Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homemade Mint Chocolate Ice Cream with Fresh Mint

Before I get to this amazing recipe, I wanted to do a little housekeeping. As many of you already know, Google Reader is going away next week. So, I just wanted to share a quick reminder with you all that if you currently use Google Reader to follow my blog, please make the switch to another reader! Personally, for all the blogs I follow, I made the switch to Bloglovin' a month or two ago, and it's been great! I recommend it highly. I've also heard that Feedly is quite good. And of course, you can always subscribe by email to my blog so that you receive an email with each new post! You can do that by entering your email address in the box on the right side of the page.

Okay, back to the recipe.

It's hot in Boston. I'm talkin' reeeeally hot. We've had a stretch of weather in the 90's (and of course, the humidity to go along with it), and I'm pretty sure that means summer is here to stay. And I have no problem with that. The only thing I have a problem with is that this ice cream did not enter my life earlier than it did. But at the same time, I am thankful that this ice cream is now in my life. Aaaand, I think it needs to be in your life too. ;)

As I've mentioned, we have a CSA that provides us with a ton of fresh, local, organic veggies every week from June through October. Last week, we received a bunch of fresh mint. More mint than I knew what to do with (one can only drink so many mojitos). So Mike came up with the brilliant idea and suggested I make mint chocolate ice cream! Done and done. Mike is full of great ideas when it comes to food - one of the many reasons I married the guy. :)

This recipe is from an ice cream cookbook I have: A Passion for Ice Cream by Emily Luchetti. When flipping through the book to hopefully find a mint ice cream recipe, I was so happy to come across her mint chip ice cream. It called for 3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves. Perfect! So I set out to complete my mission.

The ice cream is more involved than other ice creams I've made. I had yet to tackle an ice cream that involves eggs until this one. For some reason, recipes for ice cream with eggs have scared me in the past. Now that I've successfully made an ice cream with eggs, I will no longer steer away from them in the future. Although it was slightly involved with several steps, none of them were difficult. And even if they were, if this ice cream is what the end result is, it's so worth any level of difficulty (well, within reason - you know what I'm saying!). The original recipe from the book is here below. Afterward, I'll share with you the few small changes I made.


-2 and 1/4 cups heavy (whipping) cream
-3/4 cup milk
-3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
-1 cup sugar
-4 large egg yolks
-1/8 tsp. salt
-8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped


In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the cream, milk, mint, and 1/2 cup of the sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until almost simmering. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and steep the mint in the cream for 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and the salt. Slowly pour the hot liquid into the eggs, whisking as you pour. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant plastic or wooden spatula, until it reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly coats the spatula. Strain the mixture into a clean bowl, discarding the mint. Cool over an ice bath until room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

In a food processor, using on-off pulses, grind the chocolate into small pieces. Put the chocolate in a bowl in the freezer. Churn the ice cream base in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions (I churned mine for about 15 minutes). Place the ice cream in the bowl with the chocolate and fold the two together. Freeze until scoopable, about 4 hours or more.

Now that I've shared the original recipe, I just wanted to share a few things I changed. The recipe calls for 2 and 1/4 cups of cream; I only used 2 cups since I only bought a 16 oz. container. For the milk, I used whole milk (I'd highly recommend whole or 2%), and I upped the amount of milk from 3/4 cup to 1 cup, to make up for the 1/4 cup of cream I didn't add. Also, I used closer to 1 full cup of fresh mint leaves, not the 3/4 cup called for in the recipe (I wanted to be sure it was super minty!). And lastly, I chopped Lindt chocolate (85% bittersweet) to add in. I added 1 cup of the chopped chocolate, but next time, I'd actually decrease the amount to 2/3 or 3/4 cup. The 1 cup was actually a little too much. That's my only "complaint" about this ice cream - that it had too many chocolate chunks. I don't want to have to chew that much when I'm eating ice cream. :)

But otherwise, it was faaantastic! Like, "we've had some every night since I made it" good.

Whiskey, our cat, was also interested in some ice cream...

One of the things we love the most about this ice cream is how much it does not taste like any other mint chocolate ice cream we've had before. The fresh mint makes such a difference!! It's hard to describe exactly, but it's just so real and fresh. I don't know if I can go back to store-bought...

