Homemade Ice Cream: Pumpkin Pie

For Christmas, my wonderful boyfriend bought me an ice cream machine from Cuisinart. I was thrilled at his neat choice and was just waiting for the perfect weekend to try it. This past weekend I finally had enough time to peruse through recipes. While searching, I found plenty of amazing recipes, but I figured that I’d play it “safe” the first time around with Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.

Step 1: Mix Together Wet Ingredients With Mixer
Step 2: Add Pumpkin Purée and Spices

Step 3: Place in Ice Cream Maker

Step 4: Take Out After 25 Minutes and Freeze

Step 5: Scoop and Eat!


I am definitely happy with the results from this ice cream maker. Pretty simple and little effort and time required. Now I’m inspired to “spice it up” a bit the next time I decide to make ice cream. Curious what I mean? Stay tuned!

Cheers!

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Lemon Icebox Pie With “Savannah Smiles” Crust

A few weeks ago, my lovely roommate alerted me to a contest that the Girl Scouts of Western Washington were putting on: a Food Blogger Contest. Any Food Blogger who signs up for the contest receives five free boxes of Girl Scout cookies in exchange for creating a recipe utilizing Girl Scout cookies and submitting the recipe to the contest.

Not only was I ecstatic to participate in this local contest, but I absolutely love Girl Scout cookies. I usually indulge in Girl Scout cookies that are more of a chocolate-y nature; however, I decided to use the lemon-flavored Savannah Smiles cookies for this baking extravaganza instead. Why? I have recently been itching for warm weather and have lately welcomed any and all chances to partake in foods and activities that remind me of Spring, sundresses (hence the blog title) and barbecues (still cannot wait for my upcoming visit to the South!). And, since the Northwest has experienced a few rare recent bouts of sunshine for the Winter, I figured I’d complement the sunshine by baking something lemon-inspired to get us all in the mood for Spring!

So, with a few household ingredients and a generous gift from the Girl Scouts, I happily made a Lemon Icebox Pie (with a twist – the crust substituted Savannah Smiles cookies instead of graham cracker crumbs).

Step 1: Grease Springform Pan

Step 2: Crush Lemon Cookies


Step 3: Pour Melted Butter, Sugar, Crumbled
Cookies and Salt Into Food Processor;
Pulse Until Combined


Step 4: Press Crust Into Springform Pan

Step 5: Whisk Condensed Milk With Lemon
Juice; Whisk Egg Yolks With Lemon
Zest;
Combine Both Mixtures


Step 6: Pour Liquid Mixture Into
Springform Pan; Bake at 325
Degrees for 25 Minutes; Freeze Overnight

Step 7: Cut Paper Stars (Or Other Shapes);
Place Onto Cooled Cake; Sprinkle
With Powdered Sugar


Step 8: Add Blueberries and Eat!

I love lemon-themed recipes. Out of all the ones that I’ve tried, I believe this one best captured a lemon flavor through an intense sour lemon filling that was complimented by a sweet Girl Scout cookie lemon crust.

Don’t be fooled – this recipe rings true to the name of “Icebox”. This pie is technically “frozen”; however, it does not come out of the freezer frozen like a brick. But, beware, it does start to melt and get soft rather quickly so I recommend consuming quickly. I decided to serve this on Superbowl Sunday, and luckily for us all, it was tasty enough so that it wasn’t a problem!

Cheers!

Again, I’d like to give a special shout-out and thank you to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington – this was a fun contest and I’m glad that I had the chance to participate. Don’t forget to check out their cookie sale March 2 – 18. If you need more information, check out their awesome cookie locator platform or their app or check them out on Facebook and Twitter to see what they’re doing!

Favorite Recipes of 2011

Bye bye 2011 – the year filled with various fruit-filled desserts, homemade pizzas and plenty of roasted chicken recipes. Throughout this past year, I definitely learned many new tricks including how to make pie pastry dough from scratch (and cut and assemble lattices for pies), how to properly clean and prepare a whole chicken for roasting and how to properly make quinoa, just to name a few!

