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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Homemade Ice Cream Cones {no cone-maker needed}


We've been enjoying lots of ice cream this summer! How about you? Last summer I was really wanting to make some homemade ice cream cones, but I didn't have a waffle cone press or cone mold.  But I wasn't going to let that stop me from making them - and I wasn't going to drop $40 on a waffle cone maker, because I really don't NEED one.  

So this is where I let my creativity take over.   I remembered how delicious these fortune cookies were that I've made several times. They crisp up totally nice and they taste AMAZING (they actually have flavor and don't taste like the cardboard ones you get for Chinese take out).  So I decided I could make them larger (cone size) and make my own mold out of cardstock and waxed paper.  It worked so well! So well that I've made them several times now.  
Here is my cardstock and waxed paper made cone mold

I seriously find joy in homemaking everything! These cones are no exception.  Homemade always tastes better, and I love knowing what all the ingredients are - and it just gives me warm fuzzies that I can make something so cute, functional and yummy! Is anyone else with me? Or am I really odd?


Now, I will tell you that I don't go to lengths to make these for all the times we eat ice cream around here, because, well, really you probably don't need to know how much ice cream we consume. I'm not sure I want to share that with you.  Ahem! We eat in a bowl most of the time.  But these cones seriously add a little fun to a family night or when we have friends over for dessert.  That's when I make them.  

I hope you'll feel like a rock-star, like I do, when you whip out a batch of these yummy cones!  Fill them with your favorite ice cream!  (I'll share the recipe for the ice cream below very soon)


Here is a little handy picture guide for seeing the steps of making these cones
 

Homemade Ice Cream Cones

Yield - about 6 large cones
Printable Version {Click Here}
Ingredients:

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 egg whites
½ cup chocolate chips, ½ teaspoon coconut oil, sprinkles, chopped, nuts, pretzel bits, dried fruit or other garnishes (optional for dipped cones)

Directions:

If you don’t have an ice cream cone mold, you can make one. Using some cardstock or other firm paper, make a cone shape about the size you would want for an ice cream cone. Tape it to secure the shape. I used an 8 ½ x 11 inch paper and then trimmed the bottom to be flat so it can stand up on the counter.  Then line the cardstock cone with wax or parchment paper, also securing with tape.  Masking tape seems to work well.  Make at least two of these so you can make a few at a time.  

In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, and salt and whisk together until incorporated.  In a separate bowl (cereal bowl works great), add the egg whites and vanilla and whisk until foamy but not stiff.  

Pour the egg mixture in with the flour mixture and stir until smooth; it should be fairly runny.  If it’s not then add another ½ - 1 whisked egg white to the mixture.  

You can cook these in the oven or on the stove top. I prefer the oven because you get an even browned look and you don’t have to flip them over.  See notes below on both methods.

To cook in the oven - line an 11 x 17 baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.  (I’ve failed with parchment but I didn’t grease it).  For a large cone use about 3 tablespoons of batter and for a mini (kid size) cone use about 1 tablespoon.  Spread the batter with the back of a spoon making a 7-8 inch circle for a large cone and about a 3 inch circle for a mini cone.  Make sure it’s evenly thick.  Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 5-8 minutes or until the edges of the cone have turned a nice golden brown about ¼  inch wide around the outer edge of the cone.  I can usually fit 2 cones per sheet.  Let the cookie sit for 1 minute after you remove it from the oven (it will cool fast.  

To cook on the stove top - using a non-stick skillet, heat the pan between medium and medium-low heat lightly grease it with spray grease.  For a large cone use about 3 tablespoons of the cone mixture and for mini (kid-size) use 1 tablespoon.   I use the back of a spoon to spread the mixture smooth into a circle, (about 8 inches in diameter for a large cone and about 3-4 inches for a mini cone). Cook til you see bubbles rise to the top (about 4 minutes), and you can slip a spatula under to peek and see if it’s browned.  If it’s cooked enough you won’t have trouble looking on the bottom, if not, let it cook longer - when it’s easy to see you’ll know it’s ready to flip.  Flip it over and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes.  

Once they are done cooking - use a wide flat spatula to remove them from the baking sheet or skillet.  I like to use the up side of the cone for the outer side since it’s smoother and prettier (this only really applies to the baked ones).  Place it on the cone mold, being careful because it will still be hot, then wrap it around the mold and press it closed.  Try to wrap it so that the tip of the cone is closed (so you won’t have ice cream melting out the bottom). If you don't wrap the cone so it's closed, you can always dip it in chocolate to seal up the hole.  Let it cool completely (5-8 minutes) - if you’ve cooked it long enough it should be nice and crispy just like a waffle cone.  Repeat this process until you’ve used all the batter.  

