Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream

Zak's grandparents mailed us a big box of cherries last week and we decided to try a new cherry vanilla ice cream.  The recipe we tried a year or two ago was ok, but froze very hard.  This new recipe was like the peach raspberry ice cream we made a few weeks ago--we basically used the base and then added cherries. My friend let us use her cherry pitter, which was awesome!  It is a great tool.  The ice cream was great, soft and creamy and perfect on a hot summer day.

1 c. milk
3/4 c. sugar + 1/8 c.
1 c. half & half
1/2 Tbl. vanilla
2 c. cream
2 c. pitted, quartered cherries
1 1/2 Tbl. vanilla

1.  Scald milk on stove until bubble form around the edges, remove from heat.
2.  Pour into a heat-proof bowl and stir in sugar and salt until it's all dissolved.
3.  Add in half & half, vanilla and heavy cream.
4.  Cover tightly, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5.  Freeze ice cream according to ice cream maker's directions.  Once it has churned for about 20 minutes (starting to stiffen up), add pitted, quartered cherries and continue mixing another 5 - 10 minutes.
6.  Freeze in freezer for a few hours.


Tater Tot Casserole

I didn't know tater tot casserole was a thing, but after this experiment, it might become a meal that we have every once in awhile, when we get that craving for a very yummy comfort food dish.  I used a bunch of different recipes and combined them to create this one.  I was only a little bit nervous about mostly winging it, but I took confidence in knowing what Zak and I both like and what would taste good and I'm proud to say that this was a big hit!  It was very easy to make and tasted great the next day, too!

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. onions, minced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. tater tots (around 50)
2/3 c. frozen peas
2/3 c. frozen corn
1 1/2 c. cheese

1.  Brown meat with onions.  Add spices.
2.  Add in soups and veggies, cook until warmed through.
3.  Defrost tots in a shallow bowl in the microwave for 1 - 2 minutes.
4.  Layer a 9"x13" casserole dish with half of the soup mixture, half of the tater tots, 1/2 c. cheese; repeat.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
5.  Cook for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

before cooking

after baking
sure it may not look super pretty, but it hit the spot!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

I found this recipe and let's just say they are amazing.  I love cream cheese, Oreos and the combination of the two.  They were pretty easy to make, as long as you can restrain from eating the Oreos in the meantime. I made a double batch so I could send some to my family to try, so here is that recipe with my slight alterations.

1 c. (unsalted) butter, softened (I only had salted, worked fine)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened (used low fat)
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 c. mini chocolate chips
2 c. Oreo cookie crumbs (about 16 cookies, had a little bit left over)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  I didn't have parchment paper, but used my air-bake cookie sheets or whatever and it worked just fine.
2.  Cream together butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and well-combined.
3.  Add in sugar and vanilla; mix until ingredients are well-combined.  Add the flour and mix on low until it is incorporated.
4.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips with a spatula (I just set the mixer to low and ran it a few times).
5.  Roll dough into 1/2 - 1 inch balls and roll in the cookie crumbs.
6.  Bake 12 - 15 minutes, or until tops are slightly puffy.
7.  Let cool on pan for about 2 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool.

This made about 4 dozen decently sized cookies.

little cookies, ready to be tossed with Oreo crumbs

about halfway through

fresh out of the oven


Skillet Cheesy Chicken Rice

We really liked this recipe and it was so easy and satisfying, definitely a comfort food type of meal.  It was so quick to throw together after a long day at work, which is always a good thing.

1/2 Tbl. oil
1 1/4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can (10.75 oz.) Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 c. uncooked regular long-grain white rice
12 oz. frozen bag mixed veggies (ours had corn, green beans, carrots & peas)
3/4 c. shredded cheese

1.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes, or until well browned on both sides.  Season with salt & pepper to taste, remove from skillet once completely cooked.
2.  Stir in soup, water, spices, rice into skillet and heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once.
3.  Stir in vegetables and return chicken to skillet.  Sprinkle with cheese; cover and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked through and rice is tender.

