Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chocolate gelato

Yummy note: This month has begun to get away from me at bit. It was literally just Halloween, I thought... then I looked at calendar and yikes, halfway to Thanksgiving already!?! what happened to November. Oh, I recall, we have been having some amazing warmer weather days for us in the Midwest and we've been taking advantage of it some. Sneaking in those extra park trips, walks outside, fishing, and playing in the yard and raking up all those leaves! I thought it was going to slow down a bit since the soccer and other fall activities wrapped up but I guess I was wrong. With this nicer weather, the kids thought it would be fun to make ice cream. We haven't made ice cream in while so I told them sure, and convenient enough, it was Secret Recipe Club time!  So why not start there.. I was in luck, my blogger for this month was Jane from over at The Heritage Cook! Yeah, I love Jane's site, perhaps it is that she has this feature called Chocolate Mondays.. Oh boy, Chocolate Mondays! What a great concept, I sure would enjoy some chocolate goodies after a long weekend to start the week off right ;)  Jane has such great a variety of recipes that you are bound to find a recipe that fits your taste buds. Also, Jane does such a great job lending a hand out in our Secret Recipe Club too, so she is a busy lady! Back to the task... Kids want ice cream.. so here's the short list..  Darkest-chocolate-in-the-world-ice-creamPumpkin-ice-creamsummer sorbets, and chocolate gelato... the Heritage Cook offers many dietary alternatives, so I was thrilled to find a few potentials. However, the one requirement I had was the recipe must be both dairy-free and nut-free so that both kids could enjoy it, as I was not up for making two different batches today. This chocolate gelato recipe was the winner, also I've never made a gelato before so this was new. Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, is a winner in my book at home. This chocolate gelato sure doesn't taste free of anything though! It was amazing rich and full of chocolate goodness.

 Chocolate Gelato 
 Original recipe from The Heritage Cook

1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder 
2 (14 oz) cans of "lite" coconut milk (about 3-1/2 cups)
1 tsp of vanilla extract 
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of sugar 
2 tbsp of cornstarch 
1/8 tsp of salt 

Measure cocoa powder into a bowl and whisk in a small amount (no more than 2/3 cup) of coconut milk to make a smooth paste and then stir in the vanilla. In a separate sauce pan, mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in the remaining coconut milk into the sugar mixture and heat over medium heat. Stir coconut milk mixture frequently. Once the mixture begins to just simmer, keep stirring. The mixture should simmer for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes to fully cook the cornstarch. Note- keep stirring mixture constantly to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom or sides of the pan. Next, pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cocoa paste. Whisk both together until it is well blended. Let chocolaty mixture just sit without touching it and let it cool for about 45 minutes. Then cover bowl and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3-4 hours. This gelato mixture can be made days in advance if needed. Next pour the gelato mixture into the frozen ice cream maker bowl. Run the gelato in your ice cream maker according the the directions. My ice cream maker turned the gelato into a softer set after about 25 minutes. To store, freeze the gelato in an airtight container. It should last in the freezer for a week or so. For the best gelato texture, let it soften slightly before scooping and serving. This recipe yielded about 1 quart of gelato.

Use quality ingredients with this simple recipe makes all the difference in taste. 

Mix the warmed up coconut mixture into the cocoa paste. 

Pour gelato mixture in the frozen ice cream maker container.  

Process ice cream for about 20-25 minutes or until soft set. 
Get ready to enjoy your homemade chocolate gelato! 

A rich dessert served with berries and chocolate sauce drizzle.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Dessert

Yummy note: I rarely make desserts like these, as they are oh so rich and amazingly sinful. My sister-in-law pointed this chocolate and peanut butter layered dessert recipe out to me a few months ago from 365 Days of Baking and More. I just got around to making it recently. Oh boy, it was as delicious as expected; I mean we already knew the peanut butter and chocolate combo was a winner, but the addition of the peanut butter cookies, cream cheese, and then more chocolate on top, mmm, yummy. I don't even want to count the calories in this dish,  so I knew I couldn't keep the whole pan in my house... So guess what I brought to the last family get together, yep, I was like I want to bring a dessert- hello, the chocolate peanut butter dream dessert. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Dessert

