Vanilla Ice Cream

I received an ice cream maker for Christmas {thanks Mom and Dad!} and have been waiting for summer to finally make my first batch.  Well, the official start to summer was last week, so I went ahead and made some ice cream on my day off last week!

A few days before that, I asked Tim what flavor he wanted.  I fully expected him to say that he didn’t care and that whatever I wanted would be fine.  His response was quite the opposite and very passionate!  He looked at me like I had 4 heads and almost didn’t dignify my [apparently] stupid question with a response.  After carrying on for a while, acting like I was the crazy one without any common sense, he finally said that it would be crazy to break in the new ice cream maker with anything other than plain VANILLA!

Of course, I had been contemplating all sorts of flavors and mix-ins since receiving the gift, but I was quite happy to appease Tim and make plain vanilla ice cream.  After all, it would be my first time using whole vanilla beans, so that would be fun enough for me!

Vanilla Ice Cream

{Source: adapted from Elly Says Opa!, originally by David Lebovitz}

2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream and tiny pinch of salt in a medium saucepan.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warmed milk, and then add the bean itself.  Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and let steep for 30 minutes.

Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl, and set a mesh strainer over the top.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Very slowly add the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, and then scrape back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium-low heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (don’t boil!).  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.  Add the vanilla bean to the custard, stir in the vanilla extract, and then stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture in your refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

So goes the story of most banana recipes…I had 2 sad-looking bananas on the counter, so I decided to make this recipe.  🙂  The great thing about it is that it can be quickly mixed by hand, so you don’t need to dirty your mixer!  Yummy too!  I’ve substituted blueberries in place of the chocolate chips before too.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

{source: adapted from Taste of Home Cupcakes & Muffins issue}

Makes 12 muffins


1-3/4 cups AP flour

1/4 cup sugar

2-1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup whole milk {or whatever milk you have; I’ve used skim and almond milk before}

1 egg

1/2 cup vegetable oil {or coconut oil}

1 cup mashed ripe banana {2 bananas}

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips {or cinnamon chips or blueberries}


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or spray a muffin pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a whisk.  In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk, oil and mashed bananas with a fork.  Stir the wet into the dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill the prepared muffin cups.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Beef Taco Bake

This is something I love to make when we’re in the mood for tacos but want something a little different than our usual soft shell tacos.  It also takes a little more time than traditional tacos, so I have to plan accordingly.  But it’s really good and never disappoints!  Leftovers are not ideal (they get a little chewy), but not horrible either.

I realized I was out of cans of refried beans, so I just took a can of seasoned black beans, lightly drained them and then buzzed ’em up in the food processor until mostly smooth.  Worked great!

Beef Taco Bake

source:  Cook’s Country Oct/Nov 2007


2 (10 oz.) cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained but reserve 1/2 cup juice

1 (16 oz) can refried beans {or use my trick mentioned above}

1 tablespoon hot sauce {such as Tabasco}

1/4 cup chopped cilantro – I omitted

3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

1 pack (1/4 cup) taco seasoning mix

12 hard shell tacos

1 pound lean ground beef

3 scallions, sliced

additional toppings if you like – lettuce, black olives, sour cream, etc…


1.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Combine beans, hot sauce, half of the drained tomatoes, and cilantro in a bowl.  Spread evenly in a 13×9 – inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese.

2. Cook beef in large skillet until no longer pink.  Pour off fat.  Then stir in taco seasoning, remaining tomatoes and reserved 1/2 cup of tomato juice.  Simmer over low heat until thickened.

3. Spoon one tablespoon of shredded cheese into each hard shell and top with beef.  Arrange tacos upright in bean mixture, cover with foil, and bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes.  Remove foil, top with remaining cheese, and bake another 4 or 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Before baking.

After, topped with sliced green onions.

Strawberry Lemon Scones

Well, I have had my eye on this recipe for a few weeks and I’m so happy that I finally made them!  They were delicious!!  I may have a new favorite scone recipe here!  And that is really saying something because I didn’t think my blueberry scone recipe could fall out of first place!

