Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Milky Way Ice Cream

Wow! Did I ever get a hard time over the Fish Tacos and Watermelon Salsa recipes! And from the same "friend" who complained that I was making all of us fat with the desserts. You know, some people are just never satisfied! JUST KIDDING, Betts!

 Meanwhile, I found this yummy looking ice cream recipe and thought it sounded like something the DH would love! We are real ice cream fans at our house -have I said that before?  Hardly a week goes by that there is not either commercial ice cream (Blue Belle is our absolute favorite) or homemade ice cream in our freezer. DH is one of "those people" who can eat dessert every nite and not gain an ounce. Don't you just hate them??? And since we both love chocolate... Get out the Cuisinart countertop ice cream maker. Oh, we probably should have never bought one of these... but it is sooooo easy and convenient! Maybe too convenient? I borrowed one from a friend, then bought a larger model for us! Why fool around with 1 quart of ice cream when you can make 1/2 gallon just as easy? Goes right along with my aversion to recipes for bar cookies made in a 9-inch square pan! If you're going to work, make it worth it!

Since our ice cream maker is larger than the original recipe calls for, I made a few changes. I'll give you the 1 quart recipe and tell you what I added for our 1/2 gallon freezer. I find that simply doubling the recipes does not always work. I usually end up with an extra cup or so of liquid. One time I put it all in the freezer (even though it was over the fill line) and what a mess I had! It froze and oozed out the top! We HAD to get spoons and eat it as it came over the top! LOL!

Milky Way Ice Cream

5 Fun Size Milky Way candy bars, about 4 oz., unwrapped and chopped
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (I used the entire can- what do you do with 1/2 can ??)
1 cup whole milk (I used 2 cups of 2%)
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 (I used 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2)
I added 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (because we like lots of chocolate!)
and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place candy bars and sweetened condensed milk in a large glass bowl over boiling water. Do not let water touch bottom of bowl. Stir until candy bars melt. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted.
Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add milk, 1/2 and 1/2 and vanilla. Stir to combine.
Chill until COLD. ( I set mine in a larger bowl filled with ice to speed it up.)

Churn mixture in ice cream maker until soft serve consistency. Transfer to airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours. (Yea, like THAT happened in this house!)

You can make this in an electric churn or hand crank churn, if you wish.

NOTE: I did not add the milk to the hot mixture and had to reheat the cooled mixture in order to get the milk to combine with the melted candy! So, follow the instructions!!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fish Tacos with Watermelon Salsa

Hot summer weather begs for lighter food and different combinations of ingredients. With fruit in abundance, it seems a shame not us find new ways to use it. Watermelon is a traditional summer fruit that is easy to find and relatively cheap (considering the amount of fruit from one melon). Of course, these days NOTHING is cheap. I sent my DH (dear husband) to the grocery store for 2 items and he came home declaring that there needs to be a checkout lane for those folks needing to apply for a loan to pay for their groceries. He doesn't go to the grocery store often, obviously! But, I digress....

Try combining a mild fish like Talipia with watermelon salsa in these Fish Tacos. It's a nice light taste and very colorful. Add slaw or oven roasted potatoes and you've got a meal. I like to have the salsa leftover to serve with chips, so sometimes I double the salsa recipe. Cook the fish on a grill or in a skillet. Either way, a good rule of thumb for cooking fish is 10 minutes cooking time per 1-inch of thickness. Easy way to chop cilantro or parsley: wash and place in a small glass (I use a small juice glass). Use kitchen scissors and hold them perpendicular to the countertop. Cut down into the glass and you will chop without making a mess! You'll be surprised at how easy this recipe is to prepare and your family just might find a new favorite!

Fish Tacos with Watermelon Salsa
4 cups diced watermelon, remove seeds!
1/2 cup chopped red onion (or Vidalia when in season)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, juiced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced (or as much as you like!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

1 pound skinless fillet of sea bass, talipia or other mild fish
1 teaspoon chipolte chile powder
1 romaine lettuce heart, thinly sliced (or substitute iceberg lettuce)
8 corn tortillas
1 avocado, sliced, optional
Lime wedges

Preheat large skillet . Sprinkle both side of fish with chile powder, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil. Brush the skillet with oil and add fish. Cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side depending on thickness of fish. Transfer to a platter, cool slightly and break into bite size pieces.

