Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Old Fashioned Vanilla Bean Ice Cream - Lightened Version

In honor of National Ice Cream Month I've made two different homemade ice creams!

Two basic flavors that can't be beat...vanilla and chocolate.

Today I'm sharing with you the vanilla recipe.  This is an old, old recipe that I got from my mom.  It originally came from her cousin Maxine.  The note on the index card said, "One of the best vanilla ice creams" so I had to try this out.  

This ice cream is Philadelphia Style ice cream, which contains no eggs, and doesn't involve cooking the mixture. This style is quick and easy to make.  You'll have the mixture made in no time which cream that much faster! Don't you love that?

I decided to lighten this recipe up a little bit by using fat free half and half and using a sugar substitute blend. To give it more pizzazz I used ground Tahitian vanilla bean which imparted flecks of vanilla throughout the ice cream.  It turned out so pretty! 

The overall results were that this ice cream is a winner! Creamy and smooth, both MGG and I love it.  I could hardly wait for it to set up in the freezer.  I really wanted to just dip my face in the bowl and eat it but I refrained myself.  It really is that good.

So try this version and let me know what you think.  You can always substitute full fat half and half and all sugar in equivalent amounts to obtain luscious results.


Old Fashioned Vanilla Bean Ice Cream - Lightened Version

2 cups whole milk
2 cups fat-free half and half
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Splenda Blend)
2 teaspoons vanilla, vanilla paste, or ground vanilla bean

In a medium bowl whisk all ingredients together until sugar dissolves.  Pour into a bowl of an ice cream freezer.  Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.  Trans
fer to an airtight container.  Cover tightly and freeze several hours until set.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mediterranean Lemon Chicken

It's been a busy week.

A new branch of my favorite grocery store decided to close it's doors this week.  It's so sad to see such a beautiful store, fully stocked...always...have to close it's doors due to lack of patrons.  This place was never, never crowded.  With 8 checking lanes only 1 was open every time I went with little to no wait in line.

Amazing.  Where do all the people that live in that neighborhood shop?  They must being going to local ethnic stores, or outside their area to another chain grocery store.

So last Wednesday the store advertised 50% off of everything....I mean the store.  OMG...I've stopped by to pick up a few items before the store closed this week and couldn't find a place to park!  Wondering what was going on I spotted the 50% off sign.  NOW the people come.

So there must have been about 200 people in the store shopping.  All the wine, pasta,candy, canned goods etc...the items were endless (and so was the check out line).  Not wanting to fill my house with random items that I have no place to store, I browsed through the items and chose big ticket items I would get the most bang for my buck.  I got Parmesan cheese wedges I can freeze.  Expensive balsamic, sherry, and champagne vinegars.  Various oils such as walnut and hazelnut.  All at 50% off!  I found some specialty gourmet spices such as saffron to add to my cart.  I hit the jackpot!

I can't wait to cook with my new items....but today is not the day.  I spent 45 min in line to check out (I kept saying "is this worth it?")  But what the heck.   I stood there, laughed with the other people in line to pass the time, watching others keep leaving their cart to run and get one more thing!  

So I'm home around 7 pm and I'm tired.  Time for dinner and I want comfort food.  This Mediterranean Lemon Chicken it just what I'm craving.  Easy to make with either chicken tenders or chicken breasts cut into long strips.  A few veggies, some lemon which makes a great sauce, all served over some Basmati rice.  Don't you love the flavor of Basmati rice? This meal will take you to a comfort zone you won't want to leave.


Mediterranean Lemon Chicken

serves 4

2 T butter
1 lb chicken tenderloins
1 8 oz pkg sliced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 T flour
1 14.5 oz can low sodium chicken broth
1 t lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
1 t fresh thyme, chopped
salt & pepper
cooked Basmati rice

In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat.  Add chicken and cook 4 minutes.  Add mushrooms and bell pepper and cook an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender.  Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add broth, zest, juice, and thyme.  Cook about 4 minutes until thick and bubbly. Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Sever over rice.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Simple Chocolate Chip Scones

I'm up and running out the door early today.

I've got an exciting day planned for myself and MGG.  We are meeting up with some friends and going to the California Science Center to see the Pompeii exhibit.  So since I'm always starving when I wake up I don't usually skip breakfast.  This calls for a quick and easy recipe.

I've got just the thing.  Simple Chocolate Chip Scones. PLUS, these scones are a great grab and go meal. Perfect for today!  MGG loves things that are grab and go so he can snack on them on the road.  

(perfectly light and fluffy scones!)

So with a little help from an all purpose baking mix (I used King Arthur's Flour All Purpose Baking Mix) and some mini chocolate chips (my favorite!) you can have these whipped up in no time.  Plus they taste fantastic!  

Have you tried mini chocolate chips yet?  It is the perfect way of getting that wonderful chocolate flavor you crave but still keeping down the calories, fat and sugars in your food.  I love that!  

So, I'm off.  The scones are baked and packed and ready to go for our day trip to the museum.  They smell wonderful, and (because I couldn't help my self and tasted tested one...LOL!) they are perfectly moist, light and fluffy, and sweet.  A great quick and easy scone to make anytime.


