Friday, June 28, 2013

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I used fresh vanilla beans in this recipe and it was delicious!  Actually it was the best vanilla ice cream recipe I have tried.  It is much better if you let it freeze overnight before eating. 

The finished product.  Cold, creamy and vanilla-y…

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

  • 2.5 cups half and half
  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla beans, split and scraped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • pinch salt
Heat the half-and-half, sugar, vanilla bean scrapings (I also threw in the scraped vanilla bean) and pinch of salt over the heat until warm and sugar is dissolved.  Don't let this boil.  Beat the egg yolks until light and lemony colored.  Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling in about 1 1/2 cups of hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly.  Pour it all back into the pan.  Cook over low to medium-low heat until thicker (so it coats the back of a spoon), stirring constantly.  This will take about 15 minutes.  Strain custard using a fine mesh strainer, then pour into a bowl with the heavy cream. Mix it all up.  Chill completely.  Freeze in an ice cream maker until thick. Place container in freezer to harden, overnight is best. 

Note: If you have a small Cuisinart ice cream maker, you’ll have to do this in two or three batches.  Otherwise, the full size ice cream maker should be ok.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cups

I recently made these peanut butter cups and they were delicious.  I would recommend keeping them refrigerated if you’re going to have them around for any length of time (but bring them to room temperature before you eat them).  It’s a very delicate process.

The peanut butter filling on the bottom of the chocolate patty ….

The completed candies.

Peanut Butter Cups

  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
In 1-quart saucepan combine chocolate chips and shortening. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth (3 to 5 minutes).  Pour a little into the bottom of your cupcake paper.  Refrigerate until set.  In 2-quart saucepan combine butter or margarine and peanut butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until melted (4 to 6 minutes). Stir in confectioners’ sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Make about a 1/2 inch circle of filling, and press into each chocolate cup.  Spoon about 1 teaspoon melted chocolate on top of filling or just enough to cover. Freeze until firm (about 2 hours) carefully peel off paper cups. Store refrigerated.

Dulce de Leche

Another fun (and delicious) experiment I tried was making traditional Dulce de Leche.  It was pretty easy, but it was time consuming, considering it has to be cooked for about 3 hours, and stirred occasionally/often.  But it was definitely worth it.  The Dulce de Leche has a great caramel flavor, but it is fuller than our traditional American caramels.  You can also taste the essence of vanilla lurking in the background.

This is the milk, sugar and vanilla bean mixture before it started to cook down.

The finished Dulce de Leche product.  It tastes absolutely wonderful.  You can put it over ice cream, poached pears, in or on a host of other desserts.  Or you can just put some in a bowl (yes, all by itself) and eat it with a spoon.  Or you could skip the bowl and just eat it from the jar.  It all works.

Dulce de Leche

  • 4 cups whole milk (yes, whole please) 
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally.  An important thing to making this is to not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture and on the sides of the pan. Continue to cook for 1 hour, then remove the vanilla bean and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup.  This will take approximately 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.  I just put it a canning jar.

    Cherry Cordials

    I decided to try this interesting venture of making cherry cordials…

    First I made the fondant…

    Melting the chocolate.  I think partially melted chocolate looks so beautiful, with it being both glossy and dull.  And who doesn’t like to look at chocolate, anyways?

    The maraschino cherries.

    The dipped cordials.  Now they just have to set for two weeks.  Can I wait that long?

    Cherry Cordials
    For the fondant:

  • 1 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond

  • Other ingredients:

  • 2 jars maraschino cherries (or so)
  • melted chocolate

  • Knead the fondant ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Put in a ziplock bag for 24 hours.  Roll over the cherries and freeze until hard.  I found that the fondant was really sticky, and it was easiest to roll it over the cherries with hands that had been dipped in cold water with fondant that was warmed slightly (just set it out on the counter for a few minutes) – but just slightly!   Put the fondant covered cherries in the freezer until they are frozen solid.  Then, dip the frozen cherries in the melted chocolate.  Let sit for about two weeks so the cherry juice and fondant mix a little.

    Oh, are you wondering if I waited the whole two weeks?  Um, well, no, I didn’t.  :)   But they were much better after the whole two weeks then after only two hours, or two days, ect…

    Creme Brulee

    The flavors of creme brulee are delicious – the melding of the creamy vanilla custard and the crispy sweetness of the caramelized topping is incredible.  The dish is elegant and beautiful, and, fortunately, its relatively easy to make.  That is definitely a good thing, because once you try this, you may make it often.

    Cooking the custard in its water bath.

    The finished creme brulee.  I should have put a little more sugar on the top so I would have had more of the carmelization over it.  Hmmm….  Oh well, I’ll just have to make them again. Just so I can work on the carmelization technique.  My oh my, the things we have to suffer through to perfect our skills.  Its tough, isn’t it?

    Note: the vanilla sugar is super easy to make - just place a vanilla bean or two in a container with sugar and let sit for several weeks or a month.  If you don't have vanilla sugar - don't let that stop you!  Regular sugar will work just fine.  

    Creme Brulee

    • 4 cups heavy cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
    • dash vanilla extract
    • 7 large egg yolks
    • 2 quarts hot water
    • a scant 1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Place the cream, salt, vanilla bean and the seeds into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually.  Add the vanilla extract.  Strain through a wire mesh strainer.  Pour the liquid into 8 (6 ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still wiggling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (they can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, which makes this a great “last minute” dessert to pull out of the fridge when you have company over).  When you are ready to serve, place a little less than a tablespoon of sugar on each top.  Using a torch (I have a little butane torch), melt the sugar and form a crispy top.  Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

    Homemade Cottage Cheese

    Homemade cottage cheese.  Interesting?  That is what I thought.  So I decided to try it.  It was really quite easy, and the end product was DELICIOUS.  Once you try this, you won’t ever go back to store bought cottage cheese.

