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  1. Thursday, February 7

    Homemade Grocery Store Garlic Bread

    Today, a simple side.

    As a kid, I loved it when my mom would get the grocery store garlic bread. You know, the kind in the foil bag in the baskets by the cashiers. Okay, I’ll admit it, I still kind of love the stuff. But I find that I like my homemade version better. Less greasy, less overwhelmingly flavored, but still full of that buttery, garlicky goodness.

    And it’s oh-so-easy to make. You’ll maybe add 5 minutes of prep time to your dinner routine. No biggie at all.

    Homemade Grocery Store Garlic Bread
     
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    Author:
    Cuisine: Side Dish
    Ingredients
    • 1 loaf Italian bread (16 oz), sliced horizontally
    • 1 stick butter (told you it was still super buttery!)
    • 1 garlic clove, finely minced or pushed through a garlic press
    • 3 pinches of dried parsley
    • 1 pinch dried basil
    • 1 pinch dried oregano
    • 1 pinch coarse salt
    • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated parmesan cheese (if you don’t have the cheese on hand, leave it out!)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Soften butter (leave on the counter for an hour or two or microwave for 10 seconds at power level 2). Mix in all the other ingredients. Spread butter mixture over cut surface of garlic bread. Reassemble loaf of bread and wrap with foil. Bake 15-20 minutes, until inside of bread is hot. Slice and serve!

     


  2. Tuesday, July 3

    Homemade Creamsicles…and venturing into the world of making popsicles!

    One thing I’ve never made is homemade popsicles. I don’t have the molds. I’m not that into popsicles. And the girls have never asked to make them before. Hence, no homemade popsicles at the Maynard home! But I remember loving them as a kid and when I mentioned possibly making popsicles at home, Cate and Anna started cheering. Literally.

    Tropicana recently contacted me about writing a post incorporating orange juice with making something fun with my kids. Since we had already been contemplating making popsicles, Tropicana finally kicked me into gear! We went out and bought a really cool Zoku popsicle maker and were ready to go!

    My most favorite popsicles as a child were creamsicles. Whenever I take a bite of one, I’m instantly transported to my childhood home on Ensign Court, eating creamsicles on the front porch. I decided making homemade creamsicles would be a great way to use orange juice and make some new memories with my kids.

    We hit the store and picked up Tropicana’s Pure Premium orange juice, pulp free of course for the popsicles! Tropicana makes their juice with fresh oranges and it is 100% pure and natural, which makes me happy to use their product. We grabbed whole milk, orange extract, and, of course, cream and headed home to mix and freeze!

    I found a recipe on a blog called Nourished Kitchen that looked promising. It’s simple to throw together, providing ample opportunity for the kids to pour, mix and stir. There is also a lot of down time while the orange juice simmers, so you can grab some books and read together while you occasionally stir the juice. All in all, it is a great recipe to make with the kids!

    And the final product was good! We had leftover filling (the original recipe made a TON), so I threw it in the ice cream maker with a pinch of xanthan gum. The ice cream was yummy, although it had sort of a dry taste to it. I think I might need to perfect a creamsicle-flavored ice cream based on the vanilla ice cream recipe we’ve had such great success with. Does that not sound completely heavenly?

    There was one major snafu with the popsicles, though. This filling did NOT work with the Zoku maker. Such a sad discovery! The pops were totally stuck, so don’t use the maker for this recipe! My friend Necia swears that they’ve had great success with the Zoku, so we’re just going to have to try some other recipes! Thankfully I have friends with regular popsicle molds who were able to save the day. My favorite molds were the ones from Ikea, they worked great!

    See those there creamsicles freezing nicely in the Zoku? Yeah, they’re never comin’ out. At least not without lots of hot water.

    I’ll be sure to report on more of our homemade popsicle ventures!

    Homemade Creamsicles
     
    From Nourished Kitchen, with my notes and quantities adjusted
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 2½ tablespoons honey
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 cup cream
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • ½ teaspoon orange extract
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    Instructions
    1. Simmer honey and orange juice over medium heat in a small saucepan until reduced by half – this will take 20-40 minutes. Just grab some books and read in the kitchen with your kids while you wait! Stir occasionally. Once it has reduced, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
    2. Whisk together egg yolks, cream, milk, orange extract and vanilla extract. Add orange juice mixture and whisk well.
    3. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until solid. Do not use a Zoku popsicle maker for this recipe – it will stick inside!
    4. Will make at around 8-10 popsicles.

