Tag Archives: ice cream

Child’s Play

9 Aug

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My cooking is a lot of things. I like to think it’s healthy, delicious, fun, creative….(no, this is not a post dedicated to self-flattery, just in case you were wondering)….but kid-friendly isn’t always one of them. You all know how much I love fruits and veggies now. Well, really, I always have, but back when I was a kid, there was a list of ones I didn’t like, including squash, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts (I’m sure there were many more but I can’t think of them as of right now). Needless to say, I have embraced them and am trying to make up for lost time with those under-appreciated veggies.

So when my little cousins (it should be noted that their ages are 14 and almost 12, so at this point they’re not really “kids,” and certainly not “little,” but since I was the youngest until they came along, they’ll always be my “little” cousins) accepted my invitation for a sleepover Saturday night, I racked my brain that would make us all happy: tasty, kid-friendly, and veggie packed. The answer?

POTATO BAR! My family got the idea for this meal from a summer camp that my sister attended growing up (I went one year, suffered terribly from homesickness, and never went back). Basically, everyone gets a baked potato and loads it up with their choice of toppings. I served the potatoes with salad on the side. Although the above two photos just look like a plate of veggies, I PROMISE there is a potato under there (I should have taken pictures of my cousins’ plates, as they were much more “conservative” with the veggies than I, and you can actually see the potatoes). The toppings we had to choose from were:IMG_2478

  • butter spray/butter/margarine
  • fat free sour cream
  • light grated Tex-Mex cheese
  • light feta
  • bacon
  • ham
  • chopped mushrooms
  • chopped green onion
  • salsa
  • lightly cooked broccoli
  • chopped tomatoes

I started with butter spray, then added all of the above (minus the bacon). As you can see, I had a heavy hand with the veggies. In my somewhat limited experience in cooking for kids and/or people with dietary restrictions/people you don’t know well, I’ve found that self-serve, build-your-own meals work best. That way, if there’s something that some like and others don’t it’s easy to leave out. I was happy with my ham, cheese and veggie extravaganza, my cousin was equally satisfied with bacon, cheese, a touch of salsa and some broccoli. This is a great meal to feed a crowd too. It’s fun for all, and, other than chopping, pretty low-maintenance in terms of prep.

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I promised my cousins that if they came to sleep over this summer, we could make ice cream in my new ice cream maker together. Once again, I wanted to find a recipe that would satisfy my desire for something healthier but also meet the taste criteria for younger tastebuds. So when an allrecipes email came into my inbox with a link to this new recipe for Strawberry Freeze by “Laurie” that contained only three ingredients – buttermilk, strawberries and sugar, I was intrigued. The local strawberries available sealed the deal.

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from Laurie at allrecipes.com

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup white sugar, or to taste
  • 3 cups buttermilk

Place 1 cup buttermilk, strawberries, and sugar into a blender. Cover, and puree until smooth. Pour in the remaining 3 cups buttermilk and blend until combined. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze or if using an ice cream maker, freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

*Obviously, I went the ice cream maker route, not the ice pop way. The recipe ways it makes 8 servings, but I’d say more than that or you’ll have 8 really big servings!

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Blending up the strawberry goodness.

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The finished product. I know it looks like we added food colouring, but I promise we didn’t – it’s 100% all natural. This “freeze” was quite delicious – not too sweet at all (thanks to the buttermilk I think). Although, it did suffer the same problem as many of my healthier frozen treats. It got quite hard the second day. Still delicious, just needs a bit of microwaving before serving.

Do you have any go-to menus/recipes when cooking for kids?

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A day in the life of a kitchen klutz

11 Jul

So you know I’m all about keepin’ it real here at HHH. Thus, today’s post. You’d think that since I’m a food blogger, and in the kitchen so much, that I’ve got things pretty much down to a science. I’m always quick, tidy, and efficient, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong! I am here to dispel those myths. Because sometimes, in my kitchen, stuff like this happens:

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Occasionally, there’s this too:

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…and no, that’s not just a bit of water splashed on the floor, it’s olive oil, MUCH harder to clean up since you need practically boiling water to cut the grease (trust me, I know).

