The quest for queso ice cream…

First, the most wonderful thing happened to me.  I won a give away from Love & Oil. A new KitchenAid mixer and 5 attachments!!!!  One of those lovely attachments was the ice cream maker.  Yes.  I am becoming a bit obsessed with ice cream.  (I could have worse problems!).  Here is a picture of Dottie.  Yes, she is persimmon in color and has a name.  What? That isn’t strange at all.  Anything in your life that works as hard as she does deserves a name.

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The last time we visited Mexico, we had a happy accident. We found ourselves trying something we thought would be quite strange, queso ice cream.

Now before you stop reading and squish your nose up, think cheesecake flavors. Yep, reeled ya right back in.

I have been searching the Internet trying to find a recipe that would come close.  Thankfully my friend pointed me in the right direction, Mahón.

Mahón is a cheese named after a port on the Minorca island, Spain.  It’s made from cows milk.  Not soft but not hard either.  I found an artisan variety at Whole Foods, which really only means it is allowed to age 2-3 months.  It has a memorable orange rind because it is rubbed with butter & paprika during the aging process.

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I found a recipe on Epicurious that I used as an inspiration.  First bring 3 cups of whole milk to just a boil in a 2 qt heavy saucepan.  In a  medium size bowl, whisk 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and a teaspoon of kosher salt.  At this point you are making a basic custard so your objective is to not cook the eggs, aka curdle it.  Pour the hot milk in a constant stream while whisking the egg mixture.  The constant mixing will disperse the hot milk so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs (good breakfast, not great ice cream).  This part was pretty easy to do.

 

IMG_8652.JPGYou can strain it if you do have lumps, but mine was completely smooth.  Return the mixture back to your sauce pan and cook on a moderately low heat until it reaches 170-175 degrees.  Stir it continually so it does not burn on the bottom.  My suggestion here, don’t hurry this process.  If you increase the heat too much, it will cook too quick and it will be lumpy.  If you cook it slow, it should thicken and be beautiful.

However, if your patience flew out the window and the heat was up a bit too much, don’t toss out your mixture.

 

 

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Simply use an inversion blender to get your mixture smooth again.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Put your thickened mixture into a bowl and mix in 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, 4 ounces shredded Mahón cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  Stir until completely incorporated.  Put cling wrap directly on custard so it does not form a hard skin & put in fridge for 4 hours.

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Attach ice cream bowl on KitchenAid mixer, pour in custard, turn on speed 2 for about 15 minutes and voila, Queso Ice Cream!  Doesn’t hurt to serve it with Apple Spice Cake.

Apple spice cake and queso ice cream

What does it taste like?  Basically a cheesecake flavor with a hint of saltiness.  Try it, I know you will like it!

I’m thinking this would be pretty darn good in a root beer float as well.  I guess I will have to try it for research purposes…

What are some of your favorite ice cream flavors?

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New Craft Room

A lot has changed since I last wrote an entry on my blog.  One is that I have moved to a new home.  Which means I got the opportunity to design a new craft room! 😊

Some of the goals I wanted to incorporate were:

  • A place to craft with others
  • Plenty of storage
  • A better solution to actually SEEING what fabric I have
  • An inspiring place to work

A place to craft with others & plenty of storage

I love craft rooms that have a big work table in the middle of the room, however my space would not allow for that.  After much googling different tables, desks, DIY, etc my hubby had the brilliant idea of buying two desks and butting them together.  Some measuring, ordering with Black Friday discounts and MUCH assembly, I had my work surfaces!

This set up allowed for a big work surface when needed, plus the ability to have more than one person working in the room.

 

There is also plenty of storage space.  The drawers allow for organizing different supplies and tools. The printer shelves house plastic drawers and a great pull out option for my Cricut Explore Air 2!

 

I also purchased a cube like book shelf.  I opted not to put the back on it because I like the look of the wall showing through rather than just dark cubbies.  This has my albums, more supplies, 12×12 paper, etc.  The small wall wouldn’t have been very usable for much more, so I think this works in the space nicely.