    This post was sponsored by Tropicana. Tropicana Pure Premium is 100% pure Florida orange juice. If you would like to connect with the folks at Tropicana, visit them at Facebook.com/Tropicana.

     


  3. Tuesday, June 12

    Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream…and a note about the freezing process

    It’s time, my friends. Time for homemade chocolate ice cream!

    I still can’t decide which I like better, the vanilla or the chocolate. They are seriously both amazing. I am a chocoholic, so that’s saying something about the vanilla. But, I don’t know, this chocolate ice cream is just soooo good. Creamy and chocolatey, it’s almost like eating chocolate mousse or pot de creme in frozen form. The ice cream is super rich and packs a chocolatey punch – don’t be fooled by that light brown color!

    When I wrote about the vanilla ice cream, I mentioned that I didn’t follow the Cook’s Illustrated instructions for freezing the ice cream after it’s churned and that everything still turned out fine. WELLL…when I made ice cream for a third time, I discovered why they have you do what they do and now I am going to do what they sway from now on! They have you freeze a metal pan and then pour the churned ice cream into the metal pan. You let it freeze in that pan for about an hour and then transfer to an air-tight container. Just seemed like extra steps to me…but…now I know better.

    The first time I made the ice cream, I put it directly into one of my glass bowls with a lid. Nothing went awry and I didn’t think much about the process. The second time I did in fact freeze a metal pan. I put the churned ice cream in that pan and then ended up just storing it in that pan with foil on top. We ate it so quickly we didn’t really need an air-tight container! 😉

    Well, the third time I made the ice cream, when the ice cream was done churning, I put it in one of my casserole dishes because all my glass containers with lids were dirty and I hadn’t frozen a metal pan. As soon as the ice cream hit the casserole dish, it started melting!!! Not good. I left the remainder of my ice cream in the ice cream maker and put the casserole dish in the freezer for 5 or 10 minutes, then transferred the remainder of the ice cream to the dish and that seemed to help. ANYWAY…I don’t know why I questioned their technique! It all makes sense to me now! I will never qustion Cook’s Illustrated again. 😉

    Without further ado, the recipe!

    Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream
     
    From the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 1 quart
    Ingredients
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used semisweet the second time – it was still rich but a bit less rich, which some people might like. Cook’s Illustrated recommends using high-quality chocolate, which I also recommend. We used Scharffen Berger.)
    • 1½ cups whole milk
    • 1½ cups heavy cream
    • ¼ teaspoon salt (Jane addition, not part of original recipe)
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Instructions
    1. Place an 8 or 9 inch square metal pan in the freezer.
    2. Microwave chocolate at 50 percent power, stirring every minute, until melted completely. Set aside to cool.
    3. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl set over a larger bowl of ice water.
    4. Combine milk, cream, salt, and ½ cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming steadily and registers 175 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. (Jane note: mine wasn’t steaming all that much, I just took it off when it hit 175 degrees)
    5. While cream mixture heats, whisk egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup sugar in bowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add melted chocolate and whisk until fully incorporated.
    6. Slowly whisk half of heated cream mixture into egg yolks mixture, ½ cup at a time. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and registers 180 degrees, 7 to 14 miutes. Immediately strain custard through fine-mesh strainer and let cool over bowl of ice water to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla, then cover and refrigerate until custard registers 40 degrees, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
    7. Transfer custard to ice cream machine and churn until mixture resembles thick soft serve ice cream, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to frozen pan and press plastic wrap on surface. Return to freezer until firm around edges, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container, press firmly and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Can be frozen up to 2 days. (Jane note: is also delicious even before it’s totally frozen!)


  4. Wednesday, June 6

    Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

    Back when I first got my ice cream maker, I was addicted to making frozen yogurt. It’s just so easy and fast to throw together…and it is sooooo yummy. But I wasn’t all that convinced that making homemade ice cream was worth the trouble. I made it a few times, but the recipe I was using (which came from a reputable ice cream source, by the way) left something to be desired…there was a bit of a greasy after-feel and, I don’t know, it was just good, not great.

