Judi

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

In cooking camp today,  we will be baking cookies, including Snickerdoodles. This is a recipe that has been around a long time and is still a favorite.

The kids really enjoy rolling the dough in cinnamon sugar, before baking.

The old version I had, called for shortening, but I use butter instead,  and chill the dough. I prefer the taste of butter in cookies.

These are a great light dessert for summer and they travel well, too. A nice treat to bring to your next cookout, picnic or road trip.

Snickerdoodles can also be used to make awesome ice cream sandwiches.

 

 

Snickerdoodles

1 c. butter, softened
1 ½ c. sugar
2 eggs
2 ¾ c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar
1 t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
2 T. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Mix butter, sugar and eggs. Combine next 4 ingredients and add to egg mixture. Chill dough at least a couple of hours. Combine sugar and cinnamon in shallow bowls. Roll dough in 1-inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375 –degree oven for 9-11 minutes. Makes 6 dozen.

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

So what is clafoutis? Clafoutis is a sort of pancake, sort of custard, sort of quiche. It is a lovely dessert for fresh fruit, for sure.

You can serve it plain, or topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream. On a hot day, I like to serve it with a scoop of ice cream.

Clafoutis is really simple to make, too. You start by putting the fruit in a prepared pan. The batter is made in a blender, and takes just a couple of minutes to prepare. You pour the batter over the fruit- and bake.

I used cherries and blueberries in this one, but you can use all sorts of fruits- peaches, plums, raspberries…..

Most people enjoy it as a dessert, but it is also nice with that morning cup of coffee.

I used a combination I thought would make a nice dessert for summer. Blueberries and cherries are in season and so fresh.

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

2 c. pitted cherries, I cut them in half, but you can leave whole

1 c. blueberries

3 eggs

1 c. sugar

3 T. melted butter

½ c. flour

2 t. vanilla extract

1 t. almond extract

pinch of salt

1 c. half and half

powdered sugar, optional

 

Grease a 9×9-inch baking dish or pie pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cherries and blueberries in the prepared pan. In blender, combine eggs, sugar, butter, flour, flavorings and salt.* Blend until smooth. Add half and half and blend again until smooth. Pour batter over the cherries and blueberries. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until clafoutis is browned around edges and puffed up. Allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar, if you like. It will deflate as it cools. Serves 6.

 

* You can whisk the ingredients together by hand, if you prefer.

 

A Month of Sundaes

Hot Fudge Sundae

I love ice cream, sorbets and any number of other frozen desserts. I also love to make my own frozen treats. Here is a compilation of many of my favorite recipes. We’ll start with the ice creams and sorbets, then move on to homemade toppings and sauces. There are also recipes for frozen desserts and other treats.

If you do not own an ice cream maker, good quality homemade ice cream is tricky. The constant stirring in an ice cream machine creates a smooth, creamy end product. For non-machine versions, the recipe needs to be taken out of the freezer periodically and whipped, beaten or stirred. Usually, softening the dessert and stirring or beating it just before serving will produce the best results.

When a recipe says it is a “French” ice cream the recipe will contain eggs. Properly prepared French or custard style ice creams, must always be cooked first, then chilled. If you come across an old (or new) recipe that contains raw eggs and does not require cooking DO NOT USE IT! Salmonella is not destroyed in the freezing process, only in the cooking process. If you want to use the recipe combine the milk or half-and-half with the sugar and heat almost to a simmer. Add a little of this mixture to the beaten eggs or egg yolks and stir, then return this mixture to the pot. Stir, over low heat until the custard coats the back of a spoon (170 degrees). Strain and cool, then chill and add to the whipping cream and any other ingredients in the recipe. Freeze.

 

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream

2 c. heavy cream

2 c. light cream

1 c. sugar

1 ½ t. vanilla extract

1/8 t. salt

Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar dissolves. Place in ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s directions until ice cream is set Yield about 2 quarts.

Note: If you do not have an ice cream freezer, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Combine light cream with remaining ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. Fold in whipped cream and place mixture in freezer container with lid. Place in freezer and freeze for 3-4 hours. Remove ice cream and beat mixture with an electric mixture until smooth. Return to freezer. Freeze at least one more hour and beat again.

 

Classic French Vanilla Ice Cream

 

4 large egg yolks

½ c. sugar

2 T. water

2 c. half and half

1 c. heavy cream

1 t. vanilla

 

Whisk yolks in medium bowl and set aside. In 3 qt saucepan heat sugar and water for 5 minutes. Add half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Pour hot mixture into egg yolks slowly, whisking constantly. Return to pan and cook over moderately low heat until custard thickens and registers 170 degrees on a thermometer. Do not boil. Strain mixture through very fine sieve into a bowl and add cream and vanilla. Cool. Chill, with the custard surface covered with plastic wrap until cold, at least 3 hours and up to a day. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to direction or freeze in a shallow pan, covered until solid, about 6 hours or up to a couple of days. Break into chunks and place in a large bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. You can also use a processor and process until smooth. Freeze 1 hour and repeat process. Freeze 1 more hour, or up to 2 days and serve. Makes about 1 quart.

 

Chocolate Ice Cream

2 c. heavy cream

2 c. light cream

1 c. sugar

½ c. chocolate syrup or 6 T. cocoa

1 ½ t. vanilla

¼ t. cinnamon

dash salt

 

Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Freeze according to directions for ice cream maker or use French vanilla recipe directions.

