Saturday, August 31, 2013

No Churn Rocky Road Ice Cream

I recently made some peach ice cream using Martha Stewart's recipe for No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream.  I wondered if I could do the same thing for chocolate.  I started looking around the Internet, because I didn't know what to use to make it chocolate.  I could replace the Bourbon or Peach Schnapps with the Crème de Cacao that is languishing in my pantry.  I have cocoa powder, but I worried that it might not blend well.  I DO have some Ghirardelli chocolate bars I bought and never used.  Then I noticed a picture of chocolate ice cream with nuts sprinkled on top.  That sounds good.  OOH.  WAIT.  Rocky Road.

I recently went to the grocery store when very hungry.  Yes, mother, I know.  Don't DO that.  I saw some chocolate and vanilla swirl marshmallows.  Lee likes marshmallows and the thought process went, I will buy some, eat a few and then they will disappear before I go back into the pantry.  But paired with some walnuts, that would make a pretty good version of Rocky Road ice cream.


No Churn Chocolate Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons Crème de Cacao (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate bar, melted.  I used Ghirardelli.
2 cups heavy cream


If you choose to make the rocky road version


1/2 cup chopped walnuts
6 or so large chocolate vanilla swirl (or plain) marshmallows, chopped small.  Or use a handful of the miniature marshmallows.
Powdered sugar

Place the sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl.  Add the vanilla and the Crème de Cacao and give it a stir.  Break up the chocolate bar and use your favorite method for melting chocolate.  It will burn if you get it too hot.  I chose to use a pan over very low heat and as soon as it started to melt I turned off the heat and just kept stirring it until it was all smooth.


I set the hot, melted chocolate aside and started the cream whipping.  It takes at least 5 minutes and I wanted to let the chocolate cool a bit first.  I used the Kitchen Aid mixer and set it to whipping the heavy cream while I chopped some nuts. 


I used a pair of kitchen shears to cut up the marshmallows.  In order to keep them from sticking, I put a small amount of powdered sugar on my cutting board and dipped the cut ends into the sugar to prevent that. 


I cut them lengthwise in strips, dipped them and then cross cut them and dipped again.  Make sure the cream does not get over whipped, so check it often. You want it to make stiff peaks. 

I made a smaller amount of nuts and mallows and then decided it didn't look like enough and made a bit more.  These are the final measurements.



Stir the cooled, yet still liquid, chocolate into the milk mixture. 


Then fold in the whipped cream.  When the chocolate is all one color, you may add the nuts and mallows.  Or just nuts.  Hey, it's YOUR ice cream!


I used the Glad FreezerWare containers and it made about 2 1/2 containers.  It needs to freeze for 6 hours, but I lost control after about 2 hours and it was soft and delicious.  But you should have more willpower than I.



I have to say I liked it even better than the Peach Ice Cream. It was as silky as any high priced ice cream and the marshmallows were soft and the walnuts crunchy.  Just perfect.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Individual Rosemary Grape Focaccia

I recently wrote about a wonderful Rosemary Grape Focaccia.  But then I wondered if I had to do a big one with all the yeast and then the leftovers that weren't as good as the first day. The Pioneer Woman has some Rosemary Sea Salt rolls that I also made and then I had an idea.  Why not combine the two!

Individual Rosemary Grape Focaccia

Frozen Yeast Dinner Rolls, one per person
Red or black grapes.  I used four for each roll.
Rosemary leaves, chopped
sea salt
Olive Oil


Pour some OO in a large bowl and roll the frozen balls of dough in the oil to coat.  Cover and set aside for at least two hours.


When they have thawed and doubled in size, place them on an oiled baking sheet and pat them into a circle with your fingertips, leaving little dimples in the dough.  Cover for another 30 minutes or so.

Wash and dry the grapes.  Pull the Rosemary leaves off the stems and chop them into smaller pieces.


Preheat the oven to 350°.  You want the tops of the focaccia to be absolutely coated in Olive Oil.  Brush on some more.  Then sprinkle on some sea salt and the Rosemary.  Press the grapes into the dough.


Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a golden brown.  If they is too light they won't be cooked through.

The grapes will get a bit wrinkly and ooze a bit of juicy goodness into the dough. 


This will be my new best thing to serve with pasta, cheese and wine or just a salad.  It has to be better for you than garlic bread, doesn't it?  And I might not even save it for company.  My favorite husband likes it, too.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Highway by C. J. Box


I just finished a book that I hated and liked all at the same time.  It is The Highway by C. J. Box.  He also writes the Joe Pickett mystery series.  I also like them and they were the books I recommended first for men when they needed help choosing a book.  Men that usually read non-fiction sometimes asked for help when branching out into the fiction areas of the library.