1 (16-ounce) package of peanut butter sandwich cookies, divided
1/2 stick of butter, melted
4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1/3 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 (8-ounce) container of Cool Whip, divided
1 (3.9-ounce) package of instant chocolate pudding mix
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of milk chocolate and peanut butter chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Finely crush 24 of the peanut butter cookies in a food processor or blender. Next, mix together the crushed cookies and the melted butter. Press cookie crumbs into an ungreased 8 x 8 baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Allow crust to cool. In a small bowl, mix the pudding with 1 1/2 cups of milk. Then in another bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and peanut butter together and then fold in 1 cup of the Cool Whip until blended. Spread the chocolate pudding over the cooled crust. Then layer the peanut butter mixture over the chocolate layer. Next, spread the remaining Cool Whip on top. Chop up the last of peanut butter cookies and chocolate/peanut butter chips and sprinkle on top. Refrigerate several hours or until dessert is set before cutting.
Peanut butter cookies - aka Nutter Butter
Chocolate and peanut butter layers of goodness 
Cookie crumbles and chocolate peanut butter chips top the dessert.
Delicious layers of chocolate, peanut butter, and cream cheese ready to enjoy.
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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Apple Strudel

Yummy note: Every fall, I love to hit an apple orchard and pick apples. I don't know what it is, but the apples you pick directly from the trees seems much more different than if you would just pick them up at the store. Earlier this fall, I found a small local orchard and we ended up picking a bushel or so. The apples were lots of varieties and sizes and tasted amazing, but, Oh so many apples left... what to do with them before they spoil. Let's see we've had a steady supply of applesauce, apple pie, apple crisp, apple cobbler, apple pork chops, and others, you get the idea. I was thinking maybe we can make an apple butter since I haven't made that before, but then when I got this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment blog, The Avid Appetite - this Apple Strudel looked perfect. I am always a sucker for the little strudels in the doughnut case, so I could only imagine how these might taste if I can make it at home and eat them fresh and warm from the oven. I've never made a strudel before, so it was worth a shot, especially when Rachel from The Avid Appetite said it was only like 5 minutes worth of prep time, now that sounds like a winner. 

Apple Strudel

1 egg
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour (plus a little extra for rolling out dough)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large apples, or 4 small apples- peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 sheet of puff pastry (1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed

* optional - 2 tbsp dried cranberries, powdered sugar (for dusting or to make a simple glaze of water and powdered sugar) 

Thaw a sheet of puff pastry. Then preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core, and thinly slice your apples. Mix the apple slices, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. Next, prepare to roll our your puff pastry sheet on a floured surfaced. The pastry should be rolled out to about 16 x 12 inches. Next, place the apple mixture on the bottom half of the pastry only. Note - leave a small border around the edges with no apple mixture and then start to roll up the pastry very carefully without ripping the dough and keeping the apples tucked inside. Once it is rolled up, tuck in the ends and place on a greased baking sheet. To finish, cut small slits on top of the pastry and brush the top with the beaten egg and water mixture. Bake for about 35 minutes and then allow to cool slightly before enjoying. Top with sprinkled powdered sugar or make a simple glaze of powdered sugar and water.

A few months ago, Rachel featured my taco pizza in the Secret Recipe Club, so it was great to return the favor this month! Don't forget to check out a few of these other recipes from The Avid Appetite like this hearty but quick meal- Italian goulash, or some seasonal pumpkin butter, or wait, these cupcakes that could go with some fall tailgating - Irish car bomb cupcakes.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

Yummy note: Every summer, I always forget, how do I freeze fresh green beans again?? Between trying to grown them in our gardens and buying them at the farmer's market, I always seem to overdo the amount I have and don't want them to go to waste. So instead of eating them for like 4 days straight, I try and freeze a batch for later to enjoy. So this isn't really a recipe, but it is more of a how-to, and I always seem to have to look it up in my cookbook each summer. So I figured I should just archive it here so I have it for reference.