No Machine  Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

1 pint whipping cream

chocolate syrup to taste – I used around a half a cup- I think

Place whipping cream in a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. With mixer running, add the syrup. Add until mixture is the color of chocolate ice cream. You can also give it a taste, to be sure. Place mixture in a container with a tight fitting lid and place in freezer. Freeze several hours before trying it. Makes 1 quart.

 

Strawberry Ice Cream

2 c. chopped strawberries

1 c. sugar

1 T. vanilla

2 c. cream or  half and half or a combination. You can also use some milk or even almond or rice milk.

Additional sugar to taste

Place strawberries, vanilla  and sugar in saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and chill. Combine chilled berry mixture with cream. Add additional sugar if you like. Remember that once it is frozen the ice cream will not taste as sweet so make this mixture a little sweeter than you want the final product to be. How much sugar you add varies with personal taste, and how sweet the berries are. Place in an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Once finished put in an air- tight container and place in freezer. Makes about 1 quart.

Strawberry Lavender Ice Cream

2 c. chopped strawberries

1 c. sugar

1 T. lavender blossoms

1 T. vanilla

2 c. cream or  half and half or a combination. You can also use some milk or even almond or rice milk.

Additional sugar to taste

Place strawberries, lavender, vanilla  and sugar in saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and chill. Combine chilled berry mixture with cream. Add additional sugar if you like. Remember that once it is frozen the ice cream will not taste as sweet so make this mixture a little sweeter than you want the final product to be. How much sugar you add varies with personal taste and how sweet the berries are. Place in an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Once finished put in an sir- tight container and place in freezer. Makes about 1 quart.

 

Coffee Ice Cream

2 c. whipping cream

2 c. light cream or half and half

3 T. instant coffee powder

1 c. sugar

1/8 t. salt

 

Heat together all ingredients until coffee and sugar are dissolved. Cool and chill. Freeze in machine or follow directions for the French vanilla ice cream.

 

Minted Orange Ice Cream

 

½ c. tightly packed fresh mint leaves

2 T. fresh grated orange peel

2 c. milk

2 c. whipping cream

½ -1 c. sugar, or to taste

2 T. orange juice concentrate

 

Heat together mint, orange peel and milk nearly to boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain and chill. Combine chilled mixture with remaining ingredients and freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions. Makes about 6 cups.

 

Ginger Pear Sorbet

1 (15-16 oz.) can pears in heavy syrup

¼ c. sugar

1 T. finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 t. grated lemon or orange peel

 

Line a 9-inch pan with plastic wrap. Drain pears and reserve the syrup. Place pears in the prepared pan. Combine syrup with remaining ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour syrup mixture over pears and freeze solid, at least 6 hours.

Turn pear mixture onto work surface and cut in 1-inch pieces. Place in processor, blend until smooth. Freeze in covered container for 1 hour or up to 2 days. Scoop sorbet into glasses. Serves 4.

Peach Ice Cream

3-4 ripe peaches

2 c. half and half

1 c. sugar, or to taste

1 T. vanilla

1 T.  orange zest

Peel and dice peaches. Cook in a small amount of water and a little sugar until tender. If you don’t precook the peaches they will be icy and hard in the ice cream. Cool and drain. In bowl combine half and half and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Place in ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s directions. If you don’t have an ice cream maker place mixture in a shallow pan and freeze solid. Remove from freezer and allow to soften a little at room temperature then break up into chunks and place in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until smooth and return to freezer. Makes 1 quart.

Honey Ice Cream

1 ½ c.whipping cream

1 ½ c. half and half

2/3 c. honey

6 large egg yolks

 

Heat together cream and half-and-half to simmer . Whisk honey and yolks in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture. Return to pan and heat until mixture thickens (about 170 degrees) but do not boil. Strain into large bowl. Chill until cold. Process in ice cream maker or follow alternative directions under French vanilla ice cream recipe. Makes 4 ½ c.

 

Chocolate Sorbet

12-oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 c. water

1 ¾ c. sugar

1 T. instant coffee powder

1 t. cinnamon

dash of salt

 

Place chips in food processor. Meanwhile heat remaining ingredients to boiling. Slowly pour boiling liquid into running processor, blending until smooth. Scrape down sides of work bowl as needed. Chill. Process in ice cream machine. Transfer to container and freeze overnight. Or you can freeze using the directions given in the pear sorbet. Makes about 5 cups.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

2 c. milk

2 c. whipping cream

2 t. cinnamon

2/3 c. sugar or to taste

 

Combine all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 6 cups.

 

Blueberry-Vanilla Ice Cream

3 c. blueberries

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. water

2 T. fresh lemon juice

1 T. vanilla

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1 c. half and half

 

Combine berries with sugar and water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Puree mixture and stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate until completely cool. Stir in the whipping cream and half and half and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 6 cups.

Note: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze in shallow trays and thaw a little before whipping with a hand mixer. Better if you re-freeze and whip again later.  If you are lactose intolerant, you can use almond, rice or coconut milk in this recipe. Also feel free to add flavorings.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

1 c. peanut butter

2/3 c. sugar, or to taste – I was using natural peanut butter that had no sugar in it

2 c. whipping cream – you could use some half and half, if you prefer

1 t. vanilla

In medium bowl, combine peanut butter with the sugar, stirring until smooth. Add the whipping cream and vanilla and stir until well blended. Chill mixture. Pour chilled peanut butter mixture into ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once firm, transfer to a container with a lid and place in freezer until ready to use. Makes about 1 qt. This ice cream is great with hot fudge sauce.