The Highway is about two young girls, sisters 16 and 18 years old, driving to their father's house for the Thanksgiving holiday.  The older sister decides to take a side trip to visit her boyfriend who is attempting to break up with her.  The younger sister doesn't want to go and is dragged off against her will, half way into the trip.

At the same time there is a long distance trucker who is a serial killer and he is driving the on the same road the older sister has taken.  This is where I didn't like this book.  I have two daughters and I know there are actual serial killers travelling the highways of the world.  It was not easy to keep reading and I almost gave it up several times.  On the other hand C. J., as I call him (We are buds, like that, picture my fingers entwined, compadres....perfect strangers.  But I HAVE recommended him many times.) ...well, Mr. Box is a really good writer and will keep your interest and there are enough twists to keep you guessing most of the way through.

I did think he could have ramped up the terrible things that happened to the girls, but then, I think I read that he is the father of daughters and maybe he didn't want to imagine too many horrible things happening to his daughters, either.  He writes with more intensity for his Joe Pickett novels, so maybe it was the whole issue with young girls in danger. 

I liked the book and it had suspense and it was a good read.  If you want a truly gruesome look at serial killers, watch or read Dexter.  If you like your late night reads to keep your interest without having to put it down and check the door locks and the location of your handgun, give The Highway a try.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Free Cutting Board

My sister-in-law took me to an estate sale when I visited her a few weeks ago.  I found a wooden cutting board in the $1.00 box.  I bought a few other things and because the cutting board needed some serious work, I got it for free.

There is a bit of cupping, it warped from something.  That I won't try to fix.  But the surface was rough and had a lot of cuts from years of service.  There was some kind of stain, as though from moisture.  Probably from whatever  caused the warping.


I thought it could be brought back with just a bit of sanding.  And I needed a cutting board for the second kitchen in the basement for the B&B patrons.  Then the sander got dropped when someone, who shall be nameless, dropped it off the ladder.  Well, we had the sander for about 30 years, so I guess we got our money's worth. 

Naturally, they no longer make that sander.  Any tool that works just great for 30 years can't be continued!

I am not a good shopper.  I have to look at everything and agonize over the cost and probable efficiency.  Does spending more guarantee a better product?


Nonetheless I found a small sander that I thought would work for around $30 at Lowe's. Then we bought some sand paper.  After sanding I will need to oil the cutting board, so another $5.00 or so.

And LOOK!  Smooth as a baby's behind and freshly oiled.  A free cutting board for only about $40!  What a bargain hunter I am!


Soon I will tell you about the good deal I got on chairs that need to be refinished and recovered. I am saving money hand over fist!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rosemary Grape Focaccia

I was reading a book where the main character was making Rosemary Grape Focaccia.  I copied the page with the recipe and after returning the book to the library, discovered I had only half of the recipe.  Yay for the Internet!  Except for the fact that now I have a zillion more choices and methods and amounts.  I took a bit from here and some from there and this is what I made.  Next time I might use the purchased pizza dough method.  But this time I made it from scratch.  After all, I have never used the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid mixer and I wanted to try it.


Rosemary Grape Focaccia

3/4 cup warm water (105° to 110°)
2 Tablespoons warm milk
1 envelope (from a 3 pack) Rapid Rise yeast
2 cups flour, plus extra when kneading
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil (OO) divided use

1 onion, sliced and caramelized, optional This adds extra time, but it is so delicious.

1 1/2 cups red grapes (or black)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons sea salt


Slice the onion in half and then thinly slice each half.  Heat some OO in a pan and cook on medium, stirring frequently, until brown and caramelized.  You can add a bit of salt, too.  Set aside to cool.


Place the yeast and the sugar in a small bowl.




Put the water and the milk in a glass measuring cup and heat for about 30 seconds in a microwave.  Use a thermometer to make sure it is not too hot.  You don't want to cook the yeast.  Just warm it up and get it working.

Too hot.  Let it cool a bit!


Pour the warm water and milk over the yeast and give it a stir.  Let it sit until the yeast gets all bubbly, about 5 minutes.

I wanted to use the Kitchen Aid mixer, but half way through I took the dough out and finished kneading by hand.  You can use a bowl and stir or the mixer. Place the flour and salt in the bowl you are going to use and add the warm, bubbly yeast.  Add 3 tablespoons of the OO.

(The next time I make this recipe, I want to try adding the caramelized onions inside the dough, at this point.  They got a bit overdone on the top of the focaccia.  Or maybe I cooked them too long before I put them on top.  At any rate I want to try them in the dough and compare.) 


Stir for about 8 minutes with the dough hook or do what I did.  I let the dough hook work for 5 minutes, then turned the dough out on a floured surface and kneaded it.  It took about another 1/2 cup of flour until the dough was no longer sticky. I would imagine you would have to add some flour to the dough hook method to get the same results. None of the recipes I saw told to add dough, but mine was sticky and I caved and did the last bit of kneading by hand!