In order to celebrate 2011, I just wanted to list a few of my favorites:

Strawberry Shortcakes

Cheddar Jalapeno Bread


Homemade Oreos


Roast Chicken With Chickpeas,
Tomatoes, Olives and Thyme


Sour Cherry Pie With Lattice Crust


Spaghetti & Sicilian Meatballs


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes With
Lemon Curd and Raspberries


Chicken Piccata


Blackberry Peach Crumble


Baked Macaroni & Cheese
With Garlic Bread Crumbs

Pumpkin Cake With
Cream Cheese Frosting

I am already excited for 2012: hoping to experiment more with pomegranates, mustard (yes, Epicurious predicted it to be a Top Food Trend for 2012), avocados and I would like to make homemade Pho. Join me in my adventure!

Cheers!

Strawberry-Almond-Cream-Tart

So, continuing with this past weekend’s trend of using almonds, I found a recipe for a Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart during a recent shopping excursion at the local grocery store. After looking through recipe after recipe in the grocery store magazine aisle, I finally settled upon this one. But, I’m not going to lie, at first glance, I solely wanted to try this recipe because it looked “pretty” and it contained almonds. It wasn’t until after my impulse buy and I was in the car already on the way home that I realized that this would be a perfect dessert for a dinner party: light, summery, and the strawberries I had chosen were actually ripe!

Step 1: Crush Graham Crackers (You
Can Use a Food Processor — I Just Chose
to Smash Them in Bags!)


Step 2: Combine Crushed Graham Cracker
Crumbs With Butter and Sugar 


Step 3: Spray Pan With Cooking Spray;
Press Graham Cracker Crumbs Into Pan 


Step 4: Mix Cream Cheese With Almond
and Vanilla Extracts Plus Sugar 


Step 5: Cut Fresh Strawberries


Step 6: Add Strawberries and
Almonds to Top; Bake and Enjoy! 


Although I altered a few things from the original recipe, I’m happy with how it turned out. I really liked implementing nuts into this dessert because I often don’t ever think to add them to desserts. The key for the best flavor is to toast the almonds and the key to the best construction of this dessert is to use enough cooking spray (I didn’t and had some architectural failure when taking it out of the spring form pan). Anyway, all in all, this is a flavorful dessert that is light and doesn’t leave you feeling too full which is just perfect for summertime!

Cheers!

Pear Croustade

When most people think of fruit desserts, either apple, blueberry, lemon or strawberry conconctions come to mind. For me, I would classify myself as a bit of an oddball. Don’t get me wrong, I love classic strawberry and lemon-flavored desserts (as seen here and here); however, I love to experiment with new desserts and more uncommon ingredients (as seen here and here). Now, I realize pears are not “out-of-the-ordinary” or “unique” — but, I think it is safe to say that pears are not the usual fruit of choice. So, if you are reading this and you happen to fall into that boat, I strongly urge you to forget about the usual go-to’s and try this dessert with pears. I promise you will not be disappointed!

I have made this Pear Croustade many times (as seen in My Thanksgiving Post) — it has definitely made it into my rotation of desserts. At least for me, I love the fact that it contains pears. Pears are a nice change that pairs (not trying to make a pun, I swear!) well with the nutmeg and lemon juice for a not too sweet, but yet tart and delicious flavor. Plus, among my friends, this is hands-down their favorite crust out of all the desserts that I have ever made.

Step 1: Zest Lemon; Cut
Butter Into Small Pieces



Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients Together


Step 3: Mix Butter Into Dry Ingredients;
Use Hands to Crumble into Fine Mixture


Step 4: Stir in Cream With Fork



Step 5: Gather Dough Into Disk;
Refrigerate for One Hour

Step 6: Toss Dry Ingredients Together

Step 7: Cut Pears


Step 8: Toss Pears With Dry
Ingredients and Lemon Juice


Step 9: Arrange Pear Slices on Dough; Bake

This is a fun recipe that I will definitely love continuing to make. The key is finding ripe pears at the grocery store. I lucked out this past time, but I am glad that pears are soon coming into “season”. I will be on the hunt to find a good poached pear recipe in the near future – stay tuned!

Cheers!

Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust


I became highly intrigued when I found this recipe for a Classic Sour Cherry Pie With Lattice Crust. Sour cherry “season” is technically in the summer; however, this recipe just looked too good to pass up. Since I couldn’t use fresh cherries, I had to utilize the options of either canned sour cherries or frozen sour cherries (the grocery store by my house only carried canned sour cherries). Using canned sour cherries was definitely not ideal; however, I was pleasantly surprised by the result. If using canned sour cherries creates a delicately tart, yet flavorful pie, I can only imagine what using fresh sour cherries would produce!

