Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Giveaway Wednesday

*This giveaway is now closed*



If you've been reading my blog lately, you would have seen that the last couple of days that I have been promising a giveaway, and today is the big day.

The extremely nice folks over at csn stores (hi Jess) have graciously agreed to give one of my readers a $40 gift certificate to be used at ANY of their stores. How cool is that? And really, what better way to say thank you to all of you that come here day after day and read about my trials and errors in the kitchen and make me feel like a 1000 bucks with your comments.
So thank you, for all your support and a special thank you to all of my followers who have been here from the beginning!

In case you are not familiar with csn stores, they are a collection of over 200 stores and you can find any and everything on their websites.
It is truly a food bloggers paradise, and if you enjoy entertaining, this is definitely the place for you.
From dining room furniture, to the linens to dress your table with, and even all the place settings to go on top, you can find it all and more in their online stores.
To give you all a little glimpse of what $ 40 dollars can buy you on their website, I picked a few things I would have fun buying and would enjoy to have in my kitchen:

These lovely  LeCreuset baking dishes are on sale for $24.95


Or how about this extremely cool cake or appetizer pedestal for $31.95


I also like these really nice soup or pasta bowls in a lovely Southwestern pattern for $40.00

Aren't these goblets fantastic for the dinner table? I happen to think so, especially for $35.50
 


*This giveaway is now closed*

With any and every giveaway there are a few rules and stipulations:
- This giveaway is open to all U.S. and Canadian Residents only
-Shipping charges may apply, in the case of our Canadian friends, international rates will apply
-The giveaway is open until 07/07/2010 at midnight for you to enter
- I will pick a winner at random, through random.org


Now for the fun stuff and how to enter:
- you get one entry for leaving me a comment on this blog of what fun things you would buy for $40.00 over at csn stores along with your email address (if you are concerned about spam just write it out like johndoe at yahoo dot com)
- if you follow or start following my blog through Google Friend Connect (over on the right hand side of my blog) and let me know you do so, you get another entry just as a thank you
- and last but not least you can get a third entry for following me on my facebook site as well, and letting me know you have done so in your comment

So if you play along you can get up to 3(!) entries/chances to win this great prize
I will post the winner on this blog and my facebook page on 07/09/2010. csn stores will then contact you with the gift certificate code.

I hope you enjoy this giveaway, have fun browsing the csn stores website and stay tuned for more giveaways in the future!

Please remember to leave your email address in your entries!

* Disclosure: This is a csn stores sponsored giveaway and they are handling prize fulfillment. I'm not receiving compensation for this and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blackberry Cheesecake Milkshake

 
I adore Milkshakes, and so does my family. The last one I made was a Toasted Marshmallow one and boy was it ever a hit, not just at home, but also on this blog. Not quite sure if that wonderful tasting shake could be topped, I set out to look for another unique shake to be served on a hot day.

Bobby Flay and his great summer time book: Burgers, Fries and Shakes came to the rescue once again.  I have made quite a few recipes out of this book already and we have not been disappointed with any of them. Some of his recipes are a little more involved, but so far the additional effort has been very well worth it.


This shake starts by making a fruit base. Bobby believes that the fresh fruit is more concentrated and more consistent in flavor by turning it into a jam like consistency before adding it to the shake. Cream cheese and a good quality vanilla ice cream add the final touch to bring out the "cheesecake" quality. I made two versions of this milkshake, one without alcohol for the kids which was incredible and one for the adults which got a little boost by adding Creme de Cassis to the milkshake. With that addition, the shake was taken completely over the top and was unbelievably rich and delicious.

This milkshake was worth the little extra trouble of making the "jam" and is full of delicious blackberry flavor. I would not change a thing about this milkshake, and will be making this one with other fruit variations in the future as well. I can see so many wonderful combinations from blueberry, to raspberry and strawberry. Low-fat cream cheese is always an option to cut back on some calories, but I would advise against low-fat ice cream. They tend to be pumped full of air and by the time you have the same quantity needed, you have used almost double the amount which kind of negates any calorie savings you thought you might have had.

This is a wonderful summertime treat and I'll hope you try this recipe!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's awesome giveaway! You don't want to miss it!