 

June’s Accidental Ice Cream

2 c. whipping cream

1 c. half and half

sugar to taste- I used about 3/4 of a cup

2 t. vanilla

1/2 c. chopped pitted cherries*

1/2 c. chopped strawberries*

4-6 oz. dark chocolate

1/4 c. sliced almonds

Combine cream, half and half and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Mixture should taste pretty sweet- once frozen, it won’t taste as sweet, so add enough sugar to suit your taste. Add vanilla and fruit and store in fridge until ready to use. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and brush melted chocolate on was paper sheets, spreading as thin as possible. Add the nuts to the chocolate, if you like, or you can just toss them in while the ice cream is in the machine. Chill chocolate in fridge or, better yet, in the freezer. Crumble them into tiny pieces.  Place cream mixture in an ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. When it gets to the soft serve stage, add the chocolate and nuts and process a few more minutes. Turn off machine and transfer ice cream to a container with a lid and place in freezer until ready to use.  Makes about a quart.

*When using fruit in ice cream, it is best if the fruit has either been previously frozen, then thawed or cooked. Fresh fruit, like cherries and strawberries, turn into chunks of ice in the ice cream if used fresh.

Pumpkin Ice Cream with Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans

1 c. pecans

2 T. butter

1/4 c. sugar

1 t. vanilla

1/4 t. salt

Place pecans and butter in a skillet and cook over high heat until butter is melted. Add sugar and cook, stirring often until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and salt and cook until mixture turns a dark amber color. Be careful not to burn the pecans. Remove from heat and place in a pan to cool- stirring to keep the pecans from sticking to each other. Set aside.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

2 c. whipping cream

2 c. pumpkin

1 c. sugar, or to taste

2 T. molasses

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. vanilla

1 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. cloves

Combine all ingredients and stir until well mixed and sugar is dissolved. Place in an ice cream maker following manufacturer’s directions. My machine can’t take the whole recipe at once so I froze it in 2 batches and kept the rest of the pumpkin mixture chilled until ready to use. Meanwhile, coarsely chop about half of the pecans. Add the chopped nuts to the ice cream when it is almost finished. Place finished ice cream in freezer until ready to serve. Serve with extra whole candied pecans on top.

Note: If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can place mixture in a shallow pan and freeze until solid. remove from freezer and allow to that a little- about 10 minutes then breakup and place in a mixing bowl. Whip with a mixer until smooth and return to the freezer. Repeat process once more to end up with a creamy ice cream.

Blueberry-Red Grape Sorbet

4 c. red grapes, fresh or frozen

2 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen

sugar to taste- I used a couple of tablespoons

a few sprigs of fresh mint, optional

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. You might have to do this in a couple of batches. Place in a container and freeze until solid. Remove from freezer and allow to soften for about 20 minutes, or even a little less. Mixture should still be frozen, but soft enough to break into chunks. Place in processor and mix again. Mixture will get smoother and softer. You can also do this step in a stand mixer or even with a hand mixer. Return sorbet to freezer, until ready to eat it.

Cherry Almond Sorbet

1 lb. cherries, pitted

3/4 c. sugar, or to taste*

3 T. lemon juice – it helps the cherries retain their color

1 t. almond extract

Place cherries in blender or food processor, with the sugar and extract. Blend until smooth. Adjust sweetener to suit your taste. Place in a container with a lid and freeze. Once mixture is frozen, remove from the freezer, break into chunks and place in food processor. Process until mixture looks creamy and smooth. You might have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor. Eat or return to freezer until ready to use. Makes just over a quart of sorbet.

*Feel free to use other sweeteners you like in place of the sugar. Honey or maple syrup would both work nicely.

Honey Ginger Mango Sorbet

6 ripe mangoes

½ c. honey

1 T. fresh grated ginger

 

Remove peel and pits from mangoes. Puree the mangoes and add the honey and ginger. Freeze. After the mixture is frozen, place mango puree in a food processor and mix again until creamy. Serve, or place back in freezer until ready to serve. Makes about 1 quart.

Strawberry Vanilla Sorbet

2 c. fresh or frozen strawberries (allow frozen berries to thaw a little first)

1/4 c. sugar, or to taste

3 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. vanilla

Place ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Place in shallow pan and freeze. If you are using frozen berries re-freezing will take only about 1 hour. Up to 30 minutes before serving remove sorbet from freezer and allow to soften enough to break into chunks. Place in processor and blend again until very smooth. Return to freezer until needed.

Strawberry- Lavender Sorbet

1 1/2 lbs strawberries

1/2 c. sugar, or to taste – you could also sweeten with honey, if you prefer, or use no sweetener

2-3 T. lavender syrup- recipe follows

Wash and stem berries. Place in food processor and blend until smooth. Sweeten to taste, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Place in a container with a lid and freeze. Once frozen, remove strawberry mix from freezer and sit it on the counter to soften a little bit. This is really the important part. You don’t want it to thaw, but you do want it soft just enough to break into chunks. Place chunks in food processor and blend it again, adding lavender syrup to taste. The liquid of the syrup also helps the sorbet to blend better. It will actually start to look a little creamy and lighter in color. You can serve it right away- or put it back in the freezer to serve later. At this point the sorbet is ready- but you can repeat the soften/process step once more, if you like, for even creamier sorbet. Makes 3-4 cups.