How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans 

fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into pieces

First, trim the ends of your green beans and cut the beans into smaller pieces, if desired. The general rule of thumb I've heard about having enough water to boil, is to have roughly 1 gallon of water to 1 pound of fresh green beans. So adjust accordingly, and then bring that large pot of water to boil. Then working in batches, drop the green beans into the boiling water. Blanch the smaller pieces of green beans for about 2 minutes or for larger cut beans closer to 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water to have off to the side. Once green beans have reached your desired time, carefully remove the green beans from the boiling water and place into the ice water bath. Another tip I've heard is that they are to spend as much time in the cold water for as long as they have spent in the boiling water. Once green beans have cooled, prepare them for freezing, by using either freezer-safe containers or freezer bags.  

Trim the ends of the green beans and cut into smaller pieces, if desired. 
In smaller batches add green beans to boiling water. 
This process, also called blanching, preps your food for freezing. 
After blanching, drop beans into the ice water bath.

When preparing green beans from the frozen state, saute in a pan with a little bit of water for about 3-5 minutes or until they are tender crisp and done to your likeness.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Zucchini Brownies

Yummy note: Oh, how I miss you, zucchini... I didn't really get a chance to have a real garden this year, so no home grown zucchini here. :(  Last year, I had a bunch and of course, my friends at the Secret Recipe Club helped out in giving me lots of great ideas using that up last year and coincidentally enough, this month I found yet another great way to use up some zucchini that I had from the farmer's market!  So kudos to the SRC bloggers and their creativity. In all the recipes, I've tried with zucchini I don't recall ever making brownies with them. I've baked breads and cakes with it, and even made salsa and fried zucchini, but no brownies. Well, that must be fixed instantly, after I saw this recipe from Ashley at Rainstorms and Love Notes. I am pretty sure I've seen recipes like it before floating around, but I just never tried it. I knew from previous baking with zucchini sometimes my kids can be a bit picky and I need some tricks to get past the green stuff. So the chocolate here was my ammo. I also ended up pulsing the brownie mix just slightly in the food processor to incorporate the zucchini strands better, as I wanted the kids to like the brownies without finding "something stringy is in my food, mom!!" and then it would be a no-go. This recipe was kid-tested and approved and they thoroughly enjoyed these zucchini brownies and kept asking for more. It was a 2 thumbs up dessert all around. Thanks Ashley for this great treat! Don't forget to stop by Ashley's blog and learn more about her here. (btw, love this intro page!) If you are looking for other great treats, check these out... these are on my short list to try-- cookie dough bitescinnamon doughnuts, and these amazing looking caramel shortbread bars.

Zucchini Brownies 

1 large zucchini (roughly 2 cups shredded zucchini)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Finely grate zucchini, you should try and have approximately 2 cups for the recipe. Next, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the zucchini into brownie batter. Yummy note: If your kids are like mine and they don't like to see zucchini strands perhaps pulse the zucchini a little in a food processor to incorporate it better into the batter.  Pour brownie batter into a prepared 9x13 pan. For best results, line your pan with aluminum foil and then spray with cooking spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done.

Ingredients all ready to mix together.
1st attempt at zucchini going in... then the kid factor.. "mom, that looks kinds yucky.." Ok, time to switch things up. Sneaky mom takes a bunch of zucchini out and pulses it in food processor to achieve a more smooth consistency and then blends it right into the brownie batter. 

Added a handful of chocolate chips just to make sure we are good. 

Ready to bake!

Warm chocolate, almost cake-like brownies ready to be eaten! 
Yummy note: If you want to make it extra decadent try topping the brownies with this frosting! 

Easy Chocolate Frosting 

1/4 cup butter, melted
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk or coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 2-3 cups powdered sugar

Mix butter and cocoa together until combined. Then add in milk (or coffee) and vanilla and beat until smooth. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar until desired consistency for frosting is achieved.

Chocolate-loving kid tested and approved zucchini brownies! 