Blackberry Cheesecake Milkshake

Ingredients:
1/3 cup fresh fruit base made with blackberries (recipe to follow)
1/4 cup whole milk
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
9 ounces premium vanilla ice cream (about 1 1/2 packed cups)
Fresh blackberries, for garnish
Optional: 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) creme de cassis or blackberry liqueur

Directions:
Combine the fruit base, milk, cream cheese, and lemon zest in a blender and blend until slightly smooth, about 5 seconds. Add the ice cream and blend until smooth about 10 seconds. Serve immediately, garnished with blackberries.



Fresh Fruit Base
~makes about 1 1/4 cups~

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries, or a mixture
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of the berries)
3 tablespoons strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, or raspberry jam
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Put the berries in a bowl (hull strawberries), add 3 tablespoons sugar, and gently stir to combine. Let the berries sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or until they start to soften and release their juices.

Transfer the mixture to a medium nonreactive saucepan, add the jam,  and cook over medium-high heat until slightly softened. Coarsely mash the berries using a potato masher or the back of a fork and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste the mixture and add the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, if needed, stirring to dissolve. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Cover and refrigerate until cold and thickened, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. The fruit base can be frozen (in 1/2-cup portions, if desired) for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Black Beans with Rice and Coconut Shrimp


Is it Monday already again? Time seems to be flying lately and weekends go by way too fast. We had a fun hot weekend here in the Southwest with plenty of World Cup watching. Go Germany!
We also had a eventful food weekend, I was busy trying out a few new recipes and my wonderful husband was making homemade sausage. I'm hoping to have him write a guest post sometime soon about the great things he makes in the kitchen.

This weekend I set out to make a meal I have only had in restaurants so far, Coconut Shrimp. While thinking of side dishes I figured why not make homemade black beans served over white rice to keep the Caribbean feeling going. 


Beans were first. I found the recipe on Foodnetwork.com and was really happy with how the dish turned out. The beans are not complicated to make, but they do take a lot of time if made with dry beans, which I did. The beans are brought to a boil, then set aside for an hour, brought to a second boil and then lowered to a simmer for another hour and a half. After that you add spices along with onions and peppers, and once again the beans are cooked for another hour and a half or until soft. More seasonings and red wine vinegar finish off the dish. Thankfully after all this time the flavor in this dish was incredible and I will be making these beans many more times.


While the beans were cooking away I started working on the shrimp. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com, which was a good basic start but needed some alterations. Practically, shrimps are dipped in a seasoned flour mixture, get a quick bath through a simple beer batter, and are then tossed in unsweetened coconut. The coated shrimp are then laid out on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and take a chill in the refrigerator before being fried in oil. While we all enjoyed this recipe along with the beans and the rice, it was agreed that I would continue looking for a different coconut shrimp recipe. Don't get me wrong, this is a decent recipe but I wanted a little more oomph, and these were lacking a bit of that.

Following are the recipes for both, plus stay tuned for a giveaway coming on Wednesday! It is truly a great one and you don't want to miss it!


Black Beans

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups (about 1/2 pound) dried black beans
12 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, mined
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cooked white rice for serving (optional)

Directions:
Put the beans in a large saucepan, add the water and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Set Aside, covered, for 1 hour.

Return the beans to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cook uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and coriander and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the onion mixture to the beans and continue simmering until the beans are very tender and the liquid has thickened, about 1 1/2 hours more.

If the beans seem to thick, adjust the consistency with a little bit of water. Stir in the vinegar, season with cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with white rice if desired.

Adapted from: Food Network



Coconut Shrimp 

Ingredients:
3/4 cup flour, divided
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and Pepper 
1 egg
2/3 cup beer
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flaked unsweetened coconut
24 shrimp, cleaned
3 cups peanut oil for frying

Directions:
Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow bowl. Season with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup flour, beer and baking powder. Whisk together.
Place coconut in another shallow bowl.

Hold shrimp by tail end, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess flour. Dip in egg/beer batter; allow excess to drip off. Roll shrimp in coconut, and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) in a deep--fryer or large pot.

Fry shrimp in batches: cook, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, move shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve warm!