Kalua Pork

Kalua pork is a traditional Hawaiian dish where the pig is cooked underground.  It's a common dish and is super tasty.  This recipe comes from my mother's aunt, who was born & raised in Hawaii.  It's very simple and tastes delicious.  I have only tried the crockpot method, but my mom will attest that both the oven and crockpot ways are great.  We had this with rice, mac salad, sweet rolls and an amazing fresh pineapple from Walmart (go figure).  My little sister is going to BYU-Hawaii in the fall and this was my excuse to celebrate that...or just to have a delicious tropical dinner in Idaho.

boneless pork shoulder/butt (I typically get about 3 lbs. for the 2 of us, we have leftovers for a few days)
1 - 2 Tbl. liquid smoke
coarse salt

1.  Place pork in crockpot.  Don't worry about cutting the fat off or anything.
2.  Using a ziplock bag, rub liquid smoke and salt on each side.
3.  Cook 6 - 7 hours in crockpot on HIGH OR wrap tightly in heavy duty foil and bake in 9 x 13" pan (whatever will fit it) at 350 degrees for 6 - 7 hours.  No peeking!
4.  Shred pork, discard fat and enjoy!

very tender pork


a delicious meal!

Peach Raspberry Vanilla Ice Cream

We have been itching to make homemade ice cream, but it hasn't been very "summer-y" around these parts until the last few days.  After much debate, we decided on a vanilla ice cream with peaches from Zak's grandparents and raspberry jam or syrup to swirl in.  We ended up using the basic vanilla ice cream recipe from our ice cream maker book and went from there.  The result was simply delicious.  We were too eager to try it after a few hours in the freezer that we completely forgot about the sugar cones we bought.  Anyways, this was supposedly a 2 quart recipe, but we separated it into two containers to fit into the freezer, so I don't know how much total it made.  But it was worth it!

1 c. milk
3/4 c. + 2 Tbl. sugar
pinch of salt
1 c. half & half
1/2 Tbl. vanilla
2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 c. pureed peaches (2 fresh peaches)
about 4 Tbl. seedless raspberry jam (didn't have any homemade stuff, but Smucker's worked just fine)

1.  Scald milk on stove until bubbles form around the edges, remove from heat.
2.  Pour into a heat-proof large bowl and stir in sugar and salt until it's all dissolved.
3.  Add in half & half, vanilla and heavy cream.
4.  Cover tightly, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5.  For the pureed peaches, Zak blended them with about a Tbl. of plain yogurt to smooth the texture out.  And then he heated up the jam in the microwave so we could pour it easily.
6.  Add peaches to refrigerated mixture and freeze according to ice cream maker's directions.
7.  We added the jam after about 20 minutes of mixing it, just on top and let it run for a few minutes.
8.  Freeze for at least 2 - 3 hours before tasting, it will be tempting though!

before freezing

it was a bit soft when we ate it, but it was so good (also check out the cute bowls Zak's parents got us, we love them)


Orange Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

This was a fun recipe that we tried several weeks ago.  We had everything but the orange marmalade and I couldn't justify buying an entire container of marmalade that we don't even like for this recipe.  So I just added more orange juice and zest and whatever, it was fine.  Zak did an excellent job grilling these and it was a recipe that we will probably experiment with again in the future.

2 Tbl. olive oil
1 Tbl. fresh ginger, finely grated
1 Tbl. orange zest (I used a bit more)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c. rice vinegar
3 Tbl. soy sauce
2 Tbl. sugar
2 Tbl. orange marmalade
1 Tbl. freshly squeezed orange juice (probably used about 3 Tbl.)
1 Tbl. honey
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, trimmed & cut into 1 inch cubes

1.  Over medium heat, add olive oil to small sauce pan.  Add ginger, orange zest and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently for 1 - 2 minutes, or until fragant.
2.  Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, marmalade, orange juice, honey and red pepper.  Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for 3 - 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
3.  Make sure wooden skewers have soaked in cold water for about 20 minutes before threading chicken onto them.  Turn on grill.
4.  Thread chicken and grill, turning a quarter turn every few minutes.  Once they are mostly cooked, brush sauce on and cook until it caramelizes.  Zak used most of the sauce by the time they were done, so I guess just use your judgment and brush on sauce accordingly.