Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream

Nothing screams summer like a waffle cone piled high with scoops of homemade chocolate ice cream. 

I must admit that I've been more of a vanilla girl my entire life. Chocolate is good, but I've always been partial to vanilla. 

Austin's favorite-beyond-favorite-would-do-anything-to-get-it ice cream flavor is chocolate fudge brownie. Most brands at the store don't have it. 

So we pull out one of our favorite wedding gifts (our ice cream maker!) and make our own chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. 

There are so many variations for this recipe. I make the chocolate ice cream and the hot fudge from scratch, but I make the brownies from a box mix. 

I'm still not convinced that from-scratch brownies are any better than boxed mixes. 

You can use store bought fudge and it will still be awesome! You can also be a hero and make brownies from scratch, just don't expect me to do that!

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream

Yields: 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp dutch-process cocoa powder
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate*
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla 

Chocolate fudge, see below (Add as much as you want)
Brownies, chopped, from a box mix (Add as much as you want)

1. Combine cream and cocoa in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, then add chocolate and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl. 

2. In that same (now empty) pot, combine milk, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat. Beat together egg yolks in a small bowl. Temper the egg yolks with warm milk by ladling some warm milk into the egg yolks, then pour the yolk-milk mixture back into the pot. 

3. Stir the milk mixture constantly over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches 170-175 degrees fahrenheit. Pour into the cream-chocolate mixture and add the vanilla. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly cooled. 

4. Mix according to your ice cream maker's directions. Add chocolate fudge and brownie bits, then freeze until the ice cream is set. Enjoy! 

*roughly 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate Hot Fudge

Yields: 2 cups 

2/3 cup cream
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, salt, and half of the chocolate until melted. Reduce heat to low, and let cook for 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla, and remaining chocolate. Let cool before eating.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Challah. You might've seen it at your local bakery. You might not know how to pronounce it

One thing we can all agree on is that it's delicious. 

Challah is a Jewish egg bread that's traditionally braided and eaten on the Sabbath. 

While I was researching how to make braided challah bread, I learned some interesting things about the history and symbolism of Jewish challah. 

The bread dough is traditionally made the day before the Sabbath, then it rises overnight, to be baked on the Sabbath morning. 

Traditionally, the bread dough is divided into 12 strands to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. The strands are then divided up to braid the loaves. 

The bread is also said to symbolize manna from heaven from the Old Testament, and it's often covered in a special cloth to represent the dew that protected the manna. 

I've done 3, 4, and 6 strand braided loaves before, and they've all turned out great. Check out this link to see directions for the 4 strand braid. 

A 6 strand braid is the simplest to me-- just bring the rightmost strand over 2, under 1, over 2 and repeat. 


Yields: 2 large or 4 medium loaves
Time: 2-3 hours 

2 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
8 to 10 egg yolks (6 oz. total)
5 tbsp veggie oil
5 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla 
1 tbsp salt
7 to 8 cups flour
1 egg, beaten + 1 tsp water, for egg wash

1. Combine water and yeast in a bowl and let activate for 5 minutes. Add yolks, oil, honey, vanilla, and salt and combine. 

2. Add flour, about 1 cup at a time, until it holds together enough to knead it on the counter. It should be soft and supple, but not very sticky. Knead until it springs back when you press your finger into the dough. You can do this in a stand mixer, if desired. 

3. Let dough rise, covered, in a greased bowl until doubled in size. 

4. Divide dough into the number of loaves you want, then divide the loaves into strands. Braid dough, place on lined cookie sheets, brush egg wash on the dough, and let rise (uncovered) until very puffy. 

5. Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 25-35 minutes. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie

If I had to choose a favorite type of food, it would most definitely be comfort food.

I'm a firm believer that preparing and eating food should be enjoyable.

Comfort food is that style of food that you know everyone will like, so it's usually what I turn to when we're having guests over for dinner.

No one says no to mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken, chicken noodle soup or pot pie!

This chicken pot pie has been one of our favorite go-to meals since we've been married.

I make a big ol' 9 by 13 of it, and we eat the leftovers for the next couple of days (I'm not proud to admit that one time Austin and I ate the entire thing in less than 24 hours).

This recipe is easy to make, due to the majesty of frozen puff pastry. Just take it out of the freezer to defrost while you prepare the filling, slice it up, and you're good to go!

Chicken Pot Pie

Yields: 9 x 13, 8-12 servings
Time: 1 hour

1 sheet puff pastry
6 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, medium, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
5 large carrots, chopped
3 medium potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
2/3 cup cream
1 bouillon cube
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or chopped*
1 cup frozen peas
1 egg

1. Put puff pastry on the counter to defrost. Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Unfold puff pastry and cut into equally-sized strips. Make a lattice on a cookie sheet and pop it in the freezer.***

2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, and salt. Sauté until the vegetables start to soften. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook 1-2 minutes more.

3. Add milk, cream, and bouillon. Cook until the mixture thickens to the desired consistency. Turn heat to low and add chicken and peas and cook until thoroughly heated. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 and pop the puff pastry lattice on top. Brush with a beaten egg and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving (this allows it to thicken up again and prevents you from burning your mouth).

*You can cook the chicken any way you like. Sometimes I cook it in the crockpot and shred it. Other times, I cook it on the stove and chop it. Anything works! I season with Emeril's Essence.