Adapted from: allrecipes.com



Friday, June 25, 2010

Ice Cream Fridays: Mango Sorbet


Welcome to another edition of Ice Cream Fridays. Every Friday during the next few months (or until I get tired of it) you can look forward to a new ice cream recipe which will hopefully inspire you to break out your old dust covered ice cream maker that is hiding somewhere in a closet (yes, I'm talking about you). Since I'm always looking for inspiration and ideas, feel free to leave me a comment here on my blog or on my facebook page, and let me know what ice cream flavor you would like to see. Who knows, you might just get lucky and it will be featured the following week.

This weeks flavor has been inspired by my friend Laura who so graciously supplied me with a bag full of Mexican mangoes. She had heard about my latest supermarket frustration when I couldn't find decent mangoes for one of my recipes. She asked if I had ever tasted the yellow Mexican mangoes and I declined. She said I had to try them, and in turn, make something for the Blog for giving them to me. This mango, unlike other more common kinds, has yellow skin rather than the green/red kind I had been used to. Upon peeling and cutting them, the sweet scent was incredible. It smelled less like "perfume" than other kinds I had eaten before and was exceptionally sweet and juicy, almost like a very ripe peach.


What better way then to honor my friends kindness then by making mango sorbet. This time it was David Lebovitz's turn again. His recipe sounded simple, uncomplicated and best of all, I had everything needed for it at home. David's creations are magnificent and I have yet to be disappointed. This recipe was no exception. It came together in no time (peeling and cutting the mangoes is what took the longest) with the use of my blender. Lime juice, and a little bit of dark rum help enhance and brighten the mango flavor. The puree was made quickly and then chilled in the the refrigerator for a few hours before churning it in my ice cream maker.

This was another fantastic recipe and everyone enjoyed this fat free treat. With so many hot days here, a sorbet just tasted so refreshing. I will most definitely be making this treat again and again. If you are feeling indulgent though, go ahead and pair this sorbet with Vanilla Ice Cream, or for an exotic treat, try it with the Toasted Coconut Ice cream I featured last Friday. Another great way to enjoy this wonderful confection is to pour ice cold champagne or sparkling wine over it for a festive end to a special meal. Enjoy the recipe!


Mango Sorbet

Ingredients:
2 large, ripe mangoes (2 pounds, 1 kg)
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) water
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon dark rum, plus more to taste
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Peel the mangoes and cut the flesh away from the pit. Cut the flesh into chunks and put them in a blender with the sugar, water, lime juice, rum, and salt. Squeeze the mango pits hard over the blender to extract as much of the pulp and juice as possible. Puree the mixture until smooth. Taste, then add more lime juice or rum if desired. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Adapted from: The Perfect Scoop

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jam Cakewiches


Would you believe it if I told you I didn't grow up with peanut butter? Kind of hard to believe, isn't it. But I really didn't know about peanut butter until I met my husband. I was born and raised in Germany, and peanut butter was definitely not anywhere to be found in our house or anybody else's house for that matter. Now my husband on the other hand, born and raised in the states, had his fair share of peanut butter sandwiches growing up.

Our kids are split down the middle. Our oldest will eat it, but it isn't anything she needs on a regular basis. Our middle son will eat it 3 times a day if I let him, and the little guy will eat it, but he is more into savory foods, so he will pick a ham sandwich over peanut butter any day.  When I found this recipe in yet another "Cuisine at Home" magazine, I wasn't sure how this would go over with the entire family. Would they be split on this dessert as well, or would it be a hit?


Well... it was a definite hit. Not just with the kids, but their friends, my husband's colleagues, and even me. The dessert is composed of three separate parts, and while each one takes a bit of time they can be made ahead a day or two. All you have to do when ready to serve is assemble.
The three components of this dessert are a peanut butter cake, which is baked in a loaf pan to resemble a loaf of bread. The second component is the peanut butter frosting, and third is the blackberry jam spread.


Assembling the cakewiches is literally like making a normal PB&J. One word of advice, the recipe makes enough for 2 loafs of peanut butter cake along with the fillings. That is enough to feed a small army since a half a sandwich is more than filling for most people. If you are needing this in a smaller scale, the recipe can be halved beautifully.