    I decided last week to give homemade ice cream another try. I searched for recipes on the Internet, didn’t really find one that pulled me in, and then I remembered my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook sitting on the shelf. I felt confident that they would have a good ice cream recipe and decided I would use it, even before reviewing it.

    Up until the moment we ate the stuff I was still wondering if it was worth the work. Making the ice cream takes time and planning. As I stood at the stove stirring and stirring and stirring, I just wasn’t so sure it would be worth it.

    And then. THEN. We ate the ice cream. It was totally worth it. This recipe kicks you-know-what. Flavor? Fantastic. Texture? Creamy and dreamy. Even after sitting in the freezer a few days, the ice cream never got icy. It was miraculous. I’m making it again for sure…I even bought more cream and whole milk today to make more!

    Tomorrow I will share the chocolate ice cream recipe I tried, which was equally as delicious. Mmmmmmmmm…

    Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
     
    From the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 1 quart
    Ingredients
    • 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used Penzey’s vanilla extract)
    • 1¾ cups heavy cream
    • 1¼ cups whole milk
    • ½ plus 2 tablespoons (4½ ounces) sugar
    • ⅓ cup light corn syrup
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 6 large egg yolks
    Instructions
    1. Place an 8 or 9 inch metal baking pan in the freezer.
    2. If using vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise. Using tip of paring knife, scrape out vanilla seeds. Combine vanilla bean, seeds, cream, milk, 6 tablespoons sugar, corn syrup, and salt in medium saucepan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming steadily and registers 175 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. (Jane note: mine wasn’t steaming all that steadily, just a bit, but I took it off the heat once it hit 175 degrees. PS…if you don’t have an instant read electronic thermometer, you should get that along with your Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.)
    3. While cream mixture heats, whisk egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup sugar in bowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk 1 cup heated cream mixture into egg yolks mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and registers 180 degrees, 7 to 14 minutes. (Jane note: I think I only went to about 178 degrees…it seems like mine got stuck there, so I got impatient and called it a day at that point.) Immediately pour custard into large bowl and let cool until no longer steaming, 10-20 minutes. Transfer 1 cup custard to small bowl. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Place large bowl in refrigerator and small bowl in freezer and let cool completely, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. (Small bowl of custard will freeze solid.) (Jane note: I don’t think my small bowl was frozen completely solid, but it was frozen for sure.)
    4. Remove custards from fridge and freezer. Scrape frozen custard from small bowl into large bowl of custard. Stir occasionally until frozen custard has fully dissolved. (Jane note: I just realized I didn’t even read this step…I just mixed them together until it was pretty evenly mixed, but not dissolved, and then tossed it in the ice cream machine…no waiting arround.) Strain custard through fine-mesh strainer and transfer to ice cream machine. (Jane note: again, I totally didn’t read this part of the directions…didn’t do the strainer! Everything was fine, but it’s probably best to strain in case you get some lumps while cooking the custard.) Churn until mixture resembles thick soft-serve ice cream and registers about 21 degrees, 15-25 minutes. Transfer to metal pan, and press plastic wrap on surface. Freeze for 1 hour until edges are firm, then pack into a storage container with tight fitting lid and store in freezer up to 5 days. (Jane note: Cook’s Illustrated recommends freezing an additional 2 hours at this point…of course it’s delicious when it’s totally frozen, but it is also delicious ever step of the way! We totally ate it right when it was done churning…and we also ate it later after freezing. It was awesome both ways!) Can be frozen up to 5 days.


  5. Thursday, December 23

    Homemade Marshmallows Are Pretty

    This week I’m not writing much. It’s kind of my Christmas present to myself. And since so many of us are off of work and school, I’m think you probably aren’t reading much anyway. It’s the holidays, time to slack off, right? 🙂

    I did take these pictures of the homemade marshmallows I made last week, so I figured I’d share them with you. The pictures are just too pretty to let them go to waste. Who knew homemade marshmallows would be so photogenic?

    If you find yourself bored and needing some accessories for your hot chocolate this week, marshmallows are really, truly easy to make. I wrote about them last year on Make and Takes, and now I’m sharing the recipe again with you. They’re that good.

