Easy Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream is always the yummiest, so say my kids. So for my daughter’s 4th birthday party I made her homemade strawberry ice cream. It was super easy to make and oh so yummy! I started with a simple vanilla ice cream recipe and just adapted it by adding fresh strawberries and a little strawberry syrup. I used store bought syrup because I was short on time, but if you have the time, you can make your own syrup, see below.

easy homemade strawberry ice cream

Ingredients you’ll need for homemade strawberry ice cream:

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup strawberry syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

How to make easy homemade strawberry ice cream:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve sugar in half and half.
  2. Thoroughly mix in remaining ingredients except strawberries.
  3. Stir in strawberries.
  4. Following your ice cream maker’s instruction, add mixture to complete the process.

Alternatively replace the sugar, syrup and strawberries above by making your own strawberry syrup: Combine 1 cup chopped strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar and let soak overnight. Finely chop in a food processor. Then mix into ice cream mixture.

 

Adventures with Potatoes Au Gratin

No, I didn’t go trekking into a pile of potatoes and cheese; this week I tried my hand at Potatoes Au Gratin. I love cheese and you can’t go wrong with potatoes… so why not, right?

Every recipe I read called for a 30 minute prep time and a baking time of 1 – 1.5 hours, but I was hungry NOW and really not feeling 2 hours patient. So I started with a potatoes au gratin recipe from allrecipes.com and modified it a bit. The result was a great success – the kids even went for 3rd helpings!

Potatoes au gratin

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium potatoes, washed
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 3 TBS flour
  • 1.5 cups shredded Cheddar/Monteray Jack cheese
  • 1/2 medium sized onion

making potatoes au gratin

Cooking instructions:

  1. Prepare the potatoes: in a 9×9 casserole dish with cooking spray or butter. Cut 4-5 medium sized potatoes into 1/4″ slices. Chop 1/2 onion (I used a white onion). Lay half of the potato slices on the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle onions over top. Add remaining potatoes and set aside.
  2. Prepare the cheese sauce: In a medium sauce pan melt butter then mix in flour to create a paste. Stir in milk. Stir in cheese and continue stirring over medium heat until cheese is melted and sauce begins to thicken, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully pour over potatoes in casserole dish. Sprinkle salt, pepper and a little garlic seasoning over top. Sprinkle a thin layer of shredded cheese on top (optional).
  3. Bake: Traditionally, at this point, you would put the dish in the oven and bake for 1-1.5 hours. For quicker cooking time, place in microwave and cook on high for 8 minutes. Then place in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes until top is slightly golden.
  4. Remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes.

Next time I think we’ll add a bit of fresh Parmesan on top and see how it turns out.

Best chocolate pudding recipe

The kids and I were craving sweets but at 9:30pm, we were out of ice cream and I wasn’t about to pile everyone in the car. So I set out to try my hand at making home made chocolate pudding. This recipe is quick and easy and full of chocolaty goodness! Total preparation time is approximately 1 hour (30 to cook and 30 to set).

chocolate pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in milk and chocolate chips. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted. Temper the egg yolks and then stir into mixture. Add butter and vanilla. Bring to gentle boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Chill before serving.

Tempering the egg yolks:

If you were to place the egg yolks directly into your hot mixture, you could end up with cooked egg chunks in your pudding… not so tasty. So to avoid this, you “temper” the eggs. To do this, you slowly add small quantities of your hot mixture to your eggs in a separate mixing bowl, stirring constantly. Continue until you’ve added at least 1 full cup of hot mixture to the eggs. Then you can pour this egg mixture into your pudding and stir thoroughly.

Note about setting:

Originally my pudding didn’t set. The recipe I had started with said to cook the entire time on medium heat which ment the cornstarch never had the opportunity to do it’s thing. After an hour in the fridge, I poured all the pudding back into a pan and heated it up again until it came to a boil and voila! just like magic it began to thicken. As an added bonus to the delayed setting… we had pudding for breakfast!

making chocolate pudding

This recipe was adapted from the Chocolate Cream Pudding recipe by Mimi

Fabulous Spoon Bread

Sometimes simple dishes are the best. One of my favorite foods during Thanksgiving is my wife’s spoon bread. It is a simple quick recipe made of:

  • 1 Cup of Sour Cream
  • 8 Ounces of Cream Corn
  • 1/2 Cup of Melted Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Large Eggs Slightly Beaten
  • 1 Box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • 4 Slices of Swiss Cheese

Mix it together except for Swiss. Put it in a bread loaf pan. Bakes at 350 for 35 minutes. Top with slices of Swiss. Back in the oven till top browns (about 10 min) don’t over cook.

This also works great in muffin tins (reduce cooking time by 15min).

Here are some variants I’d recommend depending on your tastes:

  • For slightly sweeter add to the mixture 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
  • For slightly spicier add 4 ounces of diced chilies (recommend green but can increase the heat based on your preference in chilies).
  • For a different “bite” change the cheese on top from Swiss, to sharp cheddar or a Gruy√®re

Enjoy but definitely make extra because it will be gone in a flash.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

This week at my kids’ school they had their yearly Grandparents Day. All the grandmas and grandpas come and see what their grandkids are learning and working on, the kids do special presentations and show them around. One of the highlights is the coffee and pastry table and the 5th grade parents get to provide the pastries.

That meant that I had to make 2 dozen muffins on Sunday.

I didn’t want to make boring blueberry muffins or buy something horrid from the store, so I started poking around in the fridge and found a couple of leftover oranges and a box of dried cranberries. Perfect!

I dug through my recipes and found that the muffin recipe I -thought- I had was actually for scones. Shoot. So I went in search of a new one and found a perfect start on BakeSpace and altered it slightly. I should make another post entirely for BakeSpace, but in a deliciously decadent nutshell, it is a social networking and recipe site for foodies started by the amazingly talented Babette Pepaj.

Cranberry Orange Muffins
(I doubled the original recipe to make 2 dz muffins. Halve the recipe below to make only a dozen!)

2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsps baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I never use this much salt, honestly)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp
4 tsps grated orange zest (reserve some for topping)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
Raw sugar for sprinkling on top (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put the dried cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over med. heat. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool and plump. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, cream butter, orange zest, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture in parts, alternating with the milk, until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix. Spoon batter into paper lined muffin tins and sprinkle the tops with raw sugar and a piece or two of orange zest. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

Original Recipe on BakeSpace