Friday, September 5, 2014

Raspberry Ice Cream

 A little while back my friend Ramona posted a raspberry ice-cream recipe that she uses all the time, when making any fruit ice-cream. I tried it first with my peaches, but I found it too creamy (if that's possible) so I tweaked it just a tad and tried it again with some raspberries. Now, I'm in love. I don't use any other recipe when I want a fruit ice-cream.
  Is in low calorie? No. Is it low fat? No. But good ice-cream shouldn't be either one of those things. You can convince yourself that it's a little healthy. I mean, there is quite a bit of fruit in there, but it's ice-cream people. It's meant to be an indulgence. A wonderful summer-time treat that celebrates all the wonderful produce that is so delicious and abundant right now.
   You can use this recipe for any fruit. Also, if you are adverse to the seeds in your berries you can always strain them out before adding it to your ice-cream base. I just leave them in. I like the texture it gives.

The creamy ice-cream will take on whichever hue of fruit your put into it. Since I used seductively red raspberries, then this ice-cream came out perfectly pink. No food coloring here people, just fruit. The way it should be.

I love making my own ice-cream, not only because I can create any flavor that pops into my head, but also because I can control the ingredients. There are only real ingredients. No preservatives or crazy ingredients that you can't pronounce. Just pure goodness. Experiment on your own, and let me know which fruit flavor ice-cream is your favorite. My kids prefer the peach ice-cream, but I think I like the raspberry better. My next one to try is blueberry.
Here's the recipe:
adapted from 5 Minutes for Mom

***The amount of fruit in the recipe can vary depending on your taste. You should use at least 3 cups, but I have used 4 cups without any textural difference to the final product. 

Raspberry Ice-Cream

*16 oz fresh raspberries (about 3 1/2 cups), washed (or any fruit you like)
1 3/4 cups sugar

2 cups cold milk
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl, combine the fruit and sugar and mash VERY well with a potato masher and set aside for about 20 minutes. Alternately, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor just enough to puree the fruit but not the seeds, and then set aside. After the sugar dissolves, you can strain out the seeds or leave them in (I leave them in.) Stir in the cold milk, cream and vanilla making sure everything is well combined. Refrigerate mix for at least 30 minutes (the colder it is when it goes into your machine, the faster it will be done).
Pour the cold mixture into your prepared ice-cream maker, and churn the ice-cream according to the manufacturers instructions. (Mine took about 25 minutes to be done.) This recipe makes 2 quarts of ice-cream, so I have to make mine in two batches (since my machine only takes 1 quart at a time). Just cover and refrigerate any leftover ice-cream mix to churn at a later time.

Blueberry Cobbler Bread

If you still have some blueberries you want to use up (that you didn't already use in an Easy Blueberry Pie, or a Blueberry Crumble Pie) I recommend this Blueberry Cobbler Bread. While my husband would vehemently disagree, because he believes the blueberry is best in it's raw unadulterated form, this bread is really tasty. And a great change up from your traditional summer breads (like zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini bread, strawberry bread, banana bread, or even pumpkin bread -which is not really a "summer" bread, but is often made year-round). This cobbler bread can be used with any fruit, but the blueberry is something unexpected and quite beautiful. It is extremely easy and satisfying.

This is how it starts:
In one large mixing bowl, combine all your dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.) Whisk together and set aside.
In a second, smaller bowl, combine the cobbler topping (butter, flour, brown sugar). You can do this with a pastry cutter, a fork or your fingers (which is what I did). Set this aside also.

Next come the blueberries. You need about 1 cup of pureed blueberries. I decided to make it in my smoothie cup attachment for my blender, so I only had that to wash instead of my big blender, but anyway you want to pulverize your blueberries will work. (It takes roughly 3 cups of blueberries to get 1 cup of puree.) To the puree, whisk (or blend as I did) in the vanilla, eggs and butter and/or oil. (I couldn't fit the butter/oil into my blender cup, so I added that separately.)

Pour the blueberry mixture into the dry ingredients. (See, I also added my butter/oil at the same time.)

Stir to combine.

Prepare a regular sized (9x5) loaf pan. You can just pray it with no-stick cooking/baking spray, but if you also line it with parchment paper it will guarantee a clean cake/bread later.

Pour in the batter, and even it out.

Now comes the cobbler topping. It may seem like a lot, but use it all! Top it all off with a few more blueberries to make it pretty and it's ready for the oven!

Bake it @ 350F for 55-60 minutes (covering with foil if the top gets too brown). It's done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean (just a crumb or two, but not wet). Let it cool completely before cutting.

This is what it looks like when it's all done. Isn't it pretty?