 

Kiwi Lime Sorbet

6 kiwi, peeled

juice of 1 lime

1/4 c. sugar, or to taste

Place ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Place in shallow pan and freeze.  Up to 30 minutes before serving remove sorbet from freezer and allow to soften enough to break into chunks. Place in processor and blend again until very smooth. Return to freezer until needed.

Apple Cider Sorbet

6 c. apple cider

2 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks

3 apples, peeled, cored and diced

 

In saucepan place cider and cinnamon sticks. Cook over medium high heat, uncovered, until cider has cooked down to 2 cups. Remove cinnamon sticks and discard them. Cool cider and combine in food processor with the apples. Puree until smooth. Transfer mixture to a container with a lid. Freeze until solid. Remove from freezer and allow to soften for a few minutes. Break into chunks and puree in processor, until smooth and creamy in texture. You can serve it right away, or return to freezer to enjoy later. Makes 1 quart of sorbet.

Peaches and Herb Sorbet

5-6 medium peaches, pitted. You can peel, if you like

honey to taste – I used 1/4 cup, but depends on how sweet the fruit it

3-4 basil leaves

2 sprigs of fresh mint

Puree all ingredients together until smooth. Adjust sweetener and seasonings. Mixture will taste less sweet after it freezes. Freeze until solid.  Remove from freezer and break into chunks. Process in a food processor until mixture looks creamy. Depending on how cold your freezer is, you might have to let the sorbet soften a few minutes before processing it. Place back in freezer until ready to serve. Makes about 1 quart.

Note: For even creamier sorbet- process a another time or two- refreezing after each time.

Pineapple Sorbet

1 pineapple

½ c. sugar- or a little more to suit your taste

1 T. lemon juice

Wash pineapple, remove rind and core. Chunk up the flesh of the pineapple and puree in a food processor until smooth. Place pineapple puree in a bowl and sweeten to taste. I had a really ripe, sweet pineapple, so I used about ½ cup of sugar. You might want more, or less, according to your own taste. Once frozen, the sorbet will taste less sweet- so make sure to sweeten it enough. You can also sweeten with honey. Stir in the lemon juice, too. Place in a container with a lid and place in freezer.

Once the mixture is frozen- remove from the freezer, let soften a little bit- just a few minutes. Use a spoon or fork to break off chunks of the sorbet. Place in a food processor and puree until smooth. Mixture should start to look creamy. I have had the most success using a smaller processor and doing this in batches, but do what works for you. Return to freezer until ready to serve.

Note: You can repeat the process of processing another time or two. Each time the frozen sorbet is reprocessed, it will get a little smoother. I only processed this pineapple sorbet one time- after it was frozen. The texture was delightful and my guests loved it. Yield: You should get about a quart of sorbet.

Coconut Almond Sorbet

1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk

1 c. almond milk

¼ c. sugar- or to taste

2 t. vanilla

 

Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Place in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 1 quart.

Note: If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can freeze the sorbet in a shallow tray. Once frozen, remove from freezer and let it soften a few minutes. Break into chunks and process in a food processor to soften. Return to freezer until ready to eat.

Orange Ice

3 c. water

2 c. sugar

3 c. orange juice

1 T. grated orange peel

½ c. lemon juice

Combine water and sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil five minutes, remove from heat and chill. Combine chilled mixture with remaining ingredients and freeze in an ice cream maker.

Strawberry Ice

 

¾ c. sugar

1 c. water

4 c. fresh or frozen strawberries or raspberries

2 c. pink lemonade

2 c. raspberry-cranberry juice drink

Cook together sugar and water, boiling gently for 10 minutes. Cool and chill. Meanwhile puree and strain berries to remove seeds. Combine all ingredients and place in a 13×9 inch pan and freeze. When mixture is almost firm, break into chunks , place in bowl and mix with a mixer. Refreeze. If mixture gets too hard, soften before beating and re-freezing. You can also freeze in an ice cream machine. Makes 8-10 cups.

 

Coffee Can Ice Cream

2 c. half and half

½ c. sugar

1 t. vanilla

¼ c. chocolate syrup, optional or strawberry syrup

You will also need :

1 small coffee can, washed, with lid

1 large coffee can, washed with lid

ice

salt

Stir together all ingredients in bowl until sugar has dissolved.  Pour into 1 pound coffee can and secure lid. Place filled can in larger can and surround with crushed ice and salt. You should use 1/3-1/2 c. salt in all. Place lid on large can.  Roll can between two people , or more for about 15 minutes. Remove smaller can and wipe off to prevent salty water from getting inside. Remove lid and enjoy soft-serve ice cream.

Note: If you don’t have coffee cans, you can also use Ziploc bags. A pint bag can substitute for the small coffee can and a one gallon bag can be used instead of the large coffee can. Fill the smaller bag with the ice cream base. Be sure it is sealed well. Place in larger bag with ice and salt. Seal bag well, and toss gently between a couple of people.

Mint  Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

2 c. half and half

1 c. whipping cream

½ c. sugar, or to taste*

2 t. mint extract

1 t. vanilla extract

About ½ c. magic shell- recipe follows

 

Combine half and half, cream, sugar and flavorings. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add more sugar, if needed, to suit your taste. Place mixture in an ice cream maker and start freezing it. Once it starts to thicken, drizzle the magic shell in slowly as the machine is running, to create little flecks of chocolate throughout the ice cream. I have to guess that I used about ½ a cup. Add until you have the amount of chips you like.  Once ice cream forms, place in freezer until ready to serve. Makes about a quart.