Step 1: Create Crust by Blending Butter, Flour,
Sugar, Salt, and Ice Water Together


Step 2: Roll Out Dough and Place in
Pie Dish; Cut Lattices


Step 3: Mix Sour Cherries Together With
Sugar, Lemon Juice, Vanilla Extract,
Cornstarch, and Salt; Place Filling in
Pie Dish and Alternate Latices Over Top


Step 4: Bake for 1 Hour and Enjoy!


I’m still in the process of perfecting the art of making pies. This time, the crust browned extremely fast during the first few minutes of cooking. Although it tasted delicious, I still need to practice how to perfectly brown the entire crust and lattices (instead of just certain areas).

Nonetheless, this was an amazing pie recipe that is definitely served best with ice cream. The sweet flavors of the vanilla ice cream create a nice contrast in comparison to the tartness of the sour cherries. I definitely will look forward to making this in the summer for future picnics and get-togethers!

Cheers!

Weekend in Seattle

The Space Needle, Pike’s Place Market, the birthplace of “Grunge”, and the destination for corporate giants such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and Nordstrom are a few characteristics that describe the city of Seattle. In addition, Seattle is home to many different culinary tastes ranging with everything from classic American food to Seafood to the authentic flavors of the International District. Since I’m a natural “foodie” at heart, I couldn’t help but document a few culinary adventures I had while visiting Seattle this past weekend.

GaudiLately, I’ve been trending towards eating smaller and lighter meals (essentially tapas, as mentioned in a prior post here). We choose to go to Gaudi which is a Spanish inspired restaurant in the Roosevelt neighborhood. We enjoyed a bevy of items from the menu including Papas Bravas (potatoes with spicy sauce), Bavas (Spanish meatballs), Jitanitos (dates wrapped in bacon), Mojama (fresh cured tuna), and a few other items. But, our favorite part about Gaudi was the dessert we shared: a sponge cake filled with apricots and cream and topped with a raspberry glaze. Besides the fact that it just LOOKED pretty, it also tasted wonderful too.

Apricot and Cream Filled Sponge Cake
With Raspberry Glaze


Homegrown
Sandwich shops have a hard task to accomplish: to develop sandwiches that are fresh, flavorful, and cannot be easily replicated by any random Joe. To be perfectly honest, what differentiates the turkey sandwich made at an independent sandwich shop from the sandwich made at home or from a nationally recognized sandwich franchise? The key differentiator resides in ingenuity of ingredients. That being said, after glancing at the menu of Homegrown, I noticed a multitude of unusual and unique components within the sandwiches. After much contemplation, I settled upon the Roast Pork sandwich (Stumptown Coffee and cayenne rubbed pork loin, pickled red onion, apple butter, mixed greens, and sage aioli served over whole grain bread). After first bite, savory (pork and sage aioli), sweet (apple butter) and tangy (pickled red onions) flavors simultaneously combined to create a medley of enticing flavors. So, unlike the standard and ordinary sandwich shop, Homegrown mastered the art of combining diverse ingredients and creativity to make delicious sandwiches.

Roasted Pork Sandwich and Lentil Soup

High 5 Pie — I absolutely love and adore pies. Not only do I love combining fruit into desserts, but I enjoy making non-traditional fruit desserts or putting a different spin on a classic pie. That being said, High 5 Pie in Capitol Hill in Seattle serves pies that definitely match this description. The selection at High 5 Pie consists of “Pie Jar” (pies in a jar), Flipside (hand-held pie turnovers), Cutie Pie (mini pies), 7″ Deep Dish (classic pie), and Pie Pop (literally, a mini pie on a stick). Flaky crusts, pie fillings bursting with flavor, and a hip venue unite to make this a pleasant stop for a weekend afternoon. Plus, where else can you purchase pie on a stick?

Classic Caramel Pecan Pie


Pie Pop — Cherry Almond
& Cutie Pie — Berry

Good times and good eats this past weekend in Seattle. All in all, I definitely enjoyed these places and hope to visit again sometime soon!

Cheers!