Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blow-Your-Mind 3 Ingredient Bailey's Chocolate Ice Cream

You are not going to believe this.

What if I told you that bananas + cocoa powder = CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM?!

And not just any chocolate ice cream, but rich, creamy, indulgent chocolate ice cream?

I knew for awhile that things like applesauce and bananas were good substitutes for oils and sugars in baked goods. I never knew that it would make having chocolate ice cream around the house so easy!

I decided to make mine a 3 ingredient ice cream by adding some Bailey's for a little something extra...but you could leave it out for a non-alcoholic version, and it will still be just as yummy!

Here's what you do:

Slice up 4 ripe bananas and lay them on a cookie sheet. I lined mine with wax paper. The bananas will need to spend at least an hour in the freezer to harden. Overnight is fine, too.


Next, put the frozen bananas in a high-capacity food processor. Mine holds 9 cups, I think.


Pulse the food processor for 5 or 6 times to get the bananas broken up, and then you can switch it to "on". The bananas will resemble crumbs.

Keep it on for a few minutes. You will probably be thinking to yourself, how is this going to turn in to ice cream?! You may need to stop a time or two to push the banana back down to the bottom. Mine kept sneaking up the sides.

I decided to add my Bailey's here. I probably added 2 or 3 ounces.

Return to the "on" position...and magically, the bananas turn into this consistency! And this will happen whether or not you add the Bailey's.

See how there's still a little bit of "banana crumbs" left in there?

Now you can add the cocoa powder. I wanted it to be very chocolatey, so I probably added 1/4 cup of it. There wasn't a whole lot left in my container, so I just ended up dumping it all in. It saved me from having to wash a measuring cup!

Turn it on again to blend. Again, you may have to scrape down the sides with a spatula to incorporate all of the cocoa powder.
LOOK. 
JUST LOOK AT THAT, WOULDJA?


 
Doesn't that look AMAZING?!

Bananas.
Cocoa Powder.
Bailey's.

Do it.

It tastes just like the real thing, and it is CLEARLY much healthier.
Well, sans the Bailey's.


Bailey's Chocolate Ice Cream
Serves 3-4 people

4 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
(use about 1 banana per person with a little extra)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Bailey's to taste, 2-3 ounces, optional

Put the bananas into the food processor and pulse to break up the chunks.
Run the food processor until the bananas break down into a creamy consistency, scraping down the sides as needed.
Add in the cocoa powder and Bailey's.
Serve immediately or store in freezer.

Please enjoy responsibly, haha! :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Smoked Gouda Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Onion Skillet Potatoes

The inspiration for these recipes comes from my recent purchase of fresh thyme and fresh oregano. I didn't want them to go to waste after having a lot leftover from my Chicken Meatball dinner the other night.

So I began by opening my fridge to see what I had. I decided on the fresh herbs, smoked Gouda cheese (from my sammiches for lunch), smoked chipotle Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. The beauty of these types of recipes is that you can use whatever you have on hand, or whatever sounds good to you at the time!

I chopped up maybe a good tablespoon or so of each of the herbs, and I used 4 slices of the cheese and chopped them into fairly small pieces.



Fresh herbs just make everything prettier! Based on my turkey burgers from last time, I decided to add a few tablespoons of bread crumbs and an egg to hold everything together. Now get your hands in there and start mixing!


I heated a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and placed the patties in the pan. I made 4 patties, but only 3 would fit - my large pan was already being used for the skillet potatoes. :) Let them cook for about 5 minutes on each side. They should get a nice golden crust on them, and the cheese should start bubbling out. I will say this now, this is going to produce a messy pan, so you will want to clean it out right after cooking your burgers. Trust me on this one. I took out the burgers and immediately added hot water from the tap, and scraped the pan with my plastic spatula.

It all came out!

Had I waited until the oily cheesy mess cooled, I would have had a much different experience.
Yum!
Now, for the skillet potatoes...I actually began cooking this BEFORE I started the burgers. Caramelizing the oinions will take awhile - a good 25 minutes or so. Start by chopping the two ends off your onion, set it on one of the ends, and cut it in half (I should have taken photos of this part. Sorry!) Then lay each half down on the cutting board and slice it all up. You don't need your slices to be super skinny or else they might burn. Mine could stand to be a little thicker, but you get the idea:
Believe it or not, I have never prepared caramelized onions.

Okay, that's a lie. I did once, but not really on purpose. I have seen several cooking shows where they make them, and so I just decided to let them go past the saute stage just to see.

And magic happened...they didn't smell like onions! The kitchen was filled with a heavenly, aromatic, savory aroma. I can't really even explain it in any other way than that - it was just rich and warming.

So you say that you're not an onion fan?

I don't care.

Trust me, your minds will be changed about onions forever.

And don't just order them from a restaurant and say you've "had them".

Cook them yourself, and you will see the magic firsthand.

