Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

What if I told you that you could have homemade vanilla ice cream ready in five minutes without an ice cream machine? Would you believe me? Well, it's true!  We have made this ice cream twice in the past week. The first time we used regular white milk and made half of the recipe below. The four of us each had a "sampling" and when the hubby asked for "seconds" we had to tell him there wasn't any! Last night, we used half and half and made the full recipe. My husband said he preferred it with milk - Lauren, Dominic and I liked it better with the half and half. Sorry honey, majority rules in this house - especially when Lauren told me, "this is the best ice cream I have ever eaten in my life!"


8 cups ice cubes
1/2 cup table salt (I used iodized)
2 cups half and half or white milk (any brand)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 quart size zipper top bag (like a Ziploc or Hefty brand bag)
1 gallon size zipper top bag (like a Ziploc or Hefty brand bag)

In the quart size bag put the half and half (or milk), sugar and vanilla extract.  Seal completely closed. In the gallon size bag, put the ice cubes and salt. Use large spoon to distribute salt evenly on the ice cubes.   Put the quart size bag inside the bag with the ice and salt mixture. Seal up the bag and shake for 5-8 minutes. The ingredients inside the quart size bag will harden up as you shake it and will "magically" turn into ice cream. Eat immediately or put into the freezer for a minimum of 20 minutes to let it firm up more. How about adding chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, butterscotch chips, caramel sauce, nuts, mini M&M's or sprinkles?  How about an Oreo or two that's been crushed up? It becomes cookies and cream ice cream!! Makes four servings.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rhubarb Buckle

My hubby likes to go to our local farmer's market, because one of the vendors there has bakery items that remind him of Cleveland.  I've been bugging him to find me some rhubarb because I wanted to try and bake with it. I'm pretty sure that I have only baked with rhubarb one time in my entire life. That was about 20 years ago and it was because an office mate gave me a bunch of it for free!!  I ended up making rhubarb bread and I have absolutely no idea what recipe I used.  A few days ago, the hubby said, "when are you going to do something with that rhubarb?!?!" I finally decided to make a "buckle."

A buckle is actually a dessert with a cake type batter with fruit mixed in and a streusel topping that "buckles" up when it's baking. I think it's more like a coffee cake, so I would think of eating it more for breakfast or brunch. It most definitely could be a dessert, especially served warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped topping!  When I pulled the rhubarb out of the fridge this afternoon, I was wondering - should I shred it? dice it? slice it? I finally decided to dice it up in small pieces.  The texture of rhubarb reminds me of celery. I had visions of the rhubarb staying hard and the buckle ending up extremely crunchy.  I am pleased to report that the rhubarb got soft while it baked. When I sent an e-mail to the hubby this afternoon telling him I FINALLY did something with the rhubarb, he wrote back, "I'll look forward to sampling the rhubarb buckle." Since Lauren and I have already "sampled" it, we know that it is super yummy! I'm sure my husband will agree :)



1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 cups white flour
2 cups rhubarb, diced


1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup white flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In large bowl, put the butter and sugar. Cream by hand or with mixer. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking powder, salt, sour cream, milk and flour. Mix well. "Fold" the rhubarb into the batter with a large spoon.  Pour into the pan and spread evenly.  In separate bowl, blend the butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon together with large spoon until it begins to resemble loose crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let pan cool on wire rack. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cocoa Drops

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on my dining room floor for about 30 minutes, looking through my vast cookbook collection for a good basic chocolate cookie recipe. I finally found a cookbook, aptly titled, "The Cookie Book" that was published in 1941 for the Culinary Arts Institute. It had 250 cookie recipes!  While looking through the cookbook, I found recipes such as "thrift" cookies (made with dry cookie or cake crumbs), "foundation" drop cookies (because it has three different variations), "crockets" (made with egg whites, mace, nuts and raisins) and "riches" (which have tons of butter). I had "Chef" Dominic anxiously waiting in the kitchen for me, so I knew I had better find one soon!!! Towards about the middle of the cookbook, I found six chocolate cookie recipes in a row. I finally settled on "cocoa drops" since I had all the ingredients on hand. I made a few adaptions here and there from the original recipe, one being I didn't add nuts. The first sheet of cookies looked like this.

I "taste tested" one and thought they were pretty good, but since they didn't spread too much, for the next sheet of cookies that went in, I used the bottom of a glass dipped in white sugar and pressed them down a little. When I showed the finished product to Dominic and asked him if he wanted one, he told me, "put some frosting on it!"  Once I did and also added some sprinkles, he ate two!!  If you want to get even more "gourmet," just gently push a lollipop stick about two-thirds of the way into a cookie right when they come out of the oven and then gently remove to a wire rack to continue cooling.  I actually had one of the cookies on a "stick" as I was writing up this blog post!


