Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint chocolate chip ice cream is one of my favorite flavors, and it’s not very difficult to make. You just need a good vanilla ice cream recipe, chocolate, and some mint flavoring. I have the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer. I was using the vanilla ice cream recipe that came with it, but it never came out exactly how I hoped. I stumbled upon this recipe from the New York Times. It’s called “the only ice cream recipe you’ll ever need” for a reason! I used 2% milk instead of whole milk (it was all I had in the fridge) and it turned out great.

I added 1 tsp vanilla to the cream/milk/sugar mixture at the beginning of the recipe. After it finished cooking and had several hours to chill in the fridge, I added 1 tsp of mint extract and a few drops of green food coloring before churning for 20 minutes. I added half a bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the ice cream at the end (with about 2 minutes of churning time remaining). I transferred the ice cream to storage containers and let it hang out in the fridge overnight to get a little firmer – but of course I ate a little bit right away, too. So good!

Granola Bars

granola barsMy wife had a bag of granola that she was snacking on, but once she was about halfway through it was too crumbly to eat unless she made ate it with milk like a cereal. She asked me to make her some granola bars with it.

The recipe in this post is one I made a really long time ago that didn’t use pre-made granola, but I used a similar process for the bars from the pre-made granola. You’ll want to use less honey and brown sugar if you’re making them from pre-made granola – I think I used 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup butter, and 2 tbsp brown sugar for every 2 cups of granola. If this doesn’t seem like enough to keep them together, keep adding melted butter and honey a tablespoon at a time until the everything is coated. You also do not need to toast pre-made granola because it’s already been baked.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can easily change the ingredients. I really like pineapple, but if you don’t, you could use dried apricots or cherries instead. You can also swap out some of the fruit for a different type of nut, reduce the amount of oats and add some flax seed, or use two types of nuts instead of just walnuts.

The Tastefully Simple silicone bar pan is amazing for making granola bars. I’ve made them on a sheet pan with a silpat before, which is fine, but the bar pan is an easy way to make bars all the same size. The silicone also prevents sticking. If you use a regular pan to make these, trust me, you will need to definitely use a silicone baking mat or line your pan with parchment paper. If not, you will be chiseling them out of the pan.

Ingredients

4 cups oats
2 cup finely chopped walnuts
½ cup butter
1 ¼ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla (optional)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp kosher salt (use ¼ tsp if you don’t use any fruit)
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup dried pineapple, chopped into pieces similar in size to the cranberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix oats and walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Add honey and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla.

Mix dried fruit, oats, and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour liquid mixture over the dry mix and stir until everything is evenly coated with the liquid.

Place the bar pan on a baking sheet. Use a spoon to fill each compartment of the bar pan. (Warning – if your bar pan is not silicone, don’t attempt to use if for this recipe! You will be chiseling granola out for days. Instead, use a baking pan completely lined with parchment paper – including the sides.)

Press each bar firmly with the back of the spoon until each compartment is packed. If you have empty compartments after using all of the granola mixture, fill them abut halfway with water. (Not sure why this is necessary, but the directions for the bar pan say to do this.)

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the bars become golden brown and the outside edges start to get crispy. Let cool for about an hour. The bars should come out of the pan pretty easily once they’re cooled. If they are too buttery, place them on a cookie rack to drain once they’re cool.

Ma’s Ham & Bean Soup

I posted my mother in law’s ham recipe the other day, and I recommended saving the unused sauce, the leftover ham, and pan juices for later. This is why! You can make this on the stovetop in a large pot of dutch oven, or in an extra large crock pot.

I’ll admit we’ve sometimes had the craving for this soup and made a ham just for this purpose. If you do that, you’ll want to set aside meat from at least half of the ham for eating since this recipe is meant to be made from leftovers.

Ingredients

Leftover ham (on and off the bone), pan juices, and any unused sauce (from Ma’s ham recipe)
1 bag great northern beans
1 x 28ox can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

Prepare beans using instructions on the bag for the “quick soak” method. Do not drain the water from the pot when finished. (This takes about an hour)

Place ham (bone with meat, and any additional meat off the bone) into an extra large pot or dutch oven. Add beans and the water from soaking. Add the diced tomatoes (do not drain), pan juices, ham sauce, onion, and garlic.