So, back to potatoes...peel and chop you up some potatoes - any kind, really. I used good ole russets, probably about 6 small for 3 adults. Go ahead and throw them into the pan with the onions. Mine had already cooked down a lot, so you can't really see them very well here:
Actually, they got a little crispy :/
I added Lowry's Seasoned Salt, paprika, ground pepper (freshly ground adds the most flavor, but "pre-gound" pepper adds spice without as much heat) and several thyme sprigs*. Pretty much add whatever spices you want! Let the potatoes cook on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden brown and fork tender. Only add salt AFTER tasting - the seasoning salt might be enough. Salt to your preference!

Since my onions got a little burnt, I obviously will want to adjust my timing for next time. I think I will have to fully caramelize the onions, remove them from the pan, cook the potatoes, and then put the onions back in.

*Do not eat the thyme sprigs! Unless you like your fiber from sticks.

SMOKED GOUDA TURKEY BURGERS

6 shakes Worcestershire sauce
6 shakes smoked chipotle Tabasco sauce
1 lb. ground turkey
4 slices smoked gouda cheese, chopped in very small small cubes
1 egg
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano

olive oil

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix using hands. 
Form into 4 patties.
Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. 
Place the patties in the pan, letting them cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.
To ensure they are cooked fully, place a lid on the pan, tilted to the side to let steam out, and reduce heat to medium-low and cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, if needed.


CARAMELIZED ONION SKILLET POTATOES

6 russet potatoes, washed, peeled, and chopped in cubes
1 onion, cut into strips
1 teaspoon Lowry's Seasoning Salt
6 Thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

olive oil

Heat a little olive oil on medium heat.
Add onions and cook for 20- 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove onions from pan, set aside.
Add chopped potatoes and Lowry's, thyme, paprika, and pepper to the pan.
Cook potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are browned and fork tender. Stir occasionally.
Add onions back into the pan.
Stir and bring the onions back up to temperature.

Enjoy!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

5 Years: Remembering My Mother

This Valentine's Day is the 5 year anniversary of my mom's death. With each year that passes, there is another level tier stage of grief. The thing about grief is that it is pretty impossible to define. The latest stage seems to be helping others in their grief, mostly through facebook. It's under unfortunate circumstances that I have been able to work through my grief in this way. There have been several friends of mine who have experienced the death of a parent during this past year, and it has provided me with another pathway for my own healing process to offer my condolences and (attempts at) advice for these hurting hearts.

I've been kind of teary so far today, and I don't remember it being as hard last year. I should know better than to compare one year against the other; grief does not follow rules of sense or logic. Grief often does not make sense. I don't think it's supposed to.

My mom was one who was always behind the camera lens, and preferred not to have her picture taken. I've been trying to figure out a way to have her represented in my home decor, seeing as how there really aren't any pictures to put in a frame. My sister went through some of her photos she took of the yard and divided them so we could each have some.


So pretty. I have a huge stack of many photos like these.
Considering her visitation was filled with photos she took of the yard and flowers, I started with that route. I picked out a small frame - all of these photos are 3x5's - and chose a pretty yellow day lily.


I think it's a good start. Ideally I would love to blow up a few of her photos and frame them in the house, Georgia O'Keefe style. Maybe not that huge, but big, like a focal point of a room.

She also loved citrus fruits and home grown tomatoes and gardening. Someday (if/when I have a kitchen with wall space, or maybe in the dining room) I want to frame and display images of her favorite produce items.

Lots of things remind me of her in my everyday life. Oranges. Lemons.  Tangerines. Tomatoes. Daylilies. Gardening. Yard work. Cats. Honeysuckle. Yellow. Brachs Orange slices candy. Lemon drops. Sun tea. Banana bread. Libraries. Star Trek. I remember many a Saturday night in the summers when my mom and dad would spend all day working in the yard and I would play outside. We would be out there until dark, come inside and get washed up, eat dinner and watch Star Trek. She also loved The X-Files. I have many fond memories of going to tree nurseries with my parents, driving down obscure highways in Lawrence with the windows down. And then of course, NASCAR and her favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt in the number 3 Goodwrench car. I remembered there was something about his birthday and looked it up. He was born exactly 4 days after my mom was born, and died exactly 4 days after my mom died (although it was 7 years sooner). Who would have thought.

It feels so odd to not have her here sometimes. Sometimes I think I will still get to see her, like she is just away on vacation. It sure doesn't feel like it has been 5 years.

Sigh.

Time for lunch. Girl Scout cookie arrival (FINALLY!!) + Valentine's chocolates = YUM. :)


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Eat Your Greens And Love Them, Too!

I'm having a terrible start to my day. I'm just now getting around to my morning coffee and its lunchtime.

My sweet little always-napping-in-the-bed Zorro decided to puke in the bed last night.

IN THE BED.

I heard his retching in the middle of the night and I shoved him off the bed, thinking I had escaped a mess. When I got up this morning, I saw just a tiny bit on the floor. I thought, "oh that's not bad at all".