If you want to dip them, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl on high for 10 seconds at a time until melted. Dip or spread the chocolate around the edges of the cone and sprinkle with sprinkles, chopped nuts, pretzel bits, or whatever else you fancy. Let them dry until the chocolate is hardened (I place them in a cup so they don’t have a damaged side). If you don't wrap the cone so it's closed, you can always dip it in chocolate to seal up the hole, that way you won't have any leaking ice cream out the bottom.

Enjoy, filled with your favorite ice cream!  

Notes:

You can see pictures on my fortune cookie post showing the difference in look between a baked and pan cooked cone/cookie.

Recipe Source:

Adapted from the recipe I use for fortune cookies, posted here.






Thursday, July 16, 2015

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce



During the hot summer months ice cream is a must around here. But really, we need it in our lives year round, who am I trying to kid?!?!  When my husband and I were married 8 years ago, we probably had ice cream 5-6 times a week. YIKES!  Sadly we've had to cut our ice cream consumption back, our metabolisms aren't what they once were.  Nowadays we might have it once a week, but in the summer it's just got to be a little more than that.  We've even branched out and started making some no-churn homemade ice cream (and I have a flavor combo I can't wait to share with you in a few weeks).  

My husband's favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla.  And while I have way to many flavors to name off (black raspberry chocolate chunk, cinnamon, lemon custard to name a few), I have to admit that vanilla is so classic and good! I really do love it too! Vanilla can be eaten in just about any way you want (it goes with everything).  Pictured here we enjoyed vanilla with this yummy homemade hot fudge sauce (and ganache filled raspberries because why not!) that has been a long time family favorite in my husband's family.  What's your favorite ice cream flavor?

 

If you are anything like me you probably have everything you need to make this hot fudge sauce.  I keep evaporated milk on hand, if you don't then that might be all you are missing.  And it can be whipped up in about 15 minutes.  I really like to load it onto my ice cream, so much that I would be asked, "How about some ice cream to go with that hot fudge sauce?". :)  

Whethere you serve it over plain vanilla ice cream, in a banana split, over your favorite ice cream topped brownie, etc, it's sure to bring some smiles to those who eat it.  

Enjoy! And stay cool this summer! 
 

Hot Fudge Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
4 tablespoons butter
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

In a medium size saucepan stir sugar and cocoa together until there are no cocoa lumps. Over medium heat add butter and milk to the sugar mixture. Stir constantly with a wire whisk until the butter is melted and mixture is combined.  Constantly stir until mixture has reached a boil, turn heat to low (for a light simmer) and cook 10 minutes, stirring very frequently.  Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla.   Let it cool 10-15 minutes.  

Serve over ice cream or other desserts.  Store any leftovers in a mason jar and keep refrigerated.  Should last 2 weeks if you can keep it around that long.

Recipe Source:

A long time family favorite, from my mother-in-law, Maureen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad {with Creamy Balsamic Parmesan Dressing}


Last week I shared a favorite salad dressing with you all.  And this week I'm sharing one of my favorite pasta salads that I like it on.  My mom made something really similar growing up.  Her  pasta salad was always my favorite. My 5 siblings and I would snarf this stuff.  I have always made it since I've been married too and my husband and kids now love it too.  But we are kind of big on meat for dinner, and while I could serve this pasta as a side with grilled chicken or hot dogs or whatever else, I've simplified it a bit and thrown the grilled chicken right in the salad.  

Last summer I discovered this dressing, and I've adapted it over the last year to be how I like it. The white vinegar in the original dressing was a little too strong for me, and since I'm head-over-heels for balsamic vinegar I've changed that - the dressing whips up super creamy and yummy. The fresh Parmesan and balsamic vinegar give it the perfect flavor to jazz up this pasta salad just the way I like it.  

I hope you can whip up a batch to enjoy for dinner this week. The leftovers keep for 1-2 days too, so sometimes I eat it for lunch the next day or maybe even for dinner again the night or two after.  I always love a night off from cooking.  



Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 pound tri-color rotini (I prefer Barilla brand)
4-8 ounces feta cheese crumbled
1 small package cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered and diced
1 can olives, sliced in half
1 pound grilled chicken (see my method below)
Olive oil and salt and pepper for grilling the meat

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions, rinse with cold water when it’s finished cooking and let the noodles cool.