*The mixture might taste a little sweet to you, but when you freeze it, it will taste less sweet. When making ice cream, the base should be a little”too” sweet to allow for the taste change after freezing.

Homemade Magic Chocolate Shell

1 c. chocolate chips- I used dark chocolate chips

3/4 c. coconut oil- I used the unrefined

1/2 c. powdered sugar

Heat all together until melted. I melted mine in a microwave for 1 minute, but you could also melt over a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Store at room temp. To use, drizzle over ice cream, wait about 10-20 seconds- and it will harden.

Hot Fudge Sauce

This sauce is one of the most popular ones I make.

1 c. cocoa

¾ c. sugar

½ c. brown sugar

1/8 t. salt

1-c. heavy or whipping cream

½ c. butter,  cut into pieces

1 t. vanilla extract

In saucepan , stir together dry ingredients then stir in cream and butter. Heat to boiling and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes and stir in vanilla. Makes 2 ½ cups.

 

Butterscotch Sauce

6 T. butter

½ c. half and half

½ c. brown sugar

1 t. molasses*

½ -1 teaspoon salt

1 t. vanilla

 

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Non stick pans are not recommended for this recipe. Add remaining ingredients, except vanilla, to the pan. Stir to mix well, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Sauce will thicken as it cools. Store in fridge and warm a little before using. Makes about a cup of sauce. Keeps for weeks in the fridge, but you’ll eat it long before that.

*The addition of a little molasses was because my original recipe called for dark brown sugar. I only had light brown sugar. I liked the flavor that extra molasses added to the finished sauce. Feel free to omit the extra molasses, or add a pinch more, depending on how dark you want your finished sauce.

 

Hot Fudge Cinnamon Sauce

1-c. chocolate chips

2 T. butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk

dash salt

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. vanilla

In heavy saucepan, over medium heat, combine chocolate, butter, milk and salt. Heat, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and vanilla. Serve warm over ice cream. Makes about 2 cups.

 

Caramel Crunch Sauce

¼ c. butter

1/3 c. chopped or sliced almonds

1/3 c. light corn syrup

1/3 c. packed brown sugar

1 T. water

1/3 c. crisp rice cereal, coarsely crushed

Cook almonds in butter in skillet for 5 minutes or until browned. Add remaining ingredients, except cereal and cook, stirring, until sugar is melted. When ready to serve warm sauce and stir in cereal.

Blueberry Sauce

2 c. blueberries

½ c. sugar

1 T. lemon juice

dash nutmeg

½ t. vanilla

Combine all ingredients, except the vanilla and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and cool. Makes 1 cup.

Strawberry Sauce

2 c. sliced strawberries

¼ c. sugar

1 T. lemon juice

¼ t. almond extract

In saucepan combine all ingredients, except almond extract and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in extract. Chill. Makes 1 ½ c.

Coconut-Pecan Topping

2 T. butter

2/3 c. shredded coconut

½ c. chopped pecans

2/3 c. packed brown sugar

½ c. water

 

In medium saucepan, melt butter and add coconut and pecans. Cook over medium heat until coconut is browned, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and cool. Makes 1 ½ c.

Chocolate Coconut Bowls

Good quality semi-sweet chocolate

Desiccated coconut

Small balloons

Melt chocolate over simmering water. Meanwhile place coconut in bowl and blow up balloons to a diameter of about 4 inches. Remove chocolate from heat and dip bottom of balloons about 2 inches into chocolate. Allow excess to drip off and using your hands sprinkle coconut gently over wet chocolate surface. Place “bowls” on baking sheet and place in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Remove bowls from freezer one at a time. Pierce balloon and gently remove balloon and any remnants. Store in freezer until ready to use.

To serve you can scoop in any type of ice cream or sorbet, but you can also fill the bowls with any white or nearly white frozen confection. Soften first, then spoon in, level off and refreeze until ready to serve. Now the bowls look like little coconut halves. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired

 

Marbled Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

½ gallon (brick) vanilla, coffee or strawberry ice cream

30-marbled brownie bars  (Recipe follows)

Remove ice cream from freezer and discard carton. With long, sharp knife, cut ice cream crosswise into 3 equal pieces. Cut each piece into 5 one-inch slices. Place one slice of ice cream between two brownie bars, trimming ice cream, if necessary. Freeze 2 hours, or until firm. Makes 15 bars.

Note: You can slice the ice cream ahead of time and return separate slices to the freezer on a cookie sheet until ready to assemble. This is a good idea on really hot days. Brownies can also be made ahead and then frozen, or chilled until needed.

Marbled Brownie Bars

1 ½ c. flour

1/3 t. baking powder

¼ t. salt

¾ c. butter, softened

1 ½ c. sugar

3 eggs

1 t. vanilla

3 squares (1 oz. size) unsweetened chocolate, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 15×10-inch jellyroll pan. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light. Stir in flour mixture and divide batter in half. Stir chocolate into half of the batter. Alternately spoon batters into prepared pan. With spatula or knife, cut through batter to give marbled effect. Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and cut into thirds, lengthwise, and then cut each third into ten rows. Makes 30 bars.

 

Ice Cream Sandwiches

 

Ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet or sorbet

Cookies, store bought or homemade

Chopped nuts, sprinkles, coconut, or even shaved chocolate, optional

Melted chocolate, optional

 

Place one cookie on work surface, upside down and place a scoop of slightly softened ice cream or other frozen confection. Place another cookie on top, bottom side down on the ice cream. Press a little until ice cream comes to edge of cookie. Smooth edge with knife or spatula and freeze until firm. For variation, you can roll the edge of the ice cream in chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc., or you can dip cookie in melted chocolate to cover half way. Freeze until firm and wrap until ready to eat.