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Blonde Brownies

Yummy note:  Last month, my mother-in-law and I were discussing how delicious those blonde brownies from Applebee's are, and how you just can't eat one by yourself. Seriously, there is a lot of warm gooey sweet goodness going on with that dessert. So instead of heading out to the restaurant with the kids and all to get a treat, I figured let's bake something similar to these blonde brownies for Grandma and Grandpa instead. Then we an portion control ourselves and have like little blonde brownies treats all week long! ;) 

Blonde Brownies 

1 cup sifted flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/8 teaspoon baking soda 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar 
1 egg, beaten 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (I also have used dark chocolate) 

Melt butter and add brown sugar, and stir until well mixed. Add in egg and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Combine butter mixture with flour mixture, stirring well. Stir in nuts and desired chocolate chips. Pour into a 9-inch square pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

chicken enchilada dip

Yummy note: Over here at It's Yummy to My Tummy, it has been a whirlwind of the last few months here, and blogging has been set on my back burner. Long story, short, my family has finally relocated back closer to both of our families. We made the big move out of state, sold our townhouse, and bought a single family home in just a few short months. Phew, now if any of you all can tell me when it begins to get easier with transitions and "normalcy" again, I'm all ears... Taking a little bit of time off from blogging was needed to focus on our family and take care of things on the home front. After being in our new house now for just a few weeks, it is fun to kick off my mini-vacation from blogging and get back to our Secret Recipe Club. This is the first time in over 4 years I've taken a longer break in my blogging here at It's Yummy to My Tummy, so I thank you all for being patient and letting me run idle for a bit while I get back into the blogging routine again. 

This month for our SRC group, I was assigned Happy Go Lucky. What a fun name for a blog, and sounds like a good theme for me to go along with for my next chapter of life here. I need to be more like that and less worry about things! :) So Kara at Happy Go Lucky has such a variety of blog posts that appeals to many audiences- from her creative artsy tutorials to her crafty items to her awesome recipes. Some of the DIY projects on the blog fit right in with my new house projects, and seriously, I can't wait to try out a few! This month, I was all about the least amount of mess and kitchen involvement for this SRC pick. So I was keeping an eye open for a crockpot recipe. I figured since it was the move weekend, a few dishes that could be easily done in the crockpot was a done deal; plus something hot and ready in the kitchen for the hungry guys would be a good thing, too! Kara had this one post that had about 20 different ones that hit the mark, oh, the possibilities... I finally settled on the Chicken Enchilada Dip. What a crowd pleasing recipe, it was a hit, when we ran out of chips, we were seriously using whatever we could to eat up the delicious dip. Tortilla chips, Pringles, or maybe just a spoon, whatever the method is, it is a great appetizer that you can practically turn into a meal, as it is that satisfying. 

Chicken Enchilada Dip

2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
1 can (7 oz) chopped green chiles
2 cups Mexican Blend shredded cheese

Optional add-ins: 
1 can of black beans
1 can of Southwestern corn (corn with red and green peppers)
additional shredded cheese or jar of queso salsa

Shred the cooked chicken. Then add all of your ingredients to slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours. If in a hurry, this can be made in the microwave by melting everything together until creamy and the cheese is melted thoroughly. Then you can keep the dip in a crockpot on low or warm while serving dip.

Yummy note- I took Kara's advice and added a can of beans and tossed in a can of corn with peppers in it as well. I noticed the dip was getting rather thick and needed a bit more "goo," so I all I had on hand was a jar of queso salsa and it was just the right add-in of flavor and creaminess. So if you opt for the additional ingredients, you might need to adjust your cheese ratio to ensure creaminess of your dip.
Just a few ingredients thrown in your Crockpot makes for a fantastic appetizer! 
Getting all mixed together and gooey! Mmm, cheesy chicken dip... 
Let's dip into action! I barely had time to capture the finished product as it was flying out of the crockpot.
Happy flavors mixed in this bowl here- a little spicy, cheesy, and meaty topped on a little crunchy chip. Practically a walking taco-enchilada!  

These tortilla flavored Pringles made the perfect little vessel for the chicken enchilada dip. Did I mention that you can just eat this for a meal? oh yes, you can... and I did just that.. The next day I had just a little amount of leftovers, that warmed up nicely, and you know there just wasn't enough to share.. or well maybe I just didn't want to share ;)
Also, Kara had some great drink recipes on Happy Go Lucky, that I can't wait to sip on these bellinis once I get a few more raspberries from the backyard! A nice nightcap drink perhaps in the backyard at night might be just what is needed lately with all the move craziness.

The kids helped me prune and pick up canes from our one purple raspberry patch, while the other red raspberry bush has just begun to bloom. Yeah, for backyard fruit at our new home!   
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