In fact, both of those things happened on the same day, along with a minor BBQ-lighting incident that caused the singeing of a few of my hairs (no, I don’t want to talk about it but fortunately my eyebrows remained intact). But it’s okay…with all the cooking I do, I’m bound to have some mishaps, right? And when the end results are as delicious as this:

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and this:

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it makes the mess almost worthwhile.

Since we’re going in order of the photos today, for this post, we’ll live dangerously and do dessert first.

The cherry disaster that you see up top was part of my quest to make Black Forest Ice Cream. I got my inspiration from several sources: last weeks Biggest Loser chocolate ice cream, the little bit of cherry yogurt still lingering in my fridge from a past (failed) recipe attempt, and the beautiful fresh sweet cherries that are now in season in Southern Ontario.

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Side note: a tip for all you cherry lovers out there. I think it was my sister who told me that you can use a regular old plastic drinking straw to pit cherries. Since I wanted about a cup, I decided to put this method to the test. Sometimes you had to force it a bit, but overall, the straw worked beautifully.

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So why the microwave cherry mess? I read in a past issue of Rachael Ray magazine with a feature on ice cream that I pulled out that if you want to add fruit, it’s a good idea to cook it first so the pieces are rock-hard and icy (I still found them a little icy though).

So, to make my Black Forest Ice Cream, I made the BL Super-Simple Chocolate Ice Cream base, as directed (this time I pre-chilled the evaporated milk so it would freeze quicker). Before freezing, I whisked in the remainder of the cherry yogurt I had left (I’d say it was probably about 3/4 of a cup). Then I froze the mixture in the ice cream maker as usual. IMG_2083

About 2/3 of the way through the freezing time, I added the cherries, which I had completely cooled in the fridge (I started with 1 cup pitted, halved cherries, microwaved for two minutes (don’t be like me, use a bigger bowl/actually WATCH them to avoid overflow), then drained/drank/wiped up some of the liquid before adding).

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So you see the final result above. I enjoyed my first bowl with a few fresh cherries and some BL hot fudge sauce (I heated in the microwave 30 seconds before using, as it gets pretty thick the longer it sits) and fat-free Reddi-Whip. Thoughts? Other than the cherries in the ice cream being a tad icy, I really liked this. The cherry flavour was subtle, but there, and went really well with the deep cocoa flavour of this ice cream.

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The olive oil was being used in a little update on my spring spaghetti. It was updated to keep with the season, and turned into more of a summer spaghetti. It still had garlic scapes,  asparagus (which is the last of the season…sigh), ricotta, lemon and thyme. But this version also had the benefit of two more ingredients: arugula and zucchini, both freshly picked from my garden. This adapted version was every bit as delicious as the original: fresh, light, and with a nice pop from the lemon.

So you see my friends, out of tragedy can come triumph. From mess we can create success (other than the time I broke a full bottle of balsamic vinegar and it spilt all over the kitchen floor…there was no success to be had there). Although my hands bear the scars of a few kitchen accidents (which have lead to 2 trips to the hospital for stitches), I still live to cook another day, and have just a few more stories to tell.

My New Toy

5 Jul

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Last week, I bought myself something I’ve been wanting for a couple of years now, a desire that has popped up the last couple of summers. Something that makes cool, creamy treats at the flip of a switch, without needing loads of ice and rock salt (like the super-old school model in our basement from back in the day). In case you haven’t guessed, I bought myself an ice cream maker?

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Why now? Well, in case you missed it, I’ve been wanting one for a couple of years. And, I wanted to celebrate my first end-of-the-school-year as a teacher. And, I still had a bit of tax return money saved, and wanted to spend it on something fun that I would remember. What says fun more than an ice cream maker?!