The top is a little crunchy and crumbly with a few pops of soft blueberries, while the rest of the bread is soft and moist with just the right amount of sweetness.

I like to just slice it and eat it. I mean, why mess with perfection, right?

But if you are one that likes to add something to your quick breads . . . then my only response to you is:

Butter! As much or as little as you like. I like the salted variety, but of course that is up to you. Enjoy!
Here's the recipe:
adapted from Cookies and Cups

Blueberry Cobbler Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup blueberry puree (about 3 cups blueberries blended) + 1/2 cup whole blueberries reserved
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (you could use all coconut oil, or all butter if you prefer)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Crumble Topping

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with a strip of parchment the width of the pan long enough to hang over the sides a bit. Spray parchment with cooking spray. Set aside. 
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, combine the blueberry puree, melted butter/oil, eggs and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth.
Pour the blueberry mixture into the dry mixture, and mix until thoroughly combined (scraping down the sides as necessary). Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and top with the Crumble Topping.
To make the Crumble Topping: combine all the crumble ingredients together with a pastry cutter, fork or you fingers. Large chunks should still remain. Sprinkle this all on top of the batter in the loaf pan. 
Top with the additional blueberries and bake @ 350F for 50-65 minutes (until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, but to wet at all). Mine took 65 minutes. Keep an eye on your bread. If it looks like it's getting too brown before it's fully cooked, cover it with foil.
When done, you can cool completely in the pan OR let it cool for at least 20 minutes in the pan and then use the parchment paper to help you lift the bread out and cool completely on a wire rack. Either is fine, and I usually leave mine in the pan so I don't have to worry about little hands picking at it before it's completely cool. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Easy Blueberry Pie

Our family looks forward to summer more than any other season. Not for the water sports and the warm weather, but for the fruit! We are a fruit loving family. Our counters are always covered with bowls of summer fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, pineapples, melons of every kind, bananas, and our fridge is always stocked with every kind of berry available to us. Our favorite berry? Blueberries! (Mine is actually huckleberries, but I can't get those where we live.) Our family loves blueberries so much that it was the first word of our third child. We would take a bowl of fresh blueberries to munch on over a bowl of popcorn or chips any day. My husband actually thinks that it's sacrilege to cook blueberries into anything because it ruins their perfectness that they have all on their own, fresh, raw and pure. However, when I made this blueberry pie he changed his tune a bit. He actually said that the pie was "awesome" and probably "the best blueberry pie he's ever had!" Needless to say, that made my day, and I new I had to share it with you. :)
   Now, I have made blueberry pies in the past (Blueberry Crumble Pie), which were delightful, but my hubby is a fan of the lattice top so I think that made this one his favorite. I do have to say that there is something beautiful about enjoying the simplicity of just fruit and pie crust. This pie also uses flour instead of cornstarch, so it's a slightly different outcome of texture and taste.
   I made this really easy on myself and used store-bought pie crusts, but by all means, if you have the time and motivation make it from scratch! I like to use Marie Callender's 9 inch pie shells for the bottom and Pillsbury roll out pie dough for the lattice top. It comes out perfect every time without all the work and clean up of making the dough from scratch.
   There's not much to this pie. In a bowl, combine the blueberries, lemon juice, vanilla, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Dump the mixture into the frozen (uncooked) bottom pie shell, and dot the top of the berry mixture with 2 Tbsp of butter. (Tip: You can mash half of the berries before mixing if you want the flour/sugar mixture to dissolve quicker into the berries, but it bakes up just fine if you don't do this step. I left all my berries whole.)

Now for the lattice top. Roll out the refrigerated top crust and cut into about 1 inch strips. Lay 4 strips down vertically over the pie and then weave 4 more strips in between, horizontally. Like this: (I give a step by step tutorial in my Peach Pie post.)

The only thing left to do is brush the top with a little egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Before I forget: don't neglect the scraps from the top crust! Brush them with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake them along side the pie for just a few minutes (5 or so depending on temperature), just until slightly browned and then take out to cool. They are one of my favorite childhood treats. My dad always called them Lady Fingers, and they are amazingly delicious! (Tip: if you have tiny scraps of dough, press them together and make a larger Lady Finger. Just cut it down to size before baking, so they all bake at the same time. That's what I did with the more round shapes on the bottom right of this pic.)