A better solution for actually seeing my fabric

I decided to hang my bigger fabrics because they take up less room and you can see/feel them.  I might look for pants hangers, made for hanging several pants on one to organize it better, but for now I am in no hurry.  I repurposed some shelves I had by stacking them in the closet and putting similar fabrics together.

An inspiring place to work

I have a lot of work left to do in this category!  My initial thoughts are to:

  • Create a vinyl quote for the wall and surround it with art work that makes me smile
  • Maybe a couple floating shelves with fun decorations
  • 2 matching chairs….hopefully I can find some BLUE ones 💙
  • Bulletin board or magnetic board – not sure which quite yet
  • A spool holder for my threads – maybe on a turntable

How about you?  Where do you create?  Does your room inspire you?  What features do you love or want to change?

Update

I didn’t make a vinyl quote but I did find some cool decor, floating shelves and awesome blue chairs!  I opted for a plastic case for thread.  More practical but less pretty.   I am still noodling on the bulletin board.  I am thinking a metal board covered in fabric.
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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I have seen so many Pinterest recipes for cauliflower pizza crust, I just had to try and make it.

First, what does it taste like and why would you make it?  It tastes a bit bread like but thicker than a flour pizza would be.  Maybe even a little similar to corn bread?

Why make it? If you have a goal of reducing carbs, going gluten or grain free or just want something that sticks with you more.

I followed Mommypotamus‘ recipe.  I think you can experiment with salt as well for a bit of variety.  I’ve used sea salt and garlic salt.  Depending on what compliments your toppings.

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First rice your cauliflower, add coconut flour, salt, onion powder, eggs and cheese.  I have used both mozzarella and gruyere.  Mozzarella is preferred in my opinion.  🙂  Press on to parchment paper and shape into the pizza shape you desire.

Lets take a break and talk about parchment paper.  I recently learned that traditional parchment paper is really hard on the environment or it contains so many harsh chemicals, you just don’t want to use it.

There are two types: bleached and unbleached.  The bleached version has Dioxin that can leech out into your food.  Oh and it is a carcinogen.  😦  Moving on the unbleached version, this is not the perfect alternate you would think.  Many of them have a chemical called quilon made by Dupont.  I am no expert, but from what I have read – you probably want to avoid this.  I found this brand that is clean – to me, it is worth a few extra dollars for peace of mind that you aren’t poisoning your family!

I preheated my oven to 450 with a pizza stone on the middle oven rack.  I transferred my parchment paper with crust on top of the stone and baked for 20 minutes.  While it was baking I cooked some zucchini, peppers and onions on the stove top.

I buttered the edge of the crust and sprinkled a little garlic salt on it before I added the sauce, toppings and cheese.

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Simply finish in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.  You probably will need a fork to eat it, but the added benefit is you are truly full after two pieces.  Who can really say that after eating two slices of regular pizza?

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Get your Jam on

The first thing that spring brings me is rhubarb.  What does one do with this bountiful harvest?  I could make baked goods, wine or jam.  I opted for jam but I am sure I will have many more opportunities to try other options!

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First, start by harvesting rhubarb that is 10″ or longer.  There are two varieties that I am aware of.  The red is probably what most people think of, but I have green because it is usually sweeter.  🙂

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I cut mine down the length of the stalk and then diced in small pieces.  I had just shy of three pounds when I was finished.

 

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Place the cut rhubarb, 2 fresh squeezed oranges, 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon, a 12 oz bag of frozen cherries (no sugar added) and one package of no sugar pectin.  Bring mixture to a boil at high heat, stirring often.  Chop down the cherries with the edge of your spoon while you cook.  Alternatively, you could cut them before putting them in the pot.

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Once you can not stir down the boil, add the sugar amount you prefer.  I wanted mine more tart that sweet.  I added about 1 1/2 cups sugar.

