Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Real Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

I have learned two things during the making of this post.  

One is that ice cream melts twice as fast when you are trying to photograph it, and B, my new Nikon D90 is going to be a lot harder to learn how to use than I had originally thought. 
Shutter speeds, ISO, F-stops, numbers, graphs, buttons, wide lens, zoom lens, millimeter talk, depth of something, yada, yada, yada...  

My head is swimming.  There is just.  So much.  To learn.

I'll keep studying, though, and taking pictures.  One day I'll get one in focus.  One day.

Anyway, I don't think I ever reported back about what I bought with the cooking.com gift certificate I won way back in September of last year in this contest, the contest where I asked my friends, family and strangers to vote for my recipe. 

By the way, thanks.  Thanks for voting for my recipe.  If you did.  

And if you didn't?  Thanks for being you.  *Hugs*

This is what I bought:

I love.

Specifically because:

-No more spending extra money to buy bagged ice to layer with rock salt.  That really increases the cost of your homemade ice cream when you have to buy three bags per batch like I did.

-That said, no more messy layering of ice with rock salt.  FYI, did you know that when your done making ice cream and you pour out the remaining mixture of salt and ice on your lawn, it kills the grass?  It does.

-Much.  Quieter.  I can hear myself think when it's running.  Think of all the toppings I can put on my ice cream when it gets done, or the candy bars I can mix in.
-Faster.  About 30 minutes is all you'll need.

Here are some possible drawbacks, although slight.

-You must freeze the insert for about six hours, so you'll need to plan ahead.  I keep mine in the freezer at all times.  It's a little bulky, so if you don't have a lot of freezer space, this could be an issue.

-It only makes two quarts.  My other ice cream maker was huge, so it was difficult to adjust to the smaller quantity.  I managed, but it was hard.  It was hard on the whole family.  And that is why I...


But a refurbished one at TJ Maxx for $29.99.  I couldn't even buy another insert for that price, so I splurged.

This recipe is right out of the booklet that came with the ice cream maker.  Yes, I prefer ice cream that is custard based too, silly, but this is a great little recipe for when you don't want to fuss.  Just stir together four ingredients and pour it in.  Turn on the button and voila!  

I sandwiched mine between these delicious cookies that I baked from Sugar Plum.  Everyone loved. 

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla

Whisk all ingredients together and pour into ice cream maker.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to a freezer-safe container, and place in freezer for a firmer consistency.  About 2 quarts.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Avocado, Pesto and Goat Cheese Mousse in Crispy Poppy Seed Wonton Cups

Oh, how I love avocados. I eat them on sandwiches, in guacamole, in salads, in everything.  They are delicious, healthy, and most importantly, green, which everyone knows is the best color in the whole world. (Wink)

And, yes, they usually go hand in hand with cilantro and lime, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that combination, but I'd like to go in another direction and introduce the avocado to some other flavors.  Avocado, meet goat cheese and basil pesto.  You will love each other.

This is a simple summer appetizer utilizing one of my favorite foods ever, the avocado. 

Avocado, Pesto and Goat Cheese Mousse in Crispy Poppy Seed Wonton Cups 

1 egg
1 teaspoon water
18 wonton wrappers
1-2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (6-ounce) package goat cheese, softened to room temperature
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
2 ripe avocados, peeled seeded and diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Basil leaves for garnish

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two mini muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.  Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl.  Brush both sides of each wonton with the egg wash, then sprinkle with the poppy seeds and a small amount of the kosher salt.  Press wonton wrappers into each muffin cup, lining the inside, using only every other cup.   Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pan; cool. 

2.  Meanwhile, beat the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.  In another bowl, beat the goat cheese and mayonnaise on medium speed until creamy.  Add the pesto, avocados, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper, and beat until well combined.  Fold in the whipped cream gently.

3.  To assemble, fill a zip lock bag with the avocado mixture and cut a small home in one corner of the bag, using it like a pastry bag.  Pipe a dollop into each cup.  Garnish with a small basil leaf.  Serve immediately. 

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Cajun Chicken Fritters With Creole Mustard Dipping Sauce

About five years ago, I got a call from a representative at the National Chicken Cooking Contest, telling me that my recipe had been chosen to represent Mississippi in their cook-off.  This was my first win and probably only the second or third recipe that I had ever submitted to any contest.  That call really changed my life in many ways.  It gave me a hobby.  This hobby took me and my family around the country to more cook-offs.  It brought in some cash and prizes.  I think the best thing it gave me, though, were cooking friends around the country that I never would have met otherwise.  I love my cooking friends. 

This is the recipe that started it all.  My daughter asked for these the other day, so I fried up a batch.  Here are a couple of things you need to know if you make them:

-When I originally wrote the recipe, I included 1 teaspoon of liquid crab boil.  Somehow that ingredient never made it to the final draft of the recipe that was in the chicken cookbook.  I fried up some with it and some without it the other day, and it was unanimous that the ones with the crab boil addition were better.  I recommend adding it in.  

-If you can't find Creole mustard for the sauce, you can substitute another grainy mustard.  I love, love, love Zatarain's Creole mustard.

-I use a cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the hot oil.  Don't overcrowd them, and make sure to let the oil come back up to temperature between fryings.

Cajun Chicken Fritters with Creole Mustard Dipping Sauce

1 cup flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid crab boil (I use Zatarain’s), optional
4 tablespoons grated onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped red bell peppers
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
3 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
3 tablespoons creole mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons horseradish

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda. Stir in slightly
beaten egg yolks, buttermilk, butter, hot pepper sauce, Creole seasoning, and
liquid crab boil, if using. Add grated onion, green and red bell peppers, red
pepper flakes, and chicken. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and gently
fold into batter. In Dutch oven, place canola oil to depth of 2 inches and
heat over medium high heat to 375 degree F. Drop batter by rounded spoonfuls
or medium scoop into hot oil, about 5 or 6 at a time. Fry about 3 minutes or
until golden brown, turning once. Drain fritters on paper towels and arrange
on serving platter. Serve with Creole Mustard Dipping Sauce. Makes 35-40

Creole Mustard Dipping Sauce:
In small bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons Creole
mustard and 1 1/2 tablespoons horseradish.

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