Drizzle some OO in a bowl and place the dough in the puddle of oil.  Turn it over to coat the dough and cover the bowl and set it aside to rise for one hour.  It should double in size.


Turn on the oven to 425° and oil a rectangular cookie sheet.  Place the dough on a clean surface.  The oil should keep it from sticking.  Punch it down and knead it a few times to get all the bubbles out.  Place it on the oiled cookie sheet and use your finger tips to push it out into the same shape as the pan.  It will resist you.  Give it a few minutes to rest and then come back and wrestle it into submission.  Cover it again and let it rest for 30 minutes.


Pull the Rosemary leaves off the stem and chop them a bit.  Wash and dry the grapes.


Uncover the dough and drizzle the whole top with the rest of the OO.  I used a brush to spread it evenly, but fingers work, too. 


Push the grapes into the focaccia and then distribute the Rosemary and sea salt over the top.  Then add the onions, if you are using them.


Bake for 20 minutes or until a golden brown.  Cool a few minutes and then slice with a pizza wheel.

Serve with the rest of the grapes and a glass of wine.  Three levels of grapes...Raw, cooked and fermented!  Oh, and cheese.  Always with cheese! I love a bit of sweet, hot mustard with the cheese.


I wonder how it would taste spread with some lovely goat cheese?  Maybe next time! And there WILL be a next time.  The sweet, warm and slightly wrinkled grapes add a wonderful dimension to the salty, savory bread.  A meal in itself!

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Our cat has become possessed.  Many people, upon seeing him for the first time, exclaim over his handsome profile and gorgeous coat.  He loves to be admired and will run over and expose his fluffy, curly belly to be rubbed, purring subtlety.


Tuesday our daughter came to visit and brought her cat.  She would not like to be left all alone in the apartment.  Our cats have proven territorial, so we have been keeping Belle in Tara's room, for her protection.  Our two cats have been waiting outside the room like paparazzi, waiting to pounce on a fallen movie star.


Rhett has a knack for opening the closet in Tara's room, so she has been using a bungee cord to make sure he can't get to Belle when we aren't around to save her. And a spray bottle filled with water in case he tries to sneak in.


She hides under the bed when we come in the room in case the DEVIL cat comes in with us.  Poor, scared victim... I mean baby.


 Tara used her leg to try to push Rhett out of the doorway as he attempted to squeeze in and he went crazy, biting and scratching. She pushed  him off and he turned his aggression on his brother in a frenzy of a yowling cat fight, tumbling down the stairs,  until Lee broke it up with a soccer kick.


Two days later her bite is infected and we take her to the Velocity Care clinic in Daleville.  They are required reporters (yes, his shots are up to date)  and now Rhett is on house arrest for 10 days and has a record.  A Botetourt felon.  One strike.


Lessons learned:  Don't break up a catfight without the proper armored clothing (Kevlar leggings?) and don't use your real name at the Velocity Clinic.

Looks innocent up on that bookcase, doesn't he?

Until you see his devil eyes...  Cue Jaws, or maybe Psycho music!

Friday, August 23, 2013

No Churn Ice Cream

I found a super easy ice cream recipe from Martha Stewart.  I used to have an ice cream maker, but it took forever and made a small amount. Plus, it was noisy.  When I saw Martha Stewart's no churn method, I was intrigued.  It seems that you whip the cream and fold it in the other ingredients and that is how the air gets mixed into the cream.

The recipe is for Vanilla Ice Cream.  I love vanilla ice cream, but I also had a bunch of peaches left over from a trip the Bryant Orchards shop in Daleville.  I figured I could make peach ice cream from vanilla, by adding peaches.

This is Martha Stewart's recipe for:

No Churn Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Bourbon (optional)
2 cups cold heavy cream, whipped

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. 

Whip the cream into stiff peaks and fold it into the mixture and freeze in a loaf pan for 6 hours to firm up.  Easy right?  But I wanted PEACH ice cream, so here is what I did.


No Churn Peach Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Peach Schnapps (optional)
2 cups cold heavy cream, whipped
2 large peaches, diced small


Mix the sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla in a large bowl.  I had some Peach Schnapps, so I decided that made more sense than Bourbon in this recipe. It is optional, though.


I used my Kitchen Aid mixer for the heavy cream.  It takes about 5 minutes to whip the cream into stiff peaks.  Keep an eye on it for the last few minutes, as you can over whip it and it will break down.


Peel and dice the peaches.


Scrape the cream into the bowl with the milk mixture.  Gently fold it in.  You don't want to break up the air bubbles you just whipped into it.


Fold in the peaches and freeze in a loaf pan for 6 hours to firm up.  I tried it in 4 hours and it wasn't firm enough, but it was yummy.


It had to wait overnight for a taste, but ice cream and peaches sounds like the perfect breakfast, doesn't it?