Cook on low, pretty much all day. Stir occasionally and add some water if it begins to get too thick.

Lasagna

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Ingredients (Sauce)

2 x 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp Tastefully Simple Onion Onion seasoning
2 tsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic seasoning
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil
½ tsp sage
½ tsp salt

Spice measurements are for dried spices.

Ingredients (Pasta)

3 cups flour
3 eggs
Pinch salt
Cold water (if needed)

Ingredients (Other)

½ to ¾ container ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated asiago
8oz fresh mozzarella (optional – you can just use more shredded instead. If you use the fresh, strain some of the moisture from it)
1 lb lean ground beef

Instructions

Start the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat on medium, covered, until it starts to bubble. Reduce to low and let it simmer while you continue the rest of the steps.

Brown the ground beef and set aside.

Make the pasta dough. Scoop flour onto work surface. Make a well in the center. Add salt. Add one egg and start to incorporate with a fork. Continue to add eggs one at a time, incorporating more of the flour after each one. You will reach a point where it’s clear you can’t do any more with the fork and you just need to use your hands. Once you have a dough ball, knead, knead, knead for several minutes. If the dough feels dry, add some of the cold water to get it to the right texture. The texture should be kind of elastic-y, but not really sticky.

Separate dough into portions about a half cup in size. Cover unused dough with plastic wrap. Roll out dough to #4 setting using pasta machine (start on the widest setting, #1, and work your way thinner). Place dough onto work surface and cut into lasagna-sized noodles. I like to make the noodles as I assemble the lasagna, so I stop after making one layer’s worth.

Spread sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Layer noodles on top. Spread more sauce on top of the noodles. Add beef.

Make more noodles. Next layer is sauce, ricotta, and shredded mozzarella.

Make more noodles. Top with sauce, asiago, and mozzarella (fresh or shredded).

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the cheese looks like it’s going to get too brown.

This reheats really well. I had leftovers for lunch this week!

Italian Pasta Salad

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Ingredients 

1 box tricolor rotini
2 cups chopped pepperoni
8oz package mozzarella pearls
⅔ cup shaved parmesan
½ pint grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
4-6 pepperocinis, seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 orange bell pepper, diced
½ cup white vinegar
2 tbsp white wine
¼ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 packets Good Seasons Italian dressing mix

Instructions

Cook pasta and let cool to room temperature. Once pasta is cooled, add pepperoni, veggies, and cheeses.

Combine white vinegar, white wine, mayo, and Italian dressing mix in a blender. With the blender still running on low speed, slowly stream in the olive oil. Continue to blend until well-incorporated. Pour over the pasta salad and toss until everything is mixed and well-coated.

Southwestern Corn

Southwestern Corn

Ok, so this was a bit of a disaster when I first made it, but I adjusted the recipe. It was way too spicy the first time – too much cayenne. It had a little kick to it when I first tasted it, which was fine. But then I let the sauce sit in the fridge for a few hours and the cayenne flavor really came out – too much. You can also make the sauce to put on corn on  the cob and roll the cob in the cheese.

Ingredients

½ cup mayonnaise
1 small pinch cayenne (the first time, I used ¼ tsp – too much!)
2 tsp cumin
¾ tsp paprika
½ tsp chili powder (not in my original attempt – didn’t have any)
2 cups corn off the cob (recommend using fresh or frozen, not canned)
½ cotija cheese, grated

Instructions

Combine mayo, cayenne, cumin, paprika, and chili powder and set aside. Grill the corn inside aluminum foil (if you don’t have access to a grill, you can roast it in the oven. You can also grill the corn on the cob and strip it off.) Transfer corn to a medium serving dish. Add the mayo mixture and stir to combine. Top with the cheese.

Ma’s Ham

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe. I’m really not a big ham eater, but I really, really like this ham. Make sure you save the leftovers (including the leftover sauce, drippings, and carcass) to make ham and bean soup! I’ll be posting the ham and bean soup recipe separately.