{Holy! Freaking! Exclamation! Points! I just noticed I use a ton of them!!!  Sorry!}

I must also say that this recipe is easier and faster than my blueberry scone recipe.  It is just as messy though since scone dough is so loose and you have to knead it on the counter.  Oh well, that won’t stop me from making them again and again!

I only made a few changes and they seemed to work out.  I didn’t have any yogurt on hand for my first batch, so I used sour cream that I thinned out with milk to make it the same consistency as yogurt.  I used vanilla yogurt for the second batch.  Both were equally delicious.

In the future, I’ll probably omit the glaze.  I used it on both batches that I made and I liked the additional lemon flavor that it added, but I think it made the scones slightly soggy.

Strawberry Lemon Scones
Source:   Joelen’s Culinary Adventures; original recipe adapted from Delicious! Delicious!

2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into tiny pieces
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt


2 Tablespoon melted butter

coarse sugar

Glaze/Frosting (optional):
1 tablespoon half and half
1 tablespoon lemon juice
confectioner’s sugar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Stir together dry ingredients. With a pastry cutter or two knives {I just use my fingers}, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in strawberries and lemon zest.  Stir in  yogurt to be able to form dough into a loose ball.  {I found that the dough was still a little dry and crumbly, but I just went with it and dumped it onto the counter and brought it together with my hands.}

Turn dough onto floured surface and with floured hands, gently knead a few times just to pull the dough together. Press dough into a rectangle, about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Fold rectangle into thirds, like a letter.  Press dough into 9-inch round. Cut into 8 equal triangles. {I basically skipped the folding it like a letter part to avoid over-working it.  Once the dough held together, I just shaped it into a 9″ circle and then cut into triangles.}

Place scones on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove to rack to cool.

If adding the glaze, whisk confectioner’s sugar into the lemon juice and half and half, adding more sugar until desired consistency is reached.  Drizzle on scones while warm.

Makes 8 scones.

Pineapple Shrimp Skewers

Updated 7-14-10 with pictures!!

Wouldn’t you know it?!  I finally make a recipe that will photograph beautifully and my camera battery is dead.  Seriously, these skewers turned out gorgeous!  They were a little time-consuming because of threading everything onto the skewers, but so worth it to me!  Tim, on the other hand, didn’t think it was so worth it and asked that I take the same ingredients and use them in a stir fry next time.  Quicker and easier.  I like the way he thinks. 🙂

Pineapple Shrimp Skewers

Heavily adapted from Milk and Honey


  • 1/2  cup  fresh orange juice
  • 2  tablespoons  minced green onions
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1  tablespoon  minced peeled fresh ginger (I used 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh cilantro (I used 1 tsp dried)
  • 2  tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
  • 2  teaspoons  grated orange rind (I omitted)
  • 1  minced hot red chile pepper (I substituted some red pepper flakes.)
  • 1  pound  large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks {I used canned pineapple and reserved the juice}
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • Cooking spray


  1. Update 7-14-10:  Soak bamboo skewers in the reserved juice from can of pineapple chunks.
  2. Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, add shrimp and pour in half the marinade; tossing to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes. Reserve remaining marinade.
  3. Chop pineapple, bell pepper, and onion into similar sized chunks.
  4. Remove shrimp from dish, discard shrimp marinade. Thread shrimp, pineapple and veggie chunks alternately onto each (8-inch) skewers.
  5. Heat large grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Cook skewers 4 minutes on each side or until done, basting with reserved marinade.

Serve over rice.

Red Curry Chicken and Coconut Noodles

What is the deal with me not being able to find ingredients that I need?  First it was the fresh basil a few months ago, then it was pizza dough yeast, this time it was curry paste.   I’m sure there have been other things that I can’t remember now and have probably just given up on.  But, I seriously looked at 4 different stores for the curry paste.  I even checked the same stores numerous times in various aisles and was *thisclose* to buying it online {Hello,!}.  It’s like the culinary universe is saying,  “good luck, sucker!”  Well, I got the last laugh this time because I found curry paste and bought 2 bottles, so take that!

Overall we really enjoyed this dinner.  It had tons of flavor and was a super simple one pot meal.

