Monday, May 30, 2011

Frozen Custard

Once in a while a piece of special equipment in the kitchen is warranted and this is one of those times. As the weather turns from warm to hot, ice cream has been on my mind. Especially when that ice cream happens to be frozen custard! Memorial Day Weekend always seems to be the beginning of summer in my mind and what better way to start summer than homemade ice cream. Simple and small ice cream makers are pretty easy to find and inexpensive now. They come with all the necessary equipment and you just place the base in the freezer a day ahead of time instead of using ice and salt as in old fashion versions.

I started off by scalding 2 cups of whole milk.

While the milk was on the stove, I mixed together egg yolks with vanilla sugar and salt. When my milk was scalded I very slowly poured it into my egg mixture while whisking.

Once all the milk was incorporated, I poured it all back into the saucepan and stirred in constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon.

I removed it from the heat once it was thickened and had just started to boil. I let it cool for about 10 minutes and then added in vanilla extract and heavy cream. I  poured it all into the base of my ice cream maker once it had cooled completely from being in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

Following the directions for my particular ice cream maker, I left it running until the custard was as thick as it was going to get in the machine.

Then I transferred it into another container with a lid and put it into the freezer to finishing freezing the rest of the way through.

Doesn't that look good! I promise it's really creamy too!

How about some frozen blueberries on top....

...Or hot fudge and sprinkles!

Hope Everyone had a Wonderful Holiday Weekend!

Frozen Custard

2 Cups Whole Milk
3 Egg Yolks
1 Cup Vanilla Sugar (Plain sugar is also fine)
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

Scald milk over medium heat in saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt. Very slowly whisk in scalded milk with egg mixture. Return back to saucepan and cook over medium heat while stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Mixture will thicken while it cooks and remove from heat just as it comes to a boil. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes and stir in cream and vanilla. Let mixture cool completely in refrigerator for several hours to overnight before pouring it into ice cream maker. Follow your manufacturer's directions for your ice cream maker. Once finished, pour into container with lid and store in freezer to finish setting up.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Candy Bouquet

Remember the Cookie Bouquet I posted after Mother's Day? If you want something simpler but just as impressive, check out this Candy Bouquet that was featured on Martha Stewart!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Indianapolis Food Tour

I don't have a recipe to share with you this week, but that doesn't mean I don't have any food to share! We are recently back from a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana and we had a GREAT time. There are TONS of museums, parks and attractions that could keep you busy the entire length of your trip and something to fit any interest. The 2012 Super Bowl is also coming to the Lucas Oil Stadium this year which is something else to keep in mind. The Zoo and Children's Museum were wonderful plus all the other attractions we visited. There is simply too much stuff to see in this city to list! But what about the food!? I did a lot of Internet research before out trip of not only attractions to visit but also of restaurants to eat at. We wanted to make the food as much a part of the destination as the other attractions we were visiting.

Our first visit upon arriving in town was for lunch at Edward's Drive-In. They are known for their Pork Tenderloin Sandwich which is not only big but really, really tasty.

I ordered the Chicken Fingers and they were fantastic. They hand bread all of their meat at the restaurant and it really pays off. The breading is really good and the meat stays nice and moist.

Samantha also really enjoyed her Grilled Cheese......It was really good.

For dinner we stopped at Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream in Carmel, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis.

Bub's is home of the Big Ugly Burger and a competition involving it. If you can eat one Big Ugly, you get a 4x6 picture of yourself on the wall. Two Big Uglies gets you an 8x10 picture, three Big Uglies for a poster of yourself and eating four Big Uglies earns you a life size cut-out. No one has ever eaten four and when we were there, there were 6 posters. Here is us waiting for our table.

And here is a picture of Jason's Big Ugly Burger and my Settle For Less Than Ugly Burger.

The Burger's were very good, very moist and the buns were all buttery and toasted. Jason was very happy with his Burger.

And he ate it all!

So the waitress took his picture for him to sign and hung it up on the wall.

As you can see, the walls are littered with pictures!

We also visited the Greek Islands Restaurant for dinner one night.

In the frenzy of the delicious food and being extremely hungry after a day spent at the zoo, I neglected to take a picture of my plate. I ordered the Greek Spaghetti which was a homemade red sauce over spaghetti noodles, topped with gyro meat and graviera cheese. Jason ordered the Traditional Gyros which also came with rice and green beans. Both of our meals included a Greek dinner salad and a loaf of warm homemade bread.

Let me just say this to describe the taste of the Greek Spaghetti- I would drive the 4 hours back to this city just to eat dinner at this restaurant.

Our last dinner spot was Gray Brothers Cafeteria in Mooresville, just south of Indianapolis. As the name suggests, this is a cafeteria style restaurant. You get in line, grab a tray and start going down the line filling it with whatever you like. On the bad side.....the desserts were toward the beginning of the line and they offer over 15 different homemade pies. Why is this bad you ask? Because we choose 3......we were really hungry.

The food was unbelievably good and the portions are huge. Here are our trays from two different angels.

In the above picture going clockwise from my husbands hand (to show how big the pork tenderloin is): fried tenderloin, stuffing with brown gray, fried chicken breast with a side of mac & cheese, yeast rolls, coconut cream pie (a mile high!!), deviled eggs, rhubarb pie, cheesecake with strawberries and mac & cheese. We definitely over ate this night and it was so worth it. Everything was excellent. Period.

