Sunday, July 30, 2017

Peach Ice Cream

Store bought ice cream is one of those things that just can't compare to homemade. There is just something about making your own ice cream that makes you feel like a super genius. A few simple ingredients thrown into an ice cream maker and *voila*... magic. 
When making peach ice cream you want to use the ripest peaches you can find. Peaches are not a strong flavored fruit so if they are not very ripe then your ice cream won't have much flavor. 

I got my peaches from our local U-pick farm (Old Airport Gardens, in Lillooet). They were wonderful. I purposely picked the ones that had a few bruises and were almost over ripe because I knew they would have the strongest sweetness. They worked out beautifully!

Peach Ice Cream

4 large peaches, pureed
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cup half and half cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Combine peach puree, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl. Place in fridge while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
Combine half and half cream, eggs, and remaining brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir constantly until thickened - about 10 - 15 minutes. 
Remove from the heat and whisk in whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Pour through a strainer to get rid of any cooked egg bits! 
In a blender, pulse together the peach puree mixture and the strained cream mixture until well combined.

Chill in fridge at least 2 hours. 
When thoroughly chilled, place in the container of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. When done, pour into a container and place in freezer until ready to serve, at least 2 hours.

I love mine served over fresh peaches!

My parents prefer theirs served in a cone!

In the summer, nothing beats fresh peach ice cream on a scorching day!

A lot of people add almond extract to their peach ice cream but I find that even a small amount of almond extract can overwhelm the delicate nature of the peaches. I go with a little vanilla extract to enhance the flavor but that's all. NOTE - if you find your has frozen a little hard - simply let it sit at room temp for 5 - 10 minutes until it softens a bit. 

Just a reminder: when it is stupid hot out - ice cream fixes all your problems. Ice cream fixes everything. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs with Couscous

I know they may not be the most attractive meatballs out there but, let me tell you, they are some of the tastiest. They have a wonderful Moroccan/Mediterranean flavor, they are easy to whip up, they are healthy, and they are perfect for meal prepping or freezing for later! 
I made some up for my nephew and his wife when they had their beautiful baby so it would save them some cooking. 

I believe I got 4 servings in total but you could easily double the recipe.
I served them with couscous but you could serve them with rice/brown rice, or quinoa as well. 

Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs with Couscous

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 Tbsp dried parsley 
1/3 cup fine bread crumbs
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
salt & pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
zest of 1/3 of a lemon
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes 
salt & pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

3 cups cooked couscous (or rice or quinoa)
*note - I cook mine in chicken broth for a little extra flavor*

Prepare the meatballs - Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat, set aside. 
In a mixing bowl, combine the meatball ingredients.

Mix well. 
Using a medium cookie scoop (or pinching off a golf ball sized amount), roll into balls. You should get 20 balls. Place on the prepared cookie tray.

Bake at 400 for approx 15 to 20 minutes. 
While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce and couscous.
Prepare Sauce - Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, until onion softens. Add in chicken broth, tomatoes, salt & pepper, and cinnamon. Simmer 8 minutes and then stir in raisins. 

Have your couscous ready at this time as well - cook according to package directions.

When meatballs are done, place a scoop of the couscous on a serving plate, top with a generous scoop of sauce and 5 meatballs. 

Top with a little more sauce. Serve hot!
Or, you can also place in freezable containers for later. 

From start to finish in about 30 to 40 minutes. 
I really like the flavors in this. The hint of lemon and cinnamon is different from the usual tomato saucy meals I make. I don't normally like cinnamon in a savory dish but it is subtle enough in this that I really enjoyed it! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Saskatoon Ice Cream

Ever had a Saskatoon berry? They are close to a blueberry but still not a blueberry. The taste is quite tangy. We usually use the berries from our tree to make jam or pie (see our recipe Saskatoon Pie HERE) but this year I wanted to try something different. 
Let me tell you... they make for an incredibly tasty ice cream. The flavor is quite mild and would pair up beautifully with a vanilla or angel food cake for a light summer dessert. And the color? SO pretty! 

Saskatoon Ice Cream

4 cups Saskatoon berries, fresh
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp water
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup half and half

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, Cook the berries, 1/4 cup sugar, and water until berries start breaking up and are soft. You can squish the berries around as you stir. 

Once cooked, transfer the puree to a blender and process until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine, mesh strainer. This should yield you about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of puree. Set it aside. 
In the saucepan, heat the whipping cream and sugar until steaming, stirring the whole time. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and salt. When the cream is steaming, slowly whisk it into the egg yolk - whisking the entire time. Be sure to do this slowly so as not to cook the eggs. Pour the egg/cream mixture back into the pan and place back over medium-low heat. Cook and stir, until mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon. 
Place the lemon juice and half and half in a bowl. Stir in the Saskatoon puree. 

Place the strainer over this and pour the hot egg/cream mixture through the strainer to get out any cooked egg bits. Stir well to combine. 

Chill ice cream base for at least 3 hours. When thoroughly chilled, place in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. 
Place in freezer when done. 

You can sprinkle with a few more berries to add a little more color. 

It can freeze a bit hard so just let it sit out at room temp for 5 minutes before serving. 