Now, while I do plan to test out some decadently delicious recipes with this baby. My first two attempts were from my Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook. I know, I know, what a killjoy – I’ve got this new machine that can make amazing ice cream and I am making HEALTHY desserts first?!?! Seriously though, this stuff was pretty darn good. Better still, only 4 ingredients in the vanilla frozen yogurt and 3 in the chocolate ice cream – doesn’t get any better than that.

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From the Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook

Makes 5 (1/2 cup) servings, 120 calories, 9 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g fibre per serving

2 cups plain fat-free Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons light agave nectar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine (I just did it in the container I planned to freeze it in to save clean-up). Spoon the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker that holds at least 2 quarts. Make the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serve immediately or freeze for harder ice cream.

*Note: the recipe says that the consistency and flavour are best when fresh, and that the yogurt becomes harder and less creamy over time. The day after, this stuff was HARD AS A ROCK, and needs to be softened, either in the microwave or on the counter, before serving again, and even then, it’s pretty hard and a bit tricky to eat – still delicious though.

Super Simple Chocolate Ice Cream

IMG_1972From The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook

Makes 5 (1/2 cup) servings, 100 calories, 6 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, less than 1 g fat, 1 g fibre per serving

1 can (12 oz or 370 mL) fat-free evaporated milk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons light agave nectar

Pour 1/4 cup of the evaporated milk and the cocoa powder into a medium mixing bowl (or just use container you’ll freeze it in). Using a whisk, mix the ingredients until very well combined and no lumps remain. Slowly whisk in the remaining milk followed by the agave until well-combined and smooth.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an ice cream maker that holds at least 2 quarts. Prepare the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions.

* Note: This ice cream took longer to freeze than the frozen yogurt ( I think because it was thinner and not as cold to begin with as the yogurt) but didn’t come out rock-solid the next day. IMG_1974

I also made some chocolate “fudge” sauce from my Biggest Loser book. All you do is whisk together 1/2 cup agave nectar with 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder. The longer this stuff sits, the thicker and fudgier it gets.

 

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Mixing ice cream ingredients: vanilla yogurt on the left, chocolate on the right.

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Finished and ready to go into the freezer! Vanilla on the left, chocolate on the right!

So…all this ice cream and sauce. What to do? Have a Biggest Loser-style sundae party, naturally (trust me, it’s better than it sounds, I promise!).

Our “fixins” were the two ice creams, fudge sauce, a fresh batch of stewed IMG_1979rhubarb (which I have started making in the microwave, a bit quicker and easier, FYI), fresh strawberries and fresh raspberries. I had a little bit of everything in my cute bowl purchased at the new Anthropologie (love that store) in the Walden Galleria on last week’s excursion.

 

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Next day (same bowl, slightly different contents): hard vanilla frozen yogurt, raspberries and strawberries, just a touch of light chocolate syrup, a fat-free biscotti purchased in Buffalo and a squirt of fat-free ReddiWhip (if Chef Devin Alexander, author of the BL book was reading this, she’d probably be horrified to see that I topped her beautiful, pure, natural desserts with a processed aerosol product….sorry Chef Devin)!

All in all, good recipes, and great ice cream maker. You just store the bowl part in the freezer (it has some sort of gel or something that freezes inside of it, hence why there’s no need to add ice) and then pop it out when you’re ready to use. I’m just storing mine in the big freezer so I can make ice cream at a moment’s notice.

This is where I ask for your expertise. Anyone with an ice cream maker have any tips or tricks? Any favourite recipes (healthy or not)? Please share!

I fit a whole state in the oven!

26 Jun

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Did anyone guess what I was talking about when you read my title? I’m talking baked Alaska here, people, which, in case you didn’t know, is a dessert that consists of cake and ice cream which gets covered with meringue and baked in the oven.