And then I saw the bed.

It was like an entire meal had come back up. I will spare you anymore details.

So now I'm washing our down comforter in my top loading machine (not easy, but it can be done). I have to continuously shove it down as the water fills in to get all the air out of the comforter.

I was up to my elbows in water when I thought, why do my toes feel wet?

Yup, the machine sprung a leak. I wasn't paying attention and while I was shoving the comforter down, water was spraying up and over the drum, and it was coming out from under the machine.

Great.

Then I had to stop the machine mid-spin because the load became unbalanced and the whole thing started shaking. A wet, king-size down comforter is very heavy! All I could keep thinking about was how much easier this would have been with a front-loader.

I think I know what I was for Christmas. ;)

I know what I am in for during the rest if my day: endless drying cycles for the down beast! Ugh, last time it took about 3 full cycles and laying it out across dining room chairs to be sure it was fully dry. You do NOT want wet feathers. Good thing I have the day off!

I sure do love this kitty, but today I was not happy with him!


So, on to happier things as I am stuck in the house, re-fluffing the comforter in the dryer every 30 minutes for the rest of my life.

I watched an episode of Cooking For Real with Sunny Anderson on FoodNetwork where she made a few recipes that looked amazing and pushed me out of my comfort zone of cooking. She made Collard Green Pesto Linguine and Zesty Chicken Meatballs in this particular epidsode, and I was intrigued. Never having tried collard greens, I was a bit nervous about trying it, but it looked so good...and chicken meatballs?! That just sounds awesome! I think the theme of this episode was Hungry and Healthy, and all of the ingredients are very healthy.

A traditional pesto uses basil leaves and pine nuts. I've had pesto before, and I wasn't really a fan. This recipe uses collard greens and pecans, a much more budget-friendly option. I got my collards at the store for $0.79! And pine nuts are just ridiculous in price, and you don't use them for much of anything else. At least if you spend the money on a bag of pecans, you can use them for pies, salads, candies, or other dishes.

So since these recipes ARE NOT MINE, you will have to follow the links above to get them from the Food Network website. I did, however, take some photos along the way. I think the fact that I watched her make all of this was what interested me in trying them - I think if I just read the recipe, I would have thought, "that's weird and too much work."

I will start off by saying that these two recipes go against almost every "criteria" of a recipe that gets made in my kitchen. But it is so worth it!

This is my prep:

The collard leaves must be separated from the stems. You don't want to eat that part.
The meatballs call for fresh thyme and oregano - YOU MUST USE IT!! It makes so much difference in how they will taste. I have made it with fresh herbs and dried herbs, and it just doesn't compare. I am on the hunt for recipes that use these herbs to use up what I spent about $5 on at the store. Yet another good reason to grow my own herbs...spring project?!

Meatball mixture all ready for hand-mixing (my least favorite part):


Blanching the collards - just for a minute in boiling water:


Quick! Ice bath to stop the cooking process:

Don't discard your murky collard green water - it can be used to boil your linguine:


Dry them off using paper towels your hands to squeeze out water over the sink:
The collards retain a lot of water and that won't work well in your pesto!

My favorite kitchen gadget EVER! It cuts everything smooth as buttah without sounding like you are using a wood chipper:
Collards, pecans, kalamata olives, parm cheese. Previously I had just used the Kraft "powder" parmesan cheese, but this time I used shredded parm from Sam's. It turned out much creamier once added to the hot pasta. Either is fine, though.
Start pulsing:


Lookit that...

After the olive oil is drizzled in:

Chicken meatballs on the stove (they got a little burnt because my hands were still covered in raw chicken goo from forming my second batch and I couldn't turn them in time):
My husband came home right at this step and saw what I was cooking. He didn't even notice/care that they were a little burnt; he said "OH, chicken meatballs?! Oh I love you, yes, oh this is the best night, I love you I LOVE YOU!" 

Haha. I think this is one of his favorites...?

The other sides look a little better:
They are supposed to be a little golden. Just not burnt. :)

In goes the second batch! These babies went straight into the freezer for next time!
RESERVE A CUP OF PASTA WATER TO ADD BACK INTO THE PESTO ONCE THE LINGUINE IS COOKED!! Very important step:

Dinner. Is. Served.
So this meal might take me an hour or two start to finish, it dirties a number of dishes/utensils, and I have to buy a couple of things that are special to these recipes...but it is so worth it. There really isn't anything unhealthy about these recipes at all. It does have a bit of a different flavor profile to it. I know the first time I made it, I wasn't sure I liked it. But the more I ate, the more it grew on me.

So, in summary:

*It's healthy

 *It's good
 
*It feeds a crowd

*For the most part, it's budget-friendly 
(the kalamatas can be expensive, though)

*It could easily be part of an organic/real food diet
And...it was kinda fun to use kitchen gadgets and techniques!
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Again, these recipes can be found here:



I hope you all love these recipes as much as I do!