    Homemade Marshmallows
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
    • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
    • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1½ cups
    • 1 cup light corn syrup
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
    • ¼ cup cornstarch
    • Nonstick spray
    Instructions
    1. Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer set up with the whisk attachment along with ½ cup of the water.
    2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining ½ cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes (Jane note: it was longer than 8 minutes when I did it). Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
    3. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Jane note: as you can see in the picture, I used my ingredient-pourer-shield-bowl-attachment-thingy and it worked perfectly for pouring in the hot sugar.) Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
    4. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
    5. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan (Jane note: I also used my not-so-lightly oiled fingers to press the the mixture evenly into the pan). Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
    6. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture (Jane note: this is my favorite part!), using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

     


  6. Wednesday, August 25

    While we’re talking frosty treats…let’s make some frozen yogurt!

    I’m doing something today I never do. I’m recycling a recipe AND a photo. But I just feel like I NEED to. The warm weather calls for it and, since I first wrote about this recipe, there are a lot more of you reading this here blog. I’m saddened to think you may have missed the original homemade frozen yogurt post from back in the day.

    I love my frozen yogurt recipe. Great texture, just sweet enough, and downright addictive. Also, you can freeze the leftovers without it getting icy. (Xanthan gum is the key and worth tracking down!)

    Jane's Homeade Frozen Yogurt
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 2 cups plain yogurt (Trader Joe’s European Style is my favorite yogurt for this, Greek is good too, or just plain old plain yogurt will work as well!)
    • a little less than ½ cup sugar
    • ½ cup milk
    • ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (see my comment below (comment #2) for more details about xanthan gum)
    Instructions
    1. Mix ingredients together and follow directions for your ice cream maker (Cuisinart – 25 minutes)

    It’s kind of tragic, I haven’t made this frozen yogurt in aeons (which Nate has reminded me of more than once!). I’ve recently discovered Pinkberry and their amazing coconut frozen yogurt. I think today’s post has inspired me to dig out my ice cream maker that’s been hiding and figure out the coconut flavor. Mmmmmmm…..


  7. Tuesday, June 1

    Homemade Croutons

    One of the first things I ever cooked that made me feel like I could cook (well, besides dishes containing canned veggies and creamed soups, that is!) was homemade croutons. When we were first married and I was still finding my culinary voice (i.e. cooking not-so-great food on a not-so-great budget in a really-quite-awful basement apartment kitchen), chicken caesar salad with homemade croutons was one of our go-to “gourmet” meals. Okay, not so gourmet, but it felt gourmet and gave my cooking confidence level a much needed boost!

    homemade croutons 2 web

    Last night I made homemade croutons for a simple caesar side salad. It’s been a while since I’ve made croutons and cooking them transported me back in time to that tiny basement kitchen. It also reminded me how delicious homemade croutons are, all crispy and flavorful on the outside, soft and yummy on the inside. There’s nothing better. And it’s a great way to use up stale, leftover bread. Without further ado, here is how I make croutons. Feel free to share your own crouton-cooking tips if you have them!

    homemade croutons 1 web

    Homemade Croutons
     
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Leftover french/italian/country/whatever bread or baguette (stale is fine!), cut into bitesized cube-ish pieces (no need to be precise, unless you like precise-looking croutons)
    • Olive oil
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Dried or chopped herbs of your choice (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Heat up a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Pour in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and let it heat up (you can use butter or canola oil if you don’t have olive oil on hand). Evenly salt and pepper the pan and oil, then evenly spread your bread pieces in the pan and toss with a spatula (I just dump the bread in and quickly toss it all around to evenly distribute the oil and seasoning – you may need to drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the croutons if it doesn’t seem like you have quite enough). Sprinkle with herbs of your choice (oregano, basil, rosemary, whatever…last night we didn’t use any herbs and they were still fabulous).
    2. After tossing them a bit, let the croutons sit over the heat for about a minute at a time, tossing in between. Cook until they start to get browned and crispy on the outside, but not burned.
    3. I usually make croutons on the stovetop, as opposed to the oven. It feels easier to me, although it’s probably about the same (minimal) effort. If you want to cook them in the oven, just toss the bread pieces in a large bowl with the oil and seasoning, spread into 1 layer on a cookie sheet and bake at around 400 degrees until they look done, flipping once or twice during cooking.

     


  8. Tuesday, March 2

    Guest Blogger Maria Lichty: Homemade Yogurt

    maria-&-josh-webToday we have a very fun post from a very fun guest blogger, Maria Lichty of the food blog Two Peas and Their PodShe is going to tell us all about homemade yogurt, something I’ve yet to make and am now super excited about trying!

