Sunday, January 30, 2011

My First Ice Cream Adventure

Or should I say, my first ice cream making adventure? I have eaten a LOT of ice cream in my lifetime. I used to work at Baskin-Robbins; never got sick of ice cream. My freezer pretty much always has ice cream in it. I am a fan.

To break in the new ice cream maker, I decided on double chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. That's right, cookie dough flavored ice cream with cookie dough in it - double. (Recipe here). There were a few issues with the ingredients (ie I didn't make sure I had them all) but I made do. The ingredients weren't crazy or weird, I was just short on brown sugar (had less than 1/3 C) and had big fat chocolate chips. I used white sugar instead, which made it more vanilla than cookie dough:

And maybe I'm weird, but I'm not actually a big fan of chocolate chunks in my ice cream. I hate that it gets hard and loses flavor when it's frozen. I am an even bigger fan of chocolate than I am of ice cream, so in a fight between the two, chocolate wins. The big chips I had were going to be a problem. That didn't stop me from making cookie dough ice cream, but I didn't put any chocolate chips in the ice cream itself. I also had to semi-chop the ones I put into the dough, because seriously, have you seen the Ghiradelli chips? They're giants.

After mixing: vanilla-ish ice cream base
I was also sad to realize that the mixture I cooked up one night couldn't be made into ice cream until it had thoroughly chilled. So the next morning, I ran the ice cream maker while I was getting ready for work, stuck the mixed up ice cream in the freezer for the day, and came home to homemade ice cream. I have been eating it frequently. This may become a habit.

All mixed up, base + cookie dough ready to go in the freezer!
 In fact, I'm going to go eat some right now!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cake

I believe that title speaks for itself.

I'll elaborate on my end, though. I went to a friend's house for Bunco on Friday night, and I brought a cake for dessert. I went to one of my very favorite food blogs, Orangette, and got a recipe for Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake. I highly recommend it. I only used about 1/4 cup of whiskey, and didn't "soak" the cake after it was baked, and it was delicious. Dark and rich without being super sweet. I'm not a huge fan of my bundt pan, because it's got a few too many dips and bumps. They're pretty, but sometimes the cake gets stuck in them and I lose cake (well, I mean, I do EAT it, but the cake loses part of itself). Sad. Powdered sugar makes it all pretty, though.

This cake also goes well with coffee. And makes mornings happier. (Maybe not recommended for breakfast if you use the amount of booze in the original - she does call it boozycake after all. I'm pretty sure all the alcohol baked out of mine.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Vacation Routine

Well, we're home. I've been busy trying to settle back into daily life, and I'm trying to make a few things to put into my Etsy shop (I took out the Christmas stuff and now it's even smaller than it was!)

Vacation itself was 6 days at the snow - Truckee, CA, near Lake Tahoe. My husband and I rented a cabin with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. It was absolutely wonderful to have a break where we could just relax. A typical day went like this: wake up. eat breakfast. sit around for a while, maybe do some crocheting. change into snow clothes and go sledding. eat lunch. watch movies and crochet. eat dinner. play a game or watch a movie.

I spent quite of bit of time on vacation just working on WIPs; will share about those later (ie, after I take some pics). My mom and I also (very fun) taught my sister-in-law how to crochet! If we'd had Internet access we would have tried learning to knit, but the crocheting was fun. There was a local yarn shop that we stopped by called Lake Tahoe Yarn Company. They were super helpful and had some lovely yarns. I spent a ton of time trying to decide what to get. Or rather, what not to get (as previously mentioned, I'm rather indecisive.) If you're in the area, you should definitely stop there.

All in all, quite a nice way to spend a few days.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Want to Visit Katy?

Hi, all, I'm back from vacation!

Just wanted to say that Katy Atchison, who I featured last month, has a little feature on me on her blog. If you have a chance to check it out, I'd love for you to visit over there!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who's Ready for a Vacation?

January 13:
***Um, so apparently I never posted this! Better late than never, I guess? At least it makes what I was going to post about how vacation went make more sense***

January 5:
I am! And coincidentally (or not so much), I'm leaving for one tomorrow - woo hoo! The husband and I are going up to Lake Tahoe with my family for 6 days. I don't know whether or not I'll have any sort of Internet connection, so I may pop up on Twitter or something but I'll be taking a blog break.

Before I go, here's a super quick little how-to add-on to the crocheted Christmas trees I posted a while back: I totally forgot to mention the little dots on the garland chain! If you know how to crochet, even just a tiny bit, this is an easy way to make a simple yarn garland. I simply chained for a while (it's really your preference, it's just spacing and will change depending on your yarn and hook) then made a little circle by doing one round. For the Christmas garland, I attached the trees in between dots, but you could also just leave off the trees and have a simpler finished product.

You create the dot by chaining, then going back to the 3rd or 4th chain from the hook, slip stitching into it to make a tiny little ring, and then doing double crochets into that space in the middle of the ring - do a small ch-2 as the first "double-crochet" stitch to bring your yarn up to the right height. I think I used 9 DC's for kind of cupped discs, but using 8 will flatten them out if you want. This is a pretty good tutorial (pictures and all!) if you haven't done this before. When you get enough of them to make a good circle, slip stitch into the first stitch (whether that's the first "real" DC or the turning chain doesn't make a huge difference here) and start chaining again. Keep doing this as many times as you want to get the length of garland you need.

I also found these instructions a while back and thought it was really interesting. I didn't know how to create anything in the round without following a pattern, because I didn't know the pattern for the increases. But, it's pretty simple and opens up all sorts of ideas for me.

I want to use this garland technique to make some big, long garlands. Just one of many things I want to do... Planning on using some vacation time for crocheting along with finishing the binding for the baby quilt. Soooo looking forward to just chilling for a few days. Will share finished projects when I get back!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Four Ice Creams I Want to Try

I am an indecisive person. I like to take my time, think things through, etc. etc. and it can take forever. I mean, I can usually just pick something and go with it, but it's not my natural way of doing things.

I love ice cream and got an ice cream maker for Christmas. So now I have a decision to make: What ice cream should I try first???

I started looking for recipes to try for breaking in the new toy, and I found far too many choices just by looking at three websites plus one recipe I bookmarked months ago. There's the choice between keeping it simple or going all out and using ingredients that require me to cook and prepare before I even pull out the contraption. I've decided simple is probably better to start with. I believe I have narrowed it down to four choices that I think all look delicious:

Double cookie dough ice cream - Recipe at Annie's Eats - this is the one I had bookmarked, because even though I didn't have an ice cream maker at the time it made me make plans to get one...

Honey ice cream - Recipe at Orangette - I need some better honey anyways (there are some great local ones that are SOOOO much better than the little bear from the grocery store...); what better way to use it than in ice cream?

Vanilla bean ice cream - Tartelette or David Lebovitz - Another excuse to buy a new ingredient; I don't have any vanilla beans on hand and a Penzey's just opened near here that I haven't gone into yet... Plus, the Tartelette version mentions cinnamon ice cream as well. Which I have to try at some point. And Penzey's also has cinnamon.

Salted butter caramel ice cream - Recipe by David Lebovitz - OK, this one isn't as simple as the others, but it sounds Wonderful (yes, with a capital W).

There are many others on the list to try in the future. When strawberries are in season, I'm def making strawberry, for example. I'd love to find a recipe for lavender ice cream, too; a local ice cream shop makes one and it's so good.

We leave for vacation in two days, so that buys me some extra time to think about this... Opinions?