Great concept; great recipe. A little more time involved then some of my other desserts, but well worth it. I loved the whimsy of this dish, it's almost like a grown-up version of a childhood classic, and is best enjoyed with a big glass of milk, even if it is just for the novelty of it.
If you are a big peanut butter and jelly fan, this dessert is definitely worth making, and I hope you'll give it a try!



Peanut Butter & Jam Cakewiches

Ingredients:
Peanut Butter Cake (recipe to follow)
Blackberry Jam Spread (recipe to follow)
Peanut Butter frosting (recipe to follow)

Directions:
Assemble cakewiches by trimming off the ends of each cake with a serrated knife. Cut each cake into sixteen 1/2-inch thick slices before adding fillings.
Spread 3 tablespoons of frosting and 1 heaping tablespoon jam on a slice of cake. Top with another slice of cake and cut diagonally into 2 triangles. Repeat with remaining cake, frosting, and jam.

Peanut Butter Cake
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 eggs, room temperature

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. coat the inside of two 9x5-inch loaf pans with 1 tablespoon butter; coat generously with sugar.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Combine milk and vanilla in a measuring cup; set aside.

Cream peanut butter, butters, sugar and brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until very well combined, 5 minutes.
Add eggs to the creamed mixture, one at at time, beating well after each addition.
Alternately add flour and milk mixtures to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until mixed,  scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake cakes 50 minutes, then sprinkle tops with additional sugar. Loosely tent with foil if edges are getting too brown. Return the cakes to the oven; bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean, 10-15 minutes more. Let cakes rest in the pans on a rack for 20 minutes, then turn cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.


Blackberry Jam Spread

 Ingredients:
3 cups blackberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons berry juice (from the cooked berries)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Combine blackberries, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium-low heat; simmer until berries release juice, about 20 minutes.
Whisk together cornstarch and berry juice in a bowl, until smooth; blend into berry mixture, and cook until thickened, 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice. Cover and chill for about 30 minutes.


Peanut Butter Frosting

Ingredients:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
Beat peanut butter and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, mixing just until smooth and creamy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie


Breakfast time is serious business at our home. My kids are unhappy if there isn't a good variety to choose from. They are quite satisfied if I have a couple of cereals to chose from or my breakfast burritos are in the freezer. I also tend to make muffins and freeze those for easy grab and go breakfasts, but with the temperatures outside being already hot in the morning, breakfast isn't as appealing as usually.

Since I believe that a well balanced breakfast is important to start the day right, I'm trying to come up with different choices for those already steamy mornings. This is where the Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie comes in handy. This smoothie is very easy to make, super filling, and perfect even if you are on the go.


The ingredients in this smoothie harmonize well together, but it also lends itself to a variety of different ingredients. Look at it like a blank canvas and just pick and choose whatever sounds good to you and your family. For example: soy milk, replace it with regular milk or almond milk. Don't care for bananas? Use a different fruit. Don't have strawberries? Go with raspberries or blackberries. Instead of honey, use brown sugar, white sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar. The possibilities are endless.


This smoothie has been a staple for breakfast and even a few lunches for a couple of weeks now, and so far the kids have not grown tired of it and all it's endless combinations. The recipe makes 1 very large or two smaller smoothies but can easily be doubled. 

I hope you'll give this smoothie a try and enjoy it for your next breakfast as much as we do.

Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie
 ~makes 2~
(Print this Recipe)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup Vanilla soy milk (I use the light kind)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 banana, broken into chunks
14 frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 tablespoon honey

Directions:
In a blender add rolled oats. Process until almost powder like. Add soy milk, yogurt, banana, strawberries and blueberries, vanilla and honey. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

A Susi's Kochen und Backen Original Recipe

Monday, June 21, 2010

Boursin Creamed Spinach


There isn't a lot of things grilled that I like better than a great cut of steak! Yes, I love red meat, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Everything in moderation, right? Anyway, with a good steak you have to have sides that either compliment or stand up to the dominance of beef. Spinach is one of those dishes, maybe that's why you frequently find creamed spinach or spinach salad served along side at many steak houses as well. 

