I SCREAM YOU SCREAM WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM (well kind of)

20130727-204544.jpg

Hi y’all!

Sorry that it’s been a while (as Max said, I was at home for some time and out of the city without need to cook). Then I had my wisdom teeth out (have yet to see whether my

intelligence has dropped significantly) and was thus unable to eat many yummies (STILL MISSING THE ABILITY TO EAT POPCORN AND MORE IMPORTANTLY KETTLE CORN). Now Max is gone home and EVERYTHING IS FALLING APART.

Well, not everything. I finally got around to perusing the interwebs and finding another recipe. To be honest, I’m not quite sure it’s considered cooking (as there’s little heat involved), but I figured it’d be appropriate for the lovely summer weather.

I’m talking, of course, about HOMEMADE ICE CREAM.

Finding a recipe was not exactly straightforward, I assure you (and if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure it’s technically ice cream, but hey, if it looks like ice cream and it smells like ice cream and it feels like ice cream and it tastes like ice cream…), as I unfortunately don’t have, and am not likely to acquire, an ice cream machine. Still, Google does wonders, and gave me multiple ice cream maker-less methods to try. So without further ado…

Recipe of choice: Easy Homemade Ice Cream without a Machine from kevin & amanda, found here.

This recipe was super easy and customizable; dangerously so, as I’ll likely be revisiting it quite a lot in the future. Unfortunately I was/am lacking Max and his fancy camera and picture-taking skills as well as the ability to remember to take pictures during the process, so you’ll have to live with the unartistic photos I just ran and took with my iPhone camera.20130727-204648.jpg

I used the base recipe (2 cups heavy whipping cream and 1 can/14 oz. sweetened condensed milk) and added in vanilla and chocolate chips and Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures found here.

So the process went something like this:

  1. Pause in MCAT studying. Decide to make ice cream. Decide on recipe to make. Buy ingredients.
  2. Start peanut butter caramel. Mix together everything (except corn syrup because I didn’t have any and didn’t want to buy it) and set aside to cool.
  3. Wait while caramel cools and try to study more. Meanwhile, place bowl + hand mixer metal things and heavy whipping cream in fridge.
  4. Mix cooled caramel (around half of the recipe) to sweetened condensed milk. Add a handful of chocolate chips and a splash of vanilla and maybe a little cinnamon. Mix together.
  5. Whip heavy whipping cream using hand mixer (just keep beating until stiff peaks form).
  6. Fold whipped cream into sweetened condensed milk mixture. Notice that ice cream is not in fact becoming peanut butter caramel swirl but is in fact all mixing together. Start to panic mildly. Try to swirl in more caramel so ice cream looks pretty. Fail because caramel has hardened in fridge. Give up and cover ice cream with squiggles of Magic Shell chocolate topping instead.
  7. Stick ice cream in freezer overnight.

Let me tell you, this ice cream, though sticklers might tell you it’s not ice cream since such and such or whatever, is SUPER YUMMY. It’s definitively peanut butter chocolate ice cream and is so creamy and delicious that I’m a little skeptical that it came out of this container in my freezer (are there magic pixies in there who make these things happen?). Sure, the method may not work for everything, and it’s no Ben & Jerry’s or Häagen-Dazs or whatever your drug of choice, but it’s cold and sweet and wonderful nonetheless.

My ratings!
Dishliciousness: 10/10 (hey, it’s ice cream!)
Recipe difficulty: 2/10 (might be difficult if you don’t have an electric mixer, need to buy specific ingredients you might not have, waiting for the ice cream to freeze is a little difficult 😉 )
Overall experience: 4.5 Connie heads out of 5! I love the easiness and customizability of this recipe and will definitely make it again.

20130727-204714.jpg

I give it another week… tops. Maybe more like 2 days considering that large chunk already missing…

Happy National Ice Cream Month everyone!

I don’t wanna TACO ’bout it… except that I do :)

IMG_73831

So this post was supposed to be done on Sunday, but unfortunately I, unlike Max, am:

  1. Not super organized with respect to this blog. Or life, really.
  2. Apparently quite disposed to losing drafts. It’s already happened twice, and this is only my second post on here…
  3. Bad at publishing. And keeping pictures in.

I’M SORRY.

Now that that’s over with, what I really wanted to talk to you about was my intense love of summer (in honor of the recent solstice). Summer sunshine, the faint scent of honeysuckle on summer breezes, the fact that it’s suddenly okay to eat ice cream at any time of day for any meal, the lack of classes (and the stress that comes with them), shorts and sundresses and sandals, playing with things like water guns and bubbles, more festivals, picnics, cooking outside, the lush green of deciduous tree leaves, the pervasiveness of some of the best fruits… the list really goes on forever, so I’ll just stop there and save you my rambling. Basically, summer is THE BEST.

In terms of food, what I really love about summer is the freshness things tend to have. Growing up, my family had a vegetable garden, so I equate summer with beautiful juicy tomatoes, plenty of zucchini (mostly finding its way into delicious breads), various types of salad leaves, beans, and luscious blackberries and raspberries. Thus, to really celebrate the start of summer, I wanted to make something that captured that freshness. For some reason, in my mind that immediately equated to summer tacos, something I previously had just about zero experience with. Surely, this couldn’t be too hard…

Recipe of choice: Fried Summer Squash Tacos with a Charred Corn Salsa from A Cozy Kitchen, found here.

These tacos are everything I wanted them to be; fresh yet substantial, and just bursting with flavor. Basically, they’re composed of 3 parts:

THE TORTILLA:
Courtesy of Trader Joe’s, because I was NOT making tortillas. I chose the little ones because I like mini things.