Why did I make one on the weekend? My little cousin is graduating from grade eight (I must be getting old) and her grad party was yesterday. A few years back, she and her sister helped me make a baked Alaska at my house and were pretty impressed. So, as a graduation gift, I offered to make one for her party….although it’s not that hard to make, it does have several steps and requires lots of freezing time, so I opted to stay over the night before. IMG_1916

As impressive as this dessert is, I promise, it’s not that hard to make…you just need time! And another plus is that it’s totally customizable. You can see that the recipe tells you to use raspberry sorbet, and chocolate and vanilla ice creams, but the flavours are totally your call – my cousin picked chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch ripple. You could also use frozen yogurt and a lighter cake recipe, and this would be a pretty reasonable dessert, considering that meringue is totally fat free. Try this next time you really want to impress at a summer party – you won’t regret it, I promise!

Baked Alaska

from Food Network Magazine August/September 2009

IMG_1904For the Ice Cream Cake:
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing (I used PAM)
  • 1 pint raspberry, passion fruit or other sorbet, softened
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 quart chocolate ice cream, softened
  • 1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs (about 17 crushed wafers)
  • 1 loaf pound cake
For the Meringue:
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 6 large), at room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions

Make the ice cream cake: Brush a 3-quart metal bowl with vegetable oil; line with plastic wrap. Fill the bowl with scoops of the sorbet, vanilla ice cream and half of the chocolate ice cream, alternating small and large scoops to create a mosaic of colors and shapes. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the ice cream; press down to close the gaps between scoops and even out the surface. Remove the plastic wrap, sprinkle the ice cream with the wafer crumbs and re-cover with the plastic wrap, pressing gently. Freeze until set, about 30 minutes.

Remove the wrap and spread the remaining chocolate ice cream in an even layer on top of the crumbs. Cut the pound cake into 1/2-inch-thick slices; completely cover the ice cream with the slices, trimming as needed (you’ll use about two-thirds of the cake). Cover with fresh plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Make the meringue: Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar on high speed until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.

Remove the top layer of plastic wrap, then invert the cake onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (If necessary, let the cake stand overturned until it slips out.) Remove the rest of the plastic wrap and cover the ice cream completely with the meringue, making the dome-shaped top slightly thicker than the sides. Form swirly peaks in the meringue using the back of a spoon. Freeze for at least 3 more hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Bake the cake until the meringue peaks are golden, about 4 minutes, or brown the meringue with a blowtorch. Let the cake soften at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Freeze any leftovers.

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The softened ice cream scooped into the lined bowl, before I packed it all down.

 

 

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….now add a layer of cookie crumbs and freeze.

 

 

 

 

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…add another layer of ice cream, then some cake slices (I made my favourite pound cake recipe, but you could easily buy it), then freeze again.

 

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On the left, you can see what the dessert looks like after being frozen (overnight) and unmolded. Be patient! It takes a few minutes (and a bit of assistance from a butter knife), but you will get it out. On the right, we have the meringue whipped up and ready for action.IMG_1913

 

Action shot: the cake is partially covered with meringue.

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Now it’s all covered with the meringue, ready to freeze some more and then get toasted (both times I’ve made this, I’ve done the oven method, as I don’t have a blow torch – works just fine).

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My Aunt also requested that I make some appetizers for the graduates to enjoy – on the menu were BLT pizza, hot broccoli and cheese dip, and taco/nacho dip…not exactly “healthy” fare, but it wasn’t my party! I have to admit, although I didn’t take huge portions of any of them, I did pick a bit too much as I cooked and as the food sat out afterward….but there were some healthier options (veggies and PC blue menu chicken skewers) so I tried to load up on those. Another side note: one benefit of having a healthy eating blog and an Aunt who reads it is that when you come to IMG_1910stay overnight, she announces she has lots of healthy food for you to choose from: SCORE!

I was able to come up with this breakfast (berries, yogurt, special K yogurt and berries) from her pantry/fridge….thanks for thinking of me Auntie Rue! Smile

 

What are your favourite summer desserts to make (or eat)?