***This method makes it way easier to pop the lattice on the pie and throw it in the oven. You can make the lattice right on the pot pie, but the puff pastry starts to get kind of melty.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jam-filled Donuts

As we all learned from Parks and Rec, breakfast food is the best food

Donuts (or doughnuts, do-nuts, or do'nuts) are definitely one of the superior breakfast foods out there... 

. . . and I think we can all agree that filled donuts are the best kind of donuts (followed very closely by blueberry cake donuts). 

While a family favorite in our house is Boston Cream Donuts, this past weekend I decided to try jam-filled donuts. It was a good decision. 

These donuts are a risen donut, fried in oil, tossed in sugar to coat, and filled with jam. (I've decided that "jam filled and sugar coated" is the new "shipshape and Bristol fashion.")

Jam-filled Donuts

Yields: 18-24 donuts
Time: 2 hours

2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp yeast
3/4 cup warm whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
Vegetable oil (for frying)

raspberry jam

1. Combine warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let the yeast activate for 5 minutes. 

2. To the yeast, add warm milk, sugar, salt, egg, butter, and 1 cup flour. Stir to combine. Slowly add the remaining flour, until the dough is mixed. I always take out the dough to knead by hand for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to make sure the dough is smooth. Let rise in a covered, greased bowl in a warm place until doubled in size. 

3. Cut a piece of parchment paper into 4" squares. Roll dough out on a floured surface until just over 1/2" thick. Cut into circles with a 2" cutter. Sprinkle flour onto parchment square before placing each donut on a square. Let rise, covered, until nearly doubled. 

4. Heat oil to 350 degrees fahrenheit in a heavy-bottomed pan or fryer. Fry 2-3 donuts at a time, 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove and let sit for 1-2 minutes on a paper-towel lined drying rack. Then, throw the donuts around in a bag with sugar until coated. 

5. Put jam into a freezer bag with the corner cut off or decorating bag with a round tip. Use a chopstick to poke a hole in the side of each donut, then fill with jam. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I love peanut butter.

When I'm hungry during the day, I often open one of the jars of peanut butter in my kitchen and eat a spoonful (or two). Surprisingly, I've only posted one recipe involving peanut butter in the 4 years I've had my blog.

It's probably because I chow down on anything with peanut butter before I can photograph it.

I'm the type of person who buys whatever brand of stuff is the cheapest at the store. I'm no snob when it comes to the generic labels! Luckily, my absolute favorite brand of peanut butter (and the only kind I'll buy) is the Kroger brand, which is the store brand where I shop. Is there anything you'll only buy in a specific brand?

This recipe is a variation on the famous New York Times Cookie recipe. I've given the weights as well as the cup measurements. I used my kitchen scale to weigh all the ingredients.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Yields: 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size.

1 3/4 cups (8 1/2 oz) cake flour*
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 oz) all purpose flour*
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cup (10 oz) brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp (8 oz) sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini peanut butter cups, chopped***
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Sea salt for sprinkling

1. Mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

2. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat. Slowly add the dry ingredients until it is just incorporated.

3. Fold in the peanut butter cups and chips. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

 4. Scoop 2 oz balls (these are big cookies-- the dough should be at least 2" in diameter) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or silpat. I only baked 6 cookies at a time-- they're that big! Sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 350 for 13-18 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Bake until the edges are golden brown and the middles no longer look raw.

* You can use whatever ratio of the two flours you have-- I was about 1/2 cup short on the cake flour, so I used AP flour for that 1/2 cup. Just make sure you have 17 oz flour altogether.

*** I got mini peanut butter cups at Winco in the bulk section. They're adorable and perfect for baking! They work great in cookies, brownies, and ice cream.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mushroom Tart

Y'all already know I love puff pastry. My love of puff pastry first started in a French-style cafe my family visited often when I was growing up.

They have a dish called a chicken friand. It's a mixture of french cheese, mushrooms, and chicken stuffed into a puff pastry shell. It was the first "fancy" food I ate, and the first "fancy" dish I learned to cook by myself. Recipe coming soon (once I can muster up the self-control to put off eating the chicken friands long enough to photograph them).

This mushroom tart is reminiscent of the chicken friand, except this tart can be on the table in just a half hour. It's really versatile-- it can work as an appetizer, side, or entrée (or a dessert, if you're really strange).

One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can substitute pretty much any of the ingredients. I've made it with tons of different things, and it's always come out beautifully.

Mushroom Tart

Yields: two 9" tarts (Serves 4 entrees or up to 12 as a side or an appetizer)

1 sheet puff pastry
3 slices bacon
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp Emeril's Essence*
3 tbsp water
1/4 cup shredded gruyère (or swiss, or parmesan)
1/2 cup sour cream (or cream cheese)
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut puff pastry in half. Place on a cookie sheet lined with Silpat or parchment.

2. Cook bacon. Remove from pan, but leave the bacon grease in the pan. Sauté the garlic in the bacon grease for 1 minute, then add mushrooms, reserving about 10 slices to decorate the tart. Add Emeril's Essence. Cook until the mushrooms release all their liquid. Add water as necessary to prevent burning or sticking.

3. Remove from heat and add crumbled bacon, gruyère, and sour cream.** Spread on the puff pastry. Top with reserved mushrooms. Brush the edges with beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes.

*Emeril's Essence is my go-to seasoning. I use it on everything!! You can also substitute this with your preferred seasoning.

**You can make the mixture ahead of time and refrigerate. It will keep for a day or two.