    Like our last guest, Maria has been commenting and posting menus on This Week for Dinner for years (and she’s another of my blogging friends I have actually met in person!). Maria is a sweetie and writes about her cooking adventures with her husband, Josh (hence TWO peas). They have a great food blog (hello oodles of amazing vegetarian recipes) and you can read more about Maria and Josh in a recent interview on The Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen website. Without further ado, I present Maria!

    grey-line

    First of all, I am thrilled to be a guest blogger for TWFD. I have been following Jane’s blog for quite some time now. I love her recipes, photos, stories, sense of humor, ok – I just love everything about Jane. She is the best, but you all know that.

    4382985921_fb794bc641

    Today I am going to share a recipe that will change your life for the better – homemade yogurt. I love yogurt. I enjoy it for breakfast, a healthy snack, or even dessert. I usually eat one a day. Greek yogurt is my favorite – I love Fage brand. Unfortunately, it is not cheap. A single, 6-oz. serving is usually $2.00 or more. Not so friendly on the pocketbook if you eat one every day. I tried to cut back on my yogurt intake because it was so expensive, but depression soon set in. Not really, but I missed it! 🙂 I decided it was time to start making my own yogurt at home.

    I really wasn’t sure how, so I did some research and consulted with my Twitter friends. I purchased a yogurt maker and set up my “yogurt lab.” I was amazed at how easy it was to make. Basically, you heat up some milk, cool it down, whisk in a 6-oz. yogurt with the milk, and then let it “sleep” in the yogurt machine for 12 hours. How simple is that?

    Instead of paying $2 every day for yogurt, I just purchase one Greek yogurt to use as my starter and then I have a week’s worth of yogurt. Making our own yogurt has saved us a lot of money. Yes, we had to buy the yogurt maker, but it has already paid for itself…and then some.

    I always start my yogurt at night so it is ready when I wake up in the morning. It really is that simple. And it tastes just as good, maybe even a little better, because homemade recipes always come with extra love!

    4383769014_dff1ffda44

    Here is my basic recipe:

    Guest Blogger Maria Lichty: Homemade Yogurt
     
    Author:
    Cuisine: Side Dish
    Ingredients
    • 42 ounces fresh milk, we use skim
    • 6 oz. plain yogurt, we use fat free Fage for our starter (use your favorite brand)
    Instructions
    1. Pour milk into a high-sided saucepan. Place a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Heat the milk until it reaches-180 degrees. The milk will start to climb the side of the pan.
    2. Remove pan from heat and allow the milk to cool to lukewarm-110 degrees. To speed up the process you can place the pan in an ice bath. Sometimes I do this and sometimes I am just lazy and let it cool on its own. Both ways work.
    3. When the yogurt is cool, put the yogurt starter in a large bowl. Stir in some of the milk. Whisk well. Make sure the yogurt is dissolved. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth.
    4. Pour the mixture into the jars of the yogurt maker. Follow the yogurt maker’s instructions. We usually do ours so it rests overnight. It takes 10-12 hours. We usually let it rest for 12 hours because we like our yogurt thicker.
    5. When the yogurt is done resting, chill it in the fridge with the lids on the jars. The yogurt will stay good for 10 days.
    Notes
    I purchased my yogurt maker at Williams Sonoma. I really like the individual jars, but you can buy a yogurt maker that makes one large batch too. Find a machine that is right for you. Make sure you read the instructions before getting started.
    Make sure you choose a yogurt starter that has live active cultures.
    Use the freshest milk and yogurt you can find.
    I use fat free Greek yogurt because that is the yogurt I like. You can use a yogurt with fat. It just depends on your preference.
    I use fat free milk and yogurt and the finished product is thick enough for me.
    You can use your homemade yogurt as the starter, but only once.
    If you want really thick yogurt you can strain it with a cheese cloth or coffee filters.

     

    So what are you waiting for? If you are a yogurt fanatic like me, start making your own. It is so easy, a lot cheaper, and it’s good for you!

    For an extra special treat, try a yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and homemade granola. Double Yum!