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups white flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (for baking)
1 tablespoon white sugar (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. In large bowl, put the butter and the light brown sugar and mix well with large spoon.  When well combined, add the egg, milk, vanilla, flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa and combine well.  Roll into balls with the palms of your hands a little smaller than a ping pong ball and put on the cookie sheet. If you like smaller cookies, bake as is. If you want them slightly bigger, then dip the bottom of a glass into the tablespoon of sugar first and then press down gently on the top of each cookie. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the cookies look done in the middle.  Remove to wire rack immediately to let them cool. When cooled, add frosting and sprinkles, if desired! Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Watermelon Salad

I love this time of year when there is an abundance of summer fruits and veggies!  For July the 4th this year, I carved up a watermelon, cubed some and added some strawberries and blueberries. It was kind of cool, because once I scooped out all the watermelon, it became its own bowl.  Pretty neat if you take it to a picnic - you don't have to worry about tracking down a bowl, rinsing it out and then taking it back home!!

We ate up most of the fruit that day - it was yummy! I still have a good amount of watermelon left, so today,  I looked around to see what other veggies I had kicking around in the fridge and found some cucumbers, radishes and green peppers.  All the "fixins" for a salad! 


I had some of this around lunchtime, but Lauren wasn't interested in "sampling" some. Once I put it in the blender and added about 1/3 cup of chopped onions and a few dashes of my favorite Frank's RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce and called it a watermelon salsa, she took some on a tortilla chip and said, "it's pretty good, I didn't think I would like it, but I did!" Cool :)


3 cups seedless watermelon, diced
1 cup green pepper, membrane and seeds removed, chopped
1 cup cucumber, seeds removed, chopped
1 cup radishes, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In large bowl,  put the watermelon, green pepper, cucumber, radishes and cilantro. Mix well with large spoon and set aside. In small bowl, put the lemon juice, canola oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Combine well and pour over the ingredients in the large bowl.   Mix well with large spoon and cover with a piece of plastic wrap for one hour. When ready to serve, stir a few times with a large spoon and then drain any water out that has settled to the bottom. Given that a watermelon contains about 92% water, I guarantee there will be at least a little in the bottom of the bowl!  Makes 4-6 servings.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Red, White and Blue Muffins

Since my birthday is July the third, I am quite familiar with having a red, white and blue "theme" each year!  A favorite is making a cake with blueberries as the "stars" and strawberries as the "stripes."

We love just about any kind of fruit in this house and since I had some extra raspberries and blueberries in the fridge, I knew I wanted to make a muffin using those two fruits.

I have scoured through piles of cookbooks the past week, looking for a good recipe and finally decided to invent my own. The "white" in these red, white and blue muffins is sour cream. When I asked the hubby to "rate" these, he gave them a 10!  Good answer, honey!


2 cups white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put paper liners into a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside. In small bowl, put the blueberries and raspberries.  Rinse, then pat dry and set aside. In large bowl, put the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, sour cream, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Mix until just blended with a large spoon.  Gently "fold" in the blueberries and raspberries. Distribute the batter into the muffin tin and sprinkle one teaspoon of white sugar (if desired) evenly on the tops of the 12 muffins. Bake for 25 minutes or until the muffins are starting to turn light brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean. Makes one dozen muffins.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Double Lemon No-Bake Pie

The hot and humid weather we have had the past few days here in the Midwest has definitely reminded me of the summers I grew up with in Maryland.  The hubby and I have very differing views of when to turn on the air conditioning in our house.  A few mornings ago, the hubby told me, "I think we need to turn on the air conditioning!" I told him, "let me write this down (since he doesn't like it on), you actually want it on?!?!?" When it's this warm, even with the "air" on, I don't like to turn on the oven to make a dessert, I would rather let my freezer do all the work! Making a no-bake pie is easy, especially if you use a prepared crust. I love the local Dollar Tree where I live. That is where I found my graham cracker crust and my lemon juice! 


9-inch ready-to-eat graham cracker crust
1/2 cup cold water
3 tablespoons powdered pink lemonade
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
2 cups whipped topping, thawed

In large bowl, put the cold water, powdered lemonade and lemon juice.  Stir with a large spoon until dissolved. Add the ice cream and beat with a mixer or large spoon until smooth.  Fold in the whipped topping and mix well. Pour into the graham cracker crust. Cover and put in the freezer for a minimum of four hours. Remove about five minutes before serving. Garnish with blueberries and strawberries if desired.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

No-Bake Marshmallow and Pretzel Bars

I have been trying really hard lately to limit my chocolate "intake," but yesterday, I had a taste for something with chocolate, but didn't want cake, brownies or cookies.  I also didn't want to turn on the oven, because our house was already warm enough.  That means only one thing, right?  Time to whip up a no-bake "treat!" These bars were so incredibly easy to make and were ready for me to take a "sample" in less than 45 minutes.  Around lunchtime today, I asked the hubby if he wanted to try a bar and give them a "rating" of between 1-10.  He told me they were a "9."  I asked him why they weren't a "10."  His response back, "not everything you make can be a 10!" Really?!?!?! I think it is!


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups pretzels, broken into small pieces

Line a 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. In large saucepan or small stockpot, melt the butter slowly and then add the mini marshmallows. Stir with a large spoon on low heat until the marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth and then add the pretzels.  Press the mixture evenly into the pan with the spoon and allow the bars to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.  Cut into 12 squares.  Store covered at room temperature.