolate. I didn’t want to make a huge batch so late at night, so this was perfect. I tripled it so my kids could enjoy it too – they loved it! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Hot Chocolate – adapted Jeyashri’s Kitchen

  • 1 TBSP good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP vanilla sugar
  • 1 TBSP hot water
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • a pinch of salt

Directions – 

1. Place all the dry ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and pour the hot water over all. Twist lid on and shake vigorously.

2. Pour contents into a small sauce pot over medium-low heat. Pour in the dairy and stir until combined. Heat gently until the desired temperature is reached. Pour into your favorite mug and top with marshmallows or whipped cream.

Blueberry Banana Bread

In case you couldn’t tell, I love to try out new recipes. Especially trying variations of banana bread as you can see here, here, here, this one too, and this. I can’t get enough of them, and thankfully my husband is a willing taste tester. My husband didn’t notice the banana flavor, probably because he didn’t know there was any in this (he assumed blueberry, of course). I thought the bread was okay, and a little dense but that may be because I over stirred the batter? Not sure, I thought I did a pretty good job of not over mixing. Maybe it was tougher because there is no butter in this, which usually keeps loaves tender and moist. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Blueberry Banana Bread – adapted from Chef in Training
  • 2 cups flour (250 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar (**I used 1/2 cup vanilla sugar, 1/2 plain**)
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 spotty bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh blueberries
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla and mashed bananas until smooth. Add in flour mixture and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Fold in blueberries with a spoon or spatula, then pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for about 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
  5. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Strawberry Ice Pops

I recently purchased these ice pop mold from Amazon, and borrowed this book from the local library. This book is full of real fruit recipes and I can’t wait to try the cantaloupe, watermelon, avocado (yes, avocado!), lime, spicy pineapple, and maybe I’ll try the roasted banana ice pops. I am almost tempted to purchase this book! 😉
Verdict: This is the first recipe in this book, probably because it’s the most basic and well-loved flavors. It was very easy to make and of course, there is a little waiting involved, but these are definitely worth making. Yes, there is sugar in these, but I’m sure you could substitute with another type of sugar. Next time I’ll use less sugar because these are pretty sweet. If you’re using super ripe and sweet fruit, adjust your sugar content accordingly – unless you like super sweet popsicles. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Strawberry Paletas – adapted from Paletas
  • 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3/4 cup sugar (**I used vanilla sugar**)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

Directions:

Combine the sugar and strawberries in a bowl. Let sit until the strawberries start releasing their natural juices, 20-30 minutes. Place in a saucepan with the water over medium heat. Simmer until they are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, add the lemon juice, and puree until smooth. If using conventional molds, divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid and freeze solid, about 5-8 hours.

Strawberry Cake

I love strawberries and some of my favorite baked goods use them. I have shared just a few of my favorite ways to enjoy strawberries here, but this is a new one. It’s simple and perfect for any occasion – like today is Thursday…I needed cake! This smells amazing while baking, and the vanilla sugar makes a difference! The finished cake is beautifully light, fruity and floral (thanks to the vanilla sugar). The raw sugar sprinkled on top before baking, became caramelized and crunchy. I like the strawberries arranged on top, it’s simple but elegant and girly! It’s a perfect spring time treat and great for sharing if you’re feeling generous 😉 I’m sure I will make this many more times this strawberry season.

I also have a unique way of hulling strawberries to show you. I saw this technique on Good Eats, where AB uses a large star tip for cutting and extracting the hulls of strawberries. AB is not a fan of “unitaskers” and a strawberry huller is just that. I thought it was pretty clever, and thankfully I had one that worked perfectly. ( ‘scuse the camera phone pictures).

Carefully twist the leaves off the top of your strawberries.

Gently twist the star tip into the center of the stem end of the strawberry, making sure to go as deep into the berry as the tip will allow.

Gently pull out the tip and your strawberry will have a nice hole in the center where the hull used to be. See? So easy – now make this!  Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Strawberry Cake – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar (*I used vanilla sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 tablespoons raw or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to buttered pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle raw/sanding sugar over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.

Coconut Milk and Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

I’m trying something a little crazy…my go to arroz con leche recipe has plain ‘ol milk in it. This is my first time using coconut milk and it’s my first time knowingly trying any food with this in it. Hopefully it’s not a complete waste of ingredients and time…I love rice pudding and it’s something that reminds me of my childhood. My Gram made her version (my fave no matter what) often and my siblings and I ate it hot as a breakfast treat. I’m sure I’ll never be able to recreate hers, but in the meantime, I’m having fun tasting other versions. This need for rice pudding came when I realized that I have several Madagascar vanilla beans patiently waiting to be used in my pantry. I bought them over the summer and haven’t used a single bean! How dare I! 😉 It has been at least a full year since the last time I made this decadent treat, so why not put the two together? While searching through Tastespotting, I found several versions of the classic – some with coconut milk and some with vanilla bean seeds. This recipe is a mishmash of a few recipes and techniques that will hopefully come together beautifully!

Verdict: So good, I love this stuff! Creamy, slightly sweet and perfectly comforting in my book.  I didn’t notice the coconut flavor, but it wasn’t as thick or “butter fatty” as the other recipe. I only used one cup because coconut milk has such a  high fat content, so I’ll be on the look out for lighter coconut milk. Also, I was also able to make a bigger batch of vanilla sugar the day I made this, so hopefully I can find the perfect use for some of it. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Coconut and Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding – 

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • lemon zest (strips, not grated)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt

Directions –

Pour rice and water into a 4 quart dutch oven or larger. Add the lemon peel, cinnamon stick and vanilla seeds to the pot. Let sit for an hour.

After soaking, bring the rice mixture to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When it starts to boil (about 5 minutes), lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 more minutes or until water is almost evaporated.

Add the milk and stir well to mix, add the sugar  and cook over medium-low heat, stirring carefully, until it thickens slightly or until desired consistency, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the lemon zest and cinnamon sticks.

Serve hot, cold or room temperature.