    Thanks again Jane for letting me do a guest post. Come visit Two Peas and Their Pod anytime – our kitchen is always open! 🙂

    • You can make flavored yogurt by adding honey, fruit, or jam, but we prefer plain. I usually add fresh fruit and sometimes a drizzle of agave nectar to my plain yogurt.

  9. Thursday, February 11

    Homemade Oreos

    No matter your opinion of Valentine’s Day, we can all agree it’s a good excuse to binge on chocolate, right? So, that’s what I’m giving you this week.  Chocolate. Because that, my friends, is how I show my love.

    oreo2b web

    For the Super Bowl, my friend Rachel made us two utterly delectable chocolate treats. Today I share with you her homemade oreos.  Tomorrow…well, it’s a surprise! But it is most certainly Valentine’s Day worthy!

    I’m not a huge fan of store-bought Oreos. I know, how can I call myself an American? But even I, the evil Oreo-disser, loved these cookies. It’s certainly a derivative of the classic Oreo, but much so much better.

    Rachel found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, one of the best food blogs out there.

    Homemade Oreos
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 25-30 cookies
    Ingredients
    • Chocolate Wafers:
    • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1½ cups sugar
    • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
    • 1 large egg
    • Filling:
    • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
    • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
    • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    Instructions
    1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
    2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
    3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
    4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
    5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a ½ inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.
    Notes
    Thank you, Deb, for a great recipe! Thank you, Rachel, for making them for us!


  10. Tuesday, December 15

    Homemade Vanilla Hot Chocolate

    This year I decided our neighbor & teacher holiday gift would be homemade vanilla hot chocolate. I figured it would be easier than making and decorating oodles of cookies. I was wrong. Well, only because I QUADRUPLED the recipe. And ended up having to grind about 10 pounds of chocolate. With a Cuisiniart mini-prep. Yeah, it was a feat.

    homemade hot chocolate web

    BUT…the vanilla hot chocolate is delicious! And a fun, unique gift to give friends for the holidays! You’ll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

    A few quick notes. I have a Cuisinart mini-prep, which is what I used to grind the chocolate. It works fine…but if you DO have a bigger food processor, use it!

    This is the recipe I used the vanilla beans for. I saved the sugar-coated bean pods after I was done making the vanilla sugar…I figure I can use them in other recipes, even though the seeds are gone.

    homemade hot chocolate preparation web

    If you plan on making TONS and TONS and TONS like I did…you’re going to need BIG bowls. I ended up having to use three giant bowls and mixing all the ingredients between the three bowls, trying to evenly distribute the ingredients by mixing and remixing the contents of each bowl.

    bowls web

    No matter what amount you make, be prepared to have chocolate coating your kitchen. Also, I wore a towel over my face because I was literally inhaling cocoa powder when mixing it all together. That all said, if you don’t double (or triple…or quadruple!) the recipe, you’re not going to run into any of these issues. 😉

    Here was the final product. Aren’t they cute? I used some free gift tag templates from HP with matching ribbon.

    jarred homemade hot chocolate web

    Homemade Vanilla Hot Chocolate
     
    From Epicurious, makes about 10 cups
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 4 cups granulated sugar
    • ½ vanilla bean, split crosswise (see tips, below)
    • 1½ pounds high-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 8 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process (see tips, below)
    Instructions
    1. Place sugar in large bowl. Split half vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape seeds into sugar, and add pod. Work seeds in with your fingers. Cover snugly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.
    2. In food processor fitted with metal blade, process semisweet chocolate and milk chocolate until finely ground.
    3. Remove pod from sugar. Add ground chocolate and cocoa powder to sugar and whisk to blend.
    4. Store mix airtight at room temperature for up to six months.
    5. To serve, Jane’s instructions: I heat 2 cups of milk over the stove and whisk in about ⅓ cup of the mix. You can also heat the milk in the microwave and it works…but the stove is a little better. If you like it richer, add more mix!
    Notes
    Jane Note: I used 16 oz mason jars and was able to put ~1¾ cups of mix in each jar. When I quadrupled the recipe, I filled 19 jars, plus a little left over.

    Tips:
    •Save the other half of the vanilla bean for another use, such as a second batch of vanilla sugar, which keeps indefinitely and can be used in baking, coffee, or simply to sprinkle on fruit or waffles.
    •Dutch process cocoa has been treated with an alkaline solution, which gives it a darker color and less bitter flavor and makes it dissolve more easily.