Photographing ice cream on a 93 degree day in a condo without air conditioning makes for some melty ice cream photos... Hope you don't mind. :)

I love how the color of this ice cream isn't actually what you typically think of when you think of mint chocolate ice cream. The color of the towel in these photos is more what I think of! Granted, the towel color is a more bold of a mint color than typical mint ice cream, but you know what I'm saying. 

I'm going to be sad when we finish this batch off! 

Definitely need to make this again... And again. And again.

Hope everyone's staying cool!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mango Black Bean Quinoa Salad

It's summertime in Boston. Well, perhaps it's not actually summertime on the calendar (not until Friday the 21st anyway!), but it's definitely been feeling more like summer. Warmer temperatures have arrived, flips flops are being worn, and kids (and teachers!) are psyched because the end of the school year is sooo close.

Summertime makes me crave lighter foods like salads...salads that don't require the oven (and maybe not even the stove). It's nice to have healthy meal options that won't heat up the kitchen on those hot, hot summer days.

This mango black bean quinoa salad is one of those options! I didn't follow an exact recipe - kind of just made it up as I went along. Normally this salad would require the stove to cook the quinoa, but I actually had quinoa in the freezer that I had previously cooked. So all I had to do was thaw it! And none of the other ingredients I added to this required cooking. How easy is that?! Too easy.


-1.5 to 2 cups cooked quinoa (cooked according to package directions, with water or vegetable broth)
-about 1/2 of 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
-2 to 3 scallions or green onions, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
-approx. 1/2 to 3/4 cup sliced bok choy stalks (feel free to use leaves too, if you'd like, or reserve for another use)
-2 to 3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 clove garlic, minced
-juice of one lime (or lemon)
-salt and pepper to taste


In large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, black beans, mango, scallions, bok choy, and cilantro. In a small bowl or dish, whisk together the olive oil, minced garlic, and lime juice. Drizzle over the quinoa mixture. Toss everything together well. Mix in salt and pepper to taste, according to your preference. Refrigerate in airtight container until ready to serve (serve chilled). Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Our CSA began about three weeks ago, and we've been getting a wonderful assortment of veggies! Bok choy has been in our share each week so far, and I thought it would make a nice addition to this salad. And it did! I did not cook it before adding it, and it was great. I'm not sure what particular type of bok choy we had, but when I tasted it, it was not bitter, as bok choy can sometimes be. So, I thought it was safe to put in this salad raw. However, use your own judgment when adding bok choy to yours!

And also, with the spices and flavors in this dish, everything is quite flexible. So, if you reeeally like cilantro, add some more! Or, if garlic is your thing, add a couple cloves instead of one. With a "recipe" like this that is fairly flexible, I really advise you to taste as you go, and adjust flavors according to your own preferences.

And feel free to experiment with other veggies as well. Diced bell pepper might be nice, and I could see corn and cucumber working well with this too.

We enjoyed this salad as both a side dish and a meatless main dish. If you want a bit more protein, add in bite-sized pieces of grilled chicken.

However you might enjoy it, it's a great addition to your summer meals!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Red Wine Buttercream Frosting

Red wine buttercream frosting. It's something that you need in your life. And preferably, sooner than later. I insist.

This past weekend I was in NY for my cousin's bridal shower, and I was assigned the task of making the cupcakes. I wonder why? :) Well, as soon as I learned that the shower was going to be wine-themed, I started searching for either cupcake or frosting recipes that included wine... And I came across a recipe by Joanne from Eats Well With Others for red wine buttercream frosting. I am a regular follower of Joanne's blog, and I knew that I her recipe had to be good amazing. I was right.

So I actually did a trial run of the recipe before the shower, just to be sure it would turn out well (not that I had any doubts). It's not really a great idea to try a new recipe for the first time for an event like a bridal shower... My coworkers happily obliged when I brought in a pan of homemade brownies topped with a lovely layer of a pretty pink frosting that tasted heavenly. This frosting is smooth and rich, but it's not too rich, I promise. It has the perfect amount of berry flavor to it, thanks to the wine, of course.

And what wine did I use? I actually used "Two Buck Chuck" from Trader Joe's! Yes, it's true. And it was an excellent choice, I must say.

As you can see, I spread a nice, generous layer of frosting on those brownies.... The brownie recipe I used was my all-time favorite homemade brownie recipe.

Thanks to a trial run of the frosting recipe that left my coworkers grinning from ear to ear and asking for seconds, I knew I had a winner of a recipe on my hands (thanks, Joanne!).