Ingredients

1 whole ham
Whole cloves (optional – I’ve made it without)
1 can crushed pineapple
1 ¼ cups brown sugar (should be about half of the bag)
¼ tsp cloves
¼ cup honey
¼ cup yellow mustard

Instructions (Sauce)

You can make the sauce ahead of time, or while the ham is cooking. I usually make it a day ahead if I have a lot of other things to do while the ham is cooking.

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until it starts bubbling. Once it bubbles, turn the heat to the to lowest setting and cook until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside until needed for the ham.

Instructions (Ham)

Preheat oven to 325°.

Put ham in roasting pan with fat side up, and score it into a lattice pattern. The lattice pattern will create squares. If using whole cloves, push one clove into each square.

Pour some water into bottom of roasting pan (basically cover the bottom of the pan enough to wet whatever falls into the bottom of the pan and keep it from burning). Cover the ham tightly with aluminum foil.

Follow the instructions on the label for the cooking time. If the label calls for a higher temperature, you can cook it on a higher temperature or lengthen the cooking time and cook it at 325°.

At last hour before the ham is done, remove the foil and spoon the sauce onto ham. Re-cover the ham and finish cooking. You may not need all of the sauce depending on the size of your ham. Save the leftover juices you don’t use if you plan to make soup with the leftover ham.

Dilly Pasta Salad

IMG_5150I went with my horseback riding club to tailgate at the Winterthur point-to -point races last week. This pasta salad was one of the things I brought to share. It was chilly and rained off and on, but we still had a great time.

Ingredients

1 box of tricolor farfalle pasta
Large pack of grape tomatoes (1qt)
1 package mozzarella pearls (8oz)
1 envelope Tastefully Simple dill pickle dip mix
2½ tsp to 1 tbsp dried dill weed
½+ tsp kosher salt
½ cup mayonnaise
Red wine vinegar to taste (about 6-10 dashes/shakes)

Instructions

Cook and drain pasta. Let it cool to at least room temperature. If you don’t cook and cool pasta in advance, you can do the remaining steps and set everything aside to be combined once the pasta cools.

Cut grape tomatoes into quarters. Drain the mozzarella pearls and combine with grape tomatoes. Set aside.

Combine mayonnaise, dill pickle dip mix, dil, and salt.

Once pasta is cooled to at least room temperature, stir in mayonnaise mixture until the pasta is well-coated. Stir in tomatoes and mozzarella until they are distributed evenly throughout. This is a good time to taste to see if you need to add more dill. If the salad is too dry, add more mayo.

Add red wine vinegar and combine well into the salad. Taste and add more if needed.

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We had a great tailgating spot right on the rail!

 

Simple Salsa

Ingredients

6 tomatoes, seeded and cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ large red onion, cut into large chunks (separate each layer into its own piece)
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp cumin
Leaves from about ¼ to ½ of a bunch of cilantro

Instructions

Place everything into a large food processor and process on low. Once the pieces look relatively small, stop the food processor and stir. Process again to make sure any larger pieces get chopped.

Mashed Potato Casserole

Mashed Potato Casserole

Someone gave me a recipe for a twice baked potato casserole. I liked the concept of a twice baked potato casserole because you don’t have to fool with re-stuffing the potato skins. I was planning to make that, but I didn’t have the right potatoes. Plus, that recipe didn’t have cream cheese, and I decided that was necessary! We had this on Easter, and not much was left over.

Ingredients

5 lbs of potatoes, peeled
1 – 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
7 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided into ¼ and ½ cups
¼ cup heavy cream
1 stick butter

Instructions

Boil the potatoes until fully cooked. Drain and transfer to the casserole dish. Add the stick of butter to the potatoes. Use beaters from a hand mixer to mash the potatoes.

Add cream cheese and heavy cream. Use the hand mixer on a low setting to blend everything together.

Add the bacon and ½ cup of the cheddar cheese. Blend again. You can add more cheese if you don’t think it’s cheesy enough. Taste and see if you think some salt needs to be added. The bacon is already salty, but I think I added maybe a pinch of salt.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the casserole and bake at 350° until it’s warm, the cheese is melted, and the sides look a little bubbly.