Pound 1 chicken breast (about 1 pound) until it’s an even thickness (or cut the chicken breast in half if you’d prefer to not pound it).  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat grill over high heat for 5 minutes - once it’s hot place the chicken on and cover, let it sear for 1-2 minutes on high, flip and let the other side sear for 1-2 minutes. Flip chicken and grill for 4-6 minutes per side until it’s done (check with meat thermometer, should reach 165 degrees F). Place on cutting board and cut it into bite size pieces once it’s cool enough to handle.

In a large mixing bowl add feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and cooked pasta.  Once chicken is cut, add it to the pasta mixture and top with the dressing (you can use a bottle of Italian dressing too if you prefer) and toss to coat. Let it sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours til chilled and serve cold.  

Leftovers keep for 1-2 days.

Recipe Source:

adapted from my mom’s classic pasta salad recipe, I added grilled chicken and use this particular dressing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Creamy Balsamic Parmesan Dressing


We are in full-swing summer time mode here. How about you? I love July in New Mexico becasue we seem to get a bit of a break from that cruel summer heat with some cooler temperatures from the daily monsoons.  I love it!  A few nights ago it was 71 degrees after dinner and we enjoyed a lovely walk around the neighborhood.  

In the summer, I totally love salad for dinner.  We have it at least once a week and then I usually make enough that my husband and I can have it for lunch a few days too.  We love green salad with grilled chicken, avocado, fruit and cheese topped with this Creamy Balsamic Parmesan dressing (that I'm sharing today) or this yummy Honey Poppyseed Vinaigrette.   


This balsamic dressing is super versatile, we love it on green salad, pasta salad and we even love to marinate our chicken in it before we grill it.  The flavor is rich and delicioius and compliments just about anything you want dressing on.  In fact, you might see me wiping the dressing remnants with my finger or bread or anything so I don't' leave any trace behind. That's how much I love it. I hope you will too! 

Stay cool!
-Lu
 

Creamy Balsamic Parmesan Dressing

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
1 cup canola oil
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning

Directions:

You can make this with a regular blender or an immersion blender and 2 cup measuring cup.

In a blender or 2 cup measuring cup combine the vinegars, lemon juice, sugar, mustard powder, salt, garlic salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.  Blend in blender to combine. While blender is running slowly add the oil in a steady stream. Once that’s added you can turn of the blender and add the Parmesan cheese, pulse to blend and combine the cheese into the dressing.  Then stir in the Italian seasoning.  If you want to blend that you can, but I like my seasonings not blended.

Put in dressing container and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This dressing is delicious on green salad, pasta salad or used as a marinade for chicken.

Recipe Source:

adapted from our best bites

Friday, July 3, 2015

Coconut Cinnamon Popcorn


Hey friends! Today I am sharing a new favorite snack of mine. My kids, my husband and some of my extended family that I've made it for love it too.  It's a keeper. Coconut Cinnamon Popcorn! The name alone is worth drooling over.  

I was introduced to this popcorn a few months ago by one of my friends who brought it to our ladies bunco night.  Anyone else out there play bunco?  It's a simple dice game that we play and we bring random gifts from our house or whatever for prizes. It's a fun reason to get together and chat. I am way more into the chatting and snacking then the game itself, but I enjoy it all.  When I tasted the popcorn that night I had to know what was in it.  My friend, Lacey, said it was just popped popcorn drizzled with coconut oil and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  After hearing that there was no wonder why I loved it so much.  


Since then we've made this more times than I can count on two hands.  So I've tweaked it and perfected it just the way I like it.   And I even served it at a baby shower a week and a half ago, where I put a little banner saying, "ready to pop" above the bowl. It was a hit at the shower too. That night I drizzled it with melted white chocolate too, just to add an extra hint of yumminess, but it totally doesn't need it. 
 


If you are looking for a treat to share and don't want to add much sugar into the mix, this is just for you. It perfectly satisfies my sweet craving without me feeling like I have dove into something totally sinful!



Coconut Cinnamon Popcorn

[Serves 4-5  - make in 5 minutes]
Ingredients:

½ cup white popcorn kernels (unpopped)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Place ½ cup popcorn kernels in an air popper (or pop them however you please). While it’s popping, melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup.

Lightly drizzle the coconut oil (in a slow stream) over the popcorn as you toss the popcorn with a butter knife or spatula.

Lightly sprinkle with salt (you don’t have to measure out ⅛ teaspoon). This popcorn isn’t mean to be salty, but a little salt with the cinnamon sugar blend makes it taste so much better.

In a small bowl mix the sugar and cinnamon until well mixed. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the popcorn while tossing to coat evenly.

