Chocolate topped ice cream treats

For those of you who love an ice cream treat, but just can’t have a whole bowl, here is a great way to portion out a delicious dessert.  I scoop out Edy’s Vanilla ice cream into eight large cookie balls with my cookie scoop.  Freeze them on a tray and then make a quick ganache topping.  This time I melted 6 ounces of semi sweet chocolate with 4 ounces unsalted butter (or 6 ounces to be able to dip the ice cream balls) and 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup in a double boiler on the stove top.  When the ganache is melted and ready, working quickly, pour over the ice cream balls or dip the ice cream into the ganache.

The treats could be topped with sea salt, sprinkles, or chopped nuts.  Return to the freezer immediately until just ready to serve.  They must chill at least 30 minutes to set for presentation.

Snowman dessert

Living in Michigan during the winter months encourages a love for all things cold and snowy.  We enjoyed these cute snowman desserts over the holiday, but they could be enjoyed all winter long.  Children would love these cute little snowman and they are super easy to construct.

The only ingredients are: vanilla ice cream, whipped cream in a can, mini chocolate chips, red Twizzlers, slivered almonds, butterscotch chips, large marshmallows, maraschino cherries with stems, and red decors.

I made the marshmallow heads in advance and kept them in the refrigerator.  I used the mini chocolate chips for the eyes, the slivered almond for the nose, the red decors for the mouth–using a bit of white icing to attach.  I cut the Twizzlers in advance and blotted the cherries to make certain they did not have any extra cherry juice for the finished product.

The butterscotch chips are used for the buttons and the whipped cream is used at the base of the snowman to resemble snow and finish the look on the plate.  Quite simple and cute for the winter months.

Other ideas for the body parts could include: candy canes for the arms, dried cranberries for the eyes, other small candies for buttons.

Affogato

Coffee and ice cream are a match made in heaven.  By combining the warm coffee liquid with very cold ice cream, the palate has a chance to taste a spectrum of flavor.  This has to be the easiest dessert on record.

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Scoop  vanilla ice cream into attractive glasses and simply pour your favorite coffee blend over the ice cream and serve.  Flavored coffees will add another dimension to this mixture. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, coconut, chopped toffee bits, peppermint, or shaved chocolate to add additional texture to the dessert. Serve with long dessert spoons.

Oh so delicious, even on a winter’s eve.

frozen strawberry almond yogurt

For years I have used my ice cream machine for making only ice cream.  However, it is capable of making many other products. A few days ago, I made homemade strawberry yogurt for the first time.  I adapted a recipe for blueberry and basil yogurt, changing the fruit ingredients, as my husband is not a fan of blueberries.

This is a very good basic recipe and is very tasty.  It can be made as easily as my basic ice cream recipe, but also requires a chill time of several hours.  We usually freeze our homemade treats overnight.

Gather these ingredients to get started:  3 containers of Greek style vanilla yogurt, 2 cups half and half, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup light corn syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt.  Other flavors could be substituted; I used almond for this recipe, but the original recipe used vanilla extract.

Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved.  Add mashed fruit, about 1 1/2 cups maximum.  Pour into the ice cream maker and process for 20-22 minutes.  Store in freezer several hours before serving.  This recipe makes another great summer dessert.

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shopping in Holland MI

handmade wooden shoes

 

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As a gardening and cooking enthusiast, I search to find the best stores for cooks and gardeners.  I love to find unusual gourmet foods from other countries, as well as gardening tools and historic seeds.  On my recent trip to western Michigan, I found some great boutique shops in downtown Holland Michigan.  Michigan is filled with small towns and darling shops.  I love to browse these stores to see products I am not able to buy in my local markets. This was my first trip to western Michigan since we moved back to the State.

Since Holland is well-known for Dutch history and authentic customs, such as wooden shoe dancing, the shopping is very unique.  Some shops have authentic food products from the Netherlands, along with wooden shoes and other Dutch items. The downtown area is beautiful. The stores have been renovated, and the merchandise is amazing.  Some of the shops seem geared to summer Lake visitors with nautical merchandise.   A very large cooking and home store is located downtown, Teermans, which I could have shopped for several hours. A hometown candy store  was totally fantastic.  Other shops included The Seasoned Home filled with spices, loose leaf teas, gourmet foods, kitchen accessories and home decor.

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In another part of the city, was the wooden shoe factory with the only blue and white delftware made in the United States.  Here visitors watch how wooden shoes are made on machines imported from the Netherlands.  And, artists paint the delftware while visitors watch.  The store is filled with merchandise not found other places in the United States.  Many of the patterns are garden themed.

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This was so much fun.  And, of course Lake Michigan is less than thirty minutes away.

 

 

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Happiness comes with the right scoop

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People often tell me that they don’t enjoy cooking or being in the kitchen at all. Sometimes I think it is because they are busy people and just don’t have the time to relax and enjoy the process of making a nice meal.

Another reason could be not having the proper tools, which seem to make the process easy and sometimes even fun.  Over the years I have collected many tools, some of which do the same thing.  As an example, I have several types of ice cream scoops.  Different engineers have decided the best way to scoop ice cream, whether it be to use an ice cream spade or different sizes of stainless steel scoops.

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Since manufacturers have changed the size of ice cream containers within the past few years, some of these scoops do not work as well as they may have in the past.  Recently, I was sent a stainless scoop to try and review for my blog.

And, I had a great first experience with this ice cream scoop design with rock hard ice cream. By warming the stainless portion in warm water, the scoop moves through the cold ice cream very easily.

My new scoop is well made and not flimsy. It is solid and built to last. The hand grip is padded for comfort and helps with the scooping process.

The size is perfect for a variety of ice cream products. It is neither too wide nor too long for ease of use with smaller ice cream containers, especially for my home-made ice cream container.

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Past ice cream scoops have had flaws (too flat, too wide, too long, too thick), but this product seems to have overcome all of them.  If you need to update your ice cream scoop, this might be the answer for you too.

For more information on this scoop, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PTSTST2

one pan cake with fruit

I am becoming a fast fan of Martha’s cookbook  One Pot.  I have been trying recipes in every category with outstanding results.  Even in her dessert chapter, all of the selections are made with just one type of pot, pan or skillet.  So, I would call these quick and easy desserts.  Reading through the recipes, I can see that any of them would even welcome substitutions from any pantry.

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For this recipe, I substituted pears for plums and the result was super tasty and delicious.

To make this cake:

First decide on the fruit for the cake.  These would be the possible choices:  plums, peaches, cherries, pears, apples, or any berries. Peel and slice those that would have peels, prepare the others as you would for any pie.

Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch skillet or pan.  Dust with flour.  Whisk together the following ingredients in a bowl– 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt.  Next, mix 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup buttermilk with a hand mixer in another bowl.  Gradually add the flour mixture into the batter bowl.  Incorporate with the hand mixer.

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Transfer to the baking pan.  Add the fruit to the top.  Sprinkle the top with additional sugar.

Bake about 40 minutes until browned.  Test with a cake tester to done. Serve either warm or cooled.  This is a great brunch cake, a tea cake or an anytime fruit dessert.

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Delicious with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and drizzled with either caramel or chocolate sauce.

Yummy.

 

 

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