Warm the tortillas in the skillet. Fill with fish, watermelon salsa, avocado (if desired) and lettuce. Serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blueberry Coffee Cake

The latest copy of Bon Appetit arrived in my mailbox a few days ago and this recipe looked sooo yummy! I happened to have some blueberries in the refrig that "needed" to be eaten and since they were a little tart, this coffee cake looked perfect! I've been painting a lot lately (watercolor, not walls) and felt guilty that I haven't cooked much, so this was my peace offering. OH, wait! I made brownies for the roofers Monday. Does that count?? Anyway, I've rearranged the recipe a little (very poorly written ingredient list and directions!). Make this the day before you plan to serve it (Unless you get up hours before breakfast!). And be prepared to wash some dishes. But, it is worth it - it is sooooo good! I haven't tried this, but I think you could make muffins from the batter... assemble the same way as the coffee cake using muffin pans.. maybe Texas sized?

Yes, I said roofers.  We had hail damage and thanks to our neighbors having theirs appraised by the same insurance co. we are getting a new roof also. This is week 2. What was the old TV show with Darrell, Darrell and their other brother, Darrell?? Well.. I know where they are now. They're in the mtns of North Georgia/Western NC working on our roof!! They are a hoot! I gave them Banana Bread last week and on Monday one said, "That Banana Bread you made us was mighty good....(grin, hint, hint)". So, yesterday, I baked Double Chocolate Brownies.We may never get rid of them!!! Darrell took one bite and said, "Them ain't out'a no box!"  Bingo! They're good guys, lots of fun and doing a good job. We have a contractor who has been working on this house every year for the 8 yrs we've lived here who deals with them. We don't have to worry about anything except keeping them happy and full!!!

Here are a few tips for this recipe before you get started:
Substitute for 1 cup buttermilk: 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar in measuring cup then fill with milk. Set aside for 5 minutes. Works like a dream!

I didn't use pecans in my topping. Personal preference. But it worked fine without them. Substitute other nuts of your choice. The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt in the topping. IF you like sweet/salty taste, add it. If not, leave it out.

Panko crumbs were tossed with the blueberries. If you have them, fine. Don't go out and buy them just for this recipe. Leave them out and move on!

I baked mine in an 8x8-inch metal pan (as the recipe directed) but think it would be much nicer in a glass baking dish. The recipe said to line the pan with parchment paper. Not sure why. Now I have to cut squares and lift it off the paper... ???? Leave off the parchment paper and grease the pan well. If you use a glass dish, lower the oven temp by 25 degrees. And if your metal dish is dark, lower the oven temp 25 degrees.

Old-fashioned Blueberry Coffee Cake
Crumb Topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon Panko

Make the crumb topping (Can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated.)
Combine flour and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add butter; using your fingers to work butter into the flour mixture until large, moist crumbs begin to form. Stir in pecans. Set aside.

Make the cake layer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine butter and sugar in the large bowl of electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well. Beat mixture an additional 3-4 minutes.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Sift (or use a whisk to combine) dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Pour half of mixture into a greased 8x8-inch baking pan. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons cinnamon. Sprinkle over first layer of batter. Spoon on remaining batter. Toss blueberries with Panko, if desired. Scatter evenly over batter. Sprinkle crumb mixture over blueberries.

Bake 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool completely in pan. Cut into squares and serve. (Recipe says 8-12 servings. NOT at our house!)
Photo from Bon Appetite.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

It always makes me smile when people ask for recipes or ask for advice on recipes they've tried. I think back to my County Extension Agent days when we answered cooking questions over the telephone. We spent a LOT of time trouble shooting recipes and suggesting substitutions. It was a consumer service and one we provided with pleasure. It was almost like teaching a class with no classroom!

Then there were my days teaching in a Home Ec classroom...oh, dear me! What an experience! If the students had a successful cooking lab, I let them have a "free" lab day on Fridays. They could bring food from home to prepare in the lab. Food plus teenagers equals a good day. So, the 2 kitchens of boys (4 in each group) pooled their resources and brought several rolls of refrigerator sugar cookie dough. They went about their business getting the dough ready to go into the oven amid a lot of giggles and laughter. I thought they were having waayy too much fun, but let it go.. it was Friday and they were 9th grade kids. They had cookies in the oven in both kitchens and when the timer on both went off at the same time, I walked over to one oven and started to open the oven door. Their faces went white. They became silent. They looked horrified. I was stumped until I opened the oven door and saw the cookies. The boys had shaped their dough into male body parts - sugar cookie penis!!!! I calmly removed the cookie sheet from the oven, set it on the stove top and walked into the large walk-in pantry and laughed until I cried! I had 2 choices: report them to the office and send them all to ISS (in school suspension) or ignore it . I chose the latter. I never saw the cookies again and never had a moment's trouble from those boys the entire year!

This week, I'm baking cookies for our church to give to incoming students at Young Harris College. I clued the girls sitting behind us in church Sunday in to the generosity of the ladies of our congregation. I assured them to stick with us because we would feed them well! I'm sure they will love homemade cookies!