Ok, back to the pie. It get's placed on a parchment lined baking sheet and put into a preheated oven. (Trust me, if you don't use the parchment paper lined baking sheet you are going to be cursing your lovely pie when it bubbles and oozes all over your oven!) I like to bake my pie on the bottom shelf (so the bottom crust stays crunchy and not soggy). I also like to start it off at a higher temperature, to set the bottom crust. So, I typically bake it @ 425F for the first 20 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 400F. I also keep an eye on the pie and cover it with foil when the crust starts to brown, so that it doesn't get too dark.
   This pic was taken about 30 minutes into baking. See, it's already starting to bubble and ooze around the edges? But you can see that the berries in the middle still aren't done yet, and the crust is not fully baked. So back in the oven it goes for about another 20 minutes.

When the pie is bubbly all over and all of the crust is brown and crisp (about 50 minutes total baking time), the pie is done. Isn't it beautiful? I like to turn the oven off and open the door. I let the pie cool and set in the oven before taking it out.

When it cools it will deflate some in the center. That's o.k. Now comes the hard part. . . . Are you ready?. . . You have to WAIT! I know. It's torture. You have this amazing pie right in front of you, filling the house with it's intoxicating aroma and it is calling your name. You think it looks set up enough, but it's NOT! Unfortunately, this is the part where you have to muster up all your will power and walk away. Read a book, go to a movie, clean the house. Whatever will help you keep your mind off this mouth watering pie for the next 4 hours at least (It's best if you leave it overnight even.).

Needless to say, 4 hours later, when I could wait no more I cut into my pie. It was well after the kids had gone to bed and I was preparing myself to wait until the morning to have a piece (because pie for breakfast is perfectly acceptable in my book), but then it kept beckoning me to it and I gave in. I mean, I have to make sure it tastes good, right? (I apologize for the odd coloring of the next two pictures. They were alluminated by my overhead stove light. It was late after all.)

It cut really nicely. See, no fruit trying to run out of the crust? I warmed up a piece and topped it with just a little sweetened whipped cream on top. (Yes, even though it's the middle of the night I still took the time to whip up some fresh whipped cream because I'm just that serious about my desserts.) Let me tell you, it passed the taste test!

The next morning, I cut another piece and you can see how beautiful it is. Perfectly set, glistening berries that still retain some of their whole fruit integrity. I could look at this picture all day. (But only because the pie is actually gone now, because I proceeded to enjoy it morning noon and night until it had vanished. Oh, and I shared with the family too.)

You can have it with or without the whipped cream. It tastes heavenly either way.

This piece was warmed in the microwave for about 20 seconds and it still held it's integrity, while eating. No messy pie here. Just pure goodness!
And, I should mention that you can make this recipe with any fruit. It's such an easy pie and so delicious!

Here's the recipe:
adapeted from Blueberry Pie

Easy Blueberry Pie 

5 cups fresh blueberries
Tbsp lemon juice 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 9 inch pie crusts, unbaked
1 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten 
splash of water (about 1 Tbsp)

Peheat oven to 425F. Combine berries with lemon juice and vanilla. Add the sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon and stir well. Pour mixture into 9 inch pie shell, and dot the top with the butter. Cut the 1 remaining pie crust into about 1 inch strips. Lay 4 strips over the top of the pie, leaving about 1 inch in between each, and then weave 4 more strips in between horizontally. (See Peach Pie tutorial for help).  Beat together the egg and water and brush some of the mixture lightly over the top crust of the pie. Sprinkle with some sugar and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet, in the bottom third of the oven @ 425F for 20 minutes. Cover the pie with aluminum foil, and turn down heat to 400F. Continue baking for 20-25 minutes more. Remove foil and finish baking for about 5 minutes, until all the fruit is bubbly and the crust is brown. Turn the oven off and open the door. Let the pie cool to room temperature and then place on the counter to finish setting. Let set for at least 4 hours, preferably over night. Serve plain or warmed with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.
**When you put on/take off the foil will depend on your oven and how fast your pie is browning. If it is browning too much before the first 20 minutes is up, then cover it sooner. Keep an eye on your pie.

    Monday, July 28, 2014

    Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread (and a Healthier version too!)

    I've been looking for new ways to use up my abundance of zucchini this summer, and this chocolate bread is one that was on the top of my idea list. I call this "bread" because it's baked in a loaf pan, but who are we kidding? It's cake. It's lusciously dark and dreamy chocolate cake with chocolate chips in it. It actually tastes remarkable similar to the Double Chocolate Muffins from Costco (which, let's face it, those are basically cake too). Isn't it funny how we find so many names for cake just so that we can justify eating it for breakfast . . . or anytime? :) Well, this one is healthier than most so you shouldn't feel too guilty about eating it whenever you have that chocolate craving (which is what I had last night and what drove me to make this).
       This is a zucchini bread recipe with dark cocoa powder and chocolate chips mixed in so that it is decadently dark and chocolatey. But, with a full cup of zucchini per loaf (this recipe makes 2) and the addition of whole ground flaxseed meal you can feel better (if not good) about indulging in this moist treat.
       This is the recipe that I tried first, but when I get another cool night I'm going to try adding more zucchini, reducing the oil and adding applesauce to make it even healthier. I'll let you know how that version turns out. :) ***The recipe for the healthier version is at the end of this post!***

    First, put the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. (You can also add the flaxseed meal now, but I didn't think it add it until later.)