I've already proclaimed my love for spinach on this blog, but just in case you missed that, yes, I could eat spinach at least once a week and be happy. I grew up eating spinach, fresh spinach from my mom's garden, and have loved it ever since. Usually, I prefer my spinach either in salad form or just lightly sauteed and seasoned. Sometimes I will also make a creamed version which is one of my favorites but higher in calories, and with that, only reserved for the occasional meal. 


When I saw this recipe in "Cuisine at Home", I knew I had to try it out and couldn't wait for our next steak dinner to do so. Creamed spinach is taken to the next level with the addition of Boursin Cheese, and preparation is quick with the use of frozen chopped spinach. The flavor is further enhanced by adding a bit of lemon zest to the dish which is topped with a bread crumb mixture before baking it. The recipe itself doesn't make a lot, but was enough to feed our family of five with no problem. A little of this rich dish goes a long way.

This was a wonderful recipe that really showcased the spinach in a great way. I will most definitely serve this again with another steak dinner, but next time I will try it with fresh spinach instead of frozen, I think it would be even more tasty this way. So if you love spinach and have Popeye on speed dial, I hope you'll make this recipe for your next steak house meal!


Boursin Creamed Spinach
~makes about 2 cups~

Ingredients:
For the Spinach Filling:
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 package (5.2 ounces) Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs cheese
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry of excess moisture
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
Salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste

For the Crumb Topping:
2/3 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs (made from 2 slices firm white bread)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a shallow 2-cup baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.

Saute onion in 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat until soft, 5 minutes.
Add flour and stir to coat onion. Cook about 1 minute.
Gradually whisk milk and cream into onion mixture, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer sauce for 1 minute.
Stir in Boursin, a little at a time, until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Remove saucepan from heat.
Add spinach, Parmesan, zest, and seasonings. Transfer spinach mixture to prepared baking dish.

Combine crumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, oil, salt and pepper. Top spinach with crumbs, pressing them to adhere. (Dish may be covered and chilled at this point to be baked later.) 
Place dish on a baking sheet; bake until crumbs are golden and sauce is bubbly, 20-25 minutes.

Adapted from: Cuisine at Home

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ice Cream Fridays: Toasted Coconut Ice Cream


Welcome to another edition of Ice Cream Fridays. Every Friday during the next few months (or until I get tired of it) you can look forward to a new ice cream recipe which will hopefully inspire you to break out your old dust covered ice cream maker that is hiding somewhere in a closet (yes, I'm talking about you). Since I'm always looking for inspiration and ideas, feel free to leave me a comment here on my blog or on my facebook page, and let me know what ice cream flavor you would like to see. Who knows, you might just get lucky and it will be featured the following week.

Today's pick is all about coconut. Coconut, with more coconut, and coconut on top. In other words you really need to like coconut for this ice cream to be appealing to you. Luckily, I have no problems with that and might even have a little coconut addiction (but don't tell anyone). In fact, I like it so much, that this week I was busy making not one, but two ice creams (one to be featured at a later date) containing coconut.


A little more time consuming to prepare than some of my other featured ice creams, but well worth the effort. To start this ice cream, sweetened coconut gets steeped in hot milk and cream to release all of its flavor into the milk mixture. A custard is then made with the coconut flavored milk, and finally sweetened cream of coconut (I used Coco Lopez) gets added along with some vanilla extract. After giving the mix a good chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours, and before you freeze it in your ice cream maker, you can add the coconut rum, which is optional but it will greatly improve the texture of the finished ice cream. Once the mixture gets thick and starts to freeze, and just when you thought it had enough flavor, even more coconut gets added to the mix, but this time toasted.

Wow, wow, wow! This ice cream is delicious! I could happily eat this every day of my life and even non-coconut fanatics have given this ice cream the seal of approval. I was sad to see this one gone, and can't wait to make more with my leftover Coco Lopez. I know the next batch won't go to waste either!


Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) whole milk
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy cream
1 1/4 cups (150 g) sweetened coconut, plus extra for optional garnish
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (250 g) sugar
4 tablespoons cream of coconut (like Coco Lopez)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Malibu Coconut Rum (optional)

Directions:
In a medium sized saucepan, combine the milk, 1 cup of the cream, and 3/4 cup (90 g) of the coconut. cook over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Set aside for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing against the coconut. Return the milk mixture to the pan and place over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and remaining 1/2 cup (125 ml) cream in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon at low simmer, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4-6 minutes. Do not let the custard boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream of coconut. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla. 