And finally, we hit the Heidelberg Haus before heading home. This is a German cafe, bakery and gift shop. This place was very.....different. You will understand what I mean if you ever stop here. It has tons of imported gifts for sale and throughout are tables to sit at where you can order off their German menu of items. We however, only stopped to buy some pastries to take home with us and are so glad we did.

Here is their Coconut Rum Pound Cake

The White Chocolate Cream Puff filled with Cream and Raspberries and a piece of Apple Cheesecake

A Coconut Marzipan Bear Claw and a Cheese Danish

And lastly, everyone ahead of  us seemed to be ordering one of the homemade bread pretzels so we ordered one too. It was very, very good. If something seems to be popular and selling well, there is a reason for it!

Hope you enjoyed hearing about all the food we ate and hopefully if you are ever around Indianapolis, you will keep some of these places in mind. Have a Great Weekend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cookie Bouquets

Happy Mother's Day! I know Mother's Day was two days ago but I couldn't post what I made for it until I gave away my gifts so that they would still be a surprise. Anyways, I hope everyone enjoyed their day, I know I did. I made my Mom a cookie and candy bouquet and am very happy with the way it turned out! What do you think?

I also crossed-stitched the bread cloth that I used to line the flower pot and that was the most time consuming part. I used Mary's Sugar Cookie from my Sweets for the Sweet post for my cookie dough. I have been experiencing some problems with this dough lately and haven't been able to figure out why.....but I have figured out how to fix it! So, I amended the recipe in my Sweets for the Sweet post in case you experience the same problem as I have. I thought my Mom's came out a little crowded looking but I'm still very happy with the way it turned out.

I also made another smaller one to give to a friend of ours for Mother's Day.

But these don't have to be just for Mother's Day. My husband and I also had to get-together the night before Mother's Day for a friends birthday so I made one for him too!

I promise that these are pretty easy to make. Simply make your sugar cookie dough, cut out your shapes with a cookie cutter and place them on your baking sheet. Then take sucker sticks and gently pressed them into the dough. I also found it helpful to take some dough scraps and cover part of the sucker sticks to "encase" them into the cookie.

Bake your cookies according to your directions. When removing them from the pan after they have baked, make sure to use a large spatula as to not crack or bend them at all. It is also better to leave them in the oven slightly longer. You don't want a soft and chewy cookie for these flower pots. A stiff cookie will make this much easier.  Once the cookies are completely cooled, decorate them as you wish. Don't be afraid of using a pipping bag, all you have to do is make dots using a simple star tip. You could also make a runny icing (simply mix powdered sugar and a little water until you get your desired consistency), dip the cookies and decorate them with sprinkles. It also helps to decorate the side of the cookie that you stuck the sucker stick to. This way you hide the stick and have a pretty side (the back side) showing.

I made the chocolate flower sucker the same way I did for my Dirt Dessert post. A big help is if you have a electric skillet. Fill it with a couple inches of water and set it to a low temperature setting. Then using glass measuring cups or coffee mugs, you can have all you colors and flavors of candy melts all ready and waiting for whenever you need them.

To assemble everything, take a terra-cotta flower pot and place in flower foam to fit very snugly. If you want to add a decorative cloth or towel, place it in the pot before the flower foam. You may also want to wrap the flower foam in plastic wrap so it doesn't rub off and stain the cloth.

Add colored shredded paper, tucking it down into the sides and begin to push in your cookie and candy flowers. If you want to cover it for travel, take a few glue dots and attach them around the outside edge  (rim) of the flower pot.

Then carefully slip a clear treat bag (usually found in the cake and candy decorating supplies) over the top and press on you glue dots. Attach a decorative ribbon around using glue dots again to hide the edge of the bag.

And just in case you're wondering, here is what I got for Mother's Day!

Here is a link to the cookie cutter set that I used: Wilton Cookie Cutter Set
In this set, the "6" also doubles as the "9" and the "O" also doubles as the "zero".

Butter cream icing I used to decorate cookies: Cupcakes at Tiffany's

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Super Simple Chicken and Rice

Sorry I'm a day late, computer problems.....
Anyways, this dish is so simple I can't even believe I am posting it. But it is very tasty. There won't be an actual recipe at the end like my usual posts because I think this is more of a method. That being said, you can change it around a ton of ways using different rice mixes, broths, veggies or even using pork chops.

So I started off by chopping 1/2 an onion and 1/2 a green bell pepper and softening them over medium heat with some olive oil and salt and pepper.

Once they were starting to soften, I added in the dry rice and pasta mix of a box of Rice-A-Roni. Here is the box I used but you can use any flavor, brand or variety you like.

I stirred the dry rice mixture around in the pan to toast it a little bit then added in the seasoning packet and instead of water I used chicken broth. I followed the amount of liquid listed on the box directions. I then laid two frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts on top and sprinkled them with salt, pepper and dried thyme.

I covered my pan with a lid, turned the heat down to simmer and stirred it every few minutes to make sure the rice was not sticking to the pan. Once the rice was done (mine took around 28 minutes) I cut up  the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces (my chicken was also cooked through at this point) and stirred it back into the rice mixture. We had ours along side some steamed broccoli with cheese.

I hope you will try this version or come up with other versions yourself. It is a super simple method and great on those nights when you just need and want something simple to throw together for dinner. Just doing simple additions like these really jazz up a store bought rice mix. Enjoy!