Red Curry Coconut Noodles

Source:  adapted from Tasty Kitchen

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 can coconut milk

2 tsp red curry paste

1 tablespoon ginger, grated {I used ground ginger powder}

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped {I used dried}

1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce {I used garlic chili sauce}

1 {14.5 oz} can chicken broth

1/2 package rice noodles

1 whole onion, julienne

1 red bell pepper, julienne

1 cup broccoli slaw – I omitted


Start with a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Scoop the cream off the top of the coconut milk {about 1-2 tablespoons}, and put into the pot. The cream will be used as the “fat” instead of oil or butter. Along with the cream, add the curry paste and ginger. Let this simmer for a few seconds.

Then add the chicken. Cook the chicken through.

Then add the rest of what is in the coconut milk can, sweet Thai chili sauce, cilantro, and chicken broth.  Bring this to a simmer.

Then add your julienne veggies and rice noodles.  Simmer this. You will see the broth slowly thicken as the rice noodles absorb it. It should only take about 5 minutes for the rice noodles to be cooked through.

Pull the pot off the heat, and let sit for about 5 minutes. It will thicken during this time. Then, it’s done. Slurp these noodles out of big noodle bowls! Garnish it with a bit more cilantro.

Shoofly Cupcakes

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!?!  Why did I make these?  I’ve never even had shoo fly pie, so why did I use my limited baking time to make something so bizarre?  Somebody slap me.  The only reasoning I can make of this is that I normally love molasses in baked goods {proof here}, so that must be why I went for it?   I.don’t.know.

But with that being said, they weren’t totally disgusting or revolting, just different.  More like muffins than cupcakes for sure as far as texture goes.  They call for one cup of molasses and I should have known better…molasses = bitter.

If you’re a fan of the shoo fly, give them a try, but I think I’m going to lose the recipe so I don’t make the same mistake twice.

Shoofly Cupcakes

Source:  Taste of Home Cupcakes and Muffins

4 cups AP flour

2 cups packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup cold butter

2 tsp baking soda

2 cups boiling water

1 cup molasses

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Set aside 1 cup for topping.  Add baking soda to remaining crumb mixture.  Stir in the boiling water and molasses.

Fill paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full.  Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.   Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 2 dozen

Note:  Does not contain eggs

Honey Orange Vinaigrette

I’m all about making my own salad dressings this summer!  This is the one that I’m hooked on right now.   I love the honey flavor!

I’m going to experiment with omitting the ground red pepper though.  I can’t believe I’m going to omit heat in a recipe, but it almost detracted from the other flavors and I could feel a little sting on my lips from it.  This is weird because I have never said anything was too hot for me before!  So, I’ll probably leave it out next time and just add a tiny pinch of cracked black pepper instead.

{Haha, that pitcher looks huge!}

Honey Orange Vinaigrette

Source:  Jenny Craig Cookbook


2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons orange juice

1 {heaping} Tablespoon honey

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/8 tsp onion powder

scant 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper – optional?

Whisk all ingredients together and serve over chilled greens.  Makes 1/4 cup.

Chopped Summer Salad

We love side salads with our dinners or sometimes just as our dinner.  And I take a nice big salad to work for my lunch several times a week, so I’m mixing them up quite a bit.

I start with green leaf lettuce or mixed greens from our garden, then I mix and match from the following toppings:

chopped celery

chopped carrots

chopped bell pepper – any color

sliced green onions

sliced cucumber


sunflower seeds

nuts – walnuts, sliced almonds, peanuts, or cashews

bacon bits

shredded cheese – any kind! {I’m diggin’ bleu cheese right now, but Tim is NOT}


chow mein noodles

golden raisins

Buffalo Chicken Cups

This recipe creation was born from 2 of our favorite meals – bbq beef cups and buffalo chicken pizza.   They were spicy and delicious!  I’ll definitely be making them again.

Buffalo Chicken Cups

1 tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits {8 in a can}

about 1 cup of cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

about 1/4 cup Buffalo hot wing sauce

about 4 tablespoons Ranch dressing

about 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press biscuits into holes of a muffin tin to form cups.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix shredded chicken with hot sauce.  Add a few tablespoons to each cup.  Top the chicken mixture of each cup off with a few teaspoons of ranch dressing.  Then add shredded cheese on top of that.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.


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