THE SUMMER SQUASH BATONS:

IMG_7374
Honestly, I was skeptical of these at first. A vegetarian taco? My thoughts in a word? “Ehhhh…” I very nearly substituted chicken for these but then for the sake of remaining true to the recipe didn’t. The verdict? THANK GOD I DIDN’T. These are so yummy, and definitely substantial enough to carry the tacos. I chose to bake instead of fry them, but because the corn IMG_7364(more about this soon) was taking so long, my oven was occupied. As a result, I attempted to fry some of them… until I realized that my entire room was filled with smoke, and I was in danger of setting off the building’s fire alarm. After that I opened a couple of windows and stuck to using the oven. They still were as crispy and yummy as any deep-fried fries you might find. Since we had so many (I didn’t exactly strictly follow the recipe with regard to amounts…) my roommates enjoyed eating some of them with ketchup as fries. Also, squash is now my favorite thing to cut; it provides just the right amount of resistance and yet cuts like butter.

CHARRED CORN SALSA:

IMG_7372
THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE ENTIRE MEAL. The flavors combine perfectly: the sweetness and slight smokiness of charred corn, the kick of jalapeño, the freshness and acidity of the lime juice, all mixed together with red onions, ricotta salata (which I subbed for the unfindable queso fresco), and cilantro. Granted, this was also the most IMG_7371time-consuming part of the meal, simply because I lack a grill or gas stove or any other sort of similar fire source. I tried to char the corn using the oven, but even after nearly an hour of cooking (when it had clearly cooked and even begun shriveling), it was no closer to browning. Finally, I gave up on the conventional oven (mostly because I needed to cook the squash batons), and threw the corn into the toaster oven on high for a few minutes, when it finally charred a little. Still, all that grief was worth it when it all came together.

SO?
I would definitely make this again (maybe even just the individual components), though I’d take into consideration the time commitment and probably find a different way to char the corn.

My ratings!
Dishliciousness: 8/10
Recipe difficulty: 5/10 (It wasn’t that difficult, except maybe actually frying the squash batons…)
Overall experience: 3.5 Connie heads out of 5! I spent much of the time cooking panicking because I didn’t realize how much time everything would take, but I really enjoyed the outcome.

IMG_7384

Taco: AHHH I’M FALLING.
Lime slice: “I will never let you fall/ I’ll stand up with you forever…~”

Nibbles! CHOCOLATE SQUARED

IMG_7328 copy

Hey y’all!

I’m definitely not Southern. I don’t even think I’ve been to the South (besides a family trip to Florida and another to Texas). So I’m not quite sure why I used “y’all”. But hey, apparently modern English is the only Indo-European language with just one form of the word “you”, so maybe we need an informal version!

In any case, it’s Connie (just in case you couldn’t tell it wasn’t Max by the excessive babbling), and this is my very first post on this blog! I’m currently typing this with very red-stained (not blood, don’t worry) hands from Max’s beets earlier.

This past Tuesday, it was one of my good friend (and current roommate)’s birthdays, and so Monday night I whipped up some chocolate cupcakes to surprise her (quick shout-out to Mama-I-Am! Love you girl <3). With little over an hour before midnight, I decided to give it my best shot and make everything from scratch.

Recipes used:

  • Chocolate Cupcake Recipe – The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake Test Baked by 50 Bakers and Counting, found at Cupcake Project here
  • My Favorite Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe, also found at Cupcake Project here

Notes:

  • I opted not to add coffee in my cupcakes, mostly because I don’t have a coffee maker or really access to one as far as I know of. Also, I’m not such a fan of instant coffee, nor do I own any.
  • I used Nestle dark chocolate chips for my chocolate, and Hersheys Cocoa Powder for that choice (for the frosting as well).
  • I was unable to find cupcake liners, so I used nonstick cooking spray on my nonstick cupcake pan, and everything turned out alright, though I do wish I had the cupcake liners for aesthetics’ sake.
  • I used slightly less powdered sugar than was called for (approx. 2.5 cups), and because I had none in my room, I used my handy dandy Magic Bullet to grind up regular granulated sugar. It kind of worked, though my frosting is probably slightly grainier than it should be.

Comments:

This is the lightest cupcake batter I have ever seen. Perhaps it’s because of the sour cream, or the not-very-much flour, but the batter before it’s poured actually feels extremely light and airy, which I found very interesting and quite pleasant. I somehow made 20 cupcakes from this 16 cupcake recipe, but it’s now been 2 full days, and I have just 2 left, with very few people involved in the eating process. I can only conclude that they were good. This is most definitely a recipe I’ll make again.

Also, I am most definitely not a frosting person (generally I scrape the frosting off of my cakes because I find it a bit too teeth-hurtingly sweet), but I really enjoy this frosting. That’s also probably a good thing, considering I probably have almost 2 cups left of it… the one thing it does mean is MORE CUPCAKES HOORAY. My waistline is crying a miserable pitiful plaintive cry.

IMG_7325

Unfortunately I have no pictures from the day of the birthday when the cupcakes were actually (nearly) beautiful, but I gave Max one today to eat for dessert! Since the frosting came directly out of the fridge, it pretty much refused to spread, resulting in the rather less attractive lump-smear in this photo. Lesson learned: frosting should be room temperature before applying. Max chose to decorate it with the 4 pomegranate seeds you see.

Overall? I’d consider this recipe trial a pretty resounding success. I managed to finish before midnight and trick roommate into thinking they weren’t for her, only to surprise her at the front door with a plateful (and the lovely Mama Son, another roommate/friend). The recipe was super fun and really straightforward, and definitely one pretty much anyone could do. There are delicious cupcakes in my room (though not for long, I have a feeling), a container of yummy frosting in the fridge, and happy tummies all around.