S’Mores Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

2/3 c. chocolate syrup

1 c. coarsely crushed graham crackers

1 c. mini marshmallows

2 c. whipping cream, whipped

72 graham cracker square halves

 

In large mixing bowl combine sweetened condensed milk and syrup. Fold in crackers, marshmallows and whipping cream. Pour in foil lined 9×5-inch loaf pan and freeze until firm, about 6 hours, or longer. Remove from pan and peel off foil. Slice loaf in half lengthwise and then each half into 18 (½ inch) slices. Place one slice between two crackers and repeat with rest. Wrap and freeze until ready to eat. Makes 36.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Blackberry Scones

Fresh Blackberry Scones

I was recently given some beautiful blackberries. I decided to make scones with some of them. Warm from the oven, with a cup of coffee or tea, these are hard to beat.

The secret for tender scones is not to over work the dough. The dough for these scones is scooped onto a baking sheet, rather than being rolled out and cut out. Stir  until ingredients are just combined. Plus, you don’t want to mash the berries. This recipe could not be any easier to make. The dough can be prepped in the time it takes to preheat the oven.

While scones are traditionally served for breakfast or brunch, I often use them as a dessert. These scones make a great shortcake.

For shortcakes, just split scones add fill with some seasonal fruit, sweetened, if you like. Top with ice cream or whipped cream. Easy dessert and perfect end to a summer dinner.

Here is the recipe for the scones.

Fresh Blackberry Scones

 2 c. flour

1/3 c. sugar

1 T. baking powder

¾ t.  salt

6 T. chilled butter

2 c. blackberries, fresh preferred, but you could use frozen

1 t. orange zest

2 large eggs

1/3 c. heavy cream or half and half

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Toss in berries and zest. Beat together eggs and cream and stir into flour mixture. Mix very gently to avoid bruising berries. Use 1/2 cup ice cream scoop to scoop batter onto a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a little extra sugar, if you like. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 22-24 minutes. Makes 10-12.

Fresh Raspberry Crumb Cake

Raspberry Crumb Cake

I picked up some beautiful local raspberries the other day. I love just eating them fresh, but I also wanted to do something more with them. I decided to bake this crumb cake.

The cake is delicate and not too sweet. The crumb topping really makes it special. It stands on its own, but is also good served with a drizzle of melted chocolate, some extra berries, or a scoop of ice cream. This cake always makes me think of the raspberries I grew up with.

When I was a kid, we had a patch of raspberries in the back of the yard. It was always a special treat to go out on a summer day and harvest raspberries, warm from the sun. We did lose berries to birds and squirrels and it became my Father’s mission to save as many berries as he could. When we got a new dog, my Dad was sure berry theft would go down. Oddly, we seemed to be getting even fewer berries. One day, my Mom caught the dog eating raspberries right off the plants. Mystery solved.

I have made this cake with frozen berries, too. Either works, but I give the cake a few extra minutes to bake when I use frozen berries.

Raspberry Crumb Cake

For cake batter:
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
½ stick (¼ cup) butter, softened
¾ c. sugar
1 egg
½ c. sour cream
2 t. vanilla
2 cups raspberries – I like fresh but frozen work
For topping:
½ c. sugar
¼ c. flour
½ t. cinnamon
½ stick (¼ c. butter, chilled and cut into bits)

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, sour cream and vanilla. Add flour mixture gradually until just mixed in. Fold in raspberries. Grease and flour an 8 or 9-inch pan and add prepared batter. Combine topping ingredients until they resemble coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter in pan and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. Use toothpick to test.

Cooking with Lavender

Lavender

While the fragrance of lavender lends itself to all sorts of cosmetic uses, it is a wonderful ingredient to cook with, too. The secret  is to use enough lavender to impart flavor, without having your food taste like soap. That can be a tricky balance.

Lavender is a traditional ingredient in Herbes de Provence, a French seasoning blend, often used with meats like lamb or pork. Lavender can be used for so much more. I love using lavender is sweet dishes, like shortbread and in syrups that can be added to cocktails. All the recipes are using lavender blossoms that have been harvested and then allowed to dry. You can use fresh blossoms, too.

Harvest blossoms before they are fully open, if you can. Cut them with at least a few inches of their stems attached. I tie them together in small bunches, hang them up. and allow them to air dry. Once dry, I strip the blossoms off the stems and store in an airtight jar. Store in a reasonable cool location.

So here is a compilation of some of my favorite lavender recipes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Strawberry and Lavender Ice Cream

2 c. chopped strawberries

1 c. sugar

1 T. lavender blossoms

1 T. vanilla

2 c. cream or  half and half or a combination. You can also use some milk or even almond or rice milk.

Additional sugar to taste

Place strawberries, lavender, vanilla  and sugar in saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and chill. Combine chilled berry mixture with cream. Add additional sugar if you like. Remember that once it is frozen the ice cream will not taste as sweet so make this mixture a little sweeter than you want the final product to be. How much sugar you add varies with personal taste and how sweet the berries are. Place in an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Once finished put in an sir- tight container and place in freezer. Makes about 1 quart.