Enjoy!

Recipe Source:

Inspired from a similar snack my friend Lacey made for me, recipe developed by Lu, originally posted on landeelu.com


If you are a cinnamon lover like me, you might also like these: Cinnamon Rolls

Or these: Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pretzel Dogs


Let's talk hot dogs.  Pretty much all kids love them, right? Mine would probably eat them every day if I allowed it.  I loved them as a kid, too.  In fact, I recall eating them cold and straight out of the package as a snack.  Um, gross.  I know.  Hot dogs aren't generally something that call out to me these days.  I eat them when there is a fire and s'mores involved, but given a choice I  pretty much always choose a burger over a dog.  But these pretzel dogs? These are a whole different story and I need these in my life.  I think you just might, too.  


These babies have been making regular appearances at our dinner table for the last three years.  Each time I make these I am reminded of my awesome mom and the fun after-school snacks she made for us as kids.  She is adventurous in the kitchen and has never been afraid to try anything new, so we got lots of fun and delicious things to eat as a result of her experimenting.  Soft pretzels were probably my favorite on that list.  Whenever I walked the in the door and smelled them I thought she was the coolest mom ever.  I still do.  Now my kids love to help me “roll out the snakes” and make these pretzel dogs.  It is one of their favorite dinners and I feel like I cool mom when I make them.



Traditionally, soft pretzels are boiled in a baking soda bath before baking, but one day I was feeling lazy and decided I would try to skip that step to save some time and dirty dishes.  I was so happy with the results because it turned this recipe into a realistic dinner that didn’t make a huge mess or require a ton of time.  I found that if you dissolve the baking soda in super hot water and dunk each pretzel dog you still get the distinct tangy pretzel flavor without the extra hassle. Unnecessary dishes are the worst.  

I’m a mustard lover and love to dunk these in regular ol’ yellow mustard and ketchup.  The hubs is a dijon kinda guy and the kids usually go for just ketchup.  Regardless of dipping preferences, these pretzel dogs get gobbled up quickly every time I make them and some kind of battle over the leftovers is usually involved.



While we're talking hot dogs, I have to tell you that I discovered some super yummy hot dogs this week.  Usually I buy Nathan's or Hebrew National.  But I bought these on a whim and they kinda blew me away.  Park's Finest Ballpark Beef franks.  We tried the "Signature Seasoned" flavor and my hubby even commented that they were really good and well seasoned.  Huge bonus: made with 100% beef, no nitrates or nitrities, and no artificial preservatives.  This isn't an ad and I'm not getting paid to say this, I just love you and felt like you should know. 

 - Leesh


Pretzel Dogs

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 ½ cups All Purpose Flour, give or take a few tablespoons
2 teaspoons Salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups hot water
¼ cup baking soda
Coarse salt for sprinkling
12 hot dogs *see note below

Directions:



In the bowl of a mixer, add 1 1/2 cups warm water, sugar, and instant yeast. To that mixture add the oil, salt, and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix on low until all the flour is incorporated. Once flour is incorporated, begin adding the remaining cup a couple of tablespoons at a time until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should begin to form a ball around the dough hook. Knead for about 5 minutes. You should have a fairly stiff, pliable dough--not dry. Cover with a lid and let rise at room temperature for about an hour or until doubled in size. (You can speed this up by putting your dough in a warmer spot.)

Preheat oven to 425. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners, foil, or parchment. If using foil or parchment, grease it or your pretzels will stick!

In a small loaf pan, combine 2 cups of hot water (as hot as it comes from the tap is fine) and baking soda. Allow it to sit and dissolve while you roll out the dough. Remove hot dogs from package and pat them dry with a paper towel. This will help the dough stick to the hot dog better. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. On a clean and lightly greased work surface, roll the dough out into a rope about 24 inches long--you may want yours longer or shorter depending on how long your hot dogs are. Tightly wrap a pretzel rope around each hot dog pinching the end to help it stay in place. I like to let the ends peek out. Dunk each hot dog in the baking soda solution and set it on a cooling rack to drip. While they are wet, sprinkle with coarse salt. Once all the hot dogs have been dunked, transfer them to the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until they have a nice color and the hot dogs are heated all the way through. Serve immediately with ketchup and your favorite mustard for dipping.

Notes:



Most hot dogs come in packages of 8--so I usually only make 8 pretzel dogs and then make 3 or 4 plain soft pretzels with the remaining dough in this recipe.

Recipe Source:



Inspired by and adapted from Joy the Baker
Originally posted on landeelu.com