One of my favorite cookie recipes is a chewy oatmeal cookie (especially for my friend, Mary M.). You can add whatever you like to the basic dough. I'm adding M&M's, nuts and chocolate chips this week. If I were making it for me, I'd add dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips. Or you can add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the flour mixture, leave out the chocolate and add raisins. Make the dough ahead and refrigerate it for the best shaped cookies. When the dough is  refrigerated, the cookies tend to spread less. No suspicious shapes here!

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar (or half brown and half white sugar)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups uncooked regular oats (NOT instant!)
1 (12-oz) pkg chocolate chunks
1 cup chopped  nuts

Cream butter, Crisco and sugar at medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl, stirring to blend. Add oats; stir well. Add dry mixture to creamed mixture, mixing at low speed just until dry ingredients are no longer visible. Stir in chocolate chunks and nuts. Refrigerate  OR drop by rounded tablespoons 2-inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until brown around the edges. Cool on pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.
Yield: 30 to 36 cookies.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

More bounty from the garden! Our tomatoes have not had much taste this summer, but with this recipe, they are sure to be delicious. The original recipe called for Gruyere cheese (which I find to be terribly expensive);  I substituted Swiss. I think the tastes are similar and with all of the other good flavors in the tomatoes, I hardly think you'll notice the switch. Of course, you could use any cheese that you prefer.... mozzarella and/or Parmesan plus a little basil,  Monterrey Jack and some cilantro.... go wherever your taste buds take you with this basic recipe. I found "day old" cibatta for 1/2 price and used that for the stuffing. Any firm (AKA stale) bread will do.  From my deep Southern roots, I sprinkled the tomatoes with a tiny bit of sugar before filling them.... Mama always said it "kills the acid taste".  Have fun and enjoy the last tomatoes of the season!

We have a cute little local Farmer's Market on Wednesday mornings with nice local products and a precious English lady who bakes. I'm going to buy a large basket of Roma tomatoes this week to make (and freeze) Marinara Sauce. It's our favorite with fresh homemade pasta. And I'll buy some baked treats from Miss Ann... I need to help our local economy and besides, it's nice to eat someone else's cooking once in a while! I'm not sure how to link you back to the Marinara Sauce recipe (maybe one day I'll get that sophisticated- maybe not!) but it was posted long ago.. search for it and if you need it and can't find it, just e-mail me and I'll share it. It is YUMMMY!

Cheese Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
6 large, firm tomatoes, halved crosswise
4 to 6 ounces rustic white bread (such as ciabatta), torn into large pieces (about 1 quart)
1 cup plus 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
2 Tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion 
2 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 teaspoon lemon zest 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush an 11- by 13-inch glass baking dish with one tablespoon of olive oil. Using a small, sharp paring knife, cut around the inside wall of the tomato to loosen the seeds and jelly. Then, working over a large, deep bowl, use a tablespoon to gently scrape out the seeds and flesh, taking care to leave the tomato intact. Make sure each tomato half sits flat. If it doesn't, use the paring knife to shave a small slice off the bottom of the tomato, which will ensure that it sits level in the dish. Place tomato halves in baking dish.  Place bread pieces in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to create breadcrumbs. You should have two cups. Add 1/2 cup cheese, onion , parsley, thyme, red pepper, lemon zest, and salt and black pepper to taste, and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle 1/2 cup of olive in through the spout in the lid. Blend until mixture clumps together slightly.

Divide filling evenly between 12 tomato halves, pressing down slightly on the filling. Sprinkle remaining cheese over tomatoes. Drizzle tomatoes with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake until filling puffs and browns and tomatoes just start to split, about 40 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies

If you have a garden this summer you probably have an abundance of zucchini and yellow summer squash. I've been looking for different squash recipes and came across this one on Pinterest. I thought it sounded good and might be one you could actually get kids to try! What's not to like about lots of cheese, pasta and veggies? Of course, I would double it and bake it in a 9x13-inch baking pan. We love leftovers at our house!

Have you tried Aunt Ruth's Squash Fritters? They are delicious made with yellow squash or zucchini.

In the past week, I've picked 2 - 5 gallon buckets of green beans (thanks to my dear friends, Anna & Fred for growing the garden and letting me pick!), snapped (thanks to Helen J. for helping snap - or break beans as they say in NC) and canned 31 quarts (thanks to my sweet neighbor, Mary, who loaned me her pressure canner and patiently answered 100 questions while I re-learned how to can!). It truly takes a village sometimes! I am very blessed to live in a "village" filled with loving and generous folks! And, next winter, we will have plenty of beans!!!

Don't you love summer veggies??? I do!! I could easily be a vegetarian in summer.


Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies

4 ounces uncooked ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped tomato
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
 Preheat oven to 400°.

 Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add squash, zucchini, and onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.