 

Strawberry- Lavender Sorbet

1 1/2 lbs strawberries

1/2 c. sugar, or to taste – you could also sweeten with honey, if you prefer, or use no sweetener

2-3 T. lavender syrup- recipe follows

Wash and stem berries. Place in food processor and blend until smooth. Sweeten to taste, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Place in a container with a lid and freeze. Once frozen, remove strawberry mix from freezer and sit it on the counter to soften a little bit. This is really the important part. You don’t want it to thaw, but you do want it soft just enough to break into chunks. Place chunks in food processor and blend it again, adding lavender syrup to taste. The liquid of the syrup also helps the sorbet to blend better. It will actually start to look a little creamy and lighter in color. You can serve it right away- or put it back in the freezer to serve later. At this point the sorbet is ready- but you can repeat the soften/process step once more, if you like, for even creamier sorbet. Makes 3-4 cups.

Lavender Syrup

¾ c. water

¾ c. sugar

1 tablespoon dried lavender buds

 

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Add lavender and cook on low heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until it starts to thicken a bit. Then set to the side to cool. Strain out the lavender and refrigerate. Yields just under a cup of syrup. Will keep in the fridge for weeks and weeks.

Another recipe using lavender syrup

Lemon Lavender Cocktail

2 oz. gin

1 ½ oz.  lemon juice

1 ½ oz.  lavender syrup (recipe follows)

splash of club soda

some ice

one lemon slice, for garnish

Pour gin, lemon juice and lavender syrup into a glass and stir. Top with club soda, add some ice and garnish with a lemon slice.

 

 

Lavender and Vanilla Shortbread

 1 c. vanilla sugar, plus extra for sprinkling*

2 c. butter

4 c. flour

2-3 T. lavender blossoms

 

Cream together the one-cup of sugar and butter. Stir in the flour and lavender blossoms. Press mixture in to a greased 9×13 inch-baking dish. Cut or score into small squares, or on the diagonal for diamond shapes. Sprinkle with extra sugar and bake in a preheated 300-degree oven for 50-55 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Re-cut the squares as soon as you remove the shortbread from the oven. Cool before removing from pan. Make about 100 small squares.

 

* If you don’t have vanilla sugar just use granulated sugar and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to the dough.

 

Making Vanilla Sugar

Some specialty stores sell vanilla sugar and it is expensive. I find it easy to just make my own. Vanilla sugar can be used in baking or to top desserts, in tea, and other drinks. I love to sprinkle vanilla sugar on sugar cookies and on muffins, too.

I buy vanilla beans by the pound online and use them in cooking and to make my own vanilla extract.

To make vanilla sugar just cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise and then into 1 inch pieces. Place granulated sugar in a jar and add the vanilla beans. Cover jar and shake once in awhile. The sugar is fragrant in about a week but will get stronger the longer it sits. I use one vanilla bean per cup of sugar. You can add more sugar to the jar as you use it. The beans will continue to flavor new sugar added to the jar for some time.

Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence

I make my own herb and spice blends often, because it gives me control over what I put in it. I also grow a lot of herbs, so it just makes sense. You can use dried or fresh herbs in this recipe. If you are using any fresh herbs, then store your mix in the freezer.

 

1 T. thyme, or 2 T. fresh

1 T. rosemary or 2 T. fresh

1 T. savory or 2 T. fresh

2 t. basil or 2 T. fresh

1 t. lavender or 1 T. fresh

2 bay leaves

Blend fresh or dried herbs until bay leaves are powdered. Rub this mixture on grilled meats, roasts, chicken, or fish. If using fresh herbs, make small amounts and freeze what is unused.

 

Lavender Liqueur

Lavender Liqueur

I started by combining 2 cups of lavender blossoms with about 4 cups of vodka in a large Mason jar. These were dried blossoms from last year’s harvest. I put the lid on the jar and let it steep together for a few weeks. After a few weeks I strained out the blossoms. Then I poured the mixture through a strainer lined with a coffee filter to get out any fine particles so my end product would be clear. I had expected the mixture to be a lavender color. It ended up a pretty honey brown color instead. It also had a very strong fragrance and flavor of lavender. Quite pleasant.

After tasting the lavender vodka I decided to add sugar to the mixture. I made a cup of sugar syrup by combining one cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a small pot and brought it to a boil. This gave me a cup of sugar syrup. Once the sugar syrup cooled to room temp I added it to the lavender vodka and allowed this to mellow for another week.

The odd thing was that at first the sugar syrup and lavender vodka would not blend. The sugar syrup settled to the bottom of the bottle. No amount of stirring and shaking seemed to matter. I’d all but given up when a friend was over and tipped the bottle a few times. Amazingly it finally combined. On the advice of another friend I decided to add a couple of vanilla beans as well. The flavor is pretty interesting.

 

Lavender Vinegar

It’s easy to make. Just add 2 cups of vinegar for every cup of blossoms. If you are using dried flowers use 1/3 cup for every 2 cups of vinegar. Store in a cool, dark place in a container with a tight-fitting lid.Steep for at least 2 weeks- or longer.

Be sure to use vinegar that is 5% acidity- it will say that on the label. I like to use white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or cider vinegar.

 

 

Blueberry and Red Grape Sorbet

Blueberry-Red Grape Sorbet

Sometimes accidents are a good thing. I was planning on making a sorbet from frozen blueberries. I had already made a strawberry sorbet and a coconut sorbet. I wanted something “blue” for a red, white and blue dessert.

I grabbed a few containers of  blueberries out of the freezer and put them on the counter to soften for a few minutes. Well, instead of three containers of blueberries I had grabbed one of blueberries and two of red grapes.