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice cubes and water. Stir occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Meanwhile, toast the remaining 1/2 cup (60 g) coconut, plus up to 1/4 cup (30 g) extra for garnish (if using), in a small, dry frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Right before freezing the ice cream add the Coconut Rum to the custard mixture if desired. Pour the custard into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. When it is the consistency of thick whipped cream, add the 1/2 cup toasted coconut. Churn or stir until just mixed. Transfer to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours. If desired, garnish each serving with toasted coconut.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Potato-Pea Salad


I'm always on the hunt to add to my salad repertoire for the summer months and BBQ season. This is how I found this wonderful potato salad. I think there is no such thing as too many salad recipes. I thrive on trying out new dishes, and also on not eating the same thing all the time. True, I do have a few recipes that date back to my childhood which I will make to this day since they are pure comfort food but my family has fun with new meals and they enjoy giving me commentary on what to improve or when to toss the recipe and ban it forever from the table.

This salad was well received all the way around. Considering the 4 main "players" are potatoes, peas, bacon and cheese I didn't think it was going to go any other way. The salad is a combination of a tasty potato salad and a pea salad. Two of my favorites combined into one was all I needed to be convinced to make this dish.

I like to make all of my potato recipes with Yukon Gold potatoes (or any other waxy kind). I think they hold their shape much better than russet potatoes even after boiling. Nothing worse than a "mushy" potato salad. Usually I steam my potatoes with the skin on to make potato salad and remove it after they are cooked, but in this recipe it calls for peeling and slicing the potatoes prior to cooking. I stuck with my regular method, but I'm sure either way works fine.

The recipe calls for cheddar cheese, so I decided to go with my favorite extra sharp cheddar. I don't ever bother with mild or medium cheddar since I want to be able to taste the cheese, and I believe by using a cheese with more flavor you tend to use less, hence you save a few calories and don't we all like to do this when we can. The salad also calls for regular mayonnaise, but can also be made with the low-fat kind since the mayo just helps bind it all together and is definitely not the star of this dish. The recipe makes enough to feed a big family or a small crowd, but can easily be halved or quartered if you are cooking for less.

If you are looking for a unique salad to add to a BBQ for Father's day, look no further and make this one. Dad will thank you!


Potato-Pea Salad

Ingredients:
8 strips bacon
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cup (8 ounces) diced sharp Cheddar
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons mustard
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt, Pepper and Cayenne Pepper to taste

Directions:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the potatoes.

Cook bacon until very crisp; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble bacon; set aside.

Quarter potatoes. Thinly slice potatoes with a knife or mandoline. Boil sliced potatoes until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Rinse potatoes to remove excess starch and drain well; transfer to a large bowl. Add peas, 3/4 of the crumbled bacon and cheddar; toss gently to mix.

Combine mayonnaise, mustard, and onion powder in a separate bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Gently fold mayonnaise mixture into potato mixture. Adjust for additional seasonings if needed. Chill until ready to serve. Before serving, sprinkle reserved bacon bits over salad.

Adapted from: Cuisine at Home

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Versatile Blogger


M at Betty Crapper has given me the Versatile Blogger award. Thank you so much for this honor :o)

The guidelines for accepting this award are... 

Thank the person/people who gave it you
Tell 7 things about yourself
Pass the award on to 15 bloggers, whom you have recently discovered, and think are fantastic

Here are 7 things about me that you probably didn't know about:

1. I was born and raised in Germany

2. I have 3 dogs (1 Golden retriever, 1 Labradoodle, 1 Cocker Spaniel)

3. I'm left handed

4. I didn't eat fresh tomatoes till about 10 years ago

5. I love to play Guitar Hero

6. I hate spiders, cockroaches etc., but love lizards, especially the geckos in my garden

7. I don't like crowds

Here are 15* awesome blogs (in no particular order) that I found not too long ago and absolutely look forward to reading their posts:











* I realize I'm only giving you 10 blogs instead of the 15 but believe me when I say those 10 make up for it. Please check them out, each and everyone of them is incredible and puts a lot of hard work into their blogs!

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