After my trial run went well, it was time for the real deal! For the bridal shower, I made chocolate cupcakes (using this super easy, delicious chocolate cupcake recipe that I've made previously). And then here are the ingredients for the frosting, finally. Sorry to make you wait. ;)

Red Wine Buttercream Frosting:


-1 cup red wine, plus 2 Tbsp. (divided)
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 sticks butter, softened (but not quite room temp, they should be slightly cool still)
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1/4 tsp. salt


Place 1 cup red wine and granulated sugar in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until the mixture has reduced to about 1/3 cup. Allow to cool completely. You could do this the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight, if you'd like (or even up to a few days). The wine/sugar mixture will be thicker than wine and syrup-like.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the two sticks of butter and powdered sugar. Mix on low speed at first, gradually increasing to a faster speed once the sugar becomes more incorporated. Mix until fluffy. While the mixer is running, carefully pour in the cooled wine reduction. Add the salt, and mix well until everything is well-incorporated. With the mixer continuing to run, add the two tablespoons of wine, one tablespoon at a time. Mix well until it's thoroughly mixed in. 

Spread frosting on brownies, cupcakes, cake, or whatever else your heart desires! This makes plenty of frosting to cover 24 cupcakes or a 13 x 9 pan of brownies (and then some).

Thanks for such a great recipe, Joanne!

Aren't these little cupcake banners cute? I thought it would be fun to dress up the cupcakes with something different, and I was able to find a template for the banners available to download online from this site. I printed them on a lightweight card stock, cut them out, and then used craft lollipop sticks to wrap the banners around. For each one, I first put a small piece of double-sided tape around the top of the lollipop stick where the flag would go, and then I put glue (gluestick glue) on the inside of the flags so they'd stick together once I wrapped them around the stick. They were really easy to put together! And they were so cute and festive. :)

The frosting was a hit at the shower, too, just like it was with my coworkers when I spread it on the brownies. Everyone was asking for the recipe! 

Red wine buttercream frosting. 

Do it. :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Hello and happy June! I apologize for my blogging hiatus. Last time I was in touch it was May(!!), and I brought you funfetti sugar cookies, just in case you need a reminder. ;) And now, we're 9 days into June...  Wow!

Today I'm sharing a delicious recipe for cinnamon chip oatmeal cookies. This recipe is actually just a variation of a cookie recipe I posted on the blog last July: my oatmeal toffee chocolate chip cookies.


-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
-1 large egg
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup regular oats
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-3/4 to 1 cup cinnamon chips


Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat, and add the butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter about 5 - 6 minutes, until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat immediately when this happens, and whisk for about 30 seconds more. Set aside and let cool completely. This cooling completely part is very important!

While the butter is cooling, whisk together the flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or you can actually do this by hand!), mix the completely cooled butter with both sugars until smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla, mixing again until smooth. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until well-incorporated. Finally, stir in the cinnamon chips. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto sheets, placing about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden brown in color. Let sit for a couple minutes on the cookie sheets, and then place on cooling racks to cool completely.

Makes 15 to 18 cookies. Store in airtight container, and enjoy within 3 days.

One of the nice things about this cookie recipe is that you can do it all by hand, if you want to! You don't need a mixer. Be careful not to overmix the dough though. Mix until just incorporated; this will help the cookies stay softer.

I will warn you though that these aren't the softest cookies I've ever made. They are a little on the chewy side, and they have an oh-so-slight crunch to them also. So, if you're a fan of cookies that have the best of both the chewy and crunchy texture worlds, then these are for you. ;)

 Also important to note, these cookies are best consumed within 3 days of baking them. Have no fear though; they'll disappear within 3 days. I guarantee it.

By now, you know I am a huge fan of cinnamon. And there's plenty of cinnamon in these little gems! A teaspoon and a half of ground cinnamon, and then 3/4 to 1 cup of cinnamon chips as well. I'll leave the actual amount of cinnamon chips to add up to you. Depends on whether you like your cookies full of chips or a bit more doughy.

Did you notice these photos are a bit better than my usual photos? Well, I borrowed a friend's SLR camera for a bit, and I've been playing around with it for some food shots. I love it! Soooo much better than my little point and shoot digital camera. Someday I'll save up for an SLR camera...someday.

But one thing I do not have to save for is the ingredients to make these cookies. So, in the meantime I'll keep baking, and I hope you keep visiting. :)

Hope everyone's June is off to a good start!!