I decided to use them together. It really worked out well, because the grapes added a lot of natural sweetness to the blueberries. I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the fruit, but in hindsight, I think the sorbet would be sweet enough without any added sugar. I also added a little fresh mint. It really is a light, refreshing dessert. I only wish I had more. With company over the weekend, and hot weather, it is sure to go fast.

 

Blueberry-Red Grape Sorbet

4 c. red grapes, fresh or frozen

2 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen

sugar to taste- I used a couple of tablespoons

a few sprigs of fresh mint, optional

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. You might have to do this in a couple of batches. Place in a container and freeze until solid. Remove from freezer and allow to soften for about 20 minutes, or even a little less. Mixture should still be frozen, but soft enough to break into chunks. Place in processor and mix again. Mixture will get smoother and softer. You can also do this step in a stand mixer or even with a hand mixer. Return sorbet to freezer, until ready to eat it.

A Trio of Potato Salads

Just in Thyme Potato Salad

If you are looking for a side dish for the 4th, why not bring a potato salad? Everybody loves potato salad.  I love potato salad.

Actually, I love potatoes pretty much any way they are prepared. With so many cookouts and picnics, you can never have enough potato salad recipes, right? I am sharing three of my favorite potato salad recipes. The first one is really simple, enhanced with fresh thyme leaves. Thyme really pairs well with the potatoes. The second one uses some of my fresh basil in a pesto sauce that is tossed with the potatoes. Who says pesto is just for pasta? The third salad is the way I remember my Mom making potato salad. She never wrote down her recipe, but I think I got it right.

Just in Thyme Potato Salad

With my herb garden growing like crazy right now I thought this was the perfect dish to make. This salad can be served warm or cold and goes well with so many dishes. I find when I have leftovers, I’ll even brown it in a skillet and serve it like hash browns with eggs for breakfast.

2 lbs. boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces*
½ c. olive oil
¼ c. red wine vinegar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes until tender. Drain and toss with the rest of the ingredients and serve right away or chill to serve later. Serves 6-8.

* You can really use any potato you like. I often bake the potatoes whole and then peel and cut up. Cook them any way you prefer.

Pesto Potato Salad

This salad always makes me think of a warm summer day. I think it’s because of the basil. During the summer, my driveway is lined with pots of basil. I cook with it almost every day. Pesto can be used in a lot of different dishes beyond pasta. Here I’ve paired it up with potatoes. The combination works great together. I always freeze extra basil so I can enjoy it year round.

2 lbs. Boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 c. basil leaves
3 T. pine nuts
3 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Cook potatoes until tender. Cool. In blender combine remaining ingredients, except 1 tablespoon of the pine nuts. Pour blended mixture over potatoes and sprinkle with the reserved nuts. Chill. Serves 6-8.

 

 

Mom’s Mustard Potato Salad

When I was a kid I did not like the taste of mustard- except in this recipe. It adds such a wonderful flavor.

4 lbs. potatoes- I used Klondike Rose and I did not peel them

4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped, optional

1 c. mayo- maybe a little less

1/4 c. prepared mustard- I like a grainy brown mustard

salt and pepper to taste

dash of hot sauce

Bake whole potatoes until tender and allow to cool. Cube potatoes into large bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 8.

Pesto Potato Salad

Mustard Potato Salad

 

 

The 4th of July

So what is the 4th of July about? Cookouts and noisy celebrations abound, but what is it we are celebrating? We are celebrating revolution, protestors and people who fought their government.

We were a colony, ruled by a monarchy. Had it not been for those who saw injustice, and tried to fix it, we would be bowing to the queen today. They were brave and very forward thinking.

Had the Revolutionary War gone the other way, they certainly would have been hung as traitors. I’m not sure how many of us today would be that brave.

So in your daily life, remember and honor the rebel. If you see an injustice, speak up. Do something to make this country better.

There is always room for improvement, after all. Think about the people who risked death to fight for the freedom we enjoy today. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Don’t ever take that for granted.

Firecracker Chicken Appetizer

Firecracker Chicken

Sometimes the best recipes happen when you don’t have time to plan. This is one of those recipes. Even better because it only uses 4 ingredients. Fun for the 4th of July, too.

I needed an appetizer, but didn’t have extra time for prep. I also did not have time to go to the store, so used what I had on hand. I had some boneless chicken breasts. I could also have used boneless thighs or even chicken wings. I used what I had.

I cut them into strips and poured a bunch of hot sauce over them. Put them in the fridge to marinade overnight.  The next day I just tossed the chicken strips in breadcrumbs and fried them in a little oil. Served with extra hot sauce on the side, they were a big hit.

Firecracker Chicken

2 lbs. boneless chicken, I used breasts, but thighs would be good, or wings

3/4 c. hot sauce, plus extra when serving

2 c. bread crumbs

2 c. oil, for pan frying

Cut chicken into strips and place in a bowl. Pour over the hot sauce and stir to coat evenly. Cover and chill overnight, or even for a couple of days. Place bread crumbs in a plastic bag. Place a small handful of chicken in the bag and shake to coat. Place on a plate and continue with the rest of the chicken. Heat oil in skillet to 350- 375 degrees. fry chicken in several batches- you don’t want to crowd them in the skillet- that will make the oil col down too much. Fry for a minute or two per side. Remove to platter lined with paper towels and cook the rest of the chicken. Keep chicken warm until ready to serve. serve with extra hot sauce on the side. Serves 8 or more as an appetizer, but can be served as a main dish, too.