    First the milk goes into a pot…

    Then warm it up, dump in the vinegar, and strain it into a tea towel (yes I know it looks kind of icky – bear with me here)…

    Let it drain for a few minutes, then take up the towel and work it under cold running water for 3-5 minutes or until it is cool.  Squeeze as dry as possible.

    When you open the tea towel, the squeezed curd will look like this:

    Then simply salt and sugar the curd…

    Then pour on a little heavy cream, and your ready to eat. Doesn’t it look wonderful?  It is, trust me.  I’m eating it right now.

    Homemade Cottage Cheese

    • 1 gallon pasteurized skim milk
    • 3/4 cup white vinegar
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1/2 cup half-and half-or heavy cream
    Pour the milk into a large saucepan.  Heat to 120 degrees F. over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and pour in the vinegar. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes.  The curd will separate from the whey. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then pour the mixture into a colander lined with a tea towel and allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cloth and rinse under cold water for 3 to 5 minutes or until the curd is completely cooled, squeezing and moving the mixture the whole time. Once cooled, squeeze as dry as possible and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the salt and sugar and stir to combine, breaking up the curd into bite-size pieces as you go. If ready to serve immediately, stir in the half-and-half or heavy cream. If not, transfer to a sealable container and place in the refrigerator. Add the half and half or heavy cream just prior to serving.  I’ve made this twice now, and the first time it was kind of tough.  The second time I made it, it was much better and tenderer.  So if its not perfect at first, don’t give up!  Try again.

    A New Broccoli Raisin Salad

    A broccoli raisin salad with some healthy additions…

    The broccoli, of course.

    The other good ingredients.

    The finished salad.  Crisp, crunchy, sweet-and-sour – deliciousness.

    New Broccoli Raisin Salad

    • 1 bunch of broccoli (about 3 stalks)
    • 1/2 small onion, chopped fairly small
    • 12 strips of crisply fried bacon, diced
    • 1/2 cup whole shelled sunflower seeds
    • 1/2 cup raisins
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped cauliflower
    • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
    • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • scant 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoons vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Chop vegetables, and to them add the bacon, sunflower seeds and raisins.  For dressing, combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Add to vegetables and toss. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.  Makes 10 servings.

    Pickled Eggs

    Pickled eggs… sounds like they could be scary!  A couple of years ago I tried one with much trepidation, and found, to my delight, that they were delicious!  Now I always try to have a jar of them on hand in the refrigerator, just for a snack or chopped up for a great salad topping, ect…

    Pickled Eggs

  • 18 hard cooked eggs, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried chili pepper
  • Place the hard cooked eggs in a jar.  In a small saucepan, combine the other ingredients.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes over low heat.  Strain liquid and cool to room temperature.  Cover eggs with the vinegar solution.  Cover with a lit and let stand in the refrigerator for at least two days before using.  I find that letting them sit for about a week is best.  Makes 18 pickled eggs.

    Blueberry Coffee Cake

    Blueberries dusted in flour… this is a great technique to use to help your blueberries stay suspended in your baked goods. 

    The blueberries are folded into a coffee cake batter and topped with a cinnamon pecan streusal…

    and baked for about an hour until golden brown and delicious…

    I made this coffee cake this morning and it filled the house with the wonderful smells of cinnamon, pecans, and cakey-goodness (is there such a thing as “cakey-goodness?”  I think so…).  At least it sure smelled like it.

     Blueberry Coffee Cake

    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
    For the cake:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 3/4cup white sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 -2 cups fresh blueberries
    Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat a Bundt pan well with cooking spray. Make the streusel topping: Mix streusel ingredients in bowl, cutting butter into dry ingredients (will be crumbly). Set aside. For the cake: Beat 1/2 cup butter or margarine in large bowl until creamy; add 1 cup white sugar, and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt; add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Cover with berries, and sprinkle with some of the streusel.  Stir around a little bit.  Add the remaining batter by tablespoons. Cover with streusel topping, and stir around a bit again. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove pan to wire rack to cool. Invert onto a plate after cake has cooled.

    Chocolate Whoopie Pies

    Creamy marshmallow filling with a rich chocolate cookie made for one tasty dessert… who could refuse?

    I sprinkled the tops with a light pink granulated sugar (take my word that its light pink – it is pretty hard to tell against the dark cookie)…

    Chocolate Whoopie Pies

    • 2 cups flour
    • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • Crystal sugar
    Heat oven to 350.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  Combine flour, cocoa and baking soda.  In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla and beat to combine.  Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour; mix until smooth.  Drop 1 inch mounds of batter 2 inches apart on baking sheets.  Sprinkle half of the cookies with the crystal sugar.  Bake about 15 minutes.  Cool completely.


  •  6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 (7.5 ounce) jar marshmallow cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Thursday, June 27, 2013

    Hi and welcome!  My name is Terra and I am excited to begin this blog.  In it you will find recipes I'm currently cooking or expiramenting with, foods I am putting up, wines, beers or meads I am making, crafts or hand work projects I am making, or what is happening in my flower and vegetable gardens.  You will also meet my husband Charlie, as we work together on a lot of these projects!  I hope you enjoy your time here!  Please feel free to write a comment or contact me!


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