    Whisk everything together and set aside.

    In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and eggs.

    Beat together on medium high speed for a couple minutes until bubbly and light in color.

    Add the vanilla and oil

    and beat again until combined.

    Now we are going to add the dry ingredients. (This is where I decided to add my flaxseed meal.)

    Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, stirring as you go, until everything is almost combined.

    It will look like thick brownie batter, with some dry ingredients still needing to be mixed in like this:

    Now you can fold in the zucchini (sorry the picture is blurry, I got excited that I was almost done and the prospect of eating this cake, so I was rushing things a bit). If you grate the zucchini on the smallest grate, it cooks into the cake/bread better.

    Also fold in the chocolate chips.

    Divide the batter evenly into 2 greased, regular sized loaf pans

    Bake @ 350F for 50-60 minutes, until the center of the cake is nearly done (when a toothpick is inserted into the center, just a few crumbs stick to the toothpick). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

    Once it is completely cooled, just slice and eat. I baked my two loaves before I went to bed (eating the first luscious piece of course, to make sure it tasted good) and then I left the rest out until morning.

    By the time I got up in the morning, my amazing husband and children had all but devoured one loaf. These two pieces were all that remained. I was just glad I had something to photograph to show you an "after" shot.

    I still had one full loaf left, but I wanted to give that one away as a "thank you" to my dear friend Dayna and her family for watching our puppy while we went away on our recent mini vacation.

    Now there is nothing wrong with leaving it as it, and eating plain as my family did. It tastes amazing and really needs nothing in the flavor department to improve it. But I thought a dusting a powdered sugar would make the loaf more esthetically pleasing. (aka. make it look pretty)

    I was right. :) I like the contrast of the white powdered sugar against the dark zucchini bread. It looked so tempting, it was really difficult for me not to cut into this loaf too! I kept reminding myself that I could eat the other two pieces from the first loaf as soon as I was done taking beauty shots for all of you.

    I can't say enough good things about this zucchini bread. If I didn't tell you it was zucchini bread, and I just handed you a slice I guarantee you wouldn't know that it was good for you at all. It's a complete fake-out for those of you who have picky eaters in your life. Thankfully my kids know and love all veggies. They actually saw me harvesting the zucchini out of the garden and were excited by all the prospects of eating it. When I told them I was making double chocolate zucchini bread they were beside themselves with excitement. I mean, they are MY children. (Which explains the vanishing first loaf of bread). :)
    Here's the recipe: (As I mentioned earlier, I'm wanting to make this recipe again but making it healthier by reducing the oil, adding more zucchini and some apple sauce. Once I make that version I'll let you know how it goes!) ***Recipe for the Healthier Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread is at the end of this post!***

    adapted from Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

    Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

    2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup ground organic golden flaxseed meal
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    3 large eggs
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 cup vegetable oil
    2 cups packed grated zucchini, skin on, grated on the smallest grater
    1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

    Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and flaxseed meal in a mixing bowl. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar until light in color and fluffy. Add in oil and vanilla, and beat again till well combined.  Slowly mix the flour mixture into the egg mixture until almost combined.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. Divide batter into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake in a preheated 350 degree over for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (just a couple crumbs).  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before removing to rack to cool completely. (You can also cool completely in the pan as I did.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).

    Healthier Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
    (I'm still tweaking the recipe to make it as healthy as possible, but this is what I have so far. In the future I would like to try using whole wheat pastry flour and a healthier sweetener to amp up the health quotient of this delicious chocolate cake!)
    2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup ground organic golden flaxseed meal
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    3 large eggs
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1/2 cup coconut oil (warmed enough to liquify)
    1/2 cup no sugar organic applesauce* (I used homemade)
    2 cups packed grated zucchini, skin on, grated on the smallest grater
    1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

    *You can substitute 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt for either the applesauce or the coconut oil to add some protein to the bread.

    Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and flaxseed meal in a mixing bowl. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar until light in color and fluffy. Add in coconut oil, applesauce (*or yogurt) and vanilla, and beat again till well combined.  Slowly mix the flour mixture into the egg mixture until almost combined.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. Divide batter into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake in a preheated 350 degree over for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (just a couple crumbs).  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before removing to rack to cool completely. (You can also cool completely in the pan as I did.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).