I used 1 1/2 cups of Saskatoon puree but you can use up to 2 cups. Any more than that you will want to save for another use OR you could even swirl it into the ice cream after churning. 
How do you use up your Saskatoons?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Taco Cake

This year for my niece's birthday (Sue's daughter), she decided she wanted a taco theme for her party. Sue put on a big taco spread with all sorts of fillings and toppings. I was put in charge of the cake. 
I decided that a taco cake was totally appropriate and within my skill level. 
It's so fun, am I right? And, it is actually fairly simple to decorate as well. If decorating a cake usually intimidates you then you might want to give this one a try. The only tricky bit is piping the "lettuce". Everything else is easy peasy! I used a margarita flavored cake but you could use any flavor you like. All you need is one 8 or 9 inch round cake and you are good to go!

Taco Cake

1 8 or 9 inch round cake (any flavor)
2 cans vanilla frosting 
1 can chocolate frosting
7 Oreo cookies
3 tbsp shredded coconut
2 red jujubes (or similar gummy candy)
3 Tbsp Cool Whip
yellow food coloring
green food coloring
orange food coloring

Prepare your "toppings": Shredded Cheese - in a small baggy mix a few drops of orange food coloring with the shredded coconut until all coconut is colored. Tomato bits - cut the red jujubes into small squares. Lettuce - dye 1/2 of one of the vanilla frostings with a few drops of green food coloring. Set these aside. 
Prepare "taco": Place your round cake on a work surface. 

Cut the cake in half and stand it up on the flat side. Cut a small line around the center of each round and then cut off a little cake so the inner half is about 1/4 inch lower then the outer half. See photo for clarification.  

Frost the middle of the cake and the inner part of the round with chocolate frosting. Dye one can of the vanilla frosting with yellow food coloring. Frost the rest of the cake with the yellow frosting. Don't worry if the middle part doesn't look pretty - you will be covering it up with toppings. 

Coarsely crush the Oreos in a baggy and then add in a spoonful or two of the chocolate frosting - just enough to get it to clump together. Spread this over the inner part of the taco to cover where the chocolate frosting was. This is the "ground beef". See photo below for clarification. 

Now it's time to place your toppings! Pipe the green frosting in a wavy motion to look like lettuce. You don't have to use the full amount of icing. You want to leave some of the "meat" peeking through. Sprinkle with the coconut "cheese". 

Top with the "tomato bits". 

And, finally, top with a scoop of Cool Whip as your "sour cream". 

Store in the fridge until ready to serve. 

I love the Oreo and chocolate frosting "meat". It looked really meaty. 
You will most likely have leftover frosting and toppings. Use as much of them as you like to decorate your cake. 
We're sharing over at Carole's Chatter so pop over and say hi!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cherry Pie

I think the secret to a good pie crust is practice. Which is okay with me because practice means more pie. Who doesn't want more pie? Crazy people, that's who. 
Seriously though, I think the pie crust is what separates a good pie from a fabulous pie. Our Never Fail Pie Crust Recipe (Find it HERE), is the crust I use for everything. And I do mean everything! I've never used another pie crust because ours works like a hot dang. 
That being said, I decided to give another one a chance because I didn't have any lard in the house and couldn't make it to the store to pick any up. I decided to go with a strictly butter crust that only makes enough for 1 double crust. 
End result? Okay, our crust (HERE) is still my number one. Its flakiness just can't be beat. BUT this one is pretty darned good too. It made for a semi-flaky, definitely buttery flavored crust that complimented the cherries really well. I did find it a pinch tougher than our usual crust - although I may just be super biased towards my old favorite. Which crust do you prefer? Butter or lard?

Cherry Pie

2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, chilled
~1/2 cup ice water

4 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup sugar
scant 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp butter

1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400. 
Prepare crust - In a blender or food processor, pulse together flour, brown sugar, salt, and chilled butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (You can also cut in the butter using a pastry blender or 2 butter knives.) Using a fork, pulse in the ice water until dough just comes together. Place on floured work surface and divide dough in half.  NOTE - the less you handle the dough the better. The more you handle it the tougher it becomes. 

Roll out half the dough into a `10 inch circle. Place into a 9 inch pie pan and chill in fridge while you prepare filling. (Also chill the other half of the dough)

Make sure your cherries are pitted and halved. 

Place cherries in a bowl and add in the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract.

Toss gently to combine well. Pour into the crust in the pie pan. Dot the top with the butter. 

Roll out the second half of the dough to a ~10 inch circle. You can place the entire crust on top and simply cut a slit for steam to escape, or you can cut strips to place on top. Make sure to seal the edges of the pie crust around the pie and trim off any excess dough. 
Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg then sprinkle with the almonds and sugar. 

 Place pie on a cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes then turn the heat down to 375 and continues baking for another 30 or so minutes - until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. (I covered the edges of the pie with a pie shield after the first 15 minutes to prevent the crust edges from getting too dark.) 
Remove to wire rack to cool. Let pie sit for at least 3 hours to set up before serving. 

Now admire how pretty your pie looks. 

I mean..... it's soooooo beautiful, am I right?

Okay, that's enough of that. Let's get down to tasting. 

Did I take a million photos? Why yes, I did. Thanks for asking. 

Now we're getting to the good stuff. 

But, wait, what's pie without a little ice cream?

It just keeps getting better. 

This is the pie you want to make to impress your family at the next dinner. Cherry pie is a bit of a pain because of all that pitting you have to do but it is totally worth it. 

This is best eaten the day it is made, FYI. It is okay the next day but the crust is certainly better fresh! The butter crust is lovely but I think I may have to make this again with our Never Fail Crust just for comparison's sake. 

Be sure to pop over to Carol's Chatter and say Hi!