Simple Chocolate Chip Scones

Makes: 1 Dozen

3 cups baking mix (I used King Arthur's Flour All Purpose Baking Mix)
1/4 c sugar or 2 T Splenda Blend
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T Butter, chilled cold, and cut into small pieces
2/3 c fat-free half and half
1 large egg
2 T mini chocolate chips
1 T fat-free half and half (for tops)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl combine baking mix, sugar, cinnamon.  Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or two forks, until small crumbs form.  Add half and half and egg and mix until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop mix in about 1/4 cupfuls on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Brush the tops of each scone with half and half.   Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool a few minutes and serve.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fresh Apple Slaw

One of the things I struggle with is changing up my side dishes.

Do you tend to gravitate toward the same ones as well? Well this summer I changing that.

I've made a pact to incorporate new side dishes using fresh summer ingredients. There are so many things to explore but I know just where to begin!

One thing I do on the weekend's is to make a batch of some type of salad for us to eat on during the week. That may be a pasta salad, quinoa, orzo, corn salad, bean salad...etc.

I'm thinking coleslaw this week.  We had a nice basic one for the 4th of July which was great, but I want to change it up a bit.  Make a slaw with a vinaigrette dressing instead of the heavy mayo one.  And...I'll add some apples for some zip.  I just bought some wonderful new apples called "Envy". Outstanding.  Crisp and juicy, with a bright flavor, but not tart.  You must try them if you see them at your grocery store, they are that good.  

So out of this came my Fresh Apple Slaw.  

Perfect for alfresco dining and picnics.

Perfect for summer.


Fresh Apple Slaw

Serves 6-8

1 pkg of coleslaw mix with red cabbage
2 cups of julienne carrots
1 Envy apple, sliced thinly
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine coleslaw mix, carrots, and apples in a large bowl. Whisk together vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt & pepper in a medium bowl.  Toss vinaigrette with slaw apple mixture; cover and chill up to 4 hours.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Man Food! Grilling At It's Best!

Cooking for a man is serious business! 

They want hearty, hot, and delicious food.  To me, some food just screams "man food".  Especially if it's grilled.
Most men love to do the grilling, but what's sexier than his woman grilling for him?

Here's a gathering of my favorite "man food" dishes.  There's something for everyone, with most types of meat covered and even a pizza.  These recipes are the way to win any man's heart!


(starting in the upper left and going clockwise)

Pineapple Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu

Grilled Turkey with a Balsamic BBQ Sauce

Cowboy Salad

Grilled Pita Pizza

Grilled Flank Steak in an Adobo Tomato Sauce

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Strips

Have you ever had someone that impressed you so much that many years later you still can recall that special moment, idea, or gift they brought to a relationship...even many, many years later?

Well I can clearly recall one such person.

In my 20's I ran around with a big group of friends and I had a thing....ok a major "infatuation" for one of the guys we hung with.  He was hot, and...he could cook!  I mean I could count the guys my age that could cook on one hand.  Oh, and did I mention he was hot?

But what left an impression on me all these years was the dinner he cooked for a group of us.  Succulent chicken strips that are coated in a garlic parmesan marinade, breaded and baked until crisp and juicy.  

I may not have gotten the guy...but I've been making his chicken strips for years. 


Garlic Parmesan Chicken Strips

Serves 6

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (or use tenderloins)
½ c garlic parmesan bottled dressing (such as Bernstein’s or Newman’s)
1 c panko or regular bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set up you breading station by placing the dressing in a dish, and the bread crumbs in another dish.

Remove any skin or fat from chicken breasts. Cut up the chicken breasts into strips. Dip the strips into the dressing coating both sides. Then dip them in the bread crumbs. Place strips on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fresh Sweet Corn with Lime Butter

There are few things to me that are ‘must haves’ for our annual 4th of July grilling fest.  Burgers and Hot Dogs, Homemade Ice Cream…and Corn on the cob!

Gotta have the corn!  In fact we eat corn all summer long, almost every week, since it grows right here.  One thing I’m known for (especially since I became a food blogger) is that I frequent food markets and farmers markets multiple times a week.  I really try to stick to my once of week shopping but can’t seem to help myself.  I invariably find something I need a few days later and off I go again!

Needless to say the staff at the markets and I are “friendly”.  Even the coffee barrista swap stories often!  She’s such a sweet person to talk to and the stories she can tell…phew!  She has me rolling.

So my local produce guy at this one farmer’s market suggested that I try this wonderfully sweet corn on the cob with a compound butter of lime juice and zest.  Just for a little extra zing!  He encouraged me to prepare the corn any way I liked grilled, sauteed, steamed, or boiled!).  

So I took his suggestion and created the butter, which is now known as “the Limey Butter” in our house.  Cooked up some corn and slathered it on….Wow! Pow! Bam!  He was soooo right.  What a nice zing to the sweet corn.

This is PERFECT for a 4th of July cookout.  This is a staple in our grilling menus.  Try it soon and you too will experience the Wow! Pow! Bam! of this butter.


Fresh Sweet Corn with Lime Butter

serves 8

8 ears of corn, cooked (method is your choice)

For the Butter:

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

  1. Combine butter, rind, juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. After corn is cooked immediately brush with butter mixture.


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