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Rhubarb Cherry Jam

Place finished jam in hot jars and process accordingly.  I used Ball Canning calculators to know how long to process and how much pectin.  It is a really nice tool to allow some creativity in your jam recipes!

A suggestion a friend gave me is to use this on pork – which I think is brilliant and will be trying soon!

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I would love to hear about some of the creative jam combos you have tried.  Post in the comments below!

 

 

 

Grain Free Thanksgiving

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

I decided to try something new this year.  I wanted to have a grain free and gluten free (GF) Thanksgiving.  Easier said than done!  I pulled recipes from my new favorite magazine, Fine Cooking.  So far I have loved all the recipes I have made from this goodie!  I will put links throughout so you can make them too.

Most of my modifications were to use GF alternatives and all organic ingredients throughout.  Here are some of the nummies I made and the recipes I used.

First, lets talk turkey.  Well turkey roulades.  I made two different ones because I just could not choose between them!

The first one is a turkey roulade with a gluten free (GF) cranberry, pecan stuffing.  The second is a roulade stuffed with fontina and sage, wrapped in bacon.  I think there was a tie up between which one was liked better.  They were both really exquisite, but the one wrapped in bacon was a big more moist.  I believe you were supposed to make up for it with gravy on the first one, but I am just not a big gravy lover.

Speaking of stuffing, this one was very good.  I made it with GF bread.  I didn’t know much about GF bread but squeezing them in the grocery store did not get me excited.  I think the one I settled on was a Canyon brand, but no matter the bread gets toasted anyhow! This was an apple, leek and sage stuffing – and there is a bit of prosciutto in there as well.  Moist and flavorful.
Lets talk cranberries.  I usually like the canned jelly stuff.  I know, yuck.  It is basically sugar, with cranberry flavor, most likely why I enjoy it!  I made Cranberry Sauce with Orange, Ginger and Thyme from scratch and boy are they worth it!! 
This was something I added to the menu at the last minute…mostly because I was curious and I wanted something in case the stuffing was a fail 🙂 Now I don’t think rice is grain free, but it is probably the easiest grain to digest, so we will let it slide. 
 Wild rice with roasted grapes, pecan and sage.  Wow – this was good.  People were hesitant but pleasantly surprised when they tried it.  When you roast the grapes you toss balsamic vinegar on them – it really gives it a pop.  I used a rice medley I got from Costco.
I bet you didn’t think carrots could be interesting?  Well these were.  Carrots with pistachio herb butter.  This was fun and flavorful.  So simple, I think I will make more herbed butters to use!
Simple roasted brussel sprouts with caramelized onions.  These should make your dinner table any weeknight.  Some at the table had never had brussel sprouts or had them but didn’t like them and they liked these.  Very delish.
This picture is totally unfair.  It should have fireworks coming out of it.  These are the best mashed potatoes I have ever had.  Seriously.  Locate these ingredients and make this.  Put this on your bucket list.  Just saying.  Mashed potato, parsnip and parmesan gratin.
After all that there is clearly room for dessert….after a few hours 🙂  Lets start with pumpkin pie.  This was a bit of a few recipes.  To make the crust I used Namaste flour from Costco.  I started with this pie crust recipe, but used butter instead of shortening and arrowroot powder instead of xanthan gum.  Speaking of ingredients – spend the extra money on good butter, you won’t be disappointed.  Unsalted butter made from grass fed cows.  I buy this brand.
Chocolate needs to be present too, yes?  Yes.  This cake was so cool to make!  It is a Chocolate Beet cake with pink sea salt.  Yep you read that right, beets.  You roast them, let them cool, peel ’em, puree them with almond milk and boom – it is the wet side of ingredients for this cake.  Very moist and dense, almost brownie like.  I made a substitution – I didn’t have any almond flour, so I used tapioca and coconut flour, plus the rice flour called for in the recipe.  There is no way you would know there are beets in this cake.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving as well, here is to hosting fun, foodie parties more next year!!

Chicken under a Brick

Yes, you read that title correctly.

I enjoy cooking, learning new techniques, combining different flavors and hopefully pleasing the lovelies sitting at my table.  There is a local shop here that I adore going to that has a great array of all things kitchen, plus cooking classes.  Monthly, they send out a newsletter and it often inspires me.  This last newsletter talked about a book called “The Grilling Book“.  The pictures alone had me hooked.  Once I saw the recipe for Chicken under a Brick, I was off to the hardware store to get a brick!  I bought a square paver brick.  Boy did they think I was nuts for buying one 60 cent brick!

The hardest part about this recipe is you have to butterfly a whole chicken.  This involves removing the spine and breast bone.  Let me tell you, that was hard for me.  Not because it is terribly difficult to do. It is because I get rather squeamish about that sort of business.  I found out after, if you ask your butcher, they will most likely do this for you (ey yi yi, wish I would’ve knew that sooner!).

I will save you the details of how to do it.  You can either ask the butcher or google it – there are a bunch of videos that will give you all you need.

Once that is done, flatten it out on a clean surface and season.  Liberally put kosher salt and pepper to your taste, and some cayenne pepper.

Rub grape seed oil on it everywhere and now zest an entire lemon over it.  Last cut up about 3 Tbsp of fresh rosemary and put that on as well.  Season a bit more than you think.  This is not just a chicken breast, it is a large piece of meat and will need that flavor.  You can use your hands to rub in the seasons or a silicone brush:

Make sure you oil the grill grate before you start and then get it up to a medium-high heat.  While it is heating up, wrap your brick in foil so it is clean.

Place the chicken, skin side down on the grill and put the foil wrapped brick on top.  Cook until browned and crispy, at least 15 minutes.

Use tongs to set the brick aside, flip the chicken and place the brick back on top of it.  This keeps the meat in contact with the grill grates.  Cook for 10 minutes and repeat the flipping process until it is done.

How do you know if it is done?  Put a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh to check for doneness (165 degrees).  It took about 55 minutes for my 4 pound chicken to be done.  I just set a timer for 10 minutes and would keep flipping it.  Once I got to 50 minutes, I started checking the temp.

Remember to let the meat rest while you get the rest of your dinner ready.  Don’t cut for a solid 10 minutes.

I also, grilled avocados.  Slice as normal, rub a bit of coconut oil, grill for 30-45 seconds.  NUMMY  My only regret is they didn’t get more grill marks, but that is just aesthetic.

This was a fun, adventurous meal for me.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy, which is the best part!!

Chicken Stir Fry

Dinner tonight was chicken stir fry served over quinoa and brown rice.  This isn’t a hard dish to make and you don’t need to use stir fry sauces filled with all sorts of things you can’t pronounce!

Stir Fry:
3 organic free range chicken breasts
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
1 head broccoli
2 heads baby bok choy, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
1 zucchini
1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons avocado or sesame oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

Most of your work is cutting.  Don’t worry about everything being perfect, just try to get consistent sizes so things cook evenly.

 

Put about a tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan and heat to medium high.  Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until translucent.  This may take more or less time depending on how thin you slice them.
Add the broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add chicken, peppers and carrots, sprinkle some pink salt in and cook for around 8 minutes.  I ended up having to use two pans at this point, but it works.
Now add mushrooms, zucchini and bok choy for 4 minutes.  Stir periodically during all of these steps.

 

Combine both pans if they are separate, pour in 1 cup of water and cover.  Cook for about 8 minutes.

While this is cooking whisk together 1/2 cup of water and 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder.  If you are not familiar with it, it works a lot like corn starch as a thickener.  Get out some vinegar, avocado or sesame oil and honey.

 

Once the liquid in the pan is thicker, add about 2 tablespoons of the oil and vinegar.  Add 1 tablespoon of honey.
Serve over just quinoa or as I did quinoa and brown rice.  A little organic soy sauce and you are good to go!
Enjoy!